Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Dismantling Of Comprehensive Education: A Case Study.


Part I: 

Decades, ago, Arizona along with most other states, set standards for public education curricula. The state’s educational leaders defined what children need to know and be able to do in at least ten interdisciplinary content areas: mathematics, reading, writing, the sciences, social studies and civics (local, state, and national government), the arts, comprehensive health, technology, foreign language, and workplace skills. This broad-based comprehensive education introduces these disciplines to children while they are in their most formative and receptive periods. The curricula builds the foundation skills necessary for access to the interdisciplinary comprehensive skills necessary in our complex society. Most, if not all quality public school districts adhere to this fact-based, interdisciplinary, comprehensive requirement. However, most of the 600 charter schools in Arizona do not.

Representatives of minority religious groups, a handful of fact-adverse ideologues, and greed-driven corporations and individuals who want access to education tax dollars, have taken control of Arizona government. Even though the largest group in this minority constitutes less than 6% of Arizona’s population, through concerted efforts, their representatives make up more than 20% of the state legislature and senior political decision-makers. Most leading positions in the state senate and the house are occupied by members of one religious group.
This minority has been able to erode the state’s comprehensive education concept through changes in the state’s tax laws, widespread introduction of charter schools – including online charter schools (virtual schools) that are not schools at all – and funding cuts designed to destroy district schools. These movements and actions are led and funded by people who have figured out ways to pocket public tax dollars collected for the education of all children.
The use of tax revenues has changed in Arizona. For over a decade, there has been an ever-expanded way state taxpayers can direct a portion of their taxes to educational programs they support. They are allowed to deduct those dollars from their tax bills and direct them to schools and programs they like. Now, after years of little steps, this group has been able to erode the idea of separation of church and state. Public tax dollars, intercepted before they get to the general fund, can now go to public, private, corporate for-profit, and religious schools. In addition, corporations can divert large amounts of their state taxes to schools they approve of. There is a noticeable drain on educational dollars allocated from the general fund.
As these tax dollars are drained away from public district schools, they go to replicating facilities, equipment, teachers, and other existing publicly financed resources, including the purchase or rental of land, buildings, and perhaps most disturbing, profit and personal enrichment for charter school “owners and operators.” All of these replicated expenses come out of the dollars provided for students in the charter school. Most inappropriately, these siphoned dollars come near to doubling the cost of education for Arizona taxpayers. The unnecessary cost of charters is kept from the public eye by draining the resources going to public education for all children as provided by public district schools. The long-term solution to support this rip-off is to starve public district schools out of existence and sell off their resources.
Excerpts from, Vital Lies, The Irrelevance Of Our Schools In The Information Age. (Chapter 9)
 Part II:  The Dismantling Of Comprehensive Education: A Case Study.
The original idea behind schools of choice – charter schools – was thought to be their ability to modify the educational system by providing competition that would force district schools to improve. The idea was to challenge and change – by proven demonstration – those district schools which are not responsive to children’s needs. There was no hard data to show that numbers of public schools were failing or that public educational systems were doing it wrong. There was no data that showed that competition for students, however based, would do anything to help kids. There was a vast amount of data that showed that children caught in a failed economic system needed help surviving in any educational system. There was considerable evidence that most district public schools were beginning to address these problems and that change could occur within the systems.
In those days, the mid-1990s, the hope was that change could happen in smaller, more accountable schools and then be imported back into the district schools. That would have worked in Arizona except that the charters were removed from the oversight of the State Board of Education and put under a new and differently motivated State Board for Charter Schools, which immediately removed accountability and moved to the ugly system in place today.
A decade has passed and the school choice solutions have not come up with new and better ways to help our children. Accountability for charter schools is situational, based upon politics and weak standards. Schools run by special interest groups operate as experiments and are given latitude that makes no sense. The rule of professional educators that we do not experiment on children, is overlooked and intentionally ignored. Untold thousands of children are not getting a quality foundation education and the state has no interest in the damages, only the experiments, and the furtherance of their ideologies. The language hasn’t changed, politicians-turned-educators speak of AIMS testing, and NCLB or RTT – two sides of the same stupidity. The fact is partial schools have been created at great cost to kids and the future of Arizona and the Nation. They are allowed – encouraged – to run without supervision from educators who represent kids, not profit or power or corporate (ALEC) type access to public tax dollars.
In charter schools the curriculum can be skewed and manipulated by the charter school governing board (often the “owners”). They can decide to modify, leave out, or not teach anything as they like. In fact, what curriculum there is in a charter school or virtual school may have been written by fanatics or fundamentalists or, equally scary, the profit-driven individuals and corporations who have gained access to the dollars Arizona citizens pay for the education of all children.
Excerpts from, Vital Lies, The Irrelevance Of Our Schools In The Information Age. (Chapter 9)
 Part III: The Dismantling Of Comprehensive Education: A Case Study.
There can be no doubt that Arizona is leading the US in the destruction of interdisciplinary, comprehensive, fact-based education and creating models whereby cults, religious groups, ideologues, and profiteers can access education tax dollars to push their agendas or fill their pockets at the expense of children. Many other states are on this same course and studying Arizona’s techniques. Groups led by the non-educationally qualified , like Jeb Bush and his Digital Learning Council, Rupert Murdock’s News Corp., failed D.C. Super Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan and even our president – until educator’s voices are heard – and many state governors from Ohio, Indiana, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York and Utah (to name just a few of the worst) buy into the, ‘Profit from education tax dollars movement.’ ALEC writes legislation and forces it upon our elected representatives, thus subverting democracy. These self-appointed disruptors are damaging children and their hope to share the American Dream. In the long-run, they are severely damaging America.
As a result of this madness, on the elementary, middle, and secondary levels, Arizona has reached new lows and is rated as one of the worst, or the worst, state in support of K-12 education. Two important national studies are used to evaluate the results of each state’s educational success or failure. One is the state-by-state breakdown of SAT scores compiled by the College Board. The other is a comprehensive study by Morgan Quinto Press, and independent research company that specializes in state data.  Here is the Morgan Quinto Press – – conclusion regarding Arizona. It leaves no doubt that the programs put in place over the last two decades have damaged untold numbers of children and undermined the American Dream.
“Arizona was ranked as the worst state according to Morgan Quinto’s list. Students received dismal scores on their math and reading proficiency tests in middle school and just 84% of the population had graduated from high school. A recent survey this year claimed that Arizona’s K-12 education is the fifth worst (45 out of 50) in the nation. Another unrelated survey found that the vast majority of high school students in Arizona (96.5%) would be unable to pass a basic citizenship test if they needed to. Too dumb to be American? That’s a problem.”
You can read the web pages and the butt-covering verbiage put out by those who have perverted Arizona education.  There are a few good charter schools, I’ll write about them in other blogs. But if you are a parent or a taxpayer, you should have a lump in the pit of your stomach that will only go away when these nuts are stopped. It will take much of this century to repair the damage done to so many children – support community colleges. They may be their last, best hope.
We must bypass the hijacked systems which control education and ensure that, with federal guidelines, states guarantee every student an interdisciplinary, comprehensive, fact-based education as a foundation for schooling in the Information Age and the Interactive Age.  To build and maintain our nation we must have cohesive principles such as common standards and purpose, not the anarchy of divergent interests taking over our schools to manipulate the minds of children and make money by accessing public education tax dollars.
Excerpts from, Vital Lies, The Irrelevance Of Our Schools In The Information Age. (Chapter 9)
To learn more about where we are in American education, how we got this way, and where we need to go, download Vital Lies at

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