In January 2015, 51 individuals contracted measles at Disneyland in southern California. This outbreak has been the cause of many debates about vaccines, public health, the rights of parents, and the role of the state.
What is a Vaccine?
A vaccine is a product that produces immunity from a disease and can be administered through needle injections, by mouth, or by aerosol. A vaccination is the injection of a killed or weakened organism that produces immunity in the body against that organism. Vaccines attempt to spur the body to make anti-bodies that will fight the weakened strain of the disease, so that if the body is attacked by a stronger strain later in life, it will be able to fight the disease.
What are Vaccines Made Of?
Vaccines are made from bacteria of infected animals or people. There are also at least 23 vaccines that are created from cells of aborted fetuses. Vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, hepatitis and rabies are created from aborted fetuses.
A History of Vaccines
As early as A.D. 1000, Chinese used a vaccine to fight smallpox, and as early as 1661, a Chinese Emperor decreed that all Chinese should receive a smallpox vaccination. During the American Revolution, a smallpox epidemic broke out among Bostonians when British soldiers occupied the city. The British had been inoculated against smallpox. Later that same year, George Washington ordered mandatory inoculation for every American soldier of the Continental Army. In 1796, British doctor Jenner discovered that he could make a person immune from smallpox by inoculating a person with matter from a cowpox sore.
In the 1800s and 1900s, most developed countries of the world adopted laws that made vaccination against certain diseases mandatory. In the United States of America, the Supreme Court ruled in 1905 in Jacobson v. Massachusetts that states had the right to pass vaccination laws. A “well-ordered society” must be able to enforce “reasonable regulations” in responding to “an epidemic disease which threatens the safety of its members,” wrote Justice John Marshall Harlan. The Constitution did not protect “an absolute right in each person to be, in all times and in all circumstances, wholly free from restraint.” The findings of this case have been looked at as the guiding principle in relations of individuals and their state to vaccinations.
Arguments in Favor or Vaccination
The main argument in favor of vaccination appears to be that it works. In 1962, before the measles vaccine was licensed, over 500,000 American children came down with the disease, 48,000 required hospitalization, and 450 died. In 1997, under 100 American children came down with measles. Similar examples exist regarding polio. Polio is a contagious viral illness that causes paralysis, difficulty breathing, and sometimes death. Before the creation of the polio vaccine, the U.S. experienced 20,000 cases per year, primarily in children. After the creation of the polio vaccines in 1952 and 1955 and mandatory vaccinations, polio has been eradicated in the United States, with the last known case occurring in 1979. After a world eradication program of eradicating polio, the numbers of polio illnesses dropped from 350,000 cases in 1988 to 223 cases in 2012.
Arguments Against Vaccination
There are a number of arguments against forced vaccination. One involves the materials used to create the vaccines. In at least 23 vaccines, cells from aborted fetuses are used to create the vaccines. For those who are against abortion and believe that the unborn life should be protected, the use of materials from the aborted fetuses presents a moral problem of great magnitude.
Another argument against forced vaccination involves the great number of vaccinations that each child attending an American school is supposed to have. Each vaccination has its own possibly grave side effects. As the number of required vaccinations grow, the number of individuals hurt by these side effects will grow, as well. According to the Center for Disease and Control (CDC), the U.S. federal agency charged with America’s health, there are 14 diseases that young children under 6 need to be vaccinated for. For 7-18 year olds, the CDC recommends at least 14 more vaccines. Many parents question the need for each of the vaccines. One vaccine is for a disease that is spread through sexual activity.
What is Herd Immunity?
Herd immunity is a belief, or theory, that states when a certain percentage of people in society are vaccinated, then there is a lower chance of a disease spreading. Because some people are unable to be vaccinated against some diseases, either because they are too young, or too weak, many doctors believe that it is essential that most are vaccinated so that herd immunity be maintained. However, there are also those who disagree with the validity of the idea of herd immunity.
Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Vaccination, and Autism
In 1998, British Dr. Wakefield wrote an article in The Lancet that claimed there was a link between measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism. In the western world, many believed this claim to be authoritative, and in the United States, some parents chose not to have their children inoculated. In California, politically liberal citizens living in areas that tend to vote Democrat were the most affected, including Marin County, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills, as parents chose a philosophical exemption to vaccinating their children.
Dr. Wakefield’s study was shown to be fraudulent, he was on the payroll of attorneys wanting to sue the government, and in 2010 he lost his medical license. Great Britain’s medical regulator ruled that Dr. Wakefield acted dishonestly and irresponsibly. It appears that Dr. Wakefield based his entire study on 12 children, and he misrepresented these 12 children, as well. However, the effects of his study still are being felt.
An outbreak of measles in January 2015 at Disneyland, California, has been the cause of great discussions involving disease, vaccination, and the role of government and public safety. Americans argue over the importance of vaccinations and the power of the state.
1. What is a vaccine and how do doctors believe it works?
2. What is the first known use of a vaccine?
3. What do people who support vaccines say is the main reason all should be vaccinated against certain diseases?
4. What are the main reasons people have against forced vaccination?
5. What role do you think the government has in mandating vaccination?
The Common Core
Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal quoted someone that there are two reasons why a person would write a book. One reason is that it brings joy to the author. The other reason is that the writer is compelled to write about the topic. While these articles I’ve written are not books, they are not enjoyable to write. And while I recognize there are much better writers to express their knowledge and thoughts on the Common Core, there is not an abundance of articles on this very important topic of education in America.
For the past two years, I’ve written articles around this time of year on the Common Core Standards. In May 2014, my article details facts about the creation of Common Core, including the deception that it was led by the states, the financial incentives President Obama used to influence states to accept this national program, and the academic weakness of the standards. In May of 2013, I wrote primarily about the intrusive data mining the Common Core Standards implement in our schools and the turning away from a Judeo-Christian, Greco-Roman set of academic standards. To read these, you may scroll down. Unfortunately, none of the facts or claims made in these two articles, written two and one year ago, have proven to be false.
In this article, I would like to share with you some personal notes as a teacher in a public school. Officially, I am not allowed to speak or write about anything that is specifically on these test, nor am I allowed to look at the test that the students take on their computers. I’ve signed official documents promising I would not do these things. So, my comments won’t be specifically on the test, but they will focus on what the students have told me, and what other teachers have shared that involves the process of the test.
No student prefers this test over the previous tests. The most common complaint is that students don’t like to take the test on a computer screen. They are unable to write notes on the text, as any good book reader is taught to do. After an hour or so of concentrating on a screen, it is challenging to pay attention. To read an entire passage, students have to scroll down, thus taking away part of the article.
No teacher prefers this test over previous tests. Common complaints I’ve heard is that the test is so incredibly hard, it does not give an accurate indication of what students have learned. Teachers have also shared with me that they feel completely separated from the test the students are taking, and the curriculum they should be designing. Since we are not officially allowed to look at the test or speak about it, how can we prepare our students? Another complaint is the massive amount of time spent on testing. In one school, for example, students spent two weeks taking the test. This was two weeks students were not learning anything.
Much of the complaints that students and teachers have is due to the fact that the Common Core Standards come from national organizations in cooperation with the federal government. The people who know their students best, the teachers, have the least amount of influence over how the students are tested, and thus, eventually, we all fear we will have the least amount of influence in how students are taught, and what they are taught. Is there anyone who believes the federal government will create the Common Core tests to promote historical perspectives that will not strengthen the federal government?
These personal experiences I have as a teacher in the Common Core are not held just by me, but they are also expressed in at least one lawsuit against the federal government by Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. The state of Louisiana has brought a lawsuit against the federal government claiming that the federal government is taking over powers that are reserved to the states. Amendment X states that all powers not specifically granted to the national government are reserved to the people and the states. Over two centuries, everyone has understood this to mean that education is a state issue. This author hopes that the Common Core Standards is one more large governmental power grab the Obama administration loses.
1. How many years has Mr. De Gree been writing about the Common Core Standards?
2. What was the focus of his article written in May 2014?
3. What was the focus of his article written in 2013?
4. What do teachers and students say about the Common Core tests?
5. How does the state you live in view the Common Core Standards?
I wrote the following article in May 2014:
Common Core Standards
The Common Core Standards present the greatest change in American education since compulsory education laws that started in Massachusetts in 1852. The Common Core takes control of education away from states and local boards and places it into the hands of its creators and the federal government. This is the first time in the history of the United States of America where key educational decisions are made by the federal, and not the state and local governments and families. It is the first time in history where national education standards are fully owned and copyrighted by a non-governmental entity and are not subject to be altered by the citizens.
Common Core began with a Bill and Melinda Gates $27 million grant to the James B. Hunt Institute. This money was used to support the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve, Incorporated, three national organizations based in Washington, D.C. After these three organizations wrote the Common Core Standards, the Obama administration offered financial incentives to those states who adopted them. President Obama’s team called this financial incentive “Race to the Top.”
Proponents of the Common Core State Standards Initiative make many claims about Common Core that are contested, are not true, or are not based on academic studies. Proponents claim the standards are based on international standards, though offers no proof that they are. Proponents claim the national standards raise up the previous state standards, though the lead mathematics standards-writer reported that students passing its mathematics college-readiness test will only be ready for community and non-selective colleges, not the more demanding, selective universities. Proponents claim that its math standards prepare students for Algebra for 8th grade, but actually, the Standards place Algebra in Grade 9. The Common Core takes emphasis away from reading classical literature and instead places importance on reading informational literature. There are no studies presented that prove the efficacy of this decision.
There are problems involving claims about the process and implementation of the Standards by Common Core proponents. Proponents claim that the Standards were written by teachers and used a growing body of evidence. Actually, no teachers were involved in the standards writing, no teacher has claimed responsibility, and there are no public records on the creation of the standards. Common Core proponents do not cite the research or evidence used in k-12 for math and language arts. Proponents claim that this is a state-led effort, when in fact the standards are being implemented through the No Child Left Behind and newer federal legislation. The federal government offered Race to the Top funds to states only if they adopted the Common Core Standards. Proponents claim that this is not a national curriculum, though Bill Gates has explicitly stated it is. Proponents claim the Standards will not involve any data collection on students and their families, though a national database on all students will be collected as a result of the tests, and this information will be available to the administrators of the test and to the national government.
Common Core State Standards will continue to be a topic of great controversy, because the claims of its proponents are either untrue or debatable and because in 45 of 50 states, it is now the guiding principle of education. To read more on this topic, here is a list of interesting websites:
Common Core Website: http://www.corestandards.org/
Pioneer Institute (Against the Common Core):http://pioneerinstitute.org/common-core/
Freedom Project Education: https://fpeusa.org/index.php/about-fpe/lectures/common-core-free
1. How does Common Core change how educational decisions are made in the United States?
2. What are two things proponents claim about the Common Core that are debatable or are not true?
Copyright ©2014 by John De Gree. All Rights Reserved.
A Note to our Readers
In no way am I able to hide my bias against the Common Core, and it probably came out in the article. In May of 2013, I wrote a blog about why I am against the Common Core, and my thoughts and feelings have only been reaffirmed through my experiences as a public schoolteacher. Since I wrote this blog, I am more convinced that the Common Core is terrible for American education. I will include the 2013 blog at the end of this letter, but I would also like to add a reason or two why the Common Core is bad for students, for teachers, and for our country.
Currently, there is no Common Core Standards for Social Studies, however, the teaching of history in schools is already influenced by these Standards. In California, the state has gotten rid of its state-wide testing regime, and in the process, California 8th graders are not tested of their knowledge of Ancient, Medieval, and American History. The California State Standards in Social Studies/History were Judeo-Christian based, and for the most part, showed how Greco-Roman Judeo-Christian principles are the foundation for American law, religion, thought, and philosophy. However, as there is no more state-wide-test to evaluate students on their knowledge of history, school districts are implementing various curriculum that support the Common Core standards, instead.
I had originally feared that the switch to Common Core would mean a devaluation of the importance of knowledge before analysis, and, I was concerned that the typically left-leaning educational leaders would downplay important historical documents and American figures in order to promote their agenda. It appears that both of my fears are happening. School districts are getting rid of challenging tests on the U.S. Constitution and replacing them with analysis of key moments in history. There is nothing wrong with having kids focus on key moments, however, how are we supposed to have a strong Constitutional republic when our students do not know what the Constitution is? I think that is the point of the educators and the Common Core proponents. They don’t want the U.S.A. to be a strong Constitutional republic. They instead want to be able to control individuals and transform society through the school system.
Lastly, there is no opportunity for schoolteachers to discuss or debate the Common Core standards, even though we are being forced to implement them. It is impossible to imagine what good can come of these standards, when the main players in teaching are not part of the process.
Why I am against the Common Core Standards
Written in May 2013
You hand Johnny his packed lunch, give him a kiss, and smile as you see him run off to school. Once in the classroom, his teacher tells him that today is the big day to take the state test for Common Core. Johnny sits down in front of a computer and avails himself to the “four parallel streams of affective sensors.” A “facial expression camera” detects emotion, capturing facial expressions. The “posture analysis seat” analyzes the mood of Johnny based on how he sits. The “pressure mouse” analyzes how Johnny uses the computer mouse, and the “wireless skin conductance sensor” (a wide, black bracelet) collects “physiological response data from a biofeedback apparatus that measures blood volume, pulse, and galvanic skin response to examine student frustration." This information from Johnny will be collected every year, from k-12 education, on into college, and into the workforce. It is all part of the State Longtitudinal Database System (SLDS) that states are adopting to be in compliance with the Common Core Standards.
Why am I against Common Core Data Mining? I went into teaching because of my love of children and my joy of being a part of igniting the spark of intellectual curiosity in young students. My father who had taught middle school history for 15 years always told me, “The most important element of education is the teacher in the classroom.” Building the relationship between the teacher and student and establishing trust, respect, and admiration between the two creates an environment conducive to learning for the young person. The Common Core Standards is a national policy designed to manage the entire nation’s population, treats individuals as cogs, and destroys what little remains of a positive educational environment. Sadly, it is just another depressing governmental, top-down program dictated to teachers and families. Horrifyingly, it will use modern technology to make decisions for the masses, and thus destroy the diversity and individuality of education and our country.
On Common Core tests, along with answering question about academics, students will provide “Personally Identifiable Information.” And, sensitive information will be extracted, as well, such as:
1. Political affiliations or beliefs of the student or parent;
2. Mental and psychological problems of the student or the student's family;
3. Sex behavior or attitudes;
4. Illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, and demeaning behavior;
5. Critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships;
6. Legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers;
7. Religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or the student's parent; or
8. Income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program).
This information will then be managed by inBloom, Inc., a private organization funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is preposterous to imagine any family wanting a private organization to collect and use private information over the childhood and young adulthood of family members.
There are many reasons why I do not like the Common Core Standards, but the strongest one involves data mining. Using technology to make education more efficient and commercial scares me because it treats individual students like data and it is open to corruption and abuse.
Most of my information about Common Core testing I used to write this came from Diane Rufino's article. Her information is listed below. She referenced the other sites.
Heritage Foundation Conference (panel discussion) on Common Core: "Putting the Brakes on Common Core" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=P40GaKlIwb8 (Panelists included Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation, Jim Stergios of Pioneer Institute, Ted Rebarber of Accountability Works, Heather Crossin of Hoosiers Against Common Core, and Christel Swasey. Michele Malkin was a guest speaker)
Bob Luebke, "Common Core Will Impose an Unproven One-Size-Fits-All Curriculum on North Carolina," Civitas Institute, March 18, 2013. Referenced at: http://www.nccivitas.org/2013/common-core-imposes-one-size-fits-all-curriculum/
Bob Luebke, "Common Core: Worse Than You Think," Civitas Institute, April 11, 2013. Referenced at: http://www.nccivitas.org/2013/common-core-worse-than-you-think/
Dean Kalahar, "Common Core: Nationalized State-Run Education," American Thinker, April 12, 2013. Referenced at: http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/04/common_core_nationalized_state-run_education.html
Mallory Sauer, "Data Mining Students Through Common Core, New American, April 25, 2013. Referenced at: http://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/education/item/15213-data-mining-students-through-common-core
Rachel Alexander, "Common Core Curriculum: A Look Behind the Curtain of Hidden Language," Christian Post, April 18, 2013. Referenced at: http://www.christianpost.com/news/common-core-cirriculum-a-look-behind-the-curtain-of-hidden-language-92070/
Rufino, Diane, “For Love of God and Country,” http://www.beaufortobserver.net/Articles-NEWS-and-COMMENTARY-c-2013-05-13-266807.112112-COMMON-CORE-Common-Core-or-Rotten-to-the-Core-You-Decide.html
Data Mining, on the Glen Beck Show - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NjqOBEc3HU
Valerie Strauss, " A Tough Critique of Common Core on Early Childhood Education," The Washington Post, January 29, 2013. Referenced at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/29/a-tough-critique-of-common-core-on-early-childhood-education/
Reality Check: The Truth About Common Core -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AdiCGgxj58
by Jessica De Gree
According to reports, the U.S. Justice Department will bring charges against senior officials at FIFA for corruption in the 2018 and 2022 bidding processes that awarded Russia and Qatar the World Cup. FIFA, the Federation Internationale de Football Association, has been the target of corruption investigations for some years, however FIFA has denied any wrongdoing. The FBI, however, believes it has enough evidence to convict FIFA members of corruption.
The World Cup is a football, or known in the US as soccer, tournament in which each nation’s men’s team competes every four years. The first World Cup was played in 1930, and each succeeding World Cup has been held every four years following, except 1942 and 1946. Because FIFA is the organization that organizes the World Cup, the allegations of corruption in the upcoming World Cups include allegations against FIFA.
One of the challenges the United States faces with charging FIFA with foul play is the issue of jurisdiction. Because FIFA is an international organization, American prosecutors may not have authority over it. However, because the American television market is the largest for the World Cup, American authorities are claiming jurisdiction. The U.S. Justice Department believes that FIFA leaders received bribes in order to award countries with the honor of hosting the World Cup. The next two World Cup competitions are supposed to happen in Russia and Qatar.
When asked where FIFA was founded, many might answer Great Britain because it is believed by some that the origin of soccer is England. However, FIFA was founded in France in 1904 with six other members; Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and Spain. Currently, FIFA is based out of Zurich, Switzerland. While in 1912, 21 nations were associated with FIFA, today 209 nations are members. In 1937, Stanley Rous, the future president of FIFA, drafted the international rules of soccer for the first time. The second revisions occurred much later in 1997. These rules universalized the way soccer is played.
FIFA is a large and international organization. The charge of corruption by the U.S. Department of Justice is serious. If true, it means that FIFA leaders were cheating 209 member countries. Finding the truth in this matter and solving this problem is of international importance.
1. What does FIFA stand for?
2. What future FIFA president created the first standards for FIFA?
3. How many members created the first organization?
4. What does the U.S. Justice Department think FIFA leaders illegally did?
5. How many countries are current members?
John De Gree
John De Gree writes the current events with a look at the history of each topic. Articles are written for the young person, aged 10-18, and Mr. De Gree carefully writes so that all readers can understand the event. The perspective the current events are written in is Judeo-Christian.
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