Thursday, August 06, 2009

Obama Administration To Impose Liberal UN Curriculum

On July 24, 2009, the U.S Department of Education (DOE) announced that the "centerpiece of the Obama administration's education reform efforts" in its "$4.35 billion Race to the Top," will include "adopting internationally benchmarked education standards." These will be national standards, said the press release, keyed to international standards and will be incentivized to the states with federal "stimulus" dollars.

By the term "education standards" DOE means content standards; meaning curriculum-the content schools must teach. By "national education standards" DOE means that schools in all 50 states will teach the same content. This will create a de facto federal curriculum The Department of Education will financially reward those states that teach what DOE wants taught. The Department can be expected to insist that the values taught in the national curriculum conform to the very liberal ideology of the Obama administration.

According to the announcement, this federal curriculum will consist of "internationally benchmarked" standards. The only extant comprehensive "internationally benchmarked" education standards are those developed by UNESCO, the UN's education arm The UNESCO website clarifies that its education standards conform to the treaties and agreements of the UN. This means that its curriculum includes, for example, the requirements of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which says, "Education shall . . . further the activities of the United Nations" (Art. 26:2).

American schools used to teach the fundamental values of the United States--including the inalienable, God-given rights of life, liberty and property, as guaranteed by our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Not any more. Now our students will be indoctrinated in the UN's definition of human rights. As clarified by the UN's UDHR, our rights now may not "be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations" (Art 29:3). Our children will be taught that they have only those rights the UN says they have.

The UNESCO standards also include the UN's Earth Charter which further defines internationally benchmarked standards. The Charter says these standards must entail what it calls "sustainability education" (Art 14:b). The Charter explains that "sustainability education" entails the "promotion of the equitable distribution of wealth within nations and among nations" (Art. 10:a), nuclear disarmament (Art. 16:d), gay marriage (Art. 12:a), legalized abortion (Art. 7:e), adoption of an "international legally binding instrument on environment" (The way Forward), and indoctrination in pantheism (Art. 14d and Art. 16:f).

The National Governor's Association is enabling the Obama administration's plans by calling for "voluntary national education standards." Goals 2000 of 1994 was "voluntary," too, but most legislators were unaware of the fine print in the companion bill, HR6, which required that states would lose all their federal education funding if they failed to comply. That is why all 50 states joined Goals 2000. The Obama administration has made it clear that it views "voluntary national standards" the same way.


School Choice Would Satisfy Hunger for Change

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently wrote in the Washington Post about the plans for the $4.35 billion "Race to the Top" fund, saying it is "by far the largest pot of discretionary funding for K-12 education reform in the history of the United States." Yet, even in the midst of an unprecedented recession, adding more money is not the only answer.

Since 2000 education funding has increase 49 percent, and student performance has yet to see improvements. However, Secretary Duncan stated, "America urgently needs to elevate the quality of K-12 schooling and boost college graduation rates, not simply to propel the economic recovery but also because students need stronger skills to compete in a global economy." To compete globally, we must consider international practices that are working.

In their shoot-for-the-moon, Race to the Top competition, states should look to countries such as Sweden and the Netherlands for models of allowing the education funding to follow the child either to public, private, or independent schools. This method, not only equalizing the playing field for all children to have a chance of success-but by creating market competition saves the state money in the long run.

In the U.S., existing school choice programs have saved nearly $444 million from 1990 to 2006. "I have visited 23 states in the past six months and have met countless students, teachers, parents, and administrators who hunger for change," says Duncan. Why not end that hunger once and for all with change from the bottom-up, instead of more top-down pablum that satisfies no one except defenders of the status quo?


Britain's grade-school marking bungles continue

Key Stage 2 test papers sent back for remarking by primary schools

Thousands of primary school national curriculum test papers have been sent back by schools for re-marking, The Times has discovered. Teachers’ leaders say that hundreds of schools have complained, but that the extent of the problem is even wider and that the standard of marking should be investigated by Ofqual, the exams regulator.

National results for the Key Stage 2 tests, which were taken by about 600,000 11-year-olds, will be released today although individual schools already know how their pupils have done. Heads and teachers plan to boycott the tests next year amid accusations that they restrict the curriculum and damage children’s learning.

More than 100 schools have contacted one teaching union to say that they have returned papers. Head teachers believe that many more have done the same without contacting their unions.

The National Association of Head Teachers, which represents 85 per cent of primary school head teachers, said that “considerable numbers” of its members had complained about standards of marking since Edexcel returned the test papers last month.

Mick Brookes, the general secretary, said: “There have been particular concerns about the quality of marking in the writing papers. This affects the overall score in English. There is an average 17 percentage point difference between standards in writing and reading among the same children taught by the same teachers. “Either reading has been marked too high or writing has been marked too low. Wherever we go, people are particularly incandescent about the quality of marking of writing. “We want Ofqual to find out how many schools have appealed. We think the ones who have contacted us could be the tip of the iceberg.”

The Liberal Democrats predicted that today’s figures would show that the number of children leaving primary school unable to read or write, since Labour came to power, would pass 500,000.

Formerly called SATs, the tests in English, maths and science are taken at the end of a child’s primary school education and are used to judge how much each child has improved since they started at the school. The results are then used to rank schools. Many teachers and some parents want the tests for 11-year-olds to be abolished. Key Stage 3 tests, which were sat by 14-year-olds, were abolished last year after problems with marking resulted in the loss and delayed return of millions of papers taken by both age groups.

An inquiry discovered that ETS Europe, the company responsible for setting and marking the tests, had a huge backlog of unanswered e-mails and phone calls and that there were unresolved problems with the online marking system. The £156 million contract with ETS, which was to run for five years, was severed in its first year and Ken Boston resigned as head of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the government agency responsible for overseeing the tests.

Last year’s chaos saw about 200,000 papers returned for re-marking, four times the number sent back in 2007. These included the Key Stage 3 test results and Key Stage 2 science tests, both of which were abolished this year, making comparisons difficult.

This year’s tests were administered by Edexcel, the exam board that was also responsible for them between 2005 and 2007. Two of the biggest teaching unions have voted to disrupt next year’s tests if the Government does not accede to their demands.

Kathleen Tattersall, chairman of Ofqual, said it would investigate this year’s marking. She added: “I’m pleased that, this year, 99.9 per cent of results have been received by schools on time. Following the problems experienced last year, the timely delivery of results will be welcomed by schools, parents and pupils. “Ofqual is continuing to monitor the quality control of the marking of this year’s papers and we will be listening to schools about any concerns that they might have. Building on research already done, we will do some further work into the marking quality of this year’s tests.”

Diana Johnson, the Schools Minister, said: “We know that 163,000 more pupils have gained at least a Level 3 in English, and 183,000 in maths, than if school standards had remained the same as in 1997. This means that thousands more children have started secondary school with a firm foundation in the basics.”


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