"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, November 10, 2012

Our New National Anthem? Teach THIS Song to Students.

Instead of the soaring Star Spangled Banner as America's national anthem, I suggest the sad and poignant song Our Town better reflects our country and its slide from exceptionalism to a European model of government.  

How sad Americans now want more federal government intrusion in their lives while losing their individual freedoms in the process.  Here is Our Town performed by Iris Dement and Emmylou Harris expressing sorrow of what once was:

And you know the sun's settin' fast,
And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye,
But hold on to your lover,
'Cause your heart's bound to die.
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town.
Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town,

Up the street beside that red neon light,

That's where I met my baby on one hot summer night.
He was the tender and I ordered a beer,
It's been forty years and I'm still sitting here.

But you know the sun's settin' fast,

And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye,
But hold on to your lover,
'Cause your heart's bound to die.
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town.
Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town,

It's here I had my babies and I had my first kiss.

I've walked down Main Street in the cold morning mist.
Over there is where I bought my first car.
It turned over once but then it never went far.

And I can see the sun's settin' fast,
And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye,
But hold on to your lover,
'Cause your heart's bound to die.
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town.
Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town,

I buried my Mama and I buried my Pa.

They sleep up the street beside that pretty brick wall.
I bring them flowers about every day,
But I just gotta cry when I think what they'd say.

If they could see how the sun's settin' fast,

And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye,
But hold on to your lover,
'Cause your heart's bound to die.
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town.
Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town,

Now I sit on the porch and watch the lightning-bugs fly.

But I can't see too good, I got tears in my eyes.
I'm leaving tomorrow but I don't wanna go.
I love you, my town, you'll always live in my soul.

But I can see the sun's settin' fast,

And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
Well, go on, I gotta kiss you goodbye,
But I'll hold to my lover,
'Cause my heart's 'bout to die.
Go on now and say goodbye to my town, to my town.
I can see the sun has gone down on my town, on my town,

Friday, November 9, 2012

Political Pedophiles Targeting America’s Youth

It should be no surprise why children are so crass to each other.  Harry Reid demonstrates today's version of America civility and discourse.

The article below is written by a guest editor:


Elections have consequences.  Most people would agree that those consequences can be negative or positive.  Most people assume that the consequences involve taxes, social issues, or national security.  Many people are not aware of the negative consequences affecting our Nation’s youth.  During the last two election cycles, both parties have expressed the importance of “targeting” the youth vote. I’ve recently learned firsthand that it comes with a cost. 

            The day after the election was a rough one for me as I had to come to grips with the fact that my Presidential choice didn’t win.  I had spent a long four years attempting to raise awareness of the future consequences of electing a president who wanted to fundamentally transform America into something that in my opinion, was far from the America I had grown up in and loved.  Like 49% of America, I woke up on November 7, 2012 and contemplated where I would go from here. 

 My sixteen year old daughter came home from school and was quite visibly upset.  She sat down at the kitchen table and proceeded to tell me what had happened at school earlier in the day with regards to reactions to the outcome of the election.  During election night she was on Twitter as was I watching for reaction and results.  At one point, she tweeted “Go Romney!”  Within minutes, she was bombarded with the most vile and hate filled Tweets, most of which came from kids her own age in different parts of the country.  As a mom, I tried to tell her to just let it go and unfollow those which are really vulgar and offensive.  At one point, her own local friends started to tweet degrading and nasty tweets simply because she didn’t have the same pick as theirs.  Having been on Twitter during election night myself, I also saw firsthand how people were treating each other.  I was shocked at how nasty, degrading and abusive the “youth” had become.  She was attacked and told by one of her friends that she was a “gay- hater!”  She was called a racist as well as other things that I cannot write in a blog.  During the day at school she said kids were being so hateful and rude to each other and that the bus ride was almost unbearable.  They were pitted against each other and at one point she thought the outburst might erupt into violence.

            Later that evening she was Skyping a friend of hers who lives in Florida.  They were talking about the election and soon discovered that they had made different choices.  Her friend is a fifteen year old girl who comes from a pretty conservative family.  She stated that during the school day, someone had asked her if she was happy with the outcome of the election.  When she told then that she was, the other kids really started giving her a hard time.   I found it interesting that the hatred did not simply come from one side of the political spectrum, but it was just as bad for both.  She told me that she became really upset with what she was hearing in the halls and at her locker.  Students were using racial slurs when talking about and referring to President Obama.  There were calling him a n****r who wanted to take away guns.  The worst part was the fact that all of this was taking place within earshot of teachers and no one would intervene!  She told me that later in the day; some white students were talking about some African American students and saying they should go back to being slaves.  After confiding in a teacher about what was happening, she decided to go tell an administrator.  Simply put, she was told that there were a lot of “rednecks” in the community and there wasn’t anything the school could do.  

I’ve been an educator for seventeen years and have never seen anything as bad as this!  What have we as a Nation become?  The past four years have done nothing to strengthen us as communities and Americans.  In fact, people are more racially divided that ever before.  Since when is it ok to completely eviscerate a person, especially a fifteen or sixteen year old girl or boy (yes, they are still children), simply because you don’t agree with him/her?  As Americans, how have we allowed and condoned this type of behavior from our children?  Does getting out the youth vote mean to completely radicalize our children and turn them into uncivilized humans that are so intolerant of anyone who dares to disagree with them?  Has the far left succeeded in creating a new generation of voters that will faithfully follow their lead by inciting violence and tearing down anyone who dares to disagree?  If Alinsky (or Harry Reid) type behavior and tactics from the left have become normalized in every day interactions, why are we surprised to witness the same type of behavior from those students from the right? Where are the adults?  Why is this behavior accepted? 

While watching post-election coverage, almost everyone mentioned the fact that the left has strategically “targeted” the youth for the past 5 or 6 years and in doing so has secured a group of faithful and loyal supporters.    Excuse me!  Those are our children! I have been fighting the government overreach into our states, schools, and lives for a while now.  I am convinced that this type of “targeting” does nothing but breed hatred, racism, and cultural intolerance.  I refuse to allow my children and the children of America to be used as pawns in this supposedly new bipartisan and transparent America! If this is what four years under the current president has done for the youth of our Country, I shudder to think of what the next four years will do.  I have never in my lifetime seen people so racially divided and bitter.  The part that is most shocking to me is what is happening to our kids as a result of this.  Are we as parents not having crucial conversations with our kids about politics, elections, and civic responsibility?  Have our kids become tolerant of so much, that they think nothing of using racial slurs and attacks for simple viewpoints? 
As Americans, it is time to start having those crucial and sometimes uncomfortable conversations with our kids about what our own values and beliefs are and how we as a Nation need to conduct ourselves.  I refuse to believe that this is it. All is not lost, but it is up to us as parents, Americans, and teachers to stop this “targeting” of our youth.  We would never send our kids into the world without talking to them about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and the consequences of use.  Why on earth would we send them out into the world without having conversations about civic responsibilities and how to conduct themselves in a respectable manner no matter with whom they agree or disagree?  As Americans, we can do better.  We have to.  Our integrity as a Nation is at stake.  We may not be able to monitor every move our child makes.  We may not be able to guide them 24/7.    We can, however, make sure we arm them with the tools they will need in the future to begin to resist the propaganda being perpetuated in our schools, on TV, and in the mainstream media.  Will you stand with me to reclaim our children from the grips of those who wish to simply use them as pawns in an attempt to fundamentally transform us into something unrecognizable to the rest of the world?  If not us, who?  If not now, when?  The future of The United States of America is at stake. Don’t let it slip away on our watch!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Educational Reform: It's All George Bush's Fault! Or Right Wing Corporate Greed!

Does this book have ALEC's name on it or the president's?  Who should shoulder the blame for ed reform policies? Rightwing (and other) organizations or Obama?

We have four more years of Obama's educational blueprint.  Some progressives believe this blueprint is being written by right wing organizations.  The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been tagged as right wing because it is funded by private corporations to boost corporate power and profits.  It establishes model legislation for states to use in education as well as other areas.  Think of it as private corporations tapping into taxpayer funding via legislative models (such as charter schools).  StudentsFirst also fits the mold of wanting to create more quasi private/public programs, but founder Michelle Rhee is a Democrat.  Like the heavily demonized right wing organizations, she apparently also loves money, power and control and has fit herself nicely in the "free market" niche that really isn't "free market".  Her TFA program and push for charter schools uses taxpayer money for private companies, which does not meet the test of a true "free market".   She is not technically rightwing (because of her political affiliation) but she certainly fits the mold of private corporations determining how tax money is spent.

Whether or not the organizations funding these "reforms" are left or right is inconsequential and the privatization blame of the educational system should not be placed on the corporations.  These organizations are just doing what corporations are allowed to do via political decisions.  The politicians and appointed officials are the ones to hold responsible in educational legislation, mandates and waste of billions of dollars.  Obama and Arne Duncan are regulating and/or mandating Race to the Top state and district grants, common core standards, teacher evaluations, FERPA revisions.....but  many progressives believe Obama was still the best presidential candidate even though he went against their educational ideas.  Government officials have the power to allow the corporations to use private money in a "free market" ruse and they are ultimately responsible for the privatization of education.

Whether or not Romney would have restored educational control to the states, we'll never know.  I'm not holding my breath that Obama's associate and friend Bill Ayers' letter imploring Obama to change his educational stance will make one iota of difference in the centralization/privatization of education.  It doesn't matter to Obama which private corporations/think tanks are providing services necessary to implement the Federal mandates. Disappointed progressives should be holding politicians/appointed officials accountable for allowing this transformation of education to occur.  When Race to the Top funding was approved, the Democrats controlled the House, the Senate and the White House.  The politicians and appointed officials are the ones are responsible for these mandates stagnating public education, not the "right wing" educational cabal now profiting from this legislative decision.

Do you believe George Bush's NCLB was bad?  It was.  So what does Obama do when he assumed office? Did he relax federal standards and mandates?   Not by a long shot. He pursued RTTT, teacher accountability tied to test scores, waivers to NCLB (referred to as NCLB on steroids) and financial help to states by requiring them to sign on to common core standards.  However, the educational progressives believe Obama is preferable to a candidate who at least espoused states' rights for educational decisions.

We will probably witness four more years of mandates that the Federal Government can't fund and neither can the states or districts.  Teachers will complain, students will perform badly on common tests, and public education will decline even further.  Private corporations (whether from the left or right side of the aisle) will realize tidy profits as a result of the federal mandates on what constitutes a good education (more computers, common assessments, etc).  Meanwhile the progressives will blame it all on the "right" wing school choice organizations (even as some are made up of dedicated Democrats) instead of where it belongs: the Obama administration and the Democratically controlled Congress and Senate in 2008-2010.

Why George Bush is a target for the progressives for his poor educational decisions while Obama deflects criticism for even more onerous educational policies is puzzling.  Right wing organizations  keep getting blamed for educational failure, privatization of public schools and wasted funding.  The blame belongs with the politicians allowing this to occur, both on the national and state level.  But somehow, I bet this is still George Bush's fault.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How Did We Get Here?

Half the country today is thrilled with yesterday's results. The other half is shaking their heads wondering, "How did we get here?" The answer is surprisingly simple and obvious to probably 95% of the people who read this blog. We carefully trained people in our classrooms to vote this way.

If you read Charlotte Iserbyt The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America or John Gotto The Underground History of American Education, you already know the history. From B.F. Skinner to outcome based education, we have been working to make the American citizen one who is trained to respond to certain stimuli in a predictable way. Then those in power who want us to approve what they are doing merely need to invoke the appropriate stimuli. If you do it right, that stimuli can be reduced to a 30 second sound bite.

We decided that Prussian military training was an appropriate model for the classroom. Follow your leader without question. The collective is what's important. Uniformity equals efficiency which is the most desirable state.

We taught generations to idolize Edward Bernays who felt that  manipulation of society was necessary, because we suffer from the 'herd instinct' which he said was irrational and dangerous. We decided not to teach that Joseph Goebbels agreed with Bernays and gave the world Nazis.

We allowed progressives to take away the role of the family in raising the child and instead make the public school the source of all wisdom and knowledge. Today we call this education equity, where even the inequity of parentage is removed by placing the child, at the earliest possible age, in the uniform environment of school.  And when some tried to take education back into their own hands, those in control created whole language and fuzzy math to make parents feel dumb and unnecessary. You needed an expert to teach your child, they said, and academia was working hard to churn out these experts.

Parents felt shut out of the class and stopped paying attention to what was being taught in the classroom. This made the transition from teaching history to "social studies" so much easier. It allowed the public school system to introduce the concepts of: American Imperialism, the destruction of indigenous peoples by white European invaders, moral relativity and non-judgementalism of other cultures, anti-capitalism, anthropogenic global warming, wealthy white slave-owning deist founders and social justice, to the public school student with the parents even realizing it.

The public school system flipped our understanding of the federal government on its head. Instead of it being the least powerful or restrictive form of coalition among a group of independent states who wished to unite primarily for the purpose of defense, it became the top down dictator of public policy in all those states. Protecting the states became protecting the people, and the list of things they needed to be protected from grew and grew. Even locally, government's protective role was expanded to the point, where in a city like New York, the public needed to be protected from their freedom of choice in beverages and fats.

We taught, after World War II, that America's goal was to "spread democracy around the world," which became, "America is a great democracy." Democracies are to be idolized. We stopped teaching Alexander Fraser Tytler's progression of civilization in which he predicted that, "A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship."

So it should be of little surprise that we have at least half our population voting for those who can promise them the most from the public coffers, who equate Democrat with democracy and think that both are good, who only have the attention span of a 30 second commercial to inform themselves prior to voting for the persons who will have total control of their lives for the next 2-6 years.

And they said our education system was failing. I would say that yesterday's election is proof positive that our public education system is a remarkable success. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Agency Based Education - The Ultimate Local Control

Today as we go to the polls to exercise our right to vote, most of us feel a sense of accomplishment. This is the time we can stop complaining about government and actually do something about it. We tend to feel better when we are proactive and do something.

In the world of politics we can either vote for someone who believes as we do, or spend time after they're elected trying to convince them that our point of view is best. Then we must wait for them to do their legislative or regulatory thing to achieve our goals. This is not a proactive approach and does not always work out for us. In fact, lately, it seems we rarely get the results we want. However, this is not all we can do about issues that we are passionate about. Sometimes, we must ignore politics all together and act locally to achieve the ends we want.

Agency Based Education is an organization that has a different blue print for education than the modern public school system. They have deconstructed the purpose of education to be the place "in which individuals exercise choice to exert their faculties to learn to be moral, self-governing, contributing citizens of good character; identify their gifts and talents to be empowered to overcome barriers in pursuit of their life’s missions; and maintain a free society to ensure these opportunities exist for future generations."

To achieve these goals they believe that the education system:
  1. Must be based in choice and not compulsion
  2. Helps develop an internal moral compass as one fosters a recognition and love of truth
  3. Recognizes that truth best inspires when sought from original source materials
  4. Should be individualized to allow children to identify and develop their gifts and talents and discover their life’s missions
  5. Must recognize that parents have the sovereign stewardship to guide their children’s educational journey
Point #5 is the key to this type of education. You can't get any more local with education control than the parent. And this approach blows the doors of choice wide open. Choice is not limited to the mandatory public (or charter) schools available.

It must be noted that origination of the organization and its work is based in the book “Teach the Children, An Agency Approach to Education,” by Neil Flinders. Their target audience is in Utah. On their website they state, "Neil’s book is a magnum opus reflecting a lifetime of studying educational principles and theories. Although the book reflects a strong presence of Neil’s religion (LDS), the directions presented for achieving the results of an agency-based education are non-specific to a religion and can be implemented by any teacher or parent who is concerned with teaching children to take personal responsibility for their education by doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, for the right reason."

So go ahead and vote for your favorite candidates today, but instead of focusing on what they promise government will do to educate your child, consider Agency Based Education's beliefs about education and think about what you believe the purpose of education is and what can you do to help your child achieve those goals.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Become a Pro-Active Parent for Your Student (Short of Home Schooling/Private Schooling)

Our last post suggested parents become more pro active in the education of their children, particularly if they are in the public school system.  With the educational belief/mandate that all children learn in a common manner and common standards/assessments, the parental responsibility of ensuring a child receives a good education becomes even more imperative.

How do parents keep an eye on what/how children are learning?  How are parents not perceived as "the problem" for failing children?  The following press release,
Parents Need To Be More Involved In Education, will give parents some ideas on how to become more involved in the child's education:


(Free-Press-Release.com) July 18, 2012 -- Almost every analysis of education ends up blaming parents.

Parents don’t care. They’re ignorant. They won’t talk to their kids. They won’t read to their kids. They won’t teach their kids. They fight teachers instead of helping them. Parents are the problem.

“I hear these criticisms all the time,” says Bruce Price, founder of Improve-Education.org. “I started to wonder if the accusations are fair. And what can we do to fix the situation?”

Price asked a minister in his office building if parents were really so bad. The minister quickly responded: “Fifty-fifty.”

“Okay,” Price decided, “let’s work with that. Let’s assume the criticism is one-half true and one-half unfair exaggeration.”

With regard to the unfair part, Price believes what we’re actually hearing is a cop-out. The school system rarely accepts responsibility for its many failures. It’s so much easier to blame voiceless, powerless parents. (Here’s a better idea: let’s blame the people actually in charge--the elite professors and administrators who adopt the bad policies.)

“With regard to the half that’s true,” Price continues, “let’s consider what might be done to make parents more helpful. Maybe they just need some pointers, some gentle nudges. Hey, parents, do these simple things and your kids will be more successful in school and in life. That’s worth a try, right?”

What follows is a short list of five suggestions for use by schools, religious organizations, community groups, etc. Put this list on websites, newsletters, programs, flyers, anywhere there is some empty space.


Parents Involved In Education

-- Answer all your child’s questions. (Ask if there are any more questions.)

-- Teach your child something new every day, something factual and basic that everyone needs to know. Use a story in the newspaper, news on the TV, or something a child says. Information that might be obvious to you as an adult is not obvious to a kid.

-- Read to your child every day if possible. Have the child sitting next to you so you can explain how reading works. (If you cannot read, it’s very important to be honest about this and to take steps to learn to read.)

-- Encourage your child to have a positive outlook on school and education. Stress that it will be fun. There will be new friends to meet and interesting new things to do.

-- If at all possible, support teachers and schools unless they are doing something clearly wrong.

(Provided by Improve-Education.org / Bruce Deitrick Price)


Price sums up the current situation. “Schools don’t seem to be improving, unfortunately. Therefore, EARLY INTERVENTION in all subjects is becoming more crucial.”

“Public schools use Whole Word, Reform Math, and many other methods that don’t work. I’m afraid that Common Core Curriculum is just going to lock in lots of bad ideas. The best defense is a good educational offense. Teach your kids what they need to know because the schools may not do the job.”

For a list of what schools should be teaching, see Bill of Rights for Students 2012.
MEW note:  I would add to the above list.   If your child is gifted or has special needs, it may very well be true that the "schools may not do the job".  The strive to be "common" in standards/assessments and outcome based goals is not only unattainable for the "average" student, it is impossible to ask gifted and special needs students be held to that "common" benchmark.  On its face, this goal to provide "common" education is clearly unattainable, just as the 100% proficiency goal of NCLB proved to be.
So how many more billions of dollars of waste and student failures will we see in the coming years with these failed/failing educational "reforms"?

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