Wednesday, October 29, 2014

General Elections 2014 - How ROPE Will Vote


I have finally had it with the majority of my fellow Americans and their stubborn refusal to quit watching Dancing With The Stars long enough to become educated about the laws that govern the country from which they get so much they have time to sit on their posteriors and watch TV.  Originally, I was going to say I had finally had it with all levels of government, but then I realized there is no one to blame for the state of our American government, than the American people themselves.

Last week I posted the blog, "Seven Reasons Why Common Core Repeal in Oklahoma Isn't". Here, I explained why and how Common Core hasn't been removed from our state, yet ROPE's Facebook page has gone from a high of nearly 80 thousand views per week in May to less than 5 thousand views a week in October. I'm reading this as, now that Common Core is "dead" in Oklahoma, there's no need for participatory government; "We came, we saw, we conquered" and now it's time for everyone to go back to their 'regular' lives and TV schedules.

Let me be frank. Common Core is not about education standards, it's a policy representing the natural thought process of decades of people trained via schools, the media and churches, to believe government is their friend - that government can be all things to all people; the chicken in every pot, the protector of rights and liberties, the provider of services citizens can't provide for themselves - the be all, end all. This is categorically 100% false. The federal government has no power other than what it is dictated in the Constitution (the Enumerated Powers in Article 1 Section 9) and states allow it to have, yet how many people have educated themselves (because government schools won't do it) on the Constitution, what it says and how the Founders felt about their actions and how they ascribed the words they committed to that parchment so long ago?

Newsflash; the Founders expected American citizens to exhibit the concept of SELF GOVERNMENT - the governing of one's own actions - in order to prevent interference from a body politic excepting in certain, rare instances.


Yet, today America is nearly 18 TRILLION dollars in debt, and Americans have allowed
  • an unconstitutional, socialized system of healthcare (the website for which won't even work), 
  • failed immigration and border protection policies leading to the growth and spread of diseases we never thought we'd have again or thought we'd ever see in a first world country, 
  • rapid growth and spread of radical Islam, 
  • massive intrusions of personal privacy via the NSA and IRS (bureaucratic agencies that have ZERO power to even blow their own nose if we followed the Constitution), 
  • government cronyism (GM? Solyndra?) leading to the loss of free enterprise, 
  • vast usurpation of property rights via the EPA and Department of Interior, 
  • failed government institutions such as the VA and the Post Office, 
  • government scandals such as Benghazi and Fast and Furious 
I could continue this list for pages, yet nothing on it is the fault of any government. The fault lies with countless American citizens who choose not to vote, place uneducated votes, vote for party ahead of policy, vote though they have little understanding of the role of government or civics and/or refuse to participate in their system of government at all on any level out of sheer laziness and/or contempt for the country that provides them a better standard of living than, arguably now, any country in the world.

Unfortunately for Oklahomans, our state is following right behind. 

As Dave Bond, (CEO of OCPA Impact) says in a recap of this years' legislative session
"Lawmakers passed a $7.12 billion budget that is the largest in state history and contains hundreds of millions of dollars in nonessential spending, including golf courses and rodeos."
This on top of the fact that, while sales tax receipts are at an all time high, the Oklahoma legislature couldn't pass a reduction in state income tax to 4%, settling on 5% by 2016 (currently we're at 5.25% - Kansas' system is much better).

Every year since 2008, I have provided election thoughts and analysis to anyone who wanted to read it. In 2008 I was vilified for referring to President Obama as a Marxist (a political philosophy in opposition to the American Constitution). Please read the above list again and then the definition of Marxism. America is there. Oklahomans must protect our state from this nonsense, but we MUST have legislators willing to put a stop to federal government intrusion at all levels - not just healthcare. Educating citizens on the Constitution and civics and exercising our right to an informed vote are our only hope.

VOTER GUIDE

Here is the list of statewide candidates for office in the 2014 general election November 4.

Go here to get a SAMPLE BALLOT for your district November 4. Please print it out and complete it BEFORE you enter the ballot box. 

Voting information for JUDGES and STATE QUESTIONS can be found here.

PLEASE NOTE: NONE OF THE CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR OR STATE SUPERINTENDENT COMPLETED OUR CANDIDATE SURVEY! The only candidate that even responded at all was Hofmeister who said it was too long to complete with her current time constraints.

LYNN'S PICKS: Straight Party Republican

I just can't vote for a Democrat for a powerful, visible position like Governor. I do not agree with the Democrat party at all - more government, dependence on government, that government is the answer instead of individuals solving their own problems and succeeding on their own. I understand those statements are big and sweeping. The democrats will, of course, try to make a comeback in OK, this is the way for them- a so-called moderate that is riding Mary's coattails of controversy - NOT on his own merit. Even if he wants more money in education- where is it going to come from? How will he make sure that money is used properly?  I see more money in education always goes to new programs, not the classroom or for teachers. 

I read a Homeschool survey - Joe's one answer in question is "homeschoolers should take standarized tests annually" - that is philosophically against homeschooling. They would have to teach CC, and then would be in the data collection trap! That tells me Joe is so much more big government than he lets on. That is unacceptable. I do not agree with Medicaid expansion, I do not agree with increase in minimum wage, and fracking does not cause earthquakes - all things I have heard Joe support. 

So, could Joe actually get anything done - probably not with the Republican legislature, so whats the harm in voting for him? I want to reform (elect more conservatives) the republican party, not empower the democrat party. I am in it for the long haul - I believe it will take many election cycles. 

What I have seen in entry level employees over the last 30 years in my business is terrible. The quality of entry level employees is deteriorating - I see it is because of more dependence on government and the entitlement philosophy, not because of standards. I will vote against that every time. 

We must get back to self empowerment, individual responsibility. For me the question is do we get closer to that with Mary or Joe? Mary showed last session she is pushable- with CC and with Obamacare. Some powerful liberal pacs are supporting Joe ( afl-cio for ex) - they will want something. My hope is we elect more conservative republicans in the house and senate and we push the republican governor that way. We don't have great choices - but I also don't believe in not voting because of bad choices. We all need to vote and then hold all elected officials accountable!!

JOYS PICKS:


I believe in the republican platform. I think it necessary to continue to strive for better candidates and not cede power to the hands of a party that wishes to fundamentally transform our state and nation. Just because I support any candidate doesn’t mean they are immune to public and private scrutiny and accountability. I have only listed those candidates whom I wish to endorse. With that said here are my picks.
  • Governor: Mary Fallin – While I am displeased with several of the actions and decisions of our sitting governor, I cannot partner with a candidate who seeks to challenge my freedom as a homeschooling mom, grow government, and spend more money. Governor Fallin requires some elbow grease while in office, but she can be compelled to do the right thing when necessary. I challenge the Senate and House to pursue conservative principles and not seek the blessing of the governor!
  • Superintendent: Joy Hofmeister 
  • Commissioner of Labor: Mark Costello
  • US Senator: Jim Inhofe
  • Congress 5th District: Steve Russel
  • State Senator 6th District: Josh Brecheen
  • State Senator 44th District: Ralph Shortey
  • State Senator 48th District: Duane Crumbacher
  • State Representative 10th District: Travis Dunlap
  • State Representative 36th District: Sean Roberts
  • State Representative 43rd District: John Paul Jordan
  • State Representative 76th District: David Brumbaugh
  • State Representative 87th District: Jason Nelson
  • JUDGESI will vote against all judicial retention.

  • STATE QUESTIONS: Yes on all three. 1) I believe a person serving in the US military should be able to concurrently service in office. 2,3) I believe property taxes should be eliminated altogether. We currently lease our property from the government and do not own it. Providing exemptions on homesteading for those who have served in our military is a great start.

JENNI'S PICKS:
  • Governor: Governor Fallin's record is that of having to be pushed (as Lynn says) into taking the conservative path on nearly every issue. She talks a good game, but she'll pick the federal government over her state citizens nearly every time while saying she won't or didn't. Why? I believe the cause is a lack of Constitutional knowledge and a staff that believes most Oklahomans are not smart enough to make their own decisions so they must make our decisions for us. I believe Governor Fallin governs the way her paid staff advises in order to produce the best political advantage. Throughout her time in Congress and again as Governor, Fallin has shown me her compass rarely finds true North. **While I've heard a few things that concern me about Joe Dorman's ideas for Oklahoma, I believe he truly cares about the state and her people. In fact, I don't see him filling his office with stiff-arming, dismissive, rude staff, which would be a really nice change. In addition, Dorman's voting record is not awful, and is, in fact, arguably better than some of our currently seated Republicans. Though a Republican-led legislature has tended to back our current Republican Governor all the way down the trail of higher taxes and more government intrusion into our regular, everyday lives, they may choose to balk if these plans come from a Democrat. I don't like the idea of supporting the Democratic party in any way shape or form - as you can tell from the screed above, but I won't hold my nose and vote Republican ever, ever again. I have actually not decided whether I will actively vote for Dorman or simply not vote for this office (I'm considering neither of the Independents in this race) - I may not know until I'm in the voting booth. The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing time and again expecting different results and I don't need to add to my insanity level.
  • Lt. Governor: Lamb
  • State Superintendent: Hofmeister. I think Dr. Cox is a very nice man, but I also believe the Republican-led legislature will find excuses not to work with him. I also believe he will not manage taxpayer dollars (which he refers to as "public money") conservatively, and we'll have the same lack of fiscal transparency we saw with Barresi. I feel certain Cox will try to stop a lot of the mandates that have been stifling public schools, but again, I don't believe he'll get any traction with the legislature. Because the state Board of Education has been handpicked by Governor Fallin, though Dr. Cox may choose to battle them on any number of issues, the office of Governor (thanks to our Republican legislature) now holds all the keys to the board, not the State Superintendent. No matter how Cox chooses to confront the Board or education issues, the Board can stymie every single issue on which he chooses to go to battle. Net result - ZERO. Hoffmeister has a working relationship with much of the Board and is publicly supported by a chunk of the legislature. She has a record of allowing ROPE to educate her on a number of issues. If she chooses to follow our admonitions about a number of education policies, she has the ability to create movement with the Board and the legislature and that is really the issue here. In addition, she has successfully run her own business for years (Kumon) indicating to me she understands how to manage the fiscal aspects of the job.
  • Commissioner of Labor: Costello. Frankly, if Mark Costello were running for Governor, the Republican party would have my vote. Mark is one of a very few conservatives I have ever met that just intuitively understands the ideals of conservatism.
  • Senate: Inhofe
  • Senate (unexpired term): Though James Lankford is the only real choice here for conservatives, I won't be voting in this race either. Mr. Lankford continually frustrated me with his "go along to get along" positions while in Congress - particularly those which continue to fund the government ad infinitum. This is certainly not personal - I think Mr. Lankford a fine man personally, he's just not conservative enough for me - and again, I will no longer hold my nose and vote Republican. (Yes, please feel free to lambaste me for my comments, my shoulders are big enough to take it).
  • Congress 5th District: Steve Russell 
  • Congress 1st District: Jim Bridenstine
  • Congress District 2, 3, 4: If I were in these districts, I would again, refuse to vote. None of these candidates are reflections of our conservative state, nor have they been in recent years. 
  • Josh Brecheen must be re-elected.
  • Jason Nelson must be re-elected.
  • STATE QUESTIONS: Though I don't like monkeying with our state Constitution as a rule, I'll vote yes on all three state questions. Property taxes are flat unconstitutional (the Founders warned us not to go there). If we're going to start allowing Homestead Exemptions for certain individuals, let us now decide to ultimately release ALL property owners from such an unconstitutional, Founder-hated, tax. Though I've heard grumbling about crossing two branches of government (lawmaking and peace keeping), I don't see this as an issue here. If voters are particularly concerned about a candidate for office being in a military position, they should oppose his election. SQ 769 simply allows for the option of a candidate also serving in the military - the voters ultimately have the final say - as it should be.
NOW, GO VOTE, TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4th. Polls are open from 7am to 7pm.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Factors Creating Failing Public (Government) Schools



For decades education reformers have attempted to 'restore' luster to the eroding results of government run schools that began in the 1960's with the first federal involvement in state and local education programs (Elementary and Secondary Education Act, 1964, Lyndon Johnson). Just as we've seen of late with the Common Core State Standards Initiative, individual programs have been instituted at various times over the years toward this end, yet all have resulted in lackluster or poor outcomes for the money, training and resources provided.

Why? Because none of the issues effecting government run schools today can be solved by a single initiative, or by throwing money at one or two issues like spaghetti at a wall.

Below, I've attempted to identify a number of items - some of which I've witnessed personally, as a former teacher and parent - that must be addressed in order to return to the pre-60's educational excellence seen here in America for hundreds of years.

Changes to schools and instruments of schooling must come from the local level.

  • Urban schools and rural schools aren't similar in socio-economic composition or community needs, yet laws created at the state or federal level force change on all schools.
  • Traditionally, school boards allow parents the ability to assist in directing their children’s educations – shifting the responsibility from parents to the state conditions parents to become further removed from the process of educating their children.
  • Parenting failures cannot be legislated as these tend to result from lack of values training best addressed by programs provided via churches and charities.

Laws created to address failing schools rarely address the fundamental issues behind the failures.

  • Systemic failure results as one ineffective/unproductive law is replaced or augmented by another and then another – in attempt to bring about results largely unattainable via legislative means.

Teacher/Superintendent/School Board organizations are used to draft public school legislation which favors the needs of the educational ‘system’ and not the student and/or parent.

Education legislation and programming features a paucity of education history and research, instead focusing on the newest ‘trends’/programs in education.

  • Integrating technology (computers/ipads, etc.) into elementary classrooms actually produce results antithetical to those desired, yet are utilized with consistency and touted as ‘cutting-edge’, which, also, ironically creates a nonexistent need for more funding.
  • Replacing veteran teachers with Teach for America teachers replaces tried and true teaching methodologies with unproven methods utilized by skimpily-trained young people.

Today’s education focus is completely wrong-headed.

  • Students should not be educated ‘for’ college or the ‘workforce’.
  • Classically-based education programs featuring broad-based studies in United States and world history, science, classical literature, the arts and music, have, historically, created students ready and able to take on any challenge presented them.

Though taxpayers should work to create accountability in government, education is not a government function; education is a function of the individual first and community second.
American public education was created from an ideal articulated by both Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.

  • Both men believed schools should be created to teach students unable to afford the private tutoring system primarily utilized in their day.
  • They believed schools should teach the Bible (the model upon which our Republican form of government was created), America’s very particular system of 3-branch government and free-market economy, and the history of America’s founding.
  • Schools were to be created by and through churches or individual community organizations – not as a function of government.

Government has assumed the role of educating its citizens, creating numerous problems.

  • Funding:  Each school receives the same amount of money for each student in a seat. This invalidates the principles of America’s free-market economy and creates a system in which mediocrity flourishes because excellence is neither expected nor demanded by those paying for its services.
  • Partisanship:  Once education becomes a function of government, it begins to utilize tenets ascribed to government by popular culture, such as “political correctness”.
  • This gives rise to a culture lacking in personal responsibility where administration and teachers refuse to make students responsible for their work and grades rather than deal with difficult parents.
  • This situation also produces a lack of willingness to hold students responsible for their behavior, creating school climates in which bullying of students and teachers is unchecked.
  • Usurpation of parental rights and responsibilities:
  • Moving the responsibility for education to the state (and often federal) level relieved parents of their duties to provide for the education of their children by replacing their authority with that of a government official.
  • State-empowered school officials necessarily had to create the notion that parents were inadequate to direct the education of their children in order to justify a government wage.
  • Parents quickly became trained to see public school as a babysitter rather than a partner in the education of their children as the authority of school officials grew with government funding.
  • Usurpation of student rights and responsibilities:
  • Once government became responsible for education, education became relegated to a series of hoops (tests) through which a student must jump in order to complete their next task: move to a next grade, graduate, get a job.
  • Students are never shown the value of obtaining an education for themselves so education becomes something a student does to please others, not to make their lives better.
  • Susceptibility to educational ‘trends’ including:
  • Common Core State Standards vs those tailored to meet the educational priorities of parents/students at the local/state level.
  • Whole word language assimilation vs reading taught by phonics and an understanding of English phonemes.
  • Reformist, community-inspired, explanatory math vs learning traditional, fact-based algorithms and skills.
  • World history vs American history
  • American history from 1877 to the Present vs American history from the Pilgrims and Founding, to present
  • Civics taught in high school vs developmental civics across each grade and stage

Federal government intervention has further usurped the influence of the state, local community and parents, and is now itself responsible for many of the ills plaguing public education today such as:

  • Lack of student privacy:
  • More and more personal student data must be collected by schools to satisfy the compacts of states with the federal government.
  • Digital records are nearly impossible to redact, leaving student records exposed to future employers and educational prospects.
  • A perceived need for increased funding:
  • The more federal initiatives for which states apply (or are foisted onto them) the more personnel are required to fill out the ever-increasing paperwork necessary to keep the initiative, leading to loss of funds for teachers and needed materials that directly affect the classroom.
  • Less flexibility to teach with proven methods and personnel:
  • The federal Civil Rights in Education initiative for Teacher Equity forced onto all public school districts for example, is coercing teachers to move among schools dependent upon a set of federal race guidelines set for teachers in relation to student populations, violating the Civil Rights of teachers/students and causing many older teachers to quit the teaching profession.

NON-GOVERNMENT SOLUTIONS:

Private organizations in every city can help to create educational excellence by addressing the foundational pillars underlying education failure (as previously described) by devoting resources and funds toward any or all of the following ends:

  • Support the ideal that state/federal legislation is not the way to move the needle on educational excellence – that partnering with local charities, churches and non-profits can produce results one-size-must-fit-all legislation cannot
  • Community based adult and student English and financial literacy programs are an excellent example of successful business/community partnerships
  • Support legislation (or repealer legislation) that:
  • Stresses local control of education and prevents intrusion by the federal Department of Education at the state and district levels
  • Supports parental rights and responsibilities
  • Seeks to move accountability for education from the state/federal level back to the parent/local level 
  • Resists the urge to narrow curricula and standards – allowing for classical studies and schools to bloom
  • Creation of individual and/or community programs that:
  • Develop bridge relationships among schools and businesses to create mentoring/intern opportunities
  • Delivers business/vocational leaders who can speak to classes, or in assemblies and share their experiences with students on their level
  • Provide scholarship opportunities in areas such as engineering
  • Partner with job training programs to identify vocational skills gaps and educate students who desire the training, on how to attain these skills
  • Identify private programs that produce educational excellence and partner them with businesses willing to mentor/intern students
  • Empower parents to advocate for their children via tuition breaks or educational/job opportunities not available to the general population
Education for those who cannot afford private, individual education (or desire not to utilize a private system) should be provided in America. It should not be paid for in perpetuity via taxpayers, but by parents - whether they are allowed to keep their money for themselves (no earmarked taxes for education) or returned earmarked funds to spend in whatever manner is best for their child. Until parents are allowed (and returned) responsibility for the education of their children, status quo will remain and poor educational outcomes should be expected.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Seven Reasons Why Common Core Repeal in Oklahoma Isn't


Before I begin this post, please do not misunderstand; ROPE is/was VERY pleased and honored to have been included in so much of the Oklahoma Common Core repeal bill process. We are very grateful to Representative Nelson and Senator Brecheen for all their work and the many times they sought our input when they certainly needn't have.

That being said, I'm sure no one who contributed to HB3399 expected it to serve as a panacea for all things Common Core in the state. In fact, there were "wish list" items unquestionably discarded during the writing and amending stages due to concerns the bill wouldn't pass or be signed by the Governor - a majority jettisoned due to consternation over the possible loss of Oklahoma's No Child Left Behind Waiver. Though every effort was made to due diligence, without the gift of omniscience, no one could have known the effect of every aspect of the bill's mandates.

HB3399 had a rocky start. The bill wasn't passed by the House and Senate until the last day of the 2014 legislative session. It took 11 days for the Governor to sign the bill, yet the ink from the Governor's pen hadn't dried before a lawsuit was filed over its agreement with the Oklahoma Constitution. Once ruled Constitutionally sound by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, Oklahoma's State Regents for Higher Education began the process of certifying Oklahoma's previous PASS (Priority Academic Student Skills) standards - those mandated for use by the bill - as college and career ready. This action was prescribed in order for Oklahoma to keep its NCLB Waiver by allowing for option "B" (state institutions of higher education must certify state standards as college and career ready, page 14), option "A" having been our original choice = Common Core.

Simultaneously, Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, began issuing threats regarding the security of Oklahoma's NCLB Waiver. In the end, the Regents weren't fast enough for Duncan, and our Waiver was pulled, sparking a veritable mountain of ill-informed media meting out pronouncements of economic and educational ruin for our state. October l7 - approximately 6 weeks after the loss of our NCLB Waiver - the Oklahoma State Regents certify Oklahoma PASS as college and career ready. Following quickly behind this decision, now-deposed State Superintendent Janet Barresi announced the State Department of Education's effort to re-apply for a new NCLB Waiver, with the caveat that a new Waiver could not take effect until the 2015-2016 school year.

Since the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, ROPE has been inundated with emails and messages complaining their schools were continuing to use Common Core despite HB3399. In fact, we received so many messages, we spoke with the bills' authors and our Amicus brief attorneys to create a plan to help empower parents to stop schools from its continued use. Unfortunately, when you have the second largest school district in Oklahoma (Tulsa Public Schools) poking its finger in the eye of parents and the state by proudly proclaiming their use of Common Core, follow the leader becomes an issue. Oklahoma City Public Schools (the largest district in Oklahoma) says they are using a Common Core/PASS hybrid but at least their Kindergarten rubric is based solely on Common Core. Some outlying districts, such as Yukon Public Schools, have just told parents they could care less about their issues with Common Core, they've put the money into training and preparation, and they will continue using Common Core.

So, with all the effort so many of us put into repealing Common Core in Oklahoma, why then has it continued to persist? I think there are at least 7 factors that have thwarted the will of Oklahoma citizens and prevented a full repeal.

1. TEACHER LEADER EFFECTIVENESS (TLE) MODELS (NCLB WAIVER)
For those of you unacquainted with the finer points of the NCLB Waiver, you will note on page 76, the section marked 3a - Develop and Adopt Guidelines for Local Teacher and Principal Evaluation and Support Systems. I could provide a dissertation on this particular issue, but I do not have time here.

Suffice it to say, this is one of four pillars of the federal government's plan to re-make government education utilizing the carrot and stick method provided via the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund grants to states (stimulus dollars 2009), Race To The Top grant applications to states (2010) and the No Child Left Behind Waivers (2011) granted to states to counter the 'emergency' created when Congress refused to re-authorize No Child Left Behind. Unfortunately, the three other pillars (TLE, State Longitudinal Database System and Turning Around Low Performing Schools) work to reinforce Common Core while the grants and waivers urge states to cement each in place.

In Oklahoma, our Teacher Leader Effectiveness Commission (because government never shrinks) met and decided to use the Tulsa model and the Marzano model for grading our teachers as specified in our Waiver (if we're going to make them get a teaching degree and then make them take a test to be certified to teach and then make them re-certify to teach every five years at a cost of $50.00, and if building principals must observe teachers yearly as part of their building evaluations for continuous employment, is this not a form of overkill?). Both models were to begin use 2014-15 - and they have.

While I have no intimate knowledge of the Tulsa model, I can tell you without question that you cannot possibly score passing on the Marzano model IF YOU DO NOT TEACH COMMON CORE. I received screen shots from the Marzano model - plus an in depth training on the way it works - from an Oklahoma City Public School teacher now on a Plan of Improvement pending firing for not teaching the Common Core and not entering private personal student information into Google Docs (Google has been singled out as direct violators of student privacy) as directed by her Principal.

First of all, the Marzano model is clearly aligned to CCSS:

http://www.marzanocenter.com/Teacher-Evaluation/2014-model/
Secondly, though the entire platform seems endlessly...well...mindless, once you understand how the whole scheme fits together, there is no way this isn't all about Common Core. For example, here is a screenshot of one of the evaluation screens for the way a teacher organizes her classroom.


This looks pretty antiseptic really, until you realize that most books - this teacher must use McGraw Hill Common Core aligned books to teach math - show exactly how to teach Common Core and then dictate specifically what must go on the board in the classroom to make sure the kids are absorbing all their Common Core content concepts. If you don't have the Common Core objective on the board for the day, you are marked down on your evaluations.



Here is an example of the same thing from Yukon Public Schools. 

2. COLLEGE PLACEMENT EXAMS: ACT/SAT
David Coleman, writer of the Common Core, is now the head of the College Board where he is aligning the SAT to the Common Core. The ACT has spent the last several years re-aligning its tests to the Common Core. Here is their statement of support for the Common Core.

https://www.act.org/commoncore/
The New America Foundation (established by George Soros) has said the following about the ACT:
"Despite the PARCC and SmarterBalance hysteria, the SAT and ACT - along with their remedial placement cousins, ACCUPLACER and COMPASS - are likely to continue to serve as the de facto performance standard for college entry. These assessments are already accepted within higher education, for better or worse, while the Common Core will be greeted with scrutiny and suspicion at many institutions."
So, in other words, "We know Common Core is being discovered and repudiated by the American public, but we must continue to indoctrinate and dumb down American children via the concept that everyone should be exactly the same. We'll just have to do it in backdoor ways to get around them." The ACT/SAT will help do just that. After all, one thing Coleman et al. do apparently understand well, is that seemingly inherent 'necessity' to teach to the test. If the tests that can help you get a college degree have been aligned to Common Core, how can you get into college without learning the Common Core? 

3. ADVANCED PLACEMENT COURSES (AP)
To be filed under the same category as above. You've likely been in a cave if you haven't heard about the push to re-write the US AP History Standards by David Coleman and the College Board. Now, not only will the College Board (David Coleman) continue down the road with their alignment of the SAT to Common Core, but AP courses will also be aligned as well. If we can judge this effort from the new APUSH standards, this will provide a decidedly anti-American spin on coursework along with providing the already identified Common Core shifts from classic literature and study.

4. TESTING VENDORS
As we worked to stop Common Core this year, we were very concerned about language in the bill specifying testing companies. Why? Two reasons: because the amount of personal student data collected by testing vendors is outrageous and because nearly every testing vendor in the known universe is Common Core aligned.

Measured Progress was discussed as a specified testing vendor during the standards re-write period while HB3399 was being amended. This concerned us greatly. Though Oklahoma had excused itself from its seat at the table with Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) ostensibly because the tests were too expensive, ROPE knew that PARCC was a vendor to Educational Testing Service (ETS), the company that received Race to the Top funds from the federal government to contract for the writing of Common Core tests. Measured Progress is in the exact same boat, it's just tied to Smarter Balanced Assessment Corporation (SBAC) as well as PARCC.

Of course, at its last special session, our State School Board gave the contract for our winter tests to MP. Yes, their website states they can help with "item creation" and "test construction" for "current programs", but their main emphasis is Common Core aligned testing. They were given money by the federal government to do just that. 

A recent EdWeek article outlines how all the large testing vendors are being paid to create Common Core aligned tests. What State School Board is going to take the time to root around for the smaller companies that haven't gotten federal money to create Common Core tests like Iowa? The sheer size and scope of the online testing market works against non-Common Core states.

5. TECHNOLOGY AND THE INTERNET
The largest textbook provider in the world (Pearson) is also one of the largest providers of online Common Core aligned programs. If you're in need of anything related to the Common Core, you have but to go to their one-stop shop - Common Core Solutions - to find solutions to any and ALL your Common Core issues from Professional Development to "Research and Innovation".  Of course there are also Pearson Common Core Webinars for those days when you just want to sit in a chair in your PJ's and learn how to better prepare yourself to teach and learn all things Common Core.

Just for fun, I searched the internet for "Common Core apps" (to use via cell phones and tablets). I came up with at least 26 individual apps aligned to Common Core from Common Core Rap to Common Core Look-fors - which allows teachers to integrate the Common Core State Standards into their classrooms. 

Also for fun, I searched the internet for "Common Core Worksheets". I wound up with pages and pages and pages such as those from Help Teaching and Internet4Classrooms and the super precious, Common Core Kids. Virtually anything you would want Common Core aligned from ELA to Math, can be found in worksheet form from a veritable plethora of education-related websites. 

This is a huge issue for the few states that didn't take Common Core and Oklahoma, who has repealed Common Core. Any teacher at any school, or any administrator at any school, can troll the web and pull down any sort of information for use classrooms on any given day.  For teachers in a pinch - or teachers wanting to teach Common Core and/or being forced to teach Common Core by administrators such as those in Tulsa and Yukon government schools - the supply of classroom materials toward that end is, well, endless.

6. DOE/GATES END-AROUNDING STATES WITH GRANTS TO INSTITUTE/CONTINUE COMMON CORE
Another situation that has stimulated concern, is the fact that the Federal Government is such a willing accomplice in the Common Core re-education plan. For example, the Department of Education began to give Race to the Top grants to school districts in 2013 - outside the pervue of state education departments. 

Bill Gates has given a number of government schools - including Oklahoma's own Tulsa Public Schools - large grants for creating "college and career readiness" (Common Core). In this case, TPS was given a grant last year of nearly 4.5 million dollars to be used over the course of the next five years for the generically termed cause of "Professional Development" - and we now know about that, don't we? 

Then, there's the newest federal government carrot, the "Future Ready District Pledge", which 
"establishes a framework for districts to achieve the goals laid out in President Obama's ConectED Initiative and commits districts to move as quickly as possible toward our shared vision of preparing students for success in college, careers and citizenship."
Correct. The last bit sounds exactly like....Common Core. So, if the feds can get districts - via their superintendents - hooked into this nice new pay for play scheme, they can get money, or re-direct funds, as they need to create this wonderful 'shared vision', that Oklahoma citizens don't really share.

7. TEXTBOOKS
I became a homeschooling mom after my kids started experiencing the effects of Common Core in their classrooms. One of the arguments I made against Common Core early on, was very well stated by small book publisher (Institute For Excellence in Writing), Andrew Pudwa in his testimony before the Oklahoma House Rules Committee.
Additionally, because of the virtual monopoly of textbook publishers (Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Houghton-Mifflin), schools required to conform to the Common Core standards will have little choice when it comes to curricula, and the publishers’ largest customers (California, New York, Florida, and Texas) do have a great input on textbook content. In fact, CCSSI is a huge windfall for education publishers, since most districts in most states are being forced to replace their existing texts with CCSSI conforming texts, and any differentiations by state standards have been superseded by the Common Core standards. Consequently, the big publishers can now sell the same or very similar books to all the states, further increasing profitability. This, of course, makes it even harder for small publishers such as myself to keep a toehold in the public education market. 
How, I posited, can those of us not using Common Core find non-Common Core textbooks? The answer is, "It will be much harder", and for the reasons stated above. 

While individuals can simply utilize online sources to purchase textbooks for home/individual use, government schools require government contracts for such purchases. Smaller book companies cannot sell books at the reduced price sustainable by huge publishers. Districts who frequently howl about lack of funding, are not going to authorize the use of even more of their 'precious' resources on arguably better books. In fact, this is one of the reasons cited by both the TPS Superintendent and the Yukon Public Schools Superintendent (and others) as to why they simply can't 'stop teaching Common Core' - switching to Common Core cost them too much to turn back now.

SOLUTIONS
Let's face it, David Coleman and his Common Core buddies knew what they were doing. They knew if they got enough organizations/education sectors to buy in on the idea of 'national standards' - including the seated administration of the federal government - they could essentially stage a coup over government education in America. And they did just that. 

Today, it appears the future of Common Core must reside in the hands of the parent. Large school districts could simply care less what parents have to say about how their children are educated - and they don't have to. Government schools get government money no matter whether they follow the law or not and no matter whether or not they provide an excellent education for children or not. We MUST break this cycle. We must stop districts from simply being granted taxpayer money from both the federal and state level for no other reason than they claim to be institutions of education, when these dollars are clearly being used to build and defend fiefdoms without care for the public they serve. How else do you explain the fact that government schools have consumed more money while exhibiting diminishing return on investment even here in Oklahoma?

There are several ways to accomplish this task: 
  1. Parents who can, should remove their children from government schools and either put them in private schools or educate them at home or by co-op, removing their child's education funding from the system.
  2. Parents who can't remove their children from government schools should become civilly disobedient and begin to OBJECT to every single program/test/book/questionnaire that offends them, to the point of removing their child on days the offensive material is used/taught and requesting substitute educational materials. Government schools get taxpayer funds from the state when children are in class - they do not when they are not. Parents, use your powers here and don't be bullied by your school YOU are the parent, YOU have the control. Refer to Oklahoma's Parental Bill of Rights should you feel week-kneed in your resolve because of a shaky foundational knowledge.
  3. Legislators should remove the free money supporting government education by allowing the creation of Educational Savings Accounts. ESA's put the funds spent on a child to be educated in the government system back into the hands of the parents to use in the way best for that child. This could be home school, private school or a neighborhood government school. It matters not where the money goes so long as it is used to the benefit of the child's education. The point is that the government school no longer gets a chunk of 'free money' to do with as THEY choose, forcing them, instead to actually have to compete for education dollars.
  4. States currently creating anti-Common Core legislation should take heed of these issues and attempt to address as many of them as possible within.
Until/unless parents/legislators choose to draw clear lines in the sand, government schools will continue to run roughshod over parents, the law and what's best for the education of our children. There is no impetus for them to do otherwise.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dark Money And Stand For Children Silencing The Voice Of The People


Today, as I was attempting to finish an email I'd been working on for some time (endless distractions when you're a homeschooling mom who lives on a farm - trust me), I zoned in on yet another 'dark money' group apparently trying to end-around the system.

Representative Jason Nelson and Senator Josh Brecheen are the two Oklahoma legislators most responsible for unmiring Oklahoma from the Common Core swamp. Interestingly, these two legislators are being attacked by two separate groups - Stand For Children and an organization called Oklahomans for a Prosperous Future. 

I've written tomes about the poor business practices of Stand for Children: Who/What Is Behind Stand For Children And Expect MoreIs Stand For Children's 7000 Signature Petition Above BoardIs Stand For Children Working Against Oklahoma StudentsNew Common Core Video Out From Expect More/Stand For ChildrenWhat's A Win Worth If We Learn Nothing From It? Suffice it to say, we've uncovered lots of information about this organization that indicates quite handily, that Stand is NOT for Oklahoma children or parents.

So what about Oklahomans For A Prosperous Future? OFAPF was registered with the Oklahoma Secretary of State's office May 2 of this year by a man named Devin L. Hughes from Oakdale Farms in Edmond who is listed as the owner of Hughes Capital Management

Several things about this organization peaked my interest. First, there is no record of any expenditures for this organization anywhere I was able to find on the web - nothing. According to their Facebook page, they are a 501C-4 which only means they don't have to disclose their donors, but they are still required to file ethics reports after an expenditure of $5,000.  

According to my sources, there have been at least 5, 3-color mailers to residents in Representative Nelson's district. This is not a cheap endeavor as printing of 3-color brochures and someone to create the art for them will run into the many thousands of dollars. The mailing alone will cost 10's of thousands of dollars.  If that's the case there should be some record of expenditures by this organization and yet there is not anything listed with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission or Open Records.

The OFAPF Facebook timeline declares they ENDORSE, Nelson's opponent, Colin Walke, however 501C-4 groups are considered a "social welfare" group. These groups can run 'educational' ads, but not endorse a candidate if these endorsements amount to the bulk of the work of their organization. I could find nothing else on the web listed as activities for OFAPF outside of their electioneering efforts - that's a blatant foul - and if Tea Party groups are going to be targeted by Louis Lerner and the IRS, then it seems as though this should group should also come under the microscope for possible misuse of tax status.

I also found that Hughes himself is part owner of a pro-gun control website, and that the OFAPF Twitter account is linked to @FuzzCo, an organization that does graphic design similar to the kind found on Nelson's attack mailers and also...wait for it...STAND FOR CHILDREN! 

This is particularly troubling as it appears that OFAPF and Stand For Children are working together to bring down two elected Oklahoma officials as payback for repealing Common Core. 

True, citizens have not just a right, but a duty to become active in directing the political outcomes of their state, locality and federal government. However, when this is done in a subversive manner, citizens have the right to know. Please be wise as we move closer and closer to November 4th. Do your homework on the candidates as directly as possible, not relying on mailers, TV ads or other things meant to steer public opinion without divulging motives. An educated voter will always be the best voter. Only you can protect your personal liberty.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Voting Information For Judges and State Questions!



Every election season, people come to me and say, "What judges do I vote for?" I always have to laugh and tell them that I haven't a clue - I only seem to look at education policy. I never know how to vote in these elections myself! Granted, this blog post isn't about education, but it is about citizenship and being an informed voter and that's SO IMPORTANT!  

Recently, I received an email from Sharon Annesley of the Oklahoma Liberty Tea Party in Blanchard. This is HANDS DOWN the best information on judges I've EVER SEEN! This is awesome and I asked her permission to share it with you! The best part of the whole piece was that she has listed ALL the URL's she used for research, so if you want to go check them out yourself, you darn sure can! Thank you again so much for sharing Sharon! I hope this helps you as much as it helped me!  If anyone has any information they want to add to the post, please do! Discussion is great!

NOV. 4th ELECTION INFORMATION
·         Important Dates…
·         Link to List of All Candidates…
·         Judicial Retention Elections…
·         State Questions on the Ballot….

IMPORTANT DATES
The election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 4th, 2014.  Absentee ballots are already being sent out. 

General Election:                               Tuesday, November 4

Last day to register to vote:                October 10

Deadline to request absentee ballot:   5 p.m. October 29

Early voting:                                       Thursday, October 30, 8 AM - 6 PM
                                                Friday, October 31, 8 AM - 6 PM
                                                Saturday, November 1, 9 AM - 2 PM


LIST OF ALL CANDIDATES/OFFICES AROUND THE STATE:
A list of all the Statewide Candidates on the Nov. 4th Ballot can be found at the following:


JUDICIAL RETENTION IN HIGHER COURTS:

In the following Judicial Retention comments, I have completed a cursory review of these candidates and this is how I’ll probably vote. However, you can and should look into the judges as much as possible to make a valid decision based on your personal values….If I get further information related to these people, I will forward on to you to help you with your decision-making….

For information on the DA and District Judge Elections for District 21, see original information below this email.  For elections in other Judicial Districts, see link above to “All Statewide Candidates”….

A Summary of my Overall Preferences on the Judicial Retention Elections:

RETAIN:

 ”YES” to GARY LUMPKIN – OK Criminal Appeals Court
 “YES” to BRIAN JACK GOREE – OK Civil Appeals Court

DO NOT RETAIN:

  “NO” to JOHN F. REIF – OK Supreme Court
  “NO” to TOM COLBERT – OK Supreme Court
             “NO” to JOSEPH M. WATT – OK Supreme Court
             “NO” to JERRY L. GOODMAN – OK Civil Appeals Court
             “NO” to JANE P. WISEMAN – OK Civil Appeals Court
             “NO” to DEBORAH BARNES – OK Civil Appeals Court
             “NO” to KEITH RAPP – OK Civil Appeals Court

DISCUSSIONS:

Historically, no High Court Judge has ever been “voted out” in an Oklahoma Retention Election…however, as voters become more educated, this could change…”If in doubt, vote'em out”…..

OKLAHOMA SUPREME COURT JUSTICES

DISTRICT NO. 1 – JOHN F. REIF – VOTE “NO”, not to keep
Reif was originally appointed by Governor Brad Henry (D) in 2007.

DISTRICT NO. 6 – TOM COLBERT – VOTE “NO”, not to keep
Colbert was originally appointed by Governor Brad Henry (D) in 2004.

DISTRICT NO. 9 – JOSEPH M. WATT – VOTE “NO”, not to keep
Watt was originally appointed by Governor David Walters (D) in 1994.

Probably one of the most publicized cases out of the OK Supreme Court this past year was when the OK Supreme Court took it upon themselves to "stay" the execution of two inmates despite the fact that this stay of execution was the responsibility of the OK Court of Criminal Appeals and not the OK Supreme Court.  By law, the OK Supreme Court handles no criminal cases.  The OK Court of Criminal Appeals voted NOT to stay the execution.

Colbert, C.J., Reif, V.C.J., Kauger, Watt and Combs, JJ., concurred with allowing for a Stay of Execution, even though it was fully outside of their jurisdiction per Oklahoma State Law (Constitution).

On the other hand Winchester, Edmondson, Taylor and Gurich, JJ., dissented with this Stay, claiming "The Appellants have maneuvered this Court right where they set out to put us and that is, for the first time in this Court's relevant history, in the middle of a death penalty appeal.  We have never been here before and we have no jurisdiction to be here now." (Justice Taylor)

No matter how the execution came out, the Justices who voted Yes were wrong in trying to “stay” the execution within the OK Supreme Court. We don’t need Supreme Court Justices who believe they can work outside the law and outside their jurisdiction.

In 2008, the OklahomaConstition.com commented on these same 3 Justices…indicating that people should Vote “NO” for all three….


OKLAHOMA COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS JUSTICES

DISTRICT NO. 3 – GARY L. LUMPKIN – VOTE “YES”, to keep
Lumpkin was originally appointed by Gov. Henry Bellmon (R) in January 1989.


In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan ideology of State Supreme Court Justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns.  A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 are more liberal.  Lumpkin received a Campaign Finance score (CF score) of 0.88, indicating a conservative ideological leaning.  This is more conservative than the average CF score of 0.33 that justices received in Oklahoma.  The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature).  This study is not a definitive label of a justice, but an academic gauge of various factors. 

In 2008, the OklahomaConstitution.com commented on this same Justice…recommending the people Vote “Yes” on Justice Gary Lumpkin.


OKLAHOMA COURT OF CIVIL APPEALS JUSTICES

DISTRICT NO.  1

OFFICE 1 – JERRY L. GOODMAN – VOTE “NO”, not to keep
Goodman was appointed by Governor Frank Keating (R) in 1994.

OFFICE 2 – JANE P. WISEMAN – VOTE “NO”, not to keep
Wiseman was appointed by Governor Brad Henry (D) in 2005.


DISTRICT NO.  2

OFFICE 1 – DEBORAH B. BARNES – VOTE “NO”, not to keep
Barnes was appointed by Governor Brad Henry (D) in 2008.

Steve Fair, Republican, of Duncan, OK recommended a Vote of “NO” for Barnes in the 2010 election.  Although, Steve mostly recommends a “No” vote based on whether they were appointed by a Democrat or Republican Governor.


OFFICE 2 – KEITH RAPP – VOTE “NO”, not to keep
Rapp was appointed by Governor George Nigh (D) in 1984.
CASES: 
RAPP (All but 2003, 2005)
KEITH RAPP (2003)


DISTRICT NO.  6

OFFICE 2 – BRIAN JACK GOREE – VOTE “YES”, to keep
Goree was appointed by Governor Mary Fallin (R) in 2012.

If you believe blogs, it appears that Justice Brian Goree is most likely a pro-gun and a pro-life person….

In 2008, the Oklahoma Constition.com commented and recommended the following vote….
It is recommended that all four of these judges up for retention, Jerry GoodmanJane WisemanKeith Rapp, and John Fischer, should be replaced.  VOTE NO on all four (Note:  3 of which are included in the 2014 election).   http://oklahomaconstitution.com/ns.php?nid=132&pastissue=1



STATE QUESTIONS:

There are 3 State Questions on the ballot.  I will probably vote YES (to pass) on all 3, unless I hear something about them that is not so obvious....NOTE:  Always be careful how you vote on State Questions.  I don't have the actual wording on these and sometimes a "NO" vote is a pass-vote and sometimes a "YES" vote is a pass-vote...read them carefully.....

SQ 769  (Summary:  Modifying the current law in order to allow some of those who hold office to simultaneously be in a Reserve or Guard Unit, even if they are called to active service while holding office)

THE GIST OF THE PROPOSITION IS AS FOLLOWS:

This measure amends Section 12 of Article 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution.  That Section currently imposes limits on an individual simultaneously holding certain government offices.  The amendment would permit those serving in state offices of trust or profit to also hold certain military positions.  Holders of an Oklahoma office of trust or profit who currently cannot simultaneously hold certain military positions, include:
    Legislators;
    State Judges;
    District Attorneys;
    Statewide elected officials, such as the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Treasurer;
    Members of State Boards, Agencies and Commissions, and Many County Officers.

The measure creates a state constitutional right permitting holders of Oklahoma offices of trust or profit to also serve and be called to active duty or active service in the following military positions:
    An Officer or Enlisted Member of
    The National Guard,
    The National Guard Reserve,
    The Oklahoma State Guard, or
    Any other active militia or military force organized under State law;
    An Officer of the Officers Reserve Corps of the United States or
    An Enlisted Member of the Organized Reserves of the United States.

The Measure empowers the Legislature to enact laws to implement the amended Section.

SQ 770  (Summary:  A Special Homestead Exemption for disabled veterans and spouses of disabled veterans)

THE GIST OF THE PROPOSITION IS AS FOLLOWS:
This measure amends the Oklahoma Constitution.  It amends Section 8E of Article 10.  This section provides a homestead exemption to certain qualifying disabled veterans.   It also provides a homestead exemption to the surviving spouse of qualifying disabled veterans.  This measure would allow either the veteran or his or her surviving spouse to sell the homestead but acquire another homestead property in the same calendar year.  The exemption would apply to the newly acquired homestead property to the same extent as the original exemption for the homestead property that was sold.

SQ 771  (Summary:  A Special Homestead Exemption for spouses of military personnel who have died in the line of duty)

THE GIST OF THE PROPOSITION IS AS FOLLOWS:
This measure amends the Oklahoma Constitution.  It would add a new Section 8F to Article 10.  It would create a homestead exemption for the surviving spouse of military personnel who die in the line of duty.  The United States Department of Defense or the applicable branch of the United States military would make the determination regarding whether the person engaged in military service died while in the line of duty.  It would provide the surviving spouse of such person with a one hundred percent (100%) exemption for the fair cash value of the homestead until the surviving spouse remarried.  This measure would allow the surviving spouse to sell the homestead, but acquire another homestead property in the same calendar year.  The exemption would apply to the newly acquired homestead property to the same extent as the original exemption for the homestead property that was sold.  The exemption would apply beginning in calendar year 2015.  The exemption would also apply for the 2014 calendar year if the surviving spouse meets applicable requirements.


THE CANDIDATES FOR DISTRICT ATTORNEY AND DISTRICT JUDGE DISTRICT @! (Cleveland, McClain and Garvin Counties)

Overall, my opinion on the Judicial Retention Elections (not those candidates below) are "If in doubt, vote them out"....

Generally, I vote NO to all judges that are on the "retention" list ballot unless I know them to be truly good and fair judges who do not want to legislate from the bench...

The two candidates for DISTRICT JUDGE are:  
STEVE STICE
JEFF VIRGIN

This new District Judge position will be principally located in Cleveland County.  Both of these men are currently working as Special Districat Judges in Cleveland County (Stice) and McClain County (Virgin).  

Steven Stice previously owned a small business and worked with others regarding business law for several years.; he worked in private practice for quite a few years; and, he has been a Special Judge for a few years.  His experience is broad-ranged.  He believes that it is important that both parties who come to court, be it criminal or civil cases, should be treated equally under the laws of the State and as applicable to law.  He did not believe that it was good to have "political" endorsements as he believes they should remain apolitical as the job calls for.  He has several judges within the state who endorse him.  He believes it is not his position to "legislate" from the bench.

Jeff Virgin is younger than Stice and essentially has less experience.  He has worked with the DA's office and he has worked as a Special Judge for a short time.  He has been endorsed by the Sheriffs' offices in all 3 counties and the DA's office.  He also has been endorsed by US Rep. Tom Cole and several of the State Legislators.  He is proud of these endorsements and he indicated that his experience as a Special Judge in McClain County has given him much broader experience than would be normally anticipated due to their heavy workload.

The meeting in Norman gave me a lot of insight into these two candidates and really helped me to make up my mind which one I believe to be the better candidate.  I think both candidates are worthy of the position; however, due to life and legal experience, I believe Steve Stice to be the better of the two candidates at this time.  I have no real problems with Jeff Virgin.  I agree with Steve Stice that judges should remove themselves from the political arena as much as they can.  I would also like for Jeff Virgin to obtain a little more experience.

My Choice:  STEVE STICE - DIST. JUDGE, D-21

The two candidates for DISTRICT ATTORNEY are:

GREG MASHBURN (incumbent)
MIKE MILLSTEAD

The District Attorney (along with the Assistant DA's appointed by him) work in all 3 counties (Cleveland, McClain, and Garvin Counties).

Greg Mashburn is the incumbent DA for District 21.  He has been our DA for 8 years.  Overall, Mashburn did not impress me too greatly.  His prosecution of many different crimes seemed to be somewhat "mechanical" in his viewpoint.  In example:  He commented that he gives drug offenders 5 chances (with various stepwise increasing punishments) and then sends them to prison.  His attitude didn't seem to take into account various types of scenarios that could occur with these people.  

Mike Milstead openly admitted that he has an "ax to grind" against Mashburn.  This appears to be his greatest reason for running for Dist. Attorney.  This "ax" appears to be marijuana (probably the legalization of it).  He believes that the possession and use of marijuana should not be a prison offense.  When asked questions about various issues, he seldom gave any answer unless the question related to marijuana.  I believe that he would "enact" marijuana legalization by poor or no prosecution of most offenders.  I don't know if he would do too well at anything else either.  His views and his overall presence pushed me to only consider Mashburn as a viable candidate.

My Choice:  GREG MASHBURN - DIST. ATTORNEY, D-21