Sitting in for Sid Glassner – Is Our Children Learning Segment
March 6, 2014
On March 6, 2014 I was pleased to appear on Girard at Large during the 8:20 “Is Our Children Learning” segment, filling in for Sid Glassner who always speaks very clearly and plainly about what has been going on in our public schools.
Here is what your host Richard Girard and I talked about, and a bit more.
THE PROGRAMS AND THE PLAYERS
First, a little background on the things that have shaped our public schools in the past 30 years.
Our teachers are constantly being asked to function in a pedagogical nightmare that was created for them by questionable people who have set themselves up as experts in the education “industry”. Long before Common Core was a recognizable name, there were various attempts at “school reform” sent to us from the federal government under various other titles.
Children were subjected to many fads on the advice of pseudo-intellectuals in the education industry. Never mind the fact that some fads had already been tried, failed, and abandoned years before in states like California, our schools didn’t learn from their experiences and went full speed ahead with implementation anyway.
The consultants (such as Pearson) who sell these ideas and materials, are making big profits, while subject to NO accountability. When their ideas fail, it’s always the teacher who is to blame.
One of those questionable people was Marc Tucker, friend of Hillary Clinton.
Tucker created tons of misery and miseducation and ruined the lives of thousands of students and teachers who had to live through the horrors of OBE and other “standards-based” atrocities.
Donna Garner wrote: “Tucker worked as a lighting technician at a PBS TV station in Boston and then began to work at the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (NWREL) in Portland, Oregon.
It is from NWREL that some of the worst education fads have either been launched or pushed onto the public schools: outcomes based education, Certificate of Mastery, death education curriculum (may have led to the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado), culturally based education, the New Jersey Writing Project/whole language instruction (e.g., scoring of student essays without grading for grammar/usage mistakes, invented spelling, chunking, metacognition, the balanced approach).”
Be sure to read this full article on Marc Tucker’s visit to NH to push Common Core, as well as Garner’s exposé, at the embedded link within.
Then we have William Ayers (an unrepentant terrorist who moved right from almost going to jail to being a teacher) whose books we were forced to read during teacher training. Ayers and Barack Obama were given their first jobs by the Annenberg Institute. The Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) was an education foundation whose stated purpose was to improve Chicago’s public schools using millions in funding from billionaire media mogul Walter Annenberg. The improvement never happened.
Ayers’ philosophy has always been that he doesn’t care who is president but only that he has access to our public institutions, especially our schools. And we allowed this person, who escaped life in prison on a technicality, the chance to change the political climate by radicalizing our children. Recently another Annenberg associate was dispatched to Pittsfield NH to preach “social justice” to the teachers as the method for curing failing schools.
Mainstream educators in the 1970s had now adopted the policies of Ayers who once said “Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents…”
HOW TAXPAYERS ARE SCAMMED
In 2009 we helped the City of Rochester NH learn about and ultimately expose something called “Big Picture Schools” — a company founded by Dennis Littky, another associate of William Ayers. In 1991, Professors Bill Ayers and the late Bruce McPherson created the Small Schools Workshop, of which Dennis Littky was an advocate. Littky was the one who crafted the phrase, “Rigor, Relevance and Relationships” that you often hear spouted today.
Rochester NH was pushing to build a new school to accommodate this “open campus” program. Amazingly, school officials in Rochester were unaware of or chose to ignore Littky’s history with the failed Thayer Academy in Winchester NH.
An excerpt which defined the problems with Thayer Academy, the failed school run by Dennis Littky: “There are various studies that indicate it has a lot of problems that are indicators that the community is going ot have problems. High dropout rates, teenage moms, as interesting of a community as it is, it has a lot of signs of a town in trouble. Ammannd saw that trouble reflected at the school. I just saw chaos. I was asked to supervise a study hall and there were supposed to be 58 kids in the study and there were three? I think they were out and about? Then school board member Marian Polaski. …they were, in front of my house, under the trees, driving the neighbors crazy, smoking cigarettes and things, and like the cafeteria, there were holes – the tables, big holes in them, and the food on the cafeteria walls, they would just throw the food, and nobody seemed to do anything about this. It was bad.”
Speaking of snake oil, let’s not forget our own Fred Bramante from NH who recently successfully promoted the policies of Littky to the Manchester School Board. We can’t imagine what Mayor Ted Gatsas was thinking! In our opinion, Bramante has never been qualified for a position that allows him to dictate what goes on in our classrooms, and yet he’s pitching a failed program to the city of Manchester. He didn’t invent this, it’s hardly new.
The Annenberg Institute still funds Theodore Sizer’s Coalition of Essential Schools (CES), which is another reform movement that now indoctrinates students in several states and districts nationwide with a Marxist-Communist political, moral, and social ideology. It is still being used at Souhegan High School right here in Amherst.
When we first moved to NH, we recall seeing some disgruntled math teachers on the public TV station talking about the CES program. One of their gripes was they were no longer allowed to teach groups by ability (“leveled’). This was detrimental to both the more advanced students as well as those who had difficulty with math. It stood in the teachers’ way of attending to each of the students’ needs. And this was back in 1989.
We once visited Souhegan High and were shocked to have observed “ONE” posters hanging in the school’s hallways. The ONE Campaign is not a charity, but a lobbying group that promotes the idea that American tax dollars should be spent on global poverty issues. NH actually had a state school board chair (a Republican no less) who wanted to use our schools in NH as an ‘incubator’ for these political programs. Apparently he had no idea that ONE is NOT a charity but an advocacy group for UN’s Millennium Development Goals and was a vehicle for advocacy for global redistribution of the wealth via legislation such as The Global Poverty Act (Obama 2007).
“The Global Poverty Act would require the U.S. President to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to further the United States foreign policy objective of promoting the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme global poverty, and the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide, between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day. This would require the United States to add 0.7 percent of the U.S. gross national product (23 billion to 98 billion a year) to its overall spending on Humanitarian Aid. This bill has been endorsed by The Borgen Project, Habitat for Humanity, Bread for the World, RESULTS and CARE.”
We knew early on that our kids were not only being experimented on with educational fads, but they were being used as political mules. And nothing could be more egregious than programs such as Littky’s and Sizer’s, for which we pay extra, but which serve only the interests of the program’s creators.
Case in point: In 2008 we helped the town of Bow fend off the International Baccalaureate program by educating the taxpayers. The IB program is a UN-centric program that gears every lesson toward some UN goal. The students, even the little ones, are required to study an issue and take action according to the UN’s plan. In Bedford’s High School, they not only have purchased and use the IB program at an extra cost to the taxpayers, they also subject the students to the “Model UN”. Note that is is NOT a model Congress of the US, but a model of the UN, as if students were being trained to think that the UN is part of our government. The IBO makes little mention of academics and everything contained in their lessons is self-serving.
The Merrimack Valley School District recently instituted IB throughout their school district. A lot of parents found out too late that their children would be educated in UN attitudes, dispositions, and values, to be tested every other week. When they did find out, some were furious and pulled their kids out.
You can read about the origins of Common Core and the NGOs and corporations that are promoting and funding it here.
Both Common Core and IB are based on or very similar to Robert Muller’s World Core Curriculum, his vision for functioning in the coming “global government”.
Common Core is the work of corporations, foundations, and elites, not teachers and parents and local school boards. Where are the liberals who claim they want to preserve ‘public’ education? Common Core turns schools over to corporations and foundations…
Is your head spinning yet? So how to fight all of this? First you must learn the language. It’s called Educational Newspeak or as we fondly refer to it, “Edubabble”. The idea is to restore a real education, with real academics, and to get the indoctrination for global citizenship out. Education must be based on common sense, not utopianism.
Along with these programs comes the jargon. How often have we heard “hook” phrases? We are told that you need this or that program so the kids can “compete in the global economy”, activities need to be “developmentally appropriate”, and teachers need to follow “best practices”. These are phrases that no one can seem to define but are used to convince parents and taxpayers of a program’s worth and effectiveness. It would behoove you to learn what they mean in order to better argue your case against these fads.
In our experience, the use of the term “best practices” is meant to curtail academic freedom and often used to outright ban anything those in control think is no longer necessary, such as teaching spelling, grammar, rote learning, tests, phonics, handwriting etc.
Hint: Competing depends on knowing your subject areas, activities are appropriate for different children at different times, and who is to dictate what best practices are, to the practitioners who are instead, forced to make someone else’s vision of the classroom a reality, day after day?
Then we have those terms that describe the methods used in delivering education.
No more do we have teacher as the guide and instructor, but a bystander who watches children flounder around in discovery groups during “project based learning”. Just how practical is it to depend on projects to get students, especially younger ones, to develop an understanding of the basics, or any concept for that matter, for which they have little or no background?
Will “student centered” learning mean the students who are NOT responsible for their own learning fall through the cracks? (Think about it, can you send your six-year old to brush his teeth and be sure it is done properly or at all, without SOME supervision?)
“Student centered” learning is where the whole “flipped classroom” concept comes from — where the teacher is no longer the “Sage on the Stage” but becomes the “Guide on the Side”. The teacher does not instruct, lecture, or use traditional teaching methods or grouping by ability in order to streamline instruction for various levels.
Students do their projects in groups, direct themselves, and take a group grade. This is called “collaborative learning”. Everything is geared toward social interaction rather than academics. Consensus is the goal. Group think is more important than individualism.
You can see how many of the methodologies recommended do nothing but put the teacher out of the loop. The teacher really can’t know what’s going on and thus they can’t have that connection to each student that is so important to knowing what they know and what they need to know.
This wishy washy type of teaching and learning has gone on forever, not just with IB and Common Core.
KNOW THE MEANINGS
There are too many words and phrases to list here.
In order to brush up on your educational newspeak, there is no better website than The Illinois Loop. The creator is a teacher who has done a great job of listing and defining all the words and terms you need to know about and what all those terms and words mean.
Be sure to read this article by Kozloff.
“If It Quacks Like a Duck, It’s Probably Baloney” [PDF]
WHERE ARE WE NOW?
Failure is what you can expect when you have government bureaucrats for YEARS, dictating what must and must not be done in the public school classrooms, according to their utopian dreams. Teachers must choose between being a bad employee or a good teacher. This makes teaching a daily struggle.
Recently we learned that the state of NH was chosen for something called the
SWIFT is a five-year, $24.5 million K-eighth grade national education initiative called SWIFT (Schoolwide Integrated Framework for Transformation).
From their website we read how it works:
“A SWIFT classroom represents a diverse learning community. In a SWIFT classroom, ALL students are learning together and have the supports they need to fully participate in the general education curriculum. General educators, specialized educators, support staff, and family and community members work in tandem to differentiate instruction. For example, in a SWIFT classroom, you may witness a parent volunteer practicing sight words with a student, a general educator and a specialized educator leading differentiated small reading groups, a speech/language therapist working on reading vocabulary with another group of students, and classmates collaborating on a reading comprehension activity.”
Since many of these methods and lessons are what USED to be used in successful classrooms but are now frowned upon by new age programs such as CC, IB, and CES, why do we need this SWIFT program to cancel out the bad effects of fads? Why not just reject the fads in the first place and let our teachers teach.
Let them do what’s right from the beginning.
Here is the original audio from the March 6, 2014 interview.