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   Educational Alert

AFA of ARKANSAS FEBRUARY NEWSLETTER.

 February 2000 

Eminent Outcome-Based Reformer heading up Character

Education Program in Arkansas 

Advisor to Department of Education advocates government

Control, opposes competition and grades, and says fight the right at every turn 

State Department of Education praises schools for doing away with grades. 

OBE alive and well in Arkansas

 Nothing has changed but the names

 

            Most people would be surprised to know  that Willard R. Daggett, who is heading up the Character Education Program that is a component of Governor Huckabee's  Smart Start program in Arkansas,  is described in fliers as an "Eminent Outcome -Based Reformer & Implementer" that is "Shaping America's Future Through Outcome-Based Education."  Daggett is from New York and has been a featured speaker all over the nation with William (Bill) Spady,  the man who is known as the father of  OBE.  (For copies of  these fliers, contact AFA at 870- 932-5065). 

             Bill Spady said himself that he is best known for having coined the phrase, Outcome Based Education (OBE).  Spady  does not believe in competition,  grades, or deadlines.  He said in a live interview that students should be taught in school about alternate life styles, birth control, and about  being open with their sexuality and that textbooks will be obsolete in the classroom of tomorrow. When Spady was asked if patriotism should be taught in school, he said he did not know the meaning of patriotism. (Many people have seen this live interview in the video, What Did You Learn in School Today, an  Oklahoma  News Channel 4 Special on  OBE.) 

            In general, OBE proponents advocate schools with government control, and:  No competition, No grade levels, No grades, No time limitsNo textbooks, No memorization or drills and New types of  tests often referred to as Performance Based Tests which includes portfolios 

Daggett's Honesty & Integrity Questioned by Education Scholars 

            According to an article in Investors Business Daily, Inc. Oct. 22,, 1999,  Willard Daggett holds conference across the US and is a self-described education expert who gets big bucks for his time. Grosse Pointe, Michigan school District paid him $10,000 for a day-long series of talks. The Hernando County Schools in Florida paid Daggett $8,000 for a day-long speech in August, 1998, and in Idaho, the J. A. Kathryn Albertson foundation paid him $175,000 for a series of talks and workshops with state educators. Several education scholars say Daggett prescribes reforms that are based on shaky research.  In Gross Point, Michigan, Daggett told the educators that "the US was the only nation that still taught chemistry and biology as separate courses." A high school science teacher looked into it and "found no nation that integrated the subjects."  Gerald Bracey, a psychologist who specializes in education statistics, took Daggett to task in a 1995 Phi Delta Kappan article for talking at length about a study that Bracey and other top scholars couldn't find. Daggett refused to produce the study in question. 

            The above article further states that in Daggett's speech to Grosse Pointe, Michigan educators (and in other speeches as well) Daggett claimed to have been a university president.  When pressed for the name of  the university where he had been President, Daggett said he had been a professor, not a president.  In another gaffe, Daggett told the audience that California has 21% of its kids in charter schools when the actual statistic is 1%. .  And this is the man chosen by Arkansas to head up Governor Huckabee's Character Education Program and who is heading up a National Character Education Conference in Little Rock, April 10-11, 2000.  Participants can even earn 3 semester hours of graduate college credit for attending.  The cost is $250.00 a person. For several other anecdotes and statistics spun by Daggett and the amount of money he was paid for his fabricated research at various locations, read, "Are School Consultants Worth It?"  by Tyce Palmaffy, Investors Business Daily, Inc. Oct. 22, 1999 or pull the article off the web at http://www.investors.com/stories/IF/1999/Oct/22/23.html. 

Department of Education advisor Douglas Reeves advocates

government control, opposes competition and grades

            Willard Daggett is also closely aligned and is a featured speaker with Douglas Reeves who was hired to oversee Arkansas's standards, testing, and accountability programs.  Reeves is the Director of the Center for Performance Assessment, and his videos on teaching are being used by schools throughout the state.  He has a background in research, but he speaks at statewide teacher workshops teaching teachers how to teach.   The following information (unknown to most people) reveals how closely tied his educational philosophy is to that of OBE proponents. One wonders if even Governor Huckabee and the legislators who hired Reeves actually know his real philosophy and how well it aligns to the philosophy of OBE proponents and to Act 236 , Arkansas's OBE law which was replaced by Act 1108 of 1997.  Legislators on the education committe admitted they did not know the philosophy behind Act 236 when they put it into law in 1991 and were not prepared for the controversy that law evoked. 

                        NO COMPETITION is a key component of OBE.  Douglas Reeves wrote a book, Making Standards Work in which he says, "Competition is not part of the human spirit, but part of modern day psychosis," and that competition perpetuates "the caste system as it presently exists," and that the competitive model is not appropriate for the educational setting, pp. 24-26 & p. 30.  This type of philosophy led to the following a newspaper headline in Kentucky where OBE has been implemented statewide: Sponsors Call Off  Spelling Bee - "Spelling bees don't fit with the Kentucky Education Reform Act because they emphasize competition and rote memorization. Spelling bees place incredible stress on young students . . . and produce  few winners and many losers," Louisville Courier, Dec. 5, 1995Doesn't this philosophy have the ring of a Utopian or socialistic society?  Isn't competition the backbone of capitalism? Don't students have to compete in the job market to get a job?  How will they handle that competition if they don't learn to handle it in school? 

            Reeves goes so far as to say that school districts' test scores should not even be compared , and he doesn't even believe in norm referenced (standardized) tests that compare students to other students in the nation, p. 31, Making Standards Work. This is the man who is heading up the so-called tough, rigorous accountability system in Arkansas.  His preference is subjective performance assessments; and he, himself, says that with many items on these tests, there is not a single "right answer,"  p. 37, Making Standards Work.  Like other OBE proponents, Reeves emphasizes critical thinking projects and "learning how to learn" more than facts and knowledge, p. 117, Making Standards Work.. 

            NO COMPETITION leads to another key component of OBE -NO GRADES and NO GRADE LEVELS.  Reeves says that other forms of  assessments are better than letter grades or number grades (instead he, like other OBE proponents, advocates rubrics/checklists or portfolios.  He also says he believes in multi-age classrooms and a K-2 continuum grade card and says that "retention is not fair to children, and that "some students will learn to read in one year, while others may  need three years," p. 19, Making Standards Work, and Smart Start website arkedu.state.ar.us. This Utopian idea sounds great; but in reality, how does a teacher get students to study and work when students know they can't fail and don't get grades.?  Doing away with grades will affect students' incentive about the same way doing away with salaries would affect adult workers.  That Utopian approach has been tried in socialist countries numerous times with disastrous results.  

            The State Department of  Education recently praised Weiner and Bentonville school districts in Arkansas for using innovative report cards saying they used, "a smart approach in student report cards."  According to a newspaper article in the  Jonesboro Sun, Dec. 7, 1999, "The Bentonville School District this year eliminated the A,B,C,D and F grading scale for kindergarten and first grade.  It plans to make similar changes for other grades later."  Weiner announced to parents in Fall, 1999, that elementary students would receive report cards with no letter or percentage grades.  Instead, fourteen-page checklists, or rubrics, would be sent home. However, on the opposite page of this same article praising these two school districts for these new report cards,  the State Department of  Education says, "What's Not Smart is:  for schools to throw out grading-scale systems."  One must conclude that this is the height of deceptive doublespeak or that the department is in such chaos that the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing.  At any rate, isn't it scary to think this State Department is desperately trying to gain control of  the entire educational system in Arkansas.  

            Total Government Control is the primary component of  OBE.  Reeves is critical of  textbooks and says that homework assignments, classroom activities, worksheets, and every course and instructional device should revolve around State Standards, pp. 103, 68, 49, & 92, Making Standards Work.  Textbooks are developed by private enterprise and chosen by teachers at the local level, but state standards are government standards developed by the bureaucrats instead of by teachers or parents. How could this be anything but government control?  

 Nothing Has Changed But The Names.

            All the emphasis in education in Arkansas is currently focused on standards. If  one studies Reeves' material carefully, one will find that the two words "Outcomes" and "Standards" can be used interchangeably.   Once again, nothing has changed but the terms.  Changing the names and deceiving an unsuspecting public seems to be the favorite game of  many of  those in authority in government these days. 

Reeves Says Fight the Radical Right At Every Turn

            Douglas Reeves also wrote an article, "Responding to the Rhetoric of the Radical Right," School Administrator, March, 1998, p. 37, in which he suggests that school personnel, "Fight them [the radical right] at every turn."  There is no bias or exclusion in that statement, is there?

Many people have been fired for such bigotry toward other groups.

             Numerous calls to the State Department of Education resulted in no clue as to what Arkansas is paying Daggett and Reeves for their expertise.  They conveniently hired National School Conference Institute (NSCI) in Phoenix, Arizona to head up the Accountability and Character Education programs. NSCI pays Daggett & Reeves, so this information is not available to the taxpayers.  NSCI did admit that they hold national conferences in which they feature Daggett and Reeves (like the one mentioned above to be held in Little Rock in April with a $250 registration fee), and this in turn helps build Reeves and Daggett's business.  In return Daggett and Reeves give NSCI discount prices for their work, but NSCI will not release those discounted amounts they pay them. 

How You Can Help 

            Copy this article and share it with all who you think will be concerned; write letters to the editor and bring this information to the public's attention and most important of all of all send the sheet of attached questions to Governor Huckabee in the enclosed envelope.  It would be even better if  you would write him a personal letter, making your own comments about this information.  AFA has contacted the Governor's office several times the last couple years about educational reforms and has contacted the office about this particular information.  Their main response has been,  "No one is complaining but a few people in Jonesboro."  Therefore, if you send the attached sheet of  questions or a letter to Governor Huckabee, we would appreciate it if  you would cut off the section at the bottom of  this page and return it to AFA, so we will know that his office has been contacted by other people as well. 

            Help AFA financially so they can get this information to all legislators and superintendents, and others. 

Questions

            Why does Arkansas need Willard Daggett, an "Eminent Outcome Based Reformer and Implementer" that is "Shaping America's Future Through Outcome-Based Education" from New York to head up a  Character Education Program in Arkansas?  Governor Huckabee passionately criticized OBE and experimental practices before he became Governor.  

            Why is Douglas Reeves (with a background in research) teaching teachers how to teach and heading up the accountability and testing system in Arkansas when he has written a book advocating government control and  expressing a philosophy opposing competition,  grades, grade levels, and traditional education  - a philosophy diametrically opposed to most teachers and parents?.

             Why is Douglas Reeves, who has written an article advising administrators to "Fight them [the right] at every turn," heading up the accountability system in Arkansas under a Republican Governor."  Didn't  the religious right help elect Governor Huckabee? 

            Why is the State Department engaging  in deceptive doublespeak by  applauding school districts (Weiner & Bentonville) for innovative report cards that do away with letter and number grades and in the same publication of Smart Start say that throwing away grading scales is not smart?.   

            Why does the State Department of  Education circumvent the taxpayers' right to know the salary of  those people working for the government by indirectly hiring Daggett and Reeves and refusing to reveal their salaries?. 

            Why doesn't Governor Huckabee replace those people in the State Department that are allowing such actions as listed above and replace them with people who hold the philosophy of most parents and educators in Arkansas?

 

           

 

 

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