Oh, okay, that’s not the real title of the bill I’m about to discuss.

The Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013 (let’s dub it “SASA”) is eleven hundred fifty pages of stereo instruction.  After mentally ingesting most of it over the weekend, I’m wondering whether printing it out and physically ingesting it might have been easier.

This bill updates the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.  At times, it is a painful hash of subsection redesignations and language striking and insertions.  The rest of the time, it is just painful tedium.

SASA came to my attention a couple of months ago, when a warning popped up on Facebook about this bill interfering with homeschooling.  At the time, I found one website with news of its own:  SASA creates a national school board and changes the state implementation of Common Core from voluntary to mandatory.

Since then, I’ve kept an eye out for additional coverage, but I didn’t run into it any.  So, I stuck my nose into the text of the bill and half-heartedly attempted to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Well, I got buried in the chaff faster than a pig burrowing in a haystack.  Still, it was interesting to see the mutation of the law’s purposes from 1965 to 2013.  The changes are stunning.  For example, the first of the 1965 purposes was about making sure that parents, teachers, and administrators implemented challenging and measurable standards for students.

The 2013 version deletes that language, and instead sweepingly states that the law itself (i.e., the federal government) will be the one setting the expectations.  Those expectations include “critical thinking,” “deep content knowledge,” and “college and career readiness.”

Hey, guess what pops up when you google those phrases?  Come on now, the first two guesses don’t count.

That’s right, Common Core!

The bulk of SASA is a veritable grab-bag of bribe-tastic grant-awarding goodies, from the environmentally friendly “Green Ribbon Schools” (sec. 1133) to the creation of “21st Century Community Learning Centers,” (sec. 4107) which require a longer school day or a longer school year.  After finding twenty-eight different grant categories, I stopped counting.

Your state doesn’t have to apply for these grants.  So no, they aren’t being forced to do anything.  Wink, nudge.

I was a little confused as to why the federal government needed to give out more goodies, since most states already agreed to implement Common Core when they accepted Race to the Top money.

But then I noticed how Race to the Top is a more flexible program.  The state decides how much it wants to comply with the federal criteria before submitting the application.  If the application wins the competition, then the funds are dispersed even if all the federal criteria are not met.

SASA has no such leeway.  For example, under section 1201(e)(3)(E)(i), (page 260 of the PDF) an entity accepting a “Secondary School Reform” grant under Title I, Part B “Pathways to College,” shall “redesign academic content and instructional practices to align with high academic standards for all students, the criteria associated with admission to and success in postsecondary education, and the skills necessary to be successful in the workplace.”

Hey boys and girls, can you guess where lingo like that comes from?  First two guesses don’t count!

That’s right, Common Core!

The most detailed curricula requirements are in section 1111(a)(1).  This section is in “Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged,” page 36 of the PDF.  It is three pages long and referenced seventy times as the standard required in the rest of SASA.  Here my abridged version of it:



(1) REQUIREMENTS FOR COLLEGE AND CAREER READY STATE STANDARDS.—In order to receive a grant under this part, each State shall demonstrate the State meets the following requirements:


(i) The State shall not later than December 31, 2014, adopt college and career ready academic content standards in reading or language arts and mathematics that meet the requirements of clauses (ii) and (iii); and not later than the beginning of the 2015–2016 school year, adopt college and career ready student academic achievement that meet the requirements of clauses (ii) and (iv).

(ii) Each State plan shall demonstrate the State has adopted college and career ready academic content standards and college and career ready student academic achievement standards aligned with—(I) credit-bearing academic coursework, without the need for remediation, at public institutions of higher education in the State; and (II) relevant State career and technical education standards and the State performance measures under section 113(b) of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006;

(iii) College and career ready academic content standards shall be used by the State, and by local educational agencies, public elementary schools, and public secondary schools in the State, to carry out the requirements of this part; and be evidence-based and include rigorous content and skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills.”

Kind of funny, isn’t it, the way this bill is steeped in Common Core terminology, but never actually mentions it by name?

So the Education Freedom Committee is right.  S. 1094, The Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013, requires states that receive funds to use Common Core.

Also, SASA does create a brand new federal school board.  Well, technically it is called the Commission on Effective Regulation and Assessment Systems for Public Schools.

This commission is not confined to reviewing the grants offered under SASA.  Still, it appears to be a rather toothless affair.  Under Title X, section 10014, it has the power to hold hearings and make recommendations.  Under section 10015, it has the duty to take whatever actions necessary to gain full understanding of the issues of effective regulation and assessment systems for public schools.

Hmm.  Might be some teeth hidden in that sentence.  Anyway, the important thing is to simply establish the commission.  Mission creep will come along in due time.

Time for some good news!  First, as long as control of the House isn’t handed to the Democrats, SASA is unlikely to go anywhere.

Second, the bill does not attempt to regulate homeschool students.  In fact, SASA appears to keep the original language from the 1965 Act, which in 20 U.S.C. sec. 7886(b) states:

“Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to affect a home school, whether or not a home school is treated as a home school or a private school under State law, nor shall any student schooled at home be required to participate in any assessment referenced in this chapter.”

So we’ve got that going for us, anyway.  Have a great week everyone!

Update (DaTechGuy) Stacy & Michelle are also on this subject today.

Illinois may be the Land of Lincoln, but it is also the land of the corrupt George Ryan, Rod Blagojevich, Tony Rezko, and Jesse Jackson Jr.

In Chicago, thirty-one alderman have been convicted of crimes since 1972.

From “Honest Abe” to a national joke: What went wrong?

The root of the problem is ethnicity and Chicago. While the Irish were never the predominant group of immigrants in what has been the most populous city in the state since the 1840s, unlike the Germans–who were more numerous–the Irish spoke English and quickly inserted themselves into politics and government work. But in the old country they were reluctant subjects of Great Britain–government to them was an alien and often hostile force. So what’s the harm in stealing from it? That attitude crossed the Atlantic. Polish and Italians who came later had similar grievances. Poland was carved up by Russia, Prussia, and Austria in the 18th century–it didn’t regain its independence until 1918. Until sometime around 1980, there were more Poles living in Chicago than any city in the world–including Warsaw. The Italian immigrants who came to Chicago were mostly from the southern part of the peninsula or from Sicily–parts of Italy that didn’t care much for its royal family, the monarchy was abolished in 1946.

Blacks from the Deep South began migrating to Chicago in large numbers during World War I and the flow didn’t end until 1970. Victims of Jim Crow laws and worse, some African-Americans fell to the temptation of Chicago corruption too.

What about the rest of the state? Well, like an honest kid taking a test in a room full of cheaters–who gets a “B” while the cheaters get “A” grades, some downstaters threw up their hands and joined in the thievery. When he died in 1970, Illinois Secretary of State Paul Powell, who was from small town just north of the Ohio River, over $800,000 in cash was found in shoe boxes in his hotel suite near the state capitol.

In short, corruption has become a habit in my home state. In a small way, I’ve benefited from it. A great uncle of mine worked for the Cook County Forest Preserve District. He had dinner with my parents at our home–and he had such a wonderful time–he promised my parents a gift. The very next day Forest Preserve workers delivered a picnic table–with county markings on it, to our home. Many times I’ve eaten on that table.

As you know, a day before Rep. Fred Upton’s (R-MI) “Keep Your Plan” bill, designed to allow existing, soon-to-be-outlawed individual health insurance plans to be offered through the end of 2014, passed the House, President Barack Obama administratively said that those plans that were in effect as of October 1, 2013, would not be deemed as outlawed, “substandard” plans through 2014. Unfortunately, the method Obama chose has several points of failure that essentially ensures the scheme won’t work.

The first problem is common to all of the “keep your plan” schemes out there, including Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-WI) plan to extend the “grandfathering” to all plans in existence as of the end of this year and even Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) heavy-hand-of-federal-government mandate that insurance companies continue those plans for another year. It requires the insurance commissions of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia to allow the insurance companies to “un-cancel” the policies. As of Friday night, Yahoo News reported that while three states (Florida, Ohio and Kentucky) would allow insurance companies to “un-cancel” the policies they already sent cancellation notices out on, three states (Washington, Arkansas and Vermont) said they would refuse that request.

That leads to the second problem – even if the states allow the “un-cancellations”, insurance companies might not have enough time to recreate the old policies as the entire process, from policy creation to enrollment, would need to be complete in a month’s time. Already, the underwriters necessary to properly price those policies are being laid off. Still, some insurance companies, like Florida Blue, are going to at least try to re-issue their cancelled policies.

The biggest problem, in my opinion, is that it is an administrative rewrite of the law. That leaves the delay wide open to a legal challenge and eventual retroactive reversal, which I expect the new-to-the-market community organizers/”insurance” companies to pursue as they fail to get enough people signed up for their versions of ObamaCare. Other parts of the administration, specifically the EPA, have shown an incredible ability to use lawsuits filed by liberal comrades-in-arms to get via out-of-court settlement what they couldn’t get through the normal regulatory process.

The Arian Heresy is named after its founder – Arius – who was a presbyter in an urban parish in Alexandria, Egypt during the early part of the fourth century.  Arius put forth the view that Jesus Christ was not self-existent, eternal or of the same divine essence as God The Father.  Arius taught that Christ was the first-born and highest of the created order of created beings.

Arius’ doctrine placed him in stark opposition to the Apostles of Jesus who affirmed the Deity of Christ in the four Gospel narratives (confer with John 10:30  where Jesus states that “I and  The Father are One.”).

Arius interpretation errors were the result of the poor exegesis of certain Christological passages of Scripture such as Proverbs 8:22-36; this is an Old Testament Wisdom narrative which some scholars in the spirit of Origen’s figurative  mode of biblical interpretation could translate symbolically and erroneously put forth the teaching that JESUS the Son of God was a created being.

Arius’ doctrine reach a point of great influence in the Eastern part of the Catholic Church right at the time that the emperor Constantine granted the Christian Church the status of “religious tolerance” and “freedom from persecution” (313 A.D.).  Constantine hoped to reinvigorate the Roman Empire and he could not have the strongest institution in the empire – The Christian Church – being torn asunder by internal controversy.

Constantine’s solution to the Arius controversy was to propose a council of the entire Catholic Church to resolve this issue; this council became known as the Council of Nicea (325 A.D.).

At the council of Nicea, the Bishops present voted 323 to 2 against Arius’s teaching.  The Bishops declared that Jesus is begotten, not made and that His divine nature is of the same essence (homoousios) with God the Father.   Christ Jesus is not merely similar to Deity, but He is Deity.  The Bishops put together the great Nicene Creed which has stood as a bulwark against many heresies for more than 1650 years.

In many Churches throughout the globe, the Nicene Creed is repeated at every worship service.  This wonderful Creed helps to strengthen Christians as they walk with Christ and seek to fulfill His Divine mission in their lives.

May GOD richly bless each one of you as you seek to affirm the truth of Christ into your lives each and every day


Olimometer 2.52

The Good news is this week’s paycheck has cracked $100 and 30% barrier.

The bad news is that it’s at 32% we’re is a full $230 shot with under 24 hours to go

12 $20 tip jar hits can 9 $25 tip jar hits Or 2 $100 hits (which I count as subscriptions) will do the trick.

Help us make the first week of the Magnificent Seven Successful keep us on budget by hitting DaTipJar below.

Since 2010, the states one by one have been adopting the Common Core Standards in education. These standards were intended to bring uniformity of what was being taught across the nation. In other words, little Johnny who is in 3rd grade in Nebraska would be learning the same set of skills as little Susie in 3rd grade in Alabama. The standards were supposed to be rigorous and high reaching, but in reality have shown to be less rigorous than most state standards they are intended to replace. Instead of high reaching, the Common Core reaches more to the middle.  Fun fact to note here, the bulk of curriculum behind these standards wasn’t even written when the states adopted it.

The Common Core curriculum aligned lessons that have surfaced recently in the media and those landing on Facebook pages, Twitter and the like, have led many parents to wonder in horror exactly what little Johnny and Susie are learning. Case in point, a rather disturbing English lesson that is aligned with Common Core coming out of a South Milwaukee High School. In this lesson, kids are asked to decide who gets to get into a fictitious lifeboat based on religious and political views, race and sexual orientation.  Sounds like a Benetton ad gone horribly wrong, no?  Mind you, not all lessons you see popping up in the media like this one are specific to the Common Core curriculum. Some existed before the standards were adopted. Frankly, I don’t find comfort in either notion.



Twitchy has a close up of the text of the image in that tweet.


In this case, our kids might have to cheat in order to win with Core aligned lessons like this one.  I hence have dubbed this lesson The Identity Politics Kobayashi Maru. An alternative name in our universe might be ‘GOP Messaging Maru’.  Anyway, Captain Kirk beat it:

Another Kobayashi Maru style lesson teaches 4th grade kids about their “White privilege”.  EAG news looked at teaching guides being produced by the Zaner-Bloser company and found this reference to “White privilege” in the 4th grade section:


This guide is for 4th grade teachers, and it contains texts and lessons that have the common theme of “Meeting Challenges.”

This particular lesson is based on a book called “The Jacket.” The Zaner-Bloser folks obviously consider this an important book because they designed a two-week lesson plan for it.

The story centers around a young white boy named Phil who wrongly accuses an African-American student of stealing his brother’s jacket.

It’s a fun little book about racism and white privilege – a left-wing concept that teaches African Americans the values of American society are designed to benefit white people.


Lovely. Those doubting indoctrination can chew on that one.

For more facts and information on Common Core, I recommend checking out the site I contribute to in North Carolina called StopCommonCoreNC.org.


Of particular use is the resource page:



Rise in Home Schooling

Common Core designed and aligned or not, these lessons are likely playing a part of the rise in home schooling. The mere mention of the words ‘zero tolerance’ will make most people with kids cringe. Parents I’ve talked to who have pulled their kids out to home school directly cite the big reason for their switch being linked to wanting more control over the content of what their children were learning. One mother I spoke to said that, for her, watching the increasing government presence in their lives overall made her look more closely at the impact  of increasing government overreach was having on her children. That meant looking at the public school her three kids attended. They didn’t like the broad influences they saw and pulled their kids out.

Parents are looking for more customization for their children’s educations.  Glenn Reynolds wrote an article about that very concept of customizing your kid’s schooling.  Earlier this week, fellow M-7er Linda Szugyi mentioned this same article. We clearly have amazing taste in reading. Heh.  Back to Professor Reynolds.

The article was titled, How Home Schooling Threatens the Education Monopoly. Here is the opening, but read the whole thing:

“What about home schooling? You know, it’s not just for scary religious people any more.” That’s a line from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and it should strike fear into the hearts, not of vampires, but of public-school administrators everywhere.

The fact is, Americans across the country — but especially in large, urban school systems — are voting with their feet and abandoning traditional public schools, to the point that teachers are facing layoffs. Some are going to charter schools, which are still public but are run more flexibly. Some are leaving for private schools. But many others are going another step beyond traditional education, and switching to online school or even pure home schooling.


What the article doesn’t cover is the anxiety some moms out here have about taking that leap. Moms like yours truly, for example. So what’s holding me back?  This question opens up a new can of worms to possibly discuss and write about another time. Stay tuned. Hope you enjoyed my Magnificent Seven Debut!


Call me old-fashioned, but isn’t Christmas meant to be a celebration of the birth of Christ our Savior? A season of fellowship and the sharing of blessings?

Then what the hey are the Unemployed Philosophers thinking?

Grant you, the Unemployed Philosophers are my source for Obamacare Mints (“Take two and call me a socialist in the morning”), and the ever-popular Obama Disappointmints (“Is this change?”) which keep selling out but will be back in stock on 11/18/2013.

So why are the Unemployed Philosophers selling Che Guevara dolls in their “Little Thinkers” series? Che is next to Socrates and Abraham Lincoln, but then, so is the devil, who is closer, much closer, to Che than the other two.

Should the Unemployed Philosophers be known instead as the Ignorant and Callous Philosophers? Let’s take a look at the Cuba Archive on Che Guevara’s Forgotten Victims:

Che played a leading or supporting role in the summary execution of at least 21 persons in the Sierra Maestra; at least one shot by his own hand.

This is the guy who, in January of 1957, wrote to his then-wife, Hilda Gadea, to tell her that he was “Here, in the Cuban jungle, alive and thirsting for blood.” Indeed he was – the Cuba Archive has documented 22 executions ordered by Che over a period of three days in 1959 in Santa Clara, and 88 at La Cabaña Fortress. There are 216 documented murders by Che.

In addition to being a murderer, Che was a racist, a homophobe and an anti-Semite.

Just the guy to bring in Christmas cheer.

But hey, Che is cool to the Unemployed Philosophers (which may explain why they’re unemployed), so let’s have the Che ornament join the 2009 White House Mao ornament. Yes, the Mao Zedong was on a Christmas ornament, too – and at the White House! The same Mao who Che admired and from whom he adapted his formulation of guerilla warfare,

Che published influential manuals Guerrilla Warfare (1961) and Guerrilla Warfare: A Method (1963), which were based on his own experiences and partly chairman Mao Zedong’s writings. Guevara stated that revolution in Latin America must come through insurgent forces developed in rural areas with peasant support. His international legacy of glorifying violence through an erroneous analysis of guerilla warfare, based on his experiences with the Batista army, which was too incompetent and corrupt to fight, and applying Zedong’s writings on the subject led to bloodbaths in Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Chiapas, Congo, Angola and decades of military dictatorship and political violence.

Maybe Josef Stalin will drop by and join them to top the Christmas tree with a shiny red star.

(h/t Rare)

I just finished reading conservative talk-show host Larry Elder’s Dear Father, Dear Son: Two Lives… Eight Hours–an autobiographical story of Larry’s relationship with his father, Randolph. It’s a tough, unflinching and, ultimately, a tear-inducing read, one which I finished in two days.  Having listened to two incarnations of Larry’s LA-based radio show for many years, his spare, straight-forward “voice” comes through in the writing very strongly.

The life story of Randolph Elder is emblematic of an era of hardship, of poverty and overt racism.  The illegitimate child of an indolent and hard-hearted mother–he never found out who his biological father was–Mr. Elder was on his own at age thirteen.

But from that time until he was well into his eighties, he worked and worked and worked–using the strong back, skilled hands and innate intelligence that God gave him. And having taken on the responsibilities of a wife and producing three sons, he made it his business to see that they had what he wasn’t given—at least financially.

But, his adversity-born hardness and determination had a drawback: he did not know how to relate to his wife and his sons on a personal level. And this very sweet story written by his famous middle son, documents the hatred his children had for their father, the confrontation between Larry and Randolph, the reconciliation, and, most importantly, the love that these two men learned to feel and express toward each other.

Some politics are in the story, but they play only an incidental role; the primary topics in this story are communication, understanding and forgiveness.

God commands that His children honor their mother and father and, I believe that the younger Mr. Elder has, through writing this story, done so.  May we all be so blessed to understand and, if need be, forgive our parents.


As a general concept, homeschooling has a long history.  Private, in-home tutoring was quite normal in wealthy ancient Roman families.  The pioneers of the American west had to teach at home, at least until their settlement was big enough for a schoolhouse.

Homeschooling did not really begin as a modern cultural movement until the 1970s.  At that point a fellow named John Holt, a leftist and humanist educator, persuaded hippies to include homeschooling as part of life on the commune.

No matter what Holt’s political leanings were, I can’t help but agree with him:

“we must look beyond the question of reforming schools and at the larger question of schools and schooling itself.  Can they do all the things we ask them to do?  Are they the best means of doing it?  What might be other or better ways?”

John Holt’s influence is still strong today, embraced by a cross-section of homeschoolers who call themselves unschoolers.

Around the same time, Raymond Moore attracted socially conservative Christians to the idea of homeschooling, eventually getting the attention and approval of Focus on the Family’s Dr. James Dobson.

In the 1980s, the hippie generation mercifully ended.  Meanwhile, the conservative Christian brand of homeschooling flourished, and with it came the stereotype:  the fundamentalist homeschool family.

This stereotype continued throughout the 80s and the 90s, perhaps fairly so.  Even today, families who resemble the parody are not altogether uncommon at homeschool functions I have attended.

I have also found a genre of bloggers who describe their childhood experiences in isolationist homeschool families–a trauma they must overcome.  As firsthand accounts, they cannot be simply dismissed.  Yet, my firsthand experience tells me these cases are aberrant, not representative of the homeschoool community.

The hundreds of families I socialize (“S” word!) with on a regular basis are Christian, but they certainly aren’t isolated.  There is tremendous diversity of background, religious practice, and daily life.  On park day, teenagers roam together, sharing stuff from their smart phones.  The younger ones are running wild, having sword fights and climbing trees.

Also, it’s hard to find a homeschool parent who was actually homeschooled themselves as a child.  The ‘fundamentalists’ may have paved the way, but they no longer define the movement.  As Professor Reynolds noted, Buffy the Vampire Slayer herself once asked, “What about home schooling?  You know, it’s not just for scary religious people any more.”

Buffy was right.  Today’s homeschool community is less defined by religion than it ever has been before:

“Many parents do not like the emphasis on standardized tests; others remove their children because of bullying.  Others, like Pedersen-Giles, realize their children struggle when asked to sit at a desk for extended periods.”

Many of my peers have told me they are homeschooling because the traditional school wasn’t working for them.  Like me, they have experienced the calcified rigidity of an educational system that can no longer treat children as individuals.  Like me, they have experienced the time-consuming impositions of a traditional school system, whether public or private.  Like me, they have noticed that our education system seems more interested in indoctrinating our children than educating them.

Homeschooling has been embraced by a whole new swathe of the American population, for reasons beyond the origins of the practice.  A twelve-year veteran of homeschooling recently remarked to me about a STEM class my son attends, “Ten years ago, no one would have paid for a class like this.  Now we are so overwhelmed with interest that we have to cut off participation and turn people away.”

This new sort of homeschooler, it seems, just unplugs from the traditional school and plugs into local homeschool scene, where they enjoy athletics, academics, field trips, and the very novel concept of being in charge of their children’s education.

It’s almost like they are redefining the very idea of “school.”

I’m just glad to be a part of it.  I hope that sharing my experience helps someone out there, looking for some sanity in education.  Ironically, a family member recently told me I was ‘insane’ to homeschool.

The truth is, if you are willing to take the plunge, then sanity awaits.