Crichton: Environmentalism is a religion

REMARKS TO THE COMMONWEALTH CLUB

by Michael Crichton – San Francisco – September 15, 2003

I have been asked to talk about what I consider the most important challenge facing mankind, and I have a fundamental answer. The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance.

We must daily decide whether the threats we face are real, whether the solutions we are offered will do any good, whether the problems we’re told exist are in fact real problems, or non-problems. Every one of us has a sense of the world, and we all know that this sense is in part given to us by what other people and society tell us; in part generated by our emotional state, which we project outward; and in part by our genuine perceptions of reality. In short, our struggle to determine what is true is the struggle to decide which of our perceptions are genuine, and which are false because they are handed down, or sold to us, or generated by our own hopes and fears.

As an example of this challenge, I want to talk today about environmentalism. And in order not to be misunderstood, I want it perfectly clear that I believe it is incumbent on us to conduct our lives in a way that takes into account all the consequences of our actions, including the consequences to other people, and the consequences to the environment. I believe it is important to act in ways that are sympathetic to the environment, and I believe this will always be a need, carrying into the future. I believe the world has genuine problems and I believe it can and should be improved. But I also think that deciding what constitutes responsible action is immensely difficult, and the consequences of our actions are often difficult to know in advance. I think our past record of environmental action is discouraging, to put it mildly, because even our best intended efforts often go awry. But I think we do not recognize our past failures, and face them squarely. And I think I know why.

I studied anthropology in college, and one of the things I learned was that certain human social structures always reappear. They can’t be eliminated from society. One of those structures is religion. Today it is said we live in a secular society in which many people—the best people, the most enlightened people—do not believe in any religion. But I think that you cannot eliminate religion from the psyche of mankind. If you suppress it in one form, it merely re-emerges in another form. You can not believe in God, but you still have to believe in something that gives meaning to your life, and shapes your sense of the world. Such a belief is religious.

Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it’s a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.

There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.

Eden, the fall of man, the loss of grace, the coming doomsday—these are deeply held mythic structures. They are profoundly conservative beliefs. They may even be hard-wired in the brain, for all I know. I certainly don’t want to talk anybody out of them, as I don’t want to talk anybody out of a belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God who rose from the dead. But the reason I don’t want to talk anybody out of these beliefs is that I know that I can’t talk anybody out of them. These are not facts that can be argued. These are issues of faith.

And so it is, sadly, with environmentalism. Increasingly it seems facts aren’t necessary, because the tenets of environmentalism are all about belief. It’s about whether you are going to be a sinner, or saved. Whether you are going to be one of the people on the side of salvation, or on the side of doom. Whether you are going to be one of us, or one of them.

Am I exaggerating to make a point? I am afraid not. Because we know a lot more about the world than we did forty or fifty years ago. And what we know now is not so supportive of certain core environmental myths, yet the myths do not die. Let’s examine some of those beliefs.

There is no Eden. There never was. What was that Eden of the wonderful mythic past? Is it the time when infant mortality was 80%, when four children in five died of disease before the age of five? When one woman in six died in childbirth? When the average lifespan was 40, as it was in America a century ago. When plagues swept across the planet, killing millions in a stroke. Was it when millions starved to death? Is that when it was Eden?

And what about indigenous peoples, living in a state of harmony with the Eden-like environment? Well, they never did. On this continent, the newly arrived people who crossed the land bridge almost immediately set about wiping out hundreds of species of large animals, and they did this several thousand years before the white man showed up, to accelerate the process. And what was the condition of life? Loving, peaceful, harmonious? Hardly: the early peoples of the New World lived in a state of constant warfare. Generations of hatred, tribal hatreds, constant battles. The warlike tribes of this continent are famous: the Comanche, Sioux, Apache, Mohawk, Aztecs, Toltec, Incas. Some of them practiced infanticide, and human sacrifice. And those tribes that were not fiercely warlike were exterminated, or learned to build their villages high in the cliffs to attain some measure of safety.

How about the human condition in the rest of the world? The Maori of New Zealand committed massacres regularly. The dyaks of Borneo were headhunters. The Polynesians, living in an environment as close to paradise as one can imagine, fought constantly, and created a society so hideously restrictive that you could lose your life if you stepped in the footprint of a chief. It was the Polynesians who gave us the very concept of taboo, as well as the word itself. The noble savage is a fantasy, and it was never true. That anyone still believes it, 200 years after Rousseau, shows the tenacity of religious myths, their ability to hang on in the face of centuries of factual contradiction.

There was even an academic movement, during the latter 20th century, that claimed that cannibalism was a white man’s invention to demonize the indigenous peoples. (Only academics could fight such a battle.) It was some thirty years before professors finally agreed that yes, cannibalism does indeed occur among human beings. Meanwhile, all during this time New Guinea highlanders in the 20th century continued to eat the brains of their enemies until they were finally made to understand that they risked kuru, a fatal neurological disease, when they did so.

More recently still the gentle Tasaday of the Philippines turned out to be a publicity stunt, a nonexistent tribe. And African pygmies have one of the highest murder rates on the planet.

In short, the romantic view of the natural world as a blissful Eden is only held by people who have no actual experience of nature. People who live in nature are not romantic about it at all. They may hold spiritual beliefs about the world around them, they may have a sense of the unity of nature or the aliveness of all things, but they still kill the animals and uproot the plants in order to eat, to live. If they don’t, they will die.

And if you, even now, put yourself in nature even for a matter of days, you will quickly be disabused of all your romantic fantasies. Take a trek through the jungles of Borneo, and in short order you will have festering sores on your skin, you’ll have bugs all over your body, biting in your hair, crawling up your nose and into your ears, you’ll have infections and sickness and if you’re not with somebody who knows what they’re doing, you’ll quickly starve to death. But chances are that even in the jungles of Borneo you won’t experience nature so directly, because you will have covered your entire body with DEET and you will be doing everything you can to keep those bugs off you.

The truth is, almost nobody wants to experience real nature. What people want is to spend a week or two in a cabin in the woods, with screens on the windows. They want a simplified life for a while, without all their stuff. Or a nice river rafting trip for a few days, with somebody else doing the cooking. Nobody wants to go back to nature in any real way, and nobody does. It’s all talk-and as the years go on, and the world population grows increasingly urban, it’s uninformed talk. Farmers know what they’re talking about. City people don’t. It’s all fantasy.

One way to measure the prevalence of fantasy is to note the number of people who die because they haven’t the least knowledge of how nature really is. They stand beside wild animals, like buffalo, for a picture and get trampled to death; they climb a mountain in dicey weather without proper gear, and freeze to death. They drown in the surf on holiday because they can’t conceive the real power of what we blithely call “the force of nature.” They have seen the ocean. But they haven’t been in it.

The television generation expects nature to act the way they want it to be. They think all life experiences can be tivo-ed. The notion that the natural world obeys its own rules and doesn’t give a damn about your expectations comes as a massive shock. Well-to-do, educated people in an urban environment experience the ability to fashion their daily lives as they wish. They buy clothes that suit their taste, and decorate their apartments as they wish. Within limits, they can contrive a daily urban world that pleases them.

But the natural world is not so malleable. On the contrary, it will demand that you adapt to it-and if you don’t, you die. It is a harsh, powerful, and unforgiving world, that most urban westerners have never experienced.

Many years ago I was trekking in the Karakorum mountains of northern Pakistan, when my group came to a river that we had to cross. It was a glacial river, freezing cold, and it was running very fast, but it wasn’t deep—maybe three feet at most. My guide set out ropes for people to hold as they crossed the river, and everybody proceeded, one at a time, with extreme care. I asked the guide what was the big deal about crossing a three-foot river. He said, well, supposing you fell and suffered a compound fracture. We were now four days trek from the last big town, where there was a radio. Even if the guide went back double time to get help, it’d still be at least three days before he could return with a helicopter. If a helicopter were available at all. And in three days, I’d probably be dead from my injuries. So that was why everybody was crossing carefully. Because out in nature a little slip could be deadly.

But let’s return to religion. If Eden is a fantasy that never existed, and mankind wasn’t ever noble and kind and loving, if we didn’t fall from grace, then what about the rest of the religious tenets? What about salvation, sustainability, and judgment day? What about the coming environmental doom from fossil fuels and global warming, if we all don’t get down on our knees and conserve every day?

Well, it’s interesting. You may have noticed that something has been left off the doomsday list, lately. Although the preachers of environmentalism have been yelling about population for fifty years, over the last decade world population seems to be taking an unexpected turn. Fertility rates are falling almost everywhere. As a result, over the course of my lifetime the thoughtful predictions for total world population have gone from a high of 20 billion, to 15 billion, to 11 billion (which was the UN estimate around 1990) to now 9 billion, and soon, perhaps less. There are some who think that world population will peak in 2050 and then start to decline. There are some who predict we will have fewer people in 2100 than we do today. Is this a reason to rejoice, to say halleluiah? Certainly not. Without a pause, we now hear about the coming crisis of world economy from a shrinking population. We hear about the impending crisis of an aging population. Nobody anywhere will say that the core fears expressed for most of my life have turned out not to be true. As we have moved into the future, these doomsday visions vanished, like a mirage in the desert. They were never there—though they still appear, in the future. As mirages do.

Okay, so, the preachers made a mistake. They got one prediction wrong; they’re human. So what. Unfortunately, it’s not just one prediction. It’s a whole slew of them. We are running out of oil. We are running out of all natural resources. Paul Ehrlich: 60 million Americans will die of starvation in the 1980s. Forty thousand species become extinct every year. Half of all species on the planet will be extinct by 2000. And on and on and on.

With so many past failures, you might think that environmental predictions would become more cautious. But not if it’s a religion. Remember, the nut on the sidewalk carrying the placard that predicts the end of the world doesn’t quit when the world doesn’t end on the day he expects. He just changes his placard, sets a new doomsday date, and goes back to walking the streets. One of the defining features of religion is that your beliefs are not troubled by facts, because they have nothing to do with facts.

So I can tell you some facts. I know you haven’t read any of what I am about to tell you in the newspaper, because newspapers literally don’t report them. I can tell you that DDT is not a carcinogen and did not cause birds to die and should never have been banned. I can tell you that the people who banned it knew that it wasn’t carcinogenic and banned it anyway. I can tell you that the DDT ban has caused the deaths of tens of millions of poor people, mostly children, whose deaths are directly attributable to a callous, technologically advanced western society that promoted the new cause of environmentalism by pushing a fantasy about a pesticide, and thus irrevocably harmed the third world. Banning DDT is one of the most disgraceful episodes in the twentieth century history of America. We knew better, and we did it anyway, and we let people around the world die and didn’t give a damn.

I can tell you that second hand smoke is not a health hazard to anyone and never was, and the EPA has always known it. I can tell you that the evidence for global warming is far weaker than its proponents would ever admit. I can tell you the percentage the US land area that is taken by urbanization, including cities and roads, is 5%. I can tell you that the Sahara desert is shrinking, and the total ice of Antarctica is increasing. I can tell you that a blue-ribbon panel in Science magazine concluded that there is no known technology that will enable us to halt the rise of carbon dioxide in the 21st century. Not wind, not solar, not even nuclear. The panel concluded a totally new technology-like nuclear fusion-was necessary, otherwise nothing could be done and in the meantime all efforts would be a waste of time. They said that when the UN IPCC reports stated alternative technologies existed that could control greenhouse gases, the UN was wrong.

I can, with a lot of time, give you the factual basis for these views, and I can cite the appropriate journal articles not in whacko magazines, but in the most prestigeous science journals, such as Science and Nature. But such references probably won’t impact more than a handful of you, because the beliefs of a religion are not dependant on facts, but rather are matters of faith. Unshakeable belief.

Most of us have had some experience interacting with religious fundamentalists, and we understand that one of the problems with fundamentalists is that they have no perspective on themselves. They never recognize that their way of thinking is just one of many other possible ways of thinking, which may be equally useful or good. On the contrary, they believe their way is the right way, everyone else is wrong; they are in the business of salvation, and they want to help you to see things the right way. They want to help you be saved. They are totally rigid and totally uninterested in opposing points of view. In our modern complex world, fundamentalism is dangerous because of its rigidity and its imperviousness to other ideas.

I want to argue that it is now time for us to make a major shift in our thinking about the environment, similar to the shift that occurred around the first Earth Day in 1970, when this awareness was first heightened. But this time around, we need to get environmentalism out of the sphere of religion. We need to stop the mythic fantasies, and we need to stop the doomsday predictions. We need to start doing hard science instead.

There are two reasons why I think we all need to get rid of the religion of environmentalism.

First, we need an environmental movement, and such a movement is not very effective if it is conducted as a religion. We know from history that religions tend to kill people, and environmentalism has already killed somewhere between 10-30 million people since the 1970s. It’s not a good record. Environmentalism needs to be absolutely based in objective and verifiable science, it needs to be rational, and it needs to be flexible. And it needs to be apolitical. To mix environmental concerns with the frantic fantasies that people have about one political party or another is to miss the cold truth—that there is very little difference between the parties, except a difference in pandering rhetoric. The effort to promote effective legislation for the environment is not helped by thinking that the Democrats will save us and the Republicans won’t. Political history is more complicated than that. Never forget which president started the EPA: Richard Nixon. And never forget which president sold federal oil leases, allowing oil drilling in Santa Barbara: Lyndon Johnson. So get politics out of your thinking about the environment.

The second reason to abandon environmental religion is more pressing. Religions think they know it all, but the unhappy truth of the environment is that we are dealing with incredibly complex, evolving systems, and we usually are not certain how best to proceed. Those who are certain are demonstrating their personality type, or their belief system, not the state of their knowledge. Our record in the past, for example managing national parks, is humiliating. Our fifty-year effort at forest-fire suppression is a well-intentioned disaster from which our forests will never recover. We need to be humble, deeply humble, in the face of what we are trying to accomplish. We need to be trying various methods of accomplishing things. We need to be open-minded about assessing results of our efforts, and we need to be flexible about balancing needs. Religions are good at none of these things.

How will we manage to get environmentalism out of the clutches of religion, and back to a scientific discipline? There’s a simple answer: we must institute far more stringent requirements for what constitutes knowledge in the environmental realm. I am thoroughly sick of politicized so-called facts that simply aren’t true. It isn’t that these “facts” are exaggerations of an underlying truth. Nor is it that certain organizations are spinning their case to present it in the strongest way. Not at all—what more and more groups are doing is putting out is lies, pure and simple. Falsehoods that they know to be false.

This trend began with the DDT campaign, and it persists to this day. At this moment, the EPA is hopelessly politicized. In the wake of Carol Browner, it is probably better to shut it down and start over. What we need is a new organization much closer to the FDA. We need an organization that will be ruthless about acquiring verifiable results, that will fund identical research projects to more than one group, and that will make everybody in this field get honest fast.

Because in the end, science offers us the only way out of politics. And if we allow science to become politicized, then we are lost. We will enter the Internet version of the dark ages, an era of shifting fears and wild prejudices, transmitted to people who don’t know any better. That’s not a good future for the human race. That’s our past. So it’s time to abandon the religion of environmentalism, and return to the science of environmentalism, and base our public policy decisions firmly on that.

Thank you very much.

Florida Term Limits: Appellate court sides with Pinellas scofflaws

“Affirmed.”

That is the only explanation that the Second District Court of Appeals gave voters for their acquiescence to Pinellas County commissioners to ignore the 8-year term limits law approved overwhelmingly by voters in 1996.  The decision was rendered on April 16.

Of the 20 charter — or “home rule” — counties that have the power to customize their county government structure, 12 so far have passed term limits, mostly of the 8-year variety.  Most have enforced their term limits from day one, but a couple of recalcitrant county commissions (Sarasota and Broward, to be specific) fought them in court claiming they were unconstitutional. However, in 2012, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously decided that county commission term limits are indeed constitutional. For good measure, they also decided that constitutional officer term limits are constitutional, overturning an earlier split decision.

As a result, every term-limited county in Florida except one is enforcing their voter-approved term limits. The exception is Pinellas, and so far they are getting cover from the courts.

Why? The appellate court wouldn’t say. Perhaps this is because there is nothing to say.

It appears the courts so far have taken the position that the term limits were approved so long ago, they have never been enforced in Pinellas County, it would upset the political apple cart, it would be far easier to just let the status quo stand. Can’t we just all move on?

That is not a legal argument, of course.

The scofflaw incumbent commissioners named in the case rest their legal hat on the shaky premise that the Supreme Court effectively overturned Pinellas’ term limits law in its 2002 Cook decision which ruled constitutional officer term limits unconstitutional. That’s why the commissioners refused to place the voter-approved amendment in their charter.

Well, yes, the Pinellas law did include constitutional officers and this provision was clearly shot down, if only temporarily.

One of the problems with that argument is that the court never explicitly overturned the Pinellas law, and indeed the Cook decision didn’t even mention the issue of county commission term limits. Moreover, three other counties in which courts explicitly overturned the term limits (Sarasota, Broward and Duval) are now enforcing their limits due to the unanimous Supreme Court decision of 2012 deeming them constitutional. That includes Duval County, which was part of the Cook decision case!

How can that be squared with last week’s decision in Pinellas? It can’t — which means that the last chapter of this story is not yet written. Patrick Wheeler, who — along with Maria Scruggs — is leading this lawsuit on behalf of voters, has vowed to take this case to the next, and last, step.

Will the Supreme Court of Florida let a handful of corrupt local politicians defy its unanimous decision as well as the will of a large majority of Pinellas County voters?  I can’t imagine it. But we will find out due to the courage, honesty and persistence of citizens Wheeler and Scruggs.

The appellants are soliciting donations for legal expense. Please help. Checks can be sent to John Shahan, PA, 536 East Tarpon Avenue #3, Tarpon Springs, FL, 34689 please mark check “For Term Limits Expenses.”

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.

Now Is The Time For Congress To Pass The FairTax by Rep. Ander Crenshaw (FL-4)

With America’s April 15 tax filing day just a couple days behind us, I must reiterate my strong support for passage of the FairTax Act of 2013. American individuals and businesses spend roughly $265 billion and over 6 billion hours every year filing their tax returns.

This costly and complicated tax code has grown to over 3.8 million words and over 70,000 pages of burdensome regulations and loopholes. This amount of time and money can be better spent on growing the economy and creating jobs, and implementing the FairTax would help do just that.

Americans deserve to keep more of their paycheck in their wallets and bank accounts. The FairTax replaces the current federal tax code with a national sales tax on all goods and services sold in the United States. Federal income taxes, FICA payroll taxes, and the death tax would all be eliminated, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would no longer be needed as the states would be in charge of collecting all revenue.

As Chairman of the House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, my Subcommittee directly oversees the IRS budget. The IRS plays a critical role in our nation’s tax administration by providing services to help Americans comply with their tax obligations and pursuing those who are not paying their fair share.

However, the IRS is encumbered with the large task of processing over 237 million tax returns that result in the collection of $2.5 trillion in taxes and $373 billion in refunds annually for a price of over $11 billion annually in hard-earned taxpayer dollars. These are billions of dollars that Americans don’t need to be sending to Washington to fund big and costly government programs.

The FairTax protects the poor and treats everyone equally: no exemptions, no exclusions, no advantages.

People would be allowed to keep their entire paycheck and spend hard-earned dollars on ways that best suit them. In addition, consumers would see savings in the price of goods and services from no longer required hidden business taxes. And on the business side of the equation, labor costs are lowered by eliminating payroll taxes and allowing businesses to hire more workers.

A tax code that is simpler, fairer, and more competitive is what our country needs to spur economic growth. By adding the FairTax to the equation we give individuals, families, and businesses yet another tool to achieve economic peace of mind now and in the future.

In the end, citizens in Florida and across the country know best how to spend their money and deserve to keep more of it in their wallets and bank accounts. Congress needs to take action to make responsible fiscal policy changes that will help strengthen our Nation’s future. That means passing the FairTax sooner rather than later.

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FairTax Volunteer Spotlight – Tax Day

California volunteer State Director, Jim Donnell sent us a note about a Tax Day rally at the California State Capitol:

“The FairTax booth was a popular spot. We had over 90 people sign post cards to be sent off to their representatives in Congress urging them to support the FairTax. We handed out well over 100 FairTax fliers and handed out a bunch of FairTax pens. All in all we felt it was a very successful day. I also had an opportunity to speak to the crowd for about 10 minutes after which we had people lined up two and three deep wanting more information.

CA Tax DayHearty thanks to Jim and fellow FairTax volunteers John Depue, Frank Wagener, Kenneth Smith and Maxine Rodowicz for working so hard to make the event happen!The FairTax In the Media

Bi-partisanship and the tax code – Shreveport Times

…Obama, Speaker John Boehner and others all the way down on both sides of the aisle give the same talking points on the need for comprehensive tax reform. “We need to close loopholes.” “We need to make it more transparent.” “We need to simplify.”..

The Fair Tax Act is a bill currently in Congress that would do just that…

Well, if this is so good, why hasn’t Congress done it?

This goes back to the bi-partisan effort I started with. Those in leadership have too much invested in the tax code to let it go easily. They may bicker over many things, but even when their side is not in power, they can’t let it go hoping that they will have their turn again. The only two classes that truly exist are the political elite, and the rest of us. This is why “we the people” no matter our other issues or disagreements, must be non-partisan on this, and force them to do what is right.

Isn’t it time you got involved?

Town hall meeting focuses on tax reform – WHIZ News

A town hall meeting proposed the idea that the current tax system is flawed and a tax reform is needed.

The forum debated the difference between a flat tax and a fair tax. Speakers on both sides agreed that the forum will hopefully act as a way to change the tax system.

“This is a replacement for the system that’s already there, the federal income tax. What we propose to do under the fair tax is eliminate the income tax and eliminate the IRS and replace it with one simple retail sales tax,” said Steve Curtis, State Director with Americans for Fair Tax Ohio…

Curtis adds, “Our objective is to help people understand just how bad of a situation we’re in and give them an alternative.”

Understanding The FairTax Webinar

With April’s Additional Topic: The effect on seniors and retired people.

When: Thursday, April 24, 2014

Time: 8 pm Eastern, 7 pm Central, 6 pm Mountain, 5 pmPacific

Where: At your personal computer, anywhere!

Why: To provide a LIVE, interactive forum for people who cannot get to local meetings to learn about the FairTax and to present special topics that are frequently misunderstood or not generally discussed.

Who: Join Marc Manieri, Webinar Producer & Host from Orlando, Florida. Our webinars are vital to educating honest tax payers. We help build the knowledge base of those on the front lines as well as those wanting to know what the FairTax is about.

Join: To participate, register here and watch for the confirmation email. For more information contact Larry Walters at repeal_16@earthlink.net

RELATED STORY: IRS Caught in Bed With DOJ: New Documents Reveal Lerner Conspired with DOJ to Prosecute Conservative Groups

Defendant asks judge to postpone lawsuit seeking to impose same-sex marriage on Floridians

Judge Sarah ZabelHomosexual activists and progressive liberals filed the following lawsuits this year seeking to impose same-sex marriage on Floridians:

  • On January 21, 2014, six same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in state court against Harvey Ruvin, Clerk of the Court in Miami-Dade Circuit, for refusing to issue marriage licenses to the couples.   The case styled as Pareto v. Ruvin was assigned to Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel.
  • On February 28, 2014, a same-sex couple from Florida who married in Canada in 2009 filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida.  The case styled as Brenner v. Scott was assigned to Judge Robert Lewis Hinkle.
  • On March 13, 2014 the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit on behalf of Miami-Dade LGBT group SAVE [50] and eight same-sex couples married in other states asking the courts to order Florida to recognize their marriages.  Governor Rick Scott and three other state officials are listed as defendants.  The case was assigned to Judge Robert Lewis Hinkle.
  • On April 3, 2014, Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones filed suit against the County Clerk of Monroe County after they were denied a marriage license.   The case has been assigned to Monroe County Chief Judge David Audlin.

These lawsuits challenge the constitutionality of the Florida Constitutional amendment which defines marriage as only between one man and one woman as well as F.S. 741.212 entitled Marriages between persons of the same sex which prohibits same-sex marriage.

Floridians voted 4,890,883 (61.92%) to 3,008,026 (38.08%) on November 4, 2008 to amend the Florida Constitution with:   SECTION 27 of the Florida Constitution states:  Marriage defined. — Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.   

Harvey Ruvin, Clerk of the Court in Miami-Dade, (defendant in the first case) filed a Motion to Abate the lawsuit.  The motion to abate states in part:

  • This action, like the Federal Litigation, involves questions of federal law, in particular, whether the provisions of the Florida Statutes and the Florida Constitution that prohibit recognition of same-sex marriage violate the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This action, like the Federal Litigation, was brought pursuant to federal law, i.e., 42U.S.C.§ 1983.  There are no state law questions raised in this action that can be resolved independently of the federal law questions, the same questions that have been advanced in the Federal Litigation.
  • Like the Plaintiffs in this action, the plaintiffs in the Federal Litigation seek to have the court enter a declaratory judgment that § 741.212, Fla. Stat and Fla. Const. Art. I, § 27 violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
  • Based on the identical federal law questions raised in this action and the Federal Litigation, the subject matter of this action is essentially the same as the subject matter of the Federal Litigation.
  • The Clerk, a County officer, is the only defendant named in the Plaintiffs’ Complaint in this action. In contrast, the Grimsley Litigation names state officials Governor Rick Scott, Attorney General Pamela Bondi, Surgeon General/Secretary of Health John Armstrong and Department of Management Services Secretary Craig Nichols.  Similarly, the Brenner Litigation names as defendants the Governor and the Attorney General.
  • Unlike the Clerk, the named defendants in the Federal Litigation are state officials who have an actual, present, adverse and antagonistic interest in the subject matter of the Federal Litigation.
  • Unlike the Clerk, the named state defendants are not ministerial County officers and have standing to challenge or defend the validity of a provision of a Florida Statute or the Florida Constitution.
  • Therefore, unlike the Clerk, the defendants in the Federal Litigation are in a position to fully brief the federal law questions at issue in both the Federal Litigation and this action.
  • By abating this action pending resolution of the Federal Litigation, this Court will benefit from the full briefing of these important Constitutional issues by governmental advocates representing the State of Florida, instead of having only the Plaintiffs’ briefing on the merits of their arguments that the challenged provisions of the Florida Statutes and the Florida Constitution violate the United States Constitution.

Additionally, abating this litigation will save hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars by eliminating duplicitous lawsuits that require a government legal defense.

7,898,909 Floridians voted on this important public policy.  Therefore, the fullest Due Process should be afforded this matter.  Denying the fullest Due Process would only diminish a fair image of the court by the public.  The Motion to Abate is scheduled to be heard on April 23, 2014.

If Circuit Court Judge Sara Zabel grants the Motion to Abate in Pareto v. Ruvin then this case will not be litigated in her court until after the challenge is thoroughly vetted in federal court and U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lewis Hinkle issues his ruling.

HOWEVER, if Circuit Court Judge Sara Zabel denies the motion to abate then in all likelihood she intends to strike down the Florida Marriage Protection Act.

Florida Family Association has prepared an email for you to send that urges Circuit Court Judge Sara Zabel to grant the Clerk of the Court’s motion to abate.

To send your email, please click the following link, enter your name and email address then click the “Send Your Message” button. You may also edit the subject or message text if you wish.

If you wish click here to send your email urging Circuit Court Judge Sara Zabel to grant the Clerk of the Court’s motion to abate.

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.

Why won’t Rep. Jeff Miller (R FL-1) Co-Sponsor HR 36 establishing a Select Committee on Benghazi?

 U.S. Reps. Jeff Miller (center) and Blake Farenthold (right) visit Rear Adm. Bill Sizemore (left), Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA), at CNATRA Headquarters.

Today I spoke to the senior leadership at Special Operations Speaks (SOS).

rep jeff miller

Rep. Jeff Miller (R FL District-1)

They asked me why Rep. Jeff Miller (R FL District 1) has NOT co-sponsored HR 36 introduced by Rep. Wolf, Frank R. (R-VA-10) on January 18, 2013? HR 36 calls for a Select Committee to investigate the Benghazi, Libya scandal which cost the lives of 2 Navy SEALs, a US Ambassador and his aide. HR 36 will help uncover the truth about the Benghazi massacre, to include failed security preparations, intentional abandonment of US citizens in distress and the reported cover-up surrounding this national tragedy.

HR 36 establishes in the House of Representatives a select Committee to investigate and report to the House on:

  • any intelligence known to the United States relating to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012;
  • any requests for additional security, or actions taken by federal agencies to improve security at the consulate before the attack;
  • a definitive timeline of it;
  • how the relevant agencies and the executive branch responded to it and whether appropriate congressional notifications were made;
  • any improper conduct by officials relating to the attack;
  • recommendations on what steps Congress and the President should take to prevent future attacks; and
  • any other relevant issues relating to the attack or the response to it.

Why won’t Rep. Jeff Miller of District 1 in Florida, a bastion of Special Forces Operators, not join 190 of his fellow colleagues and DEMAND an investigation into this tragedy?

Why is Jeff Miller following the same ideology as John Boehner?

Why won’t Rep. Miller join with Rep. Vern Buchanan, the Republican co-Chair of the Florida delegation, along with Rep. Bill Posey, (R-FL-8)Rep. C.W. Bill Young, (R-FL-13)Rep. Ron DeSantis, (R-FL-6),  Rep. John L. Mica, (R-FL-7)Rep. Dennis A. Ross, (R-FL-15)Rep. Richard B. Nugent, (R-FL-11)Rep. Thomas J. Rooney, (R-FL-17)Rep.Steve Southerland II, (R-FL-2)Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis, (R-FL-12)Rep. Ander Crenshaw, (R-FL-4)Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (R-FL-27)Rep. Ted S. Yoho, (R-FL-3)Rep. Daniel Webster, (R-FL-10), and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, (R-FL-25)?

I called John Krause who is running against Jeff Miller for Congress and asked him if he would sign HR 36 and he stated “absolutely.” “I would have signed it already” he said if he was in Congress. He would be demanding all the emails from the State Department to the White House regarding this event and would be “knocking on John Boehner’s door to find out his problem for not initiating this investigation.”

There you go boys and girls. Leadership requires guts and intestinal fortitude. It does not mean you follow the party line and meander in the stream like a stick. It means you get off your backside and lead from the front and protect the Constitution and our fellow veterans. Mr. Miller needs to go home to his family and enjoy his pension. We need a leader in Congress not a passive follower.

As for the families of those Navy SEALs killed in Benghazi, we will bring justice for these families trust me. Mr. Boehner we are not going away.

EDITORS NOTE: The author of this column has endorsed John Krause for Congress.

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.

The Bundy Ranch and the “Sinister Six”

The Bundy Ranch showdown is over for now, but the bad guys are still free to attack others. Major General Paul Vallely, US Army (Ret.) has a plan to force the resignations of the worst of them. Learn who are the “Sinister Six.”

[youtube]http://youtu.be/0bdHbIuZYQ8[/youtube]

 

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Oklahoma Joins the Fight: Militia Members Migrate to Nevada to Join Fight Against Feds
Democrats awash in ‘green’ energy deals on public land
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Conservative Freedom Party Leads Poll for Dutch European Parliament Elections

Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) leads in  Dutch polls next month’s European Parliament elections.  According to a report in the Dutch publication, Spitsnieuws:

A TNS NIPO poll published today predicts that the PVV, the Party for Freedom of Geert Wilders,  will become the biggest party in the European elections in the Netherlands.

According to the poll the PVV is going to win the European elections on 22 May with 18.1% of the votes, followed by the Liberal VVD of Prime Minister Mark Rutte with 16.2% and the liberal-democrat D66 party with 15.7%.

The losers of the European elections would be the Christian-Democrats and Labor.

In our April NER article, Geert Wilders Once Again Endures a Firestorm of Criticism, we noted how Dutch voters in the March 2014 municipal elections had voted their disapproval of the ruling coalition parties in the Hague Parliament, noting how they immediately tried to pin the blame on Geert  Wilders as an extremist.  Presciently in our conclusion we suggested that those same Dutch voters would ultimately vindicate him in the May european elections.  We wrote:

To paraphrase England’s Henry II regarding the fate of former boon companion, Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Beckett, the Dutch political and media establishment might say: “who will rid us of this upstart meddlesome blonde.” We hope that those Dutch folks who went to the polls on March 19th and gave the PVV victories in several smaller municipalities may be joined by others in the majority, who didn’t vote. That might  provide the PVV with a victory in the May EU parliamentary elections. We have seen Wilders bounce back from previous episodes like a proverbial cat with nine lives. His Euro-skeptic alliance partners, especially Ms. Le Pen in France, would deem that a stunning and well deserved turnabout.

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

How one Congressional District can make a difference

kirk jorgenson

Kirk Jorgensen in Iraq as a Marine Captain. Photo courtesy of the Jorgensen family.

We are pleased that former Congressman Duncan L. Hunter, a decorated Army Ranger with combat duty in Vietnam, endorsed of LCdr Kirk Jorgensen, USCGR. On the weekends, LCdr Jorgenson serves in the US Coast Guard, interdicting illegal immigrants trying to enter the US by sea. Lcdr Jorgenson served four combat tours as a US Marine Officer in Iraq and Bosnia, and was the 22nd Combat Veterans For Congress endorsement in 2014.

We ask each of you who read this to either work in his campaign, contribute to his campaign in any amount. I encourage those you know in the 52nd Congressional District of California to vote for Kirk, and vote for Kirk Jorgenson in the June 2014 California primary. The below video will tell you why Kirk will make an important difference in Congress. Kirk Jorgensen is a Veteran who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America’ for an amount ‘up to and including his life.’”

Former Congressman Duncan L. Hunter writes, “People have asked me why I’m supporting Kirk Jorgensen over the other candidates on June 3rd to represent the people of California’s 52nd congressional district. His campaign showed me this video and I’m certain you’ll see why: It’s not so much that Kirk deserves to represent them, it’s the fact the 52nd congressional district deserves someone like Kirk. Take a moment to get to know Kirk and you’ll be impressed. He’s exactly what the 52nd district needs today.”

[youtube]http://youtu.be/dY2QSSClXxE[/youtube]

 

To learn more about Kirk Jorgensen click here.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of the Jorgensen for Congress campaign.

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.

NYPD Disbands Muslim Surveillance program: Dangerous for New Yorkers?

Tuesday, a news conference held by New York Police Commissioner William Bratton announced the dismantling of the NYPD Muslim community surveillance program, The Demographic Unit, renamed the Zone Assessment Unit. Department spokesperson Stephen Davis remarked:

Understanding certain local demographics can be a useful factor when assessing the threat information that comes into New York City virtually on a daily basis. In the future, we will gather that information, if necessary, through direct contact between the police precincts and the representatives of the communities they serve.

Democrat Mayor of New York, William Di Blasio called the move:

a critical step forward in easing tensions between the police and the communities they serve, so that our cops and our citizens can help one another go after the real bad guys.

CAIR New York Board Chairman, Ray Mahoney said:

CAIR-NY welcomes the closing of the NYPD Zone Assessment Unit. This is an important first step. However, the damage of unconstitutional mass spying on people solely on the basis of their religion has already been carried out and must be addressed. We need to hear from the mayor and NYPD officials that the policy itself has been ended and that the department will no longer apply mass surveillance or other forms of biased and predatory policing to any faith-based community.

Linda Sarsour of the Arab American Association of New York said:

The Demographics Unit created psychological warfare in our community. Those documents, they showed where we live. That’s the cafe where I eat. That’s where I pray. That’s where I buy my groceries. They were able to see their entire lives on those maps. And it completely messed with the psyche of the community.

Thus ends a program developed in 2003 with the assistance ex-CIA officer Lawrence Sanchez at the request of former Commissioner Ray Kelly. In the wake of 9/11 it was deemed important to try and identify extremists in New York and outlying targeted Muslim communities who might provide assistance in terrorist plots threatening the City of New York.  That meant identifying informants within the community, creating a veritable census of the community and its institutions including monitoring Mosques and their leaders for inflammatory ideology.

Given the failure within the federal intelligence community exposed in the Report of the 9/11 Commission to collect, analyze and disseminate counter terrorism intelligence, forming special units within  the NYPD to detect and prevent terrorist attacks made eminent sense to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.  The NYPD counterterrorism program had another component the International Liaison Program with officers located in 11 overseas cities. The combined NYPD counterterrorism effort  alleged to have stopped more than 16 terrorists plots including intercepting a perpetrator of a possible dirty bomb attack planned for the 2004 Republican National Convention in Manhattan.  These programs have been pummeled with criticism that they were costly, and didn’t result in any arrests. New York Muslim community activists and civil liberties groups point to a “pretrial examination before the US District Court for the Southern District of New York  in which  Commanding Officer of the Intelligence Division Thomas Galati admitted that the program had never generated a lead”.

With the arrival of   Mayor De Blasio and Commissioner Bratton in 2014, the Muslim Community Mapping effort by the NYPD became subject to litigation by Muslim plaintiffs, in actions previously  filed in the Newark, New Jersey Federal District Court and in the Eastern District Court  in Brooklyn. Mayor DiBlasio during his electoral campaign had urged accommodation of New York Muslim community concerns. The Washington Post tagged Bratton, in December 2013 as  “healer in chief of a worried Muslim community”.

The first case was brought by Muslim plaintiffs in 2012 against the City of New York as a result of a 2011 Associated Press investigation of the New York Police Department (NYPD) surveillance of Muslim mosques in New Jersey.  The AP series:

Revealed that the NYPD dispatched undercover officers into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program.  Police also used informants, known as “mosque crawlers,” to monitor sermons, even when there was no evidence of wrongdoing. Hundreds of mosques and Muslim student groups were investigated and dozens were infiltrated. Many of these operations were built with help from the CIA, which is prohibited from spying on Americans but was instrumental in transforming the NYPD’s intelligence unit after 9/11.

The NYPD had also undertaken similar surveillance  of the Somali Muslim community in Buffalo, New York.  The Newark federal court ruling was immediately contested by Muslim community leaders and civil rights groups as abetting ‘spying’ and so-called community profiling. The New Jersey case harkens back to CAIR and other Muslim advocacy groups in New York contesting a 2007 NYPD Muslim profiling   manual.  There was also  a case brought by an ex- Muslim NYPD officer against a consultant to the NYPD counterterrorism unit. Ironically, former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, who set up the Muslim community surveillance program, received an award in 2012 from the Department’s Muslim Advisory Council.

On February 20, 2014, the first action brought by New Jersey Muslim Plaintiffs in the matter of Hassan v. City of New York, 2:12-CV-3401, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark) was dismissed by Federal District Judge William F. Martini who noted in his decision:

[T]he Plaintiffs in this case have not alleged facts from which it can be plausibly inferred that they were targeted solely because of their religion.  The more likely explanation for the surveillance was a desire to locate budding terrorist conspiracies. The most obvious reason for so concluding is that surveillance of the Muslim community began just after the attacks of September 11, 2001. The police could not have monitored New Jersey for Muslim terrorists’ activities without monitoring the Muslim community itself. While this surveillance program may have had adverse effects upon the Muslim community after the AP published its articles; the motive for the program was not solely to discriminate against Muslims, but rather to find Muslim terrorists hiding among ordinary, law-abiding Muslims.

In an interview with Brooke Goldstein of the Lawfare Project, we asked her about the NYPD surveillance program.  She said:

What I can say is that from my dealings with the NYPD, they were not targeting Muslims and engaging in discrimination based on race or religion.  What they were doing was targeting institutions that have a connection to terrorism and those groups happen to be Islamist… Simply because of the fact they have a theological justification has now opened up the NYPD surveillance program to accusations of so-called Islamophobia which are absolutely baseless and ridiculous.

In light of Tuesday’s announcement by NYPD Commissioner Bratton, could the Eastern District case brought by New York plaintiffs be mooted? Or will the announcement spur further Lawfare litigation by New York Muslim plaintiffs?

The NYPD  abandonment of the Muslim community mapping programs  may  embolden Muslim Brotherhood influencers in the Obama Administration, especially Arif Alikhan, assistant secretary for policy and Mohamed Elibiary, a senior member of the US Department of Homeland Security’s  advisory council.  Alikhan, as deputy mayor of Los Angeles for public safety, worked to scuttle  a similar Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD)  Muslim community ‘mapping’ program in 2007 when current NYPD Police Commissioner William Bratton was LAPD  Police Chief from 2002-2009.  Elibiary on the DHS Advisory panel had been actively involved in elimination of Islamic Jihad doctrine from DHS and other federal agencies’ counterterrorism training materials.  Perhaps NYPD Commissioner might turn to a community self policing proposal being promoted by MPAC, a Muslim Brotherhood front with influence in Washington,   called “Safe Spaces”.  According to a Wall Street Journal article,  “Mosques get a New Message”, Safe Spaces , is about  a voluntary program  by boards of  American Mosques engaging in identifying and ‘converting’ extremists in their midst thereby co-opting local and national law enforcement profiling of their communities.

With the end the NYPD Muslim community surveillance by order of Commissioner Bratton, New Yorkers must be concerned about who will monitor Islamist extremists and potential terror threats in the Big Apple.  As of Tuesday, Lawfare by Muslim Brotherhood interests reigns supreme in all five boroughs.

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

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.