FEDERAL INTRUSION BY U.S. DEPT. OF EDUCATION - ILLEGAL? UNCONSTITUTIONAL?

The U. S. Department of Education interjects itself again into State and Local Education policy. Rather than doing it OPENLY and HONESTLY, Ed. Sec. Arne Duncan is feeding the flames of privatization of our democraticaly run and locally controlled public school systems through his carrots and sticks approach which amounts to BRIBERY AND COERCION.

REPUBLICANS - in name only - are taking their cut of the PROFITS TO BE MADE via privatization. What REAL Republican can support this growth in power and takeover by the Federal Government and Democratic Administration. Could it be that the Republicans themselves have been hoodwinked by extremist free marketeers in this Corporate grab for an industry (education) that offers billions in profits?


Read this article about the new Race To the Top for Districts and offer your take on it.
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2012/08/_the_money_will_be.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CampaignK-12+%28Education+Week+Blog%3A+Politics+K-12%29#



MY COMMENT:



"The competition comes as the Education Department, which has focused on state-level reform in previous Race to the Top contests, switches gears and tries to use money to advance its education ideas at the local level. . . "



Translation - This RTTT motive, like the first RTTT initiative, is to bring about FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONTROL of PUBLIC education which has served as a model of a democratic system of taxpayer, voter, citizen local control by elected school boards. This FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONTROL is covertly accomplished by requiring state, and now local, PUBLIC education systems to voluntarily, under the guise of "helping schools become engines of innovation" and similar crapola rhetoric, give up their control in order to gain desperately needed funding.



The FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TAKEOVER is assisted by "reformers" who have infiltrated state and local levels as "policymakers" - school board members, legislators, state board of education members and most prominently Chambers of Commerce and other BUSINESS/CORPORATE interests. Their primary role has been to convince the public that our public school system in toto is an abject FAILURE so as to open the dialogue for replacement by "autonomous" CHARTERS and PRIVATE/PAROCHIAL SCHOOL VOUCHERS. This under the guise of CHOICE.



Interestingly, the U.S. Dept. of Ed under a DEMOCRATIC Administration in the interests of government control has teamed up with the REPUBLICAN corporate ANTI-GOVERNMENT takover in the interest of privatization. Strange bedfellows. This dichotomous relationship is bringing about what may predictably become the most destructive undermining of our Democracy that has ever taken place.

The U.S. Dept. of Education has NO AUTHORITY to dictate or influence state education policies such as curriculum and funding, but it believes it has found a way to circumvent that restriction by bribing states and now districts to bring about initiatives like the Common Core Standards, de-centralization of local school systems, budget decisions and teacher evaluations - to name a few.



THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION NEEDS TO BE CHALLENGED IN COURT FOR THIS EGREGIOUS OVERSTEPPING!!!! WAKE UP AMERICA .

"Don't Back Down" MOVIE DISTORTS PARENT TRIGGER LAWS

This letter was written by Ruth Rodriguez-Fay of Save Our Schools America. SOS is planning an ACTION to counter the misinformation and Hollywood Version of new laws passed in some states - including Louisiana - called Parent Trigger Laws. Parent Trigger Laws allow a certain percentage of parents to petition for a traditional public school to be shut down and replaced by a charter school.

Watch for information and opportunities to participate in handing out flyers before showings of this movie.

Dear Nancy and Soldiers of this "War",

Today, in closing our wonderful Save Our Schools America People's Convention, Rose Sanders gave an amazing and powerful analysis of what we are facing, and she calls it the worst war in American history, not the civil war or any war has such ramification, for it is a war against our children. Imagine our children, who will take on our precious children? Well, she also declared that the ignorance of the masses in not realizing that this is a war and that it will require the tactics of Gideon's army to overtake the enemy. Nancy, this is the movie that we were talking about, and it has Jennifer Garner as one of the actors. Dear God, what are we to do?

And so, coming home and getting in my Facebook the following message, well, just about made me cry.

"I was just reading all the big-name stars who are getting on board for the parent trigger, and I am really stunned by some of the names. Do they know what it means to lightly turn a school over to parents who have no knowledge of how to run a school? To give them power to hire and fire teachers and principals? Are the blinded by the glitz provided by all the money behind this corporate move to take over public schools? Do they not understand the implications? Or do they simply not care?

TEACHERS ROCK, presented by Walmart & "Won't Back Down" - a Special Event & Concert to Benefit Teachers & Education http://www.marketwatch.com/story/teachers-rock-presented-by-walmart-wont-back-down-a-special-event-concert-to-benefit-teachers-education-at-nokia-theatre-la-live-august-14-at-730-pm-2012-07-24.

It says it's a special benefit to help teachers. Guess which teacher? The article makes it clear it will benefit Teach for America teachers, recruits with 5 weeks training. They will be sent out thinkint they are better than other teachers in spite of meager training.

The benefit concert will showcase live performances by Dierks Bentley, Fun. and Josh Groban and special appearances by Viola Davis from "Won't Back Down," Josh Hutcherson, Miranda Cosgrove, Pauley Perrette, Roshon Fegan and many more.

Proceeds from TEACHERS ROCK will benefit three non-profit organizations: http://DonorsChoose.org, Feeding America and Teach for America.

The TEACHERS ROCK concert will feature scenes from Walden Media's upcoming motion picture "Won't Back Down," released by 20th Century Fox. The film stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis, who play two determined mothers, one a teacher, who will stop at nothing to transform their children's failing inner city school. Facing a powerful and entrenched bureaucracy, they risk everything to make a difference in the education and future of their children. This powerful story of parenthood, friendship and courage mirrors events that are making headlines daily.

"AEG and Walden are very excited to join efforts with Walmart in celebrating teachers. Honoring teachers and recognizing the importance of education have been bedrock values since the founding of our companies," said Anschutz Film Group & Walden Media CEO, David Weil. "We believe that TEACHERS ROCK and our upcoming movie, "Won't Back Down" will both inspire parents to believe that they can make a real difference in the lives of students and teachers.

TEACHERS ROCK will be taped for a special one hour CBS television event broadcast Saturday, August 18th from 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET/PT, that will also feature taped performance and appearnces from Carrie Underwood, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Garner, Mtthew Morrison, Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl, Usher, Maroon 5's Adam Levine and James Valentine,and more.

Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis won't bck down from taking over their inner city school. Won't back down. Neither will the charter companies waiting to take over the schools from the parents who thought they were empowered. Not really empowered after all except to choose the charter company.

The Paren Trigger is an astroturf creation, not built by grassroots: http://journals.democraticunderground.com/madfloridian/8101. It is pushed by ALEC and charter companies who want to take over public schools faster.

CBS is going along because that is apparently what networks do. Look at NBC and their corporate Education Nation.

Teachers in public schools do not have funds to fight back against such star power and big money intersts. There will be less money for traditional public schools and more for those with the bigger voices.

Public school teachers indeed rock. Yet the benefits from the CBS show are going to Teach for America.

* * * * * *
See Parents Across America web page for more information the movie:

http://parentsacrossamerica.org/2012/06/parents-give-wont-back-down-movie-trailer-a-thumbs-down/

VOUCHERS AND REAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

The letter from Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, pastor for Preaching and Worship at Northminster (Baptist) Church in Monroe, La., is of special interest because it comes from the faith community.

Here’s the text of the letter:


August 7, 2012

The Honorable Bobby Jindal

Office of the Governor of Louisiana

P.O. Box 94004

Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9004

Dear Governor Jindal:

I write to you as the President of Interfaith Alliance to express my disappointment, concern and indeed, outrage at the school voucher program you have implemented in the state of Louisiana. Not only do I represent this national organization whose members come together from 75 faith traditions and belief systems to protect religious freedom, champion individual rights, and promote policies that protect both religion and democracy, I also serve as Senior Pastor for Preaching and Worship at Northminster (Baptist) Church in Monroe, and thus, I am one of your constituents. Your school voucher scheme is bad for religious freedom and bad for public education as well as a blatant attack on the religious freedom clauses in the United States Constitution.

Thankfully, thoughtful educators, concerned citizens, and media representatives in the state are exposing your ruthless attack on public education — the provision that the founders of our nation considered essential to the survival of our democracy. You seem unable to distinguish between religious indoctrination and basic public education. Though Interfaith Alliance is a non-litigious agency, we are encouraging other agencies to file suits challenging your decision to use public tax dollars to build structures for churches across the state and to fund educational curricula that qualify more as a catechism than as a tool for holistic education. Of course, you flaunted your disregard for government-subsidized religion by choosing a Roman Catholic Church as the venue at which to sign your legislation!

When in 1785 the state of Virginia considered a bill that would fund “Teachers of the Christian Religion,” James Madison penned his famous remonstrance reminding his contemporaries, and indeed, generations to come, that “it is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him.” Put another way, funding, participating in, and sending our children to religious education programs is the right and responsibility of faith communities, clergy, and parents as they see fit — not of our government. Every American also has an equal right to choose not to fund or participate in religious education.

Your voucher program also will fund private schools and curricula that are inevitably not up to the standards of quality information of public schools, and fund the teaching of theology, which goes against the fundamentals of our religious freedom. I was appalled to learn that private schools—funded with my taxes—will teach our children that evolution does not exist, using the fabled Loch Ness Monster as a “real” example, from textbooks that state:

“God created each type of fish, amphibian, and reptile as separate, unique animals. Any similarities that exist among them are due to the fact that one Master Craftsmen fashioned them all.”

Let me be clear: I am not appalled that a Christian school is teaching its students that God created the Earth. Children in my church learn that every Sunday. I am appalled that these schools are teaching theology as science; and they’re doing so with government money, my tax dollars. Teaching the theology of Creationism is part of the mission of religious schools, and religious education more broadly—I defend with my life’s work their right to teach future generations about their faith. But they should not receive financial support from our government to do so.

What often gets lost in the conversation around school vouchers is the negative impact they can have on religious schools. In the short term, having new revenue streams is of course helpful to private schools, but the fact is that with government money comes government regulation, which can open religious schools up to all kinds of threats to their autonomy that it is in religion’s best interest to avoid. Furthermore, public education is often called the “great equalizer,” and right now, our nation is at a place in history in which all of us truly need to learn how to get along with each other and work together for the good of our nation despite our differences in religion, ethnicity, race, and income. Besides preparing our children and young people to be proficient in math, science, grammar, thinking, and communication skills, public education has no greater role than enabling us to work and walk together despite obvious diversity. Many of the private schools in Louisiana that you are supporting with millions of dollars of vouchers are honestly saying upfront that their mission is sectarian education that promotes one faith over another and makes no effort to commend the common good.

Finally, one of the central problems with school voucher programs could not be on clearer display than it is in Louisiana: Vouchers create competition between religious groups for government funds, and put the government in a position to prefer one over another. A case in point is the reason state Rep. Valarie Hodges changed her position on the school voucher program. I wish that I could celebrate this move, and had she decided to no longer support it because she realized how harmful such funding is to our religious freedom, I would have. Instead, she changed her position on vouchers because she found out that not only Christian groups received the funding, but Muslim groups can too. As a former Hindu—a minority religion in this nation—you, as much as anyone in our state, should be fully aware that herein lies one of the many problems with funneling government money to religious groups. By doing so, the government can (or at least can try) to pick and choose between them -- exactly the situation our founders created the First Amendment to avoid.

In short, the school vouchers system you have allowed to be implemented in our state embodies everything that is wrong with school vouchers as a whole and threatens the integrity of both religion and government. I hope that you will take a step back and see that what you are doing is propelling education in Louisiana back to a level that will decrease even more our abominable ranking when it comes to education in our nation. You are hurting the state, the education of our children, and broadsiding an affront to the values of religious freedom that most of us hold dear.

I am incapable of and uninterested in judging your motivations for such a destruction of education in our state. But, you are capable of changing your mind and helping the situation rather than hurting it. Governor Jindal, please, for the sake of all that is good about education, religious freedom, and our state, put an end to the school vouchers program in Louisiana.

Sincerely,

C. Welton Gaddy