The Old Shoemaker

This is the parable of The Old Shoemaker. Enjoy it’s meaning.

WHY I AM PULLING MY KIDS FROM PUBLIC ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: A LETTER TO THE POWERS THAT BE

 by lynne rigby

Why I

It’s a manifesto of sorts, actually. Bless you if you read all 2800 words. I know it’s insanely long – Brad told me people would disengage, but I couldn’t figure out what to cut out. And I’m generally very pithy. It took me about 6 weeks to write it. I know my one little voice can’t change much, but we, parents and educators, need to band together and change the insanity of the public education system.

Dear Governor Scott, Mr. Griffin, Mrs. Stewart, David Simmons, Karen Castor Dentel, Mr. Agosto and Mrs. Brouillard and Seminole County School Board Members:

I am a parent of five children in Seminole County Schools aged 4 (VPK) to 16. My husband and I are deeply embedded in this community. We are both successful products of Lake Brantley High School and the middle schools that fed into it. I graduated from The University of Georgia in 1995 and came back to Seminole to teach Kindergarten at Pinecrest and Wekiva; he is currently the pitching coach for the Lake Brantley varsity baseball team. Our ties run deep. We stayed here so our kids would be blessed with a similar educational experience and opportunities.

This year has been completely disheartening for us.  You see, I’ve been okay with FCAT…show what you know, I get it….some sort of accountability. That was until this year.

My third grade son, Jackson, the fourth of my four boys has had mostly As, a scattering of Bs through his Bear Lake career, much like his brothers. However, he has had the Discovery Education tests added to his school year. I saw his score on DE in first grade and it was scary low, in the 20s. But he had 1s and his teacher said that she knows him and he was doing fine with nothing to worry about. Same thing in 2nd grade, though, knowing that FCAT was looming, I began to panic a bit.

We read out loud together each night through the summer, talked about the books as we read and I believed that that would pay off on the first DE test of 3rd grade because he was doing really well.  I was wrong. His first DE test was similar to others but now his teachers start panicking because their pay depends on it. He is sent to remedial LEAP and ultimately a math pullout group. All the while, he has mostly As and a few Bs.

Disconnect. That’s the word that plays over in my head. How can he do all his homework on his own, rarely asking a question, never, ever struggling with any topic and get such a low percentile on a test? Then, an epiphany. What is this test? What is the validity of this test? How does it relate to our curriculum? That’s something I’ve never considered. I’ve always walked the “company” line.

I am looking at a print out of Jackson’s answers (B, A, A, C, D, etc) and the correct answers (C, D, A, C, B) and what does that tell me? Nothing. It tells me nothing. I can’t see the test to see what he’s done wrong, to see if the questions are worded well, to see why he’s doing poorly. He’s being pulled out of normal classes for remediation because of this DE test, but he has all As and Bs! He’s excelling from a curriculum standpoint, so I, as a teacher, don’t even know how to help him at home. We did FCAT practice tests at home, something I’ve never done with my older boys who had the same grades but no DE.

Shouldn’t I, as a 40 year old mom with an education degree, whose current job is to write instructional lessons for adults, be able to take a test for 8 and 9 year olds in a matter of minutes without thought or “oh, wait, that’s not right?!” moments? Yes, I should, but that was not the case. If I can defend how two answers are correct on a question, then the test is flawed.

Jackson’s brothers had 4s and 5s on all their FCATs, perhaps a 3 thrown in here and there.  All of which I accepted without hesitation. FCAT was no big deal in our house. They’re smart boys, we are involved parents, they have no stress, their lives are good. But now I pause. Did Carson not make it into GEMS because of an inverse operation problem that my mother-in-law, the former LBHS Pre-Calculus teacher, said was flawed on the 3rd grade test?

The problem that my husband, a Georgia Tech graduate, said that there had to be a typo because the right answer wasn’t there? On a THIRD grade problem? Suddenly I want to see my kids tests, see where they went wrong, see what they did right, but parents aren’t afforded that option and neither are teachers. If the test is truly a good indicator of student ability, then the parents and teachers should be able to see the actual test and the student work to help the students moving forward?

Fine. FCAT is over. It’s no longer an issue. But the “AIR” test is coming. What will that bring? Who knows? The teachers don’t, the administrators don’t, so the kids and parents surely don’t know.  Oh wait, the state of Utah knows because the state of Florida paid the state of Utah $5.5 million to field test the test. Who’s writing it? And just as important, who is grading it?

The educational grapevine says that 5th graders will have 14 hours of testing. Fourteen. That makes me cringe. If you told me that I had to take 14 hours of testing in a two week period, I’d shut down. And you want to do that to my 10/11 year old?  The mama bear in me starts to come out. That is not developmentally appropriate. Period. It’s no different than expecting and demanding all children to walk at 10 months; some might be able to do it, but a lot, if not most, will not have the developmental skills to do so successfully.

The MCAT is approximately five hours and ten minutes to get into medical school. And the state of Florida thinks it’s okay to subject our small children to fourteen hours stressful and strenuous testing? Free response sounds great when you say it fast, but that means that someone or something has to grade that test.  A teacher, paid a minimal amount, and a computer will be grading the free response test. If there’s a discrepancy, the computer grade takes precedent. Not my child’s teacher who knows him and sees him everyday, but a non-human that is looking for scripted answers?

This brings us to the elephant in the room. Common Core or The Florida Standards which are aligned to Common Core.

The materials remain the same. Jackson has the same text books as his cousin in California. I’ve done my research, I’m an over-researcher by nature. And again, it all sounds great when you say it fast. It is nice that kids can move on a Friday from New Jersey and go to school in California the following Monday and pick up right where they left off.  It sounds awesome when you say that kids are on the same page and we’ll be developing critical thinkers; they will rise to the challenge of more difficult standards.  And every kid will be career and college ready at the end of high school and all on the same page? SIGN ME UP.

Sure. Walk that political line. It’s rhetoric. It sounds fantastic when you gloss over it like that. But let’s really look at our implementation of Common Core.

I’ve seen it first hand with my third grader this year and to a lesser extent with my older kids.  Let’s take Jackson, his first and second grade lessons were based on the older curriculum.  This year a new curriculum is thrown in, teach it with “fidelity” Seminole County tells them – that means that they used only the Pearson materials (you know, the Pearson that has spent nearly $4.4 million in lobbying in recent years) and only Pearson materials, for the first 12 weeks of the school year.  And get this, then we’ll use the FCAT 2.0 which is aligned with the former standards to decide if this group of third graders is worthy of fourth grade placement.

Jackson had a passage on a weekly comprehension and vocabulary test that was horribly written. The material was about professional athletes, which is relevant to him since his dad played Major League Baseball. The syntax, however, was a disaster. I typed the whole thing into a grade and reading level decoder and it averaged at 10th grade with all its indicators. For my 8 year old.

In fact, I gave it to my “gifted” 10th grader to read and he looked at it for a minute and tossed it aside because he didn’t want to have to really think for the 3rd grade work. To the other extreme, Jackson then has “feel” and other long e spelling words in late winter/early spring, along with vocabulary like “sports” and “basketball” which is in stark contrast to the 10th grade passage about professional sports in October! There is no rhyme or reason to the materials and curriculum. It’s a joke, a joke being played on our kids. On MY KID, I’m not cool with that.

We have had some amazing teachers at Bear Lake, Teague and Lake Brantley.   They’ve engaged the kids with creative projects, reader’s theater, allowed the kids to pursue some topics that interest them, delved deeper into cultural studies.  Engaged them.

 Though the common core standards purport to foster that kind of education, about 90% of the work Jackson brings home is worksheets, done in class and done at home. Everything I’ve seen this year is stand-alone, segmented. Nothing is deep, there is no time for kids to even consider what is interesting to them, because you’re on page 168 today and you need to get through 170 by tomorrow.

There is nothing engaging about workbooks. Shouldn’t our Florida kids learn about things like the Everglades and the delicate ecosystem with our many lakes, springs and oceans or all about hurricanes?   Think of the units you could do! Think of how many skills you can conquer with a long unit like that! Think about how engaged kids could be in the process and how meaningful it would be to them! Worksheets could still be used, but just to reinforce skills, not as the entire curriculum.  Pearson “with fidelity”  does not allow time for such things; that’s the problem with a nationalized curriculum.

Today’s public school atmosphere is all about accountability and not about the actual needs of the child.

Not everything in education can be quantified; we are dealing with little humans who come into that classroom everyday with different backgrounds. Some might not have eaten since lunch yesterday, another couldn’t sleep last night because she saw Dad hit Mom through her cracked bedroom door, and thankfully others come into that classroom with every need met, loved, hugged and kissed as they exited Mom’s car.  Teacher pay is being affected by those factors, factors that they cannot control.

Art and music teachers are being “graded” on how well the kids who come to them once every seven days do on their math and language arts FCAT. That is nonsense.

The same company who came up with the widely maligned “Value Added Model” for teachers is writing our new standardized test. That does not exactly elicit waves of confidence. You are not programming computers; you can’t expect a 2008 Dell that had coffee spilled on it to perform the same tasks as a 2014 iMac.  I am extremely worried about the work atmosphere you are creating with these criteria and again, the validity of such a system needs to be addressed.

I haven’t even broached the EOCs for every high school class. For the life of me, I cannot imagine why our state would pay to develop, give and grade a test for high school PE or Art 1 or Foods and Nutrition. Academics are one thing, but you need to allow our teenagers to explore topics that interest them and those do not need to come with a standardized test. That is a colossal waste of money and another way to suck out the last chance they might have to love learning.

The goal of education is to foster the child’s fullest potential based on their strengths and interests. I’m lucky, I guess. My kids generally do fit into your perfect little box because they pass tests, they never get into trouble, they will do “fine” at whatever curriculum you throw at them.  But I want them to be excited about some aspects of learning, I want my kids in high school to take some classes because the topic interests them without the threat of failing a standardized test associated with an elective.

The time that our kids could be pursuing their interests is being spent on test preparation.  How can test prep be spun as “in the best interest of the chid?”

Education should revolve around what is best for the child, right now, it’s revolving around what is best for Pearson’s bottom line and stuffing our kids into this metaphorical box that they’ve created.Weeks of standardized testing not only takes away valuable instruction time, but it also does not give a complete picture of the child.

My middle schoolers were on a “testing” schedule for 11 days during testing season. Do you know what that means? It means they sit in one class for 3 hours every morning while another group in the school is testing. Know what they did? Watched movies. Some of them were science movies, but my 6th and 7th graders watched the same movie and did the same project.

The test emphasis is coming from the higher-ups, the State and Federal Government (that’s another topic all together). I get it. I do not blame the school or the county.  Obama’s “Race to the Top” dictates these tests and Common Core through funding. But education is not a race – it is a journey – why must we hurry it along?

It is with that that I ask you, Seminole County, to reevaluate. You have a community base in Seminole County who live here for your highly rated schools, but by taking the power away from the individual schools and teachers, you are undermining your superiority.

Allow your your teachers to teach as they see fit for their students, let them create, let them explore. Trust them to know their kids. Take away the script. Allow the kids to play, learn in a manner that is developmentally appropriate. I am asking you to start thinking outside of the box. Stand up for our kids. Put creativity back in learning and teaching.  Someone has to take the initiative to save the schools and a generation of kids – why not you? Why not us? Who is in a better position than one of the highest performing counties in the state?

Teachers are leaving the classroom in droves. Parents are in an uproar. The arguments are varied and most are valid.

If you stick with this curriculum and these high stakes tests, I fear you will be creating an even wider divide between haves and have nots. Parents who can afford it will put their kids in private school or homeschool them. The gap will grow; not shrink.

I want to stand up for all kids, but even if I scream from the rooftops about how the system is broken, my little voice has a very small chance of being heard. I want it to change and I have strong opinions. Project and inquiry based education. Informal and varied assessments for young kids. Develop the whole child, create curriculum and classrooms which are developmentally appropriate and foster the love of learning. I could go on….

I can’t change the educational environment by myself- at least not in the next few months –  but I can take charge of my kids’ education. For us, I’ve decided that Jackson and Lylah (entering Kindergarten) will be attending a private school next year.

This year was a Common Core Experiment and next year will be focused on figuring out the “AIR” test.

I cannot, in good conscience, allow them to be the guinea pigs for a curriculum that has not been proven and pawns in the high-stakes testing game. I don’t want Jackson to lose yet another year of meaningful learning while his teacher is forced to figure out how to best prepare him for a test she’s never seen.

Because her pay depends on it, because the school’s funding depends on it – she MUST prepare them if she agrees with it or not.

I am concentrating my efforts on my younger two kids and praying that my oldest three have had a strong enough educational base that they will survive and hopefully thrive in this new environment.  I want my kids to love learning, I want them to explore and be curious. I want their lessons to be meaningful, deep and connected.  And ultimately, I want them back in Seminole County Schools, unfortunately at this point I do not think that SCPS is the best choice for them and that breaks my heart. It’s a shame because you’re losing out on two pretty amazing kids.

Sincerely,

Lynne Rigby

http://www.lynnerigby.com/blog/2014/05/why-i-am-pulling-my-kids-from-public-elementary-school-a-letter-to-the-powers-that-be/

Judge Blasts School Board And Cop over Unlawful Arrest And Silencing of Concerned Father

Ladies and Gentlemen:
As I think upon this story, it is chilling that our First Amendment rights are in jeopardy and, at the same time, after much emotional pain suffered by this family, a fair minded judge saw through all the legal malarchy and came down with an appropriate decision, in my view.
I would also like to say, that in my opinion, certain school board members in these videos in this story are on a power trip.
Their conduct is unbecoming a public official and they should be lawfully removed by a vote of the people at the earliest possible time, if not sooner.
I do not know if this particular school district employs COMMON CORE, but if it does, it must get rid of it immediately.
Full credit goes to freedomoutpost.com for exposing the degrading of the constitutional rights of the American people.
—————————————————————————————————————————————————–
by Tim Brown of freedomoutpost.com
December 20, 2014
If you recall, back in May, William Baer was arrested after voicing opposition to a school board meeting about a controversial book by Jodi Picoult titled Nineteen Minutes, a story about a school shooting that contained pornographic content. It was also required reading for ninth graders. Now a New Hampshire 4th Circuit Court of Appeals judge has blasted the school board for “silencing” him and arresting him, which was a violation of Mr. Baer’s free speech. Bob Unruh at WND reports:

In dismissing charges against Baer, Judge James M. Carroll said the court “does agree with the defendant’s argument that, often in an official meeting or at the court, for that matter, individuals, from time to time, may be disruptive, but the disruptiveness should not be cause for an arrest in the first instance.”

“The sequence of the arrest actions cause pause by the court as to the chilling, if not silencing of a citizen by the state, for actions which do not warrant a criminal arrest nor conviction. The court finds that the actions for ‘order’ by the state do not ‘balance,’ in the facts of this particular case, the speech rights of the defendant.”

The court also said that Mr. Baer didn’t purposely cause a breach of the peace, and furthermore dismissed the claim that Baer refused to comply with a lawful order of a peace officer.

“The court questions the constitutionality of the state’s action in the sequence as memorialized by the deposition,” the judge wrote.

In other words, the peace officer should have known better and he was actually the one in violation of the law, not Mr. Baer.

The judge also pointed out that the meeting was already completed and that there was no way Mr. Baer had caused a problem for the board or those in attendance.

“The court does not find the actions of the defendant to be criminal in nature which is necessary in the ordering of restrictions on a citizen’s liberties in First Amendment considerations,” the judge concluded. “The court finds that the defendant’s action never created a breach of peace sustaining a criminal complaint.”

Baer says that in the time since his unlawful arrest, his and his family’s lives “have been in disarray.” According to Baer, the Gilford Police Department, the school board and the state of New Hampshire have targeted him like a common criminal, but he is happy with the judge’s decision in the case.

“I am obviously pleased that all charges have been dismissed,” Baer said. “Belknap County Judge James Carroll showed me there still is some justice in our system.”

Instead of prosecutors taking the time and knowing the law and dismissing the case out of hand, they took the months that led up to the hearing to continue their pursuit of Mr. Baer.

“And what about the incident that gave rise to all this?” he asked rhetorically. “That is, Gilford High School requiring my 9th-grade daughter to read material that is unfit to print in virtually any newspaper in the country. If someone were handing out this material right in front of the classroom in which students were reading the text, he would most likely be arrested, prosecuted, and convicted for distribution of pornographic material to a minor. What about a school system which cannot ensure that proper notice be given to parents of a child mandated to read such material due to the school’s ‘oversight?’ What would you think if you found out that last year, when the book was also required reading, the school administration and teacher made the same ‘mistake’ and also failed to provide notice?” he said.

Baer then theorized, “What about the chilling effect on First Amendment guaranteed speech that these arrests and prosecutions have on our society regardless of the outcome? How many people will avoid speaking publicly knowing they can easily receive the same treatment I did, and likely worse?”

To recount what happened, Lily Dane reported:

School officials say that the book contains important themes, but parents say that message is overshadowed by what some call pornographic content on one page.

The book was assigned to students last Monday, but the school failed to give parents of freshmen students notice of the sexually explicit content in the novel. One page of the book contains a graphic description of rough sex between two teenagers.

Some parents are outraged, and attended a school board meeting to make their feelings known.

William Baer, whose 14-year old daughter is a student at the school, was one of the parents who spoke out at the meeting. He was promptly arrested for doing so.

Dane cited a section of the book that was clearly pornographic and validates exactly what Mr. Baer stated above. Yet, the concerned parent is the one forced to defend himself while the school board and those that put this filth in the hands of children are left unscatched, except by the words of and appeals court judge. At least they got that!

Even Mr. Baer’s 14-year-old daughter took a shot at the school board for their brazen, unlawful behavior. I’d say dad taught her well!

 I would hope that Mr. Baer would pursue a lawsuit not only against the arresting officer, but also the school board, the principal and any teacher that knew about this and enforced it. And I would also hope that it wouldn’t be about money, but about bringing justice to bear, removing these people from their jobs, never to work them again and facing prosecution in the same manner that Mr. Baer did.

As a final exhortation, parents, it’s time you loved your child enough to remove them from the public indoctrination system. I have written about this on several occasions, but here is a good place to start. And now, it’s even easier to start than ever. There is a home school education package, k-12, with the K-5 courses being absolutely free. All you have to do is have the desire to teach your kids and you can save yourself and them the fate of Mr. Baer and other children in the public school system.

The Inspired Musical Writings Called Handel’s Messiah

see link below

http://www.byutv.org/watch/c981eb70-3199-4d1f-8a65-8fa6b70d6946/handels-messiah-handels-messiah

Merry Christmas—A Gift To Remember Christ

Reminders of Christ from the symbols of Christmas. #ShareTheGift http://bit.ly/1ALaS5k

A Reminder Of Priorities

What Every Child Must Know About

Learn from Elder L Tom Perry how we can help others find faith in Christ: http://bit.ly/1HuY7B. 
#ShareTheGift

This Is The Way I Feel

listen carefully.

http://therightscoop.com/mark-levin-to-the-gop-i-am-one-inch-away-from-leaving-you/

For Those Affected By Autism To Consider

see link:

Egotism vs. True Humility—–True Humility Always Wins

People who are ego driven often vacillate in proper personal confidence. Their uninformed confidence comes from the approval of man and not from God. They sometimes err in proper decision making and judgment.

All of us occasionally seek approval from others. That is natural. What is not natural is always seeking approval from others and never seeking God’s approval. Egotism has NO PLACE in one’s life or in society. It interferes in your personal relationship with God.

Egotism is one negative force behind the destruction of personal relationships. Egotism breeds the “I am always right” syndrome. Egotism can block true answers from coming to you when you need them.

Truly humble people have the proper personal confidence to conduct themselves correctly anytime, anywhere.

Personal confidence, truly defined, always has its place in society. True confidence has its roots in true humility and meekness.

True humility is the antithesis of an inflated ego. True humility always keeps us in a state of searching for and learning about truth. The application of truth in our lives is wisdom.

Our relationships flourish. Our sense of self-worth increases. Why? Because true humility is a godly attribute.

As we remain humble our personal character begins to change for the better. We become more Christlike. We begin the process of becoming a better man or woman. The scriptures teach us that God wants us to be happy. He has shown us the way through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ, is the true gift to everyone whatever season of the year we are in. May we remember the true reason for the Christmas season and may proper perspective remain in its proper place for us during this time of the year.