America is not producing Rodans.

America’s school children are being cheated. They are not learning to think. They are being taught to pass standardized tests.

Bush 2 recognized there was a problem in teaching and evaluating the quality of teaching. Prior to his election, minorities and poor whites were being passed for social reasons. Get the kids through the system and out.

Bush 2 signed into law in 2002 the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). In good faith, he thought it was the solution to the problem. He was wrong. Fourteen years later, the educational process is worse rather than better.

NCLB required standardized testing. From pre-K to 12th grade. In three areas only. Reading, math and science. Each State would be responsible for devising its own standardized tests. Most were strictly multiple choice. A few with essays added.

Schools would be evaluated based on the results. Teachers inadvertently were evaluated also. If the school did badly on a standardized test, it followed that the teachers must have taught poorly.

Some States required one standardized test in reading per semester. Others up to nine.

Recognizing that test results were being viewed the hall mark of competent teaching, administrators and teachers began teaching to the test. In other words, the test was everything. All else was forgotten. Like other courses such as Social Studies and the arts.

It became drill and kill. Teach students how to pass a multiple choice test in the three areas.

Practice/drill sessions became common place. Whereas generally one to nine tests were scheduled per semester, it now became as many as fifty plus. Over the course of the full school year, practice testing in excess of 100 tests.

Big numbers. Left no time to teach students to think. Teaching to the test was a rote way to learn. Like knowing the alphabet and being able to repeat it, counting to 100, etc.

The for real tests were required to be done on a computer. Ergo, the practice drills were also done on computers. Which meant that the computer room was no longer available for anything but testing. There was no time for students to otherwise use the computers.

Children were not being challenged. Even the smartest became bored with the drilling.

Many got the jitters. Fear. Especially the younger ones. It was heaped upon them by certain teachers who stressed the importance of the test and that the kids had to do well. Vomiting during the test became a problem. So much so that the Stanford-9 examination came with instructions on what to do with the test booklet in case a student vomited on it.

It did not take long to recognize that test scores were being used to reward and punish, in one fashion or another, schools and teachers. Some schools and teachers became encouraged to cheat the system for their own gain.

Some teachers began erasing and correcting answers. Answers on multiple choice questions were made with a # 2 pencil.

The teachers in one Atlanta school held weekend pizza parties during which student answers were corrected.

In 2015, 11 employees of a particular school district were convicted by the federal government of racketeering for changing answers.

Some administrators and teachers are guilty of gaming the results. Low performing students are encouraged to stay at home on school days. Or even worse, counseled to quit school or be suspended before the test is administered.

Money comes into play. The U.S. Government Accountability Office claims standardized testing is cheap. No burden on States or school districts. The Office says the cost per student for test purposes is $2 a year. The tests are computerized. Take one hour. Graded by a computer. The government claims costs are minimal.

Don’t tell that to Texas or Florida. In 2003, Texas’ education budget was $9 million. In 2012, $88 million. Florida spends an average of $250 million yearly to an outside firm to administer Florida’s Comprehensive Assessment Test.

Eighty six percent of Texas’ school districts report standardized tests are “strangling our public schools.”

China produces some of the smartest graduates in the world. The federal government uses China as an example of standardized testing being successful.

Such was once thought so. By China itself. No more. China is in the process of departing drill and kill. Chinese educators today admit standardized testing has produced only “competent mediocrity.”

The Obama administration has become anti-standardized testing. In 2014, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the testing was “sucking the oxygen out of the room.” He promised to do something about it.

So far, nothing has been done. The problem is politics. Present day Republicans say the States should control education and that the Education Department should be abolished. Obama says the federal government has to have a hand in it.

The problem is money again. The States do not have the money to properly run an educational system. History tells us so. The money has to come from the federal government. He who pays the fiddler calls the tune.

At some time since the NCLB was passed, the federal government provided that parents could opt their children out of the standardized testing program. Parents country wide were complaining. There was to be no adverse impact on any of the students opted out.

Thousands of parents have opted their children out. To avoid the useless testing and pressure it placed on them.

One thing the federal government has for sure are too many laws and regulations interpreting them. One of the problems involving NCLB and opting out reared its head in a Manatee County, Florida court room last friday. The Judge, Karen Gievers. I sense her to be a defender of children.

Federal law permits opting out. Several parents opted their children out in Manatee County. The students were third graders. Some honor students.

The counties are the bad guys. The counties say because the children did not take the standardized tests, they cannot be promoted. They must be held back. The fact that some are honor students is immaterial.

Everything is money.

Federal law says ninety five percent of students must take the standardized tests. In order to qualify for federal funds. Less than 95 percent have taken the test in many school districts over the years with no repercussion.

There is an older law referred to as the retention law. I am not sure if a federal or State one. I suspect State. Which ever, immaterial.

The retention law says if a student does not take the standardized tests, the student will be retained. Fancy for not passed.

Several counties fear they will lose funding. Note again the retention law was passed before the opting out one. I would assume opting out superseded retention. Note again also that the 95 percent has not been met by many school districts nation wide over the years with no penalty applied.

This is the first time retention has been utilized. It is academic class achievement versus retention. Recall, several of the students were honor ones. All had passing grades otherwise.

The counties wanting to hold the children back are counties who are impacted if school funds come up short.

The Florida Department of Education takes the position that opting out never mandated that students be held back.

Judge Gievers has indicated she will rule this week. She may already have ruled by the time this column gets to press. I suspect she will rule with the students and chastise the attorneys against them. It’s a for shame thing.

During the hearing last friday, several of the students testified. Eight to 9 year olds. Each cried. One mother, also. The mother of an honor student. Through her tears, she could be heard saying her daughter was a good girl and she and her husband good parents.

All these happenings as a result of No Child Left Behind. Hard to believe. The law an admirable try. Much flowing from it a disgrace.


Sugarloaf is 15 miles up US 1. One of the prettiest residential keys. Lovely homes.

I enjoyed a Sugarloaf evening last night.

June has owned or rented a home in Sugarloaf for more than a quarter century. She invited me to join her for a Sugarloaf experience last night.

First stop was a visit with Ineke and Fritz. Originally from the Netherlands, they have been U.S. citizens for many years. They enjoy two homes. A yearly residence in Connecticut, a winter home in Sugarloaf.

Fritz is a retired airline pilot. Ineke paints. Her works sell. Their Sugarloaf home walls covered with her paintings. All fantastic! Especially the abstracts. Their home lovely.

After an hour of pleasant conversation, we all moved on to Peggy and Wayne’s for dinner. Neva and Jerry joined us.

Another lovely Sugarloaf home. Sugarloaf has its own distinctive flavor. The homes reflect that distinction.

This was my third time with Peggy and Wayne. A fun couple.

A first time meet for me with Neva and Jerry. They stood out. Radiantly. They met eight weeks ago and fell in love. That quickly. It was obvious. God was good.

It was an evening of good company, drink and food. Accompanied by non-stop laughter.

I spent a good part of yesterday morning into the early afternoon writing this week’s KONK Life column. When Education Fails, A Nation Fails. Title says it all.

Our educational system has been on a downward spiral for years. Other industrialized nations have moved ahead of us. My recollection is that the U.S. is #29 among the 66 industrialized nations. A sure bet for more nations to move ahead of us economically and socially over the next 20 years.

The Blue Angels were performing again yesterday at Boca Chica. I did not have to go to the airfield to see them. My bedroom terrace was sufficient. Every time I heard the roar approaching, I ran out.

Outstanding! Beyond outstanding!

A couple of years ago, I came across an article suggesting that Lincoln had a dream that he had been assassinated ten days before he actually was. I doubted the validity of the story. Let it pass without comment.

I have come across the same story twice the past few days. I did a little digging. It seems the story has legs. It is for real.

Lincoln’s dream involved a group of subdued mourners around a casket in the White House’s East Room. Lincoln asked a guard who had died. The response, the President who was killed by an assassin.

Lincoln was bothered by the dream. He mentioned it to a close friend whose name escapes me.

The dream occurred on this day in 1865.

The world gets crazier by the moment. New York City is apparently having a problem with taxi and hired car drivers. Passengers being subjected to sexual comments and acts.

The City is working on a proposal banning the drivers from flirting with passengers or ejaculating on them. Ejaculating? Yes, it has become a problem.

Key West is one human family. Homosexuals and straights live side by side. Work and socialize together. Sexual preference not an issue.

Not so everywhere.

Saudi Arabia a problem place. The same Saudis who claim to be our friends. Those thought to have helped finance 9/11. Seventeen of the 21 persons involved in 9/11 were citizens of Saudi Arabia. Less I forget, the same Saudi Arabia that gave us $4 a gallon gasoline.

Criminal prosecutors in Saudi Arabia are recommending an extreme sentence for those engaging in homosexual acts. The death penalty.

The Saudis blame Facebook and the social media for creating the homosexual problem. They actually believe Facebook and social media are turning people gay.

Enjoy your day!


There is an old proverb…..For want of a nail, the shoe was lost. Followed by the horse, rider, battle and Kingdom being lost.

Yesterday, for want of a $13 payment, my blog was lost.

The blog never appeared.

Last week, one of my credit cards was fraudulently used. The Fraud Bureau picked it up and cancelled the card. I have been using a temp since then awaiting my new card from the bank.

The card cancelled was the one I have used for years to pay a monthly $13 fee to GoDaddy. GoDaddy had the card number and took $13 out of the account each month.

GoDaddy is a domain builder, domain registrar, etc. I am not exactly sure what GoDaddy does. However, it is the beginning of this blog and the foundation/platform for everywhere the blog goes, how it gets there, etc.

GoDaddy shut my blog down because my card was no longer good. All for $13. Therein lies the reason no blog yesterday.

An entity and person died this past weekend. Both renown. Syracuse University and Tom Oosterhoudt.

Syracuse made the Final Four. Lost to North Carolina last night. Beat badly. I am not destroyed. Syracuse overachieved in the tournament. Boeheim and the team outdid themselves.

Whatever abilities carried Syracuse to this point in the tournament were absent last night. The pre tournament Syracuse team was on the floor.

Such is life. Again, I compliment the team and coach for having made it as far they did. Made an otherwise poor season a great season!

Tom Oosterhoudt a Key West icon and legend. Died early friday morning in a Miami hospital at age 65.

Tom a former City Commissioner and presently editor/publisher of Conch Color. Tom started Conch Color 11 years ago. He and his mother Mary Ann Worth own Casa Antigua on Simonton.

The Casa Antigua carries with it a piece of Key West history that Tom was proud of. Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway came to Key West by ship from Paris in 1928. The Casa Antigua then known as the Trev-Mor Hotel. Where Pelican Poop was located for years was the Trev-Mor Ford dealership. Hemingway had ordered a Ford to drive north from Key West.

The Ford had not arrived. Hemingway and his then wife were put up by the Trev-Mor people at the Trev-Mor Hotel. Two weeks later, the car arrived. By that time, Hemingway was sold on Key West. He did not leave till years later. He spent the next two years living at the Trev-Mor Hotel. Then bought his famous home on Whitehead Street.

While living at the Trev-Mor those two years, Hemingway finished A Farewell to Arms.


Last night was Tavern ‘n Town early with June. Had to be home before 9 to watch the Syracuse game. Bobby Nesbitt entertaining. Ran into Harrell Odom and Barry Cook from Nashville. Snowbirds. Harrell a heart doctor. I met Harrell several years ago at a dinner party at Donna Barnett’s.

Research complete for this week’s KONK Life column. Writing the column next. Will do it this afternoon. Not sure of the title yet. The column has to do with he failure of America’s educational system. Education being something more of us should pay attention to rather than merely giving lip service.

Temperature 88 yesterday. A one day cold spell upon us. High today only 78. I hope you find amusing my representation re the drop in temperature.

Enjoy your Sunday!