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Dangerous Projects in Public Schools
|VOL. 43, NO. 8||P.O. BOX 618, ALTON, ILLINOIS 62002||MARCH 2010|
Dangerous Projects in Public Schools
Obama is using the public schools to recruit a private army of high-schoolers to "build on the movement that elected President Obama by empowering students across the country to help us bring about our agenda." We now know that Obama's "agenda" is to move the United States into European-style Socialism.
Obama's internet outreach during his campaign, Obama for America, has been renamed Organizing for America (OFA) in order to recruit students to join a cult of Obama and become activists for his goals. The teacher of an 11th-grade government class in Massillon, Ohio, passed out the sign-up sheet, headed with Obama's "O" logo, asking students to become interns for Organizing for America. We're indebted to Pamela Geller of AtlasShrugs.com for putting the curriculum on the internet.
These interns will be given an intensive nine-week training course using comprehensive lesson plans. Assigned readings include Saul Alinsky's notorious Rules for Radicals, Stir It Up: Lessons from Community Organizing and Advocacy by the left-wing activist Rinku Sen, and particular sections of Dreams From My Father dealing with Obama's days as a community organizer in Chicago.
Republican students will be filtered out of the intern program by requiring applicants to answer questions that reveal their politics. One example is, "What one issue facing our country is important to you and why?"
Geller said the purpose of this training to become Alinsky-style community organizers, is "of course, to elect more Democrats." The internship program is specifically geared to get the kids working in the 2010 elections.
The sign-up sheet for Organizing for America starts with this instruction: "Organizing for America, the successor organization to Obama for America, is building on the movement that elected President Obama by empowering students across the country to help us bring about our agenda of change." The application explains that this national internship program is "working to make the change we fought so hard for in 2008 a reality in 2010 and beyond."
This is not the first time Obama has tried to enlist schoolchildren into an Obama cult. Last fall, the instructions mailed to every school by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan added a very political dimension to Obama's speech that was broadcast to public school children on September 8.
Geller explained the extensive political dimension of the new intern program. The OFA student interns will be trained in the goals and language of the left: "anti-war agitation, anti-capitalism, Marx, Lenin, [Bill] Ayers, LGBT agenda promotion, global warming, soft-on-jihad, and illegal immigration."
Another item on OFA's reading list is The New Organizers by Zack Exley. It brags about "an insurgent generation of organizers" inside the Obama campaign that has "almost without anyone noticing . . . built the Progressive movement a brand new and potentially durable people's organization, in a dozen states, rooted at the neighborhood level."
The ten-page "National Intern Organizer Curriculum" is very specific in describing the tactics that interns will be taught. It includes these components: "Using Story as an Organizing Tool, Building Relationships and Building Teams, Mobilizing to Win On the Issues (issue advocacy), Health Care Service Project."
Passage of Obamacare is one of this intern project's major goals. The curriculum promises to provide "insight on the strategy and plan behind the health care campaign" and "further motivate them to work on the issue."
The sign-up sheet states that the "purpose" of training these students is "to build community" among the interns and teach them "to be leaders in OFA's organizing work." After all, Barack Obama knows a great deal about being a community organizer; that was his only job before he got into politics.
Job prospects may be bleak for many Americans, but they will be rosy for alumni of Obama's intern program. After the students have been fully trained as Alinsky-style community organizers, they will be eligible for jobs in Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, or Learn and Serve America.
Those three so-called "service" organizations, which annually dole out millions of dollars to left-wing groups, are overseen by the Corporation for National and Community Service. The U.S. Senate just confirmed this Corporation's new chief executive, Patrick Corvington, who was a senior official of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which has given over a million and a half dollars to the ACORN network of organizations.
The Fordham Law School Center on Law and Information Policy investigated education records from all 50 states and discovered that states are collecting far more information than necessary and failing to take appropriate measures to safeguard student privacy and protect them from data misuse. The study also found that this collection of information is often not compliant with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
Furthermore, 80% of states do not have a system to delete student records, and therefore are likely to maintain them indefinitely. The only punishment for a FERPA violation is for the Department of Education to withhold federal education funding, but the Department has never done that.
Some states collect a lot of data that has nothing to do with student test scores, including Social Security numbers, disciplinary records, family wealth indicators, student pregnancies, student mental health, illness, and jail sentences. A few states record health information about students such as the date of a students' last medical exam and the students' weight.
The collection of student databases that track students from pre-school through entry into the workforce began with the emphasis in the 1990s on testing and standards, expanded under "No Child Left Behind" mandates, and has been significantly boosted by the Obama Administration because of the promise of federal grants awarded through the Race to the Top competition and other parts of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Fordham law professor Joel R. Reidenberg, who oversaw this study, said that states are "trampling the privacy interests of those students," and that years later, when these kids are adults, information from their elementary, middle and high school years will easily be misused by hackers and others.
The Fordham report made numerous recommendations to beef up student privacy such as collecting only information relevant to articulated purposes, purging unjustified data, enacting time limits for data retention, and hiring a Chief Privacy Officer for each state.
There is no indication that these suggestions will be implemented because the Obama Department of Education officials believe that collecting personally identifiable data is "at the heart of improving schools and school districts." One of the four reform mandates of the Race to the Top competition is to establish pre-kindergarten to college-and-career data systems that "track progress and foster continuous improvement." Federal stimulus funds provide at least $250 million to help states build these student data collections.
The advocates of this massive data collection project, in which individual students are clearly identifiable, claim that this is necessary to enable policymakers and educators to evaluate student and teacher performance. They assert that the ability to track individual students enables educators to predict which students are in danger of dropping out, determine which are the better teachers and curricula, and track trends in academic progress by ethnicity and income level.
Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan has an important ally for promoting student data systems in the Data Quality Campaign (DQC), an organization founded in 2005, largely with money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The organization's January 2010 publication, The Next Step, praises the "enormous progress" states have made in developing these data systems, but complains that the states have not yet moved to "alter policies, programs and practices to spur continuous improvement at every level."
In other words, teachers, school districts and state policymakers have thus far not used the data they already have in order to make educational decisions, even as an increasing number of personal details about each student are stored.
The advocates of this massive data collection seem to have little or no concern for privacy protection. The DQC asserts that "Data are only useful if people are able to access, understand and use them." The DQC website explicitly supports linking education data with "workforce, social services and other critical state agency data systems."
DQC executive director Aimee Guidera admitted that unnecessary data has "probably" been collected in some cases, but said the larger concern is that most states lack a "strategic, thoughtful way of connecting information and using it to answer questions."
A recent Education Week article noted that privacy laws have made it challenging to link K-12 and postsecondary data in states that prohibit schools from storing students' Social Security numbers; however, the Fordham Center found that 32% of states already record each child's SSN. It is also possible that some states might opt to change their statutes concerning SSN data to pave the way for receiving more federal money to implement longitudinal student databases. The changing of such laws may be what the DQC has in mind with their current focus of "helping states identify and put in place the necessary policies and practices" necessary to implement "robust" student-level longitudinal data systems.
All 50 states now have in place at least five of the DQC's ten "essential elements" for a statewide longitudinal data system. Within the next three years, 47 states plan to have eight or more elements in place. "It's happened at a really breakneck pace over the past year," said Ben Passmore, director of policy research for the University System of Maryland.
Let me share with you an interesting article from the Washington Post about the teacher of an all-black class in a high school in Alexandria, Virginia, who expressed his frustration at how poorly the students were performing. The class included both native-born African-Americans and kids who had immigrated from Africa.
In a moment of exasperation, the teacher blurted out this question to the native-born students: "Why don't you guys study like the kids from Africa?" One of them shot back the answer. The kid replied, "It's because they have fathers who kick their butts and make them study." Another student called out: "Ask the class, just ask how many of us have our fathers living with us."
The teacher did ask the class, and not one hand went up. The students have figured out, even if school teachers and administrators are still in the dark, that the essential difference between kids who make it in school, and those who don't, is whether they have their father in the home.
It isn't a matter of race; the African-Americans and the Africans are the same race. It isn't because the school doesn't have enough money; this school has so much money that it gives every student a laptop of his own.
Now we see the terrible consequences of what Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously predicted in 1965 when Lyndon Johnson started his Great Society spending. Welfare reform was passed in 1996 and even signed by President Bill Clinton, but President Obama had those reforms repealed in his Stimulus bill last year.
The anti-marriage feminists are unwilling to fault the matriarchal society, and so the academic feminists keep looking for other causes of poor grades by minority students. An outfit called the Race, Culture, Class and Gender Task Group is trying to get the University of Minnesota to make race, class and gender the "overarching framework" of all teacher education coursework.
This busybody Task Group is part of the University's Teacher Education Redesign Initiative, which is premised on the notion that Minnesota teachers' lack of "cultural competence" contributes to the poor academic performance of minority students. The plan would require teachers to be re-educated so they will teach Minnesota minority kids that America is an oppressive, racist, sexist, homophobic country.
According to the final report of the Race, Culture, Class and Gender Task Group last year, in order to effectively teach a diverse class of students, teachers must understand how "white privilege, hegemonic masculinity, heteronormativity, and internalized oppression" have impacted their thinking.
The report demands that teachers be trained to instruct students on the U.S. "myth of meritocracy," the "history of white racism," and "demands for assimilation to white, middle-class, Christian meanings and values." This Task Force even has plans to browbeat into submission those who don't accept these new liberal dictates. The Task Force calls on the University to develop "a remediation plan" for non-performing students and teachers.
Such outlandish proposals have not gone unnoticed. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) accuses these re-education plans of violating "the freedom of conscience of the university's students," and the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) charges that these plans "ignore academic goals and lead to a politicized determination of who is qualified to be a teacher."
The University of Minnesota is pretending to back off from the more outrageous of these proposals, but they are totally in sync with William Ayers' "social justice" teaching and the more recent buzz word "cultural competence." The bottom line is to teach the younger generation that they are victims of an oppressive and unjust America, and that they should organize and demonstrate (a la Saul Alinsky) to take power and money away from those who have those things.
Another ominous straw in the wind is Obama's appointment of six way-out radicals to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), whose mission is to evaluate whether accrediting agencies are properly assessing the quality of colleges and universities. The appointees are the sort of Obama extremists who will be likely to try to enforce diversity mandates and social engineering on institutions seeking accreditation.
The most important thing schools should do for minority (and other) schoolchildren is to teach them how to read by phonics in the first grade. They could do this inexpensively with my First Reader, and if the schools refuse, this book is the perfect tool for parents to teach their own children.
Instead of phonics, most public schools teach 1st- and 2nd-graders to memorize a few dozen commonly used words and guess at the other words from the pictures on the page. The failure to teach phonics means that kids don't learn how to sound out and read bigger words.
Would you belong and pay dues to a foreign organization that is anti-morality and anti-marriage? If not, why do we allow the United States to use our taxpayers' money to pay dues for membership in UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)?
One of President Ronald Reagan's many excellent decisions was his 1984 termination of U.S. membership in this United Nations affiliate because it was corrupt, anti-Western, and a vehicle for far-left propaganda. We enjoyed a nearly 20-year splendid absence from UNESCO's expensive gatherings in Paris of foreign bureaucrats promoting globalist mischief.
President George W. Bush put us back in UNESCO in 2003 as part of his steady retreat from Reaganism, and devotion to an undefined New World Order. President Obama hasn't yet said anything about UNESCO, but, he is a self-proclaimed "citizen of the world" who is favorable to all global organizations.
Riding on the word "educational" in its name, UNESCO has adopted the pretense that it is in charge of prescribing curriculum for schoolchildren all over the world. UNESCO has even been trying to position itself to influence U.S. school curriculum.
In 2004 in Paris, UNESCO signed a 26-page "Cooperation Agreement" with Microsoft Corporation to develop a "master curriculum (Syllabus)" for teacher training in information technologies based on standards, guidelines, benchmarks, and assessment techniques. This agreement states that the Syllabus will "form the basis for deriving training content to be delivered to teachers," and "UNESCO will explore how to facilitate content development."
UNESCO's Director General boasted that one of the goals is to foster "worldwide curricula reflecting UNESCO values." This fall, UNESCO has been busy writing guidelines for the teaching of sex education, supposedly in order to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
In these guidelines, UNESCO tells teachers in all countries to present abstinence until marriage as "only one of a range of choices available to young people" to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Other choices would surely be more fun.
The working draft of the guidelines calls for children aged five to eight to be taught in school about masturbation (age five means starting in kindergarten). Five- to eight-year old children would also be taught about same-sex couples and tolerance of different sexual orientations.
Schoolchildren aged 9 to 15 are to be given more detailed discussions about masturbation. New topics on the list for nine-year-olds include orgasm and abortion.
It's no surprise that the guidelines feature enthusiastic support of abortion. UNESCO's guidelines assert that teachers should discuss "advocacy to promote the right to and access to safe" abortion for students starting at age 15.
According to UNESCO, students should be taught that "legal abortion performed under sterile conditions by medically trained personnel is safe." Teachers should also discuss "emergency contraception" and how to get "access to safe abortion and post-abortion care."
After the news broke about what was actually in the guidelines, one of the key agencies that funded UNESCO's guidelines, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), asked that its name be removed. It's unclear whether UNFPA is critical of the guidelines, or of their explicit wording, or merely of the bad publicity generated by release of the working draft.
UNFPA's announced goal is "universal access to reproductive health services by 2015." UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programs "to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS."
The week after UNFPA pulled its name from the UNESCO guidelines, UNFPA held a conference in Berlin to train 400 activists to advocate for abortion around the world. At the end of the conference, UNFPA issued a statement urging all nations to provide taxpayer-financed abortions, to "eliminate parental . . . and age restrictions" for young people to access "the full range of sexual and reproductive health information and services," and to increase funds for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) advocating abortion and other "reproductive health care services."
Public reaction to the UNESCO sex-ed guidelines caused UNESCO to make several changes before presenting them at the UNESCO meeting in Birmingham, England, in September 2009. However, there was no apology for the explicitness of the sex-ed curriculum; UNESCO asserted that its guidelines are "evidence-informed and rights-based."
Criticism was not universal. Time Magazine went on the attack against what it called "the knee-jerk outrage of conservative pundits," and reminded Time's readers that the UNESCO guidelines will "undergo sober and thoughtful examination in more open-minded places . . . like Ethiopia."