Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Rationing school freedom in collectivist Oakland

You can’t have too much of a good thing—unless you mean freedom and you live in Oakland, apparently.

Oakland Unified School District school board member Jody London says enough’s enough when it comes to parents looking out for their own kids’ education. What does she mean?

Oakland has the highest concentration of charter schools of any city in California, according to the San Francisco Chronicle: “This year, more than a quarter of the city’s 49,000 students are attending one of its nearly 40 alternative public schools, far more per capita than anywhere else in the state.” That means fewer students—and dollars—for Oakland USD.

There oughta be a law. Well, technically in California, there is.

The number of charter schools is capped at 1,650 statewide, but that cap is increased by 100 schools annually. While there’s no limit at the local level, an estimated 50,000 students statewide are on charter school waiting lists.

That suits London just fine because as far as she’s concerned, children are community property, as the Chronicle continues:

    "With five more charter applications in front of the school board this fall, London said she has had enough. Supporters of charter schools are “looking out for their families, for their kids,” she said. But that support doesn’t necessarily extend to the neighbors’ children, perhaps a child with severe disabilities or one most at risk of failing.” At some point, we have a collective responsibility in this society, in this community to look out for each other,” she added. Last month, she vowed to vote against any new charters."

It’s illegal for school board members to vote down prospective charter schools because they might negatively affect districts’ budgets. But London insists she’s not against charter schools, just “too many” charter schools.

For her, determining how many is too many is a matter of local control. London’s right.

And it doesn’t get more local than parents who have the right and the responsibility to educate their children as and where they think is best. The last thing elected officials should be doing is rationing schooling options—especially ones who’ve claimed collective “responsibility” over other people’s children and failed.


First Obamacare, now Obamacore

Common Core standards  guide what skills students learn, not only when, but how.

Many great literary works won’t be read or taught at all. The move is away from classics and toward informational texts such as government documents. When reading a classic speech such as Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, students will be told to mediate on how they feel about the text and then asked to relate it to social justice. Ignored will be the virtues of honor, moral truths, right and wrong, etc., so prevalent in classic literature as revealed in their contents. In other words, students will be encouraged to think like a socialist with texts that foster extreme leftist ideology.

*    Changing emphasis on historical events. Why Pearl Harbor should be remembered seems obvious to most of us.  Consider the opening page of the slim chapter in one approved Common Core textbook devoted to World War II called “War Shock”, which features a photograph of a woman inspecting a large stockpile of thousand-pound bomb castings.  As stated:  The entire section is littered with questions and plenty of photos that show the destruction of Hiroshima.  Just in case students would be inclined to take the American side in this conflict, the editors see to it that teachers will remind the students repeatedly that there are two sides in every war.

*    A new interest in religion — just everything else but Christianity or Judaism. In California, a Common Core book used in middle school (“History Alive”) has an entire 65-page chapter devoted to the History of Islam which glorifies Islam and Muhammad where before there was only one page devoted to Islam, while the text about the history of Christianity and the church has been decreased.

*    Math concepts taught at different age levels. In Math, multiplication is being  moved from second grade to third and algebra is being pushed into the high school. Calculus is no longer a requirement, even though calculus is required at the college level

*    Student and family privacy tossed out. In the privacy realm:  It has been revealed that non-academic, personal information is beingcollected through the Common Core testing consortia about students and their parents, including family income, parents’ political affiliation, their religion, and students’ disciplinary records — all without parental consent.

 *   Exorbitant costs to school budgets. Regarding cost to Illinois:  Official estimates indicate that for every $1 in federal funding states will receive from adopting Common Core, they’ll have to spend $4 to implement it. It’s much higher here in Illinois. Implementation of Common Core will cost $799 million, with federal awards totaling $66 million.  This means Illinois will lose $733 million. As a federal incentive to sign on to Common Core in 2010, Illinois is the big loser financially, as are young people education-wise.

*    Cost passed on to taxpayers. The cost to school districts is projected to reach $166 million nationwide over the next five years.  This year state lawmakers experienced a sticker shock when PARC and SBAC rolled out its new tests which were twice as expensive on the average -as were previous tests — $22 to $27 per test. With 67% of the Illinois’ local districts operating at a deficit, one study shows Common Core implementation could cost local school districts $773 million over the next seven years.

Do your own homework on Common Core in your school district(s). Don’t allow advocates to peg you as crazy.   Show up at local school board meetings and let your opinions be heard, also at PTA meetings. It is imperative that you take the time to find out how far along your school system is in adopting Common Core standards.

FOIAs are a good way to request information if a school district prefers to be secretive by being vague or in giving you the run around.  Also, most districts have a curriculum director for direct interaction about Common Core.  And by all means if you have children attending public schools (and even private schools) keep tabs on what and how they are being taught. Text books must be examined for bias and propaganda.

No where in our Constitution is education spelled out as to its structure and scope, for the Founders wanted nearly all aspects of our lives to be governed by those who were closest to us at the local or state level. Education does relates to the 10th Amendment as state’s rights issue. We cannot allow government to grab children early on, entering them first into a government program called Kindergarten, then continuing the molding until about age 20 when they are called to serve the State.

Opposition is growing against Common Core from the left, the right, and the middle in many states over concern about Common Core and its implementation, especially over the high-stakes standardized tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards.There is Common Core unrest in 17 states, Illinois is not among them, as noted in this post by Mercedes Schneider, a public school teacher, education activist, PhD.

Even two Democrat-led states, New York and Massachusetts — Blue States like Illinois — are showing signs of distancing themselves from the curriculum that the Obama administration is supporting in a big way. Will Illinois be next to turn on Common Core?  It is past time to take action that is really for the sake of our children, unlike  school districts who use the phrase “for the children” when appealing to taxpayers for additional funding.

Russian communist Vladimir Lenin knew the power of controlling the future by taking control of the school. He once said: ”Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never by uprooted.”


Why Jaydon can't read

Comment from Australia

In the most recent international assessment of primary school literacy achievement - the Progress in Reading Literacy Study 2011 - Australian and New Zealand students were at the bottom of the rankings for English-speaking countries. One in four Year 4 students in Australia and New Zealand failed to achieve the international benchmark for literacy that allows good progress through school.

This is not a new problem. Other international assessments and national testing programs like NAPLAN show an entrenched proportion of students with low reading levels after four or more years of formal schooling. Millions of words have been written and billions of dollars have been spent on government programs trying to fix this problem, to no avail.

The one thing that has not been tried is the one thing most likely to work - effective, evidence-based reading instruction in every classroom. A robust body of scientific evidence finds that effective reading instruction has five essential components - phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. For early success in reading, these skills must be taught explicitly and systematically.

Numerous reviews, surveys and inquiries have found that teaching degrees in Australian universities are not preparing teachers sufficiently well in these reading instruction strategies, based on scientific evidence of 'what works.' Education academics often argue that there are other kinds of evidence, such as case studies, qualitative research and action research. Such studies can provide useful information, but cannot be considered in the same league as studies using scientific methodology and which provide measurable and replicable results.

Reliance on poor quality evidence is not confined to university education faculties; it also plagues government policy development. Literacy policy has been routinely undermined by a failure to understand that reading research, especially as it applies to the early years and for struggling readers, is a highly scientific and specific discipline. Generalist educators and bureaucrats do not have the expertise required to guide policy in this area.

The new Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, plans to establish an advisory committee to guide policy development. The committee will have a strong document to work from - the report of the 2005 National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy. Hopefully some of Australia's internationally-regarded reading experts will be called upon to finally put it into action.


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