01 02 03 400 Things: Education reform is underway 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Education reform is underway


The minute Obama was elected President, I had a gut feeling that homeschooling would be threatened. Well, he's not wasting any time. What's worse, the bill that threatens this privilege flew right under the radar. It's already passed in the House, and is on to the Senate. It's hiding in a bill that turns control of all student loans over to the federal government.

If you doubt the severity of this administration's plans, read what the Secretary of Education said earlier this year:

"Many of our schools are also struggling—losing our young people to the streets or graduating students who are not ready for college or work. And with states cutting education budgets, our schools and our children are placed even more at risk."

It has become painfully clear that pouring more and more money into the public education system is not the answer. As funding grows, education continues to decline.


Because education is not tied to funding. The love of learning is the most important thing. The need to see, and experience, and explore, and ask questions. Funding comes with regulations, and with regulations you lose the human equation. School districts must make sure their students pass standardized tests, so more and more often, teachers are forced to teach the test, and not teach simply what children must learn to live productive lives.

"The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [stimulus] provides swift aid to states that they can use to avoid teacher layoffs and other education program cuts, modernize school buildings, and provide programs that protect the needs of special education and disadvantaged students.

As you know, the primary goal of the stimulus is to save jobs—but the larger goal is to drive a set of reforms that we believe will transform public education in America."

For a complete explanation on why that last statement should scare the living daylights out of you, read Liberty and Tyranny by Mark Levin.

"The four issues are: higher standards, data systems, turning around underperforming schools, and teacher quality.

First, we are encouraging states to adopt rigorous standards that are internationally benchmarked. A nation without true career- and college-ready standards is lying to its children. A nation with low academic standards is telling students and parents that our kids are doing well—when, in fact, they are not.

"Standards" means standardized tests. If you're a teacher or a parent, you know that just because a child is in 5th grade, doesn't mean he or she learns or retains information at the same rate as every other child his age. Nor does it mean he should. Standards have eclipsed learning. States are entirely too focused on standards and not nearly as interested in whether kids actually know anything. If we continue to raise the standards, it certainly does not guarantee smarter kids. It just means more test-taking.

A nation that does not benchmark its standards against the highest international standards is crippling our children in the competition for jobs.

That competition is not just coming from the next street or even the next state. It's coming from India and China, Singapore and Korea.

Second, we want to see states building robust data systems that allow districts to better track the growth of individual students. We know that raising standards alone will not make a difference unless teachers and principals are provided with the information they need to make sure that students are learning. "

Data systems that allow districts to track individual students. This is completely unconstitutional. It is not the Federal government's place to track individual student's education in any way. He says that states will do this, but who's funding the states? The Fed.

"Third, we want failing schools to be turned around. We need innovative, new instructional models. One of the first areas where we can foster innovation is the amount of time our students spend learning. Other top-performing countries do not take two months off in the summer. They do not dismiss students at two in the afternoon. Instead, they spend 30 or 40 more days per year in school and offer safe, constructive activities that keep kids learning. We must expand quality after-school programs and rethink the school day to incorporate more time—whether that's by extending hours or offering more summer school."

More time at school is not the answer, any more than more money pumped into the school is the answer. I know many public school kids whose parents talk about the hours of homework the kids have every evening. This is especially burdensome to the slow learners. So 6-7 hours a day, plus 2-3 hours of homework aren't enough?

"I'm just grateful that we have a president who is willing to fight for schools. Given that we are facing two wars and the worst economy since the Great Depression, it's remarkable how much he keeps coming back to education."

It's not remarkable at all. Progressives and liberals know that the way to change a nation is through it's children. Where are the children? In school.

Woodrow Wilson was president of Princeton before he was the President of the United States. He said the following while he was at Princeton:

"Our problem is not merely to help the students to adjust themselves to world life . . . but to make them as unlike their fathers as we can."

In case you're not familiar with Wilson's politics, here's another gem:

"America is not now and cannot in the future be a place for unrestricted individual enterprise."

"He [Obama] understands that we need to educate our way to a better economy. He understands that the nation that out-teaches us today will out-compete us tomorrow.

He understands that a nation not only needs its poets and scholars to give us words and wisdom, but also its inventors and engineers to design new cell phones, rebuild the levees of New Orleans, and find new sources of energy and new treatments for disease.

Moreover, he is a president who will not allow scientific research to be held hostage to a political agenda. Whether it's global warming, evolution or stem cell research, science will be honored, respected, and supported by this administration."

Have you met the new Science Czar? His answer to global warming is population control. Pure and simple. Is this the 'future' we want for America? Forced abortions and sterilants in the drinking water are his 'great ideas.'

"The president sent a strong signal when he picked a Noble-Prize winning physicist to be our energy secretary—and I plan to work closely with him and with all of the other key agencies from NASA to the EPA to the National Science Foundation—to launch a new era of science education in America."

Energy Secretary David Chu is Chicken Little, and the sky is global warming.

"But, the challenge of getting more young people into science is not something we can successfully implement in Washington. That falls to you and your colleagues in classrooms all across America.

You need to challenge yourselves and each other to move the curriculum beyond dinosaurs and volcanoes—and I know that many of you already have—but we need to take the best ideas to scale in tough inner-city districts like this one—as well as rural areas that cannot find qualified teachers in every subject. You need to make inquiry-based science relevant to kids—stimulate their curiosity—connect it with their lives. Together we need to change the national dialog about science—to prepare our kids to be honestly critical and technically competent."

So does that mean kids will be encouraged to question evolution and global warming? Ha!

"Science is all about questioning assumptions, testing theories, and analyzing facts. These are basic skills that prepare kids not just for the lab—but also for life. We're doing kids a disservice if we don't teach them how to ask tough and challenging questions."

That disservice is already underway.

"We have the leadership in the White House, we have the support on Capitol Hill, and now we have the funding.
Now we need you—your ideas, your energy, and your leadership—to build on the great tradition of inquiry, research, and theory that produced Edison and Einstein to create a new generation of scientists and make the world smarter and healthier."

Thomas Edison spent a total of 3 months in school. The rest of his education took place at home.

Edison, along with many generations of Americans before him, were educated in an environment free from taxpayer funding, standardized tests, and social education. Many, many Americans were schooled by their parents. Many more were taught in small, one-room settings for much shorter periods of time.

These great people were able to think and write, compute, and invent. Oh, and carve one of the greatest nations on earth out of the wilderness. Why did we fix what wasn't broken?

My friends, there are dangerous changes underway in our government. But it is OUR government, so we have a chance at preventing these changes to our fundamental way of life. You would serve yourself and your family well to stay informed and remind your elected officials who pays their salaries, and who can replace them. Don't wait too long. . .

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