Corruption in Florida Public Schools: A Perverse Disparity of Justice

On the opposite ends of Miami-Dade County, there are two high school United Teacher of Dade Building Stewards who suffered adverse action for varied reasons.

On the northern end of Miami-Dade County, Trevor Colestock, the November Watchdog Citizen Journalist, was illegally removed from Miami Norland Senior High School on October 24, 2013, for reporting a massive standardized test cheating scandal concerning industry certification exams to the Miami-Dade Office of Inspector General, the Florida Department of Education and their Office of Inspector General, and the United States Department of Education  Office of Inspector General.

The Miami-Dade OIG Final Report concluded that, “Miami Norland has benefited in the form of attaining a higher school grade and may have received financial compensation or other benefit resulting from its high pass rate on the industry certification exams” (page 13).

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.

For his efforts in reporting and uncovering this scandal as a citizen journalist, Mr. Colestock lost his job as the Library Media Specialist and as a union steward at Miami Norland Senior High School as in currently suing the School Board of Miami-Dade County in state court.

Meanwhile, one of the teachers, Emmanuel Fleurantin (union member), has been suspended pending termination, whereas the other teacher that was involved, Mrs. Brenda Muchnick, returned back to work at Norland on January 8, 2014, after a 30 day suspension without pay.

Mr. Reginald Lee was the assistant principal over the Career and Technical Education (CTE) department during and after the Adobe industry certification exam cheating incident for the 2011-2012 school year. Over the summer of 2012, he was made principal of Charles Drew Middle School, as the investigation was going on. The superintendent brought Lee back to be principal at Norland SHS school in late November 2012.

Most crimes, such as theft and homicide, have varying degrees; test cheating does not and state law is straightforward and clear. In any given instance of test cheating, a role is a role; there is no distinguishing a major role from a minor role. Either one was involved or they were not.

Both Mr. Fleurantin and Mrs. Muchnick, according to the Miami-Dade OIG Final Report, allegedly “knowingly and willfully” violated test security rules irrespective of quantity of students in their respective roles.

When one reads that document and the Department of Administrative Hearings brief, issued by the School Board Attorney on January 8, 2014, justifying Mr. Fleurantin’s termination, one can reasonably conclude that Mrs. Muchnick is equally culpable and a reasonable person would think her employment was up for termination as well.

In the meanwhile, the State of Florida or the USDOE, not to mention the Miami-Dade State Attorney and/or the U.S. District Attorney, declined to take action even though various crimes appear to have taken place akin to the test cheating scandals in Georgia and Texas, which have landed school administrators and teachers in jail.

In Georgia, the state went after the cheaters in the Atlanta test cheating scandal which nabbed the superintendent, Beverly Hall, who like the Miami-Dade Superintendent, Alberto Carvalho, is a recipient of the National Superintendent of Year award and close to President Obama.

The Federal and Florida state officials were nowhere to be found.

In Texas, the FBI directed the test cheating investigation which nabbed the El Paso superintendent, Lorenzo Garcia.

In October 2012, Lorenzo Garcia, former superintendent of the El Paso Independent School District, was sentenced by a federal judge to three and a half years in prison for his participation in a conspiracy, along with other district and school administrators, to improve the district’s high-stakes tests scores, as measured by state assessments, by identifying and removing low-performing students from participating in testing.

As part of his plea deal, Mr. Garcia also was ordered to pay $180,000 in restitution and fined $56,500 – the amount he received as a bonus from the district for its success on test scores.

Were the FBI involved in Texas, but not Georgia and Florida, as both the Atlanta and Miami–Dade superintendents with test cheating scandals were close to President Obama and supporters of his education policies?

In particular, Alberto Carvalho appointed by former Governor Charlie Crist as the Race To The Top Working Group Chairman for Florida and a strong Common Core supporter.

Too bad that Florida Governor Rick Scott did not exercise leadership, like former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, seeking prosecution against the Miami-Dade test cheaters as Perdue did in the Atlanta test cheating case.

Moreover, how does President Obama’s Federal Government prosecute test cheaters in El Paso; former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell for taking a loan from a friend without breaking any state laws; and Governor Chris Christie for a bridge closure in New Jersey but not investigate and prosecute the two identified test cheaters, Emmanuel Fleurantin and Brenda Muchnick, and possibly unknown others, in Miami-Dade County, Florida, which led to a payout of close to $250,000 in state, federal, and corporate (test vendor Certiport) incentives?

On the southern end of Miami-Dade County, Christine Kirchner, Language Arts teacher and union steward at Coral Reef Senior High School, as well as an Obama supporter, made students uncomfortable by discussing sex, simulating orgasms, and gave students massages according to a Florida Department of Education ethics complaint.

Unlike Mr. Colestock and Mr. Fleurantin, Mrs. Kirchner is an Executive Board member of the United Teachers of Dade and was represented by a Florida Education Association attorney who arranged a settlement with the Florida Department of Education in which she was reprimanded, given two years of probation, paid a $500 fine, but got to keep her job.

To regain their jobs, Mr. Colestock and Mr. Fleurantin had to hire outside counsel.

Mr. Fleurantin had to retain an attorney for his DOAH hearing, though he was a union member.  The union should stand by its members in times of trouble; though Mr. Fleurantin’s termination is justified, he should still be entitled to legal representation from the union.

Apparently, being one of 22 UTD vice presidents (Executive Board members) has its perks as exemplified by Mrs. Kirchner. ‘

Too bad Mr. Colestock or Mr. Fleurantin were not on the United Teachers of Dade Executive Board as they could have kept their jobs like Mrs. Kirchner.

How else can it be explained?

How does an upright steward, Mr. Colestock, who clearly was in the right, lose his job and union steward position when he did nothing wrong and Mrs. Muchnick and Mrs. Kirchner, who engaged in reprehensible behavior, keep theirs?

Furthermore, two UTD members, Linda Garcia (Reading Coach) and Mary Morcos (English teacher) at Miami Norland Senior High School engaged in a professional development scandal last November in which Ms. Garcia gave Mrs. Morcos seven Master Plan Points while she taught a course- the exact same day.

Thus far, no action has been taken against them.

For its part, the United Teachers of Dade has been stunningly silent for varied reasons, thereby failing to advocate for Mr. Colestock and the faculty and students at Miami Norland Senior High School and colluding with the school district to cover this affair up, by being silent. UTD defended Mrs. Kirchner by quietly arranging a settlement with the FEA and FLDOE and shielding her from attention and the limelight.

Enid Weisman, the Chief Capital Human Officer for M-DCPS, is responsible for disciplinary practices in Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

She led the effort to remove Mr. Colestock from Norland; fired Mr. Fleurantin while reinstating Mrs. Muchnick at Norland though they both were charged by M-DCPS with the same offenses word for word; and she does nothing to Mrs. Morcos, Ms. Garcia, or Mrs. Kirchner when action is clearly warranted.

In February, her office mishandled the Race To The Top payouts which shortchanged teachers $2 million.  Though she has a troubling record at M-DCPS, she is running for the post of Mayor for the City of Aventura.

Is this a classic case of screw up and move up?!

As exemplified by Mr. Lee, Mrs. Kirchner, Mrs. Weisman, Mrs. Morcos, and Ms. Garcia, meritocracy seems to be dead in M-DCPS, while corruption abounds.

And they teach and lead children.

No wonder why we have cheating scandals that plagued the U.S. nuclear force of the Air Force or the Navy.

The military has accountability as officers have lost their jobs.

Will accountability ever take hold in Miami-Dade County Public Schools for the sake of the children they have sworn to serve and the country?

Miami-Dade is Florida’s largest school district and the fourth largest in the U.S.

Ignoring corruption in the Miami-Dade County Public School District sends a message to all the other sixty-six school districts. That message can be detrimental to our children, undermine trust in our public schools system and soil Florida’s credibility.

Florida Senate Passes Textbook Review Legislation

Aya Sewell, Sarasota Citizen Activist in 2010 Protests Houghton Mifflin textbook World History: Patterns of Interaction

textbooks

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In Tallahassee, on April 11, 2014, the Republican controlled  Florida Senate passed SB 864 sponsored by Sen. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) by a narrow vote of 21 to 19. The measure would eliminate State Department of Education control over selection of textbooks returning that role to Florida’s 67 school districts, requiring open public hearing on texts used in courses.  The bill reflected in part concerns of conservative Groups over the Common Core Curriculum State Standards, sponsored by the National Association of Governors and Council of Chief State School Officers  seeking to impose national standards. Despite that criticism the Common Core has been adopted in Forty-four states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA).

However, SB 864 was largely prompted by a different issue; objections of parental groups in several Florida counties in about the treatment of Islam and Muslim culture in world history textbooks on the Florida State Department of Education list of approved texts.  A companion bill (HB 921) is working its way  through the Florida House sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton.  That version would provide a local option to districts to review texts; however, the selections must still meet state standards. Gaetz was quoted in a News Herald editorial saying: “I think there’s an increasing frustration by parents in our state, that they don’t have a lot of say regarding the content and materials their children use in the classroom.”

Local advocates here in Florida drew attention to misrepresentations of Islam in protests in Volusia, Brevard and Sarasota Counties. Our Iconoclast post on the subject, “Sarasota, Florida’s biased Islam textbook problem”,  highlighted the relentless efforts of citizen activist Aya Sewell. Ms. Sewell is of Iraqi Jewish  heritage, members of her family were  subject to a 1941 pogrom against the Jewish population in Baghdad, the Farhud.  Sewell led a campaign against such texts locally in Sarasota, as well as before the Florida Department of Education.  Elsewhere in the US, Tennessee parents have also raised objections to similar course material extolling Palestinian suicide bombers. Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) in Boston accused the Newton, Massachusetts school board and superintendent for permitting use of texts and course materials that engage in promoting false information regarding both Islam and demonization of Israel.  APT undertook content and bias analysis and promoted their findings that included placing ads in local area media and a petition campaign.

An article in the current edition of Education Week noted the debate over the pending Florida textbook legislation:

[Sen. ]Hays said the legislation was needed so that school board members will be accountable to parents and voters. He said school board members have blamed the state for the textbooks they picked.

“This bill imposes on the local school board members the responsibility and accountability to their citizens,” Hays said.

Opponents complained it would cost districts money to review textbooks. Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, said she was worried that some districts would wind up censoring some books, while other senators raised questions about whether districts would pick textbooks aligned to the state’s current standards.

Even Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart questioned Hays’ bill.

“From a practical standpoint it lifts a burden from us,” Stewart said. “But we heard loud and clear from districts that they rely on (the state review). They need that. They don’t have the resources to be able to do that.”

Following the Florida Senate vote on SB 864, CAIR-Florida unleashed an ad hominem campaign against Sen. Hays.  CAIR  undertook  an Action Campaign sending  Florida  Legislators an inflammatory Daily Beast  opinion column by Dean Obeidallah, that headlined, “Islamophobic Florida Republican Would Legalize Textbook Censorship”. Obeidallah  (which  means “little servant of God in Arabic”) is a former  lawyer,  self-styled Arab American stand up comic,  son of a Palestinian father and mother of Sicilian ancestry who grew up in Paramus, New Jersey.  Self proclaimed Muslim Obeidallah has been involved in several controversial issues including an apology to the Romney family.  CAIR, a Muslim Brotherhood front group, was listed as one of several unindicted co-conspirators in the 2008 Federal Dallas Holy Land Foundation Trial involving funneling tens of millions to Hamas, an MB affiliate.

This latest action by CAIR-Florida  followed earlier criticism of  SB 386, also sponsored by Sen. Hays,  on the acceptance of foreign laws in certain cases by Florida’ s court system as “bullying  legislation against Muslims and other minorities”.  Both  SB 386  and companion house  version (HB903) are currently pending floor votes in both the Senate and  House prior to the end of the 2014 Legislative session on May 2nd in Tallahassee.

To illustrate the concerns of  Floridians that prompted  Sen. Hays  and Rep. Gaetz  to sponsor SB 864 and HB 921, we  investigated  an assessment  performed  by  Jacksonville-based Verity Educate  (VE) of  one the texts on the approved list of the Florida State Department of Education. It was  Houghton Mifflin  Harcourt, Holt McDougal high school  text book called World History: Patterns of Interaction.  VE is a non-partisan, independent organization that uses scholars to examine and provide thorough reports on content accuracy and objectivity in textbooks and curricular material.   VE has performed such assessments at the request of parental groups in Massachusetts, Tennessee and Texas.

A letter we requested from the executive director of VE, Dr. Ellen R. Wald, noted the scope of their investigation of the Houghton Mifflin high school textbook:

Verify Educate examined the 2012 Tennessee edition of  World History: Patterns of Interaction. Verify Educate’s analysis concerned only the sections of the book dealing with the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as other related topics, including certain events in India, Spain, the United States, and the region around the Black Sea. This was done at the request of parents who specifically felt that their backgrounds were insufficient to examine these topics.

VE’s findings from its analysis  are:

The reviewed sections of this textbook exhibit regular flaws of factual inaccuracy, dishonesty, and bias. The primary concern with this textbook is the desire to make arguments and instill opinions in the students. These arguments come at the expense of instilling a fluency in the material (a knowledge of the language and facts). An additional effect of the focus on arguments is the lost opportunity for students to practice and develop critical thinking skills.

The most prevalent flaws in this textbook include the following:

  • The text presents religious texts and tradition as historical evidence even absent independent corroboration. The text regularly uses the Koran and other religious writings to relate events as history and fails to mention when no independent corroboration from sources outside the religion exists. In most cases the text fails to differentiate between history and religious tradition.
  • The text portrays religion as the defining characteristic of the Middle East and Central Asia throughout history, such that essentially all accomplishments and events are based on religion. Among the detrimental effects of this argument are lost opportunities for students to engage in critical thinking, distorted views of history, and the denigration of the inhabitants of this region. Limiting the basis for the history of the Middle East and Central Asia to a narrow focus on religion disparages and demeans the people, politics, geography, and historical events that occurred, particularly when religion is not highlighted in other regions.
  • The text repeatedly asserts that the religion of Islam dictates “tolerance” of non Muslims and that Muslim rulers have historically practiced “tolerance” towards the non-Muslim populations under their rule. This argument is promoted at the expense of examining historical facts honestly and fostering critical thinking. Students are presented with a conclusion and historical facts are often manipulated or stripped of nuance to convince students, even in cases when this conclusion is false. The focus on religious “tolerance” is unique to the sections of the text discussing Islam, and it  borders on obsession and bias.
  • The text depicts the depth and breadth of “Muslim contributions” as unique in history and as the result of Islam. In this regard, the text consistently attributes the successes of diverse societies to religion alone, even when these societies are geographically dispersed and chronologically distant. For example, the text connects the mathematical advances of a 9th century Spanish mathematician to the architectural exploits of a 17th century Mughal emperor in India based solely on their religion. The diverse Muslim populations over a 1500-year period do not constitute one society. In addition, the attention devoted to “Muslim contributions” far surpasses the attention given to any other society’s accomplishments.

That leads to the question of who wrote such misleading entries about Islam that the VE analysis  uncovered in the Houghton Mifflin publication.

One of those groups relied on by major textbook publishers is the Council on Islamic Education  known as the Institute on Religious and Civic Values (IRCV). Its founder, Shabbir Mansuri, is listed as an academic reviewer on a textbook used in Brevard County.

In 2001 the OC Weekly newspaper in California interviewed Mansuri about comments Lynne Cheney made lamenting the amount of time schools were spending teaching cultures that were not American. Mansuri took her comments as a personal attack.

“For the past 11 years, Mansuri has waged what he calls a ‘bloodless’ revolution: promoting an increased emphasis on world cultures and faiths – including Islam – inside American junior high and high school campuses,” the newspaper reported.

The IRCV had Saudi funding to pay Muslim scholars writing those chapters in the Prentice Hall, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin and other world history text  books.

Back in 2002,  this writer  ran interference for the American Jewish Committee chapter in Connecticut in an episode involving federal funding of a Da’wa program on Islam run with Muslim instructors as a summer program for public high school teachers at a state university.   During that episode we made the acquaintance of Stanley Kurtz  of the Hoover Institute at the time on this issue. Kurtz wrote a series of investigative articles for the NRO about the Title VI USDOE Higher Education Act grants for Middle East Studies programs dominated by Islam and Palestinian apologists. Universities, as Kurtz pointed out who benefitted from US Higher Education Act Title VI grants were engaged in preparation of work books for teachers in K-12 that engaged in role playing for fourth graders costumed as Arabs.

That effort led us to the forensic reviews –Islam in the Classroom – conducted by Dr. Gilbert T. Sewall of the American Textbook Council (ATC) on world history texts produced by the four major US textbook publishers.  Sewall  found those treatments biased   and in some cases prepared by the Saudi-financed and California based  IRVC. We later found out that effort had begun in the “image studies” funded by American oil partners of ARAMCO  in the early 1970’s objected to in the mid 1980’s  by a  study conducted by a school district in Tucson, Arizona.   The latest edition of the continuing ATC review of  Islam in the Classroom What the Texts Tell us by Dr. Sewall  was published in 2008.  Its conclusions corroborate the findings  of  Dr. Wald’s analysis in the VE report. To wit:

  • Many political and religious groups try to use the textbook process to their advantage, but the deficiencies in Islam-related lessons are uniquely disturbing. History textbooks present an incomplete and conflicted view of Islam that misrepresents its foundations and challenges to international security.
  • Misinformation about Islam is more pronounced in junior high school textbooks than high school textbooks.
  • Outright textbook errors about Islam are not the main problem. The more serious failure is the presence of disputed definitions and claims that are presented as established facts.
  • Deficiencies about Islam in textbooks copyrighted before 2001 persist and in some cases have grown  worse. Instead of making corrections or adjusting contested facts, publishers and editors defend misinformation and content evasions against the record. Biases persist. Silences are profound and intentional.
  • Islamic activists use multiculturalism and ready-made American political movements, especially  those on  campus,  to  advance and  justify  the makeover of Islam-related textbook content.
  • Particular fault  rests  with  the publishing  corporations,  boards  of  directors,  and executives who decide what editorial policies their companies will pursue.

Publishers have developed new world and U.S. history textbooks at three different grade levels. Errors about Islam that occurred in older textbooks have not been corrected but reiterated. Publishers have learned of contested facts and have had the time to correct imbalances. But instead of making changes, they have sustained errors or, in deliberate acts of self censorship, have removed controversial material.

In an interview, Dr. Wald of VE analyzed the effects of  Florida Senate Bill SB 864 :

While SB 864 leaves all of the Florida state standards intact, and even highlights further standards to ensure fairness to all ethnic, religious, and diversity groups, the bill provides for parents and communities to have a greater say in the local education system.  Given that the standards are maintained, I can’t see how this bill could engender any more censorship than would come out of the current state review process.  In fact, the bill has the potential to severely decrease censorship.  Whereas now the state board can reject material for the entire state, under this bill, each community would make its own decision, and a rejection would only impact that community.

We commend Florida Sen. Alan Hays and Rep. Matt Gaetz for their sponsorship of  SB 864 and HB 921. Given the analyses of Drs. Wald of Verity Educate and Dr. Sewall of American Textbook Council  Florida may lead the nation to reign in the misleading depiction of Islam in World History texts. By devolving reviews of leading publishers to local school districts in the Sunshine State that may allow concerned parents  to sponsors such studies forcing publishers to finally correct  errors of both omission and commission.

We look forward to the reconciliation of the Senate and House versions leading to passage and ultimate enactment into law.

RELATED STORY: Canada: Criticism of Islam forbidden by Toronto District School Board

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Illiberal Arts: Cataloguing systematic suppression of speech on campus by ALLEN MENDENHALL

A diversity of thought and a variety of perspectives are necessary to facilitate competition among ideas. Such competition selectively eliminates the bad from the good, the true from the false, and the practical from the impractical. Opposing viewpoints must enter into this more constructive contest so that the struggle does not move into the arena of physical violence. Thus, toleration of dissenting and controversial opinions is fundamental to peaceful discourse, intellectual progress, and human liberty.

These ideas about freedom of speech and expression have been passed down in different forms from Milton to Mill to Locke and made their way into the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. They are now under threat in the most unlikely of places: university campuses.

First published in 2012 by Encounter Books, Unlearning Liberty was re-released this year in a paperback version with a new afterword by Greg Lukianoff. Lukianoff opens his book with the curious case of Ronald Zaccari, the former president of Valdosta State University who single-handedly facilitated the “administrative withdrawal” of a student who publicly challenged the university’s plans to construct two parking garages on campus. Lukianoff suggests that this case may seem extreme, “but it isn’t all that exceptional.”

Each chapter documents several strange and excessive punitive measures implemented by universities. For instance, the disciplining of a Jewish student for using a benign Hebrew colloquialism to tell another group of students to pipe down while he tried to study; the student found guilty of “racial harassment” for reading a history book criticizing the Klan, while passersby saw only the cover of the book that displayed a photograph of a Klan rally; the student newspaper threatened with penalties for poking fun at the administration of a prominent business school.

Lukianoff’s long, big-picture catalogue of university abuses might seem like an absurd or purely fictional parade of horribles, but every alarming incident detailed here is all too real. Unlearning Liberty is more surprising than enjoyable to read because its message is so disconcerting: In Lukianoff’s words, “the world of higher education today is harming American discourse and increasing polarization.”

This book should leave you outraged and indignant at the illiberal, systemic, systematic, and bewildering suppressions of speech and association taking place on campuses across America. But its target is broader than that. It also criticizes the astronomical costs of higher education, the inflated salaries of university presidents and administrators, the bloated education bureaucracy, and the flagrant disregard by universities for legal processes and protocols that have developed out of centuries of trial-and-error: due process, fair hearings, trial by jury, and the opportunity of the accused to confront his accusers.

Lukianoff is a self-proclaimed Democrat, environmentalist, atheist, activist, lawyer, and the president of the nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). His work cuts across simple labels like “conservative” or “liberal” as he champions freedom of speech, individual rights, religious liberty, freedom of conscience, and equal protection under the law. Lukianoff himself is a trailblazing defender of the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights against universities that seek to train students and faculty into silent acceptance of bad policies, frightened acquiescence to abuses of authority, and docile submission to rampant corruption and discrimination. He and FIRE are famous—and, in some circles, infamous—for drawing attention to the arbitrary, selective enforcement of administrative policies against particular groups or individuals for political or retaliatory purposes.

I personally have fought against concerted attempts by faculty and administrators to silence criticisms of bad university policies. As one example, when a certain university ordered one of its students to remove a Ron Paul banner from his dorm room window, although other dorm room windows displayed an array of banners, I wrote an op-ed for the local newspaper challenging the university’s selective enforcement of its policy. As a doctoral candidate at the university, where I had a long family history, I was concerned as much for the university as I was for the student. In response, one renowned faculty member with an endowed chair dashed off the following email to me:

I saw your letter in the Montgomery paper, and it sounds as if you are unaware of the contribution to the deaths and injuries of students because of banners and posters over windows at the university in New Jersey a few years back. As I learned in my own youth, “Ready, Fire, Aim” is not a good mode of conduct, and you are now in a program that, we hope, produces research-oriented people.

The irony here is the implication that I had failed to do my research while this professor had not failed to do hers: I wasn’t criticizing the university policy per se, but the application of the policy to only one student, apparently for his political beliefs. As someone who had earned two law degrees and was currently practicing law (even though I was also a doctoral student in her program), I was not demonstrating a “Ready, Fire, Aim” mode of conduct, but she was. Reading Unlearning Liberty reminds me that I was never alone.

Universities ought to place a premium on free inquiry and the kind of unfettered intellectual exchange promoted and represented by the republicanism of America’s Founders. Instead, universities have begun to discourage healthy disagreement and have become echo chambers in which certain members seek to enforce a rigid orthodoxy and to promote complacent groupthink. Even worse is the bullying “political correctness” that crushes ideological diversity and the discursive competition necessary for intellectual progress.

Speech codes are a form of censorship. Rather than accomplishing their stated goal of reducing offensive language and behavior, they more often protect the power of administrators and prevent the exposure of embarrassing but true facts about university blunders and the application of stringent legalisms. As universities have brazenly abdicated their traditional role as guardians of communicative liberties and civilized debate, no new institutions have filled the void.

Without some special differentiation among rivaling opinions that are articulated freely within a community of thinkers, ideas and the society based on them cannot advance. It’s time for universities to expand rather than compress the range of discursive options, and to multiply rather than decrease the chances for open dialogue. Doing so would aid in restoring universities to their proper role: searching for knowledge. Lukianoff’s excellent book compiles a list of abuses. Now it’s time for us to do something about them.

ABOUT ALLEN MENDENHALL

Allen Mendenhall is the author of Literature and Liberty: Essays in Libertarian Literary Criticism(Rowman & Littlefield / Lexington Books, 2014). Visit his website at AllenMendenhall.com.

RELATED STORY: Democratic Party always finds a way to stifle speech – Honolulu Star Advertiser.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Governor Rick Scott fully supports in-state tuition for illegal aliens

Governor Rick Scott, Governor Jeb Bush and Governor Bob Martinez called on the Florida Senate to lower tuition for all Florida students and their support SB 1400. This means Governor Scott has caved into pressure to provide illegal aliens in-state tuition. All Florida students means illegal aliens at the expense of legal resident students.

According to a press release Scott, Bush and Bob Martinez are advocating for lowering tuition by advancing SB 1400, which would allow all Florida students, regardless of their background (illegals), to qualify for the in-state tuition rate.

Floridians for Immigration Enforcement (FLIMEN) notes that, “When immigration is viewed only racially and culturally, limits and legality will never be imposed.  The debate must focus on limitations and lawfulness, otherwise open borders will make the United States a marketplace and not a country.”

FILMEN states, “The bottom line nationally is that illegal immigration continues to hurt American families, take away jobs and depress wages of fathers and mothers who desperately want to support their children without going on welfare. The bottom line here in Florida is HB851/SB1400 will cause an unknown number of legal students to be displaced from college by illegal alien students. There is absolutely no estimate of the fiscal cost of college tuition subsidy for illegal aliens.”

Governor Scott said, “Students who have spent their childhood here in Florida deserve to qualify for the same in-state tuition rate at universities their peers and classmates do. We want our students to stay here in Florida when they go to college and when they choose a career, and that means we must make college more affordable for all those students who call Florida home. The Florida Senate should take immediate action to move SB 1400 forward.”

Forget the US and Florida Constitution. If you come to Florida you are now “entitled” to in state tuition.

Governor Bush, supporter of Common Core and potential presidential candidate in 2016, said, “We must keep and capitalize on the talent of all Florida students who want to attend our exceptional colleges and universities.  Punishing some children for their parents’ acts by creating obstacles to a college degree isn’t in their interests, or ours.  I urge the Florida Senate to do the right thing for our state and pass SB 1400.”

Governor Martinez said, “For Florida to continue to be a land of opportunity and a beacon of freedom to people from all backgrounds, we must ensure our future generations are prepared for success. As a university trustee, I know this often starts with having access to a great higher education. I hope the Florida Senate and the full Florida Legislature support SB 1400 as a critical measure to continue to move our state forward.”

Nice sounding words but lackluster in defending resident and legal student slots in Florida universities and colleges.

RELATED STORY: Latest Trick for Illegal Immigrants: Granting Amnesty in Return for Military Service

Common Core Is Losing. Pass It on!

In “Pushback Continues: States Grow Increasingly Wary of Common Core” Brittany Corona writes, “Common Core is on the ropes. More and more states are pulling back from the national standards as the 2014–15 school year implementation deadline looms near. In Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal (R)—formerly a Common Core supporter—is now encouraging the legislature to remove the state from the Common Core aligned Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers (PARCC) test. And if they don’t act, he will.”

Corona notes that Jindal’s new stance comes after eight members of the Louisiana State House of Representatives sent him a letter, informing him of his prerogative to opt out of the standards and encouraging him to do so. As the New Orleans Advocate reported:

Gov. Bobby Jindal said Monday that a gubernatorial order for the state to drop controversial Common Core tests is a ‘very viable option’ if state lawmakers fail to act. Jindal made the comment in response to a letter from eight House members who said the governor can opt the state out of the exams and should do that… ‘We believe you have the authority, as governor, under the 2010 PARCC memorandum of understanding, to opt out of the consortium,’ state Rep. Brett Geymann, (R–Lake Charles), and seven other legislators wrote.

In a statement released on Monday Jindal said,

We share the concerns of these [anti-Common Core] legislators and also of parents across Louisiana. We’re hopeful that legislation will move through the process this session that will address the concerns of parents or delay implementation until these concerns can be addressed. We think this course of action outlined in the legislators’ letter remains a very viable option if the Legislature does not act.

But as The Times-Picayune reports,

On a practical level, there is some question as to whether Jindal can unilaterally tear Louisiana away from the PARCC consortium, in which 16 states plus Washington D.C. participate. [Louisiana Superintendent] John White and Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education [BESE] president Chas Roemer said their permission is also required to leave the consortium, and both White and Roemer—who also avidly supports Common Core—are unwilling to do so.

Meanwhile, this week in South Carolina, State Superintendent Mick Zais officially withdrew his state from the Common Core aligned Smarter Balanced (SBAC) tests.

In a letter to the State Board of Education, Zais wrote:

I want to have a high quality assessment that meets the specific needs of South Carolina, at a competitive price. If we continue to focus only on Smarter Balanced, we lose any opportunity to consider alternatives….

In consideration of the foregoing, and the discovery that I have the authority to withdraw South Carolina from its status as a governing state of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, and after full consultation with the Governor’s Office and appropriate members of the General Assembly, I am informing you that I am exercising that authority.

Oklahoma, too, is currently in a battle over Common Core. The state senate passed a bill earlier this month downgrading the state’s involvement with the national standards, although there is some difference of opinion as to whether it would fully remove Oklahoma from the standards, or merely change the name of the standards.

Governor Mary Fallin (R), a supporter of Common Core and chair of the National Governor’s Association which helped develop the standards, said in a statement that she “support[s] passing legislation that increases classroom rigor and accountability while guaranteeing that Oklahoma public education is protected from federal interference…”

Meanwhile, the Missouri House of Representatives passed their bill to find a Common Core replacement.

“We’re going to create the process to have Missouri standards and Missouri assessments,” State Rep. Kurt Bahr (R), who introduced the measure, stated. The proposal requires that by October 1, 2014 the state board must develop new academic standards by the following October 2015, in place of the Common Core, and adopt and implement these standards by the 2016-17 school year.

Fifteen states have now made strides in halting or downgrading their involvement in the standards. Last month, Indiana became the first state to exit Common Core. This is promising momentum in the effort of states to reclaim their educational decision-making authority,” notes Corona.

RELATED VIDEO: Bill Gates on Common Core

[youtube]http://youtu.be/Zrp-Bu2SLp8[/youtube]

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is by Sara Caldwell/The Augusta Chronicle/ZUMAPRESS.com and Heritage Foundation.

Common Core: 95 Reasons why it is bad Public Policy

CCSS 95 THESES COVER PAGE

1. Common Core State Standards (CCSS), as an education reform policy, does not satisfy the four pillars of education reform:  1) Accountability 2) More State and Local Control 3) Focusing resources on proven educational methods and 4) Expanded choices for parents. Accountability for implementing the Common Core Standards (that were not properly piloted or vetted) unfairly rests predominantly, and without proper balance, in the hands of the classroom teacher.  State of Florida educators were not properly trained in the standards prior to rollout and implementation; State of Florida educators were not asked to provide input during the creation and development of the standards; and State of Florida educators are being forced to implement the Standards without allowances for feedback or changes.

State and local control of education is further removed by Common Core as it cements additional layers of bureaucracy before educational process improvements and timely changes to individual school district student needs can be implemented. Common Core is not focused on proven educational methods as it is not the return to classical education and, in fact, resembles and is more closely aligned with the failed outcome-based education policy. School choice is not an element of Common Core as it has been said on more than one occasion by Florida education legislators and policy experts –  Common Core will not cause the proliferation of charter schools, et al. In addition, Common Core has in practicum moved parents further away from the educational process – student learning and caring involvement in their child’s academic needs/strengths.

2.  Teachers are in fear of their jobs should they speak out against Common Core.  CCSS has created a hostile work environment and a growing mistrust between students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Classroom teachers are held to the highest level of accountability for individual test scores while administrators and superintendents shuffle resources and students around to inflate school grades and school grade improvement statistics.  Unjustifiably and unjustly, Florida teachers’ compensation is one of the lowest in the country particularly considering the volume of students (4th in  the country).

3.  Common Core was not piloted and therefore only exists as a hypothesis and our children are involuntarily being used as processors of non-subject matter experts ideas about their education. These non-experts do not have any vested interest or life connection to the potential failure of such untested standards and therefore will not have to pick up the pieces of frustrated and undereducated (to their potential) students. Common Core is a corporate driven education reform package.

4.  All the bandage bills to correct deficiencies in Common Core Standards, while still remaining in the Common Core Consortium and Initiative, are a process of legislative deception; the lack of passing Florida HB25 and SB1316 through Committee for a full House and Senate vote is a form of legislative deception; the Florida Department of Education and Florida legislators receiving, from education foundations, directives regarding the promotion of Common Core prior to and during the 3 state hearings on Common Core, and through this current legislative session, is a process of legislative deception as well as a breach of public trust on the basic principles of fairness and integrity.

5.  The numerous bills (bandages) in the FL legislature trying to provide remedy to the documented problems with the development, rollout, and implementation of CCSS indicate just how harmful the standards as developed and copyrighted are and will continue to be.

6.  CCSS had a complete lack of transparency during its development and implementation.  It was only after public outcry about the lack of parental and education experts input in the development of Common Core that Florida decided to “attempt” to correct the problem by holding 3 supposedly “unbiased” community hearings.  The hearings were strictly placebo and an attempt to placate an increasingly hostile parent community.  Given the numerous emails sent to the Florida legislative hierarchy and FL Department of Education officials, from special interest groups, one has no option but to conclude that all the players involved in the adoption of CCSS in the State of Florida had a singular lack of respect for parent, teacher, or subject matter expert input.

7.  Florida needs to pull out of the RACE TO THE TOP (RTTT) Memorandum of Understanding as it was bribed/coerced to adopt Common Core Standards in order to qualify for federal funds.  Florida was rejected as a contender for RTTT funding in Phase I because it did not stipulate accepting CCSS and only progressed to Phase II after accepting Common Core. The “contract” for Common Core was signed prior to final development of Common Core Standards and, as such, the Florida Department of Education and Florida legislators showed a willful disregard, and were quite negligent, to the educational well-being of Florida’s children. “Show me the money” is a phrase best used in film.  There are two groups of Americans who sit at the top priority of individuals whose well-being should never be sacrificed for money or profit – the American soldier and the American student. Such callous indifference and disregard for proper process and pedagogical soundness is disturbing.

8. Private schools should not be coerced or blackmailed to adopt Common Core Standards (CCSS) through Common Core’s linkage with the SAT, ACT, and other K-12 testing agents. Private schools have a mission that does not coincide with the mission implicit in CCSS.  By and large, the methodology employed by private schools is that students will be treated as individuals and individual learners.  Public schools in higher achieving and competitive cities (Example: Boston) have done well by adopting this methodology. Common Core is a step backward towards group thinking and group learning. We respect common minds but we should be ambitious for exemplary minds.  Common Core punishes private schools for this decades old philosophy of education and seemingly demands adoption of a less effective teaching curriculum and methodology to match the Common Core standards expectations.  Additionally,making adoption of CCSS linear with admissions tests for colleges and universities provides a stranglehold and almost virtually eliminates freedom “of adoption or not” because a variance in even 5% points in a college admissions test can be the difference between getting in a top-tier college or not.

9.  There was no input by early childhood experts in the development of Common Core.  Such a lack of emphasis on early childhood is as detrimental to education reform as a phony college and career readiness component. Kindergarten readiness is an extremely necessary program of education, particularly in diverse socio-cultural-economic metropolitan areas like Miami Dade, Tampa, and Orlando, were significant challenges arise in kindergarten when such readiness is not achieved.

10.  American Institutes for Research (AIR), the chosen education testing/assessment company for Common Core in Florida, is heavily involved in data collection and mining and Florida SB188 does not qualify as a STOP into such intrusion of privacy or a STOP to the potential for a student’s private personal identifiable information being able to be accessed by third party non-education related agents.  As such, the ACLU and other agencies are seriously opposed to the data mining and data collection components of Common Core.

11. Both testing companies considered by the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE), the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and AIR, as well as the dismissed PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), have requirements that they must share information “across consortia” and with the U.S. Department of Education.

12.  CCSS was not state designed, but rather designed by the National Governors Association (NGA), Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), Achieve, Inc., West End, and other private special interest organizations via federal and private grants.

The Florida Constitution calls for education policy to be determined in state.  Historical education reform research data validates that the most successful and effective programs for higher learning are managed, developed, and implemented with the input of local administrators, education experts, and parents.

13. Mark Tucker, one of the major developers of Common Core, became President of NCEE all the time working for national standards disregarding individual state Constitutions and legislatures.  Both Tucker and Lauren Resnick push for national standards based reform.  Outcome based education, of which Common Core is but a derivative or reincarnation, has been tried previously and was a pitiful failure.

14. The terminology “cradle to grave” is coined for education and the data collecting of student’s information under the guise of making “positive” changes and process improvements in education. Children’s data is collected and analyzed from cradle to grave.  Students’ mistakes become unforgiving in a data controlled business where data analysis is more important than process, individual circumstances, or personal ability.  The ends justifies the means is a repeated mantra.  The idea of a new generation committed and accepting to data collection and lack of privacy for children is born.

15.  The Goals Act of 2000 was a failure, the School-to-Work Opportunities Act was a failure, and the ESEA reauthorization No Child Left Behind was a failure. Education reform must be locally driven to both stop and prevent systematic abuses of children’s individual data, children’s individual mental health, children’s individual social and economic challenges, and children’s individual academic needs.  Education reform must be locally driven to assure advances in higher learning and academic achievement, as well as to provide timely assistance to those students with special needs.

16.  Florida has failed to provide a security network for protection of children’s data.  In an increasingly online education driven learning and teaching environment, extra scrutiny and security must be in place prior to adoption or implementation of any standards/testing of which results and student data could be easily corrupted or breached.

17.  Achieve, Inc., a for-profit business formed by the National Governors Association, corporate leaders and Mark Tucker, drove the development and implementation of Common Core.  Thusly, a lay person’s and dedicated parent’s assumption would be that Common Core was revenue driven for the benefit of reinvestment in schools, inclusive of continuous teacher training and classroom resource improvements. However, it is not revenue driven for reinvestment in local schools. The priority then becomes the commercialization of schools for profit and benefit of companies and industry and, as such, is an egregious violation of parent, student, and resident trust.

18.  Mark Tucker and Judy Codding create America’s Choice Removing parental input and local school input takes high priority as well as necessity in their reform movement, where local control and influence needs to be drastically reduced and minimized.  Uniform control becomes the order of the day vice individual uniqueness. Children are left to the educational mercy of corporate interests (America’s Choice partners with Pearson) and values as it relates to their education.

19.  The reauthorization of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) into No Child Left Behind was another failed national and centralized education policy that failed to deliver appropriate policy for the diverse and otherwise individual challenges and unique populations of each state, inclusive of child poverty rates.  Child poverty is the single most serious problem facing learning and achievement in schools. Common Core is more of the same, or an extension of the same, results driven education drivel that shortchanges both teachers and students in an ever increasing high stakes roulette wheel that has no correlation or acknowledgement to lifelong learning or success. Hitting targets marks and high school grades make administrators happy but is not synonymous to student success.

20.  Microsoft contracted with UNESCO for world education by “a master curriculum for teacher training information technologies based standards, guidelines, benchmarks, and assessments.” Corporate business interests disregard the critical fact that a master curriculum violates federal laws as well as State of Florida laws, inclusive of respective Constitutions.  In continuation of efforts towards a master curriculum, Bill Gates funds the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, created by Mark Tucker. Prioritizing education commercialization and future company profits becomes the reform “policy of success for education, achievement, and for individual student needs, strengths, and opportunities”.  In truth, for-profit interests should have NO place in determining education policy except as an accountable and transparent education reinvestment strategy.

21.  Gates plus 2 others create Strong American Schools.  Businessmen with no subject matter expertise are determined to decide what is best for American children en masse formula versus an individual formula.  While Strong American Schools is non-profit, the policy results are anything but. Such prioritization of profit over individual needs, abilities, and desired skill sets is academic manipulation not for the individual student good but for the greater good of the commercial profiteers.

22.  State of Florida  SB864 affirming local control of textbooks is incomplete and thus lacking in comprehensive substance inasmuch as we know that the State of Florida, and their school districts, purchased, and obtained respectively,  their CCSS aligned textbooks prior to the effective date of 2014-2015, as rollout and implementation had already commenced. What allowances, both fiscally and administratively, have been made for previously purchased and obtained CCSS aligned fallacious textbooks?

23.  Florida decided to adopt CCSS prior to the standards being completely written.  Florida signed over the academic lives of children without knowledge of the content or quality of the standards.  Such negligence must stop and never be repeated.  Continuing to implement Common Core sets a dangerous precedent of neglectful behavior towards securing the educational protection and betterment of children.

24.  Florida parents, teachers, and administrators were ignored in the process of developing and implementing Common Core.  Process does matter and the means for obtaining the highest quality of standards for Florida students has never been fully investigated.  3 hearings organized simply to “correct” the mess that is CCSS does not qualify as sincerity by the Florida Department of Education or Florida Legislature to develop and implement the highest quality of standards SPECIFIC to Florida’s student needs, diversity, and academic abilities. Florida has 6 of the top 12 largest school districts in the country.  Such volume demands thorough investigation and input by the vast array of individuals within the state committed and qualified to give testimony regarding education, curriculum, instruction,standards, and careers. The State of Florida Department of Education and Florida Legislature should have been aggressive in seeking out these experts when considering reform instead of “you can come to a hearing or provide website comment” if you are concerned about Common Core.  I find this methodology of reform and engagement of experts to be woefully incompetent and lacking in sincere intent for the creation of the very best standards Florida can offer.

25.  Professors from a diverse group of colleges and universities have risen up in opposition to Common Core Standards.  They include, but are not exclusive to – Dr. Anthony Esolen (Providence College), Dr. Thomas Newkirk (University of New Hampshire), Dr. Daniel Coupland (Hillsdale College), Dr.Christopher Tienken (Seton Hall University), Dr. James Milgram (Stanford University), Dr. Sandra Stotsky (University of Arkansas), Dr. Alan Manning (Brigham Young University), Dr. Bill Evers (Hoover Institute at Stanford University), Dr. Terence Moore (Hillsdale College), Dr. William Mathis (University of Colorado, et al.

26. The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is weakened as a result of Common Core, therein seriously damaging the protection of student information and data.  FERPA’s collusion with Common Core further decimates parental rights and harms children as a result of parental non-involvement.  FERPA’s removal of the requirement for parental permission before any data is collected or transmitted regarding children is dangerous. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) is suing the U.S. Department of Education because of the weakening of FERPA and the loss of privacy as a result thereof.

27.  Some states data collection starts when a child is 24 hours old – hence the Common Core used terminology “cradle to grave”.

28.  Common Core is of mediocre quality and will not result in greater student learning as per the analysis of the #1 Think Tank in the world, Brookings Institute (Brown Center for Education Policy).

29.  Common Core threatens, coerces, and puts undue pressure and duress on private, religious, and homeschooling because of the stranglehold CCSS has on linear assessments, particularly the  SAT/ACT and other college admissions requirements.  Private, religious, and homeschooling students have traditionally scored higher in standardized tests and have higher percentages of student graduation rates and college admissions.  A consortium of Florida education experts from these 3 areas of schooling, as well as their public school counterparts, will do much more for student learning and success than any Common Core hypothesis.

30.  Common Core provides no process for ongoing teacher feedback and hence lacks a mechanism for process improvement in a timely and efficient manner.

31.  A small group of paid experts created Common Core standards with the philosophy “Corporate Interest Knows Best” versus local school and parent know best.

32.  Common Core was never pilot tested in any school or school district.  Such failure re-emphasizes that the priority was given to commercialization and/or special interests instead of validated and proven student learning techniques.

33.  Common Core puts an unequal emphasis on education as being solely for workforce training. (My professor father would have such loud opposition to such emphasis.)

34.  Teacher evaluations being tied to federal mandates represent a gross ignorance by the Common Core developers of the uniqueness and challenges of local populations – particularly in the areas of diversity, cultural needs, language, and poverty.  Teacher accountability standards should be determined at the state level.

35.  Common Core disregards local child poverty programs and does nothing to discuss/resolve the linkage between poverty and academic underachievement.  Consequently, even if it was education’s “eureka” moment, it is incomplete.

36.  Common Core seems to be more a campaign by millionaires and billionaires to achieve short and long-term company profit goals than a reform program prioritizing the maximization of individual achievement.  Measurement and data seem to be at the top of the new paradigm for education.

37.  Common Core has no component for educational supplemental services such as high-quality preschools, expanded summer school, and after school resources.

38.  Common Core fails to deliver a transparent and comprehensive strategic plan to make every student college and career ready. (Probably because it is a completely bogus component and only used for propaganda purposes.)

39.  Common Core developers, as well as the State of Florida, presented no cost analysis prior to approval of adoption and implementation of Common Core Standards. There is a major concern that such negligence for funding, especially given the anticipated dramatic increase in funding needed, will be another issue that interferes with student outcomes and performance.  Common Core’s lack of cost analysis is sure to lead to revenue shortfalls and eventual CCSS implementation failure as schools struggle for funding.  Uncertain funding will surely lead to some program shortages.  Uncertain funding will surely lead away from learning as a priority and towards funding as a priority.  As any parent that runs a household knows, it is hard to think about tomorrow’s “lesson” when you are trying to provide nourishment for today’s “lesson”.

40.  CCSS is nothing visionary, but rather the opinions of a few, and a desire by some, to be the next visionaries and founders of education’s “Eureka moment”.

41.  Standards should never be moved away from educators, schools, and parents then given to distant bureaucracies and politicians or special interest groups or companies.

42. Any potential positive of Common Core was completely undermined by bad process.  Political agenda, quid pro quo practices, favor giving, and commercial interests should never take precedence over student protection and respect, or teacher protection and respect.

43.  Common Core aligned textbooks and worksheets have been proven to be flawed.  Teacher training for the implementation of Common Core has been proven to be flawed.  Funding equity and resources per school has been proven to be flawed. (Example: If school district schools are allotted $ equally, but yet one school only employs one security guard while another has to employ four, are they both getting equal $ for classroom instruction?).  Common Core does nothing but institute more flaws inan already flawed system.  This is what the Florida legislature calls quality education reform? Common Core is not a problem solver, Common Core is a problem maker.

44.  There are states that adopted Common Core even though they are recognized to have had higher standards than Common Core. (Minnesota and Massachusetts by way of example) Why force, through stranglehold federal government monetary incentives and mandates, states to lower their standards? Such coercion speaks to the lack of sincerity in truly delivering higher learning for all.  Rather it speaks to COMMON curriculum and standards regardless of individual student needs and abilities.  Rather it speaks to corporate interests vice community/student interests being a priority.

45.  Common Core once claimed to be internationally benchmarked as a public relations selling point, but the CCSS website no longer uses that terminology as it was a total fabrication (lie). Rather, it now states CCSS “is informed by the standards of other countries”.  What exactly does that mean – informed by?

46.  Common Core does not necessarily help students who transfer from other states as there is no proven data to suggest the standards’ “uniformity” will help the students.  In other words, are the classes and curriculum going to be taught in the same sequence, at the same time, with the same teacher energy and expertise?  It is nonsensical to suggest transient students will benefit from such a “uniformity” of standards.  No classroom teacher or administrator would stipulate such guaranteed benefit.  There are too many ingredients/variables in student academic success to even suggest that national standards would even remotely be the “end all” of higher learning. It might play a part in better testing (eventually), but philosophically and theoretically cannot play a realistic part in higher learning.

47.  Less than 4% of the student population moves from state-to-state therefore any promotion of the idea that Common Core benefits moving students puts the other 96% of the student population in jeopardy.  Both are hypotheticals much like the standards themselves.

48.   Ethan Young, a high school student, has given a first-hand account of the problems with Common Core.  He should be listened to as many student accounts are now coming in as a result of states implementing CCSS and first person testimony finally being readily available.  The mathematics standards are of lower quality and the English Language Arts standards, particularly the informational texts, used as a priority in high school, is manipulative/subjective as well as not of pedagogical soundness.  If the informational text is geared towards college and career readiness, how do you determine student interests and talents? It appears as if career “interests” will be pre-determined.  That is offensive to individuality and personal skills.  Filling slots in workforce shortages was never and should never be the pre-eminent intent of education.

49.  High stakes testing is wrong for students and teachers and puts a grotesque priority/emphasis on grading/results versus learning and innovation.  Think Einstein.

50.  Common Core appears to be a power grab by private non-governmental institutions not answerable to parents. 

51.  Common Core institutes a feeling in parents (apparently true) that they are being ignored and that they should have little to no control over their children’s education.

52.  Common Core Standards are not owned by the State of Florida, and even though the FLDOE and the Florida legislature are calling CCSS by its new name Next Generation Sunshine State Standards or Florida Standards, all the while violating its own renewed commitment to transparency and ethics, Florida still remains in the Common Core Consortium and Initiative, and still has agreed to adopt Common Core State Standards.    Such duplicity has no place in constituent communication much less student education.

53.  The British education system showed a marked decrease in academic achievement after adopting Common Core-like standards.  If they are the pilot for Common Core, we should take notice.

54.  The negative impact of one-size-fits-all-standards is expected to be irreversible for at least one generation.  Even one generation being impacted negatively is unacceptable.

55.  Parents should decide, in combination with their local communities and education leaders, the best education policy and reform for their children.

56.  Parental input for educational process improvement was decimated during Common Core development and is continuing to be decimated during implementation.  Common Core limits parental voice in their child’s education.

57.  Teachers are given little control over their classroom.  Common Core Standards will impose a strict regimen of compliance, whether effective for each individual student or not.

58.  Teacher evaluation and pay is tied to student performance regardless of challenges in diversity, poverty, language, or disability.  Teachers are in effect forced to participate in a merit/accountability system that has triggers more for the benefit of administrators and education vigilantes than students.

59.  Common Core will hurt students as it is a one-size-fits-all education norm that assumes students all learn in the same way (what a gross travesty of reasoning) and gives no variance/allowance for individual student styles, preferences, and paces.

60.  The Race to the Top Memorandum of Understanding absolutely requires data mining of a student’s personal identifiable information.  The information collected is more than test scores and academic progress (parent political party affiliation, religion, marital status, etc. could be collected).  In Florida, parents have testified they feel coerced into “voluntarily” granting, signing on the dotted line, permission to transfer such personal information as part of the requirements to have their children’s assessment scores sent to award agencies and/or colleges and universities, as well as participating in the race to receive scholarships and grants.

61.  Sandra Stotsky, Professor at the University of Arkansas, and a member of the validation committee for Common Core, says Common Core dumbs down students at least two grades levels.

62.  Centralized education systems have a long history of not working and never will work as diversity and poverty, two areas which impact both student curriculum needs and learning ability, cannot be administered effectively, i.e. personally and individually, by remote control.

63.  300 prominent policy makers and education experts warn that Common Core will close the door on innovation.

64.  Common Core will drive curriculum, a fact which was admitted by both the U.S. Department of Education and Mark Tucker.  As we know, there is no best design for curriculum sequences in any subject.  Therefore, it is then highly questionable, given the diversity of adolescent’s interests, talents, and educational needs, that CCSS and its curriculum will be not be effective given its lack of understanding of the local population and their needs, which are necessary in order to effectively maximize student learning and achievement (scholars admit and understand learning and achievement are not necessarily the same).

65.  Common Core Standards are of insufficient quality to be deemed a “national” standard.

66.  Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia refused to adopt Common Core.  Did anyone ask them their reasoning?   As such, because of their non-involvement, we cannot possibly have national standards, thereby negating any of the propagandistic elements used by Common Core’s developers in support of the benefits of national standards.

67.  Education administrators in Florida, educators in Florida, and parents in Florida did not hear about Common Core until after the FL State Board of Education had already adopted them.  The members of the Florida Department of Education board decided to adopt Common Core prior to comprehensively consulting lawmakers, education administrators, educators, education subject matter experts and parents.  Being on the FL State Board of Education should be more than a ceremonial job offered to “favored colleagues”.  Being on the FL State Board of Education should be more than a job” politik”.

68.  Some members of Florida legislature have circled the wagons, protected special interests, made decisions based on future jobs or careers, and aggressively circumvented the legislative process and responsibility, by not bringing HB25 and SB1316 up for a full House and Senate vote.

69.  All attempts to “play” quid pro quo politics, favor giving politics, and self-aggrandizement politics must be eliminated particularly in the education of our children K-12.

70.  Education standards are not curriculum but they do determine what children will and will not learn.  They define curriculum.  In the State of Florida, curriculum must be state driven.

71.  No state, Florida included, has analyzed how much the upgrade in technology for only online-testing will cost or know how effective it will be. What happens with audio learners or special needs students? What happens with testing security and computer malfunctions? Is Florida ready or is there a rush to implementation?  One student testified that online tests are already being given.  As a Magnet high school student in an International Baccalaureate Program, she had a situation where a computer malfunctioned during a timed test resulting in her having to start all over.  She was almost in tears as not only did she have to restart and then finish per the time guidelines, but any ability to re-check her work was impossible given the set-up procedures for online testing.

72.  Common Core ruins simple addition and subtraction by complicating easy problems.  In subtraction it forces students to visualize columns.  Supposedly, such “dissecting” helps with analytical skills.  The truth of that statement is unknown.  What is known is that a very small group of people got together and decided that “theorectically” the math standards by Common Core should prove to improve analytical skills.  Apparently, it was only proven to not improve theirs.

73.  A key Common Core creator, Jason Zimba, said that Common Core can prepare students for non-selective colleges but that it does not prepare students for STEM careers.  He said “I think it is an unfair  critique that it is a minimal definition of college readiness. . . but it’s not for the colleges most parents aspire to . . . not only not for STEM, it is also not for selective colleges.  For example, for U.C. Berkeley, whether you are going to be an engineer or not, you’d better have pre-calculus to get into U.C. Berkeley.”

74.  Do the Common Core Standards improve K-12 education?  No one knows because, once again, Common Core was unpiloted and untested.  As such it continues to be a hypothesis in word and in practicum.

75.  Dr. James Milgram (Stanford University emeritus professor who served on the Common Core validation committee) said this about Common Core, “I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards and the reason I did not sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations.  They were at least two years behind the practices of the high achieving countries by 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra 1 or geometry.  Moreover, they deliver very little of the context of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course. . . They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries when it comes to being hired to top level jobs.”

76.  Dr. Sandra Stotsky (previously mentioned as being on the validation committee and who refused to sign off on the English Language Arts standards) also had this to say about Common Core.“As empty skill sets, Common Core’s ELA standards do not strengthen the high school curriculum.  Nor can they reduce post-secondary remedial coursework in a legitimate way.  As empty skill sets, Common Core’s ELA “college and career readiness” standards weaken the base of literacy and cultural knowledge needed for authentic college coursework, decrease the capacity for analytical thinking. . ; and completely muddle the development of writing skills.” Common Core will not solve the English remediation problem currently existing for incoming college freshman.

77.  The General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) wisely prohibits the federal government from directing education – very clearly.

“No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by an educational institution or school system.”

78.  The emphasis in English Language Arts on informational text – 4th grade splits Literacy and Informational 50/50; 8th grade splits Literacy and Informational 45/55; 12th  grade splits Literacy and Informational 30/70 – is not advantageous to literacy and vocabulary building sequencing. Informational text can be in the form of scientific writings, political writings, opinion pieces, or anything other than classic novels, poetry, plays, or other fictional works.  Such an emphasis on informational text damages unnecessarily literacy as the needed priority in reading and writing development.

79.  Common Core falsely advertises itself as more rigorous.  Nothing can be further from the truth especially in the math standards.  The National Center for Education and Economy (NCEE), one of the advisors and/or writers of CCSS, stated quite clearly that high math standards were not necessary in high school.

80.  The federal EDFacts Exchange collects data for local, state, and federal levels.  The federal government paid for states to build matching and interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems. The U.S. Department of Education is listed as a partner of the Education Information Management Advisory Consortia (EIMAC) which does data collection of students and does promise to share biological and behavioral data. 

81.  132 professors of Catholic universities wrote a letter denouncing Common Core on both academic and moral grounds.

82.  Regardless of any legislation passed by the Florida legislature regarding data privacy, the stakeholders in Common Core have orchestrated state school systems to “voluntarily” agree to common data core standards to make data comparisons easy.  They do not care about the content of the standards, rather they care that the comparisons are easily documented and created into workable data, and are using CCSS as an accessory.  The CEO of Escholar Shawn Bay spoke at an event called Datapalooza and stated that Common Core “Is the glue that actually ties everything together” for student data collection.  Cradle to grave mentality is not just theory but a collusion between companies and government – placing children as subjects of data trafficking and worse.  The buying and selling of data is a multi-billion dollar business.

83.  Common Core manages teachers through intimidation.  Common Core will effectively discourage individuals from seeking a career in teaching.  (How is that for college and career readiness?!)  The increase in testing days demotivates teachers, abnormally stresses students, and puts an undue burden on “quick” instruction and the ever dreaded “teaching to the test”.

84.  Ze’ev Wurman (formerly a U.S. Department of Education official and currently a Professor of Mathematics at Johns Hopkins University) contends that Common Core math standards are not as promised.  Example:  As compared to California and Minnesota, who have higher math standards, Common Core is more numerous.  Minnesota has 42 pages of standards; California has 59 pages of standards; meanwhile Common Core has 73 pages of standards.  More standards are not necessary or efficient for higher achievement.

85.  The National Mathematics Advisory Panel, Foundations of Success, called for fluency in addition and subtraction of whole numbers by the end of 3rd grade, and fluency in multiplication and division by end of 5th grade.  California has the same fluency standards.  However, high math achieving countries like Singapore and Korea, Japan and Hong Kong, call for multiplication and division of whole numbers even earlier or by 4th grade.  However, Common Core refers fluency to 6th grade proving that Common Core’s math standards are not more rigorous.

86.  Andrew Porter, Dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, recently evaluated the Common Core Standards with his colleagues and their conclusion was negative towards CCSS.  “Those that hope that the Common Core Standards represent greater focus for U.S. education will be disappointed by our answers.  Only one of our criteria measuring focus found that the Common Core standards are more focused than current state standards. . . We also evaluated international benchmarking to judge the quality of the Common Core standards.  High performing countries’ emphasis on “perform procedures” runs counter to the widespread call in the US for greater emphasis on higher-order cognitive demand.”

87.  The End of the Math Wars is nowhere in sight.  Professor William McCallum, one of the 3 main writers of the Common Core mathematics standards said this when speaking at an annual conference of mathematics societies.  While acknowledging the concerns about front loading demands in early grades, McCallum said “the overall standards would not be too high, certainly not in comparison with other nations, including East Asia, where math education excels.

88.  College readiness is defined by what colleges require as prerequisites for incoming freshman. Overwhelmingly, the enrollment requirements of four-year state colleges consist of at least 3 years of high school mathematics including Algebra I & II (and geometry) – including such elements contained therein as complex numbers, vectors, trigonometry, bionomical theorem, logarithms, logarithmic and exponential functions, ellipse, etc.  Common Core Standards do not include these elements and therefore cannot lay honest claim to “college readiness”.

89.  Common Core mathematics standards fail on rigor and clarity in comparison to better state standards and those of higher achieving countries.

90. The Florida Department of Education’s testing company American Institutes for Research (AIR) is the same as Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) – as AIR is developing the test for SBAC.  AIR is controversial as it involves itself in mental health analysis without having any subject matter expertise in health.

91.  The National PTA (Parent Teachers Association) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have been, as it appears, to be effectively bribed, through million dollar donations, to not only support Common Core but to propagandize it publicly.  The unfortunate exchange of money between the creators/developers of Common Core and self-promoting agencies is a violation of consumer trust and seemingly a corrupt manipulation of the very purpose/mission of any program or policy that affects our nation’s children.

92.   Career readiness as a component of Common Core can only be an advertising moniker because there is absolutely no way for academic standards to determine student interests and talents other than in general/common requirement terms and, as such, are not exclusive or unique to Common Core.  In the alternative, is Common Core a methodology to force students into fields for which they have no or very little interest but will nonetheless fulfill commercial workforce interests vice student learning interests?

93.  Where is the strategic plan for assuring career readiness?  Is career readiness going to be determined by college graduation rates?  Is career readiness going to be determined by school-to-work programs?  We know that traditional colleges have a graduate employment rate (measured by a graduate being employed within 6 months of graduation) at less than 30%; we know that career colleges can have a graduate employment rate of up to 80%.  Are Common Core Standards geared to the encouragement of increasing the participation of our student population in career colleges vice traditional colleges?  If it is career colleges, do students benefit from the implementation and assessments of Common Core Standards and are they necessary for career college success?  Historical data would show that career colleges are not influenced and will not be influenced by these “career readiness” standards.  Therefore, who is the target market?  WE DO NOT KNOW.  What we do know is who owns the profit market.

94.  Special need students have been largely ignored in the development and implementation of Common Core.  Despite bandage bills in the Florida legislature attempting to remedy this gross oversight, Florida public school students of special needs, and the teachers that are working their hardest to integrate them into the student population while still developing/implementing an Individualized Education Plan, will suffer unnecessarily by this oversight.

95.  Ultimately, Common Core is harmful to family structures as “it takes away power from parents, and de-incentivizes parents from a deep and abiding interest in their child’s education”.  Education is lifelong; Education begins and ends at home.

Florida high school teacher fakes orgasm in class — and keeps her job by Allen West

Parents today have so many factors and variables working against them when it comes to a quality education for their children. As we all know, America has unfortunately fallen behind other countries in the world when it comes to academic achievement.

As a result, my wife Angela and I decided to invest in our daughters’ future by sending them to private parochial schooling. Aubrey graduated from a Catholic high school and Austen attends a Christian high school — not only is a quality education important but a moral one as well.

Hence the backdrop for another sad story coming out of Florida. Hat tip to LTC (Ret.) Dr. Rich Swier who reports that a language arts teacher at a Miami-Dade public high school actually simulated an orgasm in front of her students.

According to a recent Education Practices Commission of the State of Florida report, Christine Kirchner, who teaches at Coral Reef Senior High, regularly discussed sex, virginity and masturbation, simulated orgasm and gave massages to students in her language arts class during the 2012-13 school year.

Kirchner is no weird outlier. In 2008 she was appointed by the Miami-Dade School Board to the Lesson Plan Development Task Group. Kirchner was elected Vice President At-Large and sits on the Executive Board of the United Teachers of Dade (UTD).

For her actions, Kirchner was found guilty of “gross immorality or an act involving moral turpitude” and in violation of “the Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession.” Gee, ya think?

Her punishment? The Florida Department of Education accepted a “Settlement Agreement” which consists of a letter of reprimand and placing Kirchner on two years probation. Kirchner accepted the Settlement Agreement and will return to her classroom at Coral Reef High School and retain her position on the Executive Board of the UTD.

I’m quite sure the teacher’s union had a play in this case. Now, you can understand why parents are seeking out charter schools and homeschooling is on the rise. As well, you can understand why our public schools are failing our children and not preparing them with quality instruction promoting critical thinking skills.

So what’s your assessment? Should Ms. Kirchner return to the classroom, and is this just another case of dismissing and rewarding abhorrent behavior?

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on AllenBWest.com.

Was Pope Francis Calling Out Common Core When Criticizing “Guinea Pig” Education Programs?

I just received an email from one of the leading pioneers and advocates against the “Curse of Common Core”, Dr. Karen Effrem, MD. I have yet to meet her. I am not even sure where Karen lives. I think somewhere near the Tampa area…Don’t know her age, religion or how many children she has. All I know is that I read every single thing she has ever put out via e-mail about the ever-controversial, government-led fiasco of Common Core. Karen knows her stuff. She is President of Education Liberty Watch and also happens to be the Executive Director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, Inc. Karen is bold about her stance against this “socialist disease” and maybe one day – when we finally “reverse the curse” and put Common Core to rest – I may have to track her down and give her a big hug and one of my popular Christian on a Mission pens!!

Her latest Education Liberty Watch Newsletter article is titled “Was Pope Francis Calling Out Common Core When Criticizing “Guinea Pig” Education Programs? I believe it is her first article in regards to the Catholic schools, Pope Francis and how Common Core fits in…or, should I say, “does not fit in”? I was so happy to see her write about Pope Francis’ comments about education, especially with his famous “Guinea Pig Education” comment. Not only has Pope Francis come out strong the past two weeks with his fearless stance against abortion – but, now, the pope has also begun focusing on health & human rights issues, as well as EDUCATION. And, I am talking about education in the United States.

VIDEO: Pope Francis talked about the right of children to a mother and a father, and the right of parents to determine their children’s moral education:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/6tNN1Dnp7zo[/youtube]

 

Now, this is the best news that I have heard since I began my personal fight against Common Core almost 10 months ago. Only because way back in October, myself and a group of adamant advocates against the “Curse of Common Core” from all over the country, wrote a powerful letter to each and every single Archbishop & Bishop in the United States, stating to them in a most prayerful & professional manner that “Common Core had no place in our Catholic schools because it was unconstitutional, unethical, unnecessary and unGODLY”… We also included that powerful letter from the “132 Catholic Scholars” who echoed our sentiments and truly laid it on the line. I honestly believe that those two things have made a huge difference in the way the Catholic schools are now questioning Common Core. The Holy Spirit is now working full-time and with Pentecost Sunday (my all-time favorite Feast Day), only “55” days away – we know that something powerful is bound to happen between now and June 8th…

We know for a fact that many of these Bishops who received our letter were probably caught by surprise at what they learned from us. In all honesty, I believe that the good majority of them had no idea that Common Core was part of the intrinsic evils that attack our society daily in a fierce manner – embracing abortion, same sex marriage and all sorts of liberal, sexual & political views. And, it still behooves me how the most powerful institution in the world decided to implement this corrupt and unproven, government-instituted education standards without even knowing what Common Core is. Across the board, all Catholic schools decided to implement Common Core into their school curriculums without knowing what the future consequences are going to be. They simply put the buggy before the horse – and that horse is bucking something awful right now…

Friends: I went to every single Catholic source in our country to get to the bottom of this – from the top (the USCCB in D.C. to the FCCB in Tallahassee to our local Dioceses in Florida) – and as GOD as my witness on this Holiest of all weeks in the Catholic calendar – way back on August 15th, 2013 – to my recollection, nobody at any of these levels really knew what is truly behind Common Core. They only knew a tiny bit about it. Only the tip of the iceberg, with no idea what lurked below. A Titanic mistake. Not one of them was aware of the face, funding and foundation of it all – as in the “Pro-Abortion” Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the “abortion giant”, Planned Parenthood; the ever-radical United Nations; the sneaky agenda of Agenda 21; and GOD only knows how many crooked politicians and school leaders who were involved in “sneaking this socialist disease” into our beloved schools. A stealth operation, with the patient not ever knowing what the surgeon was doing behind his back.

It all started way back in January of 2002 with President George W. Bush signing on to “No Child Left Behind”. Seven years later, it evolved into “Race to the Top” with the ever-exuberant President Obama and Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, signing on the dotted line on July 24th, 2009. And, as of June 1st of this year, all monies from these grants will be depleted – so every state will be on their own. Needless to say, these 45 states are stuck with the “Curse of Common Core”. A magic trick right before our very own eyes by a “magician in the White House who cannot get booed or impeached, no matter how bad or evil his tricks are”. Folks, this was NOT “Voluntary”. Those 45 states that “inherited” Common Core did NOT sign up for Common Core! Let’s get that straight right now. They signed up for these two other now-defunct programs. What they got was this fiasco of Common Core – which is the “sloppy seconds” of these two programs. I would go as far as betting my life today that if each and every one of those 45 states was asked if they would “voluntarily” sign up for Common Core today – that at least “40” of them would tell Common Core to take a hike…They would want no part of it! The cat is out of the bag and I just pray that it does not have “9 lives”. Let’s finally put this educational fiasco to rest.

Bottom Line: Over the past 10 months, we caring & devout activists have literally educated our own educators. These prominent educators may have the degrees, but we know the water temperature better. And, there is nothing wrong with sharing the Truth. As long as there is education & communication going on – we must put our pride and egos away and do what’s best for our schools, our churches, our communities, our country and our beloved children. We have kept this all in prayer from Day I as I cannot tell you how many rosaries we have prayed at our “America’s Finest Hour” every Tuesday evening since August 1st at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius for our school leaders, superintendents, church leaders and Bishops. Countless prayers for every single Archbishop & Bishop in our country.

So, let’s all finally come to our senses; put our differences away; keep it all in prayer; and see what Pope Francis is going to come up with between now and Pentecost Sunday, since he is now focusing more on “education across the board”. He has made it a point to look into this “experimenting with our beloved children” educational approach much closer that pretty much spells out Common Core, as that is essentially what Common Core is – an unproven experiment. I have a strong feeling that although he may not know exactly what Common Core is and he may not use that term – our Holy Father knows what good education is. And, better yet, he knows what GOD education is. Now, it’s up to our Catholic school leaders to follow his courageous lead and follow the Catholic Church teachings, and focus on the Almighty Father as opposed to the Almighty Dollar – and “reverse the curse” as soon as possible.

As I have said from day one – we are all in this struggle “Twogether” not only for the greater good – but, for the GREATER GOD…And, Father knows best…He’s our best teacher.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photograph of Pope Francis was produced by Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency.

Western Washington University Wants Fewer Whites — Fears “Mediocrity”

If you thought the “educator” who saw “racist” intent behind offering someone a peanut-butter sandwich was a loon, consider Western Washington University (WWU) president Bruce Shepard. Always on the lookout for ways to improve his institution’s academic integrity, he recently circulated a school-wide questionnaire and asked, “How do we make sure that in future years ‘we are not as white as we are today?’”

Apparently, Shepard has been gnashing his teeth over this problem for quite a while. As Kaitlyn Schallhorn at Campus Reform reports, el presidente said in a 2012 speech, “Every year, from this stage and at this time, you have heard me say that, if in decades ahead, we are as white as we are today, we will have failed as university.”

Hey, forget the old measures of academic success, such as if students know what’s in the Constitution, have a grasp of basic history and civics, can perform rudimentary mathematical calculations and properly use the language (for Shep’s benefit, I refer to English). It’s now all about melanin content.

And if you disagree with this thesis, then hope you’re just an ignorant rube. Because the alternative, according to el presidente, is far worse. As he wrote in a January blog post, if you disagree, you “have not thought through the implications of what is ahead for us or, more perniciously, assume we can continue unchanged.” Lions and tigers and pernicious! Oh, my! For graduates of WWU, in calling those who’ve thought things through but nonetheless cling to their misbegotten notions “pernicious,” Shep is accusing them of being “ruinous; injurious; hurtful.” Well, off to the re-education camp with you.

And WWU’s got that covered: Campus Reform also tells us that el presidente has already junked “standard performance reviews” in favor of “sensitivity training and hosts workshops” to better serve illegal aliens. Hey, doubleplusgood for you, Shep.

But Shep is just looking to the future. He also warned on his blog, “In the decades ahead, should we be as white as we are today, we will be relentlessly driven toward mediocrity; or, become a sad shadow of our current self.” Would that be a White Shadow?

But I’m hip. We certainly wouldn’t want to be mediocre like the white guys who forged Western civilization, founded the US, created the modern world and gave us most of what makes our lives better.

Now, given that WWU was founded in 1886 and originally called the Northwest Normal School, I have a feeling it’s already a shadow of its former self. But, question: if WWU became what it is today while being intolerably white, how could remaining so make it a shadow of its current self? I know, I know, our strength lies in our diversity, our smartness lies in our stupidity, and academics lie constantly.

But I have a couple more questions. Does Shep still want the mediocre white alumni’s money? And since WWU has printed information on how to more effectively “recruit and retain faculty and staff of color,” will the colorless Shepard lead by example and give his presidency to a member of the color replete? Or is this where, as with Elizabeth Fauxcahontas Warren, we suddenly learn that Shep is really a Cherokee named Peddling Bull.

Anyway, it’s not hard to figure out how to reduce the number of whites at WWU: just eliminate the affirmative action for whites.

Oh, wait….

Alas, mediocrity may not remain restricted to WWU’s presidency after all.

Contact Selwyn Duke, follow him on Twitter or log on to SelwynDuke.com

Louisiana: Can the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Save Superintendent John White? I’m Thinking – No

John White’s job is on the line, and the primarily-purchased Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) is standing behind its Common Core State Standards (CCSS)- and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)-promoting talking head.

For White’s annual evaluation, BESE gave him a 3 out of 4.

I’m thinking White’s BESE rating will not save him from the now-undeniable divide between White’s support for CCSS and PARCC and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s publicized change of position on the matter.

The April 15, 2014, nola.com article on White’s review notes that only BESE can fire White.

However, that does not mean that Jindal cannot get rid of White.

For starters, Louisiana lawmakers are considering legislation to make the state superintendency an elected position, not appointed by the governor and approved by BESE– and then shielded by BESE. If approved, election for the next superintendent would occur in 2015, effective 2016.

Second, in 2011, the BESE election was purchased in order to get White– who has less than five years of teaching experience– approved as state superintendent.  Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush assisted with this effort. Thus, if money could get White in, money can get him out.

Third– and this is the big one– Jindal does not play well with those who publicly oppose him. The most famous example of this is the 2009 firing of a state worker who publicly criticized Jindal, Melody Teague. From the Teague incident, in which both a husband and wife were fired within 18 months of one another, comes the term “being ‘teagued.’” As Louisiana Voice’s Tom Aswell notes:

The term (teagued) derives its name from Jindal’s propensity to fire employees, especially those who may have the temerity to question or challenge his decisions. It began early in his first administration when Tammie McDaniel, a member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, questioned certain budget decisions. Jindal immediately asked for her resignation. She refused at first but eventually resigned.

Then there was William Ankner who was forced out at the Department of Transportation and Development when it was revealed that a $60 million highway contract was awarded not to the low, but the high bidder.

Jim Champagne, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, in a moment of ill-advised level-headedness, disagreed publicly with Jindal’s plan to repeal the state’s motorcycle helmet law. Gone.

Ethics Administrator Richard Sherburne hit the bricks when Jindal gutted the Ethics Board’s adjudicatory authority and gave it to administrative law judges.

But the most high-profile firings, and the namesake of our new terminology, were the dismissals of Department of Social Services grant reviewer Melody Teague in October of 2009 and her husband, Office of Group Benefits (OGB) Director Tommy Teague, 18 months later.

Mrs. Teague testified against Jindal’s government streamlining plan that included calls for massive privatization. It took her six months but she got her job back.

Her husband was not so lucky. He was shown the door when he did not jump on board quickly enough to please the administration when it floated its idea of privatizing OGB.

Thus, the all-too-appropriate term Teagued. [Emphasis added.]

Add to Aswell’s list the 2012 firing of Martha Manuel:

Gov. Bobby Jindal fired the head of the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs, Martha Manuel, the day after she criticized his plan to merge the agency into the Department of Health and Hospitals.

Manuel told lawmakers Tuesday she’s afraid the governor’s plan will damage services for the state’s elderly. [Emphasis added.]

And let us not forget the abrupt 2012 resignations of Secretary of Revenue Cynthia Bridges and Board of Regents member Vic Stelly:

On Friday (June 15, 2012) , the Secretary of Revenue, Cynthia Bridges, one of the only people within the Bobby Jindal administration with real institutional knowledge of Louisiana government, abruptly resigned.

That resignation came one day after Governor Jindal reportedly discovered that her department had passed an emergency ruling allowing purchasers of new vehicles meeting certain alternative-fuel requirements to take a hefty state tax credits at the very time the state has been fretting over budget hemorrhaging. (Note: Bridges was just doing her job by expanding the list of vehicles qualifying for alternative tax credits.)

Also, on Friday (June 15, 2012), former lawmaker Vic Stelly, left the Board of Regents. His reason for the sudden resignation was because he did not want to watch the evisceration of higher education as has been the case in recent years. [Emphasis added.]

Now, in regards to John White, it is possible that Jindal has had a genuine change of heart and that he meant what he said on March 22, 2014:

White has been a strong supporter of the (Common Core) standards, but the governor indicated that he and the superintendent are not on the same page.

“I’m not trying to create division with John,” Jindal said in response to questions about a possible rift between them. “He’s an independent actor who works for BESE. I don’t always agree with what he does.”

He said BESE members and White “know where we stand on these issues,” and “during this debate we’re going to talk for ourselves.” He added, “I may not always agree with him on every issue, but that’s OK.” [Emphasis added.]

Perhaps Jindal has changed, and perhaps White really is “acting independently.”

Nevetheless…

…compare Jindal’s uncharacteristic, “John White thinks for himself” response to White’s October 2012 complaints about being “bounced around” in his trying to please Shreveport, LA Representative Alan Seabaugh, BESE President Chas Roemer, and– of course– Jindal– as regards the “fixing” of three “embarrassing VAM scores” for three teachers at a magnet elementary school in Seabaugh’s district. Again, Tom Aswell reports in regards to a recorded telephone conversation between Seabaugh and White:

White apparently attempted to accommodate the lawmaker (Seabaugh) [with fixing the three VAM scores] even as he complained to him in that telephone conversation that he felt like a “ping pong ball” being bounced between the governor’s office, Seabaugh and Chas Roemer, President of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. [Emphasis added.]

So, to recap: Jindal has an established history of removing workers (including those he is not directly able to fire) who do not publicly agree with him. Jindal is on opposite sides of White on the CCSS and PARCC issues, but Jindal says that’s okay because White makes his decisions independently.  However, White has admitted in a recorded phone conversation that even though Roemer is technically his “boss,” he still accommodates Jindal.

Of course he does. Or has. Until now.

If White thinks he can save himself by hiding behind Roemer, I think he is in for a rude awakening… good BESE grade notwithstanding.

Grades aren’t everything.

Rotten to the Common Core

The term “Common Core” might not be familiar to many of you.  If you have children, plan on having children, have grandchildren, hope to have grandchildren or just care about the future of the country, you need to pay attention.  Common Core is the latest of the federal government takeovers, this one targeting education.

Over the past few years we’ve seen what happens when the government takes over an industry, with thousands of pages of new rules, regulations and bureaucracies.  With health care, we were told we needed to pass it before we could see what was in it.  We were told it would expand services and lower costs for everyone.  The truth of the matter is quite the opposite.

Now, the federal government is promising better test scores through higher standards and a more comprehensively-planned curriculum for your child.  Those behind Common Core can make these claims because the curriculum has been thoroughly tested….nowhere.  This is correct; those pushing the implementation of Common Core nationwide have never tested this new curriculum, at least not outside the minds of well-heeled lobbyists pushing for Common Core on behalf of those positioned to make lots of money from it.  In fact, they were getting States to sign on to Common Core before the standards and curriculum was even written.  Have our elected officials learned nothing from the debacle that the Affordable Care Act has become?

Do we not owe it to our children to fully understand what is in and behind Common Core first, before adopting it?  Shouldn’t this new curriculum be fully vetted before subjecting a generation of children to it?  More importantly, why are we abdicating the responsibility of educating our children to the Federal Government, when we already have education departments at the State level, and locally-elected School Boards?  Education is not and never should be one-size-fits-all.  Education is most effective when there is involvement by the parents in their local schools.  Accepting Common Core is tantamount to accepting education without any kind of representation on behalf of parents, teachers, and your local community.

Ask any teacher passionate about their profession, and they will tell you that no curriculum can take the place of one individual inspiring another.  Most teachers will also tell you that after reviewing the Common Core curriculum and required material, they have serious concerns with it.  They see it as too restrictive, as micro-managing their classroom.  Teachers will be turned into facilitators, lessening their ability to reach the underachiever and inspire the overachiever.

This is not a partisan issue, as those trumpeting Common Core would like the general public to believe. You can easily dismiss the notion that there are only a few small groups of Tea Partiers, or the extreme right wing of the Republican Party that are against Common Core, then you read that the entire Board of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT)  has withdrawn its support for Common Core.  “We’ll have to be the first to say it’s failed,” said Richard Iannuzzi, president of the NYSUT, an organization of 600,000 teachers, retired teachers and school professionals.  Trust that the NYSUT will never be confused with the Tea Party.

This is not an isolated incident.  This is happening all over the country, as teachers and parents join forces against this issue.  State after State are opting-out of Common Core, and I believe Florida should follow suit.  We hear about setting our own standards and taking out the data mining of our students that is currently a part of Common Core.  If we do this, then why bother staying in Common Core at all? Once Common Core is fully-implemented, I believe that Federal Law will trump State Law and we will be mandated to comply with all of the law, as well as cover all the unfunded mandates that come with it. As always with the Federal Government, if you take their dime, they get to control your dollar.

It’s time to act to protect our children, because their future is our future.  It’s time to listen to the People, and not the lobbyists and special interests.  It is time for the State of Florida to opt-out of Common Core.

Miami, FL: Language arts teacher simulates Orgasm, Masturbates and gives Massages to students

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Christine Jane Kirchner

Ms. Christine Jane Kirchner is a language arts teacher and union steward at Coral Reef Senior High School, Miami-Dade public schools. Ms. Kirchner in 2008 was appointed by the Miami-Dade School Board to the Lesson Plan Development Task Group. Kirchner was elected Vice President At-Large and sits on the Executive Board of the United Teachers of Dade (UTD).

So what’s so special about Christine Jane Kirchner?

According to the April 4, 2014 DOE Education Practices Commission of the State of Florida report:

  1. During the 2012-2013 school year, Respondent [Kirchner] discussed inappropriate topics, such as sex, virginity and masturbation, with her language arts class. The conversations made several students feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.
  2. During the 2012-2013 school year, during a lesson with her language arts class, Respondent [Kirchner] simulated having an orgasm. The simulation made several students feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.
  3. During the 2012-2013 school year, Respondent [Kirchner] gave massages to students of her language arts class. The massages made several students feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.

Kirchner was found guilty of “gross immorality or an act involving moral turpitude” and that she violated “the Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession.” Kirchner was found to have violated Florida State Statute 1012.795, paragraphs (1)(d) and (1)(j), respectively.

What is the punishment given Kirchner?

The Florida Department of Education accepted a “Settlement Agreement”. The settlement agreement consists of a letter of reprimand and placing Kirchner on two years probation. Kirchner accepted the Settlement Agreement.

Kirchner will return to her classroom at Coral Reef High School and retain her position on the Executive Board of the UTD.

Does the punishment fit the crime? We report, you decide.

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Education Savings Accounts Fail in Mississippi, Alive in Florida by Stephanie Linn

“If my son had access to (an education savings account) earlier in his school career, he could have had access to online courses and consistent speech therapy that would have likely helped him reach his educational goals. Let’s face it. Kids learn differently. Maybe a different approach to education could help other children who learn differently, like my son.”  Camey, Olive Branch, Mississippi

Mississippi parents, like Camey, believe a child with special needs should have the opportunity to receive an education that best fits his or her unique learning needs, inside or outside of a brick-and-mortar schoolhouse. That is just one reason why parents across Mississippi visited Jackson to advocate for an education savings account (ESA) program that would have allowed greater choices and flexibility for their children.

Sadly, those Mississippi families will have to wait for such choices. The Equal Opportunity for Special Needs Act, an ESA bill, was narrowly defeated in the Mississippi House of Representatives this past legislative session. The bill, similar to Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account program, would have allowed parents to withdraw their children from public school and receive a debit card from the state worth $6,000 a year to spend on such approved educational expenses as tuition, therapy, tutoring, online courses, and more.

The answer to “Why are states interested in pursuing ESAs?” is clear. One, they help the children who don’t just want a more customized education, but need it. Two, they workas evidenced by the nation’s first and only ESA program. But it likely won’t be the only one for long.

Seven states introduced legislation similar to Arizona’s ESA program in 2014. Notably, Mississippi’s and Florida’s made significant progress. Although the outcome was unfavorable in Mississippi, Florida still has ESA bills moving in the House and Senate.

Florida’s proposed ESA program is noteworthy, given the state’s history serving students with disabilities.
Why is Florida pursuing education savings accounts?

Since 1999, Florida has had voucher program specifically designed to serve students with special needs. Today more than 27,000 students are participating in the John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program. But for all its success, Florida policymakers still saw the need to introduce an ESA during the 2014 legislative session. Why?

Many of Florida’s McKay participants have needs beyond the traditional public or private classroom setting. Robyn Rennick, of the McKay Coalition of Schools, made that point during testimony in support of ESAs before the Florida House Education Appropriations committee. By allowing parents to shop for services outside the classroom, ESAs would help Florida students with special needs in ways traditional vouchers or scholarships could not.

Indeed, using data from the Arizona Department of Education, Lindsey Burke found that 34.5 percent of Arizona parents using their state’s ESAs purchased multiple educational services to accommodate their children’s’ diverse needs. In their current form, vouchers and tax-credit scholarships, although valuable and effective for families, do not allow such customization.

What could momentum for ESAs in Florida and across the country mean for traditional private school choice?

In 1955, Milton Friedman envisioned a new way of funding K-12 education: Allow the government to fund students, rather than fund and run school systems. To do that he proposed a school voucher concept that would allow parents to direct their child’s education dollars to the schools of their choice.  Friedman believed an education system based on choice, rather than government assignment, would be more successful in meeting children’s diverse needs. Today the effects of these limited programs are known, and have been found effective.

“Vouchers are not an end in themselves,” Friedman wrote. The purpose, he said, was to encourage innovation and new educational models, which only entrepreneurs—not government—could drive. And to achieve that thriving educational marketplace, it is essential no conditions be attached to the acceptance of vouchers that interfere with the ability of entrepreneurs to innovate. ESAs can do exactly that.

Accountability provisions in Arizona’s ESA programs are ideal. Parents are not required to impose standardized tests on their children. Rather, parents must see that their children receive an education in key subject areas. And, to obtain their quarterly distribution of funds, parents must submit their receipts to the appropriate government department to prove their funds have been used on allowed educational services. Those accountability standards make sure the money is spent appropriately while also not restricting or discouraging the educational marketplace from providing diverse options for students.

“Nobody spends somebody else’s money as wisely as he spends his own,” Friedman said. ESAs leverage that maxim by allowing parents to save unused funds for their children’s future K-12 and college educational expenses. Conveniently, by making parents more cost-conscious of their children’s schooling services, education providers will be encouraged to offer students higher quality services at the lowest possible cost.

It is encouraging to see states take considerable steps toward the passage of ESA programs; yet for all this movement, Arizona remains the only state leading “The Way of the Future” with ESAs. If this year’s legislative activity is an indicator of things to come, Arizona may not be alone for long.

Fordham Institute: Selling Common Core in States with Better Standards

This post is about the for-profit “reform”-promoting think tank, the Fordham Institute.

The Fordham Institute likes to grade.

Mind you, Fordham doesn’t bother to grade itself. But it does promote the grading of teacher training programs via an entity it birthed in 2001, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), and it also promotes the grading of teachers using student test scores (see the final statement of this Fordham post for the clear endorsement for grading teachers using student test scores).

And, perhaps that for which Fordham is best known: It loves grading state standards andeven giving some states higher marks than the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)– and still promoting CCSS in statehouses across the country.

In promoting CCSS, Fordham is only doing what Bill Gates has paid it to do: “track state progress towards implementation of standards….”

Fordham takes its CCSS “tracking” seriously– to the point of manipulating states with standards that it graded as “superior” to CCSS into clinging to CCSS.

Recall that 2010 Fordham report in which Fordham graded all state standards as well as CCSS and compared all state standards to CCSS.

CCSS did not receive the highest marks, yet it is continuously pushed by Fordham in statehouses around the country (see here and here and here and here for examples).

Consider Indiana, which has been in the March and April 2014 news for its considering dropping CCSS– and subsequently “forming” “new” standards that just happen to closely resemble CCSS.

In 2010, Fordham graded Indiana’s English Language Arts (ELA) and math standards as superior to CCSS.

In January 2013, Fordham Institute Executive Vice President Mike Petrilli, who bills himself as “one of the nation’s most trusted education analysts.”

(His self-titling reminds me of “Dr.” Steve Perry, who bills himself as “America’s most trusted educator.” Read here to see why Perry lacks my trust.)

Petrilli might consider himself “trusted”; however, he uses such trust to exploit– his undeniable goal being to manipulate states into keeping CCSS– even if his own think tank graded a state’s standards as being better than CCSS.

Let’s “watch” Petrilli in action:

In January 2013, Petrilli testified in Indiana and offered these points to talk Indiana out of any return to their CCSS-superior standards and into retaining CCSS:

1. First, you have already invested time and money into implementing the new standards. They have momentum. Calling for a do-over would waste the millions of man hours already invested—and potentially cost the state of Indiana more money than proceeding with the Common Core. [Emphasis added.]

A great suggestion: Keep the deficient CCSS since you have spent money on it already.Never mind that Fordham did not advise Indiana not to sign onto CCSS in the first place since it rated Indiana’s standards as superior. There was no Petrilli plane trip to testify on that front.

2. Second, it’s not clear that returning to your old standards would put Indiana on a path toward higher student achievement. For while you had some of the best standards in the country for over a decade, you also had one of the worst student achievement records on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Indiana was a classic case of good standards not actually having an impact in the classroom. You need a different way forward.

What a crock this point is. “A different way forward”?? Is “forward” higher test scores? Petrilli assures Indiana’s Senate education committee that “forward” is the direction CCSS will take them– even though Indiana’s “superior” standards did not take Indiana there. It is not clear that putting any state on the CCSS path will improve achievement– yet here we are, a nation on the unproven CCSS path… and Petrilli doing his best to sound knowledgeable as he talks unresearched, unanchored nonsense.

In its 2010 grading of standards, Fordham ignored comparing state scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) with its state standards ratings. The result was no logical connection whatsoever between NAEP scores and Fordham’s ratings of state standards. Indeed, some states with standards that Fordham rated poorly actually had high scores on NAEP.

In Indiana’s case, the NAEP scores were not among the highest in the nation (see here for Indiana’s 2009 and 2011 NAEP scores)– but Petrilli advises no return to Indiana’s previous standards because somehow, the lesser-rated CCSS could manifest in “higher student achievement.”

Come again??

This is the same Fordham Institute that believes in grading teachers using student test scores. However, I have yet to read the article on Petrilli’s testimony that it is possible for teachers to be “superior” yet their students’ test scores to not manifest the reality of “best teachers.”

He will defend standards as being “some of the best in the country” despite low test scores, but he has yet to extend such faith-based logic to teachers– and this despite the well-documented problems associated with using test scores to grade teachers, known as value-added modeling (VAM).

On to Petrilli’s third point of scoring the Indiana sale on behalf of CCSS:

3. Third, if you decide to opt out of the Common Core, you will be opting Indiana’s teachers and students out of an opportunity to participate in the incredible wave of innovation that these standards are unleashing. It’s as if the whole world is moving to smart phones and tablets while you’re sticking with a rotary. [Emphasis added.]

What “wave of innovation”?? The “opportunity for “CCSS-infused tests and teacher evaluations” that Fordham’s Chester Finn alludes to here in referring to California (with standards also rated as superior to CCSS)?

Implementation is a boring topic but here (as with most bold reforms of complex, sluggish institutions) it’s crucial. The past quarter century offers sad examples of states with praiseworthy standards and lousy academic results, with California being the woeful poster child. This breakdown is due to the plain fact that the state never infused its own standards into tests, requirements for promotion and graduation, teacher certification and evaluations, school ratings, college admissions, or much else. [Emphasis added.]

So, the question becomes, what is next in the CCSS push to “ensure CCSS infusion”?

I broach the topic in this post on the push for a centralized agency to control “CCSS-approved” curriculum. It’s logical to assume that if CCSS is being billed as The Answer for All States, its Gates-funded proponents would do all that is necessary to make CCSS “succeed”– including micromanage curriculum in states across the nation.

As for Petrilli’s appeal for a CCSS-bound Indiana, his oiled reasoning offers no assurance that CCSS will deliver on what the CCSS website promotes as the CCSS “guarantee”:

The Common Core is a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA). These learning goals outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. The standards were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live. [Emphasis added.]

CCSS will ensure skills and knowledge– got it?

However…

…if CCSS doesn’t deliver– according to the CCSS license– the CCSS owners, the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)– cannot legally be held responsible.

In other words, NGA and CCSSO have effectively blocked themselves from the brunt of any lawsuits should CCSS not deliver according to the glowing promises made on the CCSS website or promoted by the CCSS talking points.

What will Petrilli do then?

I guess we’ll have to see what Bill Gates pays Fordham to do next in order to know for sure. Rest assured, however: No matter what Fordham does, it will package it as “excellence.”

Keep Unions Out of College Athletics

We’ve been raised to compete, to want more! More! More! It’s a way of life. It’s about greed. — Sandy Duncan, actress, singer

And so, the label “amateur” will likely be lifted from college football players very soon. No more is it about earning scholarships, attaining a college education, and working hard at a sport in order to pay for that education. It’s all about greed.

Gimme, gimme, gimme.

The National Labor Relations Board issued a ruling in March declaring football players from Northwestern as “employees” of the university and therefore the right to form a union.

What?

That’s like saying tuba players in the band are employees of the college. Maybe even swimmers, cheerleaders and chess players. After all, they all compete, they all enhance the “sporting” events and they all work hard.

Yes, football players work hard at their sport. But they are not employees! They are students of a college or university who – in most situations – must maintain a particular grade average in order to be granted the privilege to compete.

Now, a mighty foot has wedged into the proverbial door for unions to take over college sports. It may start with football, but don’t think for a minute this won’t spill over to basketball, baseball, soccer, lacrosse, wrestling and more, even beyond sports.

For their hard work and training, many football players have earned scholarships at institutions of higher learning, which is worth a lot of money, not only in tuitions but in achieving an education that will prepare them for profitable careers in later life. There’s the reward.

Some outstanding players are often cherry-picked into the big leagues where millions of dollars are bestowed upon them as a pro. That’s another reward for being great at their sport.

But until then, the kids are primarily students. Other than teachers, there is no place in amateur/university sports for unions. Union power will eventually translate in to sport domination, collective bargaining and if they deem necessary, strikes and sit-downs. And it will reach out to all other extra-curriculum activities on campus.

Talk about opening Pandora’s box.

Collective bargaining will translate to higher and higher salaries, which will create the need for new sources of funding. Network television is already established and on board. So where will that come from?

Ticket sales. Vendor costs.

Today’s pro baseball and football, ticket prices have soared out of sight to where the average family can barely afford a day at the ball game, unless they sit in the bleachers over center field or the end zone. The bulk of good seating is reserved for corporations, politicians, and clients of all sizes and shapes of money bags.

Fortunately, prices for attending amateur school games have not hit the stratosphere – yet. But wait until the costs of ball players generate the need for revenue – revenue which the average Joe cannot afford.

Going to college is first and foremost about attaining education. Sports and their associated events are an important element of college life, but it’s not a “profession.” If kids wish to dodge education and go for the big bucks, they can always apply for the pros once out of high school.

Amy Perko, Executive Director of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics said, “Universities and the NCAA, not unions, need to be the ones to guarantee benefits, like multi-year scholarships.”

When it comes to students, regardless of their extra curricula, unions should be kept out of the universities and colleges. To say that students who play sports are an “employee” of the school, is not only absurd, it’s nothing but a money-grubbing ploy to destroy the spirit of school sports now and forever…not only for the kids, but the families and spectators as well.

Amy Perko enunciates many of the benefits that college athletes should be entitled to, outside of being paid “salaries” as an employee. Watch the video:

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