Tag Archives: Education

Lighting the fire

[John P. Flannery appeared before the BOS on St. Patty’s Day to argue for full funding - https://youtu.be/QChPkkF0xo0

John P. Flannery appeared before the BOS on St. Patty’s Day to argue for full funding

There was an Irish poet, William Butler Yeats, who wrote that education is “not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire.”

What should we spend as a government to spur a child to learn, and perhaps to “catch fire?”

Last year, we had a public discussion about full funding for our schools, and yet, here we are again, after an election, seemingly surprised that it’s going to cost us more again to get it right, and we are debating, once more, “Should we fully fund our schools?”’

Of course, we should. Spend the 2 cents!

We are prepared to fully fund everything else in the budget, at $1.15, but we’re hesitating about spending the funds on education, at $1.17, begrudging the 2 cents.

Our County invited families from far and wide to come to live with us in Loudoun County, and promised services if they did so.

Are we now going to say, forget it? Continue reading

Justice left behind

Judge Jerry Baxter

Judge Jerry Baxter

There is a case out of Atlanta, prosecuting and sentencing educators like they were made members of a mob syndicate for changing test results to make their schools and students look better so the authorities wouldn’t close the schools or the teachers or educators lose their jobs.

The State Judge, Fulton County Superior Court Judge, Jerry Baxter, handed out twenty-year sentences that real mobsters and murderers don’t get, nor do corrupt bankers, insider traders, or self-dealing politicians.

So what does this recent injustice have to do with anyone outside of Atlanta?

It’s about the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, why it’s not working, and how, in the bargain, Justice got left behind.

David Berliner, a former dean at the School of Ed at Arizona State University, quoted in a recent New Yorker, said that educators were asked to compensate for factors outside their control: “The people who say poverty is no excuse for low performance are now using teacher accountability as an excuse for doing nothing about poverty.”

Some have observed that these educators would normally be considered first time white collar offenders – if they weren’t black.  I believe it is more about defending a corrupt system that doesn’t work, and making these educators the scape goats, so we’ll lose sight of what’s really wrong here – the failed and failing educational construct.

The Atlanta prosecutors said that the children were cheated of an education, by having their scores changed, so the educators could get raises.

Really?  How do you feed instruction to a food hungry student, compensate for a disrupted family or the lack of community roots, in neighborhoods where violence is everywhere and suffered up close and personal?

These educators were fighting against a system that allowed for no excuses if the test scores faltered, including the practice of having students and educators of poorly performing schools seated in the bleachers at games, humiliating and punishing schools and students, rather than helping, and so, teachers were let go, students were sent out of their neighborhoods to other schools, and, the worst, schools were taken over or closed.

Test erasures had become more obvious, year to year, and this is true across the nation.  An investigation of the Atlanta system uncovered 44 schools cheated, and 200 educators.  35 educators were indicted, cuffed, and pictured in perp walks, like they were the Mob’s “Teflon Don,” John Gotti. Continue reading

Evolution and education

scottwalkercbsnewsWithin one day of the 206th anniversary of the death of Charles Darwin on February 12th, Governor Scott Walker (R-WI), testing the waters to run for President of the United States, “punted” on the question of whether he believed in Evolution.

A British Moderator asked Governor Walker, “Are you comfortable with the idea of evolution, do you accept it, do you believe in it?

Mr. Walker said, “I’m going to punt on that one as well.  That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or the other, so I’m going to leave that up to you.”

The moderator responded, “Really?”

Another possible Presidential wannabe in the 2016 sweepstakes, former Governor Mike Huckabee, was one of three Republican presidential contenders in the May 2007 Republican primary debate who said he didn’t believe in evolution.

We have High School students across the nation who know better than that. Continue reading

Teaching Johnny to think

Virginia has its own standards of learning so it’s really hard to compare how we match up with everyone else in the United States and around the world.

But even by Virginia’s standards of learning (the SOLs), reading scores are down.  Every fourth child reportedly failed to pass the grade-level reading test, and the statistical results were worse among elementary and middle school students.  About 3 out of 10 students didn’t pass the state math exam either.  If you lack reading skills, and are challenged by math, how are you able to think very well?

Some may say it’s an improvement that we have state-wide standards.  But it’s not acceptable that we have a balkanized set of conflicting and variable nationwide standards.

We compete in an ever shrinking world.  Our internet preeminence is up against stiff competition from Chinese tech companies Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu, and Alibaba’s US IPO was described recently as “a wake-up call for U.S. tech.”  It should also be a “wake-up call” for educators, parents and students.

Our standard of living depends on our ability to export goods and services, and really to out-think our competitors.

We need a standard by which we can agree what Johnny knows about “the three Rs,” to be able to compare him with everyone else, and to devise an educational strategy to redress whatever lack of proficiency Johnny may suffer in Reading or Math.  Continue reading

Board gets a failing grade on schools

One Student’s Plea for saving Lincoln Elementary School!

One Student’s Plea for saving Lincoln Elementary School!

Our Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is poised to close four community schools to save what they spent on the Redskins – two million dollars.

The Board calls this “budgeting.”

I call it government mismanagement, preferring games over grades, and fail the Board for its gross mishandling of a core governmental function, how we rightly educate our children.

In 2012, our football sycophantic Board of Supervisors promised to pay Danny “Redskin” Snyder two million dollars to sell Loudoun as the home of the Redskins; in the bargain, the County got game tix, and a classy suite like political big shots crave to watch pro ball games.

(Not to be too much of a buzz kill, but don’t the Redskins now rehearse their winning team form in Richmond, and not Ashburn?)

Now we want to close these four elementary community schools in Aldie, Hamilton, Hillsboro and Lincoln, the oldest of these founded in 1840 and the newest in 1922, because these closures will save the County two million dollars of a school budget shortfall of thirty eight million dollars, because the proposed budget was irresponsibly shrunken by the Board, making these misguided cuts by our School Board “necessary.”

Outgoing School Superintendent Hatrick, to his credit, fired away, rightly charging in the most forceful language that this Board has created an “artificial crisis,” as 2,000 more students enter our countywide school system, and “willfully chosen not to listen to the public, not to listen to the School Board about the funding that is needed for next year for this school system.” Continue reading

Frank Wolf’s “Science Trap”

You’ve got to have pity for Frank Wolf. He must appeal to the anti-science Christianist TEA-Party right and his overwhelmingly smart, diverse, real-world, evidence-oriented constituency. He’s between a rock (or shall we say LaRock) and a proverbial hard place. For example, Liza Gold* just took him to task for his anti-violent-video game ideology. Here are a few excerpts from her Fairfax Times op-ed.

U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Dist. 10) has repeatedly stated his belief that violent video games are a major cause of gun violence and mass shootings. As per his website: “Common sense tells us that the level of violence on TV, in the movies and in many video games is a problem. While media violence is not the only factor of mass violence, it is one of the easiest factors to change and it needs to be addressed.” This position would not be objectionable, except for the fact that Rep. Wolf seems uninterested in any other subject relating to sensible firearm regulation reform. Continue reading

The Edge-Ucation Candidate – AG Cuccinelli

Our outgoing State Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, who wants to be Governor, got a fine higher education himself but, it appears, he hasn’t learned the value of an education for others, certainly not for our children.

We learned early on following his election as AG that he did not respect academic freedom.

Mr. Cuccinelli went after one university researcher’s studies of climate change, Professor Michael E. Mann, because Mr. Cuccinelli couldn’t believe that humans since the industrial revolution could have an adverse effect on climate change.

Having no evidence of any possible fraud, Mr. Cuccinelli simply subpoenaed a volume of Professor Mann’s private academic materials and correspondence, UVA resisted, and a state judge quashed Mr. Cuccinelli’s attack; so, the AG tried again and the Court said he was wrong again; the Washington Post wrote an editorial saying that Cuccinelli was “determined to embarrass Virginia.” Continue reading

What it says, what they’d like it to say

The constitution revised (ht: Daily Kos)

Many local letters to the editor, many of them a reaction to the Newtown gun massacre, provide evidence of a coordinated campaign of terror directed at advocates of common sense gun regulation. They also point towards a broad-based constitutional miseducation campaign. For example, Nick Donnangelo writes in the Jan 11 Purcellville Gazette:

The 2nd Amendment is not about hunting or target shooting, it is the cornerstone of the system of checks and balances found in the Constitution. In it is the right and even the duty to defend liberty – by all means possible at the ballot box but by force if necessary; not from ducks or deer or from common criminals, but from “uncommon criminals,” armed bureaucrats who abuse their power and usurp economic and political freedom. The Founders saw security in arming people with the same weapons as the military had…

Mr. Donnangelo must not have read the whole thing, including Article III Section. 3.

Continue reading

There shall be no neutrals

The ongoing PBS series The American Experience has been praised as “the finest documentary series on television,” and The Abolitionists, broadcast last night, is possibly the finest episode I have ever seen. Behold William Lloyd Garrison, American hero. At the time that he wrote these words in 1831, introducing the first issue of The Liberator, he was virtually alone as a white ally:

There shall be no neutrals. Men shall either like, or dislike me. Let Southern oppressors tremble. Let their Northern apologists tremble. Let all the enemies of the persecuted blacks tremble. On the subject of slavery, I do not wish to write with moderation. I am in earnest. I will not equivocate. I will not excuse. I will not retreat a single inch, and I WILL BE HEARD.

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The REAL State of LCPS Education

[Promoting this post to get the conversation going. I don’t agree with every point in this post, but I like the thoughts behind them! – Liz}

I’m going to upset a bunch of people, but guess what?..I don’t care. I don’t have a child in the LCPS system (yet), he is in a private Pre-K school and I do not work for LCPS. I’ve lived in the county since 1999 and the problems persist year after year. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

The REAL State of LCPS Education, from a taxpayer’s perspective:
Continue reading