Sandy Welch Understands Economic Literacy

Has there ever been a politician who didn’t tout the importance of a good education system?  I’ve never seen one.  They all agree.

Ask any citizen or businessperson what’s really important for success individually, or as a nation.  The answer will almost certainly include, “a good education.”

I find that education is like the weather – everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it.

We now have a chance to do something about education.  We can elect Sandy Welch as Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction.

A former math teacher and a successful school administrator, Welch certainly has the academic chops to qualify her for the position.  More important to me is her understanding of economics.

Schools today fail to equip our students with economic literacy.   We continue to turn out graduates who do not understand the basic facts of economic life, and they are walking targets to any financial or political shyster.  No subject is more critical.  Every American sets out each day to improve his or her family’s standard of living.

Sandy Welch gets it.  Early in her career, she worked for an accounting firm.  She wrote a book about financial fundamentals for teens.   She supports a curriculum that emphasizes a firm, internal understanding of basic economics that will accelerate every student’s success in life.

Welch has a clear understanding of the State Superintendent’s role on the State Land Board.  Unlike the incumbent, Denise Juneau, who lines up with environmentalists in opposition to coal extraction in Montana, Sandy Welch appreciates the importance of resource development to our school funding, and to the state’s economy and jobs.

We don’t do anything about the weather because we can’t change it.   But we can no longer consider education a spectator sport.  It’s time to do something.  We can get involved directly with our student’s coursework and classrooms.  We can participate in school board meetings and provide input to administrators.  We can view our schools as more than athletic venues.

And we can elect Sandy Welch as our next Montana Superintendent of Schools.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

The dancing is kinda weird, but you gotta
love the sound of those great Fender amps –
It’s only two minutes . . . watch this
oldie but goodie by Herman’s Hermits

Don’t know much about geography
Don’t know much trigonometry
Don’t know much about algebra
Don’t know what a slide rule is for
But I do know that one and one is two
And if this one could be with you
What a wonderful world this would be

Did Your School Tell You About Common Core Standards?

Common Core State Standards – the biggest change in K-12 education in generations.  It’s coming soon to a school near you (or may be there already).  Have you heard about it?  Do you have any idea what it is?  Did anybody ask you if you approve?  Do your legislators know about it?

Whenever there is a big change in government, and it is kept essentially secret from the public, I get a hinky feeling.  The adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will have a profound impact on students, teachers, schools, and parents/taxpayers.   Yet it is flying ‘under the radar’, virtually unmentioned by the schools, the media, or anyone else.

According to the Core Standards website, “The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.”  It lays out new instructional methods aimed at making educational outcomes more consistent across the nation and more competitive with other countries.

I have found fairly extensive detail on the web about the proposed changes in teaching methods.  The aim is to start students with a strong foundation of basic skills, and then build knowledge empirically, with a focus on college and career readiness and applied technology.  The approach to education will be more technical, with built-in measurement against standards.  Lofty and worthwhile goals, indeed.

While there seems to have been much work and planning done on methods and measurement, there is one huge component missing in the CCSS framework:  Content.

Under CCSS, the approach to education will evolve from the traditional “What will students learn?” to “How will students learn?”  It makes sense to teach a child how to read well before expecting him to gain knowledge from a text.

I have many questions and concerns about Common Core.  Among them: Will schools cut down on non-academic fluff and social engineering to provide the additional time required?  If the process requires building on a foundation, how can it be implemented by “starting in the middle”?  If it relies on integrating skill-building between subjects, why are only language arts and math on the front burner?  How will CCSS be funded and what will it cost?  These are just for starters.

Perhaps most importantly:  How will local school districts and parents maintain control over curricular content?

CCSS will require new texts and classroom materials.  Because the implementation schedule is so aggressive, choices will be slim.  This creates a windfall profit opportunity for the authors and publishers of the first CCSS-ready texts.  Why do I have the nagging suspicion that the ‘winners’ have already been chosen?   Why do I worry that the few scarce, expensive CCSS-ready texts will be infused with politically-motivated ideology (even more so than current texts)?  

Why is the Common Core State Standards initiative such a big secret?  I want to know a lot more about the CCSS before I will feel good about taking the plunge.

Call me jaded.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Your thinking’s so complicated
Yeah, I’m so jaded

Jaded – Aerosmith

See a related post about Common Core Standards by Barbara Rush

Juneau: Montana Kids Are Abused

Montana Children Waiting To Be Fed By Their Teachers

On behalf of the state of Montana, I apologize to America.  Our state superintendent of schools, Denise Juneau, spoke to the DNC and the entire nation yesterday, and I am embarrassed to have everyone see how low our once-great state has sunk.

Juneau revealed to the world that “Sometimes school is the only place where our kids can get a hot meal and a warm hug”.  She admitted that Montana parents do not care enough about their children to even feed them, or show affection.

She confessed that without President Obama, our kids have no chance for success.  But if Obama is re-elected, the opportunities are limitless – our children, she said, can emerge “from a home with a struggling single mom to the White House”.

Montana parents offer no future to our kids, especially single moms and our Native American families.  “Teachers are the only ones who tell kids they can go from the Indian reservation to the Ivy League,” she said.   I’m sorry you have to see how horrible our Montana parents are, based on the damning report by Denise Juneau.  So bad that teachers have to raise our kids for us, and even they can’t succeed unless Barack Obama is re-elected.

Juneau’s opponent for the office of superintendent of Montana schools, Sandy Welch, says if we can stop the Obama administration, senators Baucus and Tester, the EPA, and the radical environmental groups from blocking the development of our abundant energy resources, our economy will improve dramatically, along with family incomes, the tax base, and funds for education.

But Denise Juneau, in her speech, pointed out that it’s better to beg for scraps from a federal government sinking in debt, and rely on more hope and more change from a failed President rather than support Montana parents and local school boards and administrators, even if it holds down teacher salaries.

America, I’m sorry for what has happened to our Montana kids.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Hungry for those good things, baby
Hungry through and through
I’m hungry for that sweet life, baby
With a real fine girl like you

Hungry – Paul Revere and the Raiders

Montanans Don’t Care About Their Kids

What do you want your child to be able to do when he or she becomes an adult?

Let me guess:  How about “make a good living, have a nice home, raise a family?”  Perhaps “have a comfortable lifestyle without being burdened with debt and insecurity?”  Maybe “save some money for a comfortable retirement?”

You may have other, more fuzzy aspirations for your child, such as “happiness” or “love” or “fulfillment”.  But I’ll bet the items I mentioned above are at the top of your list.

Then why have you and I and every Montana parent not DEMANDED that our schools teach our children about money?

Except those who are on welfare, or are retired, or are so disabled that they are excluded from work, every American wakes up each morning and sets out to improve his or her family’s standard of living.  It’s the essence of life.  We have wants and needs, and we strive to fulfill them within the economic system in which we live.  One would think that our education system would be geared toward that top priority of life, and our children would leave school with a fundamental working knowledge of the role of money, finance, and economics in our free-market democratic republic.

But no.  Our state requires high school students to learn mathematics, language skills, social studies, science, health, art, world languages, and vocational/technical studies.  An extensive array of fine arts is recommended.  But my search of the Montana Office of Public Instruction website did not find the word “economics” mentioned EVEN ONCE.

The OPI website includes numerous articles trumpeting the importance of Indian studies, but none about how to make our Native American students financially successful and independent.

Can you name one human activity that does not involve money?

Can you guess how many high school athletes become professional athletes?  Basketball: .03% .   Football: .09%.   We know how much attention and money is paid to those pursuits.

But how many high school students will need to earn a paycheck or make a profit, file a tax return, handle financial transactions with confidence, understand how their government handles their money, buy insurance, manage a family budget, make intelligent borrowing, saving, and investing decisions?  100%.

(By the way, most professional athletes are bankrupt within a few years of the end of their playing careers, because they weren’t taught economics in school either.)

Some Montana schools offer consumer economics classes or a make a minimal attempt at teaching economics within other courses.  But I’ll bet the participation rate is miniscule where offered.

The biggest failure in our education system is the refusal to provide our children the financial literacy they need to thrive and survive.  As we continue to matriculate generation after generation of walking economic victims, our nation flounders in debt, our dependency on government explodes, and we elect whichever pandering politician promises to give us the most free “stuff”.

One can only conclude that Montana parents either haven’t seriously thought about the importance of economics, or they think their kids are destined to become professional athletes.  Either way, the kids are screwed.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave those kids alone

Another Brick In the Wall – Pink Floyd