"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, December 15, 2012

Convicted Missouri Democrat Politician Jeff Smith Supports Supposedly Conservative Republican Jeb Bush...

Former state Sen. Jeff Smith (center), D-St. Louis, exits the Thomas Eagleton Federal Courthouse on Tuesday after pleading guilty to two counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice. Smith faces up to 20 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine for each count. (Matt Mitgang | Student Life)

...so what's the problem?  Stop labeling all education reform as being proposed/directed by ALEC, conservatives and the right-wing.  Stop closing your eyes to the fact the educational blueprint being offered is supported and being implemented by a Democratic administration.  The old labels of "liberal" and "conservative" and Democrat and Republican are outdated and archaic terms.  The only term you need to understand is "global citizenship". Determine if your politicians/lobbyists/special interest companies and individuals fit into that reform mantra.

The post below details disgraced former Missouri Democrat politician Jeff Smith's (now a university professor) accolades for former Republican governor Jeb Bush (now an education reformer).  It seems as if this previously labeled "right-wing" former governor is embraced by a left leaning politician turned professor.  It's one big elitist party  of using taxpayer dollars and taxpayer children for their own version of what's best for local communities and children.

Questions.  Why are Republican Missouri legislators also supporting Jeb Bush's educational reform measures?  Do they want to support the same policies as former Democratic politician Jeff Smith?  Is there any difference in the Republican legislators and Jeff Smith when it comes to educational policy?  The Republicans tout "local control".  Are these reforms allowing decreased federal control and spending?

Why would a far left politician seemingly support a Jeb Bush presidency? 

From Grumpy Opinions:


Overnight Sandra in Brevard sent me a link to a CNN Opinion Piece Can Jeb Bush sway the GOP on taxes, debt? By Jeff Smith. 

Bush addresses the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Annual Conference in Lake Buena Vista
Smith was clearly lobbying for a Jeb Bush candidacy in 2016.  For the most part  the article was really complementary of the Bush family.  Smith went back as far as Prescott Bush, and pointing out that as a US Senator, back in the 1950s Prescott was somewhat of a social progressive and Eisenhower’s favorite golfing partner.

He was little bit harsh on George Bush for being too conservative, but pointed out he had to take conservative positions because at the time the Republican Party was moving in a conservative direction. Among other things Smith pointed out that:
  • Jeff Smith: No American family embodies Republicanism more than the Bushes
  • Smith: Jeb Bush, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, may be bucking the trend
  • He says Jeb Bush advocates for fiscal responsibility and standing up to Grover Norquist
  • Smith: If GOP can return to its more centrist roots, then it has a chance to win more voters
Read All of   Can Jeb Bush sway the GOP on taxes, debt?

There was something about the article and Jeff Smith’s promotion of liberal social agenda that made me wonder exactly who Jeff Smith is. According to his CNN profile:

Editor’s note: Jeff Smith, who represented Missouri’s 4th Senate District from 2006-09, is a professor in the urban policy graduate program at The New School. He is on Twitter: @jeffsmithMO.
Somehow it struck me odd that is CNN profile would mention that it been a Missouri State Senator, but did not mention any party affiliation, I was also curious about The New School, so I took a quick trip to Wikipedia and found Jeb Smith had been a Democrat when he served in the State Senate, I didn’t see anything to indicate he’s changed his party affiliation.  I also found:

In September 2004, Smith submitted a false affidavit to the Federal Election Commission relating to a conspiracy with a group called Voters for Truth in the summer of 2004, to run negative advertisements against Russ Carnahan, Smith’s opponent in a congressional race. In January 2009, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, acting upon newly discovered information, opened a criminal investigation to determine whether anyone had attempted to obstruct the Federal Election Commission proceeding. Smith was betrayed by his former associate Steve Brown after Brown was approached by the FBI to wear a wire. Brown escaped a jail sentence by betraying Smith, his longtime friend. Smith pleaded guilty to two felony counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice. Each conspiracy count is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. He resigned effective August 25, 2009 and was sentenced to one year and a day of prison. He also was fined $50,000. His lawyer requested Smith be sent to a prison camp in Marion, Illinois.[7] However, Smith was sent to a federal prison in Manchester, Kentucky.[8] In late August 2010 he was released to a halfway house in St. Louis.[9] In November 2010, he was released early from the halfway house and is no longer in federal custody.[10][11]

Current Life

In spring 2011, Smith was married and in September, he and his wife Teresa had their first child, Charlie Wallace Smith. Smith accepted a professorial position in urban policy at the New School’s Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy in New York City. At present he writes for The Recovering Politician [12]and contributes to Politico - The Arena.[13] His writing has been published in Inc. magazine [14] and praised in New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix.[15] Smith plans to publish a book, which details his time in politics and federal prison, in late 2011 to early 2012.[16

Read More Jeff Smith (Missouri politician)
Yeah okay what kid of school hires an ex politician with a criminal conviction for conspiracy to obstruct justice– The line for Miracle On 34th Street comes to mind
It’s a Progressive School!!  Climate Change, Globalization, Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management  and all those other little catch phrases liberals love are very much on display

Again from Wikipedia

In 1964, the J. M. Kaplan Center for New York City Affairs was founded as the first teaching and research center in the United States devoted to the study of a single metropolitan area. In 1975, under the leadership of Dean Henry Cohen, the Kaplan Center evolved into the Robert J. Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy (now the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy), which was named in honor of the former New School trustee Robert J. Milano (1912–2000), who had also been a member of the advisory board of the J.M. Kaplan Center. Curriculum is structured to encourage creative thinking in aid of progressive social, economic, and political change in the public, private, and nonprofit arenas
In 2011, Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy came together with the Graduate Program in International Affairs at The New School to create the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy

More New School’s Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy in New York City 
So why would a leftist professor start lobbying Jeb Bush to be the Republican candidate almost 4 years ahead of the election. The answer’s simple, first of all with the political left considers a moderate Republican now Jack Kennedy (a democrat) we have considered a flaming liberal. Over the years progressives and their communist friends have managed to drag the Republican Party establishment so far to the left that they are more liberal now than the Democrats were 50 years ago.

The Bush Clan helped enable the party to be dragged towards the left.  Smith probably sees Jeb Bush as someone a progressive could beat an election. But Smith is also looking at the possibility that Joe Biden might run for president, get the democratic nomination and get clobbered in the general election. If that happens the left want someone in the White House they can depend on to help push their educational and globalization schemes. In other words they can live with another Bush, after all it was Jeb's Father that signed Agenda 21 for the United States.


 You can check out Smith's writing at his site The Recovering Politician and also his recent talk at TED about what he learned in prison.

He talks about learning about "hustles" while in prison.  Is he now "hustling" education reform?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Wading Into The Standards Weeds

This week Diane Ravitch took on David Coleman (drafter of the CCSS English Language Arts [ELA] standards and President of the College Board) over his explanation of the Common Core ELA standards. Advice to David Coleman: Revise the Common Core Standards At issue is some confusion and angst over the 70/30 requirement in the ELA standards which states that teachers use 70% literary text and 30% informational text when teaching. Does it mean out with The Great Gatsby and in with GM's manual on do-it-yourself oil changes?  There is great wailing and gnashing of teeth from some that this is "anti-intellectual, anti-literary, anti-the things of the mind that can’t be quantified." There are equally vociferous claims from the other side, e.g. Coleman, that informational texts would instead include things like the speeches of Lincoln and MLK and that a significant portion of them would be used in other classes like science and social studies. Many experts and pundits have weighed in with different conclusions. Welcome to the morass that is the Common Core Standards themselves.

Ravitch notes that state and district officials have no way of monitoring whether teachers are complying with any type of category split. Are we going to assign yet another administrative staffer to count the number of books in each category being used by each teacher to make sure there is compliance? Let's hope not. If we did, would that counting to be done by teacher or across an entire school, or district wide? Should teachers, principals, school boards be spending time deciding whether or not a written piece falls into one category or another? The literary category has been under debate for years. What constitutes quality literature? Do we really need to add, what is good informational text?

A few examples of the latter have been bandied about and debated about whether they would fit into this category. One is EPA guidelines which Coleman quickly, almost too quickly, dismissed. Stanley Kurtz of the National Review looked at what is actually given as examples in the Common Core documentation. One of the suggested texts is Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management.You must read Kurtz's piece to understand why this is not nearly as propagandistic as it appears on first blush. The important thing is that CC actually cited environmental regulation as an appropriate informational text.

Stepping further into the weeds, we uncovered a presentation given by EPA Region 3 (mid-Atlantic states) that says EPA's goal is an increased understanding of how their Environmental Education
"integrates with common core standards," (p. 2) and how EE can "support common core." (p. 3)  Does this not show an assumption on EPA's part that they will be producing materials for schools to use in Common Core?  They also see a role for themselves in providing Formal and Non Formal Educator Professional Development (p. 6). [Sidebar: EPA will also be concerning themselves about the greenness of our schools p. 7]

Of greater concern is the assertion  that EE will "integrate with emerging new science framework/ standards." If it will be so easy to integrate EPA's view of the environment into science standards, is there any doubt what those standards will look like? Put another way, which is more likely to change for the other - EPA to conform to peer reviewed scientific standards or classroom science standards to change to align with EPA's ideology?

The likes of Coleman, Duncan and Bennett can say that the specifics of what is actually used in the classroom are up to the individual teachers or districts. Technically this is true. But as Kurtz points out, in the real world many schools will simply adopt the recommended Common Core exemplars as the path of least resistance. The mere existence of a national set of standards, prepackaged and ready to go, is all that is needed for many schools to adopt them. Pushing them through RTTT just gave them a nudge under everyone's nose.

It is easy to get lost in the argument of whether the standards themselves are good or not.  Are they too easy, too rigorous, to heavily weighted this way or that, better or worse than what schools use now? Once set in place, with everyone used to where their marching orders come from they will be hard to dislodge. The crafters knew this. Whether we like or dislike them now is not the point. If they change in the future because, say, more federal departments are having a say in how they are written, we will have lost the right to change them locally. The focus must remain on where the locus of control for our schools resides.