Florida State Board of Education adopts Common Core over the protests of citizens

The Florida State Board of Education (FL SBOE) meeting on Common Core State Standards was held in Orlando on February 18th. Concerned citizens attended to speak and wave signs in protest. Nearly one hundred signed up to speak and implore the Board to reject Common Core in Florida.

I must say, I was so proud to be among the dedicated and articulate speakers at the State Board of Education hearing clarifying why we are vehemently opposed to Common Core. The impassioned testimony at the State Board of Education meeting in Orlando showed a disappointing and at times disgusting lack of respect on the part of the Chair, Gary R. Chartrand.

Here is the video link to the entire meeting: http://thefloridachannel.org/videos/21814-state-board-education-meeting.

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Gary R. Chartrand

It is worthwhile to listen to the entire testimony. Every single speaker was excellent! You will be shocked at Chartrand’s conduct.

You may wish to start after the full hour of awards, group photos and self-adulation, for which the board had plenty of time. About 1 hour 10 minutes in, Mr. Chartrand begins the public comment and alerts us that instead of 3 minutes, he will only allow 2 minutes each and that no clapping would be allowed.

After people began respectful clapping for a speaker at 1 hour 16 minutes, it was my turn to speak. Chartrand interrupts me and again stops the proceedings to admonish the audience. I began by saying, “I object to the reduction of time and the lack of respect for the speakers who have traveled long distances for an opportunity to express their views.” It is then he starts an argument with me, interrupting me again in an intimidating manner. The audience responds as well. He interrupted other speakers as they had difficulty chopping their well-crafted 3 minute speeches to just 2 minutes.

It is a continuation of the arrogance shown by the Florida Department of Education, State Board of Education, the Governor and some members of the state legislature. Those who are against adoption of Common Core have been polite but are being ignored. Many of the groups attending brought the experts to them, yet the FL SBOE said our facts were wrong. We said parents should be in control. They stated the federal government knows best what to do with our kids.

The State Board of Education in a unanimous vote, adopted the Common Core Standards with the minor changes they added many termed this putting “lipstick on a pig.”

Far from being discouraged, the group gathered to talk about their next moves, and resolved never to allow Corporate Cronies who have greased the skids to sell our kids for their quest for money and power. They may have the money, but we have the truth and we will never sell our children out to the progressives who want a compliant citizenry called “Human Capital.”

We must redouble our efforts against this tyrannical child abuse called Common Core. Join our efforts. Our ads are spreading the word across the nation. You can help by going to www.ivbe.org and make a tax deductible contribution to our ads which are now playing in Florida and Pennsylvania. Contact the Governor: (850) 488-7146  or email him by clicking here: http://www.flgov.com/contact-gov-scott/email-the-governor/

I encourage you to tell him what you think about Common Core and its mainlining of our children with government propaganda. You may wish to ask your state representative and senator to stand up for our kids and vote for one of the bills to STOP COMMON CORE!

Various bills are now being considered on Common Core in the State Legislature. Rep. Debbie Mayfield (R-FL District 54) has introduced HB 25 but has met resistance as the leadership has opposed it. The leadership under Senator John Legg who owns charter schools and Senator Don Gaetz (R-FL District 1) who has close ties to Jeb Bush, the Foundation for Florida’s Future and Foundation for Excellence in Education. In a Tampa Bay Times article Gaetz is quoted as saying:

Top choice for 2016 is Jeb Bush: Gaetz said Florida’s former governor is the Republican Party’s strongest choice for president in 2016, even as a new poll by Democratic-aligned Public Policy Polling said most Florida Republicans prefer U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to run over Bush.

“I’m a Jeb Bushie,” he said, adding Bush’s book on immigration reform “will turn heads.”

Patricia Levesque is the Executive Director for Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future. She served as Governor Jeb Bush’s deputy chief of staff for education. Previously, Patricia served six years in the Florida Legislature in the Speakers Office and as staff director over education policy. Her husband is The Senate counsel, George Levesque. Entangling relationships seem to trump the will of the people.

Twenty-seven County Republican Executive Committees have resolved against Common Core, not to mention the Republican National Committee, and both the Florida and National Federation of Republican Women. It is curious why Rick Scott has chosen not to listen to the conservatives who recognize Common Core is unconstitutional as it is a federal takeover of education supported by President Obama, Secretary Arne Duncan, the Center for American Progress (established and funded by George Soros)and establishment Republicans, like former Governors Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush.

Jeb Bush endorsed Rick Scott’s campaign for reelection and this is what Rick Scott said:

“I am grateful to have the support and friendship of Governor Jeb Bush. His time as governor built a strong foundation for Florida’s future by making our education system more accountable and our state’s economy more attractive to job creators. His positive vision for Florida continues to inspire us today as we work to cut taxes and get our economy back on track.”

Meanwhile, the same people who are listed as contributors to Jeb’s foundations are supporting Rick Scott’s campaign. They also stand to gain Billions from Common Core. They have paid hundreds of millions to quiet opposition to the national takeover of education. The list of grants and contributions is publicly available on the web sites of the foundations. The National Education Association, PTA, State Boards of Education, various media outlets, Fordham Institute, and Jeb Bush’s Foundations were all recipients of generous awards from Microsoft, the Eli Broad Foundation, GE, and Pearson PLC, the textbook company whose third largest shareholder is the Government of Libya.

Gary Chartrand, Chair of the Florida State Board of Education stated at the meeting that he calculates that the expense of just getting initially set up with computers and bandwidth for the required implementation of Common Core would run over $2.5 Billion. Federal funding they received was only $700 million. No budgets were ever submitted or reviewed by state legislators or the State Board of Education to approve the adoption of Common Core.

It was approved by the State Board of Education with no dialog about the expense to the taxpayers of the state.

RELATED COLUMN: Obama Asserts Federal Control Over Discipline in Public Schools

EDITORS NOTE: Rob Bluey reports, “In a letter to the National Education Association’s 3 million members, President Dennis Van Roekel issued a sharp critique of Common Core. It marks the first time NEA has voiced concerns about the standards, a key initiative of the Obama Administration.”

I am sure it won’t come as a surprise to hear that in far too many states, implementation has been completely botched. Seven of ten teachers believe that implementation of the standards is going poorly in their schools. Worse yet, teachers report that there has been little to no attempt to allow educators to share what’s needed to get [Common Core State Standards] implementation right.  In fact, two thirds of all teachers report that they have not even been asked how to implement these new standards in their classrooms.

Common Core Standards Threaten Our Children’s Schools
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Common Core: George Soros and Hillary Clinton want your kids

“Conceived as the Democratic answer to the Heritage Foundation,” the George Soros-founded and funded Center for American Progress (CAP) was considered Hillary Clinton’s think-tank at its inception in 2003.  President and CEO John Podesta, once Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, was seen as its nominal head.

CAP was viewed as “a kind of Clinton White-House-in-exile – or a White House staff in readiness for President Hillary Clinton,” according to Nation reporter Bob Dreyfuss in his illuminating 2004 article entitled, “An Idea Factory for the Democrats.” Many of those mentioned have since populated the Obama administration, while CAP has become the president’s favorite think-tank.

Dreyfuss, who quotes Hillary Clinton, writes, “We’ve had the challenge of filling a void on our side of the ledger for a long time, while the other side created an infrastructure that has come to dominate political discourse. The center [CAP] is a welcome effort to fill that void.”

Podesta who has fulfilled the need for a “progressive counterpart” to the conservative Heritage Foundation is now back at the White House as presidential advisor.  Neera Tanden the former aide to Senator Clinton is now CAP’s president. Before Podesta’s recent departure, the policy initiative known as Common Core became a major public education project for CAP.

Explaining the Plummet in Test Scores under Common Core

But students’ test scores are plummeting under Common Core, especially in New York State. What is the solution proposed by the Center for American Progress?  A longer school day, of course. Never considering that the standards themselves might be flawed, they make the unsubstantiated assertion that drops in test scores show that the standards are more “rigorous” and therefore require more time.  That’s their argument in their recently released report called “Redesigning and Expanding School Time to Support Common Core Implementation.”

One thing is for sure: the standards have never been tested, and even proponents like Dr. Dana Rickman, director of policy and research at the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, have admitted that “It isbelieved they will lead to improvement.”

Are we to trust the beliefs of those promoting Common Core, like the authors of the report?  One of them, Tiffany D. Miller, associate director for school improvement, has among other things been a fundraiser for the Democratic Party.

Two of the report’s authors come from the National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL): David A. Farbman, a senior researcher, and David J. Goldberg, vice president for national policy and partnerships.  NCTL itself, however, is an outgrowth of the Center for American Progress.  It was “launched in October 2007 at an event at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. featuring Senator Ted Kennedy,” and grew out of the work of a Boston-based nonprofit, Massachusetts 2020, which led the first statewide expanded learning time grant program in the country, according to Wikipedia.  NCTL was formed to expand that work to more states and to develop policies at the federal level.

The report serves this effort: to expand the role of public schools, fulfilling Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s vision of “community schools” on a national scale.  These would pretty much replace home life by offering such things as homework help, three square meals, and health clinics.

The “report” masquerades as a legitimate report.  But when one looks at the sources and methods used, it is clear that there is no real review of evidence.

Questionable Sources and Grandiose Claims

The first paragraph signals more hype than evidence with the grand claim, “Implementation of the standards, as currently planned in 45 states and the District of Columbia . . . means that the vast majority of students will soon be held to the highest set of English language arts and math literacy expectations in U.S. history.”  This grandiose statement comes from the Fordham Foundation, itself a promoter of Common Core and recipient of funds from the biggest Common Core funder, the Gates Foundation.

The report is full of such sweeping, unsupported assertions and such frequently bandied terms like “deep” and “deeper,” as well as “critical thinking.”  In Common Core promotional material such terms have become commonly accepted truisms; they are repeated by proponents as if they were proven measurements. (These are unstated references to Bloom’s taxonomy.)

The generalities abound: “Replacing lectures with interactive learning between teachers and students, especially learning to a richer and higher level, will require more classroom time, as teachers will have to personalize their attention to individual and small groups of students.”

The report’s authors quote a Chicago teacher who has been told that she needs to be a “facilitator” instead of a teacher in order to properly teach the Common Core standards.  The source for the quotation is Catalyst Chicago, published by the Community Renewal Society, another progressive advocacy organization.

The report’s authors continue to bandy about terms that imply intellectual sophistication: “High-quality expanded-time schools are already using the opportunities inherent in longer classes to build in individualized instruction, critical thinking, and problem solving. . . .”

The authors refer to a report by the “policy group Achieve”: “Teachers will likely need more instructional time in order to teach more rigorous, higher-level content in more depth and to integrate literacy skills into their lessons.”  Achieve is the well-connected non-profit that was the architect for Common Core.

For math, the authors write, “Common Core will bring a shift in focus from briefly and superficially covering many topics to studying fewer topics in much greater depth.”  The authorities they cite are Common Core proponents: Educational Testing Service and EngageNY, of the New York State Department of Education, which has adopted Common Core.

For math, the authors claim that fractions will be introduced at earlier ages, but that as time goes on students will draw upon their accumulated knowledge to solve increasingly complex problems—hardly a new practice in education.  What they don’t mention is that algebra is being moved to ninth grade from eighth grade, and that the standards impose tasks on young children far above their maturity levels.

Masking the Real Aims

Part of the overall (but often unstated) goal of Common Core is closing the “achievement gap.”  Proponents like to hide the fact that slower learners will have endless opportunities to learn the material under the cover of “deeper learning.”  Consider these two sentences in the report:

“Allowing students to both try and fail and requiring them to find more than one route to success will mean providing them with more time to explore and learn on their own than is the norm in today’s classrooms. Students will then be asked to explain their reasoning, a process that consumes time but fosters still deeper learning.”

Such demands to demonstrate deeper learning have led to bizarre math.  Much of the parental opposition to Common Core has been instigated by the math homework. To truly understand how convoluted the new math is one needs to see the examples.  One sign at an anti-Common Core rally at the Georgia state capitol, on February 4th, did this and exclaimed, significantly, “Parents Can’t Help.”  Indeed, parents are being cut out in more ways than one.

The sign set side-by-side a long multiplication problem under traditional math and then under the new Common Core math.  One glance will show how math is being unnecessarily complicated in the demand to have students “explain their reasoning,” while allowing credit for those students who get the wrong answer but provide pleasing explanations.  (In English Language Arts, more time is to be spent on “deep reading” and “deep discussion.”)  This is one way to close the “achievement gap.”


Cherokee Tea Party Patriots-Woodstock, GA’s Photos

Indeed, the CAP report states that the aim of a longer school day is to close the achievement gap: underprivileged students need time to catch up.  However, the authors also claim that a longer school day is needed to teach the more rigorous standards.  They want it both ways.

“Collaboration”: More Money for Failed Progressive Teaching Methods

Another reason for the longer school day is for time to “collaborate”—hardly a new idea in education,” as references to such practices as “cooperative reading” in the 1990s indicate. “Intra-student communication and collaboration” will presumably prepare students for what they will encounter in higher education and the work force.  But this requires more time, even as the students seem to be left to themselves: “Having regular opportunities for student collaboration necessitates many group projects and the continuous integration of a technique known as ‘turn and talk,’ where students discuss the topic at hand with each other and seek to gain insights from their peers.”

Teachers are supposed to be “facilitators” to their students, and spend their time analyzing student data and determining which teacher fits best with which “cohort” of students.  Extra time is needed for teacher collaboration and “professional development,” presumably to improve teaching.  But as is the common wisdom among teachers, such “collaboration” is a means to control teachers, to make sure they don’t go off script and improvise.

Of course, the longer school day means spending more tax-payer money for keeping schools open and more pay for teachers. According to the report, the Department of Education is already spending money on longer school days through School Improvement Grants.  Flexibility waivers allow funding to be set aside for tutoring under the Supplemental Educational Services program for “whole-school expanded learning time.”  The 21st Century Community Learning Centers waiver also allows in-school expanded learning time.  No doubt, there are cases where students require extra time and extra help.  But it seems that the longer school day will mean for most students time to sit in groups endlessly discussing preselected topics with their peers, devising byzantine ways to explain through drawings and stories their thinking on otherwise straightforward math problems—all while gaining little actual knowledge.

Collaboration, facilitation, critical thinking, etc., are the hallmarks of progressive, student-centered teaching methods that have long been demonstrated to be counterproductive.  As Jeanne S. Chall stated in her 2000 seminal survey, The Academic Achievement Challenge, “The major conclusion of my study in this book is that a traditional, teacher-centered approach to education generally results in higher academic achievement than a progressive, student-centered approach.”  She found this to be particularly true for students who came from low-income and middle-income families, and had less school preparation.  Unlike the authors of the CAP report and the reports which appear in their bibliography, Chall was a scholar, a Harvard University education professor and was recognized in the New York Times as “having written the definitive analysis of reading research.”

The traditional teaching methods that Chall describes are also much more efficient.  But then again, efficiency and real education are not what the Center for American Progress is about.

FL: Sarasota County School Board wants more money to pay teachers for doing less?

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Sarasota County School Board members. Front row: Caroline Zucker, Shirley Brown. Back row: Dr. Carole Todd, Jane Goodwin and Frank Kovach. For a larger view click on the photo.

The School Board of Sarasota County is pushing for the extension of a 1 mill tax on all county property holders on March 25th. They are using school funds to lobby in favor of and promote the 1 mill tax. According to their official Report on the Uses of Referendum Funds since 2002, ”This vote allows the District to maintain existing programs, provide additional programs and continue the District’s commitment to quality education.”

In a previous column I questioned whether the School Board is really committed to a “quality education”. School Board Member Caroline Zucker responded to my column in an email stating, “There u go telling incorrect info.” I replied, “What is incorrect?”. To date Zucker has not answered my question.

Historically the revenue from the 1 mill tax goes directly into teacher’s salaries (see the District Report on the uses of referendum funds since 2002).This is why the School Board holds a special off cycle referendum at a cost to the School District of $.5 million. Doing so suppresses the vote.

However, teachers come out in droves to vote for their pay raise, and the union promotes the referendum via teachers and parents as a must have do-or-die effort to insure a “quality education.”

What the referendum does is make for a “quality union salary and benefit package” for teachers and administrators. For their $.5 million investment the School Board gets an ROI of an estimated $30+ million annually for four years. Not a bad deal but will it lead to a better education for Sarasota County public school children?

There are two issues. The first is that the School Board is all in with Common Core. This means that teachers have little or no control over what is taught, how it is taught, when it is taught and how it is tested. Parents are totally out of the picture. Common Core cuts out the ideal of local control of the education process, leading to a top down approach designed and implemented by the US Department of Education.

Terrence O. Moore, an assistant professor of history at Hillsdale College, states, “The Common Core Standards control the testing and curriculum of public schools and a large number of private schools in over forty states in the nation. Sold to the public as a needed reform, the Common Core nationalizes absurdity, superficiality, and political bias in the American classroom. As a result, the great stories of a great nation are at risk, along with the minds and souls of our children.”

So, teachers will be given what they must teach – in effect and in practice – Sarasota County teachers will be getting paid more, if the referendum passes, for doing much less due to Common Core.

The second issue is the children themselves. Which does research show truly enhances student achievement – teacher salaries or the child’s family?

Rod Thomson in an op-ed writes, “The debate over extending the extra tax for Sarasota County schools needs to be seen in light of the much larger debate over the future of our children and grandchildren and their opportunities for improved lives. In that context, the extra money taken by the school district is not just a waste of taxpayer money. It is a feel-good but ultimately empty distraction that allows us to vote for something without taking any action on the actual underlying, fundamental causes of poor student achievement and lack of upward mobility. But those root causes are hard to correct.”

“An extensive Harvard study was recently released titled ‘Where is the Land of Opportunity?‘ The four researchers concluded that the largest predictor of a child’s positive ability to move up in life is a family with both parents at home. For lack of upward mobility, they wrote, “the strongest and most robust predictor is the fraction of children with single parents. This study piles on top of a snow-capped mountain of data pointing to what all of us really know to be true — the metaphorical elephant in the living room. And spending more money on programs and salaries is simply irrelevant to the driving factor of family,” notes Thomson.

So why doesn’t the Sarasota County School Board recognize this disconnect between teacher salaries and student performance? Why they want to get reelected. Who gets out the vote for them? Why the teacher’s union of course. Are they buying votes? All we can say is that since the referendum was first introduced only one school board member wasn’t re elected – Caroline Zucker. But she ran again and was elected.

Three school board members are up for reelection in 2014. Perhaps that is why they are pushing the 1 mill referendum?

EDITORS NOTE: Stephanie Simon from Politico writes that with states such as Florida, Texas, and Washington state recently deciding not to require courses such as chemistry, physics, Algebra II or a foreign language for high school graduation, they are thumbing their noses at Obama’s call for a “rigorous college-prep curriculum” for all students, supposedly embodied in the Common Core State Standards.

Florida: Hillsborough County School District ignored ESE issues

At last Tuesday’s school board meeting the Hillsborough County School Board received a letter from school district training Specialist including Corie Holmes who said he was told to ignore issues. The letter documents a lack of resources for exceptional students dating back to the 2007-08 school year.

If you want to see issues being ignored first hand you only have to go to the now infamous video of the Hillsborough County School Board Meeting for February 14, 2012 (at the district website). This would have been the next meeting after Isabella Herrera’s tragic death that began on a school bus and Superintendent MaryEllen Elia’s first opportunity to openly and honestly inform the board and the public and discuss it at a board meeting.

A special needs student, Isabella Herrera died from respiratory distress on January 26, 2012 that began on a school bus. The aide and bus driver failed to call 911 or seek assistance at the pediatric clinic that they were parked in front of. The event went virtually unreported to the public for 9 months during a campaign year when 4 incumbent school board members were trying to get re-elected. The death of Isabella Herrera was only revealed after the death a second special needs student Jenny Caballero. Conceivably the second death of Jenny Caballera would never have occurred had appropriate action taken place after the death of Isabella Herrera. But that didn’t happen.

Typically at each board meeting, the Superintendent is given the opportunity to bring up any important issues. At the February 14, 2012 school board meeting one Elia talks about SAFETY and recounts an entire episode at Bloomingdale High School which she describes as “a bizarre accident” and “This truly was an accident” and “I can’t stress enough that this could have been a lot worse if not for the quick thinking and actions of teacher Melissa Gentile.” But Elia never mentions a word about Isabella’s death.

Here is something even more egregious about this February 14, 2012 Board meeting- it turns out that this is the same Board meeting that Veleria Fabiszak spoke at and warned: “Its about accountability and justice and training…My daughter nearly died at the hands of Hillsborough County School District.” (this occurs at about 1:09:00)

The incident Fabiszak is referring to occurred on February 3, 2011, when Fabiszak said she picked up her daughter Chelsea from school and found she had a broken femur, and urine soaking her entire lower body. Fabiszak says she was shocked to learn no one knew, and therefore never called 911. Fabiszak believes Chelsea could have died that day and she repeatedly spoke out at school board meetings, warning members of outdated education procedures for special needs students.

At the February 14, 2012 school board meeting Board Member Griffin says: “I want to know what is going on…this cannot continue, whatever the situation is, whatever the resolution is, we have not met it…but I want to have some answers on this and I want it within the next week.”

What is particularly disturbing is that if you check the Board Digest for this meeting it shows comments from every Board member EXCEPT April Griffin. It is very disconcerting to see what they chose to put in and what they chose to leave out, both of which suggest an attempt to misdirect.

Note that Elia’s comments about the student at Bloomingdale came just BEFORE Veleria Fabiszak’s comments and Elia would have easily seen Veleria in the audience with her daughter Chelsea and known what Veleria was going to speak about as Veleria had previously appeared and informed the District about this near fatality of her daughter.

How is it that the digest shows Elia’s comments about the student at Bloomingdale at length steering attention to another incident at another school while also deleting any comment from Board member Griffin emphatically stating “I want to know what is going on…this cannot continue”. In fact, the Board Digest ends after Elia’s safety comments and does not record any of the discussion over Ms. Fabiszak’s comments even though the board meeting continued for at least an hour more. Obviously this digest is a joke and does not even deserve to be called a “Digest”; it is designed to mislead and misrepresent.

There is at least one other person present at this board meeting that logically would have known about Isabella Herrera’s death but also failed to disclose it, and that person is the Chief Facilities Officer Cathy Valdes (re transportation). Logically, John Franklin, General Manager of Transportation, would have reported the incident to Cathy Valdes. Furthermore, a week earlier on February 7, 2012 John Franklin, General Manager of Transportation, told the Sheriff’s detective that he would have to get a subpoena to get the Herrera bus video. This typically would have come from and/or in concert with his boss Cathy Valdes. Cathy Valdes would have been reporting to her boss Elia.

We reported last week how, despite a Facilities Division plagued with tragedies and insecure schools, MaryEllen Elia and the School Board instead promoted Cathy Valdes to now be Deputy Superintendent while they fire teachers who have to deal with those inadequate and insecure schools.

Everyone should watch this video and comprehend what is taking place here. How could anyone sit there having full knowledge of the recent death of Isabella on (January 26, 2012) and first misdirect the board to an accident, then ignore a parent warning of her child’s near death, then ignore a Boardmember demanding to know what is going on, and then post a digest that completely misrepresents what just took place.

Superintendent Elia, Chair Olson, and Cathy Valdes would have been sitting there with full knowledge of Isabella’s death pretending that they had nothing to add to the discussion. And Olson, as Chair, would have been in control of the discussion and able to direct/misdirect the Board’s discussion. Some wonder what kind of a person would fail to speak when faced with all of this? But don’t forget that it was also an election year and four incumbent board members were trying to get re-elected and the ramifications for those four. Three of those four are consistent Elia supporters when they vote. Is this why Elia never disclosed the death of Isabella Herrera?

You can just imagine these three exchanging glances as this unfolded before them at the Board meeting and the probable conspiracy to cover up the death of Isabella Herrera. Olson, Elia, and Cathy Valdes had an obligation to Hillsborough County students and residents to say what they knew and they failed to act.

Allen West: If Governor Scott does not “renounce Common Core” he will lose in November

Dr. Karen R. Effrem, MD from the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition (FSCCC)writes:

“During the [Educational Policy] conference, Colonel West also did an interview with the Report Card, and had a stern warning for Governor Scott and the Republican establishment that seem to be trying to do a stealth implementation of Common Core without really changing anything:

“Colonel West stated: ‘If Gov. Scott does not clearly renounce the Common Core for Florida, he WILL lose the upcoming election. The Republican Clubs and the Republican Executive Committees are overwhelmingly opposed to Common Core.'”

Chad Lincoln in a Facebook post states, “It’s rumored that Scott is going to wait for Crist to take a hard position. Then Scott will match it and take the issue to the sidelines.”

FCCC gives the following update on education related legislation for the 2014 session:

STANDARDS HB 25 by Rep. Debbie Mayfield (R – Vero Beach) still has not been heard in committee and there is no senate companion bill YET.

On the other side, Rep. Janet Adkins and the K-12 Subcommittee passed the “Common Core Cover-Up” bill, AKA “Lipstick on a Pig” bill, PCB TKS 14-01, that merely removes references to Common Core from statute and changes the name to the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards or Florida Standards.  This matches the cosmetic and “minor” changes that the commissioner is presenting to the State Board of Education for rubber stamping on February 18th.

full hearing report,including a link  video of testimony by Randy Osborne,  Catherine Baer, and Meredith Mears, and media coverage are available on our website.

DATA COLLECTION HB 195 by Rep. Jake Raburn (R-Valrico) and SB 189 by Senator Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange) had their first hearings in committee this last week.  These identical bills seek to ban the collection of biometric and other sensitive data on students.  We are grateful for the efforts of these legislators and look forward to working with them to make this legislation the best that it can be.

Nationally, support continues to pour in for our statement against the deceptive data privacy letter from Commissioner Stewart and 33 other chief state school officers.  We are up to 8 national and 36 state groups from 29 different states.

CURRICULUM SB 864 by Senator Alan Hays (R – Umatilla) that seeks to put curriculum decisions at the local level was just filed a few days ago.  We appreciate his efforts.  A detailed analysis will be coming soon.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of Gage Skidmore.

RELATED COLUMNS:

Out of Control – Florida Bureaucracy Demands Testing Paperwork for Dying Boy

Update – Boy Dies While Family Still Hassled About FCAT

S.Res.345: A resolution strongly supporting the restoration and protection of State authority and flexibility in establishing and defining challenging student academic standards and assessments

The Agenda of Racially Sensitive ‘White Guys’

Over at a place called Diversity, Inc., founder and CEO Luke Visconti runs a regular column titled “Ask the White Guy.” Recent advice columns have concerned “Why is Trayvon a White-on-Black Crime?” “Can a White Man Speak with Authority on Diversity?” and “Do Blacks Need to Relax Their Natural Hair to Get Promoted?”

No kidding. There is also another white guy who profits from his presumed sensitivity to racism as he makes the rounds on college campuses, coming next to Princeton. His name is Tim Wise and he has written a book titled, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son.

Diversity, Inc., as to be expected, weighed in on Seattle Seahawks football player Richard Sherman’s claims that accusations that he displayed thug-like behavior in an interview immediately after he made a game-saving deflection is evidence of racism. But Sherman’s statement to a FOX reporter, “I’m the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like [San Francisco 49er Michael] Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get! Don’t you ever talk about me! … Don’t you open your mouth about the best or I’m gonna shut it for you real quick!” is hardly sportsmanlike behavior.

But as usual, Diversity, Inc., seeks out racism. In this article they allow Sherman’s quotes about online comments to end the article: “mind-boggling the way the world reacted,” Sherman said. “I can’t say the world, I don’t want to generalize people like that because there are a lot of great people who didn’t react that way. But for the people who did react that way and throw the racial slurs and things like that out there, it was really sad. Especially that close to Martin Luther King Day.”

(Democrats are now studying ways to monitor “hate speech,” including online comments to which Sherman referred; this bone-headed idea came from a project for a geography class at Humboldt State University.)

Even after his team won, USA Today referred to this incident in the headline, “Seahawks’ Richard Sherman is full of smiles, not quotes, after Super Bowl win.”

Companies like Diversity, Inc. who capitalize on the fear of discrimination lawsuits continue to exploit minority communities, as such white guys like Norman Mailer and Howard Zinn did in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

In his 1957 essay, “The White Negro,” Norman Mailer advanced the idea of “Hip,” “the sophistication of the wise primitive in a giant jungle.” According to Mailer’s hipster theology, God is “located in the senses of his body, that trapped, mutilated, and nonetheless megalomaniacal God who is It. . . . not the God of the churches but the unachievable whisper of the mystery within the sex, the paradise of limitless energy and perception just beyond the next wave of the next orgasm.”

Mailer rationalized the behavior of the psychopath: “The psychopath murders—if he has the courage—out of the necessity to purge his violence, for if he cannot empty his hatred then he cannot love, his being is frozen with implacable self-hatred for his cowardice.” Mailer presented the case of two eighteen-year-old thugs beating up a candy-store keeper. Such murder is not therapeutic because it’s not murder of an equal. Still, wrote Mailer, “courage of a sort is necessary, for one murders not only a weak fifty-year-old man but an institution as well.”

Howard Zinn, the late communist history professor too saw the “Negro,” specifically, the “ghetto Negro,” as someone who could fulfill his aims of tearing down capitalist institutions. In a 1969 essay titled “Marxism and the New Left,” Mailer wrote, “Marx envisioned the industrial proletariat as the revolutionary agent because it was in need, exploited and brought together in the factory. The Negro is in need, exploited and brought together in the ghetto.” The New Left, the “loose amalgam of civil rights activists, Black Power advocates, ghetto organizers, student rebels, Vietnam protestors” would then recruit the ghetto “Negroes” to revolutionize “cities, universities, corporations.”

The respectable middle class was seen as the biggest obstacle to a communist revolution. The 1960s was the time when the black community was making its biggest inroads into the middle class and into higher education. Radicals like Zinn did not want blacks to acquire middle class status and values. Some professors argued for admission of low-achieving black students to their campuses over high-achievers. The New Left’s promotion of “smashing monogamy” and welfare dependence encouraged the decline of the black family.

Mailer gained notoriety and rationalization for his own thuggishness that included stabbing one of his wives and championing killer Jack Abbott, who would go on to murder again. That led to sales of his books. Zinn enjoyed the benefits of a tenured position in academe and sales of his books. Visconti and Price today rake in consulting and speaking fees for hammering on the distorted and depressing charges of never-ending and ever-present racism.

There were some black leaders during the Civil Rights era who objected to such stereotyping and presumptuousness.

In his speech before the 84th Annual Session of the National Baptist Convention, in 1964, Reverend Joseph H. Jackson, President of the National Baptist Convention, indirectly criticized such agitators. He advised that “Negroes must still make their own leaders.” The leaders should come from the fields of politics, civil rights, religion, and business:

“We have athletes and comedians. Let us still applaud our athletes when they achieve on the field of competition, and let us join with others and freely laugh at the jokes that our comedians give. But we must not confuse these various fields. There must not develop any dictatorship of any one field, and athletes and comedians must not make the mistake of assuming the role of political, religious, and cultural leaders. We as a race must see to it that each man serves in his field, and we must not allow the white community to pick our leaders or to tell us what Negro we should follow.”

Jackson advanced a more measured approach to ending racial injustice and cautioned against a “spirit of revenge, blind emotions, and uncontrolled temper.” Reminding his audience about how direct action led to “mob violence and vandalism,” he suggested instead using the vote and respectful debate.

Like Frederick Douglass, Jackson expressed hope that the American founders’ ideals would be fulfilled:

“America was born in a struggle and as a struggle for freedom, and for the opportunity to develop the highest resources of mankind. The Declaration of Independence and the Federal Constitution were the results of our fathers’ attempts to put on paper the ideals that inspired the birth of the nation, and those principles by which and on which the nation was erected and sustained. There have been errors, mistakes, and gross sins committed against this American venture, but this high venture has not been repudiated or negated.”

You will not see mention of Jackson in Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, widely used in high school and college classrooms. You will not likely hear mention of him at the Diversity, Inc., workshops and conferences. Students on college campuses are not likely to hear a respectful reference to him from speakers like Tim Wise. Conservative black leaders like Allen West are not treated respectfully by liberal white journalists. It seems that such “white guys” still have an agenda.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is from ANUNews.net.

“Islamophobia” in Academia

The aptly-named Hatem “Hate ‘em” Bazian’s manipulative propaganda course at UC Berkeley in “Islamophobia,” in which he forces his students to adopt his agenda of demonizing opponents of jihad terror instead of allowing them to evaluate the value of his targets’ work for themselves, recalls a similar course taught a few years back at Colgate University by Omid Safi, an Islamic supremacist pseudo-academic who is now at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

I dared to challenge Safi’s smear of me as an “Islamophobe” — a propagandistic neologism designed to intimidate people into thinking that it is “hateful” and “bigoted” to oppose jihad terror: I offered to come to the class where Safi was defaming me in order to engage in discussion and debate with him and his students. Safi declined, all the while hurling the usual insults that come as natural to Islamic supremacists as breathing. Later this bent, twisted, hate-filled and diabolically insecure little man actually falsely claimed that I threatened to kill him and his family, while peddling soothing nonsense to the easy marks at the Huffington Post about respecting other people.

“Islamophobia” courses are apparently increasingly common on university campuses. Just this week I received two queries from students who are studying “Islamophobia.” One girl wrote (spelling and grammar as in the original):

Dear Jihad Watch, I am a Year 12 Student from Sydney, NSW who would greatly appreciate your kind assistance in a Personal Interest Project (PIP) for the subject of Society and Culture. My chosen topic sparks in me a deep interest although before I begin my primary research, I must ensure there is sufficient secondary information to support or disprove my own. So far, it seems lacking so I write to ask: Am on the right track and do you recommend any beneficial resources or contacts? My investigation is the “Perceptions held in Australia about Islam” where I look into both “Islamophobia” and the general reluctance to support or acknowledge Muslim adherents assimilating into Australian Culture. The PIP requires a cross-cultural comparison where two aspects of some sort must be considered, for e.g. female vs. male perceptions held about Islam. This is where my inspiration came in, due to personal experience. Growing up from a Christian, Middle-Eastern background, I witnessed most family members disapproving of Islam and it’s followers due to their experiences of conflict with the religion and it’s people in the middle east, before migrating. Although “Islamophobia” is quite instilled in Australian society, I found from informally questioning other middle-easterners that they too seemed more intolerant than the rest of Australian society. I’d like to investigate for both Middle-Eastern born Australian migrants (non Muslims) and Australian born citizens- –    What exactly are their perceptions on Islam and it’s adherents? –    How these perceptions were formed. Here, a focus will be on historical and political events and media representation, for e.g. September 11, as well personal experiences with Muslim adherents. I hypothesise that Australian- born citizens will have their perceptions formed by media influence while Middle-Eastern born Australian migrants will have perceptions largely due to personal experience with Muslims in the Middle East. Such information is attainable through primary research methodologies and there is sufficient amount of information on what Australian’s perceive Muslims. My main struggle has been finding sufficient information on Non-Muslim Middle- Easterner’s perceptions on Muslim adherents and their relationship with one another in the Middle- East, whether from a couple of decades ago to present. Although my search for secondary information continues, I am extremely hopeful that you are able to recommend resources or contacts which may enable me to carry through with this project. I highly appreciate your time taken to read this letter. Thank you.

I responded:

Thanks for writing. I do not believe in “Islamophobia.” It is a propaganda neologism designed to intimidate people into thinking that there is something wrong with resisting jihad terror. Listen to the experiences of your family and other Middle Eastern Christians, and heed them. Best of luck. RS

Just hours later I received this email from a young man in Texas (again, reproduced as written):

I go to the University of Texas at Arlington though I do not accuse you of this I am writing a paper on Islamophobia and how it is changing the usa for the worst

I wrote this back:

Sorry, I don’t believe in “Islamophobia.” It is a propagandistic neologism designed to intimidate people into thinking that there is something wrong with resisting jihad terror. Would you have written a paper about how “Naziphobia” was changing the USA for the worse in 1943? Best of luck with your paper.

But he persisted, sending me some questions. The questions are below, with the answers I sent him:

1. Do you hate Muslims and if so why?

No.

2. Do you have any prejudices if so why?

No.

3. Did this site start pre 9/11 or after?

October 2003.

4. Describe in detail your views on Muslims.

Muslims cannot be generalized. Some are wonderful people. Some are not. Just like everyone else.

5. Why do you think Islam is dangerous?

Because it has a doctrine, theology and legal system mandating warfare against and subjugation of unbelievers. Cf. Qur’an 9:29 (see also 8:39, 8:60, 2:190-193, etc.); Sahih Muslim 4294; the various teachings of the Sunni and Shi’ite madhahib about jihad — a handy reference is Reliance of the Traveller section O9. See Majid Khadduri’s book War and Peace in the Law of Islam. See also the escalating persecution of non-Muslims in Nigeria, Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Syria, Iraq, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.

Also because of Sharia’s institutionalized oppression of women (recently manifested in several murders of women for refusing to wear hijab — Aqsa Parvez, Amina Muse Ali, etc.), the death penalty for apostates (Mohamed Hegazy in hiding and in fear for his life in Egypt, Abdul Rahman fleeing Afghanistan to avoid a death sentence for apostasy, etc).

Instead of fighting against this oppression, people like you, by fostering the “Islamophobia” fantasy, are abetting it. No hate crime is justified. Yet Jews are the victims of hate crimes eight times more often than Muslims are in the U.S. Why aren’t you writing about anti-Semitism? Because you have bought the propaganda that “Islamophobia” is a problem, and don’t even realize how you’re being manipulated into serving an agenda that is designed to shut down all criticism of and resistance to jihad terror and Sharia oppression, so that they can advance unimpeded.

6. Do you have any Muslim friends?

Yes.

This is what passes for academic study on our rapidly-sinking campuses these days.

“U.S. Muslim prof teaches ‘Islamophobia’ course,” by Pamela Geller at WND, February 9:

The Nazi-like march of Islamic supremacists into influential positions of power in media, politics and academia sank to a new low this week (and that bar was already conspicuously low).

Canadian Muslim reformer Tarek Fatah received apanicked message from a student enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley, who along with 100 kids in his class is being forced to tweet on “Islamophobia” as a requirement in a course on that subject called “De-Constructing Islamophobia and the History of Otherness.” This “course” is taught by a notorious anti-Semitic, terror-supporting professor, Hatem Bazian.

The student reported Bazian established as part of the course requirements that students would have to open a Twitter account and tweet at least once a week about “Islamophobia.” The student commented: “I can’t help but feel this is unethical. This is his agenda, not mine.”

The student explained to Fatah:

There are 100 students in the class, all of us forced to create individual Twitter accounts. I’m not wholly clear on what our final project is yet (I find it very interesting that he excludes both the Twitter account requirement AND the final project from his official syllabus), but we have to meet with a group in San Francisco, and our class will be surveying people of color on the impact of some ads put out by Pamela Gellar [sic]. Now I’m no Pamela Gellar [sic] fan, I think she’s nuts, but I feel … between the Twitter stuff and the final project he’s basically using us as unpaid labor to work on his agenda.

The kid has already bought into the demonization, smearing and marginalization of anyone opposing jihad. What’s nuts is “asking people of color” about my Shariah awareness ads. Shariah is not a color. Jihad is not a color. What’s nuts was the Hamas-CAIR ad campaign that my ads countered. Hamas-CAIR created an ad campaign to “rebrand” jihad (“my jihad is getting to the gym every day”). That’s nuts.

Nuts is the San Francisco City Council issuing a resolution (the first of its kind) condemning our ads highlighting Muslim oppression of gays.

Nuts is a homework assignment shackling children to a fictitious narrative designed as a thought-crushing device to silence any criticism of Islam.

A more useful assignment would highlight the brutal and bloody oppression of religious minorities under the Shariah. An intellectual study of the 1,400-year jihad against the Jews as manifested in the Muslim hatred for Israel would certainly be instructive. Where is the college credit for the study of the mass annihilation of Hindus in jihadi wars?

Steven Emerson, in his book, “American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us” (Pages 214-215), quotes Bazian sermonizing at an American Muslim Alliance conference in May 1999:

In the Hadith, the Day of Judgment will never happen until you fight the Jews. They are on the west side of the river, which is the Jordan River, and you’re on the east side until the trees and stones will say, oh Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him! And that’s in the Hadith about this, this is a future battle before the Day of Judgment. (More here.)

Bazian is a co-founder of an anti-Semitic, pro-jihad activist group founded at University of California’s Berkeley campus in 2001,  Students for Justice in Palestine. According to Campus Watch:

SJP’s stated goal is to promote a “just resolution of the plight of the Palestinians” and employs boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns as well as mock checkpoints and mock “apartheid walls” on campuses throughout the U.S. to promote that cause.

SJP’s theatrical and physical violence aims mainly at intimidating and marginalizing Jewish students on campus. It uses violent imagery to bypass discussion and skip right to the hate, accusing its opponents of Apartheid, Nazism and genocide. Its extremist speakers use lies and distortions to portray Israel and its supporters as absolute evil to create a hateful worldview (seeJessica Felber and Helen Freedman).

When the SJP deploys makeshift checkpoints on campuses where its members yell, “Are you Jewish?” at passing students, when it disrupts Holocaust memorials and Jewish student concerts, when it assaults and intimidates Jewish students on campus – it is making the trees and stones of the Ivy League and the Public Ivies a place of terror and danger for Jewish students.

Bazian is also the executive director of American Muslims for Palestine. Check out its web of Hamas support here. At its 2011 conference, Bazian said: “The universities – it’s gonna be the front line moving forward, the front line. Why? Because this is the next generation.”

Why would anyone take his course? He even equated the Boston jihad bombings with “Islamophobia.” Robert Spencer wrote this of Bazian last May:

The aptly-named professor Hatem Bazian some years ago called for an “intifada” in the U.S.Here, he completely ignores the fact that the Tsarnaev brothers were Muslims acting, in their own words, in the defense of Islam. … Instead, as one would expect from a charter member of the “Islamophobia” propaganda industry, he equates the Tsarnaevs’ murders, which he calls “horrific crimes,” with those who spoke accurately about what motivated those murders, whom he accuses of “crimes against our collective consciousness.”

It is amazing that moral cretins like Hatem Bazian occupy comfortable positions at respected universities in the United States, but such is the state of academia today. In a field populated with people like Omid Safi, Haroon Moghul, and Caner K. Dagli, Bazian actually comes off rather well.

This “professor” is using his position of authority to bully and harass his students by demanding that they tweet about “Islamophobia.” His “course” is yet another sign of how low American academia has sunk.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is a fictitious flag, as well as other fictitious flags, is fictitious or proposed but not adopted. This flag is named as it would be an official flag of a national or subnational entity, and probably has some visual elements that are similar to official logos or coats of arms of certain entity, such as colors or some symbol, but they are NOT official and don’t have any official recognition. It is courtesy of Applysense.

ACTION ALERT: Florida statewide Common Core meeting on February 18th in Orlando

Eye On US Education (EUSE), along with many other organizations and groups throughout Florida, have been fighting the implementation of the Common Core Standards (CCS) since its inception.     

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

Very soon, if we don’t take quick action, CCS will be established in Florida.  Don’t be taken in by the change of name to “Next Generation Sunshine State Standards”.  Whatever “adjustments” they may have made does not change the fact that it is still CCS!

On Tuesday, February 18th at 9:00 am , the State Board of Education is meeting in Orlando.  We are asking that each of you attend.  For those who work, it is worth taking the day off – as our children’s future is at stake.   For those who do not live in the area, Orlando is not difficult to get to from any part of the State.  I’m traveling from the Fort Lauderdale area.

We want people INSIDE attending the meeting and – for the media – OUTSIDE with signs.  Signs should be Informational – not “nasty” and Readable – LARGE letters, short message!    Some suggestions: “Common Core Violates Our Children’s Privacy”   “Stop Indoctrination”   “Local Control – Not Federal”   “Excessive Testing”   “Lack of Parental Input”  “Teaching for the Test”

Put together a group and carpool.  Get the word out to all your contacts in Florida who are concerned about the education of our children.

The meeting is at:

Ronald Blocker Educational Leadership Center
445 W Amelia St. (1st Floor)
Orlando, FL 32801

It is both imperative and crucial that we have a large contingent.   WE NEED TO MAKE AN IMPACT!

For more information you can contact: Stacie Clarke, Co-Founder and Central FL State Coordinator, Florida Parents Against Common Core, 321-202-0480.

UPDATE: Florida Senator Alan Hays filed this bill this week. You may read the bill by going here: http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2014/0864/BillText/__/PDF

Although it is not exactly the legislation I suggested, it does bring control of the textbook choices back to the districts and people – basically a reinstatement of the State Instructional Material Committee (SIMC) – in a different form. There are also statements concerning the Publishers – although it doesn’t insist that they be 100% US owned.

I found these Lines related to what I wrote to our legislators:

Lines 40-47
Lines 148-168
Lines 187-207
Lines 382-390
LInes 437-446

I only quickly scanned it – as it just came to my attention (Alison Rampersad, my Co-Chair discovered it). I will read it carefully ASAP to see if there is anything in it that we should be concerned about. Please let me know if you discover anything in the legislation that should be corrected.

RELATED COLUMN: Anti-Common Core resolution coming to U.S. Senate tomorrow

Stopping the ‘war against children’

MassResistance announces fight to stop the “war against children” in Massachusetts.
Schoolchildren across Massachusetts are under assault by the radical homosexual and transgender movement. It’s being funded and supported by the state. It must be stopped.

Announcement by MassResistance

On January 15, Brian Camenker of MassResistance was the featured speaker at thePlymouth Rock Tea Party meeting in Pembroke, Massachusetts. We’ve been invited to the Plymouth Rock Tea Party twice before, as well as several other Tea Parties across the state. But this was a special speech, outlining: What MassResistance is taking on in 2014.

Brian Camenker of MassResistance takes a question at the Plymouth Rock Tea Party meeting.

Camenker, along with others from MassResistance, came and addressed the group with shocking news about the super-charged push of sexuality, homosexuality, and transgenderism on schoolchildren — going on under almost everyone’s radar, including parents. Tea Party people are used to confronting the country’s crises, but this was particularly new and distressing for many of them. And it should be. At any other time in history, it would be considered madness.

The state-sponsored “war on children”

The well-funded and well-organized radical sexual agenda targeting schoolchildren has reached levels once unimaginable. It’s been growing quietly but very forcefully. We’ve documented much of it over the last few years, but the totality of it has stillnot been grasped by the public.

This infamous book, Queering Elementary Education — with aforward by homosexual activist Kevin Jennings –has been widely used by school staff. We’ve even seen it in a high school guidance counselor’s office bookshelf.

Here’s what’s been happening in Massachusetts, centered in the public schools. Much of this is now spreading to other states. Some of it has been going on for years; other things are fairly new. But all of it is horrific:

* Sexualization of young children. So-called “sex-ed” often includes birth-control information, condoms-on-bananas, masturbation, positive discussions of abortion, and other sexual “health” information even in elementary school grades.

* Homosexual and transgender school-wide events. “Gay” and “Transgender”awareness days. Specialized events for particular propaganda purposes, such as the “Day of Silence,” “National Coming Out Day”, and even “Gay History Month.”

* State-supported “Youth Pride” activities. Middle school and high school students are encouraged to attend state-supported annual “Youth Pride Day”activities in downtown Boston. There are homosexual- and transgender-themed booths and speakers. Condoms and anal lubricants are given out. One year there was an adult sadomasochism practitioner as a staff member. Kids march in a “gay” parade. And they attend a “transgender” prom in the evening.

High school kids marching in state-supported gay “Youth Pride Day” parade in downtown Boston.

* Official state GLBT Commission. The Massachusetts Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth includes hardcore adult homosexual and transgender activists. This state “commission” receives hundreds of thousands of tax dollars (and has access to millions more indirectly) to go into public schools and work directly with schoolchildren. It also helps coordinate the homosexual “gay straight alliance” (GSA) clubs in high schools and middle schools across the state.

This man who dresses as a woman is a transgender activist and a long-time member of the MassachusettsCommission on Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Youthand directs the youth club BAGLY.
[MassResistance photo]

* Encouraging kids to “come out” as homosexual and transgender. This isvery dangerous. Schools encourage kids to declare their “true” identity as homosexual or transgender. It is done at events and also with encouragement from staff and school “gay” clubs. This has a profound emotional effect on children, particularly during adolescence.

Normalizing the “transgender” concept in kids’ minds. This booth was at a “Youth Pride Day” in Boston. They also go directly into public schools.
[MassResistance photo]

* Sending kids to outside “gay clubs.” Schools often direct troubled youth to outside “gay” and transgender organizations run by radical adult activists. Where they are told that they are really “gay” and their parents are bad people who don’t understand or appreciate them. There have been reports of homosexual sex between students and adults at these groups. Here’s one mother’s story of what happened to her son.

This outside “club” for youth, run by radical adult activists, also had a booth at “Youth Pride Day.” Note the packages of condoms (round and square) being given out on the table — an indication of what  the “club” is really all about.
[MassResistance photo]

* Move to deny children access to needed therapy. There is an outrageous bill in the Massachusetts State House (House Bill 154, and there are similar bills in other states) to ban children from receiving professional counseling to deal with unwanted homosexual issues — but would allow counseling for children to affirm homosexual feelings they might have! This would have terrible consequences for children and adolescents who desperately need this kind of help.

* Intrusive sexual surveys. Thousands of students in middle schools and high schools across the state are asked to fill out surveys on private, personal issues without their parents’ knowledge or consent. The surveys include questions about heterosexual and homosexual activity, drug use, criminal activity, personal questions about family members, suicidal feelings and attempts, and violence they may be involved with. They are unscientific, and use leading questions to elicit answers from kids that are used by radical groups to justify their programs.

* Cross-dressing and transgenderism. The State of Massachusetts hasdirected all schools to allow so-called “transgender” students — children who decide to “identify” as the opposite sex — to wear opposite-sex clothes to school, use opposite-sex restrooms and locker rooms, and be called by an opposite-sex name. Parents are not required to be notified. And students or school staff who openly disagree are liable for punishment and diversity training.

Very confused. Young man at 2009 state-supported GLBT youth “prom” held each year in Boston City Hall. Part of annual “Youth Pride” day which attracts teenagers from across the state and promotes GLBT identities and behaviors to them.
[MassResistance photo]

* Homosexual-themed school plays. School drama departments across the state are having kids put on school plays with hard-core homosexual themes, with the students acting in homosexual roles. See example here.

* Forcing anti-Christian values on Christian children. Children with Christian values are told that their religious values are inferior to the “modern” acceptance of homosexuality, and that they have no choice but to accept that. See examplehere.

* Explicit homosexual books assigned or recommended to kids. Students in all grades are assigned explicit books promoting homosexuality, masturbation, and related sexual behaviors, some of them very explicit and pornographic. Such books are also made available to students in the school libraries.

After this book about homosexual romance was read to second graders, a federal judge ruled that current Massachusetts law doesn’t give parents the right to opt-out or even be notified!

* Lies and medical disinformation. Schools tell children that homosexuality is “normal” and that they are “born that way” — despite overwhelming medical evidence to the contrary. School officials withhold information about the diseases, addictions, and mental illnesses associated with homosexuality, and the ex-gay therapy available to those who desire it.

This harms kids very badly

This is hurting children (and their families) in many terrible ways. Children who are introduced to sexual topics at a young age — during their “latency period” — can easily be psychologically traumatized by that throughout their lives. Prematurely sexualized children sometimes commit horrible sexual crimes on other, younger children. Pregnancies, diseases, and various self-destructive behaviors have become a problem in society when kids are introduced to this information.

The so-called “coming out” process — persuading a child to internalize that he is “born” homosexual or transgender and cannot change, then publicly declare it — causes even more trauma in vulnerable kids.

The breaking down of religion and moral values by schools and school officials, whom kids look to as authority figures, causes additional problems with youth struggling to develop their sense of right and wrong. And it can cause terrible conflicts with parents who are trying to raise their children with traditional or religious values.

Why are they doing this to children?

What we’re about to say may jolt you. For two decades we’ve been helping parents deal with schools and public officials in reaction to the kinds of things listed above (and worse). After seeing it up close for that long, we’ve concluded that the teachers and school officials (and politicians) doing these things to kids are not simply misguided. In our experience, they are truly bad (some might say evil) people. They know very well how these things affect children. Most of the time the effects are very visible to them. They’ve had it explained to them by us and many others. They know the anguish that parents have about it, and they purposefully mislead parents or don’t inform them or offer them a choice. They refuse to consider or even acknowledge any data or information that contradicts their agenda in any way. This is very dangerous, since they are dealing vulnerable human beings. But in our long experience, they simply don’t care. Whatever vague utopia they’re trying to achieve justifies the means.

In our on-the-ground experience going back nearly 20 years the only thing that ever stops this is the overwhelming force of angry citizens.

And unfortunately, the conservative movement is backing away from this fight. And most state-level establishment pro-family groups are too compromised and fearful to make any meaningful progress against this.

It’s distressing how many adult homosexual activists are attracted to the state-supported “gay youth” activities. This group is shown marching in the “Youth Pride Parade” last year.
[MassResistance photo]

Our goal in 2014

A core group of MassResistance people have been meeting regularly since early September working on this. We have decided that in 2014 we are going to do whatever it takes to stop this state-sponsored war on children.

The ultimate source of this horrible problem are the politicians in the Legislature,which has created the legal apparatus for it and lavishly funds it every year. It must be dismantled and stopped. We will direct our energy to mobilizing people from every corner of the state to do the one thing that we know works: to confront them. And continue to confront them more and more until they back down — which they will. And continue to expose the outrages, lies, and disinformation that is being used against innocent children (and their families) which can affect them for the rest of their lives.

We hope intend to be a model for the rest of the country in this regard. The counter-revolution has to start somewhere.

The Massachusetts State House gets a lot of attention from homosexual groups and not enough from regular citizens. That needs to change!
[MassResistance photo]

Getting started

The starting point is a set of strong bills that we filed a (or encouraged State Reps to file) last year at the beginning of the current session — and certain horrific bills filed by radicals that must be stopped. Those include:

Strong bills to be supported forcefully:

1. H333 – Comprehensive Parents’ Rights Opt-In Bill

2. H452 – Protect children from intrusive school surveys on personal issues

3. H427 – Require parental notification when referring child to outside homosexual (or other) organization

4. H2851 – Eliminate the “Commission on GLBT Youth”

5. H1479 – Repeal the Transgender Rights and Hate Crimes law

6. H1282 – Remove exemption of schools from anti-pornography laws

Bad bills by radical groups that must be stopped:

1. H154 – Would deny a child access to therapy to help deal with unwanted homosexual desires.

2. H3793 – Would create required curriculum statewide for sexuality, homosexuality, and similar issues.

3. H1589 – Would expand statewide “transgender rights and hate crimes” law to include public accommodations where children frequent.

4. H454 – Would expand anti-bullying law to force diversity training on homosexuality, transgenderism, etc. on students and staff in schools.

What can you do?

This isn’t complicated. To start with, you can do two things: (1) let us know that you are willing to be involved. And (2) donate money, as much as you can spare.Both of these are really necessary.

The politicians on Beacon Hill (and in states around the country) rarely hear much from large groups of regular people on bills like this. They hear a lot from the radical special interests. With your help, we intend for that experience to change drastically.

After the meeting ended at the Plymouth Rock Tea Party, people continued to ask us questions and sign our sheet to get involved!

 

The Politics of Common Core: FL State Board of Education Poised to approve Common Core 2/18/14 at Orlando Board meeting

With breathtaking hubris, Governor Scott’s Education Commissioner, Pam Stewart, has ignored experts and citizens loud cries to stop the giant experiment called Common Core, which could damage a generation of children.  But this is not just a move born of benign ignorance, it is a political calculation.

The stakes in their games are enormous.  The Governorship and the Presidency could hang in the balance.  Early speculation comes from past experience.  Just what is happening behind the scenes?  It certainly doesn’t take a mental giant to see that Governor Scott is leaning on support from his predecessor, Jeb Bush and his new friends, who promised and delivered support and influence to win the last election.

The growing rift between the Republican Party groups and the Republican Party of Florida was nowhere more apparent than the recent annual state meeting.  County Executive Committees voted to oppose Common Core and were overruled in the end by the Executive Committee, Jeb Bush’s cabal, squeezing the grassroots out of the party in Florida.  They assert that we must blindly go along with Governor Scott’s adamant support of Common Core because we certainly don’t want a major rift in support to allow “Charlie Hippochrist” to steal the election.

Newsflash!  Charlie Christ is ahead of Scott in the polls and gaining.  Continuing his path of isolated decision making on this and other issues is not bolstering Scott’s campaign.  So WHY is he supporting this unpopular, anti-conservative position on Common Core?  Two words….Jeb Bush, and the promise his new support team will carry Scott over the finish line a winner.

You see, Jeb Bush is playing his own game here for yet a larger prize, the presidency, and this political calculation has worked for Jeb Bush before.  This interesting article from the St. Pete Times shows how Jeb Bush uses foundations to gather money and power to unleash a successful campaign.

When he narrowly lost his bid to be Governor, he needed a way to stay in the mix and build strength.  His foundation provided a way to collect money and support and it worked.  Flash forward, the conservative “education governor” of Florida embraces Common Core before the standards are even developed and his foundation gets $501,000 as a first installment.  He joins with Bill Gates Foundation, GE, Eli Broad Foundation, Pearson Education and many more multi-billion dollar groups who can provide as much money and power as he could ever need and a nationwide platform of education reform.

Just one problem, Common Core is a Trojan horse delivering poisonous messages to our children, not a “reform” at all.  His “team” includes unpopular multi-nationalist billionaires who stand to gain more money and power by “Transforming” America through the hearts and minds of the children.  The book recently written by Dr. Terrence Moore called “The Story-Killers” shows just how this is done.

Florida is ground zero for this high stakes game.  If Common Core collapses, his “money tree” coalition likely will suffer a similar fate.

This is all coming to a head as Anti-Common Core groups mobilize against this assault on their families and their future.  “Healthcare, concerns me.  But when they are contaminating the hearts and minds of our children, this is where we draw the line!”  Kathy Doan, co-founder of Stop Common Core FL,  said.

And she is joined by leaders from over 50 groups within Florida who are not fooled by the bait and switch maneuvers by this administration.  On the 18thof February, the State Board of Education plans to vote on changing the name of Common Core and adopting it in spite of huge opposition from parents, teachers, administrators and children.

A rally is planned for Feb 18th by these groups to demonstrate their disgust with the Department of Education, its Board, Governor Scott who appointed them, and Jeb Bush for promoting this campaign for his political gain.  For information, call Chris Quackenbush, 239-823-2980

We are also advertising on radio against Common Core and sharing our ads with others across the country to grow opposition everywhere. Tax deductible contributions may be made to www.ivbe.org to increase our ad coverage.

Why Common Core is Wrong For Our Kids – Period!

The document, “Common Core is Wrong For Our Kids. Period” from Florida Parents Against Common Core (FPACC) has just been released. The document explains why there is a growing mistrust with Common Core.

FPACC states, “Parents are not radicals, we are concerned… and we are basing our conclusions on the words from the proponents themselves, not from editorials.  I urge you to read the entire document to understand why there is such a growing grassroots opposition to Common Core. Parents across America are just fed up.”

Watch this video titled, “Common Core For Public Officials”:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfcJuV4dC6g[/youtube]

Members of our group, Florida Parents Against Common Core have produced a detailed document outlining why Common Core and Race To The Top are wrong for our children and our parents.  This document will help you understand the process by which we have come to have Common Core State Standards imposed on us, against our will and without the proper involvement of parents in discussing the validity of the premise and potential impacts. Additionally, it details how this process was never more than a wholesale transfer of sovereignty by our state legislators to the Federal Government in exchange for a $ 700 million dollar bribe.

The proponents, backed by a campaign of several hundred million dollars in the best public relations resources available, all stand to gain billions of dollars in benefits in the form of new business, the quashing of competitive forces and the in some instances, the advancement of personal political ambitions, all through a grand experiment constructed of an untested theory of education, the brainchild of a man who has never taught a day in his life.

Download: Common Core is Wrong For Our Kids.

RELATED COLUMN: Breaking News Stories: Rejection of Common Core and Its Tests: Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Congressional Leadership and More

FL Rep. Manny Diaz offers Trapped Students a Way Out of Failed Schools

Students in Florida that are trapped in failing and/or troubled schools may have new hope on the horizon.

The various misdeeds of the Miami-Dade School District, and the events that took place at Miami Norland Senior High School, in the aftermath of Adobegate makes the case for an upcoming House Bill concerning charter schools being sponsored by Rep. Manny Diaz.

An aspect of this bill, co-location, has unions up in arms about this legislation, but as a whistleblowing union steward who desires reform, I am for it and view co-location and competition as a viable remedy to reform the Miami-Dade School District, and other Florida school districts, for the better.

Simply put, co-location is the sharing of public school space by both charter and public schools, sometimes on the same school campus.

In Florida, charter schools are under the supervision of county school boards but privately managed.  As schools and school districts are very unwilling to reform themselves in terms of clean ethical governance, co-location makes perfect sense and just may force schools like Miami Norland SHS and districts like Miami-Dade to clean up their act, especially in the areas of compliance with professional development procedures, teacher observation and evaluation improprieties, test cheating, and treatment of whistleblowers for the betterment of the students they purport to serve.

A well-run charter school on the same campus as a poorly run public school akin to Norland would force the Norland’s of the state to change their ways and shape up, or the school districts that supervise them to clean them up, or else risk losing their students to the charter school on site as parents would have a viable alternative to an inadequate public school option.

During the 2011-2012 school year, two vocational teachers at Miami Norland SHS, Mr. Emmanuel Fleurantin and Mrs. Brenda Muchnick, and most likely persons unknown, engaged in massive test cheating on two Adobe industrial arts certification exams, hence of Adobegate.

With the assistance of cheating, undertaken by Mr. Emmanuel Fleurantin and Mrs. Brenda Muchnick, Miami Norland’s school grade went from a “C” for the 2010-11 school year to an “A” for the 2011-12 school year.

As a result, total federal funds (SIG, RTTT) given out due to a grade influenced by cheating was $100,560; the total state funds per FSRP was between $130,000- $140,000; the total overall combined federal and state incentive funds were $230,560- $240,560.

Each teacher at Miami Norland Senior High School received $1730.41 from all three payouts.

This affair is detailed in the Miami-Dade OIG Final Report and the Department of Administrative Hearings brief, issued by the School Board Attorney on January 8, 2014, justifying Mr. Fleurantin’s termination.

During the following school year, 2012-2013, Miami Norland SHS led the state in FCAT invalidations due to cheating with 13 student exams being invalidated.

The response by school district administration has been outrageous and unjust: Mr. Fleurantin, a black union member, has been suspended pending termination while Mrs. Muchnick, a white non-union member, received a slap on the wrist for the same offense from the same cheating scandal and is back working at Norland.

When one reads the Miami-Dade OIG Final Report and the Department of Administrative Hearings brief, one can reasonably conclude that Mrs. Muchnick is equally culpable and a reasonable person would think her employment was up for termination as well.

For my efforts, I as the whistleblowing union steward suffered an attempted transfer and a bogus CRC complaint devoid of merit (dismissed later) in September and an actual involuntary transfer on October 24, 2013, followed by another on December 10, 2013.

To make matters worse, my award winning library program has been closed since my departure, in violation of state law, and the students have not had library media services since then.

A Norland employee told me a week ago that students have been complaining about being unable to access library books, and one acted up.

Too bad the faculty, which apparently seems to care about their bottom line and financial incentives gained from cheating more so than their students, does not speak up about this injustice and defend the students’ right to read.

Whether the Norland faculty is silent due to complicity or cowardice, to quote Barbara Bush, a reasonable person may conclude “they are a sorry bunch.”

Sadly, Norland SHS is under the leadership of a principal who has two prior ethics complaints successfully processed against him by the FLDOE. Mr. Lee is a principal who has threatened me twice with retaliation (documented in grievances) in May 2010 and February 2013; a principal who has fabricated my observation and been caught doing so in a meeting on April 4, 2012; and a principal who has undertaken various forms of adverse action, in concert with the other union stewards and District officials, against me since late August 2013 for my efforts in trying to clean up the school.

As a parent of a Miami Norland SHS student, why would you leave your child to languish in what a fair-minded person may conclude are the clutches and the bad influences of Mrs. Muchnick, Mr. Lee, and a faculty that apparently could care less for your child when you can give them a better environment and educational opportunities on the same school grounds under the bill sponsored by Rep. Diaz?

Rep. Diaz’s bill preserves the concept of neighborhood schools and gives the parents and students of Florida trapped in similar situations throughout the state a way out.

If these events have transpired at Miami Norland SHS, and they have, you can believe that they have transpired (or are transpiring) at other schools throughout Florida.

Districts like Miami-Dade and schools like Norland SHS feel entitled to public funds and in their arrogance rails against those who expose test cheating, which leads to better school grades and enhanced funding, and other frauds while the state simply passes the buck and declines to take action.

Rep. Diaz’s bill would curtail the “business as usual” environment as parents would have the means to place their child in a better educational, and ethical, environment.

Unions and public education advocates have decried the fact that Rep. Diaz is in charge of this bill, but it is phony outrage as they have plenty of advocates in the Legislature that have significantly influenced educational bills over the past few years: Sen. Bill Montford, who is the CEO of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents and former superintendent of Leon County Public Schools; Sen. Don Gaetz and Nancy Detert, former public school superintendents; as well as teachers in both chambers, namely Sen. Dwight Bullard, a Miami-Dade teacher and a UTD member.

Critics decry Rep. Diaz’s involvement as a conflict of interest.

So he is a legislator with a passion for education reform that embraces charter schools; how is that different from Sen. Montford’s or Sen. Bullard’s passion for public education and the bills that they propose and support?

As with traditional public education, charter schools are deserving of advocates as well in the Legislature. The purpose of representation is to serve all the interests of everyone in the state encompassing all races and ethnicities.

The legislation proposed by Rep. Diaz will receive, as with any legislation, intense scrutiny in the appropriate House committee as well as the House floor as well as the appropriate Senate committee and Senate floor when it arrives there.

What really scares unions and traditional public education advocates, as well as school districts and the Norland’s of the state, is that they cannot continue on the same path collecting taxpayer dollars as they go with little oversight and with no accountability as it is on the horizon.

Oklahomans are All In on School Choice

A majority of Oklahomans favor an education savings account system, with the largest margin of support and most positive intensity coming from younger voters ages 18-34, according to a Friedman Foundation poll released this week. An ambitious school choice proposal is on the table in Oklahoma. Last week, state legislators introduced a bill to create an education savings account system (ESA) for low- and middle-income students. (See a short video of the press conference and an explanation of how ESAs work.)

The proposal is bigger than Arizona’s ESA program, a pioneering policy that has provided crucial lessons for implementation in other states. (see herehere, and here for research on ESAs) Similarly, our release this week of the “Oklahoma K-12 & School Choice Survey” provides states interested in ESAs a new perspective on how voters react to this innovative plan.

Oklahomans are much more likely to support ESAs than oppose them. The margin in favor of ESAs is very large (+22 points). A solid majority of respondents (56 percent) support an “education savings account system”; just one-third (34 percent) oppose ESAs.

All demographic groups showed a propensity toward supporting ESAs. No group registered a larger proportion of negative responses than positive responses. Young voters (ages 18 to 34), Republicans, and school parents exhibited the biggest margins of support and represent the groups most likely to be on board today.

The positive intensity for ESAs is highest among young voters (ages 18 to 34), school parents, and Republicans. There is mild negative intensity among older voters and Democrats. 

Oklahomans prefer universal access to ESAs rather than limited eligibility based on financial need. Nearly six out of 10 voters (58 percent) said they agree with the statement that “ESAs should be available to all families, regardless of incomes and special needs.” Approximately 37 percent “strongly agree” with that statement. One-third (32 percent) disagree with that statement, and 19 percent “strongly disagree.”

For most voters, an ESA proposal would not be a make or break issue. A majority (58 percent) said it would not make her/him more or less likely to vote for a political candidate who supports ESAs. However, if a voter has an opinion on this issue, he or she is more likely to vote for the pro-ESA candidate (19 percent more likely vs. 14 percent less likely).

Oklahomans send different signals about how to fund preschool, a topic receiving considerable attention lately by policy wonks and public officials.

On the first of two questions, a plurality of voters (29 percent) indicated they would like to see an increase of funding public preschool providers directly. However, about 26 percent of respondents said they would equally favor that or a proposal establishing an ESA system for four-year-old children. An additional 17 percent would prefer structural reform – the ESA system – over simple funding increases.

The follow-up question asked to what extent respondents would favor or oppose a pilot ESA program for Oklahoma’s four-year-olds. Considering this proposal on its own merits, more than half of respondents (55 percent) said they would favor such a limited ESA program, compared to 32 percent saying they would oppose the preschool ESA system.

The window looks as if it’s wide open for Oklahoma’s education reformers to change the funding mechanism for K-12 education (via ESAs).

First, certain questions in our poll pick up voters’ desires for changing the status quo and having more access to private schools.

  • 56 percent believe Oklahoma’s K-12 education system is on the “wrong track”; 65 percent of school parents gave this response.
  • 58 percent rated the state’s public school system “fair” or “poor”; 63 percent of school parents gave this response.
  • Voters are much more likely to grade local private schools A or B (74 percent) compared to giving those grades to local public schools (45 percent).
  • When asked for a preferred school type, nearly equal proportions of voters would choose a regular public school (39 percent) or a private school (37 percent). The disconnect is stark when juxtaposing those responses against Oklahoma’s actual enrollment patterns (94 percent public school and 4 percent private school).

Second, Oklahomans are more likely to favor – rather than oppose – education reforms such as school vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, and charter schools. Collectively, these responses provide a hospitable climate for an ESA proposal.

Click “Oklahoma K-12 & School Choice Survey” to read the full report.

Top-down Parental Involvement: Another federal education boondoggle?

As the nation observed the 50th anniversary of President Johnson’s War on Poverty in early January, the 2014 Georgia Family Engagement Conference here drew over 1,200 participants, up from 800 at the inaugural state conference in 2012. About a dozen states have held such confabs, pursuant to the “Parental Involvement” section of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, an arm of the War on Poverty that sends federal funds to low-income-area schools in hopes of “equalizing” so-called educational outcomes.

About a third of the participants in the conference were parent volunteers; those I met were impressive in their dedication and length of service. Most in attendance, however, were professionals—state or local education officials, administrators of grant-funded nonprofits, education researchers, and so on.

An important thrust of the conference was to share strategies for fulfilling the federal mandates that go along with Title I money. Parental engagement receives 1 percent of the total Title I pot, which has risen from $3.2 billion in 1980 to $14.4 billion in the budget just passed. Naturally, that money comes with strings, many of them defined in legal jargon that is difficult for your average parent volunteer to understand.

Ken Banter, Title I director for the rural Peach County Schools, confirmed, “The monitoring piece with federal funds is humongous.” A whole session—“What is a Title I School and What Does that Mean for My Child?”—was devoted to basic explanations from two Georgia Department of Education Title I specialists. Judy Alger asserted, “We know through research that poverty equals low performance” (though when I inquired about the research, she suggested Google). Therefore, Title I designation is “a good thing” for a school, sending it more teachers, more literacy and math coaches, more tutors, and more technology. But, Alger warned, “They give us money because they want to tell us how to do things.” For instance, noted Kathy Pruett, under Targeted Assistance Programs, snacks are okay, meals not.

One string requires that parents be recruited to review the Comprehensive Local Education Agency Improvement Plan (CLIP). Ken Banter shared how he tried to make things easy for parents by dividing the 65-page CLIP into 2-page sections, preparing a 5-page handout on acronyms, and giving away donated book bags of school supplies to volunteers. As a result, he said, participation in his 4,000-student district increased from 10 parents in 2012 to more than 150 in 2013.

CaDeisha Cooper, Title I director for the Candler County Schools, said of her summer leadership program, “What you do is what the law requires you to do.” She makes a particular effort to translate the legal gobbledygook into simple language for parents.

The problem of parents’ difficulty understanding government programs arose again at the only panel on the controversial new federally orchestrated education standards, “Giving Students a Chance: Understanding the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards.” The panelists all represented organizations that support Common Core: Lisa-Marie Haygood and Donna Kosicki are president-elect and past president of the Georgia PTA, respectively, and Dana Rickman is director of policy and research at the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education. Kosicki led a word-association exercise on feel-good terms like “relevance.” Haygood offered that “it is important to stop switching gears” and not abandon Common Core.

Rickman showed a number of slides demonstrating Georgia’s lagging college readiness. When I asked how Common Core will help, Rickman replied, “It is believed that the new standards will lead to improvement” and directed me to the Fordham Foundation’s website. Fordham, like the PTA, has received funds from the Gates Foundation, the biggest private funder of Common Core.

The conference drew dozens of vendors, many of them nonprofits. There was Building Positive Families, Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students), and groups promoting health, art, and the prevention of drug abuse. Some paid a vendor fee to put on a workshop. At Family First’s workshop, “Increasing Male Involvement and Engaging Dads in Schools,” Andy Mayer described the group’s services for schools, such as “All-Pro Dad” breakfasts and exercises that get dads (or father figures) “connecting,” with prompts like, “I’m proud of you because. .  .  .” Increased PTA membership is deemed a measure of success. The PTA is the primary booster of the Family Engagement in Education Act of 2013, which would provide no new funding but lots of new instructions for how to spend it—in the words of a PTA backgrounder, “a roadmap for investment in sustainability of practice in family engagement in education” by schools, localities, and states.

The Athens conference was funded by nonprofit and for-profit vendors and exhibitors, as well as sponsors and registrants, according to Michelle Tarbutton Sandrock, parent engagement program manager for the Georgia Department of Education. Schools and districts, however, used Title I funds to send representatives to the gathering.

Georgia College economics professor Ben Scafidi says the costs to the public for parental engagement personnel and activities are difficult to isolate. What is clear, as he noted in his 2012 report “The School Staffing Surge,” is that the United States spends more than other nations on non teaching staff. Between 1970 and 2010, non teaching staff positions increased 138 percent nationally, while teaching positions increased 60 percent and student enrollment rose only 7.8 percent, according to the Heritage Foundation. How much did it help? Between 1992 and 2008, math scores for 17-year-olds remained constant, and reading performance declined.

Amid all the presentations and exhibits, conspicuously lacking was research establishing that government-sponsored parental involvement improves learning. When I asked Tarbutton Sandrock about this, she referred me to Karen Mapp of the Harvard Family Research Project and Anne Henderson, senior consultant for community organizing and engagement at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University. Both are advocates for government-funded parental engagement.

Fifty years into the War on Poverty, a vastly expanded, federally funded bureaucracy works to manage parents’ involvement in their own children’s schools. Meanwhile, educational attainment stagnates and poverty grows.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Weekly Standard. Photo courtesy of the Marco Island Sun Times a Gannett Company.

RELATED  COLUMN: More parent involvement leads kids to behave and do better in school

The State of the Dis-Union: Preparing World Citizens

There were many who had reason to be outraged by President Obama’s State of the Union address: the military whose funding has been cut, and who have been besmirched as emotionally unstable while they are forced to be sitting ducks in battle and then face the potentiality that the administration will abandon what others had died for, like Fallujah; the millions in the middle class whose health insurance has been dropped or whose premiums have doubled and who are losing jobs to illegal aliens and are insulted by the idea that a job that pays $10.10 is something to aspire to.

But I want to focus on Obama’s continued efforts to re-educate America, to re-educate her people so that they become shriveling dependents who long for a leader who will unilaterally make decisions for the masses.

Only such a people could believe Obama’s claim of having “a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class.”

Only a well-educated, independent-thinking populace could feel the chill of words regarding “congressional action.” Conflating America with himself, Obama said, “America does not stand still, and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Once again, there was discussion of government job-training programs. (Has anyone actually gotten a job as a result?) To prepare “tomorrow’s workforce” (and that’s all it is: a workforce, not an educated citizenry), we must guarantee “every child access to a world-class education.”

Translation: indoctrination into world citizenship.

Obama referred to one “Estiven Rodriguez,” who “couldn’t speak a word of English when he moved to New York City at age nine.” Apparently, Rodriguez “led a march of his classmates – through a crowd of cheering parents and neighbors – from their high school to the post office, where they mailed off their college applications. And this son of a factory worker just found out he’s going to college this fall.” Obama referred to the army of tutors and teachers that helped him, but immigrants have done far more with only night classes, and often working two or three jobs.

Then, said Obama, “Five years ago, we set out to change the odds for all our kids. We worked with lenders to reform student loans, and today, more young people are earning college degrees than ever before.”

There is a reason why this government wants to monopolize student loans to produce more “peace and environmental justice studies” graduates: Democrat voters.

Obama invoked the misleadingly named “Race to the Top” contest (really a race for stimulus funds attached to federal education standards called Common Core). He claimed, it “has helped states raise expectations and performance. Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C. are making big strides in preparing students with skills for the new economy – problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering, and math. Some of this change is hard. It requires everything from more challenging curriculums and more demanding parents to better support for teachers and new ways to measure how well our kids think, not how well they can fill in a bubble on a test. But it’s worth it – and it’s working.”

Notice how he didn’t reference Common Core, now dubbed Obamacore. After test scores plunged and mass confusion ensued, even the New York NEA teachers union came around to opposing Common Core. “Problem solving, critical thinking” are hallmarks of progressive educators, like Linda Darling-Hammond, close pal of Bill Ayers, who has been in charge of designing one of the two Common Core national tests. And what, exactly, is wrong with filling in a bubble? It means the test-taker has to know something and the grader can’t give extra points for correct attitudes.

What, also, is the “new economy”? Did we not need science, technology, engineering, and math in the old, twentieth-century economy?

By stating “It requires more challenging curriculums,” Obama admitted what Common Core proponents deny: it does change the curriculum. These are curriculums that eliminate most history, except that which advances the U.S. as racist, sexist, homophobic, imperialistic, etc.

The reference to “New ways to measure how well our kids think” is not reassuring when the Department of Education promotes the idea that “educational strengths” include “social competence” and “ethnic awareness.”

The new standards do not involve knowing about the country’s founding or the Constitution. Such students might understand this pre-speech message from Jon Carson of Organizing for Action:

“Friend –

“Tonight, President Obama made sure everyone knows:

“He’s not waiting for Congress. He’s taking action now, and he’s going to explore every method in his power to restore real opportunity for all Americans.”

Then he asks for a $5 donation.

But kindergarten is not early enough. Said Obama, “The problem is we’re still not reaching enough kids, and we’re not reaching them in time. That has to change.”

He cited “research” to justify making “high-quality pre-K available to every four year-old”: “Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education.” Funny, how they always say “research,” but not which research or what the research actually says about government-funded preschool.

Nonetheless, “As a parent as well as a President, I repeat that request tonight.”

What if Congress doesn’t snap to and fulfill his “request”? Well, Obama has friends: “And as Congress decides what it’s going to do, I’m going to pull together a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists willing to help more kids access the high-quality pre-K they need.”

Such “coalitions” must ensure that Obama fulfills his promises: “Last year, I also pledged to connect 99 percent of our students to high-speed broadband over the next four years. Tonight, I can announce that with the support of the FCC and companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, and Verizon, we’ve got a down payment to start connecting more than 15,000 schools and twenty million students over the next two years, without adding a dime to the deficit.”

Of course, Microsoft is in the “coalition” of “business leaders and philanthropists.” The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the biggest funder for Common Core; all tests must be taken online. The other companies surely appreciate the business, too.

Obama’s Department of Education is redesigning high schools: “We’re working to redesign high schools and partner them with colleges and employers that offer the real-world education and hands-on training that can lead directly to a job and career.” It seems all bases for government control are being covered. Oh, and “real-world education”? It means being trained for a job—only. (See my review of Terrence O. Moore’s book The Story-Killers.)

The feds have not only taken over financing, but they now want to rate colleges. But this is how Obama put it: “We’re shaking up our system of higher education to give parents more information, and colleges more incentives to offer better value, so that no middle-class kid is priced out of a college education.”

The Education Department is appealing to the youth vote by holding “summits,” inviting college “student experts” to weigh in on college “accessibility” and “affordability.” The youth experts have spoken and Obama heard: “We’re offering millions the opportunity to cap their monthly student loan payments to ten percent of their income, and I want to work with Congress to see how we can help even more Americans who feel trapped by student loan debt.”

The scary part came when he used himself and Michelle as examples: “The bottom line is, Michelle and I want every child to have the same chance this country gave us. But we know our opportunity agenda won’t be complete – and too many young people entering the workforce today will see the American Dream as an empty promise – unless we do more to make sure our economy honors the dignity of work, and hard work pays off for every single American.”

Oh, you mean college students should write theses like Michelle Obama’s? Can we all write “Princeton Educated Blacks and the Black Community” and investigate how “attending Princeton will likely lead to my further integration and/or assimilation into a White cultural and social structure that will only allow me to remain on the periphery of society”?

Education was bad enough back then. As a result, we have her in the White House with her Columbia and Harvard educated husband. It can only get worse when he invokes “widely shared” prosperity, calling on Americans to “toil” together, and summoning “what is best in us, with our feet planted firmly in today but our eyes cast towards tomorrow. . . .”