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What does this have to do with education and children? Well, their future as free and questioning citizens depends on it. That's why I am pleased about the encore broadcast of America: Freedom To Fascism! If you missed it you can find it on Youtube; I highly recommend it!
"On March 5th 2009 the local PBS station, KBDI, in Denver Colorado broadcast the groundbreaking expose, America: Freedom To Fascism to raise funds for the station.

In this documentary it becomes clear that the Federal Reserve is a private bank and  not part of the Federal Government. In that vein, please take note of H.R.1207  initiated by Texas Congressman and former presidential candidate Ron Paul who:
  •  "..exposed the core truths behind everything threatening America, from the real reasons behind the collapse of the dollar and the looming financial crisis, to terrorism and the loss of our precious civil liberties." (From a Ron Paul book description)
See this clip; one in a series of five in which Ron Paul talks about the American Power Structure. Eye-opening!

  • Henry Ford once said, “It is well that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”

One citizen supporter of the bill wrote on a forum:

"I'd like to hear the excuses of those congressmen who have not signed on as co-sponsors. Even those who love the Fed and all of its bailouts should still ask where the money is going."

Head on over to http://www.house.gov or http://www.congress.org (preferably both) and contact your representative.

Have your district nominated for as many awards as possible! Who does the nominating? Very likely The Chamber of Commerce, the City of Greeley and the Colorado Department of Education (CDE); agencies who would have community members believe that the district is providing excellent education.

District Six showcased on the  City of Greeley website:

  • "Colorado Gifted Ecuation Association Honors Leaders - The Colorado Association of Gifted and Talented has honored District 6 Board President Bruce Broderius and Assistant Superintendent Dana Selzer with two of the Association's top statewide awards for advocacy and leadership in the field of gifted and talented student education.  Dr. Broderius received the "Special Advocate of the Year-District Level" award.  Dr. Selzer received an "Administrator of the Year" award.  Gifted education is an integral component of the District 6 strategic plan, and the district's instructional pacing guides contain differentiated approaches for advance learners.  In 2008, the district increased the percentage of students scoring in the Advanced proficiency category on CSAP."
  • "School District 6 Honored - The Colorado Association of School Boards has selected the Weld County School District 6 Board of Education as Colorado's 2008 All State School Board.  They noted Greeley-Evans Board of Education's bold leadership and reform over the last three years, which has turned the district into a solid example of success for students.  The award was given during the CASB's 68th Annual Convention held in Colorado Springs."
Praise from CDE's Commissioner Dwight Jones:
  • "The commissioner praised District 6’s reform effort of the past two years and lauded the district’s strategic plan as a good model for other districts across the state".

Last, but not least, apply for awards yourself!

From the District Six January 12, BOE agenda under recognition:

"District 6 has been recognized by the Colorado Performance Excellence (CPEx) organization as a 2008 High Plains Award winner for its progress toward becoming a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Program organization"

Learn more here:

Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award? - The Baldrige Award is given by the President of the United States to businesses—manufacturing and service, small and large—and to education and health care organizations that apply and are judged to be outstanding in seven areas: leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, information and analysis, human resource focus, process management, and business results.

In scouring the Internet for anything on play and also to find out if Chinese kids still get recess I came across this "China Rises" Blog. I left the following comment:

"Our schoolboard justified the elimination of morning recess by claiming that kids in China are more focused on academics than they are in the U.S.

Thanks to fears instilled by the business roundtable that the U.S. as a country will lose out to "sleeping giants" like China and India, children now suffer under the demands of NCLB. Recess is becoming a thing of the past. Our public schools only offer 20 minutes of outdoor play when it's lunchtime.

Guess what kids prefer? They choose recess over eating their lunch. Animals in labs make an identical choice according to Marc Bekoff, professor of Biology who is also an advocate for play as are many other national experts.

Of note is especially the research by Dr. Stuart Brown who found that there is a strong undeniable correlation between lack of play in childhood and adult criminal behavior. Go to: http://www.nifplay.org/vision.html to read more!

Research by Bonnie Gordon about "Cultural Comparisons of Schooling" argues that opportunity for socialization of young children, and getting attention from the teacher sets kids up for future learning.
Absence of that could very well be the reason for the achievement gap between American kids and some Asian countries. American kindergarten focuses on academics, now thanks to NCLB, even more than ever before!

Playtime has even been eliminated from our local public kindergartens! And now DIBELS is even administered in preschools. Next, play will be eliminated there as well!

Posted by: Conny Jensen | October 01, 2007 at 04:46 PM

The agenda of this year's Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) convention, Lead Locally, Think Globally; Transforming Learning Into Life, has some telling topics!

  • To Comment or Not to Comment: What Board Members Should Know About Communicating With the Press and Public
  • The Magic of Dialogue: Courageous Conversations with your Communities about Standards-based Education - Jane Urschel, deputy executive director, CASB and Ken Turner, deputy commissioner of education, Colorado Department of Education
Even our D6 board (Bruce Broderius, Jesse Quinby, Linda Trimberger, Judy Kron, Julie Kautz, Robert Stack and Mark Hinze) gave a  presentation:
  • Community Engagement and the Power of Conversation
Much of what local school boards say and do is a reflection of the beliefs and policies of the Colorado Association of School Boards whose directors in turn get their guidance, or should I say directive, from the National School Boards Association.

NSBA directors work closely with the Business Roundtable which represents major corporations! So when the Business Roundtable praises Obama's pick for Secretary of Education because "Mr. Duncan has a strong record of working with the business community to improve schools.", we should be concerned!  See: Business Roundtable Statement on Obama’s Secretary of Education

This is what a reader of Education Week had to say:
  • "Is the Sec. of Education appointment the kind of Change America voted for? Arne Duncan somehow went from just an undergrad degree in sociology and being a professional basketball player in Australia to becoming 'appointed' CEO (pathetic title for a 100% public funded non-profit institution) then being 'appointed' again by Obama. The man never even was a teacher on top of it."

The Business Roundtable, the major force behind No Child Left Behind, is not interested in educating children for human greatness but for economic gain instead. Watch The Corporation on Youtube.com

To the National School Board Association,

"Is there a procedure for community members to file a formal complaint against a local school board?
Please read the following article. It gives an idea of one of many of our concerns."

Greeley Tribune, Monday, January 8, 2007

Reply by:
Naomi Gittins
Senior Staff Attorney
National School Boards Association

Dear Ms. Jensen,

Since a school board is usually a democratically elected governmental body, there is in general no formal complaint procedure, except through recall or the ballot box.   Recall procedures and the circumstances under which recalls may be undertaken are established by state law.  School boards may also be sued by individuals who believe the board has violated the law. 
 Tribune article:

A change in policy that moves public comment on non-agenda items to the end of school board meetings has angered some people who regularly attend.

The Greeley-Evans School District 6 board in late November changed the format of how it takes public comment at board meetings, which are held on the second and fourth Monday of each month.

In voting on the issue, board President Bruce Broderius said the move was made to expedite and focus board business to items on the agenda. He subsequently noted that while the board meetings deal with public business, they are not intended to be "a community speakout."

Conny Jensen, who heads up Greeley Parent Advocacy, is among a group of people who regularly speak to the board during public comment.

Jensen said she believes the move was made to stymie criticism.

"They did it to thwart us," she said. "The people showing up all the time, they've pretty much called us the main group."

In recent months, she has criticized the board for new approaches to grade-school recess and literacy instruction. She said she's being branded by the board as negative for speaking out on issues she believes needs to be addressed.

"I do think they are bothered by the things we have to say and share," Jensen said of the board. "I don't know entirely what the best way is. Obviously we want to bring issues to their attention. If they're bothered by it, maybe they should address it in a more effective manner, rather than pushing us to the back of the meeting."

She noted that there are some people, including a regular attendee who has multiple sclerosis, with disabilities. Sitting through the length of the meetings, some lasting several hours, is unfair to those individuals, Jensen said.

"Board members expect us to stay even though the issues we bring forth are community issues, not personal issues," she said.

In September, the board began asking speakers to sign up to speak the Friday before each Monday meeting. The idea was to make the board more helpful to the public, giving board and district staff members a chance to prepare responses prior to the meeting. That approach lasted a few meetings before the board eased the sign-up requirement.

The shift of public comment on non-agenda items to the end of meetings is likewise on a trial basis, board member Bob Stack said this week.

"We're still looking at this, and saying let's get the main bulk of our work out of the way and then go on to other things," he said.

Board member Judy Kron said the board welcomes community input but feels "the small group who comes to every meeting ... is not giving us a clear picture of how our community feels about education."

She noted that the board will work hard to interact with the community in the coming year, visiting with service clubs and attending forums. "Community dialogue is very critical to what school boards do, and I think we're trying to create some better ways to dialogue with the community," Kron said.

Juvenal Cervantes, a member of Latinos Unidos, also criticized the board's new meeting format.

"To wait three hours before (speakers on non-agenda items) can give input is strategically designed to suppress those voices," he said. "It's very discouraging."

Public comment at school board meetings in other districts:

-- Pueblo District 60, similar in size to Greeley-Evans District 6:

Formal 30-minute session from 7 to 7:30 p.m., prior to the school board meeting is officially convened. Each person is asked to sign up to speak and is given three minutes in a one-way sharing of information to the board. The board can decide whether to assign a staff member to follow up with the speaker about his or her concern. There is no restriction on the topics speakers want to address.

-- Poudre School District in Fort Collins:

Public comment is taken for up to 30 minutes at the beginning of the meeting with individual comments limited to three minutes. Speakers can address non-agenda items. Registration is not required but those who sign up get to speak before others. Public comments regarding agenda-related issues are requested after each administrative presentation and before board discussion. The board also has an open-ended public comment period at the end of each meeting.

-- St. Vrain Valley School District in Longmont:

The policy states the public comment times at board meetings is "a time for the public to provide their input and not necessarily a time for dialogue with the board."

Public comment takes place at the beginning of the meeting, limited to 30 minutes total and three minutes per speaker, and allows speakers to address non-agenda items. Individuals wishing to talk about agenda items are asked to sign up before the topic is addressed. Their remarks are limited to three minutes before the board takes action on the item.

There are a number of questionable requirements in this bill.

    •  "Very high quality services" for preschool are not defined and no mention is made to guarantee the same for kindergartens. Representative Witwer was not able to acknowledge that "experiential learning" will become part of the kindergarten "alignment". 
Nothing short of official accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children will provide Colorado with real quality kindergartens. Without input from true Child Development and Learning experts we cannot trust that our Colorado State Board of Education is going to do what's ethically and morally right for preschoolers and kindergarteners. The following position statement signed by many national experts should be required reading by all who will decide the fate of young children:

Crisis in the Kindergarten - Why Children Need to Play in School


  • None of the following will become reality as long as schools remain driven by high stakes testing!
    • "We are educating people out of their creativity," says Sir Ken Robinson
[He] argues that it's because we've been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. Students with restless minds and bodies -- far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity -- are ignored or even stigmatized, with terrible consequences.  Watch his 20 minute presentation Do Schools Kill Creativity? or read the transcript.
Governor Ritter and Representative Witwer on 9News Your Show  were unable to offer specifics on the costs associated with implementation of extra assessments and planning time under CAP4K. You can watch the interview here:

Regarding the SB 50 truancy bill (which has since passed) Greeley Tribune editors wrote in support of it:

"The bottom line for us is anything that will help school districts help kids stay in school is worthy of consideration."

My bottom line is concern if upon being forced to be in school these students' needs will be met, so that they would want to stay in school! Maybe I've become cynical, but I feel these "simplistic" measures without further concern and follow-up for the child academically and emotionally, have more to do with the mandate of No Child Left Behind where schools' and districts' AYP (Adequate Yearly progress) is in part determined by attendance rates!

The editors wrote: "More to the point is the education children who ditch school miss out on -- and that hurts us all. We lose our skilled labor force, our ability to compete globally and our opportunity to improve."

It is wrong to only focus on prepping students for the "world of work". That has led to the standardization of education and excessive testing, which began twenty years ago ("Insult to Intelligence" by Frank Smith is an eye-opener), and likely has a lot, if not all, to do with the lack of quality education we are seeing today!

Editors shared: "Thomas Jefferson said, "Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. ... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty."  Indeed, but he saw education quite differently than we see it today. He was an advocate for "free thinking" which allows for liberty of mind and spirit and honors the essence of us as human beings. His noble goals for education have not come to fruition, at least not yet in public schools across the board, ever since formal education was  mandated.

Please see:

From the Educator Roundtable:

See what people have to say about No Child Left Behind! Click here:
32,496 signatures

And Please watch and pass this clip around: The Disparity Gap


One Mother's Story about Test Intimidation

A Father's Story

Another Mother shared:

  • "For math I am supposed to give my son a timed math test at the beginning of the homework cycle and then have him practice all week and then give him another timed test to see if there is improvement. He is to read each day for 20 minutes and then give a one or two sentence response. The writing exercise is specific practice for the CSAP test."
A School Administrator Testifying to Colorado Senators:

I come in front of this committee as a career public high school teacher of 16 years and now a school administrator.  In 2004... I took time to interview public school principals along the front range.... I was investigating the viability of a move from teacher to administrator for my career. 

... The summary was that they used to be the visionary leaders of their respective schools and, as of late with NCLB, CSAP, AYP and the like they have become the middle managers between effective, professional educators and well intentioned but scared district level administrators.  My enthusiasm for the change began to wane. None the less I continued to pursue and earned my licensure. 

Subsequently, I began to apply and interview for admin positions.  Another common theme emerged, in the vast majority of the interviews that I had for Principal or Asst. Principal positions, I was handed some form of a large white binder and was told that primary to my responsibilities would be the management of CSAP testing and data in these various schools. 

  • ..it would be an up hill battle to truly find the level of innovation, quality pedagogy and thoughtful best practice that I seek in the face of this pervasive focus on one misguided, inaccurate measure of accountability for our schools. 

In my disenchantment I took a break and went to work for Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, where I spent three years directing a summer camp effort, and was reminded what young peoples faces look like, even kids in poverty, when they are having their hearts held and their brains activated by meaningful experiences.  But I missed schools.

So this past year I decided to jump back into the school game….but this time in a private setting. ... when I interviewed for the position, no one handed me a white binder, in fact, the interview looked and felt more like a deeply rich and thoughtful conversation about best practice between two impassioned educators who want to see what a school that is truly preparing young people for the 21st century looks like.  I was offered the position and I took it.

In this same year, my good friend was hired as the superintendent of the local public school district.  I did dream and do dream of someday working for him…but not now.  Not in this climate with the focus being on these tests and the insanity that ensues.  No thank you, I would rather focus my energy on students and the joys of learning.

  • Will eradicating the penalty to school for students who opt out of the CSAP change my mind, not likely, but it will give me and many of my fellow educators some hope that sanity is returning to the system.

Secondly, I would like to tell you the story of my son Reilly.  He is 9 years old, a third grader and is in school in the small mountain community of Gold Hill.... Reilly and my wife and I love this school.  Reilly has Down Syndrome.  The services that are provided, the supports that are in place and the education that he is receiving is, in our well educated opinion, second to none... But I am sorry to report that in the past three weeks we have been profoundly disappointed. 

Reilly, against our best judgment, has been taking the CSAP.  His routine has been disrupted, his OT sessions canceled, his speech sessions rescheduled, and significant amount of time has been spent trying to make him feel better and proud of himself for not doing what he knows was not a good job on these tests. 

He is developmentally delayed…he is not stupid and he knows that he has not done well.  Imagine hearing from your child’s teacher when you call to inquire how it went today, that your child had to be prompted to “turn the page” every once in while because he had lost focus on what he was doing.  My child does not lose focus when he is doing something that is useful and meaningful, that is what is great about Down Syndrome, he can’t fake it, either it is worth while or it is not and he will let you know. 

But we let him take it, we allowed ourselves to be swayed by public opinion by parent and school pressure.  We have been used as pawns in a political game of school accountability.  No one has learned anything about anything, not him, not you, not us.  This is not accountability, this is a mess.  Today, because Reilly and his classmates are so exhausted, they are off to see the Frog and the Toad in Arvada…fun yes, is he learning, yes, I should have taken him to the Frog and the Toad while the others were taking the CSAP…I am convinced he would have gotten more out of the experience.   

  • Next year, we will opt out, penalty or no penalty, and so would you.  I would like to respectfully request that you go ahead and leave my child behind.  Don’t worry, I will be standing there to help him.

I used to believe CSAP could and would hold schools accountable for student learning,
but I never questioned what that might look like!!

My daughter, now 23, dropped out of 10th grade. She was a highly gifted student and her special needs were not understood. She did not receive the individualized learning she needed, not even when she qualified for Special Education due to major depression. That was an extremely painful and frustrating period in her life, so yes, I was angry with teachers and schools!

Accountability under NCLB/CSAP came too late for her, but sadly it has done nothing for her brother (now 20) either. He scored proficient on CSAP, had good grades. His learning needs were not a priority either, not even when he was ready to quit school halfway through his senior year.
He did graduate but has not yet gone on to college. He has excellent CSAP skills in all measured areas, but with only a high school diploma the menial jobs he’s held do not pay what this kid is really worth.

  • Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that with CSAP, schools can offer quality education! The reality is that CSAP has changed educational practices for the worst.

I am deeply concerned for children in schools where recess has been eliminated, where kids are double-dipped in subjects they did poorly on with CSAP.

At least one middle school in Greeley permanently eliminated electives like: speech, logic & reasoning, creative writing, scientific projects, even problem solving in math!
Greeley public kindergartens no longer let children play with toys, blocks, puzzles.
That’s not going to help them become creative and imaginative adults, requirements needed, we are told, to survive in a global world.  

Nor do children get time for socialization! Snack time consists of a handful of crackers eaten in five minutes. I have seen for myself how in three different kindergarten classes the developmental needs of these children are totally ignored. Especially during the 90 minutes of scripted Reading First lessons every day there is no time for the kids to comment or ask questions! I am appalled that such neglect is allowed to happen and wish there was a law against it!  This is not quality education. All schools now are the same even the ones that always did well on CSAP

These changes all were the result of CSAP. Our district was put on watch, in great part because many students who would have scored proficient or advanced did not sit CSAP exams. Each counted as a negative .5 in the equation. Plus, for each student who would have scored proficient or advanced,  the school also lost out on either 1.0 or 1.5 points. This is the reason why students and their parents are even more blatantly coerced into participating in CSAP.

"Coercion has no place in a democratic society, least of all in schools
 where it flies in the face of everything
that quality education
should stand for!"

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