education

 
 

WATERS: Hopeful rhetoric adorns wall of school-choice obstructionism

Jim Waters head

House Education Committee Chairman Derrick Graham’s recent op-ed reveals his clear understanding of Kentucky’s education deficiencies.

Graham, D-Frankfort, is well aware of the “persistent disparities in performance between groups of students, especially those defined as minorities, disabled or low-income.”

He eloquently addresses how “students caught in the achievement gap are disproportionately from African-American, Latino and low-income homes,” and how “these discrepancies stunt not only the educational attainment of these students, but their future economic opportunities as well.”

Graham recognizes that “clearly, far too many schools are falling short.”

Why, then, does he employ more stall tactics than a star defense lawyer when it comes to allowing Kentucky parents to have viable alternatives, including public charter schools, for educating their children – especially when a growing body of evidence indicates that such parental-controlled choices help address those very issues he stews about?

While the state Senate recently passed solid legislation to bring public charter schools to Kentucky, Graham – as he often does – used his substantial power as committee chairman to kill the thoughtful, effective and restrained approach.

The Senate-approved policy creates a pilot program allowing five charter schools in Kentucky’s two largest and most-urban school districts – similar to densely populated, low-income communities nationwide where charters more often than not have an impressive track record of high test scores, graduation rates and college attendance and low failure and dropout numbers.

Graham offered legislation purporting to close the achievement gap and turn around failing schools.

While these bills may reinforce Graham’s any-option-but-charter-schools stance with the state teachers’ union – where he no doubt would like to land a cushy job after his legislative tenure – they offer little in the way of actual education improvement for Kentucky’s neediest students.

Accomplishing that requires policies – including parental school-choice options – that would put him at odds with the union bosses.

Graham’s turnaround bill would have allowed for an “external management organization” to come in and advise a failing school’s existing leadership – but only after that school failed four years in a row.

So if Johnny enters a school that fails during his first-grade year, he’s finished the fourth grade before this dull accountability tool can even be picked up. And if, by chance, the school happens to barely pass during Johnny’s fourth-grade year – even after three consecutive years of failure – then it gets to start over with a new “shot clock.”

Two other significant developments regarding charter schools occurred on the day Graham’s op-ed was published by the Lexington Herald-Leader:

  • Alabama became the 43rd state to pass charter-school legislation, leaving Kentucky among the seven states in the nation without a parental school-choice policy.
  • Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) released the results of one of its most comprehensive research projects ever, comparing charters with traditional schools in urban areas in 22 different states.

“This research shows that many urban charter schools are providing superior academic learning for their students,” CREDO director Margaret Raymond said.

Do parents not deserve such options, especially considering the fact that the math proficiency-rate gap among Kentucky’s middle-school students has more than doubled since the Kentucky Education Reform Act was implemented – from 9 points in 1990 to 22 points in 2013?

Among Graham’s flowery rhetoric was his acknowledgement that Kentucky legislators have “a moral obligation and legal responsibility” to ensure such gaps are closed.

So if politicians like Graham and the handful of his party’s fellow charter-school obstructionists in the House fail to close the gaps by blocking school-choice policies that have proven effective elsewhere, does that make such obstruction immoral and even illegal?

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at jwaters@freedomkentucky.com. Read previously published columns at www.bipps.org.


SPARKS: SBDM Councils – Wrong for Kentucky schools and families

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“…there are limits on a board’s authority and we are not permitted to usurp the authority of site based councils.”

                                                     –Local school board member on behalf

                                               of the board and superintendent.

                                                                              December 2014

So often we hear that local control is better. I firmly believe that government decisions are better made at the local level. I also believe it is possible for control to become too localized. I would like to share my experience with Site Based Decision Making councils (SBDM) as a parent and a parent representative in our Kentucky schools.

In 1990, the Kentucky General Assembly, in response to a court decision, passed the Kentucky Education Reform Act also known as KERA. This education reform would dramatically change funding, curriculum, and governance of public schools in our state.

KERA legislation mandated the creation of SBDM councils.

SBDM councils are small boards within each school that provide policy, programs and curriculum for that school and also hire the principal. Councils are composed of the school principal, three teachers, and two parents of current school students.

The design was intended to circumvent political control by powerful families who either work for the school district or live within the community. At the same time, the design excludes various constituencies including taxpayers without children enrolled in public schools.

An intentional side effect of this type of governance was to foster competition between schools within the district, aiming to drive a competitive focus on education, with the hopes of improved test scores. The actuality is this competition has created silos of secrecy.

After enrolling my twins in 2002 with our local school, we soon discovered our son showed signs of a learning difference. With much frustration, after completion of his fourth grade year, I sought an outside diagnosis for our son. This was when I first learned of dyslexia, and was advised our best course of action was to pursue a multi-sensory instruction known as Orton-Gillingham (OG).

To my surprise, no one – not an administrator, teacher, or special education teacher – at the elementary school was familiar with OG methodology.

I soon learned that the OG method was not only in use at an adjacent elementary school in our district, the program had been established for years!

The principal at my son’s school, by her own admission, had never heard of Orton-Gillingham. The principal, who is also the chairman of the SBDM council; the individual who oversees programs, curriculum, and controls the school’s budget, could have never brought OG to the council for consideration because she had never been exposed to it. Other schools are not obligated to share program information – successes or failures.

I believe this lack of communication was a direct result of SBDM councils. Where countywide oversight would align the educational resources for the entire district, the silo effect created by SBDM effectively denied my son and other children an appropriate education.

As parent representatives, we do not receive training on curriculum, nor do we know the multitude of programs readily available to children. And at the end of the day, the three teachers are not willing to challenge their employer. Thus creating a dysfunction at the expense of our children.

It is also not a requirement for the principal, who presides over the council to reside within the district. Of the principals I have served with, I have not encountered one that resided within the same county, let alone the district; yet, they are responsible for managing our tax dollars.

These duties and more should be the responsibility of the superintendent and school board members who can and should be held accountable by the voters and taxpayers of that district. The SBDM council is not accountable to the voter or the taxpayer.

Our local school board is now very quick to dismiss any parental inquiries from the district level, and direct them to the localized SBDM councils. No statement echoes more frequently than “That is an SBDM issue.” Parents seeking answers are frequently trapped in bureaucracy, created by the divide between the school board and SBDM. To appeal a decision made by their local SBDM, they approach the board, which in turn, sends them back to the SBDM.

Kentucky State Senator, John Schickel has sponsored SB 135 to put the responsibility of public school education back in the hands of the superintendent and elected school board members.

Call your legislator and voice your support of SB 135.

http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/15RS/SB135.htm

Phyllis Sparks is a past SBDM Parent Representative-Walton Verona Elem., Gray Middle, and Ryle High School. Commonwealth Institute of Parent Leadership (CIPL) graduate 2009, Past President of the Kentucky Branch of the International Dyslexia Association. Vice Chair of the Boone County Republican Party and recently elected Boone County Magistrate.


Common Core funds the Muslim Brotherhood

Above is the Actual header photo from the first webpage at www.pearson.com website with the heading below it, “21st Century Education- How do you teach skills that last a life time?”

Above is the Actual header photo from the first webpage at www.pearson.com website with the heading below it, “21st Century Education- How do you teach skills that last a life time?”

Pearson Education is a company that designs “education products and services to institutions, governments and direct to individual learners”. They have 40,000 employees in 80 countries. “Pearson is listed on the London and New York stock exchanges (LSE: PSON; NYSE: PSO). In fact, Pearson is one of the few companies to have been a constituent of the FTSE100 ever since the index began in 1984. However, though the name has remained the same the company behind it has changed beyond all recognition”.

The three main changes the company cites are as follows: (www.pearson.com)

  1. “A corporate focus on ‘education in the broadest sense of the word’, a strategy of becoming the world’s leading learning company with heavy exposure to the growing global education market.”
  2. “A transformation from book publisher to digital services company.”
  3. “A significant expansion into fast-growing developing economies including China, India, Africa and Brazil.”

Pearson is a former member of the Advisory Council for the United Nations Global Compact. They continue to be a member. “Participation in the Global Compact continues to provide an important framework for Pearson as we develop and grow, and are pleased to continue our support and engagement,” Robin Freestone Chief financial officer (and Board member responsible for corporate responsibility)

Remember, the Gates Foundation also used the United Nations as one vehicle for funding the development and implementation of Common Core in the United States.

Pearson appears to have a number of investors worldwide with one of the largest financial contributors being the Libyan Investment Authority that holds 26 million shares. According to the Financial Times of London, the Libyan Investment Authority was founded by Libyan dictator Muammer Gaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam with shares now belonging to more than five members of the Gaddafi family. In the Middle East; Turkey, Saudi Arabia, CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood have invested heavily in Pearson Education.

Pearson Education claims they are a public company in a free market and they have no control over their shareholders. In other words, they didn’t mean to fund terrorist activities.

“Muslim Brotherhood documents seized by the FBI and presented at the Holy Land Foundation Trial in Texas revealed a plan by the Muslim Brotherhood and their subsidiary organizations like CAIR to penetrate and indoctrinate American K-12 students.”

These documents were believed to be the Muslim Brotherhood’s manifesto in North America. You can view the documents from the Holy Land Foundation Trials by visiting the following links: (Note: the documents are provided in Arabic and English. You will need to scroll down the document to get to the English translation.)

In May 2014, Pearson Education took over teacher certification in New York State, because the state had to implement “reforms” to compete for federal ‘Race to the Top’ dollars. The evaluation system known as the Teacher Performance assessment (TPA) will be solely administered by Pearson Education. New York State teachers will be entirely evaluated by Pearson Education.

University programs for teacher training are being subsidized by Saudi Arabia. Middle East Studies (under Title VI of the Higher Education Act) which entails designing lesson plans and seminars on the Middle East for American K-12 teachers are being distributed without oversight despite federal funding by the United States government. Saudi Arabia is funding the foundation creating the materials and training of the teachers and coordinators of these programs.

Pearson Education did not miss a chance to be a part of this exciting training, because there were higher education dollars up for grabs. You can view their website specifically designed for Middle Eastern studies at the following link: pearsonmiddleeastawe.com

Pearson Education is involved in academic research and influencing governmental policy. Pearson Education along with Cisco Systems, IBM, Intel, and the Gates Foundation throw all kinds of money at “non-profit” organizations in an attempt to effect policies that will lead to profits for their companies. Common Core was designed and copyrighted by The National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). You find Pearson Education listed as one of the many donors to NGA. Pearson Education is also listed as a business and industry partner for CCSSO.

The U.S. spends more than $632 billion a year to educate children ages five to 18 (approximately $12,608 per student). Education, including college and mid-career training, represents nearly 9 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. That is more money than is spent on energy or technology.
Pearson Education may claim they have no control over whether their stock is funding terrorist activities, but consumers and the United States government can control whether they purchase Pearson Education materials. We exercise our consumer rights in a free market all of the time.

Parents have rights too. The following was written by an Ohio teacher, “Refusing to allow your child to participant in state testing is a parental right guaranteed by the 14th amendment and broadly protected by the Supreme Court (see Meyer and Pierce cases). The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents possess the “fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children.” Furthermore, the Court declared that “the child is not the mere creature of the State: those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations” (Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35). The Supreme Court criticized a state legislature for trying to interfere “with the power of parents to control the education of their own” (Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 402.). In Meyer, the Supreme Court held that the right of parents to raise their children free from unreasonable state interferences is one of the unwritten “liberties” protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (262 U.S. 399).”

You can use your voice as a parent and refuse to allow your child to be used as a tool for funding terrorist activities. Pearson Education may not be the only unwitting player.


The decline of America’s youth; Possible causes

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* This is the first in a series of articles examining possible causes for the decline of America’s youth. It is not intended to incriminate anyone or any one thing. The intention is to provoke thought and possibly create a dialogue which can address some issues before it is too late for some of our youth and change the direction of our country’s future, to be outstanding citizens and leaders.

This article is not meant to indict the education system.  It is to look at possible reasons why our children are becoming part of an entitlement society. Not all children are this way nor the majority, but there are enough to make it apparent our nation is in trouble.  With the chaos infesting the world today, people are heard asking, “What happened, and how did we not notice?” What has happened is not an easy question to answer and there are many reasons why a large number of America’s youth are on a downhill slide.

Let’s take a good look at our schools.  Higher and higher expectations are put on our children, yet the Huffington Post reports the nation’s world academic ranking has fallen to average and is ranked 14th in reading skills. Some may ask how that can be. The answers may lie in part, to the curriculum and also testing to determine a child’s progress. There is no accountability for actual learning in the classroom. In other words, as long as a student is scoring well on standardized testing, grades are not factors in determining whether a child is actually learning.

Adding fuel to the already smoldering fire, Common Core has changed the way mathematics has been taught for decades and made it almost impossible to understand.  Not only have mathematics been changed by Common Core, but history has been re-written to further dumb-down students about the actual history of our nation and the world.  Common Core is teaching an alternate set of values as well as a false narrative about our country.  The Federal government, who is undoubtedly responsible for bringing Common Core into our schools, should not be involved in our children’s education.  Some states have taken action to remove Common Core from their schools and write their own standards for education.

The next issue goes back to parental involvement. There is no delicate way to say this but parents need to give control back to the faculty in matters of discipline. The ACLU, court system and teachers unions have all done good service in certain matters. Where schools are concerned, their involvement has had negative effects. They have done nothing but allow outrageous claims of injustice to be represented causing harm to the mission of schools as vehicles for molding children into responsible adults. All of the involvement has led to a breakdown of accountability by students.  Tenured teachers are protected from being fired even when they are poor educators and some tenured staff become lazy because they know the union protects them. It is important to note that we certainly have more great teachers than poor ones, but the poor ones reflect on all teachers in a negative way. It would be better to stop protecting them for the benefit of all.

Children are well aware that discipline is limited to a ‘talking to’ or a phone call to parents. Unfortunately, this means nothing to students.  Parents have reached the point where the child is put before the school. Parents believe their children won’t and don’t act out at school and are being ‘picked on’ by the faculty or staff. This is certainly not the case and far from the truth.  Parents, simply put, your kids are lying to you. There are students who have little or no respect at all. They break rules, skip classes, use foul language and even make out in the halls in public. They do this because they know they can and nobody can step in to change it.  It is strongly advised any parent who has a child in middle or high school to be a “fly on the wall” to see what actually goes on.  The biggest mistake of all has been the removal of God from the schools.  If you think back to a time when prayer was still allowed in schools, you would realize the difference.

This behavior is happening in most public school systems in America. When the ACLU, the courts and the teachers unions stepped through the front doors of our schools, it opened a Pandora’s Box of problems that has contributed greatly to the decline of America.

This article is not meant to offend anyone. It is, however, intended to shake people up and get them involved in taking back our schools.  A discussion must be started and action needs to be taken. We all realize that not all students are indicative of what was covered here, but the time has come to realize there are problems which need to be addressed. We need strong, competent, intelligent, courteous and respectful students.

Parents can start by listening to their children and talking about issues with the curriculum. The next step is to get involved with other parents and discuss problems and possible solutions. Become so well versed the teacher’s unions and government will have to listen. Please get involved. They are our future.

Be sure to catch the next part in this Education series to be published on Wednesday, February 11.


Is Kentucky about to repeal Common Core?

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Recently Richard Innes, Staff Education Analyst at the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy, presented information on Common Core to a group of citizens in Boone County, Kentucky.  Mr. Innes is an engineer by trade.  He was in the Air Force where he did outcome based reviews.  He was initially excited by the prospects of the public education system creating standards that could have an outcome based measurement.  He soon realized they had no reliable tools in place to measure those outcomes.

In fact, when asking about the tools needed to measure outcomes he received the same answer over and over, “I don’t know what knowledge this test is meant to measure.”  Educators, and certainly those designing the curriculum should know the answer to this question.

He got sucked into the Common Core debate when he looked over his daughter’s science homework.  He discovered the information being taught was completely incorrect.  He tried to track down the source of the incorrect information by writing to the Department of Education. Three months later he received a response from a man who belonged to a math and science club.  The man did not work for the Department of Education, so Innes was unclear about how he ended up in possession of his letter. According to Innes, neither the man who responded nor anyone at the Department of education was able to answer his questions about the origins of this curriculum.  The following is what he discovered on a journey for answers that has turned into a mission to save the next generation.

How did we get here?

In 2009, the federal government created “Race to the Top”, which gave states educational dollars based on performance.  A certain percentage of those dollars went to charter schools. Kentucky doesn’t have any charter schools, so they had to find another way to get to the top in order to get the funding. On February 10, 2010 the Kentucky Board of Education, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, and Kentucky Educational Professional Standards Board Voted to Adopt Common Core standards before they were even written. Kentucky was the first state in the nation to adopt these standards. Click here to read the standards as they are currently written.

Where did the standards come from?

If they weren’t written when the state adopted them, then where did they come from?  That is a very good question that even the people who wrote them don’t seem to know.  If you visit their propaganda page it says, “From the very beginning, the process of developing the Common Core has been bipartisan and state led.  But in another section it reads, “The National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)….led the development of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)…”

The reality, they weren’t state led.  They were created by the NGA, CCSSO, Achieve Inc., ACT, and the College Board all with significant financial interests.

They did create workgroups that met confidentially to review the standards.  However, 5 of the 29 members refused to sign the final report.  One of those refusing to sign, Professor Jim Milgram stated, “…the ‘facilitators’ for the validation committee meeting were virtually impossible to deal with….the facilitators were emphatically trying to not let us act according to our charter, but simply sign or not sign a letter when the charter said we had final say over the quality of the final CCSS product and could revise or rewrite it if we deemed necessary.”

Common Core State Standards are copyrighted by the NGA and CCSSO, not the states and cannot be changed by the states because of the copyright despite what the public has been led to believe.  That means a private company has created a monopoly around our children’s education.

Did the new standards improve scores?

No.  In fact, the state is now under investigation as a December 2014 report from the legislature’s Office of Educational Accountability questioned Kentucky’s College and Career Readiness rates that showed an increase from 34 percent in 2009 to 62.5 percent in 2013.  However, ACT rates, which are the only stable statistics showed only an increase from 30 percent to 37 percent in meeting Benchmarks.

If you compare the CATS Scores from 2011 to the KPREP Scores of 2012 you find that 4th grade reading drops from 74 percent to 47 percent and the math grades dropped from 60 percent to 42 percent.

Unbridled Learning Reviews used by schools as self-assessment tools were already showing signs of inflating the scores.  If staff are being asked to evaluate performance internally, there is no system of checks and balance leaving the outside testing agencies as the only reliable source for measuring student achievement and school performance.

Common Core Covers English Language, Arts and Mathematics:

According to Professor Jim Miligram, “The (MATH) standards are not at the level of those of the high achieving countries or the top state mathematics standards-including California, Minnesota, Indiana, and Massachusetts. Moreover this difference in level is significant, being approximately 1-2 years at the end of the eighth grade.”

Sandra Stotsky, Former Massachusetts Associate Commissioner of Education Member who was on the CCSS Validation committee said, “In my judgment, the Common Core’s standards for grades 6-12 do not reflect the core knowledge needed for authentic college level work and do not frame the literary and cultural knowledge one would expect of graduates from an American high school.”  She also refused to sign the final report of the CCSS validation Committee.

Social Studies Standards:

According to Kentucky History Teacher of the Year for 2011, Donnie Wilkerson, the original group of teachers put together to write the standards were disbanded, because they refused to go along with a plan that he described as “devoid” of history content.

Wilkerson said the content left out:  The American Civil War,  The American Colonial Period, The American Revolution, The Bill of Rights, The Civil Rights Movement, The Declaration of Independence, The Executive Branch of the Government, The Great Depression, The Era of Industrialization, The Judicial Branch of the Government, The Kentucky Constitution, The Legislative Branch of the Government, Personal Liberty (apparently Liberty wasn’t mentioned at all), Persian Gulf War, Preamble to the Constitution, Religious Diversity, Representative Democracy, Acquiring and protection of property, life, liberty, pursuit of safety, and happiness, Religion, Vietnam, World War I, and World War II.

When questioned about these missing pieces the response was that the C3 framework was designed to teach students to think about history.  Many fear this opens the door to revisionist history.

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS):

NGSS Logo smallSeptember 2013, the NGSS went before the Kentucky Legislature’s Administrative Regulations Review Committee.  The committee voted 5 to 1 finding the NGSS deficient, but the governor immediately overrode the legislative vote putting the standards into effect in Kentucky despite the facts presented by the review committee.

One Kentucky high school dropped physics one month after the governor’s ruling.  NGSS essentially eliminates the last two years of science education needed by students who want to go on to STEM careers.

Some of the missing content included; no mention of Universal Gas Law, Ohm’s Law, or any discussion of electrical circuits beyond the fourth grade despite the world we now live in being surrounded by them.  Chemistry and Physics are both eliminated in high school.

Why should you care?

Even if you don’t have children, about 60 percent of every tax dollar you send to Frankfort is spent on some level of education in Kentucky.  The growth of spending on education in Kentucky since 1990 has risen far above the rate of inflation.  According to the Kentucky Department of Education receipts and expense reports real spending is up by 188 percent.

If you do have children, you should be concerned that they are not receiving adequate education to compete for education and jobs within the United States.  The government is creating a system where students will need additional years of college to compensate for what they are losing in public high schools.

Wealthy people can afford to send their children to private schools.  Less fortunate Americans are stuck with public education.  This furthers the race and wealth gap that already exists throughout much of Kentucky.  The rich will continue to get richer as their children compete for education and jobs out of reach for the average Kentuckian.

Standards drive curriculum, so don’t be fooled when you hear administrators talk about the freedom to develop curriculum.  When the standards are copyrighted there is not a lot of wiggle room on the curriculum, especially when the testing is being written around the standards.

There is also a lot of data collection on your children.  The companies driving Common Core are using that data to develop technologies around future consumers.  In the meantime, they are setting your children up to fail, because they are not college and career ready.

The following bill is currently in the house:  HB 33 (BR 97)

Sponsors: T. Kerr, L. Bechler, R. Bunch, K. Imes, T. Moore, S. Santoro, D. St. Onge, R. Webber

AN ACT relating to public school standards.

Create a new section to KRS Chapter 158 to prohibit the Kentucky Board of Education and the Kentucky Department of Education from implementing the English language arts and mathematics academic content standards developed by the Common Core Standards Initiative and the science academic content standards developed by the Next Generation Science Standards Initiative; require the state board to recommend new content standards to school districts and schools after consultation with the Council on Postsecondary Education; require public involvement in standards development; clarify the authority of the local board of education to adopt standards which differ from or exceed the standards approved by the state board; clarify that the school-based decision making councils shall develop policies based upon the standards adopted by the local boards of education; prohibit state officials from ceding control of education content standards and assessments; prohibit withholding of state funds from school districts for adopting different academic content standards; amend KRS 156.070 to limit disclosure of personally identifiable information; direct the Kentucky Board of Education to require that the Department of Education and all school districts adhere to transparency and privacy standards when outsourcing data and Web-based tasks to vendors; clarify vendor contract requirements; amend KRS 158.6453 to permit a local board of education to supplement the state board-approved academic content standards with higher and more rigorous standards and require school councils to use them to fulfill curriculum policy requirements; amend KRS 160.345 to clarify school council curriculum policy authority.

(Prefiled by the sponsor(s).)

Nov 12-To: Interim Joint Committee on Education

Jan 6-introduced in House; to Education (H)

If you want to weigh in:  Call 1-800-372-7181 and tell the operator you want your message to go to ALL members on the Northern KY Legislative Caucus on these bills. All they ask is your name and contact information.


Common Core another measure in the surrender of Kentucky education

Photo: Education News

Photo: Education News

In 1990, the Kentucky General Assembly, as a part of the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA), adopted the policy known as Site Based Decision Making (SBDM) for all Kentucky schools.

The intention of SBDM was to empower each school individually, giving further localized authority for decisions on school operational procedures, and curriculum to a body within each individual school. The body is composed of the principal, teachers (who report to the principal), parents, and a minority parent (if one is available and willing).

Unlike the county school district school board members, these positions are not elected in an at-large election. The principal of each school is responsible for oversight; a distraction from their administrative role of the facility.  Teachers must submit their names for consideration, and are elected by teachers within the school.  There is no limitation of residence for the teachers and their votes; they do not have to live within the district to select the teacher representatives.  Parental members submit their names for consideration to the school PTA, and are elected by parents with a child enrolled in the school.

The SBDM council makeup is:  the principal, three teachers, and two parents as a voting body.  In the event a school has a minority population exceeding a defined threshold, a minority parent and minority teacher must be elected as well, so long as they are willing and available.

All responsibilities of the SBDM councils were previously on the shoulders of the generally elected school board members, serving four-year terms.  For the taxpayer, school decisions were removed from the hands of a taxpayer elected representative, and placed to the trust of staff elected in a closed session election, not necessarily consisting of voters from the school district.  It is also noteworthy that parents are immediately the voting minority in the council; teachers aren’t apt to vote against their boss.

In November 2014, doing an in depth analysis of each of the 24 schools in Boone County, Kentucky, (the third largest school district in the state), I discovered that 22 were not adhering to very clearly stated guidelines defined in the KRS.  The violations all concerned appropriate reporting measures for meeting minutes, setting reasonable meeting times (these are open meetings) and reasonable meeting facilities.  I found only two of the schools were reporting their minutes promptly, and after every meeting, as well as hosting their meetings after 5 p.m. in a venue that appropriately could facilitate parental attendance.

This was reported to the director of the state office of education accountability, who escalated the complaint to state school oversight staff.  The only reply received was an assurance that the state had  “recommended that the district incorporates best practices and use various ways to disseminate information.”

Traces of outdated data still being shared by several of the schools show these practices span many years.  In Boone County, our school leadership have been in control for more than a decade, with the most senior members approaching 20 years in control. Not coincidentally, the schools with the most glaring violations were generally the lowest performing schools in the district.  While Boone County will promptly tout their composite school test score ranking as generally among the best in the state, there are several schools in the county consistently scoring in the 30th-40th percentile.

The state, and local board are complacent that these SBDM meetings are not being properly communicated to parents, not facilitating attendance of parents, and not reporting their content to parents. One might question why have the meetings at all, if the decisions being made are subject to no review or scrutiny.  It’s equally apparent that the policies implemented at the lower performing schools are not having appropriate corrective impact, however, no corrective action has been documented or made public by the school district.

Once one is familiar with these practices on the local level, it should come as no surprise that Kentucky stood first in line for the adoption of the nationalized Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

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AP Photo

 

What is Common Core?

In 2009, the Kentucky General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1.  The education bill mandated new academic standards, with a focus on “critical knowledge, skills and capacities needed for success in the global economy.”  It was by no coincidence that this legislation corresponded directly with federal initiatives of the same literature, offering dollars to any state that adopted the approved curriculum, including “Race to the Top” federal dollars, which were derived from federal stimulus package that was never passed by congress.

The short version of Kentucky adopting CCSS is this:  Dr. Terry Holliday in 2008 was the president elect of the CCSSO, and aware of the actions taking place that would eventually become the Common Core Standards.  Senate Bill 1, was designed to match the proposed CCSS.  Dr. Holiday hand picked educational representation to speak on behalf of the standards being superior to the abysmal KERA standards (in place at the time), and sell the deal as a major improvement.  The standards were promptly adopted, resulting in the forfeiture of the ability of state or local elected officials to offer input or guidance on the materials, methods, topics, and subjects the school systems utilize to educate our students.

It would, on the surface, appear this is contrary to SBDM, where placing localized control of education was the goal.  Ultimately, they are more similar, by virtue that through legislation,  all decision making and leverage on curriculum to a private, copyrighted educational standards were removed from state and local control completely, surrendered to a private third party, not chosen in a general election.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Your local teacher, principal, school board, ALL the way up to the state level, have no real voice in how, why, and what your children are being taught.  Many educators towing the union line would, (and have) argued the contrary, but undeniably, the standards are not open for discussion.  In a curriculum that values the method above all results, there is only so much leeway for how something can be taught.  A requirement for collecting the “federal rewards” is submitting the standardized test result data.  The ultimate goal is to utilize the data to profile children and their learning capacity from an early age, creating an adaptive educational track for each type of student to prepare them for further education or an occupation best suited for them (according to the test scores).

The standards are copyrighted and wholly privately owned.  The corresponding educational materials are only available from a limited selection of sources, effectively creating a monopoly on the education industry for the selected suppliers.  Without free market competition, the supplier and their constituents can begin to have an influence upon the material, up to the point of effectively re-writing history and inserting influential literature as they might be inclined.  You can see where this might be a problem.

The standards were commissioned, and are overseen by The National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).  While these sound like formal government organizations, these are privately funded “non-profit” entities.  Former Kentucky Education Commissioner Gene Wilhoit while serving as Executive Director of the CCSSO in 2008, personally lobbied Bill and Melinda Gates for the funding to start the Common Core initiative, receiving several million dollars from their foundation.  Current Kentucky Education Commissioner Dr. Terry Holiday, has long served as president of the CCSSO.

Common Core is private funds, supporting private organizations that profit substantially from the monopoly of educational and testing materials, utilizing state appointed officials, to implement their idea of an educational system, and reward their adoption with additional taxpayer funds for the state.  The “reward” federal funding does not cover the additional cost of materials, resources, or testing above the prior state standards; the state taxpayers are left to cover the additional expense.

“Kentucky students are not headed for STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), but they are headed for careers which pay a ‘living wage’.  They are not headed for an elitist university degree.”

— Dr. Terry Holliday, Kentucky State Education Commissioner, President CCSSO,  March 13, 2014

Dr. Terry Holliday believes in a Kentucky where your children should be conditioned to pursue a living wage, not pursue their interests or passion.  The educational system he has overseen, serves the interests of a conglomerate of private organizations who share in this opinion.  As their president, while serving as Education Commissioner, he has ensured that this approach is being implemented in our schools.

Massive Opposition to Common Core in Kentucky

State Senator John Schickel (R-Union) and Representative Tom Kerr (R-Taylor Mill) both filed bills during the 2014 state legislative session to repeal common core and return education decision-making back to the state.  Senator Schickel’s bill, ultimately received a hearing in Frankfort.  The Common Core opposition enlisted the voluntary help of Dr. Sandra Stotsky, professor at the University of Arkansas, and Dr. James Millgram, professor at Stanford University, whom were both on the approval committee for CCSS and refused to approve the standards.

“They stress writing more than reading, which is the opposite of what we know…reading is the basis for good writing. All good writers have been good readers, and unless our schools everywhere do that at all levels of proficiency, we will not have high-leveled graduates coming out of our high schools.”

— Dr. Sandra Stosky, Professor, University of Arkansas, March 13, 2014 – Kentucky Legislative Session Common Core Hearing

Another bill has been filed this year, in the Kentucky House of Representatives, effectively echoing the logic of the past two attempts to repeal the educational standards.  Kentucky HB33 calls for new standards for the state of Kentucky.

Common Core was a central focus of the 2014 election cycle, and remains a central topic of the 2016 Presidential race.

Both the Republican National and Kentucky State Republican caucus, have passed anti-common core resolutions.  Sponsoring this bill currently, are Tom Kerr (R-Taylor Mill), Lynn Bechler (R-Marion), Regina Bunch (R-Williamsburg), Kenny Imes (R-Murray), Tim Moore (R-Elizabethtown), Sal Santoro (R-Florence), and Diane St Onge (R-Lakeside Park).  I have also been informed additional leadership has signed on, but that information will not be public until the session opens next week.

With the party referendum dictating very clearly that common core is not in the interest of the commonwealth, the voters and taxpayers are certainly entitled to be upset if their elected representation have not signed on to fully support this initiative.


Kansas judges rule state not spending enough on schools

TOPEKA, Kan. — A Shawnee County District Court consisting of a three-judge panel ruled on Tuesday that the state is not spending enough on its schools.

The state budget was a highly contested issue during the mid-term elections, and the aggressive personal income tax cuts put in place by Gov. Sam Brownback almost cost him re-election. This court ruling could complicate his effort to curb spending.

There is a little history to the Kansas courts stepping in and ruling that education spending wasn’t adequate enough. This goes all the way back to 1972 where a Johnson County District Court finds the Kansas public education funding system unconstitutional in Caldwell v. State of Kansas.

Since then, the state has been challenged on their education spending, and they have responded by an increase in spending on each account.

However, in recent years the state has been directed to use a per-pupil spending model starting at $4,492 per student. Current spending levels are down to $3,852 per student due to rising teacher pension costs. Add in those costs and the state is spending $13,269 per pupil.

In total, $3.4 billion is being spent on education by the state. And that number reflects a recent increase in funding in order to meet rising teacher pension costs. Spending within lower income district received an increase of $129 million for the year.

But that’s not liberal enough in the eyes of these three judges and that spending should be increased by an additional $548 million to $771 million a year.

In fact, this panel has declared in their 139 page ruling that it is “inadequate from any rational perspective of the evidence.”

They also stated that the state has failed to meet its obligations so declared in the Kansas Constitution. This is in reference to a more recent passing of the Rose standards contained in HB 2506, citing that the level of funding does not adequately provide “sufficient training or preparation for advanced training in either academic or vocational fields so as to enable each child to choose and pursue life work intelligently.”

Dave Trabert of Kansas Policy Institute says that the court failed to take into account that many districts within the state don’t have a method to measure the success of the Rose standards. In fact, some districts have asked for “the development of a system to define and measure…” the Rose standards.

Also not taken into account by the court is that some districts are not spending all of their operating funds, and the inefficiency at which districts operate.

When asked, Gov. Brownback responded by saying, “I continue to believe that restructuring the school funding formula and implementing education policy reforms is critical not only to getting more money into our classrooms but also improving student achievement. I will be working with legislative leadership to address the best path forward.


What makes an education system great?

Everyone has ideas about education since we all went through school to some degree, but some rely on misinformation. And, we all know we have to do something about our school systems, but many question what needs to happen. This is where EducationTable.com was born — at the cross-roads of discussion, research, policy, teaching and truth. We can crowdsource information and ideas, with everyone invited to pull up a chair to the education table, but make sure that what is not true is pointed out and what is true is further elevated for consideration.

But to begin, we have to have some level of agreement on this question: what makes an education system great? Set aside the funding issues, inner-city failures, technology problems, excuses, and other challenges. In general, what does it take for an education system to really be superb?

Bill Bennett, who was the secretary of education in the Reagan administration, said, “The longer you stay in school in America, the dumber you get.” In a 2013 editorial in The Globe and Mail, a Canadian online news outlet, the article closes with this comment that confirms the international view of America’s education system: “Canadian parents should be reassured that Canada’s education system is actually quite good by international standards, and performs at a much higher level than that of the U.S.”

We have known for decades that the American education system has been failing many, especially those who are allowed to simply slide through it. Yet, we don’t seem to have an image of what a strong education system actually looks like, leaving policy-makers, administrators and teachers without a general direction to focus their attentions.

In Amanda Ripley’s book, The Smartest Kids In The World, she discovers what has made Finland, Poland, Japan and South Korea among the best education systems in the world. An article from Huffington Post summarizes her findings well, including that in Finland, arts education is woven into every aspect of learning, as studies show that those who are involved in the arts, especially music lessons, have higher IQs and learn STEM subjects more easily. By contrast, in America, when schools need to save money the first things we decide to cut are our music and arts programs, illogically removing what primes our children’s brains for learning.

Source: K12 Education System

Source: K12 Education System

Ripley also explains that Finnish teachers must first complete a masters degree and conduct original research before becoming teachers, and acceptance into teaching programs is just as competitive as medical school. And, they’re paid accordingly. In my home state of Ohio, state universities discourage graduate degrees because schools want to hire 20-something graduates with merely a bachelors degree because it’s less expensive.

Students in other countries are also focusing on academics in school, not extracurriculars and social activities. Yet, we cave to parents wanting to keep chess club and football, instead of remembering that schools are there to educate our children, and parents can find extracurriculars outside of school. In some of the top performing countries, school is serious, for both the teachers and the students. On big exam days in Poland, students wear suits and professional attire because they respect the importance of education, as well as themselves and their teachers.

In South Korea, students are in school for eight to nine hours a day, compared to American students’ five to seven hour day. Koreans continue with their studies into the evening, and children know they have to do well in school for their college and career paths. Parents are supportive, but children receive excellent instruction in school with remedial assistance when necessary, so children from poor, uneducated families can still thrive.

Students in other countries are given higher standards and more rigorous curriculum. They aren’t allowed to be lazy with calculators in lieu of learning material, flashy technology does not mask real results, resources are made available in the schools to make sure that students who need remediation receive it, teachers are more educated before they ever enter a classroom and are paid more for the results, unions are held under control, and school focuses on school. There are so many differences between the other countries and the American false utopia that has been created in our education system.

Another point of contention for American parents, teachers and students is the emphasis on test-taking. An article from NPR explains that tests are required in all other countries with great education systems by comparison, and in Finland there is only one major test at the end of high school. That one exam, nearly 40 total hours of testing, determines whether a student is accepted into college and can follow his or her dreams. But in America, we quabble over several hours of testing because we don’t want little kiddos to have stress and our teachers don’t want to be graded on results.

It seems that our education system is a symptom of what is happening in America as a whole: we expect great things without sincere dedication and work. Millennials and Gen X-ers want things right now, and have an attitude of entitlement because of what was an easy childhood by international comparisons. The philosophy of everyone getting a trophy leads us to allow kids to slide into high school without learning how to read for fear of hurting feelings. The excuse that teachers have too many difficulties to deal with has made some think that results should not factor in to how much a teacher is paid.

After looking at some of the basic evidence, let’s ask again: what makes an education great? This can be answered in four words: the demand for excellence. When excellence is expected from the students, the teachers and the parents, without excuse, must rise to the occasion and meet the demands. With resources dedicated to creating expert teachers, providing students with remediation when necessary, and making sure every child learns, students in other countries see more success.

In fact, students from educated American families even lag students from other countries, according to recent studies. When the poorest kids in Shanghai and Korea are performing as well as America’s best students, it’s a stone between the eyes of those who are telling us that America’s education system is succeeding.

When anything is being considered from policy-makers, administrators, teachers and parents, we have to first ask ourselves: is this helping us to demand excellence from everyone involved? If the answer is no, we are only going to cause our students to slide backwards even more, pushing the American dream out of reach for many as international students come to America to take college positions and jobs that American children do not graduate with the capabilities to handle.

As we embark together on this new column and the Education Table platform, we have to remember that it is the demand for excellence that all of our conversations must bring us toward. Without the demand for excellence, we will never again be able to create a great American education system.


Do you know this famous/unknown Kentuckian?

Who

Bloomberg reported that only 12 percent of 12th graders are proficient in American history. It’s about to get worse. The federally-controlled, one-size-fits-all Common Core standards for social studies will no longer teach the Declaration of Independence, the most important document ever written. America’s history is disappearing.

Here’s a perfect example.

In 1810, he was born in Clermont, Kentucky to a slave-owning family.

He was a friend to Daniel Boone and Abraham Lincoln.

His cousin was Kentucky Senator Henry Clay.

He attended Madison Seminary, St. Joseph’s College in Bardstown, Transylvania University and Yale.

At Yale he attended an anti-slavery speech by William Lloyd Garrison and devoted his life to the anti-slavery movement. He had numerous enemies for his emancipation stance.

He married and had 10 children, only six survived.

He was elected state representative from Madison County in 1835.

In 1843, a pro-slavery assassin shot him in the chest after his anti-slavery speech. HE was charged with mayhem. His cousin, Henry Clay, successfully defended him.

In 1845, he lived in Lexington publishing a newspaper called The True American. Kentucky’s slave-owners didn’t appreciate his anti-slavery editorials. Here is one letter he received.

You are meaner than the autocrats of hell. You may think you can awe and curse the people of Kentucky to your infamous course. You will find, when it is too late for life, the people are no cowards. Eternal hatred is locked up in the bosoms of braver men, your betters, for you. The hemp is ready for your neck. Your life cannot be spared. Plenty thirst for your blood — are determined to have it. It is unknown to you and your friends, if you have any, and in a way you little dream of. – Revengers

He defended his newspaper with an iron door, a cannon and rifles. Sixty pro-slavery advocates planned to destroy his newspaper. While he was home recovering from typhoid flu, his family dismantled the printing equipment and moved it to Cincinnati for safe keeping. Once he recovered, he traveled to Cincinnati to keep his anti-slavery paper operating.

In 1846, he volunteered to fight in the Mexican-American War. His unit was captured and sentenced to die. He convinced the Mexican colonel to call off the executions. His unit was held captive for 18 months. He became a Kentucky hero.

In 1849, while in Foxtown, Kentucky, giving an anti-slavery speech, he was attacked by a pro-slavery mob. He was stabbed in the lung and his breastbone was severed. He finally wrestled a knife away from one assailant. He found the instigator and stabbed and killed him.

In 1850, he met an abolitionist preacher from Bracken County. He gave the preacher land and money to start a school for non-slaveholders. The school became Berea College.

In 1851, he ran for governor of Kentucky on an emancipation platform. He lost.

In 1860, he supported Lincoln for president. He was given a battalion to protect Washington D.C. from Confederates until Federal troops arrived. He was commissioned a major general.

Lincoln asked him to attend Kentucky’s General Assembly meetings to test the water for Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. He reported back to Lincoln favorably and within weeks his Emancipation Proclamation was issued. He considered these events “the culminating act of my life’s aspirations.”

In 1863, as minister to Russia, his goal was to keep Russia on the side of the Union during the Civil War. As a result of his contacts and influence in Russia, he played a critical role in the U.S.A.’s purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867.

He returned home in 1869 as a Republican but later became a Democrat. He believed the Republican’s Reconstruction Plan was too radical.

In 2000, he was inducted into the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights’ Civil Rights Hall of Fame.

This famous/unknown Kentuckian was Cassius Marcellus Clay (1810-1903). Read KET’s Complete Story Here.

When most of his hear the name, Cassius Clay, we think of Muhammad Ali, whose former name was Cassius Clay. Did you know that Muhammad Ali’s father was named Cassius Marcellus Clay in honor of this Kentucky abolitionist? In 1942, Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. In 1964, he joined the Nation of Islam. He initially chose the name Cassius X but later settled on Muhammad Ali.

I wonder if Kentucky students are taught this incredible story of a black couple naming their child and that child naming his child after a white man who was stabbed, shot and fought for their freedom.

How many Kentuckians, like me, know more about Cassius Marcellus Clay the boxer than Cassius Marcellus Clay the abolitionist?

P.S. – I’ve offered this suggestion before, but it’s worth repeating. I propose that U.S. History be taught by honorably discharged veterans who are NOT members of the teachers union. Veterans would be vetted and employed by local school boards. America’s veterans need jobs. Why not permit veterans to teach what they love and encourage students to love America again?


Inept school officials cause chaos in Massachusetts school over a Facebook picture

Tito Velez and Jamie Pereira were preparing to attend a school dance at Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School in Taunton, Mass. on Friday, when the parents took a picture of them with Air-Soft guns in their home. It was subsequently posted on Facebook. School administration became aware of the photo 48 hours following the dance only after a parent complained. The police were called to the school on Monday, the kids were interrogated without the parents permission or their presence, their lockers were searched, and when the kids asked to call their parents, they were told to “Be Quiet!” They were suspended for 10 days and then told that they would face expulsion. 

titos-pic

While the story has  gone viral, and the school district is now reeling from the after-effects, the incompetence of the principal and the superintendent is beginning to emerge. Superintendent Dr. Richard W. Gross and Principal Carolyn Pearson have found themselves in some pretty hot water and it’s all due to his flagrant incompetence. Lawyers have been secured and the court of public opinion has blatantly said that enough is enough.

There are several issues that should be outlined, besides the obvious 2nd Amendment breach and  thumbing their noses at  Parental Sovereignty.

1. Dr. Gross lied. He gave an absolute and we all know that those do not work very well. He was quoted as saying:

“What it’s about is a couple of students engaging in an activity that created a total destruction of the school day,” Superintendent Richard W. Gross said. “They’re juniors in High School, and it’s proactive and they should know better and it scared students.”

Come on now! The  students know better than that, they were there. Was it discussed? I am sure it was.  But a “Total Destruction” of a school day? Scared students? Sir, I do not believe one word of it. In fact, had you reacted before the dance instead of days later, you might have had a leg to stand on. If anyone was scared, it would have been at the dance and I highly doubt that. Dr. Gross has caused a total destruction of the school week if anything.

By lying, he taught the kids in his district that it is okay as long as it’s to “CYA.” Instead of doing the right thing, standing up and admitting and learning from his mistake, Dr. Gross taught those kids a very bad lesson. The character lesson he was supposed to teach, was one of learning from mistakes, not that it is okay to lie when you get in hot water.

2. Now let’s play devil’s advocate and say they were in the wrong. I am going to use an illustration.  Every first year teacher has a similar problem; discipline and control in the class. Now that first year, because they are inexperienced and weak, they often refer to a higher authority for help, i.e., the principal’s office. As they grow, they learn how to deal with these situations in class. They rely less and less on that higher authority. An experienced teacher rarely has to rely on that higher authority unless they come across a major problem.

Now, take this another step. By not being able to deal with a simple situation like this ‘in house’ and having to call the police, Dr. Richard W. Gross and the principal, Carolyn Pearson, basically proved  that they are weak and inexperienced. They showed that they were not capable of handling the situation and thus referred to the higher authority. In the process, they wasted tax dollars and the valuable time of law enforcement for a situation that was easily handled between the parents and the school. There is a time and place to call the police and this was definitely not it. If the school officials cannot handle basic issues on their own, the school district needs to hire someone that can.

3. Dr. Gross and Principal Pearson also showed inexperience in disciplinary tactics. Anyone who has ever raised a child knows that if you go nuclear on a punishment for something that does not warrant it, it only creates a lack of respect, as well as creating a problem when more serious challenges come along. They brought this “offense’ to a level that is in line with very much greater offenses. That is a bad tactic and is only used by those very inexperienced in leadership. The same concept would apply to a manager in an office environment. This is basic leadership skills. It does not take a rocket scientist.

4. To further deflect responsibility, Dr. Gross blamed the outrage by America on social media. Quite silly, as it began on social media. No pun intended, but he shot the messenger. This is another example of his inexperience and incompetence.

5. This action on behalf of the school administration has, and will further, cost the district and school time, money and valuable resources. There is likely to be a lawsuit. Beyond that, the total focus of the school for weeks will be this story. Time will be spent in school discussing it, at school board meetings, time taken from school and district employees dealing with phone calls and etc. This is what has caused a total destruction of the school week. It has also most likely created discord on campus.

6. Dr.Gross and Principal Pearson have made the entire school and district look inexperienced and inept. It will take a long time  to recover. It’s why they need to resign. On the small island of  Trinidad in the Caribbean, they do not say, “You’re Fired!”, they say, “This job is not for you!” Dr. Richard W. Gross and Principal Carolyn Pearson, this job is not for you.

Overreach like this by schools has to stop. There is only one way to stop it; public pressure. Parents need to flood the next school board meeting  to demand resignations. Take action folks. This is the future of our public school system. If we don’t stop it now, where will we be in 20 years?

Emails can be sent to: RGross@bptech.org and/or CPearson@bptech.org

Faxes should be sent to the attention of:

  • Superintendent Dr. Richard W. Gross and/or
  • Principal Carolyn Pearson

At:

  • Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School
  • 207 Hart Street
  • Taunton, MA 02780
  • Phone (508) 823-5151
  • Fax (508) 822-2687

Mississippi Personnel Board Director denies allegations that Gov. Bryant influenced rejection of #CommonCore testing contract.

ANM News partner MississippiPEP.com is reporting that Mississippi State Personnel Board Director Deanne Mosley issued a statement Friday night regarding the rejection of a four-year contract for Common Core testing denying allegations that Gov. Phil Bryant influenced the decision.

“It is unfortunate that there have been allegations that politics entered into the decision or that Governor Phil Bryant directed me, as Chair of the Personal Service Contract Review Board, to deny Superintendent Wright’s request to approve the contract,” Mosley said in the statement. “Those allegations are not true. No one had to influence me to follow the law and ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent properly and legally.”

The state Board of Education was forced to approve an emergency contract Thursday following the Personnel Board’s rejection of the original four-year contract. That means Mississippi’s public school students will take multistate tests this year to evaluate student mastery of the Common Core state standards.

The board approved the $8.3 million emergency contract with a unit of Pearson PLC in a closed session.

The Personnel Board ruled that the Department of Education should have solicited proposals from other vendors. The Department of Education withdrew the contract early Friday.

Governor Phil Bryant was in Japan this week for an economic development conference.

Mississippi will have to sign a new contract after this year, opening the possibility that students will take whole new sets of tests two years in a row. Mississippi can’t return to the prior exams administered last year, also written by Pearson, because tests are supposed to align with standards.

Some local school superintendents want Mississippi to adopt tests written by the ACT organization. Opponents of Common Core want Mississippi to drop both PARCC and the standards.


Common Core Is Not For The Common Good

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There has been a lot of discussion about Common Core lately. Parents and children across the country are expressing grave concerns about the realities of this massive policy shift. The Obama administration is trying to turn Common Core into a national curriculum by offering states increased federal education funding if they force Common Core’s curriculum on their public schools.

Experts say that nationalizing the standards leads to worse educational outcomes, opportunities for abuse and many other problems. Classic literature is being replaced by informational texts like government documents. Our children will be dumbed down and lose their individuality. They will be trained to think, learn and act exactly like every other child across the country. Teachers have reported fear and increased stress as a result of having to follow a script instead of having the freedom to use creative methods.

Common Core comes with a disturbing data mining program. This data comes in the form of audio, video and biometric scanning.

In a Florida school, retinal scans were done without parental consent.

 

Freedom Project Education is an organization that provides classical K-12 online schooling. They have been spreading the message and exposing the evils of Common Core tirelessly. Mary Black, Freedom Project Education curriculum director, said:

“The data mining leads to total control and total tracking of the child. It completely strips the child of his or her own privacy.”

The following video goes into great detail about Common Core and exposes all of the details about the data mining program. Everything is well documented.

 

It is imperative that we all continue to educate one another about Common Core. Fighting this will continue to be an uphill battle. Signing the petition below is a great start!

STOP COMMON CORE
Stop Common Core Petition

 

Watch this Arkansas Mother Obliterates Common Core in 4 Minutes!


Out the Door With Common Core – Look At What ‘Hackschooling’ Has in Store

loganMany of you may have heard by now what Common Core is and why it is harmful to our children’s education. We realize that it destroys creativity and attempts to redefine the learning methods of all children. It is a government takeover and intrusion into the lives of our children in so many ways, but it also wants them to act as if they are robots. Common Core is a very bad idea for America and it will do much more harm than good to our public education system.

Common Core will do exactly what many failing public schools do today, which is try to make each child learn in the exact same manner. This is not right nor is it fair to use the words of the left. What is then? Freedom. Educational freedom. School choice and giving the power to the parents to decide what is right for their child is fair. Give power to the states and local communities, so they can communicate more efficiently and effectively with the children and their parents. Government does not know how to be efficient as most of us know. Common Core takes away all of this. It removes creativity and forces educators to give a government mandated curriculum all while leaving our children uninterested and feeling let down.

Our children should be able to use their unique skill sets and creativity that God blessed them with to excel throughout their educational journey. Common Core puts a stop to this. All children do not want to grow up to be the same and they certainly do not all learn the same. Take 13-year-old Logan LaPlante for example as he simply wants to be happy. A young freeskier who enjoys his education, which sadly many kids cannot say the same. He has a unique way of learning, which he calls “Hackschooling”. Take a listen to young Logan as he takes the stage at the University of Nevada for his TEDx talk about his education. 11 minutes that are definitely worth your while.

I’m not tied to one particular curriculum, and I’m not dedicated to one particular approach. I hack my education. I take advantages of opportunities in my community and through a network of my friends and family. I take advantage of opportunities toexperience what I’m learning, and I’m not afraid to look for shortcuts or hacks to get a better, faster result. It’s like a remix or a mashup of learning. … And here’s the cool part: because it’s a mindset, not a system, hackschooling can be used by anyone, even traditional schools.

This young man is confident, intelligent, and full of wisdom far beyond his years. He is not your typical 13 year old and this is because he has the ‘freedom’ to learn in a way traditional schooling does not allow or condone. His parents used their freedom to pull him from ‘public education’ because they knew what was best for their son, not the federal government. He is proof that our children do not learn the same way and they should not be kept from such methods. Common Core does the exact opposite and more than likely will not produce these kinds of results.

Out the door with Common Core and look at what Hackschooling has in store.

Hackschooling makes me happy. – Logan LaPlante


Education Begins At Home-Part I

parentsDuring the course of the past fifty years, the American public school system and the federal government have been in serious decline, and the two are not mutually exclusive. Conservative grassroots movements are plotting courses of action as to how we can restore traditional American virtues and values to both our federal government as well as our schools. Since I am a conservative public school teacher, I am going to address the state of the country’s public school system in a series of blogs.

Education begins at home

For decades, conservatives have voiced concerns about the controversies related to the public school system and for good reason.  We are legitimately frightened with the “spooky” direction many of our school districts are headed; the federal government taking over the control of our local schools; the Democrat Party controlling the system and running roughshod over the legitimate concerns of conservative parents and their children by basically dictating to all of us: “My liberal way or the highway!”; teacher unions having too much clout; lack of patriotic assemblies; students being indoctrinated with leftist psychobabble, etc. All of these are legitimate concerns. However, having taught in our schools for almost three decades, I have witnessed an alarming and negative trend occurring with a very large number of parents-regardless of the political party or political philosophy they adhere to, which consists of the following:

Parents are their children’s first and most important teachers. Children would be more successful in school if their parents would see to it that they did their homework on a regular basis and studied for their quizzes and tests. Yes, this takes time out of our busy schedules, but during numerous parent meetings at school, I often find that they are totally ignorant of the study habits, or the lack thereof, of their own children at home-much less at school. It is important for parents to attend the annual Open House at their children’s school in order to discover what  strategies are available to them in order to assist their children with organizing their work and study skills as well as how to communicate regularly with the teachers at school. As much as possible, parents need to quit pulling their children out of school during the duly appointed time of school instruction so that they may attend family outings, vacations, amusement parks, cruises, and extended family trips that can last a couple of weeks long, etc. The Christmas, Spring, and Summer Breaks are the properly appointed times to be used for family vacations, trips, and outings. How can we expect our children to excel in academic performance and achieve respectable scores on state and national tests as well as acquire the traditional American virtue of self-reliance if they are continually pulled out of school for a myriad of reasons and excuses? Many of these same liberal and conservative “helicopter parents” will then whine the loudest to school officials if their children’s grades and test scores are lower than the other children’s scores who are attending school on a regular basis. I am not talking about legitimate illnesses or family emergencies that arise from time to time. However, teachers are very alarmed at the ever increasing number of days that can eventually accumulate into weeks over the length of a school year with regard to children being absent from the classrooms because of the aforementioned excuses, thereby seriously impeding academic excellence and progress.

In conclusion to part I

As a direct result of the lackluster school attendance being exhibited by too large a number of students attending school as well as a large number of parents not taking responsibility for holding their own children accountable for grades, homework, etc., we are continuing to countenance the decline of the virtues of self-reliance and accountability with many parents and their children in America. As I state in my book, The Sissification of America: A Fifty-Year Decline in American Exceptionalism, “My dear people, having taught school for more than twenty-six years myself, I have discovered one truth to be of paramount certainty: Show me concerned and proactive parents who take an actual interest and role in their children’s education, and I will show you successful, industrious, and well-adjusted children in school. These same children will not grow up to be lazy deadbeats nor will they become economic dregs on society because of any entitlement mentality. Instead, they will be industrious, entrepreneurial businessmen and businesswomen who will be the movers and shakers of America’s future.” Education begins at home.

http://www.sissificationofamerica.com


Leftist Ninnies, Numbskulls, and Nut-Jobs Oh My!

In 2006 a hilarious movie, Idiocracy, hit the silver screen. It was directed by Mike Judge and starred Luke Wilson. The setting of the film is America in the year 2505, and the plot showcases how stupid people have outbred intelligent people whereby Americans are also governed by a conglomeration of morons.  When I was laughing hysterically while viewing the film, I thought to myself: “We are almost there as a nation!” My worst nightmare has now become a reality as I am convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that we are there as a nation. America in 2013 could certainly produce a sequel called Dumb, Dumber, and Dumbest!

sissification

America is deluged with a cabal of low information voters, especially within the 18-30 year old bunch who are electing and re-electing low information politicians to govern us. Idiocracy by the year 2013? You bet! It is most pathetic, not to mention humiliating, when The O’Reilly Factor’s producer, Jesse Watters, queries young adults about their supposed knowledge and mastery of American history with questions such as: Do you know in what century the American Revolution was fought? What country did we fight against in that war? The vast majority of those queried could not answer either question correctly! Idiocracy on a California beach? Most certainly. A sampling of the nation? Absolutely! Too many absentee parents and their unmotivated, narcissistic children, as well as the Democrat controlled K-12 public school system and the vast secular-progressive public and private university system nationwide, have collectively done a stellar job now haven’t they? Oh, it doesn’t end there by any means. Just as a frog bumps its rump as it jumps, let us leapfrog on over to Idiocracy in Washington, D.C.

In an interview with CNN in 2011, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York stated that the federal government consists of three branches: the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the presidency. In the first place, both the Senate and the House comprise one branch of the federal government, the Legislative Branch. What does Senator Schumer think the US Supreme Court and the federal courts of appeals belong to, an imaginary fourth branch? While campaigning for president in 2008 in Beaverton, Oregon, Barack Obama remarked that America has fifty-seven states! Well, this public school teacher gives the president a failing grade in the area of American geography. Many of us find such ignorance on the part of elected officials, who are entrusted by the American people to represent us in an intelligent manner, to be most troublesome and embarrassing. Conservatives would be well within their right to call into question the quality of schools that matriculated such individuals during their adolescent and collegiate years. Were such progressive politicians educated in public schools, private schools, or both? Idiocracy is alive and well in our Republic. Honest to God, the entire affair reminds me of a wonderful line in the humorous classic film, Life With Father, where the protagonist, Mr. Clarence Day, frustratingly remarks to himself quite loudly while pacing back-and-forth in his study after reading his New York newspaper: “Why did God make so many dumb fools and Democrats?”

Perhaps it is high time the American people propose a new amendment be added to the Constitution that would require every potential political candidate running for Congress and the presidency to pass-with flying colors-an extensive exam on the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, American history, American civics, and American geography before being permitted to campaign for public office, much less be elected to serve in public office. It is about time the American people give our politicians a taste of their own medicine as we could appropriately designate this new amendment-The No Politician Left Behind Amendment. While we are at it, we could lobby for the passage of another new amendment that would mandate similar requirements be imposed upon the American voters in order for them to be qualified to cast votes in an informed and intelligent manner during every state and national election. Only then might America be in a position to reverse our current state of Idiocracy. Leftist ninnies, numbskulls, and nut-jobs oh my! Take your pick as we merrily sing and skip down the Yellow Brick Road together on our way to the farcical secular-progressive Emerald City in the Land of Oz. Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore!