An occasional series highlighting posts at the sites of my Magnificent Seven Writers (former and present)

Pat Austin at So it goes in Shreveport says the civil war is still being fought

You may recall that Mr. Epperson is attempting to have the Confederate Monument removed that stands in front of the courthouse on land given to the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1903.  I attended the Caddo Commission committee meeting when this was discussed and wrote about it here.  You can watch the video of that meeting here.  If you just want to skip to Mr. Epperson’s wandering, profanity laced tirade at the end, it starts at about 1:20 in the video.

Apparently Mr. Epperson’s wasn’t a big fan of Lincoln’s advice to “let em up easy” but nobody is more sore than a sore winner.

Earlier this month Juliette at Baldilocks wrote about a 2008 post whose point seems to be repeating itself

All too often these days, when the average person talks about principles, what they’re really talking about are their personal commodities—a fixed quantity to be sold under certain circumstances, with a finite set of buyers as well. Oh sure, this merchandise is labeled as “principles” but the definition of the word has become mutable–Truth become the Lie.

In her Carnival of Latin America at her blog Fausta provides evidence that History repeats itself:

Moscow Building Spy Site in Nicaragua. Signals intelligence facility part of deal for 50 Russian tanks (h/t Stephen Green). Not content with simply sending spy ships to Cuba, now

The Russian government is building an electronic intelligence-gathering facility in Nicaragua as part of Moscow’s efforts to increase military and intelligence activities in the Western Hemisphere.

While the MSM has no interest in the violence in Chicago At Marathon Pundit John Ruberry is keeping count:

It’s summer which sadly means that there will be more shootings in Chicago. This weekend seven people were shot to death and at least 48 others were wounded. Among the latter was a 19-year-old South Side woman who was shot twice shortly before noon on Saturday–she’s in critical condition.

At his site Author Tim Imholt PhD opines on some 80’s music that’s striking a familiar chord to him

Think about those words. We have two front runners in American politics for the 2016 Presidential election. Those are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Putting aside for a minute the thought that if these two are really the best, smartest, most qualified people in the nation for that job, we have a long way to go as a nation. Think about those words. These two political leaders are essentially living up to those words every day. Donald talks about himself more than anyone I know, and Hillary says look I held all these important positions with shockingly awesome titles. Perhaps Donald went bankrupt a lot and Hillary failed to perform in those jobs, but that’s beside the point. Politics is a show, and those two have people who have swarmed around that cult of personality in both cases. 

At Lady Liberty’s site AP Dillon doesn’t take sides in violent clashes between fascists but the MSM does

To me it looks like one fascist group attacking another fascist group. I’m not defending either side here, but the media is.  Google for news stories on the attacks and one can see the media has taken the side of BAMN.

One outlet cited the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) when describing who and what the Traditionalist Workers Party was. This is sadly hilarious, as SPLC helpsfund the UEAA, from which BAMN gets their money. Shockingly, the UEAA also gets money from Unions, but apparently not a lot according to UEAA’s 990 filings. Fun fact: When I called SPLC out yesterday on Twitter, they blocked me.

BAMN appears to be a far left, fascist style group who follows the rules of Saul Alinsky. From looking at their website, BAMN seems to believe that illegal immigrant sanctuary cities are not enough, whole states should be converted. Discover the Networks has some interesting history on BAMN.

It’s been a while since occasional contributor Jerry Wilson posted on his site, but that last post struck about Dawn Wisner Johnson struck a chord:

For the past few years, I’ve been working with, helping, and supporting a non profit – Forgotten Children – headed by my good friend, Paula Daniels. I never thought that this would hit so close to home.

Friends, please take a moment to watch this interview with a victim that escaped. If you don’t have the time to do that, would you “like” this post? The more likes, the more people will see it.

I’m also very sad that when I post on Facebook about human trafficking I may get 5 “likes.” Yet, when I post about my vacations or family, 50 to 100 “likes”. How sad that is to me.

People don’t like to be reminded of unpleasant realities, because it implies a need to do something about it

It’s been a while since Linda Suzuki blogged here and her site No one of Any import hasn’t seen much action lately either but this post is a great summary of the duties of a parent:

Here’s why:  I have NO opinion about my children’s future.  Unless:

  • They get hooked on illegal drugs
  • They sell illegal drugs
  • Their spouses get hooked on or sell illegal drugs
  • They abuse their spouses
  • Their spouses abuse them
  • They turn to other criminal activity as a source of income
  • They refuse to work, instead living off the government teat
  • They expect me & my husband to continue supporting them indefinitely
  • They irresponsibly go into large amounts of debt in a pursuit of unrealistic dreams

The end.  If none of the above apply, and my children are above 18, then I am a satisfied parent.

The job of a parent is to teach kids to be adults Linda seems to get it.


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linda thumbThrough the 4 Magnificent Seven Movies there were always casualties among the seven but the one character that was in every movie was Chris played by Yul Brenner (Magnificent Seven, Return of the Seven) , George Kennedy (Guns of the Magnificent Seven) and Lee Van Cleef (The Magnificent Seven ride)

It’s ironic that among DaTechGuy’s Magnificent Seven Chris is the first to fall.

I assigned my magnificent Seven names from the movie based on when they joined, for example Pastor George Kelly is Chico because he was the last of my seven to sign on, the first of the seven was Linda of the blog No One of Any Import and thus she became Chris.

Linda is both a military vet and wife mired in a blue state, her husband has just come home from deployment and she is also homeschooling her kids. She has been doing a lot, so much that she has neglected her own excellent blog while continuing here but now that has become just too much for her

I have enjoyed this opportunity to be a paid writer. I have loved the camaraderie with fellow Magnificent Seven members.

But I’m tired.

In a few months, my husband will begin negotiating for a new set of orders. This will be our last summer in Florida. I’d like to drive around and see some of it while we have the chance. In three months, I’ll be back to signing up for volunteer positions, shuffling the children to various classes and sports, and trying to stuff Saxon and Sonlight into their brains. Experience is teaching me that I need to put more of my creativity into the curricula stuffing, instead of the blogging.

Linda was worth considerably more than every penny I paid her, her writing was an excellent contribution to this site. She brought a perspective I didn’t have and made this site better.

Her departure left Monday without a paid writer, fortunately we had two excellent Sunday writers so Pat Austin of And so it goes in Shreveport has traded her Sunday Evening posting time for Monday afternoons and has, as expected done an excellent job, I’m pleased and proud to have her here.

LindaBut Linda was my first paid writer, back in November she wrote the first paid post on this blog and her pieces on homeschooling, in fact all of her posts are as far as I’m conerned required reading.

I owe Linda a debt of thanks. She will be missed and as far as I”m concerned she will always be a person of great import.

She will be missed

LindaThe 2013-14 school year is officially over in our household.  One of the unexpected perks of homeschooling has been the change in my view of summer break.  Instead of oh no what am I going to do with the kids all summer, I feel more like thank goodness I can do things other than school with the kids all summer. 

I’ve heard folks refer to our suburb of Tampa as “Disney World for homeschoolers,” and man they aren’t kidding.  It’s dizzying, the number of homeschool groups and classes available.  Feeling blessed to be here, I threw myself into the community wholeheartedly.  Sure, I can be Box Top coordinator.  Yes, I’ll help run Older Son’s basketball team.  Let’s organize a field trip to the history museum where Older Son volunteers.  Say, let’s try being a craft leader!

The last one is especially funny because I am about as crafty as dirt.  It’s hard to remember now, but I think at sign-up my thought process went something like this:  I remember the craft tables at the parties last year.  They are quick stops for the kids if they are actually idle enough for a little busy work.  I can do that.

Turns out, the kind of ladies that tend to sign up for crafts are the ones that actually, you know, enjoy doing crafts.  These Martha Stewarts are nice enough, but they expect a great deal of forethought and preparation.  Also mandatory meetings.  With samples.

In between all this, of course, I am shuffling children to various classes and sports practices.  With whatever time is left over, I am trying to stuff some Saxon and Sonlight curricula into their brains.  Grocery shopping (not with coupons! the boys would beg) and vet trips get squeezed in there somewhere.  It’s a real juggling act, and I’m not much of a juggler.

These are good problems to have.  It’s been a great year.  Words cannot express how grateful I am for the families who realized that the existing school system was failing their children, and in response essentially built their own from scratch.  I don’t think I would have survived without the support system they already had in place.

Anyhow, there is a point to my rambling.  I say all this to explain why I am stepping away from Da Tech Guy’s blog.

I’m tired.

I have enjoyed this opportunity to be a paid writer.  I have loved the camaraderie with fellow Magnificent Seven members.

But I’m tired.

In a few months, my husband will begin negotiating for a new set of orders.  This will be our last summer in Florida.  I’d like to drive around and see some of it while we have the chance.  In three months, I’ll be back to signing up for volunteer positions, shuffling the children to various classes and sports, and trying to stuff Saxon and Sonlight into their brains.  Experience is teaching me that I need to put more of my creativity into the curricula stuffing, instead of the blogging.

Who knows where the Navy will send us next.  Soon, I will need to put more of my time into preparing to move, instead of researching politics.

Thank you Peter, fellow Magnificent Seven writers, and every single reader.  You have encouraged and enlightened me.  I will still post at my home blog from time to time.  And like a bad penny, I may keep turning up here at Da Tech Guy, too.

by Linda Szugyi

My experience with education is a love/hate relationship.  In elementary school, I loved getting ‘A’s, reading books, and writing poetry.  (I wanted to be a poet when I grew up.)  I remember adoring the standardized test at the end of the year.  It was so exciting:  the solemnity, the necessity of filling the bubbles neatly, the fun of trying to deduce the answer when choices were unclear (darn you T/F problems, I see grey in almost everything!), and the thrill of competing with every same-grade student for that top percentile standing.

But I hated the tendency schools have to be bureaucratic, even before I knew the word ‘bureaucratic.’  Rules that didn’t make sense, either as a practical matter or as a matter of justice, burned me up with anger.  The application of rules in an overly dogmatic manner did the same thing.  The smaller and more inconsequential the rule, the worse it was somehow.

A good example is the kindergarten teacher’s assistant who made me turn the picture I was coloring right-side-up.  It was a picture of a toy soldier.  She said he can’t march while standing on his head.  Good grief lady, I am left-handed and it’s hard to color while the paper is in that position! is what I would have said if I had the wisdom to do so, which I did not.  So I just tried to finish the picture without crying, and didn’t really understand why her nonsensical rule upset me so much.

The other thing I hated was the tedium.  The reading comprehension questions at the end of a short story were often so banal, so lame, that the requirement to think up and write down complete sentences in response made me, once again, burn with anger.  Good grief, why are you wasting my time? is what I would have said if I had the wisdom to do so, which I did not.  So I just tried to answer the questions as quickly as possible, and didn’t really understand why sometimes, the end-of-reading questions made me so mad I wanted to scribble them out with dark, forceful strokes of my #2 pencil.

I hope all this doesn’t sound like a brag about being too smart or too much of a special, special flower for school.  My point may be even worse than bragging, though.  My point is that every kid is too smart for schools as they currently operate and have operated for several decades.  That is, all children have their own unique strengths and weaknesses.  A rigid approach to educating these unique individuals will inevitably mute some strengths while exacerbating some weaknesses in every child who endures it.

This complaint is hardly new, of course:

That’s why Common Core proponents have a point when they ask, why in the world do you assume a national set of standards and testing will be so different from the state standards and testing already in place?

Common Core is worse, what with all of its copyright limitations and data-collecting spookiness.  But much of it is nothing different from what has gone on for a long time.  If anything, it’s the next logical step, given the direction we’ve allowed our education experts to march for so long.  Proponents are probably quite bewildered by the way the name “Common Core” has unleashed a backlash that keeps spreading like wildfire.

In a sense, all Common Core did to ignite this wildfire was finally provide a label–a name for something most of us never really understood, but which nevertheless gave us an inchoate, uneasy feeling first about our own education, and later about the education of our children.  I can hardly blame Common Core proponents for reacting, in their bewilderment, by calling critics things like hysterical, or overprotective white suburban moms.

Wait a minute.  Yes I can.

Anyway, the problem with American education is older and deeper than Common Core:

“The current debate about whether we should have a national curriculum is phony; we already have one, locked up in the six lessons I’ve told you about and a few more I’ve spared you. This curriculum produces moral and intellectual paralysis, and no curriculum of content will be sufficient to reverse its bad effects. What is under discussion is a great irrelevancy.”

John Taylor Gatto wrote those words in 1991.

“In our dreams . . . people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands.  The present educational conventions [of intellectual and moral education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk.  We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science.  We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters.  We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen – of whom we have an ample supply.  The task we set before ourselves is very simple . . . we will organize children . . . and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.”

John Rockefeller’s General Education Board penned those words in 1906.

I know there is no perfect solution.  There will always be times in both childhood and adulthood when we have to put up with some boredom or other discomfort.  I’m not suggesting a sunshine and rainbows world where the children run free in the meadow all day, and yet still magically learn how to be musicians, doctors, electrical engineers, and all the other things we need them to be in the future.

But the education system in America today has become so calcified that it harms not just special little flowers like me, but even the more resilient among us.  Can you imagine any seven-year old resilient enough to handle getting handcuffed at school for having a nonviolent meltdown, for example?

We are unfortunately forced by circumstances to focus on Common Core and its repeal in state legislatures.  It is unfortunate because by doing so, we are focusing on merely a symptom of the problem, instead of the problem itself.  After all, if tomorrow every state in the union repealed Common Core and burned every page of Common Core-aligned material, our schools would still be a hot mess.

I hate to admit it, but the real problem . . . is us.  The parents.  We need to realize that our reliance on education experts and their academia-speak is an impediment to learning.  We need to realize that teaching from a script written by those experts is a phony kind of teaching that sucks the air out of a classroom.  We need to accept the fact that there is no magic formula that the school system can apply in order to open every child’s mind to learning.

Homeschooling parents are included in this problem, by the way.  We have a hard time trusting our own judgment and abilities, where education is concerned.  We are just as prone to rely on experts as everyone else.  That’s why homeschoolers tend to research, analyze, and discuss curricula until they are blue in the face, always searching for the elusive “best curriculum” and “best teaching style” for their children.  Homeschoolers often end up reading from a script, too.  That script may be more ideologically to our liking, but it can also be as awkward and phony as a Common Core lesson.

I should know.  I’ve tried to use the detailed teacher instructions and worksheets included in Sonlight curricula for two years, and I’ve felt guilty for the times I’ve skipped them.  I’m not criticizing the Sonlight product–they assemble a wonderful assortment of textbooks and fiction that weave together a rich and engaging story.  I’m criticizing my own over-reliance on the supplemental material.

Anne Sullivan didn’t succeed in teaching Helen Keller because she was an expert, or because she relied on expert material.  She succeeded because she had a gift for teaching and a passion to do whatever it took to open Helen’s mind.  In the long-term, the only real solution lies within this kind of individual passion.  Whether it’s public school or homeschooling, the solution will always be found where the rubber hits the road–a teacher passionately sharing knowledge, and a student striving to gain it.

We can’t get there from here.  First, we have to get rid of the Common Core threat to teacher autonomy.  Next, No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top need repealing.  Heck, just go ahead and shut down the Department of Education.  Only then can the states work without their hands tied, and find their own ways to reward the talented, passionate teachers who open our children’s minds, and either retrain or fire the rest.

Even then, such fixes won’t succeed unless we parents fix ourselves.  The pro-Common Core education experts currently hold sway because we ceded to them the responsibility of knowing what’s best for our children.  We gave them the power they now abuse.

Here are Part One and Two, if you haven’t read them yet.  On to Part Three of my response to the pro-Common Core memo that supposedly refutes the anti-Common Core movie, Building the Machine . . .

Fordham Fact Sheet

4.  “ASSERTION: THE COMMON CORE WILL MAKE OUR CHILDREN ‘MACHINES’ AND TAKE AWAY THE LOCAL CONTROL  UNDER WHICH OUR DIVERSE NATION THRIVES. FACT: LOCAL TEACHERS, DISTRICTS, AND STATES ARE TASKED WITH FIGURING OUT HOW THE HIGHER STANDARDS OF THE COMMON CORE ARE REACHED.”

Here we have either sloppy or sly writing.  Take your pick.  Instead of engaging in a straightforward debate, the author of Fordham’s ‘Fact Sheet’ mischaracterizes the message in Building the Machine.  The author chooses to claim the movie makers think “Common Core will make our children ‘machines.'”

Which sounds silly.  Perhaps that’s the point.

If you watch the movie, you’ll see that the whole point is that Common Core treats our children like machines.  In other words, the ‘one size fits all’ approach to education will fail many children because it doesn’t take into account their individual needs.

It’s a valid point.  Perhaps it could be a legitimately debated point, if the Fact Sheet author offered evidence that states which adopt Common Core standards can and will apply them in a flexible, individualistic manner.

I find it rather telling that the author doesn’t offer such evidence.  Common Core is already applied in classrooms all over the nation.  You’d think that at the very least, an anecdotal story would illustrate their point.  Unless . . . the common experience in Common Core classrooms more closely matches a rigid, robotic treatment of students, like they are machines assembled on a conveyor belt.  By the way, the rigid, ‘conveyor belt’ treatment is the very experience that Terrence O. Moore witnessed when he observed classrooms while researching for The Story Killers.

Even before the advent of Common Core, the newest and brightest ideas about teaching nowadays are all about the script.  Spontaneity and unscripted learning are discouraged.

Okay.  I’ve only addressed the first part of Fordham Institute’s ASSERTION #4.  The Fact Sheet author also says Building the Machine claims that Common Core “take[s] away local control under which our diverse nation thrives.”

Again, the memo author has tweaked his opponent’s argument.

The point in Building the Machine isn’t that state control has been taken away.  Rather, the point is that if all states choose to be governed by the same standards, then our nation will lose an inherent benefit of its structure:  the innovation that comes from diverse groups tackling issues in their own way.

It’s a valid point.  It could be legitimately disputed, if the Fact Sheet author offered evidence that states will still innovate when applying the Common Core Standards.  It’s telling that no such evidence is offered.  Perhaps that is because the Common Core Standards are copyrighted.  States that adopt them are legally prevented from changing them.

In other words, innovation is contractually illegal.

Okay.  I’ve finally reached the Fordham Institute’s FACT #4.  It’s a basic restatement of the oft-repeated claim that Common Core isn’t a curriculum.

On this point, the Fordham Institute is correct:  the standards are not a curriculum.  The standards themselves don’t say what bodies of knowledge children must be learning while the teacher leads them towards the learning goals described in the Common Core Standards.

There is a back door for a national curriculum, however.  It’s in Appendix B, where the Common Core authors suggest texts.  They are only suggestions, of course.  So what’s wrong with that?

Well.  Who decides whether to use those suggestions?  The teachers?  Nope.  If the classic novel that they have taught for years is no longer deemed to be in their students’ Lexile level, then it is not allowed to be taught.  The districts and states may be claimed to have authority, since they are the ones choosing the textbooks, i.e., the curricula.  Here we encounter another back door, however.  It’s not like there is a lot of diversity in textbook choice these days.

And guess what the “Big Three” are doing these days?  That’s right, becoming Common Core Aligned, and adopting the curricula suggestions in the Common Core appendix.  Handy that.  Common Core proponents can claim that nothing is forced, because it’s not forced.  It’s just orchestrated.

The whole point of “forced v. orchestrated” is a mere side issue, anyway–a distraction from the real problem.  Regardless of how voluntary and/or well-meaning Common Core is or is not, the real problem is the fact that the Common Core Standards are garbage.  Common Core Standards will serve only to further calcify an education system that is already rigid with bureaucratic bloat.

Linda

P.S. Did you notice the reference in FACT #4 to Common Core Standards as “higher?”  What the devil happened to FACT #2:  “The benchmarks are a floor, not a ceiling?”

These education experts can’t seem get through a single memorandum without contradicting themselves.

Lindaby Linda Szugyi

Where was I? Oh yes, The Fordham Institute’s Common Core Movie Fact Sheet, and its thirteen rebuttals to points made in the anti-Common Core movie, Building the Machine.

I covered the first two points last week.  On to Fordham Institute’s point and rebuttal number three:

3.  “ASSERTION: ‘THE COMMON CORE DISINCENTIVIZES PARENT INVOLVEMENT. IT STOPS PARENTS FROM A DEEP AND ABIDING INTEREST IN THEIR CHILD’S EDUCATION.’  FACT: WITH STANDARDS, PARENTS CAN CLEARLY ASSESS IF THEIR CHILD IS BEING CHALLENGED TO GAIN THE SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE NEEDED TO SUCCEED IN COLLEGE OR CAREER.”

The problem here is the assumption that all standards are helpful.  Of course, generally speaking, people can better track their progress in anything–education, building a house, or cooking a stew, as examples–if they have some instructions to follow and some checkpoints to compare.

But come on.  Which is going to be the easier stew recipe to follow?  The plain-written one, or the one that carries on ad nauseam about the level of seasoning complexity, the integration of tubers and nightshades, and the importance of having diverse ingredients?

In order for standards to be helpful to parents, they first have to be readable.  Yet, the Common Core Standards are phrased in as verbose and convoluted a manner as possible.  Have a look at them, if you haven’t yet.  Even simple things like listening and holding a conversation are expressed in complex, high-sounding terminology.

Phony claptrap may intimidate some parents, but it shouldn’t.  It should be derided as just another from of legalese.  We can call it “expertese.”  As a culture, we’ve been ceding authority to the self-appointed experts of child-rearing and education for far too long.  Our experts have turned into naked emperors.

The unnamed author of the Fact Sheet feebly attempts to support the dubious FACT #3 (parents can clearly assess their children with Common Core Standards), by reminding us that states had their own standards before Common Core, and parents didn’t complain about them.

parts is parts Wendy's ad“What’s the big deal?  Standards are standards,” seems to be the implicit argument.  I’m reminded of that old Wendy’s ad about the competitors’ chicken sandwich:  Parts is parts!

In this one regard, the Fact Sheet is correct.  We should have been complaining about our ridiculously unhelpful state standards.  It took the foisting of a national set of unhelpful standards for us to sit up and take notice.  As I’ve said before, Common Core doesn’t invent the lousy education, it just nationally standardizes it.

The most interesting part of the Fact Sheet’s argument in #3 is an off-hand use of the word “knowledge”:

“The existence of standards enables parents to clearly track if their child is gaining the necessary knowledge and skills to be ready for college or career.”

Gaining the necessary knowledge?  I have noticed that the Common Core Standards don’t cover knowledge; they only cover skills.  Therein lies the basis for the oft-repeated claim that Common Core does not influence the curricula, i.e., the substance of the information taught in the classroom.  Therein also lies their pointless nature, for the skills they purport to assess are skills that humans tend to naturally acquire in the process of attaining knowledge.

Whether the knowledge is gained from experience or books, the skill to apply that knowledge is an innate part of the human experience.  The question then becomes, what bodies of knowledge will best hone the natural human tendency to apply knowledge by creating, by making decisions, and by communicating with others?

To answer this question, Common Core has suggested texts in Appendix B.  Analyzation of these suggestions is best left for another time, and in fact has already been done by Terrence O. Moore.  You really should buy his book.  It’s called “The Story-Killers” for a reason.  Suffice it to say that the folks who publish “Common Core-aligned” textbooks think it’s more important for high schoolers to read a Saturday Night Live parody of Frankenstein than it is to actually, you know, read the classic novel itself.

Wow.  Class is over already, and I covered only #3 of the thirteen “assertions and facts” in the Fordham Institute’s “Fact Sheet.”  I’ll have to pick up with #4 next week.  Just remember, learning is an innate part of being human, but the traditional school experience has a tendency to crush it.

Here’s my bio.  I am an over-educated, stay-at-home-mom who is only just now learning how to be a life-long learner.  I’m finishing up my second year of  experimenting upon homeschooling my two boys, who are currently 6th and 3rd graders, and I’m well fed-up with experts who have no common sense.  If you enjoy Da Tech Guy’s blog but have not yet subscribed, please do so.  That is all.

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LindaTo: The Folks at the Fordham Institute

From: Linda Szugyi

Re: Your Common Core Movie Fact Sheet

Fordham Fact Sheet

Fordham’s Fact Sheet lists thirteen ‘facts’ to counter thirteen ‘false assertions’ in the HSLDA movie about Common Core, Building the Machine.  Here are the first two.  I will continue with the rest in later posts.  My comments are italicized.

1. ASSERTION: THE COMMON CORE WILL NOT BENEFIT CHILDREN.  FACT: NO LONGER WILL A ZIPCODE BE THE LEADING INDICATOR OF WHAT ACADEMIC GOALS A CHILD IS EXPECTED TO REACH.

Since the goal of advancing educational excellence is embedded on Fordham’s logo, the author of this fact sheet probably knows that neither the assertion nor your refutation are statements of fact.  They are both opinion.  I may not be on the staff of an education policy think tank, but I’ve seen the “fact v. opinion” lesson over and over.  My older son’s curricula emphasized it every year, beginning in 1st grade.  The skill of distinguishing between fact and opinion is a favored educational subject these days, and it is fully incorporated in the Common Core Standards.

Perhaps next time, Fordham’s fact checker will follow the example of Mr. Farris, a man who knows the difference between conflicting evidence and differing opinions:  “I think that on balance [David Coleman‘s] proposals are not for the good of the public schools . . . he wants to try to improve the public school system.  He genuinely believes that systemization, centralization, and data collection are good things for kids.” (Building the Machine, 32:00-32:40)

2.  “ASSERTION: THE STANDARDS ARE TOO LOW OR, ALTERNATIVELY, TOO HIGH.  FACT: THE STANDARDS PROVIDE ACADEMIC BENCHMARKS BY GRADE. IF THE BENCHMARKS ARE ACHIEVED, A STUDENT WILL BE READY FOR COLLEGE OR CAREER. THE BENCHMARKS ARE A FLOOR, NOT A CEILING.”

It’s a floor, not a ceiling, so of course a student can learn more than the standards require.  Except, wait a minute.  Common Core is advertised as rigorous, “informed by the highest standards,” and “informed by the top performing countries.”

So which is it?  Are they the minimum required, or are they “new demands” and “high expectations?”  Logic dictates that they cannot be both a floor and a ceiling at the same time.  By the way, the skill of exercising logic is also fully incorporated in the Common Core Standards.

The folks at Fordham want us to believe that the Common Core standards are like Mamma Bear’s porridge: “just right!”  Um, guys.  You are trying to impose a single set of standards on every public school kid in America.  There are a lot of public school kids in America.  They have very diverse life experiences and goals.  How in the world are those standards going to be “just right” for every single one of them?

Bonus:  here is one of the authors of Common Core, explaining how the standards are too low for students who plan to either enter a STEM field of study or apply for a prestigious, competitive university:

The Fordham Fact Sheet carries on at length about students performing poorly in math, but how exactly does the existence of this problem prove Common Core is the solution?  It does not follow.  Here’s some remedial work for Common Core proponents:  a CC-aligned lesson on logical fallacies.

Here’s the third assertion/fact to chew on:

3.  ASSERTION: “THE COMMON CORE DISINCENTIVIZES PARENT INVOLVEMENT. IT STOPS PARENTS FROM A DEEP AND ABIDING INTEREST IN THEIR CHILD’S EDUCATION.”  FACT: WITH STANDARDS, PARENTS CAN CLEARLY ASSESS IF THEIR CHILD IS BEING CHALLENGED TO GAIN THE SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE NEEDED TO SUCCEED IN COLLEGE OR CAREER.

I’ll pick up with this one next week.  Hint:  I think I see some false premises in there . . .

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Olimometer 2.52

The time has come to ditch the weekly goal to focus on the monthly figure, that’s where the real action is at.

In order for this to be a viable full-time business this blog has to take in enough to make the mortgage/tax payment for the house (Currently $1210 monthly) and cover the costs of the writers writing here (another $255)

As of this writing 7 AM EST we need $1278 to meet this goal by April 30th.

That comes out 51 people kicking in $25 over the rest of the month or basically three people a day.

I think the site and the work done here is worth it, if you do too then please consider hitting DaTipJar below .

Naturally once our monthly goal is made these solicitations will disappear till the next month but once we get 61 more subscribers  at $20 a month the goal will be covered for a full year and this pitch will disappear until 2015.

Consider the lineup you get for this price, in addition to my own work seven days a week you get John Ruberry (Marathon Pundit) and Pat Austin (And so it goes in Shreveport)  on Sunday  Linda Szugyi (No one of any import) on Monday  Tim Imholt on Tuesday,  AP Dillon (Lady Liberty1885) Thursdays, Pastor George Kelly fridays,   Steve Eggleston on Saturdays with  Baldilocks (Tue & Sat)  and   Fausta  (Wed & Fri) of (Fausta Blog) twice a week.

If that’s not worth $20 a month I’d like to know what is?

 

Lindaby Linda Szugyi

Today, I watched Building The Machine, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association’s documentary about Common Core.  Then I spent most of the rest of today researching the latest on Common Core.

Frankly, I’ve spent more hours than I care to count researching Common Core.  Then researching a little more.  Then writing about it.  Then writing about it again.  And then, for variety, writing about it some more.

I ran into a name that’s new to me:  Professor Willingham, Ph.D.  While not a Common Core fan, he warns against vitriol in the debate:

“Of all the bloggers, pundits, reporters, researchers, etc. I know, I can think of two who I would say are mean-spirited–both of them unrelentingly vitriolic, I’m guessing in some wretched effort to resolve personal disappointments.

Of the remaining hundreds, all give every evidence of sincerity and of genuine passion for education.

So this is a call for fewer blog postings that, implicitly or explicitly,  denigrate the other person’s motives, or that offer a knowing nod with the claim “we all know what those people think.”

I have a different take on that, though.  There are times to take your opponents seriously, and there are times when their claims warrant mockery.  It is ridiculous to claim that college and career readiness are one and the same.  Your claims have no weight when they involve foil-hat insults.  It is foolish to force an untested scheme on school children nationwide, and simply hope for the best.  It is ridiculous to largely refuse to take part in a documentary, and then attempt to claim that said documentary is spurious.

I highly recommend reading Professor Willingham’s article about one of the key concepts of Common Core:  critical thinking.  In it, he explains why ‘critical thinking’ is not simply another teachable skill, and why the act of critical thinking is dependent on subject matter knowledge.  In another worthwhile read, he explains that reading strategies (once the bane of my son’s existence) can do more harm than good.

A couple of years ago a public school teacher told me that all children need to use reading strategies, or else they won’t understand what they are reading.  This teacher was older than me, and “reading strategies” weren’t a thing when we were in school.  Yet, somehow we learned how to understand what we read.  A fact like this should speak for itself.

But a lack of common sense today is preventing folks from seeing the obvious.  So they give weight and credence to ideas that don’t withstand scrutiny.  With the application of a little common sense (and dare I say, critical thinking) the experts would realize an issue as complex as education cannot be ironed out by a single set of standards:

“Obviously schooling is complex, with a number of interacting factors that contribute to student outcomes. . . . [A] problem in one part of the system might mask positive change in another part of the system, just as repairs to the electrical system of a car might appear to have no effect if the fuel system also needs repair.

There seems to be no recognition of this possibility in education policy, which is evaluated on a system-wide basis.  No Child Left Behind was a complex law with ramifications at every level of the educational system.  Yet the autopsy is seldom more nuanced than ‘it didn’t work.'”

Dr. Willingham’s words remind me of Hayek’s warnings against centralized planners acting on the pretense of knowledge.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has created a pro-Common Core video in response to the HSLDA video.  Somehow, four minutes of cheerleading is supposed to refute everything in HSLDA’s documentary.  Don’t take my word for it.  Watch both videos and decide for yourself, as a test of your critical thinking skills.  Maybe later, I’ll gin up a standardized test to fully evaluate your college and career readiness.

Time for the bio!  I’m Linda.  We used to pay for private school, until horrible things like “clothes hanger book reports” and “reading strategies” drove both me and Older Son crazy.  That didn’t seem like a good bargain.  So for now I’m homeschooling.  We’ll see what education choices our next PCS brings . . . say that reminds me.  Do you know what is a good bargain?  A Tech Guy subscription!  The button is right below these words.

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Olimometer 2.52

It’s Monday and based on yesterday’s take of $2 our consecutive streak of failing to make our $365 weekly goal is in no danger.

I do promise you if you do hit DaTipJar and help us get to our $365 weekly goal I’ll keep fighting like Mrs. Palin.  I’m not as valuable to the conservative movement as her but I’ll continue to do my part.

 

 

If 61 of you hit Subscribe at $20 a month subscribers this site will be able to cover its bills for a full year.

For that you not only get my work seven days a week but consider the lineup you get for that price, including John Ruberry (Marathon Pundit) and Pat Austin (And so it goes in Shreveport)  on Sunday  Linda Szugyi (No one of any import) on Monday  Tim Imholt on Tuesday,  AP Dillion (Lady Liberty1885) Thursdays, Pastor George Kelly fridays,   Steve Eggleston on Saturdays with  Baldilocks (Tue & Sat)  and   Fausta  (Wed & Fri) of (Fausta Blog) twice a week.


 

Lindaby Linda Szugyi

Today’s liberals want kids to be thoroughly educated about sex, and as soon as possible.  After all, education is not the enemy.  Ignorance is.

There is some truth to that, of course.  If teenagers learn only that you shouldn’t do it, period! and yet they choose to do it anyway, they might worsen their situation through ignorance.  It wasn’t sexual intercourse; it was just oral! says the young woman who still manages to get an STD.

This truth is what makes “sex ed” such a sticky wicket.

It’s telling, though, how the left’s interest in education ends once the sex act results in pregnancy.  When the stick turns blue, the curiosity is gone.  Similar to the way in which a Christian might be claimed to over-emphasize abstinence, the pro-choice crowd pushes a glossed-over, incomplete picture that over-emphasizes their preferred choice: A baby is punishment.  It’s a myth that women regret abortionAbortion is a common female experience.  Don’t worry, abortion carries no moral implications.

Sure, there is some lip service to the idea that abortion is an important decision.  The key to exposing the pro-choice desire for women to remain ignorant about what’s really going on inside them is not in what they say, however.  The key is found in their fervent adherence to this commandment: Thou Shalt Not Mention What Shall Not Be Mentioned.

The pro-choice crowd follows this commandment faithfully.  As a result, abortion must be phrased in abstract terms.  It’s about choice!  It’s reproductive freedom!  “Choice” is most certainly not about a baby.  Nor a fetus, nor even an embryo.  It is a pregnancy, and pregnancies can be ended, without tough moral dilemmas.

The pro-choice reliance on ignorance is in full effect when they protest laws that require the abortionist to show the ultrasound to the mother before an abortion is performed.  It’s rape!  Rape I tell you!  Nevermind the fact that the ultrasound is a routine part of the abortion procedure, regardless of whether the mother actually gets the opportunity to see it.

Their reliance on ignorance is also seen in the way the media studiously avoids covering one of the most horrific serial killers in history:  Kermit Gosnell.

empty seats reserved for media at Gosnell trial
This Criminal Trial Is Not Worthy Of News Coverage

The lovely Irish duo who brought us the documentaries Not Evil Just Wrong and FrackNation want to rectify this glaring omission.  They have started a very ambitious crowd-sourcing effort to make a movie about Kermit Gosnell and his crimes.

The pro-choice crowd could not possibly talk about the Kermit Gosnell case without getting uncomfortably close to the physical reality of “ending a pregnancy.”  Gosnell’s crimes viscerally demonstrate how little difference there is between killing a baby then removing it, and removing a baby then killing it.  Facts have an annoying way of piercing right through the pro-choice veil of age/stage distinctions.

One last thing.  Before I recommend pitching in to the IndieGoGo fundraising effort for the Gosnell movie, I have to take care of my own house’s finances.  Da Tech Guy has been very kind and dedicated in adding voices like mine to his blog.  He believes in the conservative message, not just as truth but as a financially viable journalism career.

I share his belief.  Lately, however, conservative journalism has not brought in the revenue it warrants.  If you are a Tech Guy reader but not a subscriber, please consider the idea of putting your money where your eyes are.  Subscribe today.

If you are already a Tech Guy subscriber, and you have just one extra dollar to spare, please support the Gosnell movie project.  They have a lot of money to raise in a very short time.

This is the part of the post where I tell you more about myself.  I love to write and hate to speak, so you’ll be unlikely to catch me on Da Tech Guy’s radio program, barring a political situation that affects me personally.  Sometimes I post at my own blog site, too.  If you enjoy my writing, subscribe to Da Tech Guy and support Da Magnificent Seven.  Thanks!

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Olimometer 2.52

The Mortgage is due today and after some movement this morning I’m still $678 short.

I was not in Vegas so Sheldon Adelson is unlikely to be hitting DaTipJar to save the day.

Will you?

 

If 61 of you hit Subscribe at $20 a month subscribers this site will be able to cover its bills for a full year and things will be a lot more like Alito and Kagan around here than Kennedy & Roberts reliable..


 

by Linda Szugyi

Following state and local politics is a pretty tough thing to do when you move every couple of years.  Since we don’t have cable and I rarely turn on the local channels, Florida’s 13th District special election slipped right by.  All I managed to do was make sure it wasn’t my district.  It was an important election, though.  At least until David Jolly won.  With a GOP victory, maybe it wasn’t so important after all.

Regardless of its value as a harbinger, the special election did spark enough interest in me to look up the prospects for my own district, Florida’s 14th.  The spark was quickly doused by the lack of information about those running against Democrat incumbent Kathy Castor.

Both Politics1 and US Elections list two Republican candidates, John Mark Grey and John Coney.  While most folks listed as candidates for office in the state of Florida in 2014 already have a website linked, neither of these gentlemen do.  I know, it’s still early in the year.  The primaries aren’t held until August.  Still, it’s frustrating when even the oddballs have websites up and running.

The news about my district is even more disheartening:  No Obstacles To Kathy Castor’s Progress.  And look at this map of House races, where Castor floats safely in her little blue boat amid a red sea.  She won reelection in 2012 with 70% of the vote.  The closest race she ran was in 2010, when she got 60% of the vote.

Is my district as hopeless as it seems?  Since Kathy Castor continues to wear her support of Obamacare as a badge of honor, she should be vulnerable.  For heaven’s sake, she continues to display on her congressional website Politifact’s 2013 Lie of the Year:  If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.  (Hat tip.)

Kathy Castor

Are either of the listed Republicans serious candidates?  Will more candidates surface?

By the way, another special election will be held on June 24th, in Florida’s 19th District.  Will it get as much attention as the 13th District did?

We’ll see.  Stay tuned.

I’m one of Da Tech Guy’s Magnificent Seven guest writers.  If you like our writing, please consider subscribing to Da Tech Guy’s Blog so that he may continue to host The Magnificent Seven.  Thanks.

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Olimometer 2.52

It’s Monday and with 8 days left to the month I am still over $850 shy of the Mortgage that’s due in a week.

That’s why you don’t see the weekly goal this morning, because if I make that goal I’ll still be nearly $700 shy to pay the bills this month.

We had a good start yesterday but I still need a minimum of four $25 tip jar hitters every day for the next nine days simply to come up a mere $100 short.

It is still possible to make our goal but only you help. If there was ever a time for you to kick in if you were thinking of it, it’s now.

So I’m asking you to hit DaTipJar below if you possibly can.

 

With 61 more $20 a month subscribers this site will be able to cover its bills for a full year.

I would ask that you do subscribe by hitting the button below. If your finances allow it, consider choosing Hat level or better. A subscription comes not only with exclusive commentary, but on a weekly basis you will have the opportunity to get direct access to me by phone to provide feedback or suggestions to make sure this site is worthy of your financial support and patronage.