Saturday, March 19, 2011
Opponents of the standards believe they will not make American students more globally competitive, nor will they increase test scores. Some opponents argue states have given up their state sovereignty and signed onto unfunded debt for an unproven system. These opponents have argued if standards are too low in a community, the state and local levels have the constitutional authority to adjust these standards. Conversely, some states are arguing their standards were higher than the new mandated standards set by the consortia.
The word "common" was also used recently by David Brooks in describing a culture in which immigrants could assimilate into and Hotair picked up the interview:
“Here’s the case: You know we have a common culture,” Brooks said. “If we’re going to assimilate people, if we’re going to be one nation – it helps to have a common culture. There’s some things that do join us. And government has some role in help creating those things, in funding the things that join us.”
Hotair takes exception to Brooks' argument:
Here’s the rebuttal case: the government’s role isn’t to create a “common culture.”
I would further that comment and add it's not the government's role to create a "common education" either.
Remember this administration's goal for education? From Arne Duncan:
The 2020 goal is the North Star guiding all our efforts to improve education. Roughly 60% of Americans will have to earn college degrees and certificates by 2020 to regain our international lead, compared with about 40% today. And the truth is that America can only have the best-educated, most competitive workforce if parents, students, educators and entire communities begin to rethink and remake the educational status quo. **(One issue with Mr. Duncan's statement: parents, students and communities were not invited to "rethink" and "remake" the educational status quo. This task was left to the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the National Governor's Association and the Department of Education).
The Common Core standards will allegedly be the first piece in the puzzle of remaking the educational status quo. We will make all states teach the same subjects with the same standards with the same assessments and that will make our education experience common. Will it make it exceptional? I don't believe that's the goal of common core standards. Look at this document from Achieve, a partner in the crafting of the Common Core standards and how it addresses the issue of states being allowed to set additional standards for their state up to 15% (how's that for giving away sovereignty in education):
...a central driver in the creation of the CCSS was to develop standards that were
common across states lines – and clear and focused – the opposite of the “mile wide, inch deep” standards so prevalent in many current state standards. A literal interpretation by states of the 15% guideline (that is 15% added at every grade level and in each subject) would undermine the very reason the states developed the Common Core State Standards in the first place.
What's the definition of exceptional? Exceptional: Better than average: SUPERIOR. What's the definition of common? There are many definitions but one particularly caught my attention: Common: falling below ordinary standards: SECOND-RATE.
Just like David Brooks thinking the government should provide a common culture, there is the belief from the DOE that we should also have a common education (reference the above mentioned Achieve document). Think of that: a common culture and a common education. We truly are becoming a non exceptional country. We now have to depend on entities as NPR and the Department of Education to set our standards? My goodness. How did the immigrants 100 years ago and the states ever survive without Federal governmental funded entities nudging them in their lives?
Friday, March 18, 2011
Then read the following report from a Missouri watchdog about parent teacher conferences in the Rockwood School District and the NEA buttons teachers were wearing at those conferences. When teachers tell you "it's all about the children"...you might want to refer them to the video. And why are teachers wearing buttons for specific candidates? After watching the video, I would be hardpressed to vote for ANY school board candidate endorsed by the NEA. It obviously could give a whit about students, and any candidate who courts its endorsement should be avoided at all costs.
Here's the report from the Rockwood Parent Teacher conferences:
Last night, my family had a date-night. We all went to my childrens' elementary school in the Rockwood School District for the Book Fair and Parent-Teacher Conferences. What was usually one of my favorite nights (because I get to hear how wonderful my kids are, and am offered new ways to challenge them), quickly raised eyebrows, as I noticed a badge ALL of the teachers were prominently sporting. Every one of the teachers was wearing a badge that encouraged parents to vote for 3 of the 6 current candidates for Rockwood's School Board. Wish I had thought to get a picture, or interview the teachers on who these Candidates were and why we should vote for them. I sat there, instead of listening to how awesome my child was, I sat there thinking, "Is this the purpose of a Parent-Teacher Conference? I mean, really, to subconsciously endorse Candidates via buttons via NEA backed union teachers who probably don't even know the Candidates' first names?"
So, in my conclusion on the shameful subconscious plug situation, I will be casting but ONE vote for Rockwood School Board of Directors (there is logic behind that-- under-voting increases the power of your vote). I will be voting for Mike Geller, the only candidate who rejected money from the self-proclaimed "progressive group of teachers", who just so happens to be the only Candidate who seems to be in this for his children, and not some sort of political aspiration! Rockwood NEA, your cute little plan seems to have back-fired on you!
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
For some, education continues to be about the money. Maybe now, however, it will also be about the jail time. Derek Hunter reported in Big Government that Steven Eisman, a noted Wall Street short-seller, was called to testify at a Congressional hearing against for-profit colleges, a topic he appears to have no expertise in. The reason why he was summoned, it turns out, is because, “…Eisman and other short sellers may have been given advanced notice of key regulatory moves by the agency, which would have allowed them to position themselves early in the market, and profit handsomely.” (The Daily Caller)
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) wants the SEC to investigate the relationship between Eisman, another short seller Manuel Asensio and the DOE because documents obtained through FOIA requests, “reinforce … apparent collusion between Mr. Eisman and Education in an effort to manipulate the price of stocks in for-profit education companies.”
Read the Big Government post which contains a video of Congressman Glenn Thompson (R-PA) questioning inspector General of the DOE Kathleen Tighe about these improprieties. Hunter closes with this recommendation,
“But the pressure is building from Capitol Hill to expose this seeming corruption. Whatever the end result of an investigation is, an investigation is warranted. It’s the least should expect from the ‘most transparent administration in history.’”
Rahm Emanuel said, "Never let a good crisis go to waste." Well, the White House created a crisis for them, a crisis of bullying, and the Department of Education jumped at the chance to use it to force school administrators to crack down on free speech. The Daily Caller broke this story todayBack in October, when everyone was in the heat of the campaigns, the Department of Education’s Russlynn Ali sent a Dear Colleague note to school officials across the country alerting them to the new broader definition of civil rights rules they have developed
Key points in this note:
"… federal officials have reinterpreted the civil-rights laws that require school principals to curb physical bullying, as well as racist and sexist speech, that take place within school boundaries. Under the new interpretation, principals and their schools are legally liable if they fail to curb “harassment” of students, even if it takes place outside the school, on Facebook or in private conversation among a few youths."
And Facebook is happily abetting this effort by implementing a feature allowing people to easily report “harassing language” on its network to school officials. In fact, they were said to be “thrilled” to work with the White House. Note, however, that the existence of this feature removes school administrator’s ability to claim they didn’t know about the offensive post. Since the Obama administration’s Department of Justice is not out investigating Black Panther voting rights violations, presumably they will have time to investigate Amanda’s repeated attempts to warn Becky on her Facebook page to stay away from Jason, or else.
But perhaps the biggest kicker in all of this is the Department of Ed’s new found powers to enforce punitive actions. "Following the discovery of “harassment,” officials may have to require mandatory training of students and their families, according to the Ali letter."
Is it any surprise that the force behind the expanded rules is Kevin Jennings, founder of the Gay Lesbian Straight Network and now head of the Dept of Ed’s Safe and Drug Free Schools division? The main focus of the agency's harassment campaign is the protection of homosexual students. Once a broad policy is in place, however, it allows any individual or group to complain about harassment and further REQUIRES the school to take action. No chance for abuse there. No siree.
Lots of people have other suggestions on how to deal with bullies, solutions that are more direct and, more importantly, free. There is now a video from Australia that has gone viral which plays out one of these solutions. It shows a kid who decided not to be the victim of bullying any more.
This video strikes a particular chord with those who have themselves been the victims of bullying or who have kids who have been picked on. The current direction school policy is heading regarding bullying seems to be completely wrong, and only serves to prolong or escalate the problem. Kids have been told to “walk away,” “use their words,” or “find an adult” who can help. Casey can been seen trying to ignore the other kid’s taunts while his friend aptly comments, “Man, this is going to be pathetic.” Kids who fight back or defend themselves are frequently punished because many administrators believe they would be condoning violence if they did not punish everyone who threw a punch. My own son was punched in class and told the attacker to “Knock it h--- off!” For using swear words, he was given a two day detention. Casey was given a 4 day suspension. But at least in Casey’s case, I don’t believe that particular twerp will ever bother him again. The comment sections where this video is posted are loaded with people who said their own torment only stopped once they stood up to the bullies who then backed off and left them in peace.
The privacy rights issues associated with the DOE’s letter are enormous and making very few people happy. The pressure on school administrations is huge now because they are “legally liable” if they don’t actively work to find and stop the harassment. Just what we need in times of fiscal crisis - a new administrator to monitor social networks. What say we all give them a hand and stand up to the bullies at the DOE in the administrator’s (and our own) defense and tell them we will not tolerate this level of intrusion.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Monday, March 14, 2011
The Puzzle Piece Needed Most for Education Reform. And it's the One Piece the Government Can't Mandate.
As a city, a state and a region, we can revolutionize school curricula, impose new testing regimens and move from traditional schools to charter schools to something in between. We can blame teachers, strip them of tenure and punish or reward them until the cows come home.
But it’s difficult to see how anything we do will matter unless children have caring and encouraging adults on their side when school is not in session.
The article states broadening community involvement in public schools is important. Question: How can you broaden community involvement when students are once again taken out of their failed communities and bussed into the suburbs? Open enrollment may allow children to escape "failing schools", but it is difficult to seriously entertain community involvement with students who commute one hour each way to and from school.
If the common core standards, new assessments, charters, open enrollment and virtual schools won't fix the problem, and the ticket to a good education is community involvement, how can the government and legislators mandate people to care for the children in that community? Perhaps that's the underlying missing piece in the education puzzle.
Figure out how to find the piece to that puzzle: Adults who don't/can't/won't care for children and don't/can't/won't value education. That's a puzzle the government or legislators can't complete. And as long as school decisions on curriculum and standards remain far away from the local level, parental involvement will become more and more removed as well. Why would parents become involved in a system in which they have no voice?