Permanent Progress Results From Education, Not From Legislation.


We must realize that young people today are torn between the traditions of the past and the uncertainties of the future. A way of life that guided the conduct of older generations has broken down and it is very unlikely that it will be restored.

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Disillusionment is a phase through which we all pass in one way or another. Children today must live in a world their parents have never known.

Today millions of young people face a future that offers no encouragement for effort and no reward for merit. Education insures no preferment, ability creates no security; the foundations of honesty and integrity have been undermined by the pressures of a perverted profit system.

The present youth crisis is more than a temporary emergency. This condition cannot solve itself. The answer must be found in an intelligent and farseeing program of industrial and social planning.

Today the nation’s most important asset, our youth, continues to remain unrepresented. Unorganized and unemployed, it is rapidly approaching dangerous crises, and stands in desperate need of wise and sympathetic direction.

America’s youth is the helpless victim of industrial feudalism. The energy, courage and vision of youth can support the progress of the world, yet it is denied a place in the sun. No provision has been made to insure a square deal to the young people of America; no hero has come forth to champion their cause before a self-centered generation.

For the most part their problems are unconsidered, their needs unanalyzed, and their future unassured. The miseries, uncertainties and disillusionments of past decades are overshadowing and oppressing the new generations.

Can America afford to ignore the psychological force and constructive energy of its young people?

In a few years the older generation, with its plots and spoils, must pass away. Instead of battling the feudal lords of industry and finance, secure in their high places, leave them to the inevitable ravages of time. If these hard-set men who think only in terms of success, and whose only emotion is love of power, cannot be reformed, we need not despair. What men cannot change, nature will remove in due time.

Why not educate the younger generation to a different standard of life and action? Let’s invest every resource of the nation, if necessary, in equipping youth to rule the world of tomorrow more wisely than age is ruling it today.

The vast sums now being expended for relief are only taking care of an imminent problem. The fundamental psychology of the country must be changed. If we can change our attitude from that of rapacious greed to one of national pride and solidarity, then the root of the problem has been touched

If we can prevent the younger generation from being corrupted by the old selfish codes which perverted our father’s time the death rate will bring a natural end to the Age of greed.

The man who is fed today is hungry tomorrow.

Is it not more extravagant for a nation to assume economic responsibility for millions of indigent persons that to finance a program, which will eventually render charity unnecessary?

One of the greatest fallacies in our viewpoint is that we try to reform adult delinquents, striving to cure people of innate selfishness when they are too old and set to change.

Let us then try to straighten the bent twig than the inclined tree.

Under our present industrial system the employment of the millions of unemployed is practically impossible. The country must be prepared to make drastic changes in its economic system or else be satisfied to support for years to come the millions of people who are permanently crowded out of industry. The better alternative is to build for the future, to look forward 10 or 20 years instead of at our noses.

As no plan has yet been attempted which solves the basic cause of unemployment, it would seem the vital issue of the hour is the discovery of some method to preserve the integrity and self-respect for our coming generations.

We must make our young people a part of the nation is a new and thrilling way, from the first day of school until they finally emerge into their own life. They must be led to realize that they are important and necessary. The psychology of helping themselves and at the same time others will give them enthusiasm and dignity.

Youth is probably the most vulnerable element in the psychology of the American people. No one can attack youth’s right to life, liberty, and happiness without exposing their own intolerance and inhumanity.

The sentiments, higher emotions and ideals of people are never drawn out and played upon and that is why they are so seldom expressed in national life.

At the present time, nearly every country of the world is in serious difficulties. We hear continuing reports of conferences and summit meeting to arbitrate the feuds and dilemmas of nations, communities and – for that matter – private lives. The old traditional ways of solving disagreements between countries are over worked and have virtually no effect.

There are forebodings of further probable disasters, and the citizens of the various political structures are on the verge of revolution. Up until now there seems to be no comprehensive approach for successfully dealing with even one of the impending catastrophes.

Why not face the facts and study the historical and psychological conditions, which are responsible for practically all of the tragedies that have befallen the world over the last, several thousand years?

I think there is constructive hope in the idea of a complete educational overhaul, no only encompassing the classroom but also including the standard reference books on the critical events that have distinguished and disfigured the planet for a long time.

The concept now seems to center on the importance of reconstruction of the public school system so that young people are better informed about the great social problems we have inherited from the past.

Democratic commonwealth can never be legislated into existence. Nor can it result from treaties or conferences. This is clearly indicated in the failure of the United Nations. They have failed to prevent war because the nations, which make up the union, lack courage of high conviction; they failed the very institution, which they themselves established.

Permanent progress results from education, and not from legislation. The true purpose of education is to inform the mind in basic truths concerning conduct and the consequences of conduct. Education is not merely fitting the individual for the problems of economic survival.

No human being who is moved to actions through wrong motivation, or misuses the privileges of his times, can be regarded as educated, regardless of the amount of formal schooling he received.

Civilization after civilization has been built up by human courage and destroyed by human ignorance. We stand again on the threshold of great decision.

Live and Learn. We All Do.

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What is Hermetica?


The Hermetica is a collection of writing attributed to Thoth- a mythical ancient Egyptian sage whose wisdom is said to have transformed him into a god.  Although largely unknown today, the writings attributed to Hermes/Thoth have been immensely important in the history of Western thought.  They profoundly influenced the Greeks, and through their rediscovery in fifteenth-century florence, helped to inspire the ‘Renaissance’ which gave birth to our modern age.

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The list of people who acknowledge a debt to the Hermetica reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the greatest philosophers, scientists and artists that the West has produced- Leonardo da Vinci, Duer, Botticelli, Roger Bacon, Paracelsus, Thomas More, William Blake, Kepler, Copernicus, Isaac Newton, Sir Walter Raleigh, Milton, Ben Johnson, Daniel Dafoe, Shelley and his wife Mary, Victor Hugo and Carl jung.  It heavily influenced Shakespeare, John Donne, John Dee and all the poet-philosophers who surrounded the court of Queen Elizabeth I, as well as the founding scientists of the Royal Society in London, and even threaders who inspired the Protestant Reformation in Europe.  The list is endless, with Hermetica’s influence reaching well beyond the frontiers of Europe.

The Hermetica is a cornerstone of Western culture.  In substance and importance it is equal to well-known Eastern scriptures like Upanishads, the Dhammapada and the Tao Te Ching.  Yet, unlike these texts which are now readily available and widely read, the works of Hermes have been lost under the dead weight of academic translations, Christian prejudice and occult obscurities.

History shows that wherever the works of Hermes have been studied and venerated, civilisation flourished.  Pagans and sages fled to the newly emerging Arab culture, taking their knowledge and the Hermetic writings with them.  Two hundred years later, the Muslims created an empire who learning and scientific achievements were unsurpassed.

Overlighting Sacred Union

By the beginning of the ninth century, the first university was established in Baghdad, called the ‘House of Wisdom’.  Here many pagan works were translated, the sciences that had reached such heights in Alexandria were significantly developed, and the ancient Pagan spiritual wisdom was covertly studied and practised.  From its exalted position amongst the sacred scriptures of Egyptian spirituality, the Hermetica became the secret inspiration for an important undercurrent in Islamic philosophy.

With the Arab empire becoming increasingly intolerant, the owners of the Hermetic books travelled in search of a safe refuge.  In the fifteenth century many fled to the tolerant city state of Florence in Northern Italy, where this wisdom again inspired a great cultural flowering.

The emergence of a glorious new culture in Florence signalled the end of the Dark Ages.  We call this period the ‘Renaissance’, meaning ‘rebirth’, which is a fitting name, for at the heart of the Hermetic philosophy is the idea of being spiritually reborn.
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As in Alexandria a thousand years earlier, the Renaissance viewed science, art, literature and religions parts of a united whole to be studied together.  All aspects of human life were now opened up as legitimate areas of investigation.  It was a situation that challenged the authorities of the Roman Catholic Church in 1492, with the aid of the Kind of France, they crushed the Republic of Florence.

In the modern world we know from the actions of the tabloid press how one well-timed ‘hatchet job’ can unjustifiably undermine someone’s reputation for good.  This is exactly what happened to the Hermetic teachings.

As old as the Christian gospels and older than the Qu’ran, it is one of the great sacred texts of the world.  It is worthy of respect and study for these reasons alone.

Although human culture has changed beyond recognition from the times of ancient Egyptians, the essential mysteries of life have remained what they have always been and always will be.  For those alive to these mysteries, the writings of Hermes are as relevant today as they were in the distant past.

Live and Learn.  We All Do.

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7 Reasons for the Hidden Mental Health Crisis of America’s Youth


There’s a crisis of mental health in our children’s schools and it’s getting worse!

7 reasons contributing to this epidemic are as follows:

1) An unsound, impractical and inadequate educational theory.  It perpetuates much that is obsolete and ignores most of that which is vital in knowledge.

2) A vicious popular psychology of success.  The young are constantly urged to force their way into lines of endeavour for which they are unsuited, merely for reasons of monetary gain.  Progress cannot continue with money as a sole motive for effort.

3) Inadequate, prejudiced, ignorant and intolerant religious training.  Narrow religious concepts so distort the ethical values that religion’s true work of character building is ignored.sapvoice-can-software-help-solve-the-global-education-crisis-q4Fz6T-clipart.jpg

4) Lack of understanding between young people and the older generation.  Children receive detrimental training based on the example of unfairness set by their elders.

5) Non-representation in social and political life.  Young people must grow up and live in other men’s worlds, with no right and no voice in the correction of flagrant evils of which they themselves are conscious.

6) Loss of resourcefulness.  The educational theory destroys initiative, the social order discourages originality, and neither offers any security in the place of the qualities they kill out.

7) Loss of confidence in life, self and authority.  This condition is greatly aggravated by unemployment and the impossibility of finding useful outlets for skill and knowledge acquired through schooling.

It has taken years to being about the present evil and it will take years to perfect a cure.  The education of youth in the essential values of life and the release of their young minds from the abnormal complexes which grip this generation is the only way to prevent these social crises.

Young people are the most vulnerable element in the psychology of the American people.  It will be easier to coordinate the mind of the people on this issue than on any other od the programs under consideration.  No one can attack a young person’s right to life, liberty and happiness, without exposing his own intolerance and inhumanity.

Live and Learn. We All Do.

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An Open Letter To The Department Of Education


by Krista Taylor

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202

Governor John Kasich
Riffe Center, 30th Floor
77 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43215-6117

Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria
Ohio Department of Education
25 South Front Street
Columbus, OH 43215-4183

Dear Secretary DeVos, Governor Kasich, and Superintendent DeMaria:

I write to each of you, in my position as a teacher in the Cincinnati Public Schools, to ask for your assistance. I include both federal and state politicians here, as in the past when I had the opportunity to address concerns to a member of the Federal Department of Education, I was told that these issues were under state control, but when, while working as part of a committee examining the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), I addressed the same concerns to members of the State Department of Education, I was told that these issues were under federal control.

As a result, I invite all of you to engage in the conversation together in hope that rather than finger pointing, we can begin to seek solutions.

As we implement new education legislation, I ask that teachers be treated as the experts we are. That we are not just included in the conversation, but that we are leading it. The data demands it, and our children deserve it.

An Artificial Crisis

Politicians and the media have had a field day “exposing,” and attempting to address, what has been described as an educational crisis in America. I, too, believe that we are facing a crisis; however, unlike many in the school reform movement, I do not think that teachers and schools are at the root of this crisis. Rather I think it is the very reform efforts themselves – known generally as the “school accountability movement” — that has caused this concern.

I do not blame the Common Core State Standards. Many people conflate the Common Core State Standards with school accountability measures, but, to be clear, while there are some overlaps between these issues, the CCSS are not to blame in isolation for the challenges we are facing in education today. As a teacher, my personal opinion is that the jury is still out on CCSD, and will remain so until we have experienced several cohorts of students whose education has occurred entirely under CCSD. There are some who believe that this set of standards is not developmentally appropriate for students. This may be, but to be clear, the Standards themselves are merely goals to aim for. I am happy to have a high bar set for both my students and myself, as long as I am given time, support, and resources to attempt to meet that bar, and with the understanding that since students all start at different places, success lies in moving them toward the goal.

The standards are not the problem. The problem is the methodology being used to monitor them.

A Look at the Data

There is a body of information indicating that the supposed “crisis” in American Education has been misreported, and that this myth has been supported and sustained by a repeated skewing of the reported data.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is a national database that has tracked student progress in reading and math since the early 1970s. It is given to students at ages 9, 13, and 17, and the tests have been carefully monitored for consistency over the course of nearly 40 years. The results of this data indicate that reading and math scores have remained fairly static from year to year, with both increasing somewhat over time. For example, the 2012 data indicated that for thirteen year olds, the average reading scores  increased by 8 raw points and average math scores increased by 21 raw points, since the first data reported in 1978.[1]

This does not look like a crisis at all. The “educational crisis” hysteria has seemed to predominantly come from information comparing United States’ educational data with that from other countries.

Whenever we compare educational outcomes, we must be careful to monitor for external factors – for example, when comparing data internationally, we must take into account that the United States educates and assesses all students until the age of 18; whereas some other countries place students in various forms of tracked models and do not include all of these groups in their testing.

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UNICEF’s table on childhood poverty rates in economically advanced countries

Additionally, the United States has a very high child poverty rate. The 2012 UNICEF report listed The United States’ child poverty rate as 34thout of 35 “economically advanced” countries, with only Romania scoring lower.[2]

We know that poverty impacts academic achievement, and this must be taken into account when comparing U.S. scores internationally. For example, when the oft-cited data from the Program for International Assessment (PISA) is disaggregated based on economic status, we can see a trend that clearly indicates that the problem is poverty, rather than instruction.

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PISA rankings disaggregated by poverty levels

United States’ schools with fewer than 10% of students living in poverty score higher than any country in the world. Schools with student poverty rates that are less than 24.9% rank 3rdin the world, and schools with poverty rates ranging from 25% to 49.9% rank 10th in the world. However, schools with 50% to 74.9% poverty rates rank much lower – fifth from the bottom. Tragically, schools with 75% or higher poverty rates rank lower in reading scores than any country except Mexico.[3]

Couple this with the 2013 data that indicates that a majority (51%) of public school students live in poverty in this country, and we see the true depth of the actual crisis of poverty, and its impact on education.[4]

A Crisis of Poverty

Schools with the lowest rates of student achievement are typically those with the highest number of disadvantaged students and the fewest available resources. The problem runs deeper than just funding, however. Children living in poverty often have a specialized set of social-emotional and academic needs. Schools with high percentages of economically disadvantaged students cannot be treated in the same manner as more affluent schools.

Education is neither a business nor is it a factory. We do not start with identical raw materials, and act upon them in a systematic way to produce an identical product. In the same vein, we cannot judge instructional efficacy in a single manner, with a single measure, and expect to get a consistent result. Teaching is a service industry, and we work with human capital. There are myriad factors at play that influence what appropriate expectations are for any given student, but poverty is likely the most impactful of these factors.

Children living in poverty are more likely to be coping with what has been labeled “toxic stress”– caused by a high number of identified adverse childhood events. Factors such as death or incarceration of a parent, addiction, mental illness, and abuse, among other things, have been labeled as adverse childhood events. Poverty, itself, is considered to be a type of sustained adverse childhood experience, and it also is a correlate factor, since living in poverty increases the likelihood of experiencing other adverse childhood events.[5]

We know that these types of severe and chronic stress lead to long-term changes in children’s mental and physical development, and that this directly impacts their performance in school. “On an emotional level, toxic stress can make it difficult for children to moderate their responses to disappointments and provocations. A highly sensitive stress-response system constantly on the lookout for threats can produce patterns of behavior that are self-defeating in school: fighting, talking back, acting up, and, more subtly, going through each day perpetually wary of connection with peers or teachers. On a cognitive level, chronically elevated stress can disrupt the development of what are known as executive functions …, which include working memory, attentional control, and cognitive flexibility.”[6]

We know that children living in poverty face greater academic challenges than their middle and upper class counterparts, and yet, instead of helping this situation, the school accountability movement has chosen to vilify the wrong thing (teachers and schools), and has used standardized test scores as the weapon of choice to add insult to injury.

A Moving Target

In Ohio, there have been so many moving pieces at play that it is impossible to get a statistically valid measure. Over the course of the past three years, schools, teachers, and students have had their performance assessed using a different measurement tool each year. The 2013-2014 school year was the final year for assessment using the old Ohio State Standards and the Ohio Achievement Assessments. In the 2014-2015 school year, we switched to a combination of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) and American Institute of Research (AIR) assessments based on the Common Core State Standards. Due to the legislation passed which illegalized PARCC administration in the state of Ohio, in the 2015-2016 school year, we administered AIR tests for the full battery of testing. During those same years, Ohio increased the number of grades and subjects areas tested.

In addition to these changes, the identified percentage of correct responses for proficiency on each test has changed each year, and the percentage of students scoring proficient in order to schools to be considered successful in achieving Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) has also increased each year.

So, the standards have changed, the tests have changed, the acceptable percent of correct responses has changed, the required percentage of students achieving proficiency has changed.

Tell me again why we think this is an accurate and reliable system for measuring student achievement?

It is, therefore, not surprising that scores have remained anything but static. For the 2012-2013 school year, Cincinnati Public Schools was rated as being in “Continuous Improvement,” while the school where I teach was deemed “Excellent.” For the 2015-2016 school year, the Cincinnati Public Schools received four ratings of “F” and 2 ratings of “D,” while the school where I teach received 3 “F” ratings and 2 D ratings. (As a high school program, we are not rated in the area of K-3 Literacy.)

There are only two ways to interpret this. Either, over the course of three years, the quality of instruction has declined precipitously (across a district of nearly 3,000 teachers), or the data is invalid. The former assumption is nonsensical; the latter is terrifying based on the weight this data carries when making educational decisions.

Teacher performance evaluations are linked to test scores, School and district report cards are based almost exclusively on test scores, and, student graduation is based on test scores. But if the tools keep changing and the target keeps moving, how is it even remotely possible to measure improvement?

This concern is compounded by the subjectivity of the scores determined for proficiency – the cut scores are neither norm-referenced nor consistent from year to year.

For the 2015-2016 testing, in reading and math, across all grade levels, the screen-shot-2016-12-24-at-11-42-51-pmpercentage of students projectedto score proficient or above ranged from 52-66%. This means that even on tests where students were “most likely to pass,” it was anticipated that only 66% of students would do so, and for other tests this was as low as 52%. For many tests, the reality was significantly worse. Only 21% of students taking Integrated Mathematics (Math 2) across the state were deemed proficient or above, and only 24% of students taking the Geometry test scored proficient or above. This is an awfully broad-scale problem to make the assumption that the issue of concern lies with students and teachers, rather than with the testing itself and with the structure of the system of accountability.[7]

And once again, we see that poverty plays a role in these outcomes. For the 2015-2016 school year, 94% of urban schools in Ohio received ratings of D or F. Because of school accountability, and the high-stakes nature of the tests, scores like these cause the testing pressure to ratchet up. Low scores necessarily result in greater time and resources being spent solely to improve these scores.   Some call this “test preparation;” others call it “teaching to the test.” Testing and school accountability result in too much time spent on testing, and on teaching curriculum that loses much of the flexible, creative, engaging, and in-depth instruction that keeps students engaged in learning and educators engaged in teaching. As one former urban school principal, concerned about the state report card, said during a faculty meeting when a teacher dared question how testing was detracting from her carefully crafted curriculum, “The test IS the curriculum! What are you, STUPID?!?!”

An Unavoidable Outcome

In 2013, the American Federation of Teachers reported that in heavily tested grades, up to fifty hours a year was spent on testing and up to 110 hours a year devoted to test preparation. Schools with high percentages of disadvantaged students bear the greatest weight for this, as they tend to have the greatest required gains in testing outcomes. The Center for American Progress notes that students in urban high schools spend up to 266% more time taking standardized tests than students in suburban schools.[8]

And this is the fundamental problem with school accountability measures. They have caused the American public school system to become overly focused on a single measurement of success, and that measure is most punitive to populations that are already struggling.

Standardized test data is one measure of academic achievement, and as such it is valuable, but it is nothing more than a single data point. However, this data point has become so important that it is driving every other aspect of the educational train.

I want that data point – I want it for each of my students individually, and I want it for my class collectively – because it tells me something. But it doesn’t tell me everything, and we are treating it as if it does. How can the snapshot of a test score – given on a certain day, in a certain amount of time, with a specific type of questioning – tell me more than what I know as a result of working with my students hour after hour, day after day, for 40 weeks? It can’t, of course.

A Teacher’s Plea

Teachers are professionals, and we should be treated as such.

We are required to hold, at minimum, a Bachelor’s degree in teaching one or more subject areas; we also must complete significant amounts of additional training every year, and, at least in Ohio, to submit this to the state for re-licensure every five years. Most importantly, teachers are highly practiced in assessment and interpretation of results through our daily work with students and our careful observation of, and reflection on, student learning .

Education is complicated. Student growth is broad and deep, and sometimes happens in fits and starts and other times grows slowly and consistently. This complex process could never be adequately measured by a series of tests.

I know my students. I know when I am moving too quickly or too slowly, and I know when they are succeeding and when they are struggling. To assume that the state can determine this, and can make judgments on the effectiveness of my instruction based solely on a single measure is folly – especially when we know that students in poverty, the teachers who educate them, and the schools that serve them, will be judged most harshly by these measures. In fact, standardized test scores may tell us very little about a teachers’ impact or a students’ future success.

As Paul Tough writes, “A few years ago, a young economist at Northwestern University named C. Kirabo Jackson began investigating how to measure educators’ effectiveness. In many school systems these days, teachers are assessed based primarily on one data point: the standardized-test scores of their students. Jackson suspected that the true impact teachers had on their students was more complicated than a single test score could reveal… He created a proxy measure for students’ noncognitive ability. Jackson’s new index measured how engaged students were in school – Whether they showed up, whether they misbehaved, and how hard they worked in their classes. Jackson found that this was, remarkably, a better predictor than student’s test scores of whether the students would go on to attend college, a better predictor of adult wages, and a better predictor of future arrests.”[9]

School Accountability measures with their fundamental focus on testing reduces teachers’ ability to focus on nurturing students’ “noncognitive ability,” and this is damaging to students and teachers alike — perhaps irrevocably damaging.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is moving us in the right direction by removing the requirement that teacher evaluations be linked to standardized test outcomes, but it doesn’t go far enough, and it leaves the window open for states to continue this practice.

As a nation, we must move away from our obsession with testing outcomes. The only group that is profiting from this is the testing industry. And with 1.7 billion dollars being spent by states annually on testing, they are, quite literally, profiting, and at the tax payers’ expense.[10]

The most critical solution to this is to untie student, teacher, and school accountability measures from testing outcomes, or to combine these scores with a variety of other measures of success. In addition, we need to dramatically reduce the time spent on testing by requiring tests in fewer grades, or not administering tests every year. No high-performing nation in the world tests all students annually.[11]

An Expert Opinion

We are not in an education crisis. We are in a crisis of poverty that is being exacerbated by the school accountability movement and the testing industry. At best, this movement has been misguided. At worst, it is an intentional set up to bring about the demise of the public education system – mandatory testing designed to produce poor results which leads to greater investment made in test preparation programs provided by the same companies who produce the tests, coupled with a related push for privatization of the educational system. All touted as a means to save us from this false crisis.

Politics, not education, got us into this mess, and it is politics that must get us out of it.

We must not go further down this rabbit hole. The future of our educational system, and the future of our children, is at stake. No one who has not worked in the sector of public education should be making decisions about our school system without careful consideration of the insights of those who will be directly impacted by those decisions.

As we move forward with a new federal administration, and as the state of Ohio makes decisions relative to implementation of ESSA, I beg you to not just include teachers and parents in the discussion, but to ensure that we are the loudest voices in the conversation.

I hope that you will consider the issues raised here, and most importantly, that you will listen to the voices of the teachers and parents who are trying so desperately to be heard.

Thank you for your time. I am happy to engage in the conversation further; feel free to contact me at taylorkrista70@gmail.com

 

Sincerely,

Kristina L. Taylor
Intervention Specialist; Team Leader
James N. Gamble Montessori High School
2015 Educator of the Year

[1] “LTT – Select Criteria.” LTT – Select Criteria. National Center for Education Statistics, n.d. Web. 22 Dec. 2016.

[2] Adamson, Peter. Measuring Child Poverty: New League Tables of Child Poverty in the World’s Rich Countries. Florence, Italy: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, 2012. Web.

[3] “Access Quality Education: Policy News.” Access Quality Education: Policy News. National Access Network, n.d. Web. 22 Dec. 2016.

[4] Tough, Paul. “How Kids Learn Resilience.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, June 2016. Web. 22 Dec. 2016.

[5] “Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study: Leading Determinants of Health.” PsycEXTRA Dataset (2014): 1-5. American Academy of Pediactrics. American Academy of Pediatrics. Web. 20 Dec. 2016.

[6] Tough, Paul. “How Kids Learn Resilience.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, June 2016. Web. 22 Dec. 2016. p. 3.

[7] Dealer, Patrick O’Donnell The Plain. “Scores on Ohio’s High School Math Tests Much Lower than Expected, Sparking Debate over Graduation Requirements.” Cleveland.com. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, 03 June 2016. Web. 22 Dec. 2016.

[8] Mulholland, Quinn. “The Case Against Standardized Testing.” Harvard Political Review. Harvard Political Review, 05 Nov. 2015. Web. 22 Dec. 2016.

[9] Tough, Paul. “How Kids Learn Resilience.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, June 2016. Web. 22 Dec. 2016. p. 9.

[10] Mulholland, Quinn. “The Case Against Standardized Testing.” Harvard Political Review. Harvard Political Review, 05 Nov. 2015. Web. 22 Dec. 2016.

[11] @dianeravitch. “No High-Performing Nation in the World Tests Every Student Every Year.”Diane Ravitch’s Blog. N.p., 22 Nov. 2016. Web. 22 Dec. 2016.

Live and Learn.  We All Do.

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She’s Alive… Beautiful… Finite… Hurting… Worth Dying for.


Dedicated to all those who have died in her name…..

Live and Learn. We All Do.

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The More We Learn, The Less Certain We Become


One the most important factors for the continued existence of any country is its defense capability. As a nation, it must be in a constant state of preparedness to face all kinds of threats and danger from external and internal sources.

No matter how well developed and advanced a country may be, if it fails to defend itself, it could be brought to ruin with the launching of even a minor military offensive against it, or even a well-directed and unanticipated terrorist act. In the face of such threats, neither its natural resources, its technological prowess, not its economy will be of any avail. If the country in question is unable to defend itself, it may even cease to exist

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This is one of the reasons why significant amounts of the national income is regularly allocated to defense; nowadays, armed forces have to be provided with the most advanced weaponry, tools and equipment fitted with the latest technological features, and meticulous training has to be given to soldiers in an all-out attempt to keep defense systems fully functional.

No less than countries, people too have to be concerned about their defense, if they want to lead a healthy and peaceful life. They inevitably have to protect themselves and their possession against criminal acts, such as theft and murder, as well as against natural disasters, such as accidents, fire, earthquakes and floods. But this is not the end of the matter.

Human beings have other enemies, which go unseen by them and, as such, are often ignored. Actually, these enemies are much more resilient than the others. Serious measures must, therefore, be taken to guard against them.

Who, or what then are these enemies that keep human beings under constant threat?

They are bacteria, viruses, and similar microscopic organisms, which may exist in the water we drink, the food we eat, the house we live in, and the office where we work. In essence, they are everywhere.

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Most interestingly, in spite of being surrounded by such a serious threat, we make no effort whatsoever to protect ourselves against it. This is because there is a mechanism within our bodies, which undertakes this task on our behalf, providing the necessary protection for us, without causing us the slightest disturbance. This is “The Defense System”.

The defense cells that protect the human body against invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, and similar micro-organisms, are equipped with extraordinary abilities. The patterns of intelligence, effort, and sacrifice, which these cells display during the war they wage in the body, astonish everyone who learns about them.

According to statements of scientists, the defense system possesses an “irreducible complexity”. This term refers to an intact system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. As an example, let us think of the devices we would need if we were to send a fax:

– A facsimile device

– A telephone line

– A cable

– Paper.

If any one of these items is absent you cannot send a fax. Nothing from the above list must be missing. Besides, they must conform to exact specifications. For example, the length of the cable must be sufficient for the plug to reach the socket, otherwise the available items will be of no use. Similarly, although all elements of the defense system fulfill their functions perfectly, if there are a few components which malfunction, this would cause the body to lose the war.

For example, if the tiny granules located within the T cells do not function properly, they cannot store toxins, which in turn cannot be transferred to the enemy, again resulting in the war being lost. Therefore, in a system where the enemy cannot finally be killed, important functions such as the formation of warrior cells, their training, the transmission of the necessary signals to appropriate locations by the cells at the right time, and the thousands of combinations needed by our genes to produce antibodies, or the storing of limitless information in the memory cells, would all be worthless.

The system would simply not work. Similarly, the existence of the many and varied functions of the human body, which has an irreducible complexity, is equally useless in the absence of a defense system. If the defense system did not exist or failed to operate properly, no human being would be able to survive.

Most researchers are well aware that evolutionist statements are nothing more than consolation and window-dressing. Klaus Dose, a well-known researcher in the field of molecular biology states:

More than 30 years of experimentation on the origin of life in the fields of chemical and molecular evolution have led to a better perception of the immensity of the problem of the origin of life on Earth rather than to its solution. At present all discussions on principal theories and experiments in the field either end in stalemate or in a confession of ignorance.

Even Darwin, the founder of the theory of evolution, experienced the same lack of confidence some 150 years ago:

When I think of the many cases of men who have studied one subject for years, and have persuaded themselves of the truth of the foolishest doctrines, I feel sometimes a little frightened, whether I may not be one of these monomaniacs.

Let’s pause and ask ourselves what would happen if we were asked to control only our defense system and nothing else, we would have to be involved in such a complicated and difficult process. Even a simple common cold would require us to go to the doctor’s many times over, follow up the recovery course of the cells with extremely advanced medical equipment, and use them as necessary. Even the slightest delay or a problem in the course of the process would cause the illness to be further aggravated.

Let’s take it further; what if you were asked to form these cells, make them recognize the enemy and manufacture the appropriate antibodies, then teach and organize all the processes they would perform … Unquestionably, such a life would be far more troublesome and distressful than the aforementioned model. Actually, it would literally be impossible.

The cell of a living being is more complex than all of the technological products produced by us today. Even in the most developed laboratories of the world, a living cell cannot be produced by bringing inorganic materials together.

The conditions required for the formation of a cell are too great in quantity to be explained away by coincidences. The probability of proteins, the building blocks of cell, being synthesized coincidentally, is 1 in 10950 for an average protein made up of 500 amino acids. In mathematics, a probability smaller than 1 over 1050 is practically considered to be impossible.

The DNA molecule, which is located in the nucleus of the cell and which stores genetic information, is an incredible databank. It is calculated that if the information coded in DNA were written down, this would make a giant library consisting of 900 volumes of encyclopedias of 500 pages each.

An unlimited number of combinations can be made with the use of one hundred thousand genes. The cell, however, uses, with great intelligence, only 5,200 basic combinations and produces 1,920,000 specific antibodies. How has the cell learned to make the right combinations out of these unlimited possibilities to form the required antibodies?maxresdefault

Making the correct combinations out of an infinite number of possibilities aside, how did the cell get this idea to make combinations?

Moreover, the produced combinations serve a certain purpose, and aim to produce an antibody that would eliminate the antigen that enters the body. Therefore, the cell also knows the properties of the millions of antigens entering the body.

No intellect in this world can produce a design of such unparalleled perfection. But cells only the size of a hundredth of a millimeter can do so.

So, how has the cell learned such a special system?

The truth is that no cell has the opportunity to “learn” a biological function in the real sense. This is because the cell does not possess the ability to perform such an act at birth, nor has it the chance to develop the required skill during the rest of its lifetime. In such cases, it is a prerequisite that the system in the cell should be ready and complete at the beginning of life. The cell neither possesses the skill to learn such combinations, nor does it have the time to learn them, as this would cause it to fail in stopping the antigens entering the body and the body would lose the war.

The fact that a system that baffles mankind, even at the point of comprehending it, has been placed in a cell which has no ability to think and reason, has a very special meaning.

People in general would like to know what makes them ill, how illnesses take complete control of their bodies, what causes fever, fatigue, pain in their bones and joints, and which processes take place in their bodies throughout their illnesses.

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Before delving into the astounding details of the war of defense fought in the innermost recesses of our bodies, we must first have a general look at the defense system and its elements.

Briefly, the defense system may be defined as “an extremely disciplined, hard-working and organized army that protects the body from the clutches of external enemies.” In this multi-faceted war, the main duty of the elements fighting in the front line is to prevent the enemy cells, such as bacteria or viruses, from entering the body.

Although it is not easy for the enemy organisms to enter the body, they exert themselves to the utmost to reach their ultimate goal of invading the body. When they successfully do so, after overcoming various obstacles such as the skin, and the respiratory and digestive tracts, they will find tough warriors waiting for them. These tough warriors are produced and trained in specialized centers such as the bone marrow, spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes.

These warriors are “the defense cells” referred to as the macrophages and lymphocytes.

The phagocytes, known as the scavenger cells of the defense system, take the first action. They fight hand-to-hand with the enemy. They are just like infantrymen who fight with bayonets against enemy units.

Sometimes, phagocytes cannot catch up with the increasing numbers of the enemy, at which point big phagocytic cells, macrophages cut in. We can liken the macrophage to cavalrymen cleaving their way through the middle of the foe. At the same time, macrophages secrete a fluid, which sets off a general alarm in the body to increase the body temperature.

People do not immediately realize that microbes or viruses are invading their bodies. Only when the symptoms of their illness surface do humans become aware of them. This is proof that a virus, a bacterium, or a similar micro-organism has long ago settled within their body. This means that the primary intervention has resulted in failure. Such unchecked conditions could cause the disease to progress considerably, resulting in irremediable dispositions. Even if the person has been infected with a curable and relatively simple disease, delayed response may result in a serious crisis, or even death.

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We may not be aware of it, but all the elements of the immune system protect our bodies just like the soldiers of a huge army.

In this situation, the individual resembles a “besieged castle”. Needless to say, such a castle, which is surrounded by countless enemies, must be protected in a very complete and organized manner. Human beings are created along with this perfect protection they need, and are not, therefore, entirely defenseless against these enemies. The “micro” guards in our bodies never leave us alone and fight for us on many fronts.

The invader cells that want to take control of the body first have to fight their way through the front line of the body. Even though these fronts have their weaknesses at times, the enemy is hardly ever allowed to pass through them. The first front the enemy must penetrate is our skin.

The skin, which covers the entire body of our body just like a sheath, is full of amazing features. Its ability to repair and renew itself, its non-permeability by water, despite the existence of tiny pores on its surface as opposed to its function of discharging water through perspiration, its extremely flexible structure, allowing free movement, as opposed to its being thick enough to avoid easy rupture, its ability to protect the body from the heat, the cold, and harmful sunrays are only a few of the features of the skin that have been specially created for human beings.

The technology of the 20th century has proved insufficient even at the level of understanding the methods of this perfect production.

The brave battle fought by of our defense system is comprised of three important stages:

  1. Identification of the enemy, first action.
  2. The attack of the real army, all-out war.
  3. Retreat to a normal state.

The defense system has to clearly identify the enemy before it starts the fight. This is because each engagement differs from the other depending on the type of enemy. Moreover, if this piece of intelligence is not properly handed on, our defense system may inadvertently attack the body’s own cells.

If you were to design an antibody molecule, how would you do it?

Human beings, however, have been unable to design an antibody, despite all the technology at their disposal. The antibodies produced in the laboratory environment are either derived from antibody samples taken from the human body, or the bodies of other living beings.

When people become curious about the creation of the universe and its contents, it will be sufficient for them to assess the self-evident truths objectively and with a free mind.

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Once materialism is invalidated, all other theories based on this philosophy are rendered baseless. American astrophysicist Hugh Ross explains this as follows:

Atheism, Darwinism, and virtually all the “isms” emanating from the eighteenth to the twentieth century philosophies are built upon the assumption, the incorrect assumption, that the universe is infinite. The singularity has brought us face to face with the cause – or causer – beyond/behind/before the universe and all that it contains, including life itself.

The primary reason why the theory of evolution ended up in such a big impasse about the origin of life is that even the living organisms deemed the simplest have incredibly complex structures. The cell of a living being is more complex than all of the technological products produced by man. Today, even in the most developed laboratories of the world, a living cell cannot be produced by bringing inorganic materials together.

A very interesting dilemma emerges at this point: the DNA can only replicate with the help of some specialized proteins (enzymes). However, the synthesis of these enzymes can only be realized by the information coded in DNA.

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Natural selection holds that those living things that are stronger and more suited to the natural conditions of their habitats will survive in the struggle for life. For example, in a deer herd under the threat of attack by wild animals, those that can run faster will survive. Therefore, the deer herd will be comprised of faster and stronger individuals. However, unquestionably, this mechanism will not cause deer to evolve and transform themselves into another living species, for instance, horses.

Therefore, the mechanism of natural selection has no evolutionary power. Darwin was also aware of this fact and had to state this in his book “The Origin of Species:”

So, how could these “favourable variations” occur? Darwin tried to answer this question from the standpoint of the primitive understanding of science in his age. According to the French biologist Lamarck, who lived before Darwin, living creatures passed on the traits they acquired during their lifetime to the next generation and these traits, accumulating from one generation to another, caused new species to be formed. For instance, according to Lamarck, giraffes evolved from antelopes; as they struggled to eat he leaves of high trees, their necks were extended from generation to generation.

Darwin also gave similar examples, and in his book “The Origin of Species,” for instance, said that some bears going into water to find food transformed themselves into whales over time.

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However, the laws of inheritance discovered by Mendel and verified by the science of genetics that flourished in the 20th century, utterly demolished the legend that acquired traits were passed on to subsequent generations. Thus, natural selection fell out of favor as an evolutionary mechanism.

In order to find a solution, Darwinists advanced the “Modern Synthetic Theory”, or as it is more commonly known, Neo-Darwinism, at the end of the 1930’s. Neo-Darwinism added mutations, which are distortions formed in the genes of living beings because of external factors such as radiation or replication errors, as the “cause of favorable variations” in addition to natural mutation.

Today, the model that stands for evolution in the world is Neo-Darwinism. The theory maintains that millions of living beings present on the earth formed as a result of a process whereby numerous complex organs of these organisms such as the ears, eyes, lungs, and wings, underwent “mutations,” that is, genetic disorders. Yet, there is an outright scientific fact that totally undermines this theory: Mutations do not cause living beings to develop; on the contrary, they always cause harm to them.

The reason for this is very simple: the DNA has a very complex structure and random effects can only cause harm to it. American geneticist B.G. Ranganathan explains this as follows:

Mutations are small, random, and harmful. They rarely occur and the best possibility is that they will be ineffectual. These four characteristics of mutations imply that mutations cannot lead to an evolutionary development. A random change in a highly specialized organism is either ineffectual or harmful. A random change in a watch cannot improve the watch. It will most probably harm it or at best be ineffectual. An earthquake does not improve the city, it brings destruction.

Not surprisingly, no mutation example, which is useful, that is, which is observed to develop the genetic code, has been observed so far. All mutations have proved to be harmful. It was understood that mutation, which is presented as an “evolutionary mechanism,” is actually a genetic occurrence that harms living beings, and leaves them disabled. (The most common effect of mutation on human beings is cancer). No doubt, a destructive mechanism cannot be an “evolutionary mechanism.” Natural selection, on the other hand, “can do nothing by itself” as nature. Since no evolutionary mechanism exists, neither could any imaginary process called evolution have taken place.

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We would like to remind you that even now, you are totally indebted to your defense system if you are able to read this book peacefully, without being infected by the microbes all around you. Had the immune system not existed in your body, you would never have been able to read this book, having left this world even before you learned how to read and write.

Harun Yahya

Live and Learn. We All Do.

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Democracy Is Not A Spectator Sport


Live and Learn.  We All Do.

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