Thursday, August 13, 2015


By Nancy Thorner – 

As ComEd rolls out 4,000,000 Smart Meters in an effort to “modernize the electricity grid,” many Illinois residents are pushing for a no-cost or at least low-cost option to keep their existing analog meters. Instead of benefits to the consumer, these residents see risks and increased electricity bills associated with digital Smart Meters. They are not alone.

The National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy report calls Smart Meters “a canard—a story or hoax based on specious claims about energy benefits.” It goes on to say, “Congress, state, local governments, and ratepayers, have been misled about the potential energy and cost saving benefits paid for in large part with taxpayer and ratepayer dollars.”

Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General writes, “Utilities have shown no evidence of billions of dollars in benefits to consumers from these new meters. The utilities want to experiment with expensive and unproven technology, yet all the risk will lie with consumers. The pitch is that smart meters will allow consumers to monitor their electrical usage, helping them to reduce consumption and save money. Consumers do not need to be forced to pay billions for smart technology to know how to reduce their utility bills. We know how to turn down the heat and shut off the lights.”

Judge O’Connell of the Michigan Appellate Court writes in an opinion on an opt-out-rate case, “The Public Service Commission and Consumers Energy advance the notion that smart meters will save the public money on their utility bills.  Unfortunately, this argument is inherently illogical:  how can smart meters save money when Consumers seeks to add millions of dollars to the base rate to fund the AMI [Smart Meter] program?  It appears, as the Attorney General argues and as in other states, that the smart meter program actually increases rates.” ComEd promotes the same illogical reasoning.

Some state and local jurisdictions across the country are becoming aware of risks associated with Smart Meters and objecting to deployment and/or insisting on opt-outs. In California there are 57 jurisdictions opposed to installation and 15 have passed ordinances making Smart Meter installations illegal. In spite of the opposition and opt-outs being offered in California and other states, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has interpreted a state utility law to mandate compliance.  Therefore, 4,000,000 Wireless Smart Meters are to be installed on ALL homes and buildings in the ComEd service territory.

Warrenville Environmental Advisory Commission (WEAC) put in their newsletter: “WEAC would like to make a true opt-opt possible; the City does not have regulatory authority to do so.”

It now rests on the shoulders of informed citizens to educate their lawmakers, local government officials, community leaders, and neighbors.  Many citizens are diligently working to secure an opt-out option and protect their families from the health effects, fire hazards, privacy violations, and cyber security risks which continue to be reported in the U.S. and around the world.  There are 200 environmentally conscious groups opposing Smart Meter deployments in their countries and local communities.

Ironically, Wireless Smart Meters are not necessary to modernize the Smart Grid and are certainly not “Green”.  These meters add layers of RF radiation to the environment and require extra energy usage for collectors, routers, and to run various functions of the mesh networks.

Illinois lawmakers must have been misled with regard to the “benefits” and not told about the consequences to have allowed this ill-advised program to proceed.  What is essential now is for lawmakers to secure a permanent low-cost or no cost opt-out for their constituents.

The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) argues that allowing customers to refuse a Smart Meter is good public policy because forcing customers to accept a Smart Meter will not be conducive to gaining widespread customer acceptance.  CUB is  further convinced that forcing customers who, whatever their reasons, do not desire a Smart Meter [to accept one] unfairly punishes those customers.

Judge O’Connell, when discussing the issue of an opt-out fee in the case referenced above, writes, “Why penalize those citizens… who have pacemakers and implant devices [by] being exposed to smart meters that are not UL certified safe for these devises.  Electro-sensitivity may prevent some citizens from installing smart meters or visiting homes that have working smart meters.”

In the same decision when addressing health consequences, Judge O’Connell writes, [Smart meter] “issues are of great concern, not just locally, but also nationally and internationally.  I note that 50  years ago, only a few brilliant minds were concerned about the health hazards of smoking, and we have only recently become aware of the health hazards of second-hand smoke.  I suspect there is no need to mention the health hazards of lead-based paint or radium painted glow-in-the dark watches.  At the time, all of these products were not considered health hazards.”

The Judge continues, “Historically, it is less burdensome to address these issues as they arise than to attempt to reform 20 years of ill-conceived policy decisions.”     

Some of the reasons why Smart Meters are an “Ill-conceived policy decision”:

1)  In May of 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified Radio Frequency emissions from Smart Meters as Class 2B Carcinogen. According to Richard Conrad, Ph.D., “This means in order to continue to receive electrical power, people are forced to live with a device on their homes that emits possibly carcinogenic microwaves 24/7.  The results of thousands of studies strongly suggest that microwaves are not safe for humans.  If the smart meter roll-out plan had been submitted as a proposal for an experiment on human beings, which it undeniably is, any institutional Review Board…would have rejected it outright.

2) Utilities were exempt from conducting environmental or health impact studies. Electric companies were excused from any governmental or public review showing how the decision to implement Wireless Smart Meters was safe for humans, plants, animals and the planet.

3) Privacy is a great concern. Household activities and behavior within closed doors can now be monitored through the collection of detailed discrete data. Personal habits, work schedules, and family activities are being recorded. Interpreting the data can let the utility or unwelcome parties know when the family is home or on vacation. Electric companies selling the data to a third party is now in question. In the end, the data is more valuable to the power company than the rates collected.

4) Using wireless Smart Meter Networks to connect every household appliance, alarm system, computer, car-charging station, etc., in every home, business, and government building to the Internet leaves every aspect of modern living vulnerable to cyber-attack.

On the issue of privacy Judge O’Connell writes, “Appellants argued that smart meters may in fact be the instrument of monitoring, listening, and viewing activities in individual’s homes. They also argued that smart meters are networked and, without proper security measures, anyone, including the government and hackers, could monitor a customer’s activities. I would find it disconcerting, if true, that a smart meter in conjunction with a smart television might allow others to listen and record private conversations in one’s living room.”

5) Every Smart Meter is an open portal or access point into the Smart Grid. This means foreign or domestic hackers on a larger scale and thieves on a smaller scale have an open invitation to whatever data they want to take or whatever system they want to disrupt. Consider the 4,000,000 access points ComEd is installing throughout Illinois and how vulnerable that makes residential communities.

6) Tom Lawton from TESCO on Smart Meters: “the number of reported fires in the United States has increased dramatically to the point where [Smart] Meter fires have dominated the news locally, nationally and internationally at various times in the past three years. Utilities going through a full deployment are seeing incident rates one and two orders of magnitude greater than normal, leading to a media frenzy and a public focus on the safety of the [Smart] Meter on the side of their house.”

7) Norman Lambe (LA Home and Business Insurance Examiner) writes, “The real problems concerning the installation of 51 million Smart Meters in this country are being ignored, in spite of the evidence that we have a clear and present danger.  When the electrical utility determines that a Smart Meter is the issue, they have been removing the meter. [That means] tampering with evidence concerning the cause of the fire. However, the real issue as to why all the [Smart] Meters are failing is not being dealt with.

Smart Meters can well be considered an “ill-conceived policy” in light of the health threat, invasion of privacy, hacking potential, fire risk, and increased electric bills for the majority of residents. It is unjust and not the American way to force these meters on every home without warning residents of the potential risks and offering them a choice. ComEd customers who want to ensure their family’s privacy and safety should have the option of an opt-out for their own peace of mind.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


By Nancy Thorner – 

The results of CNN poll on April 20, placed former Governor Jeb Bush, as of yet an undeclared candidate, at the top of the Republican Party’s presidential picks for 2016.  With no competition Hillary won the top spot for the Left.  Although name recognition is helpful in attracting supporters, in regard to Jeb Bush, how much is really known about him?  Jeb describes himself as a “Conservative Reformer”, but it will be remembered that his brother’s presidency exhibited “Compassionate Conservatism”.  After G.W. was elected president conservatives were not at all pleased with what his compassionate conservatism was all about.

It would be negligent not to explore and investigate Jeb Bush, the candidate. Is Bush really the conservative he vigorously touts as being when he served as a two-term Florida governor? There are reports that claim Jeb Bush governed as a conservative, but a number of years have passed since Jeb completed his second term in 2007.

As detailed in Part 1 of “Jeb Bush, a Conservative, a Moderate, or a Globalist,” Bush didn’t allow challengers to stand in his way when running and winning the governorship two times in Florida.  As such it is fair to use past behavior to present insight into Jeb Bush’s possible conduct in his yet-to-be-announced presidential bid.  A  Crowley Political Report on Feb. 26 questioned whether Jeb Bush would act like a bully if and when he declares himself a GOP presidential candidate. Since Bush vowed that he would run for president only if he could do so “joyfully”, the bully concept cannot be dismissed.

Noted in a New York Times article is that behind the scenes Bush and his aides have pursued the nation’s top campaign donors, political operatives, and policy experts with an eye to rapidly locking up the highest-caliber figures, making it all but impossible for other Republican candidates to assemble a high-octane campaign team. In each of his governor elections in 1998, and 2002, Bush attempted to corner the market, willing to “joyfully” hurl a fastball straight to the noggin of anyone who dared to get in his way.  This Times story is worth reading for more insight in the “Bush way of campaigning joyfully.”

As observed when Jeb Bush made an appearance in Nashua, New Hampshire, on April 18, Bush may very well mirror his actions that twice helped him win the governorships of Florida.  As reported on April 18, ties between Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (a 43-year-old son of Cuban immigrants) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (a 62-year-old member of one of the nation’s most powerful political dynasties), political allies for more than a decade, are fraying as the Republican presidential campaign picks up steam.  In public, mentor Bush and protege Rubio, have avoided criticizing each other since Rubio announced his candidacy, but Bush allies have started quietly spreading negative information about Rubio’s record.  So far Rubio’s team has declined to respond in kind.

As Al Cardenas remarked, a Bush adviser also close to Rubio: “Sparks are going to fly. For the first time in our country’s history you’ve got two guys from the same town in the same state from same party running in the same primary.” A well connected individual in Florida told Thorner that it was Jeb Bush who pushed Rubio into supporting amnesty in the Senate, which in turn hurt Rubio with the Republican conservative base. Jeb wasn’t pleased when Rubio withdrew his amnesty position.

Early on there are cues pointing to likelihood that Jeb Bush is being endorsed and funded heavily by the Republican establishment.  As Phyllis Schlafly relates in her book. “A Choice Not An Echo.” in early 1936 a little group of secret kingmakers (prominent financiers and industrialists) laid long-range plans to control the Republican Party. This group has used every trick to dictate the choice of the Republican presidential nominee up to now.  It was the kingmakers who were responsible for derailing and destroying Senator Barry Goldwater in the election of 1964. In the eyes of the kingmakers, it was anyone but Goldwater, preferring, as they did, the continuation of the policies of Democrat incumbent Lyndon Johnson to those of Goldwater.

With this in mind, there is every reason to believe the kingmakers of today, although faces have changed, are partial to Jeb Bush as the 2016 Republican presidential nominee. The perception being, Bush is himself a loyal Republican Establishment member and also a confirmed globalist, following in the steps of his father (G.H.) and brother (G.W.). Writing in the Christian Science Monitor Mark Sappenfield had this to say about Jeb Bush as a yet undeclared candidate:

“Bush III is not yet in the presidential race, though he is apparently raising enough money to singlehandedly send Richard Branson to Jupiter, so there’s not much mystery about his intentions”. . . “Bush’s hundreds of millions are as good an indicator as any right now of where the establishment’s money is (literally).”

To some it might seem conspiratorial to imply that the mechanics are already being set in motion to ensure that Jeb Bush is the 2016 Republican candidate.  Consider this:  Even before Jeb Bush has officially declared his candidacy for 2016, he is preparing to give the traditional campaign a makeover by turning some of his campaign’s central functions over to a separate political organization (a PAC) that can raise unlimited amounts of money.  Not that other candidates haven’t done so, but for Bush the potential benefits are enormous. Campaigns can raise only $2,700 per donor for the primary and $2,700 for the general election. A super PAC, however, enables a candidate to raise unlimited cash from individuals, corporations and groups such as labor unions.  This means that in theory a small group of wealthy Bush supporters could pay for much of the work of electing him by writing massive checks to the super PAC.

Bush, when he finally does declare, would begin a White House bid with confidence that he will have the money behind him to make a deep run into the primaries. Even if Bush should stumble early on, spooking small-dollar donors and starving his own campaign of money, he would still have the means to carry on.  It is perceived that the ability of the super PAC to legally raise unlimited amounts of money far outweighs its primary disadvantage, that of not being able to legally coordinate its actions with Bush or his would-be campaign staff.

On the whole, conservatives aren’t happy with the broken campaign promises of those they elect to office, such as now exists in the 114th United States Congress where Republican Party members are failing to live up to their campaign promises.  Few would dispute that our vote for president stands above all others in importance.  This is especially true in 2016 given the precarious state of this nation and its descent into financial insolvency and moral bankruptcy.

Does Jeb Bush have what it takes to turn this nation around as a conservative reformer?  It’s going to be extremely difficult to convince many American, other than establishment Republicans who want to win at any cost, that Bush’s views on Amnesty, Common Core, and Climate Change are not Democrat-lite in their scope.

Part Two will explore Jeb Bush’s positions on  Amnesty, Common Core, and Climate Change, as expressed by Bush himself, in his still unannounced campaign.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

GI_96016_2013_nipcc_coverBy Nancy Thorner –

Maybe you think the whole global warming phenomenon is a hoax. You’re not as unusual as you may think. Several scientists and their findings have been gathered by Chicago’s Heartland Institute, and they’re ready to answer your questions on an ongoing conference call series.

Covered in Part 1, Heartland Institute announces the release of Climate Change Reconsidered II:  Physical Sciencewas how the Heartland Institute is preparing for the release of the first volume of Climate Change Reconsidered II on Sept. 17. The report, three years in the making, is a massive 1,200-page collection of science that refutes the alarmist claims of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Three conference calls remain in Heartland’s conference call series.  These calls will feature authors and contributors that will discuss the findings of Climate Change Reconsidered II:  Physical Science and answer questions.  Registration for the calls are through Robin Knox at Heartland Institute: or call 312/377-4000

  • Climate Models – Tuesday, September 10 at 1:00 EST/Noon CST, featuring CCR-II lead chapter author Dr. Anthony R. Lupo, who is associate professor of atmospheric science in the Department of Soil, Environmental, and Atmospheric Science at the University of Missouri
  • Climate Change Reconsidered II Release Day – Tuesday, September 17 at 1:00 EST/Noon CST
  • Response to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report – Tuesday, September 24 at 1:00 EST/Noon CST
Reports by the International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) have been highly selective in their review of climate science and controversial with regard to the projections of future climate change.It is therefore important that Heartland’s release information of Climate Change Reconsidered II:  Physical Science on September 17 is shared and acted upon so that rebuttals are fast and furious when the IPCC releases its own WG1(Working Group) — The Physical Science Basis — in Stockholm, Sweden, September 23-26.  Its purpose:  to provide the public with an update of knowledge on the scientific, technical and socio-economic aspects of climate change.

Of particular interest is the IPCC’s presentation of 171 global warming and climate change “myths” sorted by recent popularity vs. what science says, compiled from the 2007 IPCC Climate Change report.  It is a upside-down report in which the IPCC is using “What Science Says” according to its own interpretation, as the basis for discrediting what it labels as Climate Myths.  In reality, the 171 climate myths listed are not myths at all, but instead form the basis of challenges and disputes set forth by highly qualified and respected climate scientists who take issue with the controversial and inaccurate message put out by the IPCC to convince the public that CO2 is the cause of man-made global warming and that its consequences are catastrophic if not checked.

With this deception in mind, the initial Heartland Institute exclusive conference call on Tuesday, September 3rd laid out the premise of the seven-chapter report through an overview of the report and a preview of what is in the report.  CCR-II features quotations  taken directly from an extensive collection of peer-reviewed studies that contradict major parts of the IPPC’s narrative.

Hosted by Joseph Bast, President and CEO of the Heartland Institute, and Craig D. Idso, one of three lead authors of Climate Change Reconsidered II, what the IPCC calls myths are dismembered with peer-related, independent assessments of the Climate Change debate with an intent to show how the IPCC’s so-called scientific findings are riddled with inaccuracies and misrepresentations.

What are some of the IPCC myths that are exposed as hog-wash in Climate Change Reconsidered II?

  • According to IPCC predictions:  There will be a rise in temperature of 2 – 4 degrees Centigrade in the next 100 years, even though the manifestation of cycles in temperature appear like clockwork.  On temperature records, during the last 15 years the trend has been flat.  Temperature did increase a bit back in the 1970’s to 1998, but going back 10, 20, 30, 100, and even 1000 years there were temperature that were both higher and lower.
  • According to IPCC predictions:  Reports of ice melt foretells of more extreme weather events.  As such the melting of glaciers is the first sign of man-made global warming, the culprit being CO2.  Instead, Antarctica sea ice is at record levels and has been expanding since the 1950’s toward the equator.  While there has been some shrinkage of ice in the Arctic, Arctic sea ice is way off its low.
  • According to IPCC and what its science says:  Rise in CO2 must cause rises in the temperature.  IPCC ignores the solar influence.  Instead, studies that track warming and cooling periods over thousands of years have found that temperature leads first by 800 to 2000 years. The Little Ice Age ended about 300 years ago.  The slight increase in temperature occurring from the 1970’s to 1998 indicates a recovery from the Little Ice Age.

Other Conclusions:

  • CO2, instead of being described as the culprit of global warming, should be thought of as the beneficial gas that allows us to remain alive on this earth.
  • Water vapor comprises 95% of greenhouse gasses.
  • The IPCC has grossly overestimated climate sensitivity.
  • Computer models are just not up to the task in predicting temperature, changes in precipitation, extreme weather, etc.
  • Climate and temperature does change naturally.  In order to support its theory that human carbon dioxide emissions are causing dangerous global warming, any change must be explained outside the bounds of natural variation such as the melting of the glaciers, the rising of the sea level, all of which have remained fairly constant.
  • There is no silver bullet in the debate to persuade global alarmists that their findings are based on flawed and manipulated data via climate models, etc.

As stated by Craig D. Idso in his closing comments:

Climate Change II was a mammoth undertaking, an incredible volume and an independent assessment that carries a lot of weight and challenges the IPPC.  It took thousands of hours to produce the 1,200 page report, an authoritative study containing 4 – 5,000 articles in peer literature.

Bast and Idso asked people to register for the calls on Sept. 10, 17, and the 24.  Also report the release of the Climate Change Reconsidered II on your blogs, web posts, newsletters, Facebook, etc. and be ready to defend the report when released digitally and publicly at a news conference in Chicago on Tuesday, Sept. 17th.

A new website will soon be up and operating at The Heartland Institute regarding the pending September 17th release of Climate Change Reconsidered II and the controversy it might trigger both here and abroad.

Sunday, September 08, 2013 at 10:00 AM | Permalink

Part 1:  Published Friday, September 8, 2013


Illinois Seal


I recently participated in an Illinois Policy Institute briefing with Michigan State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, who was the primary sponsor of Michigan’s Right-to-Work legislation.  Colbeck would discuss the 2012 passage of Right to Work in Michigan and the steps that led the union-heavy state of Michigan to adopt such reform.

The question is: Could what worked in Michigan be applied here in Illinois?

 Michigan, as a Right to Work state, was an idea that started before Senator Patrick Colbeck was elected as a freshman senator in 2010.  Senator Colbeck describes himself as a “Johnny Come Late to the Fight.”

When Colbeck was elected, Michigan was the only state in the nation losing population.  Michigan also had an unemployment rate of 14%.

These facts became the impetus for Colbeck to begin thinking about how he could make a compelling case to the people of Michigan for Right to Work.  Most worrisome to Colbeck was how the family structure was being targeted and disrupted as members of families, especially children, were moving out of state to find work.

Two years ago Senator Colbeck felt he had the mandate to take a hard vote for turning Michigan around.  The tenor of the rank and file was changing.  The state had among its ranks 200,000 less union members than it had ten year earlier. There had also been a heavy loss of workers in the auto industry.  By a 3-1 margin people leaving the state were moving to Right to Work states.

Senator Colbeck knew he had to devise a jobs strategy to advance his mandate.  This strategy needed to be “noble, true, excellent and trustworthy.”  The question put forth by Colbeck was how to make Michigan rank #1 in job growth in the nation?  This Colbeck did without any money involved, realizing that turning the economy around would require changing the work environment in Michigan.

Once the commitment was made and the strategy devised, Colbeck knew it was essential to get his message out through town hall meetings and grass roots participation before a Right to Work bill could be introduced.

Even so, getting the bill passed and signed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder on Dec. 11, 2012, to have Michigan become the nation’s 24th right-to-work-state was in part due to good timing, good luck, and greed through overreach  by the UAW.  Its overreach was soundly defeated when in the Nov. 6, 2012 election union-sponsored Proposal 2 ( was voted down, meaning that the “collective bargaining” constitutional amendment was not approved by Michiganders.

Interesting questions entertained by Senator Colbeck:

1.  What was the reaction (feed back) you received from others with your push for Right to Work?  Rep. Colbeck was told that he was crazy and that getting Right to Work in Michigan was at best a 10 to 20 year program, which Colbeck didn’t accept.

2.  What was the advantage of having a super majority in the Senate, a three-vote margin in the House, and a Republican governor?  Colbeck admitted that it was definitely an asset as the vote was a partisan one.  Michigan governor Rick Snyder was definitely key in the legislation.  Snyder didn’t place it on his agenda, but neither did he rule it out.  In so doing Snyder’s non-committal action allowed him to vote for the bill.

3.  What must happen here in Illinois to make Illinois a Right to Work state as was accomplished in Michigan?  Rep. Colbeck expressed a conviction that any action had to start at getting individuals involved at the grassroots level, because of the nature of Illinois’s loop-sided, one-party government rule.

Results are already beginning to be seen in Michigan since it became a Right to Work state in December of 2012.  Michigan presently is experiencing the 6th fastest growing economy in this nation.

As would be expected, there is already a push back by Michigan unions who are aiming to take back the House and the governorship in 2014.  Rep. Colbeck, however, is confident this will not happen as Michiganders have seen the writing on the wall, and they like what they see!

Check out to read more about Patrick Colbeck, Republican Michigan Senate, 7th District, who calls himself a Problem Solver, Not a Politician.

Friday, May 31, 2013 at 12:10 PM | Permalink

Images-2By Nancy Thorner –

President Obama announced at his State-of-the-Union address on Tuesday, February 14, a major effort to expand government preschool.  According to a report by Lindsey Burke of The Heritage Foundation entitled, “Obama’s Ill-Advised Federal Preschool Push,” Obama’s plan would create “a continuum of child care for children from birth to age 5.”

After years of pushing the federal Head Start program, there is thin evidence that Head Start benefits the children enrolled in the program. It would however mean a boon to hiring an untold additional number of public education employees to the benefit of education unions.

According to a HHS report issued in early February, children’s attendance in Head Start has no demonstrable impact on their academic, socio-emotional, or health statutes at the end of first grade.

Teri O’Brien, a regular contributor to “Illinois Review,” presented her take on Obama’s State of the Union educational comments on Friday, February 15, in a posted “Illinois Review” article in which she referred to Obama’s educational musings as “Obama’s Early Education Scam.”  As O’Brien reflected, “Their [liberals] policies are always ‘for the children,’ and if you oppose their plans, then you must not care about all the innocent, wide-eyed little moppets who will benefit from bigger government and more of your paycheck going into the federal back hole.”

Most readers are familiar with the federal Head Start program launched in 1966 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society campaign to promote school preparation of disadvantaged children.  During its time of operation it is fair to say that a certain amount of liberal indoctrination occurred, even among children so young of age.


Common Core now takes center stage.  Approximately 80 percent of the public knows nothing about the Common Core education standards, which represent one of the most comprehensive K-12 reform efforts ever attempted in this nation.

For the clueless 80 percent, The Phyllis Schlafly Report, Vol. 46, No. 6, published monthly by the Eagle Forum, describes ObamaCore as a “Power Grab Like ObamaCare,” which fits right in with Obama’s attitude that there is no higher power than the federal government.  Common Core is a “comprehensive plan to dumb down schoolchildren so they will be obedient servants of the government and probably to indoctrinate them to accept the left wing view of America and its history.”

The essence of Common Core as explained by The Phyllis Schlafly Report:

“The Obama Administration has latched onto a new national education curriculum called Common Core that was launched by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers in 2009.  Those organizations have very official names as though they are government agencies, but they are actually private groups financed by foundations such as Gates and various corporations.

“Their plan is to induce all elementary and secondary schools to accept a comprehensive national education system that will enforce a national curriculum.  National standards will be locked in by the tests students must take called assessments, which in turn are tied to teacher evaluation.  The standards instruct the teachers what to teach so their pupils can pass the tests and teachers can get positive evaluations.

“The process bypasses parents and state and local school boards and will fundamentally transform education by dictating what every child will learn and not learn.

“No Child Left Behind’ was a step in this direction, but it allowed the states to set their own standards.  Common Core, on the other hand, requires all states to adopt the same federally endorsed standards.

This will be achieved by carrot-and-stick methodology.  The carrot is the offer of federal money, such as ‘Race to the Top’ money granted if, and only if, the states first adopt the Common Core standards. The stick is the threat to withhold federal funds from states that don’t obey.”

Forty-five state (now 46) the District of Columbia, and four territories signed on to Core, Illinois included, within five months of its release in 2010.  It was presented as a new educational guide to what K-12 children were expected to know at each grade level in math and English/language arts.  The original plan was to fully implement Common Core standards in math and English/language arts in each grade, along with matching tests, by 2014-2015, but the matching tests are still being developed.

Finally three years after a majority of states ascribed to Core, the Math and English Literature Common Core programs have been developed, released and made public, but not without expressed concern that standards have been set low enough so asto enable most students to pass the tests.  Even more troublesome are comments from educators saying that Common Core graduation standards in math and Language Arts don’t prepare students for college work.  They only move kids to two-year community colleges.

To make matters even worse, fatal flaws have been found to exist in the Common Core English Language Arts, standards which went unnoticed until now because of the haste in which 45 state boards of education and/or their governors signed on to Common Core back in 2010 before Core standards were written or finalized.

Rising concern also exists over the high cost of implementing the Core standards and the national tests that will be based on them, coupled with the potential loss of local control of curriculum and instructions.  As an insult to injury, it is estimated tha tforty-six states will spend $5 to $12 billion to put in place a new set of national Common Core educational standards to implement basic curriculum being developed  by public officials in closed-door meeting by the NGA and the CCSSO without sufficient public input, although taxpayer state officials can attend CCSSO meetings and become members.

Joy Pullmann, in a Policy brief published by the Heartland Institute, January 2013, “The Common Core:  A poor Choice for States,” sums up the Common Core education standards in this way:

1.  Public dialog on the Common Core is necessary to ensure high quality.

2.  No state, school district, or even school has ever use the Common Core.  It has no track record.

3.  Comparing the Common Core to the Core Knowledge Foundation’s metrics immediately reveals a quality gap. (As early as kindergarten, Core Knowledge students encounter money in math class, whereas Common core student don’t until second grade, etc.)

4.  The new tests will cost far more to administer every year in these tight times.  Georgia estimates that Common Core tests would cost $22 per student annually.  Previous tests cost taxpayers $5 per student per year.

5.  In addition to usurping nearly every standardized tests it is likely to overhaul teacher preparation, evaluations, and methods.

6. The U.S. Department of Education has issued regulations allowing the sharing of personally identifiable student information without parent consent.

7.  States may not change the standards, must adopt all of them at once, and may only add up to an additional 15 percent of requirements.

8.  A centralized education market is a significant boon to firms that earn significant income by selling test, textbooks, etc., giving the education business a large financial stake in Common Core and a reason to keep it that way regardless of its instructional defects and costs to taxpayers.

U.S. schools need to improve, but will Common Core help?  Not according to Joy Pullmann and many others who are expressing similar views:  “No.  On the contrary, it contains many harmful provisions, and its full effects are yet unknown.”

Constitutionally Common Core falls far outside the enumerated powers which our Constitution grants to the federal government.

But above all else one argument remains paramount:  All kids are unique.  Doesn’t it only make sense to treat them that way?  

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District #115 board members are deserving of praise for holding the line against intense pressure from parents who wanted LFHS to stay open for their own children.

Having attended the District 115 board meeting last night (Sept. 11), it quickly became evident that most of the Public Comments offered were from individuals who, as taxpayers, wanted board members to show some spine in their dealings with the LFEA.

In one way the strike by LF District 115 teachers can be linked to the make up of the District 115  Board over the years in having agreed to the demands of the  local teacher union, the LFEA, which, in a large part, takes its marching orders from the IEA, of which LFHS teachers are members.

The salaries of teachers in LF District 115 can be easily found at  Most of the teachers at LFHS earn in excess of $100,000.  This is their base salary and does not include other perks such as family health insurance, annuities, pension contribution payment, etc.

The base salaries of the 25 highest paid teachers at LFHS range from $168,740 for a Physical Education teacher, Anthony Filippo, down to $129,965 for Mary Beth Nawor who teaches Environmental Science.

According to an article published in the Chicago Tribune on September 12 by Lisa Black and John Keilman, the average base salary of a teacher at LFHS is $106,500, compared with a statewide average of about $65,000,0,3276944.story

District 115 Board is proposing a 2.6% increase in FY 2013, while the LFEA is asking for 5.6%.  Proposals for the following two years:  FY 2014, Board (3.4%) – LFEA (6.5%); FY 2015, Board (3.4%) – LFEA (5.6%).    As can be observed, the LFEA proposal is more than double the CPI.

The percentage of increase proposed by the Board is in line with, and even slightly above, what is being negotiated by other school districts in the area — a 2.5% increase for teachers — in their contract negotiations.  With the amount of increase proposed by the Board, LFHS can remain competitive with other area school districts in the hiring of good teachers for its student population.

In regard to Health Insurance, LFEA is asking that existing employees continue to receive, without charge, HMO Single and Family Premiums and PPO 750 Single and Family Premiums.  This would mean that the Board would have to pay more for 5 of the 10 health insurance plans offered to LFHS teachers.  Four plans are already 100% Board paid.

Not to be forgotten is that teachers can retire at age 55, and many do.  In ten years teachers making over $100,000 a year at LFHS will be drawing at age 65 the same pension as the salaries they were making during their last year of teaching.  Additionally, their pensions will be automatically adjusted each year to reflect the COLA increase of 3% for the rest of their lives.   This isn’t even true for SS recipients.

Out of five pension systems in the state of Illinois, the Teachers’ Retirement System is the largest and the costliest of Illinois’s pension programs.  In March of 2011 Tribune reporter, Diane Rado, indicated that the TRS “is now almost $40 billion short of what’s needed to cover future benefits — the deepest financial hole in 20  years of state records.”

With Illinois lawmakers looking to rein in the massive costs of public programs, teachers at  LFHS should be worried that the nest egg they’ve always considered a sure thing might shrink.  More and more school districts have concerns that local taxpayers might have to start picking up more of the tab for teacher pensions.

What happens when a union in a private sector business insists on a pay scale and other benefits for its members that cannot be supported financially by the company?  The company will eventually go out of business.  It may even end up going overseas to save the company, where workers can be employed who are not demanding “the store.”

In a free enterprise system there is competition.  Businesses who are obligated to increase the cost of their products to cover the cost of increased union-negotiated wages and benefits for its employees, do not fare all that well in Illinois. .

But what happens, if through teacher union bargaining, teacher demands become too rich to support existing conditions?  Schools certainly do not go out of business!

If teacher unions are permitted to continue their heavy-handed bargaining as in the past, Illinois, an already financially challenged state, will continue to go further and further into debt, a debt that is now unsustainable and approaching financial Armageddon.

And let’s not forget about all the taxpayers, not only here in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff, but throughout Illinois, who pay handsomely to fund schools, wanting the very best for the children in their communities.

Even though LFHS is located in what is known as an upscale area in northern Illinois, not everyone is doing well in this down economy.  Like elsewhere else, there have been many foreclosures and job losses. Teachers have little fear of losing their jobs under ordinary circumstances as they have tenure.

Teachers seem to forget that they work for the public and that their jobs are public sector jobs paid for by taxpayers.  A large portion of our property taxes go to fund our schools.  As was indicated at the District #115 Board meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 11, the largest chunk of the FY2012 budget now being drawn up is for salaries.

Just as tax payers must pay for LFHS teacher salaries, etc., they must also pay for the Board Attorney, Mike Hernandez, who does not come on the cheap!  He is present during all board negotiation.  He was also at the meeting last night giving details of the strike conditions.

I commend the District 115 board for remaining firm.  For LFHS teachers, when is enough, enough?  You already teach in the best high school in the entire state with the highest teacher salaries.  You are looking quite silly to outsiders who must be shaking their heads in wonderment..

Teachers at LFHS have positions that many other teachers can only dream about.   It is a given that there are many qualified teacher out there who would jump at the chance to teach in Lake Forest District 115.