Saturday, May 30, 2015

Choice Improves Education

"Every lover of human freedom ought to oppose with all his might the giving of Federal aid to the schools of this country; for Federal aid in the long run inevitably means Federal control, and Federal control means control by a centralized and irresponsible bureaucracy, and control by such a bureaucracy means the death of everything that might make this country great.

Against this soul-killing collectivism in education, the Christian school, like the private school, stands as an emphatic protest. In doing so, it is no real enemy of the public schools. On the contrary, the only way in which a state-controlled school can be kept even relatively healthy is through the absolutely free possibility of competition by private schools and church schools; if it once becomes monopolistic, it is the most effective engine of tyranny and intellectual stagnation that has yet been devised."

Dr. J. Gresham Machen


Friday, May 29, 2015

Why Are U.S. Schools Mediocre? Ask the Kids | Michael J. Hurd, Ph.D. | Living Resources Center

Why Are U.S. Schools Mediocre? Ask the Kids | Michael J. Hurd, Ph.D. | Living Resources Center

Sent from a reader, published at

This is not news: America does pretty badly when it goes up against other countries academically.

This is true even if we take it one state at a time—no single
state, no matter how wealthy or small, matches the top scoring
countries. And yet, the U.S. spends more per student than many other
countries in the world.

Reporter Amanda Ripley wanted to figure out why U.S. education outcomes are so mediocre.

Ripley reasoned that kids spend more time in school than anyone.
They’ve got strong opinions about school. They have opinions on what is

She talked to the only students who could have firsthand
knowledge of the differences between schools in top-performing countries
and those in the U.S.: American kids who were exchange students in
those countries.

She surveyed hundreds of exchange students and found three major points that they all agreed on.

The students all said that in their host countries:

School is harder. There’s less homework
but the material is more rigorous. People take education more
seriously, from selecting the content to selecting the teachers.

Sports are just a hobby. In the U.S., sports are a huge distraction from the business of school, but that’s not the case in other countries.

Kids believe there’s something in it for them.
The students in other countries deeply believe that what they are doing
in school affects how interesting their lives were going to be. Even if
they don’t like a class, they see their education as a stepping stone
to their future.

This all strikes me as entirely plausible.

Whenever I ask school-aged children or teens about their opinions of
school (almost always public school), the answers are like this: “The
teachers teach to the tests;” or, “It’s all about the annual tests, and
keeping those scores up for the school.” A few students have even told
me, “My teacher says we have to do well on this test, to make the school
look good and make sure we get more funding next year from the federal

People can be incredibly naive. The unquestioned assumption is that
public schools are not merely a moral and political right; they are also
the only and best way to educate children.


I don’t think anyone has much of an answer. To question the efficacy
and necessity of public schools is probably more shocking, and more
radical, than questioning the position of the sun or moon in the sky, or
the roundness of the earth.

If people could answer this question coherently, they probably would
say something like: “Public schools are only concerned with education.
Private or for-profit schools must worry about making a profit, pleasing
customers, and the like. That’s not education.”

Of course, if this is true, then why are public schools much more
mediocre than most private schools? Why must public schools teach to the
tests, for the sake of funding, if public schools are not about money —
and only about education?

Why is private money automatically and always bad and wrong, while government money — ultimately taken from private hands — is automatically and always good and right?

And if all these assumptions are true, then how do you explain the
state of public schools? They should be 100 times better than the
typical private school. Yet the elected officials and leaders who argue
most strenuously for public schools are the very ones (virtually without
exception) who send their children to private schools, from President
Obama on down.

The issue is even deeper than public vs. private. The reason public
schools go unquestioned is because of the widespread ignorance and
naiveté that exists about education — which, in turn, results from
widespread ignorance about the nature of the human mind itself.

In today’s world, the human mind is either denigrated or taken for
granted. Yet the reasoning, thinking, functioning human mind is the only
thing that makes anything possible — particularly the great innovations
or discoveries in science and business that most of us take for

Reason makes everything worthwhile and distinctively human and
civilized possible. Reason is our tool and means of survival. It’s the
most sacred thing about human beings — along with physical health, if
not more so, because without the tool of reason, advances and
discoveries in medical science (or clean water, or electricity, or
anything else) could not be made.

We tend to assume that if we throw enough money at education, then
that will make minds brighter and smarter. Yet we continue to elect
leaders who condemn money as the root of all evil. Why so much trust and
faith in money as the sole solution to a problem when most of us claim
to hate money?

Interestingly enough, more money is not helping education one bit.
More money is thrown at public schools every year. Things stay mediocre,
and in some spots, it gets even worse. What gets the blame? Not
spending enough money. There’s no end in sight to the spending on

The same mistaken mentality can be applied to private schools.
Well-off parents might assume that by spending tens of thousands of
dollars a year on education rather than only hundreds or thousands, or
even nothing, they’re necessarily doing better. “I’ve spent all this
money, so my conscience is clear.” But it’s not necessarily so. If
parents have no involvement with their child’s education, they’re
trusting that teachers and schools are doing the job solely because they
spend a lot of money.

When I say parents need “involvement” with their kids’ education, I
don’t mean things like screaming at their elected leaders to throw more
money at the problem; or cajoling or threatening teachers and coaches to
do things aimed at making their child look better. I mean actually
being involved with their childrens’ minds and brains, not just with
book learning but in all the affairs of daily life. I mean coaching and
teaching and challenging their children to learn how to reason, think,
read, speculate, investigate and hypothesize. “Why do you think that?
What do you think will happen if you do such-and-such? What made you
reach that conclusion, and why? Are there other facts that contradict
this conclusion or attitude?” Or how about reading a book and then
discussing it afterwards? How about requiring alternatives to the
computer games, and putting time aside for discussions about other

Thinking should be a part of a child’s everyday life. To ensure this,
thinking ought to be a part of every family’s life. Leaving it all to
schools is a big mistake, especially given the low quality of most

Mediocre or even bad schools cannot excuse away the benefit or need
of parents to be engaged with their children’s minds in this way.
Trillions of dollars in tax funds thrown at the monolithic and
bureaucratic U.S. Department of Education won’t replace this need, nor
manufacture its alternative. Government-run schools are less equipped to
do this than just about any other entity. Nor will tens of thousands of
dollars thrown at expensive private schools — even good ones — wipe out
a parent’s basic responsibility to engage with the mind (intellect,
feelings, ideas) of his or her child on a regular basis.

This is the reason why so many American students are not getting the
idea that education is important: Because their parents do not treat it
as important. They treat it as a requirement, or a fact of life, maybe.
“You’ve got to go to school. Everyone goes to school. Shut up and do
it.” But why? What does education matter? Why should it be more
important than the Internet, or video games, or sports events? If
children got this answer from their parents, the mediocre schools would
not be so damaging. From what I’ve seen, I wonder if some parents don’t
think that education or thinking is actually less important than the
Internet, sports or recreation themselves.

And let’s be real: public school teachers work for the government,
more than for the students. In the end, even the most dedicated of
teachers — the kind devoted to the enlightenment of the human mind as a
career passion — must get his or her paycheck signed by the government.
The federal government, more than ever, mandates that politically
favorable ideas must trump science. (Environmentalist dogma, politically
correct dogma, pro-Muslim dogma — we all know the drill.) Much is made
of how government tramples on religion, and that’s certainly true —
because trampling is what government does. It’s what you want
government to do, when up against a terrorist, a rapist, a murderer or a
fraud. But government also tramples on the rational enlightenment of
young minds, the parts of the mind which need reason, logic, and facts
for intellectual nourishment and ultimately self-esteem and confidence.

Are you surprised that most kids don’t think there’s something in
education for them? I’m not. Because the overriding attitude in our
culture, from what I observe, involves a failure to recognize the
paramount importance of reason and thought in all the affairs of daily
life, to say nothing of advancements in science and technology.

If you want schools to do better, get the government the hell out of
schooling. But that’s only a start. Next, put the task of reason and
intelligence into education itself — with the central and overriding
goal of education being a well-trained mind.

The central purpose of education, other than imparting knowledge and
facts, is to teach a young person how and why to think. Treat that goal
as if it’s of the life-or-death importance that it really is — and young
children will, almost without exception, respond in kind. And they’ll
internalize that attitude into adulthood, too.

We’ll never get education right until we get the human mind right.

Be sure to “friend” Dr. Hurd on Facebook. Search under
“Michael  Hurd” (Rehoboth Beach DE). Get up-to-the-minute postings,
recommended articles and links, and engage in back-and-forth discussion
with Dr. Hurd on topics of interest
. Also follow Dr. Hurd on Twitter at @MichaelJHurd1

Another Superintendent Arrested

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." Lord Acton

“Despotic power is always accompanied by corruption of morality.” Lord Acton

We must not put blind faith in our Superintendents.

The following story appears in full on website.  

South Texas Superintendent Arrested, Faces Bribery Charges

The superintendent of a South Texas school district faces charges on accusations he and another official paid the school police chief to drop an investigation into theft and insurance fraud.
The Monitor reports that Donna school district Superintendent Jesus Rene Reyna was arrested Thursday and is charged with bribery and obstruction. He was arraigned in a Pharr courtroom, where a judge set his bond at $25,000.

Reyna and a school board member are accused of paying nearly $500 to the police chief in April in exchange for the department to drop an investigation against Reyna and his family.
Attempts to reach a district official for comment by The Associated Press were unsuccessful Thursday morning.

It wasn't immediately known if Reyna has an attorney.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

School Check Books Should be Online

The following piece appeared on the Hartford   Another reason why blind faith should not be placed on government employees or school superintendents.  School checkbooks should be online for anyone to view.  An honest government agency has nothing to hide.  A former superintendent made 147,000 dollars a year, used the school district credit card to pay for her personal expenses.  See full story below.


Former Hebron School Official Seeks Special Probation

A former Hebron schools superintendent arrested by state police for allegedly misappropriating thousands of dollars from the district has applied for a special form of probation.
Notice of the application prompted the Hebron Board of Education to hold a special meeting Thursday to discuss a response.

The board voted 4 to 1 to oppose Eleanor Cruz's application and also instructed its chairwoman, Maryanne Leichter, to attend the May 8 hearing in Rockville Superior Court and make a public statement to that effect.

Leichter said Friday that although one board member felt the district had spent enough money pursuing the case against Cruz, the majority felt that it would send the wrong message to walk away now.

"We wanted to be consistent that what she did was not in the best interests of our community," Leichter said.

Cruz has applied for accelerated rehabilitation, a special form of probation for first-time offenders who are not accused of violent crimes.

Victims must be notified of the application and can oppose it. A prosecutor can oppose it as well.
If a judge finds the defendant's offense is not of a serious nature and the person isnot likely to break the law again, he or she can grant the program.

After a specified period of probation, the charge is dismissed and the defendant's criminal record is purged.

Cruz, 64, was arrested by state police last August and charged with first-degree larceny following an investigation that began in February 2013.

State police began the investigation after Cruz left Hebron after 71/2 years to become superintendent of Plymouth schools, and more than $15,000 in questionable credit card charges and personal reimbursements in Hebron came to light.

Hebron school officials ordered a forensic audit of Cruz's district credit card over a one-year period, which found that about $5,900 had been improperly paid to Cruz or spent on her behalf. The auditor also raised questions about another $9,100 spent by Cruz or on her behalf.

The audit commissioned by Hebron alleged that Cruz, who made $147,000 in the last year of her contract and carried a district credit card with a $50,000 balance during her final 14 months in the district, made improper personal purchases. According to a summary of the audit, they included:

* $2,400 for the use of her car on school business. Her contract called for her to be reimbursed for actual mileage driven at the Internal Revenue Service mileage rate. Her previous contract had provided for $400 a month in reimbursement for the use of her car. She did not turn in an itemized accounting of mileage.

* $390 on her school credit card for fuel, although she was to be reimbursed for actual mileage.

* $352 on the school credit card in personal purchases at stores such as Nordstrom Rack and a Wegmans grocery store in Maryland.

* $2,375 for a consultant to analyze data from the Plymouth school system. The auditor described the contract as personal, because Plymouth is where Cruz was going to work next, and said it had nothing to do with Hebron.

* $960 on a school charge account at Ted's grocery store in Hebron for items including $89.72 for baking supplies, on Dec. 15, 2012, the day after her last day of employment with Hebron. The board could not determine whether most purchases were for legitimate school business because receipts were not provided.

* $1,406 on the same school charge card for gardening and landscaping supplies at two businesses, although no receipts were provided.

* $790 on the district credit card for purchases at a grocery store in Essex. Because no receipts were provided to the board, the legitimacy of the purchases could not be determined.

* $6,066 at area food stores, farm markets, restaurants, online retailers, florists, a toy store and a car wash. Receipts lacked details or the receipt was cut, eliminating the detail.

Following the state police investigation, Cruz was charged with first-degree larceny by defrauding a public community, which alleges the theft of $2,000 or more from a government entity.

Following her arrest, Cruz, who was making $175,000 a year in Plymouth, was placed on paid administrative leave by the school board and agreed to resign in September. The agreement cost Plymouth about $70,000.

Hebron has spent more than $60,000 on legal fees, according to district officials.
Copyright © 2015, Hartford Courant

Croydon School Choice

Some people believe the school choice issue is not resolved.  Some people would rather have other people's children in a failing system than let parents do what is best for their own children.  Some people are about protecting a failing system, and not giving a rat's behind about actually doing what is educationally best for some children.  Croydon is paying well over $100,000 to send one child to a private school.   All children of Croydon have that right, some people want to block that right. The children that want to exercise that right cost Croydon taxpayers a lot less than the one children that is going to a private school.  It is time that certain members in our community and the neighboring community stop protecting a broken system and let parents do what is right for their children.  It is both fair and equal.

The following piece appeared in full on the Union Leader.


School choice issue still not resolved in Croydon
Union Leader Correspondent

CROYDON — With the school year coming to a close, the Croydon School District and New Hampshire Department of Education are no closer to resolving their disagreement over school choice.

The school district had started offering parents local private schools as an alternative after ending its area agreement with the Newport School District the year before.

In February, the state ordered Croydon School District to stop paying tuition to private schools.

Croydon School District Chairman Jody Underwood maintained her position Wednesday that school choice is supported by state law and precedent.

Commissioner of Education Virginia Barry disagreed, saying state law prohibits it. In a Feb. 25 letter to Cynthia Gallagher, superintendent of SAU #43, Barry wrote, “It has come to the Department’s attention that the District is sending its pupils to private school using taxpayer funds to pay tuition. Please be advised that this practice is contrary to law. Districts may only assign children to public school.”

In an email Thursday, Judith Fillion, director of the Division of Program Support at the Department of Education, said Barry plans to meet with representatives of the school district.

Underwood said a meeting was planned, but had to be canceled and has yet to be rescheduled.

The Croydon School District, though, has the law on its side and plans to continue to offer school choice to Croydon parents, Underwood said.

“We’re doing the right thing and nobody has told us why we can’t,” she said. “We fully intend to continue on doing this.”

Amanda Leslie, of Croydon, said not all residents support what the school board is doing. She said in an email that she supports school choice, but said the school district should adhere to the state Department of Education’s interpretation of state law.

“I am not opposed to school choice. I am opposed to fighting the Department of Education to change their interpretation of the law,” she said.

Gallagher said the vote to abolish the Newport area agreement and use a mix of public and private schools as an option was very close.

Gallagher added she has heard from some Croydon residents who have said they didn’t realize they were supporting paying tuition to private schools when they voted to end the area an agreement with Newport.

Gallagher said, as of right now, the SAU cannot continue to pay tuition to private schools, barring a change in state law or a court order.

“The SAU can’t process it in the current setting,” Gallagher said. “I’m working very hard with Jody to find a solution.”

The SAU can, however, continue to pay tuition to public schools that Croydon makes agreements with.

It’s been an interesting development from Croydon’s move to school choice, Gallagher said, how successful it has been in terms of public school choice.

Gallagher said when she worked at New England College in Henniker many years ago, she had wanted to tuition her child to attend kindergarten in Henniker, but it was too expensive for her.

It would have been ideal, though, being able to commute together and being close to her child in the case of an emergency.

Gallagher said the SAU has been helping Croydon parents who work out of the area and want to investigate possible tuition agreements with schools near their work.

Some people have even inquired about moving to Croydon just to access school choice, she said. She has advised people against moving to Croydon to access private schools as a choice, she said.

As long as the public school agrees to accept the child, an individual agreement can be made for that family, Gallagher said.

In fact, the Newport School District plans to look into offering school choice for public schools at its next board meeting she said.

Newport School District is also planning to discuss not accepting outside students anymore because it no longer relies on outside school district tuition, Gallagher said, which could be a dilemma for Croydon.

There are currently about 60 students from fifth to 12th grade in the Croydon district.

Most of the students continue to go Newport Middle/High School.

But since ending the agreement with Newport, it has forged new agreements with multiple school districts and some private schools.

Five students have chosen schools outside of Newport including a student who attends a public school in Sunapee.

One student had already been attending Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, so the school district paid tuition this year to the private school. Tuition at the prep school is about $30,000.

Croydon uses the cost to send students to Newport as a guide. This year, it costs $15,000 per student to send a student to Newport, so Croydon paid half of the Kimball Union Academy student’s tuition this year.

The student is a senior, so it was a one-year benefit for the student’s family, who are Croydon taxpayers, according to Underwood.

Then there are three students who are attending Newport Montessori through the Croydon School District this year, Underwood said.

That school only goes up to the eighth grade. Tuition at the private Montessori school is $8,200 a year.
- See more at:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Your Child; Your Choice.

The following piece appears on the Lincoln click on the link to view the associated video and to learn more.

Bullying in Schools

The public education system is a system based on bullying. It is forced system through compulsion and forced taxation. Unions force the taxpayers and administrators. The whole system stinks so much of it is corrupt and wasteful.  But if your child is bullied this much, why the hell do you keep him in the school, homeschool for Pete's sake. One year of bullying is too much, several years of bullying is unthinkable.  Take your children out of these awful places.  This poor child should have never endured all those years of bullying.   Parents need to raise better humans as well.