By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Saturday, March 7, Dr. Duke Pesta, a University of Wisconsin Professor, addressed a crowd of over 100 at Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Hoover on what he felt were the negatives of the controversial Common Core Curriculum currently being implemented across the state of Alabama.
The event was hosted by prominent Common Core opponents Amie Beth Shaver and former State Senator Scott Beason (R-Gardendale).
Dr. Pesta says that,
“With Common Core there is more indoctrination within texts and less discussion of a character’s morals and ethics. You have lobbyists in the ear of your politicians every day promoting this. The big corporate interest are promising the moon. The Gates Foundation and Pearson are offering grants and Microsoft computers at half price. If this were just about what the people of Alabama wanted you would have gotten rid of this two years ago.”
“All the information that I give today is meaningless unless you do something about it. The rationale behind this is sociology. This isn’t going to help education. It’s not going to make your kids better at math, at language, or at history it sociologizes it. Even if you think you like the standards, the indoctrination that comes with means that we can’t allow it to happen. We can’t stand for it.”
Pesta said that the common core people hired an outside committee to evaluate the standards and gave them carte blanche, the validation committee. That committee to validate had only one mathematicians and one English expert. The mathematicians was Professor James Milgram. He said of common core math that it is an absolute joke to think common core math will prepare your child for a career in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math). Milgram said that common core math will set our kids three years behind and we are already three years behind high performing countries.
Common core just refused to acknowledge the arguments of Dr. Milgram and the English expert and wrote them out of the documents.
Dr. Pesta said that,
“Common core cuts 50% of the literature out of the curriculum. They are pulling out stories and adding propaganda. All the views are one way handed to you from the federal government. Less Charlotte Bronte, less Shakespeare and replacing it with political stuff.”
“Working with textbook publishers like Pearson, they created 400 exemplar texts. Those 400 texts are the only ones associated with the Common Core curriculum. They lowered the overall reading at every grade level 50% more. Students are writing significantly more.”
“Students in Wisconsin were told to write about how the state is like a family and is even better than the family. One of the texts is the ‘Science behind Insulation.’ Science, Math, and Tech subjects replaced literature. There is no questioning of global warming and they are blaming America for it.”
“Another text is ‘The evolution of the Grocery Bag.’ The State of California outlawed plastic bags based on this work. Even White House talking points have been added to the literature texts. Obama’s Executive Order on strengthening Federal environmental standards is one of the texts.”
Pesta said that much of the texts are developmentally and sexually inappropriate for kids. A book by Toni Morrison contains shocking levels of sexuality. That is on the reading list for use by students as young as 8th grade. Black Swan is another.
“Why are they there? There is a reason why we are sexualizing children at a younger age. The purpose is social engineering. Even the reading assignments for third graders are loading and shocking. In one text Dad is having an adulterous affair in Moms bed. Parent are x-ing out assignments and sending them back undone. The older they are, the more shockingly inappropriate they are.”
Pesta suggested they are intentionally sexualizing children to promote conflict and drive a wedge between the parents and the child.
Pesta said that,
“Common Core is removing literature and replacing it with informational texts from the far left. I would not want the informational texts to be coming from the right any more than I would want them coming from the left. The benefits of teaching children classic stories is that it builds imagination and stimulates thought.”
Pesta said that with Common Core, much of what teachers are now doing is now scripted. US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (D) even came out publicly recently and said we have to stop referring to teachers as teachers they are facilitators.
“Teachers have knowledge that they pass on to their students while facilitators are just tools the state uses to pass on information. They don’t create the lessons anymore.”
“There is no evidence that they bench marked this internationally. In Dr. Millgram’s own words common core math is social justice math. It is a simple biological fact that not every kid can do math at a high level. 20 percent of the population are gifted at math, 20 percent struggle and the rest are somewhere in the middle. Common core people think this is not fair. Under common core algebra is not started until 9th grade. If we start Algebra in the 9th Grade we can not get to calculus in high school.”
Common core math makes every kid comfortable with the math they can do. It is more focusing on the process than the results. They put kids in groups of three and they come to an answer by consensus. The actual achievement of math is secondary.
Dr. Pesta said,
“When I took my one math class the math professor told me, ‘You are clearly an English person’ and gave me a C-; but when I was in second grade I was reading on a high school level. What would my life be if I were forced to stay on the level of my peers instead of being encouraged to excel at what I was good at?”
“Social justice dictates that all kids achieve equally. If you have an outcome that every kid can achieve then you are not teaching a high standard. Tell me how it is not socialism?”
“Children have different innate abilities. They are not common. They are not standard. Albert Einstein 80 years ago said you standardize automobiles you don’t standardize children. He and I both failed math.”
“You are prohibited from doing standard math in common core.”
Pesta showed a video of a child demonstrating how the new math works. An 8 year-old girl was given a problem like 1453 plus 1234. Instead of simply turning it into an equation of 1453 + 1234 = 2687 the child demonstrated how she was ordered to do math problems: she drew a big box represent 1000 four small boxes each representing 100, five little boxes each representing 10 and then I I I and then another thousand box, two hundred boxes, three little ten boxes and I I I I …..then she added up her collection of boxes….and got the wrong answer.
“This is not funny. There is no conceivable way you can ban the obvious way. Common core will not allow you to memorize multiplication tables. You don’t want to make things more abstract than they need to be. This is what is going on. I am not making this up.”
Jason Zimba who is the architect of common core math said in an interview, “This kind of math is not to prepare you for stem careers or for college math.” “I think it is a fair critique that it is a minimal definition for college readiness”
Pesta said that even Zimba acknowledges that Common Core Math is not for STEM It is not for selective colleges like UC Berkley. “This is the lie to the Chamber of Commerce and your business people. The National Chamber of Commerce has taken millions of $$$s from the Gates Foundation. They are also for amnesty and open borders. They want a low skill pool of workers. It is about workers. The Bush kids, the Obama kids will never have to study this your kids will. Do you think Jeb Bush’s kids will ever take this stuff? This is sociology. Why are you creating a math paradigm that does not prepare you for a career in math?”
Pesta said that Common Core texts are selected to break children down morally, to make them more libertine. What the schools mean by tolerant is tolerant of the position of the government not the positions of their parent or the church.
In California they are farther along in this than Alabama. By 6th grade Irvine California kids could not do math in their heads, they could not do multiplication tables so parents started hiring tutors. The schools were so threatened by this they sent home notes refusing to place children ahead who were working ahead of the class. We have lost numerous gifted programs in the last two years.
Dr. Pesta said that David Coleman wrote the American History portion of Common Core and is now rewriting the SATs to reflect Common Core. He rewrote the Advanced Placement tests on history. Over 400 history professors wrote a letter to David Coleman protesting the new history standards with all the inaccuracies. He responded back that facts don’t matter in history anymore.
Pesta said that the new history texts teach that America is a racist culture of imperialism. The new approved text, “Out of Many” has only two 2 paragraphs for George Washington; but 60 pages on Bill Clinton. Reagan gets just two paragraphs as well and says that Reagan is a liar who made up his own history.
The authors even warn that “Conservatives who want democracy and free enterprise presented more favorably are bothered by what they see as left-leaning texts.” And suggests that states not have textbook review boards anymore. Pesta said that the history of prostitution is talked about more than the founding fathers.
Pesta warned that Common Core is heavily involved in data mining. “The federal government built a huge facility to house your kid’s data in Bluffdale, Utah. The desert facility is so massive that it requires 4 million gallons of water a day just to cool the computers. Now that the government controls healthcare everything is healthcare. Numerous government agencies get all the data they collect on your kids. That information is shared with the Department of Defense, labor, Indian affairs, FCC, Social Security, Department of Prisons etc. They are using your schools to collect information about your kids…….Unbelievable.”
Sec. Arne Duncan said, “I think our kids should be open 12 to 14 to 15 hours a day.” They are attaching health care clinics to schools to provide birth control and abortion services in house……without telling the parents. Greenbay provides every kid breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the city schools regardless of income. They won a grant from the Obama administration to continue providing all three meals throughout the summer.
For the last 40 or 50 years our kids have been getting their ABCs and along the way they have been herded left. For the first time the ABCs and 1 2 3s are being subordinated to the sociology.
The teachers of New York are trying to get out of this now. Common Core is teaching abstract thought too early and it is hurting kids mentally and emotionally. The tests have turned kids off from education
“These are people who know exactly what they are doing. Why are your politicians doing it? I no long buy that they are ignorant.”
Dr. Pesta recommended the website: www.FPEUSA.org
Rainy Day Patriots Co-Chair Ann Eubank said that there is an opportunity for Gov. Dr. Bentley (R) to sign on and join Gov. Jindal’s law suit against Common Core. Attorney General Luther Strange (R) is interested but will not sign on unless Bentley does.
Ann Eubank said that she thinks the Common Core repeal bill will get out of the State Senate this year but the difficulty will be getting it out of committee in the Alabama House of Representatives, where the education policy committee is stacked with pro-common core representatives.
Former Miss Alabama Amie Beth Shaver recognized State Representatives Mooney and Matt Fridy who were both in attendance and former State Senator Scott Beason (R-Gardendale) for his role in starting the repeal movement.
Dr. Pesta said that home school is booming because of this.
K. Carl Smith said that We are being demonized. We have to learn that the other side is playing for keeps. Like slave masters did over 100 years ago government is trying to separate him from his job and then you don’t educate him. Become involved in the legislative process. We need people in both parties with the moral courage to tell the truth.
Sen. Beason is now the senior policy analyst for the Alabama Free Market Alliance. He said. “Your legislators are not ignorant of this issue. Even the leadership fully understand this issue; but politics is about fear and power. The leadership of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) is strongly supportive of Common Core or the legislature would probably have repealed this two years ago. BCA is a direct subsidiary of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”
The legislators don’t care. They are more scared of money being put into races against them than they are the will of the people. We have to mobilize. We have to have people in every legislative district who are constantly contacting their legislators and contacting other people in their district.
Beason said that we have the votes if we can get it on the floor. If there is a regret I have as a legislator is not using that nuclear option and shutting down everything in the Senate until this passed last year. I thought it would eventually come up for a vote.
Beason said that the bill to repeal Common Core this year is SB 101. The sponsors and cosponsors are receiving calls from pro-common core and BCA people. We need to call them and thank them for sponsoring SB 101
Eunie Smith is the President of Eagle Forum said that the bill itself would repeal common core and replace it with the standards that were in place before common core. Smith said that Alabama can take the best standards from around the country and incorporate them into our own state standards.
AARP’s COVID-19 dashboard shows Alabama nursing home lagging behind national averages
In each of five parameters Alabama fared worse than the national average.
A recently-released dashboard shows that Alabama’s nursing homes, residents and staff alike, are suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and there’s concern over what may happen in the coming days and weeks.
“We know we’re moving into a very dangerous time right now, with flu season, and weather getting colder and people moving indoors,” said AARP Alabama spokeswoman Jamie Harding, speaking to APR on Monday.
AARP partnered with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio in the creation of the dashboard, which in this first set uses data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to look at five parameters for the four-week period ended Sept. 20.
In each of the five parameters — nursing home resident deaths per 100 residents, resident cases per 100 residents, staff cases per 100 residents, supply of personal protective equipment and staffing shortages — Alabama fared worse than the national average.
In the last month, there were 1.03 COVID-19 deaths among Alabama nursing home residents per 100 residents, tying with Mississippi as the second highest death rate in the nation, coming just behind South Carolina, which had the most, at 1.2 deaths per 100 residents, according to the AARP reports.
As of Oct. 14, 45 percent of Alabama’s total COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic were among nursing home residents, totaling 1,088 resident deaths at the time, according to the dashboard. For the four weeks ending Sept. 20, nursing home residents made up 48 percent of the state’s deaths.
Harding also noted that by the time CMS publishes the nursing home data “it’s about two to three weeks old” so the public isn’t getting up-to-date information on what’s happening in nursing homes, but she said at least the AARP’s dashboard will show trends in the data over time.
“We want the state, we want our leadership to take this data seriously, to see that we are not performing well on these five metrics, which are very critical metrics, and we want to know how this is going to be addressed,” Harding said.
The Alabama Department of Public Health has declined to release county-level or facility-level details on coronavirus in long-term care facilities and nursing homes, citing privacy concerns.
“So that’s the problem, and Alabama has stubbornly refused to release daily reports, and remains one of just a handful of states still refusing to release the daily report, and we really have no good answer,” Harding said.
Harding also discussed a COVID-19 outbreak at the Attalla Health and Rehab, first reported by AL.com, in which the facility had to be evacuated due to a huge spike in cases there, peaking on July 10. Some residents were taken to a local hospital, while others were taken to Gadsden Health and Rehab and Trussville Health and Rehab, sparking an outbreak of COVID-19 at Trussville Health and Rehab.
AL.com’s reporting noted that while at least 10 states have special strike teams ready to send staff and supplies to nursing homes experiencing an outbreak, Alabama does not.
The new outlet quoted Dr. Karen Landers, assistant state health officer with the Alabama Department of Public Health as saying that the department doesn’t have the staffing to form such teams.
“That is an indication that this was a problem they were never prepared for, and they should have been,” Harding said. “They are the Department of Public Health. This is their work. This is their job.”
Harding also said that as of at least the end of September, the Alabama Nursing Home Association hadn’t yet begun spending the $50 million in CARES Act funds, which Gov. Kay Ivey announced on Aug. 7 would be made available to reimburse state nursing homes via the hospital association’s Education Foundation for the cost of fighting against COVID-19.
John Matson, ANHA’s spokesman, told ABC 33/40 reported on Sept. 28 that the funds were in a holding account and the first claims should be paid in early October. Matson said an accounting firm had been hired to help handle the administration of the funds.
Harding expressed concern that the federal aid wasn’t being spent to help protect state nursing homes quickly enough, and said that the Attalla nursing home outbreak was made worse by a staffing shortage as workers either became sick themselves or quit to protect themselves and their loved ones. Alabama nursing homes weren’t overstaffed before the pandemic, she said.
“We would like to see some of that $50 million dollars spent to address staffing emergencies,” Harding said.
Matson, in a response to APR on Monday, said that since mid-March, Alabama’s nursing homes have been in the center of a fight to defend the most vulnerable citizens of our state from the most insidious and infectious virus attack in the last century.
“Every resource has been pushed to the extreme,” Matson said. “While critics have the luxury of creating dashboards generated from government databases, the caregivers of Alabama’s nursing homes have relentlessly fought day-by-day, risking their own health, to care for the residents who depend on us. Our people are heroes and our nursing homes have met an unprecedented challenge.”
Matson said every dollar of the $50 million spent must be justified by documentation, every claim is to be audited by an independent auditing firm before reimbursements are approved and ANHA filed regular reports to the Alabama Department of Finance which are publicly viewable.
ANHA’s report for September, filed Oct. 15, states that many facilities were just then become eligible to apply for some of those $50 million due to requirements that the facilities deduct from amounts claimed any other coronavirus aid the facility may have received from other sources, such as the “Medicaid COVID add-on of $20 per day per Medicaid patient, DHHS Provider Relief Funds; and SBA payroll Protection payment loans attributable to payroll, if any.”
“Therefore, due to the application of these mitigants, many facilities are just now becoming eligible to apply for and receive funds,” the report reads.
The September report also states that to guard against funds not being available “in the event of a second or later COVID-19 wave, the Foundation is holding back 25% of approved claims.”
The report also says that 12 facilities as of Sept. 30 were approved for $6.5 million in claims, with $1.6 to be held back for possible future COVID-19 waves. As of Oct. 13, there were $10.4 million in pending claims filed by 65 facilities, according to the report, and there were $16.9 million on total claims paid or pending.
Birmingham pays back $179 million in debt
This comes 9 years after Birmingham filed one the largest municipal bankruptcies in U.S. history.
Birmingham has refunded $179 million in general obligation debt, securing the lowest interest cost for the city in decades and accruing $44 million in present value savings from bond refunding.
This comes nine years after Birmingham filed one the largest municipal bankruptcies in U.S. history.
“When I became mayor in November 2017, it became apparent the city was not on sound financial footing,” said Mayor Randall Woodfin. “A key reason was the city was not paying into its pension at the level that was needed. Today, we have dramatically increased our payment to the pension. I want to thank the council for their support in this effort. We have reduced the cost of borrowing money and have strengthened our financial position.”
Bond refunding reduces the payments for debt service in the general fund by upward of $5 million per year for the next five years, allowing $13 million in real cash savings for commercial development use in the future.
Birmingham has now nearly doubled its contribution to its pension fund since the 2017 fiscal year.
The city’s commitment to increasing its pension funds, coupled with a focus on maintaining services and infrastructure during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in its affluent downtown, has generated confidence in the city’s finances among rating agencies.
Four credit rating agencies — S&P, Moody’s, Fitch and KBRA — reaffirmed the city’s current ratings. A downgrade could have cost the city millions of dollars during the recent bond refunding and created bigger challenges for the operating budget.
Birmingham’s Porter White & Company and Atlanta’s Terminus Municipal Advisors LLC served as municipal advisors for the city during the refunding phase.
Adia Winfrey reports from campaigns trail
“We need your help to spread the word and continue reaching out to voters to help Democrats up and down the ticket,” Winfrey said.
The Nov. 3 general election is in less than two weeks, and Democratic congressional candidate Adia Winfrey is reporting back from the campaign trail.
“They say a picture says a thousand words, so I wanted to share a few shots from the campaign trail with you,” Winfrey said in an email to supporters. “We still need your support as we get closer to November 3rd. A poll released yesterday showed Senator Doug Jones with a huge lead among early absentee voters! This lets us know that what Democrats are doing is working, and we’ve got to keep the pressure on. Every day is Election Day!”
“We need your help to spread the word and continue reaching out to voters to help Democrats up and down the ticket,” Winfrey continued. “Make sure you tell your family and friends to get to their local courthouse for in-person absentee voting on any weekday between now and October 29th. Many counties are also hosting Saturday voting on October 24th, so look out for that option as well! Check with seniors in your communities and churches to make sure they’re able to get out to vote safely in this important election.”
Winfrey is running in the 3rd Congressional District as the Democratic nominee. She is challenging incumbent Congressman Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, who is seeking a 10th term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
According to NBC News, more than 35 million Americans have already voted early and absentee. This is already more early and absentee votes than were cast in the 2016 election.
The Alabama Democratic Party said in a statement, “We’re only two weeks out from Election Day! We are proud of everything we have accomplished so far. From rebuilding of party to successfully pressuring counties into offering Saturday voting, we have already made history this fall!”
“We are going to spend the rest of this week pressuring other counties to offer their voters this same opportunity,” the ADP continued. “But we need your help. We’ve reached out to over 3 million Democrats across Alabama. We have prioritized reaching out to voters who traditionally never hear from us. Now, it’s time to put our GOTV plan into action.”
Winfrey is a psychologist and native of Talladega. Winfrey has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wilberforce University and a doctorate of clinical psychology degree from the Wright State University School of Professional Psychology. She is the founder of the H.Y.P.E. (Healing Young People Through Empowerment) movement.
Election day is Nov. 3.
Eula Battle, wife of Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, has died
Battle announced the death of his wife and best friend, Eula Catherine Sammons Battle, in a statement Tuesday.
Eula Battle, the wife of Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, passed away Tuesday after a bought with cancer. She was 65.
Battle announced the death of his wife and best friend, Eula Catherine Sammons Battle, in a statement.
Eula was born in Huntsville, Alabama, on Sept. 29, 1955, to Dr. Robert A. Sammons and his wife, Calvert Sammons. She was the second youngest of five children.
She graduated of Huntsville High School, got a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Wesleyan College. She worked 31 years as a schoolteacher. After her first year of teaching in Conyers, Georgia, Eula returned home to teach kindergarten in the Madison County School System. She was named Madison County Teacher of the Year in 2000 for her outstanding service and dedication.
Once Eula “retired” from public education, she went on to support and teach in the newly formed Greengate School, an academic program focused on students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities.
In 2010, she co-founded Free 2 Teach, a non-profit that supplies free school materials for local teachers. To date, Free 2 Teach has distributed more than $7 million in supplies and materials to Huntsville-area teachers.
Eula’s focus on education also influenced a mayoral initiative, the Mayor’s Book Club, where she championed businesses to fund more than 100,000 books for students in Title 1 schools. Eula and Tommy wanted children in need to be able to build their own personal libraries to hopefully instill a love of reading and learning.
Eula campaigned with Tommy door to door on their dates when he was first running for mayor in 1988. She was instrumental in garnering public support for his subsequent bid for mayor in 2008 and tirelessly traveled the state when Tommy entered the 2018 governor’s race, always promoting Huntsville and gathering a network of more friends and fans along the way.
“Eula never met a stranger and those who had the honor of meeting and knowing her will miss her gregarious spirit, robust laughter and fierce devotion to family and friends. She was everyone’s favorite aunt, best friend, and enthusiastic cheerleader. Eula was a terrific cook, challenging Tommy’s culinary expertise, making mealtime at the Battle house a delicious affair.”
Eula was exceptionally proud of her son, Drew, and her two grandsons, George and Benjamin.
She was actively involved in her community her entire life. She was a former member of the Junior League of Huntsville and Grace Club, was an active member of Trinity United Methodist Church, was selected as a participant in the Leadership Huntsville Class 26 and belonged to Alpha Kappa Delta, an honorary organization for women educators, and to the Daughters of the American Revolution.
She was honored by the Women’s Economic Development Council Foundation in 2014, received the DAR Founders Medal for Education in 2019, and received the 2020 Boy Scouts Whitney M. Young Community Service Award. In 2019 Athens State University established the Eula S. Battle education scholarship so she could have a hand in developing future teachers. In 2020, Eula was a White Linen and Wine Honoree for the Russell Hill Cancer Foundation.
Eula is survived by her husband, Tommy Battle; their son, Drew Battle and his wife, Lauren; grandsons, George and Benjamin; brothers, Dr. Robert Sammons (Louise), Dr. Calame Sammons (Dianne), and Bill Sammons (Laurie); a sister, Susan Sammons Sullins (Bill); and 12 nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be sent to Free 2 Teach or Trinity United Methodist Church in Huntsville. Laughlin Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.
Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, said in a statement, “Martha and I extend our deepest heartfelt sympathies to the entire Battle family as they grieve the loss of Eula Battle. Eula’s tremendous legacy will be felt in Huntsville for decades as her kindness and charity ripple through the many lives she touched. May God’s peace be with the Battle family. Eula’s many loved ones can be assured she is now in a better place.”
Gov. Kay Ivey, “I’m saddened to hear of the passing of Eula Battle. She was a loving and supportive wife to Mayor Battle, and as he refers to her, his ‘best friend.’ I extend my deepest sympathies and prayers to their family in this hard season.”
Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth said, “The Tennessee Valley lost one of its most dedicated community leaders with the passing of Eula Battle. Eula devoted her life to teaching and provided her students with valuable lessons that they carry to this day. Kendall and I send our prayers of condolence to the Battle family.”
Speaker of the Alabama House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, said, “Charitable acts and generosity were Eula’s trademarks, and her presence in the Huntsville community will be dearly missed. My wife, Debbie, and I lost a true friend with the passing of Eula, and I pray that God provides comfort to Mayor Battle and his family during this time.”