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  • Morning Bell: Education Reform's Kryptonite

    A quality education in America shouldn’t come down to a lottery ball. But that’s exactly how life plays out for many low-income families seeking an alternative to failing public schools. With limited enrollment at charter schools and private schools financially out of reach, they are left with little choice but to play the odds in hopes of a brighter future.

    “It’s heartbreaking,” President Obama said about a scene in the new Waiting for Superman documentary. “And when you see these parents in the film, you are reminded that — I don’t care what people’s income levels are, you know, their stake in their kids, their wanting desperately to make sure their kids are able to succeed is so powerful, and it’s obviously difficult to watch to see these kids who know that this school’s going to give them a better chance, that that should depend on the bounce of a ball.”

    How can Obama possibly call this “heartbreaking” when one of his first acts as President was to snatch winning lottery spots from Washington, D.C. school children? Specifically, Education Secretary Arne Duncan sent letters to 216 low-income families informing them that he was taking back the $7,500 in scholarship money that the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program had previously awarded them. Yesterday on NBC’s TODAY Show, Obama admitted that daughters Sasha and Malia deserve better than D.C. public schools — that’s the reason he sends them to a tony private school with other Washington elites. So then why is Obama blocking other kids from the same opportunity?

    It would’ve been the logical follow-up question for Matt Lauer to ask. But just like the rest of NBC’s Education Nation series, Lauer let Obama off easy. The network appears content to give Duncan and union boss Randi Weingarten a platform to promote the same failed policies that got America into this mess.

    There are other troubling aspects of Obama’s education agenda besides his assault on school choice. One of the most alarming is the concentration of power taking place in Washington with national standards. The Common Core State Standards, as they’re officially known, were developed by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers. Ultimately they will centralize control with federal bureaucrats. Congress had no say in the matter.

    Duncan calls this the “quiet revolution” in education. The goal is to quietly increase federal control, while reducing the role of states, localities and individuals. The Race to the Top competition, with $4.3 billion in economic stimulus money, was a convenient way to go about it. Unions played a powerful role. In fact, one of the criteria for winning a federal grant was securing teachers’ union support. Some states lost out for this reason. Others didn’t even bother to compete because of clashes with union bosses.

    Obama boasted to Lauer that his Race to the Top program was “probably the most powerful tool we’ve seen for reform in a couple of decades.” Of course, he neglected to mention that some states are opting out of his grand experiment, recognizing it as a facade for failed government solutions and a stealth ploy for more power.

    Obama, it seems, is a pseudo-reformer when it comes to our nation’s schools.

    Fortunately, some states have just said no. Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) has led the opposition to national standards. He makes a powerful and principled case for protecting local control and preserving federalism. Perry spoke exclusively to Heritage about the issue (click here to watch):

    Texas already has some of the best standards, best curriculum. Education Week ranked us rather high in those categories. So, we know what works for our children. And the fact is that Washington’s Race to the Top, with their national standards, and their national testing — yet to be worked out, of course — we think would be devastating to the young people in the state of Texas.

    Equally troubling for Perry is the process by which the Obama administration has persuaded states to support its education agenda. By dangling money before cash-starved states, many governors jumped at the chance to compete for Race to the Top grants. Perry wasn’t enticed. “Why would we trade our ability to educate our children for some faceless bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., for, frankly, a small amount of money in the grand scheme of things?”

    Perry might be the most vocal, but he’s not alone. After the first round of Race to the Top concluded, nine states had reconsidered and, for a variety of reasons, chose not to participate in the second round of competition. States with high standards — notably Massachusetts and Virginia — have expressed concern about moving backward. Still, it’s an uphill battle. Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have already adopted the Common Core State Standards.

    Obama’s revolution is indeed happening quietly, which is all the more reason to sound the alarm. Parents have the most to lose by ceding local control over education to Washington. Now is the time to do something about it.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Education, Scribe [slideshow_deploy]

    57 Responses to Morning Bell: Education Reform's Kryptonite

    1. B hall Syosset N.Y. says:

      The DOE was created in 1979 it should be uncreated in 2011

    2. dennis georgia says:

      This is simple, do as I say not as I do. The public schools are a disgrace, the teachers union is a shame. Studenst run schools, not the teachers, children also run homes, not parents. THE SCHOOLS HAVE BRAIN WASHED THE CHILDREN THAT CORPORAL PUNISHMENT IS WRONG, PARENTS GO ALONG WITH IT. THESE CHILDREN HAVE NO REASON TO LEARN. THEY ARE UNDER THE IMPRESSION THAT THE "GUVMENT" WILL PROVIDE FOR THEM, WORK IS NOT NEEDED, EDUCATION IS A WASTE OF TIME. YET OBAMA SAYS WE NEED MORE MONEY FOR SCHOOLS AND PUBLIC SAHOOL IS THE BEST. IF THIS IS SO WHAY DOES HIS KIDS NOT ATTEND PUBLIC SCHOOL???? OH, I FORGOT HE IS THE PRESIDENT SO WE PAY FOR THIER ATTENDANCE.

    3. Rachel, Boston says:

      The burden of educating children should not solely be on teachers, parents must build an environment for learning at home as well. In 2002, 80% of American families neither bought nor read a book; instead they spent 4 hours a day watching TV and 3 hours listening to the radio[3]. It would seem that this is interfering with the ability of our children to succeed in school considering that American children spend more hours watching TV each year than in the classroom. The average American child spends 900 hours in school each year; whereas, they spend 1500 hours watching TV.[4] President Obama contends that a longer school day is a part of the solution. Here’s an idea: lengthen the school day by 1 hour and require all students to take an exercise class. Any education reform would simultaneously combat the obesity epidemic!

      We know there are good teachers and bad teachers. But maybe the problem is not the teachers, but rather the method teachers are required to use in order to comply with government policies and ensure funding. School funding is contingent upon national test scores, so teachers resort to teaching the tests and racing through it to guarantee that all the material is covered in time. Everyone learns at their own pace and in their own way, so how is this method promoting learning? Education initiatives should focus on strengthening every student’s assets, not shoving them into boxes that limits creativity and creates standardization. Our education policies are repressing students’ academic potential and creativity. And by no means am I saying that students shouldn’t have to learn the basics, but did I really need college-prep calculus!? Even though I was an honors student in high school, my math skills were appalling. The method of teaching was not conducive for me to learn math. I was able to keep afloat out of pure determination, but I have seen friends, family and classmates fall far behind even though they are capable of success. It is unfair to require all students to take the same classes with no regard for learning style or aptitude. People have different paces and methods of learning-not to mention that some people want to learn and others don’t. So, who do you blame when a student refuses to show any interest in school and insists on disrupting class? We all know of a high school classmate that spent their day throwing spit wads at the teacher and cracking jokes in class. I spoke to a teacher recently who informed me that a student actually let her mouth hang open until all her saliva pooled on the floor. Apparently, such behavior is a daily phenomenon and is clearly disruptive. Class interruptions interfere in the learning process causing students to fall behind (because the teacher must push forward for the sake of test scores even if the students don’t understand the material), test scores suffer and funding is slashed. Is this fair to the students who want to learn or to our teachers? Education should be based on a tracking system that monitors each student’s progress and abilities independently from the other students.

      The bottom line is that students should be taught according to their needs and talents, not according to unforgiving education policies imposed by politicians who have most likely never stepped foot in a high school classroom to teach.

      courtesy of http://www.bottomlinepolitics.org

    4. Ken Jarvis - Las Veg says:

      America needs a GOAL –
      to be the GREATEST Country in the world.

      How do we do that –
      Have the Smartest People

      How do we do that –
      Have the BEST Education System

      How do we do that –
      Have the BEST TEACHERS

      How do we do that –
      PAY THEM.

      Currently,
      America HAS NO GOAL.

    5. Pat Landy, Indian La says:

      …"Now is the time to do something about it."

      WHAT!!! WHAT!!! Do What!!! I am sick and tired of you pundits pointing out the obvious….. "Education is broken!!!"…. "It's time to do something!!!"

      How about advocating some involvement?…. How about calls for Rally's and support of Rally's to bring the attention to these problems down to the local level…. Pick on some people in a local school board…. put them on the spot… ask them direct questions….. I would be willing to bet that most if not all of the pundits children and grand children are in "tony private schools"…. You have the "mighty pen"…. Use it effectively!!!

      Pat Landy

    6. Mary.... WI says:

      I continue to be amazed at the number of people that support this president, his administration and even the democrat party! I wish someone would explain to me what on earth this man has to offer besides entitlelment programs.

      Just last week a friend mentioned that she and her family were watching TV one evening and when a picture of BO came on the screen her 7 yr old son jumped up and starting yelling "my hero!". Seems there had been an "indoctrination session" at the public schools locatedd just west of Madison, WI last year.

      Needless to say, the boys father took him aside and told him they needed to talk……the father is unemployed for the past year. They are using their savings to put their son through Catholic schools.

      Madison is host for BO to speak this evening at the Univ of WI…..more young lambs to slaughter. If the dems win in Nov the "transformation" of this country will be close to complete. The thought of becoming a socialized country is very upsetting. Vote NO to dems this Nov.!!

    7. Diane says:

      Last week Bill Clinton suggested the nation is going to divide. I think obama knows this and has no choice but to finally attempt to educate those progressives who will collectively live in one of the territories. Someone is going to have to learn to contribute so that his/her neighbors can have.

    8. Jeff clement. Mariet says:

      I read somewhere ( i can't remember where ) in the 1930's we had about 180 million people in the US and we had 120,000 independent school districts. We now have almost 350 million people and only 16,000 independent school districts.

      Aside from the natural tendency of the feds to make anything they are involved with to run poorly, the trend toward centralizing schools into ever lager districts and ever larger schools is also leading to poorer education in the US. Having very large school districts makes it easier for the teachers unions to organize and assert control over education and that is a big problem.

      The layers of bureaucracy, from the giant school ( we have some high schools with over 3,000 students ), to the county level, to the state level and to the federal level, have moved so much of the control, so far from the classroom, the chances providing a consistently good education are near zero.

      Public education is more about jobs and politics than education, and that is sad.

    9. Heidi, Massachusetts says:

      This is why we, by the grace of God, home school our children. I'm not waiting for America or Washington to set my children's educational goals. And I'm willing to teach for free! (See http://www.hslda.org for more info on this (as of now) still legal option.)

    10. Mm, Wisconsin says:

      We are too busy paying our school administrators like they are sports stars, instead of spending $$$ on teachers, to give them more incentive to actually TEACH the kids – ugh

    11. Ace Sez Bishop ,Cali says:

      Federal Gov't control of anything is disastrous–local state and city control of schools is more likely to reflect the kinds of goals kid's parents want–not a Democrat/Republican/Socialist agenda—readin' writin' and arithmatic American style needs to be prorected from DC politicans—Suckin' up to the unions like Obama does is not conducive to a quality education–its all about money and powe andr mediocrity..Sad that we can't regain control of the ppl that are trusted to educate our younger gererations—voting has cconsequences?

    12. Jan Rose Cunningham says:

      Isn't there a formula which CEOs and accounts use to determine how much money is necessary for office expenses in a company? If the same formula is applied I do not see how logically what the Deparment of Education spends for everthing outside the classroom is not considered too big. Just count the number of people above the classroom.

      Back in 1991, I had to leave the my Air Force career to aid my son who they said had ADHD (he did not) and had problems reading. I used phonics and the ABeka system which suprised his public school teachers who did not know what phonics consisted of because for 22 years they had used the whole word method. In addition, I discovered in 1994 the Deparment came up with the group method of teaching whereas the teacher stresses to the faster childer and then they are suppose to help the slower so you see group desks facing in bundles. It was advertised as helping children to communicate, etc. but really it was to help the teacher deal with large classes. However, it was upfair to expect a child to relay correctly to other children lessons, both loose.

    13. William Downey, JD L says:

      The concentration of power, and therefor money in DC is another federal pre-emption of state authority. There is no way that the US can regain its comptetitive advantage with a national school system. I fully agree with Mr. Jarvis comments, however we alos need to root out those who fail to perform as teachers. Parents and educators much take the system back and reduce the greed and power of the unions.

    14. Bill Sr. says:

      You've got to hand it to the Democrats, in their own unique and cunning way over the last century, they have taken in and used every segment of their base and every peeving or minority group of radicals or "disadvantaged” citizens they could find to their political advantage while keeping each from ever achieving its desired goal and pretending all the while to be a few billion dollars or a dozen agencies short of getting the job done for them. And it keeps working for them.

      Their theme song must be "Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread"

    15. Bill Sr. Jacksonvill says:

      You've got to hand it to the Democrats, in their own unique and cunning way over the last century, they have taken in and used every segment of their base and every peeving or minority group of radicals or "disadvantaged” citizens they could find to their political advantage while keeping each from ever achieving its desired goal and pretending all the while to be a few billion dollars or a dozen agencies short of getting the job done for them.

      Their theme song must be "Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread"

    16. Jeff Spring, Malibu says:

      I agree with both of the previous comments. Dictating education standards at a federal level is a waste of time and resources. It is best left to the states and local school districts. As for teachers, there would be more support if bad teachers could be removed and good teachers given bonus pay. Until the stranglehold of the teachers unions are loosened, nothing is going to change.

    17. Eileen, L.A. CA says:

      I would sincerely like to be "on board" with school vouchers. The problem I have with them is that the government's money is put into "private" schools. As we have seen with the stimulus money, any entity that received government money received also government regulations. Why would we want the government to control the private as well as the public schools? School reform is needed, but vouchers will give us government control of the private schools. In all of the discussions concerning vouchers, no one has ever been able to show me that this would not be the result of using them.

    18. Johann Wolfgang von says:

      Dear Mr. Bluey,

      Was it your intent to do anything beyond frustrate your readers and give them a sense that you are not serious about the topic of which you write: removing federal governmental control of schools and education and replacing it with local or state control? If you are to be taken seriously do not conclude your article with, "Now is the time to do something about it," and offer not one single solitary suggestion about what might be done. Amazing, a call to arms but no point to meet and no strategy to identify or engage the "enemy."

      Actually I would expect from the tone of your article more than several simple suggestions as to methodology. I would anticipate information for addressing the behavior of the National Education Association in both public and legislative forum, the Department of Education: same and constitutional review by a court case regarding this usurpation of authority from the states. At the least I would think federal standards for education would come under the review of Congress and that you would give a legislative formula to promote this. A thorough analysis of the weak points of the Race to the Top strategy and suggestions about how to confront them at those points with concrete data would be helpful. If you should do these things in the future, Mr. Bluey, you might find the results you seek more forth coming through the support of many of us sympathetic to your concerns.

    19. Davod, Reston says:

      Reforming education is important. However, context is important. I am always concerned when leopards change their spots.

      Waiting for Superman was produced by a Democrat. Obama is critical of the education system at the expense of the education unions. This morning I heard an advocate of reform who is on a California State government board say that one locality had changed the rules so the community can decide what to do. He even said the magic words "Community Based education"

      The administration has nationalized the student loan program. The Secretary of Education used to run the Chicago schools system.

      The US Department of Education has this innocuous notice on its web site:

      Wed, September 22, 2:17 PM Low-Performing Schools and Community Organizations Education, nonprofit, and faith leaders participated in a White House meeting on the role of community-based organizations in turning around low-performing schools.

      Keep reading to see why CBE is a nice sounding but dangerous canard:

      As I recall, now retired Professor Bill Ayes, of Weather Underground fame, and a self described "small c communist," spent a major part if his working life influencing educators to impliment Community Based Education (Ayers is quite happy with the outcome in Venezuela).

      The most visible display of CBE is the Chicago school system where Ayers and Barrack Obama spent millions implimenting The Chicago Annenberg Challenge. After many years and many millions spent there was no improvement (But community organizations like ACORN received a lot of money). *

      Beware!

      *This is covered quite well in Stanley Kurtz's September 23, 2008 WSJ article "Obama and Ayers Pushed Radicalism On Schools" http://online.wsj.com/article/SB12221285607576536

    20. Gary, Florence Ky says:

      Can we stop calling it public education and start callin it public indoctrination, gor that is all that it is. The ever precious department of indroctrination was formed in 1979 by the infamous carter years. If I were running for office, one element of my platform would be to abolish the department of indoctrination, you talk about cutting the buget, wow

    21. Drew Page, IL says:

      How can Obama call this "heartbreaking"? Easy, he doesn't mean a word of what he says.

      A note to Mr. Jarvis, America has lots of goals; what we don't have is enough money to pay for them all.

    22. Jim Roumeliotis - Hu says:

      Not all children have the make up or the desire to grow up and become doctors or lawyers. Some may be more adapt at trades and manual skills. At one time our schools taught All vocations so as to prepare all students to go into the future with the ability to be productive in their comfort zone.

      Now we throw everyone into one educational scheme and frankly most are not adapt to those subject areas. We need the right students in the right classes learning the right subject matter. It may help if they are citizens of America who wish to further America’s greatness.

    23. Jeanne Stotler, Wood says:

      Ken, as usual you are wrong, I've seen good teachers not able to teach due to school boards and Unions, I've seen poor teachers kept on jobs because the unions fought for them. I had the best teachers through 9th grade, they were not paid a nickel, they cared for us kids, helped us with work we didn't understand. These women were the best in the world and all had high education, having graduated from Immaculata College in Penna, they wore the same uniform everyday, they were NUNS, I had great teachers in HS as well, my sr. High civics teacher walked us through the constitution and bill of rights, line by line (Thank you Mr.Mischou), I grad. from HS at 16 and went to Georgetown U. School of Nursing, there were no unions, states were responsible for the schools and teachers LIVED in our communities, we saw them in the grocery store and in church, our parents knew them outside of the school. My kids went to the same school I did, I checked Homework, gave pre test spelling test, corrected pronunciation. Get the point Ken, parents have a responsbility and teachers need to be dedicated. They need to be paid well, but they should come first, not the elite on the school boards.

    24. gerald skey, princet says:

      As always, let us start at the beginning. Every "system" known to any society needs an organization and that organization, generally speaking, is charged with the obligation of running the system. We are a Republic made up of 50 States all of which are self governing to a degree. Part of the governance of any State is to run its educational system. So, we have educators in all States doing just that. But now, the Federal Government has come along and decided that its own organization in Washington can do a better job than the local organizers in each State. In order to force each State to buy into this better mousetrap concept, the Federal Government promises money to each State and a lot of it. This is nothing more than a coercive ploy to gain power in Washington. Indeed, it was not that long ago that we did not even have a federal Department of Education and I defy anyone to claim that our educational system is any better now than it was before the Department of Education came into being.

      But what I do not understand is why the people in Washington think that their own organization will do a better job than a State organization. So, money flows from each State to the Federal Government which then funds a national education system and the money – or what's left of it – flows back to the States. Now this is, at least on its face, a perfectly preposterous idea as the only beneficiaries of such a scheme are the people within the Federal system who are now drawing money in the form of salaries that could have and should have remained in the States in the first place. Furthermore, who has been elected to say that these federal employees are doing a better job than the locals would do? To me, it is nothing more than what we see every day where Washington cannot help itself. All power and control to Washington without accountability or common sense.Kudos to the State of Texas. Woud that other States had the same courage.

    25. Norm Klevens says:

      Obama doesn't give a wit about this country's students, nor does he care about keeping America the best. Everything this fool does now and until Nov '12 is for his benefit; not the students. Race to the Top, but only if the unions say its okay. He cancels successful programs, takes money from parents and then asks can I keep my majority – can I keep my office for 4 more years. It is the unions who curtail all good things. And all the good words here, except for Jarvis, makes sense, but sense is not an action word. The unions are the action word. Until we have a president and a congress that tells he unions to drop dead, our students will suffer when they go to apply for a job and then try to prove their skills and worth to employers. Of all the criminal actions by Barra

    26. john arizona says:

      Ken Jarvis: America has a goal: Get rid of the Democrats, the ideologs, the progressives and the socialist/marxists that are currently trying to make the USA a third world country.

    27. William Person says:

      What concerns me is the ability fo the Federal Governement to control curricula abd stifle real discovery by students. What you eat in the morning determines your outcomes for the rest of the day. Being fed one point of view, which is happening even now, and now having that diet of information and curricula determined by some overwhelming socialistic beaurocrat in DC is the end of democracy for America.

    28. Mike, Chicago says:

      I don't agree with vouchers because they're discriminatory. The majority of the people they help are minorities and there parents already pay little or no taxes. If the schools need more money, start by ending the earned income tax credit and make everyone pay their fair share.

    29. KB in PA says:

      Living in a rural area of central Pennsylvania for the past two years, I have observed with great interest the plain people of the Old Order Mennonite and Amish communities in this particular valley. Yes, they drive buggies (and the Mennonites regularly also use bicycles). Most of the them are farmers. However, many of the young women and men also take jobs amongst us "fancy" folk, and are actually, if you can believe this, sought after as employees. Why? Because they are people of character, integrity, and a work ethic that most Americans only remember fondly as having been "the way things were in the good old days."

      Their schools are one room buildings, well off the beaten path, and are reached by the scholars, either via bicycle, or pony-drawn cart. The insides of these buildings are, as one might expect, plain. Grades one through eight all gather in the same room, and are all taught by one teacher. Privies are out back of the building. One usually sees a swingset and a baseball diamond alongside the school. The entire community sustains the physical premises, supports the teacher, and is directly involved in how the education of their children is to be achieved.

      Science and sex ed are omitted from the curriculum, however, in general, the scholars perform well on standardized tests.

      Although the Amish and Mennonites must, of course, pay just as high real estate taxes as all the rest of us, including that which is apportioned to the local public school district, these folks wouldn't DREAM of sending their kids to the schools they have to pay for.

      Gee. Wonder why not? Hmm. Let's see. Do I hire the slovenly kid with the baggy-butt, knee-length shorts, whose arms and legs are covered with bizarre tattoos, and whose ear lobes are decorated with flesh-expanding, inch wide rings, through which one could pass a hot dog, who spends all his "spare" time playing World of Warcraft, or an industrious young man in jeans, a button-front shirt and suspenders, with a slight Pennsylvania Dutch accent, who addresses me as "Mrs," and who deems it a privilege to work?

      Amazing how much can be accomplished with so little, when a community is comprised of parents who are THIS commited to their children.

    30. Travis Chicago says:

      The fact that this blog upholds Texas as a paragon of education after the recent changes to their Social Studies curriculum, which mocks the significance of history in understanding our traditions and ourselves by rewriting history either out of ignorance or Orwellian manipulation, is ridiculous. Until states on both sides of the red/blue divide demonstrate an ability to choose truth over ideology, no matter whose ideology, public schools will fail. Blaming the DOE is easy: recognizing that individual schools are damaged by the cumulative effects of federal, state and local mismanagement is the hard but necessary thing.

    31. KC - New Mexico says:

      I have responded in the past to the eductation issues – it is broken and out of control. Extending the school year is an old idea but has validity. As an ex-teacher, I would recommend the following:

      1. Extend the actual instructional time during the day. At this time, a student goes to school for 6.5 hours a day, .5 comes off for lunch, and another .5 comes off for recess or passing periods. This leaves 5.5 hours for instruction less the time that it takes to get settled for each class. I suggest adding 1.5 hours per day.

      2. Get rid of the special interest educational curriculum – focus on reading, writing, math, history, and science. The other stuff they can get somewhere else like from home or electives after the 8 hour day shown above.

      3. Cut the huge amount of staff in school systems that do not interact directly with the student. Make the system relatively flat in the organizational structure – this will cut many jobs and the extra money from this can go into the improvement of the system.

      4. Get rid of the union. Since this is a tax based system, let the tax payers call the shots, not the union. There is no place for the union in government work. This will allow the administration to do its job and would cut costs and raise proficiency.

      5. Get rid of the students who do not want to be there – those that are disruptive to the education process – bring back some discipline and get their parents involved. Develop a trade level education system in high school for those who just do not get it.

      6. Last and most important – get expertise involved from industry leaders who need the product from the education system, and real educators (not just administrators) to develop a progressive system. Get politics out of this process – they screw up everything and this is too important!

    32. F.D. O'Toole, N says:

      Obama said that the parent's "stake in their kids, their wanting desperately to make sure their kids are able to succeed is so powerful…" That's true, and one of the many reasons that parents are angry at him and Congress for the ruinous debt burden imposed on their children. They are also angry at the stigma placed on anyone who has the nerve to succeed.

    33. S Rubicon, Southcent says:

      Each time the federal bureaucracy intervenes in our lives, all we get are bureaucrats, ideologues, & hyper partisan politicians calling the shots. Each time a federal agency is formed, the congress gives it power. Once done, those agencies always, always, always expand that power to the point of totalitarian rule.

      Whether the education establishment, the EPA, Transportation, or any other agency, once the bureaucrats gain their foothold, logic goes out the window & so does any opportunity for average citizens to have any say about an issue.

      There is no oversight of these agencies. No one checks into what they are doing once they are created. And what we have found is, each agency becomes its own government. It uses the law or creates regulations with the force of law behind them, to demand all comply or face consequences.

      The Ed. Department was created in 1971. Since then it has grown in size, cost, and power over local schools, exponentially. The education experiments our children have endured is why the test grades are down. Today we teach kids how to deal with social issues. They cannot add, subtract, multiply, divide or compose a complete sentence, but they do know how to protest! Why do we need a federal education department this size, when we have an education department in each & every state? And for that matter, why departments these sizes when it comes to Commerce, Transportation, etc, where we already pay for entire departments to exist & manage these issues in each & every state? The feds get a foothold & they become the power over all no matter what! They take the taxes, dole out the money, but always demand compliance with their agenda to get our own tax dollars back!

      Look at HHS… a huge federal agency. NOW, we get a NEW & even larger federal agency to do what, to manage health care!?! What was HHS doing all this time? And at what huge expense to the taxpayers?

      It must end!

    34. Pingback: Obama standing in the way of true education reform | Taking Back Education

    35. rosemarie, fresno says:

      the country i came from i learn in 8 years wath you dont even learn in 12 years,

      you have to manny teachers that dont even teach american history,

      i know moore of ameran history the you americans , get back to the wreal teaching, and let the teacher teach the way it used to be,

      and Mr. javis you are a nerd

    36. Bill Sr. Jacksonvill says:

      Eileen, L.A. CA

      Your point is well taken. However, the money for "vouchers" should be given without strings to the school or institution of "choice" the student selects for his "required" education. You know, just like Obamacare is supposed to let you select your physician or abortionist or insurance company. Why can't parents who have the "choice" to allow life or death for their offspring be allowed to also choose their educational source and do it with their share of everyone's taxes. The way it is set up now it's like educationally we already have imposed the democrat's "public option" trump card on our children by government employees and have to accept the continued poor results they produce with ever increasing expenditures.

    37. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      I haven't seen Waiting for "Superman", the new movie about the DC public schools, so I won't comment negatively on it. A teacher once told me when I was in junior high,

      "Don't say you hate bananas if you haven't tried them." However, there must be some

      people, those in the teacher's unions, who haven't tried bananas and are saying so.

      What prompted that admonition to me? I said that I liked the movie version of Jaws better than the book. I never read the book. So to the American Federation of Teachers and the NEA, I say the following: Don't say you hate bananas if you haven't

      tried them.

    38. KLIMAX Baltimore, Ma says:

      We need to get "BIG BROTHER" out of OUR lives !!!!! The government has too much say in OUR lives now and if we allow them to take control of education the next generation will be lost to us !!!!

      Wake UP America, NObama has already taken control of Health Care, Now he wants to control how OUR children are taught, What the States can and can not do when it comes to protecting its citizens, and What laws NObama chooses to ignore when it suits him (illegal immigration) !!!!!

      I'm sure it sounds crazy but everything mentioned by me is the truth nothing like the lies and half truths NObama tells us every day !!!

    39. Leith Wood Richmond says:

      Mrr. Duncan's " quiet revolution "would not remain quiet, if the disgusting pc press would do their job and ask the obvious questions. Stop brain washing our children and grandchildren with your liberal agenda, which only gives more power to the big government and takes away our freedoms. They are making our children less educated, while pretending their programs help us and the country. We're being treated as " useful idiots ". Speak out and get rid of these liars.

    40. Henry says:

      W e are tired of the teachers squawking more money, more money, more money. Pay me for doing the same thing year after year. Pay me for nine months out of the year, pay me the benefits that teachers receive.

      Give me tenure for a life time job. Give me retirement benefits for life.

      When you teach first grade for thrity years , the lesson plan is the same. Any fool can teach.

      WAIT JUST A MINUTE! MY GRANDPARENTS WERE BETTER EDUCATED THAN CHILDREN ARE TODAY. Most of them worked in the fields and attended short times in their lives.

      WAIT JUST A MINUTE! They were given the old ruler if they did not listen. Get government out of the schools that test, test, test. You will never test a child to greatness.

    41. Timpclimber Provo, U says:

      To K.C. in New Mexico, I agree 100% (Just retired after 40 years of teaching K-24 Science) I would add to your list;

      Every student's progress should be tracked and reported weekly so that intervention and help can begin early enough to help the student. I offered (on my own time) before and after school tutoring. Who showed up? "B" students wanting to earn an "A".

    42. James R. R. Spindler says:

      Everyone needs to beware the complete takeover of education at the federal level. It eventually leads to the brainwashing and control of the youth and young adults of our country.

      The control of education belongs at the state and local levels. It enables the programs to be compatible with the educational needs of the community. It provides a means to try different approaches and techniques, and for the states and communities to compare their effectiveness. It also allows the states and localities to better control the costs and satisfy the needs of the community.

      National voluntary standards are fine when they are voluntary and controlled by the states and local communities much like industrial standards are established within some industries.

      What role should Washington play? Very little. Perhaps they can make suggestions and recommendations. However, states can accept or reject such suggestions or recommendations. The Federal Department of Education needs to be dissolved and no funds should be allocated for the federal government to use to directly or indirectly influence states, local governments, or citizens.

    43. Kristin, Minneapolis says:

      Films like Waiting for Superman should not be taken as fact. As I understand it, the film describes education on the coasts. As a teacher and resident of Minnesota, it does not describe our education system.

      Across the nation, there are many talented educators. There are some bad educators, and it is difficult to remove them or fire them. However, the majority of teachers I have known work well beyond their job requirements. (As do the majority of any workers today in our country.)

      The problem in education is primarily an issue of our degrading culture and lack of values. Families and popular culture do not instill in children the importance of school, respect, and the value of hard work. If educators had supportive parents at home, there would not be the number of underperforming students that there are. I strongly believe, though, that as a teacher it is not enough to just pass the blame to the parents. Since many are not doing their jobs, it doesn't give me an excuse as a teacher. It makes my job more complicated. It also makes it that much more rewarding when I can get through to a student that has had nearly insurmountable difficulties.

    44. Pingback: “A Masterpiece of Moral Clarity”

    45. Robert N Ivy; Dawson says:

      Local and state control of our schools along with the de-unionization of the teachers would be a great start toward school reform. Our system is too combersome as it is.

    46. Doc Hilliard, Calif says:

      The solution to our nation's miserable public "education" system includes 1) firing all underperforming teachers, 2) reward successful teachers 3) keep those successful teachers with the backbone to flunk a student who just doesn't cut the mustard – but likely will after another year's growth 4) firing just about every person in the system who is not a successful teacher (keep the janitors if they're any good) 5) unplug Obama from the classroom TV, 6) pitch the classroom TVs in the trash 7) disband the DOE altogether

    47. Lee-White Tanks AZ says:

      The DOE needs to be closed down, defunded or whatever it takes to rid ourselves of its particular brand of poison.

      Next to go should be Tenure. Get rid of it at all levels, Elementary to University, this concept outlived its usefulness decades ago.

      Last but not least, require the breakup of the various Teachers Unions. The DOE was created as a "response" to the national unions. If the unions are pushed back to the state level, where they would be constitutionally compliant, then the need for the blatantly unconstitutional DOE is gone.

    48. Pingback: Education Reform’s Kryptonite

    49. Denise, Utah says:

      I say that the biggest problem with the school districts in Utah and around the country is the bloated pork at the district administration level. In our school district it is rumored that 40 percent of all funds goes to feed this beast. Some of the people at the district level couldn't handle a classroom so they were rewarded with a cushy district position earning more money. Talk about rewarding failure!!!! The district elites' solution for diminished funds: Get rid of at-will teachers and cut the toner and paper at the school level.

    50. Greyhawk says:

      All we ever hear is about the lousy public education system.

      What nobody ever mentions is that the public education system was doing a very good job until the Federal Government got involved in what is a state and local respsonsibility.

      Before LBJ intervened around 1965 in local control education, public schools in the USA ranked in the top 3 best systems in the world. Today, we are at #28 in the world, and declining annually.

      In 1978, Jimmy Carter presented us with the U.S. Department of Education as a gift to the National Teacher Unions who were behind getting this communist elected. Since the creation of the U.S. Department of Education, the demise of the public education system has gone into hyperdrive as the Teacher Unions have been able to Mandate the Dumbing Down and Brainwashing of several generations of our children.

      Under the Obama administration, the U.S. department of education, which has been hacking away at local and state control for years and years, has now taken any and all power from local and state governments.

      Our public education system is turned Upside Down the same as the rest of our government.

      It is time to totally abolish the U.S. Department of Education and put all public schools under control of local and state governments, and then local communities will determine curriculum and what their kids will and will not be taught and rid ourselves of the federal mandates of teaching perversion, dumbing down, brainwashing, and teaching to the lowest common denominator as determined by the endless mandates of standardized tests that the feds now mandate that schools use.

      Teaching is not all that complicated. Kids learn by seeing, hearing and doing. What they are currently hearing, seeing and doing in schools is doing more harm than good.

      Kids are being mandated to go to school at earlier and earlier ages when in fact, they should be going to schools at older ages. Kids are being robbed of their childhoods and put into unnatural and abnormal settings and then being taught by teachers, who themselves, lack basic skills in reading, writing, speaking and arithmetic.

      The national teacher union's official motto in the 1970's was, "Subvert from within and cover your butt." Today, the National Teacher Unions Subvert and Brainwash openly and if you are a real teacher who does not toe the Union Party Line, you have to cover your butt, or they will make sure you never get tenure."

      Gutless teachers and principals and school boards are directly responsible for having allowed the U.S. Department of Education And Teacher Unions to destroy the credibility of the public school system and in the process destroying the lives of several generations of kids who go through the system by mandatory attendance laws and go out the other side worse off than when they entered. Not only are the public schools not teaching adequate requisite skills that adults need to function in life, they are doing great intellectual and emotional harm to all too many kids who get run through the meat grinding schools that are not preparing them to be good and responsible citizens with the skills to achieve at whatever they pursue in life. And, of course, we also have too many so-called experts in the schools today who are putting disability labels on kids at alarming rates. And, they have gotten the parents to go along with these disability labels because once they Label a Normal kid with a disability label, the parent gets a check for a disabled child, and the school gets extra funds from the feds to provide special education services to a kid who is not disabled, but has been labeled that way because we have incompetent teachers who know nothing about normal and natural emotional and intellectual development of children. Little boys get labeled Attention Deficit Disordered or Hyperactive just because he continues to be a little boy and does not conform to school rules that require a normal and natural kid to behave in unnatural and abnormal ways.

      I have written numerous essays on this subject, and the U.S. public education system continues to deteriorate and all they so called education experts can come up with is "throw more money at it." To make kids be subjected to this dumbing down and brainwashing for longer periods of time with expanded school years and school days. What the kids need is a break from the dumbing down and brainwashing and return schools to being schools and not dumbing down and brainwashing factories being run by Teacher Unions and the U.S. Department of Education.

    51. Circles Arrows says:

      To "Ken in Las Vegas" about paying teachers. "Pay them." Well, isn't that just a simple little thing! If it's that easy, then how much, Ken? How much would it take for teachers to be paid to create the world's best students?

      Go ahead, name a salary. I'm curious to know what that Magic Number would be. Would it all be the same for all teachers, no matter the years of experience? (I'm sure a certain group would have problems with that) Would it be the same for all teachers in all school districts? (Boy, imagine the turf battles there. Would a school in a West Va. hollar pull the same coin as in suburban DC?) Would it only be salary or would benefits be expected too? (How would all federal holidays and summers off suit you? Guaranteed retirement pensions? Guaranteed salary increases no matter what student outcomes?) If so, what bennies would it also take to get these "super teachers" in the classroom? And, would it only be teacher compensation? Or would you also expect a certain level of classroom conditions and equipment? And what about class size–would your "named price" include unlimited numbers of pupils or just say, 20? Put out a figure that would be the "tipping point". So do name your price, Ken. Give us all a number that we could see and expect that the educational system would turn around. Oh, and don't forget to mention what exactly we could expect for that figure: min. test scores, 100% graduation rates; "0" drop-out rates; ability to read, do math, speak at a legit 12-th grade level upon graduation, etc. What is that magic number Ken? Tell us.

    52. Jerry Bateman, Ovied says:

      America's education problems, out of control campuses and very poor academic results, can not be managed and monitored effectively from the national Department of Education in Washington, DC. The problem stems from bureaucratic distraction. The folks in Washington, DC are too busy throwing money around, playing politics and playing favorites and they are not in touch with the issues at the local schools. The teacher's unions are not helping either. I suggest we look back to a more simple time and save millions of dollars. Let's let the local elected officials, the school superintendents, the principals and teachers run the public schools. I know this sounds crazy, but back when I went to school, 1960's, this approach worked extremly well. About 80% of my graduating class went on to college. We must demand that the people running the schools have the proper credentials, attitude, and skills to establish a rapport with the students and create an environment for learning. We must also give the principals and teachers the power to punish misbehaving students. If the student continues to disrupt the class, then they should be expelled. Our schools are so caught up in leaving no child behind that almost all of our students are being left behind. Also, we must insist that the people working with our students have an ethical approach to their responsibilities. If they mess up, they are done! The reason we do not have quality teachers with knowledge and an ethical approach to teaching is that we don't pay them enough. Obviously there are many challenges to overcome with our public school system. In order to begin to fix these challenges we must get closer to the problems, which means that we should manage and monitor our school systems locally.

    53. Rick says:

      "The goal is to quietly increase federal control, while reducing the role of states, localities and individuals. The Race to the Top competition, with $4.3 billion in economic stimulus money, was a convenient way to go about it."

      This needs to be brought to the attention of the public again. "Race to the Top," a restructuring and Federal takeover of public education, was "stuffed" into the omnibus Stimulus Bill.

      The Federal takeover of student loans was "stuffed" into the Health Care Reform Bill which was then "stuffed" into law through a back door.

      If we re-elect the same folks to Congress in 2010, we deserve any further "stuffing" we get.

    54. Frederick C. Monson says:

      There are two methods by which the Federal government intrudes and controls

      1. It forges a rule set that is reasonable.

      2. It forces everyone to 'buy' it.

      While we slobber over which party to support, we forget that neither party is 'on our side' Who is worse, the legislator who votes for a measure or the legislator who votes against it? Neither, of course, because neither, as we have learned recently, reads the measures on which s/he is directed by party leaders to cast a pre-scored vote.

      The Founders recognized the potential for the elected to to become depraved with the power given them. The situation has now gone far enough that we have elected officials who negligently, and overtly, disregard the Constitution while they do whatever they please. THEN, we re-elect them!!!!!

    55. Kelly says:

      I think EVERYONE should be paid according to their merits. For example, police officers working in high crime? areas should be paid less, because obviously they are not getting rid of the criminals!

      What? That's not fair! There are other FACTORS affecting the crime rate?

      My point exactly! Teachers that are willing to drive to crime invested neighbors and risk their lives to teach minorities should be celebrated, not punished!

      In foreign countries, disruptive students are EXPELLED for good! They are removed from the classroom, leaving the teacher and other students to concentrate on their education.

      In America, loud, rude? disruptive students are allowed to remain in the classroom, and disrupt the class!

      Stop blaming the teachers! Blame the LOUD, RUDE, DISRESPECTFUL, PANTS-FALLING-DOWN, DRUG-USING, WEAPON-CARRYING HIP-HOP GANGSTA WANNA-BEEs!

      Why are other countries successful? BECAUSE THEY RESPECT THEIR TEACHERS! STUDENTS FOLLOW THE RULES! They wear UNIFORMS and DO THEIR HOMEWORK!

    56. Denene Wright says:

      I would like to know why charter schools or magnet schools are so much better than the regualr public schools. Should they not all be measured by the same requirements. Personally I have my daughter on a waiting list for a great magnet school in my area, for almost 2 years now, being past over for the right color, gender, age opening to appear. Meanwhile I am sending her to a private school that is very costly. I am fortunate to be able to send her to this private school due to a scholarship program but still have to pay a costly monthly fee. It saddens me to to visit and tour these diffrent schools in my area and see the glaring diffrences between the public and magnet schools. The magnet schools appear to be like a private/public school. I want all the public schools to have higher expectations and goals for the children and think it is so unfair for some to get the better opprotunities and others to get crumbs.

    57. Janet says:

      Private schools give the illusion of doing a better job than public schools, because they TEST students prior to registration. Then, they only accept students with HIGH IQs. Students that would be successful regardless. They reject the students with lower IQs.

      Furthermore, private schools require UNIFORMS and have STRICT RULES that ALL STUDENTS must FOLLOW.

      If a student breaks the RULES, he/she is immediately EXPELLED for good, and sent back to . . .

      THE PUBLIC SCHOOL! Public schools that attempt to teach EVERYONE regardless of IQ. Not just a SELECT GROUP, as do the private and charter schools!

      Furthemore, private schools only accept students at the beginning of the school year, public schools are receiving students ALL YEAR! Migrant students that follow the crops. Homeless students that don't have a permanent address. Foster kids that are bounced from home to home!

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