Saturday, September 26, 2009

Why Our Children Are Failing

The following piece appears at which they received from Machine, I too copied the article in full. Like many researchers have found the root problem with our education is the unions which stifle real education reform so their interests are served and not the children's interests.

If anyone is interested we have a whole list of books to the right side of our BLOG for readers interested in education reform and learning about teachers' unions and their impact on the public education system.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for my readers.

Quote of the Day - "Do you think nobody would willingly entrust his children to you or pay you for teaching them? Why do you have to extort your fees and collect your pupils by compulsion?" - Isabel Paterson

Why Johnny Can’t Do Algebra by Leland E. Teschler,machine Design magazine

The algebra teacher I had in high school left a lot to be desired. He struggled to explain basic concepts in class, and those of us stuck with him as an instructor always had the impression he was just one chapter ahead of us in the algebra book. He was a nice guy, but he had no business teaching math.

I suspect most Machine Design readers can recall similar experiences with less-than-competent teachers. This is good to keep in mind as you review the results of the Trends in International Math and Science Study. TIMSS is a measure of how U.S. students stack up in math and science proficiency against their counterparts in other countries.

Generally speaking, U.S. students just don’t look good on these evaluations. Eighth graders, for example, score well behind kids in Singapore, Taiwan, Russia, Hong Kong, and 11 other countries. And the poor scoring is nothing new. As far back as the 1960s, the U.S. has done poorly compared with other developed nations. Although U.S. test scores have improved a bit over the years, those of other advanced nations have improved more. The hand-wringing over U.S. academic performance has gone on for decades. In 1983, a “widespread public perception that something is seriously remiss in our educational system” gave rise to a widely noted report called A Nation at Risk, The Imperative for Educational Reform. Produced by a presidential commission, it called for a wide range of educational reforms.

One of those reforms was to pay teachers for performance and to devise a mechanism that would weed out incompetents. But the Wikipedia page on Nation at Risk notes that “stunningly few” of its recommendations were ever implemented. For an idea why, consider the comments of Terry Moe, a professor of political science at Stanford University, and John Chubb, founder of EdisonLearning Inc. They blame the lack of reform on teachers’ unions that are “extraordinarily powerful.” They quote a study of state-level politics that found teachers’ unions to be the single-most-powerful interest group in the entire country throughout the 1990s. This lets unions block reforms, like pay for performance and the firing of incompetents, which are not in the interest of their members.

Moe and Chubb also point out that a simple way to boost teacher quality would be to test veteran teachers for competence in the subjects they teach. This almost certainly would have exposed the shortcomings of my algebra teacher. But unions have opposed these sorts of tests. They claim that all teachers with formal certification are competent to teach.

Well, my algebra teacher was certified, as were all the teachers in my school system, even back then. At least to me, the suggestion that certification is a proxy for competence is nonsensical.

It is ironic that the United Auto Workers union has taken so much heat for contributing to the economic woes of U.S. manufacturing. One might argue teachers’ unions should get a bigger part of the blame, simply because they’ve put their members’ interests ahead of enhancing the nation’s cognitive skills. And there is a direct connection between cognitive skills and economic growth. Moe and Chubb put it this way: Had the U.S. spent the last decade boosting its educational performance to that of international educational leaders, its gross domestic product by 2015 would be 4.5% higher than otherwise. That’s something to remember as you read the latest unemployment figures.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Big Government

Today's post is dedicated to Big As my readers know I am a news and politics junkie. Big is a new news source dedicated to investigating Big Government. You will find stories here that you will not see in the main stream media. Big is on my daily reading list sometimes I visit the site a couple times a day.

Quote of the Day - "All the public business in Congress now connects itself with intrigues, and there is great danger that the whole government will degenerate into a struggle of cabals." John Quincy Adams

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for my readers.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Oh I Forgot to Post This- One of Croydon's Very Own

Barbara Kresse went to the DC March this was the report she sent me. She gave me permission to post her email. Boy I wish I could have been there.

"The march in DC was awesome, impressive, passionate, orderly, just wonderful. Everyone was there for the same reason. Nice, Nice, respectful, hard working, concerned citizens just afraid for their country. The speakers were great. The signs were great. No police incidents, except I heard one ( T shirt fellow) trying to beat upon peaceful marchers. He was hauled off by the law. No litter. LOTS OF PEOPLE. I'm really anxious to find out how many is the REAL estimate. My bus had 54. Old people, infants, families, from all state, even Hawaii! So many in wheel chairs, scooters. Fathers came with their teens. Single mothers with their children. It was wonderful to be with a HUGE group of people thinking on the same page!
All want the corruptiion to stop! Get back, our America. I took about 75 pictures.
It was a great 'life experience' to be there on the 9/12/09 walk in DC."


It sounded like Barbara had an awesome time. We had a very and the children and I have been sick and now she is busy hopefully we can get together soon so I can get some pictures from her. I believe that Barbara has caught the activism bug.

Quote of the Day - "The most important political office is that of private citizen." - Louis Brandies

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for my readers.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Indoctrination in Public Schools A Film You May Not Have Heard About

Have you heard of Story of Stuff? Story of Stuff is a film that is being shown in 7000 public schools and churches across the Country. Some students already saw the film last year.

Jim and I watched Story of Stuff , Jim and I both noticed numerous errors in their scientific and economic claims in the film. Jim thought the errors were so blatant that people would catch them. I reminded my genius husband that people were not as smart as he. I digress there is a 4 part series of videos debunking the story of stuff on You Tube. I have given you a link to the first one. Once on You Tube you can locate the other three in the series of four. If you don't have access to high speed internet please visit your local library. I personally feel the Story of Stuff is propaganda and your children must hear the truth.

Please go to the links and view the debunking of Story of Stuff. If your child has seen this video at school it is important to show him the debunking video and clarifying both the scientific and economic errors in the videos.

Quote of the Day - "What matters is not what any individual thinks, but what is true. A teacher who does not equip his pupils with the rudimentary tools to discover this is substituting indoctrination for teaching."
-Peters, Richard Stanley
Ethics and Education.

Update 9/24/09 I saw this Fox News piece after my post yesterday. This piece debunks more of the Story or Stuff video.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for my readers.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

No Wonder Our Country is in a Tailspin

The Following Piece appears at Tulsa It is no wonder we have become a country that accepts socialism as normal.

If you google citizenship test you can take the test yourself to see how you would do. Both Jim and I have taken the test he of course scored 100%, I scored 88%.


3 in 4 high schoolers can't name first U.S. president

By Staff Reports

Oklahoma high school students are ill informed on the constitution, and only one in four can name the first president of the United States, according to a recent survey.

The survey was conducted to find the students' level of basic civil knowledge. It took 10 questions from the test candidates for U.S. citizenship take. It was sponsored by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs think tank to coincide with Constitution Day on Thursday.

The passing rate for Oklahoma high school students was 2.8 percent, compared to 92 percent of candidates for U.S. citizenship.

"In that miracle at Philadelphia 222 years ago, the Framers gave us a document which they hoped would secure our freedoms," OCPA Vice President Brandon Dutcher said in a statement. "But they knew that only a well-informed citizenry could remain free. If these survey results are any indication, we are very much a nation at risk."

OCPA promotes public policies favoring free enterprise and limited government.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for my readers.

Monday, September 21, 2009

In case you missed it - SAU 43 students didn't watch Obama's Speech

The following piece appeared in the Valley News on September 15, 2009.

Newport, Croydon
Students Weren't Allowed to Watch
Obama's Speech
By Alex Hanson
Last Tuesday morning, Charen Urban was planning to watch President Barack Obama's address to the nation's schoolchildren with a Running Start college-level sociology class she teaches at Newport High School.

But during the first block of classes, an announcement came over the loudspeakers that the speech would be taped and shown at a later date, and that teachers were not to screen it live in their classrooms.

Urban was surprised. She had planned her lesson for the Running Start class around the speech. She did download and print the text of the speech and she had her students read it and discuss it, but that's not the same as having the president talk to you.

“I thought that it was an opportunity lost,” Urban said.

Marilyn Brannigan, interim superintendent of Newport and Croydon schools, told the Valley News last Tuesday that she supported the message of the president's speech. “Is encouraging kids to study hard and do their best bad? People say it's political, but I don’t know. Encouraging kids to study hard, work hard, is a good thing,” she said.

She also said the schools were offering the option to any class or students who would like to watch the speech. But early in the school day, Brannigan preempted the live broadcast.

Newport and Croydon students will see Obama's speech as part of this Thursday's Constitution Day activities, Brannigan said in an interview Friday.

“We didn't have time to do any planning” before the speech aired, Brannigan said, noting that students had been out of school the previous Friday and Monday. The delay will give teachers time to prepare, she said.

“We also had 10 parents call and say, ‘You can't show it to my kids,' ” she said. She and the school principals “decided on the morning (of the speech) that we hadn't had the opportunity to preview” the president’s remarks. “We didn’t know how many people were out there” who objected to having their children watch and discuss the 15-minute speech, she added.

Preparation time, and not pressure from parents, was the prime reason for the delay, Brannigan said.

Croydon School Board member James Peschke was among those who questioned whether the district should show the speech live. He sent an e-mail to Brannigan, and posted his objections on the blog he and his wife write on behalf of Croydon Citizens for Reasonable and Fair Taxes.

“I don't know if my letter altered their plans in any way,” Peschke said. Brannigan cited the letter in a conversation with the Valley News.

Peschke opposed the speech on several grounds: It isn't the president's job to talk to students, schools and parents wouldn’t have adequate opportunity to review the speech beforehand, and the speech was directed at students in kindergarten through 12th grade, too wide an age range.

“The lack of review was my largest concern,” Peschke said in a phone interview, adding, “I had concerns that (the speech) was propagandistic in nature.”

Asked to clarify how the president's speech, which urged children to stay in school and work hard, might have contained propaganda, Peschke said, “You could make the case that ‘stay in school' is propaganda.” It might be for a good cause, “but it's still propaganda,” he said.

“My personal view is that parents should make that individual decision” about whether their children should watch the president's speech, Peschke said, noting that he “would do that for any president.”

Peschke said he has read the speech and found it “relatively harmless.” Still, he's glad the district taped it.

Not all parents share Peschke's views.

“If it was a speech directed to the young people, then I thought they should be able to hear it,” said Rick Cota of Newport, who talked to a reporter while watching the Newport High School girls soccer match on Saturday. Even watching a taped speech wouldn't have the same impact as a live address, he said. “It's when it’s live that you’ve got everybody talking about it,” said Cota, who has a third-grader and an eighth-grader in Newport schools.

“I thought it was absolutely ridiculous,” said Lisa Clivio-Wentrup, a guidance counselor at Indian River School in West Canaan and the mother of two daughters in Newport schools.

“It's a prime example of how divided our country is,” said David Clivio-Wentrup, Lisa's husband and a teacher at Newport High School. “I'm 56 years old and I’ve never seen it as bad as it is now,” he added.

Would most Newport and Croydon students still have a chance to see the speech?

“I think everyone is planning to show it in some form,” Brannigan said.

“I guess we'll see,” David Clivio-Wentrup said. “Why wasn't it done in the first place, knowing for how long this speech would be done?” The White House news release about the speech was dated Sept. 2, the Wednesday before.

Brannigan said that the timing of the speech, on the Tuesday after a four-day weekend, left school officials with little time to plan. In the absence of central planning, teachers made their own plans to watch the speech.

“My principal and I had conversations via e-mail about it over the weekend,” said Debra Beaupre, a fifth-grade teacher at Newport's Towle Elementary School. Teachers “were thinking we could do what we wanted,” she said in a phone interview.

“I was looking at this as a gimme, a free little pep rally from the president of the United States,” Beaupre said. For some children, the speech might be one of those times when they might say “I remember when… .”

“The thing that was frustrating was I thought that we missed a chance to celebrate a free moment,” she said.

Showing the speech on Constitution Day, as the district now plans to do, doesn't hold the same appeal. “Maybe there's a point there, but I don’t see it,” Beaupre said, adding that as of the end of last week, there had been no talk in the school of curriculum in which to situate the speech.

Urban, who has made a point of reaching out to students in poverty, said she doesn't know what the plan was for showing the speech. She was ready last Tuesday. “I feel it was a very appropriate part of my curriculum,” she said.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Why I love Croydon

Yesterday was the annual Croydon days event. The event was lovely and Burt Smith was missed. I hope these pictures show why I love Croydon so much.

Anastasia and Jim canoeing on the lake.

Alexander getting his face painted and Anastasia feeding Tom Howard's goat.