I Just Wrote about this, didn't I?

Ok, so I don' t want to jinx this. I really didn't  expect this to happen so soon. El Paso, Texas (of all places) has taken the step to become an e-Book learning environment, and also bringing in OpenSource Education, partnering up with cK-12cK-12 posted on their page: 
Today, we’re excited to announce the launch of our partnership with El Paso ISD, Texas to help them transition from printed to digital e-books across the district!
No I haven't forgotten this
Twenty-First Century Learning is a commitment to prepare the EPISD student body for the future by using the best in technology and techniques. As technology becomes a fabric of our daily lives,  it is imperative to be in our classrooms to be used effectively and efficiently. EPISD is the first large school district in Texas to take the bold and innovative step into the world of teacher-generated electronic books.
We collaborated with EPISD to understand the district teachers’ needs and how technology can help us meet those challenges. So, starting in October of this year, the district is doing away with paper textbooks and replacing with digital textbooks called FlexBooks. These are standards-aligned fully customized digital flexbooks built using the CK-12 platform, especially for EPISD.
The change will start with select high school science classes, with more school subjects to follow. EPISD has already created flexbooks for biologychemistry and physics.
El Paso TX is Doing It Right!
The process started when a committee of teachers gathered over the summer to put together the first FlexBook. They collaborated on the CK-12 platform, built science flexbooks to serve their needs. This is just the start however. Eventually, every teacher will personalize the digital text to fit with his/her lesson plans, making each book tailor-made. All free, all online.
“We are talking about user-generated content. A panel of our science teachers handpicked the information in the electronic test to custom fit the curriculum. It is a huge step, the days of outdated information are over,” said EPISD Superintendent Juan Cabrera.
FlexBooks are free. The information gathered in the electronic books is of no cost to the district. Twenty-First Century Learning is more than an academic initiative. It is a shift in the way the El Paso Independent School District teaches students and delivers knowledge. This collaboration allows teachers to meet students’ needs by customizing the curriculum for them in the digital flexbook they create.
Teachers should have a choice in designing their own curriculum to meet students at their own learning pace and in the modality choice of their learning. Partnering with EPISD on science books to start, and gradually to more subjects, we feel we can give teachers the flexibility they need and want from a content creation perspective” says Neeru Khosla, Exec Director of CK-12. <  end announcement 

Which is Great! Now... just a couple of questions-- though I know the answers. TEKS is still alive and well in Texas. There are things the Texas School Board wants to take out of the learning, like Climate Change -- because they worship Koch more than they worship Jesus. I mean, seriously, even the Pope is up on Climate Change. That is about as Right wing as you can get, yes? 
With the flexbook formats however, they will be able to change, and add what they wish. They will also be able to keep up with Common Core if they wish, easy to do even if you aren't using it as a curriculum guide. Typically cK-12 has focused on Algebra IGeometryProbability and StatisticsBiologyChemistry, and Physics. But really that's only because no one is writing ELS, History or Social Studies -- so Texas will be adding those and it is a real shame that they won't be good to anyone else. Actually, that's not true. We can use the content, and edit Moses back out of the Constitution. 

While I'm surprised it was El Paso, I'm very excited it has happened. Texas has long been looked to for what direction school text books are going to go, and other states tend to go in that direction (California as well, they are larger buyers). The impact, however, of having El Paso be the one to jump in, has the potential to be much greater than if, say, Los Angeles or Fresno made the move first. 
Here's hoping that all of the tech works for the kids. This is an exciting moment. Koodos to cK-12. 

It's in my Other Brain

Psychologist Betsy Sparrow’s research reveals that we forget things we are confident we can find on the Internet. We are more likely to remember things we think are not available online. And we are better able to remember where to find something on the Internet than we are at remembering the information itself. This is believed to be the first research of its kind into the impact of search engines on human memory organization.

Sparrow’s paper in Science is titled, “Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips.” With colleagues Jenny Liu of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Daniel M. Wegner of Harvard University, Sparrow explains that the Internet has become a primary form of what psychologists call transactive memory—recollections that are external to us but that we know when and how to access.

“Since the advent of search engines, we are reorganizing the way we remember things,” said Sparrow. “Our brains rely on the Internet for memory in much the same way they rely on the memory of a friend, family member or co-worker. We remember less through knowing information itself than by knowing where the information can be found.” Read More ... 

Vibrating insoles could help prevent falls among seniors

Falls are the leading cause of death by injury amongst seniors, and those falls are in turn typically caused by poor balance or an irregular gait. Taking things back yet another step, problems with balance and gait are often caused by diminished sensation in the feet. Now, however, a new study indicates that subtly-buzzing insoles may help seniors regain some of that lost sensation, and thus be less likely to fall down.  Read More

More cool gadgets can always be found on Gizmag

I Use to Be Disgusted. Now I'm a Liberal

Deciding factors of our views on the world may be far more biological than many people are comfortable with. But it sure would explain much of the actions of deeply conservative people, who, when confronted with mountains of information continue to dismiss fact for ideology.
Of course, we’d like to think we came to our core beliefs through a process of rational reflection and discussion—or, at the very least, as a psychological reaction to the influence of our parents and peers. And there is certainly some evidence for the latter position.
But the profound influence of basic brain biology has just been re-affirmed in a new research paper, which found liberals and conservatives can be easily identified through fMRI scans.

Jon Stewart of the Daily Show: Slams the Koch Brothers

Daily Show viewers are likely to be the most -- moderately informed, if not best informed -- viewers (viewers being the people who still bother to watch the tripe produced for cable TV these days). This is because, Jon Stewart (and Stephen Colbert on his show), will slam anyone who is acting stupid, or trying to gloss over a heinous activity. Historically, these two shows don't really care if their targets are Democrat or Republican, or Tea Party or in the seat of the White House ... or advertising on the time slot of their show, as the Koch brothers found out this week. Basically the message is, "we care about our viewers, and if you are going to imply that we condone your actions, you are leading with your chin."  

Thank you Jon Stewart for Doing It Right!

If you would like answers to baffling questions like these:

Why is America 83% in favor of health insurance companies being required to accept pre-existing conditions, yet only 43% in favor of Obamacare?

Why after six years of growth on Wall Street, lowering Unemployment, bringing healthcare reform and encouraging public schools with unprecedented resources for teachers which will minimize the unpaid "at home" hours they are required to engage in, is Obama's acceptance level only 43%?

Why, even after the Speaker of the House has admitted to the public that it is Congress who is holding up Immigration Reform (for the last six years) and even after the elections in November will continue to hold up Immigration Reform for another two years -- is the News Industry still pointing their finger at Obama?

Why, after Obama wrote an executive order directing activities which will insure the proper adoption of ACA by companies who have between  50 and 100 employees, which is well within his job description, and historically not even close to being a over-reach -- did Congress (while blocking, and fighting to make ACA fail) sue Obama with cheers coming from across the Internet?

Why, with only an 8% approval rating for their performance for the last two years, and the culture of obstruction they have created, do any of the Congressmen coming up for election in November have any chance of wining? Let alone, in some states, an edge in winning?

For answers to these and other troubling questions tumbling around in the educated minds of America, the Koch Brothers are a good place to start.

The goals of the Koch brothers, truly, do not have your best interests in mind. Here's a list that has been complied and researched.


How many teen pregnancies are there in your country? Nope, wrong. What percentage of people are immigrants? Sorry, that's incorrect. How many Muslims live where you live? Whoa, way off. Let's spell it out Jeopardy-style. Hint: This person is wrong. Answer: Who is
you? A recent study of public perception in 14 countries came to this basic conclusion: 

Everything you think you know about the news is probably wrong.
The Guardian: Mistaken perceptions can shape political opinion.
Also see an earlier blog of mine: Basically the News isn't News anymore.

Teachers and Parents need to Stop listening to Secondary Sources

Remember in school, when we learned the difference between Primary sources of information and Secondary sources of information -- and why the two are not the same? 
  1. primary source is a document or physical object which was written or created during the time under study. These sources were present during an experience or time period and offer an inside view of a particular event. Some types of primary sources include:
  2. Primary vs Secondary Sources

    Princeton University
A parent just asked me if I had answers for the problems with Common Core. Apparently the teachers in her district are looking for ways out of using CCSS. The problem is, the answers are in the Core. 

See, as soon as they succeed in removing CCSS from their school system, then life becomes seriously difficult, because as soon as Common Core is gone, then they are back to 10 years ago under ESEA and the No Child Left Behind hell of 2002. Since every school failed that impossible thing, and the 12 years are up, this means that the schools will be closed, until a new plan can be presented to the Dept of ED, and approved. Most of the teachers will be fired and likely the principal as well. Probably what will happen is the school will be sold to a charter corporation and then re-opned. ESEA and NCLB are laws, not suggestions. Moving into the Race to the TOP program using as a standard CCSS, allowed Obama to give your school an out, and get you from under that mess of a law, since Congress won't fix it.

Obama came up with the "patch" solution of Race to the Top, but to satisfy the requirements of ESEA and NCLB each state is required to have in place a set of standards which demonstrate an ability to "ready students for College ..."  The Gov.'s of each state, seeing that ESEA was going to cut their throats (the changes made by NCLB are simply impossible to achieve. They sounded good when they were adopted, even reasonable, but they didn't take into account the many realities of  education. Too many realities were ignored. In fact, so many that I do not believe a single public school district made the minimum goal once in the 12 year period given to them.) The Gov's came up with CCSS back in 2007, starting development in 2008. At 2010 they had it ready when Obama came up with his waivers and Race to the Top.

It is important to remember here that ESEA and NCLB are not policies or suggestions, they are laws. It falls to the Executive branch to enforce those two laws. Obama has no choice in this. But he also understood that it was impossible to achieve the dictates. 

NCLB -- since the schools were all at "Failure" for more than four years -- dictates that 1) all the teachers, plus the principal should now be fired and replaced with teachers capable of making the goals. (which is impossible for two reasons, 1) all of the teachers are fired, there are not enough to hire available and 2) all the goals are impossible to meet no matter who is teaching the kids) Next the State should take over the school directly OR the school should be sold to a private corporation -- wish I was making this up, but you can verify this here on my blog where I pulled out these amazingly daft dictates.

You'll notice this part --   Institute and fully implement a new curriculum, including providing appropriate professional development for all relevant staff, that is based on scientifically based research and offers substantial promise of improving educational achievement for low-achieving students and enabling the school to make adequate yearly progress.

That there is where Race to the Top comes in, and the need for a fully developed, heavily researched set of standards is needed to satisfy the law. The states had this, developed by the National Governors Association (NGA) The Dept of Education read over the CCSS, and gave their nod to Obama as being acceptable. 

That is and was Obama's only interaction with CCSS -- Simply to accept the DOE's assessment. I'll point out here too that it is against federal law for any Federal Office, including Obama as President, to involve itself with the schools directly at the local level... which is why he could not develop CCSS himself or have it created or suggest that it be created or anything else. The states had to do this themselves. 

So much for Federal plans of Indoctrination. All of this stuff about CCSS is BS. It is a very simple, unoffending, non-dictating set of standards. 

Paul Krugman Sums Obama Up

Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize winning Economist took a second look at Obama in an article published in Rolling Stones, and then a follow up with ABC News. His conclusion? Obama is likely to be the most effective, and certainly the most successful president we have ever had. 
“Bill Clinton is an incredibly gifted politician,” Krugman told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl. “But, in fact, Bill Clinton was not a consequential president. And Obama, although clearly not the natural politician, is a consequential president.”
With his polls so low right now, it's difficult to get behind this kind of arithmetic, but Krugman shows that the economy is on the rise, unemployment is down, health care has been reformed and significant financial reform is in place. The environmental issues are being addressed.  No, he admits, it might not be everything you wanted, but it is more than any president has accomplished in decades.

Reading this, I felt a bit vindicated. Though I would never have claimed Obama was 'the most successful', he was doing much better than his press. What has always bothered me about his press though, was the amount of it, the shear mass of the machine.

You expect Fox News, and some jabs from the main stream editorials. Then there are the web papers on the far-right like Town Hall, National Association of Scholars, the NRA main sight,
The usual suspects. Also, the republicans in congress, just like the democrats with Bush (expected, and accepted). The Koch brothers were more active, not liking things going the way they were, especially with Obama going directly at the environment and health care.

Likely, Obama was the Koch's worst nightmare - between 1998 and now Koch has been an environmental terror (with one of the few companies I have ever heard of being tried and convicted for double homicide). Obama not only wants EPA powers to increase, he was making it happen. It wasn't going to be a few $10 million dollar fines any longer. Likely, shut downs were on the horizon. So, we also expect some flack from that area.

Some flack. Sure. .. but sweet mercy...

The girl friend video coming out of the Koch, from  Americans for Shared Prosperity should have been the real clue. That was the point the shadows were pulled back. Whether that was a purposeful move or not, it was the beacon that caught my attention. The ad, which I'm sure you have seen, has a woman who is acting like Obama is an abusive boyfriend -- and is warning us to drop him, not to vote for him again. Again? This was published on Sep 21, 2014.

This is the second term. Right? This is Anti-Obama, like two years
too late. Isn't it?

No. Not at all. They just don't appear to care any more that you notice.

I'm not capable of doing the amount of document research that would be required for a true analysis -- I'm just going to put that up front -- but I believe, just from the amount I've been able to do, that no President has been against the continuous demagoguery Obama has over his two terms. There is the slams and the mud during the election, but then people get down to doing their jobs. The sensationalist go back to writing real news, and waiting for someone, normally a Congressman, to do something extremely silly. But that didn't happen with Obama.

  • Crowds of mudslingers continued
  • Torrents of false controversies were created
  • Demagoguery was shouted at every Presidential move
  • Congress took on a culture of obstruction

For example -- despite Obama's pre-election release of his official Hawaiian birth certificate in 2008;[1] confirmation, based on the original documents, by the Hawaii Department of Health;[6] the April 2011 release of a certified copy of Obama's original Certificate of Live Birth (or long-form birth certificate); and contemporaneous birth announcements published in two Hawaii newspapers.[7] Polls conducted in 2010 suggested that at least one quarter of adult Americans said that they doubted Obama's U.S. birth,[8][9] while a May 2011 Gallup poll found that 13% of American adults (23% of Republicans) continued to express such doubts. -- Wikipedia

Hundreds of lawsuits, some filed by GOP leaders, some from Congressman, Senators, and Tea Party members. In 2009 and 2010 the numbers in the South and in the Tea Party are so high, that they are seen as useful to many of the GOP. They under mind anything Obama does, inciting angst toward any decision he makes. A few Republicans openly gaff at the claims that Obama's Presidency is not legitimate, but most do not. Colorado GOP Senate candidate Ken Buck is caught on tape complaining about walking the line between openly agreeing with the "Birthers" and denying the legitimacy of their claim to keep them going.
"Will you tell those dumbasses at the Tea Party to stop asking questions about birth certificates while I'm on the camera," Buck said to the worker while laughing. "God, what am I supposed to do?"

Word of the Day : Proselytize

  1. convert or attempt to convert (someone) from one religion, belief, or opinion to another.
    "the program did have a tremendous evangelical effect, proselytizing many"
    synonyms:evangelizeconvertsaveredeem, win over, preach (to), recruit, act as a missionary
    "I'm not here to proselytize"

Time Hits Hard -- Teachers Judging Cover?

The writers on EmpathyEducates have put out a plea for their readers to demand an apology from Time Magazine, based on the Cover. The cover has the blurb:
It's Nearly Impossible to Fire A Bad Teacher...
I'm guessing that is the offending comment, and what they are objecting to. I'm all in for Teachers, I really am. I spend many hours a week, unpaid, writing, researching and supporting them with all of my skills... however, I'm even more supportive of the kids. That is where my loyalty lies.

The page that requests our support to give Time a black eye for their "attack" on teachers, does nothing to support their request with anything other than emotional appeals. This saddens me.
And Time‘s cover doesn't even reflect its own reporting. The Time article itself looks at the wealthy sponsors of these efforts. And while it looks critically at tenure, it also questions the testing industry’s connections to Silicon Valley and the motives of these players. 
But rather than use the cover to put the spotlight on the people using their wealth to change education policy, Time‘s editors decided to sensationalize the topic...
Right now, there is an extremely high trust value given to teachers from the general population, and this trust value has a long history. What people don't trust are the politicians making the schools their battlefields.  People don't trust Billionaires poking around in education. Even when the billionaire in question has dedicated half of his value to the schools and education (and some other charities), asking nothing in return, not even his name mentioned (aka Bill Gates).

Some findings include:

  • 62% of those polled said they had never heard of the Common Core State Standards.
  • 36% of those polled said that standardized testing was hurting school performance; 41 percent said it had made no difference.
  • 88 percent of parents feel their child is safe when he/she is in school.
  • To promote school safety, 59% of respondents prefer adding mental health services compared with 33% who would opt for hiring more security guards.
These are interesting stats, but more interesting is where the mainstream media chose to focus with them:

Christian Science Monitor, likely the most neutral of group (still, after all of these years) talks about the teachers. Just about everyone else focuses on the Core or  test scores affecting teacher reviews which is the way the Core is being implemented right now by the Department of Education. In other words, eye catching things. Things that are going to sell papers.

Should we mention that for the most part, it is the teachers who are not getting the word out about Common Core, and what it is, what it means? No. We won't go there, but it sure would have helped things if that were done a little more enthusiastically.

This letter demanding an apology is more of a Whistleblower than the cover could ever be. This letter implies that the teachers are very sensitive, overly sensitive, and extremely defensive (which I don't believe is an accurate personification). The letter states clearly that nothing in the article is blasting teachers, and that most of the focus is on calling into question the intentions of these billionaires and bringing to the surface what their real motivations are for putting pressure on the school system.

In other words... what exactly are we asking TIME to apologize for? For selling issues? (as if this is the first time that a publication has gone for sensationalism to sell copy). Are we asking for apology for getting the word out that the Teachers now have some serious opponents and may be up against people that have far greater political and monetary resources than they do? That teachers may need some support from their community as these billionaires move in?

Personally, I think teachers should focus on the article and leave the cover alone. Because it sounds like you do have some serious players looking you over, and their intentions could do you and the school system some harm. Look at our current Congress, and how the influence of a few large bank accounts are affecting them.

In my view, what this really is, is a sensationalism ploy to get more teachers to read this EmpathyEducates website, and I'm not liking it very much. I see it as incitement, rather than support.

Besides, my teachers always taught me not to judge books by their covers.

Places for Teacher Learning : Common Core

Groups and Organizations
These links will take you to essential reading materials from the institutions and organizations behind Common Core.
  1. Common Core State Standards Initiative:This is the official site for the CCSSI, featuring information about the standards, news, resources, and answers to frequently asked questions.
  2. National Governors AssociationThe NGA played a major role in the development of Common Core, so their website is a great place to look for answers about the standards.
  3. Council of Chief State School OfficersThe other major group behind Common Core is the CCSSO, an organization you can learn more about by visiting their site.
Useful Resources
Read up on Common Core, find out more about what it will mean for your classes, and get some help from educational providers and groups by following these links.
  1. CCSSI Wiki:One simple way to learn more about the CCSSI is to visit the program’s Wikipedia page, which is packed with useful information on the subject.
  2. Common Core 360Common Core 360 is an educational network that offers webinars, training tools, news, and more to help teachers adapt to the new Common Core standards.
  3. MasteryConnectUse the MasteryConnect site to track your students’ progress under the new Common Core system.
  4. Pearson Education Common Core State StandardsPearson, a major educational publisher, offers access to numerous resources on Common Core. Visitors to the site will find everything from basic explanations to informative webinars.
  5. McGraw Hill Common Core SolutionsEducational publisher McGraw Hill is also reaching out to teachers when it comes to Common Core, loading up their website with tools for professional and curriculum development.
  6. Common Core Adoptions by StateThe ASCD website offers up information on which states are adopting Common Core, along with links to each Common Core state website.
  7. The Common Core InstituteTeachers who are unsure about their expertise on Common Core should give the Common Core Institute a try. The organization offers Black Belt certification on Common Core, as well as a wealth of other conferences and professional development opportunities for teachers.
  8. Common Core Standards AppThis iPhone application (it is also available for Android) lets teachers keep essential information about Common Core at their fingertips.
  9. ASCD Common Core WebinarsASCD is working on new webinars on Common Core for this fall, but educators can take a look at their archived resources from earlier this year in the meantime.
  10. Common Core WorkbookUse this workbook from Achieve and the U.S. Education Delivery Institute to help guide the Common Core implementation process at your school.
  11. CommonCore.org:Here you’ll find an organization dedicated to ensuring that the Common Core is about more than just reading and math, instead promoting a well-rounded education that includes reading literature, studying culture, and engaging with the arts.

Lessons Learned : Obama Sued By Congress

Lessons Learned is for teachers who wish to add into their curriculum lessons from current events which are highlighted in the news and a focus their students are interested in. There are many very good resources out on the Internet now for focused, well made, professional CCSS aligned lesson modules. From these resources, I try to find a few so that teachers can review them and use them in their classrooms. 

Current Event : For the first time in History, Congress (as Congress) is suing the President of the United States.

When, on July 2, the Obama Administration announced a one-year postponement of the January 1, 2014 effective date for the Affordable Care Act's requirement that large employers provide their workers health insurance or pay a tax, affected businesses "cheered." But anti-"Obamacare" advocates and politicians howled. They saw a "blatantly illegal move" (Brietbart.com pundit Ken Klukowski), a government acting "as though it were not bound by law" (CATO Institute economist Michael Cannon), and an unconstitutional "refus[al] to enforce" a democratically enacted law (Congressional Joint Resolution #45, introduced July 10 by New Jersey House Republican Scott Garrett). In the Wall Street Journal, Stanford Professor Michael McConnell, formerly a George W. Bush appointee to the federal bench, huffed that the decision "raises grave concerns about [President Obama's] understanding" that, unlike medieval British monarchs, American presidents have, under Article II, Section 3 of our Constitution, a "duty, not a discretionary power" to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." Following up in the Journal this Monday, David Rivkin and Lee Casey, who helped lawyer last year's legal challenge to the ACA individual mandate, darkly intimated that the new employer mandate delay could trigger litigation that could result in "the whole statute fall[ing] while the president's suspension is in effect."

Constitution Ariticle 2 sec 3 clause 3

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

Lessons for Class: 

In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students learn about the three branches of the United States government. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore a social studies focus on the powers that the Constitution assigns to each branch—legislative, executive, and judicial—and how the three branches work together. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities.
CCSS: Strong alignment with adaption from k5-k12

NOTE: The lesson looked so good and engaging that I am listing it but it is not aligned with Common Core. Perhaps a little bit of adjustment could make it so.
In this lesson, students will examine the duties of the President as written in the Constitution and what the Oath of Office means.
CCSS: None - only National Alignment 

This course covers American Government: the Constitution, the branches of government (Presidency, Congress, Judiciary) and how politics works: elections, voting, parties, campaigning, policy making.  In addition we’ll look at how the media, interest groups, public opinion polls and political self-identification (are you liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican or something else?) impact politics and political choices.  We’ll also cover the basics in economic, social and foreign policy and bring in current issues and show how they illustrate the process.
CCSS: None. This is a College Level Open Course for Government

Stay Away From Our Kids Neville!

To Mr. Neville, who already calls himself Senator Neville.

I'm fairly certain that your campaign in and around Jeffco is over. The idea that you would use the very serious, and deeply personal struggles of the kids to bolster your own pathetic political agenda, without even bothering to understand them - is as ludicrous as it is insulting. We are currently putting out as many messages as possible to assure that no parent, kid, teacher or neighbor is tricked by your sham, and that they all know what kind of "Changes" you would bring to our district in the senate. It boggles the mind that someone with the shallowness of thought you have, might have actually been our voice.

Your Sister-Inlaw, Julie Williams, the woman who works on the Jeffco School Board has apparently, publicly endorsed you.
Which is against the law. 

You have used the School Board Logo and pictures of the kids, in a way that implies endorsement.
Which is against the law.

You are saying that you wish to replace Jeanne Nicholson for keeping funding from the classroom while giving power to "corrupt" union bosses. (First off, that is terrible writing)

Let's check that... 

2014 Colorado Trial Lawyers Association Legislator of the Year Award

2014 Community Behavioral Health Champion Award from Jefferson Center for Mental Health.

2014 Planned Parenthood Champion of Choice

2013 Women’s Lobby of Colorado 100% Scorecard

2013 Colorado Youth Corps Legislator of the Yea

In the 2011 session of the Colorado General Assembly, Nicholson Vice-chaired the Local Government, and a member of the Appropriations, the Education and the Judiciary Committees.

I can't find a single piece of evidence that she has hampered education in any way, financial or otherwise, nor do I find anything which might suggest any involvement with the unions.

So, you are also, a liar.

 -- Stay Away From Our Kids Nevile. 

Bully Texas gets the Back of Core's Hand

I recently signed a petition to stop the Texas State Education Board from censoring Climate Change from school books and curriculums. (Yes, Koch is involved, yawda yawda... not the point). The group pushing this effort against the board sent me back a thank you note and a letter of 'reasoning' which I thought was slightly odd, since I already signed the petition. Guessing that I might be missing something, I sipped a bit of coffee, wiped my eyes and took another shot at the email.

The reasoning is ... after reading the message... sent to me because they aren't getting much attention and they want me to post to Facebook with their message that they have designed to encourage the highest rate of success. So, now I have to read the message carefully because my Friends list is filled with writers, artists, business specialist, doctors,and many other intelligent people, and I don't want to look stupid, just to get this group a few more names on the petition.

Their letter isn't bad, and the fangs are interesting:
Texas Board of Education member David Bradley is trying to stop students from learning the facts about climate change. Bradley is pressuring fellow Board members to approve new social studies textbooks for K-12 students that deny the scientific consensus on climate change. 
Since Texas is the nation’s second largest buyer of textbooks, books produced for the state are often sold around the country. Therefore, if the Texas Board of Education approves scientifically inaccurate textbooks, students nationwide will be negatively impacted. 
Bradley said recently, "Whether global warming is a myth or whether it's actually happening, that's very much up for debate. Don't listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.” 
The number one School Text book buyer in the nation is California.

Historically publishers bow to the whims of Texas and California both. The amount of money involved with the state wide purchase of these books is staggering. The publishers charge a fortune for these text books as well. Corporate battles for territory and contracts are fairly famous in the book world. In fact, you will rarely see a demonstration of political war, abominable greed and vicious competition greater than demonstrated by these publishers during the book buying season.

It is true though, that the other states tend to wait to see what Texas and California are going to purchase. Then they add their orders in with one of them, to lower their own costs. So, this part of the claim above has some validity.

Back in 2010 Texas went radical right and took their school system with them. The alterations to the school curriculum standards are staggeringly agenda driven and boarders on indoctrination at a level that is embarrassing to see in the United States. Without a single shred of apology the TEKS standard melds the Bible and Christian Dogma into History, Social Studies and US Government, trampling the First Amendment rights of any non-Christian student and dashing the Texas Constitution against the wall like it was the paper at the bottom of a bird cage.

Their view of history dismisses all historic evidence, laughs at the letters, and journals of the founding fathers, denies any contradiction and boldly states that the Founding Fathers were Christian (everyone of them, and they have the fake quotes to prove it from their heinously concocted history books they had written by real live pseudo-historians) and that Moses, after receiving the Ten Commandments from God, brought to the world the first written form of conduct, and that this was the basis for the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights.

There is so much wrong with that notion I have no clue where to start. I mean, to describe the Constitution as a document which imposes a guide of conduct for the citizens of this country is ludicrous. It is exactly the opposite, in fact, as it mostly focuses on the many ways in which government may not impede on the nations conduct. Free right of assembly, protest, pursuit of happiness, engagement in business, free to speak, free to engage in criticism, absolute freedom from dogmatic, religious or philosophical decrees which do not suit us. And not a single sentence which begins Thou Shalt Not... and curiously no mention of God, Jesus or the bible throughout the whole things.

"Well, what they meant was..." these Mad Hats tell me, to which I say, "No, what they meant was No Part of the Constitution was Based on the Christian Religion!"

And they were wise beyond imagination for keeping the Christian religion out of that document and out of our Government. Christianity is a great servant, but a terrifying master. I defy the recall of a single government whose doctrine was defined by Christianity (any religion really, but we'll stick with this one) which did not, in short order, become twisted, oppressive, and then warish against the rest of the world, destroying not only those they warred against, but their own  citizens.  Nope, don't bring up the city-state of Rome. They are only well behaved because we'll kick their ass, and the first chance they got in centuries for getting in on world domination, they took without hesitation -- when they blessed and partnered up with Hitler during World War II.
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No, that experiment is well known, and deeply explored, and found to be the doorway to all things dark and terrible.

And so, thus, we have the State of Texas. And this state Education Board ready to disregard the huge mound of evidence gathered from all over the world, plus the physical evidence and the experience and expertise of every credible group of scientists (which is true by the way. Prior to the adoption of their new statement in 2007, the AAPG was the only major scientific organization that rejected the finding of significant human influence on recent climate. Their new statement recanted that claim and brought in further evidence which changed their minds.) Climate Change is real and we, the human race, are definitely causation for its rapid alteration. Hell, two more years and we won't have a North Pole ice cap.We barely have one now. What are these teachers in Texas going to say then?
It's God's way of telling us that Santa Claus is not the meaning of Christmas.
Setting aside for a moment that I don't believe Belief is a relevant factor in the Climate Change debate, not to teach it at all is a direct assault on those kids. It is the worst kind of censorship.

But, you might ask, wouldn't the people who write these text books, school text books, which are suppose to be factual, put that information in the text books if it was relevant to the lesson?

Answer: no. Texas is such a golden goose that the Publishers will hire a writer willing to put in the text books anything thing Texas decides they want in there. I'm not kidding. Here are reports from professors who have gone through some of the new text books to see if they are inline with the TEKS standards. It will be enough to go through the Executive summary to dash all doubt with disturbing evidence. Those kids are screwed and I'm really hoping that either petitions like this one, or maybe the Blaine Amendment inside the Texas State Constitution will make enough trouble for this Department of Education to unseat them all.

What irks me however, is exactly this problem with the publishers. They should tell Texas to go screw themselves, and they are not in the fiction business, they write, produce and sell  scholastic textbooks, and kids depend on them to get their facts straight. School books are like the highest court of authority when you are in grade school. If it says it in there, it has to be true -- even if it is not. I'm very disgusted at the ease these publishers have discarded this trust of our nations children. Which brings me to Common Core State Standards and my gratitude for their existence.

I do ask that you sign the petition, but my gut tells me that our country is stronger than this school board. That through the powers of our Constitution, and the voting/recall process, this is going to get straightened out and those responsible will be brought to task. It is a shame that this is likely only going to be able to happen, after they use the educational funds to purchase millions of dollars of useless school books. That is going to be a budget shock of dire consequence. Now, if they had enacted and ready the CCSS system, it wouldn't be so bad. How?

New York City, was one of the ground zero testing sites for CCSS. It was a huge project and I've chatted a little with Joel Klein, who was thrown into the position of heading the changes -- having no experience in this area, he was still driven and willing to do a good job, which he did. Changing over was perceived to be a huge undertaking, though the reality proved better than expected. Inside of this project, the EngageNY project was created, which designed, wrote, and published 1000s of resources and books for the whole of New York City, which created specifically to take advantage of the CCSS. What they came up with is of a quality you can't get without serious cash investment. These books and lessons rock -- at least everyone of them I've checked out has exceeded what I expected.

The books are all electronic format. So the school requires readers of some type, which can handle PDF format. Tablets are often the best choice I'm told. But supporting these books are audio lessons and video lessons as well. Like I said, it is a huge scholastic resource.

Yes, all very well and good you say, but how does that help Texas once they come back to reality and find they are broke?

Every book, video, audio, lesson and resource in the EngageNY project is published under the Creative Commons Copyright, and or the TLS/CTAC copyright. In easy-speak this means that no, you can not sell them or use them in a class which you are getting paid to teach (private school), but If you are a teacher of a public school who wants to use these materials for public students.. go for it  No fee, no charge and hey, text us or tweet us if you have questions. Hundreds of teachers in NY used these things every day. Happy to help. 

EngageNY even has Social Studies, Science and Physical Education lessons that are CCSS aligned. Every one of them developed by teams of top educators... none of which would write a single sentence for Texas TEKS. There are somethings you just don't do... which is why I'm not going to be concerned at all, in five or six years, when the School Systems are up and running with CCSS, and teachers have Internet forums, Tweeks, and groups they have created, and sharing lessons , ideas, and methods back and forth with each other -- when they suddenly realize, they don't need these publishers at all, and in fact, there is no way for these publishers to produce the quality of material that a group of teachers and developers online can produce for no cost to the school.

EngageNY is only one resource library. PBS has a huge collection of lesson and activities. In fact there was a call out the other day for anyone who might have a lesson dealing with Ebola. A bit of looking, maybe an hour, and I found one on the PBS site. After taking a bit to go through the material to see that it was par for class room standards, I shot the link over to the teacher who asked about it and close to 30 others picked up on the tweet. Can't get that from a publisher.

And when these Judas who would take their silver at the injury of our nation's kids, because of a few very silly people wave some cash, when these greedy men fall into bankruptcy, I'll probably have a beer and toast the failing of their sun.

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