Tuesday, February 23, 2010

February Board Meeting

Our February Board meeting was held on the 16th of the month at the high school, so that folks could catch part of the game that evening.  We did something new that evening:  we used what is called a "consent agenda".  This allows all routine items to be grouped together for one motion and one vote, to save time.  Any board member is able to request that a particular item be removed from the consent agenda, and thus open it for further discussion.

A little brochure was made available for the first time that night.  It included information on the guidelines for public participation, chain of command, and descriptions of executive session and the consent agenda.  On the back was listed our contact information and upcoming meeting dates.  We will continue to make this brochure available at our meetings.

The new Swanton police chief, Gary Lyons, introduced himself to the Board.  He spoke about the Swanton police department working with the school district and students. 

We passed the items included within the consent agenda:  minutes from the prior January meetings, financial reports and investments and other reports from the treasurer, along with the superintendent reports.

We next went into executive session to discuss some things with our attorney, concerning a pending court action.  After we returned, the superintendent presented some new business for our consideration.  Contracts for the elementary and middle school principals were passed, along with a contract with Quandel Group to clean up the 1904 portion of the middle school. The NWOCA contract for internet services was passed, along with the NWOESC contract for 2010-2011.  We also approved several updates to our district policy manual - which is available online through the district website.  

Kris Oberheim and Michelle Tyson gave an update to the board on the Swanton Recreation program.  Mona Dyke and Michelle Tyson each spoke during the time for board comments.

We adjourned at 10:35 p.m.  Our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, February 23rd, when we will continue our board orientation with information from the superintendent.

I had planned to mention podcasting digital recordings of our public meetings, but I didn't have the cost information yet.  That will need to wait until next month.  When I checked on it two years ago, there was a $5/month option available but no doubt that amount has increased.  If we could have our meetings available online so that those interested could listen, it would be a great option for our residents who are unable to attend in person.  I am especially interested in having the recordings stream live, so that no one would need to download anything.  We'll see what we can find!


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Blessing in Disguise

Remember the "Race to the Top" (RttT) federal grant opportunity that we just dealt with?  The one where we were not able to meet the deadline because the Swanton Education Association (SEA - aka "teachers' union") wanted us to sign an additional MOU before they would agree to sign the RttT one?  I have been doing some reading, and have discovered some things of which I was not formerly aware that are tied into this RttT grant. 

But I should have known. If not the details, at least I should have remained cognizant of this very basic fact:  Federal money has Federal strings, and Federal strings are always bad.  Always. 

And I am ashamed of myself.  When I first learned of this RttT grant, I am embarrassed to admit that I fell into that age-old trap of seeing only the $$.  I did no homework on the grant requirements themselves. That was very VERY bad of me, and I will not let it happen again.

Here is what I discovered.  Below is an article by Mr. Allen Quist.  While his is not the only article I have read on the subject, it is the most concise.  

Obama Administration To Impose Liberal UN Curriculum

by Allen Quist       http://www.edwatch.org/

July 29, 2009

On July 24, 2009, the U.S Department of Education (DOE) announced that the “centerpiece of the Obama administration’s education reform efforts” in its “$4.35 billion Race to the Top,” will include “adopting internationally benchmarked education standards.” These will be national standards, said the press release, keyed to international standards and will be incentivized to the states with federal “stimulus” dollars.

By the term “education standards” DOE means content standards; meaning curriculum-the content schools must teach. By “national education standards” DOE means that schools in all 50 states will teach the same content. This will create a de facto federal curriculum The Department of Education will financially reward those states that teach what DOE wants taught. The Department can be expected to insist that the values taught in the national curriculum conform to the very liberal ideology of the Obama administration.

According to the announcement, this federal curriculum will consist of “internationally benchmarked” standards. The only extant comprehensive “internationally benchmarked” education standards are those developed by UNESCO, the UN’s education arm. The UNESCO website clarifies that its education standards conform to the treaties and agreements of the UN. This means that its curriculum includes, for example, the requirements of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which says, “Education shall . . . further the activities of the United Nations” (Art. 26:2).

American schools used to teach the fundamental values of the United States–including the inalienable, God-given rights of life, liberty and property, as guaranteed by our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Not any more. Now our students will be indoctrinated in the UN’s definition of human rights. As clarified by the UN’s UDHR, our rights now may not “be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations” (Art 29:3). Our children will be taught that they have only those rights the UN says they have.

The UNESCO standards also include the UN’s Earth Charter which further defines internationally benchmarked standards. The Charter says these standards must entail what it calls “sustainability education” (Art 14:b). The Charter explains that “sustainability education” entails the “promotion of the equitable distribution of wealth within nations and among nations” (Art. 10:a), nuclear disarmament (Art. 16:d), gay marriage (Art. 12:a), legalized abortion (Art. 7:e), adoption of an “international legally binding instrument on environment” (The way Forward), and indoctrination in pantheism (Art. 14d and Art. 16:f).  (emphasis added)

The National Governor’s Association is enabling the Obama administration’s plans by calling for “voluntary national education standards.” Goals 2000 of 1994 was “voluntary,” too, but most legislators were unaware of the fine print in the companion bill, HR6, which required that states would lose all their federal education funding if they failed to comply. That is why all 50 states joined Goals 2000. The Obama administration has made it clear that it views “voluntary national standards” the same way.

(Editor’s note: The DOE press release fails to mention that national education standards have already been written, having been composed during the Clinton administration. For a thorough description of what these very liberal national standards say, see Fed Ed: The New Federal Curriculum And How It’s Enforced, by Allen Quist, available from EdWatch.org or Amazon.com.)

[For more on the fundamental values of the United States, see Cmods.org, Unit I, Module #3, The American Creed.]


So as you can see, the fact that we missed the deadline and therefore do NOT have a shot at that potential thousands of dollars of Federal money over four years is truly a blessing in disguise. 

And I pledge to the residents of the Swanton Local School District that I will never again be so lazy in my elected position as School Board Member.