How Is The Money We Spend On Education Actually Spent?

Last week Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial explaining how the proposed tax bill might impact educational spending.

The editorial included the following chart:

As you can see from the chart, the number of administrators in education has risen much faster than the number of teachers and students, while test scores have remained essentially the same. It is definitely time that we examined our priorities in education spending,

The editorial also points out how the tax bill under consideration might impact education spending:

The National Education Association blasted the GOP tax reform plan saying that eliminating the state and local tax deduction for those who itemize taxes would be a severe blow to schools, putting 250,000 education jobs at risk.

“It would,” says NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia, “jeopardize the ability of state and local governments to fund public education. That will translate into cuts to public schools, lost jobs to educators, overcrowded classrooms that deprive students of one-on-one attention, and threaten public education.”

There are other provisions in the tax bill that might worry teachers’ unions, such as letting parents use 529 college savings plans to pay for elementary and secondary school costs. That would help make private schools more affordable — a small step toward encouraging school choice.

But it’s the so-called SALT deduction that has the unions up in arms. Why? Because getting rid of it might force high-tax states — which benefit the most from the deduction — to cut taxes and rein in their own spending.

Of course, that’s pure speculation on the NEA’s part. States won’t be obligated to change anything if the SALT deduction goes away.

I think we need to understand that the Trump Administration is generally a goal-oriented group and sometimes their goals are very subtle. The Secretary of Education is a proponent of school choice, and it seems as if the tax proposals might also encourage school choice. The public schools are not doing their job of educating our children, and parents are becoming more willing to find alternative solutions. The amount of children being home-schooled has rapidly increased in recent years. Part of this is due to the fact that test scores have not improved, and part of this is due to the fact that the schools are teaching children values that in many cases contradict the values of their parents.

It would probably be a really good idea to take a look at where our education dollars are being spent. Somehow our students managed to learn more before there was a federal Department of Education.

 

This Sort Of Thinking Might Be Part Of The Problem

How many of you reading this work forty hours a week? Fifty hours? How many of you would like to work less and have more free time, but you are encumbered by such nuisances as needing a place to live and liking to eat? Well, take heart, a college professor has an interesting observation on this whole ‘work ethic‘ thing.

Yesterday Townhall posted an article about a quote from Pennsylvania State University-Brandywine professor Angela Putman.

The article states:

Pennsylvania State University-Brandywine professor Angela Putman recently asserted in an academic paper that the notion “if I work hard, I can be successful” is merely a product of white ideology, reports Campus Reform.

Angela Putman conducted a study to critique and examine “ideologies within college students’ discourse that are foundational to whiteness.” Her resulting conclusion published on Thursday was that “meritocracy”, or the belief that people should rise based on the fruits of their own labor, is a “white ideology.” In her mind, this “white ideology” is unfortunately widely accepted in academia.

But, Professor Putman argues that professors can change this “ideology” by teaching students “how racism and whiteness function in various contexts, the powerful influence of systems and institutions, and the pervasiveness of whiteness ideologies within the United States.”

So according to this lady, the idea of meritocracy is “white ideology.” Interesting. It is really interesting that one of the few workplaces in America that is truly a meritocracy is the National Football League (NFL). According to the census, as of 2016, 13.3 percent of America’s population was African-American. In the National Football League, 67 percent of the players are black. The NFL is one of the true meritocracies in America and is largely composed of African-Americans. How in the world is the NFL meritocracy an example of ‘white ideology.”

The article further reports:

Putman believes that it is somehow a bad thing to teach students personal responsibility. Emphasizing a collectivist mindset, Putman puts forth the idea that Americans are falsely “socialized to believe that we got to where we are… because of our own individual efforts.”

This “ideology” she says, perpetuates whiteness and racism throughout society. Once students learn more about “white ideology,” they will hopefully “resist perpetuating and reifying whiteness through their own discourse and interactions,” and challenge systemic “manifestations of racism and whiteness.”

Until students learn the hidden dangers of believing in the value of hard-work and a positive attitude, “whiteness ideologies may be reproduced through a general acceptance and unchallenging of norms, as well as through everyday discourse from a wide variety of racial positionalities.”

We need to remove students from this professor’s classroom. What she is teaching them is not only divisive–it is harmful. She is essentially destroying the work ethic of her African-American students. The black culture is such that it handicaps black students immensely–if a black student does well in school, he is considered an “Uncle Tom.” How do we expect these children to succeed unless we are willing to change the culture of their communities? It is bad enough that schools in low-income black neighborhoods often do not have all the supplies and textbooks that they need, but no one should be adding to their problems by telling them that they are victims.

As Predicted

There were many parents and grandparents who opposed President Obama’s bathroom bill. Their opposition had nothing to do with discrimination against transgenders or wanting to make transgendered people feel uncomfortable–it had to do with those who would use the law as a cover for unacceptable activities that would not have been possible without the law. The story I am about to post is from a few weeks ago, but it is an illustration of the consequences of President Obama’s bathroom (locker room) bill.

There are two sources for this story. One is the U.K. Daily Mail and the other is the DC Gazette. They both tell the same story.

The DC Gazette reports:

When Obama ordered his sweeping transgender bathroom demands to be enforced across the country, parents everywhere felt a sick feeling in their stomachs. It wasn’t so much a concern over transgender students, but more about young hormone-driven teenage boys now being allowed to use the restroom with their daughters.

Well, our fears have come true in a Fort Myers school and all conservatives can say is ” I told you so.”

Several male students at South Fort Myers High School are under investigation for what the school is calling “inappropriate activity” in a girls’ bathroom.

According to reports, 20+ members of the school’s football team entered the schools ladies locker room and had sex with a 15 year old female student. The boys also allegedly recorded the incident on a cell phone. It’s not yet known if the young girl participated willingly or not, but police are viewing the footage to decide if criminal charges need to be filed. 

The U.K. Daily Mail reports:

A 15-year-old high school girl has allegedly been caught on camera having sex with multiple boys in a girls’ bathroom on campus.

At least one student has been disciplined for ‘inappropriate activity’ after police reports suggested 25 boys were seen going in and out of the bathroom at South Fort Myers High School in Fort Myers, Florida.

The girl reportedly told the school’s principal she ‘had sex with a number of the boys’, while fellow students claimed the group ‘locked themselves’ in and filmed the acts on camera.

Footage of the incident was sent round school on Snapchat, according to Fox4now.   

Isn’t there a grown-up somewhere in the Obama Administration that remembers the raging hormones of their teenage years? This was a disaster waiting to happen, and unless President Obama’s directive that bathrooms and locker rooms be open to whoever feels like whatever, there will be more stories like this. Is there anyone in Washington who cares enough for the next generation to speak up to protect it?

A Dissenting Opinion From The Co-Chairman Of The North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission

CO-CHAIR OF THE NC STANDARDS COMMISSION DISSENTS ON FINAL MATH RECOMMENDATIONS

Wilmington, NC, December 30, 2015 – In an open letter to her fellow commission members, Tammy Covil expressed dissatisfaction with the commission’s final vote on recommendations she states will result in nothing more than a rebrand of Common Core.

Ms. Covil serves as co-chair of the North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission. The commission was formed by the General Assembly in 2014 to review and recommend replacement for the state’s K-12 math and English language arts standards, formerly known as Common Core. Their final report is due to be released today.

“Having spent so much time and energy on such an important endeavor, I felt it necessary to recount the events that transpired over the past 15 months. Sadly, much of what occurred behind the scenes undermined our final recommendations,” Mrs. Covil stated. “Although I am disappointed that we were unable to complete our charge to the degree that the legislature had intended, I am proud of the work that went into vetting the standards. There is more than enough evidence in our findings to warrant replacement of the math standards.”

The following is the text of Mrs. Covil’s dissenting opinion:

Commission Members,

As co-chair of the North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission, I wish to inform you that I will not endorse this commission’s final recommendations.

Although one would have expected the overwhelming evidence of Common Core’s shortcomings to have convinced even the most biased individual toward the obvious conclusion of replacement, it became clear to me long before the final vote that many of the appointees had no intention of producing substantive changes to North Carolina’s academic standards.

The General Assembly appointed us to act in good faith on their legislative mandate to repeal and replace Common Core. To say that many of you disregarded your duty as an appointed member is an understatement. Some of you not only snubbed this obligation, you appeared to be actively working against it.

Over the past fifteen months, this commission entertained testimony from a multitude of education stakeholders, most notably two highly regarded experts in the field of standards development and a child brain development specialist. These experts offered compelling evidence that exposed the developmental inappropriateness and academic inefficiencies of Common Core. They provided detailed examples and cited comprehensive research to support their claims. Most of this testimony confirmed the North Carolina commission’s findings. Sentiments expressed by classroom teachers through multiple feedback opportunities and survey data further cemented the need for standards replacement.

In contrast, the education non-profits and lobby groups that were insistent upon coming before the commission to extoll the virtues of Common Core offered little more than vague platitudes, regurgitated talking points, and skewed data. Many of them failed to grasp the difference between standards and curriculum. Nor did they understand that rigor is delivered through instruction, not a standard.

What was evident in their testimony, however, was the extreme desire to protect Common Core at all costs. As was quickly determined, this was all being driven by the expectation of financial gain; one that only a nationalized curriculum could generate. Unfortunately in education, money tends to cloud sound policy decisions.

Nonetheless, their agendas and biases were exposed, yet summarily ignored.

Perhaps the most revealing aspect of this entire exercise was exhibited in the unwarranted and vicious attack on Dr. Scheick and his math group, most of whom possess more individual teaching experience than those who wrote the Common Core math standards combined. The fact that certain commission members waited until the final meeting to reveal their true colors is evidence of their intent to undermine this commission’s work from the beginning.

Even the media was stunned by this duplicitous about-face.

As you are well aware, Dr. Scheick and his team labored tirelessly for months to vet the math standards. They took to the task of ensuring that the state’s standards would meet the criteria mandated in Senate Bill 812. They did so in a very short period of time and under less than supportive circumstances. Not only were North Carolina’s math standards carefully scrutinized, they were compared to other states’ standards (both pre and post Common Core adoption), as well as other countries in order to balance global competitiveness.

How were they rewarded for their efforts? They were treated to a dog and pony show orchestrated by certain members who rarely participated during the monthly meetings, refused to offer any assistance during the math review process, and who failed to attend any of the teacher focus group meetings, despite the fact that they insisted upon them in the first place.

Impugning the character and teaching credentials of Dr. Scheick’s math team and holding the validity of their recommendations to a higher burden of proof than your own State Superintendent is the height of hypocrisy.

Interestingly enough, none of the commissioner members disputed the findings, which are quite damning, to say the least. Had anyone harbored doubt or disapproval of the findings, it was never expressed. Those of us committed to the task at hand noted this lack of cooperation and apathy.

Unlike Common Core, the Minnesota math standards have a proven track record of success. According to the math team, the Minnesota math most closely aligned with the criteria outlined by the legislature. Since it was determined in the findings that the Common Core math standards are fundamentally flawed, tweaking them would actually require more work than adopting a new set of standards and building upward. Why this was considered an unreasonable recommendation is beyond me.

Likewise, and despite the fact that 60% of high school math teachers expressed a strong desire to return to the traditional math sequence of Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II, the commission inexplicably chose to abandon this recommendation. There was virtually no professional development prior to implementation of Integrated Math, nor were there textbooks or an appropriate curriculum available to teach it. As a result, most teachers were forced to haphazardly piece together a curriculum in the hopes that it would meet course expectations. For all the talk about ensuring teacher flexibility, you could not even agree to make a recommendation that would allow teachers the option of the teaching the material in the format that they are most comfortable – So much for teacher advocacy.

Ultimately, the majority decided to punt their responsibility for offering a solution to this quagmire back to the very same department that created it. Abdicating your responsibility in this way not only implies an aversion to leadership; it indicates contempt for the educational well-being of North Carolina’s 1.5 million students and the 95,000 teachers shackled by these standards.

Rather than side with the most important stakeholders in education – teachers, parents and students – many of you predictably and shamefully cow-towed to education elitists, corporate interests and big government.

For those who so emphatically feigned concern for the costs involved in replacing Common Core with a more appropriate set of academic standards, you have failed to consider the lost funding that will result due to frustrated parents pulling their children out of the state’s public school system in protest over your decision to maintain the status quo.

Maybe that is the answer, as nothing else seems to break through the bureaucratic inertia within public education like the threat of funding cuts.

Tammy J. Covil

 

What Are We Teaching Our Children?

Recently there was an incident in one of our local schools that has caused me to wonder about what we are teaching our children in school–both in textbooks and in experience.

On April 5th, WCVB Boston reported the following:

Outraged parents said some students at Coelho Middle School cried when they were told by a worker for the district’s food service provider they could not eat on Tuesday because they couldn’t pay or their pre-paid accounts were short on funds.
    
The on-site director for the company, Whitsons Culinary Group of Islandia, N.Y., was placed on administrative leave by Superintendent Pia Durkin, who has ordered cafeteria workers not to deny any child food.

Today, the Attleboro Sun Chronicle reported:

News that dozens of students at Coelho Middle School were denied lunch for a lack of cash touched off anger among parents and the public, but an anonymous unseen feeding frenzy of outrage launched against school administrators via the Internet was far worse coming with personal threats.

Superintendent Pia Durkin said Wednesday that she and her family were threatened, as was Coelho Principal Andrew Boles.

What in the world is going on?

It is unfortunate that students were denied lunches because their lunchroom accounts were empty, but I don’t understand why the people working in the lunchroom were held responsible for taking a common sense approach to the matter.  Would you expect to eat at a restaurant and not pay for your meal? There are a few obvious solutions to this situation that I believe should have been in place to prevent this incident. First of all, what is the procedure for notifying parents or students that their accounts are low? Haven’t Middle School children had enough basic experience with money to know that when you buy something you pay for it? Why isn’t there a Plan B in effect that says if your account is empty and you can’t buy lunch, the cafeteria gives you a complementary soy butter (I believe peanut butter is not allowed in schools these days) and jelly sandwich and a carton of regular milk and sends you on your way. You don’t go hungry, but you don’t necessarily get the lunch you really want.

What are we teaching these children? How is it fair to the children whose accounts are paid and up to date that other children get the same lunch without paying for it? How in the world are the cafeteria workers responsible for providing lunch for students that have not paid?

It is truly unfortunate that the cafeteria workers were fired over this incident. Do they have a union? If so, why is that union silent? I can’t imagine someone in a retail store of any kind doing anything different. The way this incident has been handled will only contribute to a ‘gimme’ attitude on the part of the students and an entitlement attitude among their parents. This does not bode well for the future of our country.

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Would You Want Your Daughter To Risk This ?

DaTechGuyBlog posted an article today about the new guidelines issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Education Department for handling transgender students.

The article states:

Remember the old movie Porky’s where the boys had a hole in the wall so they could watch the girls shower?  Welcome to 21st century Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Department of Education on Friday issued directives for handling transgender students, including allowing them to use the bathrooms or play on the sports teams that correspond to the gender with which they identify.

It gets better:

The document said whether a student identifies as a boy or girl is up to the student or, in the case of younger students, the parents.

The lawsuits will be spectacular. You disagree? Consider:

You’re a teacher or guidance counselor. A boy goes into the girls shower room, you try to eject him he identifies himself as “gender neutral” or “confused”.

You lay one hand on him, say one thing to him, suggest for even a single moment that he might be faking and now you have a discrimination lawsuit on your hands, the school district’s hands and the city’s hands. Such a suit would be worth at least tens of thousands of dollars.

Good grief! I am sorry that some students are confused about their sexual identity, but that does not give them to right to go into any locker room they choose. Can you picture a private club allowing this? Why are we taking privacy away from the children who don’t have issues? I would suggest setting up separate locker rooms for students with gender identity issues, but knowing teenage hormones, I can’t even imagine the mess that could create. Don’t any of these people making laws remember what it was like to be a teenager? It is a shame that the students will be the ones who have to suffer for the stupidity of our lawmakers.

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Exactly What Are We Teaching Our Children ?

Yesterday the Daily Caller posted a story about Fairfax County Virginia 8th Grade Students who were asked to do opposition research on the Republican presidential candidates and then find our where the information could be sent to help the Obama Campaign. No assignments were given to do opposition research on President Obama and send it to the Republicans (although I am told that was added in after the story hit the news).

The article reports:

The assignment was for students to research the backgrounds and positions of each of the GOP candidates for president and find “weaknesses” in them, the parent explained. From there, students were to prepare a strategy paper to exploit those weaknesses and then to send their suggestions to the Obama campaign.

Liberty teacher Michael Denman, who declined to comment, unveiled the assignment in mid-January when he broke the Civics Honor’s class into four groups, one for each Republican candidate. The students were then to collaborate as a group and research the backgrounds of their assigned candidate.

Denman assigned two kids to write a paper revealing the identified “weaknesses,” two to write the attack strategy paper and two others to locate an individual inside the Obama campaign to whom they could send the information.

Somehow, this doesn’t seem quite right. The thing to keep in mind here is that the only reason we know about this is that some parents cared enough about what their children were being taught to speak out. We, as parents, are responsible for the education of our children; and we, as citizens, are responsible for what happens in our representative republic. 

 

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Taxpayer-Funded Inflation

Yesterday Smartmoney.com posted an article explaining how government student loans and grants have caused an increase in college tuition. The article points out that federal aid for college students has increased 164% over the past decade, but many potential students still find the cost of a college education unaffordable

The article points out:

Lesley Turner, a PhD candidate at Columbia University, looked at data on aid from 1996 to 2008 and calculated that, on average, schools increased Pell Grant recipients’ prices by $17 in response to every $100 of Pell Grant aid. More selective nonprofit schools’ response was largest and these schools raised prices by $66 for every $100 of Pell Grant aid.

The article further states:

After adjusting for differences among schools, the authors find that Title IV-eligible schools charge tuition that is 75% higher than the others. That’s roughly equal to the amount of the aid received by students at these schools.

Studies like these suggest that if one goal of government is to make college affordable, aid should become more thoughtful instead of merely more plentiful. And the total cost of federal spending on college isn’t fully known. That’s because spending on loans dwarfs that on grants. Student loans recently eclipsed credit card debt.

The article reminds us that with high unemployment and the unavailability of the high paying jobs that graduates need to pay off their college loans, the taxpayers could wind up paying the bill for a lot of college tuition loans.

.

 

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The Promised Government Help With College Loans Is Not What It Appears To Be

The western front of the United States Capitol...

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Yesterday John Podhoretz posted an article at the New York Post detailing what President Obama’s proposed changes in how college loans are financed would mean to the average student.

Mr. Podhoretz points out that the federal loan programs have resulted in out of control tuition costs at colleges. He states:

The staggering inflation in the cost of higher education since the federal government got involved in lending money to Americans for college in 1965 beggars description. One federal study found that between 1982 and 2007, tuition costs rose 432 percent while family income rose only 147 percent.

The article further reports:

So say you’re an average student carrying a $27,000 debt. Your monthly payment is about $208. With the reforms Obama is instituting, and assuming an interest rate of 6 percent, your monthly payment will drop $9 a month to $199. Staggering.

The article also points out that under the proposed changes, the government would be entirely responsible for college loans. Students would borrow directly from the government and pay the government back. What happens when students default? The taxpayers pick up the tab. Aside from the fact that the benefits to the students of this program are minuscule, we need less government in all aspects of our lives–not more.

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