Public education isn’t doomed. Here’s how to save it.

Another View — Diane Sekula: Public education isn’t doomed. Here’s how to save it.

I’ve said it before, but I think that it’s worth saying again. If you are going to have public schools, then you need for schools to be held accountable to the public for their spending, curriculum and all related activities. Anything less is unacceptable. What we have now is unacceptable.

What we have now is a focus on teacher and student accountability, but a lack of focus on accountability in regard to spending and curriculum.

To be sure, teachers need to be held accountable for their work with students, and students need to be held accountable for their own educational attainment. I would argue that there are better ways of doing this than what is now being done, but that it is a necessary evil. For the time being, however, we cannot afford to be hyper focused on teacher and student accountability. This myopic focus has allowed the problems associated with a lack of accountability in other areas to proliferate.

In terms of curriculum, we are saddled with the hastily put together Common Core state standards that were forced upon states through President Obama’s Race to the Top grant program. The standards are, without argument, often developmentally inappropriate and are not nearly as stringent as the old Massachusetts state standards; which although abandoned in favor of Common Core, are still widely regarded as being the best standards in the country.

This initiative has, in fact, been such a failure that it has been regarded as a “third wheel” by the Democratic Party, which urged its members to stay away from any discussion of it. Where is the accountability for this?

Why is it that although the standards have not been proven to have any positive impact on the academic development of our children, any move to rescind the standards is met with complete and absolute resistance, the kind of resistance only afforded to a very few in this country? Could it be because the amount of money to be made by textbook companies, data mining companies, and online learning programs that promise to personalize and somehow magically eliminate the so called achievement gap is in the billions of dollars? Or could it be that the ideologues bright with the abstractions they gleaned from their professors at their Ivy League institutions are certain that the country would be better off with a planned economy that includes early career tracking; oft referred to as a talent pipeline, like that promoted by self proclaimed education experts such as Marc Tucker who proposed such a system; with its distinct similarities with the systems found in Germany and other Eastern European countries in his now infamous, “Dear Hillary” letter?

Or could it be that the money-making schemers and the ideologues are one and the same, tossing aside our children for a cause or a few dollars?

In addition to her past support of charter schools, Hillary Clinton’s husband and the Clinton Foundation have ties to for-profit education institutions and have accepted money from monied charter school supporters like Eli Broad. Likewise, Donald Trump is a known charter school supporter.

What is the problem with charter schools? Some are good. Many, however, are not. In addition to the myriad of high profile scandals where charter schools have been criticized for taking only high performing students or subscribing to draconian testing and disciplinary policies in areas with a high population of minority students, the problem with charter schools, with their appointed instead of elected school boards, is that they are held even less accountable to the public.

The average American child spends approximately six hours per day in school. That’s six hours of time where they are susceptible to the whims of the politicians and money movers who snake their way into schools through policies, grants, promises and handshakes with the upper echelon of government and union officials. We do indeed need public school accountability, but not the kind that we have now.

Given the current political climate in this country, one has to wonder what will become of public education and the future of this country whose public schools, while imperfect, with their lingering problems and imperfect scores, have in fact produced unprecedented numbers of doctors, scientists, engineers, teachers, authors, playwrights and, more importantly, thinkers.

Diane Sekula is a former public school teacher, most recently at Cawley Middle School in Hooksett.
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Will Public Education Survive the Next Administration?

“While the pubic remains largely in the dark, a massive upheaval of our public school system is well underway, and recent proposals from both major political parties indicate that the transformation will move full speed ahead regardless of who is elected president this fall.”

Save Maine Schools

Donald Trump has called Common Core a “disaster.” The leaked DNC emails refer to the standards as a “political third rail.”

At this point, however, the controversial standards may be more of a red herring than anything else.

While the pubic remains largely in the dark, a massive upheaval of our public school system is well underway, and recent proposals from both major political parties indicate that the transformation will move full speed ahead regardless of who is elected president this fall.

The new system is designed to expand the education market by allowing out-of-district providers (online programs, non-profits, local businesses, and even corporations) to award credit for student learning. At the same time, it doubles down on workforce development by aligning educational outcomes to the needs of industry leaders.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, students will “no longer [be] tethered to school buildings or schedules.”…

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An Expected Blow, but Painful Nevertheless

Citing that the ballot question was improperly certified by Attorney General Maura Healey,  the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court today ruled against allowing the ballot question over whether or not to end Common Core in Massachusetts to proceed.

Over one hundred and thirty thousand signatures were obtained. Volunteers spent hours of their time standing at supermarkets, attending town meetings; doing anything and everything in their power to get this initiative onto the ballot. As a reward for their efforts, they were silenced and spanked over a technicality.

One hundred and thirty thousand people wanting to get this initiative on the ballot is not a small number and is, in fact, well over the number of required signatures to move the initiative forward. Had the initiative landed on the ballot, it would have been successful. The previous Massachusetts standards were far superior to Common Core standards. There is no question about this, it is a widely accepted fact. That Common Core continues is a case of monied elitists using their power to silence the masses.

Given the amount of money to be made when the curriculum and testing, whether it be notorious high-stakes tests such as SBAC and PARCC or its more insidious, sneaky end-game plan Competency Based assessments, line up , it is no surprise that this happened. Never under estimate the amount of power and money behind this initiative. It’s not about what’s best for kids, it never has been. It has been about keeping the masses, of any shape, color or religion in line. Our country is in very serious trouble.

“You can fly with the eagles or soar with the turkeys.”

This is so true. We are raising a society of complacent worker bees who don’t know that it is OK to question, let alone actively seek to question things. As a parent and a teacher I find it very disappointing.

Get A Life

  • I recently read an article in Psychology Today that discussed the “dumbing down of America,” something I have witnessed for quite some time. Believe me when I tell you I am not an intellectual snob, although I do love to be around individuals that are interested in developing their minds. I am a very curious person and was brought up by a mother who encouraged me to broaden my horizons. She always advocated for finding people whom could bring me to a higher standard of consciousness rather than those who might bring me down. It reminds me of a quote I once heard by a motivational speaker “You can fly with the eagles or soar with the turkeys.”
    Bill Keller, writing in the New York Times states, “Realty TV and pop culture presented in magazines and online sites claim to provide useful information about the importance of the Housewives of…

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The SBAC & PARCC Tests Are Fake! “Validated” with Fake Research!

The tests are invalid, the results are invalid, the motives behind them; nothing short of sinister, and the pain and suffering caused by all of this is inexcusable. The fact that it has gone on this long and Bill Gates has the arrogance and audacity to think that teachers, students and parents are going to continue to put up with this is because the pushback from teachers and parents has not been strong enough.


The SBAC & PARCC Tests Are Fake! “Validated” with Fake Research!

by Deb Herbage

What happens when you have a group of people, corporations, foundations, government entities, politicians and billionaires force 48 states to adopt and implement their standards that were thrown together and written by non-educators in secrecy, with no transparency, that are developmentally inappropriate for all grade levels?   What happens when you have that same group of people, corporations, foundations, government entities, politicians and billionaire then make tests based on those developmentally inappropriate standards that they claim are “high-quality”, “internationally-benchmarked”, “rigorous” and that are supposed indicators of “college and career readiness”? You have the Common Core State Standards and the SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) and PARCC (Partnership Assessment for the Readiness for College & Career) tests that have been bought and paid for by 48 states for multi-million dollar contracts.

The SBAC and PARCC tests are FAKE…

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Goldman Sachs explains: social impact bonds are socially bankrupt

If you are going to have taxpayer funded schools, then you need schools that are locally controlled by the communities they serve. You need locally elected school boards who are held to the standard of nothing less than 100% transparency for all related actions. I wish the reformers would try selling the Brooklyn Bridge, then more people might actually notice they are being scammed .


Have you ever heard of a social impact bond? It’s a kooky financial instrument – a bond that “pays off” when some socially desirable outcome is reached.

The idea is that people with money put that money to some “positive” purpose, and if it works out they get their money back with a bonus for a job well done. It’s meant to incentivize socially positive change in the market. Instead of only caring about profit, the reasoning goes, social impact bonds will give rich people and companies a reason to care about healthy communities.

So, for example, New York City issued a social impact bond in 2012 around recidivism for jails. Recidivism, which is the tendency for people to return to prison, has to go down for the bond to pay off. So Goldman Sachs made a bet that they could lower the recidivism rate for certain jails in…

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New Hampshire’s Senate Bill 503 Would Allow “Pay For Success” Social Impact Bonds In Pre-Schools

This is deeply troublesome. When did denying children a FAPE become both legal and profitable?

Exceptional Delaware 2017

New Hampshire has a current bill which would allow investors to finance pre-schools in an effort to prevent special education remediation.  This “pay for success” program is actually Social Impact Bonds.  This latest craze by investors in education is extremely dangerous and should not even be a consideration anywhere in a child’s education.  It is a system that has the potential to be widely abused in order for outside corporations to make money off student outcomes.

New Hampshire’s Senate Bill 503 has already gone through their Senate and will be heard in their House Education Committee on Tuesday, April 5th at 10am in the New Hampshire General Court.

I have to wonder what state legislators across the country are even thinking anymore.  They are selling out public education to corporations and investors.  New Hampshire couldn’t even give this an accurate fiscal note because it is, when you break it down…

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