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Quincy, California
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June 25, 2014     Feather River Bulletin
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June 25, 2014
 

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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, June 25, 2014 9B COMMUNITY PERSPECTIVE Common Core standards undemocratic and unnecessary While school is out for the summer, I invite everyone to take a hard look at the Common Core Standards and at how they were implemented across our country. Essentially, Bill Gates and Arne Duncan have colluded to destroy state and local control of public education, and most educational leaders around the country have fallen right in line. For decades there has been a steady barrage of criticism of American public education, most of it based on false assumptions. One brief example: How long have we been hearing that our country's international competitiveness rests on how well our kids do on standardized tests? There's no evidence for this, and there are many counterexamples, such as Japan, where economies are historically weak and test performance is consistently phenomenal. Regardless, we've been conditioned by corporate tycoons, politicians and the media to believe that our schools are failing and that they're dragging the rest of the country down with them. The Common Core Standards were developed largely by test designers, not by educators or subject area WHERE I STAND national figures in ................................... educational policy and TOMMY MILES CORNERSTONE LEARNING CENTER experts. Pearson Educational Publishing stands to rake in billions for providing the needed products and services. Microsoft will benefit directly as well, because its tablet devices can serve as a platform for Common Core's classroom implementation, according to industry sources. Gates asserts that his motives are purely altruistic, and he may be sincere, but the world's richest human didn't become that without knowing how to maneuver and manipulate in order to push an agenda. Jay Greene, chair of the University of Arkansas' Department of Education Reform, recently commented, "Really rich guys can come up with ideas that they think are great, but there is a danger that everyone will tell them they're great, even if they're not." Many parents are confused about Common Core, some going so far as to consider home-schooling because of it. Some states that initially implemented Common Core at great expense are now rejecting it. Members of Congress are expressing concerns, and several research are calling for a congressional investigation. The gathering opposition to Common Core is surprisingly bipartisan. Some on the left consider it a corporate takeover of public education likely to widen inequality of access, while critics on the right see it as an infringement of states' rights and a further concentration of power in the federal government. In any case, it is extremely fiscally irresponsible for states such as California, where we've already spent a fortune developing a system of robust standards and tests aligned to them, which we've had in place since 1998. Now we've abandoned them for a new and unproven system at a projected cost of $1.6 billion for our state alone. The issue is not whether we want kids to be successful or whether we want access to quality education for all -- of course we do. The issue is that $200 million of Bill Gates' money was spent to develop the standards, then to buy the political influence to get states to spend billions more to implement them, all with very little public involvement or knowledge. Incredibly, many states signed up with no elected officials involved in the decision. In this democracy, any effort to overhaul public education on a national scale must have widespread public support built through the democratic process if it is to succeed. The swift and stealthy deployment of Common Core and the unquestioning acceptance of it are symptoms of a much larger problem: The gradual neglect of the mission and soul of American public education. In 1981, when I added an education minor to my degree program and decided to become a teacher, my country's educational landscape was very different from what we see now. Teachers were free to be far more flexible and creative in designing activities than is currently permitted. The curriculum was a resource to be tapped, not the total instructional content. Assessments of program quality were based on inputs as well as outputs, and on self-reflection as well as outside review. Test data were available, but they were not the sole measure of schools' and teachers' effectiveness. No longer. With our nationwide ffLxation on standards and testing, and with superficial rewards and draconian punishments being dealt out to districts and schools based on test results alone, teachers are made to feel like test-prep technicians. Public education's teachers are its greatest asset, and we do them a profound disservice when we continue to treat them this way. The good news is that nothing lasts forever. After over 30 years of participation in a few reform efforts and observation of many more, I've learned that these initiatives shift with the wind. They have a few lasting effects, but they come and go with each new administration. Decision makers, some elected but most not, build their careers and reputations promoting a current reform movement full of broad assertions and bold plans, and we all ride that wave for a while. Then there's an election, the wave fades, and we paddle out to catch the next one, which will be a little different, but it will move us toward the same shore, rearranging the beach sand just a little, like the last one did. K-12 education is not simply preparation for making a living or for going to college. It is preparation for making a life, and we must recognize that work and higher education are only part of that. There are many other critical goals that include building entrepreneurship and creativity, specific and practical vocational education, developing artistic talent, building individual character, fostering the senses of community and civic responsibility, and helping kids to become happy, effective adults. Common Core addresses these priorities either seriously inadequately or not at all. My eight years as an administrator in this school district taught me that when staff are appropriately selected, supported, and supervised, when parents are involved and consulted, when kids are honored and nurtured, and when a pervasive culture of respect and cooperation is modeled by everyone, then the school will become a genuine learning community, great things will happen in the classrooms, and the test scores wil! take care of themselves. As Americans and Californians, we need to recommit ourselves to the broader aims of education, and we ought to start by strongly urging our state's leaders to follow the recent examples of Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina, put that $1.6 billion to better use, and opt out. Charter school deserves equal level of press coverage This year marks the end of a WHER_E I STAND The most recent, and rather decade of my service to Plumas ................................... blatant, failure to fairly Charter School. I started with PCS when we were primarily an independent study school, and have participated in its exciting evolution to a more student-centered hybrid program. As I continue to grow in my role as director, particularly in the last school year, I am increasingly sensitive to how we are represented to the public, wanting to ensure that our communities are aware of all of the wonderful things our students are doing. To this end, Feather Publishing has, to TALETHA WASHBURN PLUMAS CHARTER SCHOOL date, done a great disservice to the charter school community. I have been continuously monitoring the coverage that PCS receives in our local paper over the last school year, and comparing that to the coverage afforded to our traditional schools. The apparent disregard in which our articles and photographs have been treated is upsetting, not only to our hardworking staff, but to our students. represent PCS students was the coverage awarded to our 2014 graduation ceremony. On June 6, a Feather Publishing reporter attended our graduation ceremony, took notes and asked questions, then wrote no article and only ran a segregated photo of our students by site. In the Quincy paper in particular, this slight was inten:hqed by the fact that our gradmte photo was located beneath several photos of a Quincy Elementary School first-grade class performing skits. There was also no bold heading associated with any of our graduation photos saying "Plumas Charter School graduates 26." There were no additional photos of our student speakers, teaching staff or directors. I am saddened to think about the disappointment our graduates might have felt about their lack of coverage versus nearly three pages of Plumas Unified School District graduation photos and articles. Our graduates, and student body as a whole, deserve proportional coverage to that afforded other local schools. The apparent bias of Feather Publishing was also evident in the disregard shown for our spring performance in May, a PCS activity involving over 80 students, months of practice and many dedicated hours from our students, staff and parent volunteers. We wrote our own article and took our own photos, and our placement in the paper was on the back page, under the fold with photos reduced insize to mmk e faces difficult to recognize. This is how the other three articles we submitted 5n various student activities this year were also placed. It is worth noting that similar activities published on behalf of QES regularly receive front-page attention, and are often covered by a reporter. I don't know what the answer to this dilemma might be, but I do know there needs to be one. Our students' activities and achievements are no less meaningful than those of our community's traditional schools. Plumas -~Chavter=School is a well-established, important educational alternative; it is time PCS started receiving the respect and equality of coverage it deserves. LETTERS to the EDITOR. Guidelines for Letters All letters mast contain an address and a phone number. We publish only one letter per week per person and only one letter per person per month regarding the same subject. We do not publish third-party, anonymous, or open letters. Letters must be limited to a maximum of 300 words. The editorwill cut any letter in excess of 300 words. The deadline is Friday at 3p.m. (Deadlines may change due to holidays.) Letters may be taken to any of Feather Publishing's offices, sent via fax to 283-3952, or e-mailed to dmatonald@p .mm. Clean work The first weekend in June, three friends and I cleaned and picked up trash, the whole of Lee Road from Quincy Junction to Mill Creek, just for fun (go figure) and Quincy pride. Our feeling being that if we set a precedent for the soon-to-arrive Festival revelers, as well as Quincy folk, they may think twice about littering. Two weeks later as I ride my bike on Lee Road, I ffmd the road exceptionally clean with very few exceptions! Great job. Let's keep up the clean work! Carla Hamilton Quincy Environment tyranny Regarding the excellent letter from Faith Strailey. All the horrors leveled on those frogs by mankind, mankind must now pay for. We be bad critters in the world of critters. Points well taken. But completely off target. This is not about whether I should make amends for what I have done to the frog, but whether the environmental activists should make amends to my grandchildren for what they have done to their right to be let alone. Freedom. Freedom to walk around a lake whether there are diseased animals there or not. Environmentalism is now a soft tyranny. Un-elected bureaucrats with no trace of responsibility to the people are running government. The people's representatives outdone by frog representatives. I'm probably wrong, but here is what President Lincoln said and he must have been right. Liberty and independence. "... Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors... Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you." A. Lincoln, July 17, 1858. Ed Laurie Portola Good job Having been quick to criticize both the road department and the Ag commissioner about the terrible shape of the bike trail between Quincy High and Highway 70 West, let me be quick to praise the new trail and those who got it repaved. Nice job and thanks! Thousands of people will ultimately benefit from this refurbished route. Donald P. Gasser Quincy Cheney wanted Iraq's oil Well, well, Dick Cheney blames Obama for the mess in Iraq that he and George W. Bush created by their invasion of Iraq based on patently false claims. Remember those totally non-existent weapons of mass-destruction'? Not only did the Bush administration, out-of-hand, dismiss the possibility that the weapons did not exist, but it attacked the integrity of every responsible inspector who reported that there were none. R was theorized at the time that Cheney's real interest was in Iraq's oil. R subsequently turned out that as soon as it had a foothold in Iraq, the administration secured Iraq's off fields before dealing with the wreckage that it had created. Further, it was Cheney's company, Halliburton, that was given the contract to salvage the oil fields. It was a "no bid" contract. Also, it has come to light that sometime before the invasion, Cbeney had detailed maps identifying the exact locations of the oil fields. It is a harsh judgment, but it would seem that Cheney sacrificed the lives of American soldiers and Iraqi citizens for his greed for oil. His accusations against Obama appeared in the Wall Street Journal, one of the many Murdoch publications. Obama promised he would wind down the war in Iraq, which he has done. The instability in the Middle East was predictable as a result of the Bush-Cheney invasion. It will go on, no matter who is the commander in chief. In fact, Bush's father reports in his memoires that he stopped short of the total destruction of Iraq during the Gulf War because he was afraid that he would throw the whole Middle East into chaos. Bowman quipped that it is a pity that his son doesn't read. Salvatore Catalano Taylorsville Take your country back My father served during WW2. He flew B-18s in Alaska chasing Japanese submarines and strafing enemy garrisons. HIS combat was over the Aleutians Islands, Attu and Kiska. The values I have today of America were passed down to me by my military hero. Half of America ridicules traditional values and that is why I bump heads with them. Many "Army brats" carry those values today, with the same passion and determination instilled by the men that returned from wars in Europe and Asia. We are all products of our environment and it is frustrating to see many in this country support Bowe Bergdahl and remain silent over the four men that died in Benghazi. They asked for help too. Respecting the fact that the "other half' hasn't experienced my military upbringing or my Don't sit back and let others do the talking for you. Express yourself in our LETTERS TO THE EDITOR. email: dmcdonald@plumasnews.com service in the Navy, I'm obliged to cut them some slack. I would only hope that they would respect those of us who don't fred it "old fashioned'" to salute, honor and pray for the men and women that fought and died for this nation. In 2016, will there be enough patriots left to transform our nation once more? Was it worth the cost of all those lives over 70 years later, only to give it away?. We had more freedoms in America in the 1950s than we have today. I find it odd that this president is upset over Russia's invasion of the Ukraine but he's ok with the invasion of illegal children into our own country. He's the first president to create more excuses than jobs. We need free markets not free loaders. In,the coming November mid-terms, vote to take your country back. It's time to stand up and fight for American freedoms and culture, like your own heroes have done for hundreds of years. Trent Saxton Lake Davis Contact your elected officials... PLUMAS COUNTY SUPERVISORS - 520 Main Street, Room 309, Quincy, CA 95971; (530) 283-6170; FAX: (530) 283-6288; E-Marl: pcbs@countyofplumas.com. Individual supervisors can also be e-mailed from links on the county website, countyofplumas.com PRESIDENT -Barack Obama, the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20500. (202) 456-1414. Fax: 202-456-2461. E-mail: whitehouse.gov/contact / U.S. SENATOR - Dianne Feinstein (D), 331 Hart Senate Office Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20510. (202) 224-3841; FAX: 202-228-3954; TrY/TDD: (202) 224-2501. District Office: One Post Street, Suite 2450, San Francisco, CA 94104; Phone: (415) 393-0707; Fax: (415) 393-0710 Website: feinstein.senate.gov. U.S. SENATOR - Barbara Boxer (D). District Office: 501 1 St., Suite 7-600, Sacramento, CA 95814. (916) '448-2787; FAX (916) 448-2563; OR 112 Hart Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20510. (202) 224-3553. FAX (202) 2284)454. U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, 1ST DIST. - Doug LaMalfa. 506 Cannon HOB, Washington, D.C. 20515..(202) 225-3076. lamalfa.house.gov. DISTRICT OFFICES: 1453 Downer St., Suite #A, Oroville, CA 95965; 2885 Chum Creek R., Suite #C, Redding, CA 96002. STATE SENATOR, 1st DIST. - Ted Gaines. State Capitol, Room 3070, Sacramento, CA 95814. (916) 651-4001, FAX: (916) 324-2680. E1 Dorado Hills Constituent Service Center. 4359 Town Center Boulevard, Suitk 112, E1 Dorado Hills, CA 95762. (916) 933-7213, FAX (916} 933-7234; Redding Constituent Service Center. 1670 Market St., Suite 244, Redding, CA 96001, (530) 22,5-3142, FAX (530) 225-3143. STATE ASSEMBLYMAN, 1ST DIST. - Brian Dahle, State Capitol, Room 2174, Sacramento, CA 94249, (916) 319-2001; FAX (916) 319-2103. District Office, 2080 Hemsted Dr., Ste. #110, Redding, CA 96002; (530) 223-6300, FAX (530) 223-6737. GOVERNOR Jerry Brown, office of the Governor, Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814. Website: gov.ca.gov/ (916) 445-2841. FAX: (916) 558-3160. State t