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Common Core Is No Path To Prosperity

By: Nancy Jester
Marietta Daily Journal (October 10, 2013)

Depending on who you ask, Common Core is described as something from voluntary national standards to a federal takeover of education. So, what is it and what’s really going on?

Common Core is an initiative of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn … reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.”

No one would argue with these groups developing a set of voluntary standards that are rigorous and helpful for students as they prepare for college or the workforce.

The NGA and CCSSO may have had the best intentions, but as the process unfolded, political motivations and agendas took over. A recessionary economy and falling property values created budget crises in school districts across the country.

In the category of “never let a crisis go to waste,” those with agendas saw an opportunity to leverage school districts’ need for money with their vision for education.

Into this situation, President Obama’s Race to the Top grants offered a much needed infusion of federal money conditioned on adopting Common Core. At that point, Common Core ceased being voluntary and was no longer an effort to define rigorous standards with broad acceptance.

Once linked to grant money, the power over education standards shifted from states and districts to the federal level. Even though the NGA and CCSSO were responsible for the initiation of common standards, the use of federal grant money changed the nature of this effort.

Those who favor Common Core in Georgia still see it through the original lens of good intentions and dismiss or ignore the political appropriation of their efforts. Their reticence to acknowledge the usurpation of Common Core by the federal government is understandable given that most of the advocates invested their time and reputation into the initiative.

With states adopting Common Core under the lure of federal money, groups with political agendas regarding K-12 curriculum can target and obtain influence or control over the standards.

For example, Common Core displaces some traditional literature with informational texts to prepare students for workplace and technical writing.

That sounds innocuous enough, but what informational texts will they read? Perhaps they will be given EPA regulations on carbon emissions, DOJ writings on hate crimes or Department of Labor surveys on workplace diversity.

The politicization of learning is embedded in this standard. Centralized control also curtails innovation. It’s like going back to Ma Bell and doing away with the communications revolution brought to us by a competitive marketplace.

With Common Core in Georgia, we’re told that the standards are closely aligned with Georgia’s existing standards, as if that should make us all feel better.

In the early 2000s, the Georgia Department of Education adopted a social studies curriculum that is almost completely devoid of education on The Bill of Rights in elementary school. Yet, in third grade, we teach our children about the nine important people who “expanded rights.” Those nine people are: Paul Revere, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Mary McLeod Bethune, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Thurgood Marshall, Lyndon B. Johnson, and César Chávez.

The same Georgia Department of Education asks us to trust them on adopting Common Core standards. The Georgia DOE that has been at the helm as we performed so poorly as a state on most education metrics. When some of our elected officials say they are being informed about Common Core by the experts from our DOE, I’m concerned about the advice they are receiving.

Our state spends in the top 10 nationally on education, yet, most of our education metrics hover in the bottom five. We have to admit that we need a change in leadership on educational issues in Georgia. Rigorous standards need to be adopted, but they must be part of a process that continues to innovate and is not beholden to a central authority. Georgia has a long road ahead but Common Core is not a path to prosperity.

Optimal School District Size

We had some fascinating education headlines last week.  Perhaps none more interesting than the report of comments made by Mark Elgart, CEO of AdvancED, the accreditation conglomerate that owns many regional accreditors including the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Here’s some background – Georgia is constitutionally limited in the number of school districts to 159 county districts and 21 city district.  Last year, Rep. Tom Taylor filed HR 486; a bill calling for a statewide vote to amend the constitution to allow new school districts to form under certain conditions.  A feasibility study was commissioned for the City of Dunwoody to determine if an independent school district was viable from a revenue standpoint.  The study’s results indicate that a city school district would be financially feasible and, at current millage rates, would produce a healthy surplus.

Speaking before the Buckhead Business Association days after the feasibility study was made public, Dr. Elgart stated the current 180 school districts in Georgia are “far too many.” According to The Reporter Newspaper, he went on to state, “Georgia does not need to expand the number of school systems it has in the state, … It needs to contract it so it can use its resources differently than it currently does.”

I’m puzzled why the head of an international accrediting agency would comment on a state political subdivision matter.  The organization of school districts is a self-determination made by the good citizens of our state.  Notwithstanding that fact, the suggestion that Georgia has “far too many” school districts is not supported by the research on the topic of optimal school district size.

Here are just a few quotes from scholarly articles on the subject of school district size that support the need for Georgia to break-up its large districts.

  • In a study to examine if consolidating smaller school districts in Michigan would save taxpayers money, Andrew Coulson estimated the most cost-effective school district size in Michigan and the cost savings that would result from merging small districts and breaking up excessively large districts. From his analysis, Coulson found that the most cost-effective district size for schools in Michigan was 2,900 students. Districts that were either larger or smaller in size would generate higher per-pupil costs (Coulson, 2007). Consolidating smaller school districts to achieve this optimal size was estimated to result in a cost savings for the state of Michigan and local governments of approximately $31 million annually. In comparison, breaking up large school districts would produce an annual savings of $363 million. The savings from breaking up large districts is estimated to be 12 times greater than the savings that would be generated from merging small districts.

Center for Evaluation and Education Policy
Education Policy Brief
VOLUME 8, NUMBER 3, SUMMER 2010
Revisiting School District Consolidation Issues
Terry E. Spradlin, Fatima R. Carson, Sara E. Hess, and Jonathan A. Plucker

  • Small size is good for the performance of impoverished schools, but it now seems as well that small district size is also good for the performance of such schools

The Influence of Scale on School Performance: A Multi-Level Extension of the Matthew Principle
Robert Bickel, Marshall University; Craig Howley, Ohio University and AEL, Inc.

  • A study of Pennsylvania districts found that the lowest costs per student were in districts enrolling between 2,500 and 2,999 students (Standard & Poor’s School Evaluation Services, 2007).
  • A North Carolina report compared the district sizes of the five states with the best and worst SAT and ACT scores, high school graduation rates, dropout rates and retention rates. The study found that the states performing at higher levels on these performance indicators had smaller average district sizes (Sher & Schaller, 1986).
  • A Nebraska study demonstrated that smaller school systems academically outperformed larger ones within the state (Johnson, 2004). Researchers in Maine found that their 15 smallest districts produced higher graduation and post secondary enrollment rates than their 15 largest districts (Bowen, as cited in Driscoll, 2008). In Massachusetts, a task force found that smaller districts had lower average dropout rates, higher attendance rates, greater extra-curricular participation, and were more likely to meet Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) targets than the state average (Driscoll, 2008). A study of small rural districts in New York found that students in these small districts tended to learn the basics at average or above average levels, when compared to students in other districts (Monk & Haller, 1986). In a series of five studies, researchers found that smaller districts and schools had greater achievement equity than larger districts and schools (Howley, 1996; Bickel & Howley, 2000).

An Exploration of District Consolidation:
By:Kathryn Rooney and John Augenblick
Augenblick, Palaich and Associates, Inc.
May, 2009

The abundance of research indicates that the optimal district size is certainly much smaller than DeKalb’s current enrollment.  That research shows us that per-pupil costs are minimized in much smaller districts; completely negating the argument of economies of scale with large districts.  Furthermore, academic achievement measurements are better in smaller districts, particularly for the economically disadvantaged.  In the face of this type of evidence it is difficult to understand any defense of the status quo or advocacy for even larger districts.  The evidence is clear and compelling that our students and taxpayers would benefit from breaking up large districts.

Follow The Money

Follow the money.  That phrase was popularized during the Watergate tumult.  It is also a wise directive for all taxpayers in our state and beyond when it comes to how we spend your tax dollars on education.

So, what happens when you can’t “follow the money” because the government and the Iron Triangle Education Bureaucracy puts obstacles in your way?  The Cato Institute has released a study about the transparency in spending by departments of education.  It turns out Georgia earned an “F”.  Click here  to see their study. About Georgia, Cato points out, “Georgia is missing the most recent year of expenditures and fails to provide a table or graph that would allow citizens to easily compare changes in spending over time.”  In fact, Georgia is missing the most recent 2 years.  The financial data that is provided through the state DOE website is the 2010-2011 school year – a full 2 years behind our current fiscal year. (School districts have fiscal years that run from July 1 through June 30.  The fiscal year is referenced by the year in which it ends.)  So we are missing FY12 and FY13 on the fiscal reports.

Until we fix the financial issues that plague Georgia’s educational spending, we won’t fix education in our state. Unfortunately, Georgia’s Department of Education has not held districts accountable for how they spend your tax dollars.  It appears the DOE’s only retort is to ask for more of your money.  Our DOE continues to send hundreds of millions of your dollars to districts that do little to improve the educational lives of our children or even provide transparency in their expenditures.  It’s all a bit cozy.  Sadly, administrators have grown their take of your money over time and let smaller amounts accrue to the teachers in the classroom.  Dr. Scafidi’s study, The School Staffing Surge, on how administrative staffing has grown over time in excess of student growth.  In an upcoming “Coffee Talk”, we’ll cover the finances of education in Georgia and how they have hurt taxpayers, students and teachers all while benefiting the educational bureaucrats.  Follow the money, indeed.

Coffee Talk Highlights

We had a terrific Coffee Talk last week.  Thank you to all of our speakers and attendees!  We recorded the speaking segments so you can catch up if you missed the event.  Click here to view the videos and summaries.  Here’s my rundown of our speakers and topics:

Thank you to Congressman Kingston for talking with us about his work at the Federal level.  Congressman Kingston is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee.  He is Chair of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.  He works to rein in Federal spending and hold the government accountable for how they spend your tax dollars.  Rep. Kingston’s discussion at Coffee Talk showed how he uses data to inform his decisions.  I’m thankful we have Rep. Kingston serving our state in Washington.  He is also running for the U.S. Senate.  Click here to learn more about his campaign.  I am thankful that Rep. Kingston joined us for Coffee Talk and look forward to seeing him again soon.

We were also fortunate to have Sen. Fran Millar and Rep. Tom Taylor, update the group on educational issues that will be important for the next legislative session, beginning in January 2014.  Rep. Taylor discussed H.R. 486 – a resolution that proposes a constitutional amendment that would allow independent school districts to form in Georgia.  Currently, the Georgia Constitution prohibits the formation of new school districts; capping the number of districts to the 159 county districts plus the 21 city school districts that were grandfathered in with our latest Constitution, adopted in 1983.

Kelly Cadman, VP with Georgia Charter School’s Association, Michael O’Sullivan, Outreach Director for StudentsFirst Georgia and Rich Thompson of 100Dads, gave us valuable information about Charter Schools in Georgia and the roll of parents and citizens to effect needed changes in our state’s educational structure.  Ms. Cadman updated Coffee Talk on the recent submission of the first Charter School Cluster application in our state – the Druid Hills Charter Cluster.  The application is now before the DeKalb County Board of Education.  The Board must render a decision on the application within 90 days.  Mr. Sullivan discussed the importance of parent empowerment and how you can make your voices heard at the Capitol.  Rich Thompson told Coffee Talk we must improve rigor for all of Georgia’s children.  He reminded us that we should be talking about “raising the bar” for all of our students rather than “closing the gap”.

Tying all of the subject matters together, Melvin Everson spoke to Coffee Talk about the connection between education and economic development.  As a former Exec. Director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development and the current Exec. Director of Georgia’s Commission on Equal Opportunity, he has seen first-hand when education works to unite students with a meaningful career and when our system fails to train workers for high-paying jobs that go unfilled across our state.

Stay tuned for upcoming Coffee Talks!  If you would like me to come speak to your group, please email or call me.

For your calendars…

Dunwoody Chamblee Parent Council (DCPC)
September 11, 2013 at Dunwoody High School
(Note the September meeting date has been changed.)
October 2, 2013 at Huntley Hills Elementary
November 6, 2013 at Dunwoody Elementary
December 4, 2013 at Kittredge Magnet School
February 5, 2014 at location to be determined
March 5, 2014 at location to be determined
April 2, 2014 at location to be determined
May 7, 2014 at Chamblee High School

RunDunwoodyOctober 20th!

Click her to register for this 5K race!  It’s a qualifier for the Peachtree Road Race.  You can also sign-up to be part of a team challenge.  The proceeds from the race go to support Rotarian efforts in local schools and law enforcement and to the world health efforts supported by Rotary.  Click here to read about the specific groups and areas that benefit from this event.

–Nancy

Coffee Talk with Nancy and Friends!

Thursday, August 22nd @9am

Cafe Intermezzo – Dunwoody

 Please join us to hear updates on education in Georgia, including:

  • Charter Schools
  • Parent Empowerment
  • School Choice
  • College, careers and the workplace
  • Legislative update

 

Sponsored by:

Do City School Districts Perform Better?

The cityhood movement is in full swing in DeKalb.  There’s plenty of news, discussion, controversy and conflict surrounding the topic.  I live in an already incorporated area.  I understand the motivation to form new cities.  But this post is not about the pros and cons of cityhood.  This post is about city school districts in Georgia.  Our last constitution, ratified in 1983 is Georgia’s 10th constitution and our nation’s youngest.  Article VIII of that constitution sets out the parameters for public education and its governance.  Section V, paragraph I of Article VIII, allows all existing school districts (county and city) to remain but prohibits any new independent (city) school systems from forming.  Georgia was left with 21 city districts, 159 county districts and no new districts allowed to form.

The motivation behind the prohibition on new districts was mostly economic in nature.  The result consolidated bureaucratic power and effectively eliminated competition in education for the next 30 years.  But was this prohibition a wise choice?  If we measure the implications in student achievement, the answer is no.

2013 CRCT Scores Analysis (Google Docs)

I have compiled and reviewed the 2013 CRCT scores.  As with my analysis of the 2011 CRCT scores, my first comparison was to review DeKalb’s status relative to the other metro districts.  Out of the eight metro districts (APS, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Decatur City, and Marietta City), DeKalb has the last or next to last achievement scores in 28 out of 30 categories.  The thirty categories are a matrix of six grades that are tested (3rd through 8th) in five subject areas (reading, English language arts, Math, science and social studies).  There has been growth in DeKalb’s scores but relative to the metro area, DeKalb remains in poor position.

As I noted above, cityhood movements are a current topic as are recent discussions and legislation to allow for the formation of new city/independent school districts.  Additionally, thanks to the wisdom of Georgia’s voters, some clusters of schools within districts are pursuing “Charter Cluster” status that empowers them with autonomy.  This would essentially allow the “cluster” of schools (consisting of a high school and its feeder schools) to act independently (pursuant to its charter) of a district in all areas except setting the millage rate.

With the recent interest in forming new school districts and independent charter clusters, I decided to examine the results of the 21 city school districts in Georgia and compare their results with the state averages, the averages of the 8 metro districts and DeKalb’s averages(1).  In every category, the city districts’ averages outperformed the state averages, the metro averages and DeKalb’s averages.  What was shocking was how much better the city districts performed relative to DeKalb.  The city districts’ averages outperformed DeKalb by a minimum of 5.2% to a maximum of 18.81%.  I note that among the city districts, 12 of the 21 have a higher percentage of “economically disadvantaged” students (those students receiving free or reduced lunch) than the state as a whole; 7 have percentages at or above the level of DeKalb.  Ten of the twenty-one city districts are majority-minority districts with as much as one-third of their students listed as having Limited English Proficiency (LEP).  The city districts reflect the diversity and challenges in educating Georgia’s children every bit as much as our larger metro districts.  I also noted that our black students seem to have better achievement numbers if they are in smaller districts.  I am researching this more and will post my results at a later date.  Some of the larger metro districts are going through demographic and political transformations.  Allowing independent districts to form could stave off the degradation of achievement across the economic and demographic spectrum and let all of our children flourish.

No longer are we in the era where we are simply trying to create economies of scale by consolidation in an effort to contain costs.  Georgia spends in the top ten on education in the nation but achievement metrics remain in the bottom ten; often the bottom three.  Georgia’s education struggles hurt our children and our economic viability.  One of the variables that hinders Georgia’s educational outcomes may be the prohibition on forming new independent districts.  The recent charter school amendment passed, in part, because many of our school district frameworks have outlived their usefulness.  Under our current framework, citizens of some large districts are alienated from the expensive system they maintain.  At every turn there’s an excuse, a bureaucrat and a policy that prevent districts from being nimble, responsive and innovative.  Consolidation and the prohibition on new districts have been quite lucrative for Georgia’s educational bureaucrats and consultants.  A 2013 study by Georgia College’s Ben Scafidi, Ph.D., showed how the growth in administrators has far outpaced the growth of students.  In Georgia, from 1992-2009, we saw a 41% increase in students but a 74% increase in administrators.

The better average performance of city districts relative to DeKalb, the metro area and the state as a whole, is important and striking.  If our state is to improve the educational lives of our children and have a robust economy, we must allow independent/city school districts to form.  To continue the arbitrary freeze on new districts is a disservice to our children, particularly our most vulnerable children, and impairs our economic viability.

(1)    In formulating the city averages I removed APS from the 21 districts due to (a) their large size relative to the majority of city schools districts, (b) their unusually large per pupil expenditures and (c) their recent history of testing irregularities.  This exclusion of APS generally only changes the µ less than one point.

The Bill of Rights

Like most of you, I have been reading about the recent discussions, criticisms and school board squabbles (see Cobb County) about “Common Core”.  This is not a blog about Common Core.  I’ve got many a bone to pick with it, as I often do with most of the ideas-du-jour of the educational industrial complex.  The usual outcome from their ideas, no matter how noble or misguided the intention, usually end with money being stuffed into the pockets of the textbook publishers, testing companies and the various parasitic classes.  So, let’s set that aside as a topic for another day.  This blog is about the Bill of Rights.

I want to draw your attention to what happened many years ago when our state’s educational apparatchiks developed the “Georgia Performance Standards” (GPS).  Within our own state, the educrats decided on a terribly flawed roadmap to guide the teaching of social studies (why can’t we call it history and embrace that term?)  to our elementary school children.  As the Mom of three children in elementary school I experience the flaws of the “social studies” GPS first hand.  What are my biggest beefs?  The Bill of Rights and biographies.

I invite you to review the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) for social studies in elementary school.  Look for the references to The Bill of Rights.  You will find that The Bill of Rights is first mentioned in 4th grade and then again in 5th grade.  Yet, in second grade the educational establishment in Georgia believes we should first use the term “rights” in the discussion of “civil rights” under the unit labeled “SS2H1” and in reference to Jackie Robinson and MLK.  These two gentlemen are important to the discussion of The Bill of Rights and how our rights should be applied.  But, should not we first set the stage and put forth The Bill of Rights and define what these rights are before we discuss to whom they should apply?  As a woman and mother of a daughter, it is interesting that the very first discussion of “rights” (in 2nd grade) has no connection made with rights for women?  Again, I think that could be avoided if we simply explained the rights as defined by our wise Founding Fathers, without making it a polarizing issue.

Georgians should closely examine what “social studies” teaches in third grade.  This is a year before our children are exposed to “The Bill of Rights”.  In 3rd grade our 7 and 8 year olds are taught about “rights” via the “9 important people”.  These 9 are:  Paul Revere (independence), Frederick Douglass (civil rights), Susan B. Anthony (women’s rights), Mary McLeod Bethune (education), Franklin D. Roosevelt (New Deal and World War II), Eleanor Roosevelt (United Nations and human rights), Thurgood Marshall (civil rights), Lyndon B. Johnson (Great Society and voting rights), and César Chávez (workers’ rights).  Let me give you clarity – before The Bill of Rights is taught to your children, our public schools first teach “rights” through the biographies of these “9 important people”.  In 4th grade our children will examine The Bill of Rights after they examine the “cooperation and conflict” of European settlers and Native Americans.    Then they learn about King George III, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Benedict Arnold, Patrick Henry, and John Adams.  Fifth graders examine the Civil War and then study “modern history”.

Why are our children not taught of the signers of the Declaration of Independence?  Why are they not taught about the signers of the Constitution?  Should there not be a mention of The Federalist Papers?  The role of economic freedom is not fully expanded in the curriculum while icons of liberal social philosophy are given special attention.  The K-5 curriculum of Georgia certainly does not instill the values of liberty and self-reliance.  It perpetuates a social agenda of guilt, judgment and entitlement based on an ambiguous and incorrect assessment of history.

The birth of our nation, the brave and wise men who breathed life into it with their words, our founding documents – these topics should be taught and refined throughout our children’s elementary school years.  We should be passing along the wisdom of our civilization to the children who are to inherit it.  It is a travesty that we are wasting these precious years to advance political agendas and cultural sensitivities.  As a woman I have no need to inject more female perspectives and biographies into the study of history from the 1700s forward.  My daughter’s self-esteem and growth potential is not predicated on being provided 18th century female role models.  My daughter and my sons deserve a full and rich understanding of the greatness of the Founding Fathers.  Their wisdom is a gift to all no matter one’s color, ethnicity, gender or religious preference.   In fact their gift was and remains the basis upon which all have attained freedom and dignity.  Their wisdom, as codified in our founding documents, is more profoundly relevant to those who have struggled to obtain their freedom through the use of their noble design than to the men who created and lived under their protection in our nations earliest days.  It is deeply disturbing that we are disenfranchising our citizens from understanding the power of their birthright.

Relinquish

We’re all familiar with the old adage about doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.  So why are we hiring District School Superintendents the same way and “governing” large school districts the same way?

Yes, we’ve seen Superintendents being hired from outside of the educational establishment, but it has become commonplace and is no longer an innovation. Most significantly, Superintendents with non-traditional backgrounds perform similarly to Superintendents that come from within the educational establishment.

Could it be that the structure of what is managed and governed by Superintendents and Boards is the heart of the problem?

Neerav Kingsland, chief strategy officer for New Schools for New Orleans, recently published a letter on this very issue in EdWeek. Mr. Kingsland argues that we need superintendents who are the “Great Relinquishers.” Under “No Child Left Behind” and other accountability measures, the knee-jerk reaction of administrators has been to strengthen their grip on districts and schools.  It’s an understandable response to the demands of accountability, but it’s the opposite of what will produce results for children and taxpayers.  Tight administrative grip stifles and chokes out real progress and innovation.  When central authority imposes what it determines to be a successful strategy on all schools, uniformity and regimented reporting become the management tools.

While this approach seems rational from the outside, it lacks the agility to address the unique issues that occur within each school and classroom.  It entangles the school level and classroom level professionals and is an obstacle to doing what works best for their communities.

Modern district administration has clung to almost every management fad business schools have spewed over the last decade.  The truth is these management techniques, so carefully codified in management literature, are often themselves unreproducible and yield poor results for businesses who implement them. Click here for a brief review of failed business fads, some of which we still see being tried in school districts today.  If these management fads weren’t successful at producing results for businesses why do Superintendents and their training courses rely so heavily on them?

What we do know from the time of Adam Smith until today, is that the invisible hand works.  No Superintendent or central office bureaucrat can engineer an outcome as optimal as allowing the producers and consumers in the marketplace of education to simply operate as they see fit.  If command and control systems worked to produce the best possible outcomes for society, we would all be speaking Russian today!  Sadly, the educational establishment is trying to make us all speak edu-babble and the business jargon du jour.  When will they learn?

Mr. Kingsland is spot on.  We need The Great Relinquishers.  We need more independent charter schools.  The last 100 years has been the era of The Great Consolidators.  We have gone from more than 100,000 school districts nationwide to less than 15,000 today.  An ever growing percentage of school funding is paid to administrators.  The reformation of education in our state and nation will occur when we move in the opposite direction.

We must free schools and communities from the iron grip of bureaucracies.  No matter how well intentioned, a centrally directed policy, method or program, will fail to maximize educational outcomes for our children.  We need to look for Relinquishers to lead school districts now.  They need to be aggressive in seeking to divest districts of their centrally coordinated practices.  I look forward to the day when philanthropic money rewards the Relinquisher and foundations incentivize leaders to see themselves as the purveyors of educational freedom.

Teaching the Constitution and Bill of Rights

It is ironic that our nation, founded on a Constitution and given life by the Sons of Liberty – organizers of the tax protest known as the Boston Tea Party – finds the modern tax collector targeting groups that seek to educate people about the Constitution and Bill of Rights. It is outrageous that the IRS would target groups based on ideology but this goes so much further. It is deeply unsettling that anyone is targeted for educating Americans about their founding document and their rights.

Should not this be an important subject throughout K-12 public education? My experience as a parent of three elementary school children has proved to me their formal learning about history is deficient when it comes to understanding the Constitution and Bill of Rights. This is not a deficiency in the teachers. Some teachers bolster their lessons on this topic but our state leaders in education have let us down by not fully investing in teaching our children about their own history and rights. It should be noted that this deficiency exists with Georgia’s current standards for learning and the Common Core does not appear to fix this. My own opinion is that our elementary schools should have far more focus on the philosophical origins of our nation and the documents that bind us to them. By the end of 5th grade, our children should be able to enumerate their rights, with full understanding as to their meaning. If our children are not fully educated about the origins of our Republic, we should all worry about the continuity of their rights and freedom in the future. I want our children to inherit a world where they are secure in their rights and freedom. This latest scandal gives me pause to wonder if those in government bureaucracies are now either uneducated about our history or truly believe that our rights and freedoms are an existential threat to them, or some of both. Whatever the case may be, it is Leviathan Government, which is antithetical to government of the people, by the people, for the people.

http://www.politico.com/story/2013/05/irs-investigation-groups-targets-91243.html?hp=l1_b1