Tag Archives: President Barack Obama

Mandated Behavioral Assessments for Connecticut Students? Homeschoolers Included?

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

Do you think you can keep your children from government mandates if you homeschool?  It is increasingly doubtful you can shield your children from having to submit to governmental data mining of their personal information, even if you don’t have your child enrolled in public education.  Government agencies want educational data as well as wanting to require information on your child’s behavioral health.  Watch out for this type of legislation in your state.

From the Family Institute of Connecticut:

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Stop New Mandate Attacking Parental Rights

Stop S.B. 374, Mandated Assessments of Children
In all the years we have been fighting for pro-family values at the state Capitol, we have never seen as invasive a bill as S.B. 374, An Act Requiring Behavioral Health Assessments for Children. This bill would mandate that public school children in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 and home-schooled children at ages 12, 14 and 17 be given behavioral health assessments, whether or not parents approve.
S.B. 374 will have a public hearing on Friday, March 8th at 11:00 A.M. at Wesleyan University. We need parents to be prepared, to attend the hearing and to help defeat this bill.
No one has the right to force children to have psychological evaluations that are against the will of their parents and possibly unnecessary. This bill may violate Connecticut’s HIPAA privacy law. What does the government intend to do with these assessments? If a child gets a “bad” assessment, the state is empowered to do…what, exactly? What will the test be? How will it be administered? These and other questions remain unanswered by S.B. 374.
S.B. 374 is a significant attack on homeschooling and public school families, interference by the government in compelling the upbringing of a child, something the State Board of Education does not have the authority to do.

Here are four ways you can help FIC Action stop the Mandated Assessments Bill and protect our parental rights: 

1) Use our Grassroots Action Center to send an e-mail directly to your state senator and state representative by clicking on the link at the bottom of this message (then click “take action” at the bottom of the next screen). We have provided some basic points, but please either put the message in your own words or add a brief introduction and conclusion!  Personalized and polite messages have a much greater impact. Let our legislators know that you oppose any bill that forces children to be “assessed” without their parents’ permission.
2) Attend the public hearing and testify against S.B. 374. The Public Health Committee will hold a public hearing on Friday, March 8, 2013 at 11:00 A.M. at Beckham Hall, Wesleyan University, 55 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown. The Committee is accepting electronic testimony via email at phc.testimony@cga.ct.gov. Please submit electronic testimony no later than 5:00 P.M. on Thursday, March 7, 2013. If you are unable to submit electronic testimony, please submit 10 copies of written testimony at the time of sign-up. Sign-up for the hearing will begin at 9:00 A.M. on the Second Floor of Beckham Hall. The first hour of the hearing is reserved for Legislators, Constitutional Officers, State Agency Heads and Chief Elected Municipal Officials. Speakers will be limited to three minutes of testimony.
3) Click here to donate to the Family Institute of Connecticut Action. FIC Action, the lobbying arm of Connecticut’s pro-family movement, is your eyes and ears at the state Capitol. Your support allows us to continue to be your voice for faith and family.
4) Forward this message to every like-minded state resident you know and ask them to do likewise. We need as much support as possible to protect our children from unwanted state-mandated “assessments.”
Thank you for making your voice heard in the fight to protect parental rights in Connecticut.
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Senator Harp said she is particularly eager to follow-up on one of President Obama’s recommendations with regard to enhanced delivery of mental health services: renewed focus on adolescents and providing for them access to the specific resources they need.

“So much of the gun violence we have witnessed is committed by troubled young people—we really must redouble our efforts to help adolescents with their unique developmental issues,” Senator Harp said. “Researchers are consistently learning more about brain development and the challenges some young adults face. We have to be sure all that new information becomes widely available so it can be useful.”

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Book Review: Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow

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by Andrew Palmer

This book examines the history of the “Hitler Youth” and how Hitler was able to take young people and turn them into monsters. The book is structured in chapters. There are 10 in all with a small introduction to kick it all off. Each chapter looks at the youth role in Nazi Germany in a little different way. Bartoletti also sticks to a loose sequential timeline as she moves through each chapter. The book includes some incredible pictures that are well matched to the text.

My favorite chapter, and arguably the most terrifying, was Chapter 7, “Serving a Mass Murderer: The Holocaust Begins.” I never knew that Hitler instituted a euthanasia program in Germany. Maybe the strangest and scariest part of all is how it started. In 1938 the parents of a five-month-old baby boy that was born developmentally disabled petitioned Hitler to allow their doctor to kill the child in a merciful manner. Hitler sent his own doctor to examine the child. The doctor agreed and the baby was “put to sleep.” As a result of this, Hitler thought that he could make the Aryan race better and at the same time save government money. So began a secret euthanasia program that eventually killed at least 100,000 Germans (it may have been up to 200,000). The program not only included deformed babies, it included adults who were deemed too physically or mentally unfit to live productive lives.

I was also surprised by how important the youth were to what Hitler did. How do you kill eleven million people? You lie to them and you brainwash their children. By 1939 there were 7,287,470 youth enrolled in the “Hitler Youth” program. The terror of Hitler was impossible without the help of teenagers and young adults.

As I read this book, I was reminded of American youth and their passion for President Obama. No, I don’t think that Obama is creating the new Hitler Youth program, and no, I don’t think Obama is equivalent to Hitler. There are some parallels to what is happening to many of our youth in this country. The left, especially the Hollywood, limousine-liberals, are brilliant propagandists. While our children aren’t enrolled in some massive Obama Youth program, I do think they are being brainwashed to accept liberalism and follow Obama.

I see this in my classroom. I teach middle school, and some of the kids are just enamored with Obama. It’s not because  they have an in depth understanding of the issues and where Obama stands. They like him because he is cool and has star power. Why do they feel this way? Because it has been presented to them through the media and entertainment they consume.

What is happening right now with regards to the gun control debate has nothing to do with banning guns right now. This is about the future, they are grooming this generation to accept gun control. They are moving the mob in America to accept their positions. They are using the media to scare them about the supposed risks of firearms. Hitler was patient, it took years, but he was able to program German teenagers to accept his insanity. Remember, progressives are patient, as well. It’s not about right now, its about how the ends justify the means. It is my only hope that conservatives wake-up to this sooner or later. We must focus on the youth through different mediums, especially pop culture.

I was struck by a couple passages in the book. The first came at the end of the body of the book. I love how the author talks right to the young reader that has just finished this book.

“In October 1932, when Adolf Hitler praised the Hitler Youth for their loyalty, bravery, and readiness to create a new Germany, he asked them, ‘What can happen to a people whose youth sacrifices everything in order to serve its great ideals?’

“On that day, no one could have predicted the answer to that question. No one could have predicted the extent and degree to which a person such as Adolf Hitler could exploit the idealism of children and teenagers.

“Sixty years have passed since the bloodiest war in history ended. Some people wonder: Could another despot like Hitler rise to power on the shoulders of young people?

“Only young people today can answer that question. What are you willing to do to prevent such a shadow from falling over you and others.”

And from the “Author’s Note” at the end of the book. This is exactly why we read and write.

“By nature, human beings search for ways to make sense and meaning out of their lives and their world. One way that we make meaning is through the telling of our stories. Stories connect us, teach us, and warn us never to forget.

“This book is my attempt to understand the role of young people during a devastating twelve-year period of history that changed our world forever. It is my attempt to make sense out of the fact that adults taught young people to hate, to kill, and to feel superior over others. After all, the Hitler Youth weren’t born Nazis; they became Nazis.

“The stories in this book are complicated. They are riveting. But most of all, they turn the heart over.”

This is, by far, one of the greatest young-adult books ever written.

Lexile: 1050

Awards:

Newberry Honor

Robert F. Sibert Honor Book

 

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Common Core Battles Explained. It’s Really Not About the Standards. Really.

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

If you are new to the Common Core Standards battle, below is an article that explains the outcome of the standards.  The basic truth of the standards is that they are unproven, untested, underfunded and proponents cannot point to “internationally benchmarked” standards to which they are purportedly aligned. They are a cash cow for those education reformers providing the infrastructure and implementation: new text, new computers, new training manuals, etc.  What a great cash infusion into the economy…you’ve got to love those private companies taking advantage of that public money/partnership opportunity.

The method of making money (not really providing education reform for the sake of education) is in full swing.  But look down the road.  WHY are we experiencing this monstrous wave of centralized control?  It’s for the data.  The linked article explains about the surveillance of Americans via the National Security Agency (NSA) capturing email information (without Americans realizing it) and the massive storage and infrastructure needed for this activity.  WHY is the government keeping your information?  Michael S. Rozeff writing in LewRockwell.com:

If we examine the legality of this NSA warrantless surveillance, we will quickly become mired down in abstruse issues of statutory and constitutional law.   Let us not go there. That won’t give us the central answer to the question of what’s wrong with a wide network of government surveillance of Americans, with or without warrants.

It’s the same for Common Core Standards.  The grab of educational direction by the Department of Education is unconstitutional, but trying to get them out of your state legislatively promises to take several years.  Look bigger picture. WHY is the government so interested in establishing common core standards?  Like the NSA and the tracking of financial transactions, the tracking of student data will be able to determine your student’s place in a managed workforce.  Your students will be placed in a position based on his/her data set.

So what’s the problem?  If Americans want a nanny state, CCSS is the answer to figuring out what type of job your student will secure in the future.  No hard decisions for your little one to worry about:

The mandated Longitudinal Data System (a nationwide computer system connected to states using Common Core standards) will be connected not only to other states for educational information, but also to various federal agencies, such as the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services for information to supply the workforce:

The term workforce is defined as consisting of the workers engaged in a specific activity, business or industry or the number of workers who are available to be assigned to any purpose as in a nation’s workforce.

The public workforce system is a network of federal, state, and local offices that function to support economic expansion and facilitate the development United States workforce. The system is designed to create partnership with employers, educators, and community leaders in order to foster economic development and high-growth opportunities in regional economies so that businesses find qualified workers to meet their present and future workforce needs. (Emphasis added)

Your student’s data (educational and personal) is to be fed into the LDS to determine his/her strengths and weaknesses. This is surveillance most taxpayers/parents probably don‘t even know is occurring.  Do you remember signing a permission form giving the government the right to share your child’s information with a network of federal, state, and local offices that function to support economic expansion?  Is this what you envision for your child as he/she sets off for school each day?

The education reformers and some nanny state parents ask: Isn’t this a positive service our government is doing to/for our children?  Helping our children decide what to do for a job and where to work?  Whatever is the problem?  The answer:  What occurs if your student decides he/she doesn’t want to do the job designated for him by his/her data?

What’s wrong with the surveillance state? The balance of power between citizens and government in America is already lopsided and becoming increasingly so. The surveillance state opens up new opportunities and new vistas for government control of its citizens.

The biggest danger is that Americans be trained to accept the State’s controls over their lives, or that they have a limited notion of what freedom means. In roughly 15 years of training, a new generation can be taught that the State’s controls are PROPER and that what the State is doing is RIGHT and for the GOOD of the people. When this happens, further restrictions and controls become easier and a high degree of oppression reigns, and it even meets with a high degree of acceptance.

As you read What’s Wrong with the Survelliance State, think how this applies to the intrusion and data mining in education and the real purpose of Common Core standards.  If there is no common data mined and shared via state computers to other agencies, this silent surveillance on your student cannot occur…at least in school.

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Do you know what the NSA is? It’s the National Security Agency. The NSA has collected an estimated 15 to 20 trillion communications involving Americans.

Government spying on Americans and surveillance of Americans are rapidly increasing. The government has forced telecommunications companies to participate. This is being litigated in lawsuits.

Financial institutions must report certain cash transactions to the Department of the Treasury. This is accepted practice. This reporting includes the following and I quote the U.S. Treasury:

“Individuals transporting over $10,000 in currency or other monetary instruments into/out of the US.
“Shippers/Receivers of over $10,000 in currency or other monetary instruments into/out of the US
“For each person engaged in a trade or business who receives over $10,000 in cash in one transaction or two or more related transactions.
“For each U.S. person who has a financial interest in, or signature authority, or other authority, over any financial accounts, including bank, securities, or other types of financial accounts in a foreign country, if the aggregate value of these financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year.”

Former NSA official, William Binney, says that the government is collecting and storing everyone’s e-mails.

“…the FBI has access to the data collected, which is basically the emails of virtually everybody in the country. And the FBI has access to it. All the congressional members are on the surveillance too, no one is excluded. They are all included. So, yes, this can happen to anyone. If they become a target for whatever reason – they are targeted by the government, the government can go in, or the FBI, or other agencies of the government, they can go into their database, pull all that data collected on them over the years, and we analyze it all. So, we have to actively analyze everything they’ve done for the last 10 years at least.”

Asked if this collection were only of those who could be a threat to national security, he said

“It’s everybody. The Naris device, if it takes in the entire line, so it takes in all the data. In fact they advertised they can process the lines at session rates, which means 10-gigabit lines. I forgot the name of the device (it’s not the Naris) – the other one does it at 10 gigabits. That’s why they’re building Bluffdale [database facility], because they have to have more storage, because they can’t figure out what’s important, so they are just storing everything there. So, emails are going to be stored there in the future, but right now stored in different places around the country. But it is being collected – and the FBI has access to it.”

If we examine the legality of this NSA warrantless surveillance, we will quickly become mired down in abstruse issues of statutory and constitutional law.

Let us not go there. That won’t give us the central answer to the question of what’s wrong with a wide network of government surveillance of Americans, with or without warrants.

Binney gives us the beginning of the answer:

“Unfortunately, the state of our surveillance state is: all set, to be turned on for the imperial presidency to do whatever it wants to do.”

What’s wrong with the surveillance state is (1) that the State has far more power than each individual American has, and (2) the State can and will turn that power against Americans if it can get away with it.

The State is not some beneficent body of men and women devoted to public service who are unselfishly acting on behalf of the welfare of Americans. Barack Obama, Dianne Feinstein, John Boehner, Harry Reid, John Roberts, David Petraeus, Keith B. Alexander, Robert Mueller, and Michael Hayden are not saints. They are not even close.

We have had recent examples of the abuses of power as exercised by George Bush and his administration. Barack Obama continues those abuses and adds more of his own. The Congress continues its many abuses. The Supreme Court continues its abuses. If there is one thing we can be sure of, it is that men and women in the U.S. government have immense power to do many evil and foul deeds, and they have done them, and they will continue to do them.

It is built into human nature and into the nature of the institutions of government that such evils can and will occur, and they must be curtailed or else they annihilate civil society.

The State consists of a relatively small group of men and women with great power, and they will abuse this power if they can, that is to say, if the governed do not control their governors.

The State has organized and official power that we as individuals do not have. The State has the power to make laws and say what is legal or not legal, constitutional or not constitutional. It has the power to carry out and enforce its laws. The State’s power also finds acceptance among many Americans.

When there is a contest between some Americans and the State, or when some Americans oppose the government’s powers, their means of recourse are not as strong as the State’s, not as well organized, not as well known, not as well focused, and not as well accepted. It is more difficult for Americans to find ways to control the State than it is for the State to devise ways to control Americans. The citizens who wish to keep the State under control do not as a routine and accepted matter have institutions that they have built up and used over time to check the State’s power.

As government has grown and State power accumulated, the powers of civil society to control the State have atrophied. It is in the interest of the State to diminish those powers, and over time it is doing this. It is in the State’s interest to diminish an armed citizen militia and to replace it with a nationalized, centralized and professionalized armed force. It is in the State’s interest to replace common law and dispersed courts with a nationalized and centralized system of law-making, law-interpretation and law-enforcement.

It is by no means impossible to control the State, but it’s a non-routine and trying task. When the State flexes its muscles and oversteps, legal and electoral mechanisms may be slow and unwieldy and they may fail. The State has staying power.

And so William Binney accurately pinpoints the risk. With a surveillance state in place and with access to information on everyone, the few at the top who run the State and particularly the imperial President, who already is attempting to rule by Executive Order, can do whatever he or she wants to do.

What I envision is creeping totalitarianism, also one can call it democratic totalitarianism. It is a totalitarianism in which a facade of democratic or republican government, call it what you will, is maintained, but the actuality is increasingly detailed and oppressive control over ordinary life. The State will know where you are and what you are doing, and it will have the means of punishing you if you do not obey its rules.

Surveillance is a key component of such totalitarianism. Imagine that the State controls currency and eliminates hand-to-hand cash altogether, replacing it by electronic transactions. These can be monitored and collected. The State can know every item that you buy or sell. The State then can pass a law, according to its whim, that outlaws a certain food or item or service, or it can do the opposite. It can pass a law requiring a certain food or medical procedure. Surveillance gives it the means of enforcing its laws by knowing who is obeying and who is not. The State can turn anyone into a criminal ex post facto by passing a law and then searching past records, communications and transactions to find evidence of their previous wrongdoing. The U.S. Constitution forbids ex post facto laws, but it also forbids fiat money and requires declarations of wars by Congress. Many other constitutional provisions are ignored.

What’s wrong with the surveillance state? The balance of power between citizens and government in America is already lopsided and becoming increasingly so. The surveillance state opens up new opportunities and new vistas for government control of its citizens.
The biggest danger is that Americans be trained to accept the State’s controls over their lives, or that they have a limited notion of what freedom means. In roughly 15 years of training, a new generation can be taught that the State’s controls are PROPER and that what the State is doing is RIGHT and for the GOOD of the people. When this happens, further restrictions and controls become easier and a high degree of oppression reigns, and it even meets with a high degree of acceptance.

Totally free communication is absolutely essential to prevent this from occurring. There must be the capacity to speak freely and to educate all people, young and old, about freedom and the challenges to freedom emanating from the State. If surveillance is used to instill fear of speaking freely or used to control speech or used to prevent people from earning a livelihood or used to tie people up in legal proceedings or used to blackmail people into silence, the threat to freedom at that point is open and severe.

The surveillance State constantly drags its heels and seeks to keep its surveillance secret. There is no possibility of citizens controlling a government when they don’t know what the government is doing. If whistle blowers, soldiers and ex-soldiers, government officials and ex-government officials, and media figures are repressed and prevented from making information public, in other words, as the surveillance state seeks to keep its activities secret, the threat to freedom amplifies.

The battle lines between citizens and the State are always drawn. They never go away. The State is always a threat to freedom. The State is always pushing for greater control unless the citizens push back, develop and use means to control the State. Growing surveillance by the State is an offensive operation of the State in this never-ending war. It is up to the citizens to resist the State’s surveillance, form ongoing institutions to control the State, form a culture of citizen control, and dismantle the State’s capacity for such surveillance. It is that or else surrender more of their disappearing freedom.

December 31, 2012
Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York. He is the author of the free e-book Essays on American Empire: Liberty vs. Domination and the free e-book The U.S. Constitution and Money: Corruption and Decline.
Copyright © 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

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College Students Chant ‘Karl Marx’ ‘Socialism’ At Obama Victory Rally

Useful idiots…

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The Architect of Your Future – Data Quality Campaign

by Anngie from Missouri Education Watchdog.

We all remember the Life of Julia, where the Obama Administration laid out how government programs were going to affect someone’s entire life. But in order for those programs and policies to be there to ferry Julia from one life stage to another, some government agency had to design and implement them. Someone had to anticipate future problems and create programs that would address them. In today’s world you only do that with data which is collected, crunched, analyzed and finally used to justify policy. That data collection begins at birth and ends at death. A social security number is applied for at birth which creates a permanent record for that individual. A death certificate is registered at the end of that life.  In the middle other data are collected: a student ID, a driver’s license, a mortgage account, a credit report, a criminal record, a health record, etc. All this data tells the story of us. Or it would if it were all easily accessible in one place which up until now has not been possible.

Enter the Data Quality Campaign, whose goal is “to ensure that every citizen is prepared for the knowledge economy.” In their most recent document Pivotal Role of Policymakers as Leaders of P–20/Workforce Data Governance the DQC wrote, “Achieving this goal requires unprecedented alignment of policies and practices across the early childhood; elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education; and workforce sectors (P–20W). Consequently, many policy questions require data from multiple agencies to answer.”

See, they need data from all these agencies in order to answer policy questions about education.  But they have a problem.  Though states have independent databases that track the information policy makers claim they need (we’ll get back to that in a minute) they run into “challenges” accessing this information due to: turf, time, technical issues, and trust.

Challenge 1 Turf – Data is power and money. One does not just casually hand that over to another agency just because the other agency has claimed a need for it. Those who currently manage the data “silos” need assurance that they will not lose control or have another entity assigned oversight on what they do. This is a reasonable concern since education data collection which started in the states has had rules and restrictions placed on it by the states that cannot and should not be violated. DQC’s response is to “define clear and distinct roles and responsibilities aligned to commonly established goals. This creates and fosters a culture of shared responsibility…”

Challenge 2 Time – Only so many hours in a day and money to pay people to manage all this data. And since all that money comes from taxpayers, regardless of whether it is a government employee or a government contracted company, there needs to be assurances in place that the time/money is well spent on data management.

Challenge 3 Technical Issues -each agency defines its own data standards and protocols and procedures for data use, making sharing data difficult and inefficient. Here is where DQC can really shine because their goal is to make all these databases talk to each other so sharing data across them is – they use the word efficient, but let’s call it – easy.  These inefficiencies and mismatching may be the last  thing protecting your privacy and DQC is working like bunnies to strip that away.

Challenge 4 Trust -“Agencies are concerned about how their data might be used once the data are linked, matched, and shared.”  How about parents? Mightn’t they be concerned about how this data will be used once matched and shared? Throughout this entire document the people who really “own” this data, the children and those who speak for them, their parents, are never mentioned.

Maybe I came too late to the discussion. When was it discussed that the government had a right to collect and use personal data on every single American? That seems to already have been agreed upon by un-elected bureaucrats who don’t answer to parents. Here are the Board members of DQC.

Tom Luce, Chair Chairman, National Math and Science Initiative 
John Bailey Director, Dutko Worldwide 
Tammi Chun Policy Analyst, Office of the Governor, State of Hawaii 
Kathy Cox CEO, U.S. Education Delivery Institute 
Kati Haycock President, The Education Trust  
Bruce Hoyt Former Board MemberDenver Public Schools Board of Education 
Sharon Robinson President and CEO, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education 
Bob Swiggum Chief Information Officer, Georgia Department of Education
Gene Wilhoit Executive Director, Council of Chief State School Officers 

Their process looks like this:

  • Link Systems to allow for efficient matching of data that have been deemed necessary for specified purposes.
  • Match Data to create datasets with connected records on the same individuals from two or more databases.
  • Share information to provide participating agencies and institutions knowledge that was unavailable prior to the data matching.

There are circumstances where some data would be useful. How could colleges improve their course offerings if they didn’t track how many of their graduates got jobs and in what fields? How would high schools know whether they were truly preparing their graduates for the real world if they didn’t track how many went to college and how many got jobs?

The problem is more in the Field of Dreams area.  If you build it, they will come. If you begin to create a completely integrated data stream of personal data (which everyone always refers to as lacking individually identifiable data, right) with guidelines on how to set up new databases that can link to it and job descriptions that include making sure your data is compatible with the integrated system, you begin to create something so powerful that its governance should not be in the hands of any single individual or agency. Try preventing that from happening.

Most people only look at the privacy issues in terms of the individual databases. So what if someone knows my kid’s student ID. Who cares if I’m part of the public record as someone who receives unemployment payments. With groups like DQC working to connect all this data and develop policy on it, who knows what kinds of policies could be developed because of someone’s interpretation of that data. Maybe a policy needs to be established that requires an automatic visit by Child Protective Services for every child whose parent has become unemployed because past data showed a statistical potential for neglect when a parent loses a job.

The bigger issue is that government agencies will be self directed by data to address problems that the public has not asked to be addressed.  Our elected representatives could, in essence, be replaced by databases.  Whatever efficiencies or solutions might be gained by creating such a system should be weighed heavily against the possibility of such systems being abused by someone you don’t agree with. In addition should always be the concern of  such data being compromised, maybe even from entities outside the U.S. One of the key elements in the P-20 system is that it be accessible. That means, by definition, outside entities need to have a way in. There is no such thing as a completely secure system that needs broad access and any honest IT person will confirm that. So how much data do we want to put in such a system?  Has anyone asked us?

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It’s history and economics education, stupid!

by Andrew Palmer

For anyone that follows politics they know the famous James Carville quote, “It’s the economy, stupid.” As conservatives absorb and evaluate the reasons for the reelection of the Marxist in Chief Barack Obama, the one topic that I don’t think you will see discussed will be history and economics education.

People like to scream about our education system in America, but I think they always get it all wrong. It’s history and economics education, stupid!

For decades conservatives have been belly-aching over the state of our public education system. They are always besides themselves about how our kids can’t read, they can’t write, they suck at math, or how some stupid second world country is beating us on the PISA assessment. My response to these cries has always been to roll my eyes. It is not where the problem is!

The reason that 60 million Americans were willing to elect Barack Obama is because they know little to nothing about our country, it’s history, or the principles that created our constitutional republic. Is it any wonder that this has happened? Really since Reagan the focus on the right for education reform has constantly been on science, math, and English.

Well, guess what, science, math, and English are incomplete without the fourth core of history education. I have always viewed history education as the glue that binds all of the contents. It is the “why” of us. Without the why, the other three cores are meaningless.

If one is a truth seeking person they will discover through the study of our past that America is a great nation. They will see that America made some mistakes along the way, but the truth of the matter is that we have been responsible for more good than any other nation in the history of the world. I challenge you to find one better, it doesn’t exist.

The reason the average American, the 60 million dupes that voted for Obama, never respond to the accusation of him being a socialist or a Marxist is because they don’t know what these terms mean. I have heard many people respond to the question of “What is socialism?” with a response of something to do with talking to other people. In other words, socializing. An honest pursuit of the history of governance should cause one to realize that socialism doesn’t work, and it always ends up in a fiscal cliff. Just look at Europe!

If history education is bad, economics education in this country is utterly disgusting. The average American can’t differentiate between capitalism and socialism. You think they will be able to understand the difference between Keynes and Mises? I could fall out of my seat laughing at that one. Add in a poor understanding of personal economics and you have a real disaster. Is it any wonder that Dave Ramsey makes millions teaching people to not be stupid with their money? It’s no wonder we elect the politicians we do.

I know it’s easy to really get discouraged after last night, but I’m not a sunshine patriot, and I hope you aren’t either. The progressives have been able to brainwash Americans for the last 40 years through terrible history and economics education at the secondary and post-secondary levels. If you think it’s bad now, just wait until the history component of the Common Core State Standards emerges. It is my expectation that these standards will be used to further denigrate and destroy what is left of our constitutional republic.

Many people often confuse what makes this nation great. It is not it’s people. Heck, we proved that last night. There were 60 million people that voted for a guy that has absolutely no character, honor, or integrity. What makes us great is our constitution and its foundational political philosophy. Those ideas still exist. It is up to us, conservative teachers and citizens, to protect and spread those ideas. Remember, ideas are timeless, nations are not.

If conservatives really want to focus on the ills of our education system, history and economics education is the target.

Andrew Palmer is an English Language Arts public school teacher in Missouri. You can follow him on Twitter at @MoConservTchr. He is co-founder and editor of Conservative Teachers of America. 

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Are School Vouchers (and Charters) Really the Free Market at Work? Does the Free Market Include Government Funding/Regulations?

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

Andrew Coulson from CATO writes about the idea of “choice” and why many “choice” proponents who espouse “free market” are actually promoting unconstitutional ideas.  We at MEW have some rather spirited discussions the last several days with “choicers” about our recent articles on “choice” questioning whether this “choice” actually is free market or markets propped up by tax dollars.

Education is free market when the government doesn’t fund it and regulate its operation.  Coulson wonders how government funded vouchers can be considered free market by the choice movement.  How can does a government funded “choice” in education containing the same mandates as traditional public school be classified as free market?  Coulson explains why vouchers are not really choice at all in Obama, Romney, Teachers, and Choice:

Jay Greene has an excellent piece in the Wall Street Journal this week revealing that the teacher workforce has grown dramatically over the past forty years—and at enormous cost—without improving student achievement by the end of high school. And he rightly disparages President Obama for arguing that even more teachers would somehow do the trick. Even better, Greene notes that American education will not reverse its productivity collapse and become efficient until we allow it to benefit from the freedoms and incentives of the marketplace.

But then Jay cites Governor Romney’s goal of “voucherizing federal education funds so that parents can take those resources and use them to send their children to schools of their choice,” and he does so with apparent approbation. Even ignoring the fact that the Constitution does not empower Congress to run education programs, this is a very dangerous idea.

There has been no civilization in the history of humanity in which governments have paid for private schooling without ultimately controlling what was taught and who could teach, erecting barriers to entry and thereby crippling market forces.

For that reason, I recommended against a federal voucher program under the Bush administration. Since then, additional evidence has come to light. When I studied the regulatory impact of U.S. private school choice programs last year I found that even the small existing U.S. voucher programs do indeed impose a heavy and very statistically significant additional burden of regulation on participating private schools.

Perhaps a way will be found to enact and maintain minimally regulated voucher programs in the coming years. Until that time comes, it would be the height of folly to introduce a federal voucher program whose regulations would suffocate educational freedom from coast to coast.

In my statistical study of choice program regulation, I found that K-12 tax credit programs do not impose a statistically significant extra burden of regulation on private schools. But even a national K-12 tax credit program would be far too dangerous. By leaving education policy to the states and the people, we can see which programs flourish and which become sclerotic. We must encourage and learn from that policy diversity, not squelch it with federal programs or mandates.

Coulson has the correct idea about educational delivery and the only solution that is constitutional:  leave education to the states and the people.    Don’t try to sell the federally funded voucher idea as a viable alternative to traditional public schools when the private schools will have to conform to the same mandates and regulations of the traditional public schools.

He doesn’t mention charter schools in this CATO article, but I wonder if he would make the same argument when scrutinizing the free market argument made in favor of charter schools.  In this 2001 article from thefreemanonline.com critiquing a book on charters, he raises concerns about taxpayer funding of charters and understanding that once the government funds these schools, they lose their autonomy:

The risks and shortcomings of charter schools are several. For one thing, whenever the state rather than the consumer pays for a service, we have the breeding grounds for fraud and corruption. Parents cannot be duped into paying for children they do not have, but the same can’t be said of government agencies. The authors describe several fraudulent abuses, but fail to acknowledge that the problem is intrinsic to the separation of payment from consumption.

Allowing the government to hold the educational purse strings also draws the attention of charter schools away from families and toward the state. In a market, producers increase their income either by cutting costs or demonstrating improved services for which consumers are willing to pay more. Charter schools will only be able to raise revenues by lobbying the state. The 14-fold increase in inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending that has occurred in government schools over the past 75 years is a sobering harbinger of what to expect under charter schooling. The authors provide evidence of this lobbying already occurring among the country’s nascent charter schools, but seem not to understand its importance or inevitability.

Finally, charter schools preclude the direct financial responsibility of parents that history shows to be crucial for the maintenance of parental involvement in, and control over, their children’s education.

Based on historical and contemporary precedents, charter schools are likely to be re-regulated to the point where they are indistinguishable from traditional government-run schools. The authors are aware of this “ominous threat,” but can offer no solution.

The downside of charter schooling would be of negligible importance if their impact were limited to charter schools themselves. Charter schools would still constitute some improvement over traditional public schools. The real concern is that previously independent private schools are being lured into the charter fold. If large numbers of private schools adopt charter status, the eventual re-regulation of charter schools will expand the government education monopoly. The authors make no mention of this Damoclean sword hanging over the charter movement.

Don’t try to pass charters off as free market when they are taxpayer funded.  Don’t privatize education via charters where taxpayers and parents have no decision making abilities and mandates (not laws) dictate how and what standards/assessments will be taught to students and pre-determined vendors cash in on supplying the curricula and systems needed because of the mandates.

If your state legislators espouse “choice” as conservative and free market ideas, send them a copy of Coulson’s article.  These “choices” as they are currently constructed are neither. 

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Common Core Standards and the Federalization of Education

By Karen Schroeder, President of Advocates for Academic Freedom

Common Core Standards are a federal program in which the federal government will define the curricula and the academic standards for each subject taught in the every school setting. These Federal Standards will basically eliminate local control of schools and provide unfettered access to curricula by the Federal Government and by the United Nations eventually. To date, 46 states have adopted Common Core Standards. The cost for implementing these standards may require a new method of taxation that is more accommodating for federal control of the educational system.

President Obama’s federal program Race to the Top provides bonus points to states that institute common learning goals. Common Core Standards represent about $16 billion in new unfunded mandates. It imposes mediocre standards upon the states which must be accepted or the states are threatened with loss of present funding. Federal mandating of these standards bypasses any congressional scrutiny and the state legislative process as well as violating the public trust by preventing any school board, parental, or teacher approval of these programs.

The federal government has been encouraged to implement these standards by educational policy experts because, as A New Civic Literacy: American Education and Global Interdependence provided by the Aspen Institute explains, “decentralization” of education (local control) makes educational change difficult to introduce.” Therefore, policy experts recommend that the federal government be given the responsibility to assure the implementation of global interdependence. Advancing global interdependence has replaced the original educational goal and that is why our schools are failing academically, but schools are succeeding to advance our population’s acceptance of surrendering our border, our right to secure elections, and respect for our founding documents.

Common Core Standards have been written for math and English and are currently being written for social studies curricula. The standards for this subject are key to the successful advancement of the social and political policy of global interdependence which these standards are intended to help implement. According to A New Civic Literacy the “students in our public schools constitute the nation’s greatest and most attractive sucker list. Everybody with anything to sell—a global perspective—would naturally like to get at this market of future American adults, and get them as early in life as possible.” The document identifies teachers of social studies and the publishers of text books as key points of leverage. Because of the importance of this access to the American public, these policy experts defined education as “the most important subject we as a people are engaged in.”

Teachers, parents, and some legislators have been discouraging the implementation of Common Core Standards because the standards are weak. They eliminate oversight by school boards, teachers, and parents and any control parents and educators would have over academics in the classroom. The Wall Street Journal reported on May 8, 2012, in “School-Standards Pushback” that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is concerned that these standards will “relinquish control of education to the federal government” and that Emmett McGroarty, executive director of American Principles in Action, called the standards “mediocre and costly to implement.”

Many are concerned that the Common Core Standards, once successfully implemented, will provide unfettered access of our educational system by the United Nations. Some textbooks and curricula for our public schools have already been written by UNESCO and the International Baccalaureate program that is currently in many school districts across the United States. Grabbing additional access is a natural next step. Once they write the curricula, they must have authority to develop all testing tools. They will decide who becomes a teacher and what preparation will be provided for that teacher. The International Baccalaureate curriculum upsets parents and teachers because the focus includes sustainable development, abortion rights, gay marriage, universal disarmament and social justice curricula.

The UN involvement in the American educational system has already been facilitated by treaties signed by American presidents from both parties. Those documents include but are not limited to: Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Treaty on the Rights of the Child, Civic Education: Classroom Connections, and Agenda 21.

EdWatch.org published “Marc Tucker’s New Education Initiative” written by Professor Allen Quist in 2007 in which the professor explains that experts representing the National Center for Education and the Economy (NCEE) seem to believe that it will be easier for the public to accept a new method of funding education once schools are burdened under these unfunded mandates. According to professor Quist, the NCEE suggests that regional development authorities be created and given power to tax removing all remaining local control of schools. Once the federal government has total control of education, what will happen to school choice?

For effective educational reform, citizens must unite around a single mission: eliminate federal mandates and federal funding of education and reallocate those funds to the states.

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Karen Schroeder is the President of Advocates for Academic Freedom (AAF) which is a proponent for a return to fact-based curricula, accountability, and academic excellent in public education. Karen was appointed to the Governor’s Educational Communications Board on May 1, 2012.  She provides seminars designed to inform and motivate citizens to reclaim their responsibility to become involved in the decisions made at the local and state levels of the educational system. Karen is regularly interviewed by Wisconsin radio personalities. 

With a BA degree in education and a Master’s Degree in Special Education, Ms. Schroeder has taught in suburban public schools for thirty-six years. During her teaching career, she became a free-lance writer to provide citizens with information revealing the impact of social and political policies on the educational system. Her works are published in the Eau Claire Journal and numerous other newspapers across Wisconsin.

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Filed under Education Reform, Federal Department of Education, National Standards (Common Core)

Educators Can Turn Policy Change Into An Opportunity

We received this from Karen Schroeder, President of Advocates for Academic Freedom. We would love to hear your thoughts on her ideas below.

EDUCATORS CAN TURN POLICY CHANGE INTO AN OPPORTUNITY

When powerful Democrats join President Obama in advocating school choice and accountability in education, educators must be prepared to turn this policy change into an opportunity. Most politicians and citizens do not understand that teachers are typically told which teaching methods to use in the classroom and are evaluated on how successfully they execute those teaching methods. Now that the academic success of students is becoming the focus, teachers have a chance to define their standing as professionals. Teachers must begin by demanding the right to choose the teaching methods used in their classrooms.

Administrators and legislators expect to deal with union leaders, so we must be well organized and prepared and ready to provide concrete examples of teaching methods that have impacted student academic success. While many examples exist, cooperative grouping of students is an example of a technique that has limited value although many college professors continue to prepare new teachers to use cooperative grouping as a main method of instruction.

If the public and legislators are going to get a true picture of the challenges facing the classroom, teachers must reveal that many teaching methods implemented in American classrooms discourage academic success. Cooperative grouping of students, for example, teaches children to surrender individual educational goals and support collectivism.  Sixty years of failure have not deterred college professors from encouraging teachers to use cooperative grouping in classrooms. The educational goals of those college professors are not academic. Their goals are political.

Cooperative grouping requires the teacher to organize students into small groups each representing a microcosm of society by including a student from every socio-economic group and every ability group. The teacher provides a task for each group to complete. Students receive a group grade because the success of each student is the responsibility of the group.

This method requires children who enjoy academics to relinquish personal educational goals and encourage, motivate, and educate less academically talented students. Students with high potential learn to devalue their skill and replace it with community service. When top students are not encouraged to develop their true potential, personal expectations of all students drop.

Cooperative grouping teaches children with little interest in academics that their success is dependent upon the level and quality of sacrifice made by more academically capable students. It promotes fear of failure rather than recognition of failure as a part of any learning process. No longer are children taught that success means overcoming challenges and developing skills to deal with failures. Instead, failure seems to occur because a fellow citizen does too little to bring success to others. That fellow citizen becomes anyone who accomplishes more than others. Political and social implications are obvious.

This teaching method has helped create a society that accepts pitting one group of citizens against another in the name of “social reciprocity” or equity. American children are being taught that some have the right to take from others.

Cooperative grouping of children demonstrates what history has repeatedly proven: collectivism is a policy of destruction. The method discourages creativity, ambition, productivity, independence, and happiness. Politically, anyone who does reach his potential is seen as a power-hungry oppressor who must be taxed into dependence, his creativity regulated into subservience, and his individuality forced into conformity.

Instructors must reclaim our professional responsibility as teachers of academics and refuse to spend classroom time shaping social or political policies.

http://advocatesforacademicfreedom.org/ 

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Advocates-for-Academic-Freedom-Corp/192295727462155?v=wall

Karen Schroeder is the President of Advocates for Academic Freedom (AAF) which is a proponent for a return to fact-based curricula, accountability, and academic excellent in public education. Karen was appointed to the Governor’s Educational Communications Board on May 1, 2012.  She provides seminars designed to inform and motivate citizens to reclaim their responsibility to become involved in the decisions made at the local and state levels of the educational system. Among other projects, AAF donates conservative current-events materials to libraries of public schools.

With a BA degree in education and a Master’s Degree in Special Education, Ms. Schroeder has taught in suburban public schools for thirty-six years. During her teaching career, she became a free-lance writer to provide citizens with information revealing the impact of social and political policies on the educational system. Her works are published in the Eau Claire Journal and numerous other newspapers across Wisconsin. As an education consultant, Ms. Schroeder provides seminars for the public and campaign training programs to political candidates.

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2012 NEA Convention: Membership Declines & Hyper-Partisanship

We wanted to cross-post this piece from the Association of American Educator’s (AAE) blog. For those that are not familiar with the AAE, they are a non-partisan, non-union alternative to the National Education Association. It is our opinion that the AAE is the organization for education professionals. The AAE offers dues that are $15 a month, no donations to any political cause, and liability insurance that surpasses that provided by the NEA.

While most Americans were enjoying a festive Independence Day last week, the National Education Association was holding their annual conference in Washington, D.C. Beaten down after another solid year of negative press, declining membership, and legislative and legal battles, the NEA convention took on a somber and partisan tone in 2012.

The convention was meant to be a rallying cry for union members as the NEA tried to create an atmosphere resembling a political party convention complete with theme music and intense cheering. Despite best efforts, the conference was noticeably lacking delegates and talk immediately turned to harsh budget realities.

NEA Secretary-Treasurer Becky Pringle predicted an even more challenging time in the years ahead calling budget numbers “devastating.” Projected losses total 287,000 active teachers and 21,000 additional personnel over the 2010-14 school years. The numbers amount to a $65 million budget reduction over that same time period, undoubtedly leading to staff reductions and declining political power.

In light of the upcoming election and the union-crippling legislation in states across the country, the speeches at the convention were meant to rally the members in attendance to stay strong despite the obvious setbacks. One of the more partisan speeches came from NEA Executive Director John Stocks who called NEA members “Social Justice Patriots,” according to the union-watchdog Education Intelligence Agency. Stocks said union members’ roles should be to fight “opponents of the DREAM Act and voter ID laws, CEOs who make too much, and big corporations.”

The NEA’s most high-profile guest was Vice President Joe Biden, who was sent in place of President Obama. Vice President Biden mainly stuck to the union staples, including expressing support for their collective bargaining plight and accusing Governor Mitt Romney of not supporting public education. After some grumblings from delegates about his no-show status, President Obama did call in to thunderous applause stating, “The folks on the other side, they want to take us back to the policies that didn’t work in the last decade, they want us to go back to a policy that just does big tax cuts for the wealthiest, [to] cut education spending, cut investments in all the things that help us grow.”

Following the President’s call, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel promised that the union would put its full support behind the president’s re-election: “We believe in you, Mr. President, and we’re behind you all the way.”

Despite the mass applause for candidates and partisan speakers, news broke that Republican and independent teachers among the delegation were expressing frustration with the hyper-partisan tone of the convention. In interviews with The Associated Press, dozens of teachers said they felt pressure from union leaders to support Obama’s re-election — and felt marginalized when they wouldn’t. Some teachers said they were so worried about retribution from their colleagues that they wouldn’t provide their names for publication in newspapers.

Delegate teacher Maureen van Wagner expressed her concern to the media. “What I don’t like is the harassment going on for people to be an ‘EFO’ — an educator for Obama.” Other teachers were offended that NEA leaders had been urging members to hold house parties to educate their friends about why President Obama deserves a second term.

In conjunction with their commitment to another Obama endorsement, the NEA approved a series of controversial measures. Among their many policy recommendations, NEA delegates considered resolutions opposing any policy of U.S. military action against Iran, an initiative to gather information on groups that “discourage NEA membership,” and a failed effort to recommend the ousting of reform-minded Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Information from the convention continues to surface following an eventful week. Be sure to read the AAE blog this week for the latest developments. As NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen stated, “Times have been bad before, but they’ve never been this bad.”

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