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Bad Education Appointment
www.afaar.org

October 16, 2003

This alert comes to us from Arkansas. Excerpts are copied below.

Appointee Urges Government Takeover Of Education

Arkansas Education Department Director Ray Simon was nominated by President Bush September 22, 2003, to become Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education. Simon will serve as the principal adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Education on matters related to pre- kindergarten, elementary and secondary education. Simon has served as Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) director since 1997 under Arkansas Republican Governor Mike Huckabee.

Concerns:
1. Simon promoted and probably wrote much of Governor Huckabee's controversially massive autocratic consolidation plan -- a plan Huckabee himself describes as eliminating local control. The plan includes:

  • Granting hiring and firing authority of superintendents to the appointed director of the state Department of Education;
  • Making the state rather than local school districts directly responsible for all aspects of education.
  • Granting current authority of local superintendents to regional and state levels;
  • Establishing [appointed] parent/business advisory councils to govern each community school;
  • Consolidating 310 school districts into 107-116 districts. (One-third of rural schools students are already bussed an hour or more each way, and some kindergarten and elementary students catch buses before daylight.)
  • Doubling educational co-ops and placing all co-op employees under Arkansas Department of Education authority. This will result in approximately 1800 more state employees under Simon's authority. (See this plan)

    2. Simon rammed a punitive ACT 1467 through the 2003 Arkansas legislature. ACT 1467 gives schools far less time to meet academic, fiscal, and accountability standards than the national NCLB law. Under ACT 1467, the Arkansas Department of Education may take over and consolidate any school or district or replace their entire administrations and school boards ( stripping away the vote of every citizen) the first time the school fails to meet even one standard or criteria set by the State Board.

    (See summary of the entire law
    Simon's presentation of this law to State Board)

    8. Simon enthusiastically supports the Math Crusades program that undermines basic math education. College textbooks used in Arkansas Math Crusades recommend "decreasing attention to Rote Practice, Memorization, One Answer and One Method, Use of Worksheets, Written Practice and Teaching by Telling."

    Math Crusades books state:

    Arkansas Education Director Ray Simon highly praises math specialists trained by Math Crusades.

    9. Simon used questionable OBE experts known for their bizarre philosophies and methods to oversee staff development and testing in Arkansas. Willard Daggett and Douglas Reeves were two of these experts.

    Daggett has been advertised in several pamphlets across the nation as an "Eminent Outcome -Based Reformer & Implementer" who is "Shaping America's Future Through OBE. Daggett was hired to head up Character Education under Governor Huckabee's Smart Start initiative. In one of his presentations, Daggett discussed the biotech taking us to the point of "making life or death an option, rather than inevitable."

    Daggett has a reputation for making up research to support his philosophy and fabricating personal success stories. For example, he once claimed to be president of a college when he was merely a professor. Yet his character education material has been distributed to counselors across the state with thousands of dollars state tax money. (See articles on Daggett)

    Douglas Reeves was the Arkansas expert for standards and testing. His videos were distributed throughout the state for teacher training.

    A quote from a book authored by Reeves:

    A pamphlet from the Arkansas Smart Start initiative reflects this view when it praises two Arkansas schools for eliminating grades. (See more information on Reeves)

    This information made available by:
    Debbie Pelley
    3309 Kingsbury
    Jonesboro, Arkansas 72401
    dpelley@cox-internet.com

    Iris Stevens
    1811 Alonzo
    Jonesboro, Arkansas
    istevens@inet-driect.com

    According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Simon is awaiting confirmation of his appointment by the U.S. Senate. "My future in Washington is not yet settled," Simon told the State Education Board. "I have to go through Senate confirmation hearings and the timing of that's still not certain..." (October 14, 2003)

    "The Arkansas Supreme Court last year declared the state's school funding system -- $2.7 billion in state and local revenue -- unconstitutional and gave the state until Jan. 1 to correct it. Huckabee has tentatively set Dec. 8 for convening the Legislature to deal with the education issues but there is little consensus among lawmakers on how that might be accomplished.

    "The governor last week released his own proposal for revamping the education system, including a restructuring of the three agencies that deal with education, higher education and workforce education."

    This restructuring sounds eerily like the classic unholy alliance between education and the workforce for the planned economy. "You have lifted us up with Smart Start, Smart Step and Smart Core," said Education Board President JoNell Caldwell of Little Rock.

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