Shame on you PBS !

Please folks, with a compassionate heart for those that can not speak for themselves, I beg of you to take a moment and read this heart-felt article on late-term abortion by Mr. Matt Walsh.

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It is so very wrong of PBS to use your tax dollars to produce and air this type of programing and a true God-fearing, Christian believer should truly agree and do everything within their power to see that tax dollars are cut off from PBS.

Yes, I am a PRO -LIFE ADVOCATE and it is my right to be just that.

This article by Matt Walsh speaks of the cause and effect of humanizing the doctors who perform such atrocities on what is truly a fully developed infant and the horror and reality of the facts after such an act is being delivered and carried out to completion.

You have seen me write about this matter before and if not, you can always search our ministry blog here for those writings and see where I personally stand on the issue of Pro – Choice and Pro – Life, as the debate still weavers and is discussed in private and in the open.

PBS is wrong, seriously wrong for producing and advocating such a program and to use tax payer dollars without consent from the taxpayers is wrong of our government for allowing it.

I do not hold out hope that this administration (the Obama administration) to side with my view or Mr Walsh’s statement here, nor the will of millions of loving grand-parents, mothers and fathers and people in general to stop such a poor use of your hard-earned monies. We only need to look at the Planned Parenthood organizations and see what they are getting away with, to know that this is true and fact.

But your voice along with millions of others can and will be heard and it is important with an election coming up, to seriously question the candidates as to their position on issues such as how the American Taxpayers dollars are used and distributed, and how the issuance of your money can rightly and justifiably promote the humanizing of any and all abortions.

For it is a life that in fact can not speak or defend itself though there are many documented accounts that every infant that is brutally destroyed in any form of an abortion procedure, truly does try to fight and escape the horrific fate that will case it to surely die a horrible death.

It is murder and it is wrong and the entire PBS organization for all the good works they have done for bringing light to atrocities around the world, should be utterly ashamed for have deceiving you who are funding their programing.

As of this moment I shall personally boy-cot PBS and NEVER watch anything they produce no matter how morally correct it may be for producing and airing such an inhuman act as trying to convince the public that abortions and the clinics and doctors that do such an act, and make millions of dollars in fees and services rendered, are the victims.

They are the problem and the Pro -Choice advocates are just as much to blame.

Leave no child behind is a mantra that almost every taxpayer agrees on, when it comes to education of our children but are we really doing justice to that fight when we look the other way when it comes to those who can not defend, protect, speak out or care for them selves but are still, though in the womb of a woman very much alive and kicking.

Thank you for your time to read this message and God bless you on helping, if it is your choice to do so. So again please, please speak up for the silent masses that have never been given a chance to be born, grow up and live…
For it is W.W.J.D., and that is defend life ! All life !

Sincerely and affectionately, IHS and yours,
Bishop Andrew R. M. Manley D.D., Th.D., M.R.Php., B.D. of Celtic Cross Ministry (+)

I provide the link here for your research and review on this matter of “human rights”.

http://liveactionnews.org/dear-pbs-i-dont-think-theres-a-compassionate-way-to-murder-infants/

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You can do something about Sexual Assaults !

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It’s a real problem folks. So what are you doing to fix it ? Christ commanded us to love one another as one’s self. With these stats, I’d say folks don’t like themselves very much. I recommend folks to MAKE TIME to read their Bibles. It will change your life and for the better. What say you ?

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Sexual assault is a general term that includes any forced or unwanted sexual activity, including rape, incest, sexual abuse, and molestation. Sexual assault includes any forced or unwanted touching of an intimate part of the body, such as breasts, buttocks, or genitals.

Rape, a specific type of sexual assault, involves any forced, manipulated, or coerced penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth, by a penis or other object. Sexual assault/rape is not a crime of passion but a crime of violence, using sex as a weapon to overpower and to degrade the victim. A rapist can be a stranger or someone the victim knows including a spouse, date, or family member.

Facts and Statistics about Rape and Sexual Assault

(From Bureau of Justice Statistics, Criminal Victimization, 2010, National Crime Victimization Survey: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv10.pdf)

In 2010 there were 188,380 reports of rape and/or sexual assault in the United States.

More than half of rape and sexual assault crimes take place between 6pm and 6am.

Females are more likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault (182,000) than males (40,000).

Most victims of rape or sexual assault are females younger than 24 years of age.

Most rapes committed against women are committed by an intimate partner (spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend) or someone else they know (friend, family member, acquaintance).

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Heaven or Hell ?

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Folks our dear Brother and National Spiritual Contributor Frederick Meekins posted this statement on his FB page and it caught my attention. I hope you don’t mind me sharing this conversation with the fine folks here on our blog but, thought it pertinent enough to re-post.

Here’s what I’m talking about folks…

From Br. Frederick
Note something will you. Pastors are often fond of the text that our love for Christ should be so intense that our love for family should look like hate in comparison. But never in this exposition do they have backbone to preach that our devotion to Christ should be so singular that our love for the organized church in comparison to that of her Christ should also look like hate.

My response to the statement…
Replied by Bp. Andrew
Well stated Br. Frederick. I try to preach with conviction and stir those that attend or watch our videos to act. However, we live in a selfish world centered on individualism, not love and devotion. Yet I will continue to drive or even pound that message into people’s minds and hearts until the either change their ways or die trying. Than when they stand face to face with Christ and try to explain to God that they did not know. I’m sure it will fall on deaf ears when they do. By the way, God’s reply will most likely be a point of His finger towards the door and back out the pearly gates to the one way elevator down. But as I always say, it’s their choice to act now or pay later. It’s their choice and I won’t argue with them but I will try to reason with them. As to having them see which to do, fear God now and enjoy eternity in heaven or enjoy themselves now and suffer for eternity in hell. Thanks for posting this. Sorry I went on a little rant and rambled a bit. But your right. So very right in deed ! (+)

Br. Frederick response…
Well, it is more an individualism that has gotten out of control. Sort of like the communal impulse can also get out of control.
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Folks were talking about the times we live in now. If you don’t see the problem or have chosen to ignore your spirituality, faith and Gods ways, then you are the problem. When it comes right down to it, you won’t have anyone to blame but yourself. That is the truth and the true definition of being self-centered and selfish.

I feel as if I need to remind folks, like yourself, that your personal belief and the saving grace of Christ, is a gift. A gift that you should value above all else in this world. It is by the way, your key into heaven.

Nothing else will do. Not all the good works you do, not all the care for others that you do, not even the so-called professing that you’re a Christian and follower of Christ will do.

The only thing that will do, is to take very seriously the teachings and ways of Christ and knowing first hand what God finds to be an abomination and then actively changing your ways and understanding of what He really wants from you in this world.

So be very, very careful listening to family, friends and even some members of the clergy. For they are human also and are prone to misinterpretation and misrepresentation of the Holy Bible. Which, if you take the time now and for the rest of your days here on earth – learning and discerning the Holy Word of God, you’ll be much better off for doing so.

The gospel is truth. It is the infallible and Holy Word of God himself, it is the blue-print and instructions for you to make it into heaven and be allowed to stay there for eternity. Besides, how can you look God, Christ and their Holy Spirit along with the apostles and angels and justify you staying when you have not put forth a life time of trying to understand the ways of God. You can’t !

The only ones that can are the infants and small children, under the age of accountability. And that my dear brothers and sisters, you are not. You may just find yourself on the down elevator with no possibility of peace and happiness ever more.

Find out more by going to our website and under the media tab, take a gander and listen to what should be and is being taught through this ministry. Go to;
http://www.celticcrossministry.com

Find out for yourself. I personally don’t care about your personal feelings but, I do very much care about your eternal salvation and what you do to make it the absolute most important thing on our mind and in your heart all the rest of the days of your life. I want you prepared to be able to stand before God on your judgment day and hold your head high and with a straight face and without any hesitation look God in the eyes and say, you did your best to learn of Him and His ways for your life and those around you. And in return I’m sure He will look into your eyes and say, I know, well done my good and faithful servant, enter into your house, JUSTIFIED.

I do very much care about what your choices are in this life and the joy and or depression, you will have to live with for eternity. Yet it is your choice. As the old saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink”. May your choices in this life be worthy of your eternity in heaven.

Sincerely IHS and yours,
Bp. Andrew

Our prayers have been answered !

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Good Morning folks. What a beautiful morning it is to have been talking via Skype with Archbishop Paul Roberts. Yes that right I said talked to Ab. Paul this morning. He told me that the operation went perfectly and that he is healing and today is his first day back doing ministry business. He wanted me to tell everyone that he appreciated all of the prayers and that our prayers have been answered. So from him to you and from me and all of us here at the Celtic Cross Ministry, a hardy thank you and bless you one and all for your prayers and support in this matter of great need for healing and supplications. Thank you… Prayer works ! (+)

Cause For Celebration: An Examination Of The Cosmological Argument

Often the classics rank among the best. Even though time passes and intellectual fashions change, certain insights and perspectives address something so profound they forever earn a place as a steadfast pillar among sifting seas of opinion. Much of what comes after such a point simply serves as either confirmation, renunciation, clarification, or criticism. Though he lived and labored during the Middle Ages in the 1200‘s, the cosmological argument of Thomas Aquinas has withstood the test of time as one of those stalwart pillars of the mind pointing to a rational basis for belief in God.

Though the term “cosmological argument” sounds intimidating and the concept it strives to convey seems profound, this series of propositions endeavors to express a most elementary idea in a highly rational form. The thrust of the cosmological argument seeks to prove that the universe must have a cause and that only God can serve as an adequate explanation for the existence of the universe. Norman Geisler in Introduction To Christian Philosophy states the basic argument in the following manner: “(1) Finite changing things exist. (2) Every finite, changing thing must be caused by another. (3) There cannot be an infinite regress of causes. (4) Therefore, there must be a first uncaused cause of every finite changing thing that exists (page 267).” From here, Aquinas proceeds to argue that only God is powerful enough to serve as an explanation behind this uncaused cause.

This assertion is buttressed by Aquinas’ notion of contingency and the need for a necessary being. A contingent being, according to Ronald Nash in Faith & Reason: Searching For A Rational Faith, is one whose existence depends upon another and whose nonexistence is possible; likewise, a necessary being is one that must exist, does not depend on another being for its existence, and whose nonexistence is an impossibility (128). The necessary being ultimately serves as the sufficient reason for all contingent beings.

Despite the power of the cosmological argument, it has not escaped its share of scrutiny throughout the course of its distinguished existence. For while the conclusions of the cosmological argument seem to flow naturally within the framework of traditional Judeo-Christian theism, they are not quite as obvious to adherents of other philosophies and systems of thought or to those seeking to undermine them through a process of intense rationalistic analysis. Skeptics and opponents of the Judeo-Christian assumptions that the cosmological argument seeks to prove can call upon a number of criticisms and counterclaims in support of their contrarian position.

The first brand of criticism stems from those advocating worldviews hostile to Christian presuppositions that possess a considerable stake in finding an explanation for the origins of the universe through causes other than an instant of divine creation. Foremost among the systems opposing the premises of the cosmological argument stand the various strands of naturalism.

According to James Sire in The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, the naturalist says matter is all there is and God does not exist (54). Or as Carl Sagan use to say, “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” Corliss Lamont, the 1977 Humanist of the Year, writes, “Humanism…believes in a naturalistic cosmology…that rules out all forms of the supernatural … that regards nature as the totality of being and as a constantly changing system of events existing independently of any mind or consciousness (Understanding The Times, 117).”

Thus, as David Noeble of Summit Ministries responds in Understanding The Times, “For the Humanist, no personal First Cause exists; only the cosmos… There was no beginning and there can be no end. Of course, there is no need for a God to explain a beginning that did not happen (120).” Naturalists, therefore, find their explanation for the universe elsewhere

Whereas theists such as Thomas Aquinas posit the answer to this important question with God, naturalists find it in a complex interaction of matter, physical laws, and a healthy sprinkling of chance.

David Nobel writes of the naturalist perspective, “Nature…cannot create but she can eternally transform (120). “ Naturalists attempt to abolish the so-called Thomist arguments for a creator denying the very concept of creation itself.

While it is not too difficult to confront the opponents of theism over those points where such glaring differences exist, the criticism couched in the careful formulations of sophisticated philosophical analysis can be somewhat more difficult to counter. For example, John Gerstner writes in Reasons For Faith that objections could be raised that the cosmological argument hinges upon the conclusion drawn from our own observation that all things have a cause (53).

The thrust of the cosmological argument hinges upon the conclusion drawn from our observations that all things have a cause. This proposition is put forward to prove the need for a so-called first “uncaused cause”. As the nitpicky skeptic might point out, if it is deduced through observation that all things have causes, is it not unreasonable to call upon an uncaused first cause? After all, would not something have to have caused it also. Such a deadlock leads to one of Kant’s antimonies of reason where debaters of equal rationality come to two semmingly reasonable conclusions: namely either the need of an uncaused first cause or the validity of an infinitely regressing eternal series of causes and effects.

Despite this apparent loggerheads between proponents and detractors of the cosmological proof, additional lines of argumentation and evidence exist tipping the scales in favor of justifiable theism. From the time of the Enlightenment onward, practitioners of what Francis Schaeffer referred to as “modern modern science” have endeavored to establish a conceptual framework for explaining the operations of the universe capable of standing without the need for an appeal to divine support. When asked by Napoleon where God fit into his system of celestial mechanics, Laplace is said to have responded, “I have no need for that hypothesis (Barbour, 42).” But ironically, the very system of airtight physical laws many scientists approach with an almost religious devotion ultimately point to and must at least be jumpstarted if not actively maintained by the very Creator these lab-coated agnostics are scurrying to get away from.

Despite possible variations in their extraneous details, there are only a limited number of cosmologies accounting for the existence of the universe, each with its own advantages and shortcomings depending upon where one lines up in the debate regarding this theistic argument. Astrophysicist and Professor of New Testament Robert Newman describes each of these possibilities in the article “The Evidence Of Cosmology” appearing in the anthology Evidence For Faith: these systems are the Steady-State Universe, the Oscillating Cosmology, and the so-called “Big Bang” (Newman, 83-85).

The Steady-State model added a scientific veneer to the philosophical assumptions of naturalism by hypothesizing a universe eternally existing in a dynamic state of equilibrium whereby the density and energy levels of the cosmos remain constant as new matter is added as the boundaries of the system expand. Oscillating Cosmology pictures an ongoing cycle of universal birth, death, and rebirth as the universe continually expands outward in a burst of energy only to contract under the forces of its own gravity only to explode outward once again in an unending repetitive cosmic rhythm. The so-called “Big Bang”, at its most basic, postulates a singular specific moment when the universe expanded outward from a particular point at a definite moment in time.

These theories may all be well and good in terms of allowing the curious to speculate until their heart’s content. Yet ultimately they must correspond to actual reality if they are to be of any value beyond mere academic amusement.

It is against the cold hard wall of truth that these systems are forced to measure up against. These unavoidable truths eliminate the faulty explanations for the origins of the universe and point us back to the conclusions of the cosmological argument.

The First Law of Thermodynamics states that the sum total of matter and energy in the universe can neither be created nor destroyed; it remains constant. This is appended by the Second Law of Thermodynamics stating that the amount of energy available for useful work constantly decreases and the amount of entropy or disorder increases.

Any theory of origins seeking to undermine the need for a Creator by positing an everlasting cosmos is by definition scientifically impossible as one deduces from these physical laws. For every system that possesses a finite amount of useful energy must have a definite startup point.

If the universe is infinitely old as speculated by steady-state cosmologists, the universe would have wound down already. As D. James Kennedy notes in How I Know There Is A God, “…everything is running down; … everything is wearing out; everything is growing old. So if the universe were eternal, it would have already wound down (6).”

Like it or not, the mechanics of the universe, as they exist as unvarnished facts, point to a theoretically specifiable beginning and cannot be compelled to testify against their designer. Dr. Kennedy further notes, “There was a time when there were men who believed that it [the universe] was [eternal] but with modern scientific discoveries it is no longer possible to believe that… For the last 150 years, scientists have been scurrying around trying to avoid the implications of the laws they have discovered (5).”

Despite harkening unto the exhortations of science when it is believed this manner of inquiry might prove a valuable ally in the ongoing struggle to dethrone the God of all space and time, this epistemological method is conveniently overlooked when it points in the direction of conclusions standing in opposition to cherished preconceived assumptions. Astronomer Fred Hoyle, a developer of the Steady -State Model, himself admitted that his affinity for this particular system was not so much born out of pure science but rather because this particular variety of cosmology was more philosophically satisfying than those characterized with a beginning (Newman, 83). Thus, the unvarnished facts may have little initial impact upon those holding such a viewpoint who feel seemingly remote matters such as the origins of the universe have little bearing upon their average workaday lives.

The Christian thinker must proceed by showing how one’s position regarding the data pointing to the divine origins of the universe impacts one’s relation to the remaining branches of knowledge and how one cannot ignore the issue without felling the entire noetic tree. The laws of objective physical science clearly teach that the universe came into existence at a particular point in time.

This leaves the cogitator with two possible explanations: either the universe came into existence of its own accord or was brought into existence by some entity greater and more complete in and of itself. Diehard agnostics will continue to insist upon the alternative excluding the influence of deity, which means they would select the alternative suggesting the universe came into existence on its own. Yet reason dictates that only nothing can come from nothing.

As an experiment, take a first-full of nothing and plant it in a flowerpot and see how long it takes to grow a plant from it. Now how much longer will it take for an entire developed universe with complex organisms and sophisticated civilizations to sprout from it? John Frame in Apologetics “To The Glory Of God: An Introduction”, argues that those refusing to assent to the theistic conclusions in light of such compelling logic and evidence must concede to the madness of irrationalism since it flies in the face of common sense to hold that everything in the physical universe requires a cause but the finite contingent universe itself (111).

While advocates of the cosmological argument will spend much of their time trying to convince their nontheistic counterparts as to its validity, they might be surprised to learn significant suspicion of it lurks within certain corners of the Christian camp. Ronald Nash examines a number of these Christian criticisms and concerns in his analysis of the cosmological argument as detailed in “Faith & Reason: Searching For A Rational Faith”.

Foremost among the cautions raised by Christians skeptical as to the value of the cosmological argument ranks the realization that the God attested to by this renowned theistic proof could very well fall short of the Lord boldly proclaimed in the pages of the Bible and could very easily resemble something more akin to deism (Nash, 122-124). For example, the purpose of the cosmological argument is to postulate a God that gets the proverbial ball rolling. However, on its own it does not initially provide enough argumentative steam to establish argumentively a God who actively sustains the universe, to say nothing of one that loves and cares for that part of the creation molded in his own image.

Furthermore, since the world and the universe are a composite of a number of complex interactive systems, one could argue that each was set in motion by its own unique first cause. According to Norman Geisler in Introduction To Philosophjy: A Christian Perspective, Aristotle himself believed in between forty-seven and fifty-five of these entities, each responsible for a particular sphere of the heavens (172). At best, such an arrangement would give one a situation something akin to polytheism where one god ruled the sky and another the sea. And in bringing the Greek and other ancient pantheons into the mix, Ronald Nash points out that the cosmological argument fails to address the moral and redemptive natures of God so central to the message of Scripture that sets the Christian message apart from other world religions. One could very well maneuver the most vile reprobates into acknowledging the existence of such a God without having it make the slightest impact on such a libertine lifestyle.

Of the cosmological argument, Ronald Nash writes, “…if we reject special revelation and attempt to reason our way from what we know about the world to the existence of a supposed First Cause, the most we can establish still leaves us a long way from…(the) God of the Bible (124).” Thus the Christian following in the footsteps of Aquinas comes to a very important fork in the road. On the one hand, the intellectually engaged believer finds that the given of the universe needing a creator is not quite universally assumed as they originally thought it to be; on the other, there are those within the Christian’s own camp who insightfully warn as to the potential dangers and shortcomings of this hallowed argument. What is the Christian to do?

The good news is that the cosmological argument does not need to be tossed aside with the rest of the philosophical rubbish. Just as an army cannot rely on any one weapon system if it hopes to carry out a successful military campaign, if they are going to utilize the cosmological argument as part of their apologetic arsenal, they must incorporate it into the framework of a comprehensive strategy of evangelization. It might be best to look at the cosmological argument not so much as some epiphanial revelation silencing all opposition from then on out but rather as a tool to extract knowledge already buried in the deep recesses of the soul.

Romans 2:14-15 reads, “Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law…since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them (NIV).” Likewise, Psalms 14:1 reads, “The fool says in his hear, ‘There is no God.’.” Thus, whether they choose to admit it or not, a primordial knowledge of God exists somewhere within the human soul. The trick is getting the individual to assent to this as they are being guided down along the path to belief in Christ. The problem is that man has gone out of his way in the attempt to shake free from the truth of God’s existence that weighs down the sin-laden conscience.

Romans 1:20-21 says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities…have been clearly seen, being understood for what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened (NIV).” The task of the Christian becomes to show the unbeliever how it is untenable to live in a theistic Christian world with non-Christian, atheistic assumptions.

In Van Tillian terminology, this is the point of contact (Frame, 82-83). The cosmological argument is best used as one of these conversation starters rather than as the be-all and end-all of the discussion. In essence, the cosmological argument is more a defense of already held belief rather than a foundation upon which belief in the true God is built upon.

Ronald Nash writes, “Suppose…that we regard it [natural theology] as an inquiry into whether the Christian world-view fits what we know about the outer and inner worlds (Nash, 96).” Nash continues, “…instead of seeking coercive proofs for conclusions that all right-minded and open-minded persons would accept, we view our task as the more modest one of seeing if the Christian worldview does what we expect any worldview to do (97).”

The cosmological argument has enjoyed a robust history throughout the course of Western intellectual and ecclesiastical history. It has sparked considerable discussion and debate as its advocates herald it as a tool through which to apprehend a slice of the infinite while its detractors dismiss it as the leftover mental baggage of a less rational era. But regardless of where one lines up along this ongoing debate, one cannot help but admit that the discussion will continue until the Lord Himself decides to intervene and settle the issue on His own once and for all before then.

by Frederick Meekins

Explanation of the “Common Core” standards of Education

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Good evening everyone, over the past few days I have been noticing a lot of folks objecting to what is called in our educational standards as the “Common Core” standards. Being a product of the Old School curriculum and not being familiar with it, but having an avid curiosity to know more about the subject. I found myself a bit befuddled with this new form of teaching and grading criteria. Mainly because I don’t have a child of school age in my house hold.

So I did some investigating on the issue and found this article written by one of the founding contributors of the program and her views of it now that some years have passed since it conception. Let me state here and now that it is a product of both the Bush and Obama Administrations. That’s for all those that want to point fingers at someone else and say it’s their fault. For the record it’s every ones fault and yet it’s no one fault. I’ll let the article explain this conclusion.

First, I want to thank the Washington Post for originally posting the entire speech of Ms. Diane Ravitch that appeared in their newspaper back in January, by Journalist Valerie Strauss.

I am re-posting it because I’m sure there are others out here that may not be familiar with this fairly new program of standardized testing. It’s original concept and intention for being and how it got the way it is today that is causing so much outcry for citizens and teachers alike. The nice thing about this article is that is also gives ideas on how to fix or correct it’s shot comings. That is rather, on how it can work better, if the national educational system ends up being stuck with it.

So I strongly recommend parents, teachers, politicians who are in office as well as those thinking of getting into politics, to take the time to read the entire article. Trust me when I say you’ll be better off for it in the long run as this issue becomes more heavily debated in the months and years to come.

As for those folks that may think it’s to deep of a subject to understand, I’d like you to know that even a layman like myself when it comes to matters such as this, could understand it completely. It is very well written and worth the time it took to get a better understanding of what our families and neighbors are going through.

So without further ado, I give you Ms. Ravitch’s take on the subject of “Common Core”… Thank you…

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Diane Ravitch, the education historian who has become the leader of the movement against corporate-influenced school reform, gave this speech to the Modern Language Association on Jan. 11 about the past, present and future of the Common Core State Standards.

Here’s her speech:

As an organization of teachers and scholars devoted to the study of language and literature, MLA should be deeply involved in the debate about the Common Core standards.

The Common Core standards were developed in 2009 and released in 2010. Within a matter of months, they had been endorsed by 45 states and the District of Columbia. At present, publishers are aligning their materials with the Common Core, technology companies are creating software and curriculum aligned with the Common Core, and two federally-funded consortia have created online tests of the Common Core.

What are the Common Core standards? Who produced them? Why are they controversial? How did their adoption happen so quickly?

As scholars of the humanities, you are well aware that every historical event is subject to interpretation. There are different ways to answer the questions I just posed. Originally, this session was designed to be a discussion between me and David Coleman, who is generally acknowledged as the architect of the Common Core standards. Some months ago, we both agreed on the date and format. But Mr. Coleman, now president of the College Board, discovered that he had a conflicting meeting and could not be here.

So, unfortunately, you will hear only my narrative, not his, which would be quite different. I have no doubt that you will have no difficulty getting access to his version of the narrative, which is the same as Secretary Arne Duncan’s.

He would tell you that the standards were created by the states, that they were widely and quickly embraced because so many educators wanted common standards for teaching language, literature, and mathematics. But he would not be able to explain why so many educators and parents are now opposed to the standards and are reacting angrily to the testing that accompanies them.

I will try to do that.

I will begin by setting the context for the development of the standards.

They arrive at a time when American public education and its teachers are under attack. Never have public schools been as subject to upheaval, assault, and chaos as they are today. Unlike modern corporations, which extol creative disruption, schools need stability, not constant turnover and change. Yet for the past dozen years, ill-advised federal and state policies have rained down on students, teachers, principals, and schools.

George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and Barack Obama’s Race to the Top have combined to impose a punitive regime of standardized testing on the schools. NCLB was passed by Congress in 2001 and signed into law in 2002. NCLB law required schools to test every child in grades 3-8 every year; by 2014, said the law, every child must be “proficient” or schools would face escalating sanctions. The ultimate sanction for failure to raise test scores was firing the staff and closing the school.

Because the stakes were so high, NCLB encouraged teachers to teach to the test. In many schools, the curriculum was narrowed; the only subjects that mattered were reading and mathematics. What was not tested—the arts, history, civics, literature, geography, science, physical education—didn’t count. Some states, like New York, gamed the system by dropping the passing mark each year, giving the impression that its students were making phenomenal progress when they were not. Some districts, like Atlanta, El Paso, and the District of Columbia, were caught up in cheating scandals. In response to this relentless pressure, test scores rose, but not as much as they had before the adoption of NCLB.

Then along came the Obama administration, with its signature program called Race to the Top. In response to the economic crisis of 2008, Congress gave the U.S. Department of Education $5 billion to promote “reform.” Secretary Duncan launched a competition for states called “Race to the Top.” If states wanted any part of that money, they had to agree to certain conditions. They had to agree to evaluate teachers to a significant degree by the rise or fall of their students’ test scores; they had to agree to increase the number of privately managed charter schools; they had to agree to adopt “college and career ready standards,” which were understood to be the not-yet-finished Common Core standards; they had to agree to “turnaround” low-performing schools by such tactics as firing the principal and part or all of the school staff; and they had to agree to collect unprecedented amounts of personally identifiable information about every student and store it in a data warehouse. It became an article of faith in Washington and in state capitols, with the help of propagandistic films like “Waiting for Superman,” that if students had low scores, it must be the fault of bad teachers. Poverty, we heard again and again from people like Bill Gates, Joel Klein, and Michelle Rhee, was just an excuse for bad teachers, who should be fired without delay or due process.

These two federal programs, which both rely heavily on standardized testing, has produced a massive demoralization of educators; an unprecedented exodus of experienced educators, who were replaced in many districts by young, inexperienced, low-wage teachers; the closure of many public schools, especially in poor and minority districts; the opening of thousands of privately managed charters; an increase in low-quality for-profit charter schools and low-quality online charter schools; a widespread attack on teachers’ due process rights and collective bargaining rights; the near-collapse of public education in urban districts like Detroit and Philadelphia, as public schools are replaced by privately managed charter schools; a burgeoning educational-industrial complex of testing corporations, charter chains, and technology companies that view public education as an emerging market. Hedge funds, entrepreneurs, and real estate investment corporations invest enthusiastically in this emerging market, encouraged by federal tax credits, lavish fees, and the prospect of huge profits from taxpayer dollars. Celebrities, tennis stars, basketball stars, and football stars are opening their own name-brand schools with public dollars, even though they know nothing about education.

No other nation in the world has inflicted so many changes or imposed so many mandates on its teachers and public schools as we have in the past dozen years. No other nation tests every student every year as we do. Our students are the most over-tested in the world. No other nation—at least no high-performing nation—judges the quality of teachers by the test scores of their students. Most researchers agree that this methodology is fundamentally flawed, that it is inaccurate, unreliable, and unstable, that the highest ratings will go to teachers with the most affluent students and the lowest ratings will go to teachers of English learners, teachers of students with disabilities, and teachers in high-poverty schools. Nonetheless, the U.S. Department of Education wants every state and every district to do it. Because of these federal programs, our schools have become obsessed with standardized testing, and have turned over to the testing corporations the responsibility for rating, ranking, and labeling our students, our teachers, and our schools.

The Pearson Corporation has become the ultimate arbiter of the fate of students, teachers, and schools.

This is the policy context in which the Common Core standards were developed. Five years ago, when they were written, major corporations, major foundations, and the key policymakers at the Department of Education agreed that public education was a disaster and that the only salvation for it was a combination of school choice—including privately managed charters and vouchers– national standards, and a weakening or elimination of such protections as collective bargaining, tenure, and seniority. At the same time, the political and philanthropic leaders maintained a passionate faith in the value of standardized tests and the data that they produced as measures of quality and as ultimate, definitive judgments on people and on schools. The agenda of both Republicans and Democrats converged around the traditional Republican agenda of standards, choice, and accountability. In my view, this convergence has nothing to do with improving education or creating equality of opportunity but everything to do with cutting costs, standardizing education, shifting the delivery of education from high-cost teachers to low-cost technology, reducing the number of teachers, and eliminating unions and pensions.

The Common Core standards were written in 2009 under the aegis of several D.C.-based organizations: the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve. The development process was led behind closed doors by a small organization called Student Achievement Partners, headed by David Coleman. The writing group of 27 contained few educators, but a significant number of representatives of the testing industry. From the outset, the Common Core standards were marked by the absence of public participation, transparency, or educator participation. In a democracy, transparency is crucial, because transparency and openness builds trust. Those crucial ingredients were lacking.

The U.S. Department of Education is legally prohibited from exercising any influence or control over curriculum or instruction in the schools, so it could not contribute any funding to the expensive task of creating national standards. The Gates Foundation stepped in and assumed that responsibility. It gave millions to the National Governors Association, to the Council of Chief School Officers, to Achieve and to Student Achievement Partners. Once the standards were written, Gates gave millions more to almost every think tank and education advocacy group in Washington to evaluate the standards—even to some that had no experience evaluating standards—and to promote and help to implement the standards. Even the two major teachers’ unions accepted millions of dollars to help advance the Common Core standards. Altogether, the Gates Foundation has expended nearly $200 million to pay for the development, evaluation, implementation, and promotion of the Common Core standards. And the money tap is still open, with millions more awarded this past fall to promote the Common Core standards.

Some states—like Kentucky–adopted the Common Core standards sight unseen. Some—like Texas—refused to adopt them sight unseen. Some—like Massachusetts—adopted them even though their own standards were demonstrably better and had been proven over time.

The advocates of the standards saw them as a way to raise test scores by making sure that students everywhere in every grade were taught using the same standards. They believed that common standards would automatically guarantee equity. Some spoke of the Common Core as a civil rights issue. They emphasized that the Common Core standards would be far more rigorous than most state standards and they predicted that students would improve their academic performance in response to raising the bar.

Integral to the Common Core was the expectation that they would be tested on computers using online standardized exams. As Secretary Duncan’s chief of staff wrote at the time, the Common Core was intended to create a national market for book publishers, technology companies, testing corporations, and other vendors.

What the advocates ignored is that test scores are heavily influenced by socioeconomic status. Standardized tests are normed on a bell curve. The upper half of the curve has an abundance of those who grew up in favorable circumstances, with educated parents, books in the home, regular medical care, and well-resourced schools. Those who dominate the bottom half of the bell curve are the kids who lack those advantages, whose parents lack basic economic security, whose schools are overcrowded and under-resourced. To expect tougher standards and a renewed emphasis on standardized testing to reduce poverty and inequality is to expect what never was and never will be.

Who supported the standards? Secretary Duncan has been their loudest cheerleader. Governor Jeb Bush of Florida and former DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee urged their rapid adoption. Joel Klein and Condoleeza Rice chaired a commission for the Council on Foreign Relations, which concluded that the Common Core standards were needed to protect national security. Major corporations purchased full-page ads in the New York Times and other newspapers to promote the Common Core. ExxonMobil is especially vociferous in advocating for Common Core, taking out advertisements on television and other news media saying that the standards are needed to prepare our workforce for global competition. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed the standards, saying they were necessary to prepare workers for the global marketplace. The Business Roundtable stated that its #1 priority is the full adoption and implementation of the Common Core standards. All of this excitement was generated despite the fact that no one knows whether the Common Core will fulfill any of these promises. It will take 12 years whether we know what its effects are.

The Common Core standards have both allies and opponents on the right. Tea-party groups at the grassroots level oppose the standards, claiming that they will lead to a federal takeover of education. The standards also have allies and opponents on the left.

I was aware of Common Core from the outset. In 2009, I urged its leaders to plan on field testing them to find out how the standards worked in real classrooms with real teachers and real students. Only then would we know whether they improve college-readiness and equity. In 2010, I was invited to meet at the White House with senior administration officials, and I advised them to field test the standards to make sure that they didn’t widen the achievement gaps between haves and have-nots.

After all, raising the bar might make more students fail, and failure would be greatest amongst those who cannot clear the existing bar.

Last spring, when it became clear that there would be no field testing, I decided I could not support the standards. I objected to the lack of any democratic participation in their development; I objected to the absence of any process for revising them, and I was fearful that they were setting unreachable targets for most students. I also was concerned that they would deepen the sense of crisis about American education that has been used to attack the very principle of public education. In my latest book, I demonstrated, using data on the U.S. Department of Education website that the current sense of crisis about our nation’s public schools was exaggerated; that test scores were the highest they had ever been in our history for whites, African Americans, Latinos, and Asians; that graduation rates for all groups were the highest in our history; and that the dropout rate was the lowest ever in our history.

My fears were confirmed by the Common Core tests. Wherever they have been implemented, they have caused a dramatic collapse of test scores. In state after state, the passing rates dropped by about 30%. This was not happenstance. This was failure by design. Let me explain.

The Obama administration awarded $350 million to two groups to create tests for the Common Core standards. The testing consortia jointly decided to use a very high passing mark, which is known as a “cut score.” The Common Core testing consortia decided that the passing mark on their tests would be aligned with the proficient level on the federal tests called NAEP. This is a level typically reached by about 35-40% of students. Massachusetts is the only state in which as many as 50% ever reached the NAEP proficient level. The testing consortia set the bar so high that most students were sure to fail, and they did.

In New York state, which gave the Common Core tests last spring, only 30% of students across the state passed the tests. Only 3% of English language learners passed. Only 5% of students with disabilities passed. Fewer than 20% of African American and Hispanic students passed. By the time the results were reported in August, the students did not have the same teachers; the teachers saw the scores, but did not get any item analysis. They could not use the test results for diagnostic purposes, to help students. Their only value was to rank students.

When New York state education officials held public hearings, parents showed up en masse to complain about the Common Core testing. Secretary Duncan dismissed them as “white suburban moms” who were disappointed to learn that their child was not as brilliant as they thought and their public school was not as good as they thought. But he was wrong: the parents were outraged not because they thought their children were brilliant but because they did not believe that their children were failures. What, exactly, is the point of crushing the hearts and minds of young children by setting a standard so high that 70% are certain to fail?

The financial cost of implementing Common Core has barely been mentioned in the national debates. All Common Core testing will be done online. This is a bonanza for the tech industry and other vendors. Every school district must buy new computers, new teaching materials, and new bandwidth for the testing. At a time when school budgets have been cut in most states and many thousands of teachers have been laid off, school districts across the nation will spend billions to pay for Common Core testing. Los Angeles alone committed to spend $1 billion on iPads for the tests; the money is being taken from a bond issue approved by voters for construction and repair of school facilities. Meanwhile, the district has cut teachers of the arts, class size has increased, and necessary repairs are deferred because the money will be spent on iPads. The iPads will be obsolete in a year or two, and the Pearson content loaded onto the iPads has only a three-year license. The cost of implementing the Common Core and the new tests is likely to run into the billions at a time of deep budget cuts.

Other controversies involve the standards themselves. Early childhood educators are nearly unanimous in saying that no one who wrote the standards had any expertise in the education of very young children. More than 500 early childhood educators signed a joint statement complaining that the standards were developmentally inappropriate for children in the early grades. The standards, they said, emphasize academic skills and leave inadequate time for imaginative play. They also objected to the likelihood that young children would be subjected to standardized testing. And yet proponents of the Common Core insist that children as young as 5 or 6 or 7 should be on track to be college-and-career ready, even though children this age are not likely to think about college, and most think of careers as cowboys, astronauts, or firefighters.

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There has also been heated argument about the standards’ insistence that reading must be divided equally in the elementary grades between fiction and informational text, and divided 70-30 in favor of informational text in high school. Where did the writers of the standards get these percentages? They relied on the federal NAEP—the National Assessment of Educational Progress-which uses these percentages as instructions to test developers. NAEP never intended that these numbers would be converted into instructional mandates for teachers. This idea that informational text should take up half the students’ reading time in the early grades and 70% in high school led to outlandish claims that teachers would no longer be allowed to teach whole novels. Somewhat hysterical articles asserted that the classics would be banned while students were required to read government documents. The standards contain no such demands.

Defenders of the Common Core standards said that the percentages were misunderstood. They said they referred to the entire curriculum—math, science, and history, not just English. But since teachers in math, science, and history are not known for assigning fiction, why was this even mentioned in the standards? Which administrator will be responsible for policing whether precisely 70% of the reading in senior year is devoted to informational text? Who will keep track?

The fact is that the Common Core standards should never have set forth any percentages at all. If they really did not mean to impose numerical mandates on English teachers, they set off a firestorm of criticism for no good reason. Other nations have national standards, and I don’t know of any that tell teachers how much time to devote to fiction and how much time to devote to informational text. Frankly, I think that teachers are quite capable of making that decision for themselves. If they choose to teach a course devoted only to fiction or devoted only to non-fiction, that should be their choice, not a mandate imposed by a committee in 2009.

Another problem presented by the Common Core standards is that there is no one in charge of fixing them. If teachers find legitimate problems and seek remedies, there is no one to turn to. If the demands for students in kindergarten and first grade are developmentally inappropriate, no one can make changes. The original writing committee no longer exists. No organization or agency has the authority to revise the standards. The Common Core standards might as well be written in stone. This makes no sense. They were not handed down on Mount Sinai, they are not an infallible Papal encyclical, why is there no process for improving and revising them?

Furthermore, what happens to the children who fail? Will they be held back a grade? Will they be held back again and again? If most children fail, as they did in New York, what will happen to them? How will they catch up? The advocates of the standards insist that low-scoring students will become high-scoring students if the tests are rigorous, but what if they are wrong? What if the failure rate remains staggeringly high as it is now? What if it improves marginally as students become accustomed to the material, and the failure rate drops from 70% to 50%? What will we do with the 50% who can’t jump over the bar? Teachers across the country will be fired if the scores of their pupils do not go up. This is nuts. We have a national policy that is a theory based on an assumption grounded in hope. And it might be wrong, with disastrous consequences for real children and real teachers.

In some states, teachers say that the lessons are scripted and deprive them of their professional autonomy, the autonomy they need to tailor their lessons to the needs of the students in front of them. Behind the Common Core standards lies a blind faith in standardization of tests and curriculum, and perhaps, of children as well. Yet we know that even in states with strong standards, like Massachusetts and California, there are wide variations in test scores. Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution predicted that the Common Core standards were likely to make little, if any, difference. No matter how high and uniform their standards, there are variations in academic achievement within states, there are variations within districts, there are variations within every school.

It is good to have standards. I believe in standards, but they must not be rigid, inflexible, and prescriptive. Teachers must have the flexibility to tailor standards to meet the students in their classrooms, the students who can’t read English, the students who are two grade levels behind, the students who are homeless, the students who just don’t get it and just don’t care, the students who frequently miss class. Standards alone cannot produce a miraculous transformation.

I do not mean to dismiss the Common Core standards altogether. They could be far better, if there were a process whereby experienced teachers were able to fix them. They could be made developmentally appropriate for the early grades, so that children have time for play and games, as well as learning to read and do math and explore nature.

The numerical demands for 50-50 or 70-30 literature vs. informational text should be eliminated. They serve no useful purpose and they have no justification.

In every state, teachers should work together to figure out how the standards can be improved. Professional associations like the National Council for the Teaching of English and the National Council for the Teaching of Mathematics should participate in a process by which the standards are regularly reviewed, revised, and updated by classroom teachers and scholars to respond to genuine problems in the field.

The Common Core standards should be decoupled from standardized testing, especially online standardized testing. Most objections to the standards are caused by the testing. The tests are too long, and many students give up; the passing marks on the tests were set so high as to create failure.

Yet the test scores will be used to rate students, teachers, and schools.

The standardized testing should become optional. It should include authentic writing assignments that are judged by humans, not by computers. It too needs oversight by professional communities of scholars and teachers.

There is something about the Common Core standards and testing, about their demand for uniformity and standardization, that reeks of early twentieth century factory-line thinking. There is something about them that feels obsolete. Today, most sectors of our economy have standards that are open-sourced and flexible, that rely upon the wisdom of practitioners, that are constantly updated and improved.

In the present climate, the Common Core standards and testing will become the driving force behind the creation of a test-based meritocracy. With David Coleman in charge of the College Board, the SAT will be aligned with the Common Core; so will the ACT. Both testing organizations were well represented in the writing of the standards; representatives of these two organizations comprised 12 of the 27 members of the original writing committee. The Common Core tests are a linchpin of the federal effort to commit K-12 education to the new world of Big Data. The tests are the necessary ingredient to standardize teaching, curriculum, instruction, and schooling. Only those who pass these rigorous tests will get a high school diploma. Only those with high scores on these rigorous tests will be able to go to college.

No one has come up with a plan for the 50% or more who never get a high school diploma. These days, a man or woman without a high school diploma has meager chances to make their way in this society. They will end up in society’s dead-end jobs.

Some might say this is just. I say it is not just. I say that we have allowed the testing corporations to assume too much power in allotting power, prestige, and opportunity. Those who are wealthy can afford to pay fabulous sums for tutors so their children can get high scores on standardized tests and college entrance exams. Those who are affluent live in districts with ample resources for their schools. Those who are poor lack those advantages. Our nation suffers an opportunity gap, and the opportunity gap creates a test score gap.

You may know Michael Young’s book The Rise of the Meritocracy. It was published in 1958 and has gone through many editions. A decade ago, Young added a new introduction in which he warned that a meritocracy could be sad and fragile. He wrote:

If the rich and powerful were encouraged by the general culture to believe that they fully deserved all they had, how arrogant they could become, and if they were convinced it was all for the common good, how ruthless in pursuing their own advantage. Power corrupts, and therefore one of the secrets of a good society is that power should always be open to criticism. A good society should provide sinew for revolt as well as for power.

But authority cannot be humbled unless ordinary people, however much they have been rejected by the educational system, have the confidence to assert themselves against the mighty. If they think themselves inferior, if they think they deserve on merit to have less worldly goods and less worldly power than a select minority, they can be damaged in their own self-esteem, and generally demoralized.

Even if it could be demonstrated that ordinary people had less native ability than those selected for high position, that would not mean that they deserved to get less. Being a member of the “lucky sperm club” confers no moral right or advantage. What one is born with, or without, is not of one’s own doing.

We must then curb the misuse of the Common Core standards: Those who like them should use them, but they should be revised continually to adjust to reality. Stop the testing. Stop the rating and ranking. Do not use them to give privilege to those who pass them or to deny the diploma necessary for a decent life. Remove the high-stakes that policymakers intend to attach to them. Use them to enrich instruction, but not to standardize it.

I fear that the Common Core plan of standards and testing will establish a test-based meritocracy that will harm our democracy by parceling out opportunity, by ranking and rating every student in relation to their test scores.

We cannot have a decent democracy unless we begin with the supposition that every human life is of equal value. Our society already has far too much inequality of wealth and income. We should do nothing to stigmatize those who already get the least of society’s advantages. We should bend our efforts to change our society so that each and every one of us has the opportunity to learn, the resources needed to learn, and the chance to have a good and decent life, regardless of one’s test scores.

Education gap widening

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Just in case you want to verify the statement here. Here is the link to the article as well. Nothing was added and nothing was deleted for your interest. Bless you and our students, parents and teachers.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/01/18/everything-you-need-to-know-about-common-core-ravitch/