By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT — Just the headline at Politico is enough to make me giddy:

The Plot to overhaul No Child Left Behind:  The Republican plan could dramatically roll back the federal role in education.

Oh, I’m no fan of NCLB, to be sure, but Common Core is even worse.  What I like about this headline is the “roll back the federal role in education” part.  Both NCLB and Common Core have the federal government way too far into state matters of education.

But, it seems to me that if Republicans can give states a more viable option to Common Core, those states that want to opt out of it would then have a choice.

Jazz Shaw at Hot Air considers the likelihood of a bill getting through Congress:

The first question which jumps to mind is whether or not the GOP can even pass such reforms and, if so, would Barack Obama go along with it. The new Senate GOP majority will only need a handful of Democrats to bring it to a vote and the system has become so poisonous on the local level in many states that it shouldn’t be much of an issue. But will Obama sign it?

Probably not, but I’m an optimist so let’s say he does.  Then states might have an option to Common Core; well, wait.  For that reason alone, Obama probably won’t sign an education bill.  I’m also a realist.

Maybe the answer is to rewrite Common Core; the biggest problem with Common Core has been its implementation.  It should have had a rollout over several years, beginning in the lower grades and then following those students up to high school.  As a veteran teacher of eighteen years, I’ve watched my students struggle with the new PARCC alignment questions and shut down in frustration.  The stories about the math curriculum in particular have been tragic.

Another problem with Common Core has been PARCC itself; Pearson and Bill Gates:  what could go wrong?

But, my biggest problem with Common Core has been the assumption that every child begins on the same page and can meet the same academic benchmarks across the board, and if they don’t, the teacher is the failure, not the child.  There is certainly some merit to the tenet that certain basics should be met across the country at a certain level; that’s common sense.  But to assume that say, an inner city tenth grader who reads on a 3rd grade level, lives in a dilapidated home with no computer access, one parent who has to work the night shift just to keep the electricity on, and the child’s basic diet is Ramen noodles from the Circle K – to assume that child begins on the same level as the student with two college educated parents in a fine two-story home in the best part of town, who attends a magnet school with little discipline issues, who has a laptop and an iPad for school work, who has proper meals at proper times, well, that’s just naïve.

You have to be able to read before you can write a twelve page analytical research paper.

Can that inner city child achieve?  Of course he can. Look at Ben Carson.  But Common Core assumes they are all level right now.

The bottom line is that states, and local districts, need options, not a one-size-fits all program.  If the Republicans can come up with a plan that offers that, and get it passed, if they can come up with options from which districts can choose while still keeping high standards and accountability, then go for it.  I’m all in.


 Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.


Judson:  I’m agan it!

Daniel Boone:  I can’t think of a better reason to be for it.

Daniel Boone Ken-Tuck-E 1964

One of the things that have noticed in a decade of being on the next is how the word “troll” has been redefined.

It once was that a person referred to as a “troll” was used sparingly, only one whose provocation was bcene or completely without argument would be labeled such, even one who used sarcasm to make a point wasn’t considered a “troll”.

The idea was that the internet was this wonderful place where people could safely say what they thought and engage each other, maybe even persuade each other, without worry or fear.  Positively utopian.

What a quaint idea.

The reality is that in the early day of blogging and the net, you have a small subsection of the population (much like the crazy uncles)  who had something in common in the net and thus, to some degree were able to use that common connection to mitigate other reactions that might normally come.

But once the net, and blogging were found to be commercially viable, politically valuable,  and accessible to the vast majority of the public the realities of dealing with human beings trumped all.

1.  If you were trying to use the net for propaganda the last thing you want is someone contradicting you on your site, particularly since a contrary argument & the evidence to back is up is only a click away .

2.  If you are using the net for revenue and do not have a niche market, the last thing you want is anything that can threaten that revenue stream, such as anger, debate or controversy of any type.

3.  And of course you if have all the normal foibles and faults of humanity those foibles and faults are not going to go away just because.

Because of this we’ve reached the point where all it takes for someone to disagree in a comment thread, reply to a public twitter message or link a piece that you might have blogged to find yourself labeled as, at best a “troll” and at worst a “stalker”.

I think this is all nonsense so for the benefit of those sensitive types out there let me point out some basic facts.

1.  If your ideas are worth the pixels they are being displayed in then they should be able to handle critique, if they can’t the fault is not in your critics, but in you.

2.  If you put something out on the net available to the entire world then you have no business complaining when people in the world link to it, comment on it and ridicule you for it, that is what public speech is.  Blogs, listservs and twitter have private settings so you can limit your exposure to those who you wish to speak to, if that is your wish.

3.  If one choose to be anonymous on the net I dont’ care, but if you choose to try to deprive a person of their living and their livelihood be aware that there are thousands if not millions of people who can figure out who you are simply by a few google searches so act accordingly.

4.  Like all other freedoms they come with a price, freedom of expression does not mean you are free of the consequences of that expression.

5.  If you are that worried about what a bunch of strangers think of you on the net, you really need to get a life.

and finally

6.  All the various net platforms are all owned and run by someone, while people may think of them as a public platform unless you are paying for a subscription service you are playing in someone elses yard.  Even if I disagree with how they keep that yard if they are paying for it then they get to run it and if it’s their site and their comment section they can run it as they see fit.  If you don’t like this, there are plenty of places on the net where you can put up an opposing view.

As for me, let me repeat my own rules here:

1.  Comments that agree or disagree are welcome.  I expect you to not use vulgar language that I would not have in my house, or to at least edit it down.

2.  I like sarcasm & humor, even if directed at me, one of the joys of the English language is how it can be used in this way.  You will not be banned or blocked for that and if you can’t take a joke, well that’s on you.

3.  If you want to comment please have it be relevant to the topic of the post.  I dont’ mind you linking to your site or others but don’t just put an off topic link, stay on topic and you’ll be fine.

4.  If you want to spread what I consider calumny against a 3rd person not present do it elsewhere.

5.  There is no automatic comment approval here, I approve them all and might edit out profanity.  I reserve the right to edit but will not do so without

A.  giving you the chance to edit an objectionable comment first.

B.  Noting that said edit was done by me.

 6.  I have a life and I don’t have a smartphone that means that if you leave a comment and it’s not approved with 5 min it’s not because I’m ignoring you, it’s because I’m out, or on a contact job or away from the computer or asleep etc etc etc.

8.  Because my time lately has been at a premium and even when it’s not I’m a poor speller I will on occasion mangle a word or phrase or hit publish before I should, correction comments are most welcome.

9.  This isn’t the NYT, the layers of proofreaders at this site consists of me.  If you want to argue that my points or tweets are without merit because of bad spelling or grammar you are welcome to do so, and by the same token I’m welcome to make the point that you’ve got nothing in terms of an actual counter argument because if you did you’d use it.

Personally I think that if more people used rules like this we’d all be better off but if you disagree, that’s what the comments section or a link that refutes this post is for.  Have at it!