Common Core: Subversive Threat to Education? (+ video)

Karen Bracken ( http://tnacc.weebly.com ) presented Common Core: Subversive Threat to Education on 18 April 2013 at the Chattanooga TEA Party meeting. Introduction is by Mark West, President of the Chattanooga TEA Party.

Bracken states, “Jeb Bush is deeply embedded in this [Common Core] process”.

Karen Bracken with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

ABOUT KAREN BRACKEN:

I am almost 64 years old and the grandmother of 4 almost grown grandchildren.  Gladly I won’t have to worry about Common Core affecting them.  But lord knows the indoctrination of our children has been going on in our public school system for many years.  But at least I won’t have to worry about my grandchildren getting sucked up in to Common Core.  BUT they will have children someday and I just felt I had to do something.  I am already very active in my community.  I have a national Agenda 21 coalition, a Tennessee Legislative Team, speaking engagements on Agenda 21 and Common Core, local and state politics and just day to day life.  My goal is to educate people about what is happening in our country.  What shocks me most is how many people refuse to admit or to see what is taking place.  It is a true indication that our public school system has been failing students for many years.  I learned about Communism in school.  I learned what it was and how it destroys free will, free thinking and freedom in general.   Whether we want to admit it or not Communism is what we are fighting in our country right now.  It might have names like Agenda 21, Sustainable Development, Smart Growth, Biodiversity, Common Core but at the end of the day it is Communism just dressed up in a new wrapping.  They keep changing the names when people start to catch on.  Think about it.  We had Global Warming and when it was exposed for the lie it is they changed the name to Climate Change in order to keep the hoax alive.  I pray ever day that people get their heads out of the sand and stand up for our country because once freedom is lost it can never be regained.  Our children are what they want.  They know that in one generation they can brainwash enough children to finally get what they want.  The total destruction of America and freedom.  Remember “Freedom is never more that one generation away from extinction.”  Ronald Reagan.

To learn more about Karen Bracken visit her website by clicking here.

Who gave the anti-Second Amendment class at a Jacksonville elementary school?

Marsha G. Oliver, MBA, Chief Officer, Public Relations & Marketing for Duval County Public Schools released the following statement:

Duval County Public Schools’ Professional Standards office has completed its investigation into the assertions made by a parent that a Cedar Hills Elementary School teacher conducted an inappropriate lesson in January on constitutional rights. Upon examination of the civics-based lessons and activities, and interviews with students, teachers, and school administrators, officials have found no evidence of indoctrination by the teacher. In fact, the teacher never taught the lessons in question.

The controversy began when the father of a Cedar Hills Elementary 4th-grader became furious after finding the below crayon-written paper in his child’s backpack stating: ‘I Am Willing to Give Up Some of My Constitutional Rights…to Be Safer’.

For a larger view click on the image.

“It is our responsibility to address parent concerns,” said Dr. Nikolai P. Vitti, Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools. “However, there is an equal responsibility that the media and community share in ensuring that persons are not condemned until all of the facts are gathered and analyzed.”

Oliver states, “A statewide program founded in 2006, Justice Teaching [the organization that gave the class] is an association of attorneys and judges who deliver standards-based curriculum on government to students from kindergarten through 12th grade.”

The program and curriculum are approved by the Florida Association of District School Superintendents.

Karen K. Cole, Circuit Judge, Fourth Judicial Circuit

According to the Justice Teaching website volunteers for Duval County Public Schools comes from 4th Judicial Circuit.  The Justice Teaching local point of contact is the Honorable Karen K. Cole, Circuit Judge, Fourth Judicial Circuit, which includes Jacksonville.

According to the City of Jacksonville official website, “Judge Cole graduated from Jacksonville University in 1978 and from the University of Florida College of Law in 1981. She is a past president of the Jacksonville Bar Association. While she was in the private practice of law, Martindale-Hubbell, the recognized lawyer rating service, accorded her its highest rating (AV) rating for her competence and ethics. Judge Cole has served as president of the Chester Bedell American Inn of Court, a Jacksonville chapter of a national organization designed to improve the professionalism, ethics, and competence of trial lawyers. Judge Cole was appointed to the circuit bench in 1994, and since then has presided over civil, criminal, family, and juvenile divisions.”

WDW called Judge Cole’s office and requested the name of the lawyer or judge who taught the class and for a comment on the lesson. Our call has not been returned.

WDW also called and emailed Justice Teaching to request an interview with the lawyer who volunteered to teach at Cedar Hills Elementary. Our calls and email request have not been answered.

If anyone knows the name of the person who gave this class please contact us at florida@watchdogwire.com.

WDW will continue to pursue this story.

Research shows school choice a “Win” for kids in Florida

Greg Forster, Ph.D., from the Friedman Foundation, in the report A Win-Win Solution states, “This report surveys the empirical research on school choice. It provides a thorough overview of what the research has found on five key topics: Academic outcomes of choice participants; Academic outcomes of public schools; Fiscal impact on taxpayers; Racial segregation in schools; [and] Civic values and practices.”

“The evidence points clearly in one direction. Opponents frequently claim school choice does not benefit participants, hurts public schools, costs taxpayers, facilitates segregation, and even undermines democracy. However, the empirical evidence consistently shows that choice improves academic outcomes for participants and public schools, saves taxpayer money, moves students into more integrated classrooms, and strengthens the shared civic values and practices essential to American democracy,” writes Dr. Forster.

The report found in Florida, “A 2003 study by Jay Greene and Greg Forster found that disabled students using Florida’s voucher program for children with special needs got better services and had better outcomes in private schools than those same students had received in public schools. This method is much better for purposes of measuring the impact of vouchers on those students. However, it limits the generalizability of the finding to others.”

The report notes:

Eleven empirical studies have been conducted on how two voucher programs and one tax-credit scholarship program in Florida have affected academic outcomes at public schools. All 11 unanimously find that choice has improved Florida public schools. One of these programs made all students at under performing schools eligible for vouchers, so researchers were able to measure the impact of vouchers in two ways: comparing performance at the same school before and after voucher eligibility, and comparing very similar schools that were just over or just under the threshold for voucher eligibility. [My emphasis]

Researchers also were able to measure the impact of “voucher threat” at low performing schools that were in danger of becoming eligible for vouchers. For the other two programs (a voucher program for students with special needs and a tax-credit scholarship program for low-income students) researchers used methods similar to those used in Milwaukee.

Dr. Forster wrote, “[N]ine studies of Florida’s voucher program targeting under performing schools show that it improved those schools simply by threatening them with vouchers. It is also worth noting that a number of studies have tracked the achievement of individual students rather than whole schools and still found that school choice improves outcomes for students who remain in public schools.”

Under Alternative Theories the report found:

Two alternative theories focus on voucher programs targeting under performing schools in Florida and Ohio. One speculates that these programs produce
a “stigma effect”—schools assigned failing grades by the state improve to remove the stigma of being labeled as failing, rather than responding to vouchers. But stigma cannot explain the positive findings for Milwaukee, Florida’s two other programs, or the century-old “town tuitioning” voucher systems in Maine and Vermont. Also, seven studies have used various methods to check for the possibility of a stigma effect. All found that vouchers had a positive impact independent of any stigma effect. (See Table 2)

“Fiscal analyses are not just conducted by academic social scientists; states conduct them for a variety of purposes. The first of two publicly available fiscal analyses of school choice programs conducted by a state was released in 2008 by Florida’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability. It found that Florida’s tax-credit scholarship program saved the state $39 million in fiscal year 2007-08 because reduced education costs were greater than foregone tax revenue by $1.49 per student,” notes the report.

Florida’s Legislative Office of Economic and Demographic Research produced the second state published fiscal analysis of a school choice program in 2012. The results of the analysis were published with only a sparse supporting narrative explaining the method, which limits the reader’s ability to assess its methodological quality. However, it is still worth noting. The office found that Florida’s tax-credit scholarship program was saving the state $23 million per year as of 2011-12. (See Table 3)

The report concludes, “Given the remarkably unanimous research on the impact of choice everywhere it is allowed to affect public schools, it is clear it is having a positive effect.”

Florida Elementary Student note in backpack reads: “I will give up my Constitutional rights to be safe”

The below photo is posted on US Constitutional Free Press. The title of the post is, “Dad Furious After Finding This Crayon-Written Paper in Florida 4th-Grader’s Backpack: ‘I Am Willing to Give Up Some of My Constitutional Rights…to Be Safer’:

paper-620x362

Click on image for a larger view

The student attends Cedar Hills Elementary School in Jacksonville, FL. WDW has contacted the district superintendent. According to his office he is investigating the situation. The district office has received numerous calls from citizens and parents. It appears the photo was posted on Facebook.

Marsha Oliver, Chief of Public Relations and Marketing for Duval County Schools provided the following information:

This is a link to the Justice Teaching assignment. The assignment is part of the Sunshine State Standards. The activity “creates awareness of the five rights contained in the First Amendment to the Constitution.”

The Duval County School District released this statement, “The Justice Teaching activity on constitutional rights that was conducted at Cedar Hills Elementary School is consistent with our efforts to broaden civics-based education and develop critical thinking skills among our students. The lesson builds awareness of First Amendment rights through a partnership with an association of local attorneys. Our possible concern rests with a follow-up activity that may have been conducted after the lesson. A review and investigation will occur to determine the facts of that assignment.”

A WDW review of the assignment reveals no reference to “safety or security” or “giving up Constitutional rights”. The safety issue more relates to the Second Amendment. A request for a copy of the inquiry into the “follow-up activity” has been requested.

Steve Watson from InfoWars.com reports:

Aaron Harvey from Florida found a note scrawled in Crayon in his son’s back pack that read “I am willing to give up some of my constitutional rights in order to be safer or more secure.”

When the father questioned his son on the matter, the boy told him that his teacher, Cheryl Sabb, had said the statement out loud and instructed the children in the class to write it down, following a lesson on The Bill of Rights and The Constitution.

Mr Harvey noted that he asked other children in the class, at Cedar Hills Elementary in Jacksonville, for an explanation and received the same answer.
The Story was first reported by TheBlaze, and has since gone viral online.

“Everybody has their opinions,” Harvey said. “I am strongly for proper education, for the freedom of thought so you can form your own opinion and have your own free speech in the future… [but] the education is, ‘when was the Constitution drafted, when was it ratified, why did this happen, why did we choose to do this…all these things, why did they particular choose those specific rights to be in our Bill of Rights.’” he added.

“I believe in our Constitution. I am a veteran, I served for six-and-a-half years proudly and I served to protect our rights,” Harvey said. “Now whenever I have someone coming in and trying to pollute my child’s mind with biased opinions…there’s no education in that.” he urged.

Former Congressman Ron Paul today announced the launch of his own home schooling program that promises to center heavily around The Constitution and how it “has been hijacked.”

As Benjamin Franklin wrote, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Is the Anti-Bullying movement hurting kids? (+ video)

Below is a statement issued by the ACLU, emphasizing the limits of political activism during instructional time:

“You DO have a right to participate in Day of Silence and other expressions of your opinion at a public school during non-instructional time: the breaks between classes, before and after the school day, lunchtime, and any other free times during your day.

“You do NOT have a right to remain silent during class time if a teacher asks you to speak.”

The Day of Silence is part of the anti-bulling campaign sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). The day of silence this year it will take place in some Florida public schools on April 19, 2013.

According to Florida Family Association, “On April 19th, thousands of public high schools and increasing numbers of middle schools will allow students to remain silent throughout an entire day – even during instructional time – to promote GLSEN’s socio-political goals and its controversial, unproven, and destructive theories on the nature and morality of homosexuality.”

But are anti-bullying campaigns like the day of silence doing more harm than good?

Susan Porter, author of Bully Nation: Why America’s Approach to Childhood Aggression is Bad for Everyone believes so. Porter sat down with Reason TV’s Tracy Oppenheimer to discuss the anti-bully movement and how laws, labeling and the media are only agitating the problem. She says that kids are actually suffering because of these anti-bully efforts.

“They are becoming less resilient,” says Porter, “if you’re now a victim, and you think of yourself as a victim, you are much more apt to get victimized.”

Watch this six minute video interview with Susan Porter:

A group of over thirty organizations is asking parents to walk out with their children on the day of silence. The groups created a website Walk Out DOS. According to the website, “Parents must actively oppose this hijacking of the classroom for political purposes… Help de-politicize the learning environment by calling your child out of school if your child’s school allows students and/or teachers to refuse to speak during instructional time on the Day of Silence.”

The Washington Blade reports, “Lambda Legal on Tuesday [February 26, 2013] filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of a lesbian teenager who said school officials punished her for taking part in an anti-LGBT bullying event. Amber Hatcher, 16, planned to observe the National Day of Silence last April. DeSoto County High School Principal Shannon Fusco and DeSoto County School Superintendent Adrian Cline reportedly discouraged her from taking part in the annual event.”

The Pacific Justice Institute has launched a new website designed to counter two legislative bills that threaten the existence of the Boy Scouts in California and would mandate some of the most aggressive invasions of privacy, freedom of association and religious freedom ever proposed in the name of LGBT rights. In in a 5-2 vote, the California Senate Governance and Finance Committee passed SB 323—a bill aimed at forcing the Boy Scouts and other youth organizations to embrace homosexuality and “gender identity.” The bill now heads to the Senate where it is one-step closer to becoming law.

The new site, GenderInsanity.com, spotlights the two bills pending in the California legislature. Senate Bill (SB) 323 threatens to revoke tax exemptions from the Boy Scouts and many other non-profits, including religious schools and Little League that do not affirm transgender or homosexual lifestyles.

Stomp Jesus Professor placed on leave, FAU promotes anti-Semitic hate (+ video)

Deandre Poole, FAU professor and vice-Chair of Palm Beach Democrat Party

Lisa Metcalf, Director, Media Relations for Florida Atlantic University (FAU), said in a Friday statement:

FAU instructor Deandre Poole, Ph.D., has been placed on administrative leave effective immediately for safety reasons. As a result of the reaction to a recent exercise in Dr. Poole’s intercultural communications class, the instructor’s personal safety has been compromised.

In addition, this decision will prevent further disruption to the day-to-day operations of Florida Atlantic University.

Because of this, Dr. Poole will not teach any classes, conduct office hours, or be present at any of FAU’s campuses or sites. Alternate instructors have been assigned to teach Dr. Poole’s classes. Students have been notified and classes will continue as scheduled.

FAU has a history of supporting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic events. During the week of February 13, 2013 FAU hosted Israel Apartheid Week. Tom Trento an investigative journalist and radio talk show host, tried to enter this public event on a state funded campus but was denied access. According to Trento, “I and my TrentoVision radio/TV internet team was aggressively prohibited by the police from videotaping or audio recording pro-Palestinian Josh Ruebner during his Jew-hatred ‘teach-in’,at a publicly advertised, public event on campus at the Florida Atlantic University.”

The below video report captures the history of hate at FAU:

FAU has active chapters of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). MSA is a HAMAS front organization and SJP is listed by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as one of the top 10 anti-Israel groups in the United States. Last year Muslim students posted eviction notices on the dorm room doors of Jewish students and this year called for the destruction of Israel.

As first reported on BizPac Review, Poole is vice-chairman of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party and his recent actions add to a disturbing pattern of religious intolerance displayed by the local party.

Governor Scott slams Florida Atlantic University for punishing student who refused to desecrate the name of Jesus

Governor Rick Scott released the following statement about Florida Atlantic University (FAU) punishing a student for refusing to desecrate the name of Jesus:

“I just spoke to Ryan Rotela and applauded him for having the courage to stand up for his faith. I told him that it took great conviction and bravery to stand up and say what he was asked to do was wrong, and went against what he believed in.”

In a letter to FAU Chancellor Frank T. Brogan, Governor Scott states, “I am deeply disappointed in the recent actions 0f Florida Atlantic University (FAU) faculty that raises significant questions over students rights and the lessons being taught in our classrooms.”

“As we enter the week memorializing the events of Christ’s passion, this incident gave me great concern over the lessons we are teaching our students. Initial news reports said Ryan Rotela, a student at the school, was suspended from class because he refused to participate in the activity. I am told that these reports are disputed by the university and that FAU has apologized for the activity, ” notes Governor Scott.

Governor Scott in the letter stated, “Whether the student was reprimanded or whether an apology was given is in many ways inconsequentional to the larger issue of a professor’s poor judgement. The professor’s lesson was offensive, and even intolerant, to Christians and those of all faiths who deserve to be respected as Americans entitled to religious freedom.”

Governor Scott ended the letter with, “l am requesting a report of the incident, how it was handled and a statement of the university’s policies to ensure this type of “lesson” will not occur again.”

Cheryl Carpenter Klimek, from BizPac Review reports, “Following a public reprimand from Gov. Rick Scott for the incident referred to as the ‘stomp Jesus’ assignment, Florida Atlantic University has released a video apology. . .Dr. Charles Brown, Senior Vice President for Student Affairs at FAU, emailed the following on Tuesday afternoon:

UPDATE: Letter of reply to Governor Scott from Chancellor Brogan

Florida Atlantic University Continues to Invite Campus Hate

In response to a new online video documenting the anti-Semitic messaging and extreme anti-Israel activism of a campus hate group at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is again demanding that FAU publicly condemn anti-Semitic bigotry on campus and take other steps to remedy the hostile environment. The video can be seen at www.exposingfau.com.

Less than a year ago, FAU was the site of a highly publicized incident, where the campus’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organization posted hundreds of anti-Semitic fake eviction notices on student dorms. The fake notices made false and demonizing allegations against Israel.

Simulated bloody infant body bags at FAU – Feb. 7, 2013

At that time, ZOA warned that the FAU Administration’s improper handling of the incident would invite SJP to continue promoting anti-Semitic messages on campus. As expected, in one of several recent incidents, FAU’s SJP chapter set up a display of bloody infant body bags on campus that were intended to promote the falsehood that Israel massacres innocent babies. As the online video points out, such rhetoric constitutes a blood libel – a classic anti-Semitic tactic that is intended to demonize Israel and Jewish people. Nevertheless, FAU’s Administration has continued its refusal to condemn SJP’s anti-Semitic actions.

Joseph M. Sabag, Director of ZOA’s Florida Regional Office, stated: “We again reiterate that the situation at FAU has nothing to do with the SJP’s right to free speech. This is about the FAU administration’s right to free speech, and its obligation to exercise that right by forcefully and publicly condemning bigotry on campus. Whether intended or not, FAU is sending the message to naive and unsuspecting students that the SJP’s promotion of hateful lies about Israel is acceptable and not even worth mentioning.”

The ZOA reiterates its demand that Florida Atlantic University take several steps to safeguard against an anti-Semitic environment on campus, including:  (1) immediately speaking out and publicly condemning the anti-Semitic acts of Students for Justice in Palestine, which occur both on and off campus; (2) applying strict scrutiny to all of SJP’s activities; and enforcing appropriate disciplinary measures against the SJP under the University’s code; (3) implementing all necessary protocol and procedures to prevent any apparent endorsement by FAU of any of SJP’s hateful activities; and (4) providing education to administration officials and staff about the University’s obligation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to ensure a campus environment that is physically and emotionally safe and conducive to learning for Jewish students.

About FAU’s Legal and Moral Responsibilities

In November 2005, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights recognized that anti-Israel and anti-Zionist sentiment can cross the line into anti-Semitism, and in the Commission’s words, “should be distinguished from legitimate discourse regarding foreign policy.” The Commission clearly stated: “Anti-Semitic bigotry is no less morally deplorable when camouflaged as anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism.” The Commission specifically called on university administrations to publicly speak out and “set a moral example by denouncing anti-Semitic and other hate speech, while safeguarding all rights protected under the First Amendment and under basic principles of academic freedom.” The U.S. Department of Education’s Office on Civil Rights has made the same recommendation to university administrations.

About the ZOA

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is the oldest and one of the largest pro-Israel organizations in the United States. With offices around the country and in Israel, the ZOA educates the public, elected officials, the media, and college/high school students about the truth of the ongoing Arab war against Israel. The ZOA works to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations through educational activities, public affairs programs and our work on Capitol Hill, and to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in the media, in textbooks, in schools and on college campuses. Under the leadership of such presidents as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, Rabbis Abba Hillel Silver and Stephen Wise, and current President Morton A. Klein, the ZOA has been – and continues to be – on the front lines of Jewish activism.  www.zoa.org.

Marriage: What It Is, Why It Matters, and the Consequences of Redefining It

Ryan T. Anderson from The Heritage Foundation has released a comprehensive report on marriage. Here is the abstract:

Marriage is based on the truth that men and women are complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the reality that children need a mother and a father.

Redefining marriage does not simply expand the existing understanding of marriage; it rejects these truths.

Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children. By encouraging the norms of marriage—monogamy, sexual exclusivity, and permanence—the state strengthens civil society and reduces its own role.

The future of this country depends on the future of marriage.

The future of marriage depends on citizens understanding what it is and why it matters and demanding that government policies support, not undermine, true marriage.

The report addresses three important questions: At the heart of the current debates about same-sex marriage are three crucial questions: What is marriage, why does marriage matter for public policy, and what would be the consequences of redefining marriage to exclude sexual complementary?

To read the full report click here.

RELATED COLUMN: The Well of Lonliness by Mary Kay Ruppel

Why We Don’t Need Universal Preschool

Column is courtesy of the Heritage Foundation:

In his State of the Union address, President Obama said he wanted to “make high-quality preschool available to every child in America” and “make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind.”

So Heritage experts took a look at the President’s plan to see if it would actually help America’s needy children get ahead in the “race of life.”

Another government-controlled, top-down, one-size-fits-all program—what could go wrong?

Look at the government’s record. As Heritage’s Lindsey Burke, the Will Skillman Fellow in Education, and research associate Rachel Sheffield point out in their new paper, “Washington already has a poor track record for K–12 education, with federal spending nearly tripling over the past three decades while academic achievement and attainment languishes.”

Look at the government preschool we already have.There are already 45 government preschool programs run by numerous federal agencies, including the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, the Interior, and Housing and Urban Development. Burke and Sheffield note that these 45 programs “are estimated to cost taxpayers more than $20 billion annually. Many are duplicative and ineffective, failing to serve the needs of children from low-income families.”

Head Start, of course, has already shown us the ways government preschool can fail American children:

After nearly 50 years of operation, the federal Head Start program has failed to improve the educational outcomes and kindergarten readiness of participating children. Head Start should be eliminated, or at the very least it should be reformed, to allow states the flexibility to make their Head Start funds portable, allowing families to use their dollars to send their children to a private preschool of their choice.

The President’s new proposal wouldn’t help low-income children. Low-income families already have access to taxpayer-funded preschool through state programs and Head Start (which, if it continues to be funded, should be reformed to serve them better). President Obama’s proposal would subsidize middle-income and upper-income families—with no new benefit to low-income parents.

Three-quarters of four-year-olds are already in preschool. Many parents prefer to care for their young children at home. But for those who want preschool programs, there are a variety of programs available. There is no public demand for new, large-scale government spending in this area. Burke and Sheffield report that “An estimated 74 percent of four-year-old children are enrolled in preschool, public and private, across the country.”

Look at the academic evidence. Do these formal preschool programs really help kids in their academic careers? Our authors write: “Evaluations of preschool programs consistently find that any gains children make as a result of preschool quickly fade away in their early elementary years.” The Obama administration turns to a 50-year-old evaluation of a high-intervention preschool program with 58 at-risk children to make his case for taxpayer-funded, universal preschool. That means President Obama is making what researcher Russ Whitehurst calls “a prodigious leap of faith.” The outcomes of that program, known as the Perry Preschool Project, have never been replicated.

It is far more likely that the President’s proposal will produce outcomes akin to Head Start, which, according to the scientifically rigorous evaluations conducted by Health and Human Services, are abysmal.

Everyone wants children to have the best start in life. Large-scale government preschool programs are not the way to ensure that happens.

LEARN MORE:

Universal Preschool’s Empty Promises

Study finds Florida’s class size amendment a bad idea

The University of Washington’s Center for Reinventing Public Education reports that the across-the-board mantra, “smaller is better,” may not be the best tactic for every school. According to The Opportunity Cost of Smaller Classes: A State-By-State Spending Analysis, smaller classes often equal a hefty price tag.

“The cost nationally of maintaining current class sizes, compared to increasing the average by 2 students, is $15.7 billion per year, or an average of $319 per pupil,” the study reports. “Adding the cost of benefits for the extra teachers required to keep class sizes low drives up the estimate to over $20 billion nationally.”

“With the exception of the Tennessee STAR study, which has provided the strongest evidence to date of the positive effects of CSR [class-size reduction] in the early grades, much of the more recent research shows negligible or modest positive effects on test scores when class sizes are reduced by one or two students,” stated Jerusha Conner, education professor at Villanova University.

RELATED COLUMN:

Officials: 80 Percent Of Recent NYC High School Graduates Cannot Read (+video)

Florida legislators introduce bills to create Marriage Education Handbook

Tallahassee, FL – State Senator Kelli Stargel filed SB-1586 and Florida State Representative Dennis Baxley has filed companion bill HB-1163, to create a Marriage Education Handbook. The handbook will be distributed statewide through the offices of the clerk of the court to couples applying for a marriage license and will include information on communication skills, conflict resolution, parenting, managing finances and where a married couple can get personal or professional help with their marriage should they need it in the future.

Senator Stargel stated, “So many young couples getting married today come from broken homes and cannot draw upon a living example of how a marriage works. Marriage is one of the greatest safeguards against poverty in our society and this handbook will be an invaluable resource to hundreds of thousands of newly married couples to hekp them develop healthy and strong marriages.”

Representative Baxley commented, “The state has a compelling interest in keeping marriages and families successful and thriving. In Florida alone, the taxpayers cost as a result of family fragmentation from divorce and unwed child bearing is just short of two billion dollars every year. Every marriage that is saved and strengthened is both an economic and a social victory for Florida.”

Several other states have created Marriage Handbooks including Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.

An amendment will be offered to ensure the handbook also includes resources and help for victims of domestic violence and to give more specific instructions to the clerk of courts regarding distribution of the handbook. There is no expected economic impact as the design and production of the booklet will be paid for by funds raised from grant requests with private foundations.

IRS website instructs Grades 3 – 5 public school students on why taxes are good

The IRS has produced a comprehensive website, lesson plans and instructional materials to teach public school children about taxes. The IRS website is titled, “Understanding Taxes“.

Kids.gov supports the teaching of elementary school children about taxes. Explaining Taxes to Students Lesson Plan (Grades 3 – 5):

Overview: Your students may be curious about what taxes are and why we pay them. The Internal Revenue Service has a great Understanding Taxes website. The teacher section has lesson plans, interactive activities and printable components for middle school and high school students.

Here are excerpts from the Grades 3 – 5 student lesson plan:

  1. Explain that taxes are collected to pay for things that we all share, like roads, parks, and playgrounds. We also share in the cost of services such as the public school system or the police department. Activity – Ask students to list other government services that might be funded by taxes. Here is an Online 2011 Federal Taxpayer Receipt where data can be entered to see how tax money was distributed across government programs.
  2. Tell students that there are different types and amounts of taxes based on where a person lives and his/her income. Talk to students about:
    1. Income Tax – Explain that most people in the country have money taken from each paycheck to pay income taxes so the federal government can pay for things like national defense, inspecting food, researching cures for diseases, and helping with disasters. Activity – Ask the students to create a list of goods and services they share with the family members of their household. If their parents pay them for chores, ask whether they think they should give some of this back to pay for these goods and services. Using a weekly allowance as a paycheck and setting a fixed tax rate, have students calculate their “net pay.” Have students discuss how the tax income should be divided between the goods and services they listed.
    2. Sales Tax – When a student wants to buy something with his own money, he finds out about sales tax when his purchase unexpectedly costs more than the “sticker price”. Explain that states and cities charge taxes on almost everything that is purchased so they can provide their own services, and that the sales tax rate can vary from state to state. Activity – Have students examine receipts to compare the “sticker price” of items to the final cost of the items with sales taxes included. Optional Activity – Have students calculate sales tax and the final cost of an item using the sales tax rate for your state.
    3. Property Tax – Explain how every year, some adults pay taxes to the local government based on their house’s value. Explain that properties are assessed periodically to determine their value. Even in rented property, explain that the property taxes still get paid, but they’re probably included in the monthly rent. Probe – Ask students to speculate on what happens to the amount of property tax owed when home improvements, like adding a new bathroom or finishing a basement, are made. Optional Activity – U.S. property tax rates vary from state to state, typically .2 to 4%. Have the students calculate the property tax for 3 properties at different values using the same tax rate. [My emphasis]

At the end of the lesson plan is this activity:

Discuss with students that not everyone agrees on taxes. The Boston Tea Party is a good historical example of introducing the idea of resistance to taxes. (Note the illustration about Colonialists attacking a hapless tax collector.)

Probe – Ask students to speculate on the consequences if a large number of people refused to pay taxes. [My emphasis]

Many consider this indoctrination and not education. What do you think?

New Study Finds 21 States Have More Non-Teaching Staff than Teachers

INDIANAPOLIS — Twenty-one states employ more bus drivers, librarians, cafeteria workers, deputy superintendents, accountants, coaches, nurses, assistant principals, and other non-teaching personnel than they do classroom teachers, according to a new analysis of state education employees by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

In Florida there has been a 36% increase in the number of students and a 41% increase in administrators and other non-teaching Staff from FY 1992 to FY 2009.

The report, a sequel to last fall’s “The School Staffing Surge: Decades of Employment Growth in America’s Public Schools,” examines states’ hiring patterns between 1992 and 2009.

It found that, in 2009, administrators and other non-teaching staff outnumbered teachers in Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Colorado, Oregon, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Louisiana, Wyoming, Vermont, Utah, Georgia, Alaska, New Hampshire, Iowa, and the District of Columbia, which is treated as a state in the report.

“Taxpayers should be outraged public schools hired so many non-teaching personnel with such little academic improvement among students to show for it,” said Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. “This money could have been better invested in areas that have proved to benefit children.”

Virginia far outpaced other states with the number of excessive personnel outside the classroom with 60,737 more non-teaching staff than teachers, followed by Ohio with 19,040 more non-teaching personnel than teachers.

The report also compared the growth rate among administrators and non-teaching staff with student enrollment changes from 1992 to 2009. It found that 48 states could be saving $24 billion annually if the hiring of non-teaching staff had not exceeded the growth of students between 1992 and 2009.

In Texas, taxpayers would have saved almost $6.4 billion annually if public schools’ non-teaching personnel had not outpaced students. Virginia, Ohio, New York, California, and Pennsylvania each would have annual, recurring savings in the billions. Other states’ savings are in the millions; however, Nevada and Arizona actually saved money, as both its administrative and non-teaching personnel did not outpace student growth. Data were not available for South Carolina.

“States could do much more constructive things with those kinds of dollars,” Enlow said. “State leaders could be permitting salary increases for great teachers, offering children in failing schools the option of attending a private school, or directing savings toward other worthy purposes. Instead states have allowed these enormous bureaucracies to grow.”

The report also shows the salary increases states could provide teachers annually if administrators and non-teaching personnel kept pace with the student population from 1992 to 2009. At the top was Virginia, which could provide teachers an annual salary increase of $29,007. Maine was second at $25,505.

The report was compiled with data from the National Center for Education Statistics and prepared by Ben Scafidi, an economist at Georgia College & State University and a senior fellow at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

To read the report, visit www.edchoice.org/StaffSurge2. That link also provides a map in which readers can download each state’s findings.

About the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice:

The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, solely dedicated to advancing Milton and Rose Friedman’s vision of school choice for all children. First established as the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation in 1996, the Foundation continues to promote school choice as the most effective and equitable way to improve the quality of K-12 education in America. The Foundation is dedicated to research, education, and outreach on the vital issues and implications related to choice and competition in K-12 education.

Florida Rep. Steube files bill “to arm school personnel”

On February 27th , Florida Representative W. Gregory “Greg” Steube,  filed HB 1097 – School Safety, which takes a hard look at safety in Florida’s schools. Rep. Steube, an Army paratrooper and Iraq War combat veteran, states, “The safety of our school children and the dedicated teachers and personnel who educate them is a paramount concern to all communities.”

“We are all deeply concerned about the well-being of our children and we must come to a consensus on how to prevent violent crimes from occurring on school grounds. As a father and a son of a teacher, I feel a responsibility to my community and my state to address the safety of our students and teaching personnel. With this bill, schools will be better equipped to protect their faculty and students,” notes Rep. Steube.

HB 1097 would allow a school principal to designate one or more members of school personnel to carry a concealed firearm or weapon while performing his or her official duties. 

The bill requires that “designated personnel must complete additional training and coursework that covers emergency procedures, life safety, methods of prevention, terrorism awareness and firearm proficiency to ensure they are prepared to respond appropriately in the event that a threat arises on campus. Also, the bill would require each school to have a school safety officer present on campus, unless the principal has already designated a member of school personnel to carry a weapon or firearm on that campus.”

Below, you can find more information regarding HB 1097, as well as important tools that may help you advocate for your concerns.

HB 1097

HB 1097 Press Release

Legislative Tracking System

EDITORS NOTE:

Greg Ridgeway, Ph.D., Deputy Director National Institute of Justice, in a recently released document states, “On average there are about 11,000 firearm homicides every year. While there are deaths resulting from accidental discharges and suicides, this document will focus on intentional firearm homicides. Fatalities from mass shootings (those with 4 or more victims in a particular place and time) account on average for 35 fatalities per year. Policies that address the larger firearm homicide issue will have a far greater impact even if they do not address the particular issues of mass shootings.”

This document provides a cursory summary of select initiatives to reduce firearm violence and an assessment of the evidence for the initiative. To read the document click here.

Watch this video statement by Christian Ziegler, State Committeeman from Sarasota, FL: