Every week on Monday morning, the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum with short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture or daily living. This week’s question: Does Education Need Reform?
Fausta’s Blog: Yes, education thoroughly needs reform.
All schools must be answerable to the parents, who should have freedom to choose what schools they want for their children.
Elementary schooling is most important in a child’s development. For instance, substantial research on the brain’s neuroplasticity shows the importance of learning cursive handwriting during childhood. My experience is that few elementary school teachers are even aware of such research – and teaching cursive is a long, hard process which is not favored by the “teach for the test” environment.
In today’s society, schools are called to do many functions that parents should. At the same time, most teachers’ colleges favor a politically-correct approach of “everybody gets a trophy” instead of focusing on a sense of the value of virtue, a work ethic, and thorough respect and familiarity with the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights, all of which are American values.
As the mother of a boy, I can attest to the fact that most schools – public and private – are oriented to teaching in a way that does not foster the way male students learn. Luckily we were able to place my son in an all-boy’s school that encouraged hands-on learning, and where recess was never cancelled (in fact, the youngest grades had two brief recesses in the morning). He graduated from college with honors.
Current curricula is affected by the latest trends. I remember when the local school board proposed to change (at great expense to the taxpayer) the math curriculum years ago. My husband asked “were any studies done comparing the new plan’s effectiveness to the current one?” Not one member of the board had even thought of such a study. Now we have Common Core, with murky math exercises that I cannot understand even after having completed nine semesters of college and graduate school statistics, calculus, and economics.
I also believe that one of the most important things a good educator can have is a sense of the value of learning-from-failure, which goes hand-in-hand with understanding the value of healthy competition. It is tragic that the present educational environment can not comprehend either. As ever, it falls to us parents to make sure our children do.
Maggie’s Notebook: We first need the will to change education. To do that we need parents insisting on it and finding a way to sacrifice whatever is necessary to put their children in good schools when their public school is failing. Most importantly, we need teachers willing to stand up for truthful text books and honest methods of teaching, grading and passing pupils. Today’s teachers come out of their own education taught to hate and be victims. We are on a merry-gro-round. When our kids fall off, the merry-go-round continues to spin.
How do we get truth into textbooks? The only answer I have is that educators and parents must insist on it. If we find a way to provide truthful civics and history textbooks, then can our children CANNOT pass the SAT, aligned to Common Core, and testing is not going away anytime soon. For decades, Liberals have tried to bring racism and victimization into everyday life so that every school child is turned into that community’s organizer.
We barely teach English and Math. Neither are considered important today –– nor is it important to know how to balance a checkbook or understand the stability behind a bank account yielding profit. It’s more important to learn how to put a condom on a banana, or create a flier showing support for Islam. History is so obscenely distorted, we may not be able to reconcile the decades of damage already done. After all, many of our schools are staffed with those who themselves were taught to feel victimized.
Spend some time with Fox News’ Jessie Watters on beaches in very influential communities, or on some of the university campuses considered the finest in the country, and you’ll understand how little our children know or care about liberty and freedom.
Some parents believe their efforts have removed Common Core from their schools, but as long as English, History and Mathematics are taught to pass the current testing, Common Core lives.
The crux of all evil in our schools are the two major teacher’s unions, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). We can’t fire them, even when they molest our children. Such a teacher may be removed from the classroom, but not removed from the payroll and retirement benefits. To be sure, there are excellent teachers, who suffer over this problem every day of the school year, but in our current and common environment, good teachers can do only so much.
Then there are the lawsuits –– dropped on schools on a whim –– costing thousands to defend. It’s easier to give in. Banish the child that chews his pop tart into the shape of a gun. Praise the child bringing a suitcase with the guts of a clock inside that clearly looks like a bomb. That early teenage child has been told that MIT will welcome him.
Does education need reform? Such a disturbing question. I don’t think there’s an answer to fix it. I don’t think there are enough aware parents to shield their children. I don’t think there enough good teachers to fight their unions. I think there are far too many teachers/administrators teaching the poor to continue to be poor, to continue to hate others for their plight.
Laura Rambeau Lee, Right Reason: Many people today are surprised to discover the U. S. Department of Education was created during the administration of President Carter in 1979. Until then, the control of our public education resided within the states. Our Constitution makes no mention of the federal government having any duties or responsibilities related to education, and as such the DoED is an unconstitutional agency. In the past thirty-five years, the federal government has taken control of the education of our children by enticing states and counties with funding. Unfortunately these funds come with strings that have shaped everything from the curricula to what our children are eating for breakfast, lunch, and even dinner in some districts. School districts compete for these funds and policies enacted in order to receive these funds.
Right now we have the federal government colluding with private corporations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, taking our tax dollars and turning our education system over to entities not as much interested in providing our children the best education as they are making money and pursuing the social engineering of generations of our youth. Our schools should not be laboratories and our children should not be guinea pigs to untested and unproven standards such as Common Core. The Common Core State Standards is the latest incarnation of the old No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top programs, all promising to improve standards and turn out children who are college or career ready. Charter schools and magnet schools are being sold to parents as an attractive alternative to low performing schools, but again, people must realize this is the taking of public tax money which should be going to public education and putting it in the pockets of private corporations. The states have no oversight over these charter schools and the curricula is proprietary, meaning no one is able to see or review what our children are being taught. An early charter school, International Baccalaureate, has direct ties to the United Nations through UNESCO, and promises to promote “rigorous” study and create young people who embrace multiculturalism and diversity as “global citizens” and where, as they say on their website “These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.” IB started out as a high school diploma programme, but now includes primary and middle year programmes as well as a career related programme. The Common Core State Standards appear in many ways to be fashioned after the International Baccalaureate programme.
In the 2016 presidential election we must get behind a candidate who promises to abolish the DoED and return education to the states and local districts. The future of our country resides in taking back control of our education system at the local and state levels and assuring our children are being taught the basic knowledge and skills that will carry them into being productive, competent and capable citizens into their adult lives and professions.
JoshuaPundit: I think a great many people have finally become aware of how poorly our education system works over the last decade, and that’s been underlined by the nonsense that’s been making headlines lately at our universities.Fixing this is going to involve several steps,and it’s going to be necessary to look at the origin of the problems, break down the root causes and solve them in increments.And since part of the solution is obviously political, a lot is going to depend on the national will.
Let’s look at K-12 first.
School choice is important, even vital but it merely underlines the fact that the enormous amount of money spent on public education has largely been a waste, since parents, given the choice, overwhelmingly choose private schools whom are normally able to educate students for less money per pupil and at a much higher level than majority of the public schools. My own experience is that the average 12th grader in private schools is at least 3 years or more ahead in terms of the work they’re doing.
Private schools usually have these things in common – parents whom care very much about their children’s education and are willing to invest in it, high standards of discipline, work ethic and conduct for the students themselves (frequently including religious and moral education as well as sex segregated classes), non-unionized teaching staffs and a much lower ratio of administrators to teachers than the large public school districts. Teachers also have much more freedom to gear the pace of learning to the classes’ level rather than having to devote set amounts of time to mandatory programs that bore the more intelligent children or overwhelm those whom need more time and help. And teachers are likewise judged by their empirical results rather than tenure or other considerations.
Once public education became unionized and the Left took control of it, most of not all of the above qualities including scholastic ones were degraded over time as education became indoctrination, standards were lowered and bureaucracy became an end in itself. The tool the Left used to accomplish this was federal and state money, which is why the attendance head count in the morning has become the most important part of the day. Ironically, it’s also a tool that can be used to reform the system in the right hands.
To fix K-12, the following steps are necessary in my view: Breaking apart the larger urban school districts into smaller units, de-unionizing teachers by making public employee unions voluntary and regulating the involvement of public employee unions as organizations in political campaigns, getting rid of tenure and enforcing much higher standards in teachers are the first steps.
The Federal Department of Education and the threat of withdrawing federal money can be used to accomplish much of this, and federal school choice legislation would be needed for the rest.
The next steps are more difficult, because they involve changes in attitude. First, the pernicious influence of the Left needs to be curtailed. A good start would be for textbooks to need to be approved by a new Bureau of Standards as a part of the DoE before they could be used in the public schools, and for standardized tests to be administered at different grade levels for tracking purposes of both teacher fitness and individual academic progress. And yes, I’m talking about British-style O-levels. Some children are university material and some are better served by good vocational training. Moral education also needs to be taught again at an early age in the public schools as it once was, and discipline re-established. This unfortunately is vital nowadays.
Public education should not be thought of as a right but as the privilege it is. Children and teenagers who habitually disrupt classrooms, act out in school and show disrespect for teachers should be removed to a single facility in the district more geared to their special needs so that they do not deprive the other children who actually came to be educated.
Dealing with the Universities is an extension of this.
Even private ones receive public money and subsidies as well as student loan funds. This can likewise be used as a lever to effect change.
College has become an overpriced scam particularly in the Social Sciences and Liberal Arts, which these days are anything but liberal. This could be changed with the following policies.
First, any university receiving federal funds of any kind would have to eliminate tenure, base admissions on a race neutral basis, have its curriculum meet certain federal standards as established by standardized yearly testing and allow ROTC training and military recruiters on campus in accordance with the Solomon Amendment.
In addition, the Federal DoE could easily create college curricula for various majors that could be available online at a fraction of the cost of what college costs today, and some universities already offer such programs. My daughter is now working as a special ed teaching assistant in the field she wants to make her career while taking online courses that will give her a BA in a year’s time at a fraction of what even a state university would cost, and minus the indoctrination and ethos that entails nowadays.When she gets ready to start her career, it will be with actual job experience on her resume and zero debt.
Those students who want ‘the college experience’ as a prolonged adolescence, are legacies with wealthy alumni parents who are seeking contacts or want to use college as a talent showcase for the professional sports franchises will still likely want a typical high priced brick and mortar university, but the opportunity to obtain the same degrees at a fraction of the cost is going to appeal to a lot of young Americans.
The DoE could also enable a rebirth of vocational colleges and paid apprenticeships in various trades that would be far more practical, useful and cost less than some of the ridiculous majors many students are currently pursuing while bankrupting themselves or their parents at the same time.
Implementing these changes would take time, but the results would be seen fairly quickly. And they would revolutionize education as it is today.
Well, there you have it.
Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum. And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council and the results are posted on Friday morning.
It’s a weekly magazine of some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere and you won’t want to miss it.
Hat Tip: BB
By: Renee Nal
But Mullen’s dad purchased a home for “little more than $1 million” in 2005 and Keely also attended the pricey Francis W. Parker High School.
Adding to the contradictions, Mullen previously described her family as “a white, upper middle class family.”
Mullen, along with her co-organizer Elan Axelbank, is a member of the “Socialist Alternative,” a Trotskyist group. While Keely Mullen and/or Elan Axelbank was quoted at the Washington Post, the Soros-funded ThinkProgress, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, among many others, the “journalists” in the mainstream media all forgot to mention that the organizers are Marxists.
As an aside, the “Socialist Alternative” was recently successful in re-electing Kshama Sawant to the Seattle City Council.
Considering the stunning amount of vastly positive national coverage, (Time, Reuters, Newsweek, USA Today among many others) the actual number of students in the streets seems to have been quite anemic.Read more on Keely Mullen and the Million Student March here.
By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
Millionaire businessman Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream was on CNN last week talking about his presidential candidate, career politician and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a “social democrat,” not a socialist. For his part, Cohen said, “You know, I’m a capitalist, clearly, and I support the guy.”
Capitalism has certainly been very good to Ben & Jerry. Their Vermont-based ice cream business is an American success story. But in 2012, they sold out to the British-Dutch conglomerate Unilever for a purchase price of $326 million. The result was that Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield became members of the one-tenth of one percent that Sanders rallies against. Cohen and Greenfield each has a reported net worth of $150 million.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the top one-tenth of one percent consists of 160,000 families with net assets of at least $20 million.
Unilever is worth $129 billion, according to Forbes magazine. Sounds like one of the big corporations Bernie should rail against.
During the Democratic presidential debate, Sanders said, “We’re gonna win because first, we’re gonna explain what democratic socialism is. And what democratic socialism is about is saying that it is immoral and wrong that the top one-tenth of one percent in this country own almost 90 percent—almost—own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. That it is wrong, today, in a rigged economy, that 57 percent of all new income is going to the top one percent.”
He called for a tax on Wall Street but not ice cream to pay for the free college educations he’s proposing for students. But a Wall Street tax would affect the 55 percent of Americans who report having money invested in stocks.
A popular Bernie Sanders meme notes that while he claims to want to get money out of politics, he bribes people with the promise of government benefits in exchange for votes.
What is clear is that Sanders, a true socialist, believes Americans have too many choices, and that apparently the government must step in to regulate and determine what’s best for consumers. “You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country,” he told CNBC. “I don’t think the media appreciates the kind of stress that ordinary Americans are working on.”
Unilever, which owns Ben & Jerry’s, produces many different kinds of deodorants. Labeled “The World’s No. 1 Antiperspirant” featuring “body-responsive antiperspirant technology,” Degree is available in a range of formats for men and women. They include:
- Degree Men Dry Protection
- Degree Men Fresh Deodorant
- Degree Men Adrenaline Series
- Degree Men Clinical Protection
Sanders hasn’t said anything about too many choices of ice cream. According to published reports, there are about 40 varieties of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream available in pint form. There are reportedly 159 ice cream brands available nationwide.
One could easily argue that underarm deodorants and sneakers are more important than ice cream. But CNN’s Carol Costello didn’t make that point.
In fact, Cohen said his company has produced another flavor, a Bernie Sanders ice cream called Bernie’s Yearning. He told Costello that the giant chip on the top represents all the wealth that’s gone to the top one percent of the population over the past 10 years. “And the way you eat it is that you whack it with your spoon, then you mix it around,” he said. “That’s the Bernie Yearning.”
We are all supposed to have a good laugh about all of this. Except that in socialist Venezuela, which Sanders once praised for shipping fuel to New England, there is a shortage of toilet paper.
That doesn’t bother the Hollywood super-rich. Blogger Steve Bartin notes that dozens of “artists and cultural leaders” have signed up as supporters of Sanders’ socialist program, including comedian Sarah Silverman, once quoted as saying unborn children are “just goo.” Bartin cites a piece by Professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds in The Wall Street Journal which says that Hollywood gets about $1.5 billion in tax credits and exemptions, grants, waived fees and other financial inducements. His source was a liberal group, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which noted that the funds could otherwise have been spent “on public services like education, health care, public safety, and infrastructure.”
In other words, services that could benefit what Sanders calls “ordinary Americans,” if only the Hollywood elite weren’t taking advantage of the taxpayers.
The Bernie Sanders campaign is proud of the Hollywood support. It says the number of “major artists from all genres of music, comedy, acting, writing, and producing” in support of Sanders has reached 125. They have their own special section on the “Sanders for president” website. Dr. Cornel West, honorary co-chair of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), is listed under the category of “academic/philosopher.”
Sanders supporter and Hollywood director Adam McKay, who with Will Ferrell, co-wrote and directed the films “Anchorman” and “Step Brothers,” said, “As artists and citizens we believe it is time for government to once again represent the people and not just big money. Bernie Sanders is the only candidate speaking against the widespread legalized corruption that has handed our government to billionaires, large corporations and banks.”
Columnist Doug Powers commented, “I assume liberal celebs are pulling for Sanders’ style of socialism because he’s going to eliminate the tax credit programs for billion-dollar entertainment corporations? That story line would be too unbelievable even for Hollywood.”
Taking the personal hypocrisy one step further, leftist filmmaker Michael Moore has been quoted as saying that Sanders won the Democratic presidential debate because he questions “the core system” of wealth and power in the U.S. Moore’s net worth has been estimated at $50 million and he just went through a messy divorce, revealing that he had a 10,000 square foot lakeside home in northern Michigan once valued at $2 million.
Meanwhile, sniffing a story here, The New York Times has run a piece, “Bernie Sanders Has Fund-Raiser at Fancy Hollywood Home,” noting that the socialist finished up the debate and then raised money at the home of wealthy real estate operator Syd Leibovitch. The paper reported that tickets for the event sold for a minimum of $250. Those who spent the maximum, $2,700, or who raised $10,000, were invited to a special “pre-event reception,” the paper said.
It sounds like a special benefit for the rich and powerful.
The names on the host list included Marianne Williamson, the famous New Age spiritual teacher who has called for repealing Columbus Day. One of Williamson’s other political objectives being promoted by her Peace Alliance group is a federal Department of Peacebuilding.
Perhaps Sanders will promote that idea in the next presidential debate, after he bashes the rich and announces which brands of sneakers, deodorant and ice cream will go out of business under his administration.
When will the rest of the media follow the lead of The New York Times and expose this “man of the people” and his Hollywood backers as the phonies they truly are?
Accuracy in Media
Near the end of Mel Gibson’s film “Apocalypto,” we see Christian missionaries arriving in the New World to save the natives from a culture of death that celebrates beheadings and human sacrifices to pagan Gods. Gibson has said he based the dramatic landing scene on the fourth expedition of the great Italian explorer Christopher Columbus. But celebrating the spread of Christianity has become so politically incorrect that a New Age adviser to Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has called for repealing Columbus Day.
Marianne Williamson, a prominent supporter of Sanders and his “political revolution,” writes in her book, The Healing of America, that Columbus was “a murderer of indigenous peoples,” and says his life “was a model for the standard of enslavement and killings that came to characterize much of European settlement in the New World…”
She insists that Columbus Day, which was declared a federal holiday in 1937 by President Franklin Roosevelt, must be repealed.
“When it comes to celebrating Columbus or Columbus Day we should just say no,” she writes. She proposes that Columbus Day be replaced by “Immigrants’ Day.”
Williamson, founder of The Peace Alliance and the campaign to establish a U.S. Department of Peace, has been doing much in the political realm other than promoting Sanders and writing about his “revolutionary” vision on the Sanders campaign website. She is sponsoring a conference in Washington, D.C. this month featuring such luminaries as Phil Donahue and promoting “personal peace” and the teaching of “peace in schools.”
In this context, a former teacher who is the curriculum editor of a group called Rethinking Schools and the co-director of the Zinn Education Project hasproposed the abolition of Columbus Day and creation of what amounts to an “Indigenous Peoples Lives Matter” movement. The name “Zinn” refers to Howard Zinn, the Communist Party member who rewrote American history in favor of a “people’s struggle” against evil elites.
While Sanders has embraced Williamson, even speaking at one of her “Sister Giant” feminist conferences, it’s not clear if Sanders favors the tearing down of theColumbus Memorial Fountain, which is located at Union Station in Washington, D.C., just a few blocks from Sanders’ Senate office.
What’s more, there are images of Columbus throughout the U.S. Capitol complex. One shows Columbus examining a globe and chart, using an octant, mercury barometer, and magnetic compass to plan his voyages.
The attack on America’s history as a nation of European immigrants is not new, although the involvement of New Agers and Bernie Sanders supporters like Williamson in this assault doesn’t get any attention in the press. Sanders is usually portrayed as a nice man who believes in a “democratic” version of socialism, unlike the Soviet approach.
However, many Americans are tired of the trashing of their nation’s European roots and are now pushing back against the attempt to smear the reputations of those like Columbus who brought Christian civilization to natives who practiced savagery and barbarism.
An interesting historical fact is that the Columbus voyages were designed to counter the influence of global Islam. “By sailing west, Columbus was aiming to outflank Islam, gaining access to the riches of the East so as to finance the retaking of Jerusalem,” writes Ben Broussard. “Since the fall of Constantinople in 1453 [to Muslim armies], while Columbus was still a child, calls had come from all corners of Europe to renew the Crusade. Columbus saw himself as the instrument to fulfill the longed-for end.”
While the politically correct major media avoid the truth about the reasons for the voyages and what motivated the discovery of the New World, bloggers are stepping forward to answer the question, “Why was Columbus looking for a trade route to the East?” The Citizen Warrior blog notes that “during its second great jihad, Islam had invaded Central Asia and defeated Constantinople in 1453, cutting off the overland route for Europeans. Islamic armies continued their jihad northward, and conquered much of what is now Eastern Europe, until they were finally stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1683 (on September 11th).”
In his book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (And the Crusades), Robert Spencer confirms this, noting that the march of Islam had closed the existing trade routes to the East and that Columbus was trying to “bypass the Muslims” and make it possible for Europeans to reach India by sea.
The Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA), an organization of men and women of Italian heritage in the United States, has vigorously defended Columbus in a report entitled “Columbus: Fact Vs. Fiction.” However, the report notes that since 1992 “special interest groups” have “used this 15th century Renaissance navigator to further their 21st century political and social agendas.”
Of course, we know these “special interest groups” are the anti-American and Marxist-oriented organizations whose agendas include denigrating America’s Founding Fathers as white racists who oppressed the natives.
There was a time when Democrats and Republicans honored Columbus and didn’t bow to political correctness. In a statement on Columbus Day issued in 1940, President Roosevelt declared, “The courage and the faith and the vision of the Genoese navigator glorify and enrich the drama of the early movement of European people to America. Columbus and his fellow voyagers were the harbingers of later mighty movements of people from Spain, from Columbus’s native Italy and from every country in Europe. And out of the fusion of all these national strains was created the America to which the Old World contributed so magnificently.”
The OSIA report notes that while left-wing activists portray the New World at the time of the arrival of Columbus as an earthly paradise, the natives “practiced cannibalism, ritual human sacrifice and slavery and suffered from syphilis, hepatitis, addictive cocaine use and cancer, caused by smoking.”
The Gibson film “Apocalypto” depicts the human sacrifices in dramatic and graphic scenes, as human hearts are literally cut out of victims and offered up to their sun god. A Mayan priest then chops off a victim’s head, holding it high and then rolling it down a stairway.
In a review, Dr. Peter Hammond, Director of Frontline Fellowship, writes, “By the time the Christians arrive, we have a far greater understanding of what life was like in Central America before the blessings of European civilization brought an end to the incessant genocidal tribal warfare, rampant slavery and human sacrifices of idolatrous paganism.”
The bloody pre-Christian paganism that preceded the arrival of the Christian missionaries is what is now being sold as a Garden of Eden that America should be celebrating instead of Columbus.
With abortions being performed in the U.S. at the rate of over 3,000 per day, and baby parts being harvested for profit, as documented by the Center for Medical Progress, one can only conclude America is already well on its way back to barbarism.
But Marianne Williamson, who ran for Congress on a “pro-choice” platform, thinks honoring Columbus gives America a bad name. That Bernie Sanders embraces her and gladly accepts her advice says a lot about the nature of the Sanders socialist “revolution.” Williamson calls it a “Revolution of Love” against a “sociopathic economy” that requires meditation. “Ignite the change,” she concludes.
Who will defend Christian civilization and Columbus against this New Age socialist gibberish?