A tale of due diligence (with a lack of cooperation)

By Cathy Keim and Michael Swartz

I have never met Ann Miller in person, but I have exchanged emails with her and I have read her columns in the Baltimore County Republican Examiner. She has always been cordial when I have requested information from her about educational issues.

Ann is a parent who has given a huge amount of time and effort to fighting Common Core and PARCC. Even with that being known, Governor Hogan appointed her to the Baltimore County Board of Education and she was sworn in last month for a three-year term. Before she could even be sworn in, there were complaints that she was too narrow minded to be on the school board and appeals to Governor Hogan to reconsider Miller’s appointment. While Miller has one child remaining in public schools, she also has one in a private school and homeschools a third.

It is to Governor Hogan’s credit that he did not rescind his appointment under pressure. Anyone who is a fan of board members actually doing due diligence in fulfilling their duties will be impressed with Ann. Although she did not become an official member until this past December, she has been requesting information about the budget and the inner workings of the Baltimore County schools for months since her appointment. (Miller was appointed several months before her term actually began.)

A key issue she faces right away is that Dr. Dallas Dance, the superintendent of the Baltimore County Public Schools, is up for a four-year contract renewal. Miller wanted to review his term carefully before agreeing Dance should serve for another four years, so she compiled a list of performance-related items for her review and requested them from the Baltimore County Public Schools. And her wait began.

Since BCPS has not responded to her requests for information, she has now asked for the information under the Maryland Public Information Act. Here is the link to see her letter and what information she is requesting. The Sun has also placed its spin on it, noting that Miller would not agree to an interview unless they published her full letter – the Sun refused.

This battle is of interest to every taxpayer and parent in Maryland. Should the school system be accountable to its board and its taxpayers by allowing oversight of the huge sums of money that are spent annually? Where is the transparency that our politicians speak of so glowingly? More importantly: why is a board member, who is appointed to a position of public trust and accountability, having to file a Maryland Public Information Act request to gain access to the budget and information pertaining to the superintendent’s performance?

Would that more of our school board members would rock the boat and demand information rather than just renewing contracts and letting the machine roll along.

You will want to keep an eye on Ann Miller and the BCPS because I suspect that we will be seeing more articles in the Baltimore Sun about her. She is angering all the right people.

Michael’s observations: I have met Ann Miller years ago, and besides our common background as Examiners, I have come to realize she is very passionate about her children and their education. It seems to me that many of these same sort of complaints were levied when John Palmer, who is a stickler for fiscal accountability, was appointed to Wicomico County’s Board of Education. Ironically, our county finds itself in a similar position except we will be appointing a new superintendent as Dr. John Fredericksen is stepping down.

It may look like an exhaustive list that Miller is requesting; however, the district has been aware of it for several months so there really is no excuse. What are they trying to hide?

2016: a pivotal year

By Cathy Keim

Here I am writing this piece on January 3, 2016, after being absent for most of the month of December. I had a wonderful holiday filled with family and friends from all over the world, and I hope that you had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year too.

My husband and I were just over in Washington, DC, to visit with some family and had the opportunity to go to the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park. It’s a great zoo, but I was trying to figure out where in the Constitution it said that the federal government should be funding a world class zoo. I couldn’t remember where that would be.

The Smithsonian Institute receives about 70% of its funding from the government. This is just one example of how our tax dollars are spent on “worthy” projects that are not Constitutional, yet most of us don’t even think about it anymore. We are used to the federal government encroaching into every sphere of our lives.

I read some of the propaganda that they have gotten children to write, then posted for the visitors to read. One piece was from a young girl that was calling upon us to work harder to save the tigers. It was an excellent example of Common Core English skills using emotionally charged adjectives to drive people to take action. (I have read the lesson plans for just such activities. Common Core would rather have the students use emotion than reason to write a persuasive piece.)

I kept wondering why this young lady was so worked up about tigers when our federal leadership could not take the time to cut the funding for Planned Parenthood despite being caught red-handed selling baby parts for profit. It seems that tigers are much more important than easily replaceable babies.

The inability of our leaders to act upon such horrific revelations as selling baby parts leads to my premise that 2016 is a pivotal year for our Republic. We have sunk to such depths in our understanding of what the American Experiment is about that many are calling this our last chance to right the ship of state.

Over my break I took the opportunity to look through some of these assessments.

Daniel Horowitz listed the top ten betrayals of the GOP elites, all of which Michael and I have covered as they happened.

Phyllis Schlafly shocked people with her statement after the passage of the omnibus bill last month,

This is a betrayal of the grassroots and of the Republican Party. We thought we were electing a different crowd to stand up for America, and they didn’t. We’re extremely outraged by what Congress has done. Nancy Pelosi couldn’t have engineered it any better. I think the people are going to react by electing Donald Trump.

Maryland’s own Ann Corcoran has started a new blog to encourage people to join the fight to save America. She has done yeoman’s work for years at her Refugee Resettlement Watch to bring attention to the deeply flawed Refugee Resettlement program. Her new blog is American Resistance 2016!

They are changing America by changing the people! Will you fight to save it, or allow the greatest nation on earth to perish?

But the quote that most caught my attention was by Diana West. She was responding to a plea by Brent Bozell for conservatives to get behind Ted Cruz because he has been leading the fight for conservative issues. Diana said:

To be honest, if these were the only issues under discussion in this GOP presidential primary season I would hardly be able to make myself pay attention. It’s not that they are unimportant issues. Personally, I support every one of them. But they are not existential issues. They are not the issues on which the very future of the Republic hangs. They are issues that a responsible Republican House and Senate, if they were loyal to their oath and to their constituents, could today begin to rectify all by themselves. (Emphasis mine.)

Our elected leaders could have stopped the funding for Obamacare, Planned Parenthood, immigration, etc. but they did not. That is why the base is done with them. That is why Donald Trump is drawing such support.

I went to Donald Trump’s website and read his immigration plan.

His three bullet points are:

1. A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.

2. A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.

3. A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.

It is remarkable that his plan is seen as remarkable. Most of the points on his plan are common sense, but our leadership seems to have lost their common sense.

Roger Simon says at PJ Media:

The rise of Donald Trump is a good thing, not because any one man can easily change the course of history, not because he’s necessarily the best candidate (although he could be), but because his rise indicates that a lot of people who often ignore things are waking up to this extreme situation.

We are in for a rough ride in 2016. Our GOP leadership has given President Obama a pass on everything he has wanted right up until he finishes his term with their funding of the omnibus bill.

Winston Churchill was the man for his time. He spent the years leading up to World War II pleading with his government to rearm and to prepare for the fight ahead. The appeasers refused to listen to him, but when the time came, he was ready to lead. Donald Trump has not spent the last decade in opposition to the government and many of his statements give me heartburn, but on the great issue of our time he is leading as no other candidate.

The truth, the spin, and the battlefield

By Cathy Keim

John Boehner hit the Sunday morning TV circuit to explain why he is resigning and to spin his past performances. In addition, the various media are adding their spin and giving advice as to how to proceed. After reading through a variety of reports, it seems pretty well decided that:

  • John Boehner did the best he could under the circumstances.
  • Congress never really had the ability to stop the Obama agenda.
  • The conservatives/Tea Party types that caused this ruckus should go away.
  • House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy will be the next speaker.

One can go farther and depending on the source conclude that:

  • Our nation has grown too large to govern as a republic.
  • Christians should withdraw to enclaves because it is all going to the dogs.
  • There is no turning back from the path of destruction that we are on.

Before you give up hope and head for the hills with your guns, ammo, Bibles, and food, let us take a quick review of the comment sections of the same articles.

I do not read the comments on some sites because they are merely vile epithets interspersed with poor spelling, but other sites actually have rousing comment sections. There are many Americans that are still interested in the American Experiment and in their Christian faith. They are not giving up. Nor should we.

We need to think about the battlefield before we proceed. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) says:

If we launch headfirst into leadership elections like this is a typical succession, without ever taking the time to diagnose our current ailments, we won’t heal the fractures in a Conference that has thus far proved unleadable. Simply reshuffling the deck won’t serve our members, and it especially won’t help our next slate of leaders who will be tasked with producing better results than our leaders have so far been able to achieve.

Kudos to Rep. Roskam for identifying the need to come up with a coherent strategy to unite the GOP. The current fracture between the leadership and the base is not going to disappear, especially if Boehner uses his last 30 days as Speaker to push through a clean CR as is rumored. (He did.) If the House replaces Boehner with McCarthy it will be viewed as the leadership ignoring the base once again. It is possible that McCarthy would acknowledge the desires of the base more than Boehner did, but it would be a long road to prove this and to gain the trust of the base.

We have entered into a dangerous time for the country with an expanded imperial presidency unfettered by the legislative branch and supported by the judicial branch. This president rules by executive order, regulations, and selective enforcing of the laws.

Congress has allowed this because under Pelosi and Reid they agreed with Obama’s agenda. The citizens expressed their strong disapproval by dismissing first Pelosi and then Reid by decisive victories in the House and the Senate. Those victories at the elections have never translated into victories in rolling back the president’s fundamental changes. This has led to extreme disappointment and anger amongst the base. The passage of the CRomnibus bill is a recent example of this outrage. Rep. Harris said we needed to just pass the CRomnibus so that we could focus on this year’s budget. We didn’t have time to fight over the previous budget, because we needed to look ahead. Fast forward. Now we are looking at another CR. Hmmm, we didn’t fight last time so that we could work on doing it right this time, so now let’s just pass another clean CR so we can focus on the next one?

We have been handed that line just a few too many times. They say we will hold the line on that debt ceiling; no, at the budget; no, back to the debt ceiling. The bait and switch doesn’t work once people realize that it is happening.

Congress under its present failed leadership has tried one too many times to blame everything on anything except themselves. Like a drug addict in rehab, they need to get clean, and face their inner demons. They were elected to serve their country, not to become rich, powerful men and women addicted to their status and in need of the next cash transfusion from their donors/masters.

The GOP leadership really cannot afford to kick this can down the road now. In the progressive movement, they are facing a ruthless, effective opposition that will stop at nothing to achieve total control of every aspect of our lives.

  • Housing and transportation zoning codes: Agenda 21 takes care of that.
  • Education: Common Core destroys that.
  • Family: Changes to marriage and social mores finishes that off.
  • Freedom of Religion: Reduced to a personal faith only to be expressed inside the church building, and only as long as they don’t get political.
  • Government medical care: We have you covered, but that doesn’t ensure access to care.

We are well on our way to a totalitarian state and the progressives will not stop until they get there or are decisively defeated, not just pushed back for an election cycle or two.

Now, GOP leadership, do I have your attention? Your base understands and is extremely motivated to stop the fundamental transformation that is taking place in this country. We are no longer deceived by your show votes.

I suggest that instead of sneering at your base, the leadership of the GOP should take a brief time to reflect on the course of the nation and come to a plan of action that will encourage its base and present the proper explanations which can be ably defended by many of the presidential candidates as to why we need to defund Planned Parenthood, stop the flood of immigrants that we are not assimilating, and change our foreign policies, particularly our policy towards Iran.

Carly Fiorina is not backing down on the evil that is Planned Parenthood as revealed by the Center for Medical Progress’s videos. Congress should join her by forcing a vote on defunding PP and making the President veto it. Show the videos so that the President and his followers are exposed for supporting selling butchered baby organs.

Ted Cruz is standing alone on the floor of the Senate calling out the failed leadership on their collusion in funding Planned Parenthood and the Iran deal.

Ben Carson is not retreating from his statements about a Muslim president.

Many of our candidates are showing themselves to be fearless in presenting their ideas. This should be a lesson to our present failed leadership.

Do not go onto the battlefield without a strategy to win. Once you start, stand by your principles, and go for victory.

The only flaw in this advice is that it assumes that our current leadership is operating on principles when it sadly seems that they are doing the bidding of the highest donors. This is the most plausible theory to explain why the GOP keeps siding with the progressive agenda when it coalesces around the goals of crony capitalism rather than their base. If so, they need to reform or find themselves cast aside like Boehner. Revolutions can pick up momentum. The outsiders may just lead the base to true victory.

Catching up the stragglers

August 3, 2015 · Posted in Campaign 2016 - President, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

As you likely know, we have added two more to the GOP presidential field in the last two weeks: Ohio governor John Kasich and onetime Virginia governor Jim Gilmore. Since I did dossiers on some issues without them, now is the time to get them caught up. I’ll also add these to the original articles.

Let’s begin with education, which was worth 5 points.

Unlike most of his opponents, John Kasich supports Common Core. But he almost makes up for it by being one of the better school choice governors in the country despite some hiccups. The problem is he not only backs Common Core, but doesn’t even accept arguments against it, calling opposition “a runaway internet campaign.” He also is a “very big believer in public education,” and that worries me a bit as well.

Total score for Kasich – 1.6 of 5.

I don’t have a lot yet to go on for Jim Gilmore, but he is against Common Core, for local control of education, and once called for a voucher program for Virginia schools when he was running for governor. So it’s a decent start.

Total score for Gilmore – 2.0 of 5.

Now on to the Second Amendment, worth 6:

Once John Kasich supported an assault weapons ban, but he’s been contrite on that front since and the NRA forgave him. He’s been good on concealed carry and expanding gun rights in the state, too. I would place him at about the level Bobby Jindal is at, if only because of the 1994 misstep.

Total score for Kasich – 5.2 of 6.

All I could find for Jim Gilmore so far on the Second Amendment is that he’s a life member of the NRA, was on their Board of Directors, and Virginia gun owners backed him. I suspect he would be fine but has been out of the game awhile.

Total score for Gilmore – 4.0 of 6.

Looking at energy for seven points:

Jim Gilmore seems to be in favor of an “all-of-the-above” energy scheme. While he was more for conservation in his previous runs, I think he understands the impact fracking can make. If the left isn’t too far down on him, though, he must be doing something wrong.

Total score for Gilmore – 3.5 of 7.

Catching up with Walker

July 14, 2015 · Posted in Campaign 2016 - President, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

Since Scott Walker is joining my presidential sweepstakes already in progress, I need to catch him up with the areas of education and the Second Amendment. So you’ll read them here, but I will also add them in their proper rank in the category at large, since I will come back and refer to it later.

Early on, I really liked Scott Walker and figured he would rank near the top of my choices. That may indeed happen, but how does he fare on these two issues?

I’ll begin with education:

Scott Walker has a mixed record on the important subject of Common Core. He will say he’s against it, but hasn’t gone out of his way to eliminate it in Wisconsin. And while his state has gone farther than most to install a measure of school choice, there are a number of restrictions and only certain families qualify, so it’s not always a case of money following the child.

Like Huckabee and Graham above him, Walker is a strong backer of homeschooling. He also has shown the teachers’ unions he’s the boss, but has been silent on what he would do with the Department of Education and doesn’t speak a great deal about local control. This puts him more squarely in the middle of the pack.

Total score for Walker – 2.5 of 5.

On the Second Amendment:

Like Bobby Jindal and Jeb Bush, Scott Walker has loosened the gun restrictions in his state over his time in office. But while he has claimed on separate occasions that he is “a firm defender of the Second Amendment” and is “proud to stand up” for it, I don’t see the forceful advocacy and bully pulpit ability that we need, so he ranks a little below the upper tier.

Total score for Walker – 4.8 of 6.

I’m working on the next segment for later this week, although I’m finding the information is coming in a slightly different format than in the first two parts. Regardless, the hard part is looking for similar information on 15 (soon to be 16 or maybe even 17) candidates. But that’s what you pay me for. (Oh wait, I’m working for free? Call it a labor of love, I guess – although there is a tip jar to rattle.)

Tomorrow, though, I take a break for state politics. See you in Crisfield.

2016 dossier: Education

As I promised awhile back, now that my monoblogue Accountability Project is out of the way I can begin to focus on the 2016 presidential race. With the exception of governors John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, it looks like we have the initial field in place for the start of what should be a memorable campaign – if only for the sheer number of people seeking to clean up the mess Barack Obama has made.

As I have done before, I break my method of choosing a candidate to support down by issues, which I rank in importance as part of a 100-point scale. Education ranks at the bottom of my ten top issues, thus a perfect score in this category is five points.

So what would be the ideal course of action for our next President? There are a number of answers I’ve written about previously, but to boil it down to a few items:

  • The first step would be to eliminate Common Core as a federal incentive. It would be the icebreaker to a philosophy of restoring educational control to the states, with the eventual goal of maximizing local control.
  • This President should then do what Ronald Reagan promised to do but could not: abort the federal Department of Education.
  • He (or she) should then become the leading voice for real educational reform in two areas: maximizing school choice and establishing the standard that money follows the child.
  • The President should also be an advocate for alternate career paths such as vocational education and apprenticeships as well as ending the stranglehold the federal government has on financing college education.

For this exercise I am going to rank the fourteen current candidates from best to worst, assigning them a point value from zero to five.

Rand Paul would abolish Common Core – although since it’s actually owned by a private corporation he can’t exactly do that.

He also believes strongly in local control, quipping that “I don’t think you’ll notice” if the Department of Education were gone, and adding that local boards of education shouldn’t have to fight Washington over curriculum. But where he shines is his statement that money should follow the child.

As you’ll see below, some put qualifiers on their advocacy of that concept. “Let the taxes Americans pay for education follow every student to the school of his or her family’s choice,” he wrote in the Washington Times. That, friends, is the correct answer.

Total score for Paul – 4.4 of 5.

Ted Cruz has many of the same good ideas Paul does, vowing to end Common Core and scrap the Department of Education. He also proposed legislation designed to enhance school choice for children on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. While I haven’t heard or seen Cruz speak much to the other areas on my docket, I am giving him a little bit extra because he has shown a willingness to lead on issues.

The only faults I find with his Enhancing Educational Opportunities for All Act is that it only benefits lower-income children. If every child has a right to a quality education, every child should benefit, as Paul points out.

Some may ask why I feel that way, since wealthier students can likely afford private schools. However, the chances are good that they invest more in the system through paying higher property taxes, so they should be given the same opportunity. Remember, money is only following the child to the extent a state would support him or her, so any overage would be borne by the parents.

Total score for Cruz – 4.2 of 5.

Bobby Jindal was for Common Core for awhile, but now notes the more parents and teachers deal with it the more they dislike it - he also thinks it will “strip away state’s rights.”

Yet he’s definitely hurt in my process because, while he argues that federal control should revert back to the states, he only wants to return the Department of Education “to its original intended purpose.” There was no intended purpose for the Department of Education except to suck up to the teachers’ unions for backing Jimmy Carter. They just wanted a Cabinet-level department.

Bobby’s only reason for scoring as high as he does is that he has done the most to create a situation in Louisiana where money indeed follows the child regardless of school type – a roster which includes online schools. In doing so, he has also shown the true feelings of teachers’ unions, who claimed Jindal’s reforms “would destabilize the state’s public education system and reduce teachers’ job security. They also claimed parents are not mentally equipped to choose a good education for their children.” (Emphasis mine.)

Once he realizes that the federal government is infested with bureaucrats who think the same way, Jindal could do a lot of good.

Total score for Jindal – 4.0 of 5.

It dawned on me that the reason Rick Perry doesn’t speak out as forcefully against Common Core is that his state never adopted it. He also wasn’t as forceful about dismantling the Department of Education, although it was part of the gaffe that ended his 2012 campaign.

Yet the reason, Perry claims, why his state did not do any federal programs was that Texas had established higher standards. He had also called upon colleges in his state to create degree programs which could cost no more than $10,000, which several Texas universities have achieved. It’s a initiative Perry claims has spread to Florida and California.

Of course, the question isn’t whether these state initiatives can be done at the federal level but whether Rick can stand by as President and allow the laggards to fail. He seems to understand, though, that education is a local issue.

Total score for Perry – 3.8 of 5.

The one thing that sticks out about Lindsey Graham is his support for homeschooled kids, for whom he vows “you have no better friend. He also expresses his opposition to Common Core as a tool of coercion, which is good but maybe not quite as good as those above him.

However, he has previously worked to eliminate the Department of Education and supported tax measures aimed at assisting young educators with their student loans. It’s not a idea I could wholeheartedly back because I dislike pandering via tax code, but it will be interesting to see how Graham’s campaign develops on this front and hear some of his other thoughts.

Total score for Graham – 3.4 of 5.

Mike Huckabee was once for Common Core, believing it needed a “rebrand,” but now is against it saying “We must kill Common Core and restore common sense.” Whether that means some sort of standards just for public schools or not, his thinking has changed dramatically. But it could be better late than never, unlike Jeb Bush.

Mike is an advocate of school choice, claiming he was the first governor to place a homeschooling parent on his state board of education, and also noted that he increased teacher pay. He also thinks the federal Department of Education has “flunked” and needs to be “expelled.”

While he says the right things, I just don’t trust him to be a forceful advocate for sound educational policy. I just sense that Big Education will roll over him.

Total score for Huckabee – 2.8 of 5.

While he is new to the race, Chris Christie has a 15-point reform agenda which he believes “can and should be a model for reform for the nation.” It covers a number of subjects: teacher tenure and pay, school choice, charter schools, college affordability and accountability, and ideas for higher education.

Unfortunately, what it doesn’t tell me is what he would do to eliminate federal involvement; in fact, as this is written it sound to me like he would simply make New Jersey’s initiatives nationwide. Other states should succeed (or fail) on their own merits, but I would encourage them to adopt ideas like “stackable credentials,” apprenticeships, and credit for prior experience.

Total score for Christie – 2.6 of 5.

More than any other candidate, Marco Rubio talks about the federal role in college financing. But he also talks about alternatives such as vocational education and believes parents need to be empowered through the enhanced choice of educational scholarships that they can use anywhere. Local control also extends to curriculum, and Rubio suggested that the Department of Education may be eliminated.

But if the federal government is going to have a role in college financial aid, it’s likely that no federal agency will be eliminated. Rubio seems to be on a populist rather than conservative path, with the major difference being Uncle Sam’s role in financing school. Why should they have any role in something the private sector could easily do?

Total score for Rubio – 2.5 of 5.

Scott Walker has a mixed record on the important subject of Common Core. He will say he’s against it, but hasn’t gone out of his way to eliminate it in Wisconsin. And while his state has gone farther than most to install a measure of school choice, there are a number of restrictions and only certain families qualify, so it’s not always a case of money following the child.

Like Huckabee and Graham above him, Walker is a strong backer of homeschooling. He also has shown the teachers’ unions he’s the boss, but has been silent on what he would do with the Department of Education and doesn’t speak a great deal about local control. This puts him more squarely in the middle of the pack.

Total score for Walker – 2.5 of 5.

I don’t know if Rick Santorum intentionally stole the tagline of “common sense not Cfommon Core” from Mike Huckabee or vice-versa. But that’s about all he talks about, aside from a nod to local control which he doesn’t really come out and embrace.

One thing that I would expect Rick to talk more about is vocational education, considering he has supported the rebirth of manufacturing. But nothing has been said, at least that I’ve found.

Total score for Santorum – 2.4 of 5.

George Pataki was the governor of New York for 11 years, so a large portion of his agenda is an extension of his record there. So while he says that “Common Core should go” and that education should be local, he would not rid us of the Department of Education, but retain it in a “very limited role.”

The idea of tax credits that could apply in either a public or private system has a little bit of merit, though, and that’s what pushes him ahead of other contenders – that is, assuming he could use his office as a bully pulpit to get states to adopt this.

Total score for Pataki – 2.2 of 5.

In his educational platformBen Carson talks mainly about local control and that Common Core must be “overturned,” which is good. School choice is also a subject he has touched on.

But aside from the platitudes and buzzwords, I really don’t see a lot of depth in what Carson has to say. And, like Pataki, there’s one thing which definitely detracts from his overall score – he will not eliminate the Department of Education. While I don’t agree the Department should be an arbiter of speech, I really don’t agree that any government agency will accept a reduction in its role – it simply must be uprooted.

Short of some major pronouncements of policy regarding issues others above have touched on, this is not a strong category for Ben.

Total score for Carson – 2.0 of 5.

In several ways, Jeb Bush is like Rick Perry and others above. His state has been a leader in school choice, he advocates for digital schools conducted online (think of a high school version of the University of Phoenix, to use a familiar example) and he favors school choice.

But the issue I have is that he would prefer a top-down approach, and while he argues Common Core should not be construed as a federal creation of standards (which is true to an extent, as a private entity created and licenses it) he still encourages the federal government to have a role in education, to provide “carrots and sticks.” Those carrots and sticks should be created by the market, not the federal government.

Total score for Bush – 1.8 of 5.

For all I know, Donald Trump could be good on education – perhaps he could make it into one giant for-profit enterprise and eliminate the government altogether. But I doubt it.

And aside from thinking Common Core will “kill Bush” (he is against it, though) and believing education should be local, there’s not much on the Donald’s educational platform. I hate the lack of specifics, and if he was to run based solely on educational philosophy I would fire him.

Total score for Trump – 1.0 of 5.

Aside from a number of vague statements about school vouchers, the size of federal impact, and the thought that Common Core limits parents’ options, Carly Fiorina really hasn’t put together much of an educational platform. And some question her change of tune from her Senate run four years ago.

When others have an agenda that is well spelled out, the lack of specifics from Fiorina sticks out like a sore thumb.

Total score for Fiorina – 0.5 of 5.

Postscript 9/26: After hearing her “answers” on education, I have decided she should score 1.5 more points in the category, bringing her to 2 points.

Next up will be a category with considerably less nuance and a value of six points – the Second Amendment. And as a programming note, I think I will leave this up through Sunday night and otherwise leave the site dark for Independence Day.

Book review: The Long War and Common Core: Everything You Need to Know to Win the War! by Donna H. Hearne

June 17, 2015 · Posted in Book Reviews, Cathy Keim, Education · 1 Comment 

Reviewed by Cathy Keim

I was out weeding my flowerbeds this afternoon, which is very therapeutic. You feel like you can bring order to chaos with a little sweat and elbow grease. The satisfaction is temporary though as you know those weeds will be back quickly, especially after a good rain.

This brought to mind the book that I just finished, The Long War & Common Core: Everything You Need to Know to Win the War!, by Donna H. Hearne. The current struggle against Common Core is just the newest battle in a continuous onslaught from the progressive educational community to capture our children’s hearts and minds. Valiant parents and teachers have fought against Progressive Education in the 1930s, Secular Humanist Education in the 1950s, and Outcome Based Education in the 1990s. “All of these strategies are based on the premise of “progressive experts,” instead of mom, dad and the teacher, setting common standards for all children. And since these secular, utopian standards drive the curriculum and assessments, local control of education cease to be a reality.” (Hearne 3)

Like the weeds in my flowerbeds, these bad ideas just keep popping up. Even now several states are rebranding Common Core because of the fierce resistance from parents. But just because the name changes, it doesn’t mean that the standards have changed.

Donna Hearne is well equipped to take up the challenge of documenting the twists and turns of our academic wars in America. According to her Amazon biography, Hearne “is executive director of The Constitutional Coalition and has a degree in elementary education from Washington University, St. Louis. She is a writer, a radio talk show host for thirty-plus years, and currently serves on a local school board. From 1981-1991, she worked in the U.S. Department of Education. Appointed by President Reagan, she served on several policy-making boards, with an appointment in 1988 to America 2000, the forerunner of Goals 2000 as her last appointment.”

I attended the 26th Educational Conference hosted by the Constitutional Coalition back in January of this year. Donna mentioned her book then as she was just sending it to the publisher. Her goal in writing this book was to equip parents to understand the history of the war that they are now a part of and how to protect their children while fighting to wrench control of their schools back from the federal government.

This book is a compact 141 pages including appendices and endnotes. The goal was to make a Reader’s Digest type condensed book that would point the reader to the facts, equip them with information for further research if they desired, but to be a fast-paced quick read for busy people.

Donna was successful in this endeavor. The book is so tightly woven that it is hard to pull a quote without wanting to just keep going. It is difficult to condense it any further.

She introduces you to the big players like Antonio Gramsci, the Italian communist, who coined the phrase “the long march through culture” (Hearne 4), as well as John Dewey who reportedly said, “You can’t make Socialists out of individualists – children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming, where everyone is interdependent” (Hearne 3), and our current high priest of teacher education, Bill Ayers.

She presents the Frankfurt School, a Communist think tank officially called the Institute for Social Research that was started in Germany in 1922 by George Lukacs, a Hungarian aristocrat turned communist. The Frankfurt school moved to the USA in the 1930s and 1940s where John Dewey’s sponsorship gave them access to Teacher’s College at Columbia University, the premier teaching institution in the USA. From there its graduates filled more that 60% of all teaching and educational and administrative posts in the country.

Here are a few of the goals of the Frankfurt School: “creation of racism offenses…teaching of sex and homosexuality to children…huge immigration to destroy identity…encouraging the breakdown of the family” (Hearne 40). These bullet points sound just like what we see happening all around us.

Donna addresses the problems with the science standards and the literature/history standards. “The traditional/classical liberal arts education laid down foundational truths and built sequentially, logically, and contextually on those foundations, ultimately creating an ever-widening knowledge base upon which any vocation or pursuit of life could draw upon and transition into.” (Hearne 98)

The current concept tosses out the old and teaches fractured thinking where the student is exposed to lots of information without any context. Since they cannot organize the random facts in any meaningful fashion, their brains become cluttered with irrelevant facts and the brain does not develop in an orderly way.

The examples will drive the claims home to you. If you think that you do not have to worry about Common Core because you homeschool your child or send them to private school, think again. There will be no escape for any student that wants to continue on to college because the entrance exams will be the choke point. Your student will not be able to pass if they do not conform to the standards.

Do not despair! There is a whole chapter called Solutions to help you take your knowledge and make a difference. The first Appendix has questions and answers about Common Core. This appendix is invaluable for the clear, succinct answers that you can use when talking to friends and politicians about Common Core.

Donna Hearne really did a great job of putting together a fast paced, highly readable book about an extremely important topic. If you care about fighting Common Core, this is the book to get you started.

When I talk to people about the big issues of the day, many are discouraged and feel helpless. Take heart from the weeds in your garden. They will always be there, but you are not helpless. Go pull some weeds, beat back the jungle, and see how much better you feel. Now do the same with the neverending battle over the educational system. Get educated and then do one thing with your newfound knowledge. Taking charge of your life and resisting the educational behemoth will change your attitude. You can make a difference.

APUSH to radically change the teaching of history

By Cathy Keim

“Great is truth, but still greater from a practical point of view is silence about truth.”

- Aldous Huxley

On June 2, 2015, a group of 55 scholars published a letter stating their objections to the Advanced Placement United States History (APUSH) framework that was introduced last year.

Our brightest students take the AP US History course. If they score well on the AP Exam, then they may be exempt from taking a US History survey course at their chosen college. This means that the AP US History course may be the final American history class that they ever take. It is important that it be a solid course that prepares our future leaders to understand and appreciate the strengths of our political and legal systems.

Unfortunately, the APUSH framework exhibits the same fractured ideology that permeates the Common Core Standards.

The new framework is organized around such abstractions as “identity,” “peopling,” “work, exchange, and technology,” and “human geography” while downplaying essential subjects, such as the sources, meaning, and development of America’s ideals and political institutions, notably the Constitution. Elections, wars, diplomacy, inventions, discoveries—all these formerly central subjects tend to dissolve into the vagaries of identity-group conflict. The new framework scrubs away all traces of what used to be the chief glory of historical writing—vivid and compelling narrative—and reduces history to an bloodless interplay of abstract and impersonal forces. Gone is the idea that history should provide a fund of compelling stories about exemplary people and events. No longer will students hear about America as a dynamic and exemplary nation, flawed in many respects, but whose citizens have striven through the years toward the more perfect realization of its professed ideals. The new version of the test will effectively marginalize important ways of teaching about the American past, and force American high schools to teach U.S. history from a perspective that selfconsciously seeks to de-center American history and subordinate it to a global and heavily social-scientific perspective.

I have been having this dispute with progressive family and friends for years. America is not perfect, but where else on this planet has any nation aimed so high and achieved such opportunity for so many? This is the same argument that progressives always make. If you have high moral standards and fail, then they jeer that you are a hypocrite for not attaining perfection. They prefer to wallow in their misery knowing that they will never fail because they have no standards to begin with.

Like it or not, this country was founded on a Judeo-Christian worldview. To understand our history, we must have the background to comprehend why our political system was structured as it was. Our history of liberty is based on eternal principles that are found in the Bible.

Highlighting the negative, expunging all positive events, and casting everything in terms of exploiters oppressing minorities imparts a civic education that will not sustain our country against the challenges of the 21st Century.

Stanley Kurtz gives some examples of the how the change of focus looks:

The framework omits or downplays key themes, as with John Winthrop’s exceptionalist call for the Massachusetts Bay Colony to stand as an exemplary “city upon a hill” and the many echoes of his speech in later history. By diverting attention from the colonies to a globalized “Atlantic World,” the framework shifts the moral center of early American history away from the democratic and religious settlements of New England. The new focus is the South’s plantation system, with its entanglement in the international slave trade. The opening of the West becomes a virtual footnote to the treatment of the Indians.

If this doesn’t sound like the America that you grew up in, then you had better be aware that this is how it is being taught to your student. Parents, you need to be paying attention to what is going on in the school system. I am focusing on APUSH now, but you can be assured that the entire Common Core Standards are all based on fragmented, biased ideas.

Once again we must ask why are we allowing our educational system to be nationalized? Why did the APUSH framework expand from about 5 pages to over 70 pages, thereby taking away any flexibility of the teacher and local school board to direct the curriculum?

Why should the College Board have a monopoly on all the testing that will decide where your student can go to college?

Perhaps it is time to break the monopoly on education. Competing testing companies could and should emerge.

Critics complain that the parents that are unhappy with the new APUSH framework are trying to write history to meet their political ideas. This is clearly a case of the pot calling the kettle black. So let’s have more than one testing company and more than one framework.

Well, that sounds like education as it was before the federal government stepped in. Perhaps it is time to return to local control. Parents, this will only happen if you demand it. All the unions and curriculum writers and publishers and education schools benefit by consolidation and federal control.

They will wail and complain that too much effort has gone into the way things are and that it is too hard to change. Do not be moved. Just reply that we can go back to the old test and framework until a better one can be devised locally.

Refuse to Comply. Decline to Test. Petition Governor Hogan to Cancel Membership in PARCC.

By Cathy Keim

The Worcester County Tea Party recently sent an email out requesting that people sign the petition entitled: Immediate Repeal of Common Core State Standards and Cancellation of Membership in the PARCC Consortium in the State of Maryland.

As both Michael and I have mentioned previously, Governor Hogan has the ability to remove Maryland from the PARCC Consortium. The time for action on his part is running out, so Antonio Piacente is gathering signatures on a petition to give the governor the political courage to pull out of the contract. Go here to read and sign the petition, and then send it on to all your friends.

It would be a shame to lose the opt out clause in the PARCC contract. However, without massive pushback from parents, nothing will be done. Governor Hogan has appointed two new members to the Maryland State Board of Education, Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Andy Smarick, both of whom have connections with the ‘Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, a think tank with ties to the Gates Foundation that supports education reforms such as the Common Core State Standards, school choice, and accountability testing.”

Since Gov. Hogan appointed new state school board members that are supporters of high stakes testing, it seems unlikely that he will drop out of the PARCC agreement without intense pressure.

If the governor and our legislators do not listen to the parents, then it may be time for the civil disobedience option.

Charles Murray’s book, By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission, makes the case “that American government today is so far divorced from the nation’s founding principles of limited government and individual liberty that it can’t be returned to those principles through normal political action. No presidential administration, congressional turnover, or set of SCOTUS appointments will restore the Commerce and General Welfare clauses. Thus, he writes, supporters of liberty should try to effect change through carefully chosen but broadly adopted acts of civil disobedience against publicly unpopular regulations.”

The Federalist follows up with an article saying that widespread resistance to Common Core could be just the wedge that Charles Murray was hoping for.

As more and more parents become aware of the follies inherent in the premise behind common core, we may finally reach a critical mass of citizens that are willing to say no to the federal government’s grab for control over the public schools.

It’s time for a governor to say, “To heck with Congress’s inability to send our federal education dollars back with fewer strings attached. The cost of compliance with federal regulations is higher than the funds we get back from the feds. They can keep our stinking money. We don’t need the A-PLUS Amendment. We don’t need federal education funds at all. We can run our schools better, on slightly less money, without federal micromanagement.” Local school boards could do the same thing, especially those who don’t get much or any federal funds.

The costs to comply with all the government mandates are enormous. Just trying to get all the technology in place to implement the testing regimens is going to bankrupt the school system. And as we all know, technology has to be replaced frequently, so it is not a one-time cost per student. Then you realize that not only is the technology expensive, but it is helping to implement the data mining of your student’s every move which is then kept in his permanent record to track him from pre-school to the work force.

One other important point is that there is a difference between a test and an assessment. The two words are used interchangeably, but parents should be aware that what is occurring in the schools now is not the type of tests they were used to taking. A test measures a student’s grasp of facts such as 2 + 2 = 4. It can be graded the same for everybody. However, an assessment is to measure change such as can the student cooperate in a group better this month than last month or has the student’s attitude “improved” on a certain subject matter.

Teachers are not trained to evaluate attitudes, but these assessments will follow your student right into the workplace. Combine them with all of the personal information that the assessments ask about the student’s family, religion, and other areas that are not the school’s business, and the data mining that is done by businesses and the government and soon you have a system where everything about your student’s abilities, beliefs, and weaknesses are carefully documented in a neat little file. Some bureaucrat can use that information to send your child to a good college or to block him from attaining his goals.

Parents need to realize that even though they do not have any spare time, this education crisis needs their attention. Sometimes things are big enough that we must make time for them right now. This presidential election cycle is the time. Bring Common Core front and center. Parents need to insist that the presidential contenders address their concerns.

The thousands of parents across the country that are standing up to the educational leviathan need you to join them. Sign the petition and encourage Governor Hogan to be a leader against the federal takeover of our schools. Without your input, it seems clear that he will just follow the Common Core path that is before him. Parents can make the difference. Speak up now while you can.

Editor’s note: I signed on Friday evening and was number 622. We need to do better, people.

Shifting out of PARCC

As I noted yesterday, there was an item brought to my attention by the Worcester County TEA Party. Fortunately, their version is slightly inaccurate in a good way.

According to their communication, Governor Hogan only had until June 1 to act. That date is problematic because he will be in the opening stages of a 12-day trip to Asia to drum up business for Maryland. I’m definitely not crazy about this trip – considering many on our side chastised Martin O’Malley for doing the same thing – but it is what it is, and that’s really not the subject of the post.

Let me refer to the actual authors to set things straight. This is from the Stop PARCC in Maryland group:

In June 2010, Governor Martin O’Malley and former State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick signed a Memorandum of Understanding that committed Maryland to the various guidelines, by-laws, and responsibilities of membership in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) consortium.  (The complete Memorandum of Understanding can be found by clicking here.)

Section VII, Subsection B of the Memorandum of Understanding states:

“In the event that the governor or chief state school officer is replaced in a Consortium state, the successor in that office shall affirm in writing to the Governing Board Chair the State’s continued commitment to participation in the Consortium and to the binding commitments made by that official’s predecessor within five (5) months of taking office.”

On January 21, 2015, Governor Larry Hogan was inaugurated and took office as Maryland’s 62nd Governor. According to the Memorandum of Understanding, Governor Hogan has until June 21, 2015 to recommit Maryland to the PARCC consortium.

We believe that the “shall affirm” provision, in this case, is directory (non-binding) and not mandatory due to the nature of the agreement as well as legal precedent.

We believe that the Governor has the authority to nullify Maryland’s agreement with the PARCC consortium simply by declining to reaffirm the state’s commitment within this five month window.

We believe that Governor Hogan is in a unique position to reclaim, remodel, and rediscover Maryland education.

In looking through the Stop PARCC website, I also found a letter from Delegate David Vogt in which he implores Hogan to withdraw, citing Florida as one example of a state which has done so. In fact, there are over a dozen states (including neighboring Virginia and Pennsylvania) which have already withdrawn from PARCC or a similar testing regimen called SBAC or joined neither in the first place – Virginia is one of four that never adopted either idea.

The objection to each of these is simple: they were adopted as a one-size-fits-all scheme in which hundreds of millions of federal dollars were shoveled to states to bribe them into compliance. The concept of local control is being usurped more and more by these standards; meanwhile, we are finding more and more that Johnny not only can’t read, but he has trouble with math and knows little about basic science, history, and geography – however, he is programmed to regurgitate whatever topical talking points are popular with the teachers’ unions.

Maryland is supposed to be one of the best states for education – so why are we lowering ourselves to “average” standards? We can be a leader by encouraging innovation and letting local districts work to educate students in the basics, with the emphasis on teaching in time-tested methods proven successful rather than catering to a testing regimen that takes up valuable classroom time.

The culture wars and Common Core (part 2)

April 22, 2015 · Posted in Cathy Keim, Education · Comments Off 

By Cathy Keim

Second of two parts.

Where to go? What to do?

In Part 1, I wrote about how Common Core teaches reading in such a way that content is stripped of its context. Every student can read into the passage whatever they feel, which can lead to major problems when it comes to transmitting our culture to the next generation.

Common Core is all about the redistribution of education, just like our president is all about the redistribution of wealth in the economic realm and Obamacare is the redistribution of medical care. Now all students will get a mediocre educational experience (except for our elites which will have special opportunities just as they are exempt from the laws that they impose upon us.)

I promised to give some options to fight back in Part II. First and foremost, I would strongly encourage you to get your children or grandchildren out of the public school system. Our government is so out of control that I do not support giving them any opportunity to indoctrinate any child that I am responsible for and love.

This does not mean that we can abandon the fight for our educational system. Even if we pull our children out, there are many defenseless children left in the government system that need our help.

Unfortunately, the Common Core Standards are now driving the new SAT tests for college admission. This fact has led to many private schools adopting Common Core even though they are not under government control. The private schools, including Christian schools, are so afraid that their students will not score well on the nationwide tests if they do not teach the Standards that they have given in without a fight.

This same fear of doing poorly on the College Board exams will lead many homeschoolers to adopt Common Core textbooks. The public school system is so large that all other methods of teaching tend to follow in its path.

As stated in Part I, we have lost our republic and we must now work to restore it. That means that you as parents will have to take a more active role in your child’s education. If you continue to send your child to the public schools, then you had better plan to spend time each day undoing the indoctrination and trying to repair the damage.

We need to be much more intentional in our child rearing. You cannot leave them to the schools, television, and gaming worlds and expect them to grow up with any understanding of Western Civilization. If you want them to be able to think, then you had better plan to teach them how to think yourself.

Personally, I homeschooled my five children because if I was going to have to deprogram them everyday, then I might as well teach them correctly in the first place. To homeschool your children well, you have to see it as a long-term commitment. You must plan, prepare, and learn material yourself or find friends that can trade their areas of expertise to compliment yours.

If you absolutely cannot homeschool your children, then a private school is your second best option, but you must be very careful to see what and how they are teaching. The public school system is your final and least desirable option. I know that there are many dedicated, responsible teachers in the system. I am not aiming this at them. However, their hands are tied by the restrictions placed on them by the system. Also, the lack of discipline interferes with their ability to utilize their time to teach and the testing schedules that are wildly increased under Common Core eats up more instruction time. Add to that the politically correct positions that must be taught and you have teachers that are thwarted at every turn.

One possibility is to pull your child out of school whenever they are giving the standardized tests. Use that time at home to read something of value.

Take your children to museums, exhibits, historical sites, concerts and art galleries. Let them see for themselves the beauty of Western Civilization in paintings, music, and plays. We studied art and then would go see the original piece if possible. Study a Shakespeare play and then go see a live performance. Read about energy production in science and then visit a historical coalmine. If you cannot see a live performance, then find a well-done movie or act the scenes yourself.

We have been sold the line that you must have an education degree to be able to teach. This is a lie. If you love your children, you can teach them. Isn’t that what you have done since they were born? You taught them to talk by talking to them. You can teach them to read and to do math. There are plenty of resources out there. You do not have to be a master of the subject to teach your children.

I grew up with the wonders of New Math and sight word reading, so I learned phonics when I taught my children to read. My first four children studied Spanish because I had studied Spanish. The fifth one wanted to do Latin, so we learned Latin together. I could only do that because he was the only one still at home, but it shows that you can teach a subject that you have not mastered previously if you are determined.

Go to church with your children. You need to teach them a worldview to live by and the church will help equip you and give you a community to encourage your whole family.

The pervasive moral decline can be offset by an intellectually rigorous Christian worldview. Give your children Christian principles and a strong faith to live by.

Then inspire them with great literature. Equip them to confront the culture, not to be destroyed by it. Literature provides them with examples of bold characters standing up for truth against great odds. Isn’t that what we hope our children will do? Give them encouragement by reading to them when they are younger and then guiding them to great books when they are older.

Our hearts yearn for heroes, but our culture provides us with irony and complex situations of gray. In The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien presents characters that fight on against hopeless odds because it is better to die for truth and honor than to live as slaves. Frodo and Samwise Gamgee portray friendship even to the point of death. Gandalf show great wisdom and compassion. Aragorn is the epitome of the servant king quietly protecting people for many years before returning to claim his crown. Faramir is as noble a character as you will ever find.

(I will point out that the movies that Peter Jackson made from the books, while good, do dilute the characters’ greatness. It seems that Jackson had to bring them down from the lofty heights that Tolkien placed them, to more human levels. I would contend that Tolkien knew what he was doing when he portrayed his characters in the heroic tradition. They are there to inspire us.)

On that note I will close. I hope that I have inspired you to not settle for education as the government says it must be done. Instead seek to educate your children to be able to think and reason well and to have the character to live in a heroic fashion by doing their duty to God and man.

The culture wars and Common Core (part 1)

April 20, 2015 · Posted in Cathy Keim, Education · 2 Comments 

By Cathy Keim

First of a two-part series.

I have been writing about traditional marriage, traditional family, and sanctity of life issues for several years. I have been increasingly aware of the inability to communicate with people why these traditional values are important to them personally and to our society as a whole especially in our political realm. It is hard to win political battles if we cannot defend our positions cogently and make a compelling case for them.

There is the ever-present problem of media bias, which skews decidedly towards the progressive values, but our positions are true and have facts to support them. We can cite studies that show that children do best in a home with their married father and mother. We can demonstrate that babies have a heartbeat at about six weeks in a pregnancy and that they can feel pain by 16 to 18 weeks.

Why is it so hard to engage voters with our traditional values? Why do our facts fall on deaf ears? Donald Williams, PhD, makes a compelling case in his recent article “Discerning the Times.” (This is from the print version of the Christian Research Journal.)

We paid insufficient attention to changes taking place in our colleges in how reading and writing were taught.

(snip)

The attempt to discover the author’s message to his original audience was replaced by a new view in which authorial intention is irrelevant at best and meaning is in the eye of the beholder. When people are taught to read this way, the authority of all cultural texts- including our founding documents and Scripture- is undermined, so that even good arguments for traditional values lose their traction. To reverse this defeat, we must recognize the importance of reading and how it is taught.

Tea Party activists, pro-life advocates, and judicial restraint supporters all point to our founding documents and our Judeo-Christian heritage and beg for people to resist the “hope and change” that has been unleashed on our country. Our history is firmly on our side of the argument, but people look at us as though we are speaking gibberish.

I remembered an article about a teacher complaining about a Common Core lesson plan in the Washington Post several years ago. I looked it up and sure enough my memory was correct: the teachers were to teach the Gettysburg Address in a particular manner.

Another problem we found relates to the pedagogical method used in the Gettysburg Address exemplar that the Common Core calls “cold reading.”

This gives students a text they have never seen and asks them to read it with no preliminary introduction. This mimics the conditions of a standardized test on which students are asked to read material they have never seen and answer multiple choice questions about the passage.

Such pedagogy makes school wildly boring. Students are not asked to connect what they read yesterday to what they are reading today, or what they read in English to what they read in science.

The exemplar, in fact, forbids teachers from asking students if they have ever been to a funeral because such questions rely “on individual experience and opinion,” and answering them “will not move students closer to understanding the Gettysburg Address.”

(This is baffling, as if Lincoln delivered the speech in an intellectual vacuum; as if the speech wasn’t delivered at a funeral and meant to be heard in the context of a funeral; as if we must not think about memorials when we read words that memorialize. Rather, it is impossible to have any deep understanding of Lincoln’s speech without thinking about the context of the speech: a memorial service.)

The exemplar instructs teachers to “avoid giving any background context” because the Common Core’s close reading strategy “forces students to rely exclusively on the text instead of privileging background knowledge, and levels the playing field for all.” What sense does this make?

(snip)

Asking questions about, for example, the causes of the Civil War, are also forbidden. Why? These questions go “outside the text,” a cardinal sin in Common Core-land.

According to the exemplar, the text of the speech is about equality and self-government, and not about picking sides. It is true that Lincoln did not want to dishonor the memory of the Southern soldiers who fought and died valiantly. But does any rational person read “The Gettysburg Address” and not know that Lincoln desperately believed that the North must win the war? Does anyone think that he could speak about equality without everyone in his audience knowing he was talking about slavery and the causes of the war? How can anyone try to disconnect this profoundly meaningful speech from its historical context and hope to “deeply” understand it in any way, shape, or form?”

This teacher points out many of the problems with reading without any context. However, you must remember that the proponents of “New Criticism” have been entrenched in our universities for over fifty years. While most of us ignore the academic world, it does not ignore us. The professors of the academy have been educating our children and setting them loose on our society to wreak havoc. We have been undermined from within. Few of us, or our children, can articulate these concepts in the academic jargon that the scholarly journals use. In fact, we do not read the journals because they seem ridiculous to us, but the concepts have filtered into our society so that appealing to the original intent of the founders of our country or declaring that our Judeo-Christian heritage tells us that marriage is between a man and a woman has no weight or credibility.

If our citizens have been taught that it doesn’t matter what meaning the author intended to convey, but only what they interpret it to mean to them, then we cannot convince them by our good arguments from the Constitution or the Bible.

Williams adds:

(W)e must adjust our rhetoric to address the audience that actually exists, not the one that was here two generations ago. We need to stop berating people for departing from a position they never held.

(snip)

It is too late to preserve the American republic (we have to restore it). We have lost the opportunity to appeal to the old consensus and we need to stop acting like it is still there.

If you have had a hard time crystallizing your concerns about Common Core, then I hope that this information will help you identify a key problem in an easy to share example. I find that many people just cannot grasp what is at stake in our schools.

Sadly, we lost the culture war over fifty years ago when we let the academic world be overtaken by progressive professors. Common Core is just one of the final steps in destroying our society.

Part II will address what we can do to remedy our situation.

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