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Lies, Distortions and Delirium: The Flagler Tea Party’s Kaput Take on Common Core

| August 23, 2013

Fact-checking optional: Diane Kepus at the Flagler County tea party group meeting Tuesday. (© FlaglerLive)

Fact-checking optional: Diane Kepus at the Flagler County tea party group meeting Tuesday. (© FlaglerLive)

There are no more lethal death panels these days than tea party meetings, at least as far as truth and reason are concerned. But even for Flagler County’s tea party group, last Tuesday’s meeting on common core was a new low. The guest speaker was Diane Kepus, a retired auditor who now calls herself a researcher and speaker, and who is devoting her days and nights to putting on a stand-up version of Glenn Beck as she attempts to demolish the new common core education standards coming down the pike.

pierre tristam column flaglerlive When she said she wasn’t an educator, she wasn’t kidding. Her inability to distinguish fact from fiction clearly showed that she would be the first candidate for a little bit of common core, if not common sense. Her talk was a mass of inventions, conspiracy theories and outright lies—lies about our own school board, about charter schools, about what sort of algebra will be taught in what grades and of course about the conspiracy to teach sex education to your children. One can only dream of such a conspiracy, but rest assured, common core isn’t about to deflower our national prudery on that score.

But Diane Kepus delivered common core creationism to the sort of audience for whom distortion is intellectual Geritol, so she felt right at home. When embarrassing fantasies pass for fact before a sizeable audience of ostensibly educated grownups, we’ve obviously crossed a Rubicon of lunacy. But that’s been our culture’s common core for a couple of decades now, ever since it’s become acceptable for astounding proportions of society to confuse creationism with science, to deny global warming in the face of irrefutable evidence, or to imagine that fetuses masturbate.

“They deserve hell because you disagree with them?” a friend wrote me when I described Kepus’s tea party talk. “Think how dull this world would be if we all agreed.” There are disagreements. Then there’s the outright denial of reality, the manipulation of half-baked evidence to fit outlandish conclusions. Holocaust deniers have a right to speak, too (at least they do in the United States; they don’t in Europe), and I’ll defend their right to speak, but I don’t have to respect them, or give them the respect due reasonable argument.

There’s plenty of room to debate and disagree over common core, and I’ll get to that in a moment. But we can’t place the debating table at the fringe of reason. There is no debating the likes of Kepus, because there’s no there there. She’s reinforcing the notion of tea parties as nut farms and obscuring the sort of debate we should be having. (And her lack of credibility and honesty should be front and center: I learned after this piece posted, thanks to commenters, that Kepus is currently on 10 years’ probation for grand theft. So let’s update her calling card: “Researcher, Speaker, Felon.”)

“Prove them wrong,” my friend also wrote. Considering that most of what Kepus unloaded in her incoherent 50-minute talk was wrong, I would not want to inflict the same torture on readers. But let’s take a sampling.

She started by telling the audience that she got into her sort of crusading when she waged war on the IB program, the Geneva-based international baccalaureate now available at Flagler Palm Coast High School (and the shiniest example of what an internationally normed academic program can do for students). She called the IB “communist,” because she calls everything she doesn’t like communist (common core, too, is communist, by the way) and she called it a creation of the United Nation’s “Unesco.” Two pants-on-fire falsehoods to start the evening.  It went downhill from there. Some additional examples from a single minute particularly fertile in excited delirium.

Diane Kepus's Departmen t of Corrections mugshot. She is serving 10 years' probation for felony grand theft.

Diane Kepus’s Department of Corrections mugshot. She is serving 10 years’ probation for felony grand theft.

“Bill gates has invested billions upon billions upon billions of dollars in common core.” False. Gates has invested about $150 million, according to a May analysis by the Washington Post. You can verify it on Gates’ foundation website, which lists every single grant.

“And he’s not going to invest all that money if he doesn’t get a return.” In fact, Gates, the richest man in the United States—his net worth is $67 billion—has nothing to gain personally from his foundation, which is designed to give money away, except maybe atonement and a cleaner path to heaven after all the ruthless and occasional monopolistic machinations he  pulled off as Microsoft chairman until the Justice Department stopped him.

“But what Bill gates really is is a eugenist (sic.) Look at what he does with his vaccinations in Africa.” I don’t know what being a eugenicist has to do with keeping poor people from getting sick. But go ahead, do look at the vaccination program. The vaccine the Gates Foundation developed to fight meningitis  brought the incidence of the disease to its lowest level in 10 years, according to the World Health Organization. Careful: it’s a branch of the United Nations, so the numbers may have communist tendencies.

It didn’t get better. She didn’t get into the horrors of teaching Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eyes to our students. I hear a few local zealots have been harassing our school board members over that one and blaming it on common core’s depravity (because heaven forbid we should put our last Nobel laureate’s literature in the hands of high school students). As that other pervert Kurt Vonnegut would say, so it goes.

At the beginning of the talk, Kepus’s husband asked if there were reporters in the room. I raised my hand. He said he asked because he said “we’ve had reporters from Daytona Beach that kind of distort what we say,” and he wanted what was said to be reported exactly as it was said. No problem. My tape recorder generally doesn’t distort what’s said. The distortions were all Kepus’s.

And that’s who our beloved tea party brought in to talk about common core.

To be clear, common core is not, as Kepus and other opponents claim, a dumbing down of standards. At least not for Florida, where sunshine state standards have been among the nation’s dumbest. Common core will be more difficult from the earliest grades. It’s about time. It isn’t aimed at creating worker bees. If anything, it places more emphasis, not less, on a college track. And it has nothing to do with spying on your kids or your family. That’s still the NSA’s job.

Listen to The Full Kepus

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

And there are undeniable problems with common core, as there would be with any new and ambitious initiative. Legitimate, serious problems. There is a heavy handedness about the way it’s being imposed on the states, and tied to bribe-like grants. But that’s a red herring. States eat up federal money almost every chance they can. Take policing grants as one example. They’ve been flowing to states and localities by the billions (thanks in large part to Joe Biden, incidentally, going back almost 20 years before he became vice president). The grants have remade our local police agencies into paramilitary outfits forced to focus disproportionately on busting non-violent drug users as part of the federal government’s 40-year war on drugs. I don’t see anyone objecting to that heavy handedness, useless though the war continues to be. At least common core money is aimed at a more constructive end.

But there are other problems. Common core was never tested before its implementation. It may very well widen the achievement gap significantly before the gap narrows again. Its tie-in to teacher evaluations, at least in Florida, is a disaster in the making because it will unjustly tie merit raises to test scores according to formulas that could make even Stephen Hawking get up and run. (That’s mostly why teachers oppose common core, Ms. Kepus, not because of how much more challenging common core will be to students.)

And common core was never explained properly to the public, and still hasn’t. The texts outlining the standards are written in the same impenetrable academic slang that would make any amateur of English cuss in Arabic. (That’s probably why Kepus mentioned somewhere along the way that common core is really about giving Pierson, the academic publisher, license to teach Islam more than Christianity. Not only is common core an atheist communist agenda. It’s also a back-door entry for Sharia law, Islam’s ultra-religious code. To use Kepus’s favorite phrase, “oh, what a tangled web we weave.”)

Let’s not let our school district off the hook. Two years ago the Flagler school board wasted an immense amount of time on the non-issue of uniforms but not once held a public meeting devoted to common core even as it was preparing to implement it. Last year the district spent more time hyping its new brand and logo than talking about common core, and this year it’s been entirely absorbed by that fetish for technology, again bypassing the public’s anxiety about common core. Just look at the district’s home page. You won’t see a word about common core. It’s not even in the drop-down menu. (It’s here, in case you’d like to have a look.) That’s lousy priorities.

The district is rolling out a challenging, forward-looking and yes, a difficult new academic program. It’s a work in progress. It has a great story to tell. But it’s not telling it.

And it gives the fanatics like Diane Kepus too much room to fill in the blank and set the agenda with their own cooked up fallacies, making a rational explanation of common core that much more difficult. That’s why no less a tea party member as Bill McGuire, the Palm Coast City Council member, was before the school board on Tuesday, telling members to get with the program and start explaining this thing on their terms, lucidly and with cool heads. Remember, the district just lost a referendum because it let the same opposition set the agenda of the discussion, again with the tea party taking the lead in spreading falsehood after slander, and very successfully so.

We need that discussion on common core, lucidly and seriously. We need to debate it. Maybe Jacob Oliva can lead the discussion as he prepares to be the district’s new superintendent. What we don’t need is intellectual dishonesty from crusaders so hell-bent on seeing the world through ideological blinders that they’re willing to hijack children’s education over it—an education a disproportionate number of them are unwilling to finance, judging by the last referendum.

Too bad those tea party folks insist on acting old and grumpy. Common core would do them a world of good, if only they could remember what an open mind sounds like.

Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here. A version of this piece aired on WNZF.

66 Responses for “Lies, Distortions and Delirium: The Flagler Tea Party’s Kaput Take on Common Core”

  1. Amazing says:

    People like this exist….Scary.

  2. karma says:

    I am a big fan of Common Core. Where else does 3X4=11

  3. PCer says:

    That woman is a joke. I cannot believe that anyone would believe her.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The crosswalk of 21st Century Skills and the Common Core Standards produced by the ALA does a great job of showing the differences. Example for 7th grade Language Arts:
    Old: 1.1.4 Find, evaluate, and select appropriate sources to answer questions.
    New: CC.7.R.I.1 Key Ideas and Details: Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

    You can view other subjects and grade levels here:
    Personally, I like the idea of setting higher standards. Critical thinking and analysis are more important than ever. What is upsetting is the speed with which they are being implemented, how they plan to punish teachers and schools with the untested results and the high cost of new materials. Other countries having success with raising the bar began at the university level by teaching new teachers how to implement higher standards. That makes a lot of sense and is cost effective. However it is not as profitable for the publishers, test creators and business community so we will probably muddle through, hanging on the ever swinging education pendulum pushed by political decision makers dependent on the almighty $. Lord it is tiresome after 27 years, I fear my grip on the pendulum is slipping.

  5. farmer says:

    This is a mean spirited slam at the Tea Party and Pierre should compare this with Obama,s lies, distortions and all else Obama has done to degrade our country in the last 4 1/2 years.And he is the big VOICE OF REASON.

  6. Zealot says:

    This is scary. I can’t imagine why someone would oppose these standards. These standards have been pushed by educators because the U.S. is consistently below average in math science and reading in comparison to other nations. It depends on what study you read and who is pooled but a 2009 study showed 15 year old students ranked 17th in science and 25th in math out of 34 countries. That is truly scary, I doubt anyone in the tea party can even name 24 countries let alone try to figure out who finished ahead of the U.S. The bottom line is they are religious zealots who think that intelligent people ask questions, and people who ask questions disrupt religious dogma. They would be perfectly content if we returned to the days of sentencing Galileo to house arrest for having the nerve to teach others that the earth revolves around the sun. Or better yet if we could return to the days of branding people witches and burning them at the stake for questioning religious teachings.

  7. Techer says:

    A teacher’s insight…

    Common core refers to several layers of changes in our schools.

    The first, being the standards.

    Common Core does mean the states will move to national standards which are designed to address several chronic issues this country has faced.

    1. Our country has serious deficits in several core areas which are preventing us from growing college/career ready individuals.
    2. The differences among what schools were teaching state-to-state, county-to-county, and even school-to-school have, for decades, been impacting the achievement levels of students who move from one area to another.
    3. These differences in #2 also make it difficult for the nation to implement changes that help meet the challenges it faces.
    4. By instituting common standards, it is easier to adapt going forward to meet the needs of future generations.

    Another layer is the “way and how” we teach.

    1. The kinds of studies needed to know the effects of educational practices take decades to conclude and usually results in us learning even better practices.
    2. This means that the education you knew as a child really was not as good as you thought it was. The fact is that it was just what we had at the time and it was as good as we knew.
    3. Education is a practice that changes all the time. Check out the acronym dictionary on the doe website and you’ll see for yourself! The fact is that teachers need to teach to resent research and the previous standards were simply outdated and not aligned with current research. So, yes, some things had to change.

    The movement to common core is not new!

    1. The movement to national standards has been growing since I began teaching, thirteen years ago! I began teaching the Sunshine State Standards. Then, we moved to the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards. Now, we move to common core.
    2. The plan from the beginning was to align to national standards in order to address the issues I mentioned above. Anyone who calls it communism is completely clueless. I don’t know much about the Tea Party, but I suspect its movement is younger than common core.

    A word from my mind…
    I look forward to fully implementing common core because I am tired of the deficits and sad statistics of our educational system. I will teach common core because it is a good idea and is supported by good research.

  8. Techer says:

    ***need to teach to recent research

  9. Patriot Twin says:

    It’s a shame, Mr. Tristam, that your article has nothing to do with Common Core, but only with publishing your abundant hatred for the Tea Party. Ad hominen attacks–the hallmark of socialist “progressives”.

    So, since you won’t take the time to educate yourself, let me share some referenced facts with you:

    Former TX Commissioner of Education Robert Scott testified before the Georgia Statehouse on how the National Governor’s Assn and Achieve in Education tried to force CC on TX, after the state had rejected it. He also explains how it was **NOT** created by states, but by lobbyists in DC.

    “President Obama and Education Secretary Duncan falsely said the Common Core standards were developed by the states and voluntarily adopted. Common Core was actually developed by an organization called Achieve and the National Governors Association, funded by the Gates Foundation by at least $173 million dollars. The states were bribed by $4.35 billion “Race to the Top” dollars if they adopted the standards. Former Texas State Commissioner of Education, Robert Scott, stated for the record that he was urged to adopt the Common Core standards before they were written.
    Federal laws prohibit the U.S. Department of Education from prescribing any curriculum, but four billion is a big carrot — or is it a stick?” (emphasis supplied)

    ” . . . the 2009 stimulus included a “State Fiscal Stabilization Fund” that mandated constructing “longitudinal data systems (LDS) to collect data on public-school students” that resulted in The National Education Data Model. Then in 2012, the U.S. Department of Education rewrote federal privacy laws to let it share a child’s academic record with virtually anyone. States have begun combining student records of test scores, discipline history, medical records, nicknames, religion, political affiliation, addresses, extracurricular activities, bus stop times and psychological evaluations into a private database called inBloom.” (emphasis supplied)

    The lies and methodology used to push CC on the States should raise some red flags, as well as concern over serious privacy violations for students and their families.

    The link below is Robert Scott’s testimony before the Georgia Statehouse: (see around 2:00 on)

    Maybe you believe it is good for the federal government to control all curriculum and data mine personal information. Study history a little more–it didn’t work out so well in Europe when that happened.

    Maybe you believe parents and teachers shouldn’t educate children, but Washington D.C. should. Perhaps you don’t believe in states’ rights.

    And maybe you’ve swallowed all the lies Achieve in Education, the D.C. “progressive” lobbyist group that created the CC curriculum, has been schilling for the last several years–but some of us know better.

    • NortonSmitty says:

      You know, when a Tea Bag Patriot starts out by bolstering his argument by quoting the Texas Commissioner of Education, a witty, sarcastic reply is above my pay grade. So I will leave it to The Master to respond on the subject of Education in America these days: . Learn and enjoy.

    • Out of Curiosity says:

      Have you looked at the common core standards?

    • A.S.F. says:

      I love how the Tea Party goes around accusing others of cherry-picking facts and lying to serve their own ends when that is their modus operandi. They love to use terms like “states rights” and “race baiting” to inflame bigots into thinking that they can make their fears and bias acceptable by wrapping them up in the American Flag. To listen to them, you would think that President Obama is burning the midnight oil in some underground bunker he’s had expressly built under the West Wing so he and all the liberal subversives in the country can plot to overthrow the US government. The Tea Party is against women’s rights, civil rights, a broader education for children (above and beyond what they personally choose to believe) and the rights of all Americans to have basic healthcare. They are a selfish group of close-minded people who are against anything their minds can seize on as a threat to their status quo. Worst of all, they use the misfortunes of others to entice them into thinking that supressing the rights of all Americans is how they can get advance and protect themselves. People like Diane Kepus are in it for their own ego, advancement and gain. Only fools. ripe for the picking, would believe anything she has to say. She has neither the background, nor any factual grasp on the subject she’s talking about, to make her credible. The only ones who will believe her are those who are as ignorant as she is–and probably willfully so.

  10. rickg says:

    Thanks for articulating the obfuscation promoted by these Tea Gaggers… I have a cousin in Tennessee who likes to post diatribes on FB about the same misinformation promoted by Ms Kepus. When I challenge his positions and facts he merely projects back to me how can I disprove them. Usually I do but have found it a waste of time. I cannot watch the Full Kepus because I know somewhere in my house I have a box cutter and I’m afraid I would find it and end it all if I have to listen to another round of misinformation by the Koch brothers supported Tea Gaggers.. And why does the MSM give these people any credibility?

  11. Anonymous says:

    This women really needs to get a hobby!

  12. Marissa says:

    Bring back the Jesuit and Dominican Order way of teaching.

    • NortonSmitty says:

      And now would be a good time to bring back the Spanish Inquisition. Know why?


  13. Concerned says:

    Well said, Pierre! Your outrage at the abundant lunacy in our politics gives me hope.

  14. Sherry Epley says:

    Excellent article Pierre!

    I also am not an educator. . . but I am educated by Florida’s “public” schools and USA universities. While I do not know much about common core, I live for months at a time in competing countries. I can tell you quite frankly that if we citizens of the USA DO NOT start pulling together towards a common academic excellence at a NATIONAL level, we LOOSE! We loose our (slipping) position as the world’s leader in most every area. We loose the potential of creating a better future for every person living in the USA.

    To WIN. . . “Educated in the USA” needs to be “Branded” and hallmarked as a golden mark of excellence! Not, “educated by a loving parent” or “educated by a God fearing school” or “educated in a Northern state”. Our world is shrinking very rapidly. If we do not step up and seize the future as a “United Nation”, all pulling together towards maximizing our human potential, we LOOSE. . . it is just that simple!

  15. Sherry Epley says:

    Regarding the presentation of Ms Kepus. . . I cannot find a resume or bio on her, but I do see that she presents her “opinions” at many ulta conservative meetings and I have some legimate questions:

    1. Exactly what credentials make her an expert?
    2. What exactly is her field of expertise?
    3. What is her education and professional background?
    4. Why couldn’t the organizers of this meeting find a person who actually is “an educator” to present on this subject?

    Most importantly. . . why would any intelligent person lend any credence at all to such a person?

  16. Sherry Epley says:

    Interesting statistics regarding those who subscribe to the ultra conservative view points of the American Thinker. . . sited above:

    The following statistics reflect some of American Thinker blog website’s general demographics for readership:
    People Per Month: 823,000
    Women: 22% Men: 78%
    18 years or younger: 4% 18-34 years: 8% 35 years of older: 87%
    Asian: 0% Black: 1% Caucasian: 96% Hispanic: 2%

    Huuuuummm nothing open minded or diverse there!

  17. tom jack says:

    If common core is so wonderful. why have Georgia, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania. North Dakota, and Alabama dropped out? Why are Florida and other states also considering dropping out. Just saying.

    • NortonSmitty says:

      Umm… Because they have Republican Governors and Legislatures? Do I win the “Am I Smarter Than a Fifth Grader” contest?

  18. Random Citizen says:

    Does it seem to anyone else that our political differences seem to have been driven by hatred for quite a while now?

    Neither the conservatives or the liberals are innocent.

    One side, as Pierre points out quite well, has grown ultra paranoid.

    Meanwhile the other side seems to want one big central government to control their neighbor’s decisions and is ever so willing to keep giving up more and more of their freedom to do it.

    Talk about biting off your nose to spite your face. Both sides are doing it!

    • Richard Moore says:

      Of course our politics are driven by hate, it’s by design. No real progress can be made with the false dichotomy present in our political system; both parties are financed by the same bankers and corporations. In order to keep those dollars coming into Washington by the billions, the politicians need to keep us, the people, at each other’s throats instead of focusing on them. Divide and conquer. Sun Tzu wrote about it two thousand years ago and yet few people recognize the tactic if they’re the ones being conquered.

  19. BW says:

    “Let’s not let our school district off the hook.” . . . “We need that discussion on common core, lucidly and seriously.” are two most important quotes from this article. Our School district is it’s own worst enemy and is more focused on whining about what they don’t have and insisting the community give more. When the community asks “why?” and “what for?” it becomes about presentations and workshops of bad marketing with contradicting “facts”. When we question, we get scolded that we just don’t get it because we don’t work in education.

    The School District’s problem is extremely poor communication and wasting more time on defending itself than actually listening seeing their shortcomings. And, no, invitations to have the community come in for a “Day if the Life” classes (and charge you for it too) is not the answer. Nor is spending money on radio advertisements to appease the same audience that was at this presentation. And it’s not about getting as many government officials to write rally cries for your cause (we’re not all that happy with them either). It’s about stopping the whining, being truly honest, looking at the community (parents and students first) as your customer, getting out in front of the conversation, and focusing on the important stuff. This stuff of Colleen Conklin and Andy Dance being the voice of the Schools has got to stop. They are Board Members, and I have never seen a community have Board members be the voice of their Schools. Olivia is not the answer, because it’s about shaking things up. And more of the same is the worst direction to go.

  20. Geezer says:

    I’ll be saving this article–it’s a dandy.

    On the outside, the tea party looks like a worthy movement.
    Sure, we all want lower taxes (especially up north).

    But if you ever attended the tea party gatherings, you will have undoubtedly
    spotted a plethora of misspelled racist and bigoted signs at the gatherings.
    A misspelled sign promoting racial hatred is the epitome of stupid.
    Google “tea party misspellings.”

    We really do need a tea party to mobilize and fight government waste.
    But the one we have is based on misinformation put out by the likes
    of the Koch brothers, their think tanks, and Fox News.
    And all this bullshit doesn’t just trickle down to tea-partyers–it is piped in at
    high pressure.

    Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are getting filthy rich tapping into this
    rampant and virulent evil that seems to jave become a national pastime.
    Hatred as a hobby or religion.

    What’s next, KKK Radio? The Grand Wizard Hour!

    But to hang out with a bunch of like-minded bigots: hey, that’s precious.
    A warm and comfy, hateful fraternity–the tea party.
    Who cares about lies-they just want to mingle and schmooze with
    their brothers-in-arms and despise that “n****** president.”
    HA HA HA!

    I’ll be watching and waiting for nasty retorts.

  21. Outsider says:

    While I agree the IB program is not communist, it certainly is not pro-American. It’s stated goal is to create citizens of the world, as opposed to United States, or any other nation. It also promotes a set of values, via a “secret curriculum,” which may or may not be anti-American. Early IB students are encouraged to create maps of the world, without national boundaries, which could presumably be taken as part of the “secret curriculum” to ultimately do away with nations and create a world government. The thesis the students are required to prepare over their high school years is sent Europe for a subjective grading by international evaluators, in an admission, I suppose, that there are no Americans smart enough to handle the job. I doubt they would look kindly on a paper entitled “Why I Love America.” As far as common core goes, it’s great that they are raising the standards, but what good does that do when we currently have high school students that can’t write their own name? Do you really think they’re going to be able to write a paper on Einstein’s theory of relativity, or Bernoulli’s principle? You first have to figure out whether the problem is with the curriculum, the teachers, the students, or a combination of all three.

    • Nancy N. says:

      And where again is it written that our educational system exists to indoctrinate our children with love of the state? You want your child educated in a system that will teach them love of the state? Try moving to China, North Korea, or Cuba. How about we keep indoctrination out of the classroom and stick to the 3 R’s, please.

      This country doesn’t exist in a vacuum on this planet. Our children will grow up to work in a global economy. If they can’t compete in it, they will not succeed. What’s wrong with preparing them for the world that exists outside our borders?

    • A.S.F. says:

      @outsider–You do realize that the United States is part of the world, don’t you?

    • Empathy says:

      Not true. IB exams are also scored in America. The map project is to promote looking at where culture delineates and intersects instead of lines drawn by the winners. ( i.e. Israel may make more sense with another line!)

  22. Ohno says:

    ” Lies, Distortions and delirium”

    And the tea party is extreme? First rule of Progressives– Demonize the opposition.
    Second rule–Headline an article to create an impression for those that won’t read the entire article regardless of what the report ultimately states.

    In this case, absolute boredom was created in the first 6 paragraphs of nothing before anything was intelligently presented.

  23. Florida Native says:

    Any view is better than the Democratic Socialist Party that we have now in the US.

  24. monique thomas says:

    Written in 1999 revealing the dumbing down of America. This was released before the accelerated outcome based education model ‘improved’ to No Child Left Behind and now put that on steroids with Common Core State Standads Initiative.

  25. Obama 2012 says:

    Tea Party please go away. Haven’t you done enough damage to Flagler county and the state of Florida.

  26. Zealot says:

    One of the strangest arguments I see on here is from the people who’s politics are right of center, is this strange implication that the common core values are being pushed by a liberal conspiracy which is going to gain some unknown benefit by their passing. Am I missing something in the argument? Does president Obama stand to gain something by raising school standards? If so what does he or any other liberal gain? Does he become richer or more powerful if children in Texas can read and write at a higher level? These are just standards. This is like arguing that if Ford decided all of their automotive plants had to build Taurus’s to higher standards so they could compete with Toyota and individual plant managers started to argue that they did not want to do it because it was a conspiracy. Who says I’d prefer it if my children didn’t learn as much as other children? I’m baffled by the resistance to this. While Mr Tristam’s politics are transparent in this and most of his articles, I fail to find any logic in the argument for keeping lower standards for education. I suppose the argument could be that states should have the right to decide education standards and that this is a state’s rights issue. But if Texas wants to have lower standards then they should not be entitled to federal money to fund their schools.

  27. Sean O'Neal says:

    Since I was not at the meeting to hear the comments made by the speaker I will not address that issue – however the reference to the Toni Morrison’s book Blue Eyes even for 11th graders is to be considered by any parent as incest, rape and pedophilia. Not to say they will not or have not heard of those things, but I believe our education system can deliver better reading material for our children. Remember this book is about a young black girl who wishes her eyes are blue so she would be pretty. Case in point are these offensive and questionable parts. And they are graphic:

    Pages 84-85: “He must enter her surreptitiously, lifting the hem of her nightgown only to her navel. He must rest his weight on his elbows when they make love, to avoid hurting her breasts…When she senses some spasm about to grip him, she will make rapid movements with her hips, press her fingernails into his back, suck in her breath, and pretend she is having an orgasm. She might wonder again, for the six hundredth time, what it would be like to have that feeling while her husband’s penis is inside her.”

    Pages 130-131: “Then he will lean his head down and bite my t** . . . I want him to put his hand between my legs, I want him to open them for me. . . I stretch my legs open, and he is on top of me…He would die rather than take his thing out of me. Of me. I take my fingers out of his and put my hands on his behind…”

    Pages 148-149: “With a violence born of total helplessness, he pulled her dress up, lowered his trousers and underwear. ‘I said get on wid it. An’make it good, n*****, Come on c***. Faster. You ain’t doing nothing for her.’ He almost wished he could do it—hard, long, and painfully, he hated her so much.”

    Pages 162-163: “A bolt of desire ran down his genitals…and softening the lips of his anus. . . . He wanted to f*** her—tenderly. But the tenderness would not hold. The tightness of her vagina was more than he could bear. His soul seemed to slip down his guts and fly out into her, and the gigantic thrust he made into her then provoked the only sound she made. Removing himself from her was so painful to him he cut it short and snatched his genitals out of the dry harbor of her vagina. She appeared to have fainted.”

    Page 174: “He further limited his interests to little girls. They were usually manageable . . . His sexuality was anything but lewd; his patronage of little girls smacked of innocence and was associated in his mind with cleanliness.” And later, this same pedophile notes, “I work only through the Lord. He sometimes uses me to help people.”

    Page 181: “The little girls are the only things I’ll miss. Do you know that when I touched their sturdy little t*** and bit them—just a little—I felt I was being friendly?—If I’d been hurting them, would they have come back? . . . they’d eat ice cream with their legs open while I played with them. It was like a party.”

    I wonder sir if you will allow this to be printed on your blog but you find the book appropriate! As a parent I do not nor am I naive. It is trash and not fit for K-12 school libraries or to be on any taxpayer funded program reading list common core or otherwise.

    Your generalization of Tea Party groups and what they are all about does bring to question why to attend their meetings other than to stir up conflict. If you do not like them and find them to be uninformed, old and grumpy, are you just serving your ego as a means of being ugly.

    AS an educator of over 35 years there is no doubt education needs to be improved and that could best be served not by the common core and if you had actually read the standards you would know that (of which they were written by 80% non-educators) unless you yourself are a progressive. Education in this country was excellent prior to 1965 and then Federal government got their hands on the children. We need to return to classical, pure education of which produced some of the smartest scientist’s, engineers, mathematicians and computer technologists the world has ever seen. Since the government got their hands into education it has consistently gone down hill.

    Progressives have in fact been trying to gain control of the education system since 1934 and there is proof to that and there have also been many experiments with outcome based education of which common core is based on. The experiments between the years of 1977 and 1994 failed and failed miserably in various school districts around the country.

    You sir I believe need to do some research yourself. Statistics will stand on their own merits since you have chosen to use them. And by the way sir, I understand from a friend who was there, the book was not mention in the talk and you have misquoted the presentation on several counts.

    • Pierre Tristam says:


      Not only will I post your comment, but I will correct it. It’s very clear you cut and pasted the Morrison excerpts from one of an endless number of sites that have cribbed the same passages from The Bluest Eyes. It’s just as clear that you have not read the book. It seems to me your attitude about literature and what is or isn’t “appropriate” for our high school students is a hell of a lot more offensive than any of the scenes you cut and pasted, inaccurately at that, in your comment. You call yourself an “educator.” No educator would seek to keep one of the better books of the 20th century out of students’ hands. Aside from your equally offensive replacement of Morrison’s words, as she intended them, with juvenile ellipses (when a Nobel laureate writes “coon,” “cunt,” “nigger” and “tit,” we had better steer clear of bleeping her), you have mangled the passages one into the other, in one case very interestingly removing the actual meaning of the scene, leaving only the suggestions of “foul” language, and showing us not only to what extent you miss the point of the story, but also how you miss it—though that’s not your fault: you were merely plagiarizing the faulty cut-and-pasters, and making us believed you’d studiously sat down and come across those passages yourself. True, the book was not mentioned at the tea party talk. I never suggested it was. But rest assured I did not misquote anyone, though I welcome anyone’s challenge to the quotes presented in the piece. As for your misquoting Morrison, and in the interest of correcting the record, here are the actual passages you refer to:

      P. 130-31: “I started to leave him once, but something came up. Once, after he tried to set the house on fire, I was all set in my mind to go. I can’t even ’member now what held me. He sure ain’t give me much of a life. But it wasn’t all bad. Sometimes things wasn’t all bad. He used to come easing into bed sometimes, not too drunk. I make out like I’m asleep, ’cause it’s late, and he taken three dollars out of my pocketbook that morning or something. I hear him breathing, but I don’t look around. I can see in my mind’s eye his black arms thrown back behind his head, the muscles like great big peach stones sanded down, with veins running like little swollen rivers down his arms. Without touching him I be feeling those ridges on the tips of my fingers. I sees the palms of his hands calloused to granite, and the long fingers curled up and still. I think about the thick, knotty hair on his chest, and the two big swells his breast muscles make. I want to rub my face hard in his chest and feel the hair cut my skin. I know just where the hair growth slacks out—just above his navel—and how it picks up again and spreads out. Maybe he’ll shift a little, and his leg will touch me, or I feel his flank just graze my behind. I don’t move even yet. Then he lift his head, turn over, and put his hand on my waist. If I don’t move, he’ll move his hand over to pull and knead my stomach. Soft and slow-like. I still don’t move, because I don’t want him to stop. I want to pretend sleep and have him keep on rubbing my stomach. Then he will lean his head down and bite my tit. Then I don’t want him to rub my stomach anymore. I want him to put his hand between my legs. I pretend to wake up, and turn to him, but not opening my legs. I want him to open them for me. He does, and I be soft and wet where his fingers are strong and hard. I be softer than I ever been before. All my strength in his hand. My brain curls up like wilted leaves. A funny, empty feeling is in my hands. I want to grab holt of something, so I hold his head. His mouth is under my chin. Then I don’t want his hand between my legs no more, because I think I am softening away. I stretch my legs open, and he is on top of me. Too heavy to hold, and too light not to. He puts his thing in me. In me. In me. I wrap my feet around his back so he can’t get away. His face is next to mine. The bed springs sounds like them crickets used to back home. He puts his fingers in mine, and we stretches our arms outwise like Jesus on the cross. I hold on tight. My fingers and my feet hold on tight, because everything else is going, going. I know he wants me to come first. But I can’t. Not until he does. Not until I feel him loving me. Just me. Sinking into me. Not until I know that my flesh is all that be on his mind. That he couldn’t stop if he had to. That he would die rather than take his thing out of me. Of me. Not until he has let go of all he has, and give it to me. To me. To me. When he does, I feel a power. I be strong, I be pretty, I be young. And then I wait. He shivers and tosses his head. Now I be strong enough, pretty enough, and young enough to let him make me come. I take my fingers out of his and put my hands on his behind. My legs drop back onto the bed. I don’t make no noise, because the chil’ren might hear. I begin to feel those little bits of color floating up into me—deep in me. That streak of green from the june-bug light, the purple from the berries trickling along my thighs, Mama’s lemonade yellow runs sweet in me. Then I feel like I’m laughing between my legs, and the laughing gets all mixed up with the colors, and I’m afraid I’ll come, and afraid I won’t. But I know I will. And I do. And it be rainbow all inside. And it lasts and lasts and lasts. I want to thank him, but don’t know how, so I pat him like you do a baby. He asks me if I’m all right. I say yes. He gets off me and lies down to sleep. I want to say something, but I don’t. I don’t want to take my mind offen the rainbow. I should get up and go to the toilet, but I don’t. Besides, Cholly is asleep with his leg throwed over me. I can’t move and don’t want to. “But it ain’t like that anymore. Most times he’s thrashing away inside me before I’m woke, and through when I am. The rest of the time I can’t even be next to his stinking drunk self. But I don’t care ’bout it no more. My Maker will take care of me. I know He will. I know He will. Besides, it don’t make no difference about this old earth. There is sure to be a glory. Only thing I miss sometimes is that rainbow. But like I say, I don’t recollect it much anymore.”

      Your mangling of pages 148-49: “Cholly felt sorry for her; it was just as much his fault. Suddenly he realized that Aunt Jimmy was dead, for he missed the fear of being whipped. There was nobody to do it except Uncle O. V., and he was the bereaved too. “Let me,” he said. He rose to his knees facing her and tried to tie her ribbon. Darlene put her hands under his open shirt and rubbed the damp tight skin. When he looked at her in surprise, she stopped and laughed. He smiled and continued knotting the bow. She put her hands back under his shirt. “Hold still,” he said. “How I gone get this?” She tickled his ribs with her fingertips. He giggled and grabbed his rib cage. They were on top of each other in a moment. She corkscrewing her hands into his clothes. He returning the play, digging into the neck of her dress, and then under her dress. When he got his hand in her bloomers, she suddenly stopped laughing and looked serious. Cholly, frightened, was about to take his hand away, but she held his wrist so he couldn’t move it. He examined her then with his fingers, and she kissed his face and mouth. Cholly found her muscadine-lipped mouth distracting. Darlene released his head, shifted her body, and pulled down her pants. After some trouble with the buttons, Cholly dropped his pants down to his knees. Their bodies began to make sense to him, and it was not as difficult as he had thought it would be. She moaned a little, but the excitement collecting inside him made him close his eyes and regard her moans as no more than pine sighs over his head. Just as he felt an explosion threaten, Darlene froze and cried out. He thought he had hurt her, but when he looked at her face, she was staring wildly at something over his shoulder. He jerked around. There stood two white men. One with a spirit lamp, the other with a flashlight. There was no mistake about their being white; he could smell it. Cholly jumped, trying to kneel, stand, and get his pants up all in one motion. The men had long guns. “Hee hee hee heeeee.” The snicker was a long asthmatic cough. The other raced the flashlight all over Cholly and Darlene. “Get on wid it, nigger,” said the flashlight one.

      “Sir?” said Cholly, trying to find a buttonhole. “I said, get on wid it. An’ make it good, nigger, make it good.” There was no place for Cholly’s eyes to go. They slid about furtively searching for shelter, while his body remained paralyzed. The flashlight man lifted his gun down from his shoulder, and Cholly heard the clop of metal. He dropped back to his knees. Darlene had her head averted, her eyes staring out of the lamplight into the surrounding darkness and looking almost unconcerned, as though they had no part in the drama taking place around them. With a violence born of total helplessness, he pulled her dress up, lowered his trousers and underwear. “Hee hee hee hee heeeeee.” Darlene put her hands over her face as Cholly began to simulate what had gone on before. He could do no more than make-believe. The flashlight made a moon on his behind. “Hee hee hee hee heeee.” “Come on, coon. Faster. You ain’t doing nothing for her.” “Hee hee hee hee heeee.” Cholly, moving faster, looked at Darlene. He hated her. He almost wished he could do it—hard, long, and painfully, he hated her so much. The flashlight wormed its way into his guts and turned the sweet taste of muscadine into rotten fetid bile. He stared at Darlene’s hands covering her face in the moon and lamplight. They looked like baby claws. “Hee hee hee hee heee.” Some dogs howled. “Thas them. Thas them. I know thas Old Honey.” “Yep,” said the spirit lamp. “Come on.” The flashlight turned away, and one of them whistled to Honey. “Wait,” said the spirit lamp, “the coon ain’t comed yet.” “Well, he have to come on his own time. Good luck, coon baby.” They crushed the pine needles underfoot. Cholly could hear them whistling for a long time, and then the dogs’ answer no longer a howl, but warm excited yelps of recognition. Cholly raised himself and in silence buttoned his trousers. Darlene did not move. Cholly wanted to strangle her, but instead he touched her leg with his foot. “We got to get, girl. Come on!” She reached for her underwear with her eyes closed, and could not find them. The two of them patted about in the moonlight for the panties. When she found them, she put them on with the movements of an old woman. They walked away from the pine woods toward the road. He in front, she plopping along behind. It started to rain. “That’s good,” Cholly thought. “It will explain away our clothes.”

      And pages 162-63: “The tenderness welled up in him, and he sank to his knees, his eyes on the foot of his daughter. Crawling on all fours toward her, he raised his hand and caught the foot in an upward stroke. Pecola lost her balance and was about to careen to the floor. Cholly raised his other hand to her hips to save her from falling. He put his head down and nibbled at the back of her leg. His mouth trembled at the firm sweetness of the flesh. He closed his eyes, letting his fingers dig into her waist. The rigidness of her shocked body, the silence of her stunned throat, was better than Pauline’s easy laughter had been. The confused mixture of his memories of Pauline and the doing of a wild and forbidden thing excited him, and a bolt of desire ran down his genitals, giving it length, and softening the lips of his anus. Surrounding all of this lust was a border of politeness. He wanted to fuck her—tenderly. But the tenderness would not hold. The tightness of her vagina was more than he could bear. His soul seemed to slip down to his guts and fly out into her, and the gigantic thrust he made into her then provoked the only sound she made—a hollow suck of air in the back of her throat. Like the rapid loss of air from a circus balloon.”

      Page 174: “The sight of dried matter in the corner of the eye, decayed or missing teeth, ear wax, blackheads, moles, blisters, skin crusts—all the natural excretions and protections the body was capable of—disquieted him. His attentions therefore gradually settled on those humans whose bodies were least offensive—children. And since he was too diffident to confront homosexuality, and since little boys were insulting, scary, and stubborn, he further limited his interests to little girls. They were usually manageable and frequently seductive. His sexuality was anything but lewd; his patronage of little girls smacked of innocence and was associated in his mind with cleanliness. He was what one might call a very clean old man.” (The part about working through the lord is several pages later.)

      • Shocked, I tell you... says:

        Thank God my kids are grown. If we can’t find more appropriate reading material than this for our students, no wonder the education system is in the toilet.

        This isn’t literature, it’s smut.

    • Margaret says:

      i attended the meeting, Mr O’Neal. It seems u r familiar w/the editor? It looks as tho his only purpose is to malign the Tea Party. The reason , of course, is because we scare him and his ilk. We know the head obfuscator, ovomit, and his minions, many such as pierre. It gives me the warm fuzzies that the only thing little pierre could cull, was contempt for the tea party. i will look for him to disprove Ms. Kepus’ presentation.

      • NortonSmitty says:

        Maggy Darlin’, I don’t know if you scare him or not. I personally haven’t seen you so I don’t know how scary you are. But the Tea Party, that scares the shit outta’ me and I’m not afraid of much. Any thinking person will tell you you should never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers. Just the fact you can be led around by the nose by Koch Brothers tools like Americans for Prosperity, AEI and the Chamber of Commerce shows me just how small minded you are. And all the while you crow about how you are so independent minded while helping these 21st century robber-barons steal our childrens future.

        And looking at all of the mistakes in punctuation, spelling, syntax and common sense in your post, darlin’ I’m not sure you want to get out in front of any debate on education. Although I do understand the Teabaggers die-hard resistance to Sex Education in our schools. This is one area that has been traditionally home-schooled in the Conservative household. The subjects of Pedophilia, oral sex, incest and even bestiality mentioned in Morrisons novel were probably covered extensively in those households before Junior High. Boy, I bet that was one rockin’ trailer on Daddy’s Study Night!

        Maggie, if you feel so strongly about this political thing, maybe you should run for something in the next Republican primary. I’d be glad to cough up a few bucks for your Campaign Kitty. Hell, I bet a lot of your friends on this site would join me. Good Luck.

    • A.S.F. says:

      @Sean O’Neal–You must really disapprove of the Bible, then, enough to want it banned from our schools, since it is full of references and salacious stories about rape, incest, murder, etc..

  28. Sherry Epley says:

    I will repeat what Norton Smitty said. . . My how George Carlin hits the nail on the head. . . have you got the guts to watch and really take this in?

    • Geezer says:

      Never has a man said so much with so few words.
      George Carlin, RIP. What a brilliant man he was.

      Everyone should view this video every single day –
      this way, they never forget.

  29. Sherry Epley says:

    WOW! Paranoia reigns! Regarding the “International Baccalauraeate” (IB) program. . . why in the world should an INTERNATIONAL program create citizens of the United States? What is so frightening and wrong with creating citizens of our planet? Why shouldn’t our children, in such a program, be evaluated by educators from another country. . . isn’t that the whole point?

  30. Outsider says:

    Sherry, there’s nothing wrong with an international education; in the era of globalization it is necessary to understand the world in order to function in it. The part that concerns me is the so-called “secret curriculum.” Now, you’re probably wondering which right wing nut website I found that term on. Well, it actually comes from a 2009 speech by George Walker, “Director General” of the IB program, at the biennial conferences of IB Nordic schools in Geneva. In describing the three elements of an IB education, he describes the “hidden curriculum, the informal but influential rules, beliefs, and attitudes that determine the transmission of norms and values.” Really??? Who’s values and norms are they going to transmit? The person’s who decided the above quoted book is appropriate for my high school daughter? Would it be the person’s who decided that hundreds of mandatory community service hours are required to graduate the IB program? Are Judeo-Christian values excluded, thus making the final moral authority the perceived smartest person in the room, who’s moral values may or may not be what I have in mind for my children? Why does raising standards have to be coupled with a “secret curriculum” to transmit someone else’s “values and norms?” Why can’t we just implement a tougher curriculum without the values and norms of some professor from Switzerland, or teacher, who may be instructing teenage girls to read a a book describing the virtues of good sex?

  31. Another Teacher says:

    One good thing about CC…Homeschooling numbers should rise.

  32. Pierre Tristam says:

    Margaret dear, no need for you to disprove Kepus. She did a fine job of that on her own. But if you’re going to go after Smitty’s grammar, you might want to check your spelling first. Believe me, you don’t want to mess with his prose.

  33. Sherry Epley says:

    It’s so Easy. . . if one doesn’t like the IB program. . . one is not required to participate. Unless one is so paranoid that they are spending precious hours of their lives looking for the Devil behind every rainbow.

  34. confidential says:

    I can’t believe the shady records speakers that some of the local organizations invite, as a good example of good advise and or “motivational cheering”…This one a felon with a grand theft conviction and advising about education..? In the no distant past others were blabbering around like the CEO of the local “Safe house” aka “Life Center” for the victims of domestic violence, destitute, etc .Her showy blah blah blah to the local Chamber VIP’s/Members and even the local Hammock Dunes elite, while fund raising… to steal. But she was very well liked by the short sighted that adore the deceitful in posh pricey dinners and cocktail fund risings…

  35. EYEONFLAGLER says:

    Any view is better than the Democratic Socialist Party that we have now in the US.

  36. Bunnell native says:

    What should have, and could have been a civilized and important discussion on education quickly descended into bitter and hurtful speech. Potshots from all sides. That is just great people. The youth of America can just sit at home and learn hate from us. Debate is fine but this is not a back and forth trade for benefit. Its about inflicting damage to the other side. Sadly just when i think I agree with someone on here they pop off with something horrible.

  37. A.S.F. says:

    @Bunnell Native–I can appreciate your point and feel that a civilized and important discussion on education is way overdue in Flagler County and the whole state of Florida, for that matter. But this woman is a joke. If inviting her here to speak is an effort by the FlaglerTea Party to create a climate that promotes her lies and lend then more credibilty than they actually deserve, then she’s a possibly dangerous joke being played on us by a bunch of people who have only their own interests in mind, and not those of our students. If Ms. Kepus’s character and views represent what the Flagler Tea Party stands for, then she, and they deserve, the all the comments they are getting.

  38. farmer says:

    Wait till the Acorn and SEIU and Teamsters get their monies paid by the tax payers to help promote OBAMA CARE by the millions $ and the above article is of not much concern. The vote in the years ahead will go democratic and so our country is doomed the way we knew it. All line up for all the freebies and even now 47% pay no income taxes.The NWO in here.SAD

  39. A.S.F. says:

    @farmer says–You do know, don’t you, that more people voted for Obama than belong to ACORN, SEIU and the Teamsters combined? Apparently, Mandated health coverage for all Americans is not just a communist/socialist plot being foisted on this country by subversive elements, under the evil leadership of a secret Muslim Terrorist, but SOMETHING A MAJORITY OF CITIZENS IN THIS COUNTRY WANT TO SEE HAPPEN. Do yo think everybody who voted for Obama (twice) is a communist/socialist/reactionary traitor, lying in wait to steal your hard-earned buck and destroy the American Dream, just for the hell of it ? Maybe YOU and your Neo-conservative buddies are the ones who are making demands that are selfish and out of line (i.e.–pay the tab for my Social Security and Medicare benefits, beyond what I contributed during my working life, without complaint, while I hide my assets so I can depend on Medicaid to pay my Nursing Home bills, if it comes to that–but DAMN THOSE WELFARE QUEENS!)

  40. farmer says:

    Yes we do know that many more than the acorns .seiu voted for Obama and we pay many thousands in taxes each yr.As someone has stated we were declared a dumb country and we had the Obama election and proved it.And the GM bailout by the pres killed the old bond holders as they got very little and now Trumka is screaming over Health Care that doesn,t suit him.

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