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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Reframing the Common Core discussion: A battle for our freedom

By Laurie H. Rogers

“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” – Voltaire
“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.” – George Orwell

If I were to build a list of the worst systemic problems in public education, the Common Core State Standards would not be at the top of the list. The Common Core (CCSS) is a huge problem, to be sure. It’s dictatorial, inadequate, experimental, expensive, developmentally inappropriate, politically infused – it’s nearly everything critics have said it is. But it isn’t the worst problem we face.

That dishonor goes to The Network, a moniker I’ve given to the conglomeration of corporate and government interests (and their allies) that have seized control of America’s classrooms. The Network is huge – containing most of the K-12 education mob, plus its allies in the Department of Education; colleges of education; unions; media; government agencies, associations and legal teams; foundations; corporations; legislatures; fundraising groups; colleges and universities; business; and even the courts.

The Network prefers to operate quietly, promoting supposedly good intentions. Its hallmark phrase: “It’s all about the kids.” But try opposing The Network on behalf of a child – yours or anyone else’s. If you can’t be put off, persuaded, ignored, bullied or bought out, The Network has no problem getting nasty. The more honest and honorable you are, the nastier The Network becomes.

This isn’t about left or right, Democrat or Republican. It’s about “in” and “out”; money and power; agenda and ideology. The Network spends a lot of taxpayer money growing itself, feeding itself and shielding itself from accountability. The bigger it is, the more power it has. The more power it has, the more friends it gains. The more friends it gains, the more money it gets. The more money it gets, the bigger it grows – even as it completely fails our children. Allies of all stripes play along.

In Washington State, legislators and judges now tout the additional billions they’ll rip from taxpayers for failed school districts. They don’t say how much is spent currently or what it buys. They don’t hold districts accountable. Education already is a bottomless pit of wasted dollars; they don’t seem to care.

Parents must understand: The Network will never properly educate our children. A) It doesn’t know how. Its power structure has lost any sense of how to teach academics sufficiently, efficiently and effectively. B) It doesn’t care. The agenda is to gain money and power; push a particular political view onto the next generation; maintain position and income; and avoid accountability and transparency. Some allies work agreeably with The Network; others accept the benefits of looking the other way.

This is how we were stuck with the CCSS. They claim it will raise the bar and foster international competitiveness, but unless they mean to foster competitiveness IN our competitors, their claim is easily disproved by a comparison of what they’ve done versus what happens in the classrooms of our competitors. The CCSS is designed to deliver the agenda in such a way that it cannot be overcome.

The Network wants freedom, choices and privacy for itself, not for us. If it’s successful, it will have replaced the light constraints of a free people with the ropes and chains of the subjugated. To have what it wants in education, The Network must have it all – K-12, secondary education, early learning, preschools, private and faith-based schools – and someday – mark my words – homeschooling. Dissenters spend time and energy fighting off the CCSS but almost none fighting off The Network. Thus, they can’t defeat the agenda, and The Network knows it.

A few in The Network believe they’re doing right by children, but most deceive themselves and us about their level of independence -- as they accept money, votes or benefits or do The Network’s bidding. You can establish who’s “in” by: following the money; speaking up publicly; or asking for help in opposing the agenda. The players and sycophants will undermine your message or crush it.

The Network will not tell the truth about the CCSS, for example. It was destined to be authoritarian and politically useful – not academically excellent. Nationalizing systems can work well for widgets, but not for children, learning, individuality or freedom. Politically biased, uninformed by what works elsewhere, and academically counterproductive, the CCSS is a national experiment on children and dangerous to the nation. The people who control it and push it aren’t accountable for it. It’s a lesser product than what many states had. It was deceitful from its inception in its adoption, writing, content, promotion and implementation. This was a bipartisan deceit – Republicans are as guilty as Democrats.

The CCSS is a godsend for district leaders, however. Many lack the knowledge necessary to identify a solid curriculum. They habitually adopt programs that are unproved or proved to be failures. The failures of the CCSS won’t be known for generations, so they’ll have lots of time to retire in comfort.

In math, the CCSS is cementing processes proved over three decades to be failures. Nationalization of education is how extreme constructivists plan to ultimately win the “math wars” – by using the CCSS to mandate their stupid methods across the country. They will destroy more generations of students and further endanger the country.

In English, the CCSS is allowing districts to eliminate great literature, replacing it with “informational” (pro-government, pro-extremist) material. Much of the history, culture, context, and factual information that would help to inform a student’s “critical thinking” has been or is being removed or minimized. Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, once presciently noted: “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” The CCSS is doing that.

In history and civics, the new themes are content-light and opinion-heavy, pro-victimization, anti-Christian and anti-patriot. America is to be portrayed as bigoted, imperialistic, genocidal, misogynistic and anti-immigrant. Great historical figures and much daring and innovative history are to be eliminated, criticized or minimized. (This is what happens when those who view America with contempt are given free reign over academic standards.)

If the CCSS was ever about helping students academically, its promoters would have had proof of its efficacy – a track record of success. They don’t have it. The CCSS is an unproved product. Unfortunately, as bad as it is, the CCSS is just one tentacle of the monster. The Network remains largely hidden as its agenda oozes out around us, like a nasty sludge. It’s difficult to confront and defeat what we can’t see. It’s an ongoing challenge to explain this to people who would rather not believe it.

Another tentacle is the privacy-destroying longitudinal data systems. Another is the flawed testing, all online. Another is teacher evaluations, based on the faulty premise that good teachers can overcome bad curriculum, policy and administration. Another is the de facto federal takeover, now seeping into private schools, preschools, daycares and colleges. Another is the creepy technology: emails for children (that disallow parental access); scanning of driver’s licenses; and biometric intrusions on children.

We try to put all of this under the umbrella of the CCSS, and we can’t, because the CCSS is not the umbrella. We struggle because we’re missing the point. These are tentacles of the same monster. They’re separate – related but independent. It’s fascist, it’s corporatist, it’s dictatorial, selfish, larcenous... Call it what you like, but The Network is in charge and not accountable to anyone.

This is how national tyrannies are born.

The Network’s strengths are in its size, money, and near-sociopathic ability and willingness to lie on a daily basis and with impunity. It benefits from our ignorance and passivity. It’s easy, safe and pleasant for us to believe that government/corporate “partnerships” are benevolent and that the government is still on our side. We are failing to recognize our new reality.

It’s almost too late. The Network now determines problems, makes decisions and provides solutions. It essentially has oversight over itself, and it’s rapidly gaining power over the rest of us. It cares less about the children or our rights than it does about protecting its interests. The finer details of the content of the CCSS were always immaterial – a distraction. The CCSS will be whatever The Network wants it to be. The goal was that we lose our power as individuals. Graduates won’t know they’ve been manipulated. The Network wants to be the decider; we are to be the obeyers. Hop to it.

It’s risky to draw this picture for the public. Network allies will kick into gear to mock and undermine the message. Since 2009, I’ve watched this come to fruition, hearing lie after lie about it, even as the dark truth blossomed right there in front of our face. We asked for help from legislators, board directors, government watchdogs, and the media -- only to find out that most are part of The Network.

Sometimes a conspiracy “theory” isn’t a theory.

Fighting it off requires a certain mindset about freedom, knowledge, the law, the Constitution, and individuality – hence The Network’s attacks on those things. The Network is self-regenerating, with a long institutional memory. If it loses a tentacle to a determined group of dissenters, it grows another and renames it. In math, it can be Outcome-Based Education; New Math; Reform Math; inquiry-based math; student-centered learning; or constructivism. If a state rejects the CCSS, The Network can keep it in place under a different name. The Network isn’t worried. It intends to win. For the kiddoes, of course.

This is grim, so I hate to leave it here. This is America, and in America, it’s never over. But we’re now in a battle for our freedom, and most of us appear to not know it. It isn’t going to be a walk in the daffodils. The battle cannot be won by a few of us while the rest wait to hear how it went.

More citizens must become motivated, questioning, informed and involved. We must learn, vote, dissent, and inform others (including the few in The Network who will listen). We must stop supporting powerful people who demand that we acquiesce to The Network. We must vote against legislators who vote for The Network. We must walk away from schools run by well-heeled administrators and board directors who express solemn concern over students they never actually help. The Network prefers that we remain uninformed and obedient. As we wait in vain for it to do the right thing for our children, it advances the agenda. It’s symbiotic to itself but parasitic to the rest of us.

Americans have been asleep for too long. This battle is necessary to our children’s future as free Americans. If we don’t save them now from The Network, we risk losing them to it forever.

Please note: This information is copyrighted. The proper citation is: 
Rogers, L. (September 2014). "Reframing the Common Core: A battle for our freedom." Retrieved (date) from the Betrayed Web site:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What Does a Quality Textbook Look Like?

By Nakonia (Niki) Hayes.
(Previously published on Truth in American Education. Republished here with permission from the author.)

There’s an interesting new concern being voiced by Common Core leaders: “What does a quality textbook look like?”

Here’s a non-nuanced, concrete answer, especially for mathematics textbooks: “It gets results and doesn’t chase kids out of math.” And, yes, such textbooks do exist.

It’s not surprising that the issue of quality textbooks has come up with Common Core. After all, textbook publishing is a multi-billion dollar industry. The federally-supported mathematics and English Core standards will drive 85% of a school’s curricula and 100% of the related assessments in about 40 states. The creation of new Core-aligned materials that prepare students for the Core-aligned assessments is already making a rich impact on publishing businesses, vendors, and peripheral activities (teacher training, consultants, etc.). So much has to be rewritten or at least republished with the words “Common Core Aligned” on the cover. Old materials must be thrown away. New materials have to be bought. Lots of profit is on the horizon.

The major problem for publishers, however, is actually in mathematics education. They must figure out how to get good, reliable, and verifiable results from American children who have become math phobic over the past 50 years. That means publishers need to listen to authors who have a
proven success record and not to ideologically-driven math education leaders who have for years promoted fads with political correctness as the purpose of math education. It will be hard—and expensive—to cut the cord between publishers and embedded education “leaders” if quality textbooks are to be created. Profits may suffer at the beginning.

But here is a checklist for publishers, administrators, teachers, and parents to consider about math textbooks:

1) Look for
results, not ideology. It is about student success, not affirming adult beliefs.
  • Results are reflected in GPAs, End-of-Course exams, state tests, national tests, and/or college board exams.
  • Local comments from students, teachers, and parents give anecdotal but often powerful insight. (Surveys are especially interesting when high school students are asked about their elementary and middle school classes.)
  • Specific studies commissioned by the author(s) or publishers show results.
  • School districts or schools with similar demographics that have used the textbook should be contacted. This information can be supplied by the publisher.
2) The author (not “consultants” or “advisors”) who actually wrote the textbook is named, preferably on the cover. This also helps provide accountability.
  • If no authors are listed, the book has been created by workers in publishing “development houses.” This can and probably does provide lack of continuity, different writing styles throughout the book (and supplemental materials), and thus incoherency which decrease clarity of the lessons and affect student responses. This also erases responsibility for the publisher.
3) Actual examples of internationally-based problems (not simply referenced in “studies” by education researchers) are offered for review by the publisher if the textbook is listed as Common Core-aligned, since it is touted that Core standards are internationally based.

4) The teacher’s manual does not consist of 1,000 pages for 180 days of instruction.
  • One afternoon of teacher training with a user-friendly textbook should be sufficient.
  • If it is claimed that a detailed and extensive teacher’s manual (for teaching the teacher) is needed because of weak teacher preparation or skills, then it is the school administration’s problem. They need to work with the teacher training sites to produce better candidates, not buy a truckload of supplemental materials.
5) The textbook does not waste space with expensive, colored photos even if they may have a relationship to the topic. One color used for highlighting words or graphs is sufficient.
  • The textbook uses appropriate space for examples and creative repetition of exercises through every lesson of the book for practice and mastery.
  • The textbook’s focus is on mathematics. Use of social justice themes, for example, in math problem-solving detracts from the math concepts which should be the focus of students.
6) The use of calculators is limited to a few “investigative exercises” to help familiarize students with calculators for later use; they are not to be used in regular problem-solving activities in grades K-6.
  • Mental math and memorization of math facts are required.
7) Few supplemental materials are necessary for students, especially in basic, foundational learning.
  • A test manual and a solutions manual are sufficient as supplements for teachers.
  • A manual for specific populations (special needs or gifted) may be useful.
8) No protest has ever been waged against the textbook by any organized parent group.
  • An Internet search will show if such protests have taken place.
9) The textbook can be completed in one school year without skipping pages or topics.
  • Textbooks of 600-800 pages that can weigh up to seven pounds are subject to teachers’ having to eliminate topics. This creates holes in the fabric of linear mathematics education.
10) Schools using the textbook can show the following:
  • a steady, significant decrease in low-level math courses and the need for remedial programs,
  • an increase in enrollment in advanced math and science courses,
  • an increase in those passing state-required exit tests, and
  • an increase in passing rates and scores on college board exams.
11) In summary, does the textbook show accuracy, brevity, and clarity in its lessons so both parents and teachers can help children learn mathematics?

There are those who insist that textbooks aren’t “the curriculum.” They say it’s all about the teachers. (Common Core now says it’s about standards.) If that’s the case, let’s just give all students a copy of the Yellow Pages. Let’s save all that money spent on books and materials and finally train teachers in their content areas so they can use anything handed to them to teach—including the Yellow Pages. (And if the textbooks are so unimportant, why do progressives fight so hard to get “their” chosen textbooks adopted?)

Maybe teachers can do without a book, but many of us know that students need a quality textbook. Parents and teachers come and go in the lives of children these days, but a user-friendly textbook should always be within reach for children. It can set up a satisfying relationship with positive
results for them to show the world.

More than a million homeschooled students, plus many charter, private, and small public schools use a textbook that meets these listed criteria. The math education leadership hates the series because they say it is too traditional. Reams of documentation exist, however, to prove its success with students. For more information, go to (Disclaimer: The author is NOT affiliated with any publisher.)

About the Author:
Nakonia (Niki) Hayes is a K-12 teacher, counselor, and principal who retired in 2006 in Seattle, WA, and returned to Waco, TX, her former home. Certified and experienced in journalism, special education, mathematics, counseling and school administration, she also worked 17 years in journalism fields outside of teaching. She now operates a tutoring academy using Saxon materials in math, reading, and writing. Hayes self-published John Saxon’s Story because publishers said no one wanted to read a story about a math teacher. Her mission is to have John Saxon recognized and honored for his clarity in teaching and his continued legacy of success among students today. All proceeds from the book go to the West Point Department of Mathematical Sciences in memory of LTC John Saxon.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Myth of the Helpless Parent

By Laurie H. Rogers

“I Can” statements are all the rage in our public schools. Students are to say “I can” and then positively reaffirm something they feel capable of doing.

I’m offering suggestions for “We can” statements. If your school district obeys the law, tells the truth, spends money wisely, and properly educates children, then you probably don’t need these. Sadly, most citizens don’t have a school district like that, and this article is directed to them.

Parents have been trained for decades to trust in America’s K-12 government schools. This trust now serves the districts but not the students within them. Most districts aren’t being held accountable for violations of the law; failures to properly educate children; improper spending of tax dollars; or long-term refusals to tell citizens the truth.

Many districts seem increasingly dictatorial, deceitful, expensive and intrusive. We trust them with our children, and in return, they lie to us, miseducate our children and blame us for their failures. When we question them, some even attack us, using government/media/corporate allies to help pile on. They retain power in the way schoolyard bullies do, by ensuring that parents remain cowed, isolated and uninformed. It’s ironic. In reality, parents have all of the power.

Most parents don’t know that. Schools have purposefully fostered a sense of helplessness in parents (and in students and teachers), training us to believe that we must do as we’re told. Schools couldn't eliminate parents altogether, but they could create parents who agree to eliminate themselves.

Schools thus trained successive generations to work in a group, defer to the group, think as a group, achieve consensus with the group, be assessed with the group, and defend group decisions. Punishments and rewards have been used to mold thinking and behavior and to direct energies. Parents are encouraged to be involved in the schools, as long as our involvement brings in money, furthers the agenda and doesn’t question the authority. Obeying = Rewards. Dissenting = Punishments.

Nowadays, when schools praise “critical thinking,” they usually mean non-critical thinking or groupthink. When they talk about community “input,” they tend to receive it via the Delphi Technique, a way of manipulating groups to agree on predetermined conclusions. When they ask for parent “help,” they mean any help that doesn’t question the authority, not even to help a child.

Meanwhile, parents have long been shut out of the education of our own children. Books are eliminated, homework isn’t sent home, traditional methods are derided as “old school,” and our wishes are undermined or ignored. Parent preferences are openly criticized and dismissed, and in conferences, we’re told: “Don’t teach that at home. Don’t help. You’ll just confuse your child.” Schools now use technology to hide the curriculum – on tablets and laptops and in private email accounts for children.

This operant conditioning – skillfully done, I’ll give them that – has produced a population that generally feels helpless. Worse, it accepts feeling helpless. This population doesn’t need to be shut down; it shuts down itself. “Oh, no, I couldn’t. It will be OK. They must have a good reason. They must know what they’re doing.” Such apathy suits authoritarian, intrusive governments. It’s easier to implement an agenda with weak and politically aligned sheep than with individualistic and critical thinkers. Most of us do find now that it’s easier, safer and infinitely more profitable to be sheep.

And yet, dissent is critical to helping our children, to serving our honor, and to maintaining a free country. We’re helpless only in our mind. The government cannot make our child take a test. It cannot force us into its failed bureaucratic, narcissistic, adult-centered system. Not unless we allow it.

We can say no to this government. We can refuse to allow it to eliminate our ideas and preferences, or to miseducate, misuse and misguide our children.

Few “leaders” are likely to help us. Most now are part of the government network. Think of the vast array of government and elected officials, their associations and throngs of legal teams – now “partnering” with influential people and non-accountable, non-transparent corporations, organizations and foundations – to implement policies that suit them. Instead of partnering with parents for a better education system, they partner with each other to implement policy, gather data on us and our children, sell their products and services, and implement a political and social agenda. It’s a symbiotic relationship for them, but it’s largely parasitic toward us and our children.

They help each other. They sit on boards, hand out grants and contracts, campaign, advertise, lobby, buy and sell. They socialize together, travel together, praise each other, help friends and family members gain preferred positions, and allow each other to get away with things.

These “partnerships” might be fascist in nature (the government controlling the corporations), or corporatist (the corporations controlling public policy), but in any case, they’re neither democratic nor representative of a Republic. America is being fundamentally transformed to a totalitarian state in which government and corporate cartels work together to do what neither is allowed to do by itself. It pays well now to be a government or corporate crony; it does not pay, and in some cases, it has become dangerous, to dissent from this government/corporate network.

The Network won’t spend our tax dollars wisely, won’t return control of our children’s education to us, and won’t stop its intrusive data collecting. It has no incentive to tell the truth or obey the law. Many media outlets – which are supposed to have our back –appear to be part of the Network.

Suddenly we find that – although our schools lack solid academic programs – there are laptops, iPads and SMART Boards in front of every child’s face. There are new curricula every few years, new calculators even in kindergarten, and cool electronic toys that don’t foster real learning. De facto national standards and tests are being pushed on all of us from cradle through career. When we ask who is doing that pushing, the feds point to the states and to non-accountable associations; the states point to districts; the districts point to legislators; the legislators claim ignorance.

Suddenly, some of us find that there are handguns in the hands of school employees. There are cameras and video recorders on the wall to track visitors, and new machines to scan our driver’s license, track our children, scan their irises, record their fingerprints, or track their biometric information.

Look around you – the K-12 education system in America has become freaking scary.

Citizens MUST be the dissenters. Our children’s future – this country’s future – is on the line.

Clearly, the American government no longer knows how to educate a child. That’s been proved in 10,000 ways. It has ceased to hold itself accountable, and it now works collaboratively to skirt laws and protect itself. This isn’t a left/right issue. This simply is “in” or “out” of the government/corporate Network. If you’re “in,” you’re taken care of. If you’re out, well, good luck with that.

But we aren’t stuck in this machine. We’re helpless only when we agree to it. My first “We can” statement is this: “We can say no to the K-12 government education system.” Here are some more:
  • Opt out of programs: We can opt out of failed academic programs, and out of excessively mature sex education classes and materials. We can find solid math and English curricula online, buy them, and start teaching them to our children.
  • Leave the system: When a school mistreats, abuses, blames, mocks, neglects or refuses to educate our children, we can walk out of that school and never look back.
  • Opt out of testing: We can opt out of state and federal testing that sucks up class time; tells us nothing of value; collects intrusive and flawed data on us; is manipulated to show success where none exists; and forces our children to either take math tests online or be labeled as special education.
  • Say no to technology: We can say no to excessive and intrusive technology and data collection.
  • Question the money: We can question the barrels of state and federal money allotted for special education programs that never seem to go to special education students. We can vote no to the next levy and bond for school districts that misspend taxpayer money; use taxpayer money against taxpayers; and lie to us about budgets, expenditures and outcomes.
  • Inform others: We can inform other parents, run for the school board, or help other citizens run. We can recall corrupt or obstructive board directors and push to replace superintendents and administrators.
  • Reject Common Core: We can push our legislatures to reject the de facto nationalization and radicalization of the American public school system, epitomized by the questionable, authoritarian and unproved Common Core initiatives.
  • Reject pretend "choice": We can refuse to support charter schools that clearly are under the thumb of local school districts.
We can say no. We can make a good system happen. We can help our children, fix the problems, rebuild an accountable government and put responsible individuals in power. We can homeschool, find private schools, hire tutors, or ask family members or friends to teach our children what the schools will not. We can step away from the entire madness of public education. Believe me, folks, it’s a mess. It’s much worse in 2014 than it was in 2007, even as our avenues of dissent have narrowed dramatically.

The government/corporate Network depends on us thinking we’re helpless, that we can’t say no, that we don’t know any better, that they mean well, that they really do care about our children, and that they will eventually do what’s right.

Don’t believe it. We are not helpless, we can say no, and we do know better. The Network doesn’t mean well, it doesn’t care about our children more than it cares about itself, and if the Network was ever going to use its considerable power to do what’s right for our children, it would have done it by now.

Please note: This information is copyrighted. The proper citation is: 
Rogers, L. (June 2014). "The Myth of the Helpless Parent." Retrieved (date) from the Betrayed Web site:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

School district scans driver's licenses and takes photos of visitors in new "sign-in" policy

By Laurie H. Rogers

In America, citizens have a constitutional right to privacy, to be "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects." The government, on the other hand, is to be open and transparent to the people. These principles are critical to America remaining a free country.

Increasingly, however, the government is turning these principles on their head, doggedly working to gain privacy for itself while limiting it or eliminating it for citizens. Agencies are obstructing public records requestors, undermining laws on government transparency and citizen rights, and working collaboratively to dodge accountability for violations of the law and the U.S. Constitution.

Spokane Public Schools has a long history of displaying little respect for the principles of privacy for citizens and transparency for itself. Recently, the school district came up with a brand new way to infringe on citizen privacy while monitoring and controlling which members of the public have access to public buildings.

On Friday, May 16, Spokane lawyer Cheryl Mitchell went to Spokane Public Schools to pick up a disc from a records request. She was told the District had implemented a new policy: visitors must scan their driver’s license and allow their picture to be taken at a kiosk in the lobby before heading to other parts of the building. Her understanding was that this new policy applies to all visitors, not just to records requestors.
  • Is it legal for a public agency to scan driver’s licenses and/or take a photo of citizens, simply because they chose to enter a public building?
  • Is it legal for a public agency to deny access to a public building if citizens refuse to have their photo taken?
It’s reasonable to identify visitors and have a measure of security. It’s reasonable to ask for proof of identity. It is not reasonable for school districts to photograph visitors, connect the photos with ID, and store that information. A school district has no legitimate need to scan anyone’s driver’s license. The bounty of personal information on a driver’s license is an identity thief’s dream.

The security of driver’s licenses is being argued now before the state Supreme Court in Lakewood v. Koenig. Attorneys for the Washington State Association of Municipal Attorneys and the Washington Association of Public Records Officers argue that a driver’s license number should be exempt from disclosure because it “exposes private citizens to the risk of harm such as identity theft.” And that’s just the number, never mind the birth date, address and photo.

The identity-theft issue alone should be enough to keep school districts from exposing citizens to that kind of risk (and themselves to subsequent liability). Hackers were wildly successful in breaching the firewalls of Target, eBay, Facebook, the Veterans Administration, the Department of Defense and others, which had invested billions of dollars in securing their databases.

On May 16, Mrs. Mitchell refused to scan her driver’s license. The school district's receptionist did not know what to do and made several calls upstairs. Mrs. Mitchell was finally allowed to use the old "sign in" system and obtain the disc without her driver’s license being scanned. Her photo had already been taken, however.

There obviously was no "opt out” procedure in place on May 16, nor was there any indication that the system might be making an error. An administrator finally agreed to make an exception for Mrs. Mitchell because she refused to comply. For those who did NOT complain on Friday, what happened with their information?

On May 16, Mrs. Mitchell sent an email to the District’s attorney, Paul Clay, to ask about this new policy, and to inquire whether the District is using facial recognition software. Five days later, on May 21, Paul Clay wrote back to say that the District isn’t “using” facial recognition software, and that the initial demand for driver’s licenses was a mistake, due to “inadvertent software settings.” He said the system now will accept a sign-in through the kiosk, or citizens can “utilize the driver’s license scan.”

Paul Clay did not mention the photos. He did not say the District lacks the capability for facial recognition or won’t use it later.
  • Does the District have the capability for facial recognition? Will it use that technology later? If it does, will it bother to tell the public?
On May 16, I also sent a query to the superintendent and to the school board directors. After several days of silence, I sent a second query on May 21. On Thursday, May 22, I finally received an answer from Board Director Deana Brower, the board’s “corresponding secretary.” Brower echoed Paul Clay that the initial demand for driver’s license scans was “due to inadvertent software settings.” She said citizens now can sign in at the kiosk or use the driver’s license scan for “convenience.” She did not mention the photos. She did not answer all of the questions I put to her.

I have not heard back from the superintendent.

It has long been understood in this country that it’s inappropriate to take a photo in public of someone without that person's permission, or to host a security tape without notifying the public. Mrs. Mitchell said there was no notice posted on May 16 saying that photos were being taken and stored on a server. The District can argue that permission was granted and that notification was given, but it also can be argued that this "permission" was coerced and that the notification given was unclear.

According to Mrs. Mitchell, the instructions on the District's computer say something like, "Place your face close to the computer screen." This is not just taking photos of citizens going about their business.

  • Where are the photos going, and how are they to be used?
  • How is the driver’s license information to be used? How is it secured?
Deana Brower said people can scan their driver’s license “for convenience.”
  • How is it “convenient” to hand over private information to a government agency? Has Director Brower scanned her own driver’s license for “convenience”? If so, can the public look at it?
  • Will the superintendent, board directors, administrators, or the District’s legal counsel scan their driver’s license for convenience?
With every scan of a driver’s license and every picture taken, is the District creating a new record within the school district system?
  • If so, can someone request a copy of these public records? (The District likely would argue that this is personal information and thus exempt from disclosure. If so, it begs the question of why this government agency would collect it.)
Attorney Paul Clay indicated, following Mrs. Mitchell’s query, that anonymous requestors of public records will not be forced to identify themselves in this manner and can pick up their requested records at the front desk. Mrs. Mitchell said, however, that the computer in the reception area appears to be taking streaming video.
  • Will anonymous requestors find that their photo was taken when entering the building?
  • To be safe, should requestors wear a bag over their head, a ski mask, or a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses? Should they hire agents to pick up the records, who will then have to identify themselves and have their photo taken?
The District ultimately made an exception to its new policy for Cheryl Mitchell because she refused, and probably because she’s a lawyer.
  • What about everyone else who is not a lawyer? Will newspaper publishers have to have their photo taken? How about the mayor? Contractors? Newspaper reporters? Legislators? Bill Gates? The governor? County commissioners? The hundreds of attendees of the school district’s annual Community Leaders Breakfast? Or, is this just another "policy" the District will enforce as it chooses?
  • Will ALL District employees have to identify themselves at these kiosks? Or, is this system only there to identify private citizens?
  • Does this policy apply to citizens attending board meetings, usually held on the same floor as the lobby? How about other meetings held upstairs, such as committee meetings and board work sessions? If so, the policy appears to conflict with the Washington State Open Meetings Act.
It's a huge step for a public agency to coerce identification and data collection on visitors.
  • Is the collected data to be part of the “State Longitudinal Data Systems?”
  • Will the information be given away or sold by the District? If so, to whom and for which purposes?
To the best of my knowledge, the District hasn’t breathed a word about its new sign-in policy. I searched the school District Web site for information and found nothing. Asked for it, Deana Brower offered policies and procedures that were written decades ago and that have not been modified to include this new policy. She did not answer the question of when the new policy was approved by the board.
  • How much money did this new "sign-in" system cost taxpayers? If taxpayers didn’t pay for it, who did and why?
What is this government agency actually aiming to do? And why on Earth would the citizens of a free country allow them to do it?

Please note: This information is copyrighted. The proper citation is: 
Rogers, L. (May 2014). "School district scans driver's licenses and takes photos of visitors in new "sign-in" policy." Retrieved (date) from the Betrayed Web site:


Monday, May 19, 2014

Summer math class: Calculate the long-term effect of constructivism and fuzzy math programs

By Laurie H. Rogers

[The Betrayed blog is offering spring and summer math exercises, using algebra, "real-world application," satire and humor to illustrate various realities in K-12 public education. The full series is posted here. If you would like to participate by offering a math exercise or by correcting or enhancing an exercise presented here, please write to me at]
Problem # 3. As the leadership of public education continues to deny the inadequacy of fuzzy math programs and constructivist teaching approaches, there is an exponential increase in the seriousness of the math situation for students.

Given an initial seriousness level of 100 in 1989, and given that the seriousness level doubles each year of fuzzy math programs and excessive constructivism, calculate the seriousness of the math situation for students 25 years later (in 2014).

Below is a calculation for Problem #3.
Below that is a parody of how those in charge of public education -- the school districts, state education agencies, federal government, and various corporate and government hangers-on -- typically attempt to
solve the national math problem

Calculation for Problem #3.

Seriousness “S” at time “t” is given by the equation: S(t) = 100(2)t
(100 represents the beginning level, “2” represents the doubling effect, and “t” represents time.)

S(t) = 100(2)25      
S(t) = 100 x 33,554,432       
S(t) = 3,355,443,200

Answer: The seriousness of the math situation in 1989 is represented by 100. After 25 years of fuzzy math and excessive constructivism, the seriousness of the math situation for students now is represented by 3,355,443,200.

This number, of course, is invalid. It’s an arbitrary mathematical representation of a subjective perception of a problem. Problem #3 makes a point that is grounded in truth, however, and that truth is evident in the students. Consider that students who are denied sufficient instruction in math, grammar and other skills have been academically mistreated and handicapped for life. If we cannot quantify the seriousness level of a country full of panic-stricken, mathematically illiterate graduates ... hmm ... Perhaps a court of law could do it.


Parody of how those in charge of public education typically attempt to solve the national math problem (assuming that we could manage to squeeze a nugget of truth into them):

“We will work collectively, innovatively, equitably, nonjudgmentally and in an environmentally conscientious and personally profitable way to fix the national math problem.

“We will NOT contact local universities and colleges to find out how many recent high school graduates test into remedial math classes, which level they test into, how many pass their remedial classes, and how many drop out of college over math. This is useless, biased, sexist, elitist, racist, insensitive and intrusive information that will not help anyone. Besides, our numbers say something completely different, so their numbers are wrong anyway.

“We will NOT assess the fuzzy math programs that have stunk up classrooms now for three entire decades. Everyone knows those math programs work; it’s just that teachers are stupid.

"We will NOT look into the flimsy education research, the colleges of education that keep pushing fuzzy crap on us, or the cult-like atmosphere supporting three decades of math failure. Everyone knows that the real problems are poverty and uninvolved parents. 

“We will NOT assess administrators who set the policy and buy the curricular materials. We WILL pay them ridiculously high salaries, give them bonuses and raises, praise them in public, pat their tired little shoulders, and give them tea and gold-plated footstools (which taxpayers will pay for).

We will NOT fire, censure, or assess anyone. We will NOT hold anyone accountable for 30 years of wasted taxpayer money. We WILL attack any citizen who tries. We will use taxpayer money to sue taxpayers for more money, and we will hand over the ill-gotten gains to those in charge so they can continue to refuse to do what needs to be done for the children.

We will spend taxpayer dollars on programs already proved as failed.
We will spend taxpayer dollars on government/corporate 'partnerships', over which citizens will have zero input or control.
We will spend money on a de facto federal takeover of education that includes aggressive and intrusive data systems and unproved, politically biased standards.
We will spend a lot of money on ourselves
. Of course.
And, we will spend a lot of taxpayer dollars on myriad unproved STEM programs.

“We will have teachers working in small groups -- using sticky notes, highlighter pens, pipe cleaners and butcher paper -- to show how the seriousness of the math situation has actually fallen to well below what it was 25 years ago (largely because we're so great at leading).

"Everyone will see that math advocates are the real problem here, and that fuzzy math programs and excessive constructivism are just fine for STEM jobs that don’t require any math.

"Also, in a new and innovative STEM program, students soon will learn to express their deeper conceptual appreciation for administrators who care enough about them to ensure that they’re all qualified to get at least one and maybe even two non-math STEM jobs.

“That’s it for today. Good work, everyone. Math problem solved!”

Please note: This information is copyrighted. The proper citation is:
Rogers, L. (May 2014). "Summer math class: Calculate the long-term effect of constructivism and fuzzy math programs." Retrieved (date) from the Betrayed Web site:


Monday, May 12, 2014

Summer math class: Solving division problems: long division vs. partial quotients method

By Laurie H. Rogers

[The Betrayed blog is offering spring and summer math exercises, using algebra, "real-world application," satire and humor to illustrate various realities in K-12 public education. The full series is posted here. If you would like to participate by offering a math exercise or by correcting or enhancing an exercise presented here, please write to me at]

Problem #2. A reform method for division provided to public-school students in America is the partial quotients method. A reform method for instruction is "constructivism," where students work in groups to: develop their own strategies; teach each other and themselves; and achieve consensus. A reform method for solving actual math problems is to hand students a calculator.

On a math test, students have 10 division problems to solve. Each dividend contains six digits. Each divisor contains two digits. There is at least one decimal place in each dividend and divisor.
Students are not allowed to use a calculator for this test.

It takes twice as long to use the partial quotients method to solve these problems as it would take to use the traditional "long division" method. It takes 20 minutes to solve these 10 problems using long division. How long will it take students to do these 10 problems using the partial quotients method and constructivism?


Below is a calculation for Problem #2.

Below that is a parody of today's typical math class, related to Problem #2.

Calculation for Problem #2.

x 2

Answer: The students take 40 minutes to solve the 10 division problems using the partial quotients method and constructivism.

This number, of course, is a flight of fancy. The students do NOT take 40 minutes to solve these problems using the partial quotients method and constructivism. Nor do they take 20. They will not be able to successfully use the "partial quotients method" to solve these 10 division problems containing decimal places.


Parody of today's typical math class, related to Problem #2:
** The students are faced with 10 division problems containing decimals. Sadistic people have made them dependent on their calculator for the smallest thing and then refused them the use of a calculator for this math test. 

The students work in groups to try to achieve consensus on answers, using a method that doesn’t deal well with division, much less decimals, and working with classmates who are just as confused, bored and unknowledgeable as they are. They all get different answers (except for those who begin texting and checking their Facebook account and who just write down whatever their classmates tell them to).

Eventually, the bell rings, class is over, soccer practice begins and ends, and the students go home. They describe their math test to their parents, who say, “I don’t understand that method. Let me show you how to do it properly,” whereupon the students say, “My teacher won’t let me do it your way. I have to do it this way,” whereupon the parents say, “Then I can’t help you,” whereupon the students say, “Yeah, the teacher told us you would say that.”

The next morning, students find out that their math teacher is away getting professional development in how to “guide” students in math, and there is a substitute who is actually a social studies teacher. She has no idea of what the class is doing, but she does want to talk about “Decreasing Inequity in Our Society,” which is the title of her research project for her master’s degree in education. The students get nowhere with the math test, but they are a little more depressed about our inability to decrease inequity in our society.

When their teacher eventually comes back from professional development, students ask her how the problems would be done using the partial quotients method. She says, “Work with your partners,” because that’s what she learned last week to say. Students tell her, “They don’t know, either.” She says, “Well sit down with them and see if you can figure it out.” Students say, “Please just tell us.” The teacher, who doesn’t actually know how to solve these problems using the partial quotients method, says, “You have to ask three students before you ask me,” because that’s what she learned last week to say. The students say, “I hate math.”

The teacher says: “Yes, math is hard. I know you’re frustrated, but this is a best practices method, and once you put enough effort into it, you’ll see how fantastic it is. It’s so fantastic, I barely understand it myself, but I know it’s better, and I know that math is just hard and everyone hates it."

The teacher continues: “Maybe math isn’t your best subject. If you would spend less time in soccer and piano, you would do better in math class. You have to be more motivated. You have to learn to get along with your classmates so they can help you learn."

The students tell her: "We asked our parents to explain it to us, and they can't figure out this method."

The teacher responds with what she learned last week: “Your parents can’t help you because this method isn’t how they learned it. They are stuck in an old way of thinking, but what you need are 21st-century skills and critical thinking skills, and this method will give all of that to you."

She continues: "I wish we could have professional development for your parents. If we had enough money, we could reform everything and everyone, but we are so desperate for money, we might have to cut back on heat and light in our classrooms. Besides, math is a societal problem. There’s just too much inequity, and we all know societal problems can’t actually be fixed. It’s all so very, very sad and frustrating."

The students begin to cry, and the teacher feels badly for them because that's what she learned last week to feel. She says gently, "Don't worry about this. Just do your best. I grade on a curve. You’ll be fine. When you get home tonight, please give your parents this flyer and ask them to remember to vote on the levy so we can fix all of our problems in math.”   ***

Each day, the students repeat the process from ** to *** until they drop out and/or become mentally unstable.

Please note: This information is copyrighted. The proper citation is:
Rogers, L. (May 2014). "Summer math class: Solving division problems: long division vs. partial quotients method." Retrieved (date) from the Betrayed Web site:

Monday, May 5, 2014

Summer math class: Calculate the # of administrators vs. the # of qualified math teachers

By Laurie H. Rogers

[The Betrayed blog is offering spring and summer math exercises, using algebra, "real-world application," satire and humor to illustrate various realities in K-12 public education. The full series is posted here. If you would like to participate by offering a math exercise or by correcting or enhancing an exercise presented here, please write to me at]

Problem # 1. The number of useless administrators varied inversely with the number of qualified math teachers squared.

When there were 200 qualified math teachers, there were 5 useless administrators. As the number of qualified math teachers was cut back to 25, how many useless administrators were there?


Below is a calculation for Problem #1. 
Below that is a parody of typical professional development (PD) for teachers and staff, related to Problem #1.

Calculation for Problem #1:

Answer: As the number of qualified math teachers was cut back to 25, the number of useless administrators increased to 320.

This number, of course, is fake. The number of truly qualified math teachers in most public school districts (i.e. those who know enough math to teach it to at least their grade and the grade following) has been purposefully cut back by colleges of education and administrators to "small," "infinitesimal," or "a speck, really." 

Meanwhile, the number of useless administrators is more akin to the growth of bacteria, gnats or bunnies -- out of control and increasing every day.

Why is that? Why do we have this bumper crop of useless administrators, while the number of qualified math teachers is sub-atomic? It's because of the colleges of education, which work hard to turn out useless administrators, and because of education's "professional development" programs (PD), which steadfastedly aim to keep everyone as useless as possible.


Parody of PD for teachers and staff, related to Problem #1:

PD for teachers and staff typically begins with a discussion of definitions and "norms" for behavior. These are designed to help achieve consensus and to eliminate dissent. Definitions and norms usually are designed to pretend something while achieving something different. 

Below is a parody of this PD.

"Consensus" -- at least half of each small group agrees to acquiesce to the administrator (or PD "facilitator") in charge. (Those who don't acquiesce face consequences that might include Human Resources and/or poisoning.)

"Acquiesce" -- to think as administrators do, because they are correct and no one else is.
"Half" -- however many who agree to acquiesce to administrators.
"Discussion" -- coming to consensus, in alignment with administrators
"Dissent" -- coming to consensus, in alignment with administrators
"Lively debate" -- coming to consensus, in alignment with administrators

Norms for behavior:
Do whatever administrators tell you to do.
Do not note inconsistencies in what administrators tell you to do.
Be polite, even as administrators politely squish all true dissent and individuality out of you.

Instructions related to Problem #1:

Work in small groups, using taxpayer-funded highlighter pens, sticky notes, butcher paper and TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition calculators, to count the number of administrative math "professionals" in your school district. Come to consensus on a number. Subtract the administrative math professionals who know very little actual math. (This should result in a net of zero administrators.)

Appreciate the fact that administrative math professionals have purposefully not muddied their brain with limiting notions of math, direct instruction or pedantic methods of efficient calculation. Instead, they kept their minds free to explore innovation and transformation and reform – all for you. They approach everything with an open, equitable and nonjudgmental mind, and thus, they're able to identify dissenting parents and teachers and to equitably and nonjudgmentally remove them from any position of influence.

In your small groups, eat a taxpayer-funded lunch and drink taxpayer-funded bottled water as you come up with a song and skit to show how much you appreciate the administrative math professionals. Perform your skit, and have one member of your group sing the song while others sway and clap along.

Go back to your school and wipe your brain clean of anything contrary to what administrative math professionals told you. Those unable to do this will be innovatively evaluated into the ranks of the unemployed -- equitably and nonjudgmentally, of course. And all for the kids.

Please note: This information is copyrighted. The proper citation is:
Rogers, L. (May 2014). "Summer math class: Calculate # of administrators vs. # of qualified math teachers." Retrieved (date) from the Betrayed Web site: