"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, July 20, 2013

Common Core Promises Educational Equity. A Teacher Responds: "Bullspit".

This won't happen in Common Core. So what is equity all about?  To drag expectations down for all students?
Question: How is equity addressed in Common Core?
This is a question that created thoughtful discussion and Nakonia Hayes, author of John Saxon's Story, a genius of common sense in math education, provided interesting stories on her experiences of teaching in a minority setting.
Hayes gave her permission to reprint her thoughts and passed this information on about Saxon:
One of John's quotations is, "Results, not methodology, should be the basis of curriculum decisions. Results matter!" I used his materials successfully for years with all groups of students.
What does Hayes think about the idea of equity in education reform?  Will Common Core increase or decrease equity?


You're right about cultural issues, created from family values, impacting students' success. Asian/Indian students reportedly do better because of their families' cultural attitudes toward education and not bringing disrespect to their family with failures in school.

That begs the question, however: How do schools bridge the huge gap that children from poverty bring with them into kindergarten (of all colors and ethnicities)? HeadStart has not done the job in spite of millions spent and "good intentions." (By the way, there are those who measure their success by their intentions while others measure theirs by results.)

I'll offer a view of the program we had on the Spokane Indian Reservation in the 1990s. (Actually, the same program later worked with my upper-middleclass students in Seattle who were making terrible state scores in math and writing.) The "basics" that we offered were simply good curriculum and well-trained teachers in content.

That means we provided traditional, historically-proven, and user-friendly curricula to make up for teachers who were trained poorly in subject content by schools of education. We got rid of staff who refused to change their fuzzy attitudes and who wanted to enable the mistreated child to "rise above his victimhood." An Indian kid, a junior in high school, said to me one time, "I can't get ahead because of the white man." I told him that was bullspit and I never wanted to hear it again. He was to get smart enough to go through, around, under, or over any closed door! Never would I allow students to blame their lack of success on their color, gender, someone else, or their economic status.

And we NEVER said to the poverty kids, "Education is your ticket out of here." Saying that alienated the parent(s), many of whom wanted better for their children but didn't know what to ask for or how to get it. At the same time, they ALSO were afraid of their child turning against them and toward the "white" (middle class) world, so, yes, they did not support the education system. They didn't want their children to become apples--red on the outside and white on the inside. (Asians were referred to as bananas, while, as we know, blacks were Oreos.)

This is the reality of working with children of color or different races and those from deprived home/parental resources. You walk a fine line as a teacher in these cases. On the res, we had to understand tribal law, federal law, and state law, and still get kids headed to jobs and/or college. We did this not by focusing on cultural understanding in our lessons with lots of differentiated instruction for self-esteem development. We focused on user-friendly academics they (and many parents) could understand and later use in "critical thinking" skills. We spent a lot of time--a lot of time--with parents whenever and wherever we could meet with them to show we were trying to give their kids power--real power--to make decisions that would be good for goal planning and decision making. If they stayed on the res, it was because they CHOSE to, not because they couldn't survive anywhere else.

This is long, but I'm on a roll this morning.

Hearts of all kids are set on fire by teachers with consistently high and honest expectations (with that also from parents) AND with good teaching materials that show clear results. These produce true success within the student's academic life, which propel him/her to take on new school challenges. Good intentions are the basis for government work and do-gooders; real, measurable results are what matter to most of us, including kids.

 A couple of stories: One black high school graduate told me he thought I was the meanest thing on two feet (teaching Geometry) until he passed his SAT. I had told him repeatedly that he was being lazy and it was unacceptable. The fact that he stopped me in a parking lot to tell me about his success was truly a powerful moment for us both. In another situation, a black mother told me that I was prejudiced. I responded, "Damn right. I don't like mothers who don't take care of their children. Your son needs help, so sit down and listen." She did.

Now I tutor K-8 students. I recently had to have a strong talk with a Hispanic grandfather raising his grandson. The kid is pinging off the walls because he is truly (and I say truly) exhibiting ADHD behaviors. Grandpa isn't buying it. He will have to, eventually. You see, it's about how it reflects on him; it's not about the child. As I told him, I don't hand out labels easily, but when I do, I want my opinion considered thoughtfully in terms of the child.

I love being 73 years old with 33 years in educating children K-12 (and 19 years in the real, increasingly sad, world of journalism). And--big surprise-- have little use for the leaders of our education system today. They are committing professional negligence and child abuse when they won't stand up to whining and do-nothing parents, no matter what their color or background, and to schools of education that send them weak teacher candidates who may also choose not to get better at their jobs. Teachers and preachers don't go into their professions to make money. Many do go into it, however, for the prestige of lofty positions of authority (that usually bring power and money). As a former principal, I say bullspit to that notion of not remaining a teacher at heart.


A teacher with actual teaching experience gives her advice on what will help make students successful.  Common Core proponents offer theories and promise a common education is the key to make all children successful.

Who do you want teaching children?  Teachers who make curriculum decisions aligned to Common Core assessments or teachers who make curriculum decisions based on results for individual students?  Do we want teachers who want children to be "common" or teachers who want children to reach their full potential?

More articles from Hayes can be found below:


Friday, July 19, 2013

Will the Common Core Lobby Bully the Left as it Has Bullied the Right?

An increasingly diverse group is standing up to the Common Core bullies

The left and the right are combining forces in opposing Common Core.  The pro-Common Core lobby is surrounded by all sides.

From The National Educational Policy Center (NEP and Susan Ohanian.org: Finding Common Ground on the Common Core:

Ohanian Comment: Most media position opposition to the Common Core as a Teapot phenomenon. I'm hardly a Teapartier. Stephen Krashen is hardly a Teapartier. Sam Smith of Progressive Review is hardly a Teapartier. And so on.

Much conservative opposition is informed by solid research. And progressive research shows the same thing. 

Michigan Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) has asked Achieve, Inc. "repeatedly" to see the minutes or other records of meetings where the content standards were developed.

This should be the rallying cry of both conservatives and progressives: Show us the meat! Show us how these standards were developed.

I want to know who chose David Coleman and gave him the crown.

More and more folks from both sides of the aisle want to know why the American educational system has been taken over by public/private partnerships.  Ohanian makes a simple request: show us how the standards were developed.  And just how (and why) did David Coleman become the kingmaker of standards when his teaching experience was tutoring students one summer?

NEPC includes an article written by Rob Jenkins in the newtoncitizen.com furthering the argument that this has ceased to be only a teaparty concern and liberals distrust the nationalization of education as well:

What isn't as well publicized is the fact that many liberals object to the Common Core, too. A good friend of mine, an Obama supporter whom I would describe as center-left -- that is, not exactly a Tea Partier -- and who is vehemently opposed to the Common Core, was kind enough to share with me some of his objections and consent to my quoting him here.

The first problem with the Common Core, he notes, is that it's "corporatist, not capitalist ... driven more by perceived Chamber of Commerce needs than student needs. While a good education may prepare a student for a good job, career training should not be the primary purpose of public schools."

Second, "the Common Core is a top-down initiative developed at the federal level and 'incentivized' on states without extensive feedback from states or their citizens."

Third, "the Common Core does not reflect any consensus on the part of teachers."

Fourth, "the Common Core takes the emphasis away from reading literature and shifts it onto reading pamphlets and government documents, which presumably train workers better."

Fifth, "the Common Core has not been field tested. Many states have adopted the Common Core without even knowing exactly what it is, aside from some clever packaging."

Finally, he says, "the Common Core is No Child Left Behind on steroids," adopting "the worst high-stakes testing elements of NCLB ... despite spotty evidence at best that NCLB has succeeded."
His last paragraph should worry the Common Core proponents.  They are being questioned by teapartiers to liberals:

So if both conservatives and liberals think the Common Core is a bad idea, who exactly is pushing it? That's a question well worth asking, one that all of us, left and right, should keep in mind next time we go to the ballot box.

Here are some questions for the pro-Common Core spokespeople:
  • Are you ready to call those on the left as wearing tin-foil hats?  (You can't call them "teabaggers")  
  • What derogatory words/phrases are you going to use for the liberals who disagree with your corporate takeover of education?  You've tried to marginalize those on the right who don't like Common Core.  You might have quite a handful with those on the left who are beginning to question a nationalized education reform plan.  
  • Will the pro-Common Core lobby bully the left as it has bullied the right? 
Remember the famous David Coleman line in his speech to educators when talking about the state of education?  From Susan Ohanian in substancenews.net:

“[A]s you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think.” Thus, Common Core Standards architect David Coleman delivered [1] the core pedagogy of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to educators gathered at the New York State Department of Education in April 2011. Listen to a few more of Coleman’s proclamations and you have to ask yourself if this is a man of deep experience and rectitude or just a cuckoo bird let loose on a hapless bunch of educrats who don’t know how to voice dissent. Coleman was on stage one hour 59 minutes in Chancellor’s Hall decreeing the new reality of teaching in public schools across America. No one in the audience challenged his bizarre declarations.

Maybe they were in a state of shock.

The Common Core proponents are now being questioned by people who are demanding the elitists "give a s**t" and provide answers about how tax dollars are being spent, how teachers are evaluated and what/how students are learning.  Americans on both the left and the right can only be bullied so much.  What David Coleman said in that speech encapsulates what the pro-Common Core lobby and politicians supporting CCSS think about the average American.  CCSS supporters have employed bullying tactics in the adoption of the standards, then to the implementation, and when responding to critics.

How will the Common Core bullies respond to an increasingly diverse group of people clamoring for them to go home and to leave us alone?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

You Might Need a New Superintendent...If....(Thanks to Jeff Foxworthy)

Jeff Foxworthy, the largest selling comedy recording artist comedian (yes, look it up) is perhaps most famous for his "You might be a redneck" routine.

  • You ever cut your grass and found a car...
  • You own a home that is mobile and 5 cars that aren't...
  • You think "loading the dishwasher" means getting your wife drunk...
you might be a redneck. 

I couldn't help but see some parallels when thinking about school district superintendents. Some questions school board members need to be asking themselves.


  • Your Superintendent ever asked your board  to sign a document without reading it because it was "just some routine paperwork"
  • Your superintendent has ever introduced a new program or policy with "DESE has told us we have to..."  or "I just do what DESE tells me"
  • Your district appears on a list of districts supporting a policy that your board has never voted on
  • Your superintendent has had administrative staff prepare a report with information the board never asked for... and expected you to be grateful
  • Your superintendent has ever attempted to use his/her position to sway the election of your state representative
  • Your superintendent earns more money that the governor of the state while being responsible for less than 1/132 the number of people...
you might need a new superintendent.

For more thoughts on if you need a new superintendent by firing your present one, read here:

Perhaps there is nothing these supers can do. Perhaps their hands are tied in the red tape of bureaucracy and they give up. And let’s face it, our kids are getting dumber and their parents don’t care. What is an overpaid cog in the education machine going to do to turn that around?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Why A Mother is Homeschooling. Common Core is That Bad.

A mother writes about the changes she has seen in school due to Common Core and why she now homeschools her children.  From northshoreparent.com:

I noticed changes, even in the preschool setting when I went to work as a temp from 2009-2013. What in the world was going on in my beloved Head Start?  Plastered everywhere was “KINDERGARTEN READINESS!!!”" We HAVE to get them ready for Kindergarten!! I was a little offended. I thought, “Seriously? What did they think I was DOING the years I taught? Gee, what have these teachers who have been teaching forty years been doing…getting them ready for what, prison?!” Head Start had worked effectively for years.

I’m not bashing public school teachers here. Teachers are just as innocent in this new garbage as the students are. Many of them are BAFFLED at the changes that have come down. What’s going on isn’t new.. Outcomes Based Education has been a problem for YEARS. What’s new is it’s name?
Common Core State Standards.


I saw these changes in Head Start, especially this past school year as my youngest spent a year there. It was different from when my oldest son spent two years there, he is now 7. I watched, waited, and learned. Throughout the school year, I realized, something is going on.

Then the second graders homework began to change. Math especially seemed to be less about 2+2=4 and more about how does Tim FEEL about having to share 5 melons? My son had to answer a simple math problem five different ways.  After showing his work four different ways on a simple math problem, the 5th question simple said, “Explain.”. His answer? “I know because I listened.” SERIOUSLY. The 7 year old could even see the stupidity of the repetitive questions. He already answered it four ways, did he REALLY need to explain it again?
Suffice it to say, I’m tired, but after much research  I decided CCSS is NOT for our family. I decided we would homeschool. Common Core was the last straw.  I figured, I have this education degree, and I can’t screw it up any worse than they are right??

Read more here.

Common Core "Insurance"...or is it "Ensurance"? Spelling Word of the Day: Heterograph

Should the third step read: "Determine the correct spelling and usage"

Picked up from twitter:

This is an excerpt from an email from the FLDOE about a Common Core training I must attend. Grammar is important! UGH

Common Core provides teaching lessons in spelling but in a different manner than years past.  From The baltimoresun.com and Howard finds a new way to teach spelling:

"Spelling is definitely taught differently in schools now," said Fran Clay, coordinator of Elementary Language Arts for the county school system.  "We're trying to get far beyond just memorizing a list of words. The focus now is on word study, on vocabulary, phonics, as well as spelling. We want students to understand how and why words work."

The new spelling regimen, part of the Common Core standards for language arts being instituted in Maryland public schools, is based on the "Words Their Way" curriculum developed by Donald Bear, a former teacher and researcher in literacy development.

Under this approach, students use "word sorts" to compare, contrast and analyze words, to recognize patterns, and to learn spelling principles.

The one commenter to the article addressed the problems with words like "ensure" and "insure":

Teachers have been discovering ‘new’ methods for teaching spelling for several centuries, and they all appear to produce better results for a year or two. But because at least 3,700 common English words contain some unpredictably used letters as in 'a blue shoe flew through to you too' (all of which are shown at http://englishspellingproblems.blogspot.com/2010/11/english-spelling-rules.html ), even gifted spellers take at least 10 years to learn them all, and nearly half of all students never manage to do so.

Nothing but modernisation of English spelling habits will ever make much of difference to that.  

Does the official writing the notice of the Common Core meeting in Florida know that "insure" and "ensure" is one of several hundred heterographs in the English language? Maybe "heterograph" would be a good spelling word for this writer to study and memorize for the correct usage/spelling of "insure" and "ensure".  
We should expect educators educating other educators use correct grammar and spelling.  These educators are charged with teaching children correct grammatical structure and usage/spelling of words.  The teacher in the tweet is correct: Grammar is important!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Learn How to Counter the Delphi Technique at Common Core Meetings

Have you had this experience while attending Common Core meetings?

DESE tried the Delphi technique at the eight Common Core meetings around the state on May 2.  Seven of those meetings were "delphied".  Attendees stated their concerns were not addressed and questions not answered.

A webinar will be broadcast on Tuesday, July 16 from 2:00 - 4:00 PM PDT to learn how not be "delphied".   If you cannot attend the webinar, it is being taped for later viewing.  This is sponsored by the Lodi Tea Party in California:


FREE Anti-DELPHI Webinar July 16th 2 PM
This is an open Webinar for anyone across the country who would like to get trained on how to defeat the "Delphi Technique" that is used to achieve a false consensus in public workshops and visioning meetings.
If you want to attend register below. If you can't attend the live Webinar don't worry as we will be taping it too.

 Please register for Heather Gass
Delphi Technique
Tuesday, July 16, 2013 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM PDT at:
What exactly IS the Delphi Technique?
More and more, we are seeing citizens being invited to "participate" in various forms of meetings, councils, or boards to "help determine" public policy in one field or another. They are supposedly being included to get "input" from the public to help officials make final decisions on taxes, education, community growth or whatever the particular subject matter might be. 
Sounds great, doesn't it? Unfortunately, surface appearances are often deceiving.
You, Mr. or Mrs. Citizen, decide to take part in one of these meetings.
Generally, you will find that there is already someone designated to lead or "facilitate" the meeting. Supposedly, the job of the facilitator is to be a neutral, non-directing helper to see that the meeting flows smoothly. 
Actually, he or she is there for exactly the opposite reason: to see that the conclusions reached during the meeting are in accord with a plan already decided upon by those who called the meeting.
The process used to "facilitate" the meeting is called the Delphi Technique. This Delphi Technique was developed by the RAND Corporation for the U.S. Department of Defense back in the 1950s. It was originally intended for use as a psychological weapon during the cold war.
However, it was soon recognized that the steps of Delphi could be very valuable in manipulating ANY meeting toward a predetermined end.
Of course there is more but I think that you get the gist of what we are up against.  This webinar will be done in the comfort of your home with your own computer. 
Register at the link above.


The group includes this video explaining the Delphi Technique.  Listen to the audience questions and concerns and understand the lack of answers and lack of authority to answer the questions mirrors DESE's response to citizen concerns/questions:


Monday, July 15, 2013

Another Pro-Common Core Myth Exposed

The supposition: Common Core implementation is worthwhile.   


If you've been following Common Core for a while, you have probably noticed the pro-Common Core side is increasing its talking points as more and more taxpayers and legislators are asking questions about CCSS adoption and implementation.  One of the most repeated claims is:

...the standards only define what students should know. They do not mandate how teachers should teach or what courses school districts must offer. Those decisions remain with local districts, as they always have. 

This above excerpt was reported in The Beacon and is a talking point on the DESE site at CCSS FAQ, page 3/9:

Do the Common Core State Standards instruct teachers to teach using certain methods?

No. The Common Core State Standards documents do not provide instructional strategies or limit instructional strategies. The CCSS do provide illustrations and examples of the content described by a standard but do not establish a preference for a particular strategy. In fact, the opposite is true. Teachers continue to be encouraged to use the many methods, strategies and algorithms available to them as they instruct students.

DESE is waging an educational propaganda campaign and is not being entirely  truthful.  
This explanation of teaching practices is from a pro-Common Core site, mindsetworks.com (Bill Gates Foundation approved) and Cultivating Common Core Experts: Grow Your Own:

3.3 million teachers will be asked to change their practices,  routines, and lessons this year to align with the Common Core State Standards.  That is a staggering number when you think about that many Americans essentially experiencing a major job change at the same time!

What is the extensive teacher training/development necessary for Common Core if not to provide strategies?  Isn't "changing practices, routines and lessons to align to the CCSS" mean teacher decisions on "what kind of practice, routines and lessons they must use" are centered around the CCSS and in reality, dictate how/what teachers must teach?

This next statement from the article should cause you to become quite concerned and spur you to action by attending your school board meetings, state school board meetings and  meeting with your legislators:

It is inevitable that with all this change, some of us will fail.  We will mess it up.  We will get it wrong and forget some essential component (of a standard, a lesson, a concept).  Our central offices will mess up too.  Trainings will go awry, resources arrive late, and support will be well-intentioned, but spotty.  Are we prepared to tolerate this process and allow ourselves to take the necessary responsible risks to LEARN and grow?
I hope so.

The writer is referring to the new educational practices the teachers must use.  The apparent educational chaos  may impact students' educational future.  Are you willing to have your children be the guinea pigs while the teachers learn a new way to teach?  Do you envision a "world class education" as based on no data?  Educational reform should be based on data/research/best educational practice, not on "hope" and waiting for teachers to "LEARN and grow".  Our children are not experiments for teachers to "get it right" for an educational theory based on guaranteed outcomes.  It's not fair to the teachers or the students.

More reading on the disconnect between what DESE says and what is really happening in the classroom can be found from James Shuls and Constructive Criticism for Common Core Constructivism Deniers:

Over the past couple of years, I have had the opportunity to discuss these concerns with many Common Core supporters. Although I typically disagree with their conclusions or their logic, I believe Common Core supporters are for the most part sincere in their belief that these standards are rigorous and will improve outcomes for students. However, I find claims that the Common Core State Standards will not influence instructional practices downright disingenuous and obviously false.

In a recent Twitter exchange, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education informed me that the CCSS don’t “tell teachers how to teach.” This is a phrase that has been echoing across the country as the Common Core has come under attack from the left and the right.

The fact is that curriculum standards don’t tell teachers how to teach in the same way that a high jump bar doesn’t tell a jumper how to jump. You could theoretically jump over a high jump bar in whatever way you would like; but because of how the jump is structured there is a clear advantage to doing the old Fosbury Flop.

It is clear from documents on the Common Core website and from the discourse throughout the country that these new standards encourage constructivist teaching practices. Take for example these two quotes from a Key Points in Common Core Math document.
  • The standards stress not only procedural skill but also conceptual understanding, to make sure students are learning and absorbing the critical information they need to succeed at higher levels ‐ rather than the current practices by which many students learn enough to get by on the next test, but forget it shortly thereafter, only to review again the following year.
  • Having built a strong foundation K‐5, students can do hands on learning in geometry, algebra and probability and statistics. Students who have completed 7th grade and mastered the content and skills through the 7th grade will be well‐ prepared for algebra in grade 8.

Read more here.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Educational Cancer, Privatization and Common Core

Placebos (tax credits, vouchers, Common Core) won't cure educational cancer.

St. Louis is abuzz with the recent decision from the Missouri Supreme Court regarding educational delivery to students in unaccredited districts.  From stlbeacon.org and Missouri guidelines for student transfers discusses the possibility of limiting numbers:

 Ruling last week in the long-running lawsuit now known as the Breitenfeld case, the court overturned a ruling by a St. Louis County circuit judge and said a law allowing students in unaccredited districts to transfer is constitutional. It rejected arguments that the law violates the Hancock amendment to the state constitution as well as contentions from accredited districts that they could not handle the expected influx of students.
Citizens from the receiving districts are concerned about financial reimbursement, class sizes and asking what authority school boards possess as even establishing residency requirements for district attendance is superseded by the state legislature.  Is this a viable option for failing schools?  Or are tax credits and vouchers the answer?

Some education reformers who support tax credits and vouchers  label themselves as conservative.  But are these reforms actually conservative and is privatization the answer?  How do conservatives support tax credits and vouchers when they will be subject to Common Core mandates that create national standards?

The privatization/tax credit question was considered by Van Harvey who writes at Blogodidact.com.  The following is reprinted with permission by Van (look for it in the future at his blog).  It's a thoughtful discussion on what ails education today, the current reform measures (common core, charter/vouchers/tax credits) and begs the question if  teaching what is "good and right and true" is the basis of education delivery or if it is the desire for standardization and preparation for the workforce.


Privatizing Education cannot be our final goal, not if your goal is an America which understands what America means.

Yes, vouchers are better than taxation alone, and tax credits better than vouchers, and local control is better than state control... as stage 3 cancer is better than stage 4, stage 2 is better than stage 3, etc, but as long as what you are aiming at is cancer rather than health... you truly have no recovery in sight.

Yes it is important to reduce the cancer, but don't imagine that that is the same as eradicating it. Privatizing Education, while continuing to accept the same ideas of what an education is, if anything, will result in a more efficient and thorough spread of that cancer which is eating us alive today.

I'll try to be brief... but it is a strain to (as this series of posts will attest)... if you think I can rattle on about the constitution, that's nothing to the forests of HTML I can mow down in discussing Education - after all, the current state of our constitution followed from the 'progress' of our systematization of our method of education.

Nearly universally accepted, Left & Right, is the idea that what our schools are for is to provide our kids with the skills they need to earn a living "and to compete with the Chinese!", and that lesson is the single greatest and most revolutionary success the ProRegressives have achieved, and it has delivered us to the world we have today. That understanding of what the purpose of an education is, is what led to Standardized Testing in the first place, along with the system of school districts, under school boards, under superintendents, embedded within bureaucracies producing textbooks which further them, which we have today. 

One of my 'favorite' horror quotes is by one of the driving forces behind all of that, as well as the textbooks they are taught from, he's even more significant to our world today than even Dewey, a fellow named Ellwood P. Cubberly , and back in 1909, he enthused that:

“Each year the child is coming to belong more to the State and less and less to the parent.”

He knew what he was talking about; when the purpose of getting an education is to acquire useful skills, for the greater good, the inevitable result will be a state which the people belong to, and are shaped by.

The meaning of "Get an Education so you can earn a good living!" is not saying "Get an Education so you can live a life worth living!", but simply get the skills needed to earn a good living, and education is done when they've got those skills that give them more of what they want - and more of what they want is all they want,  and 'forget about all that "high falutin'" stuff'.

This view wasn't new in 1909, or 1864, it was the reason why Sam Adams had to struggle for twenty years to get to the point of being able to become the father of the American Revolution, because he first had to wake up the populace that was being overcome by just that sense, that gathering skills and wealth was more important and pleasurable than liberty and virtue. The same sense which our 'Progressive' leaders, of the Left and Right, have for more than a century been proposing as being 'pro Education!', highlighting the fact that 'progressives' are Pro-Regress, and that conception of an 'education' is fundamentally anti-American.

If "American" can be said to have a meaning, it is at least in part the expectation of being secure in your property and able to live your own life, to seek 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness', without fearing the actions of your neighbor, no matter how strange, because they too respect the laws which make that possible.

That view, that understanding, is not the result of acquiring skills to earn a living, but from understanding what makes life worth living, and then acquiring the skills which further it. 

The Education our Founders era received (if you can find this book, buy it), was one whose purpose was to introduce students to, and help them reason their way through (teach), the most valuable materials a person needed to know in order to become a virtuous, self-governing person, capable of living in liberty with their fellows in society. Those materials consisted in a small selection of the very best that had been written in literature (secular and religious), history, art & science.

It was understood that a person who possessed that basis for an ever continuing Education, could easily master any skills necessary to live a life worth living, and that life was made even more worth living the more deeply you pursued your education, and a person so educated could achieve a worthwhile life and dazzling successes, because they first understood what was of worthwhile to a good life - the likes of Jefferson & Madison did not spring from nowhere, they can from that idea.

The achievement and culmination of Western Civilization, was the understanding that when what is Good and Right and True is what drives you, then Power is harnessed (though never mastered) and made to enrich the lives of all, and the result of that was America.

The ProRegressive seeks to short cut that quest, best summed up in the well intentioned efforts of some of our Founders themselves, such as Dr. Benjamin Rush & Noah Webster, who, impatient and dazzled with the effects of Science, sought to more easily grasp its fruits by chopping down the height of the tree which grew it,

"Another defect in our schools, which, since the revolution, is become inexcuseable, is the want of proper books. The collections which are now used consist of essays that respect foreign and ancient nations. The minds of youth are perpetually led to the history of Greece and Rome or to Great Britain; boys are constantly repeating the declamations of Demosthenes and Cicero, or debates upon some political question in the British Parliment. These are excellent specimens of good sense, polished stile and perfect oratory; but they are not interesting to children."

What Webster proposed was that what produced his own education, be traded for "...A selection of essays...", a synopsis of facts, soon to become factoids, that sought to pluck out the fruits of the West without the need to grow the trees they grew upon, which was the basis for that dazzlingly interesting feature of every child's 'education' today (and Cubberly's specialty) - the Textbook.

When was the last time you saw a child willingly lugging one of these grey condensations of pap to the beach to read?

What 'education' can follow from what no one, not even the teachers, have an interest in reading?

Put it this way, John Adams spoke of that moment when James Otis rose "like a flame of fire!" and thundered against the Writs of Assistance,

 "Then and there the child Independence was born", and it was born through what Adams described as Otis's

 "promptitude of classical allusions, a depth of research, a rapid summary of historical events and dates, a profusion of legal authorities, a prophetic glance of his eye into futurity, and a torrent of impetuous eloquence, he hurried away every thing before him"

That child was only able to be born, let alone conceived, because those classical allusions and dates were not simply recognized by those in attendance as trivia to be pursued, but matters which they understood and understood to be vital to the lives of each and every one there, and to their children as well.

Without that understanding, America won't even be stillborn into future generations, having been aborted in ours or possibly the next.

So yes, seeking to do what is practical now is important, and with subsidiarity in mind, the principle that political matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest and least centralized competent authority possible (that being, IMHO, neighborhood parents, and at that level, kept at that level, their being in government is not a problem (though always a danger)) moving towards vouchers and tax credits with as few strings attached as possible is as desirable and necessary as moving from stage 4 to stage 3 cancer. And moving from state run schools to charters and fully privatized schools will be just as useful as moving from stage 2 to stage 1 cancer.

But don't be fooled into thinking that stage 1 cancer is what we should be seeking, if you want America back, that requires at the very least, an Education that imparts the materials and lessons that were necessary for its conception and birth in the first place.
If what Van writes is true, then why are "conservative" lawmakers, pundits and lobbyists embracing privatization and Common Core mandates?  These reforms (legislated by the State Legislature) are not created by the smallest, lowest and least centralized competent authority possible.  Once again, a larger and centralized authority is dictating to the local districts on how they can/should operate and the school board's power is usurped.
Do "conservatives" such as Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee think they are fooling the citizens into thinking education delivered via vouchers, tax credits and charters are not under Common Core mandates?  These mandates are not individualized and state/locally driven.  They were not created by the smallest, lowest and least centralized competent authority possible.  
Don't be fooled into thinking privatization, tax credits and vouchers are the answer for educational ills.  The issue may not be so much where a child attends school but rather, what the child learns, how the child learns and who controls those educational developmental/directional theories.  When a system is riddled with cancer (loss of local districts structuring educational practice best for its unique community), the system needs to be radically altered vs treating it with placebos. 
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