This Is How The Story Goes

On July 28, 2014, members of the BATS met with members of the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights to discuss issues they have with our current system of education. Secretary Arne Duncan attended the meeting at one point but had to leave due to a prior engagement.

In the end, a staff member from the Office of Civil Rights said, “Thanks for the suggestion. I will look into it.”

This is how the current system works.

When the President is elected, he appoints his staff.

Then, the appointed Secretary’s appoint their advisers from a group of people they know or who have been recommended to them from various groups that have an interest in that particular aspect of the government.

Those advisers meet with and receive information from citizens each day.

Once a week all these advisers meet to discuss the information they received throughout the week. Each adviser decides what of that information is relevant and worthy of being brought to the attention of the other advisers.

The BAT delegation went into the meeting saying exactly what they were supposed to say, what is being said, what has been said, and what has already been countered in the general public through the media.

Secretary Arne Duncan said, “We might disagree about the language, but what I want is for all students to be able to take advanced placement courses or be exposed to an IB curriculum. . .”

This was the perfect opportunity for the group to address the “language” of the federal government’s education policies and entitlement programs.

It is the language of education policies that continue to fund the profits of private corporations.

It is the language of the federal entitlement programs that continue to dehumanize, delineate, and discourage our children.

It is the language that everyone involved in changing the system of education must concentrate on, not the effects which have perpetuated the educational failure of our children.

The language must focus on the gifts and talents of all children, in order to provide every child with an excellent education.

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Just The Facts Please

The recent ruling in the California “Tenure” case has opened the door to a great deal of opinion as to whether or not teacher unions and their contracts are detrimental to providing an excellent education to all students.

There were three items of dispute in the case:
1. California’s Permanent Employment Statute –
The argument: “The statute does not provide nearly enough time for an informed decision to be made regarding the decision of tenure.

(Currently teachers in California receive tenure before they receive their permanent certification to be qualified to teach.)

2. Dismissal Statutes –
The argument: “It is too time consuming and too expensive to go through the dismissal process as required by the dismissal statutes.”

3. LIFO (Last in first out) –
The argument: “This statute contains no exception or waiver based on teacher effectiveness.”

Evidence was presented that showed 1-3% of California’s teachers were evaluated as highly ineffective with no evidence presented as to how that compares with any other service profession such as health care professionals.

The court’s decision does not support the dissolution of teacher unions but discloses the flaws in the contractual agreements made by the bargaining units.

If the parties involved believe that the existing agreement is detrimental, it is incumbent upon the bargaining units to negotiate a more effective and efficient contract that is in the best interest of all stakeholders.

Unions do not make the rules, they bargain in the best interests of their members and agree upon viable solutions meant to solve problems within the organization.

To say “unions” are the reason that our current system of education is failing our children is simply another smokescreen of the corporations that are working diligently to dismantle public education and profit from the devastation left behind.

The remedy for this case, a renegotiation of the current contract between the teacher’s unions and the school districts of California, not a lawsuit.

This issue does not deserve public attention but local involvement by California’s educational stakeholders.

Our children should not suffer because adults cannot agree upon an efficient and effective system of education.

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The Bats Are Flying

Yesterday at the Lyndon B. Johnson Education building in Washington, DC a group known as “Bad Ass Teachers” “BATS”, assembled to protest our current system of education and the devastating effects of Common Core.

Parents, calling themselves “BAMS” Bad Ass Moms, rallied with teachers in support of their efforts, urging other parents to stand with teachers and students, to defend the rights of our children to an excellent education.

Students performed spoken word poetry and danced. Teachers rapped and a ten year old education activist excited the crowd with a rousing speech that he would later present in the audience of Arne Duncan.

The protest participants were told that representatives from thirty-eight states were at the days event to support each other and begin the end of the system of education that has mis-educated our children for decades.

Janet Garrett, U.S. Congress 4th District, Ohio, and Allen J. Cannon, New Jersey 12th Congressional District were there to look, listen, and speak to the “Bats”.

Who are the Bad Ass Teachers?

Their website states, “This association is for every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality, and refuses to accept assessments, tests and evaluations imposed by those who have contempt for real teaching and learning…”

Who are the other candidates that are throwing their hat into the political ring to defend public education?

Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu for New York State Governor and Lieutenant Governor and Karen Lewis for Mayor of Chicago. Participants of the protest were urged to run for public office at the local, state, and federal level.

The movement to end the current dehumanizing system of corporate controlled, standardized education has taken flight and the major stakeholders in education, parents, students, and teachers, are banding together to form a colony of individuals that are committed to changing education in America so that it concentrates on discovering, developing, and directing the gifts and talents of all children by providing them with a child centered, developmentally appropriate, arts based, experiential education.

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Learn The Language

Type of Award: Discretionary grant.
Estimated Available Funds:$1,485,000.
Purpose of Program: The objective of this program is to support a Center for the Study of Distance Education and Technological Advancements at an institution of higher education as authorized by section 741(a)(3) of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965, as amended and as described in S. Rpt. 113-71, 113th Cong., 1st Sess. at 196 (2013) to study and develop best practices in postsecondary education for online education and the use of technology-based teaching and learning tools. The Center funded under this section must, in collaboration with other institutions of higher education and organizations: (a) Collect and evaluate data on outcomes achieved by students, including students with disabilities, associated with courses or programs that utilize online education and technology-based teaching and learning tools, (b) identify effective and accessible technologies, materials and practices, that work for all students in these courses or programs and (c) disseminate the findings widely.

In order to ensure timely grant awards, the Secretary has decided to forego public comment on the priorities, definitions, and requirements under section 437(d)(1) of the HEA and therefore qualifies for this exemption. In order to ensure timely grant awards, the Secretary has decided to forego public comment on the priority under section 437(d)(1) of GEPA.

The Federal government is giving out nearly $1.5 million dollars in discretionary funds, meaning they can be released to private concerns, “to support a Center for the Study of Distance Education and Technological Advancements.”

Companies that offer on-line learning opportunities should pay for these studies and then offer the results to their customers as proof of their competitiveness in the marketplace.

Why is our government utilizing taxpayer education dollars to fund private endeavors?

This is more corporate capitulation by our elected officials.

Spending money to study on-line learning when our children are not being prepared to become life long learners is simply handing Microsoft $1.5 million dollars.

The system of education is broken at the elementary level while our government is spending education dollars to create a Center to study learning at the post-secondary level.

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Bloodletting Is Not The Cure

In asking the question, “Will the Market Destroy Public Education?”, “Paul Horton, History teacher at the University of Chicago Lab School states, “The “rhetoric of economic freedom” has put a price tag everything. Self-interest and me-first have become the ideology of the day, and anyone who dares to think of what is in the best interest of society or how to raise up the poor is scorned as a Marxist or collectivist.” He alludes to the assumption that it will.

However, a different perspective, based on the same history of public education, points to the “corporate hedgehogs” keeping their “fatted cow” alive, draining enough blood to sustain them without killing the animal.

Horton himself states that this drain has been occurring for thirty years. “This ideology has been used to spearhead attacks on the role of government at every level since the conservative ascendency of the late seventies and early eighties . . .”

Corporate moguls will continue to make money off of our children, they are our greatest resource.

As long as our children are kept from realizing their personal power through discovering, developing, and directing their gifts and talents, becoming more creative thinkers and problem solvers, passionate about direction of their world, they can be controlled by the standardized norm that tells them that money is the answer to their problems.

As long as money is the answer, corporations will continue to profit from the “crab in the barrel” mentality that perpetuates the idea that a “middle class” should exist in an America that boasts equality for all.

Public funds must support public education not private profits.

All of America’s children deserve a developmentally appropriate, child centered, arts based, experiential education delivered in an engaging learning environment by an impassioned teacher who understands that all children are gifted and talented and that as an educator they are a guide in a child’s life, helping them to avoid pitfalls and possibly skip a few rungs on life’s ladder.

Education is not the fatted cow of the rich it is the promise of America.

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Can Teachout Put Cuomo Out?

Offering her views on Common Core, Zephyr Teachout writes, “If I am elected governor, I will fight every day to make sure New York’s children have the best schools in the country. I will immediately halt implementation of the Common Core. I believe the best path to high standards is to work more closely with teachers and parents, and with the Legislature and the Board of Regents. Where the problem is federal policy, I will lead a delegation of parents and educators to Washington to demand that federal officials stop dictating how we educate our own children. As did the founding generation in America, I believe public education is the infrastructure of democracy. The best public education is made democratically, in the local community: when parents, teachers, and administrators work together to build and refine the education models and standards right for our children.”

Teachout submitted 45,000 signatures for validation to be placed on the ballot for the Democratic primary; only 15,000 were required. Political analysts have said that the Cuomo camp will challenge the signatures.

Should all go well and Teachout makes the ballot, she and her running mate, Tim Wu, provide a viable alternative to voting for an incumbent running unchallenged within the party.

Cuomo’s history concerning education policy for New York is unacceptable. Though Teachout has not stated publicly that she supports or does not support charter, private, or public schools, the fact that she is receptive to local control of education policy and is willing to approach the problem at the Federal level is promising.

As in any political race, who wins is not as important as holding whomever wins accountable for and to the statements they make concerning the issues.

If New Yorkers are dissatisfied with Cuomo then they should vote for Teachout and make sure they hold her to her word. Being allowed to lead without accountability will always lead to corruption.

It is the responsibility of the citizens of America to make sure our politicians speak with our voice and our voice must speak for the children.

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From The Federal Register

Extension of Public Comment Period; Request for Information on Addressing Significant Disproportionality Under Section 618(d) of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act

Summary:
On June 19, 2014, we published in the Federal Register (79 FR 35154) a request for information (RFI) seeking comment on actions that the Department should take to address significant disproportionality based on race and ethnicity in the identification, placement, and discipline of children with disabilities. The RFI established a July 21, 2014, deadline for the submission of written comments. We are extending the comment period to July 28, 2014.

Submit your comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery.

For anyone involved in this particular issue of our current system of education, it is clear that research has shown African American males are disproportionately overrepresented in special education and disabled populations.

One wonders if this would be the case should the focus of the system of education be changed so that it concentrates on the gifts and talents of all children.

To discount the fact that these children, whether or not they fit into the standardized, norm referenced educational world that exists today, have something to give, and to ignore their individual abilities and intelligences is to continue to facilitate the failure of our nation’s youth.

As a concerned educational community, it is inherent upon us to not only comment on this significant disproportionality but to work together to change the language of Federal Entitlements so that they reflect and support the positive nature and aspects of all of our children.

It is through our voice that change will occur. Taking the time to comment is a valuable action that allows our elected officials the opportunity to choose between quiet corporate control or the collective public vote that could mean the loss of their position.

Our children must know and understand that we are willing to fight for their future. We are their role models. We must show them that it is worthwhile being an adult before we can convince them it is worthwhile growing up.

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