For the Rochester Concerned Taxpayers Association
by Jane Aitken (updated 3/24/2012)

It has come to my attention that the City of Rochester is being asked to consider the construction of a second, ‘small’ high school.

While I do not dispute the idea that smaller schools and classes can be more conducive to learning, the community must be made aware of certain facts that may immediately send up a red flag.

As a teacher of almost 35 years, I am a proponent of strong curricular standards and content, and the use of proven teaching methods to deliver that content. I believe that success can be achieved by hiring teachers who are experts in their fields, and then empowering them with the proper scope, sequence, and materials. They also must be allowed to employ proven methodologies, as well as given ample support in all disciplinary matters.

But lately, it seems that our tax dollars are not going to support the classroom or the hardworking teachers that work in them all day long and beyond. They have instead been hijacked by salesmen from the education ‘industry’. (You can see other videos of Dennis Littky by searching on YouTube)

These education industry operators sell at huge prices their services which include designing new schools, selling new methodologies, and offering workshops that guarantee the teachers will come to any conclusions you wish them to during their ‘retraining’ sessions. (Delphi Technique) These salesmen are more often no more than highly motivated charlatans who take advantage of the money we spend on our extreme desire to improve our schools in any way we can. An example of one of these education industry operations is the Quaglia Institute of Student Aspirations to which the state of NH paid $250,000 to Russell Quaglia in 2008 to administer “happiness surveys” to high school students. (Video from IAHS Summit which is now unavailable was “Understanding Student Aspirations: Enhancing the Learning Environment, Dr. Russell J. Quaglia” in which Quaglia refers to certain conservative teachers as ‘assholes’ and expresses the hope that they would ‘die’. Another video has been substituted)

The list of snake-oil salesmen is far too long to delve into here, but they abound.

The Big Picture is just another one of a vast network of revolutionary school ‘movements’ that are attempting to make social changes within our society using our children as political pawns. If you peruse their website you will see that the founder is Dennis Littky. Littky’s history with the failed Thayer Academy in Winchester NH Part I and Part II should speak for itself. (PDF is based on transcripts of an NHPR two-part series on the subject, headers for that archive can be seen HERE)

Project-based learning, or ‘constructivism’ is listed as one of their methodologies, something that has been proven a failure. The philosophy employed is based on a similar model known as the Theodore Sizer Coalition of Essential Schools, something that is used in Souhegan School District and also considered to be a failure. Jargon such as “authentic assessment”, and “collaborative learning”, are more indications that progressive experimentation is being used in these schools. For a complete list of eduspeak terms and lingo and the translation of same, see The Illinois Loop lingo page.

Another program trying to make its way into NH schools comes from UNESCO, administered from Geneva, Switzerland and is called International Baccalaureate. The world view it presents is often not pro-American. It admits it wants to create global citizens and teaches government from the UN’s point of view.

In any case, I urge the citizens of Rochester to do some further investigation on the founders of the “Big Picture” schools and know what it is you may be buying into.

With all the money we spend on education in NH it would seem that we simply have to summon the courage to do what is right, not what we are told by these self-described educational snake-oil salesmen and psychologists coming from the Annenberg School, the home of William Ayers and other educationists.

One final disturbing but not surprising discovery was the mention of their ‘good friend William Ayers’ on the Big Picture website in conjunction with the The Small Schools Workshop, which he co-directs and in a quote from the writer who said he was his ‘good friend’.

It is commonly known by those who study this issue that our schools are being used to effect social justice and political change on the taxpayers dime, but without much of a record of academic success.

It is my thought that NH schools can instill excellence without buying into yet another fad program.

Rochester, don’t fall for it!


William Ayers Sees Education as the Incubator of Revolution

Dennis Littky – School Features Real-World Learning, No Grades, No Tests, No Classes

Obama/Ayers/Littky Annenberg Challenge a Failure

Jane Aitken taught in the public schools for almost 35 years and is currently available to speak about educational issues all over the State of NH.