Sunday, February 22, 2015

...until later.

It's a bird! It's a boy! (click here)

It's the 2015 Academy Awards, where "Birdman" and "Boyhood" are widely considered the frontrunners for the best picture Oscar.
The two films go up against "The Grand Budapest Hotel," which tied with "Birdman" for the most nominations, nine, as well as "American Sniper" (which also earned Bradley Cooper his third straight nod for best actor), "The Imitation Game," "Selma," "Whiplash," and "The Theory of  Everything."
Federal funding for education is important, but, it does not allow the government the right to control the learning experience. 

The idea behind the federal funding of education is to bring additional monies to schools with low level budgets because the population provides for a disparity of local taxes.


North Dakota has fewer people and students than California. So, the tax income to the state is far less than California. The federal government seeks to bring additional funding to states with smaller populations. The reason this was once a model for federal funding is because it is just as expensive to educate a child in North Dakota as in California. So, the federal treasury picks up the slack and allows equity in spending throughout each state.

Where the Secretary of Education becomes involved in learning is to target the problems states are having in educating their children. That is usually decided through standardized testing to exhibit how children are achieving in learning in school. Where there are problems in learning, the Secretary of Education has to act as a problem solver to bring better learning to these schools.

And standardized testing didn't occur whereby the children were educated to take the test. The standardized testing was a diagnostic tool to find where the problems existed. The ONLY standardized testing that actually were used for student performance were the college board tests; PSAT and SATs. Back in the day, we only took these tests once, not every month in our junior and senior year.

I always saw the multiple attempts at college board tests as cheating. I was astounded when my oldest son stated he wanted to take the test three times to better his scores. I told him I thought that was cheating. He said, "But, Mom everyone does that these days." Three times he took the college board tests. I couldn't believe it. Amazing.

We need a parent uprising and remove these tests from the hands of states.

Florida spends 45 days out of 180 taking standardized tests.

School year by state (click here). 

The legislature is trying to teach the students by interrupting the learning process frequently with testing. The teachers have no choice but to chronically teach to the test rather than having a teaching plan to cover the material needed by students. 

With 45 testing days per year there is a test every three teaching days. There is nothing else happening in those classrooms except teaching to the test. That is at least one test per week. This is crazy. There aren't report cards in Florida?

February 18, 2015
By Amy Sherman

...The Florida Badass Teachers Association, (click here) which is part of a national association that formed in recent years in an effort to fight back against testing, raised concerns about the tests as they planned to protest Bush’s Feb. 10 speech in Tallahassee.
Thomas James, an association spokesman and Miami-Dade history teacher, leveled many criticisms of Florida schools, including this one in a statement provided to the Miami Herald before Bush’s speech.
"Florida public school students have become little more than ‘test drones’ being bombarded with an array of standardized high stakes tests which eat up as much as 45 school days per year," James said.
James’ claim about the amount of days eaten up by tests caught our eye because it was more than double the number we heard from state legislative leaders in 2013 -- though Florida has made changes to tests since that time.
How many days a year do students actually take standardized tests....

This is crazy. The month of September is taken up by tests and then the tests start again in March and continue through May. That is five months of teaching with some interruption by District Testing that are not required by the state. When do these students receive their report cards and how are those grades determined?

In Maimi-Dade there is not even any month without testing. (click here) 

There are fifty state tests out of fifty-four annual tests and that doesn't include all the pre-college testing. Of those same tests thirteen are required by federal standards. 

I never had that kind of standardized testing. We had some testing, but, nothing like this. I worried about my grades that came home on my quarterly report card and we had a "Summer Vacation," too. This is crazy. No one trusts teachers anymore. The educational process in the USA is far too politicized and the school year outcomes have become contentious politically. This is nonsense. 

Children are soft targets and should be hands off for political agendas. The School Board should be the only political vote any parent should be concerned with. The way to influence a child's learning is to attend school board meetings.

February 22, 2015
By Bob Driehaus

MASON -- The sheer number of state tests that Ohio students (click here) face each year is stifling creative learning, some educators say, and a coalition of Greater Cincinnati districts is lobbying state lawmakers to cut the number of mandated tests.
Mason, Deer Park and West Clermont school districts are among those lobbying to reduce the number of tests for students in grades 3-12 from two or three a year – depending on the grade level – to one. They recommend staggering English, math, science and social studies testing so that none take place in the same year. Some also want to eliminate Common Core-based testing for high schoolers, replacing those exams with the ACT college prep test for juniors.
"It would allow our teachers to be more innovative, creative and engaging with their instruction," Deer Park Superintendent Jeff Langdon told WCPO. "We're assessing our kids more than we ever have. And we're doing less teaching."...

"We've gone overboard with testing," Mason Superintendent Gail Kist-Kline said. "The pendulum has swung too far."

"Every which way but loose." 

These tests are expensive as well.

November 7, 2012
By Andrew Ujifysa 

...It also says that the District of Columbia I(click here) spends the most on its assessments per student—$114—of the 45 jurisdictions Brookings measured, followed by Hawaii, Alaska, Delaware, North Dakota, and Massachusetts. New York, where test scoring is a local responsibility, spent the least—$7 per student—followed by Kansas, North Carolina, Oregon, and Utah.
Despite the relatively small amount states spend on tests overall, compared with total education spending nationally, the report, written by Brown Center fellow Matthew M. Chingos, warns that the testing costs take on growing importance during difficult budget periods for states....

Schools get Gold and Silver medals? You've got to be joking.

April 21, 2014
By Robert Morse 

A state-by-state (click here) breakdown of the 2014 Best High Schools rankings shows that Maine is this year's leading performer, with 22.2 percent of its eligible schools earning gold and silver medals.
California came in second with 22.2 percent, since the rankings are based on unrounded percentages of schools with gold or silver medals. Connecticut was third with 19.7 percent.
The gold and silver awards reflect which schools are most successfully preparing students for college, based on students participating in and achieving passing scores on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests. For a school to be eligible for a gold or silver medal, its students must also do well on the appropriate statewide tests, as explained in the 2014 Best High Schools rankings methodology....

This is ridiculous. After junior high school most students decided whether they wanted to attend regular high school or the county technical schools. Those in high school knew they faced the challenge of learning to prepare for college entrance. 

We never did any of this. We were advanced through school based on our performance on our report cards. This is crazy. It has to estrange parents from the the learning experience. I can't relate to this mess. Wow. How can a parent participate when all that is being taught is how to pass the test? What if a child is a bad test taker? This is nonsense; very expensive nonsense.

I received a state scholarship to the college I chose to attend. I didn't even apply for the scholarship, the school system automatically submitted students names that were eligible based on their grades and college board tests with colleges already chosen. 

I really don't want to hear how a child is doing poorly because parents aren't involved. There is no way a parent can relate to this mess. This is state controlled education. The state is the teacher. The state has taken the classroom out of the reach of teaching and placed in test performance. This is never going to result in students that can compete internationally. It will never happen. No wonder the USA is ranked 25th in world.

The control has to be returned to the local school boards. I am surprised this isn't unconstitutional. 

What does a hero look like? The Turkish military and the Middle East Alliance carried out a successful campaign last night.

A Turkish soldier on a tank is pictured in the northern Syrian town of Kobani as he returns from a military operation inside Syria February 22, 2015.
Credit: REUTERS/Mursel Coban/Depo Photos'

By Orhan Coskun

(Reuters) - Turkish forces (click here) swept into Syria overnight to rescue about 40 soldiers who had been surrounded for months by Islamic State militants while guarding the tomb of a revered Turkish figure.
The Syrian government described the operation as act of "flagrant aggression" and said it would hold Ankara responsible for its repercussions.
The action, which involved tanks, drones and reconnaissance planes as well as several hundred ground troops, was the first such incursion by Turkish troops into Syria since the start of the civil war there nearly four years ago. The military said no clashes took place during the operation although one soldier had been killed in an accident....

The Turkish military went unchallenged by either Daesh or the Syrian military.

...A Turkish security source said the operation was conducted via the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani with the support of local Kurdish authorities. Kurdish forces, backed by U.S.-led air strikes, drove Islamic State from Kobani last month....

...Syria accuses Turkey of supporting insurgent groups that have seized control of wide areas of northern and eastern Syria, including Islamic State....

The insurgent groups are Kurds. Turkey has no support for Daesh.

...Islamic State and other Islamist groups, whose strict Salafi interpretation of Islam deems the veneration of tombs to be idolatrous, have destroyed several tombs and mosques in Syria....

The truth of the situation is that the Syrian forces have been unable to defend the sovereign borders of Syria. The Kurds have been successful in defending land in northeast Syria where they have lived for some time now. They have lived there under the No Fly Zone.

This is what a Peshmerga Kurd looks like.

October 24, 2014
By Scott Bleiwis

...To say the least, (click here) the government of Turkey has long had a contentious relationship with the country’s Kurdish population. Turkey has barred its Kurds from entering Syria to join the fight against the Islamic State. But it fully supports Kurdish soldiers from Iraq, and is allowing them to cross the Turkish border into Syria to defend the border town of Kobane. Explaining this divergent attitude towards Kurds sheds light on the delicate cultural and political relationships is this increasingly volatile region. Kurds make up about 15–20 percent of the Turkish population, and were in conflict with the government for decades. Clashes with the semi-political, semi-militant group Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) resulted in 40,000 fatalities. Despite an uneasy truce reached in 2013 PKK is still considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, and the U.S. for that matter. As I wrote about in August, PKK has grown into a key player in pushing back IS advances in Iraq while its leader remains imprisoned in Turkey....

The challenge to the alliance is to protect the Kurds during any battles for their land. But, the Kurds have been in that region for decades. Syria can complain the Kurds are insurgents, but, the Kurds defend people in Syria that the Syrian military never has defended.