Wednesday, July 23, 2014

We Will Not Conform: Portrait of a Home School Family

We will not conform.  We will not conform.  We will not conform.  No, it isn't a chant or a mantra.  It's a statement of fact.  Something that we as grass roots activists should be used to by now.  How about another group of folks who could be considered full-time protesters?  Another group of people who might be used to not conforming for even longer than the tea party groups have been around.  How about a group of dedicated home schoolers?  This is the portrait of a home school mom and dad.

The home school mom and dad are those parents who decided to throw off the yolk of traditional education and have already chosen not to conform.  They decided to keep their children at home, for whatever reason, but  no matter if you publicly educate your children or privately educate them, we all ultimately want a well educated child.

A home school family consists of parents who decided to go against the grain and took their child's education in their own hands, quite literally. I should know, I'm one of them.

I am fortunate enough to live in the great state of Texas, where home schooling is still legal.  Home schools are considered a private school, and we aren't regulated by the state or required to take standardized testing.  We are free to purchase our own curriculum or to design our own.  Then, we are free to choose our own path to graduation.  In other words, home schoolers have freedom in Texas!  Cool, right?

So, what am I getting at?  I'm saying that all of that could change.  Not through state standards, but through the introduction of Common Core.  Since its introduction into mainstream schools the move has begun to change ACT and SAT tests to meet the Common Core standards.  This means that home schools may be forced to teach according to those same standards.  Here is proof from one of my previous blog posts that this can and will happen:

The Common Core will impact home schools and private schools in at least three ways. First, designers of the expanded statewide longitudinal databases fully intend to collect data about home school and private school students. Second, college admissions standards will be affected: Common Core standards for college readiness will be used by institutions of higher learning to determine whether a student is ready to enroll in a postsecondary course.10 Third, curriculum and standardized tests are being rewritten to conform to the Common Core.   

Unless we act.  Home schoolers, like grass roots activists are usually at the ready when called to action.  I was fortunate enough to be one of five bloggers that were invited to attend the Glenn Beck event called We Will Not Conform: LIVE Making Common Core History that was held last night in theaters across America.  

We Will Not Conform was put together by the Glenn Beck team and hosted with other big names in politics and national grass roots leaders, who are no strangers to not conforming.  Names  such as Michelle Malkin, Dana Loesch, David Barton and Matt Kibbe of Freedomworks.  The event was held in an effort to taking one of many 'first steps' to raise awareness and ultimately defeat Common Core.  

So what now?  The Glenn Beck folks put together a plan for any activist to initiate and employ in their respective communities.  For the link, click hereWe need to start a discussion with your neighbors and friends and your families for that matter so we can stop the march towards common kids and Common Core.  We need to recognize the strength of our own voices and our own actions.  Listen to Matt Kibbe's words of encouragement for us all when he said, "Parents represent a voting block that is unstoppable."  To be unstoppable, though, we have to get started.  As one of the grass roots leaders said last night, "How to defeat Common Core, get the facts, get organized, show up."









Sunday, July 20, 2014

Common Core FAQ's-Your Questions Answered



The Common Core.  Now that we've established that you have heard of it before, let's go a little deeper into the topic.  We've all heard that our education system is broken, right?  Then, one would assume that Common Core would attempt to be the solution to the problem.

Since we're talking about solutions here, we would also assume that the Common Core would help improve critical thinking and problem solving skills.  Both of these are something that is so desperately needed in our world that seems to be lacking a whole lot of independent thinkers.  I'll be honest, lately we seem to be all about the collective; the greater good, if you will.  Well, surely something such as Common Core, the alleged solution wouldn't have a socialist or statist agenda.  Read on....  


I have mentioned in numerous posts before that I'm a home school mom, so it shouldn't be surprising to some of you that the article that I'm citing for this particular blog comes from the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).  They came up with their own set of FAQ's for Common Core and my intention for this blog was to do that same thing, but I thought, why reinvent the wheel?  I'm going to share it with you.

Good place to start:
What is Common Core?
The Common Core State Standards (“the Common Core”) are two sets of K–12 academic standards that outline what students are expected to learn in English language arts and mathematics each year from kindergarten through high school. The goal of this checklist is not literacy, proficiency, or increased graduation rates but to make students “college- and career-ready.”1 The Common Core was written by the National Governors Association (NGA)—an organization of governors, their head staff members, and policy makers—and the Council of Chief State School Officials (CCSSO). States receive Race to the Top (RTTT) federal funding for committing to adopt and implement the Common Core and to collect student data from preschool through the workforce.

Hmm. "..States receive Race to the Top (RTTT) federal funding for committing to adopt and implement the Common Core and to collect student data from preschool through the workforce."  Sounds like a bribe to me.

 Is the Common Core already being implemented?
The NGA released the Common Core standards on June 2, 2010. Since then, 45 states, four territories, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the Common Core State Standards. Minnesota only adopted the English language arts standards. Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia have refused to adopt the Common Core.
As the pedagogical weakness and ballooning implementation cost of the standards becomes evident, many adopting states are scrambling to delay or defund implementation.

So, then you may ask, how is it possible to have the feds involved in this?  Federal Funding for Race to the Top is handed out for states whose schools adopt Common Core Standards.  See the next question.

How is the Federal Government involved in the Common Core?
Three sets of laws prohibit the federal government from prescribing the content of state curricula and assessments, yet the United States Department of Education has propelled the Common Core more than any other organization and is funding the creation of standardized assessments.2 First, the department conditioned education grants on states’ commitment to implement the Common Core.
Second, the department offered waivers from the most burdensome portions of the No Child Left Behind Act in return for states’ promising to adopt the Common Core’s college- and career-readiness standards and corresponding assessments.
Third, the department awarded millions of dollars to consortia of states to craft the assessments based on the Common Core.

Now, the next question probably addresses the biggest concerns of most moms and dads and news outlets like Fox and talk show hosts such as Glenn Beck, who is addressing the issue with his event to be held next Tuesday, We Will Not Conform LIVE: Making Common Core History.

Does the Common Core have a philosophical bias?
Three philosophical threads weave through the Common Core—statism, moral relativism, and progressivism. The statist goals of the Common Core are implicit in the lockstep uniformity that is the central thesis of the program. Relativism’s influence on the Common Core is evident in the open-ended and research-based assessment questions and the expansive new student tracking systems, ideas which have been strongly promoted by relativist Howard Gardner. Progressive educator John Dewey argued for standardized curriculum to prevent one student from becoming superior to others and envisioned a workforce filled with people of “politically and socially correct attitudes” who would respond to orders without question.3 Workforce readiness is one of the Common Core’s main goals.

 Here is an example of the philosophical bias as seen on Fox News with Elisabeth Hasselbeck.  This is a segment describing a fifth grade English class and exhibits the statist goals of the Common Core.  Take a look.

Let's look at the next question.  It's a question that I've been concerned about given my personal choice on how to educate my children and the affect that Common Core (if any) will have on them going forward.  Sadly, it looks like there might be an impact.

Will the Common Core impact private schools and home schools?
The Common Core will impact home schools and private schools in at least three ways. First, designers of the expanded statewide longitudinal databases fully intend to collect data about home school and private school students. Second, college admissions standards will be affected: Common Core standards for college readiness will be used by institutions of higher learning to determine whether a student is ready to enroll in a postsecondary course.10 Third, curriculum and standardized tests are being rewritten to conform to the Common Core. 

Next question:

Does the Common Core lead to a national curriculum?

Implementation instructions for the states written by the authors of the Common Core suggest that a national curriculum is the goal of the standards. NGA recommends that “States and districts…share the costs of developing new curricula and instructional tools and not each develop their own at greater expense for each.”13 The groundwork for a national curriculum is also being laid by groups of states and private organizations—such as the Gates Foundation and Achieve—collaborating to develop common curricula.


Not only has the Common Core not been tested or proven to do what the government and it's creators say that Common Core will do, it's proving to be a means of data collection.  Goodness knows we need MORE data collection, amirite?  See the next question and its answer in its entirety here:

Does the Common Core include a national database?
All 50 states have had statewide longitudinal databases in place to track their students’ scores on assessments for the past decade. Yet the authors of the Common Core are clear: the success of the standards hinges on the increased collection of student data—including demographics and postsecondary education performance—from preschool through the workforce.16 

Massive new databases are already being built. In 2012, the Gates Foundation used $17 million to launch inBloom, a company that has built a $100 million database to track students from kindergarten through college.19 The databases identify students by name, address, and sometimes Social Security number. Combined with the changes to FERPA, the implementation of the Common Core is unleashing what is arguably the most comprehensive tracking of citizens that America has ever seen.

If that doesn't give you pause, then I'm not sure what will.  Sometimes identified by Social Security number???  Remember, the Social Security Card was something that the government assured us would never be used for identification purposes.  See question 8 and it's answer.  Why else would they need all of the data they are collecting?  For a national curriculum and to further their agendas and for financial gain!!


The article by HSLDA also addresses those who support Common Core and who opposes Common Core and why.

What I have found is that the Common Core is NOT about fixing our broken education system.  This is not about improving our children's critical thinking or problem solving skills.  This is just another way to control we the people, to brainwash our children into believing that socialism is the best economic system and maybe the most egregious thing is that they would have our children's information data mined and sold to the highest bidder.  Let me remind you of a quote that I think sums this issue up nicely, "Let me control the textbooks, and I will control the state."-Adolf Hitler  


 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

We Will Not Conform LIVE: Making Common Core History-A Glenn Beck Event

Heard of Common Core?  I'll bet you have.  Heard of Glenn Beck?  Two for two?  Not bad!  How about the upcoming event that's being put together by Glenn Beck about Common Core?  No?  Well, stay tuned and I'll give you all the deets! 


Next Tuesday, July 22nd in Dallas, Glenn Beck along with Freedomworks, which is a group I'm sure you've also heard of before, is teaming up to put on an event called We Will Not Conform LIVE: A Night to Make Common Core History.  To better explain what this is, I've taken the explanation directly from the event website.  This event is... "A LIVE interactive experience during which cinema audiences will actively engage with Glenn Beck and other experts as a comprehensive plan to fight back against Common Core is crafted in real time."

"Fathom Events and Glenn Beck invite you to experience a night of action against Common Core when Glenn Beck’s We Will Not Conform is broadcast LIVE to cinemas nationwide on Tuesday, July 22 with a second showing on Tuesday, July 29."

"This isn’t a typical show - it’s an interactive experience and a rare opportunity to make a real difference in America’s education system. We Will Not Conform is your chance to not only hear from experts like Michelle Malkin, David Barton, and others but to join LIVE with fellow theatergoers across the country to develop tangible strategies in the pursuit of enacting real change in our schools. By the end of the night, the brainpower, experience, and passion of cinema audiences nationwide will be captured in a unified plan of action distributed to all participants."

To get more information, I was fortunate enough to send in some questions about the event to Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of Freedomworks.  Kibbe, along with Ellen Wheeler, also from Freedomworks, will participate in the event hosted by Glenn Beck.  Freedomworks has been working on the Common Core issue for a while now, among other things, like trying to defeat and defund Obamacare, promoting conservative candidates for House and Senate races and keeping activists around the country engaged and involved.

Kelly Horsley: When did Freedomworks first start talking about Common Core:
Matt Kibbe: In the fall of 2012

Kelly Horsley: Why do you feel it is important to team with Glenn Beck to do this event?
Matt Kibbe: "It's a live interactive event linking parents, teachers, students, and more from across the country with a live event in Dallas. This will bring everyone together, on the same page, to develop a comprehensive action plan."

Kelly Horsley:  What is the most important point you hope is communicated in this event? What do you hope the audience walks away with after the event?
Matt Kibbe: "The audience will walk away from this live event with an action plan and specific steps that they can take in partnership with others around the country to stop common core."
Kelly Horsley: What can moms and dads do to make sure and keep Common Core out of their schools?
Matt Kibbe: "Stay aware! Constantly communicate with your local officials, read your childs' homework and tests, look at their textbooks. The We Will Not Conform event will provide an action plan for parents to do just this."
Kelly Horsley: How many states and or districts have adopted or implemented Common Core?
Matt Kibbe: "Officially 45 states, DC, four territories, and all Department of Defense Schools. However, we see the influence of Common Core nationwide due to changes to the SAT/ACT/AP programs."
Kelly Horsley: Common Core has been in the news a lot lately as has CSCOPE, which is here in Texas. Briefly for our readers, can you explain the difference?
Matt Kibbe: "Common Core is a national set of standards for which curriculum and testing are based. CSCOPE is a Texas specific curriculum program based on Texas standard with outside influence from common core and other programs. CSCOPE has come under scrutiny in Texas as common core has in other states. The programs are linked because of the influence of companies like Pearson."
Kelly Horsley: Tell us about the event, its release date, and where folks can go and see it and how to get tickets.
Matt Kibbe: "July 22nd, it's a live event so it's released at that point, they can go to wewillnotconform.com for more info and tickets. It will be replayed on July 29th."
You heard it here, folks.  If  you want to get Common Core out of your schools and lives, then get online and go the website listed above and secure tickets to watch this live event.  A plan of action is always a good thing.  Common Core, however, is rotten to the core.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Texas House-Representing Voters or Subsidized Developers?

Last night at The MET Youth Building, State Representative Allen Fletcher faced a crowd of over 500 concerned, and might I add, a tad angry constituency.  The source of their anger?  Two projected low-income housing units to be built in the Cypress area; one at Queenston and W. Little York called the Catalon, the other to the north of 290 near the Ravensway subdivision, named The Lodge of Huffmeister.

On hand to kick things off was James Hardin, president of The Cypress Coaltion.  He and his wife, Barbara Hardin have started this group in order to fight the possible build of these two facilities.  James had this to say about the reason they decided to start this group, "We had heard about the low income housing on Channel 13, and we recognized the need to do something about this situation.  We signed the Change.org petition and decided we needed to go one step further and chose to do a townhall.  We set up the meeting and never in our wildest dreams did we think that there would be 500 people in attendance.  We then started thinking that we should have a coalition like Cy-Fair and we are in the process of setting up The Cypress Coalition in order to be proactive instead of reactive for future developments in and around our community."  Kay Smith, president of Texas Tea Party Republican Women was also there to help introduce the concept of the housing and information on how concerned citizens can put a stop to these projects going forward.

Nathan Kelly with Blazer Development was also on hand to debunk any and all misinformation that the public may have had about said projects.  Although, by the end of the meeting, I think he had been debunked.  When you boil it down, all he had were talking points and they were delivered as such.  Representative Fletcher took his share of the 'heat' as well.  There was a line at the microphone to share and express concerns from the group.  One of the most popular questions was, "Why weren't we informed of this?"

The concerns that were brought to the floor were all pretty similar, mostly about property value and the potential for the crime rate to go up after said housing is built and filled with subsidized residents, not to mention the potential strain placed on already overcrowded schools and a short staffed police force.  Some residents wanted to know why they hadn't been informed of this.  Good question.  So, Representative Fletcher responded in his defense, that he really felt he had done due diligence on his part by having met with the developer and had checked into it and he said he saw no problem signing on to having these projects built.  Once he heard that his constituency was upset with his decision, he said he would recant his decision to support it.  There were various responses to this, but I think my favorite was a lady named Lynn, a resident of Enchanted Valley.  She had this to say directly to Representative Fletcher, and I'm paraphrasing here, "Shame on you!  Think about all the money you raised to get reelected!  You should have used that money to send out information to the residents to let them know.  Shame on me for voting for you!"  Good point.

Here's the frustrating part, besides all that has already been mentioned: the developer doesn't really care about your individual concerns and your property values.  That's why this is done on a points system run by a large state agency called TDHCA.  They approve low-income/affordable housing projects based on a complex system of points.  Sadly, in the last legislative session, the state senate decided to do away with their “voting/veto” points on such matters, leaving them no sway or say in these project developments and now the House of Representatives of the State of Texas has eight points, which is enough to kill a project, if the representative should choose to write a letter of disapproval.  There are points held by the following entities, so if you care about this, these are some of the important people to contact:

-School District
-MUD 61 JF-Hofman
281-469-9405
JFHofman@District61.org
-Fire Department
-Ems
-Law Enforcement
-Local Busiknesses
-Elected Officials
The only other quantifiable community participation is with a coalition, which, thanks to James and Barbara Hardin, Cy-Fair has now.

Call Representative Fletcher at 281-373-5454.  Call the developer Chris Richardson at 713-914-9200 or email him at Blazer1@blazerbuilding.com.  Also, a matter of public record is the owners of the property, Edgar and Janis Lester and if you feel so inclined, you may call them at 713-629-2300 or email at ED.Lester@Stewart.com.  This is far from over, so if you are concerned and want to get involved, this is your chance!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday, Political Chicken!

Hello, all you beautiful people!  Amazingly, it's been a year since the Political Chicken celebrated it's first birthday.  That's right, friends, The Political Chicken is officially two years old!  I wanted to share sort of a yearly review of the blog and some new activities and developments in the life of the Political Chicken.  I hope you're as excited as I am!

In the first birthday post, I shared some of the top performers in terms of page views and some of my favorites as well.  Those that were topping the charts are still holding steady at the top.  The two top blogs remain, Sex, Lies and Politics with 321 page views and my personal favorite with 315 page views, As Iron Sharpens Iron.

Shockingly enough, the first birthday blog, Happy Birthday, Political Chicken was not too far behind those top two with 241 page views!  I guess celebrations are contagious!  I am so happy to still be writing and involved in local politics and I thank all of you for your continued support.

I have written about a myriad of things over this past year, some political, some fun and some personal.  I also like to use this blog to hold elected officials accountable and have written several times about my own congressman, John Culberson.  My blog titled, Just the Facts, Chicken weighed in at 194 page views when I shared with readers a discrepancy in stories about the truth behind Culberson's vote to fund or not to fund Obamacare.  I had a follow up conversation with the Congressman and I wrote a follow up blog about it, too.  I never released it, but now might be just the right occasion, sort of a behind the scenes look at The Political Chicken.  Wanna read it?  Here it is, titled, Voting 'No' Is a Waste of Time

Coming in at number five with 179 page views, is one of my other favorite blogs called A Tale of Two Senators where I outline the differences between Senator John Cornyn and Senator Ted Cruz and how since Senator Cruz had been elected, Senator Cornyn's voting record had been squeaky clean.  Sweet, right?

Moving on, many of you know that I was a part of the Paul Simpson for Harris County GOP Chairman campaign and I'm happy to report that we won!  My blog post about that race and the state of the county party titled, Is the Harris County GOP Low Hanging Fruit for the Democrats? had 170 page views.

Now to a list of my personal favorites that maybe didn't hit the top of the charts; here they are in no particular order:
Obama: Just Another King Louis
The People Choose, Not the Party: Taking Back Harris County From the Slates 
Principles Before Incumbents

Some of a more personal nature are these:
I Believe...
Politics And Motherhood: Making It All Work 
More Than a Woman


Are you ready for the BIG NEWS?  Drumstick..er..I mean, drum roll, please....The Political Chicken is now writing for a statewide blog called Texas GOP Vote!  I have been writing for them for almost a year now and in the process of writing for Texas GOP Vote, one of my articles was featured at the top of Google news!  You can find me on Texas GOP Vote by clicking here.

Yep, The Political Chicken is going places and you can come too!  Stay with me, folks, because as I've said before, this is just the beginning!

 

Voting 'No' Is a Waste of Time

Hi, gang.  It's been a while since I've carried my pitchfork and torch and been screaming about an officeholder's vote, hasn't it?  Sadly, that time it's come to an end.  Only, it's not over just one vote this time; no it's more about an attitude.

I have been writing blog posts about a certain U.S. Congressman, John Culberson.  I relayed some of his votes on some Hurricane Sandy relief bills and the vote to fund Obamacare.  He and his staff had no idea I did this.  Well, then I got an invite for lunch with the congressman and other precinct chairs in his district.  I did attend, just to see what he had to say.  Nothing exciting or new, just more of the same.  With that said, I sent him an email in which I shared with him my personal displeasure over his votes and also revealed the blogs AND the link to my blog so he could see what I had written. I also asked him to call me so we could discuss.

So, next morning I get a phone call from...guess who on my cell phone?  If you guessed Chewbacca, you were wrong, sorry.  So, we had a nice little chat in which he 'enlightened' me.  Heh. When I raised questions about the Hurricane Sandy relief bills, he assured me that there was money in those bills allocated for the rebuilding of Section 8 housing in New Jersey.  Great, more entitlement spending.  He also said that the representative from New Jersey Rodney Felinghuysen, a man whom he trusts, assured him the money would go straight to the housing authority.  The Congressman also reminded me of how we here in Texas sometimes experience hurricanes and he hoped that the same representative from New Jersey would stand beside him and vote for relief for Texas.  Okay, I can agree with that portion of his statement.  What I can't agree with is the spending, and what it's going to be spent on.  Here is a portion of the text of that bill from FreedomWorks website.  How can you argue with this?

This amendment, sponsored by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11), would add another $33 billion to the Disaster Relief Act, bringing the total spending in the bill to over $50 billion. Although the bill is supposedly to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy, the better portion of this amendment funds unrelated programs such as community development block grants. The "emergency" spending is also not offset, meaning that it will add to the federal deficit. 

Congressman Culberson also tried to reassure me that the spending would be 'offset' in next years budget, because the budget would be cut.  Great, but if you don't cut SPENDING, then there is a problem!   Oh, and by the way, he couldn't cite any places where they had 'offset'. 

Moving along to the Continuing Resolution (C.R.) to fund Obamacare.  So, the true story is, that YES, there is Obamacare funding in the C.R.  Congressman Culberson said that funding was 'hard wired' into the bill and there was no way to separate it from the other funding that needed to be passed.  So, I asked him why Representative Louie Gohmert would have considered voting no on that same C.R.  His answer was that sometimes Louie doesn't know what Louie is doing.  He also followed that up by saying that voting 'no' is a waste of time.  Now, in all fairness, he could have meant on this particular C.R. or just in general.

If it's the latter, I'm furious.  Even if it isn't, I'm still furious.  Voting 'no' is a waste of time?  Since when?  Tell that to Senator Cruz and Senator Paul and Senator Lee.  I'm sorry, kids, but that spells defeat in my book.  That tells me you've given up.  That would be like me, as a mom, deciding that it was just too damn hard to tell my kids 'no' anymore.  Does that even make sense?  I was so astonished when I heard those words come across my phone.

So now what?  The primary is coming...you figure it out.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Texas Tea Party Republican Women Host Dinesh D'Souza May 30th, 2014

"For over two hundred years, America has been a shining city on the hill: a symbol of freedom and opportunity for the rest of the world. An inspiration for those living in abject poverty or under oppressive regimes. A refuge and a home. A grand experiment in freedom. A prosperous land of opportunity. A force for good in times of evil, and a force for order in times of chaos."

"But what if America had never been founded?"

This is the question that is pondered in Dinesh D'Souza's new book and movie, "America: Imagine the world without her".


Next Friday, thanks to Texas Tea Party Republican Women (TTPRW) along with other Republican groups, is your chance to hear from Author, Writer and Producer Dinesh D'Souza.

Kay Smith, president of Texas Tea Party Republican Women had this to say about the upcoming event: "TTPRW wants to support our Republican Candidates and work to keep Texas RED.
This is an opportunity to raise funds for their campaigns in the November election while raising awareness of the newest feature film by Dinesh D'Souza about our Country.  America, Imagine the World Without her."
The event is to be held Friday, May 30, 2014 at the Westin Oaks Galleria in the Consort Ballroom at 5011 Westheimer.  Seats and table sponsorships are still available.  Visit www.ttprw.com for more details, or to sign up online.