“Sometimes I Wish We Didn’t Exist” – The Dark Side of Green

“Sometimes I wish we didn’t exist.”

These tragic words of a sixth grader being interviewed during an Earth Day “celebration” cannot say more about the detrimental impact of the radical green environmentalists agenda on the human psyche.  The moral implications of this are staggering. Respect for human life and human dignity must remain at the forefront of any of these causes, no matter how well-intentioned they may seem.

Here’s the interview (it’s only about 1:30):

Truly awful.

Just to pass some time before going to a friend’s house over Memorial Day weekend, we stopped at the Patuxent Wildlife Conservatory in Laurel, MD, which is run by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Even though I am well aware of the propaganda being used to promote “humans are bad for the planet” agenda, I left feeling pretty crummy. Maybe I was brainwashed by the creepy video they showed at the end of the tour.

Below are some photos I took during our Orwellian experience. One of the exhibits was about  wolves. The narrator said they were “misunderstood” animals and that were hard to study close up in their natural habitat. Yeah, because they’ll eat you! These people would have saved the dinosaurs. Poor misunderstood and unappreciated T-Rex! Chomp.

Another 175 People Join the World Each Minute!

Patuxent 175 PPL“People have become one of the most numerous animals on earth.” And we just keep on coming.  Everyday, 175 more mouths to feed, clothe and support! As the little sidebar says, we’re “Crowding together like chickens in a coop.” Kinda makes ya  look at your fellow human polluters with disdain and disgust.

Plants, Animals, Humans – We’re All Citizens of the World!

Patuxent Citizens of the WorldWhat? No passports required? Not when you’re a free-flying global citizen! I think next time I head up to Niagara Falls and cross over into Canada without my “papers” I’ll just declare that I’m a migratory bird and a citizen of the world!

 

Billions and Billions of Tons of CO2

Patuxent CO2 Blanket

Even if human “animals” were to become extinct, it would only affect 4% of the total CO2, which is only a tiny fraction of the atmosphere. Actually, our decaying bodies might unleash even more CO2. And the pursuit of this miniscule reduction in emissions is costing us dearly as resources are diverted from real problems we can actually solve.

DDT – Banned for Life

Patuxent DDT Eggs

The controversy over the ban on DDT continues to this day, decades after Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring.  As Ronald Bailey from Reason.com magazine wrote:

“In Silent Spring, Rachel Carson asked, “Who has decided—who has the right to decide—for the countless legions of people who were not consulted that the supreme value is a world without insects, even though it be also a sterile world ungraced by the curving wing of a bird in flight? The decision is that of the authoritarian temporarily entrusted with power.”
“Banning DDT saved thousands of raptors over the past 30 years, but outright bans and misguided fears about the pesticide cost the lives of millions of people who died of insect-borne diseases like malaria. The 500 million people who come down with malaria every year might well wonder what authoritarian made that decision.”

Furthermore, in Ronald Bailey’s article Greens vs the World’s Poor, he states:

“The scientific literature does not contain even one peer-reviewed, independently replicated study linking DDT exposures to any adverse health outcome” in humans, says Amir Attaran. “No study in the scientific literature has shown DDT to be the cause of any human health problem,” concludes Richard Tren and Roger Bate in ‘When Politics Kill: Malaria and the DDT Story,’ a new study from the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Look! Non-Point Pollution – And the reason for Maryland’s Rain Tax:

Patuxent Look Non Point Pollution

Humans are just too dirty to live near water.  Well, except the elites crowding up the coastline of CA  and FL  as well as Martha’s Vineyard, they can stay.

Wetlands – Environmentalists’ Holy Land

Patuxent Man IslandDeclaring places “wetlands” has become yet another excuse for curtailing most human activities.  Looking at the map, the entire state of Florida should have never been developed.

It’s More Than Numbers

Patuxent More Than Numbers

That first sentence alone sent chills down my spine. Ugh, humans and our wants and needs, like food and land further compound “the problem” of our mere existence. We scrape and scour land to steal resources from the plants and animals that deserve it more than we do. This stuff was written by fellow humans, right? As far as I know, the Whooping Crane doesn’t write.

Resources for the Future – There Just Aren’t Enough

Patuxent Resources for Future

And the more people there are, the more “resources” we’ll be hogging up …  especially us ugly Americans. When Al Gore  and all his cronies begin living in a hippie bio-dome communes and pooping in a compost toilets full-time, then come see me.

Trouble in Paradise Patuxent Trouble in Paradise

Oh, these poor plant and animals who “lived in isolation” (as if they had any concept of this)  before those nasty settlers arrived on the shores of Hawaii.  The first time I read this, I thought they were referring to the explorers as the “plant-munching, disease-carrying, egg-eating animals,” but they must mean the predators and rodents that were brought into the area along with the human “animals” that disrupted the peaceful lives of the plants. Right?

Caution – Pesticide Application

Patuxent Caution PesticidesBut I guess not all nature is worth saving. It’s ‘do as I say, not as I do’ at this taxpayer funded natural habitat.  Just as long as it’s not DDT!  Maybe I should have reacted like these truly caring people to the loss of vegetation from these pesticides.

Yes EarthFirst! is the group from which the following quotes emanated:

“I suspect that eradicating small pox was wrong. It played an important part in balancing ecosystems.” – John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal

“My three main goals would be to reduce human population to about 100 million worldwide, destroy the industrial infrastructure and see wilderness, with it’s full complement of species, returning throughout the world.” Dave Foreman, co-founder of Earth First!

 Gee, maybe someday the animals and trees will begin a “save the humans” campaign.

 

 

 

 

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Common Core – So What Can We Do?

So What Can We Do?

This is the big question that is always asked. I wish I had a satisfying answer.

Our legislators tell us that we’re too late,  the train has left the station. Well, what do we do with a runaway train? Just let it go or do everything you can to stop it so that it does the least amount of damage to the least number of people?

Eradicating Common Core, in all its forms, is just the beginning. The foundational bricks for this Tower of Babel were laid long ago and it has gotten mighty high at the hands of these elites who believe they have the power to control and maintain the human beings with their data, technology, assessments, and power. They can’t, they never will, and the pursuit of their utopian dreams will destroy our education system and our nation. And then they’ll be there looking at the wreckage, pretending like them that broke it, can fix it.

Educate, Inform, Debate

It is going to take an entire culture change and many who have fallen asleep to wake up before things can really change. Many parents just don’t want to get involved. They don’t want to hear it because once you know the awful truth, you must fight it. And it’s no cake walk. We must approach with the facts and the truth. The truth is on our side and it’s all we need.

Many of our fellow citizens have bought into the agenda without truly understanding that under the veneer of  “nice” sounding philosophy and ideas is an agenda that seeks to destroy what it purports to reform and in the end helps no one get ahead, except a small group of elites who are unaffected by any of their own nonsense. Many teachers have come up through the college system learning one way of doing things. They simply don’t know what they don’t know. And many just don’t want to believe it.

Just as Charlie, who created a blog called the Blue Hat Movement, woke up to the truth, we must talk about this whenever the opportunity presents. Charlie describes his own “come to” experience in hearing about Common Core and Pearson publishing at a dinner party:

“Next thing I know Jen starts telling me that she does some kind of curriculum research and as it turned out she had quite a story to tell.  And to be honest, she sounded a bit crazy.  But it is crazy the way all diabolical truths can sound crazy.  It is so hard for us to accept that fellow human beings are willing to manipulate and hamper the happiness of their fellows that when we hear the truth of it, it is just soooo much easier to pretend we never heard it.”

Bingo!

Investigate

Put on your Columbo coat and dig in. Once you understand the “quiet revolutionaries” behind this reform movement – from corporate cronies and their political allies to progressive/collectivists who want to project their vision, their ideas, and their beliefs onto us all — you will understand that we cannot allow them to control our children’s education and you will understand that there simply is no compromise.

We are up against a savvy bunch of people who have been playing this game a lot longer than we have. Names and terms are constantly changing or being misapplied. It’s called semantic deception and doublespeak. Arm yourself with the truth. And we must not let them intimidate us into cowering away when they dispute any of our claims.

Check out my Common Core links pages for excellent resources on learning more about this whole “reform” movement.

A great starting point, which is one of the first things that got me fired up is:

A Mother Speaks Out: Children For Sale by Alyson Williams.

Another great resource that you can hand out to your legislators and others you may talk to is this 16 page handout that was developed by Utahns Against Common Core:

What the State Office of Education Isn’t Telling You About Common Core

Maybe you have time to peruse the grant applications:

Follow the money

As scripture tells us, love of money is the root of all evil. Which is sadly is a big part of this movement – love of money — and lots of it. The “strings attached” grant money flowing into the state of PA is much more than just the stash that came from the stimulus. Mercedes Schneider does an outstanding job in a five part series that audits the Common Core Gates money trail.

Opt Out of the Tests

As it stands now, the only way might be able to get rid of this is for enough of us to stand up and just say “No.” Opt your children out of the tests. The state cannot make you take them. A group of parents in Lancaster have a website with information on your rights a parents called Lancaster Opt Out.

UPDATE: Pennsylvanians Against Common Core’s FB page has some good info on the opting out movement. Here is a link to a good blog post:

sweeneyosity.blogspot.com/2014/03/keystone-exams-and-project-based.html

Vote

Find out your candidates’ position on Common Core and education policy in general, and vote for representatives who vow to extricate PA schools from this tangled web and to return control to our local schools.

Engage

  • What the new FERPA (the federal education privacy rule) rules mean – in plain language – about our childrens’ personal information and why is parental consent not required for this data collection?
  • What is contained in the student’s “educational record”?
  • Exactly what leaves the school and the district in the form of data, who receives it, and how do we know it is secure and anonymous?
  • What assurances can they provide, if any, that our data is safe and secure?
  • How do we opt-out of this data sharing?
  • Is there a privacy agreement between the parent and the school?
  • How much is all this data collection going to cost in terms of equipment, maintenance, and labor?

There is no reason why the state or federal government or any other entity needs all this data on our children to properly educate them, and especially not without our express consent and an explanation of exactly what data is being collected, how this data will be used, and by whom.

I’m very sorry for any of our legislators  and members of the business community who have bought into this lie and refuse to see the truth. There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.

Common Core – We’re People Not Products

Referring to the education staff as a “human capital pipeline” reflects a mindset that views people as products.  A pipeline is something that is used to transport products like oil and natural gas, not human beings. Who talks like this? Academics, bureaucrats, and elitists who do not live in the real world, that’s who. No one who goes to a local school board meeting would hear people talking like this.  We look each other in the eye and call each other by name. We talk to each other as people, not as human capital entities traveling down the education pipeline.

The Meadville Times on August 5, 2013 reported that at an August hearing conducted by the PA House Education Committee, Democratic Rep. Mark Longietti of Mercer County said that if McDonald’s can make a hamburger taste the same at all locations, it is unclear why people believe that schools across the country should not be expected to meet the same quality standards.

These are our children not hamburgers and, although I am sure Mr. Mercier’s point was not to compare children in PA to hamburgers, it just reflects a mindset that seeks to control things that cannot be controlled by government or these philanthropic do-gooders.

At the heart of what’s wrong with Common Core and all it entails is that it neglects to recognize each child as a unique creation of God with a capacity and thirst for knowledge based on objective truth. It reduces the dignity of the human person to unique IDs and data points put into algorithms to spit out an analysis that can never capture the essence and complexities of a child or the human relationships that are involved in teaching.  It replaces truth and time-tested traditions in education with a mishmash of ideas and concepts designed by people who have never even step foot into the average classroom. And it’s done under the banner of creating “college and career ready” kids, closing achievement gaps, and leveling the playing field when it will do nothing of the sort.

These are children, not hamburgers on a production line. They’re “ingredients” cannot be tweaked, sorted and molded to fit into an algorithm and predict their path in life. No amount of data can capture the human soul. Simply said, government cannot do God’s work.

And as far as I’m concerned they can keep their McEducation, I’d rather go with the Burger King approach and allow our school districts to have it their way.

Next: A Voluntarily Mandatory Curriculum

Common Core – Big Data & Privacy

Empty Promises of Privacy Protection

PA House Resolution 338 touted by Seth Grove, et al states:

“The Secretary of Education and the State Board of Education be urged to ensure that Pennsylvania academic standards do not result in intrusion into student and family privacy or in the collection or reporting of additional data to the Federal Government.”

A group called the Data Quality Campaign published a document titled Next Generation State Data System: What is Needed to Support the Next Generation Assessment and Accountability Systems which is found on Achieve, Inc.’s website provides some insight into the Big Data movement. On Page 6 of this document, Student IDs are discussed:

“Most states have implemented a statewide unique student identifier (ID) within the past three years … This student ID allows states to track students as they move across schools and districts within the state and track students as they move from one grade to another. Typically, these IDs are generated by the state and may be shared with the district. Ohio, however, has a state law that says that the SEA cannot maintain students’ identifiable information (i.e., names, dates of birth). The SEA does have access to the student ID, but without other personally identifiable information it is difficult for them to share data with other entities.”

The article goes on to discuss Assessment Data:

“SEA [State Education Agency] systems typically collect data on the statewide assessment system …  As states are building more robust student-level data systems, though, SEA’s are beginning to collect student-level scores, and in some cases even item-level responses, from the testing contractors. States enter into contracts with testing vendors and specify in the contracts what types of reports are to be sent directly to the districts versus to the SEA. …”

In conclusion, the document discusses the “cultural, political, and financial” obstacles to data collection [emphasis mine]:

“…Culturally, educators and administrators need to learn to embrace the use of data, instead of fear it. Politically, policymakers need to make the sharing of student-level data — while protecting student confidentiality — not only acceptable, but mandatory across educational institutions. State laws, such as those in OH, that prevent the SEA from maintaining identifiable student information create a burden to the state, both from a financial and a data perspective. Interpretations of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) that prevent P-12 and post-secondary systems from sharing student-level data hinder the ability to improve student achievement. … The next generation data system will likely come to fruition when we have both local educators and state policymakers calling for access to more data in easy to use formats on a more frequent basis. The convergence of demands from the ‘bottom up’ and the ‘top down’ will create the perfect storm to create a new breed of data system, but that demand can only be filled if financial commitments are made to ensure that the systems are built and sustained.”

So what they seem to be saying is, in order to the get the data they need, it must be personally identifiable and they find it quite annoying that state’s like Ohio have created such a burden by not allowing this to happen. And I don’t think anyone “fears” the use of data, but the misuse and abuse that happens when private records are “accidentally” exposed or hacked.  Although this document is not specifically applicable to PA, as I’ve said before, it shows the mindset and the intentions of the folks behind Big Data. They are just biding their time until the right folks get into office to lift the restrictions on getting them the data they want and they are constantly pushing the ball down the court. This is why our elections matter.

The National School Board Association’s website published information on how the federal education privacy law intersects and in many cases overrides the health care information privacy law:

“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) have issued a joint guidance on the application of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) to student health records… …the new guidance notes that the HIPAA Privacy Rule generally does not apply to elementary or secondary schools …

If your child has a medical or psychological condition and the child’s medical records becomes part of the education record it sounds like federal education privacy rules trumps healthcare privacy rules. And remember, this was done under the radar through regulatory changes, not a Congressional vote.

As we have all seen more and more in recent years, promises of anonymity and privacy with these “secure” ID’s are empty and meaningless when it’s your data that has been unwittingly exposed.  As Paul Ohm published in 2009 ‘Broken Promises of Privacy: Responding to the Surprising Failure of Anonymization at the University of Colorado School of Law, we know security breaches occur on a regular basis, therefore, there is no way to guarantee the privacy of our children’s information, especially on-line or in these “clouds.” Anyone who has ever had his credit card information or identity stolen knows that “encryption” can be unencrypted and unlinked data can be linked.  As parents, we were never even given a privacy agreement to review and sign with respect to this data system.

Besides the obvious fraud and identity theft (especially if Social Security Numbers are used) this can lead to if data is not secured properly, what impact might this have on our children once a historical database by name is compiled on them beginning in infancy? And what of trying to correct misinformation that might be recorded on our child? Remember, this is massive bureaucratic administrative state that does not readily or easily respond to those it serves.

Next: Big Data & the State “Core” Model

Common Core – ‘Benchmarking’ to Finland’s Success

Just to see  what one of the “high-performer” countries to which Common Core was “internationally bench-marked” was doing, I searched Finland’s education system.

I found an article published Smithsonian Magazine titled “Why are Finland’s Schools So Successful?” by LynNell Hancock. Please note that Finland has a population of 5.4 million people, a fraction of the population of PA and even smaller fraction of the entire U.S.

In discussing the reforms that lead to Finland’s success story:

…the final set of initiatives shook the classrooms free from the last vestiges of top-down regulation. Control over policies shifted to town councils. The national curriculum was distilled into broad guidelines. National math goals for grades one through nine, for example, were reduced to a neat ten pages. Sifting and sorting children into so-called ability groupings was eliminated. All children—clever or less so—were to be taught in the same classrooms, with lots of special teacher help available to make sure no child really would be left behind. The inspectorate closed its doors in the early ’90s, turning accountability and inspection over to teachers and principals. “We have our own motivation to succeed because we love the work,” said Louhivuori. “Our incentives come from inside.”

On teacher autonomy and authority over curriculum and classroom environment:

Teachers in Finland spend fewer hours at school each day and spend less time in classrooms than American teachers. Teachers use the extra time to build curriculums and assess their students. Children spend far more time playing outside, even in the depths of winter. Homework is minimal. Compulsory schooling does not begin until age 7. “We have no hurry,” said Louhivuori. “Children learn better when they are ready. Why stress them out?”

“Children learn better when they’re ready.”  What a novel concept. My, how Kindergarten has changed here in the United States from its original intention of being like a ‘children’s garden’ where children learn naturally through imaginative play, singing songs, rhyming, and interacting with each other. That concept has been replaced with academic rigor and rigidity to standards and curriculum. Play is now the exception, not the rule. It’s serious business now in the Kindergarten classroom. And just imagine adding testing on top of it all, which PA intends to do if it can just get the funding. (And, thanks to the Corbett Administration, PA has implemented Early Childhood Learning standards for Infancy through First grade.  And of course, if you have standards, you’ve got to test them. Yes, infancy learning standards.)

Of the current initiatives in American education, the article notes:

“In recent years, a group of Wall Street financiers and philanthropists such as Bill Gates have put money behind private-sector ideas, such as vouchers, data-driven curriculum and charter schools, which have doubled in number in the past decade. President Obama, too, has apparently bet on competition. His Race to the Top initiative invites states to compete for federal dollars using tests and other methods to measure teachers, a philosophy that would not fly in Finland. “I think, in fact, teachers would tear off their shirts,” said Timo Heikkinen, a Helsinki principal with 24 years of teaching experience. “If you only measure the statistics, you miss the human aspect.””

Furthermore, Finland has no standardized tests until graduation. The first test children are possibly exposed to is in the sixth grade, and this is only at the discretion of the teacher, who do it mostly out of curiosity. The results are not published. Finnish educators have a hard time understanding the United States’ fascination with standardized tests.

“Americans like all these bars and graphs and colored charts,” Louhivuori teased, as he rummaged through his closet looking for past years’ results. “Looks like we did better than average two years ago,” he said after he found the reports. “It’s nonsense. We know much more about the children than these tests can tell us.”

If we are touting Finland as a success story, why are we running in the opposite direction with more top down control and more standardized assessments?  Furthermore, some of these high-performing countries touted by the Common Core propaganda have standards, others do not.

Next: PA’s Sunshine Laws Left Most of Us in the Dark