Archive for May, 2014

A Better Way to Treat Our Veterans

May 31, 2014

BureaucratLazy

 

While there are 22 million Veterans in America, only about 6 million receive any VA healthcare. Six million is roughly the population of the San Francisco – San Jose area. The requested VA budget for 2014 exceeds 150 billion. Just to put this in perspective, the budget asks for $25,000 on average for each of those 6 million vets. Of course, the VA does some other things like set on service connected disability claims for years and years and cook the books so all the bureaucrats can fatten up their already fat salaries. Nevertheless, with the logistics of trying to reach veterans with healthcare and the inefficiencies of the government bureaucratic unionized system, American Taxpayers are simply not getting their money’s worth. I think we have all clearly seen that our veterans are dying while waiting for the most basic medical treatment and disability claims take years and years.

You hear talk about Corporate Welfare but few are talking about Bureaucrat Welfare. It’s not enough that bureaucrats are paid for 40 hours a week plus bonuses and per diem when traveling to exotic places to conferences where they can learn how to cook the books, they get so much more. VA employees get paid for 10 holidays, 13 days sick leave and 13 days paid leave beginning on their first day of employment. After a few years the paid vacation doubles to 26 days a year. If the bureaucrat is in the reserves or National Guard, they receive 15 days military leave each year. In other words, while the reservist is getting paid by the government for annual training, he or she is also receiving their full civil service pay and accruing sick leave and paid leave. If you pretend to be productive by cooking the books, you can also receive huge bonuses. Then there is subsidized healthcare, life insurance, training and great travel. That per diem I mentioned can exceed $300 a day.

As a result of probably 20 million illegal aliens roaming through our country along with the Obamacare boot on their necks, many hospitals are struggling and even going out of business. This includes very good hospitals efficiently run and staffed with fairly paid competent non-unionized employees. Sure, the Federal Government tries to make it as difficult as possible for any hospital and any business to survive by over-regulating them but many find a way to continue to serve the public in spite of our government.

Now we come to the solution. The only reason this won’t happen is because the unionized employees of the VA are forced to pay union dues and those dues almost entirely go to Democrats. It makes no difference what the bureaucrats want, the union bosses and Democratic leaders are joined at the hip. But if my solution were to go into effect, the fat cat book cookers would be looking for a job like millions of other Americans. My solution is to phase out the great VA experiment and replace it with Veterancare, an insurance program for qualified Veterans. Unlike Medicare, Veterancare would be designed so that Doctors and Hospitals would welcome patients. Veterancare would restore veterans to first class citizens again and be good for local communities and their hospitals. As for disability claims, those could be contracted to India or Bangladesh where claims and appeals could easily and cheaply be processed within hours rather than years. My program would free up about $100 billion a year that can go to pay off our $100 trillion national debt and unfunded requirements.

I should also mention that the Veteran Preference for Federal Employment is not working. Unemployment like homelessness, is higher among veterans. This is intolerable and a national disgrace. I would make it mandatory that qualified veterans be hired over nonveterans in every case. Exceptions would have to be approved at the Department level. Decisions to hire nonveterans over veterans would be subject to reviews by a Veteran Employment Panel prior to the hiring. The panel would be appointed by the National Leader of these organizations:

American Ex-Prisoners of War
American Gold Star Mothers
Congressional Medal of Honor Society of the United States of America
Disabled American Veterans
Gold Star Wives of America
Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of the United States
Korea Veterans of America
Military Order of the Purple Heart of the U.S.A
Military Order of the World Wars
National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
Paralyzed Veterans of America
Legion of Valor of the USA
The American Legion

Decisions of the panel would be final.

Okay, that fixes the VA, next we can use the same logic on the IRS, EPA, BLM, HHS, TSA, DOL, NSA, well, I think you get the picture. Do you truly trust those fat cat bureaucrats to tell us how to live our lives, tell us what to feed our kids, regulating our fish ponds, even telling us what kind of light bulbs we can buy? Do you think we can continue to pay government employees twice what employees are paid in the private sector while performing less than half the work. Do you think it will EVER be possible to get a day’s work for two day’s pay out of any bureaucrat? Is there any hope for America?

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WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?

May 30, 2014

Hillary

 

Hillary Clinton is a Lawyer and Cattle Futures Trader who wrote her 1969 Thesis on Saul Alinsky. what if Hillary alibied for other people besides Obama?

Nixon: What difference, at this point, does it make? Whether the Watergate burglars were out for a walk and decided to burglarize the Democratic Office and find out how the Democrats are so successful garnering the support of dead voters or it was a preplanned event, what difference does it make!

Stanley McChrystal: What difference, at this point, does it make? Whether the Rolling Stone Magazine wanted to get the most successful battlefield general fired or whether they just wanted to sell magazines, what difference does it make?

Rod Blagojevich: What difference, at this point, does it make? Whether Governor Blago was out for a stroll and wanted to sell a United States Senate Seat to the highest bidder or whether he was walking his French Poodle, what difference does it make?

Anthony Weiner: What difference, at this point, does it make? Whether Weiner was out for a stroll and wanted to educate young women on the anatomy of dirty old men or whether he was conducting a medical experiment, what difference does it make?

Jessie Jackson, Junior: What difference, at this point, does it make? Whether Junior was strolling by a Jewelry Store and decided to spend $43,000 of campaign funds for a Rolex Watch or whether he just wanted to join the four former Illinois governors in prison, what difference does it make?

Dan Rostenkowski: What difference, at this point, does it make? Whether the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee was out for a stroll and just wanted to embezzle money from the House Post Office like everybody else or he thought the Post Office was a Cookie Jar, what difference does it make? (For my report on the Post Office Scandal and how it relates to Benghazi, keep reading my Blogs)

Do Bureaucrats Work for You?

May 23, 2014

VagasConf

Have you noticed that federal employees have become termites eating away at the very fiber of America? You watched as the Obama Administration fenced off National War Memorials while government workers held lavish conferences replete with expensive wine and suites. Federal employees receive pay and perks that far exceed those of the private sector, especially retirement benefits that are almost unheard of in the real world. But maybe the biggest advantage of all is job security, immunity from getting fired no matter how serious the delinquency. There is a pattern of acceptance of wrongdoing that is bound to produce more misbehavior in the absence of fear of losing one’s job. You better set down before you read the rest of the story. While veterans are dying while waiting for treatment that never comes because of phony appointment lists, bureaucrats get merit bonuses on top of huge salaries. IRS employees received these bonuses while targeting conservative groups even though the bureaucrats owe back taxes. You can’t make this stuff up!

Jim McElhatton reports in the Washington Times:

A program analyst at the Department of Housing and Urban Development spent up to three hours a day for five years working on private business deals — including once arranging to supply lap dancers for a private party — while he was supposed to be doing government work.

Another HUD employee — an auditor — was investigated for running a trucking business from her government office, according to investigative records obtained by The Washington Times.

In both cases, the investigators referred their findings to prosecutors, who declined to press criminal charges, sending the cases back to HUD officials, who let both employees remain on the job.

Why should they be allowed to steal from taxpayers and keep their jobs? They have been paid for the time they were using for their own private benefit. They stole that pay. Case closed.

Out of millions of federal bureaucrats, Rep. John L. Mica of Florida said at a hearing into the EPA misconduct, “I can probably count all the people on two hands I’ve seen fired, but something needs to be changed when people are breaking the law, when you have this GS-14 sitting there abusing his position, his salary, ripping off the taxpayers.”

For the most part Rep. Mica was right. I have a good memory, in fact, I never forget. Thirty-three years ago Air Traffic Controllers demanded an across the board pay raise of $10,000 and a 32 hour work week. That was when starting pay was about $20,000. To get their way, 13,000 controllers walked out causing chaos and airline flight cancellations. While Jimmy Carter made sure bureaucrats could unionize, it is not legal for bureaucrats to strike. The 11,000 controllers who refused to return to work were fired by President Ronald Reagan. They were fired and they stayed fired. Yes Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more. Do you think these bureaucrats at the Veterans Administration Hospitals, IRS, EPA, DOJ, BLM and NSA would still be on the job if Ronald Reagan was president? President Obama is mad as hell but too busy fund raising and golfing to actually do anything. Eric Shinseki is mad as hell but has reigned over the VA for a long time while veterans die waiting for help. What has Shinseki done besides fiddle and make promises? Do you remember that Obama fired hundreds of Generals, Admirals, Captains and Colonels. One Four Star General because of comments made by his staff that were reported in the Rolling Stone Magazine.

The day the Post Office allowed workers to become unionized was the day the Post Office began to die a slow agonizing death. Talk about bad ideas, the worst of all is to allow government employees to belong to unions. One bureaucrat negotiates with another bureaucrat for benefits. Labor wants three hours a week to exercise while being paid. Heck, what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander. Management would like some of that free exercise time too.

There is no black lung, child labor problems, sweat shops or poor working conditions in the government. There is no excuse for unions. If government employees are going to bargain for benefits it should be between federal workers and taxpayers, not between federal workers and federal workers. The only reason federal employees are permitted to unionize is because almost 100% of their donations go to Democrats.

Union activity in the private sector has been dropping for years but there are more than a million union members working for the federal government. Maybe that’s why the Obama Administration has no qualms about cutting pay and benefits for veterans and Armed Forces Personnel, they are not represented by unions. When a pension cut is mentioned for federal employees, the unions start screaming. The President of the American Federation of Government Employees had this to say, “Despite the extraordinarily hard work of several Congressional leaders, AFGE cannot support any budget deal that asks for more from federal employees. AFGE represents more than just the 670,000 federal and D.C government employees on the rolls today, but every other federal worker who will one day take the oath and be forced to live with this needless pension cut.” I wonder, can we ask federal employees to do more? Maybe give us taxpayers a day’s work for a day’s pay?

Employees at a Missouri facility awarded $1.2 billion to process Obamacare applications told a local news station that they were “just doing nothing — absolutely nothing” over the past several months.

“You sit there and you wait and you wait and you wait,” one employee told KMOV, a Saint Louis TV Station.

Over her six months at the facility, she said she processed only six total applications; another employee was told by her supervisor that processing just one or two applications per month was sufficient.

To pass the time, employees would play Pictionary, 20 Questions, and create other games.

“Just doing nothing — absolutely nothing,” the first employee described her day. “Looking at each other, comparing each others’ scarves — ‘Oh, that’s cute’ — that’s it, no work.”

KMOV reports that the Wentzville, Missouri operation is run by British-owned company Serco, which received $1.2 billion to hire employees to process applications.

If government employees can enjoy a stay in a luxury hotel made famous on The Bachelor, then surely Congress could find somewhere to make spending cuts. In November, a group of federal government employees connected with the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force enjoyed a trip to St. Croix, courtesy of taxpayers. Though no reports of long bar tabs and souvenir receipts have surfaced like the General Services Administration run up at their Las Vegas conference, a few details have raised eyebrows.

Government employees stayed in the Buccaneer Hotel, a beachfront resort made famous by the television show The Bachelor. At a time of supposedly tight budgets, the task force could have at least proposed a more modest way to hear from regional governors and others about the status of the coral reefs.

Further, the trip itself did nothing directly to improve the environment. Taxpayers can only hope the week of lecturers and public events along with the annual business meeting will eventually produce something in the way of improved environmental quality.

Perhaps no obscenely wasteful spending took place over the week, that much is unclear. But also unclear is why this program exists in the first place. With the task force spread across 11 different federal agencies, it is difficult to understand how much it costs taxpayers and whether it is successful or not. There are many nonprofit organizations, research institutes, universities, clubs, community groups, networking coalitions, and businesses in the Caribbean alone working to improve coral reefs and educate the public. The Coral Reef Alliance lists 10 pages worth of organizations working on coral reef issues in the U.S. With such a clear and committed effort, why are taxpayers footing the bill (the size and effectiveness of which is unclear) for the federal government to join the party?

Even with a national debt of $17 trillion and counting, some in Congress are maneuvering to replace spending cuts from sequestration with even more spending. But stories of wasteful spending cropping up now and then make clear that if the federal government can “afford” such questionable purchases, clearly there is room to cut. The longer Congress waits to budget, the more important cutting wasteful spending and tackling the nation’s debt becomes.

Have you heard any politician run on a platform of holding federal employees and contractors accountable for their behavior? Are any politicians advocating doing away with the great federal union experiment? Who’s watching YOUR money? Do federal bureaucrats work for you or the union bosses?

The VA is Yet Another Wretched Failure

May 6, 2014

~~~~~~~~1p

Enough is enough, the VA has failed miserably and American Legion National Commander Dan Dellinger has the courage to call for the resignations of the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, Under Secretary of Health Robert Petzel and Under Secretary of Benefits Allison Hickey. The American Legion is the largest Veterans organization and a loud voice for Veterans, not for heartless, ineffective bureaucrats. I served on the National Executive Committee for three years and I can tell you it took real leadership and courage to move the Legion to this decision. This is NOT PARTISAN, Veterans are more important than politics.

Allegations from multiple whistleblowers of a secret waiting list at the Phoenix VA Health Care System that may have resulted in the death of approximately 40 veterans have finally made the news. Last year even the VA’s own Office of Medical Inspector reported that clerks at the VA clinic in Fort Collins, Colorado, were instructed how to falsify appointment records so it appeared the small staff of doctors was seeing patients within the agency’s goal of 14 days. “These disturbing reports are part of what appear to be a pattern of scandals that has infected the entire system,” Dellinger said, noting issues that have come up in Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia, “Those problems need addressed at the highest level – starting with new leadership. The existing leadership has exhibited a pattern of bureaucratic incompetence and failed leadership that has been amplified in recent weeks.”

Dellinger said that the failure to disclose safety information or to cover up mistakes is unforgivable – as is fostering a culture of nondisclosure. “VA leadership has demonstrated its incompetence through preventable deaths of veterans, long wait times for medical care, a benefits claims backlog numbering in excess of 596,000, and the awarding of bonuses to senior executives who have overseen such operations,” he said. “Some veterans have waited years to have their claims decided. That same leadership has failed to provide answers to why these issues continue to occur.”

Dellinger said that while errors and lapses can occur in any system, “The American Legion expects when such errors and lapses are discovered, that they are dealt with swiftly and that the responsible parties are held accountable. This has not happened at the Department of Veterans Affairs. There needs to be a change, and that change needs to occur at the top.“

When asked by media what the Legion would do if the trio didn’t resign, Dellinger said a draft of the request was being sent to the White House. “This is a very serious situation,” he said. “The administration needs to take steps now. It’s long overdue. Whenever you’re talking about a patient’s life – a veteran’s life – in jeopardy, it’s always serious.”

James Pert served as a Marine in Vietnam. Diagnosed with skin cancer, diabetes and Post Traumatic Stress, he died as he waited for a medical appointment at the Phoenix VA Medical Center. “How could they treat him so badly, when he served his country so honorably?” his widow, Sandy Pert, said to the International Business Times.

The interview came on the heels of a shocking CNN report that administrators at the hospital kept a secret waiting list, which included veterans waiting more than 200 days for an appointment. Not surprisingly, more than 40 veterans may have needlessly died while waiting. The other list – the one that was not kept secret, according to Dr. Sam Foote –included only patients that would be seen in the next 15 days, a reasonable period intended to make executives look good and earn generous bonuses for the top brass.

More disturbing is that this is not isolated to the Grand Canyon State. More reports of “fixed” scheduling are coming from places like Fort Collins, Colorado, and Cheyenne, Wyoming.

As national commander of The American Legion, Dan Dellinger was able to meet with President Obama in the Oval Office a few weeks ago. He expressed The American Legion’s strong concerns about service at the VA and also discussed the unacceptable benefits backlog and poor access to facilities with Shinseki. American Legion Senior Staff Members met with top VA officials and found the meetings far less than satisfactory and the answers not very forthcoming. In fact, the secretary didn’t seem to fully appreciate the seriousness of the situation and, at the time, didn’t feel anybody needed to be replaced. If it were a private institution or if the executives were still in the military, they would be relieved of duty.

VA’s senior leaders didn’t seem to realize that one great tragedy of these delays and needless deaths is that they undeniably besmirch the compassionate work of thousands of dedicated VA employees and the outstanding care that many facilities provide. A few years ago, Unfortunately, the Legion does not see VA enacting the culture change that it so desperately needs with the current leadership in place. Senior VA leaders have isolated themselves from the media and, more importantly, from answering to their shareholders, America’s veterans.

The Legion looks forward to hearing the results of the VA Inspector General’s report and The American Legion welcomes Senator Bernie Sanders’ intention to hold hearings based on the IG’s findings.

Putting Phoenix VA director Sharon Helman and two other senior executives on administrative leave with full pay and benefits is a typical response for government Agencies. VA clearly has a widespread problem that goes beyond the misbehavior of three people. Moreover, VA has been dragging its feet in dealing with the backlog of disability claims and modernizing its records. The private sector would never tolerate such inefficiency and callousness. Neither should veterans.

What’s wrong with America? Welfare claims are expedited at the speed of light, heck just about anybody can get food stamps including millionaires, drug dealers, high class call girls, illegal aliens and yes, even government bureaucrats. Have you forgotten about the $2,000 debit cards handed out like candy after Katrina? Many of them fell into the wrong hands like the Captain of the crippled Costa Concordia cruise ship tripped and fell into a lifeboat. By the time it was all said and done, a billion dollars was wasted giving aid to people using prison inmate’s names or claiming their home was in a cemetery. Stuff happens but stuff just does not happen that favors Veterans of the United States Armed Forces.

On a personal note, I was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam and at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas. Eventually, I was awarded a couple of hundred dollars a month for ONLY one of my ailments and that money was taken out of my pension. The VA robbed Gene McVay to pay Gene McVay. I know, I know, that should have made me ecstatic but I am one of those greedy Veterans who would like to have what I’m owed according to the law. Like hundreds of thousands of other Veterans, I appealed the VA decision making sure the “i’s” were dotted and the “t’s” were crossed. After a year or two I was offered the privilege of driving 340 miles round trip to discuss my case to somebody on TV. My Veteran Service Officer (VSO) and I agreed that nothing needed to be added to my appeal and the VSO notified the VA that I did not desire the meeting. We thought that might expedite consideration. Of course I wasn’t surprised after some time when I received a notification that my scheduled TV meeting had been postponed and rescheduled. Again my VSO notified the VA that I still did not desire the TV meeting.

So, over three years have passed, I lost a kidney, received chemo and radiation paid for by my health insurance and still no word from the VA. I wonder where that claim is setting? Maybe somebody can set it near the water cooler where a bureaucrat might happen to see it? Don’t cry for me, cry for the hundreds of thousands of Veterans in my same boat but without health insurance and even without a home. Veterans are twice as likely to be homeless as the general population and female Veterans are more likely to be homeless than males. I believe the treatment of our Veterans is a preposterous National humiliation but who am I?

I have been a leader in various Veterans Organizations and attended meetings with high ranking VA officials and listened to speeches by the VA Secretary and Under Secretaries promising grandiose things. Veteran Leaders and VA Leaders praise each other while exchanging plaques year after year. The only thing that changes is the faces. The Veterans still languish. Those who can’t take the abuse and lack of care take their own lives. The Suicide rate among Veterans is another National embarrassment. At least 22 Veterans kill themselves every single day and that published rate may be low. The suicide rate among young Veterans under 30 soared by 44% between 2009 and 2011, the latest data available. Americans and our Legislators are concerned about things like Amnesty for Illegal Aliens, saving Desert Tortoises and stopping oil pipelines but prefer to keep Veterans out of sight and out of mind.

Don’t think for a moment that I am a dreamer. I expect nothing to change, in fact, I expect things to get worse. We will NEVER get a day’s work for a day’s pay out of bureaucrats, NEVER. Congress will NEVER outlaw government unions, the workers must be protected from child labor, poor working conditions in air conditioned marble buildings, poor pay that averages twice what is paid in the private sector and black lung disease (sarcasm). Congressmen can write letters and Veterans can plead, hat in hand, but NOTHING will change. The show must go on. The unofficial VA Motto, “Delay, deny and wait until they die” should become the official VA Motto. Our Federal Government is above the Law. Congressmen and Governors go to prison but Bureaucrats are put on PAID administrative leave. Veteran’s claims should be contracted to India or China where they are 1,000 times more efficient. President Obama wants universal healthcare, maybe we can include Veterans. Veterans are people too. With the money spent on VA Healthcare, Veterans could get real Healthcare in real hospitals like real people.

The VA was a good idea in the beginning and worked fine for a while with Five Star General Omar Bradley as Administrator. Bradley told VA workers, “We are dealing with veterans, not procedures; with their problems, not ours.” Make no mistake, Omar Bradley was a great leader and they are all gone. Omar Bradley would not make Major in today’s military. I will leave you with another quote from General Bradley given during a Veterans Day Speech in 1948:

“We have men of science, too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.”

STOP COMMON CORE, FOR THE CHILDREN

May 4, 2014

~~~~~~~~2g

Common Core or ObamaEd descended on America like a sandstorm from Hell. With Federal Dollars as bait, State Legislators jumped on the Band Wagon in droves. They passed the Bill and then found out what’s in the Bill. Not all states drank the ObamaEd Kool-Aid, Texas for example. Former U.S. assistant secretary of education Diane Ravitch complains that the standards are untested and are not sufficiently benchmarked. She has company in the liberal Brookings Institution, which worries that national standards won’t fix persistent achievement gaps within states. Brookings has an ally in the libertarian Cato Institute.

Meanwhile, both national teachers unions support the standards, though they want more time before teachers are held ACCOUNTABLE for results.

Here is what Parents need to know before it’s too late to save their children from yet another Grand Socialist Experiment.

DOES COMMON CORE PREPARE STUDENTS FOR COLLEGE?

Not for a 4-year university. It minimally prepares students for the non-collegiate workforce or for non-selective community colleges. Jason Zimba, a key Common Core creator, said that the Common Core can prepare students for non-selective colleges but that it does not prepare students for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. He said: “I think it’s a fair critique that it’s a minimal definition of college readiness… but not for the colleges most parents aspire to… Not only not for STEM, it’s also not for selective colleges. For example, for U.C. Berkeley, whether you are going to be an engineer or not, you’d better have precalculus to get into U.C. Berkeley.” Precalculus is a course with college-level algebra and trigonometry that is designed to prepare students for the study of calculus.

IS THERE AN AMENDMENT PROCESS FOR VOTERS TO ALTER THE COMMON CORE?

No. When it changes, it will be changed by those who wrote them. You might call it Education without Representation.

ARE COMMON CORE STANDARDS LOCALLY CONTROLLED?

No. They are under copyright by an unelected, private D.C. group called NGA/CCSSO which has reserved the legal right to alter them. The federal government has made money and waivers conditional on using Common Core standards and tests. The acronym stands for National Governors Association/Council of Chief State School Officers.

DO THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS IMPROVE K-12 EDUCATION?

No one knows. They are an unpiloted experiment. But people who are financially invested in Common Core say yes to the question, while people who aren’t financially interested, and who study and analyze the Common Core standards, say no.

Dr. James Milgram, Stanford University emeritus professor who served on the official Common Core validation committee, said, “I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or Geometry. Moreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course… They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries when it comes to being hired to top level jobs.“

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, University of Arkansas emeritus professor who served on official Common Core validation committee and also refused to sign off on the academic legitimacy of the Common Core, said, “As empty skill sets, Common Core’s ELA standards do not strengthen the high school curriculum. Nor can they reduce post-secondary remedial coursework in a legitimate way. As empty skill sets, Common Core’s ELA “college readiness” standards weaken the base of literary and cultural knowledge needed for authentic college coursework, decrease the capacity for analytical thinking… and completely muddle the development of writing skills.” ELA is English Language Arts.

A word about High Achieving Countries: According to EDUCATION WEEK, U.S. Achievement Stalls as Other Nations Make Gains. “U.S. performance in reading, math, and science has remained stagnant since 2009 as other nations have plowed ahead, according to new results from a prominent international assessment. Nineteen countries and education systems scored higher than the United States in reading on the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, up from nine systems when the test was last administered in 2009. Germany and Poland, for instance, have seen steady gains on the reading assessment over time, and are now ahead of the United States. In mathematics, 29 nations and other jurisdictions outperformed the United States by a statistically significant margin, up from 23 three years ago, the results released Tuesday show. The nations that eclipsed the U.S. average included not only traditional high fliers like South Korea and Singapore, but also Austria, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam. In science, 22 education systems scored above the U.S. average, up from 18 in 2009.”

“While we’re standing still, other countries are making progress,” said Jack Buckley, the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which issued the U.S. report on PISA.

I guess standing still was not good enough? Now we have to take a giant step backwards with the Federal Government takeover of Education.

IS COMMON CORE LEGAL?

No. Under the Constitution, education belongs to individual states. It is illegal for the federal government to interfere in the states’ right of making educational decisions. National standards are illegal. National data collection is illegal. And the General Educational Provisions Act prohibits the federal government from directing education –even the most dumbed down student can understand this:

“No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…”

DOES COMMON CORE REALLY STRIP AWAY MOST OF THE TRADITIONAL CLASSIC LITERATURE AND NARRATIVE WRITING?

Yes. Although it does not specify which classic books cannot be read, the Common Core contains a chart that explains that in fourth grade, students must cut their classic/fiction reading to 50%. By twelfth grade, students must reduce their classic/fiction reading to 30% with informational text taking up 70% of the time spent reading.

WHAT IS INFORMATIONAL TEXT?

Informational text is anything that used to belong mostly in other subjects. It is now taking 70% of high school seniors’ English class readings, in the form of scientific writings, political writings; opinion pieces; EPA Manuals; Saul Alinsky; almost anything other than classic novels, poetry, plays or other fictional works.

COMMON CORE PROPONENTS DON’T WANT STUDENTS TO LEARN RIGOROUS MATH, WHY?

It costs money to educate beyond minimal workforce training. In this 2013 document put out by the NCEE (National Center on Education and the Economy) we learn that it’s not important under Common Core to have high educational standards in high school; it’s seen as a waste of time to educate the high school graduates past Algebra II. They’re pushing for an emphasis on the lowest common denominator, while deceptively marketing Common Core as a push for “rigorous” academics.

“Mastery of Algebra II is widely thought to be a prerequisite for success in college and careers. Our research shows that that is not so… Based on our data, one cannot make the case that high school graduates must be proficient in Algebra II to be ready for college and careers. The high school mathematics curriculum is now centered on the teaching of a sequence of courses leading to calculus that includes Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus and Calculus. However, fewer than five percent of American workers and an even smaller percentage of community college students will ever need to master the courses in this sequence in their college or in the workplace… they should not be required courses in our high schools. To require these courses in high school is to deny to many students the opportunity to graduate high school because they have not mastered a sequence of mathematics courses they will never need. In the face of these findings, the policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation simply cannot be justified.”

The report goes on to say that traditional high school English classes, with their emphasis on classic literature and personal, narrative writing, is useless. The report says that Common Core will save students from the irrelevant classics with a new emphasis on technical subjects and social studies via the dominance of informational text:

“The Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts (CCSSE) address reading in history/social studies as well as science and technical subjects, and in so doing may increase the relevance of high school instruction.”

In calling classic literature and personal writing irrelevant, these Common Core proponents underscore the idea that job prep matters, but not the pursuit of wisdom or knowledge. America became the envy of the World with our proven Education System before expelling God and Common Sense.

WHY DID ALMOST EVERY STATE IN THE U.S. DROP THEIR EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS, WHETHER LOWER OR HIGHER, TO ADOPT COMMON CORE STANDARDS?

Proponents say that the reason was to improve education. Opponents say that it had nothing to do with education; that the standards were adopted without analysis or any vetting because the adoption was offered by the federal government under time pressure, in exchange for a chance at large federal grant monies called Race to the Top. Even those states that applied and won no money (like Utah) stayed with Common Core, because there were many other federal reasons and incentives to do so.

WILL THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS REMAIN AS THEY ARE TODAY?

No. Common Core’s official site says: “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised accordingly.” There’s no way for the governed to revise the document by which they’ve agreed to be governed.

WHY DOES THE STATE SCHOOL BOARD SAY WE’RE FREE TO CHANGE THEM?

States can’t delete anything. We can add –a tiny bit. A Common Core 15% rule says: “A State may supplement such standards with additional standards, provided that the additional standards do not exceed 15 percent of the State’s total standards”

WILL THE CREATORS OF COMMON CORE CHANGE THESE STANDARDS WITHOUT OUR APPROVAL?

Yes. Common Core’s official site says: “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised accordingly.” There’s no invitation for the governed to revise.

WHERE DO PROPONENTS GET THE NOTION THAT COMMON CORE WILL IMPROVE EDUCATION?

From believable, expensive marketing lines. Not from evidence. Opponents point out that there was never any field testing for Common Core standards; so this is a national experiment using virtually all children. Supporters never attempt to explain how education is supposedly improved by Common Core, nor show a pilot state or pilot classroom where Common Core had been successfully used. Beyond the many pleasant-sounding and but words, there is no documentation or evidence to back up any of the claims that the standards are higher, nor the other claims such as “Common Core was internationally benchmarked” or “is rigorous” or “improves college and career readiness.” They are baseless advertising words.

Upon this lack of evidence we build our children’s futures much the way New Math did in the 1960’s. Parents and teachers who opposed the New Math in the U.S. complained that the new curriculum was too far outside of students’ ordinary experience and was not worth taking time away from more traditional topics, such as arithmetic. The material also put new demands on teachers, many of whom were required to teach material they did not fully understand.

ARE COMMON CORE STANDARDS FREE TO US?

No. The standards’ development and marketing was paid for primarily by Bill Gates. The Common Core tests for most states was paid for primarily by the federal government. States pay countless millions for the rest of the Common Core Initiative: the re-training, new text purchases, aligned computer technologies, etc. They incorrectly say that these high costs would have been spent anyway, even without Common Core.

WAS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT “HANDS-OFF” THE STATES’ ADOPTION OF COMMON CORE?

No. Secretary Duncan announced and praised the release of the standards in 2010. He bribed states using Race to the Top grant money. He contracted with the testing groups to micromanage the Common Core tests, in exchange for federal grant money.

DID THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BRIBE STATES TO ADOPT COMMON CORE?

Yes. States received federal ARRA money to implement pre-common core reforms that paved the way for Common Core, including building a State Longitudinal Database System. There were 4 federal key objectives for education reforms laid out by President Obama which were the four conditions for receiving stimulus monies. Federally defined common standards and tests were one of the conditions.

More evidence of bribery and coercion can be seen in the timing of a majority of the states’ adopting Common Core simultaneously with the Race to the Top money lure. And recently, a group of U.S. Senators have denounced what the Obama Administration has done in coercing states with Common Core bribes.

IS COMMON CORE RELATED TO STUDENT DATA MINING?

Yes. But Secretary Duncan told the American Society of News Editors that opponents make “outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t.”

He just told a bold-faced lie. The federal Edfacts Exchange collects data for local, state and federal levels. The federal government paid for the states to build matching and interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems. The White House hosts Datapalooza where Common Core and common data standards are spoken of warmly and together. The Department of Education is listed as a partner at the EIMAC (Education Information Management Advisory Consortia) There are many other things that the Department of Education has done to take away student privacy, aiming aims to align common data standards with common educational standards.

WHAT SPECIFICALLY DID THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION DO TO REMOVE PRIVACY FROM STUDENT DATA?

– It bribed the states with ARRA Stimulus monies to build 50 linkable, twinlike State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS). This created a virtual national database.

– It altered the (previously privacy-protective) federal FERPA (Family Educational Rights Privacy Act) law to make access to personally identifiable student data –including biological and behavioral data– “legal”. Now, the act of requiring parental consent (to share personally identifiable information) has been reduced from a requirement to just a “best practice” according to the altered federal FERPA regulations.

– The US Department of Education partnered with private groups, including the Data Quality Campaign and the CCSSO (that’s the Council of Chief State School Officers –copyright holders on Common Core–) to collect student data nationally.

IS THIS ABOUT MAKING MONEY AT THE EXPENSE OF QUALITY EDUCATION?

Yes. Educational gains are not the motivator for Common Core. Notice that proponents are either financially invested in the implementation of Common Core, or else must be subservient to it and call it good because they rely on payment from those who are invested. The financial obligation should make the following groups’ promotion of Common Core extremely suspect:

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – Microsoft – Pearson Education – National PTA – Jeb Bush – Harvard University – National Governors’ Association – Council of Chief State School Officers – Fordham Institute – Manhattan Institute – Exxon, and many, many more.

IS COMMON CORE RESPECTED BY HIGHER ED?

132 professors of Catholic Universities recently wrote a letter denouncing Common Core on both academic and moral grounds.

Here is a sampling of what respected Higher Education Professionals have to say:

Dr. Anthony Esolen of Providence College in Rhode Island wrote:

“What appalls me most about the standards … is the cavalier contempt for great works of human art and thought, in literary form. It is a sheer ignorance of the life of the imagination. We are not programming machines. We are teaching children. We are not producing functionaries, factory-like. We are to be forming the minds and hearts of men and women… to be human beings, honoring what is good and right and cherishing what is beautiful.”

Dr. Thomas Newkirk of University of New Hampshire wrote:

“The standards are portrayed as so consensual, so universally endorsed, so thoroughly researched and vetted, so self-evidently necessary to economic progress, so broadly representative of beliefs in the educational community—that they cease to be even debatable… The principle of opportunity costs prompts us to ask: ‘What conversations won’t we be having?’ Since the CCSS virtually ignore poetry, will we cease to speak about it? What about character education, service learning? What about fiction writing in the upper high school grades? What about the arts that are not amenable to standardized testing? … We lose opportunities when we cease to discuss these issues and allow the CCSS to completely set the agenda, when the only map is the one it creates.”

Dr. Daniel Coupland of Hillsdale College wrote:

“Yes, man is made for work, but he’s also made for so much more… Education should be about the highest things. We should study these things of the stars, plant cells, Mozart’s Requiem… not simply because they’ll get us into the right college or into the right line of work. Rather, we should study these noble things because they can tell us who we are, why we’re here… If education has become –as Common Core openly declares– preparation for work in a global economy, then this situation is far worse than Common Core critics ever anticipated. And the concerns about cost, and quality, and yes, even the constitutionality of Common Core, pale in comparison to the concerns for the hearts, minds, and souls of American children.”

Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University wrote:

“Education reform in the United States is being driven largely by ideology, rhetoric, and dogma instead of evidence…. Where is the evidence of the efficacy of the standards? … Let us be very frank: The CCSS are no improvement over the current set of state standards. The CCSS are simply another set of lists of performance objectives.”

Dr. Bill Evers of Hoover Institute at Stanford University noted:

“The Common Core — effectively national math and English curriculum standards coming soon to a school near you — is supposed to be a new, higher bar that will take the United States from the academic doldrums to international dominance.

So why is there so much unhappiness about it? There didn’t seem to be much just three years ago. Back then, state school boards and governors were sprinting to adopt the Core. In practically the blink of an eye, 45 states had signed on.

But states weren’t leaping because they couldn’t resist the Core’s academic magnetism. They were leaping because it was the Great Recession — and the Obama administration was dangling a $4.35 billion Race to the Top carrot in front of them. Big points in that federal program were awarded for adopting the Core, so, with little public debate, most did.”

Dr. Terrence Moore of Hillsdale College wrote:

“Literature is the study of human nature. If we dissect it in this meaningless way, kids not only do not become college and career ready, they don’t even have a love of learning; they don’t even have an understanding of their fellow men… The thing that bothers me more than anything else is found on page number one of the introduction. That says that Common Core is a living work. That means that the thing that you vote on today could be something different tomorrow, and five years from now it is completely unrecognizable.” (Dr. Moore also wrote a most excellent book about Common Core English standards, entitled “The Storykillers.”)

Dr. Sandra Stotky wrote:

“The wisest move all states could make to ensure that students learn to read, understand, and use the English language appropriately before they graduate from high school is first to abandon Common Core’s ‘standards’…”

“The notion that Common Core’s college and career readiness standards are “rigorous” needs to be publicly put to bed by Arne Duncan, his friends at the Fordham Institute and the media. Two of Common Core’s own mathematics standards writers have publicly stated how weak Common Core’s college readiness mathematics standards are. At a public meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in March 2010, physics professor Jason Zimba said, “The concept of college readiness is minimal and focuses on non-selective colleges.”

Dr. William Mathis, of the University of Colorado, wrote:

“The adoption of a set of standards and assessments, by themselves, is unlikely to improve learning, increase test scores, or close the achievement gap. • For schools and districts with weak or non-existent curriculum articulation, the CCSS may adequately serve as a basic curriculum. • The assessment consortia are currently focused on mathematics and English/language arts. Schools, districts, and states must take proactive steps to protect other vital purposes of education such as citizenship, the arts, and maximizing individual talents – as well as the sciences and social sciences. As test based penalties have increased, the instructional attention given to non-tested areas has decreased. • Educators and policymakers need to be aware of the significant costs in instructional materials, training and computerized testing platforms the CCSS requires. It is unlikely the federal or state governments will adequately cover these costs. • The nation’s “international economic competitiveness” is unlikely to be affected by the presence or absence of national standards.”

Teachers who are currently teaching, principals and others who work in the education industry dare not speak up too loudly or risk losing their jobs. Citizens were able to stop New Math and they MUST stop ObamaEd. Americans can be taught to cower in the corner and dream dreams about mediocrity but is that what YOU want? The emaciated worker in the Salt Mines dreams about his next meal, not about going to the stars.