Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Florida’s Racially Biased Goals

I thought I should weigh in on the latest education controversy before too much more time went by.  I’ve been reading material from the DOE web site where the goals first appeared – and the written explanations that popped up once the outcries began.  This took quite a lot of time which is why this blog is late.  Educators are nothing if not wordy, and only doctors and lawyers can come close to beating them at jargon.  I’m not done yet, but here’s what we know so far.  As part of their latest 6-year plan, ending in 2018, the E’s came up with the following goals for Reading and Math:  http://www.fldoe.org/board/meetings/2012_10_09/strategicv3.pdf

·        90% of Asian-American students reading at or above grade level
·       88% of White students reading at or above grade level 
·       82% of American Indian students reading at or above grade level
·       81% of Hispanic students reading at or above grade level
·       74% of Black/African-American students reading at or above grade level  
  •  92% of Asian-American students at grade level in Math
  • 86% of White students at grade level in Math
  • 81% of American Indian students at grade level in Math
  • 80% of  Hispanic students at grade level in Math
  • 74% of Black/African American students at grade level in Math  
Naturally, the public responded with dismay.  This is outright bigotry much more blatantly displayed than usual.  And, as usual, the Educators have responded with explanations that sound well-reasoned and logical.  It’s just being realistic, they say, to factor in where everyone’s starting points are in determining goals that are attainable.  They insist that since minority children begin so far behind, these goals reflect a very aggressive effort.  69% of White students currently score at grade level which would only have to improve by 19 percentage points, while only 38% of Black students currently score at grade level and would have to improve by 36 percentage points.  Plus, these are just the interim goals; 100% of everyone will be reaching grade level in everything by 2022.  Really – they have charts!  And anyway, they’re just doing what it takes to get the grant money from the Fed’s (and now we finally approach the crux of the matter).  There’s this “Federal Flexibility Waiver” with “Annual Measurable Objectives”.  This is all just the beginning of an honest and forthright discussion of what is possible.  Really!

Except there is no mention of the fact that minorities are so far behind because of the system’s own policies, teaching methods, and curricula for many generations now.  There is no acknowledging that this same spiel is used every time there is yet more “school improvement” coming down the pike.  There is the admitting that since 2001, the White/Black gap has closed a mere 5%, but there is no mention that the improvement plans of that time were heralded with just as much fanfare – and just as many optimistic charts. 

Honest?  Here’s what “honest” looks like:  The reason so many minority children struggle with learning to read is because so many of them speak a minority dialect.  I’m not talking about a regional accent; I’m talking about a mode of language that diverges strongly from Standard English.  A minority dialect is Exhibit A that there has been no education available to these speakers no matter how many years they have attended school.  This is also an indication that there has been either inadequate or no Phonics instruction in these schools, often for generations.  The stronger the dialect, the worse the schools have been for a longer time.  For Phonics to be effective, the students must learn to pronounce the sounds of Standard English.  This doesn’t mean that the kids should be humiliated or disdained – which has certainly happened in way too many classrooms (especially right after integration).  But it does mean that children will need to be corrected when they mispronounce words, and to do this has been politically incorrect since at least the 60’s-70’s.  It is now seen as disrespectful of a child’s culture to correct that child’s speech.  So the Phonics lessons, if there are any at all, are ineffective, the children do not learn to read, and education is rendered impossible.  It’s all completely unnecessary; many well-educated minority adults are able to switch from Standard English to their home dialect, or language, quite easily.  A good school should be able to teach Standard pronunciation without extinguishing either a child’s home language or self-esteem.  I just don’t believe that our current school personnel will have the guts to realize the depth of their responsibility for the racial aspect of the reading gap, nor will they come up with adequate answers to the problem.

So many of us now believe that minority parents will be horribly insulted if we correct their child’s speech that it will take parental choice to turn this around.  In order to avoid protest and backlash, the parents must be the people who decide whether or not their children will be instructed in Standard pronunciation and corrected – with kindness and good humor, please – when they need it.  Something tells me that many, many minority parents would opt for the reading instruction that has been proven to be most effective for centuries.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Old Research – I

I prefer calling education reform “parental choice” instead of “school choice” because it’s the schools that have been making all the decisions for many decades now while shunting aside the concerns of parents, often ruthlessly.  Parents receive very little respect, even while the schools insist that they welcome parental involvement.  One of the most ridiculous contradictions of OBE/ Blueprint 2000 was the Educators’ moaning and groaning over the lack of parental involvement and how dysfunctional so many of the parents were – when there we were, hundreds strong, screaming bloody murder against all these horrible “reforms” being shoved down our children’s throats.  The E’s didn’t want our involvement in the form of opinions; they wanted us involved in taking all the blame for our children’s failures. 
If there had been universal parental choice during those dark days of the 90’s when that latest onslaught of “dumbnation” started coming down, we would have been able to nip it in the bud.  When the schools didn’t respond to our concerns, we could’ve taken our kids elsewhere.  (Many of us did, but the alternatives back then were extremely expensive).  And, in fact, if earlier generations of parents hadn’t gradually lost their voices and their choices, they would have been able to prevent the wholesale decline of the American public school system by refusing to have children used as guinea pigs for decades worth of often pointless, repetitive education research.

Research such as the following on student motivation:

“Specified Comment students, regardless of teacher or student differences, all received comments designated in advance for each letter grade, as follows:
                 A. Excellent!  Keep it up.
                 B. Good work.  Keep it up.
                 C. Perhaps try to do still better?
                 D. Let’s bring this up.
                 F.  Let’s raise this grade!
Teachers were instructed to administer the comments ‘rapidly and automatically, trying not even to notice who the students are.” (Foundations of Behavioral Research, pg.46-47).  There were also “Free Comment” and “No Comment” categories included in this experiment which involved 74 different classrooms.  The above was a quote from a paper published in 1958 in the Journal of Educational Psychology.

So an A student who suddenly gets an F gets a robotic response from a teacher who is ignoring who the student is, or no comment at all, in two-thirds of the classes.  How many of these students’ parents were informed that this was going to be happening to their children?  I’m guessing none of them.

Educational researchers will often have an idea (hypothesis) of the results of various experiments to the point of knowing which methods will probably have a positive, neutral or a negative effect on achievement.  They will go ahead and implement the negatively effective method anyway.  In fact, the bigger the difference in the quality of teaching methods the better, because that way they get more significant “experimental variances” – which is how these folks get their jollies. 

“Suppose an investigator tests the relative efficacies of three different methods of teaching a physical education skill.  After teaching three groups of children, each group being taught by a different method, he compares the means of the groups. ….. (bunch of math) … In the methods experiment just described, presumably the methods tend to ‘bias’ the achievement scores one way or another.  This is, of course, the experimenter’s purpose: he wants Method A, say, to increase all the achievement scores of an experimental group.  He may believe that Method B will have no effect of achievement, and that Method C will have a depressing effect.”  (Kerlinger, FBR, 1964, pg. 98)

Mom and Dad tell the gym teacher he/she is teaching the skill incorrectly.  And nothing changes.

Quote from R. Koenker, “Arithmetic Readiness at the Kindergarten Level,” Journal of Educational Psychology, XLII (1948)
“….in an interesting little experiment on arithmetic readiness in the kindergarten child, Koenker manipulated experimental groups by giving them an enriched-numbers and arithmetic-concepts program.  He held his control groups constant or at the same level by not giving them a readiness program, by letting them have the regular kindergarten program ‘without enrichment’.  Statistically speaking, he was trying to increase the between-groups variance.  (He succeeded.)” (FBR, pg 99)

Were parents given the option of having their children participate in the arithmetic readiness program?  Since the readiness program was obviously successful, why don’t all kindergartens have it available?  Even almost ten years after the results of this experiment were published, when I was in kindergarten, we played and learned rules and how to button our coats.  My parents would’ve definitely opted for arithmetic readiness.

There’s a lot more evidence of our school system having lost its bearings because of the influence of research dollars that have been pouring into our schools for many decades now.  They don’t seem to realize that what they’ve been doing is wrong, so their work is in full view in publications and papers and books – work paid for by the American taxpayers.  It’s ours, and we need to start using it to make our own choices for our children.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Meaningless OBE Grading System

Parents should be able to choose grading systems for their children that are clear, understandable and accurately reflect their children’s achievements.

During all the protesting and petition gathering back in the 1990’s, I mentioned to one of Pasco County’s public school administrators, in a social setting, that my children had been negatively affected by the new grading system.  She nodded her head and said she could see how my daughter could be hurt by the change.  I told her it was hurting my son much more, and she seemed very surprised.  She wasn’t surprised that the new report cards were hurting students, just taken aback by which students were being harmed.  This was the first indication I had that the people in charge of my children’s education found it acceptable to cause harm to some children.  Somehow, school personnel had come to believe that some children would be helped by the harming of other children.  This must be how the Educators were able to justify implementing methods and curricula that were proven to not work, at least not work to the benefit of their students.  It didn’t matter that they themselves were the reason the kids from the poorer, and more poorly educated, families were suffering mightily.  And they had nothing but scorn for the middle-class, better educated families who led the charge against the new report cards because of the negative affect it was having on their kids.  They were, after all, calling this paradigm shift “school improvement”, not “student improvement”, and improving the schools meant bringing in more money.

This Educrat’s opinion that it would be my daughter more harmed confirmed what many parents had already begun to observe – it was especially the higher achievers who were losing motivation and the willingness to work hard to do their best.  My daughter, Faith, was a “99er”, meaning she scored in the 99th percentile on her SAT’s (this was before the FCAT), and received all A’s all the time in everything.  She didn’t receive much homework, but she had more assigned to her than her brother who was two years older.  Each of her teachers assured me at the end of every year that they were going to “take very good care” of her, which I took to mean that she would be placed with the best teacher available at the next grade level.  Faith was in 3rd grade when the new report card was adopted and received all E’s.  The 1st marking period of 4th grade, she brought home all S’s.  She wondered what she had done wrong and insisted that she had worked very hard to do her best – which her dad and I already knew.  I set up an appointment with her teacher – with Faith coming as well.

I really liked my daughter’s 4th grade teacher.  He told us that the only reason she received all S’s was because of a new rule stating that E’s could not be given in the first marking period.  There was some vague explanation that it would be “impossible” for a student to do so well after a whole summer off from school.  Talk about low expectations!  I asked did Faith “extend and apply all knowledge new and old”?  He answered “Always.”  I then turned to Faith and made sure she understood that the S’s were because of a new rule and that her teacher knew she deserved E’s on all her work.  Was that OK?  Was it enough for her to know that?  She said yes.  It was this understanding that helped her overcome the damage of the new system, but I’m not sure how much longer her strength of will would have held up – remember, she was 8 years old.

I’m very aware that there are excellent schools, especially at the college level, that have abandoned the ABC grading system for a system more reliant on portfolios of students’ work and projects and written commentary by their professors.  These assessments seem to work best for students who have tested into the schools and who have proven that they have all the foundational knowledge necessary to do well with a very rigorous curriculum.  For the most part, however, when schools do away with marking and grading using the traditional 92%-100 = A, etc., it’s because they are withholding skills and knowledge and are trying to hide the fact that more and more of their students cannot read, have no idea where to place commas, and can’t add even small numbers without using their fingers.  With the second-year change, E no longer meant “Extends and applies all knowledge…”, and with S meaning anything from A to C (and even plunging from A to C!), this was essentially a non-grade system in disguise.  This meaningless report card, in conjunction with OBE/Blueprint 2000’s disdain for direct, explicit instruction, caused a great deal of harm, indeed.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Meaningless OBE Grading System

I believe that parents should be able to choose their children’s grading system.

The grading system put into place before the full onslaught of Blueprint 2000/OBE curricula was almost immediately effective at changing many students’ attitudes toward academic achievement.  The schools removed the familiar ABCDF grades on report cards and replaced them with: E (Extends and applies any knowledge, new or old), S (Satisfactory progress), P (In the process of learning) and U (Unsatisfactory).  This was implemented in the elementary schools with plans to move it up into the higher grades - according the state level E’s own written plans - although the middle school administrators I spoke with denied it.  And, as it turned out, the parents were able to at least stop it from going any farther.  People across the state poured into the schools to protest, and when that had no effect, they started passing out petitions and showing up at school board meetings.  Articles appeared in the newspapers – the internet wasn’t very widely used back then.  The Pasco County School Board decided to take a survey of the teachers since there were protests from many of them as well.  The following is a close copy of a letter I wrote to School Board members at the time of that survey.  I have shortened it, but the description of the effect the new system had on my son and many others remains intact.  The sad thing is that grading systems similar to this one have been tried many times in the past – and always bring about the same results for many students.

“May 21, 1993

Dear School Board Members,

One of the things you may hear from the teachers as part of the survey will be that students lost their motivation or will to achieve.  This was not covered as well as I’d hoped at the school board meeting, mostly because the speakers were so focused on the effect of the E S P U grading system on a student’s chances at higher education.  The story of what happened at my house might help illustrate what ‘loss of motivation’ looks like on the home front.

When the new grading system came about, my first ‘gut’ reaction was that this was not a good idea, but I, like many other parents, gave it a year to see how it worked.  It did not take a full year to see that something was seriously wrong.  My son was in fifth grade and, as always, seemed content and genuinely interested in many of the new things he was learning.  He earned mostly S’s, with an occasional E in Art and Spelling.  I did not become alarmed until one day I tackled the chore of cleaning out his back pack, which was such a mess I knew there had to be plenty of papers I hadn’t seen yet.  I found three Science test papers that had half the answers marked as incorrect.  The number grades were in the 70’s; they were C’s.  These tests were on topics that Douglas had discussed at the dinner table with some enthusiasm, so I was quite surprised to see he had done so poorly on the tests.  I called his teacher.

This is how I found out that ‘S’ had a range of anywhere from A work to C work, and my reaction was extremely negative.  I had a wonderful talk with his teacher which gave me a much better idea of what I was going to be dealing with for the rest of the school year.  When he got home, I showed him the test papers and asked him if he was having trouble with any of the material covered on them.  He said no, he wasn’t.  Then he told me it was okay, it was still an ‘S’.  The bottom line of the rest of the conversation was that he had simply started goofing off.  He wasn’t paying as close attention during class, and never bothered reviewing the material before a test.  … I explained that his job in school was to do the best work that he could, and that I was sure he could do much better than those tests reflected.  The rest of the year, Douglas would fluctuate from good work to lackadaisical work, with us constantly propping him back up.  Finally, one day, I got fed up, and I found myself telling him that I didn’t care what his school said; our family did its best no matter what we set out to do.  That appeared to do the trick – it became a matter of family pride and accomplishment.  But I don’t think I could ever express to you how thoroughly disgusted I was that that is what I had to tell him.”

As a result of all the ruckus, each school took a vote on either going back to the old grading system or continuing with the new.  Some schools continued with the ESPU system despite how the parents felt about it, and despite what it was doing to so many students.  For the large majority of parents, this is how things still stand on all too many issues concerning education.   Let me emphasize – the grading system was not the experiment.  The effect of the new grading system was known in advance.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dropout Prevention – Part I

It was a retired teacher, and fellow activist, who first whispered to me that the schools experimented on children.  At the time this went right over my head since I associated the notion of experiments with Pavlov’s stimulus/response work where he trained dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell or counting mutations in fruit flies.  As I learned more about how the whole realm of academics was being implemented under OBE, however, I realized that experimentation could also be set up as a lack of stimulation/response situation.  Learning is brilliantly stimulating for the brain, not just because kids love to learn, but because the work of learning forms and strengthens multiple neural pathways.  I often tell my students that doing math - with paper and pencil - is like lifting weights with the brain.  In the absence of effective teaching, learning will not occur, and when this is coupled with constantly assessing these untaught skills, a large number of students will begin to turn away.  It becomes too painful to continue caring about academic achievement when that achievement is impossible.   It is simply in self-defense that many children will respond, quite predictably, by gradually dropping out of the environment causing the pain.  And boredom – progressive de-education is very, very boring.
Then we got hold of the hilariously titled Graduation Enhancement/Dropout Prevention plan books for four counties in Florida – Pasco, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Sarasota.  By “we”, I mean the education group IVBE (Independent Voices for Better Education) – IVBE.org.  At one of our first gatherings, the more experienced members of this group taught all the bewildered parents that when we wanted any kind of information from the schools, we needed: the exact wording of the title and any other print on the cover; the color of the cover; whether it was hardback or soft; the dimensions of the document or book, including length, width and height; the number of pages; how it was bound – and it might still be impossible to get what we asked for without delay or cost.  All that for information that we as parents and taxpayers had bought and paid for.   “Follow the money” has always been one of IVBE's credos whenever we had a question about the school system’s aberrant behavior, but it was still incredibly shocking to see everything down in black and white.  By page 6 of Pasco’s book (1993-1994), it was clear that all the changes going on under the guise of “school improvement” would be producing the criteria for these new programs.

There are three categories of dropout factors: school related, family factors and personal factors.
·        I was surprised that the first item under "school related" is absenteeism/truancy/frequent tardiness because this was during the time that parents were being arrested and fined, if not worse, when their kids didn’t make it to school often enough.  The E’s must feel more responsible for this behavior than they are willing to admit. 
·        With the new grading system implemented simultaneously, as well as next to no homework, parents found it very difficult to keep up with how their kids were doing, but the teachers all knew exactly what was going on in that regard.  I had one teacher tell me he kept two separate grading books, one where all the grades were “S” for Satisfactory to keep the administration happy, and another where he recorded the actual grades his students were earning on tests and class work.  It was the “S’s” that were making it home.  When I explained to a different teacher that I had seen my son’s test grades go from A’s to C’s but he still got an “S” on his report card, she told me I wasn’t supposed to see those test scores!
·        Even brilliant children can be, and were, dumbed down using the methods implemented during the days of Blueprint 2000/OBE.
·        Reading, writing, arithmetic – Whole Language; no grammar taught and no writing errors corrected; confusing, inefficient computation methods, out of sequence skills, calculators – done, done & done.
·        Verbal deficiency – this could be a couple things.  Kids with trouble pronouncing words won’t be corrected.  It’s supposed to be bad for their self-esteem - at least until they get labeled and put into a speech program (more money that way), and half the time I wonder what the heck they do in there, since there’s rarely any improvement.  This could also be a reference to the lack of explicit vocabulary instruction – the students were in fact told to skip over words they didn’t know at the exact same time they were told to try to guess at the meaning of unknown words from “context”.
·        Both the inability to tolerate structured activities and disruptive classroom behavior are actively encouraged by classrooms where the kids are actually supposed to be constantly milling around from group to group or station to station.  Staying still and focusing on an academic task takes practice, with the periods of on-task time lengthening in incremental stages.  I’m not convinced that little boys can’t learn to sit still – they did it for centuries.
·        How to limit participation in extra-curricular activities?  Make it very expensive.  Parents are told repeatedly that one way to keep their increasingly disinterested children in school is to get them involved in sports or band, etc.  The poor kids can’t afford it and are therefore more likely to drop out.

The rest of the criteria naturally follows.  In following posts, I’d like to go into more detail about how that new grading system worked to obscure what was going on achievement-wise as well as how the listed family factors figured into it.  Plus, of course, there will be the description of the wonderful Dropout Programs themselves, as outlined in the system’s very own words.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Short History

Way back in the mid-1990’s, when my kids were in elementary school, the nation’s public schools began to change - again.  Around here, the first thing to go was a meaningful grading system, and by meaningful, I mean a report card that the parents could understand.  This made it nearly impossible for parents to realize how badly their children were starting to perform on tests, quizzes and other class work.  Homework was almost non-existent, so parents didn’t have that to go by either.  Along with this change was the switch to teaching methods that were known to fail horribly at producing student achievement.  Whole Language, which was blatantly anti-phonics, came to Florida after it was proven to fail to teach reading – California’s student reading scores had already begun plunging very shortly after its implementation.  The math curriculum, known variously as “Discovery Math” or “Fuzzy Math”, earned nation-wide scorn as did the federal-level folks who wrote the new math standards described as “a mile wide and an inch deep” by upset mathematicians.  Nothing was left untouched.  Grammar instruction had vanished long before.  History and Science teaching stopped; students instead were exhorted to learn to “explore” and “access information”.  Ever more ignorant students constantly had their self-esteem boosted by teachers gushing praise – for nothing.  Parents diving more deeply into what was going on were introduced to the concepts of Values Clarification, cognitive dissonance, change agents, and the Delphi Technique.  The Educators called this new paradigm “Outcome-Based Education”, Blueprint 2000” and “Holistic”, but I thought of it as “Spooky”. 

This was the worst spasm of dumbing down I’d ever seen or read about.  Naturally, children began to lose interest in their own education and to not care about the quality of their work.  I was complaining to my son about a terrible piece of work he showed me - a shoebox diorama book report with a short paragraph filled with misspellings and other errors sloppily pasted on the back that had received not one mark, correction or comment when he said to me, “But Mom, the teacher doesn’t care; why do you?”

 Pointing out that all these progressive methods had been tried before , and failed miserably, back in the 60’s-70”, had no effect on the E’s no matter how many people tried to tell them, how many expert articles were written (by fellow Educators!), how many pages of research were shown to them.  Nothing was going to change the course already set – by whom was a matter of great conjecture.  Meanwhile, my children were not receiving an education.  I had majored in English & Secondary Education – I hit the books.   And it turns out that dumbing down, both selectively and collectively, has a much longer and more sordid history than I ever dreamed.

For decades now, one of the more worrisome issues in the education world is the drop-out rate.  There are battles going on right now about how to define it and who to count.  The states give one percentage, and the feds give a different, less flattering percentage.  Everywhere, there is intense hand-wringing over what causes so many young people to lose interest in their futures to such an extent that they’d drop out of their schools. The Educators are willing to do just about anything to find out how to prevent it, so they say.

It is all a lie.

School personnel have known for several generations exactly how to produce drop-out behavior in children – in some cases, psychologically, as young as second grade.  It stands to reason that they have also known how to prevent it.

Parents whose kids were stuck in poor to mediocre schools were told in the 90’s that all the “improvements” the E’s were bringing about were “research-based”.  The parents understood this to mean that the new methods had been proven to be better at producing student achievement.  It turns out, however, that all the changes were an essential part of the actual research itself, but the curricular, grading and method changes were not experimental part. The research money that came pouring into the states was paying for all the various “Drop-out Prevention Programs” that would be tested on the students who fit the drop-out criteria.  The dumbing down of the 90’s, was simply the means of producing the criteria for the drop-out programs.   That’s right – the schools brought about drop-out behavior in order to study how to prevent drop-out behavior.

Education research money has been devastating the once vaunted United States public school system for generations.  Sometimes, primarily before anti-discrimination laws, the experiments have touched smaller, specific groups of students such as minorities or the poor. Other times, such as in the 1990’s – and the 60’s to70’s - the experiments will effect nearly everyone.  I believe this explains a great deal about the mess we find ourselves in today.  The extreme dumbing down that produced the criteria for filling various “Prevention” programs is what provided much of the impetus for the Charter School and Voucher movements as well as the further growth of the home school population. These are great movements, but they are way too limited to bring about the end of using the vast majority of trapped students as the Education Monopoly’s guinea pigs.  The voucher programs are primarily geared toward the very poor or the students who have already been labeled, often falsely. As it stands, there are next to no options for the mid to lower middle class and working class students, especially in these economic times.  We must have Universal Parental Choice so that everyone can have the same chance at providing their children with the education they deserve.  Our children shouldn’t have to be poor, or labeled, or win a lottery in order to Pursue the Happiness of thriving in a decent school.

This blog will cover many areas of the education issue, but I want to primarily focus on informing my readers about the extent, the depth, and the history of experiments performed on this country’s students without their parents’ knowledge, let alone permission.  The language quoting the results of school-based research can be pretty stilted.  I will usually give direct quotes and sources with my own commentary where I feel it necessary.  Here is one example of an experiment on reinforcement:

“In the first class of fifth-grader pupils the ‘extroverts’ were praised after each task, and the ‘introverts’ were blamed.  In the second class of pupils this procedure was reversed and the ‘extroverts’ were blamed while ‘introverts’ were praised.” (Kerlinger, Fred N. Foundations of Behavioral Research. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1964.) (Citing: G. Thompson and C. Hunnicutt, “The Effects of Repeated Praise or Blame on the Work Achievement by ‘Introverts’ and ‘Extroverts,’” Journal of Educational Psychology, XXXV (1944), 257-266.)

Did the parents know, way back in the 1940’s that their children were being labeled as ‘introverts’ or ‘extroverts’ and that this was the basis of an experiment?  Were all the children in the class labeled one or the other?  Did the quality of the student’s task have no bearing on the teacher’s response – just the label?  Exactly how many billions of tax-payer money have been squandered on unnecessary experimentation under the mask of education?