Archive for January 2013

Teacher Professional Development for Common Core   3 comments

The following is published anonymously to protect the educator(s) who are sharing this information.

“Recently certain teachers were selected to attend Common Core training sessions. We were divided according to subject.

We were subjected to “groupthink.”

We were given an article called “Making the Common Core Come Alive!” It is published by an organization called “Just ASK” and it came from that organization’s October 2012 newsletter. The author of the article is Heather Clayton Kwit, who is the principal of Mendon Center Elementary School in Pittsford Central School District, New York.

The article’s main purpose at the top of the article says COMMON CORE MIND SHIFTS. We had to read part of the article and then answer questions about our “feelings.”

Here are the seven mind shifts we had to read about in the meeting:

1. “The goal of curriculum should not be the coverage of content, but rather the discovery of content.” It goes on to say “If done well, Common Core will elevate our teaching to new heights, and emphasize the construction of meaning, while deepening our understanding of our students.”

2. “A deep understanding of the content to be taught is paramount.”

3. “In our classrooms, it is the students’ voices, not the teachers’, that are heard.”

4. “We are preparing our students to do the work without us.”

5. “We are educating our children for an unknown future.” It also says “these skills can then be translated into new or novel situations, without the teacher needing to guide the work.”

6. “We have a responsibility to help each student reach higher.”

7. “We can’t ignore the evidence before us.” It goes on to say the standards were created using an extensive body of evidence.

The concluding paragraph says, “In conclusion, we have the innate ability to change our mindset if it no longer helps us accomplish our goals. Our current beliefs are grounded in the prior knowledge we’ve gained through our administrative and teaching experiences, our lives as students, and our collaboration with educators. Our beliefs impact all that we do, how we act and react, and the potential we see in others. When we can successfully shift our mindset, we are ready to form new lines of thinking and abandon old habits. By doing so, we have successfully positioned ourselves to do the work required by the Common Core.”

Here are the seven questions we had to answer in writing about our feelings about each mind shift (NOTE: these questions were created by OUR system):

1. How would you explain the differences between the discovery of content and the coverage of content?

2. How would you describe the payoff for teachers who demonstrate deep and flexible understanding of the content to be taught?

3. What do you see as the role of the teacher and the students in a classroom filled predominately with student talk?

4. What benefits to you see for students as we begin to teach them to do the work without us?

5. Why would it be important for teachers to shift their thinking about the purpose and method of their practice as they work with students?

6. How will the standards support teachers as they meet the needs of both fragile and accelerated learners?

7. As outlined in this section of the text, what do you see as important pieces of evidence that can’t be ignored? Why should this evidence be considered valuable.

As you can see, this is what teachers are dealing with. So right now, these “reading coaches” from elementary schools are training teachers to be Common Core people in their schools. [Someone] stated that next year our system hopes to fund 19 Common Core IP’s (Instructional Partners). Some of these 19 will be from the “reading coaches” in elementary schools and some will be selected from the secondary level.

Probably, the people who “shift their minds” the best will be the ones selected.”

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Thank you to the educator(s) who shared this information with us anonymously here.

Open Book Test On Common Core – For Parents   9 comments

The official Common Core websites make the program sound good.  The Department of Education promotes it.  The purveyors of Common Core implementation guides make it sound magnificent.  Many educators have said they support it.

At the same time, research groups, think tanks, parent groups, university professors and increasingly, more and more teachers,  stand against it.  So who’s to believe? How can you get to the truth?

Truth is truth, no matter what story the spinners may spin about Common Core. The repetitve use of Common Core’s favorite words, “rigorous” and “benchmarked” and “state-led” and “college ready” cannot alter reality.

But, rather than repeat myself further, and rather than to ask you to read hundreds of articles and reviews others have written, I have a new approach today.

I’m offering you an open book test.

Do the research for yourself.  You will most likely find that Common core is a shaky experiment that dilutes good education, invades data privacy, robs states of autonomy, breaks the law (General Educational Provisions Act, and 10th Amendment to the Constitution) and it’s about to break the taxpaying public.

This is like one of those little craft kits you can buy at the county fair.  The bulk of the work has been done for you; just put the pieces together and call it your own.

Welcome to A Common Core Open Book Test:

        •Is the Common Core Initiative legal?

See: General Education Provisions Act Law (GEPA law): “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system”    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/20/1232g

See: U.S. Constitution- 10th Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html

 

       • Are the Common Core standards really un-amendable and copyrighted?

http://www.corestandards.org/public-license

 

  •  Who are the sole developers of Common Core?

http://www.corestandards.org/public-license

   

         •How serious are the privacy issues involved in Common Core tests?

EPIC lawsuit against Dept of Ed. http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html

Fox News http://youtu.be/wVI78lPCFfs

CNN http://youtu.be/EkwN-cwC810

Reader-friendly explanation: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/christel-swasey-responds-to-brenda-hales/

SLDS (state longitudinal database system)  http://nces.ed.gov/forum/datamodel/Information/faq.aspx

UTREX grant that meshes data all the way up to feds: http://nces.ed.gov/Programs/SLDS/state.asp?stateabbr=UT  (also see John Brandt’s online powerpoint, page 6).

National Data Collection Model database attributes http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary “Assurances” here:

Federal supervision, triangulation of tests (illegal under G.E.P.A. law) http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf

 

          •Are the Common Core math and English standards themselves helping or hurting education for kids?

http://www.uaedreform.org/wp-content/uploads/2000/01/Stotsky_Testimony_for_Colorado.pdf

http://www.aasa.org/uploadedFiles/Publications/Newsletters/JSP_Winter2011.FINAL.pdf

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/12/questionable-quality-of-the-common-core-english-language-arts-standards

http://www.aasa.org/uploadedFiles/Publications/Journals/AASA_Journal_of_Scholarship_and_Practice/Winter_10_FINAL.pdf

http://zhaolearning.com/2013/01/02/five-questions-to-ask-about-the-common-core/

http://www.uaedreform.org/sandra-stotsky/

http://parentsacrossamerica.org/james-milgram-on-the-new-core-curriculum-standards-in-math/

http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/mathematician-and-education-advisor-zeev-wurmans-new-paper-on-common-core-math-standards-are-decent-for-younger-grades-but-rob-high-school-students/

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/11/a-new-kind-of-problem-the-common-core-math-standards/265444/

http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/common-core-sparks-war-over-words-among-literature-teachers/

  •    Has a budget been created or a cost analysis been done?

http://www.accountabilityworks.org/photos/Cmmn_Cr_Cst_Stdy.Fin.2.22.12.pdf

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-assessments/brookings-student-testing-costs-states-1-7-billion-a-year/

http://www.eagleforum.org/educate/2012/jan12/common-core-standards.html

http://www.sunherald.com/2013/01/19/4416545/pascagoula-schools-preparing-early.html

http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2010/03/25/alaska-texas-reject-common-core-standards

http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/california-wants-a-tax-hike-to-pay-for-common-core/

 

   •Has Common Core been led by states or by the federal government?

http://www.keepeducationlocal.com/claims-vs.-facts.html

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/debunking-misconceptions-the-common-core-is-state-led/  (reader friendly)

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/the-common-core-lie/  (less readable but provides links to prove it was not state led)

See the Race to the Top grant – federal incentivization of Common Core: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CDIQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.schools.utah.gov%2Farra%2FUses%2FUtah-Race-to-the-Top-Application.aspx&ei=PSQDUaKkLvCWyAGb8YDACw&usg=AFQjCNFk2icoHCsO-TViXtbkFHJQWizg5Q&sig2=4re2ypxeoPF7RuhE00opug&bvm=bv.41524429,d.aWc  (page 28 Utah agreed to Common Core in this federal document before public or legislative vetting had taken place)

  •          How can states escape?

Exit strategy: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/12/a-national-education-standards-exit-strategy-for-states

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Finally, a motives check:

Ask yourself:  who are the people standing against the Common Core?  Are they gaining financially from it?  Well, I am one of the fighters, and I’m not gaining.  I receive not a penny, nor ever will, for this work.  I deliberately reject offers of ads on this blog, so that readers can –I hope– trust it as a labor of love from a parent and teacher, and not a labor of personal gain.  Why spend hundreds of hours writing to legislators, school boards, parents and members of the media to fight against Common Core’s continued implementation?

Next, ask yourself this: why do many of the loudest proponents of Common Core never reference their claims?  They claim grandeur for these standards, but nothing is verified, nothing is solid.  Also, many proponents happen to be corporations that are making a lot of money to implement texts and tools for the Common Core.  (Bill Gates’ Microsoft. The Pearson company’s lobbyists and Pearson company’s CEA Sir Michael Barber. Even the national PTA received $2 million from Gates to promote Common Core.)  And lastly, ask yourself this: why is there no transparency or clarity, and why the secretive meetings, of the CCSSO –the developers of the standards; and why is there no amendment process for a principal, parent or teacher who sees a problem with these national standards?

Indiana’s Andrea Neal on Inferior Quality of Common Core Standards   Leave a comment

Indiana legislators are in the middle of a huge decision. Will they vote for or against Indiana Senator Scott Schneider’s bill to withdraw Indiana from Common Core?

Indystar scholar/reporter Andrea Neal writes: “…the biggest reason to oppose Common Core has nothing to do with policy considerations and everything to do with quality. The standards are inferior to what Indiana already had in place. They are hard to understand. Yet teacher training, course materials and student testing must all be based on them.

…One need only read the new standards to spot glaring problems. They’re wordy, redundant and poorly organized. Some of the language leaves your head spinning. For example, Grade 6 students are to “write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence” by using “words, phrases and clauses to clarify the relationships among claim(s) and reasons.”

Compare that to the clarity and specificity of the old Massachusetts state standards, which were considered the nation’s best:

“Write brief research reports with clear focus and supporting detail” or “write a short explanation of a process that includes a topic statement, supporting details and a conclusion.”

Great article.  Read it here:  http://www.indystar.com/article/20130130/OPINION04/301300309/  and here: http://www.courierpress.com/news/2013/jan/30/state-can-do-better-than-common-core/?print=1

Common Core Is A Business Plan Without A Budget Plan Or Cost Accountability   Leave a comment

From Gretchen Logue, Missouri Education Watchdog:

“I would have thought astute business people would have realized a long time ago that you shouldn’t sign on to any public school plan that had no price tag, had no specifics and would be controlled by private corporations held unaccountable to the taxpayers whose money they were using.

Would the Chamber of Commerce endorse such a plan in private industry? Would they support a business plan that had no budget, no oversight? Would they endorse a construction project with no blueprint and only promises of grandeur?

Of course not. Then why is the Chamber endorsing CCSS? The processes used and the product promised by CCSS is what I described above. If the Chamber endorses such pie in the sky promises of CCSS that have no research to back them up, and the Chamber thinks THAT is common sense, Indiana is in deep trouble.” -Gretchen Logue, Missouri Education Watchdog, commenting on an Indiana Barrister editorial.

That ridiculous editorial is here: http://www.indianabarrister.com/archives/2013/01/indiana_chamber_show_common_sense_on_common_core.html,

Gretchen Logue also points out that the editorial insinuates taxpayers should like the fact that  private corporations now have authority “to own the copyright to the standards and assessments used in teaching their children…and if a parent or a school district should find some of these items objectionable, they have no due process to stop using it in their schools.”

Well said.

Full blog post here: http://www.missourieducationwatchdog.com/2013/01/common-core-wars-heating-up-in-indiana.html

Another Mother Speaks Up: What Does The State School Board See in A.I.R?   Leave a comment

Tiffany Mouritsen, another Utah mother against Common Core, has been researching a very important aspect of Common Core, the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

Why?

AIR is the Utah School Board’s unfortunate choice for national Common Core testing.  Millions and millions and millions of our tax dollars are going to A.I.R. right now.

And for what?  Federally promoted tests that align to unamendable standards written by a questionable research group to cost us endless amounts of tax money, to stress out our kids, to tightly control our teachers, and to make nobody (okay, a handful of replaceable politicians and a load of educational product-selling corporations) actually smile.

AIR markets its values, which includes promoting  lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual agendas for teens, and publicizes its client list (George Soros and Bill and Melinda Gates, of course, are listed) –on the AIR website.  Check it out for yourself.   http://www.air.org/focus-area/human-social-development/?id=138

Read Tiffany’s review, here.   http://sunlightandstars.blogspot.com/2013/01/utah-american-institutes-for-research.html

Read Utahns Against Common Core’s review, here. http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/is-the-usoe-the-most-subversive-utah-agency/

Rigor –or Rigor Mortis?   Leave a comment

At a blog called Books Are Enough, another teacher-blogger makes a request, which I second: “Can we stop saying “rigor” please?”  Here’s the teacher’s reasoning– and here’s the link to that blog. http://booksareenough.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/can-we-stop-saying-rigor-please/

 

He/she writes:

“Can we stop saying “rigor” please?  The term “rigor” is a word some folks are using (again) to imply there is some crisis in education. A lot of folks are making money off of this term and its evil twin “college ready.” Here are several definitions of ”rigor” from a dictionary…

A. harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgment: the quality of being unyielding or inflexible

B. an act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty

C. rigidness or torpor of organs or tissue that prevents response to stimuli

D. a condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable; especially : extremity of cold

Making students see reading- poetry, fiction, non-fiction or any other genre as simply a task to be completed is immoral. This is why test driven Common Core should be stopped. We had enough under NCLB.

Our goal should be to foster book-loving citizens.

Rigor? Ha!”

http://booksareenough.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/can-we-stop-saying-rigor-please/

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Why this observation is so important:  first, the proponents of Common Core use the term “rigor” ad nauseum, and always as if rigor meant “academic excellence” when it more closely aligns with the term “academic rigor mortis”

In the upper grades Common Core dumbs down both math and English literature, killing love of reading and killing the development of mathematical habits of mind, by asking students to reinvent every mathematical wheel;  but in kindergarten, Common Coore pushes little ones too fast and makes no room for the joyfulness that should characterize kindergarten.  See also:

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/playtime_over_kindergartners_ItkfEkiosY3UOa8KpXwj8K

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/29/a-tough-critique-of-common-core-on-early-childhood-education/

http://www.newstimes.com/opinion/article/Sarina-Gersten-Kindergarten-has-become-too-3593119.php

Unwritten Tests Present Major Common Core Obstacle: Heartlander Reports   Leave a comment

A new Heartlander article by Joy Pullman raises some very big questions for school districts that do not have the money, the computers, bandwidth, or IT staff to administer Common Core tests.  It seems that “strapped states must soon pitch money at a new, complicated testing program” that is “likely to make their schools look bad”.

The article asks:

1. Where will the new national testing groups get money once federal grants run out, six months before the tests appear in classrooms?
2. Can testmakers and states handle the technical problems of creating and administering ambitious, online tests?
3. Will states tolerate higher passing score requirements?

The article quotes a survey of “education insiders” with at least one respondent noting that both the PARCC and SBAC testing consortia operate with such opacity that it is hard to know where things stand.

Full Article:  http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2013/01/28/unwritten-tests-present-major-common-core-obstacle

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