Wednesday, November 25, 2015

How ‘twisted’ early childhood education has become — from a child development expert

An excerpt from a Washington Post article.  To view the whole article click here.

I look forward to the day when educrats, teachers' unions, and legislators care more about students then they do their own agendas.  They don't give a rat's ass about children they just want to protect their monopoly.


How ‘twisted’ early childhood education has become — from a child development expert

"So never in my wildest dreams could I have foreseen the situation we find ourselves in today.

"Where education policies that do not reflect what we know about how young children learn could be mandated and followed. We have decades of research in child development and neuroscience that tell us that young children learn actively — they have to move, use their senses, get their hands on things, interact with other kids and teachers, create, invent. But in this twisted time, young children starting public pre-K at the age of 4 are expected to learn through “rigorous instruction.”

"And never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that we would have to defend children’s right to play.

"Play is the primary engine of human growth; it’s universal – as much as walking and talking. Play is the way children build ideas and how they make sense of their experience and feel safe. Just look at all the math concepts at work in the intricate buildings of kindergartners. Or watch a 4-year-old put on a cape and pretend to be a superhero after witnessing some scary event.

"But play is disappearing from classrooms. Even though we know play is learning for young kids, we are seeing it shoved aside to make room for academic instruction and “rigor.”

"I could not have foreseen in my wildest dreams that we would have to fight for classrooms for young kids that are developmentally appropriate. Instead of active, hands-on learning, children now sit in chairs for far too much time getting drilled on letters and numbers. Stress levels are up among young kids. Parents and teachers tell me: children worry that they don’t know the right answers; they have nightmares, they pull out their eyelashes, they cry because they don’t want to go to school. Some people call this child abuse and I can’t disagree."

Monday, November 16, 2015

Children Are Not Creatures of the State: New Hampshire Edition

Children Are Not Creatures of the State: New Hampshire Edition

Children Are Not Creatures of the State: New Hampshire Edition

Politicians across the country like to claim that they’re all in
favor of local control of education—until parents and their locally
elected officials actually start trying to exercise it.

The small New Hampshire town of Croydon is a case in point.

Like many small towns in New Hampshire, Croydon does not have public
schools to serve all grade levels so it contracts with education
providers in neighboring towns. At issue now is the Croydon School
Board’s decision to allow five elementary students to attend the neighboring Newport Montessori School. As’s Steve Mac Donald explains:

State law allows towns to pursue these agreements,
sending taxpayer education dollars to any accredited school, public,
charter, or private, even in neighboring states, with the exception of
religious schools. The local board, at the behest of voters, negotiates
contracts and approves taxpayer-funded tuition payments to those
schools. The money follows the student.
To read more click here. 


Friday, November 13, 2015

Children 1 - Bullies 0

Let us home the students win in Court on November 30th, and not the handful of bullies in Newport and Croydon that started this mess or the bullies in Concord.   The following piece appears in full on Investor's Business Daily website.


Louisiana School Kids, 1; Obama's Anti-School-Choice Fanatics, 0

Republican presidential candidate Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the Values Voter Summit, held by the Family Research Council Action, Sept. 25...
Republican presidential candidate Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the Values Voter Summit, held by the Family Research Council Action, Sept. 25... View Enlarged Image
Education: In a victory for school choice, an appeals court has thrown out a Department of Justice bid to take over a popular voucher program in Louisiana and thereby deny poor African-American kids a better education.

If the Obama administration and its union allies put as much creativity into ensuring quality education as they do into lawsuits against providers of school choice, we might have public schools worthy enough to end interest in vouchers.

Their latest effort against Louisiana's African-American educators and parents in favor of vouchers to private schools was a doozy.

Insisting it was concerned only with upholding court-ordered desegregation orders from 40 years ago, the Justice Department tried to take over and derail Louisiana's Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Act, a voucher program established by the legislature and Gov. Bobby Jindal in 2012.
The DOJ feared that awarding vouchers to children in failing schools might bring back Jim Crow. Seems that some Louisiana districts are still under a 1975 desegregation order against state-subsidized private schools.

The Justice Department contended the vouchers could tip schools' racial balance. But an outside expert found zero evidence of this. Moreover, the law stipulates the vouchers are for students in failing public schools, and in fact 85% to 90% have gone to blacks.

An angry Judge Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals called the DOJ's approach "disingenuous."

She wrote: "The current Louisiana voucher program is best characterized as aid to poor children rather than aid to private schools. Therefore, (the DOJ argument) is outside the jurisdiction of this case."

"It's rare that you see a judge refer to a Justice Department action as disingenuous," said Clint Bolick, vice president for litigation at the Goldwater Institute. He represented the Black Alliance for Education Options, a group that joined with parents to fight the DOJ's attempt to take over the voucher program. "The purpose of the desegregation court order 40 years ago was to secure educational opportunity for black kids. The purpose of the voucher program is the same. To use the one to thwart the other is disingenuous."

What was the DOJ's plan of action? "Burdensome, costly and endless" red tape, as Judge Jones put it.
The Justice Department insisted that before any voucher was awarded, the state would have to submit information such as student names, ID numbers, addresses, zoned school districts, previous public schools, grades, races and detailed school histories.

Only then would the DOJ itself decide who gets a voucher.

Such a process is ripe for intimidation, Bolick said, given the vulnerability of the families and the fact that only half the 10,000 applicants get vouchers.

"Parents were desperate to get their kids better education," Bolick said. " None was available to them, and for them the conditions were no better than the Jim Crow era. This program gave them for the first time safe, high-quality schools."

Priority is given to kids from the D and F schools, as well as to families with the fewest resources, he said. "It's the only voucher program in the country that requires a kid to have a low income and attend a low-performing school to get in. In that regard, it's the most remedial in the country, limited to poor kids and limited to poor schools."

Gov. Jindal, who has introduced many educational reforms in Louisiana, opposed the Justice Department's involvement but wasn't as effective as the parents and educators were with their lawsuit, Bolick said.

"What the state didn't do was what we did — challenge court authority to enter any orders against the voucher program in the first place," he said. "That's the issue on which we won."

The real winners, of course, are the kids, who shouldn't have had to fight off the Justice Department to get a decent education.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Why families choose homeschooling - EducationNC

I would add, my children, my responsibility, my neighbors should not have to pay to educate my children.

Why families choose homeschooling - EducationNC

Love Note or Sexual Harassment?

How BAD Did Your Schools Do? Smarter Balanced results are in

I find it rather vile that anyone would deny parents the right to choose what is best for their children, considering these results.   Be sure to click on the smarter-balanced-results in the article.


How BAD Did Your Schools Do? Smarter Balanced results are in

The Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC) scores were finally released today after MONTHS of keeping them secret.  They do NOT look good and the New Hampshire Commissioner is spinning the results as expected.

Let’s first go back to when Commissioner Barry was selling us on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  It was supposed to be a new and innovative way of assessing children.  By using a computer adaptive assessment, we’d get the results right away which meant teachers could use those results to guide their teaching. Six months later they finally release the results and, your children have already moved on.

Then we were told that we can compare our scores to other states. Two consortium (PARCC and SBAC) received federal funding and states got to choose which consortium to join.  Before the assessments were even in the classrooms, states began abandoning the consortiums because of public outrage.  We are down to about 15 states using the SBA now so no, you wont be able to compare New Hampshire to the other 35 states.

They told us these were good quality assessments that would indicate whether our children were proficient in mathematics and English.  Sorry folks, that was another load of garbage you were supposed to believe would be good for your kids.

I was first alerted to the problems with the Smarter Balanced Assessment when Professor W. Stephen Wilson wrote this scathing review.  The professor of mathematics and education at Johns Hopkins University warned that the, “conceptualization of mathematical understanding on which SBAC will base its assessments is deeply flawed. The consortium focuses on the Mathematical Practices of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSS-M) at the expense of content, and they outline plans to assess communication skills that have nothing to do with mathematical understanding.
Steve Rasmussen also confirmed the Smarter Balanced Math assessment was fundamentally flawed and gave detailed examples.

As a parental rights advocate in New Hampshire, I brought this testimony before the House Education Committee on several occasions only to have the bureaucrats at the Department of Education ignore it.  New Hampshire was going to forge ahead regardless of the warning.
Then we began to see other states drop out of the consortium after hearing from experts in the testing and child development field.  It’s not that they were saying testing was bad, it was that this kind of assessment was a way of abusing children.  We were hearing from content experts like Dr. Wilson and eventually from child development experts like Dr. Gary Thompson.

Dr. Thompson is an expert on the use of psychometric assessments and how they can be damaging to children.  As a medically licensed Child Psychologist, he has testified before state legislatures on why the Smarter Balanced Assessment was not validated.  This is a problem since “validation” is a requirement in New Hampshire state law.
As a medically licensed psychologist, Dr. Thompson has explained how licensed child psychologists must follow a code of ethics when assessing children using psychometric assessments.  For instance, within the code of ethics, parents must be fully informed on how their children will be assessed and must then consent.  This means that licensed psychologists must follow this practice or lose their license.  This is something that public school administrators do not follow.

Since the information gathered on these kinds of assessments (your child’s values, behaviors, attitudes, etc) are now collected through standardized testing and sent to the consortium who has a contract to share this information with the federal government, parents are growing more concerned with how this information will be used in the future.

With President Obama gutting the privacy protections that were in place, parents have begun to revolt.  Not only are they concerned about the flawed assessments, will this information be gathered on their children and shared with organizations that do not have their best interest in mind?
Prior to using the SBA, New Hampshire students were required to use the NECAP.  New Hampshire students scored well on the prior NECAP assessments but scores have fallen dramatically using the SBA.  This begs the question, was the NH Department of Education lying to parents when they told them their children were proficient in the core subjects?

This all can be very confusing to parents, however if you really want to know how well your children know the subject material, a good suggestion would be to have your children tested outside the school system using an achievement test.

Achievement tests like the ones we used growing up measure academic knowledge.  They are not data collectors for government bureaucrats and do not mislead parents on proficiency. These tests have been validated and have been around for decades giving parents a fairly accurate tool to gage whether your children have mastered the academic content.

Home schooling families and private schools tend to use achievement tests like the Stanford Achievement Test or the Iowa Basic Skills test.  Parents can contact these companies directly to request an achievement test that is not Common Core aligned.

Testing is not a bad thing it can offer valuable feedback to teachers, parents and students.  In this testing scheme that is harming public schools and teachers, there are ways to avoid some of these problems.

Finally, check to see if your school policy includes tying a teacher’s evaluation to the Common Core assessments being used in the classroom throughout the year.   Now that you know how flawed these assessments are, no teacher should be evaluated in any way based on these misleading results.  No school should be judged on the poor results and no child should be considered “not proficient” and told they are not succeeding.

This is one big set up for failure for our schools, teachers and children. Until Governor Hassan and Commissioner Barry acknowledge there is a problem and work to correct it, parents must now do more to protect their children, teachers and schools from this harmful practice.

Ann Marie Banfield currently volunteers as the Education Liaison for Cornerstone Action in New Hampshire. She has been researching education reform for over a decade and actively supports parental rights, literacy and academic excellence in k-12 schools. You can reach her at:

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