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Creationism Is Not Allowed in Public Schools
May 24th, 2013 by johnbeagle

At a Springboro, Ohio’s Board of Education meeting last June the school board discussed among other things, teaching creationism in Springboro public schools. Oh my God.

That didn’t sit well with the American Civil Liberties Union who at the time insisted the Springboro school board immediately abandon plans to pass any policy teaching creationism calling such a plan as ‘controversial.’ Some teachers and teacher aligned parents said this issue is a distraction to divert attention away from more important issues such as teacher pay and district finances.

We can’t have children learning other points of view and thank God for the ACLU! The ACLU says that God does not belong in public schools. If you want God, go to a parochial school.

Board Vice President Jim Rigano said the proposed policy didn’t just focus on creationism. He said:

“It’s about controversial issues and creation, evolution being one of those and the policy is being brought forward for a couple reasons. One is we don’t want to be indoctrinating students to any particular point of view. We want to make sure that all sides are being taught in a fair and balanced way and, then,also, we want to encourage critical thinking.”

Springboro School Board President Kelly Kohls said:

“We want to allow people to talk about it in the classroom.”

Update May 24, 2013: Board President Kelly Kohls, was forced to change her position after the American Civil Liberties Union and Freedom From Religion Foundation threatened her and the school district with a lawsuit.

Rebecca Markert, staff attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote a letter citing six court decisions since 1968 rejecting creationism in public schools. She said:

“It is wildly inappropriate for the religious beliefs of a few school board members to be pushed on a captive audience of public school students.”

Clarence Darrow (left) and William Jennings Bryan chat in court during the Scopes Trial.

In 1927, there were 13 states, both in the North and South, that considered some form of anti-evolution law.

Today just the opposite is true, only evolution is taught. It is wrongly considered by to be against the law to teach creationism because of separation of church and state.

Today we have freedom FROM religion, My God, things have wildly changed. Critical thinking about the creation of world and all it’s inhabitants is not allowed in public schools. That’s our biased education system for you.

What’s Ohio’s State Motto? With God, all things are possible.

So what’s possible without God in Ohio schools?

Education System Fix Now
Jan 27th, 2012 by johnbeagle

Public educators say you should wait five to ten years for the system to fix itself. But there is a better fix for millions right now. Its called school choice and its working.

Students in school choice programs graduate at significantly higher rates than their public school peers. A 2010 gold-standard evaluation of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP)—a voucher program for low-income children in Washington, D.C.—revealed that over 90 percent of DCOSP students graduated from high school, compared to just 70 percent of their peers with similar characteristics who remained in D.C. public schools. Similarly, students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program who participated for all four of their high school years had a 94 percent graduation rate, compared to a 75 percent graduation rate of their peers who attended four-years of public high school.

And students who participate in charter schools are also more likely to graduate than their peers who attend traditional public high schools.

“Imagine if you went to a car dealership and they told you it will take 5 to 10 YEARS to fix your engine. Imagine how IRATE you would be, “ said Andrew Campanella,  Vice President of National School Choice Week.

“We can’t do this to kids. We are paying far too much money for a public education system that isn’t working.”
Everyone knows that the U.S. education system is in trouble. Campanella offers a few words on how school choice week can help with promoting “access to better options and empowering parents and kids.”

According to Campanella, the U.S. ranks 35th in the world in math and literacy.

“Other countries are not just nipping at our heels educationally, they’ve lapped us,” Campanella says.

Campanella contends that school choice offers real solutions to raising the bar and educating the next generation, and that it’s not just empty words.

Sources: Reason TV, Heritage Foundation

Biased Teachers Unions
May 27th, 2011 by Brawlin Melgar

Teachers Unions are out of Control in Ohio. The Ohio Education Association has overstepped its bounds by using union dues to push a liberal political agenda.

Case in point #1 – Ohio Education Association Imposes $54 Dues Hike to Defeat the Senate Bill 5, a bill that is supported by republicans and rejected by democrats.
Case in point #2 – Ohio Education Association Publishes a far left publication called Ohio Schools Magazine, which feeds it membership and readership one-sided and misleading information.
Case in point #3 – Ohio Education Association is against Charter Schools, Homeschooling and School Choice of any kind.
Case in point #4 – Ohio Education Association is against performance pay or teacher evaluations of any kind
Case in point #5 – OEA meetings are nothing more than a liberal political rally
Case in point #5 – OEA membership fear repercussions for voicing an opposing opinions, so largely they remain silent.

Raising dues for political purposes is wrong if the member teacher wants to opt out. Rhetoric and propaganda regarding Ohio Senate Bill 5 and other issues coming forth should not be funded in an involuntary manner by workers.

Jade Thompson’s right to choose was violated when the OEA refused to listen to her or take action regarding her rational, reasonable complaint. The OEA is so political that they refuse to listen to even their own membership.

I’m Jade Thompson and my husband, Andy Thompson, is running for the Ohio House of Representatives. I am a teacher at Marietta High School. Imagine my chagrin when my friends and colleagues began showing me the awful attack ads against my husband which they had received in the mail. Now imagine my dismay when I saw that those defamatory mailers were paid for by the Ohio Education Association – my teachers’ union.

In effect, they are using my union dues to attack my husband! This is a new low, even for the OEA!!!

Speaking at the OEA meeting earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) urged teachers to rally for the referendum campaign and “make this personal.”

“You can talk all the statistics you want, but tell your personal story. Tell people why you’re a teacher,” Said Democrat Senator Brown.

So why does the union want to make this personal? Because that’s the only way the union can win. Facts get in the way. If you suggest that teachers paid $60,000 or more (plus benefits) take a 10% pay cut to avoid firings and program reductions, the teachers union attacks.

Teachers should be free to spend their hard-earned dollars to contribute to the candidates and causes they actually support, but OEA members do not have that freedom. The OEA and its parent organization, the NEA have a liberal agenda. Robert Chapman the former general counsel for the NEA once said in federal court,

“if you take away payroll deduction, you won’t collect a penny from these people, and it has nothing to do with voluntary or involuntary. I think it has to do with the nature of the beast, and the beasts who are our teachers … (They) simply don’t come up with the money regardless of the purpose.”

Now I don’t know about all teachers, but the ones I know take offense to being called beasts.

Teacher Unions Broke Education in the US
Apr 26th, 2011 by Brawlin Melgar

The education system in the United States is broken. Everyone knows it is, yet not much is being done about it. Bad teachers get by while good teachers see bad undeserving teachers get the same raise. That is biased, unfair and hurts our kids.

Good News the Bias is Changing
The education bias toward the collective and away from the individual is ending in at least two states, Wisconsin and Ohio. Those states have just adopted a new bias. A bias focused on the individual teacher away from the field leveling, money grabbing collectivist union.

Under SB5, Ohio’s new public union law, teacher performance will be a major component in evaluating teachers for pay increases. Gone are the automatic merit increases negotiated by the union. Now pay is based on a system that involves observing teachers in the classroom and evaluating their knowledge of the subject, their teaching skills and their ability to communicate to students.

There also will be testing student performance from beginning of the year to the end of the school year according to a recent Cleveland Plain Dealer article by Reginald Fields.

Student achievement will be 50% of the teacher performance grade. The total performance grade will now determine if the teacher gets a raise or just gets to keep their job.

Old Union Bias – Everyone Gets A Pay Raise because it is Good for The Group
In the current system, teachers received pay increases regardless of performance. Additionally bad teachers were protected from being fired for poor performance. Worse yet, those poor performing teachers received the same raise as the better performing teachers. In Boston, the Teacher’s Union actually blocked bonuses for deserving teachers.

New Individual Bias – When you deserve a raise, you get a raise

With the new system, each teacher can receive pay increases when performance is worthy of a raise. Now teachers will be treated as most employees are treated. More importantly the bias now is back on the performance and future performance of students and each individual teacher, not on the union.

As this video explains, let’s put the bias back in to teaching our children and away from collectivism/unionism.

The Truth about Teachers Unions from Union Facts on Vimeo.

Union is Skeptical
Unions do not like this idea at all. They question the way student achievement will be measured claiming that there aren’t enough student growth measures that are reliable enough to used as a basis for teacher compensation. In general they call any attempt to measure the performance of the teacher unfair. Maybe the union ought to wait until April 30, 2011 for the Ohio Superintendent of Education to submit the framework for how to evaluate teachers and how to evaluate students.

The education system in America is broken, some teachers are being overcompensated while others are being under compensated. And where is the bias? Not on our kids, that’s for sure.

Hopefully that will be a thing of the past.

Arne Duncan: Doing More with Less in Schools is the New Normal
Nov 26th, 2010 by Ian MacCosley

This speech was made by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on November 17, 2010 at the American Enterprise Institute panel, “Bang for the Buck in Schooling.”

THE NEW NORMAL: DOING MORE WITH LESS

I am here to talk today about what has been called the New Normal. For the next several years, preschool, K‐12, and postsecondary educators are likely to face the challenge of doing more with less. My message is that this challenge can, and should be, embraced as an opportunity to make dramatic improvements. I believe enormous opportunities for improving the productivity of our education system lie ahead if we are smart, innovative, and courageous in rethinking the status quo.

It’s time to stop treating the problem of educational productivity as a grinding, eat‐your‐broccoli exercise. It’s time to start treating it as an opportunity for innovation and accelerating progress. The outlines of the New Normal are easy to sketch. The federal government historically provides only about eight percent of all K‐12 revenues. By contrast, states provide close to half of all public school revenues. With few exceptions, state budgets have yet to recover from the Great Recession.

Thirteen states project they will drain their rainy day reserve funds this year. Forty states reduced their general fund expenditures in fiscal 2010. And most states do not expect revenues to return to their pre-recession peak until 2012 or 2013‐‐at the earliest.

K‐12 funding in the United States also depends heavily on local funding, which accounts for about 44 percent of K‐12 revenues nationwide, with most of it coming from local property taxes. Lower property valuations, caused by the housing crash, are likely to persist for the next two to three years‐‐and possibly longer.

During the worst recession since the Great Depression, the federal government provided a large oneshot
injection of education funding to state and local governments in the Recovery Act. Last year’s stimulus funding saved the jobs of more than 325,000 educators‐‐and this year’s education jobs bill is saving tens of thousands more. The last thing our country needed was hundreds of thousands of teachers on the unemployment line, rather than in the classroom.

The abrupt loss of those jobs would have been absolutely devastating for children and the nation’s economic recovery. But the stimulus funding will run out‐‐and states and districts are facing a funding cliff as those dollars disappear.

This New Normal is a reality. And it is a reality that everyone seeking to improve education must grapple with. Yet, there are productive and unproductive ways to meet this challenge of doing more with less. The wrong way to increase productivity in an era of tight budgets is to cut back in a manner that damages school quality and hurts children.

I’m talking about steps like reducing the number of days in the school year, slashing instructional time spent on task, eliminating the arts and foreign languages, abandoning promising reforms, and laying off talented, young teachers.

Unfortunately, that pattern of cutbacks has prevailed too often in the past. As Rick Hess says in his book Stretching the School Dollar, “when it does come time to trim, districts often make cuts that are more harmful than helpful . . . they gut music instruction rather than close down under‐enrolled schools.” The National Association of School Boards reports that less than 10 percent of districts closed or consolidated schools last year.

A different strategy for increasing productivity is to improve efficiency by taking steps like deferring maintenance and construction projects, cutting bus routes, lowering the costs of textbooks and health care, improving energy use and efficiency in school buildings, and reducing central office personnel.

Many districts, including Chicago, have pursued such cost efficiencies for years. The strategy is to pare back less‐than‐essential costs, while minimizing the impact of cuts on schoolchildren. In 2006, when I was CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, we faced a projected deficit of over $300 million. The district adopted a series of cost‐cutting measures to minimize the impact of our cuts in the classroom, including reducing the central office budget by 12 percent‐‐which kept 350 teachers in the classroom.

These types of district‐level cost efficiencies are absolutely essential. But they can best be described as necessary but nowhere near sufficient.

By far, the best strategy for boosting productivity is to leverage transformational change in the educational system to improve outcomes for children. To do so, requires a fundamental rethinking of the structure and delivery of education in the United States.

My hope is that New Normal will encourage educators, principals, unions, district leaders, state chiefs, parents, lawmakers, and governors to explore productive alternatives to old ways of doing things. Challenging the status quo will take courage. It will take commitment. And it will take collaboration. Broadly speaking, there are two large buckets of opportunity for doing more with less.

The first is reducing waste throughout the education system.

Almost every executive I have spoken with about improving productivity begins the conversation by talking about eliminating waste. We can and should do more to cut costs and increase the bottom line in our schools. And the truth is that our education system has to get out of the catch‐up business. We have to do a much better job of reducing dropout rates and boosting college and career readiness.

We spend several billion dollars a year on remedial education, re‐teaching college students skills they should have learned in high school. Millions of children each year are not ready to start kindergarten, or they drop out of high school, costing untold billions of dollars in public investment.

The second bucket of opportunities is doing more of what works‐‐and less of what doesn’t.

That is a simple sounding idea. Yet, as experience shows, that simple mantra is often not followed. So, what do I mean when I talk about transformational productivity reforms that can also boost student outcomes? Our K‐12 system largely still adheres to the century‐old, industrial‐age factory model of education. A century ago, maybe it made sense to adopt seat‐time requirements for graduation and pay teachers based on their educational credentials and seniority. Educators were right to fear the large class sizes that prevailed in many schools.

But the factory model of education is the wrong model for the 21st century. Today, our schools must prepare all students for college and careers‐‐and do far more to personalize instruction and employ the smart use of technology. Teachers cannot be interchangeable widgets. Yet the legacy of the factory model of schooling is that tens of billions of dollars are tied up in unproductive use of time and technology, in underused school buildings, in antiquated compensation systems, and in inefficient school finance systems.

Rethinking policies around seat‐time requirements, class size, compensating teachers based on their educational credentials, the use of technology in the classroom, inequitable school financing, the over
placement of students in special education‐‐almost all of these potentially transformative productivity
gains are primarily state and local issues that have to be grappled with. These are tough issues. Rethinking the status quo, by definition, can be unsettling. But I know that these discussions will be taking place in the coming year in schools, in districts, in union headquarters, in statehouses, and the governor’s mansion. The alternative is to simply end up doing less with less. That is fundamentally unacceptable.

I have said that a quiet revolution is underway in America today in education. And this is very much a revolution that has been driven by leaders at the state and local level.

I am heartened by this change‐‐and the shared sense of urgency driving education reform nationwide. I believe that dramatically improving educational productivity may be the next challenge for that quiet revolution.

Now, rethinking the factory model of education shouldn’t be an invitation to indiscriminate change and cost‐cutting. Federal, state, and local officials have to be smart about boosting educational productivity. Educators have to look at the evidence of what works to accelerate student learning‐‐and stop doing what doesn’t work. They cannot pursue the traditional model of reform, which Professor Michael Kirst has called “reform by addition.”

Technology is a good example. Technology can play a huge role in increasing educational productivity, but not just as an add‐on or for a high‐tech reproduction of current practice. Again, we need to change the underlying processes to leverage the capabilities of technology. The military calls it a force multiplier. Better use of online learning, virtual schools, and other smart uses of technology is not so much about replacing educational roles as it is about giving each person the tools they need to be more successful‐‐reducing wasted time, energy, and money.

Let me throw out a few other examples to provide a sense of the potential opportunities here. Forty to 50 percent of all district expenses go to teacher compensation. Doing more with less will likely require reshaping teacher compensation to do more to develop, support, and reward excellence and effectiveness, and less to pay people based on paper credentials.

Districts currently pay about $8 billion each year to teachers because they have masters’ degrees, even though there is little evidence teachers with masters degrees improve student achievement more than other teachers‐‐with the possible exception of teachers who earn masters in math and science.

Or consider the debate around reducing class size. Up through third grade, research shows a small class size of 13 to 17 students can boost achievement. Parents, like myself, understandably like smaller classes. We would like to have small classes for everyone‐‐and it is good news that the size of classes in the U.S. has steadily shrunk for decades. But in secondary schools, districts may be able to save money without hurting students, while allowing modest but smartly targeted increases in class size.

In our blueprint for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we support shifting away from class‐sized based reduction that is not evidence‐based. It might be that districts would vary class sizes by the subject matter or the skill of the teacher, or that part‐time staff could be leveraged to lower class size during critical reading blocks.

I anticipate that a number of districts may be asked next year to weigh targeted class size increases against the loss of music, arts, and after‐school programming. Those tough choices are local decisions.

But it important that districts maintain a diverse and rich curriculum‐‐and that they preserve the opportunities that make school exciting, fun, and engage young people in coming to school every day. Many high‐performing education systems, especially in Asia, have substantially larger classes than the United States. According to OECD data, secondary school classes in South Korea average about 36 students. In Japan, it’s 33 students per class. In the U.S., it’s 25 students per class. In fact, teachers in Asia sometimes request larger class sizes because they think a broad distribution of students and skill levels can accelerate learning.

We have to learn from high‐performing school systems in other nations, including how to elevate the teaching profession and better support our neediest schools.

The United States currently spends more per student than almost any nation in the world on education. Yet we are only one of three OECD nations‐‐along with Turkey and Israel‐‐that do not devote at least as much resources or more resources to schools with the greatest socioeconomic challenges. We must question our priorities and strategies if we are serious about closing achievement gaps.

I want to be clear. I am not recommending a specific course of action today to any state or district. I am urging state and districts start to think more boldly about ways to improve educational productivity. Now, while doing more with less is primarily a state and local challenge, the federal government has a role here, too. We have a responsibility to cut red tape that diverts dollars from improving student outcomes and to focus our resources on those areas with the greatest potential impact.

The Recovery Act programs helped states and districts to undertake more reform than has taken place in the last decade.

Race to the Top has incentivized states and districts to put in place teacher evaluation systems that will ensure human capital dollars are better spent. States and districts need complete information about where their best teachers are, about retaining, rewarding, and learning from their best teachers, and to ensure that high‐need schools get the great teachers and principals they need.

The i3 fund ensures our federal dollars are being used to identify and scale‐up innovative and effective practices that improve outcomes for students. The simple principle that drove our i3 grants of a little money for things with a little evidence, and a lot of money for things with a lot of evidence, will hopefully help reshape education spending for years to come. For the first time in a competitive grant program at the Department, unit cost was among the selection criteria in the i3 competition.

It is important to remember that boosting productivity can cost money. In some cases, government may have to spend more now to get better returns on our current investments in the future. We should not be penny wise to be pound foolish. Race to the Top and i3 are good examples of programs that are important to continue in FY 2011 and beyond.

It’s also important to underscore that having a common and higher definition of success is essential to measuring the effectiveness of educational spending. That is why the amazing strides made in the last 18 months toward true college and career‐ready standards and more accurate graduation rates are game‐changers.

Now it is true that layering new programs on top of existing ones has been the norm in education. We’ve worked hard to get away from that layering mentality at the Department. We are trying to walk the walk and lead by example.

Our ESEA reauthorization proposal consolidates 38 programs into 11 new funding streams‐‐so we can focus on achieving fewer, larger goals, better‐‐and it reduces red tape for people at the state and local level. Congress accepted the administration’s proposal to eliminate four programs in fiscal 2010. And in fiscal 2011 we proposed eliminating six more programs.

There are many examples, too many to name here, of districts and schools that are actively pursuing transformational productivity improvements, from Florida’s Virtual School and improved response‐to intervention strategies in special education to the Hewlett Foundation’s Open Learning Initiative, especially their work with Carnegie Mellon.

At the Department, we have developed a productivity priority that can be applied to a number of our discretionary programs. But federal, state, and local educators‐‐all of us‐‐still have a lot to learn about measuring, evaluating, and improving productivity. We are eager to learn as fast as we can.

In our quest to improve productivity, we will improve as we go. We will make some mistakes‐‐no question. But that is no excuse for inaction. The stakes are too high‐‐and I am convinced that we have a special window for reform that will shape the education system for the next 20 to 30 years.

Working together, with candor, courage, and commitment, I believe the New Normal can be a wake‐up call to America‐‐and a time to rethink how we invest in education for our nation’s children.

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Teachers Unions – Not about the Kids
Nov 6th, 2010 by johnbeagle


Some teachers only support the union passively, they don’t want to rock the boat. But they also don’t like the idea that union dues are used to finance political things that many don’t want, don’t agree with.In the US, teachers unions are motivated to retain good and bad teachers to help maintain the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars in dues. They don’t want to rock the boat by firing anyone. That would be bad publicity for the unions.

“Teachers Union leaders’ are primarily interested in more money to hire more teachers, who are then likely to become dues-paying union members as evidenced by this quote from

Al Shanker, former President of the American Federation of Teachers,

“I don’t represent the children.

I represent the teachers.”

Merit Pay vs Tenure

Our teachers can not be given raises base on merit. In Ohio, for example, after 5 years, public school teachers receive what’s commonly called “tenure,” a special employment protection that teachers unions defend. As federal statistics indicate, teachers with just a couple years of experience are practically impossible to fire. The Ohio Teachers firing rate of teachers with 3+ years experience is 1.91% vs 9.8% for private schools without unions.

Nationally, the NEA Representative Assembly passed a resolution that explicitly condemns offering higher pay to math, science, and foreign language teachers for positions a school district is having trouble filling than to any other teachers: “The Association opposes providing additional compensation to attract and/or retain education employees in hard-to-recruit positions….”

The National Education Association (NEA) employs a larger number of political organizers than the Republican and Democratic National Committees combined. This is pure political clout and that clout trickles down to local school unions including Monroe. The NEA assist local teachers unions, like the MEA with collective bargaining by supplying negotiation experience that often vastly outstrips the resources of a local school district.

Teachers Union Membership Dues go to a One – Sided Political Agenda
Unionized teachers have little choice when it comes to helping the unions promote their one-sided political agenda. A complaint I have heard from numerous teachers over the past two decades. Dues overwhelmingly go to democrat candidates and democrat pro-union policy support including advertising against charter schools, school choice and merit pay.

How do Teachers, Principals, Superintendents and School Boards View Teachers Unions?
According to a 1980 Cornell University study survey, each group sees unions differently. Principals were likely to be less in favor of unions vs everyone else employed in the school system. The study surveys attitudes of school personnel toward teacher unions and draws some implications concerning the dynamics of labor relations in school systems.

Reference: Bacharach and Mitchells paper titled: Labor Relations in School Systems; Attitudes toward Teachers Unions across School District Hierarchies

Teachers, principals, superintendents, and school board members responded to questions on what areas unions should be involved in, degree of satisfaction with the local, and the state of labor management relations in the district.

Teachers
Teachers showed general satisfaction with their local and favored more union involvement in all areas addressed.

Principals
Principals felt constrained by many work-related benefits teachers have obtained and saw the union as disrupting their ability to run their schools.

Superintentendents
Although superintendents were more strongly opposed to union involvement in work-related areas and more unsympathetic to economic demands than principals, they were very satisfied with the union and with labor relations because they perceived the unions as a medium for dealing with the entire staff.

School Boards
School boards regarded the unions as limiting their ability to develop policy and administer schools economically and wanted unions to decrease levels of involvement in all areas. Thus a graduated shift in attitudes is seen as one moves up the district hierarchy, with attitudes reflecting the degree to which the union has helped or hindered the respondent’s job performance.

Why do All Teachers Seem Support the Union?
As a group, teachers are not very political, they just want to teach. Generally, teachers are put in a position where they are better off supporting the union rather than fighting the union. So many just prefer to not ‘rock the boat’. They just stick it out with the union, just like generations before them.

Sources: Personal Interviews, State University of New York, Ithaca, Cornell University, Teachers Unions Exposed, the New York Post, Washington Times

Other Suggested reading: The Failed UAW Monopoly

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Education is Waiting for Superman
Oct 6th, 2010 by johnbeagle

Bias in Education is alive and well in the ‘drop out factories’ of America.  In a new movie Guggenheim the director of AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, yes the Al Gore film, does a much better job of telling the truth about our failing education system. Schools in America are indeed failing. It might take all the superhero moms and dads in the world to save our schools.

In the superman movies, the hero rushes in to save the day. Where is superman to save Anthony from a family legacy of drug abuse or Daisy a fifth grader in a failing school system. Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim shocks us back to reality when he tells the stories of real life American school children. They have a face and a name, Anthony, Francisco, Bianca, Daisy, and Emily, whose stories make up the engrossing foundation of WAITING FOR SUPERMAN. WAITING FOR SUPERMAN follows a these promising kids in a system that inhibits, rather than encourages, academic growth.

The film is essentially a review of public education, surveying “drop-out factories” and “academic sinkholes,” methodically dissecting the system and its seemingly intractable problems. Guggenheim also questions teachers’ unions, which sometimes act against the best interests of students. He’s particularly concerned about underperforming instructors who suffer no disciplinary measures due to tenure, but he credits the dedicated professionals who help at-risk kids beat the odds. The film ends with a potentially happy outcome for one subject, but updates on the others fail to materialize.

Join the national conversation on the failing education system in America, take action and then go out and help reform education in your town. ‘Involved’ parents have a huge advantage over parents who are ‘un-involved’ who accept whatever the school dishes out.

Start by watching the movie : Waiting for Superman

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Bias in Education: Textbooks
Sep 13th, 2010 by johnbeagle

Textbooks are often used as tools for propaganda. History and geography textbooks widely used in America’s elementary and secondary classrooms contain some of the very same inaccuracies about Christianity, Judaism, and the Middle East as those in Iran.

Did you know that “Christianity was started by a young Palestinian named Jesus?” (The World, Scott Foresman/Pearson). Then Jews are charged with a huge lie, the deicide of Jesus, the Palestinian.

These days, developing a textbook and getting it adopted in the major states of Texas and California is so expensive that only those competitors with the deepest pockets stand a chance. There are three mega-publishers (down from nine in less than twenty years) that control the K-12 textbook market.

In their book, The Trouble with Textbooks: Distorting History and Religion, Gary A. Tobin and Dennis R. Ybarra have produced a disturbing piece of work that exposes bias in education via textbooks. They have exposed an extraordinary pattern of errors, distortions and falsehoods in public school textbooks, teacher training and supplemental materials. Exposed are 500 problematic passages about Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Middle East uncovered in the analysis of the 28 most widely used textbooks in public schools.

“The Trouble with Textbooks”, exposes hard left-wing agendas to rewrite history. This book should be required reading material for both teachers and parents who can handle the truth in education.

Report: Vouchers Increase Graduation Rates
Jul 17th, 2010 by ccokley

In a recent study by the University of Arkansas, researchers have found that students who used vouchers to attend private schools in Washington D.C. were more likely to graduate than students who did not participate in the program.

For those that do not know, the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (vouchers), consists of the following elements:

  • To be eligible, students entering grades K–12 must reside in the District and have a family income at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty line.
  • Participating students will receive scholarships of up to $7,500 to cover the costs of tuition, school fees, and transportation to a participating private school of choice.
  • Scholarships are renewable for up to 5 years (as funds are appropriated), as long as students remain eligible for the program and remain in good academic standing at the private schools they are attending.
  • If there are more eligible applicants than available scholarships or open slots in private schools, applicants are to be awarded scholarships and admission to private schools random selection, for example by lottery.
  • Private schools participating in the program must be located in the District, and agree to program requirements regarding nondiscrimination in admissions, fiscal accountability, and cooperation with the evaluation.

The program essentially gives parents a $7,500 voucher to go towards tuition, books, transportation, and other school related expenses and the parents to choose which school their child attends. Since the biggest concern parents have about enrolling their child in a private school is affordability, the voucher program eliminates the problem.

Vouchers have caused quite a bit of debate among education experts, politicians, and parents. Liberals tend to strongly dislike the program because they feel it’s abandoning the public school system and giving a select group of students an alternative that isn’t available to all students. But conservatives feel that it introduces choice and competition to the public school system. They feel that eliminating the public school monopoly on low income families will force public schools to compete for students and their money, instead of being the only choice for many. The voucher program allows parents to enroll their children in better schools, usually with better learning environments, and as proven with this study, better graduation rates.

The results of the study aren’t surprising to proponents of the voucher program, in fact, most would say they were expected. According to the EducationNews.org:

that the offer to participate in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program raised a student’s probability of completing high school by 12 percentage points, from 70 percent to 82 percent, based on parent reports. Some students declined to use their scholarships. Adjusting the data to account for scholarship decliners reveals that actually using a scholarship to attend a private school increased graduation rates by 21 percentage points.

Congress, which approved the K-12 voucher program in 2004, mandated a rigorous evaluation funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The final report, issued June 22 by the federal Institute of Education Sciences, represents the sixth annual report on the program.

The research team used random assignment, commonly viewed as the “gold standard” for program evaluation, to divide 2,308 eligible applicants into a treatment group of 1,387 students who were offered Opportunity Scholarships and a control group of 921 who requested scholarships but did not receive them. They then tracked the two groups over five years for the 2004 cohort and four years for the 2005 cohort of study participants.

The report focuses specifically on outcomes that Congress directed the researchers to evaluate including high school graduation, student achievement and parents’ and students’ ratings of school safety and satisfaction. Parents rated their child’s schools safer and were more satisfied with them if offered a scholarship, while the program had no impact on student reports of school safety and satisfaction.

Although the study used rigorous methods and the results on graduation rates were conclusive, Wolf cautioned that the study had certain limitations: “The findings in this report are a reflection of the particular program elements that evolved from the law passed by Congress and the characteristics of the students, families and schools, both public and private, that exist in the nation’s capital. The same program implemented in another city might yield different results and a different scholarship program administered in Washington, D.C., might also produce different outcomes.”

I would love to see this program used in other major cities around the country to get a larger sampling. The results of the study are encouraging though. I believe that program could bring about a much needed change to our education system. Empowering parents and students to play an active role in their education will open up the system, resulting in the government being forced to take a step back. Giving families a choice provides children with a fighting chance to succeed instead of being forced into a failing school district.

Our education system is in shambles. It’s shameful that the most powerful country in the world can’t seem to figure out a way to make education work. It’s apparent that throwing trillions of dollars at failing districts isn’t making them any better, it’s simply making them more expensive to run. Teachers unions have virtually no power in the private system and the administrators of those schools know that if they don’t perform, parents will take their children and their money to another school. This is exactly the competition teachers and districts need to not only survive but to thrive.

You can see the struggles public schools are facing when they’re pushing the 4 day school week to cut expenses. They’re invoking desperate measures to stay above water, yet they’re begging for more money? Parents aren’t happy with the system, but for many families, they don’t have any other option. They put up with the system because it’s the only system they have. It’s similar to what’s happening with the USPS and FedEx and UPS. The USPS is going bankrupt because there are better options out there. The only reason the USPS still exists? Because it’s a government entity and the government can keep throwing money at it as long as it wants. The government provides an unlimited source of funds, while the private sector needs to rely on producing good products, good financial management or risk failing.

And to think, the government is anti-monopoly. Hmmmm….

Founding Fathers Out in North Carolina Schools?
Feb 6th, 2010 by arwendt

Founding Fathers Out in North Carolina Schools

George Washington.  Abraham Lincoln.  Important figures in history, right?  Not for North Carolina high schoolers, if the state gets its way.

The Tar Heel State is currenty working to change their curriculum and one of the proposed ideas, which is currently under review, is to start American History in 1877, after Reconstruction.   This means students won’t learn about the Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln, the freeing of slaves, and the Civil War, among other important parts of the nation’s beginning.  Many teachers and parents, and even education experts are unhappy with the proposed changes.

“If our students don’t know what happened in world history, and if they don’t know what happened in U.S. history from George Washington’s presidency all the way up through the Civil War, then they will not be able to grasp the big picture,” said Mike Belter, a North Carolina Social Studies teacher, tells Fox News.

The current curriculum has high school students in the state learning three years of history and similar subjects; in ninth grade, they study world history, in tenth grade, they study civics and economics, and in eleventh grade, they study United States history in its entirety.  While officials admit the changes are on the drastic side, they also insist it’s the best way to help children connect to the modern world  and that children will not graduate without learning about the United States’ early years, as they learn about them in elementary and middle school.

Rebecca Garland of the North Carolina Department of Pubic Instruction told Fox News, “We are certainly not trying to go away from American history. What we are trying to do is figure out a way to teach it where students are connected to it. Where they see the big idea. Where they are able to make connections and draw relationships between parts of our history and the present day so the students who see it as relevant.”

The move is part of an effort to connect with Common Core standards.  Common Core is a “state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers…committed to developing a common core of state standards in English-language arts and mathematics for grades K-12.”  Also, state officials say they are very interested in hearing what teachers and the public have to say and welcome as much feedback as possible.  So far, it seems that most of the response has been negative.

The controversial response is certainly understandable.  Many people feel that one major problem with today’s youth is that they do not understand what makes our country so great.  They take so much for granted, they have no interest in any form of patriotism, and they don’t understand what makes our country unique.  The state argues that American history is taught during the earlier school years, but by eleventh grade, students are capable of learning on a different level and taking a more in depth look at subjects than they were in kindergarten through eighth grade.

The changes wouldn’t just affect American history.  There are drastic changes threatening other subjects, including math, science and English.  As a matter of fact, the ninth grade World History class will no longer be taught, but instead, students will take a class called “Global Issues,” which focuses on more modern issues such as the environment.  While I can’t be certain, modern studies on the environment tend to be about “global warming” and “climate change.”   That, alone, tells me this proposed education system has less to do with time restraints and a desire to make children work and college-ready, and more to do with a higher agenda.

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