Thursday, March 31, 2011

Breaking the Chains – Our Rotten Common Core Part 3a

“ In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. ”
Thomas Jefferson, 10 Nov. 1798
What do you suppose Jefferson was referring to in the quote above? The Constitution?... or the paper it was printed on? What power does that have? I'll say... none. The Law’s only power lies in the hearts and minds of those who read and understand the constitution and insist that it be respected and followed, and even then it is powerless unless We The People insist our govt limits itself to only those powers which We The People have delegated to it – absent that, it is only paper. The only strength Jefferson’s chains can have is that which is derived from the understanding which you and I have of the constitution's meaning and purpose. That is the real strength of our Republic, and the only chains with which We The People can bind the powerful down.

This was of course the reason why Jefferson was so adamant that Education be spread across the land; our Republic cannot survive without it, but of course his idea of what Education was, bore little relation to what we think of it as being today, and in that the statist’s hacksaw has been busily sawing back and forth upon the links in Jefferson's chains. From the outright attacks and neglect of well over a century, our awareness of the common core materials, traditions and principles vital to Western Civilization and critical to our American way of life, have been damaged.

What do I mean by 'damaged'? Ask the nearest college graduate to name the key events and ideas of Western Civilization. Once you've failed at that, as there's a good chance you have, then try it again with a High School student. For bonus points, ask either one to name what Article's I, IIIII of the constitution primarily deal with.

That's what I mean by damaged. Our ability to not only understand what we read, but to know what we should bother to read; that has been just as weakened as Jefferson's chains themselves have been, indeed there is little difference between the two.

It may seem like I’m not getting to the point fast enough with these posts (here are parts 1 and part 2), but it's hard for me to see how you'd see the point clearly, if I rushed my way to it. How would you grasp the full meaning if I leave out the parts which the meaning is formed from? Ever seen a hill which you figured would be no problem to trot right up and probably not much worth doing? Then at the top of it, an hour later, winded, chest burning, you force yourself upright to look around and can't believe how far you can see?
The nature of how we've gotten to where we are is sort of like that. But not in a good way. I'm giving you key pieces in these posts, which in the end, will come together and give you the perspective to see quite a bit farther than you wish you could.

How we got where we are today, is the result of numerous well-intentioned, seemingly common sense decisions, made over the span of the last two centuries, progressively refined and reinforced with each passing decade, and are just this much short of our feeling their full power. The culmination of these rather blase decisions are what we are now feeling shake our common core, as an out of balance tire shakes its car to the point that it seems as if the entire car must fall apart – because of one simple balance weight lost. Those decisions begun way back then, changed our concept of Education and opened us up to a set of ideas that are fundamentally anti-American, ideas which incline those who hold them towards innocently seeking after the centralization of power over individual freedom,

Friday, March 25, 2011

Just cause, and Justification for War, are just not the same thing

"Tyranny anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere"
Thaddeus Kosciuszko - Polish Lithuanian who served as a colonel in the American revolution

Battling tyranny is a just cause. Overthrowing a tyrant is a just cause. But being a just cause is not the same as being a justified cause or even a wise one. The fact that Qa’Daffy’s regime exists, is enough of Just cause for America, or for any other free or semi-free nation on earth, to invade and overthrow his regime. Whether or not it would be wise of them to do so, is a separate issue, and not the one I have with what's going on in Libya today. I also don't have an issue with whether or not the President can order a military strike upon Libya. Whether he should order a strike, when he should, and more importantly Why he should - or shouldn't - order such a strike, those are a bit closer to the mark for me.

But to get the little stuff out of the way first.

The President is the commander in chief of the military forces of the United States of America, and the militias of the several states, he is able to order military action, without congressional approval (contrary to what then Senators Obama, Biden and Clinton said of Bush), in order to do what he thinks is required to protect and defend America, Americans and/or their vital interests and property in the event of what he considers to be a credible threat to them.

There are of course serious concerns which come along with bestowing such power, as George Mason expressed in the ratification debates, he,
"... thought it would be dangerous to let him command in person, without any restraint, as he might make a bad use of it. He was, then, clearly of opinion that the consent of a majority of both houses of Congress should be required before he could take the command in person."
However as the Constitution was ratified, the decision was made that it was a necessary risk, as Alexander Hamilton noted in Federalist #74, noted,
"...The propriety of this provision is so evident in itself; and it is at the same time so consonant to the precedents of the State constitutions in general, that little need be said to explain or enforce it. Even those of them, which have in other respects coupled the Chief Magistrate with a Council, have for the most part concentred the military authority in him alone..."
Mr. Spaight, in agreeing with Hamilton's argument during the debates for the importance of one man having undivided command of the military, he pointed out that the checks retained to balance such power,
"... that Congress, who had the power of raising armies, could certainly prevent any abuse of that authority in the President--that they alone had the means of supporting armies, and that the President was impeachable if he in any manner abused his trust...."

It is of course true that Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution gives Congress alone, the ability to declare war:
"To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;"
But using the military to defend America's interests as needed, especially in the face of a clear and present threat, is well warranted, justified, and in no way usurps Congresses authority to declare war. Congress never formally declared war on the Barbary Pirates, yet Jefferson did wage war against them ("...To the shores of Tripoli We fight our country's battles. In the air on land and sea...") - with Congresses authorization (though with much less a one than Bush had).

But that should leave everyone here wondering whether an essentially tribal civil war amongst people predominantly anti-American poses any threat, or concern, to the interest of America. Without that... the President's executive authority and position as commander and chief to call military action, is without justification.

It should be recalled by every citizen, every four years, that one of the primary responsibilities they have as citizens, is to gravely consider when casting their vote for a President, just who it is that they are seeking to give over command of the most awesome and destructive military force on the planet to, and do they feel justified in placing such power in the hands of that person.

Those who may have shown more concern for their candidates slickness, oratorical skills or their ability to either organize a community against banking, or as 'mavericks' passing laws limiting freedom of political speech, may now be questioning whether their candidate really warranted such power. They'd do well to remember their new found caution two years from now. And of course in this instance with Libya today, there still remain certain constitutional procedures to be considered and followed (none of which have to do with the 'War Powers Act'), especially as a 'kinetic military action' (WTF dishonest crap is that?!) might make it necessary to actually declare war, if in fact the act itself didn't already implicitly declare it (now that's an issue whose implications are ripe for debate).

I don't even think that our 'exit strategy' rises to the level of a primary issue... though it was one of the most disgusting things I've ever heard a leader say, one of the few times I've actually involuntarily shouted at the T.V. on hearing Obama's reply to the question of what our exist strategy from Libya was. He replied that our plan was,
"The exit strategy will be executed this week in the sense that we will be pulling back from our much more active efforts to shape the environment", ... and said he had "absolutely no doubt" that control could be shifted from the U.S. to other coalition members within days.

"When this transition takes place, it is not going to be our planes that are maintaining the no-fly zone," the president said earlier at a news conference. "It is not going to be our ships that are necessarily enforcing the arms embargo. That’s precisely what the other nations are going to do."
In other words, after putting some effort in for a few days, encouraging 'our allies' to join us, our exist strategy was to run away and leave it in their hands within a weeks time. This was as disgusting, infuriating, and as shameful a thing I've ever heard a 'leader' say in public. Not surprisingly his 'coalition' is falling apart, as Germany and other nations strategy is to head for the exits before being left holding the bag.

But even all of that is not the primary issue at the moment, not for me at least. It's not even these few questions, though I'd certainly like answers to them as well, such as

  • What was the Left’s issue with Bush invading Iraq?
  • Wasn’t it that people would be killed?
  • No blood for oil?
  • That it was an unjust war?
Using the criteria of the left, how does Obama's 'kinetic military action' not fail their tests and warrant immediate mustering of the ol' hippies walker's and new commie kids to march against it?

But, barring a couple odd Dennis Kucinich's & Ralph Nader's here and there, they have not protested and rioted and burned him in effigy, as they did with Bush, and so clearly those stated reasons could not have been their real motivation for opposing the war in Iraq. Also clearly, given the statement of Thaddeus Kosciuszko noted above, and the history of Saddam Hussein which made Qa'Daffy look like a piker, the Leftists problem with Iraq couldn’t have been that it was an un-just war; Saddam was a tyrant, and any free or semi-free nation on earth had just cause to invade and destroy his regime. But that was never seen or even considered by the left during the Iraq war (under Bush, at any rate), and so they cannot claim it's cover and pretext now. And given the fact that Bush received a set of over twenty resolutions from congress authorizing America to go to ‘war’, and the fact that few, left or right, were complaining that there was never any actual declaration of war made - still the case today - (which has been a bit of an issue with me), then the issue couldn’t have been that the Iraq war wasn’t justified… so what was the real problem that was a problem with Iraq, but isn't one with Libya?

Maybe the better question is, what is it that this ‘action’ has, that the Iraq war didn’t?

My guess is that this ‘action’ has the same thing going for it which the left didn’t object to when Clinton bombed Yugoslavia, which he also did by executive order alone, without congressional approval, just as with Obama today.

What is that you ask?

International approval, especially U.N. approval… that is their measure of ‘legality’ and worth.

But not just any approval, recall that the approval of nations who had recent experience with the oppression of tyrannies, Poland, Ukraine, etc, were discounted as having no standing among the 'old powers' of the world, France even denounced Poland as America's "Trojan Ass". No, the left is a bit pickier about whose approval it is they think is worth having. They prefer the sniffy set, France, Russia, China, and an international 'community' predominantly made up of thugs and despots little or no different from Qa'daffy. Why is that?

More to the point, why is it that the left doesn’t seem to give a fig for constitutional authority or even popular approval from Americans themselves or their representatives in congress…Bush lobbied congress for nearly a year to get overwhelming approval to 'go to war', Clinton and Obama did no such thing. U.N. popularity with among the 'in' crowd, on the other hand, that’s a biggee with them, for apparently in their eyes, if you’ve got that, you’ve got all you need to go to war with.

Let me be clear, our President has just cause to command the military to bomb every square inch of Qa’Daffy’s territory, but even so, he has not established a justifiable threat posed by Libya to America, which justifies our doing so, and there have been no constitutional procedures taken for authorizing it, there hasn’t been congressional approval sought or given, or even consultation, for sending our troops and treasure into battle against Libya.

There is no proper justification for risking our blood and treasure for the purposes of saving Libya’s people from their own government. When George Washington warned of alliances with European powers, he was speaking of making alliances with powers which we had no credible or vital interest getting involved with. I think he would have clearly seen the vital, unavoidable and very credible interests which we had for getting involved with WWII, and would at the very least have seen the basis for "temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies" as an argument for war with Iraq and Afghanistan... but... at this point in time, in this scenario, is there a credible interest or threat to America's interests, for expending our blood and treasure in Libya?

I'm not seeing it. Worse, neither is the President. All he can say, is that 'The international community has demanded it' Well I'm sorry Obama, but just where in the hell is it that our vital interests are under perceivable and credible threat, from a civil war in Libya?!

Forget all the procedural niceties, that is the real basis you need to have for taking our nation into 'kinetic military action' - that is the Justification which needs to be established for those who will see their loved ones wounded or killed, for those people will have the brutally real context for calling this what it is, War.
they are not your constituents,
they are not your vital concern,
they are not who you owe allegiance to (are they?) and
they have no part in the Constitution you swore to uphold and protect!
I'm willing to listen to a case being made for one, but so far all I've heard is that the U.N. community has demanded it... that it is our duty to resolve another peoples civil war - where are your vaunted 'lessons of Vietnam' now you hypocritical P.O.S? You want to risk our blood and treasure on a society which has no coherent structure whatsoever which could conceivably be called pro-Western, and for which there exists plenty of evidence for being anti-Western and anti-American, a society which cheered the release of the Lockerbie bomber... this is the society which justifies our military involvement in their civil war?! Sorry, NO, that IS NOT WORTH our blood and treasure, this 'kinetic military action' IS NOT JUSTIFIED.

I'd even be willing to consider that "Tyranny anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere", and that this action in Libya is somehow part of a wider and coherent plan to eliminate all tyranny... I probably still wouldn't agree, but at least that would show some hint of legitimacy and basis for an argument.

The cause, assuming that the cause is overthrowing Qa’daffy (and even that seems unlikely), is just, but it isn’t justifiable or justified under our constitution - such an action does not protect or defend the constitution or We The People, from whom all its power and authority is derived, which means that this is the arbitrary, non-retaliatory use of military force without even the pretense of having the legitimate authority for doing so.

And with that, I refer you back to Thaddeus Kosciuszko’s quotation above.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Should the Education of your children include educating the government about your private life? The Rotten Common Core pt 2

Question: Should the Education of your children include educating the government about your home, your possessions, your habits, your own educational history, profession, the types of media you possess in your home and other tidbits of information about your family?

That pursuit of information is key to what the process we call ‘education’ has evolved into and is involved in doing today, and not only is it not considered controversial, it has been a central aim of it for well over a century. A mover and shaker of the early 1900's who we left off with last time, Ellwood P. Cubberley, had long
"... portrayed education as the main tool of America's progress... "
, and the wrenches and screwdrivers of that tool set were rigorous testing and surveying and agitating for 'education' legislation. Now by that, Cubberley did not mean that 'Educated People' were the key to our progress - that I would have agreed with – no, he meant that the educational process, the operations of educational institutions, their scope and their reach into American life, was the main tool for transforming America into what the Progressive experts had determined America should be; and thanks to aspects of our modern “Common Core Standards” programs, those tools are now being taken to the next level, one Cubberley could only have dreamt of.

Keep in mind that Cubberley (who we'll dig into further in a moment) is the same fellow we left off with last time, who approvingly said that,
“Each year the child is coming to belong more to the State and less and less to the parent.”
Amazingly, some influentially uninformed people think there's no reason for concern here. For instance, a well meaning long time legislative wonk, Kerry Messer, said in a local print sheet that there's no reason for concern about Common Core Standards because there are no ties to Washington behind them,
"It is important to point out that these reforms have nothing to do with the social engineering found in the programs coming out of Washington D.C. I can vouch for the fact that these current education reform proposals have been promoted in Missouri for more than a decade, and bills can be found in the archives of past legislative sessions to demonstrate such."
No doubt, if you stick to the letter of the law and it's intent, you know, as congress rigorously does with Article 1, Section 8 of it's enumerated powers (ahem), looking no further than how one bill refers to another, it's possible to honestly become myopic enough to believe that these programs are actually separated. But for those who look a little further than the obvious, his statement is a bit like saying that two baseball fans who've never met couldn't possibly be concerned with gathering the same sorts of statistics...'RBI's? Error's? HRr's? Come on! They've never met and discussed such things! What are the odds!?' No doubt Mr. Messer is very well informed about the legislation involved, but he's miserably ignorant of the aims and scope of modern educational policies - we'll get to the details of those policies in a couple posts, but please, history first, then legislation.

The prevalence of such influentially uninformed people is exactly why learning the history of this mess, what we term 'Education', what it considers to be it's goals, and the thinking behind such things, is so important to get a grasp of. When founded on common core ideals, there is no need for direct plans or conspiracies to be laid between state and federal level, or private organizations and corp's, their common core goals will synchronize almost on their own; weirdly, it's the same reason the Free Market works so well, as if moved by an 'Invisible Hand', common interests and objectives move people toward shared goals without any need for knowledge of each other's interests or motives.

Gretchen at Missouri Education Watchdog, caught a whiff of this sort of thing when wondering why someone at the dept of health and human services would be googling her site, nosed about and found this interesting tie-in between her posts on Education and HHS legislation:
A question: are these the intended functions and constitutional responsibilities of the Federal government and the public schools?
New Heights participants may be eligible for educational, employment, housing, support services and information about community resources until their 20th birthday. Contact the Anacostia SHS office at 202-645-4040, or the Cardozo SHS office at 202-671-1995.
This is listed under the Health and Wellness section under the teen parent program information:


We have adopted DOH’s Wrap MC Condom program in all high schools, where trained school staff provide condoms to students as part of a comprehensive health education program for students in grades 9–12. Condoms are also available through the school nurse.

Visit the Department of Health for more information.
How did this sort of thing come about? To find out, let’s continue looking back in time into the ‘new’ ‘Common Core Standards’ and the changes which have been made in the meaning and purpose of Education, when & why those changes came about and whether or not they’ve produced the benefits promised.

Looking Backward
Last time we went over how the definition and purpose of ‘Education’ has been changed and split into tasks and skills, long before the mid 20th century, and how common core standards, the new tool for intensifying this redefinition, were themselves nothing new.

But that ain’t the half of it. The problem with writing on this stuff isn’t finding damning material, but deciding on only a few to use lest your post be mistaken for an encyclopedia, and then forcing yourself to leave out the more sensational material so you don’t look wacky yourself for mentioning them (factual though they are). Probably the best place to start this post, is by continuing on with Ellwood P. Cubberley, the premier early historian of American Education, he of the cheery thought:
“Each year the child is coming to belong more to the State and less and less to the parent.”
This statement wasn’t made recently of course, or even the 1960’s, but back in the supposed good old days of 1909, and it was not said as a warning but as something to be looked forward to. Cubberly

Friday, March 04, 2011

Our School Curriculum's Rotten Common Core - pt.1

On a recent email thread someone said,
“So what is the motive and goal of this new education system we are constructing? Answer that first and the specific recommendations will follow."
That’s a question that really needs to be asked and followed through on; it’s one I've been bleating on about for years. I'll try to be brief here in responding to it, but as you might already guess... I probably can't be brief ( nope, turns out I couldn't be brief, but I'll be a bit more understanding to readers and spread this out over a week’s worth of posts. You're welcome).
Gretchen at Missouri Education Watchdog has been doing some outstanding work diving into the hiden corners of the goals, favors and paybacks behind ‘Race To The Top’ and Missouri’s new Common Core Standards, and has been drawing attention to the new dumbed down purpose of ‘Public Education’ as expressed in the "Mission Statement" of our new "Common Core Standards", which states:
"The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy."
She's particularly taking note of how our State’s stated purpose for education has degraged from that of seeking to foster ‘skilled reasoning’, to simply acquiring some ‘knowledge and skills’ thought to be useful for ‘success in college and careers’. I agree this shows that our standards have slid yet another rung down the ladder. But I'd like to go a little further here and question whether the ladder we’re worrying over which rung we’ve slipped to, is even leaning up against a structure worth climbing – or not.

If not, then although reclaiming a higher rung would improve our position on the ladder... if we’re on the wrong ladder to begin with, is a less bad position really the issue we want to focus upon? Perhaps it is needed as an intermediary step, but shouldn't we begin more clearly defining what the actual goal should be in order to put us on a good position, on the right ladder, which is actually leaning up against the right structure?

To help ensure that, there are a few more questions I think we need to be asking ourselves. For instance,
  • Does simply having a concern for “‘knowledge and skills’ thought to be useful for ‘success in college and careers’,” or even “skilled reasoning’, really qualify as Education?
  • Is all useful learning equivalent to Education?
  • Is improved reasoning equivalent to Education?
  • Useful skills to be sure, every one of them, but is that , Education?
  • Has Education always referred to acquiring these sorts of useful skills, and if not, when and why did the meaning change, and has the change been for the better?
  • If not, how did they used to go about getting their 'useful skills', and has that changed for the better?
If the answers to these questions are in the negative, just what in God's name is it that we have fooled ourselves into not only accepting, but paying hundreds of billions of dollars in seeking after it, in lieu of an actual Education? 

These are the questions I'll be looking into over the next several posts, in order to answer this opening question at the top of this post, and even with everything else going on in the world today, I think this is among the most important issues facing us - other's might be more momentarily urgent, but few could be more important and defining for our future, and our present.

Founding out the problem
Gretchen asks, in comparing the previous educational goals of 1939, with today's,
"Is education facilitating the "achieving the purpose of his being" (1939) the same as being able to "compete successfully in the global economy" (2011)?”"
Certainly 'achieving the purpose of his being' would be preferable to simply training kids for the global economy - after all, a person who is trained for 'the' global economy, is a person that's going to be trained for competing in the currently foreseen global economy, and would be unlikely to be able to compete in any other, or even foresee any other. Not even the businesses know today what they'll need tomorrow - anyone remember WordPerfect? Lotus? If you train for a skill today, there's a very real chance it'll be obsolete tomorrow.

Shouldn’t the education our schools spend billions of dollars on, be concerned with something more lasting than currently relevant 'knowledge and skills'? Ask yourself this, what is the image that comes to mind when you think of an educated person, is it of someone who's been given skills suited to handling only one particular situation? Is an educated person someone who can only dance to the tune which someone else calls?

How is an education going to help a student to find and develop the ‘purpose of their being’ if all they've been educated in is simply developing skills at ‘reasoning’ (better check into what they mean by that word)? Sure, they may find themselves a few rungs higher up on the ladder, but... if it's still a ladder which is leaning up against the wrong building, how much better is that actually?

If those were the goals of education during the era of our Founding Fathers... they would have founded nothing more than stamp tax loopholes and better markets (both legal and illegal) for King George’s Tea; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, would quite literally never have entered into their minds. And for all those whose minds don't seem to have a passion for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness today... it's worth wondering why.

Training, whether in ‘critical thinking’ skills, or new technological skills, or any other sort of business or professional skills, shouldn’t be confused with Education. Not even ‘literacy’ skills;