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Betsy Combier

Help Us to Continue to Help Others »

The E-Accountability Foundation announces the

'A for Accountability' Award

to those who are willing to whistleblow unjust, misleading, or false actions and claims of the politico-educational complex in order to bring about educational reform in favor of children of all races, intellectual ability and economic status. They ask questions that need to be asked, such as "where is the money?" and "Why does it have to be this way?" and they never give up. These people have withstood adversity and have held those who seem not to believe in honesty, integrity and compassion accountable for their actions. The winners of our "A" work to expose wrong-doing not for themselves, but for others - total strangers - for the "Greater Good"of the community and, by their actions, exemplify courage and self-less passion. They are parent advocates. We salute you.

Winners of the "A":

Johnnie Mae Allen
David Possner
Dee Alpert
Aaron Carr
Harris Lirtzman
Hipolito Colon
Larry Fisher
The Giraffe Project and Giraffe Heroes' Program
Jimmy Kilpatrick and George Scott
Zach Kopplin
Matthew LaClair
Wangari Maathai
Erich Martel
Steve Orel, in memoriam, Interversity, and The World of Opportunity
Marla Ruzicka, in Memoriam
Nancy Swan
Bob Witanek
Peyton Wolcott
[ More Details » ]
GOALS 2000, the Backbone of Education Reform and the Implementation of Standards in America, is Failing Our Young People
Fewer than two-thirds of America's high school students believe that their school has done a good job challenging them academically or preparing them for college. Lowering standards fails to provide an adequate education for our nation's k-12 students, and the national takover of our education system by the politico-educational complex is not achieving it's goals. Betsy Combier
Top of Agenda: Redesigning High Schools
By Virginia Gov. Mark Warner , Des Moines Register, July 10, 2005

All parents want their children to graduate from high school, get their college degree or go to work at a good job and earn a living that allows them a chance to be better off than mom and dad. It's the American dream.

Unfortunately, that dream has faded for too many young people in this country. One in every three students drops out of high school. For low-income and minority students, the numbers are even more dire. Those who do graduate are unprepared for college and today's high-skilled, high-wage jobs, studies show. That's why I launched Redesigning the American High School last fall as my initiative as chairman of the National Governors Association.

The nation's governors are coming to Des Moines this week for our annual meeting. Jump-starting our high schools will be front and center in our discussions.

So what's wrong? To start, too few high schools offer challenging work and rigorous curriculums, including the ability to take Advanced Placement courses and classes at a community college. For students who go straight to work after graduation, not enough schools offer the opportunity to earn an industry-recognized certification in vocations such as electronics or auto mechanics.

Our failure to address this issue has put the nation at a competitive disadvantage in today's global economy. The United States now ranks 17th among developed nations in the percentage of high school graduates. Job losses will continue to add up as companies decide to move operations overseas, where they can find more highly-qualified workers.

America has long been a leader in innovation. But now China is graduating an estimated 350,000 new engineers per year, compared with fewer than 100,000 annually from American universities. At our meeting, the governors will hear from speakers from India and China who can offer an international perspective on these disturbing trends.

As part of my initiative, I also have sought feedback from students on the reform proposals and programs governors are developing. More than 12,000 students logged on to, NGA's online survey, to let governors know what is going right and wrong in high schools today.
I've also hosted several town hall meetings with like-minded, education-focused governors, including Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack. The two of us co-hosted a meeting in Des Moines last month that involved dozens of local high school students. The town hall meetings and the online survey are critical because students, parents and teachers are on the front lines of this reform movement.

Among other steps, the initiative unveiled a top 10 list of cost-effective actions governors can use to implement reform in their states. And in February, more than 45 governors, along with education and business leaders, converged on Washington for the 2005 National Education Summit on High Schools.
Governors understand the work is not over, but we do have good news to report about high school in America today. Increasingly, governors are developing the necessary tools to implement tangible, system-wide reform. They are rolling up their sleeves and rolling out initiatives to help students attain success in college and the workplace.

NGA soon will announce the winners of state grants, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, worth up to $2 million for 10 states committed to redesigning their state's high schools. The first phase of this best-practices program offers governors the opportunity to develop comprehensive state plans to improve high school graduation and college readiness rates.

Iowa is among states on the right track. Gov. Vilsack understands what today's high school students need from their education. As we welcome our colleagues to Des Moines, we look forward to sharing our vision for redesigning the American high school.

MARK R. WARNER is governor of Virginia and chairman of the National Governors Association.
The above article reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily the policies of the National Governors Association.
Forty-five governors and 12 national organizations signed onto Graduation Counts: A Compact on State High School Graduation Data
Graduation Counts

The American High School Crisis and State Policy Solutions
Florida's A+ Plan for Education
High School Redesign Monthly
Getting Honest About Grad Rates: How States Play the Numbers and Students Lose

Comments of respected education analyst Donna Garner:

"Barbara Kapinus (mentioned in the article below) as an NEA policy analyst was one of those who came into Texas during the time that we were trying to write the English / Language Arts / Reading standards. I believe at that time she was with the Chief State School Officers. I may be wrong. Anyway, she was one of the main ones who drove us toward the Delphi Technique, the NCEE standards (under Marc Tucker), the constructivist philosophy, and all the rest of the junk which ended up in our Texas standards document.

I know that Kapinus had some sort of responsibility to make sure that the $1.5 Million that Texas paid to NCEE to train the facilitators in the Delphi Technique was implemented successfully on our writing team. Kapinus was totally in league with Marc Tucker's and Hillary Clinton's NCEE at the time, and I imagine Kapinus is still joined at the hip with them.

Of course, Kapinus/Tucker/Clinton want to recreate high schools. Unfortunately, we all know what they want the high schools to look like -- the NCEE model where only a very small percentage of students come out with a solid academic foundation and the other 95% become "worker bees" with dumbed down skills and analytical abilities. This makes a more docile workforce who follows along with anyone who offers them the most emotional approach.

NCEE and their ilk have been unbelievably successful in driving our country into a socialistic system, and I blame them along with others for the dumbing down of education in our country. Goals 2000 became a tool in their hands to pay for the NCEE model, and now these same people are recycling themselves again. When will America wake up and hold these people accountable for what they did to education not just in Texas but in many other states?

The NAEP Long-Term results which came out two days ago should be proof enough that our secondary students are definitely in academic trouble, yet most of these students are products of the Goals 2000/standards movement which was orchestrated and carried out by Marc Tucker/Hillary Clinton/NCEE. Now these same people act as if they have all the answers even though they are responsible for the dumbing down of today's secondary students. Let's not pay these same people millions of dollars to ruin our schools again! Please, please, America. Don't make the same mistake twice!

Donna Garner
Free English / Language Arts / Reading Standards Document (Pr-K -- Grade 12)
Free Grammar Packets
Free Research-Paper Packets


June 27, 2005
False Data on Student Performance
New York Times


Americans often can't find reliable information about how the schools in their state compare with schools elsewhere. The No Child Left Behind Act was supposed to change that by requiring states to file clear and accurate statistical information with the Education Department. The news so far is less than encouraging. Many states have chosen to manipulate data to provide overly optimistic appraisals of their schools' performance.

A distressing example emerged last week in a study of graduation rates by the Education Trust, a nonpartisan foundation in Washington. For the second year in a row, the Education Trust has found that many states are cooking the books on graduation rates - using unorthodox calculation methods or ignoring students who drop out. Some states submitted no graduation data at all.

The generally accepted way to calculate graduation rates is to track students from the day they enter high school until the day they receive a regular diploma, as opposed to passing the G.E.D. Under this system, students who leave without graduating are reasonably counted as nongraduates.

But many of the states are using other, deceptive techniques. Some calculate the percentage of dropouts based on the number of students in a given senior class who graduate. Those who left school in grades 9, 10 or 11 disappear, and the graduation rates reported by many of the states are grossly inflated.

The secretary of education, Margaret Spellings, says she is concerned about accuracy. But Congress itself needs to take up this issue and force the states to use accurate methods of calculation when it reauthorizes No Child Left Behind in 2007. Until changes are made at the federal level, student performance data in the United States won't be worth the paper it's printed on.

The supporters of GOALS 2000 needed a method of bringing consensus to their decisions, and they chose the Delphi Technique, which is widely known as a tool of enforcement:

The Delphi Method: Definition and Historical Background
Prioritization Process Using Delphi Technique
The Carolla Process White Paper
Organization Behavior: The Delphi Technique
The Delphi Technique
The Modified Delphi Technique - A Rotational Modification
Using the Delphi Technique to Achieve Consensus

Why are the methods used for consensus so important? We can obtain information on who wants what, and why. The politico-educational complex wants America to accept Goals 2000:

Goals 2000/standards
Goals 2000 Initiatives
Teachers and Goals 2000
NCEE: EconomicsAmerica

and, associations are set up to "train" teachers in the policies supported by the politico-educational complex:

The Teaching Commission
Lifting Teacher Performance
GATE: The Global Association of Teachers of Economics
The Teaching Commission Praises New Report on Teacher Quality
Teacher Quality and Improvement

However, the "High Standards" talk to convince America that lowered standards and fuzzy information are ok because students can all do well even if they dont know anything, is debunked:

Mathematically Correct
Steen: Are Math teachers' Beliefs "Mathematically Correct?"
IllinoisLoop: Reading
Thank You Whole Language For Misinformation Leading To Total Ignorance of Ignorance
America's Public School System is Taken Over by a Corporate Culture That Gives Us A Chief Academic Officer
Comments on A Teaching Commission
Louis Gerstner, Jr. is Advocating for a Fool's Errand
High Standards For All Students
Goals 2000 - "The Truth"
Workforce Investment Act Puts America on the Road to Facism
Fed Ed: The New Federal Curriculum and How It's Enforced

There are, of course, consequences to the enforced dumbing down of America:

What American Teens and Adults Know About Economics
Silencing Opposition: A NYC Math Teacher Fights Back After Receiving an Unfair 'Unsatisfactory' Rating from a Principal
A NYC Math Teacher Fights Back After Receiving an Unfair 'Unsatisfactory' Rating from a Principal

National Assessment Raises Concerns About High-School Students' Readiness for College
By ANNE K. WALTERS, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 15, 2005

Scores in a nationwide assessment of reading and mathematics skills show that the abilities of 17-year-old students have not changed significantly since the test was first administered, in the 1970s, leading the chairman of the board that oversees the assessment to express concern on Thursday about the ability of today's students to succeed in college and the work force.

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress 2004, which was released on Thursday and tests 11,000 9-, 13-, and 17-year-olds in public and private schools, the younger students made progress in both reading and math, compared with their counterparts in previous assessments.

Yet the 17-year-olds' scores did not differ significantly from those recorded by their predecessors in 1999, the last time the assessment was conducted, or in previous years.

"The academic achievements of our high-school students do not appear to be improving," said Darvin M. Winick, chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board. "The inability of many students who receive a diploma to succeed in postsecondary programs is troublesome. The need for continual remediation in both reading and mathematics raises serious questions about the overall effectiveness of existing high-school programs."

But while the overall average among 17-year-olds has not increased, the gap between white students and minority students has closed in the more than 30 years since the assessment was first administered. The average math scores of white, black, and Hispanic students have all increased since 1973, but because of a demographic shift in the student population, the overall average score did not increase.

The number of 17-year-old students taking advanced math classes has also increased -- with 17 percent studying calculus and 53 percent studying second-year algebra -- but Mr. Winick said it is unclear why that trend has not resulted in higher average math scores over all.

In a written statement, the secretary of education, Margaret Spellings, attributed the progress of the younger students to the 2001 law known as No Child Left Behind, which overhauled federal policy on elementary and secondary schools, but said more needed to be done for older students.

"We must support older students with the same can-do attitude that helped their younger brothers and sisters," she said.

The governing board, which oversees the administration of the test and sets its standards, is examining how effectively high-school students' results reflect actual achievement. That work includes assessing how well prepared students are for postsecondary education, in order to reduce the number of high-school graduates who need remediation in college.

"If we do that," Mr. Winick said, "we would hope that the quality of students we would produce would be better."

Copyright © 2005 by The Chronicle of Higher Education

July 16, 2005
Students Say High Schools Let Them Down


DES MOINES, July 15 - A large majority of high school students say their class work is not very difficult, and almost two-thirds say they would work harder if courses were more demanding or interesting, according to an online nationwide survey of teenagers conducted by the National Governors Association.

The survey, being released on Saturday by the association, also found that fewer than two-thirds believe that their school had done a good job challenging them academically or preparing them for college. About the same number of students said their senior year would be more meaningful if they could take courses related to the jobs they wanted or if some of their courses could be counted toward college credit.

Taken together, the electronic responses of 10,378 teenagers painted a somber picture of how students rate the effectiveness of their schools in preparing them for the future.

The survey also appears to reinforce findings of federal test results released on Thursday that showed that high school seniors made almost no progress in reading and math in the first years of the decade. During that time, elementary school students made significant gains.

"I might have expected kids to say, 'Don't give us more work; high school is tough enough,' " said Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia, a Democrat and chairman of the governors association, which opens a three-day summer meeting here on Saturday.

"Instead," Mr. Warner said, "what we got are high school students actually willing to be stretched more. I didn't think we'd get much of that."

The governors' survey was conducted as part of the association's effort to examine public high schools and devise strategies for improving them. Mr. Warner has made high school reform his priority as chairman of the association. His term ends on Monday, when Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, a Republican, is scheduled to succeed him.

While a vast majority of respondents in the survey, 89 percent, said they intended to graduate, fewer than two-thirds of those said they felt their schools did an "excellent" or "good" job teaching them how to think critically and analyze problems.

Even among the remaining 11 percent, a group of 1,122 that includes teenagers who say they dropped out of high school or are considering dropping out, only about one in nine cited "school work too hard" as a reason for not remaining through graduation. The greatest percentage of those who are leaving, 36 percent, said they were "not learning anything," while 24 percent said, "I hate my school."

Experts in education policy said the survey results were consistent with other studies that have shown gaps between what students learn in high school and what they need for the years beyond.

"A lot of business people and politicians have been saying that the high schools are not meeting the needs of kids," said Barbara Kapinus, a senior policy analyst for the National Education Association. "It's interesting that kids are saying it, too."

Marc Tucker, president of the National Council on Economic Education, an organization that helps states and school districts create programs that are more tailored to contemporary student needs, said he did not believe that American high schools could adequately prepare students without a fundamental change in how they operated.

Mr. Tucker said American schools had been too slow to adapt high school curriculums to the real-life demands of college and the workplace. Except for that small fraction of highly motivated students with an eye toward prestigious private colleges and state universities, many more students, he said, are under the impression that just having a diploma qualifies them for the rigors of college and the workplace.

For many kids, math is a low priority
In Del. more teachers, better approach sought

By CECILIA LE / The News Journal, 07/24/2005


Whenever LaMere Henderson asks her eighth-grade daughter if she needs help with math, Ashli replies, "Mom, there's nothing you know."

It isn't rare for kids Ashli's age to think they know more than their parents. But in the case of math, LaMere Henderson says her daughter is right.

Henderson likes to keep informed about everything in Ashli's life. But math, Ashli's favorite subject, seems foreign from the math taught in Henderson's day. So instead, Henderson scrutinizes her monthly progress reports and encourages her interest in engineering.

Ashli was in the 53 percent of eighth-graders to pass the state math test this year. Among 10th-graders, 52 percent passed, down a percentage point from last year. That means nearly half of Delaware's middle- and high-schoolers are performing below the math standard -- a serious problem educators are working to correct.

Part of the trouble lies in the intrinsic difficulty of the subject. When kids hit middle school, they're suddenly expected to graduate beyond arithmetic and apply those skills to problems that require much more sophisticated thinking. Around the same time, they're becoming more interested in the right clothes, dating and being seen at the mall -- which doesn't leave a lot of time for algebra.

"When they look at their entire world, math may not be high on their priority list," said Ross Armbrecht, executive director of the Delaware Foundation for Science and Math Education. "It's a lot tougher in the secondary grades. It requires a whole different style of thinking. These are not the things you do every day."

Adding up to problems

Low high school achievement, particularly in math, is a problem nationwide. Data released last week from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show the nation's 17-year-olds continued a troubling 30-year trend of practically flat scores, even though more of them reported taking advanced math courses in high school.

Education reformists, business leaders and even President Bush are focused on changing the nation's high schools, which they say aren't preparing enough students for work or college in what is increasingly a knowledge economy. By 2010, according to labor projections, two-thirds of Delaware's jobs will require more education after high school.

In February, a state-commissioned report by national curriculum experts said only six of the state's 19 districts could show their math curricula were aligned to state standards. That means that in many Delaware schools, students aren't being taught what they need to know to pass the tests. The state now is writing a recommended curriculum that will be unveiled next summer. Within a year of its release, a new law says, lessons in every district must be aligned with state standards.

What's more, starting in 2008, students will have to meet a state testing standard to graduate. The state has not decided what that will be, but if barely half the students passed this year's high school math test, that isn't a good sign.

There are reasons to be hopeful. Tenth-grade math scores are up 17 points from 2001, according to the 2005 Delaware State Testing Program results released Thursday. This year's 10th-graders scored five points better than when they were eighth-graders. The range for math test scores is 150 to 800, and 10th-graders must score 525 points to meet the state standard. For eighth-graders, it's 493.

Classroom revolution

Part of the solution lies in doing a better job training and recruiting teachers. There's a shortage of qualified math teachers across the state and nation.

"It's very hard to find teachers who are strong mathematicians and also strong teachers," said Christina School District Superintendent Joseph Wise, who still is searching for five math teachers for fall.

Today's math lessons, Armbrecht said, focus much more on "inquiry-based learning" than the math of yore. Students are given a problem, then asked to use their understanding of number structure, logic and math concepts to solve it. In Armbrecht's generation, most students were told to memorize facts instead of being challenged to understand the underlying concepts, he said.

Furthermore, today's math students use calculators, computers and hands-on objects more often than their parents did. So, like Wilmington resident LaMere Henderson, even well-educated parents aren't equipped to help their children with math.

Improvements coming

This year, the state got a federal grant to bring University of Delaware professors into math classrooms to give teachers feedback. That's been a big help, said Michael Stetter, the state Department of Education's director for curriculum development. Stetter also outlined these plans for improvement:

•This year's state budget includes $1.3 million to put math specialists in the state's 22 lowest-scoring middle schools. The specialists will work closely with students who are behind.

•Starting this fall, a mathematics coalition composed of teachers and curriculum directors will meet regularly to share what methods are working in schools across the state.

•When the state math curriculum is finished, it will guide teachers who are spending too much time helping students catch up and not enough on that grade's material.

But math teacher Dawn Olmstead, recently retired from Alexis I. du Pont High School, said so many reach high school unprepared that remediation can't be avoided.

"What we're seeing is the kids don't know how to add fractions," she said. "Some don't even know what fractions are.

"When they come into ninth grade, they're supposed to be prepared for algebra, and they're not."

There are so many topics to cover, she said, it's a burden to teach them all by the time of the test, which is given in March.

"How about probability?" she said. "Why would I teach that in an algebra class? Because it's on the test. I have to do both: algebra and what's on the test."

To address that problem, some schools have begun teaching integrated math, which combines topics such as algebra, geometry and trigonometry, instead of teaching each in a different year and treating them like separate subjects.

"It helps children retain the math, and actually, there's a significant interplay between algebra, geometry and statistics," said Wise, who is switching Christina's three high schools to integrated math.

The integrated approach, he said, provides more continuity between elementary and secondary math and allows kids to digest higher math concepts at an earlier age.

Some other educators, however, say integrated math puts too much focus on problem-solving to the neglect of proofs and other fundamentals.

Armbrecht said the next reforms in math education might include teaching fewer topics and presenting them more thoroughly, or adopting the methods of other countries.

"When I look at the numbers, I'm very encouraged," he said. "We're still in the middle of a revolution, and any good war is going to have a few setbacks."

Staff reporter Victor Greto contributed to this article.
Contact Cecilia Le at 324-2794 or cle@delawareonline.

July 21, 2005
Education's Collateral Damage


Stop the presses! Within just a few days we've had a scandal involving a world-class presidential guru bumped off the front pages by a prime-time presidential announcement of a nominee to the Supreme Court.

No one would argue that these aren't big stories. But an issue that is even more important to the long-term future of the U.S. gets very short shrift from the media. In an era when a college education is virtually a prerequisite for maintaining a middle-class lifestyle, an extraordinary number of American teenagers continue to head toward adulthood without even a high school diploma.

This is not a sexy issue, and certainly not as titillating for journalists as the political witchcraft that Karl Rove has used to enchant George W. Bush. But consider the following from the book "Dropouts in America: Confronting the Graduation Rate Crisis," a collection of essays edited by Gary Orfield, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education:

"Nationally, only about two-thirds of all students - and only half of all blacks, Latinos and Native Americans - who enter ninth grade graduate with regular diplomas four years later."

In much of the nation, especially in urban and rural areas, the picture is even more dismal. In New York City, just 18 percent of all students graduate with a Regents diploma, which is the diploma generally required for admission to a four-year college. Only 9.4 percent of African-American students get a Regents diploma.

Over all, the United States has one of the highest high school dropout rates in the industrialized world, which can't be comforting news in the ferociously competitive environment of an increasingly globalized economy.

"It's terrifying to know that half of the kids of color in the United States drop out of high school, and that only one in five is prepared for college," said Tom Vander Ark of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is making a big effort to boost high school graduation rates and the number of graduates who are prepared for college.

Why is the education of America's young people so important?

"It may sound like hyperbole," said Mr. Vander Ark, "but this is the economic development issue for our society, and it is the social justice issue of our times. It is the most important long-term issue for the civic health of the republic.

"In the aggregate, we need more young people educated at higher levels: more finishing high school, more finishing community college, more finishing four-year degrees. And secondly, I think it's very important that we close the racial and socioeconomic gaps in educational attainment.

"We're seeing a scary level of income stratification that is the result of educational stratification. And it's becoming important not just for the economy but for our society that we help low-income [students], and especially kids of color, achieve high levels of education so that they can participate in the economy and in our society."

Citing statistics from a variety of sources, officials at the Gates Foundation have noted that:

High school dropouts, on average, earn $9,245 less per year than high school graduates.

The poverty rate for families headed by dropouts is more than twice that for families headed by high school graduates.

Dropouts are much more likely to be unemployed, less likely to vote and more likely to be imprisoned than high school graduates.

For those concerned about the state of leadership in America, and who wonder where the next generation of leaders will come from, I can tell you it's not likely to emerge from the millions upon millions of dropouts we're setting loose in the land.

And whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, if you'd like to see a wiser, more creative and more effective approach to such crucial problems as war and peace, terror, international relations, employment, energy consumption and so on, you'll need to rely on a much better-educated and better-informed population than the United States has now.

I don't think Mr. Vander Ark was engaging in hyperbole. The public needs to understand the extent of the high school dropout crisis, and its implications for the long-term future of the U.S. It will most likely have more of an impact on the lives of your children and grandchildren than George W. Bush's appointments to the Supreme Court.


© 2003 The E-Accountability Foundation