Sunday, June 30, 2013

It Can Happen Here

By Alan Caruba

This appeared here, and I wish to thank Alan for allowing me to publish his work. RK

“How the Jews Defeated Hitler” is the title of a new book by Dr. Benjamin Ginsberg PhD, subtitled “Exploding the Myth of Jewish Passivity in the Face of Nazism.” The title is counter-intuitive because, as is well known, the Nazis murdered six million Jews in Europe during the course of a deliberate genocide that has since become known as the Holocaust.

The author is a professor of political science and is chair of the Center for Advanced Governmental Studies at Johns Hopkins University and the book is more than just a history of that horrific period of history. It is not that long ago. I was a child at the time so, within the living memory of the survivors, their children and grandchildren, as well as others like myself around the world, it is living history.

The value of the book is the way it explains how many of the Jews of Europe, particularly those herded into ghettos, failed to grasp what was happening. “It was initially difficult for most Jews to believe that the Germans actually intended to kill them all.

Another major factor was that the Nazis ensured that they were disarmed and unable to defend themselves, as were others who opposed the regime.

Where resistance fighters emerged, Ginsburg notes that “Germany relied, especially in Western Europe, on the help of local police forces to deal with partisans, and, especially in France and Holland, whose local police were quite helpful.” In occupied France, “The French police helpfully compiled a card index of all the Jews of Paris by name, street, occupation, and nationality.”

Therein lies the fears and concerns of Americans as they slowly come to realize that their government not only knows where they live, but a great deal of information about them courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency, right on down to their local law enforcement authorities.

If or when Obamacare is fully implemented, anonymous bureaucrats will be able to “target” selected Americans who are seeking medical care for death simply by denying it. No need to set up concentration camps to kill them en mass. Just as the little girl who needed a lung transplant that was initially denied by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, individuals identified as “patriots” or other enemies of the state could simply be allowed to die.

So, yes, it can happen here.

The focus of the present day animus against Jews in general—extremely active throughout the Middle East and a major trend in Europe—is the nation of Israel. Zionism, the political movement that supports Israel, is a handy substitute for anti-Semitism.

Dr. Ginsberg, however, notes that “In actuality, Israel’s founding was very much the result of the West’s postwar unwillingness to accept Jewish refugees. Governments that felt that even one Jewish refugee was one too many had to find someplace to resettle several hundred thousand Jews.” The State of Israel, like the mythical phoenix, literally rose from the ashes of Europe’s murdered Jews.

“To the Americans and eventually even to the British, the State of Israel seemed the least undesirable alternative. Within two decades of Israel’s creation (in 1948) though, the reasons for its existence were forgotten or had become irrelevant, and new configurations of political forces gave rise to a renewed European anti-Semitic discourse taking the form of anti-Zionism…The European Left loudly proclaims its anti-Zionism by denouncing Israel as a racist and apartheid state and calling for boycotts of Israeli products, citizens, and ideas.” The United Nations is a hotbed of anti-Semitism.

During World War II, however, Jews played leading roles in the partisan efforts to disrupt German aggression, often held leadership positions in the allied military forces and served within them, were active throughout the FDR New Deal administrations, supported the U.S. bond drives to finance the war, and were instrumental in breaking the codes of the Nazis and Empire of Japan. Jews were also the core of physicists and engineers who developed the atomic bombs that speeded the end of the war in the Pacific.

The same authoritarian and leftist forces, whether it is the rise of Islamic ambitions to conquer the world or the efforts of the Left to impose a one-world government via the United Nations or just to undermine the former power and position of the United States as a defender of freedom, are at work today.

You need not be a Jew to fear the growing centralization of power in the federal government.

If you are a gun-owner, you know that the Obama administration and some in Congress seek to amend and erode the Second Amendment in an effort to take your arms away from you; a common goal of fascism.

If you are a member of the Tea Party or a patriot movement, you now know that the Internal Revenue Service sought to deny applications for tax-exempt status needed for fund-raising.

If you fear that your Fourth Amendment right to privacy is being eroded then you know that the Constitution is under attack.

If you are concerned about government by executive order, then yes, it can happen here.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Issa Looks to Call Lerner Back to Capitol Hill

By Eliana Johnson  June 28, 2013 2:20 PM

Commitee chairman Darrell Issa suggested he is poised to call Lois Lerner back to Capitol Hill in the wake of a House Oversight Commitee vote on Friday that found she waived her Fifth Amendment right not to testify about the IRS’s targeting of tea-party groups. “The Committee remains focused on hearing Ms. Lerner’s full and truthful testimony,” the Republican congressman said in a statement.

Lerner, the former head of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations division, professed innocence before the committee in May before pleading the Fifth, setting off a debate about whether she had waived her rights.

Issa said at the commencement of Friday’s proceedings that he believed Lerner had done so. But it was South Carolina representative Trey Gowdy who went after the former IRS administrator the most aggressively. “That’s not how the Fifth Amendment works,” Gowdy said. “You’re not allowed to just say your side of the story. . . . She could have sat there and said nothing.”….To Read More….

Liberals Sanction Republican Bible-thumping, Just This Once

Written on Friday, June 28, 2013 by Benjamin Duffy

An historical event transpired this month in American politics that went largely unnoticed. For the first time in my lifetime, a Republican referenced scripture in support of his political agenda and he wasn’t compared to the mullahs of Iran.   The Republican was Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and he was speaking of course about “immigration reform”—his words, not mine. I kept waiting for him to be accused of wanting to replace civil law with the Bible and yet it never came.

“Now, we have an obligation to be responsible to our country and not do anything that hurts America but also our faith calls us to compassion,” said Rubio. “If you took compassion or the principle of compassion out of the Bible, it would be in tatters because it’s all over the place.”  The unwritten rule of American politics is that liberals may speak in Biblical terms but conservatives have to keep it secular. Pat Robertson is a menace, an advocate of creeping—and sometimes galloping—theocracy, while Jim Wallis is a respected clergyman with a passion for justice. The Catholic Church is free to advocate for more spending on social services but should keep its nose out of the abortion debate….To Read More…..

Another Federal Appeals Court Rules against Obama Administration’s Contraceptive Mandate

by Hans Bader on June 28, 2013
Contraceptives are easy to obtain, and forcing employers to include a broad array of contraceptives in employee health insurance makes as little sense as forcing an auto insurer to cover routine oil changes. Actually, it makes much less sense, since without an oil change, your car will eventually break down, but some people have no desire to ever use any contraceptive (and get by just fine without them).
But that did not stop the Obama administration from imposing a contraceptive mandate on employee health insurance, requiring even religious employers (with the exception of churches) to provide them (and not just contraceptives, but — more controversially — certain abortifacients). Some objectors, like Bishop Lori, have likened the administration’s demand that Catholic institutions provide contraceptive and abortifacient coverage to forcing a kosher deli to serve ham.
HHS Secretary Sebelius admits that she did not even seek a legal opinion about the legality of this mandate before imposing it, even though many legal scholars have since criticized it, and it created a political firestorm in 2012….To Read More…..

Appeals Court: Hobby Lobby Can Challenge Contraception Mandate, And Will Likely Win

June 27, 2013 - 11:35 PM

DENVER (AP) — An appeals court said Thursday that Hobby Lobby and a sister company that sells Christian books and supplies can fight the nation's new health care law on religious grounds, ruling the portion of the law that requires them to offer certain kinds of birth control to their employees is particularly onerous, and suggesting the companies shouldn't have to pay millions of dollars in fines while their claims are considered.  To ReadMore….

100% Of Tea Party Groups Were Flagged By IRS

Friday, June 28, 2013
On Thursday, Danny Werfel, the acting head of the Internal Revenue Service said that if a group had ‘Tea Party’ in its application “then it was automatically moved into an area for further review.”…To See Video

 

The Trayvon Martin Saga Continues


“Retarded” Racist Zimmerman Trial Witness!!
Written on Friday, June 28, 2013 by David L. Goetsch

In his own inimitable way, Steven Crowder exposes the shallowness and callowness of the prosecution’s case against George Zimmerman. The prosecution’s “star” witness turns out to be an individual who speaks incoherently, changes her “facts” by the minute, cannot read her own communications, and uses racist language to condemn George Zimmerman as a racist. In Crowder’s words the “star” witness for the prosecution is “retarded.” Yet this is the witness the prosecution is using in an attempt convince a jury that George Zimmerman is a racist murderer….To ReadMore….

No evidence Zimmerman eyewitness qualified for Olympics, despite claim under oath
Chuck Ross

The Daily Caller has learned that a witness for the prosecution in the George Zimmerman trial may have fibbed under oath when she said that she was a qualified Olympian.  Jayne Surdyka, who lives in the gated community where Trayvon Martin was killed, was asked Wednesday by state prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda if it was true that she had at some point qualified for the Olympic Games. “During the eighties is, you know, when I was running and they had a marathon in the Olympic Games. I would have been the top three runners.”…… The 1980 Summer Games, held in Moscow, were boycotted by the United States in response to Soviet military actions. But those Games did not hold a women’s marathon event.…… Surdyka is one of several state witnesses shown to have credibility issues…..To Read More…..

Friday, June 28, 2013

Islam, Rape and Theology

June 27, 2013 By Robert Spencer
Wednesday morning I received an official letter from the British Home Office, notifying me that I would not be allowed to enter the country on the grounds that “your presence here is not conducive to the public good.” My colleague Pamela Geller received a similar letter. We had planned to lay a wreath at a memorial to British soldier Lee Rigby, who was beheaded by Islamic jihadists on a Woolwich street on May 22. But it is not conducive to the public good in Britain to oppose jihad violence and Islamic supremacism.
For that is why the ban came down. The Home Office’s letter to me said:
You are reported to have stated the following:
[Islam] is a religion and is a belief system that mandates warfare against unbelievers for the purpose for establishing a societal model that is absolutely incompatible with Western society because media and general government unwillingness to face the sources of Islamic terrorism these things remain largely unknown.
I said no such thing, of course. I generally speak and write in coherent English. But the point is clear enough. I certainly have pointed out that Islam mandates warfare against unbelievers. This is not really a controversial point to anyone who has studied Islam at all. One man who has done so has said that “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.”…To Read More…..

Islam, Rape and Theology

June 28, 2013 By Bruce Bawer
Five days before 9/11, a famous Norwegian social anthropologist (and Norway may well be the only nation on Earth where there is such a thing as a famous social anthropologist) instructed her countrywomen that the way to bring down the high number of rapes – most of which, even way back then, were already being committed by “non-Western immigrants” – was for them to stop dressing in a manner that Muslim men found provocative. Norway, she lectured, was steadily becoming “a multicultural society,” and Norwegian women, if they didn’t want to wind up being brutally ravished in an alleyway by some Pakistani gang, should choose their wardrobes appropriately. Period……What about Syria? An April headline in the Atlantic didn’t pull punches: “Syria Has a Massive Rape Crisis.” A Syrian psychologist who works with rape victims said that she always tells families rape is “a way to break the family” and that she urges them, “Don’t let this break you – this is what they’re trying to do.” (To which the women respond: “Tell that to our husbands.”) A Toronto Star piece acknowledged that rape victims in Syria risk “being cast out or even killed to protect the family’s honour.” – yet managed, as so many of these reports in the Western media do, to omit entirely the words “Muslim” and “Islam.”…To Read More…..
My Take - Western countries are being led down an insane path to attain something called "multiculturalism"! What exactly is it? It is a formula designed to destroy western Judaic/Christian culture by leftist elitists. Why is that so hard to grasp? But this 'seeming' inability to fail to grasp reality is not an accident.  In my opinion it's clearly deliberate.
On Thursday, June 20, 2013I wrote an article titled, “What is it With the Swedes?” regarding a brutal gang rape of a 15 year old Swedish girl by six Muslim youths.  I've never had an overwhelming number of hits from Sweden over the years, except when I posted some articles regarding solar energy during a winter when people were freezing to death in Eastern Europe as a result of insufficient energy.  All due to government policies on CO2 emissions!   But Swedes are regular occasional readers of Paradigms and Demographics, so under these circumstances I would think the number of hits would skyrocket.  It didn’t.  In point of fact I haven’t had a hit from Sweden since I wrote the article.  Is that Sweden’s government censoring the internet?  I believe it is, and this site explains their justification for it.  All of that sounding reasonable on the surface, but I am willing to bet that anyone who wrote similar articles was never read in Sweden either. 
Does anyone beside me find that insane?  I still have to come back to my original question;  What is it with the Swedes?
 

Cartoon Blast From the Past


Monopoly Through Austrian Lenses

Mises Daily: Friday, June 28, 2013 by Jonathan Newman
A recent 60 Minutes piece by Lesley Stahl cut into an extremely urgent problem of our day: expensive sunglasses. The report identified a possible monopoly in the market for glasses, a firm called Luxottica, which owns almost all the leading brands of eyewear, four large retailers of glasses, and even a popular vision insurance provider.
Stahl interviewed the CEO of Luxottica, Andrea Guerra, and questioned his business practices, the prices of his products, and Luxottica’s growth over the years. At times, she almost seemed to scold the successful CEO for, well, being so successful.
In her interview, Stahl complained about the prices of Guerra’s products, saying, “they're very expensive. They can be very expensive.” Guerra, with a heavy Italian accent, responded with “They can. This is one of the very few objects that are 100-percent functional, 100-percent aesthetical, and they need to fit your face for 15 hours a day. Not easy, and there is a lot of work behind them.”
Other hard-hitting remarks like “How does the consumer benefit from all of this?” and “Your prices are still high,” were met with nonchalant (yet true) answers like, “Everything is worth what people are ready to pay.”
Do Guerra’s profits indicate that he is a consumer-harming monopolist? What light does Austrian economics shed on this question?....To Read More….
My Take - I posted this because I think it is reflective of just how worthless 60 Minutes really is, and how silly their 'personalities' are. First of all; I wonder why this man ever submitted himself to such silliness. He owns the business and he can charge whatever he darn well pleases, and whether the consumer benefits or not is up t0 the consumer to decide.  Price, quality, availability will all factor in the consumer’s decision.   His only concern about consumer benefit should be that he makes a reliable product that sells....period! If he chooses to go the "Bic" pen route and make a buck by selling a billion glasses to as many people in the world as he can; then that's his decision. If he chooses to make a buck by selling them to a chosen few because of the price....well .....that's his business also.  So who cares what Lesley Stahl thinks anyway?  The importance of this post is showing how worthless the main stream media is to "their" consumers. 

 

Cato's Court: Part 1

By Rich Kozlovich

I often go to the various Cato Institute's web sites for links to posts I feel are important to gain clarity of thought.  I came across a link to the cases the Cato Institute has positioned themselves on...either for or against.  Most of what they stand for is rational, but they often remind me of the ACLU in their approach to the Constitution....all rhetoric and no values. 

Here is the first in my series called Cato's Court, including My Take on the subject.
Shelby County v. Holder
By Ilya Shapiro and Matt Gilliam
January 2, 2013
It is long past time to declare victory over Jim Crow and move on to a healthier stage of race relations, particularly with respect to how the American people elect their government representatives. This term the Supreme Court has a chance to do that in a case examining the continuing constitutionality of an important but now outmoded part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Shelby County, Alabama is challenging Section 5 of the VRA, which requires that certain states and counties — as determined by a decades-old formula — receive approval (“preclearance”) from the Department of Justice or a federal district court in Washington before implementing any change to their election regulations, no matter how modest....To Read More....
My Take - This whole voting rights issue will come up a couple of more times in this series. One thing that will become abundantly clear is this: This issue has nothing to do with voting rights at all! It has a great deal to do with an attempt to continue a system of corruption in these states by officials of the federal government to rig the election outcome. There is another thing that will become clear. The desire to turn the Constitution on its head by federal officials in order to gain more power over every aspect of our lives is frightening, and can only be construed as corruption.

Climate vs. Climate Change

By Paul C. "Chip" Knappenberger and Patrick J. Michaels June 27, 2013
There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding in the difference between climate and climate change.  This is on very public display in the president’s recently unveiled Climate Action Plan, which details a series of executive actions designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an attempt to control the future course of the climate.
In justifying the need for these actions, and why he doesn’t have time to wait for Congress to act, the president points to numerous recent examples of extreme weather disasters while linking weather extremes to climate change brought about by anthropogenic greenhouse gases emissions.  In doing so, he goes awry of the best science.
Here’s why….To Read More….

The Carbonated President

WSJ

President Obama's climate speech on Tuesday was grandiose even for him, but its surreal nature was its particular hallmark. Some 12 million Americans still can't find work, real wages have fallen for five years, three-fourths of Americans now live paycheck to check, and the economy continues to plod along four years into a quasi-recovery. But there was the President in tony Georgetown, threatening more energy taxes and mandates that will ensure fewer jobs, still lower incomes and slower growth.

Mr. Obama's "climate action plan" adds up to one of the most extensive reorganizations of the U.S. economy since the 1930s, imposed through administrative fiat and raw executive power. He wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17% by 2020, but over his 6,500-word address he articulated no such goal for the unemployment rate or GDP.

The plan covers everything from new efficiency standards for home appliances to new fuel mileage rules for heavy-duty trucks to new subsidies for wind farms, but the most consequential changes would slam the U.S. electric industry. These plants, coal-fired power in particular, account for about a third of domestic greenhouse gases.

Last year the Environmental Protection Agency released "new source performance standard" regulations that are effectively a moratorium on new coal plants. The EPA denied that similar rules would ever apply to the existing fleet, or even that they were working up such rules. Now Mr. Obama will unleash his carbon central planners on current plants. …To Read More….

Obama’s Radical Climate Agenda

By The Editors National Review Online, www.nationalreview.com  June 26, 2013

It is remarkable that when the scientific consensus on global warming is at its weakest state in years, President Barack Obama has decided to make the issue a new focus of his troubled presidency — and, indeed, that he intends to use the issue as the launching pad for a radical extension of federal power even more significant than his health-care takeover.

President Obama campaigned as a man of science, though he himself has no scientific training. He lambasted his critics as being anti-science Luddites and even enjoyed an endorsement from Bill Nye the Science Guy, who allowed his name to be associated with dishonest and unfair attacks on Republicans. Barack Obama, of course, is not a science guy. For example, he has flattered far-left conspiracy theories about common vaccinations, saying, “The science right now is inconclusive,” which is a position about as scientifically defensible as claiming that the dinosaurs went extinct because Fred Flintstone ordered too many bronto-burgers…..To Read More…..

New Deal Utopianism

by George Leef

Back to the Land: Arthurdale, FDR’s New Deal, and the Costs of Economic Planning
by C.J. Maloney (Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2011), 292 pages.
Drive south from Morgantown, West Virginia, and you soon come to the little town of Arthurdale. At the outskirts of town, there is a roadside plaque informing those who stop to read it that Arthurdale was “Established in 1933-34 under the Federal Homestead Act.” We also learn that it was a “pet project” of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and that the town was created to “assist the unemployed through self-sufficient farming and handicrafts.”
That certainly makes Arthurdale sound wholesome and quaint — proof that the federal government has the ability to improve the nation. As usual, however, there is much more to the story, and in Back to the Land: Arthurdale, FDR’s New Deal, and the Costs of Economic Planning, C.J. Maloney, a writer for Bloomberg News, gives us a commendably thorough and illuminating history of Arthurdale. The town was a gigantic economic flop that was kept alive only with transfusions of taxpayer money. Far from an advertisement for the glories of government social intervention, the Arthurdale story is a testament to the social and economic damage that such intervention does.......“Those responsible for Arthurdale were like a plague of locusts, consuming far more than they gave.”...To Read More.....

Wind Power Lunacy

By Alan Caruba

This originally appeared here, and I wish to thank Alan for allowing me to publish his work.
Can you love nature when it is covered with wind turbines? Or solar panels?
Putting aside the scientific, engineering, and economic idiocy behind the use of wind turbines and solar panels to generate less than three percent of the electricity used nationwide—or that, if the wind is not blowing and the sun not shining, electrical energy must be supplied by back-up traditional coal, natural gas, nuclear and hydroelectric plants.
My personal objection to wind power is the sheer ugliness of these devices. The notion of covering hillsides and plains with them is an offence to the land—to the nature Greens profess to love—and to the many thousands of birds they slaughter every year.
I can’t prove it, but I suspect that the only reason we have any wind energy, i.e. windmills and solar panels, anywhere in the U.S. is a combination of the huge propaganda power of the Greens, bribery, the stupidity and chicanery of politicians, and the gullibility of people who actually believe that wind—which does not blow all the time—is a rational source of power generation.
Suffice to say, the wind power industry would not exist without state government mandates for its use, federal tax credits, and the deafening silence of environmentalists who want to save every species on Earth with the exception of the wind turbine's slaughter of a million of eagles, hawks, geese, bats, and other flying creatures every year.
The cliché is that great minds think alike and recently there have been a spate of editorials and commentaries, all coincidently written by colleagues of mine. One of them is Dr. Jay Lehr, the science director of The Heartland Institute, for which I am a policy advisor along with others with far more impressive credentials than my own as a longtime science and business writer. On June 17, The Wall Street Journal published Dr. Lehr’s commentary, “The Rationale for Wind Power Won’t Fly.”
“After decades of federal subsidies—almost $24 billion according to a recent estimate by former U.S. Senator Phil Gramm—nowhere in the United States, or anywhere else, has an array of wind turbines replaced a single conventional power plant.” Dr. Lehr inferentially raises the question of why any nation would spend that kind of money without receiving sufficient and equivalent electrical power. It is a very good question.
As Dr. Lehr noted, “It’s known to everybody in the industry that a wind turbine will generate electricity 30% of the time—but it’s impossible to predict when that time will be.” There are about 24,000 of these hideous machines according to the American Wind Energy Association and, given their lobbying, that number could double in the next decade. They will still not produce sufficient electricity—let alone predictable and constant electricity—for a small city.
Neither wind nor solar power will provide sufficient electrical energy. This begs the question why they even exist.
The short answer is that wind and solar have been sold to the public (which pays more for the electricity they produce) as not producing “greenhouse gas emissions” that are blamed for a global warming which is not happening, but the main gas, carbon dioxide, is vital to all life on Earth, being the “food” for all plant life, much of which we consume as crops such as wheat, corn, and rice. As a demonstration of the idiocy and hypocrisy of environmentalists, huge quantities of corn are, by government mandate, converted to ethanol—moonshine—that must be added to gasoline.
Another colleague, Rich Kozlovich, has a commentary in circulation that asks why the “Precautionary Principle” that is beloved by the Greens is not applied to wind turbines. Rich quoted another colleague of mine, CFACT’s Paul Driessen, “The Precautionary Principle insists that no new technology should be permitted until it can be shown that it will pose no threat to human health or the environment.” If fully applied, humanity would be denied another medication, chemical, or technological innovation.
“The hard reality is that the green movement does not care about facts, wildlife or humans,” says Kozlovich, “and logical consistency is totally alien to them…Green elites ‘know’ what is best for all of humanity,”
I doubt he will get the plaudits and recognition he deserves, but Dr. John Droz, Jr., a physicist, has devoted his knowledge to providing the best collection of scientific date available regarding the futility and stupidity of wind power. Dr. Droz has a website where you can learn the FACTS about wind power or you can Google his name to find his many excellent articles on the subject.
I have cited some of those facts, as has Dr. Lehr, Paul Driessen, and Rich Kozlovich, but it does not take an advanced degree in physics or any other science to grasp why constructing thousands of wind turbines to produce a miniscule amount of electricity has been one of the most idiotic enterprises to emerge from the vast global warming/climate change hoax.
Instead, we live in a nation whose president insists that climate change is the greatest threat to mankind and who is devoting the powers of government to shut down coal-fired plants, deter exploration and extraction of energy reserves on lands owned by the federal government, delaying the construction of a new pipeline, and the construction of new nuclear facilities. One of his suggestions for power generation is algae, pond scum.
© Alan Caruba, 2013

This bird rare enough for you, greenies?


By James DelingpoleEnvironment,  June 27th, 2013
This appeared here, and I wish to thank James for allowing me to publish his work. 
A few days ago in this space I posted a picture of a gull which had been decapitated by a wind turbine located – with delicious irony – in the Brighton constituency of Green MP Caroline Lucas. What was interesting, though not exactly surprising, was the defensiveness of the usual troll suspects who haunt the comments section below.
Some of them tried the "since when have you ever cared about wildlife, Delingpole?" gambit. To which I would have replied – if I talked to trolls, which I generally don't, on principle – "What evidence can you offer that I don't?"
Others tried the "well it was only a seagull. Seagulls are a bloody menace in Brighton". To which I now reply: "All right then. How about this White Throated Needletail? This one rare enough for you – or are you not going to be satisfied till wind turbines have taken out the last Asian crested ibis or Kakapo parrot?"
If it weren't so sad and unnecessary it would almost be funny:
“It is tragic. More than 80 people had already arrived on the island and others were coming from all over the country. But it just flew into the turbine. It was killed instantly."
You can imagine it in a Mike Leigh movie: the twitchers with their anoraks and their long lenses; the cries of jubilation at the sighting; then, "thud".
I'm afraid it just makes me angry and upset, though. When I researched this piece on the RSPB's shameless financial relationship with the wind industry I spoke to several bird watchers who were absolutely devastated by the damage they'd witnessed being wrought on often rare birds by wind turbines.
Another disappointed member is Terry O’Connor, a retired panel-beater, who for 30 years has watched migratory birds such as Brent geese and Bewick’s swans near his home in Silloth, Cumbria.
When Npower applied to build four wind turbines in the middle of the route, birdwatchers begged the local RSPB area representative for help.
At first the RSPB was supportive and planners rejected the application. But when the developer appealed, the RSPB mysteriously withdrew its objection and the turbines were built.
Mr. O’Connor said: ‘The developers came up with some cock-and-bull plan about how they were going to pay farmers to feed the geese to lure them away from the turbines.
'But to anyone who knows anything about bird behaviour this is a nonsense.
'Now the turbines are up and of course the birds haven’t changed their flightpath. Locally we all feel utterly betrayed by the RSPB. They should never have let this happen.’
And in April last year, two Hen Harriers (which the RSPB works so aggressively to save elsewhere through vigorous prosecutions of gamekeepers on grouse moors) were killed at the Griffin windfarm at Aberfeldy in Scotland, run by the RSPB’s former business partner SSE.
The charity waited eight months to announce the news but made no criticism of its former partner. Instead it said: ‘It is important to remember that climate change still poses one of the biggest threats to birds and other wildlife.’
Perhaps if this goes on the RSPB should consider a name change. Royal Society for the Prevention of Birds.

Aerial mosquito spraying study finds no immediate public health risks

UC Davis researchers say emergency room visits remained stable during the last big Sacramento area-wide sprayings for West Nile virus
June 27, 2013
In what researchers say is the first public health study of the aerial mosquito spraying method to prevent West Nile virus, a UC Davis study analyzed emergency department records from Sacramento area hospitals during and immediately after aerial sprayings in the summer of 2005. Physicians and scientists from the university and from the California Department of Public Health found no increase in specific diagnoses that are considered most likely to be associated with pesticide exposure, including respiratory, gastrointestinal, skin, eye and neurological conditions.
The study evaluated emergency room visits in Sacramento County hospitals on days that pesticides were sprayed as well as the three days following spraying.
This week, mosquito control officials said the region’s recent rainstorms and warming temperatures have increased stagnant water and favorable conditions for mosquitoes, which will likely magnify the incidence West Nile virus and the risks of human transmission. The mosquito-borne disease first appeared in the state about 10 years ago. It already has been detected in dead birds and mosquitoes in at least 10 counties in recent weeks, including Sacramento and Yolo. However, the adult mosquito population has yet to increase to levels that require aerial spraying over heavily urbanized areas as was done in the Sacramento region in previous years…..To Read More….

Google protect crooks

Posted by jonjayray under Uncategorized
Google can be very high-handed in dealing with those who use their services. They seem to see us as disposable trash. Which is fair enough, I suppose. You get what you pay for and most Google services are free.
I think it is a cause of concern, however, when they protect crooks at the expense of the general public. If crooks can cover their tracks, they can go on deceiving and ripping off people.
And Google DO protect crooks. If some crook asks for a report of his misdeeds to be deleted, Google will delete it from their servers. They can’t be bothered weighing up the rights and wrongs of complaints, apparently. So crooks appear to have a completely open go to sanitize their record.
That has happened to me twice now. Two shady gentlemen in Australia about whom I had blogged succeeded in getting my blog posts taken down by Google. I reproduce below the latest takedown notice and a follow-up notice when....To Read More....

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Common Core: Teaching to the New Test – PART I

By Mary Grabar | June 13, 2013 

This originally appeared here and I wish to thank Mary for allowing me to publish her work.  There are three parts to this series and all three are posted here.  Please take the time to read these articles thoroughly.  RK  
It took the sleeping giant a while to figure out what was going on with the Common Core (so-called) State Standards. Put together largely by a well-connected Washington, D.C., non-profit called Achieve, these education “standards” were attached to the Race-to-the-Top contest in 2009 for $4.35 billion in stimulus funds. Forty-eight states entered the contest. Today, promoters claim 45 states plus the District of Columbia are still signed up, but a bipartisan grassroots effort is changing this.
While Alaska, Nebraska, Virginia and Texas refused to adopt Common Core standards, the Michigan governor signed legislation passed by both houses that defunds Common Core. In Indiana and Pennsylvania, lawmakers have voted to pause on implementation. Seven other states are presenting serious challenges, and the Republican National Committee recently adopted a resolution rejecting the standards.
Common Core defenders seem to be a bit surprised that the public should even notice. They have been pushing back with op-eds in the Wall Street Journal and other places.
The New Math
In the May 6 Wall Street Journal, UCLA mathematics professors Edward Frenkel and Hung-His Wu began their attack on the RNC’s resolution—“Republicans Should Love ‘Common Core’”—with claims that could have come from a sales brochure. Common Core standards, they insisted, are “rigorous academic standards in mathematics and English language arts” that are the “culmination of a meticulous, 20-year process initiated by the states and involving teachers, educators, business leaders and policy makers from across the country and both sides of the aisle.”
The Common Core standards are needed, they warned, to halt a “deep crisis” in math education, which is coming from a “fraction-phobia,” which in turn arises from “incomprehensible and irrelevant textbooks” that explain fractions by using pizza slices or “ill-defined notions like ratio.” Their own presumably superior explanations involve ratios “defined geometrically as points on a number line,” with multiplication then being “the area of the rectangle formed by the two line segments.”
My Ph.D. is in English but I understood the “concept of ratios” in sixth grade, as well as the formula for multiplying numerators and denominators. I do not follow their explanation.
Common Core also confuses students and their parents by stressing word problems and explanations over understanding concepts and formulas. Students who do not come up with the correct answers can acquire partial credit for explanations—offering a ready means of closing the “achievement gap,” the overriding goal of the Obama Department of Education. Parents across the country are alarmed, though, when their children who do the math correctly only get partial credit when they do not provide explanations using the educators’ jargon and charts. For example, one school boy had points taken off even though he correctly identified one bridge as being longer than another. The reason? He did not “explain” why through the elaborate codes and byzantine drawings that Common Core demands.
Earlier this year, educator James Shuls, in his article for Education News, “Why We Need School Choice,” explained why he had to withdraw his children from their public school: administrators refused to consider his pleas to return to the simpler pre-Common Core math. (He reproduces some of their homework assignments in his article.)
Barry Garelick, who is credentialed to teach middle school and high school math, in his article, “The Pedagogical Agenda of Common Core Math Standards,” in the same publication, reported that at seminars on implementation “process” still trumps “content.” He concludes that adoption of the math standards “will be a mandate for reform math—a method of teaching math that eschews memorization, favors group work and student-centered learning, puts the teacher in the role of ‘guide’ rather than ‘teacher’ and insists on students being able to explain the reasons why procedures and methods work for procedures and methods that they may not be able to perform.”
Professors Frenkel and Wu ignore such issues, as well as cost and constitutionality. They instead use a small problem (explanation of fractions) as an excuse to revamp an entire system. Even if their explanations proved to be better than the old ones (giving them the benefit of the doubt) they could simply suggest changes to textbooks or publish new ones. No doubt, in a free marketplace, their superior ideas would prevail.
Common Core for Common Knowledge
Another thin argument for Common Core came a week after Frenkel and Wu’s column. On May 13 the Wall Street Journal published a column by Sol Stern, of the Manhattan Institute, and Joel Klein, former chancellor of New York public schools and currently vice president of News Corp. (parent company of the Wall Street Journal) and CEO of Amplify, the News Corp.’s education division that offers a plethora of Common-Core aligned digital curriculum materials for sale. They wrote that Common Core presents an alternative to “progressive education philosophy,” which “opposes any set curriculum for the schools.”
“Progressives,” they explained, “tend to favor pedagogical approaches in the classroom such as ‘child-centered’ instruction and ‘teaching for social justice,’ rather than rigorous academic content.”
Stern has been a long-time opponent of progressive education and a promoter of E.D. Hirsch’s Core Knowledge curriculum program. Hirsch is an old-style liberal whose idea of Cultural Literacy, also the title of his 1987 bestseller, is aptly described by Wikipedia as “the idea that reading comprehension requires not just formal decoding skills but also wide-ranging cultural background knowledge.” Hirsch found that a common knowledge in the sciences and humanities was necessary for cultural cohesion and academic achievement. For this, of course, he was reviled by progressives.
Stern believes Common Core (as “standards”) can be used to adopt the Core Knowledge program that has proven beneficial in the ten schools in which it was implemented in New York City (under the direction of Klein). In the Summer 2012 issue of City Journal, Stern wrote that the “standards” are “creating a historic opportunity to introduce Hirsch’s curriculum to many more schools and classrooms.”
Furthermore, according to Stern, “the standards themselves make clear that they do not constitute a curriculum; they merely state what children should know at the end of each grade level and the skills they must acquire to stay on course toward college or career readiness. Each school system still needs to find a curriculum—that is, the particular academic content taught by teachers from lesson to lesson and from grade to grade—that will help its students achieve the standards.” Common Core, presumably leaves the “content-rich curriculum” up to the districts, while at the same time it refers (quoting from the standards themselves) to “some particular forms of content, including mythology, foundational U.S. documents, and Shakespeare.” Stern seems to be reassured by both the vague references to the classics and promises of freedom allowed to the districts.
But that is not the way the authors of the report evaluating Common Core national tests see it (“On the Road to Assessing Deeper Learning: The Status of Smarter Balanced and PARCC Assessment Consortia,” produced by the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards & Student Testing (CRESST)). The UCLA professors concluded that the new assessments will send “powerful signals to schools about the meaning of the CCSS [Common Core State Standards] and what students know and are able to do. If history is a guide, educators will align curriculum and teaching to what is tested, and what is not assessed largely will be ignored.”
This and what other Common Core testing enthusiasts have said should have injected a jolt of reality into Stern’s and Klein’s wishful thinking. Oddly, as we shall see in the next installment, Part II, they are the very same progressive educators that Stern has opposed in the past. What these progressives mean by tests/assessments is very different from what most of us think.
Common Core: Teaching to the New Test – PART II
Characteristics of “teacher-centered” education include a “core curriculum based on the traditional disciplines,” emphasis on learning content and skills, and letter and/or percentage grades based on tests that determine the student’s aptitude and mastery of the subject matter. Yet, Common Core ignores such research.

By Mary Grabar | June 20, 2013 This originally appeared here
The New Testing Converts
Although scores have slipped and classroom discipline has deteriorated, progressive teachers insist that the classroom of old, with its discipline and tests, was repressive. But with Common Core, suddenly, testing opponents become advocates.
Among the converts is Columbia Teachers College professor Lucy Calkins, whose progressive ideas and programs have been the object of Sol Stern’s attacks. Ironically, last summer, Stern blasted Calkins’s progressive “child-centered” reading and writing program “that disdained content knowledge and any prescribed curriculum.”
Calkins is co-author of the popular Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement. This teacher’s guide decries the “skill and drill” of the previous administration’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program in favor of “deep reading” and “higher-level thinking.”
The publisher, Heinemann, also produces ready-to-go curricular material and offers workshops on Common Core by Calkins and her colleagues.
Another convert to testing is Stanford education professor Linda Darling-Hammond, Obama’s education director on his presidential transition team, and Bill Ayers’s choice for Education Secretary, as he campaigned in the Huffington Post in January 2009. She, of course, did not get that job, but was instead put in charge of $176 million of stimulus funds to develop tests under one of two consortia (to bypass the questions of constitutionality that would arise by administering one test).
Darling-Hammond has been promoting Common Core widely. In a 2009 Harvard Educational Review article, she announced that Common Core would eclipse “the narrow views of the last eight years” by encouraging “deep understanding,” employing “multiple measures of learning and performance,” and “developing creativity, critical thinking skills, and the capacity to innovate.” In 2010, in Education Week, she again asserted that her assessment system would go “beyond the recall of facts” (of NCLB testing). These new assessments would show “students’ abilities to evaluate evidence, problem solve and understand context,” she promised.
Preview from Sample Test Questions
Testing will not get underway until the 2014/2015 school year, although at least one state, Arizona, is preparing by incorporating Common Core test questions into its own tests.
But we have a preview of what test questions will be like in Joan Herman and Robert Linn’s previously cited CRESST report. The authors give four examples of test questions offered by the two consortia, PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) and Smarter Balanced (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium), the latter Darling-Hammond’s group.
The first Smarter Balanced Sample Performance Assessment Task for 11th grade English Language Arts uses the topic, “Nuclear Power: Friend or Foe?” This complex and highly contentious (and non-literary) issue is thrust upon teenagers in a 20-minute discussion where the teacher is instructed: “Using stimuli such as a chart and photos, the teacher prepares students for Part 1 of the assessment by leading students in a discussion of the use of nuclear power.” The discussion should entail having students “share prior knowledge about nuclear power” and discuss “the use and controversies involving nuclear power.” Afterwards, for 50 minutes, students are to complete “reading and pre-writing activities,” in which they “read and take notes on a series of Internet sources about the pros and cons of nuclear power.” They then “respond to two constructed response questions” that ask students to evaluate the credibility of the arguments discussed.
The writing assignment directs students to behave as activists as they use 70 minutes to “compose a full-length, argumentative report for their congressperson in which they use textual evidence” to justify their pro or con positions.
The report authors look for DOK, or Norman Webb’s Depth of Knowledge criteria, a favorite measurement tool of progressive educators. DOK distinguishes presumed levels of knowledge, from 1 to 4, broken down as 1) recall, skill/concept, 2) application of concepts, 3) applications requiring abstract thinking, and 4) extended analysis that requires “synthesis and analysis across multiple contexts and non-routine applications. “ Level 1 is the lowly disparaged “skill and drill,” the ability to recall facts. “Deep” and its cognates pepper the Common Core academic, promotional, and sales literature.
Open-ended questions and group projects that test for such high DOK levels, however, open the door to subjective analysis. How does one assess “creativity” and the “capacity to innovate”? The nuclear power assignment allows for only the shallowest kind of analysis when it comes to understanding the science, but records a high level on DOK.
On May 29, the Smarter Balanced consortium also released sample questions. For eleventh grade ELA (English/Language Arts), the questions similarly concerned ideological and trivial questions about public art, meditation, and “sustainable fashion.” The other questions concerned anonymous passages written in a pedestrian prose style or spoken by a computer-generated voice about Ferris wheels, a volcanic island, arachnids, and fluoridation. These questions did not even approach the complexity of content and style associated with classic works of literature.
For sixth-grade math, the CRESST report showcased another activity-based assignment that involved group discussions on “Taking a Field Trip.” The teacher is to introduce students to the topic and “activate prior knowledge of planning field trips” by leading students in a “whole class discussion” about previous field trips and “creating a chart” of the top choices determined by a class vote, “followed by a whole class discussion on the top two or three choices.”
Student tasks then are to: Recommend the place for the field trip, based on the class vote; determine the per-student cost for various choices; evaluate a student’s recommendation about going to the zoo based on a given cost chart; and write a short note to the teacher arguing for a destination.
The next assessment, for PARCC seventh-grade ELA, is based on using textual evidence from books and articles about Amelia Earhart. It seemed to be directed in a feminist direction, i.e., involving discussions about Earhart’s “heroism” as a woman.
The last sample question is a PARCC Performance-Based Mathematics Task Prototype for High School, “Golf Balls in Water,” which, according to the report, “exemplified DOK4 through a multipart investigation of linear relationships using an experiment involving the effect on the water level of adding golf balls to a glass of water.” It is not clear if students are to do this as a group.
The authors of the CRESST report conclude, “the increased intellectual rigor—DOK level—that both consortia’s assessments are intended to embody is both a tremendous strength and a potential challenge to implementation.” While praising the new assessments’ abilities to “address much deeper levels of knowledge, application, communication, and problem solving than do current state assessments,” they note that the “availability of resources” will make a difference in how well they are accepted.
The vendors are standing at the ready to accept “resources” from taxpayers.
The Failure of Constructivist Learning and DOK
As Barry Garelick pointed out (see Part I) in his article criticizing Common Core math, “[students] are called upon to think critically before acquiring the analytic tools with which to do so.” In the nuclear power assignment students are asked to make quick judgments and then act as advocates. Such pedagogy opens the door to indoctrination.
This kind of pedagogy also fails to improve student learning as Paul A. Kirschner, John Sweller, and Richard E. Clark reveal in their 2006 Educational Psychologist article, “Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching.” They conclude, “After a half-century associated with instruction using minimal guidance, it appears that there is no body of research supporting the technique. In so far as there is any evidence from controlled studies, it almost uniformly supports direct, strong instructional guidance rather than constructivist-based minimal guidance during the instruction of novice to intermediate learners.”
One of the cited studies found that medical students who used problem-based learning (PBL) made more errors than those who were taught the traditional way. The problem with such minimal guidance pedagogy is that mental energy is wasted as the brain is asked to simultaneously search for knowledge, pull together data, and apply it.
Such studies back up what common sense and hundreds of years of education tell us: that one needs a base of knowledge first in order to know what to look for when conducting research, doing problem-solving, and even reading. This is precisely what E.D. Hirsch found when he first analyzed reading skills: those students who did not have a base of knowledge had difficulty in reading comprehension. E.D. Hirsch’s observations have been borne out by an analysis of studies conducted by the late Harvard education professor Jeanne Chall in her book, The Academic Achievement Challenge. Chall found that the traditional mode of teaching, “teacher-centered,” was more effective in academic achievement than the progressive “student-centered” mode—especially for low-and-middle-income students. Characteristics of “teacher-centered” education include a “core curriculum based on the traditional disciplines,” emphasis on learning content and skills, and letter and/or percentage grades based on tests that determine the student’s aptitude and mastery of the subject matter.
Yet, Common Core ignores such research. In almost every way it follows failed methods of “student-centered” learning by whatever name it goes by—constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, or inquiry-based.
So we need to wonder: do the bureaucrats have a different idea of education in mind? Do they not believe that the purpose of schools is to produce independent, civically engaged adults knowledgeable about science, history and literature, and prepared to employ their skills in writing and math?
The words of the most prominent test developer, the Secretary of Education, and our president, as we shall see, suggest a radically different view. The new “assessments” seem to be intended to eliminate excellence, promote collective thinking, and track “non-cognitive skills.” We’ll take a look at what they have said about such brave new world “assessments” in Part III.
Common Core: Teaching to the New Test- Part III
Common Core replaces individual excellence with collectivism. The rigorous debates between two individuals or two teams are replaced by consensus-building in “democratic” discussions in groups. Short in-class Internet research projects of less than two hours replace the in-depth research papers written individually, and over many days. There is barely time to form one’s own thoughts.
By Mary Grabar  June 27, 2013 - This originally appeared here…..
Common Core’s Promotion of Collectivism and Infantile Tasks
Common Core basically is the “student-centered” learning based on the ideas of progressive education theorist John Dewey, and disproven by the numerous studies analyzed by Jeanne Chall.
As Chall showed in her book, The Academic Achievement Challenge, progressive ideas have not raised academic achievement levels, especially when it comes to the lower and middle classes, where they are used most often. Private schools have consistently produced better results and have relied on a “teacher-centered” model. Now the Obama administration wants to impose standards that produce lower academic achievement on everyone. Call it the great new leveling.
As indication of lower standards, the education bureaucrats are adding a new component to ELA (English/Language Arts) assessments: “Speaking and Listening.”
Teaching “Speaking and Listening” skills is now deemed to be necessary even for eleventh- and twelfth-graders because of supposedly new demands of a 21st century technological age. These speaking and listening skills, however, do not entail public speaking or debate. Rather, they promote the basic behaviors once taught in kindergarten. They infantilize students, while pressuring them to conform to group consensus.
Under Common Core “Speaking and Listening” standards, students are rated under “Comprehension and Collaboration” through three steps. The first is to “initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions . . . with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics.” Under this criterion are four components: a) preparation for discussion by reading and researching; b) “work with peers to promote civil, democratic discussions and decision-making, set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles; c) propel conversations through posing and responding to questions;” and, d) “respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives.”
The second criterion calls for presenting data in diverse formats and multimedia, evaluating a speaker’s point of view, and then making a clear presentation, with strategic use of digital media. Students are evaluated on how well they adapt “to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating a command of formal English, when indicated or appropriate.”
Note that this is not debate, as traditionally understood, in which debaters prove the superiority of their positions with evidence and delivery. Instead, there is mushy collaboration and uncritical openness to “diverse” perspectives.
Similarly, the writing tasks under Common Core slightly resemble research and writing of yore, but when looked at closely we see that students will be asked to uncritically gather and compile “evidence.” There is no assurance that students will have the needed knowledge to discern among all the information, like Internet sources and random isolated “primary texts,” to be able to make judgments, whether in writing or speaking. Behavioral modification is clearly an intent with the speaking and listening standards, however.
Common Core replaces individual excellence with collectivism. The rigorous debates between two individuals or two teams are replaced by consensus-building in “democratic” discussions in groups. Short in-class Internet research projects of less than two hours replace the in-depth research papers written individually, and over many days. There is barely time to form one’s own thoughts.
The Real Goals of the Test Maker: Closing the “Achievement Gap”
In many ways, Common Core is an attempt to fulfill the Obama administration’s overriding goal of closing the “achievement gap.” President Obama described this goal to parents and students at a townhall in Washington in March 2011, when he said, “’Too often what we have been doing is using [standardized] tests to punish students or to, in some cases, punish schools.’” The March 29, 2011, Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that “Obama said Monday that students should take fewer standardized tests and school performance should be measured in other ways than just exam results.”
Common Core is designed to do that precisely. Short reading assignments in groups ensure that lagging readers keep up. Group projects and projects that presumably test for “creativity” and DOK levels allow for grade redistribution and extra points. (To iterate from Part II, DOK or Norman Webb’s Depth of Knowledge criteria is a favorite measurement tool of progressive educators.)
Linda Darling-Hammond, the Obama education transition team leader, now directing the development of one of the two tests, has been a long-time advocate of closing the achievement gap through such progressive educational strategies.
She discussed it in her November 2009 speech to the Grow Your Own organization in Chicago. The speech was then published in a 2011 collection titled Grow Your Own Teachers. Significantly, this is a title under the Columbia Teachers College “Teaching for Social Justice” series edited by Bill Ayers, the terrorist Weatherman-turned-education-professor, and close Chicago associate of Obama. Echoing her editor’s exaggerated claims and style, Darling-Hammond rejected “the imaginary model classroom where every student is learning in the same way at the same pace at the same time,” for a classroom culture of “revision and redemption.” She insisted, “Students can learn at high levels if they have the opportunity to undertake a challenging task with clear guidance and scaffolding, and if they receive feedback from peers with a rubric so that they can see what the standards are, and then attempt it again. . . .” In Darling-Hammond’s estimation, the opportunities for revision, with the additional help of “scaffolding,” should replace objective testing. Frequent assessment should be aligned to the student’s previous level and should be used only as a guide for future learning–and not to place the student in competition to others. Her vision of academic equity in assessment outcomes aligns with the idea of redistributing funds to poorer school districts, as the Department outlined in the February 27 report, For Each and Every Child—A Strategy for Education Equity and Excellence.
Arne Duncan’s Promises
Darling-Hammond was praised by Education Secretary Arne Duncan in his keynote speech to the American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference this year on April 30. Duncan promised conference goers holding signs protesting against testing that the new Common Core assessments being produced by Darling-Hammond would be to their liking. He mollified them by criticizing the “almost obsessive culture around testing” that hurts the “most vulnerable learners and narrows the curriculum.” He said it was “heartbreaking to hear a child identify himself as ‘below basic’ or ‘I’m a one out of four.’”
Nothing was said about efforts to help such children improve their scores and reach “‘above basic.’” Nor was anything said about high achievers, many of whom have left public schools because of the longtime emphasis on not leaving any child behind.
What was proposed were new assessments, assessments that would test students’ “soft skills” and “non-cognitive skills.” Duncan cited Paul Tough’s “outstanding recent book,” How Children Succeed, as well as “a multitude of studies, and James Heckman’s analysis of the Perry Preschool Project.” Duncan declared that “the development of skills like grit, resilience, and self-regulation early in life are essential to success later in life”—a direct reference to the Education Department’s report, “Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century” that promotes the disturbing ideas of behavioral psychologists interviewed in Tough’s book.
A “sea-change” is underway, Duncan said, thanks to educators’ favorite progressive:
“As Linda Darling-Hammond noted recently, ‘The question for policymakers has shifted down from, “Can we afford assessments of deeper learning” to “Can the United States afford not to have such high-quality assessments?”’”
Duncan’s stated hope in this speech, that a “richer curriculum” would follow these assessments, gives the lie to the idea that Common Core has nothing to do with curriculum.
Darling-Hammond was listed in the program at this AERA conference. Her colleague and collaborator Bill Ayers, who characterized Arne Duncan as “Obama’s ideological soul mate,” was listed on the program as participating in eight different events, including a tribute to Hugo Chavez. They were likely in the audience, nodding in approval to Duncan’s words, and not at all worried that our schools would abandon progressivism for a traditional pedagogy, like E.D. Hirsch’s.
Mary Grabar, Ph.D., has taught college English for over twenty years. She is the founder of the Dissident Prof Education Project, Inc., an education reform initiative that offers information and resources for students, parents, and citizens. The motto, "Resisting the Re-Education of America," arose in part from her perspective as a very young immigrant from the former Communist Yugoslavia (Slovenia specifically). She writes extensively and is the editor of EXILED. Ms. Grabar is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.