Drought Intensifies: Covers Over 80% of California

On Thursday, a U.S. Drought Monitor map revealed that 81% of California is considered to be in extreme drought or worse. This represents a jump from 68% just three months ago, according to climatologists at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the maps are based on 50 indicators, including weather patterns, soil conditions, and water activity. Unfortunately for Californians, given the three-year length of the drought, it will be “harder to break the cycle,” said Brian Fuchs, a spokesman for the Center. Fuchs explained that the drought is mirroring similar super dry conditions found in parts of Oklahoma and the entire state of Texas, which have been struggling with drought since 2010.

The Times reported that the climatologists created the maps to evaluate drought conditions in the U.S. and provide a measurement tool. The maps rank climate conditions from abnormally dry conditions (D1) to exceptional drought conditions (D4), the highest intensity.

Fuchs said that some have asked if it is possible to break through the (D4) level, and move into an even worse condition. Fuchs said it could happen, but it only occurs every 200-300 years. “It would be a significant event,” Fuchs said.

Source: Breitbart Feed

7 Major Differences between No Child Left Behind and Common Core/Race to the Top

1. Focus of Accountability: Schools or Teachers

Under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), schools and school districts were held accountable based on student scores.

Under Common Core/Race to the Top (CC/RttT), teachers are to be held accountable based on varying percentages of student scores from state to state.

2. Source of State Standards: State Agencies or Private DC-Based Organizations

Under NCLB or earlier, standards were developed by state departments of education guided by education schools, national teacher organizations, teachers, and higher education academic experts. They were approved through a public process applied to multiple drafts.

Under CC/RttT, standards were developed by private organizations with no transparent review and finalization process, and no public discussion of final draft. The March 2010 public comment draft went out for two weeks of comment, but the comments are not available to the public.

3. Control of Test Content: State Agencies or Federal Agency

Under NCLB, state tests were developed/contracted for by state departments of education and reviewed by a state’s teachers, consultants, and public agencies. Test items were also reviewed by independent sources before tests were given and/or after test administration.

Under CC/RttT, tests are developed by private organizations and unknown individuals, with limited public review of test items before tests [are] given and no public release of all or most test items after use.

4. Control of Passing Score: State Agencies or Federal Agency

Under NCLB in each state, the process for determining passing scores was controlled by state departments of education, with parents and state legislators participating in the determination of passing scores by means of an open vote.

For CC-based tests, there seems to be a non-transparent process controlled by both state departments of education and the test consortia, with possible oversight by the USDE. While parents and others may be included, committee membership may be controlled by both state DoEs and the test consortia, with no participation in a vote permitted to parents and state legislators. It is not clear how the passing score for all states will be determined and if there will be state-specific scores. An announcement from one test consortium indicates that “recommendations from the Online Panel, the In-Person Panel, and the Vertical Articulation Committee” will be presented to the chief school officers in Smarter Balanced governing states for their consideration and endorsement, in order to establish a common set of achievement levels for mathematics and English language arts/Literacy across grades 3–8 and high school.

No involvement is indicated for the Congressional House of Representatives.

5. Purpose: High school graduation or college-readiness

Under NCLB, the goal of K-12 standards was graduation from high school based on passing tests based on state-developed standards. Under RttT, the goal after passing tests based on CC standards is enrollment in credit-bearing coursework at post-secondary institutions, with the further goal of a college diploma or certificate. Assumption: every student is judged on preparedness for college, even though it is not clear that preparedness for that goal is equivalent to preparedness for an occupational career.

6. Who benefits? Professional Development Providers or Technology and Global Education Companies

Who makes money from the public trough? Under NCLB, professional development providers. Under CC/RttT, high-tech companies that need to equip 50 million students for computer-based testing, and global/national professional development providers that can now provide the same kind of program to all teachers.

7. Subject Expertise of Teachers: Assured by School District or State Licensure Test Only

Under NCLB, states and local school districts were to ensure the subject expertise of all teachers (via an undergraduate major, a teacher license, or HOUSSE plan to ensure “highly qualified” teacher). Under RttT, teacher subject expertise is subsumed under teacher “effectiveness,” on the basis of which redistribution of teachers may take place if it can be determined that low-income students have a lower percentage of “effective” teachers than do other students.

This article has been reprinted from the Pioneer Institute.

Source: Breitbart Feed

Massachusetts Gov Proposes Housing Illegals on Bases Without Informing Commanders, Communities

After Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D) announced on Friday that the state was willing to house illegal immigrant children at two military bases, communities throughout the region raised concerns about the potential strain on their already strapped budgets. Commanders on the bases complained they had not been informed beforehand and raised security concerns. 

Patrick said that he proposed illegal immigrant children be housed at Joint Base Cape Cod in Bourne and Westover Air Base in Chicopee. But at Westover Air Reserve Base, “Sgt. Andrew S. Biscoe said the commanders would like to help, but all of the rooms that are on the base are occupied on the weekend by reservists.” According to CBS3 Springfield, “it was the first time officials on the base had heard the news,” and Briscoe said the Base “has limited facilities and open land, but there are security concerns.”

Local officials also raised concerns about the fiscal impact of housing illegal immigrants. 

According to the Boston Herald, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell “said school officials told him four families — three from Guatemala and one from Honduras — recently released from immigration detention centers in Texas will be enrolling their kids in New Bedford public schools this fall.”

Officials from Brockton, Chelsea, Quincy, and Everett said housing illegal immigrants in the state would strain their budgets even more. Chelsea, MA was swamped last year “by 267 students from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, all of whom were not previously enrolled in a U.S. school.” 

The influx of illegal immigrants strains social services that are strapped for Americans in those communities, according to the officials. That sentiment was echoed by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.

“If you cannot properly provide services for these illegal migrants that are coming over the border, what are you then perpetuating?” Sarno said. “You’re perpetuating poverty being concentrated on top of poverty, which would be in urban centers such as Springfield.”

Source: Breitbart Feed

Fear of ‘Islamophobia’ Gave Islamists Free Reign in Birmingham Schools

A group of Islamist fundamentalists were able to infiltrate the management of at least 10 schools in Birmingham, UK, because council officials were too scared to confront them out of fear of being labelled “Islamophobic”.

According to the Guardian, a report by Ian Kershaw, independent advisor to Birmingham City Council, concluded that fundementalists were even allowed to break the law in order to introduce strict Islamic practices, such as sex segregation, to classes.

Sir Albert Bore, the Labour leader of Birmingham City Council, yesterday apologised to the people of Birmingham “for the way the actions of a few, including some within the council, have undermined the great reputation of our city”, but refused to resign, blaming the previous Conservative administration turning a blind eye to the problem.

Kershaw found there had been a “coordinated, deliberate and sustained action to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamist ethos into some schools in the city”, which had been achieved through a “determined effort to change schools, often by unacceptable practices, in order to influence educational and religious provision for the students served”.

However, Kershaw’s report contradicts another report carried out by counter-terrorism police officer Peter Clarke when it claims that there was “no evidence of a conspiracy to promote an anti-British agenda, violent extremism or radicalisation of schools in east Birmingham.”

Clarke’s report, commissioned by former education secretary Michael Gove, said there had been a “sustained and coordinated agenda to impose upon children in a number of Birmingham schools the segregationist attitudes and practices of a hardline and politicised strain of Sunni Islam“.

Kershaw did say, however, that some children had been “coerced” into Muslim worship. Girls were also ordered to return from a tennis coaching programme because “because the school policy… does not allow girls to have a male coach and take part in any activity with boys”. A girls’ netball game was also cancelled because organisers could not guarantee that no men would be present.

Kershaw says that the main culprits are “men of Pakistani heritage” who “moved between schools” while trying to spread their views through the “unacceptable bullying and harassment of headteachers”.

He says there are “serious governance issues that exist in a small number of schools in east Birmingham as a result of, at best, poor skills, and at worst, serious malpractice, by members of certain governing bodies.”

Source: Breitbart Feed

Roger Goodell: Football Safer, NFL Players Living Longer Than Men Outside the Game

Detractors may have been able to marginalize and stigmatize boxing–only to see it supplanted by the equally violent mixed-martial arts–but according to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the same fate will not befall professional football.

Talking to assembled press, including Breitbart News, on Thursday at the biannual Television Critics Association Press Tour, currently ongoing in Beverly Hills, California, Goodell, a former schoolboy football player, responded to a question from Breitbart News about growing efforts to cast football as beyond the pale.

“I played the game of football for 11 years,” he said. “And I wouldn’t give back a single day of playing the game. It’s a great sport. It teaches you a lot about life skills that I still use today, whether it’s discipline, whether it’s hard work, whether it’s working with people to reach a higher goal, learning about yourself, and how to get up when you’re physically knocked down, as well as emotionally knocked down.”

Talking as part of a panel–which also included CBS Corporation president and CEO Leslie Moonves, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus–about CBS sharing Thursday-night games with the NFL Network this season, Goodell also reflected on how football has overcome similar challenges in the past.

He said, “The game of football is a great game, and people have played it for generations. There have been views about the health of football for over a century. The reality is, because we’re so successful, and because we have such a big platform, we recognize there is going to be a spotlight on us. That’s why we’ve gone to make our game safer, whether it’s rules and equipment at the NFL level, and procedures that will make not just college football and high school and youth football safer, but I think, all sports.

“The awareness that we’re bringing to concussions has been good not only for sports, but also armed services, our soldiers. So, we’re proud of the position we take in making sports safer. Our players, by a government study, are living, on average, three years longer than the average male.”

As the father of twin girl soccer players–and as someone who played not only football but basketball and baseball, and had injuries prevent him from pursuing college football–Goodell also said, “The concussion rate in soccer, particularly girls’ soccer, is very high; same with lacrosse. And there’s a movement to specialization in youth sports which, my personal view is, that’s not a good thing for kids. Our kids should play sports. They should play them safely, but play as many sports as they possibly can.”

When another reporter cited fears that football would diminish as fewer parents let their sons play, Goodell said, “Well, you’re missing a lot of facts. First off, that kids are playing the game. Parents are making those decisions. They want to know that they can do it safely. So you’re asking a very hypothetical question.

“But my very strong belief is the best days in the NFL are ahead of it. The game will continue to grow and continue to flourish. We’ll continue to invest in the game at those levels.”

The conversation about head injuries continued, and Goodell turned for an example to the Super Bowl-winning Seattle Seahawks and its very effective defensive squad, nicknamed “The Legion of Boom.”

“We’re taking the head out of the game,” Goodell maintained, “and that is leading to some very positive developments, both from a safety standpoint and from a quality-of-football standpoint. The number-one defense last year was the Seattle Seahawks. Most people would argue that they tackled as hard as anybody, but they also tackled with appropriate fundamentals.

“And [coach] Pete Carroll just sent me a tape on what he’s teaching, called ‘Hawk tackling,’ which is incredibly positive in the way you learn how to tackle and keeping your head out of the game.”

Source: Breitbart Feed