A Wake-Up Call for Christians

Is it possible to get through to Christians who are disengaged from politics, uninformed and choose to ignore the fact our nation is racing full throttle on the highway to hell? I’m talking about good, well-meaning people, but ones who are infected with a misguided belief Christians don’t need to concern themselves over politics because “God’s in control”.

Of course, He watches over us and He’s there if we call on Him, but remember, man was created with free will, so human history is not predetermined. In the Garden of Eden, we saw how Adam and Eve’s exercise of their free will sent human history swerving down a path God never intended. Mankind’s future is still in our hands today. So God expects us to hold up our end of the bargain and use our free will wisely by taking personal responsibility, educating ourselves with the truth and making informed decisions.

I was recently surprised to discover some Christians actually believe God put Obama into office, so anyone who questions or criticizes his actions is guilty of “blatant disrespect” and the sin of “being judgmental”.

Yeah? So then, following that logic, God must have had something to do with putting into positions of authority the likes of:  Mao Tse Tung, Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler and Ivan the Terrible, along with the other evil mass-murderer dictators throughout history? No way!

Brothers and sisters in Christ, take off those rose-colored glasses, flip to Exodus 20:13 and read out loud:  “You shall not murder.” (NIV)

Just as God had nothing to do with putting wicked tyrants into power, he had no part in placing a man into public office known to be the most ardent, pro-abortion President, ever, and whose actions as an Illinois state senator enabled doctors and nurses to legally commit the heinous crime of infanticide. Surely you’ve heard of brutal, excruciatingly painful ‘late term’ or ‘partial birth’ and ‘born alive’ abortions? Maybe not.

In late term or partial birth abortions, the living baby is stabbed in the skull and his brains are siphoned out. A born alive abortion means the baby survived the attempt to kill him in the womb and would live. That is, except for being either deliberately neglected and left to die or killed in cold blood by medical personnel.

Christians, pull your heads out of the sand and open your eyes. This isn’t a “choice”, it’s the murder of innocents.

To close our eyes, especially to ugly truths, is not Godly.

There’s a difference between God’s job of judging a person’s heart and ours to judge a candidate’s political actions. We aren’t determining the person’s eternal fate, but to the contrary, only whether or not they are fit to sit in a position of power and lead our nation. Matthew 7:1-5, in context, permits judging, after we have first judged ourselves and are right with God.

Did you get that? First, we must judge ourselves and get right with God.

As Paul writes (I Corinthians 6:2-3 NIV):  “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!”

Yes! God expects us to use good judgement. In order to exercise good judgement, one must judge. Look past the window dressing, the sound bites, the slick ads… and become a truth seeker. Don’t be afraid to hold those in positions of power accountable. If we fail to do so, we will be judged accordingly.

A wise man once said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” As Christians, it is our duty and moral responsibility to wake-up, exercise our good judgement and cast an informed vote.

Big ED Lobbies to Trap Kids in Failing Schools

No child should be trapped in a failing school.

The solution is simple:   a statewide Parental Choice Voucher Program.

All parents must be able to choose their own child’s school, irrespective of their financial status or zip code and the child’s standing as a “special ed” student or not… be it public, private, charter or otherwise.  Without free market demands for honest transparency and real accountability, we will not see any significant improvement in the quality of education, student learning and out-of-control costs to fund public schools.

Expanding Parental Choice statewide and the free market are the only hope for real education reform, improving student learning and their futures.

It’s time for government to get out of the way. Free market competition is our only hope to drive real education reform.

The passage of 2011 Wisconsin Act 32 Biennial Budget created a parental choice program expansion for “eligible” school districts – which means 2nd class cities with school districts identified as being “high poverty”. A determination of high poverty is based on the number of students receiving free or reduced price lunches which reaches the 50% threshold. The final qualification is the student’s “total family income does not exceed 300 percent of the poverty level.”  According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) the household Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) from the prior calendar year federal income tax is the qualifier, which sets the maximum yearly income for a family of four at $69,801 (1).

Although not a statewide Parental Choice Voucher Program, it is a very good step in the right direction.

So what’s the problem?

Detractors claim students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) fail to perform better than those in the Milwaukee Public Schools system, when the truth is the voucher program provides better results at half the cost.

“Students attending private schools in Milwaukee with publicly funded vouchers showed stronger gains in achievement than their public school counterparts, according to the latest release from a University of Arkansas sponsored, and State of Wisconsin authorized, longitudinal study…

In simple terms, students in the MPCP outperformed their counterparts by a significant margin when it came to reading. In eighth grade, a voucher student was 17 percent more likely to out gain a regular public school student when it came to reading and literacy.

Growth was also observed in mathematics for these students over the same period. Amongst seventh graders, MPCP students were 11 percent more likely to outscore their MPS peers.”–Official State of Wisconsin Study Confirms Choice Schools’ Success by Christine D’Andrea, MacIver Institute Education Policy Analyst (2, 3) 

One private Milwaukee school demonstrating the kind of student success which has garnered national attention is HOPE Christian Schools. Self-described as a “network of Christian college-preparatory schools in Milwaukee’s central city”, they strive to provide their students with a values-based education to develop not only their knowledge, but character, as well. From it’s humble beginnings as a small K-4 school educating 49 children, it has grown and expanded to providing over 810 students with a high quality K4-12 education in 2011.

“Last year’s eighth-grade graduates grew from the 34th percentile on their sixth-grade tests to the 50th percentile on their eighth-grade tests, which means they gained roughly 3.5 years of growth in two years at HOPE.”–Accountability Reports, HOPE Christian Schools (4)

Testifying at a state Senate hearing in Madison, at the end of February, in favor of SB486 to establish a Special Needs Scholarship Program (see Big ED Lobbies Against Special Needs Kids), I was extremely impressed by all those in attendance representing St Marcus Lutheran School and Messmer Catholic Schools in Milwaukee. Along with HOPE, these are shining examples of what a statewide expansion of the type of educational opportunities a Parental Choice Voucher Program could provide for all Wisconsin children and their families.

Why then, snuff out the flicker of hope to families with children trapped in a school failing to educate?

Good question.

“Big ED”, the education-related organizations including:  Association of Wisconsin School Administrators (AWSA), Southeastern Wisconsin Schools Alliance, United Transportation Union, Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB), Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials (WASBO), Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators (WASDA), Wisconsin Council for Administrators of Special Services (WCASS), Wisconsin School Social Workers Association (WSSWA) and Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) are lobbying to prevent the school voucher genie from escaping the bottle because of their interest in maintaining their monopoly and the status quo (5). How often have we heard these powerful education-related organizations of public school employees and officials claim to put children first? It rings hollow. Follow the money.

At St Marcus, student success opened the floodgates of parents eager to enroll their children. In the span of a decade, St Marcus has increased enrollment fourfold, warranting a significant facilities expansion.

“It seems to me that the community is pretty desperate for things that work,” he said. “And when they find things that work, they tend to become supportive.”

Tyson said the longest waiting list of students trying to get into the school is in sixth and seventh grade.

“There’s no anxiety about being able to fill seats,” he said. “Anyone who’s successful is turning people away like crazy.”–St Marcus Lutheran starts $9.4 million expansion by Erin Richards, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (6) 

Clearly, the success of these Choice Schools in Milwaukee and possibility of its expansion statewide is worrisome to Big ED.

I suspect as a result of pressure from school-related special interests groups determined to prevent other Wisconsin families from having the option to escape a failing school – something they call a “loophole” – a small group of bi-partisan legislators introduced and cosponsored SB174 (7). Reportedly, this could result in an expansion of the Parental Choice Voucher Program to as many as 37 school districts, statewide. Is it co-incidental, these legislators represent many of the areas encompassed by these same school districts?

Without a doubt, the only hope for education is free-market competition.

This bill is expected to come to the Assembly floor next Tuesday (March 13th) for a final vote. Please contact legislators who signed on to support SB174, urging them to reconsider their decision and your Assembly Representative to vote “NO”. The time is now for our legislators to stand with Wisconsin families and tell Big ED our students will not be trapped in failing schools.


  1. 2012-13 Income Limits for New Students, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI)
  2. Official State of Wisconsin Study Confirms Choice Schools’ Success by Christine D’Andrea, MacIver Institute Education Policy Analyst (2/27/2012)
  3. School Choice Demonstration Project:  Milwaukee Parental Choice Program University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform
  4. Accountability Reports, HOPE Christian Schools
  5. Legislative bills and resolutions, Senate Bill 174:  “closing the parental choice program for eligible school districts to additional school districts” , Eye on Lobbying in Wisconsin website
  6. St Marcus Lutheran starts $9.4 million expansion:  Project will provide additional classrooms for growing ‘no excuses’ school by Erin Richards, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (11/1/2010)
  7. 2011 Senate Bill 174

Big ED Lobbies Against Special Needs Kids

I’m appalled by the lack of understanding of the issue exhibited in the recent Appleton Post-Crescent editorial, Bill could hurt special-needs students.  Obviously, in spite of the misleading title, the newspaper is only interested in doing the bidding of powerful, paid education and disabilities lobbyists hoping to maintain the public schools monopoly and status quo, instead of supporting a promising effort to truly reform special needs education. 

As a mother of three exceptionally challenged children and as a member of my local Board of Education, I wholeheartedly support AB110 and SB486, and the Special Needs Scholarship Program it establishes.  I commend Representative Michelle Litjens and Senator Leah Vukmir, as well as each Assembly and Senate supporter and cosponsor for recognizing the genuine need for this law.

Will Wisconsin legislators cast their vote in favor of special needs children and empower their parents... or side with powerful paid lobbyists?

About fifteen to twenty years ago, my children, who are vision impaired, with physical and mental challenges, attended public schools.  Our daughter was, in effect, warehoused, spending most days scribbling with crayons on scrap paper, usually half-filling a paper grocery bag each week… yet the school was unresponsive to our concerns.  It wasn’t unusual for her to arrive home bruised or with a bloody face or broken glasses, yet the school was unresponsive to our concerns for her safety.

Exasperated, I expressed my frustrations to my doctor and was asked what I thought the school would do if I sent my daughter to school in the condition she arrived home… the lightbulb went on! I returned home, picked up the phone and reported them to Child Protective Services. That felt so good, I followed up by filing an assault and battery report with the local police. The elementary school wasted no time in politely calling us, requesting a meeting. My husband and I arrived a few minutes early and witnessed the school attorney castigating the principal… and from then on things improved, significantly. That was, until she started middle school and it began all over, again.

Our family didn’t have an opportunity to use a Special Needs Scholarship.  But knowing I could do far better than what our children experienced in public school, I homeschooled them. They not only learned, but did so even beyond my expectations.

In public school, our youngest son was illiterate at third grade when we began homeschooling.  By fifth grade, I had brought him up to grade level. I’ll never forget how after he learned to read – and even became proficient in spelling – he confessed how he always felt “dumb” in public school.  Our daughter excelled at history and geography.  Give her the name of a city and she will tell you it’s country and continent with an amazing level of accuracy. These children can learn, if they are given the right opportunity to do so.

One of the reasons I ran for a seat on our school board was to ensure other families do not go through what we experienced.  Attending the Senate hearing last week and listening to so many parents testify about their situations, it became quite clear things haven’t changed all that much, at least for some.

There are many dedicated special ed teachers in Wisconsin and public schools which do a fine job with special needs students.  However, each child has their own, unique challenges.  Try as they may, no school can be all things to all children.  Parents love their children and know what’s best for them… they are the experts.  But when the local school district is not meeting their child’s needs, parents must have options.  The Special Needs Scholarship Program provides those options by empowering parents.

Special Needs Scholarship Program detractors cite the fact a public school losing a student would likewise lose general aid equal to the amount of the voucher.  Should schools be paid for services they do not provide?  Absolutely not.

Typically, public schools are only partially reimbursed from the state or federal governments, in our district’s case it’s about 27 cents for each dollar spent on special ed services, with local taxpayers footing the bill for the lion’s share at 73 cents. If Special Needs Scholarships become a reality and some parents choose to send their children to another school, far more dollars are freed up than what the school loses.

Parents of exceptionally challenged children pay their property taxes, yet if their local public school district is failing their child, is it right or fair they should have to pay a private school, also? Absolutely not.

When a special needs student’s education is stagnant or she is being victimized by bullies, is it right to trap the child in the ineffective, unsafe or unresponsive school for the remainder of the school year, until the parents can file an open enrollment request… for the following fall, which the local school boards can – and often do – decline? Absolutely not.

Public schools will continue receiving state aid for special needs students they educate.  If they are truly doing a good job, they have nothing to fear – and may actually stand to gain new students.  At the very least, the passage of AB110 or SB486 will force public schools to look inward and make positive changes by improving special needs students’ learning, ensuring they are not victims of bullies, being more responsive to the parents’ concerns and guaranteeing these programs operate at a higher level of fiscal responsibility.

Another benefit could result from public school districts partnering and working cooperatively in providing special education services more efficiently and with greater effectiveness.  Instead of each public school operating in a silo and reinventing the wheel for their pool of special ed students, much could be gained with a collaborative or reciprocal approach.  Cooperative efforts between public school districts could be a win-win situation for all:  the children and families served, participating public schools and taxpayers.

This is not a Democrat vs Republican issue. It is a matter of elected legislators setting aside their partisan politics and doing the right thing by listening to and representing these children and their families. After all, it is the parents who know what’s best for their own children… not powerful education-related organizations or paid lobbyists standing in opposition to this bill, desperate to prevent the school voucher genie from escaping the bottle while maintaining the status quo.

I firmly believe all parents should have the opportunity to choose their own child’s school, irrespective of their financial status or zip code, and regardless of the child’s standing as a special needs student or not… be it public, private, charter or homeschool.

Bear Grease on the Slippery Slope

Certainly, it is the duty of a school district to ensure student safety and a bully-free environment conducive to learning.  Merrill’s anti-bullying policy already includes prohibitions on cyber-bullying for both students and employees, as do most others.  Should such an incident occur, the complaint is referred to  appropriate law enforcement agencies.  Senate Bill 427, is an unnecessary and unwarranted trespass by the state into the authority of local school boards.

The requirement in SB427 of school districts to prepare annual bullying reports only adds another layer of bureaucracy while increasing the paperwork burden through the tracking and compiling of this data – along with increased costs – so becomes another unfunded mandate.

Exactly what constitutes “appropriate responses to bullying that occurs off school grounds”? Public schools have no legal authority over students off-campus, and especially not in  the privacy of a student’s home, using their own computer. Yet this bill would begin to blur that line.  Whose job is it to determine if the so-called bullying incident “infringes on the rights of the pupil”, especially when the bill’s authors seek to lower the threshold of what behavior constitutes an illegal bullying incident?

“Section 6. 947.0125 (3) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:  947.0125 (3) (a) With intent to harass, annoy, or offend another person, sends a message to the person on an electronic mail or other computerized communication system or posts a message electronically where other persons can view the message and in that sent or posted message uses any obscene, lewd, or profane language or suggests any lewd or lascivious act.”–excerpt from Wisconsin 2011 Senate Bill 427, proposed new language in bold text

Per state law, Wisconsin Statute 947.0125(3)(a) indicates it only takes an “intent to harass, annoy, or offend another person” and if “profane language” is used, the standard is met to consider such actions criminal bullying. Because current statutory language reads:  “…any obscene, lewd, or profane language or suggests any lewd or lascivious act.” instead of “…and suggests”, the inclusion of a swear word in an internet communication can become an illegal act. SB427 further compounds the senselessness of this law by elevating the act of posting such a message to the internet – without directing it any particular person – a new crime! The Class B forfeiture is punishable by a fine up to $1,000. How absurd!

If what a person says online can be controlled to the extent of declaring profane or lewd comments which annoy or offend another as illegal, why limit it to electronic or computerized means of communication? What about speech exercised during protests? Couldn’t the noise and chanting be considered annoying and some of the messages voiced, offensive?

Will SB427 mark the beginning of the end for free speech on the internet?

It’s only when we protect the free speech rights of those with whom we may disagree that we remain free. SB427 adds bear grease to an already slippery slope towards the elimination of free speech for all.

It should be pointed out SB427 wouldn’t just affect students and it really isn’t about cyber-bullying, either. Clearly, it is a back-door attempt to abridge everyone’s right to free speech on the internet. This unconstitutional bill was introduced by Wisconsin State Senators Tim Cullen, Spencer Coggs, Tim Carpenter, Jon Erpenbach, Lena Taylor, Jessica King, Dale Schultz, Fred Risser, Neal Kedzie and our own Jim Holperin. Cosponsors are  Representatives Joe Knilans, Chris Taylor, Mark Pocan, Robert Turner, Anthony Staskunas, Janis Ringhand, Amy Loudenbeck, Sandy Pasch and Sondy Pope-Roberts.

Will SB427 mark the beginning of the end for free speech on the internet? I provided testimony against SB427 at last week’s Senate hearing in Madison and   encourage readers to likewise exercise their right to free speech in contacting these Wisconsin legislators, asking them to withdraw support. Also, please contact your state Senator urging a “NO” vote on SB427 and a redraft of  Statutes 947.0125 to protect free speech.

Shoes and Golden Parachutes

Making a quick stop at the grocery store one December evening, I glanced at the community Christmas tree in the entrance dressed in handmade paper ornaments, making a mental note to come by again when I wasn’t in such a rush. But the word, “shoes” scrawled on one slip of paper as a Christmas request from an eight-year old girl, caused me to stop in my tracks. And she wasn’t the only child asking for basic necessities:  a seven-year old boy wanted “clothes”… a nine-year old girl, also hoping for “shoes”… and dozens more. Nearly every scrap of paper was the same story. It was heartbreaking and drives home the reality of poverty, which is a fact of life for so many in our community.

Contrast that with overly-generous compensation packages for administrators upon parting service and extravagant early retirement benefits for both administrators and teachers. In the case of the latter, they may retire at 55 years old after completion of at least ten years (for administrators and 15 years for teachers) employment and taxpayers fund their insurance costs over the next decade, until they qualify for Medicare, which is expected to cost $328,000 per 2012 retiree a golden parachute in a town where parents can’t afford shoes for their children. This one lavish perk drives our structural deficit and annual necessity to cut in excess of $1 million dollars from the budget.

Public schools can't afford to fund Golden Parachutes

By all means, they should be free to retire early… at 55… if they so chose, as long as they  pay for their own insurance costs like everybody else.

This isn’t an isolated problem. I have it on good authority the backloading of unbelievable golden parachutes has reached new heights in Madison area schools and is catching on like wildfire across the state. It’s a ploy often used to offset what, on the surface appears to be “lower” administrative salaries.

Such contracts are unconscionable.

A few recent examples of school administrator golden parachutes from across the state include:

It’s not just a problem in Wisconsin. Other state legislatures have actually passed laws to ban public school superintendents and administrators from being paid for work they do not perform in an effort to ensure tax dollars go into the classrooms. Before the situation becomes any worse, we need similar legislation here.

Generally, these types of payouts end up being siphoned off the districts’ general fund. The domino effect is far-reaching:  from forcing some districts into short-term borrowing in order to meet payroll and pay the light bill, to aggravating their structural deficit and pushing them closer towards the brink of insolvency.

As much as I’m a firm believer in local control, the unfortunate reality is too many school boards are simply ill-equipped to ensure their administrators’ contracts are written to protect the school district and taxpayers’ best interests. Too often, boards lacking fiscal savvy are eager and willing to sweeten the pot in excess of their districts’ ability to pay. Consequently, I believe it is necessary for the state to consider addressing the issue in the interest of fiscal responsibility, accountability, transparency to our taxpayers… and the future of public education in Wisconsin.

Most people are unaware their school administrator contracts are subject to open records requests. They are public documents. What public school administrators are being paid – salary and benefits – is the public’s business.

All school board meetings where any administrator contracts are discussed should likewise be subject to open meetings laws. Allowing these discussions to take place behind closed doors is the root of the problem. Perhaps a requirement to actually publish administrators’ contracts in local newspaper legal notices and provide PDF versions on the school districts’ websites would also serve the public’s interests. Also, a one-year limitation on administrators’ contracts, without provisions for automatic renewal or the non-renew process, would benefit school districts through the avoidance of these types of costly early buyout deals.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant… especially for golden parachutes.

The Invisible Gift

Have you noticed? There’s someone missing from church.

People with disabilities make up about one-fifth of our population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. These are our friends, neighbors and family members. They are, though, for the most part an invisible segment of our society. Some may be homebound or otherwise unable to move about in our communities, but many are mobile.

Then why are so few attending church?

As a mother of three blind and disabled children, it concerns me. Generally, many people tend to feel uncomfortable around those who are physically or mentally disabled. And, I’ve come to the conclusion church people are no different.

One Sunday, many years ago, on our way out of church service, the pastor looked at us and asked if we were visitors. We had sat in his Sunday services for the past two years, a church of less than 200 people, yet he never noticed us… a family with three blind children.

It was a rare occasion when our children were welcomed to attend Sunday school or any other function involving youth their own ages. At some churches, when I’d inquire, the reply was clearly exclusionary.

A friend, who is a mother of a boy with cerebral palsy, stopped taking her son to church after members asked “what’s wrong with your son”… in front of the boy and everyone else. The mother informed them that her son was most certainly not deaf – and left. Although terribly insensitive, they may have been well-meaning, but their thoughtless words still hurt.

Another mother enrolled her disabled daughter in a preschool of the church the family attended. Three weeks later, as the mother was helping her get ready for bed, she noticed a large red welt in the shape of a wooden spoon across the child’s buttocks. Tears welled up in the brokenhearted  little girl’s eyes when her mother asked what happened… and the child sobbed, “Jesus doesn’t love me anymore.”

The next day, the mother stormed into the church to confront the teacher and pastor. At first, they lied, denying anything had happened, which rightly angered the mother. Eventually, the truth was admitted… along with a callous parting comment from the teacher of “she’s retarded” – as though that somehow justified her brutal actions.

Words that burned a hole in the mother’s tender heart.

Over the years, we’ve lived in many parts of the country, attending many churches, searching for a place we would feel welcome. A place where our children and our family would be accepted.

Many years ago, after learning our youngest child was also afflicted with the same condition as the older ones, I approached a pastor looking for a Biblical answer to my pain… a passage from the Bible… some encouragement. Instead, he simply said “It’s too bad God doesn’t heal people any more”, turned and walked away.

I wasn’t asking for a miracle, just some strength and hope.

How could we attend a church where the pastor admittedly has no faith or compassion?

We couldn’t.

And we’ve been to churches at the opposite end of the spectrum. Churches where without asking, people prayed for a miraculous healing, then when nothing happened, blamed us.

God doesn’t make mistakes. In His infinite wisdom, he gives us all gifts and He places people in our lives so we might gain a greater understanding of His love. Just because someone may be mentally or physically disabled… or blind… does not mean they are somehow defective or less of a person than someone who appears “normal”. Why is it so many people are quick to judge these people and reject them? Why do some Christians believe they need to ask God to fix or heal those who may not fit their own mold of wholeness?

I believe in the healing power of prayer… I know He heals. I believe in miracles… and I’ve seen God work miracles. I also know God has a plan and events are intended to unfold on His timeline, not always ours.

Too often, we are like the petulant child who demands, pleads or begs for his cookies before dinner… and God’s role is like the parent who wisely knows it is better to wait  until after dinner for a cookie. It’s not that He doesn’t want us to have our cookie, just not right now. So can it be with our prayers asking for healing or financial blessings… or whatever it is… now, when it may not be according to God’s timing. If it doesn’t happen… now… how do we react? Do we sulk, get mad or give up? Or do we build our faith and live in submission to God’s will, trusting Him?

I found my strength and hope in a promise from God:

And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland.–Isaiah 35:5-6 (New Living Translation)

“When He comes”… what a glorious day that will be!

I will lead the blind on unfamiliar roads. I will lead them on unfamiliar paths. I will turn darkness into light in front of them. I will make rough places smooth. These are the things I will do for them, and I will never abandon them.–Isaiah 42:16 (GOD’S WORD)

Although many churches have abandoned the blind and disabled, God has not and never will. He cares deeply about those who are blind or otherwise disabled, as He does for us all. God has a plan… a magnificent plan… and these precious people are a part of it. We may not understand God’s thoughts, but we must learn to trust in His wisdom. When He gives us the gift of an exceptionally challenged person in our lives, we must learn not to judge them or reject God’s gift. After all, not one of us is “perfect”.

Wishing you a joyful Christmas and a year of gifts and many blessings

I have learned so much from my own precious children:  unconditional love; having a heart for charity towards the poverty-stricken; a sense of pure joy in life’s simple pleasures; being grateful, having a spirit of genuine forgiveness;  generosity; empathy; optimism; good humor; learning to become non-judgmental; patience; truly caring for others… and selflessness, to name just a few. Never have I heard any of them utter even one word of self-pity. They have blessed our family, encouraged me to become a better person and strengthened my faith in God greatly.

The church is missing out on a great opportunity to learn these same lessons, be blessed with these gifts and so much more, from those who, for the most part, are missing from their congregations. On the flip side of the coin, the disabled, and their families, who do not feel welcome or comfortable attending church… those who may have experienced callous rejection, may be missing out on the opportunity to learn of God’s love and the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. After all, in Mark 16:15 He commanded:  “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” (New Living Translation)

In this season of giving, it is my prayer God may open the eyes and touch the hearts of Christians and church leaders so they might not be blind to those who are invisible members of their communities.

Merry Christmas and God Bless.

Globalism is the New Patriotism

Conservatives welcome and encourage outside-of-the-box thinking resulting in creative approaches to problem solving… solutions based on sound, sensible factual evidence. Unleash Americans’ can-do spirit and get government out of the way. It’s how we solve problems. It’s about freedom and personal liberty.

Progressives, on the other hand, believe more government control is the answer to every question as they tend to base decisions on emotional rhetoric and knee-jerk reactions – which only serve to make problems worse. This is true at all levels of government – all the way down to your local town and school boards.

Money Corrupts

For too long, public education in this country has been controlled by Progressives. From the class room to the board room we have serious problems. The pat response from the Progressive education establishment is to blame everything from low student performance and test scores to budget woes on a need for more money. This is nothing more than a diversion. Throwing money at problems does not make them go away.

Drowning in Money, Thirsting for Achievement  We would be happy to wager on what is the most commonly cited “problem” with American education: insufficient funding. In their book Education Myths, Dr. Jay Greene of the University of Arkansas and his coauthors call this the “Money Myth.”

The pervasiveness of this assumption that schools are inadequately funded says more about the state of our public thought about education than anything else,” they write. “It is simultaneously the most widely held idea about education in America and the one that is most directly at odds with the available evidence.”Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress and Reform by Dr. Matthew Ladner, Andrew T. LeFevre and Dan Lips, 16th Edition, American Legislative Exchange Council (2010)

The United States already spends more on education than nearly any other country in the world. Yet, embarrassingly, our students rank mediocre in global comparisons. The 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) global rankings of 15-year old students are dismal for the United States. In mathematics, Shanghai-China, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea ranked top honors, while our students scored below average with a dismal showing at 32nd behind Luxembourg and Hungary. We fared somewhat better in science, considered to be average at 23rd, behind Hungary, Belgium and Iceland while Shanghai-China, Finland, Hong Kong and Singapore topped the category. Once again rated average, the US students tied at 15th with those in Poland and Iceland in reading, as Shanghai-China, South Korea, Finland and Hong Kong rated top of the class.

What does this say about our children’s… and our nation’s future?

And they continue to beat the drum claiming schools are underfunded? Don't fall for the "money myth".

A stunning infographic puts the issue into perspective by comparing total annual spending and student performance in the United States with eleven other countries:  Japan, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Russia, Finland, Mexico, South Korea and the United Kingdom. Without a doubt, the US spends far more per school-aged child than any other country. Yet, we are at the bottom of the heap in educating our children to become competent in both science and mathematics… why?

Clearly, more money is not the answer as it does not equate to better educated students.

Certainly, we are blessed with many high quality, dedicated teachers. I don’t believe the majority of teachers are the problem. So let’s put the blame where it belongs:  the problem with public education is wasted money and the philosophy of Progressive Education.

Globalism is the New Patriotism

We can thank Progressivism for infecting public education with political correctness, multiculturalism, globalism, environmental justice, and social justice. As these causes and the promotion of Progressive beliefs have commanded more classroom attention, students have lost precious time necessary to learn the basic skills key to becoming well educated:  how to read, perform mathematics without the aid of a calculator and develop vital language arts skills of spelling, proper grammar and cursive writing. To gain an appreciation, knowledge and sense of pride for our own history, the benefits of a science curriculum based upon facts to spark students’ intellect and an understanding of economics have been lost… at least in public schools driven by administrators or staffed with activist teachers who believe in and promote Progressive Education.

It also explains why so much effort and expense is directed at Professional Development in public schools guided by Progressives – and especially so in situations where much of the staff has achieved occupational longevity. The younger teachers were indoctrinated into the theories of  Progressive Education while at the Universities. Professional Development is about controlling teachers rather than actually improving student learning. It is the re-education camp for experienced teachers, those who actually understand how to perform their job and do it well.

“When school boards spend thousands of tax dollars to send teachers to education conferences around the country, they have a reasonable expectation that the attendees will bring back knowledge and skills that will be put to constructive use in the classroom. That is not necessarily what the boards are receiving in return when they send teachers to conferences on multiculturalism and so-called social-justice teaching. At many of these gatherings, teachers are being urged to go back home and work for an anti-free-market, redistributionist social agenda rather than teaching children the academic fundamentals.

…A network of academics and organizations including former Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers, Howard Zinn, and Milwaukee-based Rethinking Schools are leading advocates for extremist “social justice teaching” in the nation’s public schools.”–Multiculturalism and “Social Justice” in American Public Education by Robert Holland and Don Soifer, Lexington Institute (11/2008)

Experiential learning, project-based, community service or service learning projects and the collaborative approach to education are reshaping students’ views, replacing individualism, personal achievement and independence with an acceptance of mediocrity, communitarianism and equality at the cost of liberty. It’s a forward sounding agenda being sold to the uninformed as “21st-Century Skills”. Another popular theme is “student-centered” learning, which, in reality, seeks to make them equal with their teachers in directing their own education, as a not-so-subtle means to overthrow their perceived oppression of traditional education and the teacher-student relationship.

However, these ‘new’ ideas in education aren’t as they seem. Within the education industry, it’s just the window dressing. Pull back the curtain and you’ll find the specter of Critical Pedagogy, with roots deep in Marxist revolutionary theory, cultural studies, feminist studies and liberation theology. It’s goal is societal transformation and the promotion of Radical Democracy through a bedrock belief that Capitalism is exploitive, so must be replaced with Socialism.

“To challenge educands with regard to their certitudes is a duty of the progressive educator. What kind of educator would I be if I did not feel moved by a powerful impulse to seek, without lying, convincing arguments in defense of the dreams for which I struggle, in defence of the ‘why’ of the hope with which I act as an educator?

What is not permissible to be doing is to conceal truths, deny information, impose principles, eviscerate the educands of their freedom, or punish them, no matter by what method, if, for various reasons, they fail to accepts my discourse – reject my utopia.”Pedagogy of Hope by Paolo Freire (1921-1997), Brazilian Marxist, educator and influential theorist of Critical Pedagogy

The delusional basis of Critical Pedagogy is the belief the oppressed must rise up to become liberated – and it is the educator’s job to indoctrinate students. It develops within the student a belief system focused on inequality, exploitation, oppression and domination in relationship to race, ethnicity, class and gender. Students are conditioned to view their nation and culture negatively. They’re taught to hold oppositional values, attitudes and behaviors, cultivating a mindset necessary to facilitate the leftists’ desired revolution. Critical Pedagogy is about questioning and challenging authority – be it historical figures, governmental, political, corporate, societal, religious, within education… or even their own parents.

No aspect of traditional American values is off-limits.

In our universities, colleges and public schools, it is the institutionalized planting of seeds of discontent, watering with sermons admonishing deeds of injustice… until rebellion blooms. The fruit of Critical Pedagogy is on full view within the cult of the Occupy Movement.