HIstory vs. ‘Heritage”?

Lately there’s been a lot of rhetoric (and some furor) over the Confederate Flag (more properly know as the  ‘battle flag’ of the Confederacy). There are those who want to keep the ‘Battle Flag’ (no, it’s not the official flag of the  Confederacy) as a symbol of “Southern Heritage”; forgetting that it’s the symbol of a war fought over the ‘right’ for human beings to be kept in bondage no matter where they may be, and to allow the spread of that institution into the western territories of the United States.  The Southern states left the Union of their own accord; they were not forced out – in some quarters that would be considered treason.

Now, for an update……in most states the “Battle Flag” wasn’t back in vogue until the 1960’s; so what was the real reason for the resurgence…………..(more to follow)

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Big Money In Public Speaking

Enough is enough already!
I’ve heard it too many times over the last several months, “It’s too hard to make
money as a speaker in this market!”
This brand new video that I just finished will show you the tools & techniques that
a very famous speaker used to go from almost having to file for a ‘BK’ to making over
5k two months later!
(How would an extra $5,000 help you out today?)
And the best part is – it was super simple and anyone could do it!
Check this video:
Plus, there is a gold nugget idea in the video to rapidly accelerate your speaking career. Can you
tell what it is?
Oh yeah, I wanted to mention – this video is PURE CONTENT – no sales pitch or anything.
PS: Bandwidth costs being what they are, I’m
not sure how long this video is going to be
on this site. Check it out before it is too late.

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Now We Are Six – The Hormone Surge of Middle Childhood – NYTimes.com

Now We Are Six – The Hormone Surge of Middle Childhood – NYTimes.com

via Now We Are Six – The Hormone Surge of Middle Childhood – NYTimes.com.

An interesting piece about the “formative years”

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Why Innovation Can’t Fix America’s Classrooms

Why Innovation Can’t Fix America’s Classrooms.

what is innovation anyway?

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When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids – The Answer Sheet – The Washington Post

When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids – The Answer Sheet – The Washington Post

via When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids – The Answer Sheet – The Washington Post.

Posted at 04:00 AM ET, 12/05/2011

When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids

Update, 4:40 p.m. Tuesday:

Revealed: The school board member who took standardized test

Original post:

This was written by Marion Brady, veteran teacher, administrator, curriculum designer and author.


By Marion Brady

A longtime friend on the school board of one of the largest school systems in America did something that few public servants are willing to do. He took versions of his state’s high-stakes standardized math and reading tests for 10th graders, and said he’d make his scores public.

By any reasonable measure, my friend is a success. His now-grown kids are well-educated. He has a big house in a good part of town. Paid-for condo in the Caribbean. Influential friends. Lots of frequent flyer miles. Enough time of his own to give serious attention to his school board responsibilities. The margins of his electoral wins and his good relationships with administrators and teachers testify to his openness to dialogue and willingness to listen.

He called me the morning he took the test to say he was sure he hadn’t done well, but had to wait for the results. A couple of days ago, realizing that local school board members don’t seem to be playing much of a role in the current “reform” brouhaha, I asked him what he now thought about the tests he’d taken.

“I won’t beat around the bush,” he wrote in an email. “The math section had 60 questions. I knew the answers to none of them, but managed to guess ten out of the 60 correctly. On the reading test, I got 62% . In our system, that’s a “D”, and would get me a mandatory assignment to a double block of reading instruction.

He continued, “It seems to me something is seriously wrong. I have a bachelor of science degree, two masters degrees, and 15 credit hours toward a doctorate.

“I help oversee an organization with 22,000 employees and a $3 billion operations and capital budget, and am able to make sense of complex data related to those responsibilities.

“I have a wide circle of friends in various professions. Since taking the test, I’ve detailed its contents as best I can to many of them, particularly the math section, which does more than its share of shoving students in our system out of school and on to the street. Not a single one of them said that the math I described was necessary in their profession.

“It might be argued that I’ve been out of school too long, that if I’d actually been in the 10th grade prior to taking the test, the material would have been fresh. But doesn’t that miss the point? A test that can determine a student’s future life chances should surely relate in some practical way to the requirements of life. I can’t see how that could possibly be true of the test I took.”

Here’s the clincher in what he wrote:

“If I’d been required to take those two tests when I was a 10th grader, my life would almost certainly have been very different. I’d have been told I wasn’t ‘college material,’ would probably have believed it, and looked for work appropriate for the level of ability that the test said I had.

“It makes no sense to me that a test with the potential for shaping a student’s entire future has so little apparent relevance to adult, real-world functioning. Who decided the kind of questions and their level of difficulty? Using what criteria? To whom did they have to defend their decisions? As subject-matter specialists, how qualified were they to make general judgments about the needs of this state’s children in a future they can’t possibly predict? Who set the pass-fail “cut score”? How?”

“I can’t escape the conclusion that decisions about the [state test] in particular and standardized tests in general are being made by individuals who lack perspective and aren’t really accountable.”

There you have it. A concise summary of what’s wrong with present corporately driven education change: Decisions are being made by individuals who lack perspective and aren’t really accountable.

Those decisions are shaped not by knowledge or understanding of educating, but by ideology, politics, hubris, greed, ignorance, the conventional wisdom, and various combinations thereof. And then they’re sold to the public by the rich and powerful.

All that without so much as a pilot program to see if their simplistic, worn-out ideas work, and without a single procedure in place that imposes on them what they demand of teachers: accountability.

But maybe there’s hope. As I write, a New York Times story by Michael Winerip makes my day. The stupidity of the current test-based thrust of reform has triggered the first revolt of school principals.

Winerip writes: “As of last night, 658 principals around the state (New York) had signed a letter — 488 of them from Long Island, where the insurrection began — protesting the use of students’ test scores to evaluate teachers’ and principals’ performance.”

One of those school principals, Winerip says, is Bernard Kaplan. Kaplan runs one of the highest-achieving schools in the state, but is required to attend 10 training sessions.

“It’s education by humiliation,” Kaplan said. “I’ve never seen teachers and principals so degraded.”

Carol Burris, named the 2010 Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State, has to attend those 10 training sessions.

Katie Zahedi, another principal, said the session she attended was “two days of total nonsense. I have a Ph.D., I’m in a school every day, and some consultant is supposed to be teaching me to do evaluations.”

A fourth principal, Mario Fernandez, called the evaluation process a product of “ludicrous, shallow thinking. They’re expecting a tornado to go through a junkyard and have a brand new Mercedes pop up.”

My school board member-friend concluded his email with this: “I can’t escape the conclusion that those of us who are expected to follow through on decisions that have been made for us are doing something ethically questionable.”

He’s wrong. What they’re being made to do isn’t ethically questionable. It’s ethically unacceptable. Ethically reprehensible. Ethically indefensible.

How many of the approximately 100,000 school principals in the U.S. would join the revolt if their ethical principles trumped their fears of retribution? Why haven’t they been asked?

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Education Week: Experts Say Social Sciences Are \’Left Behind\’

Education Week: Experts Say Social Sciences Are \’Left Behind\’

via Education Week: Experts Say Social Sciences Are \’Left Behind\’.


It seems that in the movement to increase test scores, a wholistic approach to education has been left behind……….

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Education Week: STEAM: Experts Make Case for Adding Arts to STEM

Education Week: STEAM: Experts Make Case for Adding Arts to STEM

via Education Week: STEAM: Experts Make Case for Adding Arts to STEM.

What do you think of the case?  Would more students become engaged in learning?

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Can We Teach Kids to Be Good Citizens? – Jon Schnur, December 6, 2011

Over dinner this weekend, I listened to public school parents echo an increasingly common refrain. An active mom was disappointed that her child’s school hadn’t been more responsive to her efforts encouraging the teaching of good character. Her husband noted that the school occasionally takes a week to focus on themes like “respect others” — but added that a one-week project feels good without leaving a lasting impact.

(MORE: What Makes a School Great)

Such concerns are fueling a new push in education to not just focus on academic achievement but help students develop character and prepare for active citizenship. Turning this effort into a movement was the primary goal of a recent gathering I joined — convened by former Clinton White House official and author Eric Liu — of educators, scholars and non-profit executives. The nascent movement’s unlikely mix of leaders and advocates include former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’ Connor, parents from all socio-economic backgrounds and academic researchers.

Done well, this movement will strengthen and balance important academic achievement initiatives by empowering students with additional qualities including working hard, sticking with it, respecting others and finding solutions during conflict. The movement has two big ideas — grounded in important new research and old-fashioned American values. The first is that public schools and parents should work together to develop specific character strengths that maximize his or her future success. The second is that schools should help students acquire the knowledge and skills needed to become active participants in American democracy. At their best, these two big ideas get blended — defining and developing character includes community-oriented strengths like teamwork.

New research shows the importance of character strengths and civic skills. In an article in Psychological Science, Angela Duckworth and Martin Seligman report that self-discipline has twice the impact of I.Q. on such outcomes as grade point average, student attendance and admission into selective schools. In the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Duckworth reported that “grit” — defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals — also has major impact on these types of outcomes.

(MORE: Jon Schnur: Who Will Control Your Child’s Education)

A new report co-chaired by Sandra Day O’ Connor, who recently created iCivics, and former Congressman Lee Hamilton argued that we’ll need to significantly increase civic literacy to protect U.S. democracy and prepare students for citizenship. This spring, the National Center for Educational Statistics released data showing that more than two-thirds of 8th grade students didn’t know the historical importance of the Declaration of Independence. Barely one-third of Americans could name all three branches of the U.S. government according to a survey published recently by the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Meanwhile, some schools are creating promising strategies to close these gaps — and they understand evidence showing the mixed impact of well-intentioned programs. They are integrating approaches across a school instead of teaching them in a single class or program, making selected set of character strengths such as respecting others and working hard even after failure “part of the air we breathe” every day. At E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., that happens through weekly school-wide assemblies, training teachers to weave these into daily lesson plans and codes of conduct, helping parents understand and inviting them to use the same language, regularly celebrating specific examples of student behavior exemplifying character strengths and encouraging public apologies for the impact on the individual and community when students transgress.

Adults in these schools model character strengths they are asking kids to demonstrate — and talk openly with kids about successful and unsuccessful efforts to do so. As James Baldwin has said, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders but have never failed to imitate them.” Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) schools are pioneering character report cards to encourage student progress. Instead of replicating vague character education programs, KIPP tracks and provides regular feedback on 24 specific behaviors manifesting these character strengths.

Meanwhile, on the civics front, some teachers now incorporate careful analysis of key foundational American texts not only in history, civics but also in English classrooms. This will become more widespread due to a rigorous, new “common core” of standards adopted by 46 states that include standards on reading, understanding and writing about complex non-fiction texts — including key American documents like the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Emancipation Proclamation. Some schools also integrate active civics in the classroom. Democracy Prep in New York involves all students in voter registration drives while learning about the history and importance of voting.

(MORE: Schnur: Are We Deluding Ourselves About Our Schools?)

American education needs a major expansion into all these areas, and these educators are planting initial seeds. Best practices are being documented and shared through efforts like the American Enterprise Institute’s Program on American Citizenship. With No Child Left Behind being dismantled, states and local schools have the important opportunity to reassess priorities beyond testing and academics and ensure that we’re not just focused on creating good students but also good citizens.

In the recently published Teaching America — a new book on civic education with essays from leaders across the political spectrum — O’Connor shared the story of Benjamin Franklin walking out of Independence Hall after the U.S. Constitution had been signed in 1787. A woman asked Franklin if the founders had created a monarchy or a republic. Franklin was said to reply that America would be “a republic, if you can keep it.”

Schnur is executive chairman and co-founder of America Achieves. The views expressed are his own.

Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2011/12/06/can-we-teach-kids-to-be-good-citizens/#ixzz1fmLYMJ7B

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Obama is a politician? Really? Stop it. Since when?

Obama is a politician? Really? Stop it. Since when?.

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Obama is a politician? Really? Stop it. Since when?

Obama is a politician? Really? Stop it. Since when?.

Posted in commentary on life | Leave a comment