The National Education Association (NEA) held its most recent convention in Chicago in July 2011. While they expressed some dissatisfaction with President Obama and his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, they decided to endorse the President for a second term as the lesser of the two evils. Nevertheless, the delegates did not hesitate to approve of a resolution directing the NEA’s president to “communicate aggressively, forcefully, and immediately” to President Obama and Secretary Duncan that the NEA was appalled with Duncan.

According to Phyllis Schlafly’s Education Reporter: “The resolution went on to lay out 13 charges against Duncan, including focusing too heavily on charter schools, failing to respect and honor the professionalism of teachers, weighing in on local hiring decisions, and focusing too heavily on competitive grants (i.e. Race to the Top).”

The resolution was endorsed by the union’s board of directors, which gave it its highest priority. The union has been screaming bloody murder over the lay-off of teachers and support staff due to budget cuts. But even the NEA has had to trim its own budget by $14 million by downsizing its national staff.

In what is becoming a crucial battle in the war being waged by an ever-expanding federal authority against the sovereignty of the states, Alabama has been instructed to heed the voice of the power on the Potomac. On Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a letter to the Attorney General of Alabama, Luther Strange, instructing him that despite the position taken in his earlier correspondence to the department, the DOJ has authority to conduct investigations into possible violations of the civil rights of immigrants.
Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, the author of the DOJ missive, was responding to a letter from Strange penned earlier in the week. In that letter, Strange demanded that the federal department inform him as to the authority granted to it to require schools in Alabama to report demographic enrollment data to the DOJ.
 
 

An elementary school field trip to the Wisconsin State Capitol got out hand when the teacher allowed his fourth-grade students to participate in a protest against embattled Governor Scott Walker, the current target of the state’s public school teachers’ unions. A video of the incident, obtained by a Milwaukee Fox News affiliate, shows students clapping along while protesters sing a modified version of the Woody Guthrie folk song, “This Land Is Your Land,” with a verse that includes the incendiary line, “Scott Walker will never push us out, this house was made for you and me.”

Thanks to a wonderfully patriotic French couple, Jean-Pierre and Cecile Mouraux, Uncle Sam has been saved from multicultural oblivion and is now living and thriving in the very farm house in Mason, New Hampshire, where the original Uncle Sam spent his boyhood. When Cecile and Jean-Pierre, who had been collecting Uncle Sam posters, found out that the house was for sale, they bought it and turned it into the Uncle Sam Museum.

It seems odd that a French couple, who settled in California in 1979, would adopt Uncle Sam, America’s unique icon, representing the spirit and pride of America, and make Americans once again aware of this great symbol’s significance. But they didn’t start out with this idea. They came to America to create their own American dream, which had its incredible ups and downs.

Their first enterprise, in which they invested their savings, was a tour guide company, specializing in providing French and French speaking visitors with a complete tour service. Their goal was to have them discover and love America, especially California and the Bay Area. They did a thriving business until a new Socialist government in France limited what French tourists could spend abroad: $200 a year per person. That killed their business. In a short time they were flat broke.

But they found an immediate solution to the problem of survival: baby-sitting. At first they earned $2.00 an hour. But soon Cecile found a customer who also needed house-cleaning. That enabled Jean-Pierre to contribute his special talents.

Since its launch on YouTube on September 26, the pro-life documentary 180, produced by Christian apologist Ray Comfort, has gone “viral,” receiving nearly 1.4 million views in just a little over one month. The 30-minute video features man-on-the-street interviews in which Comfort manages to change the minds of several “pro-choice” young people as he confronts them with undeniable parallels between Hitler’s Holocaust, which claimed the lives of over six million Jews, and America’s own abortion holocaust, which has killed more than 53 million babies in nearly 40 years.

But the video, which is garnering attention worldwide for how effectively it reveals the murderous truth about abortion, is not only a YouTube phenomenon. Comfort said that his ministry is using it on college campuses, and pro-life activists have been purchasing DVDs to distribute to others. “It’s not only being watched online, people are buying it to give away,” Comfort said in a recent press release. “We have sold more than 150,000 copies in a matter of weeks. One small church purchased 16,800.”

In late October Comfort’s Living Waters ministry organized a one-day campaign during which volunteers distributed 200,000 DVDs of the video on more than 100 college campuses across the U.S. Comfort said the university giveaway “was very special because it put the physical DVD into the hands of the youth of America, and engaged many in healthy dialogue.”

The U.S. Department of Education’s statistical and testing arm, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), released its latest “progress” report November 1st: The survey measuring fourth- and eighth-grade scores on the controversial National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, was billed as having found “significant” improvement for both grades in math and a slight improvement in reading — until one examines the numbers. The Washington Times piece by Ben Wolfgang, reported that reading scores among fourth-graders “remained flat on the study’s 500-point scale,” results that overall fall far short of the proficiency standards set for 2014 in math, reading and science by the No Child Left Behind Act. This Act is currently being rewritten to provide waivers and other changes to accommodate its failure without admitting so outright.

But a graph depicting the just-released NAEP scores, published by Associated Press as percentage figures in the print edition of The Washington Times piece, shows at most, a 2-percent change in both subjects between 2009 and 2011. Note that there is always at least a 3-percent margin of error for such statistics, which tells us these numbers mean precisely — nothing.

And what of Asian minorities, which have historically done considerably better than whites, blacks or Hispanics? Scores for Asians were not broken out; the only mention from the NCES site is that they were unchanged — indicating that Asians are still doing better at the same comparative rate.

Despite the public perception that public school teachers in general are underpaid, Jason Richwine, senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation and co-author of “Assessing the Compensation of Public-School Teachers,” says “the reality is that it’s just not true. There’s no way to look at the data and conclude that they are underpaid. They are certainly paid more than they can get if they work in the private sector…” In fact, Richwine found that “public-school teachers receive compensation about 52% higher than their skills would otherwise garner in the private sector.”

The reason for the study is that “We want to reform the way teachers are paid. We want to pay the good teachers a lot and the bad teachers not much, or move them out of the profession. We can’t really [get] reform of that kind without understanding the current situation.”

Previous studies that show teachers to be underpaid have grievous flaws and leave out critically important pieces of the compensation package, says Richwine. Most studies that show teachers as underpaid don’t take into account the richer retirement plans provided to teachers, their post-retirement health insurance coverage, and their shorter work year. In addition, job security is provably higher in teaching than in the private sector, says Richwine. Finally, under current practice it’s hard not only to pay the good teachers what they’re worth, it’s hard to know who those teachers are.

Congress should end federal aid to education. This aid has not improved reading scores.

One of the great advantages to being an octogenarian is having lived through a great deal of history. That gives one a perspective on life that the young — everyone under 60 — does not have. I remember the days when I would look around and find myself perhaps the youngest person in the crowd. I took great delight in that. Today I look around and I am usually the oldest.

But I know that God has kept me around for a purpose, and I suspect that He wants me to keep doing what I have been doing for the last 40 years: writing mainly about education and promoting homeschooling.

How different is education today from what it was when I first attended a public school back in New York City in the early 1930s! That was during the Great Depression, but I don’t remember anyone I knew being depressed. My father was in the produce business; thus, we always had plenty of food on the table. My mother actually made her own noodles for chicken soup. She also made her own gefilte fish (stuffed fish), which tasted a lot better than the bottled variety they sell in today’s supermarkets. I was also able to walk to school and come home for lunch, which consisted of a fried egg sandwich and a glass of milk. I remember admiring the smiling policeman who stopped traffic so that we could cross the avenue on our way to the neighborhood school.

On Saturdays my friends and I went to the movies. Price of admission? Ten cents. In those days a penny could get you a Tootsie Roll, a package of gum, a bun. Five cents could get you a great tasting hotdog.

The Internet is very much like television in that it takes time away from other pursuits and provides entertainment and information, but in no way can it compare with the warm, personal experience of reading a good book.  This is not the only reason why the Internet will never replace books, for books provide the in-depth knowledge of a subject that sitting in front of a computer screen cannot provide. We can download text from an Internet source, but the aesthetic quality of sheets of downloaded text leaves much to be desired. A well-designed book enhances the reading experience through the visual and tactile senses.

The book is still the most compact and inexpensive means of conveying a dense amount of knowledge in a convenient package. The easy portability of the book is what makes it the most user-friendly format for knowledge ever devised. Kindle, of course, is also quite portable, but you can’t make notes on the book you are reading. Kindle is a portable library, very convenient when traveling, but not the fuzzy book you can curl up with on a cold winter night.

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