Saturday, April 18, 2015

What Were they Thinking?

If anyone pays attention they know that research shows that anti-bullying campaigns actually create bullying.  What a lovely way to teach children vulgarities, encourage bullying, and to waste tax dollars.  I think some educrats are in capable of logical thought.   The following piece appears on the Union Leader in full.   Considering the large numbers of students not performing at grade level on standardized tests maybe these schools should focus more on education, and not political indoctrination and social engineering. 


Kids pulled from school over anti-bullying exercise

New Hampshire Union Leader

MANCHESTER — The father of a Hallsville School fourth-grader wants the principal reprimanded, or fired, for allowing an anti-bullying exercise that asked students to curse in class. 

Keith Katsikis said he and his wife have pulled their three Hallsville students out of the school after they found out about the exercise he believes is inappropriate for children.

Katsikas has started a petition calling for the firing of Hallsville principal Christi Michaud. 

He also sent copies of his letter to the school superintendent, school board members, the mayor, aldermen and the woman who presented the exercise.

“I wanted to make sure everybody saw it,” he said.

School district officials said they are investigating.

Katsikas said he found out about the exercise when he and his wife picked their children up from school Wednesday, as they do every day, and his son told them: “Something really weird happened.”

Katsikas said his son told him that a woman entered the classroom to teach a lesson on bullying. She taped a life-size paper man on the wall and passed out small pieces of paper for students to write vulgarities like several four-letter words and derogatory terms towards certain groups. The word or phrase had to be something that someone has said to them in the past. She collected the papers and mixed them up in a basket and then had children read the word or phrase, so the class could hear them.

Katsikas said the words were vulgarities and his son recalled Evans saying: “Say it like you mean it.” Katsikas said many children protested reading the words, so she allowed them to pick a different word, but they had to participate. She also had them rip a piece off the figure.

When all the children had finished, and only the head of the figure remained, the children had to tape their piece of the figure back in place and apologize.

Katsikas’ son told him Evans said the moral was:

“When you swear at someone, that person can never be put back together again.”
Katsikas said his wife went online and found an exercise on the Education World website, addressing the issue of a new classmate trying to fit in that calls for children to say something “mean” before tearing off a piece of the figure. After the children apologize and tape the pieces back in place, the website says: “But it doesn’t look the same and the message is that ‘scars remain ... chances are they will never go away.’”

Katsikas said: “Even if the lesson was given as described in this plan, it is awful.”

After hearing what had happened in his son’s class, Katsikas said he entered the school and wanted to speak with Michaud. She was busy, so he spoke with assistant principal Patricia Auger and when he explained what had happened, he said: “She was physically sickened.”

Katsikas and his wife have been invited to meet Monday morning with School Superintendent Debra Livingston, Michaud and other parties involved, as well as Ward 7 school board member Ross Terrio.

Katsikas said he wants to make sure principals “are mandated to send home notices when something like this happens.”

Since he’s planning on home schooling his children, he said he’s pursuing the parental notification issue for the benefit of the children who remain in the public schools. His philosophy is: “Let them live and learn at a child’s pace.” Katsikis said his opinion is that the Manchester schools are: “A little too risky for my children.”
- See more at:

Kids pulled from school over anti-bullying exercise

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Public Schools are Government Schools

Public Schools are government schools, corruption exists both in government and in government schools.  Every school should have their budgets and checkbook online so citizens and taxpayers can keep an eye out for corruption and wasteful spending.   The following piece appears in full on the Chicago Tribune Website, visit the website for pictures associated with this story.


Feds investigating CPS chief, $20.5 million contract to her former employer

Federal authorities are investigating Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and a $20.5 million contract the district awarded on a no-bid basis to a training academy that formerly employed her, sources said.

The CPS inspector general's office began an investigation into the contract with north suburban-based SUPES Academy and Byrd-Bennett's relationship to the company in 2013, a source said. The U.S. attorney's office then started its own probe, and a grand jury has been reviewing evidence for at least a year, the source said.

CPS officials have discussed the possibility of appointing an interim CEO depending on the outcome of the investigation, a source said. Byrd-Bennett, who was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in October 2012, attended a regularly scheduled meeting at CPS headquarters Wednesday and remains in her post.

CPS signed its initial contract with SUPES for leadership training not long after Byrd-Bennett took office. Byrd-Bennett had worked for the company before joining CPS as a consultant in April 2012.
Byrd-Bennett, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing, could not be reached Wednesday.
A spokesman for SUPES Academy said federal authorities have "obtained records and files" from the company for the investigation.

"SUPES will of course cooperate with this investigation," spokesman Dennis Culloton said in a statement. Culloton said the company "stands behind the countless hours of training it has provided to Chicago Public Schools principals."

The federal investigation was first revealed Wednesday by CPS officials in a release that offered few details. The district said authorities have requested interviews with several district employees.
David Vitale, president of the Chicago Board of Education, said in a statement the district was made aware of the investigation Tuesday.
"We take any allegation of misconduct seriously, and we are fully cooperating with investigators who requested that we not discuss any specifics regarding the ongoing investigation," Vitale said.
At a news conference Wednesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was asked about the investigation and repeated much of what was in the CPS statement, saying that he did not have additional information.
The mayor said he did not know if federal investigators had spoken to Byrd-Bennett. Asked if he had confidence in the schools chief, even given his professed lack of information on the investigation, Emanuel said: "I can't answer, I don't even know who they are looking at."
CPS has paid SUPES Academy roughly $15 million since the 2012 budget year, according to district purchasing records. According to its website, SUPES offers "a dynamic leadership preparation program for emerging K-12 leaders, aspiring principals, sitting principals, and regional, central office, and cabinet level administrators."

The district approved a "leadership development services" agreement with SUPES for up to $20.5 million that was to extend from June 2013 to June 2016, according to CPS documents. District records show SUPES was hired on a "non-competitive basis" but the contract was reviewed and approved by an internal committee and the district's chief procurement officer, records show.

Vitale signed the agreement in June 2013. The Board of Education approved the contract at its June 26, 2013, meeting.

CPS and the academy had already entered into a one-year agreement in 2012, but records show both sides agreed to terminate that contract and replace it with the updated version.

Under the 2013 contract, SUPES was to train high-ranking network chiefs and deputy chiefs, as well as school principals and assistant principals. SUPES Academy was to "design and deliver the Academies and other coaching services" to all eligible employees.

Byrd-Bennett worked for SUPES before being hired as an adviser to her predecessor at CPS, Jean-Claude Brizard.

She took over at CPS following Brizard's resignation and less than a month after a bitter seven-day teachers strike. Byrd-Bennett faced entrenched financial issues and then, in 2013, oversaw the closing of nearly 50 schools the city said were under-enrolled.

A former teacher, Byrd-Bennett previously held top posts at school districts in New York and Detroit. She led the Cleveland school district from 1998 to 2006. There, her use of private donations on expensive hotels and fancy restaurants led to a state audit. The audit found no wrongdoing but recommended the district keep a tighter watch on spending.

But also in Cleveland, Byrd-Bennett was credited with straightening out finances, improving test scores and raising the high school graduation rate.

As CPS chief, she makes a base salary of $250,000 annually as part of a contract that expires June 30.
Tribune reporter Hal Dardick contributed.

We Need to Teach and Learn Cursive Writing

Yesterday, I ran across a post in a genealogy group.   The woman asked for assistance she said she could not read cursive.  My first thought was sadness for her, my next thought was anger towards a school system that does not teach cursive.  Then a bit of anger toward her parents for not teaching cursive because her likely public education system did not teach cursive.   Then I felt sorry for her, we as individuals need to educate ourselves were our schooling and parents failed.  


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Teachers Guilty of Rackteering Finally Sentenced

Teachers caught cheating on testing in Atlanta schools were finally sentenced for their part in the cheating scandal.   To view the sentences to go WSB-TV 2. To read more on the story click here.

I am glad justice has finally been served.  No jail time would have set a bad example for the students.  There were better ways than cheating if the teachers were not happy with the testing in the schools.


Monday, April 13, 2015

A Major Problem in Modern Education?

One of the most useful bits of knowledge came to me from Dr. Seaver in my Neurodiagnostics class in Graduate school.  "You don't need to know all the answers but you do need to know where to find the answers."  When working for patients it is impossible to know all the answers.  But I always knew I could comfort a patient by saying I can find an answer.  It has worked well with parenting and teaching my children as well.  The more I read, the more I learn, the more I realize there is still so much to learn.   I really did not have any teacher or professors who inspired me until I reached graduate school, those professors had a passion about their areas of study that I did not see in other educators. 

The following piece appeared on   

"Gallup recently polled over 200,000 high school students through the Gallup Student Poll and more than 30,000 college alumni through the Gallup-Purdue Index about their academic lives and beyond. Half of the high school students we polled said they don't have a single teacher who excites them about the future. And one-third of the American college graduates we surveyed said they didn't have a single professor who excited them about learning."

"Another Gallup poll reveals that America's systemic shortage of inspiring teachers may be rooted in the fact that only 30% of K-12 public school teachers are engaged in their jobs. This means that seven in 10 teachers are not enthusiastic about and committed to their work. And the 13% of K-12 public school teachers who are "actively disengaged" are actually doing more harm than good, spreading demoralization rather than inspiration. If teachers are not engaged at work, it's difficult for them to do a competent job much less inspire their students."

To read the rest of the story go to


"If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room." - Anita Koddick

Sunday, April 12, 2015

School Choice Misconceptions Aired

School choice misconceptions aired

In her March 6 editorial, Newport School Superintendent Dr. Cindy
Gallagher implied that withdrawing three Croydon students from Newport
schools caused a million-dollar budget shortfall and the elimination of
19 jobs. While there must be more to the budget story, it does provide a
useful example of the difficulty of discussing the benefits and
challenges of school choice.

I would like to address some misconceptions that get in the way of understanding the potential of school choice. These include:

1) School choice is not equitable. 'Equitable' does not mean
'equal.' The wealthy always have more choices than the poor, and work
to maintain that advantage. But linking a child's educational choices to
the best home his parents can afford may be the least equitable method
of schooling that one could invent. If our choices for food, clothing,
medical care, automotive service, or anything else were limited in this
way, no one would stand for it. But this is how government allocates
the single most important need of families: education. And by chasing
an equality that can't even in theory be reached, we give up the
opportunity to pursue whatever standard of competence could in practice
be achieved.

2) Stability is desirable. Hoping to prepare students for the 21st
century world of constant change by keeping them in an institution that
resists change at all costs is self-defeating. We can no longer afford
to do this. Dinosaurs required stability; mammals didn't. That's why
mammals are still around.

3) Stability is achievable. Disruptive technologies are increasingly
used by global entrepreneurs to topple outdated monopolies — whether in
transportation (think Uber), entertainment (remember Blockbuster?),
telecommunications, journalism ... or public schooling.

4) Businesses can adjust to changes more easily than public
schools. Quite the opposite. While private businesses have many of the
same fixed costs that schools have, schools have the advantage of being
able to tax their neighbors to cover the kinds of misjudgments that
would put any other business out of business.

5) In order to provide something, government must produce it. In no
other area of public assistance do we make this strange assumption. When
people can’t afford food, government doesn’t build and run farms — it
provides food stamps. When people can’t afford health care, government
doesn’t build and run hospitals — it provides Medicaid. When people
can’t afford to school their children, why should the government build
and run schools, when it could address the issue with 'school stamps' or

6) Voting is an opportunity to make a difference. Voting is an
indirect, inefficient, and if you're in the minority, utterly
ineffective way to make any kind of change to your own life. Selecting a
suitable school for your child, on the other hand, is a very direct,
immediate, and effective way to make a difference in the life of that

School choice is spreading around the country, creating competition,
lowering costs, and increasing quality. Online education is already
here, with some of the highest-quality resources available for free.
Charter and magnet schools offer new approaches to learning. Disruptive
changes like these add urgency to questions like, ‘Would a different
school provide a better education for my child?’ and, 'Why is my town
paying $2,000 per child for a history class every year, when we could
buy a better course from the Teaching Company for $69.95, let students
share it, and re-use it year after year?'

Having long-term relationships with surrounding school districts is
very important. It is also important that receiving schools meet the
needs of their students. Competition through school choice will help
these schools meet those needs. It will also get parents more involved
in their children’s education, which research has shown to be one of the
most important factors in students’ academic success.

To seize these opportunities, we need to take a realistic view of the
kinds of changes that are going on in every other area of life, and
stop pretending that public schools can survive by just ignoring them. I
look forward to working with Dr. Gallagher to get ahead of the tide of
change, instead of waiting around to be drowned by it.

Jody Underwood is a member of the Croydon School Board. All letters will be received in care of the editor.

The above piece appears as it appeared in full in the Eagle Times Newspaper.   Cathy