Three hundred sixty six years ago today a man was born who became one of history's foremost explorers of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. His name was Eusebio Francisco Kino, and a statue honoring his contributions to what became the state of Arizona now graces National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building. This little-known American hero began his life in the small town of Segno, Italy. He was educated in Austria, joined the Society of Jesus in 1665, and departed as a missionary for Mexico in 1678. For the next 33 years until his death in 1711, Father Kino dedicated his life to developing civilization in the uncharted wilderness of the new world.

 

The state of Wisconsin is seeking relief from the No Child Left Behind education reform law after the Obama administration announced it would permit states to receive waivers from the strict testing requirements under NCLB. In an announcement made by Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Monday, Duncan indicated that states would be allowed waivers if they utilize other accountability measures. Wisconsin State Superintendent Tony Evers and Governor Scott Walker immediately jumped at the opportunity. They created a task force that represented a number of state education interests in order to find alternative accountability measures that would best suit Wisconsin’s interests.

According to Evers, No Child Left Behind, George W. Bush’s signature education law, is broken.

Andrew Coulson of the Cato Institute concurs.  Citing a study conducted by Jaekyung Lee at Harvard in 2006 using data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Coulson explains:

Students attending a summer school program in Louisville, Kentucky, were treated to lessons on American liberty that focused on the superiority of the free market, the gold standard, the American Constitution, and the failures of tyrannical regimes.

USA Today
reports:

During the five-day Vacation Liberty School, talks, skits and activities mixed conservative values and early American history, including stories about how colonists' prayers once helped turn back a threatening French fleet and the principle of equal opportunity, but not necessarily equal results.

While Standard and Poor's downgrade of the U.S. government's credit rating has drawn much attention in the last few days, a generally overlooked report by Moody's Investment Services on the poor performance of student loans suggests higher education may be in a financial "bubble" that could burst in a stagnant economy that offers declining rewards for a college or university degree.

Titled "Student Lending's Failing Grade" the report appeared in the Moody's Analytics publication for July, 2011.  It notes that dollar balances on student loans have increased by double-digit rates in the past decade and the number of loans has continued to increase in recent years as more people have been seeking education and training in a declining job market. But the tightening of lending standard in other sectors of the economy that followed the financial crisis of 2008 has not affected student loans, the report found.

Federal spending for K-12 education increased by approximately 1,050 percent between 1970 and 2009 (the most recent years for which firm figures exist). But public schools — the ones almost 90 percent of U.S. children attend  — have seen negligible gains over that period. Private schools aren’t panaceas, either, thanks to university departments of teacher training that are steeped in spurious education “research” gushing from component agencies of the U.S. Department of Education (DoE), in defiance of federal law.

Since its inception in 1976, the DoE has worked to control all aspects of schooling and circumvent local prerogatives, hiding its agenda in plain sight under the terms “Best Practices,” “reform,” and “innovation.” Its greatest helpmates have been state Governors, via the National Governors Association (NGA), the host center for “Best Practices”; the National Education Association (NEA); and UNESCO, to which the NEA, in particular, has contributed heavily since 1948. In short, the NGA, the NEA, and the DoE have colluded with the United Nations to bypass U.S. laws.

Republican-led state legislatures have stirred more school choice debates this year than ever before, as Republicans seek to reform state budgets and rekindle student achievement. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states have introduced bills this year which would use government funding to send poor and special needs children to private schools. Nine voucher bills were proposed in 2010, of which the sole survivor was a special needs voucher program in Oklahoma. Six states have passed some form of school choice program this year, including both voucher and tax credit legislation. Progress in educational reform has developed largely in the aftermath of the 2010 elections. "I think that there’s long been an interest among Republican legislators, but this year is the first time they’ve gained so many seats in so many states and gained majorities," asserted Josh Cunningham, a member of the state legislatures group. "There was a window of opportunity to get these bills passed. It was kind of the perfect timing."
 

Pro-homosexual groups have targeted a Minnesota school district just outside of Minneapolis for its unwillingness to discuss homosexuality in the classroom. The groups point to seven suicides within two years at the school district as proof that the subject should be addressed by the schools, since parents and friends say that four of those students were either "gay," perceived to be "gay," or questioning their own sexuality. A number of groups have filed a lawsuit against the school district, and the federal government has indicated it will perform a formal investigation into the district’s policy.

In 2009, the Anoka-Hennepin School District adopted a policy that indicates staff must “remain neutral on matters regarding sexual orientation” and that “such matters are best addressed within individual family homes, churches, or community organizations.”
 

American education has seen one “reform” movement after another. The most recent incarnation, “Race to the Top,” was initiated in 2009 by the Obama Administration. It is structured around a serious-sounding program called the “Common Core of State Standards Initiative Project,” or CCS for short, which is set for implementation in 46 states, at last count, in 2012.

Most people alive today actually remember “reform” measures that date only from around 1970, even though many of these originated much earlier, sometimes reappearing under new names: the Effective Schools Movement; Mastery Learning, revived around 1980; America 2000 in 1992; Goals 2000, built around a program called Outcome-Based Education in 1993; and No Child Left Behind in 2002, which, in turn, promoted a curricular program called the International Baccalaureate, which people mistook for its pre-War European counterpart.

During a July 20 Department of Education event in Washington, D.C. — the third of its kind this summer — area schoolchildren were given access to free books, two of which featured Nickelodean's cartoon icons Spongebob and Dora the Explorer pushing an environmentalist agenda and encouraging children to accept the widely debunked notion of man-made global warming.

The books are part of Nickelodeon’s “Big Green Help Series,” a campaign launched by the network in order to teach children to help protect the Earth.

As noted by CNS News, however, one of the books takes a particularly controversial position, purporting not only that global warming exists, but that it is in fact a man-made phenomenon, and can only be solved if humans change their behavior:
 

Semester after semester, I continue to encounter students for whom the proposition that science alone is the embodiment of unimpeded Reason is axiomatic. But it isn’t just my college students who think thus; most adults seem to be just as mistaken on this score. That this notion of science pervades not just the popular culture but academia as well can be gotten from the readiness with which specialists in a variety of non-scientific disciplines seek to impose a scientific character on their work. Considering the image of science that they affirm — an image according to which science is, if not necessarily the exclusive means by which to secure the Truth, certainly the most legitimate of such means — this should come as no surprise. And if the Intellect reaches its glorious culmination in the practice of science, this is only because the scientist alone among the mortals that walk the earth has succeeded in bracketing his prejudices in order to attain an “objective” and “impartial” perspective on the world. The scientist has liberated himself from all preconceptions; he is concerned with the brute “facts” and only these.
 

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