"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, February 22, 2014

2014 Medley #5

Public Schools, Politicians, Tax Money for Religion, NEA, Poverty, Privatization


The Myth Behind Public School Failure

Read The Shock Doctrine.
Look closely—you’ll recognize the formula: Underfund schools. Overcrowd classrooms. Mandate standardized tests sold by private-sector firms that “prove” these schools are failures. Blame teachers and their unions for awful test scores. In the bargain, weaken those unions, the largest labor organizations remaining in the United States. Push nonunion, profit-oriented charter schools as a solution.

If a Hurricane Katrina or a Great Recession comes along, all the better. Opportunities for plunder increase as schools go deeper into crisis, whether genuine or ginned up.


I taught third grade (eight and nine year olds) for much of my career. The behavior of some of the politicians in Indiana is reminding me of my experiences on the playground with discipline...

Indiana Senate Republicans sanction Sen. Mike Delph over remarks

A state senator engages in childish behavior...arguing his position through sarcasm and shaming...
Delph took to Twitter to voice his frustrations. In a prolific, three-day war of words, Delph criticized his fellow Republicans, saying they had turned their back on the conservative base of the Indiana Republican Party.

Delph also lashed out at the media and the "self-absorbed Godless culture that is fast-tracking our nation to ruin."
Senate leader punishes Mike Delph over tweet

Then the same senator "broke the rules" about a discussion (about the same issue) in the party caucus and is being punished.
• Delph will lose his leadership position as the Senate’s assistant majority floor leader of communications.

• Delph will not retain his title as ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

• He will lose his press secretary.
What happens to children when they misbehave? They're put in time-out.
• Delph will be given a new seat in the Senate chamber, along side Democrats — in the minority in the House — and across the aisle from Republican leadership. 


Indiana Vouchers Will Help Fix Church Steeples

Public money for private, religious schools -- the entanglement between church and state is becoming more common in Indiana.
  • Why in the world are we as taxpayers helping to fund and maintain private and parochial schools while public school districts are having difficulty maintaining their buildings, paying their staffs, running their buses?
  • Why do public schools have to float bond issues in order to have the funds to maintain the buildings owned by THE PUBLIC?
  • Why in the world are my tax dollars going to repair St. Jude's steeple when the vestry of my own church has turned to its own parishioners for a fund drive to repair its crumbling infrastructure?
  • Why in the world is Indiana funding religious education with no strings attached?
More evidence Indiana vouchers are about teaching religion
Parents are using Indiana school vouchers and tax-credit scholarships to provide their children with religious education at taxpayer expense. That’s the finding that jumps out from a recent survey of private school parents by three pro-voucher Indiana organizations.

The survey found that more than half of parents who used vouchers to transfer their kids to private schools did so in part because they didn’t like the fact that public schools don’t teach religion. And more than two-thirds chose their current school for its religious instruction or environment.
Tax money for religion...is that what the founders meant in the First Amendment? James Madison wrote,
The experience of the United States is a happy disproof of the error so long rooted in the unenlightened minds of well-meaning Christians, as well as in the corrupt hearts of persecuting usurpers, that without legal incorporation of religious and civil polity, neither could be supported. A mutual independence is found most friendly to practical Religion, to social harmony, and to political prosperity.
Bills would expand state program that funds some students' private education with public money

In Arizona...

To spur the public to support the transfer of public funds to private schools pretend that you're doing it to help the poor, or to support our fighting men and women. Then...in subsequent years, increase the number of students who qualify, expanding the program to include not just the poor or children of military, but everyone...

Sound familiar, Indiana?
The House Committee on Education voted in favor of a bill sponsored by Rep. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu, that would allow children of active military personnel and of those killed in action to bypass a waiting period to join the Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Account program.

A much larger expansion was approved in a different committee last week. That bill would expand eligibility to students who meet free or reduced lunch requirements and to those whose family income exceeds the free and reduced lunch requirements by 15 percent. That income threshold would then increase by 15 percent every year.

Texas Ed Board Candidates Want Religious Beliefs Promoted in Public Schools

In Texas...

Is this what we want for education in America?
We told you Monday that a religious-right group’s voter guide reveals that several Republican candidates in Texas State Board of Education elections this year think government shouldn’t be responsible for making sure all children get an education. The same candidates also support shifting tax dollars from public to private schools. So it might not be surprising to hear that their hostility to public education is matched by their disdain for science and separation of church and state.

According to answers in the voter guide, District 7 incumbent David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna, and Fort Worth challengers Eric Mahroum and Lady Theresa Thombs in the District 11 Republican primary all support teaching “intelligent design”/creationism in public schools. They also want biology textbooks to teach creationist arguments about so-called “weaknesses” of evolution. District 11 incumbent Pat Hardy, R-Fort Worth, indicated that she opposes teaching both “intelligent design” and those discredited “weaknesses” arguments.

All of those candidates, including Hardy, say the Ten Commandments should be displayed in public school buildings, that marriage is a union of one man and one woman and that “no government has the authority to alter this definition.”) They also “strongly agree” that “the more people live by Judeo-Christian values, the less government is needed.”


NEA President: We Need a Course Correction on Common Core

The NEA was among the first to endorse President Obama for reelection, despite a dismal record on public education. Why? Did any one even think to withhold an endorsement and try to wrangle some benefits for public education out of the current administration? Instead, NEA bent over, licked the Democrat's boots, and let them continue to bludgeon America's public school students...not even a whisper of dissent from our union leadership.

Then, under the guise of "getting a seat at the table" NEA jumped onto the CCSS bandwagon....taking money from the Gates Foundation for example.

Now, when public opinion is finally (rightly) turning away from the Common Core NEA President Van Roekel "sees the light."
I am sure it won’t come as a surprise to hear that in far too many states, implementation has been completely botched. Seven of ten teachers believe that implementation of the standards is going poorly in their schools. Worse yet, teachers report that there has been little to no attempt to allow educators to share what’s needed to get CCSS implementation right. In fact, two thirds of all teachers report that they have not even been asked how to implement these new standards in their classrooms.

Imagine that: The very people expected to deliver universal access to high quality standards with high quality instruction have not had the opportunity to share their expertise and advice about how to make CCSS implementation work for all students, educators, and parents.

Consequently, NEA members have a right to feel frustrated, upset, and angry about the poor commitment to implementing the standards correctly.

So, where do we go from here?
Peter Greene at Curmudgucation thinks I'm being too hard. Maybe...

DVR Corrects Course
I am already reading the cries that it is too weak and too late, and there's absolutely no question that it's both. But at this point, there are only two options-- being too late, or staying too wrong. You can't fix Too Late. Absent a time machine, DVR can't undo his ongoing period of wrong-headed quackery. At this point the best we could get would be Too Late But Absolutely Right. Too Late But Slightly Less Wrong isn't perfect, but it's still better than Still Dead Wrong And Unwilling To Talk About It. Sometimes better is all you get.
With all due respect, Mr. Greene...there's a third option. NEA can replace DVR immediately, and start working towards supporting public education in America.

Van Roekel's not-pology for getting sucked in to the CCSS debacle isn't enough to earn my forgiveness. The CCSS are not "high quality standards." I'm not upset by the inability to correctly "implement" the standards. It's the standards themselves that are faulty. The standards were purchased by the Gates Foundation and sold to Pearson. They have never been field-tested. There is no way to adjust them. They are a failed attempt to wrest yet more money from public education using our students as raw materials.

It's time for some real leadership. Tell your NEA-RA representatives to speak out loudly at the NEA-RA in Denver this July. We need to stand up to the corporate education reform industry and the federal government attack on public education.


Our focus should be on protecting children from the impact of poverty

Stephen Krashen continues to be a persistent voice for sanity in public education.
Published in the Wall Street Journal, February 21.

Response to: "A progressive education" (Editorial, Feb. 14)

Your editorial sends the message that our public schools are failing. They aren't. When researchers control for the effects of poverty, American schools rank near the top of the world. Our overall scores are unspectacular because the child poverty rate in the U.S. is very high, 23%, second-highest among all economically advanced countries. Children of poverty suffer from hunger, malnutrition, inferior health care and lack of access to books. All of these have a powerful impact on school performance. The best teaching in the world won't help when children are hungry, ill and have little or nothing to read.
Our focus should be on protecting children from the impact of poverty.

Prof. Em. Stephen Krashen


Bill giving preference to grandkids of charter school founders heads to Senate

Nepotism in business is a time honored tradition so it comes as no surprise that when public education turns into a business, that nepotism becomes enshrined as part of the plan...
SALT LAKE CITY — A bill to allow the grandchildren of charter school founders to bypass enrollment lotteries sailed quickly through a Senate committee Thursday on its way to final passage.

HB36, sponsored by Rep. David Lifferth, R-Eagle Mountain, passed the House last week in a 71-2 vote and was given a favorable recommendation by the Senate Education Committee Thursday. It will now go before the full Senate for consideration.

Lifferth said current law allows the children of charter school founders and board members to enroll in a charter school without participating in enrollment lotteries. He said his bill would extend that provision to the grandchildren of founders in response to the increasingly active role that grandparents take in the raising and education of their families.

U.S.: Second Highest Level of Child Poverty among "Rich" Nations


All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.

Stop the Testing Insanity!


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