Will Privatizing Child Protection Protect Georgia’s Children? Yes and No.

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As Georgia prepares to follow in Florida’s footsteps in privatizing child protection services, there has been a lot of politicking but little talk about the real issues that lead to failures to protect children “in the system.”  Privatization in Florida has been a very mixed bag, with some counties improving their performance and other counties mired in scandals involving the private non-profit agencies hired to protect children.  It’s reasonable to expect that Georgia will fare a little better, but don’t expect the failure rate to drop — or rise — significantly.

The failures lie in policies enforced by the courts, and nobody is talking about reforming those policies.

Like Florida, Georgia plans to eventually privatize the services that come after an investigation has determined a child is in danger, namely: foster care, family “reunification” interventions, and adoption.  State workers will continue to be responsible for investigating abuse, and courts will still be responsible for deciding if a child should be removed from a home, returned to a home, or adopted.

Private agencies do a great job with adoption, and some of them do a better job than the state in supervising foster care.  Much of this care is already done through public-private partnerships in Georgia.  But in all the politicized talk about private versus public, little has been said about the real  problem with our child protection services.

The problem is the mandate to keep families together or achieve “reunification” as soon as possible.

Approximately a decade ago, many states began to move towards a model of keeping families together, no matter the cost.  Florida went further than Georgia, though it wasn’t an issue tied to privatization because that part of child protection is still performed by state agencies.

And now Florida is counting the bodies.

In an extraordinary report, the Miami Herald investigated the deaths of 477 children who  had prior contacts with child protection services.  477 — since just 2008.  The Herald makes a strong case for blaming the mandate for “family preservation” for many of those deaths:

They tumbled into canals and drowned, baked in furnace-like cars, were soaked in corrosive chemicals, incinerated, beaten mercilessly, and bounced off walls and concrete pavement. One was jammed into a cooler posthumously; others were wrapped like a mummy to silence their cries, flattened by a truck, overdosed and starved. An infant boy was flung from a moving car on an interstate. A 2-year-old girl was killed by her mom’s pet python.

The children were not just casualties of bad parenting, but of a deliberate shift in Florida child welfare policy. DCF leaders made a decision, nearly 10 years ago, to reduce by as much as half the number of children taken into state care, adopting a philosophy known as family preservation. They also, simultaneously, slashed services, monitoring and protections for the increased number of children left with their violent, neglectful, mentally ill or drug-addicted parents.

Public or private, the child protection system is dealing with multigenerational problems that are far more severe than most people realize.  It’s easy to criticize government social workers, or to lash out at efforts by private agencies.  The hard part is acknowledging that “family preservation” may be the wrong goal:

Rather than go to court to force parents to get treatment or counseling, the state often relied on “safety plans” — written promises by parents to sin no more. Many of the pledges carried no meaningful oversight. Children died — more than 80 of them — after their parents signed one or, in some cases, multiple safety plans.

• Parents were given repeated chances to shape up, and failed, and failed and failed again, and still kept their children. In at least 34 cases, children died after DCF had logged 10 or more reports to the agency’s abuse and neglect hotline. Six families had been the subject of at least 20 reports.

The decision to prioritize family unification was made by bureaucrats and politicians from across the political spectrum.  Liberals defend state agencies and argue that biological parents should receive as many resources as possible to keep their children; conservatives argue for the primacy of family and against state involvement.  Failure is bipartisan:

“It’s the system that’s broken. When numbers take over instead of outcomes for people, you are doomed to failure,” said James Harn, a 30-year law enforcement officer who spent his last nine years as a commander supervising child abuse investigators at the Broward Sheriff’s Office before leaving a year ago. “They want to keep families together, but at what cost?”

Prioritizing family preservation is just one policy error.  Others involve the increasingly hands-off attitude towards the family arrangements of women living on public services and the leniency granted to serial offenders in the courts.  
Social workers have had little power since the 1960′s to insist that women on welfare live alone with their children, rather than inviting a boyfriend, or a series of men into their state-subsidized homes.  These unattached men frequently abuse the children they are living with:

The night before Aaden Batista died, his killer played a baseball game on his Xbox, smoked marijuana and gave the toddler a bath.

As Aaden’s mother, Whitney Flower, worked as a medical assistant at a nearby hospital, Jason Padgett Sr. prepared the toddler for bed, putting on his diaper before, ultimately, viciously shaking him and slamming his head on the floor. . .

Aaden became part of the yearly count of children killed at the hands of paramours — child welfare’s oddly genteel term to describe boyfriends or girlfriends of custodial parents. Protecting children from abusive paramours is one of the great challenges facing the Department of Children & Families.

“Paramours are a huge red flag,” said Richard Gelles, dean of the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as chairman of child welfare at the school. “They are enormously over-represented as the slayers of young children.”

Under-prosecution and under-incarceration, especially for domestic violence, presents another problem.  Expect this problem to grow worse as “Right on Crime” Republicans, left and right-wing libertarians, leftists, and liberals join forces to shrink our criminal  justice system and empty the prisons.  Their political kumbaya moment is going to mean more violence, more crime, and more murders.   You need only peruse the Miami child death report to find evidence of hundreds of people who have been granted serial leniency in our allegedly-harsh justice system:

In the pre-dawn hours of May 5, 2009, Jasmine Bedwell had to make a decision: Take more blows or more chokes — but try to rescue her son from the clutches of her enraged boyfriend — or go find help. She left and borrowed a cellphone to call 911.

 
 
 

 

 

Mumia Activist Voted Down for DOJ Civil Rights Position!

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This is what justice looks like:

“Senate rejects Obama appointment of Debo Adegbile to top civil rights post”

We need to thank Democrats and Republicans who voted against this nomination:

Casey Statement
on Debo Adegbile Nomination

Washington, DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released the following statement on the nomination of Debo Adegbile to the position of Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights:
“I believe that every person nominated by the President of the United States for a high level position such as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights should be given fair and thoughtful consideration as senators discharge their responsibility of ‘advise and consent’. I respect that our system of law ensures the right of all citizens to legal representation no matter how heinous the crime. At the same time, it is important that we ensure that Pennsylvanians and citizens across the country have full confidence in their public representatives – both elected and appointed. The vicious murder of Officer Faulkner in the line of duty and the events that followed in the 30 years since his death have left open wounds for Maureen Faulkner and her family as well as the City of Philadelphia. After carefully considering this nomination and having met with both Mr. Adegbile as well as the Fraternal Order of Police, I will not vote to confirm the nominee.”

Maureen Faulkner: Stop Mumia Abu Jamal’s Lawyer, Debo Adegbile, From Department of Justice Appointment

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There is a Change.org petition drive you need to act on TODAY!

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Vote “No” to the Confirmation of Debo Adegbile to the Department of Justice
Petition by Maureen Faulkner
Los Angeles, CA

PLEASE SHARE THIS PETITION WITH FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND COLLEAGUES!

As early as Tuesday [UPDATE: THE VOTE HAS BEEN DELAYED UNTIL WEDNESDAY, MARCH 5], the Senate will vote to confirm Debo Adegbile as the next Assistant Attorney General to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. This confirmation must be stopped.

Thirty years ago, Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was violently murdered by Mumia Abu-Jamal, a member of a racist group that advocated violence against police. A jury convicted him and sentenced him to death for the brutal crime.

In the three decades that followed, Abu-Jamal filed appeal after appeal – each rooted in lies, distortions and allegations of civil rights violations. Today, as Officer Faulkner lies in his grave, Abu-Jamal has become a wealthy celebrity and continues to spew his vitriol from prison.

Old wounds were ripped open again, and additional insult was brought upon our law enforcement community when President Obama nominated Mr. Adegbile for the Department of Justice post. Mr. Adegbile previously led the Legal Defense Fund at the NAACP. In that position, Mr. Adegbile chose to throw the weight and resources of his organization behind Abu-Jamal. Attorneys working under Mr. Adegbile’s supervision have stood before rallies of Abu-Jamal supporters and openly professed that it was “an extreme honor” to represent the man who put a hollow based bullet into Officer Faulkner’s brain as he lay on the ground wounded, unarmed, and defenseless.

While Mr. Adegbile may be a well-qualified and competent litigator, through his words, his decisions, and his actions he has clearly and repeatedly demonstrated that he is not the best person to fill this position. Clearly there are others with similar qualifications that would be better choices.

The thought that Mr. Adegbile would be rewarded, in part, for the work he did for Officer Faulkner’s killer is revolting. Please set aside any partisan feelings you have and do the right thing when you vote on Mr. Adegbile’s confirmation. Please vote “no.”

………………………………………………….

Previous TINATRENT.COM Posts On Officer Faulkner and the Pro-Mumia Movement:

Mumia Abu-Jamal and Marty Hittleman: California Teachers Endorse a Cop Killer, Get Caught, Blame Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Maureen Faulkner is Right: The Fight Against Mumia Will Never Be Over, as Amnesty International Proves with Their Holiday Catalogue

More on Mumia

Martin Preib versus the Innocence Industry

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An amazing article by Martin Preib, a Chicago cop who exposes the dark underbelly of the “innocence” industry, in which scores of law and journalism students and their professors resort to deception in their desire to play Atticus Finch to criminals who aren’t really wrongful convicted:

Wrongful conviction settlements are big business, but they are not always sensible. Chicago settles millions of dollars in cases where convicted offenders claim they were wrongfully convicted.

For a number of law firms, suing the city over wrongful convictions has become a kind of cottage industry. Inmates claim they were tortured and coerced into confessing. The offenders are freed from prison. Attorneys quickly initiate civil lawsuits against the city. Many people assume that a settlement signifies the police were culpable and had something to hide.

But this is not the truth in several key wrongful conviction cases, none more so than the Anthony Porter case, a double murder in 1982 in Washington Park on the South Side.

Preib shows how students and professors at Northwestern University and post-conviction lawyers didn’t even bother to interview the detectives involved in the conviction of Anthony Porter when they tried to exonerate Porter years later:

One common theme permeates the entire wrongful conviction movement: the police are crooked, willing to coerce confessions from the wrong man, willing to frame the wrong man, torture him, even. Police are often accused of racism in wrongful conviction cases, that they don’t care about African-American suspects or their communities. Many of these accusations were lobbed against the detectives in the Porter case, one of the most crucial wrongful conviction cases in the state’s history.

That Martin Preib could singlehandedly, with no resources, uncover more evidence than armies of well-connected, well-funded professors, students, and lawyers speaks volumes about the dynamics of post-conviction criminal justice activism.

The media repeats the claims of the Innocence Industry uncritically and dumbly parrots their nonsensical “statistics” about so-called “causes of wrongful conviction” — statistics and causes that are a pure fabrication.  If the Innocence Project were actually trying to create real wrongful conviction statistics, they would have to do several things they don’t do now — first and foremost contextualize their cases within the numerical universe of rightful convictions.

They would also have to stop inventing “causes of wrongful conviction” that highlight only one aspect of a case, often something minor or irrelevant to the conviction but that serves their ideological interests.

They would have to acknowledge that the most common “cause” of wrongful conviction is being a criminal and running with other criminals.  Lying for a criminal friend, being a non-DNA depositing co-conspirator in a murder that leaves no witness, dealing in stolen items from the crime, and letting your own brother go to prison in your place are all causes of wrongful conviction that you won’t find anywhere in the Innocence Project’s highly touted “statistics.”

Several of the Innocence Project’s most high-profile clients are serial rapists popped for the wrong crime BECAUSE they were committing similar crimes in the area or had done so elsewhere.  The media avoids mentioning this part of the story because they want to act out their own Atticus Finch drama.  Fabulist journalists go looking only for the story they want to hear, as Prieb demonstrates:

One wonders when journalism professors started teaching students to get only one side of a story. It turned out that, during the Innocence Project  investigation, the detectives say that neither Protess [head of the Innocence Project at Northwestern] nor his journalism students ever attempted to sit down with the detectives and listen to their account.

Finally, many Innocence Project clients were not actually innocent at all.

See here and here for examples of the misbehavior of activists wanting to spring guilty men to gratify their own self-regard.

I have repeatedly urged Innocence Project activists to use some of their vast resources and manpower to try to identify offenders who got away with murder and rape.  Merely saying this is a great way to get laughed at — or accused of racism, the movement’s eternal fallback pose.

The Martin Preibs of this world toil on their own in the shadows to correct grotesque injustices, as the defense bar and their media lackeys labor to spring anyone and everyone from prison, regardless of their crimes.

Imagine if someone made that into a movie.

Crossing Lines: What’s Wrong with the Wrongful Conviction Movement by Martin Preib

Martin Preib’s Amazon Page

 

 

The Daryle Edward Jones Case Grows Worse

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Yesterday, I posted about yet another heinous sex crime committed by yet another felon who should have been in prison but was granted leniency and was free on the streets.

The information I had yesterday was limited to what I could find in public incarceration records, but today the Athens (Georgia) newspaper has more details about Jones’ criminal history.

And they are damning, not only because he got out early for a murder he committed in 1994, but even after he got out early and immediately committed another crime, the state essentially passed on an opportunity to put him behind bars for that crime for a substantial period of time.

Here’s the story:

Jones was paroled in 2010 [for the 1994 murder], but he was quickly back in prison.

In August 2011 he was arrested on stalking and terroristic threat charges for having threatened to murder a woman, according to records. The arrest sent him back to prison for a parole violation but he was paroled again in October 2013.

Two months later, on Dec. 23, Jones was convicted for the 2011 stalking and terroristic threats charges and sentenced to 200 days of incarceration with six years of probation. He was given credit for time already served.

Jones has been treated to serial leniency, which is the default choice of our justice system nearly all the time.  In 1994, he was allowed to plead (presumably down from murder) to voluntary manslaughter, which put him back on the streets.  Then he was given a mere 200 days (with credit for time served, no days, actually) for stalking and terroristic threats committed in 2011.

These aren’t “nothing” sentences.  But they do reflect the normalization of reduced sentencing throughout the criminal justice system.  Academicians, the media, and leftists relentlessly accuse our justice system of being too harsh on offenders.  But exactly the opposite its true.  It would not have been too harsh to sentence Jones to life without parole for murder in 1994, but he got 20 years instead, and then he got released four years early, originally serving only 16 years for taking a life.   And while we don’t know all the details of the 2011 case, I doubt it would have been “harsh” at all to sentence him to something more than time served for stalking and threatening to kill a woman.

Serial leniency has now resulted in a 14-year old girl being kidnapped, raped and tortured:

 [L]ast Wednesday, Athens-Clarke County police said that Jones lured a 14-year-old girl into a vehicle then locked the doors so she could not escape.

He allegedly drove the girl to an isolated location where he pulled a gun and sexually assaulted her, police said.

Jones, of Oak Hill Drive, was arrested two days later on charges of rape, kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated child molestation and aggravated sodomy.

Chalk up another rape to the anti-incarceration activists who shill the fantasy that our prisons are stuffed with victims of harsh, unjustly long sentencing — “victims” who must be petted, celebrated, sympathized with, released early, and “re-entered” into society on our dime.  That little girl’s horrific ordeal is more blood on your hands.

 

Let Out Early for Voluntary Manslaughter, Now Accused of Kidnapping and Rape

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Here’s another one.

Another what?

Another offender who should have been in prison but was let out early, and some innocent child paid the price.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that Daryle Edward Jones kidnapped and raped a young girl in Athens, Georgia:

Jones, 41, has been charged with rape, aggravated assault, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy and kidnapping in the case. He remained in the county jail Saturday afternoon.

Here’s what they did not report: Daryle Edward Jones was supposed to be in prison until April.  Or at least that is how long he would have served, had he served his entire previous sentence.  Which, of course, nobody ever does, but isn’t it nice to imagine that somebody, somewhere, even once, would serve all their damn time?

In April of 1994, Jones committed voluntary manslaughter.  It’s hard to know from the online records what he really did, but suffice to say that getting 20 years in 1994 was the maximum for that crime and serving nearly all of it was unusual, so I suspect at least one of two things:

  • The crime was particularly heinous and the voluntary manslaughter was offered only with an agreement to serve a long sentence.
  • Jones, who was 21 at the time, must have had a terrible juvenile record, likely sealed.

So Darlye Jones went to prison for voluntary manslaughter in April, 1995 (he’d probably had a year in jail before that) and got out June, 2010, fifteen years later.  Then he was back in prison from January, 2012 to October, 2013, possibly for a parole violation because no other crime is listed.  Four months after finally being released, he has committed a heinous kidnapping/rape.

What is there to learn from this?

Under-prosecution may be the problem.

My guess — and it’s just a guess — is that Jones had a prolific and violent criminal career before being put away at the age of 21.  Yet he was only charged with one crime, which is entirely typical, even today.  Contrary to what all liberals and all those Right on Crime Grover Norquist types and Reason libertarians believe, our criminal justice system is wildly lenient towards nearly all criminals and expends the resources to put away only a tiny fraction of people who commit even serious crimes.

And given his current crime and the severity of his previous sentence, he may have been a sex offender but the sex offense was not kept on the table for some reason.  He’s not in the sex offender registry, as far as I can tell.

There is troubling talk across the Right today about prosecutorial over-reach.  I consider such talk to be almost entirely anecdotal and wildly out of touch with reality in our criminal courts — and motivated in large part by Alex Jones and his ilk, who have it out for police in an utterly personal and unhinged way.

Yes, the Department of Justice in Washington and Eric Holder in particular are troubling, and Holder is openly contemptuous of the rule of law and treats victims of crime with contempt — except those who fit certain categories of so-called hate crime that he invented in 1999.  Holder is pro-criminal, anti-victim and almost entirely lawless, but Eric Holder does not represent law enforcement in the states.

The sort of leniency that lets a killer walk free to rape a child is what too often represents criminal justice in the states.  We need longer sentences and more law enforcement, not less of both.  How many times do we have to see stories like this?  Let’s talk about what the feds are up to, certainly.  But don’t conflate that with state courts where, especially in urban areas, crimes like burglary aren’t even being investigated, let alone prosecuted anymore, and prolific criminals still have most of their charges dropped against them every day.

Here is a terrific response by “David” to yet another anecdotal complaint about “over-prosecution” from the Right.  It is in response to this (uncharacteristically) lazy screed in what is usually an excellent source on crime policy, City Journal:

Before every reader of this article jumps on the “let’s bash prosecutors” bandwagon, the good professor’s thoughts warrant a bit of careful consideration. Professor Bhide is, after all, a PROFESSOR of law, not a practitioner. And his online list of accomplishments shows that he has never practiced criminal law at any time in his illustrious career. Indeed, his expertise lies more in the realm of business and, perhaps, economics. Having said this, Professor Bhede is correct to be outraged by Ms. Khobraghade’s arrest and the humiliating and inexcusable way she was treated while incarcerated. Professor Bhede is also correct when he expresses concern about the proliferation of federal criminal laws. And perhaps Professor Bhede is also on to something when he quotes the following from the ABA (though this organization is not particularly well-known for either its objectivity or its lack of bias): “‘Individual citizen behavior now potentially subject to federal criminal control has increased in astonishing proportions.’”

But the key words in the quote Professor Bhede uses from the ABA are “potentially subject”. For even though there are too many federal criminal laws, it has been my actual experience that the feds prosecute only a tiny fraction of the cases they could file. Additionally, the feds file ONLY when they are assured of victory (not the standard for filing a criminal charge, contrary to Eric Holder’s excuses to the contrary) and potential good press. Professor Bhede lists a number of activities that Congress has criminalized since our Constitution’s ratification. But the impetus for the “busybody Congresses” that pass these laws usually takes the form of busybody groups and individuals who believe this or that activity should be criminalized. Prohibition readily comes to mind. …

So for those who are ready to jump up and say, “Professor Bhide is absolutely correct! Federal prosecutors need to be reigned in!”, I would respond that too often these very same prosecutors do too little with regard to crimes that directly impact the safety and welfare of our society. And I say this because I spent almost 20 years as a state prosecutor, in a major metropolitan area, where I concentrated primarily on handling felony narcotics dealing and firearms offenses. (To those who would protest and say that I was part of the problem because I was part of the “War on Drugs”, I would respond as follows: Please go tell this to the little 75 or 80 year old woman who is afraid to go out on her front porch because a group of punks–usually armed–are slinging crack, coke, or meth in her neighborhood. This person lives in fear for her life every day. Tell her that the street in front of her house is not a war zone. She’ll say you’re wrong.) Very little assistance was provided prosecuting these crimes by any of the U.S. Attorneys and their staffs in the city where I worked. I don’t know what, exactly, were the priorities of our resident U.S. Attorneys (several of them came and went during my time as a deputy prosecutor), but I do know that they couldn’t be bothered to help make our city’s streets and outlying areas safer. With the laws available to them, U.S. Attorneys can do a lot to put really bad people out of commission for very long periods of time. But if a certain crime (or group of crimes) aren’t on some important politician’s radar, well, such crimes won’t be prosecuted by a U.S. Attorney. …

Too many laws? Perhaps. Not enough use of many of the laws already in existence? Yes. …

 . . . read the whole thing here 

 

I Will Be on Cliff Kincaid’s Roku Show Wednesday Night Talking About Immigration . . .

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. . . the plight of American workers, and why Republicans and Libertarians don’t seem to care.

Who’s with us

Who’s against us

Who’s hiding behind trees pretending they have “no position at all”

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Tune in to the show on the America’s Survival website at 9:00 or on Roku at the America’s Survival channel.  Writes Cliff:

. . . watch it live on our homepage on Wednesday night at 9:pm Eastern www.usasurvival.org by clicking on the Roku image on the right side. 

 

On Adria Sauceda’s Murder

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Thanks to a commenter for saying what needs to be said about Adria’s murder:

“I’m Mexican, I live in Mexico and I don’t understand why the inmates’ families want mercy when they didn’t show any with their victims. They took away their lives, they took away all their dreams and hopes. They should be grateful they are going to die via lethal injection, not in a bizarre way their victims did.”

Heartbreaking photos of the child:

And the young woman, before she died:

And her parent’s hands, holding her:

 

Common Core: It Will Take A Village to Fight Their Village

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Recently, anti-Common Core activists in Florida and Georgia (and other states) were treated to the nugatory charms of the “listening tour.”  State education officials carefully concealed the piles of crumpled twenties that Bill Gates shoved in their knickers and turned out to quote listen to the public unquote.

 

In other words, they pretended to give opponents of Common Core little snippets of time to speak on a vast, all-encompassing education reform that they, the elected officials in charge of education policy, have been laundering like illicit meth profits behind closed doors for years.  And so of course the activists sounded outraged and often emotional: how on earth do you address a sweeping, transformative, mostly-concealed program that touches every aspect of the education system and have been foisted on the public through backdoor methods we still only barely understand — all in three minutes or less?

The real objective of the listening tour, of course, was to shut up opposition to Common Core by claiming they have listened to us and heard what we had to say so they can get back to doing politics without any more interference from the little people.  I’m not saying that all the officials sitting on the dais acted that way.  If you know your elected official, then you can gauge the spirit in which he or she participated.  And frankly, the only way to even register our opposition to Common Core is to turn out for such events.

That’s why it is so important to get to know your elected official and give them a chance to prove themselves to you.

Bad politics exist everywhere, but good politics are usually local politics.

The lesson of the listening tour is that we will need to work together better in the future if we are going to be effective against a highly-coordinated coalition made up of wealthy foundations, professional poverty activists, elected officials, education bureaucrats, ed school professors, PBS, Chamber of Commerce boosters, and teacher’s unions.

We have taken on a very large task: we are demonstrating the audacity of asking an entire bureaucracy to behave as if it actually works for the people.  So as they’re wiping the tears of mirth from their eyes, we need to be ready with a well-coordinated offense.  For this fight, we need parents, taxpayers, our own education professors, home-schoolers, retired teachers, researchers, lobbyists, organizers, and, most importantly, effective foot soldiers in every corner of every state.

It will take a village to take our villages back.  For some reason this makes me think of the fight scene in Anchorman (the first one, not the highly disappointing sequel).  Remember, PBS were the bad guys in that, too.

Listening tours are dog-and-pony shows that always entail a certain measure of showmanship and deception.  How could we have done better, with just three minutes each to speak?  If we had coalitions in place, it would have been easier to meet beforehand to coordinate a series of responses — small pieces adding up to a larger response.  A coalition also commands more media attention, and with that we could issue press releases in response to the listening tour format itself.  The education bureaucracy does not want to be put in the position of having to fight on an even playing field — this is why they have been resistant to agreeing to public debates while presenting the “listening tour” they control as their solution for public input.

Like the fight scene in Anchorman, the Common Core fight is a fight among interested parties — the public is largely sitting this one out.  Maybe they’re traumatized by childhood memories of WholeLanguage learning or just too busy working that second job to pay for somebody else’s healthcare — I don’t know.  But the Common Core advocates have made this a difficult fight by making the Common Core materials themselves difficult, if not impossible to access, and there are only so many hours in the day.  That’s another reason to put some energy into working together more efficiently.

Despite being a veteran of many public hearings, I came away from the Common Core listening tour surprised by the degree of contempt some (not all) elected officials involved felt comfortable heaping on their audiences . . . also known as their constituents . . . also known as their employers.  We are facing a situation the ancient Greeks referred to as catching your elected official with his hand stuck in the cookie jar, so feelings are understandably running high.  But that is no excuse for some of the behavior I witnessed.

In Dawsonville, Georgia, State Representative Brooks Coleman (R – 97), Chairman of the House Education Committee, set a particularly dismissive, hectoring tone.

And that was before he began grabbing people by the arms and berating them.

At a meeting that started in the evening after most attendees had clocked a day of work, Coleman played every time-wasting, status-asserting game in the book.  He delayed the meeting to indulge in obsequious, long-winded praise for the public college officials who gave him use of a school auditorium (in other words, state employees who work for us opened up a room that belongs to us, for our use).  To their credit, the officials looked embarrassed at Coleman’s faux fervent gratitude.  Then, he could barely contain his ire throughout the event.  Afterwards, as he worked the crowd, he actually grabbed my arm and shook it while hissing that I was wrong about Georgia accepting Gates funding to implement Common Core.

Of course, I was right and he was wrong.  What’s more interesting is that we both knew it, yet he hung onto my arm and stuck with the lie, too.

Prove it, he said.

I just did.  Again.

Moments like these can tell you everything you need to know about a political fight.  Here are some of the things I observed:

  • They know the gig is up, and sunlight is pouring in.  Both Brooks Coleman and I knew that we were standing in an auditorium built with my tax dollars, at an event subsidized by my tax dollars, and that he, an elected official paid with my tax dollars, was lying to me about money the state Department of Education had received from an unelected, unaccountable third party: Bill Gates.
  •  At that moment, Coleman felt indebted to Bill Gates in ways that he does not feel indebted to the actual citizens and taxpayers of Georgia — the people he is legally sworn to represent and is being paid to represent.  Coleman felt indebted enough to Gates to lie to hide the fact that Gates and his cohort are calling the shots within our education system.
  • Coleman keeps saying — and his counterparts in Florida say the same — that opponents of Common Core don’t know what the real curriculum looks like.  This is true — because they are doing everything in their power to keep the public from perusing it.  So we should follow his lead: the first thing we should do is demand access to all curricular materials.  Then we can have the debate about what is being taught in the schools that should have preceded the adoption of Common Core in the first place.  Thanks, Brooks.  Great idea.
  • Elsewhere, Coleman fibbed to the incurious mouthpieces who pretend to be political reporters at the Atlanta Journal Constitution.  To the mouthpieces, he said that the public at the speaking tours had delivered the following message to him: “Stick with the national set of academic standards called Common Core, superintendents, teachers and parents have told them.”  Of course this is not true.  The superintendents and teachers  may have said so, but during them time set aside for the public to comment, the attendees were overwhelmingly anti-Common Core.

    Coleman also told the story that Common Core was actually the invention of southern governors — and he was in on it — and so, he scolded, we don’t know what we’re talking about when we oppose it and talk about involvement by the federal government.  ”Bet’cha didn’t know that” he challenged.  Since Mr. Coleman did not listen to my response that night, let me offer it again here:  Yes, I do know about the educational standards envisioned by the southern governors.  I also know about E.D. Hirsh’s admirable efforts to introduce dense, traditional content in K – 12 classrooms in New York City, efforts which are similarly cited as inspiring Common Core.

    But there’s a catch.  Neither the southern governors’ nor E.D. Hirsch’s vision are much in evidence in Common Core today.  They may have had a good idea at one time, but that good idea is not the thing that plops into your child’s hands from the pricey, jargon-laden textbook program firing up on Bill Gates’ donated tablets.

    The southern governors invented the idea that became Common Core.  That doesn’t make the current boondoggle more palatable: it just makes them more culpable for it.  Culpable for the Boondoggle is my idea for a slogan for this movement, by the way, but I’m flexible about that.

    So the listening tours were a colossal waste of time.  That was a feature, not a bug: they wasted your time and put you down and wore you out, and when you didn’t fall in line anyway, they simply lied to the media about what you said, and the media broadcast their lies for them.  Oh, and they made certain everyone saw the armed security guards at the entrances so they could make it seem as if we were a dangerous bunch.  That’s a strategy too.

    You still have to go back if there is another listening tour.  Just know what they’re going to pull this time, and be ready.

    The really exciting thing about the Common Core listening tours was that people showed up who don’t even participate in the anti-Common Core movement, and they had interesting arguments against Common Core.  There were professors of education and parents and retired teachers and principals.  No matter how hard the media works to make the movement seem like a fringe group, they are failing because that is a lie, too.  They will keep trying, and they will keep failing.

    Now is the time for us to assess who is with us and what we have to offer to each other.  In Florida, the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition is holding a coalition-building meeting on January 11.  If a representative from your group wants to attend — FSCCC is a coalition of groups, not individuals — contact Chrissy Blevio at their website, or contact this blog, tinatrent2@yahoo.com.  I will be running the training.

    Even if you aren’t in Florida, read Dr. Karen Effram’s essential analyses of Common Core legislation.  If you are in Georgia, the good ladies at the Educational Freedom Coalition are doing amazing work (order their bookmarks), as is Jane Robbins from the American Principles Project; Mary Grabar at Dissident Prof, and researcher extraordinaire Robin Eubanks at Invisible Serfs Collar – buy her book, Credentialed to Destroy:

    The Heritage Foundation, Eagle Forum, and Concerned Women for America are on board, along with hundreds of Tea Party and 9/12 groups around the country.

    Mary Grabar has a book review for Terrence Moore's The Story Killers out in the Selous Foundation magazine.  She writes:

    Every concerned parent, grandparent, and citizen should read this, for Moore cuts through the obfuscation to reveal Common Core as “a complete consolidation and nationalization of a public education in America.” It’s the final step in a 50-year process of the progressive takeover of education.

    I concur: it’s an amazing book.  Read Mary’s review, and check out the Selous Foundation’s other education reports.

    They’ve had fifty years to break education: we’ve had just a few months to begin to figure this thing out.  We’re at the beginning of a long fight to bring back proven, traditional education.  They’re at the end of the time during which they thought they could get away with anything quietly.  The first public confrontation — the “listening” tours — gave us a lot of ammunition.  We know their excuses and we know what they think of us . . . and of themselves.  Read The Story Killers, get with a group, and get ready for the session.  This fight has just begun.

     

Why Build Permanent Coalitions to Fight the Common Core? Because This Fight is Going to be a Long One.

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The fight against Common Core is not going to end with the defeat of Common Core.

Too much damage has been done to education.  The damage emanates from the education schools, which were taken over by radicals back in the 1960′s and then became the stomping grounds for the most intellectually dim and narcissistic domestic terrorists of that era — people like Bill Ayers.    It was clever of the bomb-throwers to pack up their dynamite and turn to their daddies’ rolodexes to score jobs training future teachers, but they alone did not radicalize teacher education, of course.  It was the work of many hands.

I was at a Tea Party meeting in Manatee County and a retired teacher (you meet many retired teachers in the Tea Party) told me an interesting story: when she started in education, the college students who were training to become teachers were among the most conservative students on campuses. A few years later, they had become the most radical.  What happened?   For one thing, the end of the war in Vietnam coincided with the demise of the two-parent household among the poor — so, as activists flocked to education schools looking for new causes, K – 12 classrooms were becoming more chaotic and unstable because of broken homes.  It was a perfect storm.

That was more than forty years ago.

It is hard to quantify the harm that has been done to the discipline of teaching teachers in just a few generations.  Like everything else in higher education, radicalism protected by tenure grows exponentially, blotting out other possibilities for students and teachers, and many teaching schools are now largely irredeemable.  Today, a professor of education who so much as deigns to correct the grammar of his graduate students can face violent shaming and forced re-education at their hands, with full cooperation by the administration.  Few education professors remain who disapprove of such behavior, and fewer still are courageous enough to oppose it out loud.

Radicalism has been rendered so normative in higher education that the Maoist theories of Paulo Friere rank among the most-assigned readings for aspiring teachers throughout the United States.  To get a sense of the crisis in teaching teachers, read this 2009 essay about Paolo Friere and teacher’s colleges, by Sol Stern:

Since the publication of the English edition in 1970, Pedagogy of the Oppressed has achieved near-iconic status in America’s teacher-training programs. In 2003, David Steiner and Susan Rozen published a study examining the curricula of 16 schools of education—14 of them among the top-ranked institutions in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report—and found that Pedagogy of the Oppressed was one of the most frequently assigned texts in their philosophy of education courses. These course assignments are undoubtedly part of the reason that, according to the publisher, almost 1 million copies have sold, a remarkable number for a book in the education field.

The odd thing is that Freire’s magnum opus isn’t, in the end, abouteducation—certainly not the education of children. Pedagogy of the Oppressed mentions none of the issues that troubled education reformers throughout the twentieth century: testing, standards, curriculum, the role of parents, how to organize schools, what subjects should be taught in various grades, how best to train teachers, the most effective way of teaching disadvantaged students. This ed-school bestseller is, instead, a utopian political tract calling for the overthrow of capitalist hegemony and the creation of classless societies. Teachers who adopt its pernicious ideas risk harming their students—and ironically, their most disadvantaged students will suffer the most.

Also ironic?  Sol Stern himself, who with E.D. Hirsh was a strong advocate for returning to the teaching of traditional texts in classrooms, has come out as a staunch defender of Common Core, which he claims will achieve that goal.  Stern is technically right that Common Core standards were first conceived as a way to introduce more traditional content in classrooms that had long ago ceased to teach anything resembling traditional content.  But it is a measure of the damage that has been done to schools of education that Stern’s good intentions gave rise to the Common Core boondoggle we’re dealing with today.  It is also a shame that Stern himself is not able to see this — likely because he was given some latitude under Bloomberg to shape the development of Common Core standards for New York City, so he could develop materials that remain somewhat true to his original vision.

In the rest of the nation, we are not so lucky.  The lesson for the rest of us is that any reform filtered through the highly radical waters of the teaching schools will emerge highly radicalized.  And any reform that concentrates power in the hands of the Department of Education and the teacher-training establishment will only amp up the influence of their Frierian-Marxist, anti-western claptrap.  Common Core is nothing new under the sun: it is merely a non-optional centralized delivery system for all the bad ideas that were planted before it.

The anti-Common Core activists are coming to this fight in the 11th hour.  There is a great deal we must learn about the depth of the crisis in education schools and the maze-like education bureaucracy.

The only solution to the crisis in teaching schools is to create alternative institutions.  Conservative colleges like Hillsdale and Patrick Henry need to start franchising schools of education.  The only solution for the crisis in K – 12 education is to fight against Common Core, defeat it, then keep fighting.  We need to create permanent partnerships to start taking back K – 12 education, piece by piece.  No matter what you think of Sol Stern’s current stance on the Common Core, read his article about Paolo Friere and the education establishment: these are the stakes of the long-term battle to come.