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  • Back to Constitutional Basics in Education

    In the mid 1960s, education policy took a wrong turn, away from America’s founding principles. That was when President Lyndon B. Johnson, as a part of his War on Poverty, created the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). It was the first major federal foray into local schools.

    But the Constitution doesn’t provide for a federal role in education, and public schools had traditionally been under the jurisdiction of local authorities.

    What’s more, Washington’s intervention seemed to bring out the worst in education governance: State officials became the middlemen to administer federal funding and bureaucratic bloat followed. Staff at state education agencies doubled in the five years after ESEA became law.

    In 1965, ESEA was about 30 pages long. Today ESEA is known as No Child Left Behind, and its prescriptions for American schools run on for almost 600 pages.

    After multiple reauthorizations, the law has accumulated program after program to intervene in everything from English as a second language to after-school care.  Meanwhile, federal education spending has tripled, while student achievement has generally stagnated.

    How can we steer a course back toward our founding principles in education?

    The first step is to send dollars and decision-making authority out of Washington and back to states, localities, and ultimately, parents.

    That’s why Heritage analysts have developed an education policy proposal that would allow states to consolidate funding from dozens of federal education programs–cutting bureaucracy by eliminating multiple program applications–and direct the funding toward local education priorities. Members of Congress have adopted the plan as the conservative alternative to No Child Left Behind, known as “A-PLUS.”

    A critical element of the plan is its shift in accountability. In most education policy discussions, accountability means answering up the bureaucratic chain of command to Washington. But real accountability answers to parents and other taxpayers. Real accountability provides transparency for expenditures and academic results, showing parents their children’s progress and taxpayers their return on investment.

    To continue in this path of reform, state and local policy should allow money to follow students to the educational setting of their parents’ choice. Freeing parents to shape their children’s education according to their needs in a setting that supports the family’s character-forming role will not only take American education back to the Founders’ ideals. It will also equip us for the future far better than the centralized factory model of education of decades past.

    Posted in Education, First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    12 Responses to Back to Constitutional Basics in Education

    1. Billie says:

      Students should be achieving higher standards over time, but not in America. There's more social indoctrination then education in public schools Government education teaches the mind how to think. It doesn't influence the mind to think for itself.

    2. MarkV, San Diego says:

      This is a great post! I would like to see follow-up research on this. It has been my observation that most teachers are not big into the Teachers Unions. However most have seen a strong need to protect themselves from intervention. It would be interesting to see if there was a correlation between the implementation and intervention of ESEA, Washington, and administrators to the amount of push-back from teachers and their union.

    3. Dennis Georgia says:

      The problem comes from two souces. The main problem is parents, they are not involved with their children and learning. They do not discipline at home, they do not see that the children complete the assignments, or make the children behave in school. I agree you can not make a child learn, but you can insure that the child does not distrube the class and stop the ones that want to learn. The parents really need to instill in the children the need to learn, and then work with them in thsi process. The parents need to send discipline back to school. The teavhers need to know they can disciline the child, including paddling if necessary. The parents also need to dish out spanking to thir children, they must be taught at a young age, their actions result in reactions.

      The next problem teachers must teach the students. The unions that teachers join for huge salaries force schools to keep teachers that do not teach. They have no accountably to the school boards. the unions protect them at all costs. In Georgia all public safety personnel must take random drug tests. When this law was passed the teachers was include. The NEA filed siut as soon as the law mwas signed. They claimed a violation of privacy. The court upheld it and excluded the teachers from random testing, but not public safety. Their reasoning was that public safety had the ability to take a life. I agree with the part about lfe, but teachers have children for 13 years, and the ability to influnece liives along the way. The life style of teachers will bleed over into teaching, what ever that style may be. The federal government and uniuons need to stay out of the schools, let parents and the elected school board justify to the tax payer the resul;ts of the students and their learning.

    4. TJS, FL says:

      Don't be wimps. Abolish all federal aid to K-12 education, save $100 billion per year. As to local schools, they clearly have proven they are incompetent, even after K-12 funding has been doubled. Institute vouchers for all K-12 students, an amount about half the national average $12,000 per year we're now spending. Return to freedom as a method to cure things, not more bloated, corrupt, incompetent and subversive big government. Freedom.

    5. Jeanne Stotler, Wood says:

      When I was in school (parochial) my mother was supervisor of a dictaphone pool. For you who are young this was were a group of stenos typed out letters that were recorded on disc. Her main c/o was that the stenos couldn't spell ordinary words. Fast forward and I amlooking at my grandchildren and realizing they cannot write in longhand, cannot spell, and do not know US Civics or History. I had a great civics teacher in my Sr. yr., Mr. Mishue, he took us through each step of the Declaration of Ind. and the Constitution and each admendment, why each was written and what it meant. On my desk is a copy of both documents and a book on the constitution, everyone needs to read it, also read David Lumbaugh's book, it will really wake you up.CRIMES AGAINST LIBERTY is the title.

    6. Pingback: Back to Constitutional Basics in Education | The Foundry … | Education

    7. Slick - Nebraska says:

      Since the government pushed their way in and become overly involved in how children are to be disciplined by their parents, behavior has disintegrated and now we are left with parents who honestly believe that their only course of action is to use “time out” for every infraction. I believe that discipline should be used in varying degrees, depending upon the severity of the behavior. In increasingly invasive practices, the school is assigned more and more responsibility regarding sex education, monitoring of “what’s in the backpack,” what each child is eating, what each child is drinking, how much exercise is enough, when to have sex, how to get an abortion without telling your parents, how to use a condom, etc. Government control, via the school, has reached an all-time high and the net result is chaos. Are YOU surprised??? The net result: discipline has gone by the wayside because EVERYONE has an opinion about what parents should or should not do so the parents have just given up – if they do the “wrong” thing they could end up with Child Welfare Services on their back until the day they die or worse yet, in jail.

      Perhaps the real problem is more about the rapid disintegration of the family unit. The average household in America may not only not go to church but fail to teach their children the morals that need to be instilled for that child to have a strong solid basis for living a productive life. For most of us, those moral guidelines were instilled in us through our religious experience. But sadly, family worship is nearly a thing of the past.

      The next part of this problem is that we no longer distinguish between “needs” and “wants” so no matter how much one parent makes to support the family, it is not enough and so both parents end up working which leaves the children to raise themselves. There is little or no “family” time anymore: no one at home after school, no eating dinner together in order to talk about what happened that day, no playing games or doing family activities on the weekend that serve as role models for these little future parents, and little or no discussion of life lessons that teach our youngsters to make good choices. No communication between parents and children = no close relationship = no accountability for actions. The result is that no matter what a child does wrong, it will ALWAYS be someone else's fault.

      And in regard to teachers, perhaps we should turn education over to private industry and treat teachers like they were true employees. If they are proven to be non-productive, then they would need to find another line of work instead of having a guaranteed position (notice I did NOT say “job“) for life. Don’t get me wrong, there are many excellent teachers out there, but there are many who are not and take the course of least resistance . . .teach until they retire with full benefits! If our schools were run like a business and financial success was dependent upon the educational success of our youth, perhaps we would FINALLY be competing at a satisfactory level world-wide.

      Obviously flooding the system with money is NOT the solution so it is way past time to change the way we do business in administering education! One of the things that I refuse to accept is that the history of our country, the beliefs of our founders, and the struggles of our ancestors are not relevant. We know that history repeats itself so it behooves us to KNOW the mistakes of our ancestors so we don’t repeat them. In addition, there was NO absence of religion in the founding of our country. In fact, religion was the basis for the Constitution and other founding documents.

      So let’s get back to the basics: eliminate the Federal Dept of Education returning the running of the schools to the State level, teach America’s factual history fully and accurately, require and expect good behavior from students, and include parents in the educational success or failure of their children. Make those parents “partners in success” of educating their children!

      This may not totally solve the problem but we need to start somewhere. Perhaps a different approach would go a long way towards making our young people good citizens of our country in the future.

    8. Robert Oliphant, Tho says:

      I applaud your sense of urgency, which is for me represented by the current anti-Alzheimer insistence that "reality orientation" is achieved and sustained by those who read a metropolitanc newspaper all the way through and complete its crossword puzzle day after day and year after year — a feat which can be monitored via measurement standards (metrology) acceptable to our National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Why not check up on where your colleagues stand on this simple-minded literacy scale, e.g., finishing the NYTimes Monday puzzle in ink in at least five minutes. . . . cf. my articles in Education News (ednews.com)…. Robert Oliphant, PhD (Stanford), WWII air corps vet.

    9. Bob Rose, MD (retire says:

      There has never been a published study to see if fluency at writing the alphabet in K-1 facilitates the acquisition of literacy and prevents reading problems. Neither has there been a published study to see if fluency in delivering correct answers to simple addition facts in second-grade leads to subsequent mastery of arithmetic and science. I personally have ample evidence that both of these possibilities are true.

      The "establishment" doesn't want to see such studies, because they believe the brains of problem students are "different". Journalists don't want to upset education professors, school psychologists, or teachers' unions because of circulation. Politicians don't want to "go there" because of votes. However, such studies are simple, cheap and easy. The problems with our schools are immense and of over-riding importance. It is time to think of our country, and not of personal gain.

      Please read the following carefully, and act responsibly!


      Bob Rose


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      12/05/2010 00:27:00 EducationNews.org

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      Maria Montessori

      5.12.10 – Bob Rose, MD – I started a yahoogroups listserv and recruiting a number of "whole language" teachers to help test Maria Montessori's 1912 postulate that making young children "expert" at writing the alphabet would make them "spontaneous" readers


      During the school year of 2002-2003 I started a yahoogroups listserv and recruiting a number of "whole language" teachers to help test Maria Montessori's 1912 postulate that making young children "expert" at writing the alphabet would make them "spontaneous" readers.

      To my delight, there turned out to be a very strong correlation between how many letters of the alphabet first-graders could write in a timed, 20-second period of time and how good their reading skills were. To my delight, there was a very strong correlation. However, the Whole Language Teachers did not believe in "setting specific achievement goals", and I was asked to unsubscribe from the list.

      During the following school year (2003-2004) I created my own yahoogroups listserv and recruited another group of five kindergarten teachers willing to submit correlation data between alphabet-letter writing fluency and reading skills. Children were identified by ID numbers, rather than by names, to keep the study ethical.

      There had been 94 students in the Whole Language "control" group, and I got a total of 106 student correlations from the five "experimental" kindergarten teachers, all of whom had also gotten very strong correlations between writing fluency and reading skill.

      I immediately emailed the editorial offices of over a dozen well-known education journals, asking if they would be interested in me submitting a write-up of our study for possible publication. I got only two responses: one said, "That couldn't possibly be true", but the editor of the Harvard Educational Review enthusiastically invited my submission. I wrote up our study and had it sent in three days later. (In March, 2004). A few months later I received a standard letter of rejection from them.

      Since then I have emailed copies of "my manuscript" to HUNDREDS of educational psychologists, journalists, education professors, politicians and school superintendents. Though I received a few informal polite replies, no one seemed to take my idea seriously.

      During the second half of the 2008-2009 school year I recruited a number of different kindergarten and first-grade teachers to my listserv. All who participated again saw positive correlations, but it was decided to wait until this present (2009-2010) school year to repeat the study and see if we could get enough data to publish a meaningful meta-analysis onto the internet.

      So far (5/5/10) we have data from three first-grade teachers at a Catholic private school in an upper middle-class Midwestern city. The data from these three teachers involve a total of 60 first-graders. Not only is there a correlation between alphabet-writing fluency and literacy, BUT EVERY ONE OF THESE CHILDREN IS NOW ABLE TO READ. (We got baseline data last year from a first-grade in one of the most affluent and academically successful elementary schools in the state of Pennsylvania. NOT ALL of their first graders were readers, though there was indeed a correlation between writing fluency and reading skill).

      At this Catholic school teacher # 1 wrote she had the children practice writing the alphabet three days a week. (We had recommended five minutes each school day). Her class's writing fluency rates ranged between 63 and 123 letters-per-minute (LPM), and her median student wrote at a rate of 72 LPM. Teacher # 2's median rate was 75 LPM, and the median rate for teacher # 3 was 84 LPM.

      A kindergarten teacher in our study wishes to be identified as "Mary Jane from rural South Carolina". She tells us that 93% of the children in her school receive subsidized lunches, and as of early May, 2010, only two of the children in her kindergarten are not yet readers. The principal of a highly successful elementary school in Atlanta had once told me on the telephone that children should learn to read in kindergarten, not in the first-grade.

      Some years ago the retired archivist of the Calvert School (a private elementary school in Baltimore, Maryland), sent me a copy of a privately published booklet published in 1996, the centennial of the founding of the school. The original headmaster, G. Vernon Hillyer, wrote that, "If you teach children to write, you needn't bother teaching them to read". In his first-grade (the school had no kindergarten), children simply learned to write the sentence, "I see a tree". Thereafter they learned to write, "The tree is green". After about three months, all the children were literate, and then began to study a formal curriculum and to write meaningful essays. Twenty years later, he wrote that the school had never failed to teach a normal child to read and write.

      In traditional Russia, children were taught literacy at home, before they began school. In Russian, as in English, various letters are pronounced differently in normal colloquial speech than they are written. As a matter of fact, there is not word for "to spell" in Russian. Instead, if one wishes to ask how a word is written, one just asks, "How is that written by syllables". For example, the word "govorit" (he speaks) is colloquially pronounced "guvareet". When asked how it is written, one answers: "Goh-Voh-REET".

      In other words, one basically doesn't learn to read in Russian, one learns simply to write. And anyone can read anything anyone can successfully write! (I studied Russian for three years in college, and this way of learning to write in Russia is confirmed by several people educated in Russia whom I have known in the past.

      We appreciate this May 1st, 20101data from Ardis, which we'll consider "end-of-the-year" data, even though a nice lady at the Michigan Board of Education just told me on the telephone that the children in Macomb Count, Michigan, adjacent to Detroit, will actually probably be attending school into sometime in June.

      In the past Ardis, a kindergarten teacher, has told us her school has a high number of the children of immigrants in her class. I'm waiting to hear by direct email from Ardis whether she wants any particular restrictions placed on her identify and location, and/or can she give us any more graphics about her class.

      Ardis included two interesting remarks in her report. One is "I have to admit I haven't kept up with the fluency training during this second semester as much as I did last year." The other important comment is "Every single person [i.e., kindergartner} is a reader - there are no struggling or non-readers this year".

      At any rate, Ardis' data of May first indicate there were 26 kids in her kindergarten. One has moved away, and of the remaining:

      Four students wrote the alphabet more rapidly than 40 LPM. There reading levels were, respectively, high, average, high and high.

      Eight students wrote at between 30 and 39 LPM. In descending LPM order, their reading levels were high, high, high, high, very high (3rd grade level), low average, low average and average.

      Eleven students scored between 21 and 27 LPM. Again, in decreasing order of LPM, their reading levels were: medium, high, high, low average, low average, medium, average, low average, high, very very high [3rd grade level; autistic], (this student's LPM was 21) and average.

      Two students scored only 18 LPM. Their reading levels were high and low average.

      Nancy, an Ed.D kindergarten teacher, also from Macomb county (part of metropolitan Detroit), just provided us with the following data:

      Two of our 26 students scored better than 40 LPM and both rated as "above grade level" in reading skill.

      Two students scored 39 LPM, and that are also "above grade level".

      Five students scored between 30 and 36 LPM. In decreasing order of LPM rates, they were rated

      "above grade level", "below grade level", "above grade level", "above grade level" and "at grade level" respectively.

      Eight students wrote at between 21 and 27 LPM. Each of these eight were rated as "at grade level", in my opinion of their reading ability.

      Five students wrote at 15 LPM. Of these, one was "at grade level" and the other four were "below grade level".

      In the fall of 2009 the average LPM rate in my class was 7 LPM. At present it is 28 LPM.

      Historically, many authorities on the subject of literacy instruction have stressed the importance of adequate practice in printing alphabet letters. The first-century Roman writer and rhetorician, Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (ca A.D. 35-98?) wrote that with regard to becoming literate, “Too slow a hand impedes the mind".

      In 1912, Maria Montessori wrote, in effect, that teaching young children to print letters is easy, that it is easy to teach children to read after they have practiced printing alphabet letters, but that it is difficult to teach children to read if they have not practiced writing them.

      Marilyn Jager Adams noted that prior to the onset of the twentieth century the “spelling drill” was the principal means of inducing literacy for several millennia.

      I believe that the cumulative suggestion of our repeated on-line meta-analyses supports the idea that making children fluent at writing the alphabet during the first two years of school will be an important advance in the teaching of literacy throughout the world. We hope this summary will be relayed to K-1 teachers everywhere via the internet.

      I think the importance of our findings is not in the strength of this on-line research. To be scientifically valid, studies must not only be reproducible, but reproducible by different experimenters.

      The most outstanding result of our research is having learned that no one, in spite of vast sums being spent on "literacy research", has ever done and published a study to see if Maria Montessori's postulate holds true for Anglophone children, or whether it does not!

      Bob Rose, MD (retired)

      Jasper, Georgia

      email: rovarose@aol.com

      Add to: del.icio.us | Digg

      Comments (1 posted):

      Patrick Groff on 14/05/2010 07:52:10

      Dear Dr. Rose:

      I was pleased to see your revelation of the fact that most young children in the U.S. are denied an effective manner in which to develop their reading abilities. This practice is so notorious that I call it a form of academic child abuse.

      Your comments also lead me to the conclusion that the public needs to be informed that professors of reading education are the major cause of the failure of American children to read commpetently. I hope in the future that you will add that truism to your other pertinent remarks.

      Patrick Groff, Professor of Education Emeritus, San Diego State University.

      [For commentary on this essay on the Houston Examiner, please go to http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-11062-Houston-

      Yesterday I got an enquiry from a PhD educator in Scarsdale, NY. I think this is going to turn out to be very newsworthy!

      Bob (rovarose@aol.com)

    10. Benjamin Inman, Nash says:

      Well said Jennifer!!!!

      We are structuring a few initiatives that are designed to raise awareness, and aide, for the illiteracy dilemma in the state of Mississippi. The red tape, associated with any federal funding, certainly has it's share of blame for the "factory" education model.

      We have recently started an organization called, The OXE Group (acronym for Oxford Education), in order to establish an identity for our efforts. We are certainly doing our part to create momentum here. If we are successful in securing an effective support system for our efforts in Mississippi, we can transition into other areas as well.


      Benjamin Wade Inman

      The OXE Group
      http://twitter.com/theoxegroup http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-OXE-Group/11490

      Together we can make a difference!

    11. Grady459 says:

      There are a lot of things that can/ should be changed about our education system, but a lot of it comes down to the parents. Too many parents don't get involved in their children's education. Most children would probably be more successful if their parents took the time to be involved and interested. The educational books from http://www.southwesternathome.com/ are a great, fun way to supplement their studying at home.

    12. Jack Miller says:

      SCRIBE INVESTIGATORS – The man front right – loose the look. I trust you guys, but someone who's not sure might be turned off by the anything but friendly look. Maybe that's what your trying to sell, "the unhappy Democrat". It thats your message, well you pulled it off.

      The man to the rear, is the neighbors boy that went off to D.C. to get the truth out and mean no harm when you do it

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