On S. 306, You Have The Right To Your Opinion, But Not Your Own Facts

More than a dozen parents have emailed me in the last week or so about articles written by two activists regarding US Senate bill 306.  I’m tired of repeating myself in email, so I decided to write this article. For the record, those two activists are Anita Hoge and Alice Linahan.

I had quite a lot of respect for these two ladies. They fight the good fight and there is usually something useful in their observations. However, in the last month, that respect has been wiped out.

It’s not just that they are attacking Ted Cruz, whom I openly support, but I’m weary of their constant ranting all over Facebook and Twitter about something that just isn’t so. If going for the level of saturation that makes those who follow you want to unfollow you was your goal — you made it!

The flavor of these articles is that there is some malicious conspiracy being led by two of the leading defenders of homschooling and school choice to prostrate homeschoolers before the altar of big government. These articles are unhelpful, inflammatory and frankly, wrong.

You Have The Right To Your Opinion, But Not Your Own Facts
Let me say first that this is a bill is effectively dead right now. There has been no new activity on it.

What S306 does is allow homeschoolers to take advantage of Coverdell education savings accounts and amends IRS rules to do so. Here’s the synopsis:

Amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to allow a state educational agency to allocate grant funds among local educational agencies based on the number of eligible children (children age 5 to 17 from a family with an income below the poverty level) enrolled in the public schools and the state-accredited private schools within each local agency’s geographic jurisdiction.

Amends the Internal Revenue Code to: (1) allow payment of home school expenses from Coverdell education savings accounts; (2) remove the dollar limitation on contributions to Coverdell education savings accounts and require such accounts to provide adequate safeguards to prevent contributions from exceeding the amount necessary to provide for the qualified education expenses of the account beneficiary; and (3) allow tax-exempt qualified tuition programs (529 tuition programs) to pay qualified pre-kindergarten, elementary, and secondary education expenses.

 

The IRS covers savings plans of all kinds, including Coverdells. Every American’s financial dealings crosses paths with the IRS and homeschoolers are no different. They file tax returns just like everyone else.

S. 306 doesn’t change anything other than giving families who want the added financial ability to extend their homeschooling abilities.

Currently there are fourteen states which play out and define homeschooling as being the equal to that of a public K-12 education. That leaves thirty-six states that don’t and S. 306 is aimed at those states.   S. 306 still allows states the freedom to define what is a private school and what is the equivalent of a public k-12.

 

In other words, the federal government cannot define who you are, Homeschoolers — the state still does that, as well as your own choices in using a Coverdell in your state or not.

Homeschoolers who think this is a big conspiracy to control them and do not wish to engage in these Coverdell plans are free to NOT ENGAGE in using such savings accounts.

Just as homeschoolers have operated financially on their own for decades, they are free to CONTINUE operating that way.

Shorter: NO ONE IS FORCING YOU TO DO ANYTHING.

Q & A
To these two women writing these articles, I’d also ask a question or two.

If your attacks aren’t at least partly politically motivated, then why aren’t either of you addressing Mike Lee with your ‘the fed is trying to define homeschools’ diatribes? You know, Sen. Mike Lee? The SPONSOR of the bill?

In an article at RedState, Cruz responds;  clearly aware of these accusations.  Cruz accurately calls them politically motivated, which sends the comments section into a total sputtering freak out. Boo-freaking-hoo.

Anita Hoge has demonstrated her dislike for Ted Cruz all over Twitter; she clearly has no idea what a margin loan is. Hoge has even beclowned herself by painting Cruz to be the same as Jeb Bush on Common Core:

Linahan makes regular pleas to Trump as well.

However on Trump’s Common Core ‘untweet’ in South Carolina, Hoge is silent. So is Linahan. Gee, where are our big Common Core Warriors now?

Ladies, what Donald Trump knows about education could fit on the head of a pin — and what he knows about Common Core is even less. What he does say about education appears to just be parroting other campaigns.

What Trump does seem to know is to yell Trump Coreout the words “Common Core” at a rally and people cheer.

As a mom fighting Common Core at the state and national level, I find being made the cheer line of rally talking point on some note card more than a little insulting.

Having said that, for what reason are you attacking the ONE candidate in this race that actually has fought for parental rights, actually knows what Common Core is and wants the US Department of Ed on the chopping block?

Calling This What It is: Rank Dishonesty and pig-ignorance
Also at RedState, there is an article responding to this over-hyped nonsense. In that RedState article, this line of attack by these two activists is brutally, yet accurately summarized:

“What is circulating now is a story that Ted Cruz supports the federal regulation of homeschooling. There are two underlying causes of this story: rank dishonesty and pig-ignorance.”

I await the incoming comments which will likely be littered with tons of links to websites I’ve never heard of and topic totally unrelated as ‘proof’ that what I just said is wrong and that I have no idea what I’m talking about.

None of them will be published. This pig-ignorance ends here.


Related Reading: 

Your handy dandy Cruz v Trump comparison chart

Ted Cruz, Homeschooling, S.306, Dishonesty and Pig-Ignorance

No, Ted Cruz Doesn’t Want Federal Control Of Homeschooling

Posted in Common Core, Education, Elections | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Iredell GOP Files Electioneering Complaint Against Our Schools First

Hey, remember that PAC, Our Schools First? The one in the Iredell area that was handing out political materials featuring little kids and many times, handing them out on school campuses?

One might recall my take down of one of their mouthpieces, James Hogan, who was regurgitating debunked claims about NC education and Progress NC talking points?

This Democrat leaning outfit has been apparently trying to mess in Republican elections in the area. Imagine that.

They’re back and the Iredell GOP has just filed an electioneering complaint against them with the Iredell Board of Elections.

The complaint letter says that Our Schools First was formed as a PAC to work specifically on a bond referendum and they are not supposed to have corporate sponsorship — yet they do, to the tune of over  $89k.

Here’s the letter:

The Iredell Republican Party
PO Box 292
Troutman, NC 28166

February 10, 2016

Ms. Becky Galliher
Iredell Board of Elections
203 Stockton Street
Statesville, NC 28677

Dear Ms. Galliher,

I’m writing to express my concern and to request a formal investigation into the Bond Referendum Committee known as Our Schools First (also known as Mooresville & Iredell & Mitchell Schools First). According to campaign finance filings in your office, the Committee is organized as a Bond Referendum Committee. As I’m sure you are aware, Bond Referendum Committees are organized for the purpose of supporting or defeating a bond referendum and are exempt from restrictions that prohibit donations from corporate sponsors. According to their reports, Our Schools First has received $89,500 in donations directly from corporations.

My concern is the committee is being used to improperly influence the upcoming Republican Primary election for County Commissioner, a matter completely unrelated to the bond issue they were established to support last election cycle. My theory is based upon candidate questionnaires that were mailed last week to Republican candidates for county commissioner. I have enclosed a copy of this questionnaire and of the postmarked letter from their committee. Furthermore, Diane Hamby, one of Our Schools First chief organizers, as reflected in their campaign finance reports, is a Democrat who has also filed for County Commissioner.

Based on these facts, I can only assume that this committee is intent upon circumventing campaign finance law. I appreciate your investigation into this matter.

Thank you,

Matt McCall
Chairman
Iredell Republican Party
PS: There are also discrepancies in their 2015 Mid-Year Report and Year End Report. Namely a $40 check that lacks a required purpose that is made out personally to Lisa Gill, an organizer of the committee. There is also a $521.98 disbursement made to no one, but for the purpose of “clear up discrepancies found in books after Frank Rader’s death when books were passed to Vickie Sawyer.” Where did this money go? Finally, the Full Name, Mailing Address & Phone number field in the CRO 1310 Disbursements Year End report are incomplete.

Supporting documentation was also apparently sent:

I’ve been told that the Iredell Board of Elections has opened an investigation into Our Schools First and an audit is going to take place.

Well done, Iredell GOP!


Related Reading:  #ncga: RINOs once again hunting Pittman

Posted in Democrats, Elections, EXCLUSIVE, LadyLiberty1885, NC Politics | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The Backstory On Those “Student Perception Surveys” – #NCed

Earlier this month, I wrote about another one of NC DPI’s bad ideas — the “student perception survey”.

These are surveys that have already been rolled out to schools to give to students to ‘rate’ their teachers. These surveys start as early as 3rd grade and are as long as many tests given to kids at that age like the MClass or CASE21.

There has been no parental notification of said surveys in my district of Wake County, which apparently have been rolled out using Powerschool. Many elementary parents, myself included, still do not have access to Powerschool.

I emailed Thomas R. Tomberlin who is the Director, Educator Human Capital Policy and Research and involved with these surveys about the funding and the parental notifications.
Here is the reply:

Hello Ms. Dillon,

Thank you for your email regarding student perception surveys. Districts have local policies on how parents opt their children out of participation in non-mandatory activities sponsored by their schools. If your school district elects to participate in the student perception surveys, they would already have a process for parents to opt out of participation on behalf of their children. You can check with your local school district on how to ensure your child does not participate in the process. No student would be required to provide feedback on this anonymous survey.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Thomas R. Tomberlin
Director, Educator Human Capital Policy and Research
Office of the Deputy State Superintendent

Note that he did not answer my question on the funding, so I replied back but as of the publishing of this article I have not received an answer.

Blame Game Begins

Having said all of that, I’ve been told that Dr. Atkinson has blamed the NC State Board of Education for these surveys. She’s apparently claimed they were the board’s idea, not hers and she’s just following orders. This line of defense has become Atkinson’s standard response whenever anything she does is questioned.

I took it upon myself to trace where these surveys came from and they did NOT come from the State Board of Education. Instead, these surveys have been known under a different name in previous discussions and were called  the ‘Panorama Student Survey’.

Please take a moment to read the “Student Survey Instrument” memo from Dr. Atkinson, dated October 15th, 2015.

In fact, in December 2015, the NC Teacher School Newsletter from NC DPI announced the roll out of these surveys (with credit to Dr. Henry) on page four:

NCDPI is excited to announce the implementation of Student Perception Surveys during the 2015-16 school year. In his research, Dr. Gary Henry of Vanderbilt University found that “both teachers and principals want more information on how teachers can improve their practices.” Student Perception Surveys offer teachers unique feedback from students with hours of direct classroom observation.

Information about Student Perception Surveys has already been shared with superintendents and administrators attending fall 2015 Principal READY sessions across the state.

Following is the proposed January survey administration timeline and survey for Semester 1 classes:

– Northeast, North Central and Southeast Regions: Assign Survey Coordinators. Start Jan. 4 and finish Jan. 15

– Northeast, North Central and Southeast Regions: Administer Surveys. Start Jan. 11 and finish Jan. 2

– Piedmont-Triad, Sandhills and Southwest Regions: Assign Survey Coordinators. Start Jan. 18 and finish Jan. 29

– Piedmont-Triad, Sandhills and Southwest Regions: Administer Surveys. Start Jan. 25 and finish Feb. 12

– Northwest and Western Regions: Assign Survey Coordinators. Start Jan. 4 and finish Jan. 15 – Northwest and Western Regions: Administer Surveys. Start Jan. 11 and finish Feb. 12 –

All Regions: Results Reporting. Start Feb. 15 and finish Feb. 26 If you have questions regarding the North Carolina Student Perception Surveys, please send an email to educatoreffectiveness@dpi.nc.gov

Follow The Money

These surveys appear to have originated with the Race To The Top Grant and a partnership between DPI, Dr. Gary Henry of Vanderbilt in conjunction with UNC Chapel Hill.  One can view Dr. Henry’s September 2015 presentation to the State Board of Education regarding such survey tools here.

It would appear these surveys might be less about teacher effectiveness and more about collecting more data on students.

Posted in Education, June Atkinson, NC Board Of Education, NC DPI | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment