The Utah State Office of Education sent out this email to state curriculum directors yesterday, labeling calls by teachers, senators and parents who ask for honest debate on the many constitutional, academic and privacy-related issues of the Common Core agenda, ”vicious” attacks. The recipients of the email have been removed to protect privacy. The links have been added to clarify the email.
Sent: Monday, April 29, 2013 3:55 PM
Subject: [Curriculum Directors] Your action is needed
At the same time, everywhere I go I am hearing stories of student successes that far exceed previous expectations. I am visiting with teachers who tell me about engaged students who are doing real mathematics, not just copying problems out of textbooks. And teachers are empowered by creating units of study for students that go beyond anything their textbooks ever provided. Wonderful things are happening in Utah!
The time is now to contact policymakers and reassure them that the adoption of the Core was the right thing to do and give them specific evidence of how the integrated model is supporting student learning of mathematics. It’s ok to recognize challenges, but it is critical that policymakers understand that the Core has already had a positive impact on student learning and is likely to result in changes that really will close achievement gaps in the future. I cannot stress enough how important it is that policymakers hear directly from teachers regarding what is happening in their classrooms. The teachers do not need to advocate for the core, just give evidence of the results.
Please invite teachers to send their stories to their own legislators and State Board of Education members. Also, letters to Aaron Osmond email@example.com and Todd Weiler firstname.lastname@example.org may have extra pull because of their roles in the Utah Senate. Copies sent to USOE, either to me or to Brenda Hales Brenda.email@example.com are also appreciated. The legislators and other policymakers need real information. If we do not voice our thoughts now, we may not have another chance.
Diana Suddreth, STEM Coordinator
Teaching and Learning
Utah State Office of Education
250 E. 500 South
PO Box 144200
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-4200
So, the USOE is inviting teachers to speak out. I thought that was what I was doing.
“Please invite teachers to send their stories to their own legislators and State Board of Education members.”
Now, I invite teachers to truly do this. Send your stories anonymously if you fear career repercussions for telling the State you don’t like to be micromanaged. Tell them the truth: that whatever’s okay about Common Core, we are free to do without the federal mandates. Whatever’s bad, we should be able to amend. The Constitutional right to self-direct education by states has been violated. SPEAK UP NOW or lose your chance, maybe forever.
Send letters and stories to legislators, the school board (at firstname.lastname@example.org ), newspapers, and send a copy here, in the comment area. I will repost as a guest post.
Also, remember to take the optionally anonymous teacher survey at Utahns Against Common Core.
“Indiana has just shot into the spotlight of the education world, with the legislature voting over the weekend to hit the pause button on the Common Core national curriculum standards. But this action is just the loudest strike in a growing backlash against the Core, a revolt set off by the arrival of the federally backed standards in schools across the country. And people are right to be wary, especially since Core supporters have too often ridiculed dissenters instead of engaging in honest debate.
While 45 states have adopted the Common Core, don’t mistake that for enthusiastic, nationwide support. States were essentially coerced into adopting by the President’s Race to the Top program, which tied federal dough to signing on. Even if policymakers in recession-hobbled states would have preferred open debate, there was no time. Blink, and the money would be gone. Which isn’t to say there wasn’t opposition — there certainly was among policy wonks — but most people hadn’t heard of the standards at adoption time, and their effects wouldn’t be felt for several years.
…Indiana is arguably the highest-profile rebel, with its new legislation set to halt implementation of the core so Hoosiers can, at the very least, learn about what they’re getting into. Nationally, the Republican National Committee has officially condemned the standards, while several states are in the process of potentially withdrawing from the core. Finally, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has requested that a Senate subcommittee handling education end federal meddling in standards and assessment.
…Rather than address worries and evidence that the Common Core is empirically ungrounded, moves the country closer to a federal education monopoly and treats unique children like identical cogs, supporters have often smeared opponents and dodged constructive debate.
… Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, complained that the move “will bestow a degree of legitimacy upon the anti-standards coalition.” –As if the people who have been decrying the absence of research support for national standards, potential flaws in its content, or other logic and evidence-based concerns have all somehow been illegitimate.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — a leading Common Core spokesperson — elected to dismiss the RNC as ignorant for resisting the Core. “I don’t really care if the RNC, based on no information, is going to oppose this because of some emotional pitch,” he said. This despite the RNC resolution offering several valid reasons for opposing the Core, including the indisputable fact of federal coercion.
To be sure, there are some specious arguments being made against the Common Core, such as the claim that it requires schools to ditch Emerson in favor of reading EPA regulations. Such assertions should be refuted by people on both sides. But those are hardly the only concerns of Core opponents, and many standards supporters are guilty of no lesser deception when they insist, for instance, that the Common Core is “state-led” and “voluntary.”
One of the things that has been irritating and frustrating me is the comprehension that the end game of all of this is a complete lack of choice when it comes to education. It will only take a few years, because we have jumped on this bandwagon so quickly.
I think, if you get a chance, it is important to note that if Utah had adopted standards in isolation, there wouldn’t be the level of concern. (Of course, that was one of the “selling points”… commonality.) What the State Board says about “being able to change them” is technically true. They could drop Common Core standards at any time.
However, in 5 years, due to market forces, there will be nothing left to go to. Who will develop those standards, and what textbooks and professional development resources will we have? Nada!
When your ACT and SAT match Common Core, when all your textbooks and teaching materials are Common Core aligned, where is the market for anything “outside the box”? It was a brilliant move: 45 states signing on all at the same time. It will make the work of the other 5 irrelevant.
We MUST opt out and get a large group of the other states to opt out PRIOR to the SAT/ACT realignment. Once that’s done, it will be almost impossible to go back. Who or what, at that point, will have the power and desire to change it?
In the end, if I DON’T want my kids “aligned” with Common Core, what are my options? For the short term, I can do private school. But within 4 years, my prediction, just when my oldest is ready for college, the SAT/ACT tests will align, and if I haven’t been “on board”, he will be at a disadvantage. It just makes me ill.
Thank you, Wendy Hart, for this insightful, important statement.
I see that Diana Suddreth sent a “Your Action is Needed” email to defend the Utah Math Common Core. She is encouraging letters of support for the Utah Common Core and is concerned that the Common Core is under a “vicious attack.” She is inviting her supporters to send letters to both of you.
As a mathematics professor and someone who is very aware of the details of the Common Core, I would like to comment on what I feel is the awful way the Common Core Math Standards have been implemented by the USOE.
1. The Core was implemented before there were textbooks. In fact, some of those who favor the Utah Core do not even feel that textbooks are important. When I hear Suddreth say, ”And teachers are empowered by creating units of study for students that go beyond anything their textbooks ever provided” I know something is seriously wrong.
2. The Core was implemented before there were assessments in place.
3. The standards do not dictate any particular teaching method, but rather set goals for student understanding. However, the USOE has used the implementation of the new Core to push a particular teaching method; i.e., the “Investigations” type teaching that was so controversial in Alpine School District.
4. Evidence of the type of teaching promoted by USOE comes from the textbook used for the secondary academy, 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions (Margaret S. Smith and Mary Kay Stein) as one of the primary resources. The book is about the kind of group learning envisioned by Investigations and Connected Math (the sequel to Investigations).
5. The Mathematics Vision Project was created in partnership with the USOE. It has developed integrated secondary math material for the Utah Core. They openly admit that their “teaching cycle” is similar to the model of the Connected Mathematics Project. Here is a statement about their teaching method:
As students’ ideas emerge, take form, and are shared, the teacher orchestrates the student discussions and explorations towards a focused mathematical goal. As conjectures are made and explored, they evolve into mathematical concepts that the community of learners begins to embrace as effective strategies for analyzing and solving problems. These strategies eventually solidify into a body of practices that belong to the students because they were developed by the students as an outcome of their own creative and logical thinking. This is how students learn mathematics. They learn by doing mathematics. They learn by needing mathematics. They learn by verbalizing the way they see the mathematical ideas connect and by listening to how their peers perceived the problem. Students then own the mathematics because it is a collective body of knowledge that they have developed over time through guided exploration. This process describes the Learning Cycle and it informs how teaching should be conducted within the classroom.
6. The USOE does hold students back. This is not the intent of the Common Core, but it is Utah’s implementation. I regularly judge the state Sterling Scholar competition. Almost all of the bright kids take AP calculus as a junior or even earlier because they were taking Algebra 1 by seventh grade. Now it will be difficult to get that far ahead. The National Math Panel made it clear that there was no problem with skipping prepared kids ahead. The Common Core has a way for getting eighth graders into Algebra 1 which the USOE has ignored.
7. The USOE chose the “uncommon” core when they picked secondary integrated math. Hardly anyone else is doing this program. So there are no integrated textbooks except the one that the USOE is developing. I have been told that this is the “Asian” model, but I am very familiar with the textbooks in Hong Kong and Singapore. The Mathematics Vision Project Material does not look like Asian material, it looks like Investigations/Connected Math.
8. There is substantial information that Diana Suddreth, Syd Dickson, Brenda Hales, and Michael Rigby of the USOE participated in unethical behavior in the awarding of the Math Materials Improvement Grant. The USOE chose reviewers (including Suddreth and Dickson) who were conflicted. Suddreth helped the University of Utah choose a principal investigator who was her own co-principal investigator on a $125 K grant . According to the USOE internal email messages, the required sample lesson of the winning proposal contained “plagiarized material.” The sample lesson had “no text” instead it contained 79 pages of “sample materials” (some of which was plagiarized) for a teacher study guide including problems for discussion and homework. The adaptive performance assessment program for the winning proposal was non-existent. The principal investigators redefined “adaptive assessment” to be something that was never intended.
David G. Wright
I am a Professor of Math at BYU, but this letter is written as an educator, parent, and concerned citizen and does not represent an official opinion from BYU.
Brigham Young University has a policy of academic freedom that supports the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge and ideas. The university does not endorse assertions made by individual faculty.
— — — — —
Thank you, Dr. Wright, for your courage in speaking out.
The USOE’s Diana Suddreth has called the movement to stop common core a “vicious attack.” The State School Board’s Dixie Allen has said that we (teachers and parents against common core) are “creating turmoil in our state.”
In our defense: 1) we do not wish to disparage personally the USOE or the USSB or Governor Herbert’s staff, despite their endless claims, in the face of truckloads of evidence to the contrary, that Common Core is a benefit to Utahns. We do have much against the fact that as a state, we’ve sold out our kids to common core– to its slashing of local control, slashing teacher autonomy, slashing the right to amend our own education standards, deleting legitimate and proven academic standards, and ending student privacy.
I would appreciate not being called names, such as special interests, turmoil-makers or vicious attackers –since we have made no personal attacks, and are not making but are losing our personal money in this fight for true principles, our rightful duty to defend; and since we’re the ones trying to clean up the turmoil our leaders created by signing away local rights, privacy and standards, without letting us know it.
Personal pride, personal investment in the common core agenda, personal career investment related to the common core agenda, and social loyalties are not more important than LEGITIMATE education standards, student PRIVACY rights, PARENTAL consent requirements for state systems in testing students and in collecting student data, and most of all, they are not more important than constitutional, LOCAL control.
Senator Mike Lee of Utah joined other senators — Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) in signing Iowa Senator Grassely’s letter that points out that the Dept. of Education must be restrained from funding and promoting nationalized standards and must not be allowed to continue the illegal implementation of Common Core with federal tax monies.
The letter said: “”While the Common Core State Standards Initiative was initially billed as a voluntary effort between states, federal incentives have clouded the picture. Current federal law makes clear that the U.S. Department of Education may not be involved in setting specific content standards or determining the content of state assessments. Nevertheless, the selection criteria designed by the U.S. Department of Education for the Race to the Top Program provided that for a state to have any chance to compete for funding, it must commit to adopting a ‘common set of K-12 standards’ matching the description of the Common Core. The U.S. Department of Education also made adoption of ‘college- and career-ready standards’ meeting the description of the Common Core a condition to receive a state waiver under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Race to the Top funds were also used to fund two consortiums to develop assessments aligned to the Common Core and the Department is now in the process of evaluating these assessments.”
“The first principle of education, and therefore of education policymaking, is that parents are the primary educators of their children. And because responsibility for children’s education lies primarily with parents, to the greatest extent possible so should decision-making authority over Pre-K to secondary education. The further such decisions are removed from the parents and guardians of children, the further they are removed from those who will promote the best interests of students. Therefore federal influence over pre-K, elementary, and secondary education should be limited. Neither members of Congress nor Department of Education bureaucrats can be expected to promote the interests of individual students – with unique talents, interests, and learning styles – more than those students’ own parents, teachers or principals.
While the Common Core Standard Initiative was initially promoted as an effort to move in this direction, it has become polluted with Federal guidelines and mandates that interfere with the ability of parents, teachers and principals to deliver the education our children deserve.” Read More Here
A favorite highlight of the series includes the explanation of why students should be taught how to solve problems, and not just how to find internet resources to solve problems or invent their way to solutions.
Guest post by a parent who requested that his/her report would be anonymously published
I attended the meeting held by Uintah School District last week.
The meeting appeared to be a training on the new assessments for Common Core that will cost $30 million. The guy turned his back on the room and spoke quietly when he said ‘$30 mil’, so I’m not sure I heard him correctly. He was more than happy to face the room and speak loudly about how great these assessments will be and how very much we need them–in his opinion. (Note-his job is dependent on him holding to that opinion.)
A little more than halfway through the meeting, he finally allowed questions. He would NOT allow questions before that. When question time came, it was very clear that the majority of the people in the room were unhappy parents, not educators there for his training. With a great deal of pressure from parents, it was decided that some common core questions would be answered by Dixie Allen of the state school board.
All individuals interested in common core questions being answered were invited to get up and move to a smaller room to talk with Dixie. By the time everyone had gathered in the smaller room, common core was on a screen at the front of the room and Dixie was prepared to give a presentation. Parents tried to ask questions and Dixie tried to give a presentation.
When it became clear that Dixie’s intent was to deliver a Common Core ‘sale’, one parent specifically requested that questions be answered first and the presentation be given second because people were obviously wanting their questions answered now. Dixie said no, but eventually had to give in because the questions wouldn’t quit coming. We didn’t have to watch or listen to a big presentation from Dixie, but we did have to listen to her state several times that common core standards are higher (to which one parent consistently replied ‘no, they’re not’ every time). She also told the parent in the room who knew the most about Common Core that she (Dixie) didn’t want that mom asking anymore questions because the mom gave comments, informing other parents of the details so Dixie could not shut them down completely. Obviously, Dixie is frightened of the truth getting out.
Dixie also denied being the homeschool teacher for 2 of her grandchildren in her home. (I think the count was 2.) She later backtracked on that one and admitted that she teaches one grandchild who is in 9th grade right now and homeschooled because of bullying. (A difficult to fully believe claim because the junior high principal here is quite strict and everyone else says this principal put an end to bullying in that school when she was first put in as principal, long enough ago that bullying in that school would have ended by the time Dixie’s grandchild would have entered the jr. high.)
Dixie also repeatedly stated that Utah must do Common Core because otherwise we cannot buy curriculum to match our core because we don’t spend enough money on education and therefore the curricula vendors don’t cater to us. No one in the room agreed with her on needing more money, but she made this claim repeatedly. Then when the question “How much will these new curricula materials to match common core cost us?” was asked, the answer was “Nothing, we’re making our own.”
None of the parents in the room said anything, but note that the argument that we need to do common core so we can buy materials to match our core falls when you consider that we’re not buying the materials!
In short, no one in the meeting was convinced that common core was a good idea. Parents talked afterwards, exchanging their contact info and more information on common core. One parent had watched a program on the miserable failure of common core in Michigan and was there with her notes in hand, asking questions and providing details of how bad things are in Michigan. Dixie tried very hard, but unsuccessfully, to refute the points this good mom made throughout the meeting. Another mom mentioned that history has proven how very dangerous a national curriculum can be, but many people in the room are unaware of that and just thought she’s a little paranoid.
I left the meeting thinking that Dixie is either completely ignorant of the facts surrounding common core or she is an outright liar. I spoke with some people who know her personally the next day and they told me that she just truly believes in big government, so she wouldn’t even be able to see the facts. It was interesting to watch her at the meeting. Dixie is an elected representative of the people, but you couldn’t tell. Elected representatives should listen to the people, treat them respectfully, and do as the people want. Dixie did none of that. As an elected representative of the people, she ARGUED with them and spoke condescendingly when they didn’t understand education lingo. It was very sad.
Dixie did state that Utah might not adopt the science part of common core because of pressure from the ‘right wing’ in the state. She also said that Utah might try to vary from common core by more than the 15% allowed, but there will be no attempt to get out of common core.
Sadly, the powers that be cannot admit they’ve made a mistake and are completely disrespectful to the people who gave them power and pay the taxes that support them and their decisions.
- Anonymous attendee at UT State Office of Education Common Core presentation to Uintah School District
First, I received yet another “makes-no-sense” common core math explanation from the Utah State Office of Education, via Ms. Diana Suddreth.
Next, I asked nationally recognized experts to help me digest Suddreth’s words. This included curricular expert Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University, New Jersey, former Dept of Ed advisor and Hoover Institute (Stanford University visiting scholar) Ze’ev Wurman of California; and U.S. Coalition for World Class Math founder Barry Garelick.
This is what they wrote. (Ms. Suddreth’s writing is also posted below.)
From Dr. Christopher H. Tienken:
The UTAH bureaucrat is referencing this book – see below. Look at chpts 7 and 11 for where I think she is gathering support.
Her answer still does not make curricular sense in that she explains that fluency with moving between fractions and decimals is assumed in some ways. With all due respect, the curriculum document is a legally binding agreement of what will be taught. Teachers are bound by law to follow it (of course many don’t but that is going to change with this new testing system). Therefore, if it is not explicitly in the document, it might not get taught.
There are a lot of assumptions made in the Core. Just look at the Kindergarten math sequence. It assumes a lot of prior knowledge on the part of kids. That might be fine for some towns, but certainly not for others.
Perhaps the bureaucrat can point to specific standards that call for students to demonstrate fluency in converting fractions to decimals etc.
However, I think the bigger issue is that parents now don’t have a say in terms of whether and how much emphasis is placed on those skills. Local control is one mechanism for parents to lobby for emphasis of content. Not all content is equally important to each community. The negotiation of “emphasis” is a local issue, but that has now been decided for parents by a distal force.
Christopher H. Tienken, Ed.D.
Editor, AASA Journal of Scholarship & Practice
Editor, Kappa Delta Pi Record
Seton Hall University
College of Education and Human Services
Department of Education Leadership, Management, and Policy
Ms. Swasey forwarded to me an email that you have received recently, discussing how Utah Core supposedly handles the conversion between fraction forms. I would like to pass you my comments on that email.
First, let me briefly introduce myself. I am a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. I was a member of the California Academic Content Standards Commission in 2010, which reviewed the Common Core standards before their adoption by the state of California. Prior to that I served as a senior policy adviser at the U.S. Department of Education.
Response to Diana Suddreth’s note, passed to Utah’s Board of Education on April 23, regarding the question of conversion among fractional forms
(Original in italics)
The question that was originally asked was about converting fractions to decimals; therefore, the response pointed to the specific standard where that skill is to be mastered. A close reading of the Utah Core will reveal that the development of a conceptual understanding of fractions that leads to procedural skills begins in grade 3 and is developed through 7th grade. The new core does not list every specific procedure that students will engage in; however, explaining equivalence of fractions (3rd & 4th grade), ordering fractions (4th grade), understanding decimal notation for fractions (4th grade), and performing operations with fractions (4th, 5th, and 6th grade) all suggest and even require certain procedures to support understanding and problem solving. Unfortunately, Ms. Suddreth does not address above the question at hand—whether, or how, does the Utah Core expect students to develop fluency and understanding with conversion among fractional representations of fractions, decimals and percent—and instead offers general description of how Utah Core treats fractions. This is fine as it goes, but it does not add anything to the discussion.
In 5th grade, fractions are understood as division problems where the numerator is divided by the denominator. (In fact, the new core does a better job of this than the old where fractions were more often treated as parts of a whole, without also relating them to division.)
The above is incorrect. In grade 5, as in previous grades, the Common Core (or Utah Core, if you will) frequently treats fractions as “parts of the whole.” There is no other way to interpret grade 5 standards such as “Solve word problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions referring to the same whole … e.g., by using visual fraction models …” (5.NF.2) or “Interpret the product (a/b) × q as a parts of a partition of q into b equal parts;” (5.NF.4a). All this, however, has little to do with the question at hand.
As for percents, students learn that percent is a rate per 100 (a fraction), a concept that is fully developed with a focus on problem solving in 5th and 6th grade.
Yet again Ms. Suddreth is clearly wrong. Percent are not even introduced by the Common (Utah) Core before grade 6.
The new core promotes a strong development of the understanding of fractions as rational numbers, including representations in decimal, fraction, or percent form. Mathematics is far too rich a field to be reduced to a series of procedures without looking at the underlying connections and various representations. There is nothing in the new core to suggest that students will not develop the kinds of procedural skills that support this depth of understanding.
Here, like in her first paragraph, Ms. Suddereth, avoids responding to the question and hopes that writing about unrelated issues will cover this void. The argument was never that the Common Core does not develop understanding of fractions as rational numbers, as decimals, and as percents. The argument was that such understanding is developed in isolation for each form, and that fluent conversion between forms is barely developed in a single standard that touches only peripherally on the conversion and does it at much later (grade 7) than it ought to. Fluency with conversion among fractional representations was identified as a key skill by the National Research Council, the NCTM, and the presidential National Math Advisory Panel. It is not some marginal aspect of elementary mathematics that should be “inferred” and “understood” from other standards. The Common Core is already full of painstakingly detailed standards dealing with fractions and arguing that such cardinal area as fluency with conversion (“perhaps the deepest translation problem in pre-K to grade 8 mathematics” in NRC’s opinion) should not be addressed explicitly is disingenuous.
The new core is, in fact, supported by the Curriculum Focal Points from NCTM, which do not conflict with anything in the new core, but rather provide detailed illustrations of how a teacher might focus on the development of mathematics with their students. The new core is based on the research in Adding It Up. Some of the researchers on that project were also involved in the development of the Common Core, which forms the basis for the Utah Core.
Curriculum Focal Points explicitly requires fluency with conversion between fractional forms by grade 7, which is absent in the Common Core. It also, for example, expects fluency with dividing integers and with addition and subtraction of decimals by grade 5, which the Common Core expects only by grade 6. One wonders what else it would take to make Ms. Suddreth label them as in conflict. One also wonders how much is the Common Core really “based on the research in Adding It Up” if it essentially forgot even to address what Adding It Up considers “perhaps the deepest translation problem in pre-K to grade 8 mathematics”—the conversion among fractions, decimals, and percent.
In summary, Ms. Suddereth’s note passed to you by Ms. Pyfer contains both misleading and incorrect claims and is bound to confuse rather than illuminate.
Subject: Follow-up on Question about math standard
To: Board of Education <Board@schools.utah.gov>, “Hales, Brenda (Brenda.Hales@schools.utah.gov)” <Brenda.Hales@schools.utah.gov>
Cc: “Christel S (email@example.com)” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Diana Suddreth (Diana.Suddreth@schools.utah.gov)” <Diana.Suddreth@schools.utah.gov>
Dear Board members-
The note below from Diana Suddreth is additional information that I hope will be helpful for you in understanding the questions you may have gotten regarding the claim that the new math core doesn’t require students to know how to convert fractions to decimals, or addresses the skill inadequately. Diana has just returned from a math conference and I appreciate her expertise in this area and the additional clarification.
Please feel free to share this with others who may be contacting you with questions.
Hope this helps!
The question that was originally asked was about converting fractions to decimals; therefore, the response pointed to the specific standard where that skill is to be mastered. A close reading of the Utah Core will reveal that the development of a conceptual understanding of fractions that leads to procedural skills begins in grade 3 and is developed through 7th grade. The new core does not list every specific procedure that students will engage in; however, explaining equivalence of fractions (3rd & 4th grade), ordering fractions (4th grade), understanding decimal notation for fractions (4th grade), and performing operations with fractions (4th, 5th, and 6th grade) all suggest and even require certain procedures to support understanding and problem solving. In 5th grade, fractions are understood as division problems where the numerator is divided by the denominator. (In fact, the new core does a better job of this than the old where fractions were more often treated as parts of a whole, without also relating them to division.) As for percents, students learn that percent is a rate per 100 (a fraction), a concept that is fully developed with a focus on problem solving in 5th and 6th grade.
The new core promotes a strong development of the understanding of fractions as rational numbers, including representations in decimal, fraction, or percent form. Mathematics is far too rich a field to be reduced to a series of procedures without looking at the underlying connections and various representations. There is nothing in the new core to suggest that students will not develop the kinds of procedural skills that support this depth of understanding.
The new core is, in fact, supported by the Curriculum Focal Points from NCTM, which do not conflict with anything in the new core, but rather provide detailed illustrations of how a teacher might focus on the development of mathematics with their students. The new core is based on the research in Adding It Up. Some of the researchers on that project were also involved in the development of the Common Core, which forms the basis for the Utah Core.
Diana Suddreth, STEM Coordinator
Utah State Office of Education
Salt Lake City, UT
From: Christel S [email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 10:42 PM
Subject: Follow-up on Question about math standard
My math and curriculum friends, I don’t know how to argue with these people. Can you assist? Here we have countless parents hating the common core math, and reviewers telling us it puts us light years behind legitimate college readiness, but the USOE continues the charade.
Please help– point me to facts and documentation that will make sense to the average person. Thank you.
It’s so ironic. In this article, the teacher says that an administrator told the teachers “not to use school resources to push political agendas.” Yet the entire Common Core Initiative is a political agenda! Look at who leads it: Arne Duncan, Linda Darling-Hammond, Chaka Fattah, Bill Gates, Sir Michael Barber and other extremists who have no respect for local control, the state-directed provisions of the U.S. Constitution or the forbidding by G.E.P.A. law for the federal government to direct state educational systems.
Here’s that quote:
“…My administrator said that there would be no more emailing, or talking about the common core amongst the staff. There was a finality to his tone and the meeting was quickly over at that point. I then received an email from my administrator reminding me of our district policy of not using school resources to push political concerns or agendas. He also stated that there was to be no more discussion about common core unless it was on an “educational” basis between staff members.
Ironically, I had several teachers contact me outside of school that same day, to say they were shocked at my administrator’s tone. They feel I was being genuine in sharing information that was previously unknown and could potentially affect educators. Several staff member have also approached me saying that they are grateful for this information and are now researching it on their own.
The question being asked in my school now is…Why can’t educators do what they do best? Research, question, inform?? Isn’t it better to question and discuss things, even if we don’t agree on them as to find what is best for the children we have been entrusted with? Should we turn a blind eye, and be lead like sheep off the cliff?”
Have you called your favorite Indiana legislator yet today?
317- 232-9600. 317-232-4567. 317-232-9677
Yes, I know we may not be from Indiana. But what happens elsewhere, affects our local freedom.
See what one Ohio resident wrote:
“I am from Ohio. My kids are grown, but I am active in opposing Common Core. God bless you in your fight to stall Common Core in Indiana.
This morning, I sent an e-mail to Indiana Speaker, Brian Bosma. The text was as follows:
“SB1427 must be called down for a vote!
The parents and residents in Indiana are fighting for time and the Indiana House of Representatives must allow this important bill to come to a full vote! You must hear the will of the people and parents of Indiana and you must call SB1427 for a vote!
SB1427 addresses Common Core Curriculum! The education of the children is too important to pass through any state without intelligent discussion and the involvement of the parents and residents.
I do not live in Indiana, but as a resident of Ohio, I am watching what happens in states across America. Common Core is just becoming known and there is growing and fierce opposition nation wide! I believe there is great cause for concern. Common Core has, quite frankly, been foisted upon the entire nation in secret. Please allow Indiana to be a stand-out state who upholds representative government!
Please bring SB1427 to the floor for a vote in the great state of Indiana!
God bless, Kathy L Johnson Ohio resident”
Call the Indiana Governor at (317)232-4567. Call the Indiana House 317-232-9600 . (Ask to speak to whoever you want, or to Speaker Brian Bosma.) Another number for Bosma: 317-232-9677
It seems in the Governor’s best interest and in the best interest of Utahns for him to drop out of the National Governor’s Association (NGA).
This nonprofit, unelected group creates the illusion that Governors have a legitimate federal presence on a national stage, when Constitutionally, they do not. Our elected D.C. representatives are to govern national issues. Governors are to govern inside of states.
Texas Governor Perry does not feel that NGA membership is a smart use of taxpayer funds; Maine’s Governor LePage said,
“I get no value out of those meetings. They are too politically correct and everybody is lovey-dovey and no decisions are ever made.”
Utah’s Governor’s NGA membership is particularly problematic because the NGA/CCSSO 1) uses taxpayer dollars to pay Governors’ dues, 2) writes national educational standards behind closed doors, 3) allows no amendment process for those illegitimate national education standards, 4) allows for no voter representation, since the whole NGA governance setup is an unwanted step-sister to the American system of actual representation by proper channels; and 5) NGA is a federal contractor.
I had an “A-ha!” moment, as I again watched Judy Park of the Utah State Office of Education present information about the Common Core tests.
I realized that Judy Park just does not know the answers to the big, big questions that are being asked. She isn’t actually being dishonest; she is simply clueless. It’s tragic. I feel almost sorry for her.
– Does she not know that the State Longitudinal Database System is federally interoperable, and that that was one of the conditions of Utah receiving the grant money to build the SLDS in the first place?
– Does she not know that the SLDS is under a (totally unconstitutional) mandate to report to the federal government via the “portal” called the EdFacts Exchange?
– Is she unaware that the Federal Register (following the shady alterations by the Dept. of Ed to federal FERPA privacy regulations) now redefines key terms such as who is an authorized representative and what is an educational agency, so that without parental consent and without school consent, vendors and corporate researchers can access data collected by the SLDS (State Database)?
“FERPA [federal privacy law] doesn’t allow that,” and: “I don’t believe that,” and “Personally identifiable information is not even in our state database.”
Dear Ms. Park! I wish I could believe you.
But last summer, at the Utah Senate Education Committee Meeting, we all heard (and Ms. Park was in the room) when Utah Technology Director John Brandt stood up and testified that “only” a handful of people from each of the agencies comprising the Utah Data Alliance (K-12, Postsecondary, Workforce, etc.) can access the personally identifiable information that the schools collect. He said it to reassure us that barring dishonesty or hacking, the personally identifiable information was safe. But he simultaneously revealed that the schools were indeed collecting that personal information.
Why don’t our leaders study this stuff? Why, why?
Even Ms. Park’s secondary title, which is something about “federal accountability” is disturbing. It’s an illegal concept to be federally accountable in the realm of state education. Has nobody read the 10th Amendment to the Constitution at the State Office of Education? Has no one read the federal law called the General Educational Provisions Act, which forbids —FORBIDS— the federal government from supervising, directing or controlling education or curriculum in ANY WAY.
I am not the only one flabbergasted at what I saw and heard on that live feed of the Davis District meeting today.
This portion is reposted with permission from clinical psychologist Gary Thompson.
I’m half tempted to shoot off (another) letter to the State Superintendent of Schools demanding that they stop all future “informational”meetings until they themselves either know the correct answers, or can be honest and simply state, ” we are investigating these issues currently, and we will get back to you when we know the answers.”
Anything other than that is pure deception, and if they (Judy Park, ect) are deceiving tax paying parents, then they should be asked to resign from their positions of trust. If I here one more meeting filled with deception and plausible deniability, I may take it upon myself to publicly ask for those resignations myself in a very public manner that will make the my Glen Beck appearance look like minor league.
It is just common respect. THEY asked for my letter of assistance and clarification. Attorney Flint and myself spent an entire weekend drafting it for them and the parents in our community.
Their response over a week later?
Not even a thank you note….and then they have the gall to present a LIVE feed to the entire State filled with definitive answers to parents questions that not only could they not answer during our 2 hour in person meeting, but asked for our assistance to clarify the issues they did not understand.
How hard would it had been to simply say, “We do not know.” ???
Ms. Parks response to questions regarding adaptive testing to children with learning “quirks” (out new name for disabilities) was so devious and deceptive that I had to turn it off.
Alisa Olsen Ellis, don’t you ever stop this fight as long as you have life in you.
God bless you.
— — —
Please, if you live in Uintah District, attend the meeting about the Common Core (AIR/SAGE) tests to be presented by the USOE on
April 25, 2013 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm at the Maeser Training Center 1149 North 2500 West Vernal,UT 84078 USA
It’s time to help Indiana. What happens in other states does affect us.
Here are two messages from Indiana moms who need your support. Indiana is ahead of 90% of the states in that the state has TWICE voted in favor of the “time out” bill for Common Core, which will mean that the standards, tests, and data collection vehicles will have to wait while the state thoroughly vets and reviews all the intended and unintended consequences of Common Core. This is wise and should be emulated nationwide, but there is a chance that the effort will be crushed by those who want the agenda’s wealth-making potential more than they want locally controlled, amendable, and legitimately high-quality standards. Please, even if you don’t live in Indiana, call.
This is it – the legislative session ends this Friday. If HB1427 isn’t given a vote in the House by the end of the day on Friday, the bill is dead. We can’t allow this to happen! The fact is our Senate has voted twice in favor of the Common Core “time-out” bill, Superintendent Ritz has indicated a review is in order, and we believe that a solid majority of our elected Representatives in the House support HB1427. What’s more, Governor Pence continues to make encouraging remarks in our favor. All that stands in the way of Indiana citizens getting a thorough review of Common Core, is Speaker Bosma and the paid lobbyists, most of whom have vested financial interests in making sure Common Core is not reviewed in the light of day.
As Representative Rhoads was recently quoted as saying, “If it’s so wonderful, what is wrong with allowing it to have a review?”
The Chamber of Commerce has taken out vicious radio adds to try and kill HB1427. This means we are winning, and should not retreat now.
Please contact your State Representative again and ask them for support and an update on HB1427. Politely, tell them how outrageous it will be if this bill is denied an up or down vote. Then please call and leave a message for Speaker Bosma letting him know that the citizens of Indiana deserve better than to have back-room deals made on such an important issue.
The Indiana House switchboard is (317)232-9600 . Finally, call the Governor again at (317)232-4567 . I am told that the final hours of the session is when many important decisions are made. Let’s make sure they remember – this is an important decision!
Lastly, please, please, please join us at the Statehouse this Thursday, at 1:00 PM. We will be rallying to make our voices heard. I am told that if enough people show up in person, we will not be ignored. Erin and I cannot impress upon you enough how urgent and crucial it is that we get as many there as possible, one last time. Many decisions are made in the final hours of the legislative session. We have come too far, against all odds, to stop now. Please make coming a priority! We need you! We are also scheduled to be on W.I.B.C.’s Greg Garrison show that morning from 10:30am-11:00am. (Derek Redleman of the Chamber will be on from 10:00a.m. – 10:30a.m.)
– — – –
By Monica Boyer
Alert: Just in from the Senate:
Representative Rhonda Rhoads has agreed to concur with HB1427, (this bill puts Indiana Common Core on a year time out.) Concurring means that she accepts the bill as written, and it will go to the full house for a final vote.
HOWEVER: We now have word that Speaker Brian Bosma said he will NOT call this bill down for a vote. So yes, let me translate. A bill can go through the entire process and ONE MAN has the power to kill a bill. (That is wrong.)
We need calls to go directly to your Representative. (Ask them to demand a vote on this bill) Then we need to melt down Speaker Brian Bosma’s phone and demand he hear the will of the people and call SB1427 down for a vote.
This is your children’s future. Now is not the time for silence or fear. As of Friday, this bill is DEAD.
Indiana House 317-232-9600 . (Ask to speak to your Representative [or any representative].)
Speaker Brian Bosma: 317-232-9677
(There will also be a rally at the Statehouse on Thursday at 1 pm. More details coming soon)
Does it seem good that the meetings of the standards writers (the CCSSO/NGA) are all closed-door meetings?
I read that there is a 15% cap on a state adding to the Core; so what do we do if we need to add a whole lot more to actually prepare our children well?
Although I have been told that Common Core is state-led, both my legislator and I missed any invitation to discuss this before it was decided for us; please explain the analysis and vetting process for the upcoming national science and social studies standards.
The Constitution assigns education to the states, not to the federal government. Also, the federal General Educational Provisons Act (GEPA) states: “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…“ In light of this, please explain why our state has agreed to intense micromanagement by the federal government under Common Core testing.
You may want to read these posts before the meeting.
“Much has been said about Common Core – by those who support it and those who oppose it. To me, the greatest benefit of Common Core is the fact that it has generated an army of parent activists who have educated themselves on the implementation of national standards, USOE regulations, and the data mining of students academic and personal information. We should all take note of the trends taking place in education.” – Utah Senator Margaret Dayton
Students at the Hostos-Lincoln Academy in the Bronx blamed the English exams for making them anxious and sick. Teachers at Public School 152 in Manhattan said they had never seen so many blank stares. Parents at the Earth School in the East Village were so displeased that they organized a boycott. As New York this week became one of the first states to unveil a set of exams grounded in new curricular standards, education leaders are finding that rallying the public behind tougher tests may be more difficult than they expected. Complaints were plentiful: the tests were too long; students were demoralized to the point of tears; teachers were not adequately prepared. Some parents, long skeptical of the emphasis on standardized testing, forbade their children from participating.
The reviews are in, and the consensus among parents, students and teachers is that this year’s NYS/Pearson ELA exams were even worse than expected. The tests were too long, the questions confusing even for teachers, and many students ended up in tears. See just a sample of observations below. Is this what Chancellor Walcott meant when he said, “It’s time to rip the Band-Aid off” , or Regents head Merryl Tisch, when she explained, “We have to just jump into the deep end”? [Note: read the comments for details about these deeply flawed new tests.]
Embedded in this week’s English Language Arts exams are field test questions. They do not count toward the test score. They are being tried out so the publisher can see how the items work and decide which ones to use next year. I wonder if parents should have the right to give or deny permission for their children to participate in what is essentially research for Pearson LLC, the for-profit test publisher?
Pearson is one of the most aggressive companies seeking to profit from what they and others euphemistically call educational reform, but which teachers from groups like Rethinking Schools and FairTest see as an effort to sell, sell, sell substandard remedial education programs seamlessly aligned with the high stakes standardized tests for students and teacher assessments they are also selling. Pearson reported revenues of approximately $9 billion in 2010 and generated approximately $3 billion on just digital revenues in 2011. If it has its way, Pearson will soon be determining what gets taught in schools across the United States with little or no parental or educational oversight.
The British media giant Pearson PLC, whose holdings include Pearson Education, a testing and textbook publishing company that produces the NJASK tests, will receive large subsidies from NY & NJ to relocate 1300 jobs away from its facilities in Upper Saddle River in Bergen Co. NY will give Pearson $50 million in subsidies to move 630 jobs to NYC and NJ will provide $66 in subsidies to relocate 650 jobs to Hoboken.
I’m going to share some email strings from Utah school board members who are pro-common core, and me, and two mathematicians who are opposed to common core on academic grounds.
Ze’ev Wurman: 2010 California Common Core math validation committee member and former Dept. of Education advisor; opposes Common Core.
James Milgram: Stanford and NASA mathematician; served on official common core validation committe and refused to sign off on the academic legitimacy of the Common Core.
Dr. Milgram wrote (responding to a request for clarification about math standards) in a very recent email:
““I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or Geometry. Moreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course… They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries when it comes to being hired to top level jobs.“
Tami Pyfer: Utah school board member, pro-common core
Dixie Allen: Utah school board member, pro-common core
I am a little confused — From your email yesterday I thought you said that you, Brenda and others at USOE had decided we shouldn’t answer any questions from the Anti-Core patrons. Could you please make sure we know what the expectation is for all of us as Board Members. I had tried to answer anyone that was my constituents and some others, as I felt like it was my job as chair of Curriculum and Standards. But we probably need to know what the expectation is in regard to these questionable emails, etc.
Christel – Here is the specific standard that requires students to know how to convert fractions to decimals. (Fractions are rational numbers, perhaps that’s how you missed it in your examination of the standards.) See (d) and also the sample assessment task at the very bottom which asks kids to convert 2/3 to a decimal using long division.
Board members – Feel free to forward this chart along to legislators, constituents, and others asking you about the incorrect claim that we are not going to be teaching kids to convert fractions to decimals. It’s taken from our Utah Core Math Standards documents. I’ve already sent it to everyone who has emailed me about it.
Hope this helps!
In seventh grade?
My ten year old fourth grader (home schooled) knows how to convert fractions to decimals and ratios. Does the Utah Common Core recommend this skill be taught only at the level of seventh grade? That seems not very “rigorous.”
However, I am happy that it is taught at all. I am glad you found this for me. Thank you.
Please look at exhibit B which is on page 26 of this document, as you will see that in the math review of Common Core, by 2010 California Common Core validation committee member and math expert Ze’ev Wurman, Wurman states that Common Core fails to teach many key math skills along with the one we are discussing. I would love to see your review of his complete review to see if these things are taught, and at what grade levels.
Perhaps Ze’ev was reviewing the non-integrated math portion of Common Core, which as I understand it, only Utah and Vermont have adopted.
Minutes ago, I forwarded to James Milgram a copy of your email about Common Core math. He served on the official common core validation committee, and would not sign off on the academic legitimacy of these standards. Milgram was also a math professor at Stanford University and a NASA consultant.
Dr. Milgram wrote back:
“I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or Geometry. Moreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course… They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries when it comes to being hired to top level jobs. - Jim Milgram “
Please, return our state to local control of eduation and to academically legitimate, empirically tested standards.
The 7th grade standard Tami refers to is, indeed, the only Common Core standard that deals, at least partially, with converting between representations of fractions:
7. NS. 2.d: Convert a rational number to a decimal using long division; know that the decimal form of a rational number terminates in 0s or eventually repeats.
It only obliquely deals with converting a regular fraction to decimal, with a particular focus on the fact that rational fractions repeat. It does not deal with conversion between fractional forms (representations) per se. Further, it doesn’t deal with conversion of decimals to rational fractions, it does not deal with conversion between decimal fractions and percents and vice versa, and it does not deal with conversion of rational fractions to percent and back. In other words, it deals with only one out of 6 possible conversions. It also does it — as you correctly say — too late, and only obliquely at that.
Compare it to the careful work the NCTM Curriculum Focal Points did on this important issue:
Grade 4: Developing an understanding of decimals, including the connections between fractions and decimalsGrade 6: Developing an understanding of and fluency with multiplication and division of fractions and decimals … They use the relationship between decimals and fractions, as well as the relationship between finite decimals and whole numbers (i.e., a finite decimal multiplied by an appropriate power of 10 is a whole number), to understand and explain the procedures for multiplying and dividing decimals. Grade 7: In grade 4, students used equivalent fractions to determine the decimal representations of fractions that they could represent with terminating decimals. Students now use division to express any fraction as a decimal, including fractions that they must represent with infinite decimals. They find this method useful when working with proportions, especially those involving percents
(Curriculum Focal Points are available from NCTM for a fee, however you can get them for free here)
Here is what the National Research Council had to say about this issue in it’s Adding It Up influential book:
“Perhaps the deepest translation problem in pre-K to grade 8 mathematics concerns the translation between fractional and decimal representations of rational numbers.” (p. 101, Box 3-9)
“An important part of learning about rational numbers is developing a clear sense of what they are. Children need to learn that rational numbers are numbers in the same way that whole numbers are numbers. For children to use rational numbers to solve problems, they need to learn that the same rational number may be represented in different ways, as a fraction, a decimal, or a percent. Fraction concepts and representations need to be related to those of division, measurement, and ratio. Decimal and fractional representations need to be connected and understood. Building these connections takes extensive experience with rational numbers over a substantial period of time.” (p. 415, emphasis added)
(Adding It Up is here. If you register you can download the book rather than read it online)
And here is what the National Math Advisory Panel said on this issue in its final report:
Table 2: Benchmarks for the Critical Foundations (p. 20) … Fluency With Fractions 1) By the end of Grade 4, students should be able to identify and represent fractions and decimals, and compare them on a number line or with other common representations of fractions and decimals. 2) By the end of Grade 5, students should be proficient with comparing fractions and decimals and common percent, and with the addition and subtraction of fractions and decimals.
The NMAP final report can be found here.
All these important and widely acclaimed documents (by both sides) are quite clear that conversion between fractional representation is a critical component of mathematical fluency in K-8, that it takes time to develop, and that developing it should seriously start by grade 4.
Arguing that a single grade 7 standard, which only tangentially and partially addresses this critical fluency, is sufficient as “coverage” is disingenuous, to put it mildly.
Still wondering about a few basic questions that Judy Park says she will not answer. These are simple! Who will answer them?
1.Where’s the evidence that the standards are legitimized by empirical study– that they have helped, not hurt, kids who’ve been the guinea pigs on Common Core?
2.Where’s the study showing that lessening classic literature helps students?
3.Where’s the study showing that not teaching kids how to convert fractions to decimals helps students?
4.Upon what academic studies are we basing the claims that the common core standards are academically legitimate?
5.What parent or teacher in his/her right mind would approve giving away local control to have standards written in D.C. by the NGA/CCSSO?
–Am I being unreasonable here, or is Judy Park? These are our children. These are our tax dollars. Is it too much to ask to see a legitimate foundation for altering the standards so dramatically?
I can’t answer any of your questions with research data — because I don’t have such data — but I can answer your questions as a teacher and administrator in the Public Education System for 26 years and a mother of 4 and a grandmother of 11 (some of which have been in public school and some in private school and some in home school) and a State School Board Member of 11 years.
1. There is no empirical study of the Common Core Standards — rather they have been vetted by college professors in our state and others, specialists at our State Office of Education and others throughout the nation, other specialists outside the educational community, and patrons, parents and teachers around our state who had a voice in the approval of the Core Standards and their recommendations before they were completely adopted by our State Board of Education some 2 1/2 years ago.
2. There is no study that shows we should lessen the study of classic literature, but there are endless recommendations from universities and the job creators of our nation that our students need to learn to read informational text, as well as classic literature. So my hope is that our students are getting a mix of both, but believe that we need to insure that students can read informational text and understand what it says.
3. There is no study that says that converting decimals to fractions and visa versa isn’t an important part of mathematical study. However, there is a great understanding in the educational field that if we don’t start teaching algebraic and geometric understanding early in public education and expect all students to understand these mathematical facts, as well as fractions and decimals, that we will have students who cannot make it through the mathematical courses necessary to graduate from high school and be ready to go to college. As a high school principal, I had 300 students move into Uintah High from 9th grade that had to take remedial mathematics classes, because they had not passed Pre-algebra. All students need to understand basic algebra and geometric calculations.
4. We have based our faith in the Core Standards, based upon the specialists that created them and support their validity in the educational programs for students. I believe after a couple of years of getting these standards to students, that we are seeing improvement in a deeper set of abilities to process information both in mathematics and English/Language Arts. (Of course my proof are my own grandchildren and what teachers share with me.)
5. Local Teachers and parents don’t know everything about what is quality education — and we did not give away the standards to the federal government or Washington, D.C. — we asked experts in the field, at both the national and states levels of instruction to help develop standards that would help all students be Career and College Ready. The world has changed since we were educated and our students need to know different skills to succeed in the new world of technology and world wide companies.
I am so sorry that you feel so strongly about this issue that you have created such turmoil in our state. We are truly trying to do what is best for our students and if you can pinpoint any Core Standard that you feel is problematic or doesn’t help our students be prepared for college or work, please let me know and I will take it to the experts to see what they think and if they agree we will change the standard.
However, I do not plan to throw out the Common Core, as long as I am a State School Board member, because I believe it is a step in the right direction. I will, however, help correct and update any Standard that we feel needs to be revised.
I just saw this today in an email and wanted to share the fact that there are alternatives to common core aligned curricula.
Official Policy of FPE Curriculum on Common Core
In mid-March of 2013, FreedomProject Education was made aware that many homeschool publishers planned to adapt their textbooks to align with Common Core mandates, those national standards developed by Washington D.C. insiders, lobby- ists, and liberal special interest groups, all subsidized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Upon learning that some of the textbooks currently used in FPE classes were slated for Common Core adaptation, FPE immediately reiterated our staunch commitment to removing any textbook from our curriculum that migrated to Common Core standards. We began an extensive review of our booklists and contacted many publishers and presses directly to ascertain first-hand their posi- tion and plans vis a vis Common Core. FPE also inaugurated a series of free and public Webcasts designed to explain and expose the insidious governmental power grab that is Common Core.
Among the things we discovered in researching our booklists is that a number of our current publishers do indeed plan to adapt their textbooks to Common Core requirements. In many cases this adaptation is in the works for future editions and has yet to manifest itself in the textbooks we currently use. In other instances, certain textbooks have already included elements in preparation for the coming move to Common Core. Further complicating the issue, some of our publishers have been designated by government agencies as “Common Core compliant” without—they claim—having asked for that designation or having taken any steps to adapt their curriculum to Common Core Standards. Our research has found a good deal of dishonesty in these claims, with representatives telling us there will be no incorporation of Common Core, while their very websites tout compliance. These are the realities as we currently find them since our investigation com- mencing in Mid-March 2013.
FPE decided on booklists for the upcoming 2013-2014 academic year in October of 2012, and those lists went out to faculty, current FPE families, and prospective students in early March 2013, two weeks before we learned that some homeschool publishers were adapting to Common Core standards. Given that 1) most of our current textbooks have yet to be altered to reflect specific Common Core guidelines; 2) that we have mailed out hundreds of program guides and distributed thou- sands of fliers listing as required the textbook list established in October 2012; 3) that many current FPE students, as well as new-enrollees for 2013-2014, have already purchased books based on the October 2012 list and will not easily be able to return them; and 4) that many of our teachers need time to adapt their courses to new textbooks that are free of any taint of Common Core ideology; we feel it is in the best interest of all concerned to proceed in the 2013-2014 academic year with the booklists established in October 2012.
Keeping the current roster of books will allow us to avoid the considerable confusion and expense that would occur if we made immediate and precipitous changes. It will also allow FPE to be careful and judicious in selecting alternative Common Core free textbooks for the 2014-2015 academic year. Further, the extra year will allow teachers to both monitor current books for Common Core problems and begin the process of transitioning from current texts to new ones in a methodical and pedagogically sound way. We plan to make each and every FPE teacher aware of any perceived Common Core bias in our current textbooks, to assist them in circumventing these standards, and to encourage them to bring to our attention any instances of infiltration they discover on their own.
We at FPE remain adamantly opposed to the implementation of Common Core in public schools, and under no circum- stances will we tolerate Common Core in our own classrooms moving forward. As we work through the upcoming 2013- 2014 school year, we encourage FPE faculty, families, and students to share with us their opinions about current textbooks and partner with us in being vigilant in opposing all such examples of gross government overreach. We also intend to host a new series of Webcasts in May 2013 that address FPE’s specific plans to counter Common Core and provide an online, homeschool education for America’s children that is free of spin, indoctrination, and cynical government manipulation.
1 (800) 807 7292 750 N. Hickory Farm Lane, Appleton, WI 54914
During the first public meeting on anything Common Core related in Nebo School District it probably should not have come as a surprise to the USOE that there might be a number of intensely inquisitive or disenfranchised parents in attendance… or that their questions might extend beyond the bells and whistles of the new testing software that was being introduced.
This is, after all, part of a broader reform that was set in motion when former Governor Huntsman and Superintendent Harrington signed a Memorandum of Agreement to participate in the National Governor Association’s Common Core State Standards Initiative in the spring of 2009.
Mr. John Jesse, the Assessment Director for the USOE must have felt like he’d been fed to the wolves… or more accurately to bears of the mama and papa variety.
Perhaps feeling caught off guard by the unusual and poorly communicated standards adoption process that required this initial agreement of participation before the standards were even written (recently re-framed by the State School Board as an “exploratory” phase minus the ability to explore), parents were understandably critical of Mr. Jesse’s emphatic claim that these tests were the “best in the United States” and that Utah was a shining example to the rest of the country of all things assessment.
“But, you said these particular assessments haven’t even been written yet, or piloted anywhere, right?” one mother clarified in an attempt to point out the glaring credibility gap of showing the timeline of implementation that is just beginning while at the same time making this emphatic claim.
There were so many questions a decision was made to have parents write their questions on a white board, to be answered at the end, in order to allow Mr. Jesse to complete his presentation (or even complete a sentence) with some coherence.
The introduction to the testing company that Utah has contracted with included the disclaimer, or justification, that a company can be involved with a variety of projects or seek certain societal outcomes that one does not agree with, but it is still okay to use their products that are unrelated.
This was likely intended to pacify or pre-empt concerns about the mission of the testing company, American Institutes of Research (AIR), to promote global values as key supporters of the Clinton Global Initiative, or with their work on issues of mental health and sexuality as applied to children.
In other words, as long as the tests themselves meet the need, it shouldn’t matter that Utah tax payers are giving $39 million to a company whose mission they would not otherwise support.
The main advantages of this software, according to Mr. Jesse, are features to accommodate special needs, i.e. hearing or vision impaired, that it is adaptive (questions each student sees are determined in real time based on previous response) and that the results are instantly available.
He also touted the optional, formative assessment capability that is basically the ability to administer both mini-tests and mini-curriculum from an open source curriculum library that has been developed by AIR and comes pre-loaded with the system. After being pressed on the issue, Mr. Jesse confirmed that student activity while using the formative system is tracked.
A number of teachers attended the meeting as well, and one had to wonder what was going through their minds as Mr. Jesse pointed out at least three times that these tests were not high-stakes tests for children but that they were high-stakes tests for teachers and for schools. (A reference to a law passed in 2012 linking teacher pay and school grading to tests.)
What might an experienced teacher’s reaction be to his explanation of how, with the help of precise statistical analysis by a computer, a teacher could really know if a student was struggling or excelling?
Is there research that substantiates the claim that student-teacher interactions are enhanced and not disrupted by certain applications of technology? This would seem an important reference to offer along with this particular assertion. So often in education assumptions that seem sound based on anecdotal observations have unexpected outcomes or unanticipated side effects.
Mr. Jesse did not touch on the aspect of the tests that might be considered the specialty of AIR, the integration of psychometric predictors – a science that requires far more scrutiny when applied to statewide assessments because of its powerful ability, in combination with statistical data mashing enhanced by the existence of interoperable State Longitudinal Data Systems, to profile individuals and assess “dispositions” without it being apparent in the questions or content of the assessment itself.
He, along with Edward D. Flint Esq. Special Education Attorney at Law, issued the following assertion as part of a longer article addressing this topic:
“Someone, independent of AIR, MUST have access to every single item on the tests being designed in order to insure that absolutely ZERO behavioral indicators are being measured on tests that parents in Utah believe are only measuring “reading, writing and arithmetic.”
As the question portion of the meeting began, Mr. Jesse reiterated his focus on assessments and his inability to answer unrelated questions. He took a head count of parents who expressed concern over the broader reforms related to the Common Core State Standards with the promise to report this to the USOE along with a request that there be another forum in the future for questions to be answered on a broader range of topics.
In response to the concerns related to content and the inaccessibility of the test questions to parents, or regarding the “use of behavioral indicators” (as specified in the section of 2012’s House Bill 115 governing computer adaptive testing) Mr. Jesse said that there would be nothing objectionable in the tests and that the audience should take his word for it, challenging those present to check his references if there were any doubts about his credibility.
This ironically was the straw that, in light of the circumstances already mentioned, broke the proverbial camel’s back in terms of credibility. “Trust me,” is not a phrase that any parent in the state wants to hear from anyone involved in the implementation of any aspect of Common Core right now… nor should it be sufficient regardless of the circumstances when it comes to a parent’s right to vet any program to which their child will be subjected.
As the tone of the meeting further devolved, insults and accusations of misinformation were exchanged leading to an abrupt end to the Q&A.
Mr. Jesse was admittedly put in a tough situation, and the meeting by any account was a disaster.
An informal survey of sentiment afterward garnered reactions that ranged from disappointment over the tone of both presenter and attendees in their remarks, to surprise that the audience had not been even more insistent thatanswers have some verifiable basis other than the word of the person whose job it is to promote the project.
The Federal government has established the National Education Data Model to facilitate state collection and sharing of behavioral, health, psychological, and family data. In 2012, Utah included provisions in law to permit schools to assess “student behavior indicators.” Utah also requires that “Computer Adaptive Tests” (CATs) be used in all Utah schools.
Utah has partnered with behavioral and social science company AIR to provide CAT tests. Utah has stated its intent to upload Utah student data to an AIR database in 2013. Utah plans to keep “SAGE” CAT questions secret from all but fifteen Utah parents. Utah has not disclosed to the public the student data types tracked in Utah’s federally-funded State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS.)
The US Education Department undercut “parental consent” in federal student privacy laws without going through congress “It is the public policy of this state that parents retain the fundamental right and duty to exercise primary control over the care, supervision, upbringing and education of their children.” -Utah Code Title 53A Section 302
National Education Data Model:
Sample from over 400 data points recommended for SLDS
Born Outside of the U.S.
Bus Route ID
Bus Stop Arrival Time
City of Birth
Class Attendance Status
Discontinuing Schooling Reason
Disease, Illness, Health Conditions
Distance From Home to School
Economic Disadvantage Status
Electronic Mail Address
Family Income Range
Family Perceptions of the Impact of Early
Intervention Services on the Child
Family Public Assistance Status
Federal Program Participant Status
Non-school Activity Description
Social Security Number
* A form has been created and is being circulated now, which parents will send to the school and State Superintendent. I will post it when I receive it from Utahns Against Common Core. The form states that the parents of this child withhold permission for the State to track the child’s personally identifiable information. We hope to flood the State Office of Education and the Governor’s Office with these forms to protect children across this state.
– — – — – — –
National Education Data Model, including behavioral, health, & other personal data elements: http://tinyurl.com/cyecjwt.
Utah HB 15 (passed in 2012), line 59: http://tinyurl.com/cxln3wk
Utah HB 15 (passed in 2012), lines 9, 10, 11: http://tinyurl.com/cxln3wk
AIR behavioral testing: tinyurl.com/bp55kxd and behavioral profiling: tinyurl.com/bwfdmnr
Utah contracted with AIR to provide Computer Adaptive Tests: tinyurl.com/cpxuoxk
Utah student data to be uploaded to AIR: tinyurl.com/cujlplf
Utah computer adaptive test questions to be reviewed by appointed panel of 15 out of 700,000 Utah parents (line 22):http://tinyurl.com/cxln3wk
EPIC is challenging changes to the Federal FERPA http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html
“Student Data,” for the purposes of this document includes, but it not limited to, behavioral test question results, and the data elements in the federal government’s National Education Data Model (NEDM), found at tinyurl.com/crd944a. The NEDM includes over 400 student data elements, including those listed above.
The 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution specifies that the federal government must refrain from micromanaging states and outlines a few roles for the federal government (NOT including education) and gives ALL remaining authorities to the states alone. Nothing could be clearer. There is no constitutional authority for the executive branch to be bossing states around as the Department of Education has been doing. (See Cooperative Agreement, Race to the Top, No Child Left Behind, Sec. Duncan speeches)
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…”
Utah mom Alyson Williams has also pointed out that our state is represented on our national stage, for federal issues, by our Congressional representatives: Mike Lee, Jason Chaffetz, Rob Bishop, etc.
It is not the job of Governor Herbert to represent us on the national stage. His role is to govern inside Utah.
But because the power hungry executive branch (Arne Duncan) realizes that no “employee of the United States” may “exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction,” Governors have been used as brokers. Governors have been flattered into membership in the PRIVATE (not elected, not taxpayer-accountable, not transparent) NATIONAL GOVERNORS’ ASSOCIATION (NGA). This NGA has combined with the CCSSO to write the national standards. And to copyright them. Behind closed doors. Without voter input.
The NGA and CCSSO have been pawns in the Department of Education’s hands to get around the illegal brokering of education.
And why? Simply for power and money. (This was never about improving education; if it had been, there would have been legitimacy and empirical study attached to the adoption of the academically fraudulent Common Core.)
The executive branch wanted increased power and access to citizen data. The corporate world wanted the money flow that comes from monopolizing a nation’s curriculum. And so the corporate world created partnerships with the federal government and “philanthropically” gave enormous grant funds to the NGA/CCSSO and other common core promoters, to get control of the educational sales market.
2. The federal mandate that testing consoria must synchronize “across consortia,” that status updates and phone conferences must be made available to the Dept. of Education regularly, and that data collected must be shared with the federal government “on an ongoing basis”
3. The recent federal alteration of privacy laws that have taken away parental consent over student data collection to ensure easier access for multiple agencies and “research” vendors to student data.
4. At our Utah State Office of Education website you can find this and other “federal accountability” topics: “The Utah Comprehensive Accountability System (UCAS) is the state and federal accountability system” Why?
Why do we put up with “federal accountability” given what the laws of the land says about the states having a sovereign right to direct education?!
His office in an email sent late this afternoon document the steps the Obama administration has taken to push states to adopt the Common Core.
Making adoption of Common Core a pre-requisite for a state even being able to compete for Race to the Top funds.
Directly funding the two assessment consortia developing tests aligned to Common Core using Race to the Top funds.
Assembling a panel to review the work of the two assessment consortia.
Making implementation of Common Core or coordination with Common Core a funding priority for other, unrelated competitive grants administered by the Department of Education.
Making participation in Common Core essentially a prerequisite for being awarded a waiver from the Department of requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act.
The email said, “This means no more Race to the Top funds in support of Common Core or the assessments aligned with Common Core and stopping further federal review of the assessments produced by the two consortiums. It also means that the Department could not penalize a state that chooses to leave Common Core by revoking its NCLB waiver. The deadline for senators to sign on this letter is April 25 so it can reach the subcommittee in time to be considered. “
Why is a Pearson and Gates combination a nightmare for America, for anyone who cares about competitive free enterprise, constitutional rights regarding education, and local control?
First, a few facts:
1. Pearson, led by Sir Michael Barber, is the biggest education product sales company on earth.
2. Bill Gates is the second richest man on earth, a man who has almost single-handedly funded and marketed the entire Common Core movement.
Gates previously partnered with UNESCO to bring a master curriculum worldwide in his “Education For All” program. Gates openly values extreme socialism and says that it’s much better than American constitutional government. Listen to Gates at minute 6:20 on this clip. Gates says, “We’ll only know this works when the curriculum and the tests are aligned to these standards.”
Pearson’s CEA is Sir Michael Barber, a man whose company colludes with governments worldwide in public-private-partnerships (soft fascism) and believes that children’s data should be gathered on a global scale. Barber pushes his version of “sustainable educational revolution,” worldwide, explaining that sustainable education reforms mean “it can never go back to how it was.” See his speeches on YouTube and his Twitter feeds.
These two mega forces for globalizing and standardizing education have now come together.
“This is something that’s been missing in all the policy statements on the common core: a sequential curriculum,” Dr. Neuman said. But she worries that Pearson has few rivals.
“Pearson already dominates, and this could take it to the extreme,” she said. “This could be problematic for many of our kids. We could get a one size fits all.”
So when my state school board says that Common Core is just a set of minimum standards, not a curriculum, I will point them to this: the biggest monopolizer of textbooks, technologies and teacher training–Pearson– has now partnered with one of the wealthiest foundations on earth to create a one size fits all curriculum.
Where will private schools and others go to buy books, who don’t want Common Core-aligned curriculum? How will others stay in business with such huge competition?
Thank you, Pastor John of Maryland, for your words:
“We need more teachers to speak out.
As a Pastor I have joined the fight in Maryland to get the word out about Common Core. Today 6 of us spoke at a School Board meeting and were told by the Board President that they are going to put Common Core on the agenda for the next meeting so more time can be spent on it.
Pray for our efforts in Maryland.
Keep up the fight to expose U.S. Dept. of Ed’s agenda to control and indoctrinate our children with an amoral, progressive, globalist agenda at the expense of our liberties and our tax dollars.
This must be stopped. This must become our Alamo!”
Notable highlights: She calls Common Core ”such a significant shift and focus in our educational system.” Yes, it is. But not for the better.
She admits the Common Core allows much less classic literature/stories and increases informational text in its place. She does not address how this shift will affect students’ love for reading!
She does not talk about the horrors of the new math and the delays of the times at which children are taught to use algorithms that actually work. (Algorithm = how to quickly multiply, how to add or subtract or divide– used to be lower elementary, now it’s late elementary age)
She uses the term “internationally benchmarked” standards, as if she is unaware that that’s a flat-out lie. (For example, the Asian Tiger countries –recognized math gurus– teach algebra years before Common Core does, at about eighth grade, which is what Utah USED TO DO, BEFORE COMMON CORE! See Ze’ev Wurman’s and James Milgram’s math reviews.)
Arizona’s superintendent goes on:
@ 9:59 “But what’s critically important if we’re going to be effective are the additional wrap-around services that are provided…” This means the wrap-around services that have nothing to do with school at all– mental health interventions, government food, rides to school, provision of health care, etc. This brings to mind U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan’s vision of no-weekends off, no time off for summer; a totally school-centered life, the opposite of what most of us believe in– family centered life.
It’s socialism– where parents and their provision of service, love, learning and values, become irrelevant. Here’s more:
@ 10:40 “It becomes absolutely essential in our K-12 system that we have the additional support systems available for all students… that requires us to look at differentiated instruction… “Time on task: How important will extended learning time be for some students?…And again, how committed are we to making sure that all of our students graduate ready for post-secondary? That will require some additional reforms in K12…”
“school is… starting to look and sound very different. I encourage parents to stay the course… and learn to listen to diverse ways of thinking.” Listen. Why not have the school establishments listen to parents? These are our children and our tax dollars yet we are being told to be quiet and listen.
The superintendent says it’s so important that all students leave high school prepared for postsecondary learning. – SO THEN WHY TAKE AWAY CLASSIC LITERATURE? WHY TAKE AWAY LEGITIMATE MATH? WHY TAKE AWAY NARRATIVE WRITING? WHY SLOW DOWN THE TIME THAT CHILDREN LEARN ALGORITHMS?
Yes. I know that writing in all caps is a form of shouting.
Feel free to use this letter if it helps. I sent it today. If others wish to add their voices to mine, the board’s email is : Board@schools.utah.gov.
The Governor needs to hear from us, too.
Dear USOE and State School Board,
Parents and teachers like me are so very tired of reading lies about Common Core, which are stated (and published) repeatedly by the USOE and Utah State School Board, and which are then replicated across school district websites all over Utah. I’m writing to ask you to provide references to prove the claims are honest– or remove the claims. One or the other.
We’re tired of being told, for example, that there is a Utah Core. Most people do know that it’s the Common Core for Math and English. It’s misleading to say “Utah Core” unless you are talking about P.E. or history or other standards.
Some of you have not done much research about Common Core and you have been fed only the claims given you by Common Core proponents –such as Pearson, Wireless Generation, Bill Gates, and others, who stand to make a lot of money implementing Common Core.
You read Gates’ own publication, Education Week. You listen to the groups Gates has paid (bribed) to advocate for the untested experiment of Common Core, including the national PTA, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Governor’s Association, the Harvard Newsletter, Manhattan Institute, Fordham Foundation and others. Gates admitted in a NY Times interview that he spent $5 Billion– billion– dollars pushing HIS version of education reform. So the marketing has been good. But the product is defective. You of all groups ought to study this thoroughly.
Sometimes people forward their emails from you to me. I am aghast at the unreferenced, untrue responses, such as “Common Core is an improvement” and “We still have local and parental control” and “We aren’t spending money on Common Core that we wouldn’t already be spending on education standards,” and “Common Core is academically rigorous.” These are absurd statements to anyone who has done their homework on Common Core.
Why not provide references for your ongoing claims to increase your trustworthiness in the public eye? If you are telling the truth, please show us. If not, it’s time to ‘fess up.
Parents deserve referenced truth. These are our kids. These are our tax dollars. And you are not telling the truth: that Common Core is an unproven, unwanted experiment –for which you’re using kids as guinea pigs.
The standards are not Utah’s. And they are not academically nor constitutionally legitimate. If I am wrong, please show me.
In education, as in medicine, the motto should be “First Do No Harm.”
Where is the evidence that Common Core standards are not harming our students? Where is the empirical data upon which this transformative alteration to Utah education was based?
More specifically, can you point me to a study that shows that not teaching kids how to convert fractions to decimals is better college prep in the long run? Where is the study that shows that lessening the teaching of classic literature and of narrative writing is going to benefit children as adults? Where is the proven, long term study that shows that informational text is more beneficial than classic literature?
If there is no such research, then why on earth have you foisted this hogwash on our kids– and called it “rigorous”!?!!
It does not even make sense. Rigorous? Running a mile is rigorous to a couch potato but it’s a dumbing down to an athlete. One size fits all can never be accurately described as “rigorous” and I pray you will quit abusing that word across our good state.
The adoption of Common Core is, ironically, dataless decisionmaking. It is decision making based on the wealth and influence of extreme politics, not based on the American principle of voter representation and local public vetting.
Where is the proof to back up the claim that Common Core is state-led? How can it be state-led when nobody in the state even knows about it? No legislator has a clue. No school board except the state school board was ever allowed to vet or vote upon this huge change to education. How can it be state-led when it’s written behind the closed doors of the NGA/CCSSO and there’s no amendment process?
Where is the proof that the Common Core is academically legitimate? We know it was developed by noneducators: David Coleman, the NGA and the CCSSO. We know it was most heavily funded and promoted by noneducators. We know it has been politically hijacked by the Dept. of Education and that Obama and Sec. Duncan claim to have given it to states (further crushing the claim that it was state-led). We have endless references for these things. Yet this board and office continually fails to provide a shred of evidence for its Common Core promoting claims.
I find this to be a terrible example to the rest of the educators and students of this state.
If I were teaching an English class today, would I say to my students, “Oh– you didn’t provide references in your research paper? Well, no big deal. Neither does the Utah State Office of Education or the State School Board” ?
Where is the proof that Utah still has control of her education system? There’s a solid copyright on the Common Core. There’s a 15% no-alteration rule. Ridiculous. That is the opposite of local control.
If Utah wants to teach sky-high, way past the mediocre Common Core, 15% does not cut it. If Utah wants to prevent corporate researchers, hackers or the federal government from accessing private student data collected in the State Longitudinal Database System (which we all know is interoperable with the federal database, and was paid for by the federal government and is modeled after their desires, not ours) — we cannot protect our kids’ privacy. Because the Common Core tests will collect all the information and will track the kids in the P-20 and SLDS. This is common knowledge today. By remaining in Common Core, you tie parents’ hands behind their backs. No parents can opt their children out of the SLDS tracking. This is unacceptable!
Common Core Standards, tests and data collecting tentacles are a tragic, horrific joke and as you know, the people who will suffer most are the children and the teachers.
For what is far from the first, and likely far from the last time, I implore you to please answer these issues with references.
If you can’t, then your duty to the people of Utah is to get us out of Common Core.
I’m posting an update for Utah parents who can and should attend the public meetings in their areas to pose questions about Common Core to the presenters from the Utah State Office of Education. http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/event-calendar/ This link will show addresses, dates and times if you click on the name of the district. This week will feature Logan, Weber, Juab, Nebo and Bountiful district meetings. Next week: Davis, Uintah, North Ogden, Payson. Then it’s South Utah County. Coming Up:
April 16, 2013 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm – LOGAN DISTRICT - Logan District Office, Board Room 101 West Center Street Logan, UT USA
April 16, 2013 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm – WEBER DISTRICT - District Office, Board Room 5320 Adams Avenue Parkway Ogden,UT 84405
Don’t tweet? Don’t fret. Watch coverage of the #stopcommoncore Twitter Rally via On Point Broadcasting- complete with a pre- and post- show. Log in to watch at 11am EST today. http://www.onpointbroadcasting.com\onpointtv
Call ExxonMobil at 972-444-1000 and leave a message to protest the Common Core TV Ads. We know Common Core is a cash cow for many companies, but it’s at legitimate education’s expense. Please protest. Here’s the ad: http://youtu.be/FM_G4Y7SX3g
There was the altering of loose-tight to tight-loose controls over education. Secretary Arne Duncan used those exact words in his speech to the inter-american-development-bank (Ed secretary speech to a bank!?!) –recently.
There was the removal of teachers’ use of intellectual skepticism, benevolence, spontaneity, and openness to an emphasis on militaristic strength, effectiveness and being political and curriculum-centered.
Pay-for-performance transformed the definition of what a high quality teacher would be.
Academia has been bought by the Common Core pushers (Gates, Soros, Pearson).
And academia not questioning the lack of empirical evidence behind the push the Common Core experiment is the promotion of educational malpractice. Common Core is absolutely intellectually dishonest. It’s academic fraud. But the highest ranking academics in our nation will not say so.
No one can explain this problem better than these guys do in this book (it’s the book I mentioned on Glenn Beck.)
Still, it’s true that countless educators believe our educational system was so awful that it is worth giving up local constitutional control of standards, for the cure-all of supposedly much better standards.
In South Carolina’s Senator Mike Fair’s words, we need to show them that Common Core is a case of trading our birthright for a mess of pottage –but not even getting the pottage.
The real trade was actual education and actual local control, for one size fits all progressive education and no control.
No one cried out louder than the indomitable Michelle Malkin, who was interviewed by Sean Hannity soon after (must see: 3:55 http://youtu.be/5patiNN3R8g). Malkin derided the progressive idea of collective ownership: “Hands off my kids! My kids are not your guinea pigs. My kids are not your cash cows. My kids’ minds are not for you to propagandize, and my kids’ futures are not for you to raid in the name of social justice!”
Parent activist Yvonne Gasparino said it this way: “My children, my own flesh and blood, these beautiful little souls that I carried for nine months with nothing but unconditional love from the time the stick read “positive” –are being ripped out of my loving and protective hands virtually and kidnapped by the government for their future use. I will not and cannot let that happen and will fight with every moral fiber of my soul that God has bestowed upon me.”
America, we need to get smart about education reform. Fast.
Lesson one: when education reformers use the term “rigorous,” they mean to impress you. Don’t be impressed. One size fits all education can never be rigorous for every student. That’s like calling a mile run “rigorous.” It might be rigorous for the couch potatoes but it won’t be for the athletes. The term is meaningless when applied to every child and stripped of teacher input.
Lesson two: when education reformers use the term “high quality teacher,” they mean their version. Don’t buy the assumption that what they call a high quality teacher is what you imagine when you think of a great teacher. The new high quality teacher must be “effective” as a data-collector, test-prepper, and political indoctrinator of environmental and social justice agendas. Gone are the days when good teachers were characterized by benevolence, spontaneity, creativity, love, nurturing, and intellectual openness and honesty. A high quality teacher to the Dept. of Ed means one that pushes the line that the government wants pushed, one that no parent got to vote on.
Lesson three: when education reformers use the term “education reform,”they mean their version. It’s a tightly controlled, standardized, data-collection focused, collective-not-individual focused, environmentally-obsessed, social-justice promoting, uncreative form of education that has little to do with what a particular student needs or wants. Don’t buy the assumption that it’s actually improving education the way a reasonable parent or grandparent would want education to be improved! Ask for evidence and empirical studies to back up claims– always.
Lesson four: when education reformers use the term “internationally competitive,” they mean to intimidate you. Don’t be intimidated. The truth is that America turns out so many highly qualified college graduates that we can’t even employ them all. We are incredibly competitive internationally. Not only are we smart, but we are creative because we have been free. We innovate miracles in medicine, technology, entertainment and agriculture because we have not been stifled as so many other countries are. Watch this video.
Lesson five: when education reformers name-drop, (Harvard, Stanford, Fordham Foundation, Manhattan Institute, the P.T.A., etc.) they mean to marginalize you. Don’t be moved. Common Core is educational malpractice and many –even in academia– know it. Common Core is an untested experiment being pushed without empirical evidence as a foundation. Harvard, Stanford and countless other supposedly intellectual institutions have been literally bought with Bill Gates’ foundation money –bribed to say that the naked emperor is wearing clothes– and these establishments have, by taking Gates’ bribes, lost their ability to question the validity of the Common Core. Don’t listen to anyone’s academic reviews who has been paid to say Common Core is valid. That’s not honest; that’s gold digging.
Lesson six: when education reformers say Common Core is “state-led,” they mean to reassure you that it’s no threat to your constitutional rights. Don’t be fooled. There’s nothing state-led about Common Core. Legislators were completely bypassed. There was never a vote. There was never a public discussion. Most people in most states still don’t even know what the term Common Core means, much less feel they led the process. The standards were developed stealthily behind closed doors in Washington, D.C., by the NGA/CCSSO, two unelected groups who copyrighted the standards and who have provided no amendment process for any state to alter a single strand of a standard. And the federal government claims credit for pushing the standards on the states. Just listen to Sec. Duncan’s and Pres. Obama’s speeches on the subject. For example, see Sec. Duncan’s 2010 speech on “The Vision of Education Reform“:
“In March of 2009, President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to “develop standards and assessments that don’t simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test, but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking and entrepreneurship and creativity.” Virtually everyone thought the president was dreaming.
But today, 37 states and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing a white paper—they have actually done it. Over three-fourths of all U.S. public school students now reside in states that have voluntarily adopted higher, common college-ready standards that are internationally benchmarked. That is an absolute game-changer in a system which until now set 50 different goalposts for success.
The second game-changer is that states have banded together in large consortia to develop a new generation of assessments aligned with the states’ Common Corestandards.”
The unconstitutional, detrimental, top-down nationalization of education and usurpation of states’ rights to determine education has clearly and without question, occurred.
The thing that remains unclear is this: what are Americans going to do about it?
Yesterday I attended the Alpine School District meeting, where U.S.O.E. representative John Jesse, director of assessments, gave a presentation about the new Common Core testing system created by the American Institutes for Research (AIR). I went with Alisa, Renee, my sister and others whose district is Alpine. I wanted to compare the attitudes of parents and teachers in Alpine to Wasatch District, where the same meeting was held last Monday.
Alpine’s meeting was so different.
The room was packed, with extra chairs being brought in and still, standing room only. I have no idea if the majority of people were teachers, principals, or parents, but obviously, many people were concerned and many more came than had been anticipated by the district.
John Jesse had apparently predetermined that no questions would be taken until after the hour-long presentation. When a parent raised her hand to ask a question, Mr. Jesse said that he would not answer the question until later.
The parent said that it was necessary to answer it now to understand, and other parents shouted out, “Just answer her question,” but Mr. Jesse would not. The shouts of support continued to the point that Mr. Jesse appeared truly unreasonable, yet he would not budge.
Mr. Jesse lost the respect and confidence of his audience by refusing to answer questions as they came up.
Audience members (parents? teachers? administrators?) decided to write their questions on the large white board wall on the side of the meeting room. It was flooded with questions quickly. I wish I would have written them all down to share with you here.
When an audience member asked how long, after a test, parents would be able to see the test items (a week? a month? longer?) Mr. Jesse said that in order to be able to release the tests to the public each year (like ACT, SAT, etc, do), they would need to have a new set of tests created each year.
He said that one set of adaptive test items costs Utah taxpayers $32M. In his words, “It’s so expensive to build these tests, it’s just not possible to make these test items available to parents.” (Money trumps legal, moral parental rights?!)
One parent asked why we are spending so much money on these tests rather than using the money to reduce class size.
Other parents brought up the illegality of not allowing parents to view test questions (referring to the rule that only 15 parents, appointed by the state, would have that privilege.) One parent showed Mr. Jesse a copy of the bill that states that the Common Core Computer Adaptive Tests must collect ”behavioral indicators” along with academic indicators.
She also had a copy of the state FERPA (Privacy law) and read portions aloud to Mr. Jesse, showing the violations of Common Core test and data collection.
Alisa and I had to leave early because we were on our way to make a presentation about the Common Core agenda to a group in Murray. I quickly wrote my billion dollar question on a note and asked my sister if she would ask it. (Even though I had been standing up, waving my arm back and forth, Mr. Jesse had not called on me during the Q and A.) I had to leave, I thought, without asking my question.
The exit door was next to the presenter. I decided to ask my question on my way out. So I turned to the audience, the presenter and superintendent. To the best of my recollection (a videotaper –I hope– will post the video of the event soon) this is what I said:
“In medicine, the motto is FIRST DO NOT HARM. The same applies to education. We are here discussing the wonderful technology of the Common Core tests, but the standards on which they are built have not been vetted and there’s not a shred of evidence shown, ever, to prove to us that these standards are not doing harm and that the claims being made about them, claims being replicated across all district websites, are true. There is no evidence. I am a credentialed Utah teacher and testify to you that the Common Core is a detriment to our students. I don’t hold Mr. Jesse or Mr. Menlove personally accountable or blame them, but I say to all of us, as a state, we MUST get OUT of Common Core.”
It seemed as if the entire room jumped to its feet and started cheering and applauding. I felt like Pedro after Napoleon Dynamite finishes the dance. The audience was cheering enthusiastically on and on, and I didn’t know what to do. (Do I take a bow? Do I run out the door?) I stood and blinked at all the people in shock and joy.
I share this because I want to offer hope to the parents, teachers, school board members and administrators who have yet to attend these A.I.R. trainings. Parents don’t want Common Core for the kids once they find out what the whole agenda is about. Parents are standing up. They are speaking out. They are demanding to see evidence of claims. They don’t want their kids being used as guinea pigs and they don’t like the lack of parental control and stifled teacher voices.
I heard that after I left the meeting, parents passed around a signup list to have a rally at the State Capitol. But I also heard, sadly, that after I left the meeting, some parents became overly hostile and that Mr. Jesse was hostile as well.
I was not there then; this is hearsay, but I do hope that all those who stand for educational freedom do so with dignity and respect. We do not wish to humiliate our leaders. We just want them to do the right thing and study this fully and act then act on the knowledge that we are, in fact, being acted upon by an increasingly oppressive Executive Branch at the federal level. This is harming quality, legitimate education. It is harming data privacy rights. It is removing local control. We need our leaders to act. But we do not want to be unkind.
I heard that at the Cedar meeting earlier yesterday, the USOE separated the teachers and the parents because they didn’t want teachers hearing the parental controversy. This is wrong. Do not put up with that. These controversies affect us all. We are in this together.
Here’s the schedule for the rest of the state meetings. Please share with friends. Show up and make sure your voice is heard. These are your children. This is your tax money. These are your rights. I think Republicans, Democrats, teachers, parents and administrators can agree that we want no part of education without representation, and no part of education standards and tests that lack references, pilot testing or legitimate vetting.
IF YOUR DISTRICT IS NOT LISTED, CALL THE UTAH STATE OFFICE OF EDUCATION AND ASK FOR A MEETING ABOUT THE COMMON CORE TESTS.
Jordan District4–6 pmElk Ridge Middle School / Auditorium3659 W 9800 S, South Jordan Wednesday March 20
Granite District4–6 pmDistrict Office / Auditorium A2500 S State Street, Salt Lake City Thursday March 21
Salt Lake District4–6 pmDistrict Office/ Room 116440 E 100 S, Salt Lake City Monday March 25
Washington District4–6 pmDistrict Office / Board Room121 W Tabernacle St., St. George Thursday March 28
Tooele District4–6 pmStansbury High School / Auditorium 5300 N Aberdeen Lane, Stansbury Park TuesdayApril 2
Park City District4–6 pmEcker Hill Middle School2465 W Kilby Rd, Park City WednesdayApril 3
Grand District4–6 pmGrand County High School / Auditorium608 S 400 E, Moab ThursdayApril 4
San Juan District4–6 pmSan Juan High School / Arena Theater311 N 100 E, Blanding MondayApril 8
Wasatch District4–6 pmDistrict Office101 E 200 N, Heber Tuesday April 9
Iron District4–6 pmDistrict Office / Board Room2077 W Royal Hunte Dr., Cedar City Tuesday April 9
Carbon District4–6 pmDistrict Office/ Training Room 1251 W 400 N, Price Wednesday April 10
Sevier District4–6 pmDistrict Office/ Training Room180 W 600 N, Richfield Thursday April 11
Box Elder District4–6 pmDistrict Office/ Board Room960 S Main, Brigham City Thursday April 11
Alpine District4–6 pmDistrict Office575 N 100 E, American Fork TuesdayApril 16
Now, ponder those two lawsuits in the context of the White House’s “data-mashing” goals (those are the words of DOE chief of staff Joanne Weiss.) Recall, too, that the White House hosted a “Datapalooza” conference recently to celebrate the wonders of streamlining all data collection everywhere.
The White House is very openly promoting inter-agency data sharing. They will not easily admit that they are making privacy laws looser and looser and reducing parental say over student data. But it’s clear if you actually take the time to read, read, read.
We need to look past our differences on curricular content and focus on freeing our schools from the grip of a well-intended, but horribly conceived attempt at institutinga national curriculum that lacks the consent of 99.9% of the American people.
The way forward in our movement against Common Core is for all groups to forget their differences and focus on the complete state and Federal repeals of NCLB and RTTT. We need to return schools to local control and this includes large urban school districts where mayors have complete control over schools like CEOs.
The Occupy and Tea Party movements need to show the rest of the American people that we can work together on issues that concern us all. Progressive Democrats and Conservative Republicans all want the best schools for all Americans so that we can move our country forward. We need to look past our differences on curricular content and focus on freeing our schools from the grip of a well-intended, but horribly conceived attempt at institutinga national curriculum that lacks the consent of 99.9% of the American people.
When we call this attempt into question, the DOE and the Chester Finns of the world have the gall to call us “conspiracy theorists.” This is the definition of absurdity.
Here is an action plan that we can all follow. We can worry about our differences when we have put this sad chapter in the history of American education to rest:
1) Everybody needs to write all of their public officials, district, state, and national every day with a simple copy and paste message: We want all state and Federal mandates associated with NCLB and RTTT repealed at all levels now! We want repeal legislation introduced now!
2) We will vote for no candidate from either major party or any independent group for any office that does not completely support the repeals above.
3) We want Arne Duncan fired immediately and we want those in the DOE who have served in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation fired immediately to return the control of the Department of Education to the people. We do not want anyone his replacement or anyone in the Department of Education who has worked with any corporate Education vendor. We do not want anybody in the Department Education who has worked with any Foundation or Think Tank that has sought to influence Education policy in the last fifteen years.
4) We want any state officer who has taken a trip from a corporate Education company fired, recalled, or voted out of office in the next election cycle. We are especially concerned about any state officer who has gone on any all-expenses-paid trip on Pearson Education’s dime.
5) We want local control of all school districts.
6) We demand that all public officials in State Boards of Education, Governors, state legislators, district boards, and DOE employees take 12th grade Common Core Tests. All of these officials who do not score proficient or better should be fired, recalled, or voted out of office during the next election cycle.
7) We support student strikes on high-stakes testing days. We support general strikes on scheduled high stakes testing day (K-21).
8) We will vote Educational leaders who have at least ten years of classroom experience. We do not anyone employed in leadership positions in the Department of Education who have not proven themselves as exemplary classroom teachers for ten years. We need to stop the war on experienced teachers. The New Education Class that has little or no classroom experience is engaged in a “Cultural Revolution” against experienced teachers.
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Thanks to Paul Horton for permission to post his initiative.
The Republican National Committee Spring Meeting starts today in Los Angeles. One of the items that will be discussed and voted on is a draft resolution on the Common Core State Standards which you can see below:
RESOLUTION CONCERNING COMMON CORE EDUCATION STANDARDS
WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of academic standards, promoted and supported by two private membership organizations, the National Governor’s Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) as a method for conforming American students to uniform (“one size fits all”) achievement goals to make them more competitive in a global marketplace, (1.) and
WHEREAS, the NGA and the CCSSO,received tens of millions of dollars from private third parties to advocate for and develop the CCSS strategy, subsequently created the CCSS through a process that was not subject to any freedom of information acts or other sunshine laws, and never piloted the CCSS, and
WHEREAS,even though Federal Law prohibits the federalizing of curriculum (2.), the Obama Administration accepted the CCSS plan and used 2009 Stimulus Bill money to reward the states that were most committed to the president’s CCSS agenda; but, they failed to give states, their legislatures and their citizens time to evaluate the CCSS before having to commit to them, and
WHEREAS, the NGA and CCSSO in concert with the same corporations developing the CCSS ‘assessments’ have created new textbooks, digital media and other teaching materials aligned to the standards which must be purchased and adopted by local school districts in order that students may effectively compete on CCSS ‘assessments’, and
WHEREAS, the CCSS program includes federally funded testing and the collection and sharing of massive amounts of personal student and teacher data, and
WHEREAS, the CCSS effectively removes educational choice and competition since all schools and all districts must use Common Core ‘assessments’ based on the Common Core standards to allow all students to advance in the school system and to advance to higher education pursuits; therefore be it
RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee, as stated in the 2012 Republican Party Platform, “do not believe in a one size fits all approach to education and support providing broad education choices to parents and children at the State and local level,” (p35)(3.), which is best based on a free market approach to education for students to achieve individual excellence; and, be it further
RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee recognizes the CCSS for what it is– an inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children so they will conform to a preconceived “normal,” and, be it further
RESOLVED,That the Republican National Committee rejectsthecollection of personal student data for any non-educational purpose without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student’s parent and that it rejects the sharing of such personal data, without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student’s parent, with any person or entity other than schools or education agencies within the state, and be it finally
RESOLVED, the 2012 Republican Party Platform specifically states the need to repeal the numerous federal regulations which interfere with State and local control of public schools, (p36) (3.); and therefore,the Republican National Committee rejects this CCSS plan which creates and fits the country with a nationwide straitjacket on academic freedom and achievement.
After a whole year of never receiving an email response from Asst. Superintendent Judy Park, today she wrote back! Wow.
But. The billion dollar question was dodged again. It’s been dodged in emails for over a year. It was dodged twice more at last night’s Common Core (S.A.G.E./A.I.R.) presentation, both during and after the event. But I wrote an email asking it again.
Here it is, and here’s her answer.
My Question:Please direct me to documentation of the claim that the common core standards, upon which this test is built, are legitimate and that they have been empirically tested, rather than being the experimental idea of unelected noneducators?
Ms. Park’s Answer: You have received a great deal of information about the common core from Brenda Hales, Associate Superintendent. I would encourage you to direct your questions about the common core to her.
Another dodge! Another D O D G E!
Utterly, completely unbelievable!
This dodge is like building a house (a new Utah educational system) on quicksand (illegitimate standards) and insisting that everyone to keep admiring the roof (nifty technology) –and telling the homeowner (teacher/taxpayers/parents) who paid for the whole thing and will live in it for life, to quit asking the pesky questions about those sinking wobbly motions in the foundation, directing that homeowner to ask an irrelevant wallpaper hanger why the home was built in quicksand.
There comes a time when you either keep yelling at the t.v./radio/computer screen/newspaper, or you make a move.
Utah, I am asking you to make a move. Call. Write. Tell our Governor, School Board, legislature and U.S.O.E. that we deserve answers to these most basic of all questions that affect our children and grandchildren in dramatic ways, for the rest of their lives. Please act.
This is what I wrote to Assistant Superintendent Judy Park today.
Thank you for taking the time to partially respond to some of my questions.
Please– stop dodging the most important question, for me and for all Utahns.
“First, do no harm” applies to education as well as to medicine. Please show us proof that the USSB/USOE is doing no harm by implementing Common Core; this should be easy. Brenda Hales, the public relations person is not an academic expert; you are. By dodging the question to her it appears that you don’t even know whether Common Core is snake oil –or not.
Don’t teachers, parents and legislators deserve to know that hundreds of millions of dollars and hours and children’s minds all pushing toward Common Core implementation is being spent wisely?! Do we not deserve to see evidence and references backing up the oft-repeated claim that these standards are helpful?
Where is the study showing that long-term, lives are enhanced when high school seniors are deprived of 70% of their classic literature? Where is the study showing that long-term, students who are deprived of the knowledge of how to convert fractions into decimals, are blessed by that fact? Countless examples could be shared.
You serve on the CCSSO, the D.C. group which developed and copyrighted these unproven standards. You have been doing this longer than our State Superintendent and you stand uniquely qualified to answer questions about the academic legitimacy of the standards and about the lack of any empirical evidence to back up the U.S.O.E.’s claims– which have been replicated on every district website in this state– and which are false.
The standards are not serving children honorably. They take away from, rather than raise, Utah’s educational hopes. Less classic literature. Less traditional math. Slowing of the age at which algorithms are introduced. Less narrative writing. Less parental consent. No district-held control over the sharing of student data. And worst of all, the standards and connected reforms and mandates have robbed Utah of educational sovereignty, a constitutional right. We have no voice, no amendment process. For such a trade, the standards must surely be magnificent.
Yet you cannot even point me to the documentation that these standards are more than a blind experiment on our kids, written by noneducators and adopted at grant-point, rather than after thorough and honorable academic vetting in Utah?
This is an absolute outrage.
In the name of integrity, what are you going to do about it?
Last night at your presentation on Common Core tests, you promised to direct me to references documenting the truth of your statement: that the new common core AIR/SAGE tests are written by Utahns, for Utahs, in Utah. I am writing to request a direct link to that documentation. I appreciate your response.
You also promised to answer questions after the meeting; however, when I asked you mine after the meeting, you turned away from me and began to speak to a principal instead. The question remains unanswered: will you please direct me to documentation of the claim that the common core standards, upon which this test is built, are truly legitimate and that they have been empirically tested, rather than being the experimental idea of unelected noneducators?
While the testing technology is indeed impressive, it reminds me of admiring a shiny new roof on a building built on quicksand. Admiring the roof seems a bit pointless. I’m asking you to prove we’re not on quicksand. Can you?
Last night, a few of us were asking whether student behavioral indicators would be tested. You smiled warmly and said the test would only cover math, English and science.
However, in HB15, the legislation that created space for these new common core computer adaptive tests, it says:
59 (d) the use of student behavior indicators in assessing student performance;
I was unsure what student behavior indicators were until I read the recent explanation of a licensed clinical psychologist, who explained that it’s literally anything– anything from mental health evaluation to sporting events to social habits to family status and that measuring behavioral indicators gives results-readers “godlike predictive ability” over that child. Since A.I.R. is a behavioral research agency before it’s an academic testing company, according to its own website, this concerns me greatly.
Please explain how Utah parents can rest assured that their children will not be tested and tracked concerning anything other than math, English and science in light of this legislation and in light of A.I.R.’s stated purpose.
I am still so angry that I can’t type straight– I’m so outraged at the lack of accountability and the unwillingness to give straight answers and well-researched answers. Ms. Park was ”so thrilled” and “so excited,” she said, about the technological advances. And apparently very annoyed by anyone’s questions (about A.I.R.’s controversial website and parental rights issues.)
The speaker will try to smother you with her pasted on smile and her long powerpoint presentation. You have to reaaaalllly push to get any questions out. And even then, most will remain unanswered.
It was an awful experience to be there.
Judy Park, the officer of federal accountability (yes, really, that’s one of her titles) is also a writer for and a member of the CCSSO, the same D.C. group that developed and copyrighted the Common Core (without academic integrity, without empirical evidence, and on Bill Gates’ dime.)
Park refuses to use the word “common core” in public, and uses “Utah Core” at all times. This deliberately misleads the listeners. Because the tests are 100% common core aligned and are written to the common core national standards. And she knows it. But won’t say it. Ever.
I realized tonight, early on, that I (we) had to be bold. So each time she came to point that I did not understand or felt uncomfortable with, I raised my hand and, at the same time, not waiting for her to acknowledge me, I said, “I have a question about that,” so that she didn’t have a chance to ignore me. Several others did the same thing.
If we hadn’t been that pushy, she would have done her two hour presentation without any questioning. And boy, are there questions that need answers!!!
My first question was if she could provide us with a reference for that fact she had stated that common core tests were written for and by Utahns. I simply asked her that we wouldn’t just have to take her word for it. She just asked me to check the USOE website or email her later. (I have emailed her many times and she never, never responds.)
My next question was whether we should be discussing the tests when we haven’t even seen evidence legitimizing the standards on which the tests are built. I asked if she would provide us with some references for the claims that the standards are improving, rather than damaging, education (considering that they diminish literature and narrative writing, and deprive kids of traditional math skills.) She pasted on her big smile and said she’d explain it to me in person, after the meeting.(So I asked her again, after the meeting. But then suddenly, she had no such evidence. She didn’t even say she would research it. It’s like she KNOWS they are building a huge building without a foundation on top of a sandbar. She just kept smiling and saying, “I can see that you are very passionate about this,” after the meeting when I repeated my request to see some empirical evidence, a shred of an academic study showing that these standards were more than some noneducator’s idea of an experiment (David Coleman.) She simply had nothing. So she turned away from me in absolute rudeness as if I had ceased to exist, and she started talking to a principal who stood nearby.)
My friend raised her hand and asked whether parents could see the test questions. (Remember, it’s in Utah law that parents HAVE to be able to see all curriculum and tests on request.) The truthful answer to this question is no. But Judy Park talked around and around and around the question, saying that there are thousands of questions. Not answering my friend yes or no. Then she mentioned that there is a 15 member parent panel required by legislation.
(After the meeting I asked her if I might be on that panel because I don’t mind reading thousands of questions and she said yes, to email her about it later. Which I will. But I somehow doubt she’ll pick me or recommend me to the governor, who appoints the panel.)
Two others raised their hands at separte times and asked how much the assessments/technology will cost and she gave an incomplete and confusing answer.
Another friend raised her hand and asked how they are protecting student data privacy. Again, Judy Park gave a partial, misleading answer, saying that only parents, students and educators will have access to personal information. Anyone who was in last summer’s senate education committee hearing heard John Brandt testify that the Utah Data Alliance allows 12-20 people access to the data collected by all six agencies of the Utah Data Alliance, and it’s personally identifiable student information. So it is all in one leakable, hackable collection. Judy Park didn’t know this? If she did, she didn’t say it when my friend asked the question.After the meeting, I mentioned this to Judy Park as well. She brushed it off, saying that John Brandt is no longer working there, and now it’s Mr. Winkler. I never got a chance to ask her how the parental-consent destroying federal FERPA alterations are being addressed in her head. Maybe one of you could ask her at other district meetings. My guess is that she has not studied it at all. She seems so totally unconcerned, so utterly bought in to this whole common core movement. She often used words like “thrilled” and “so excited about” during her speech –repeatedly!
She mentioned that the AIR tests are being used by many states including Hawaii and Oregon for their “federal accountability”. She used that term.So after the meeting I brought up the fact that there’s something called the Constitution and the General Educational Provisions Act that forbid the federal government from telling states what to do. She had no idea what I was talking about. None. She had never heard of G.E.P.A. law. FYI, here it is: “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…“
She said that the accomodations that are usually reserved for special ed kids are now available for everyone. There were tons. One of them was speech to text dictation. It occurred to me that we might not know if we have illiterate kids graduating from our system if we allow everyone to use text-to-speech rather than requiring reading. So I asked her about it and she assured me that that could never happen. Not sure how.
She showed us sample math and English questions from the SAGE/Common Core test. The technology was nice and several teachers and principals were gushing about it, oblivious to anything but the cool factor. But I had to raise my hand again, saying that this selection of Sherlock Holmes seemed great, but with the addition of so much info-text and the deletion of so much classic literature, there was a huge chance that the students would be reading texts that I would not approve of, such as extreme environmental/sustainability informational text or text about LGTB2 (lesbian, gay, transsexual, bisexual, and two-spirited –whatever that means– ) since the AIR website is focused so much on LGTB2 issues.
She assured me that there are three groups that vet all the questions. Who are the groups, I asked: anyone in Utah? Anyone in this room? How can I get on that panel? She never answered that question either other than to say that she trusts that there will be no bias of any kind, that the groups are so sensitive that they get rid of all cultural and other biases. She really seems to believe that there is such a thing as value-free writing. But she cannot seem to give a straight answer as to WHO the three vetting groups are, other than to repeat that they are Utahns. Which I still have no documentation for and do not believe since AIR’s site says they use a “pool” of groups for input.
Another parent raised her hand and asked what happens if I want to opt my child out. Judy Park said, “You can opt out but if too many people opt out it will make the data unmeaningful.”
I lost track of the number of times she dodged my questions by asking me to email her about it later. So finally, I said that I have emailed her countless times and never once has she ever emailed me back. She was embarrassed by that, but it’s the truth and she didn’t deny it. And she still didn’t answer my most important questions.
To sum up: 1) The educators in the room seemed super excited about the technology of these tests and didn’t seem to mind, or see, worrisome issues. 2) Parents in the room seemed horrified by Common Core and did not get their questions answered satisfactorily. 3) Judy Park appeared to be very uneducated about state constitutional rights, about the American process of governed individuals having actual representation; she seemed to feel that the federal government has a legitimate right to supervise Utah and hold Utah “accountable.” She doesn’t know what the Utah Data Alliance or the SLDS does, and is unconcerned with the most pressing question I repeatedly asked her to face: where is some empirical evidence that Common Core tests are based upon legitimate educational standards? This is the question I hope hundreds of thousands of Utahns ask her and keep asking her.
We wouldn’t build a home without a cost analysis, an earthquake analysis, careful attention to what makes homes last in bad weather and what makes a solid, sturdy, beautiful home. So why have we built a new educational system and shredded all vestiges of the old one, without ever asking any questions about whether this home is built of oak or granite or green cheese? It is the height of irresponsibility. Yet Judy Park stood with a pasted on smile, one hand on the microphone, one hand on her hip, nodding her head and saying, “You sure seem to have a lot of passion about this,” rather than having the integrity to say, “There is no empirical evidence; it’s an experiment on our kids,” or “I hadn’t thought to ask; let me research that for you,” or giving any sort of confidence-inspiring answer. Why? Because there is none. That’s why.
Judy Park, who leads all of our schools and by extension, all of our children, is either naiive and clueless or extremely dishonest. I think she has trusted the wolves (Arne Duncan, Linda Darling-Hammond) for so long that now she in all sincerity doesn’t know what she’s really defending.
The worst part for me was when some of our local district people stood up and thanked Judy Park for this wonderful new Common Core testing system and said, “Christel, you need to listen.” Sigh. Has anyone listened and studied and pondered and agonized over this more than me? Really? I need to listen more?
After the meeting I also reminded Judy Park that I’d tried to make an appointment to visit with her in person but that the request had been denied. She simply said I should talk to Brenda Hales.
Where is the accountability of our state leaders to teachers, parents, and taxpayers? Sadly, we can’t vote this woman out of office. All we can do is know our parental rights and repeatedly, firmly ask Mrs. Park and her team to answer questions with actual references and evidence rather than relying on empty claims and a mile-wide, stiff and pasted-on smile.
Ayers has never swayed from preaching against Americanism and fighting for the overthrow of America and the implementation of communism. He’s never apologized for the violence he caused in America during the Vietnam War. He’s never actually discussed education much; it’s only a tool to him, a useful one to create the end of capitalism and the beginning of American socialism.
And here’s a super scary one: an interview about Ayers’ original plans for “re-education centers” and “elimination” of people who would not be re-educated in the Anti-American philosophy. The interview is with Larry Grathwohl, who worked with Ayers during their violent Weather Underground days. http://youtu.be/VlN2t0oERHk
What’s Ayers’ message? He wants students to help him overthrow America as we know it and become global (communist) citizens, free of the U.S. Constitution and traditional values. His message has nothing to do with education reform and everything to do with using teachers and schools as change agents for socialist indoctrination. He’s open about it. He says:
“The great challenge for our generation to find a way not just to live differently as individuals, but to find a way to think differently about what work means, to think differently about citizenship means, to think differently about what it means to be a ‘citizen of the world.’ One of the great dangers that we live in right now, is I don’t think there’s any question, and I don’t think any of you would question, that the American Empire is in decline–that economically, and politically, and in some ways culturally, that we are in decline. And yet, the United States remains the most powerful, weaponized military system the Earth has ever known.
That’s a treacherous combination. A declining economic power, and an expanding military power. And we are going to have to find ways to re-imagine what it means to live in this coun– in this world. And here we are 4% of the world’s population, 4.5% of the world’s population, consuming vast amounts of natural resources, consuming vast amounts of finished goods, and no politician will say that the empire is declining and that the game is over. ”
America, stop inviting this man to teach our teachers. Please.
This diminishing of parental authority is re-emphasized by the fact that in the common core tests, (the Linda Darling-Hammond- led CSCOPE and Common Core tests) parents cannot view the tests.
Why have our school systems have done this? When will a majority of parents and teachers join this fight for the children and fight to repeal the Common Core?
Please write or call our governor and school board. firstname.lastname@example.org
Tell them that you are opposed to Common Core which makes student data mining –without parental consent– possible. Tell them that you are opposed to the Common Core tests which are not viewable by parents, except for (in Utah) for a panel of 15 governmentally-appointed parents.
Tell them you want local control, especially parental control, back. Now.
Common Core is a tragedy. Wake up, America. Listen to these teachers.
Some teach now; some have retired over Common Core. Each has spoken out and each needs to be heard. Today I want to highlight Gerald Conti, whose resignation letter was just published in the Washington Post.
Gerald Conti’s Letter:
“Data driven education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core…
Creativity, academic freedom, teacher autonomy, experimentation and innovation are being stifled in a misguided effort to fix what is not broken in our system of public education and particularly not at Westhill…
…The New York State United Teachers union has let down its membership by failing to mount a much more effective and vigorous campaign against this same costly and dangerous debacle… our own administration has been both uncommunicative and unresponsive to the concerns and needs of our staff and students …
This situation has been exacerbated by other actions of the administration, in either refusing to call open forum meetings to discuss these pressing issues, or by so constraining the time limits of such meetings that little more than a conveying of information could take place. This lack of leadership at every level has only served to produce confusion, a loss of confidence and a dramatic and rapid decaying of morale.
The repercussions of these ill-conceived policies will be telling and shall resound to the detriment of education for years to come. The analogy that this process is like building the airplane while we are flying would strike terror in the heart of anyone should it be applied to an actual airplane flight, a medical procedure, or even a home repair. Why should it be acceptable in our careers and in the education of our children?
… My profession is being demeaned by a pervasive atmosphere of distrust, dictating that teachers cannot be permitted to develop and administer their own quizzes and tests (now titled as generic “assessments”) or grade their own students’ examinations. The development of plans, choice of lessons and the materials to be employed are increasingly expected to be common to all teachers in a given subject. This approach not only strangles creativity, it smothers the development of critical thinking in our students and assumes a one-size-fits-all mentality more appropriate to the assembly line than to the classroom.
Teacher planning time has also now been so greatly eroded by a constant need to “prove up” our worth to the tyranny of APPR (through the submission of plans, materials and “artifacts” from our teaching) that there is little time for us to carefully critique student work, engage in informal intellectual discussions with our students and colleagues, or conduct research and seek personal improvement through independent study. We have become increasingly evaluation and not knowledge driven…
I am not leaving my profession, in truth, it has left me. It no longer exists. I feel as though I have played some game halfway through its fourth quarter, a timeout has been called, my teammates’ hands have all been tied, the goal posts moved, all previously scored points and honors expunged and all of the rules altered.
Education Week reports that hackers got into the Department of Education’s site and so they shut their site down indefinitely.
Baloney! No hackers got into the system. I’ll tell you what’s going on.
Researchers from around the nation have been gathering research from US Dept of Ed documents so we can get them to you directly from the source to prove everything we say. Because everyone is now linking to this site and because now we have so many national groups joining the fight, they pulled the curtain closed and are hiding behind it.
The same thing happened a few days after Agenda 21 was exposed nationally. After a year of researching the U.N. site easily, all of a sudden they went dark and no one can access their pages anymore. How dare they blame their lack of transparency on hackers. You know you are onto something really big when the entire U.S. Department of Education website closes down because you have exposed them. What a smokescreen!
Thank you, Susie Schnell, for researching and writing this post. I agree with Susie. Time will prove it to everyone, one way or another. In a reasonable amount of time, if the Department reposts what was there before, we’ll be proven wrong. Then there really were hackers desperate to get to the educational secrets that hadn’t been posted openly. Hmm.
But if time passes and the documents and speeches never resurface, then the Dept. of Ed really is deliberately hiding from the American citizen-researcher. Can you believe it?
Either way, we are not shut down, because we’ve saved the important documents and speeches offline.
The National Review writes that it is a ”right-of-center” organization, as if that claim is a “trust-me” pass. This is meaningless in Common Core land because, as Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project, has said, ”Opposition to Common Core cuts across the left-right spectrum. It gets back to who should control our children’s education — people in Indiana or people in Washington?”
But we should clarify that oodles of Democrats and Republicans sell or benefit from Common Core implementation. That is the top reason for the gold rush anxiety to promote the national standards. A secondary reason is lemminghood (misplaced and unproven trust).
Republican Jeb Bush is behind the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a nongovernmental group which pushes Common Core and is, of course, funded by Gates. Republican Rupert Murdoch owns not only Fox News, but also the common core implementation company Wireless Generation that’s creating common core testing technology. Democrat Bob Corcoran, President of GE Foundation (author of cap and trade and carbon footprint taxes to profit GE on green tech) and 49% owner of NBC also bribed the PTA to promote Common Core, and gave an additional $18 million to the states to push common core implementation. Corcoran was seen recently hobnobbing with Utah’s Republican Lt. Governor Greg Bell, business leaders in the Chamber of Commerce, and has testified in the education committee that the opponents of Common Core in Utah “are liars”. Meanwhile, Republican Todd Huston of Indiana got his largest campaign donation from David Coleman, common core ELA architect; then, after Huston was elected as an Indiana State Representative and placed on Indiana’s education committee, Coleman hired Huston to be on the College Board. They are both profiting from the alignment of and AP courses and alignment of the SAT to the Common Core. And of course, Huston’s listed on Jeb Bush’s controversial Foundation for Excellence in Education. Even my own Republican Governor Herbert of Utah serves on the elite executive committee of NGA, the Common Core founding group. He doesn’t make money this way, but he does make lots of corporations happy.
Still, political funders of the standards and corporations selling its implementation try to get away with marginalizing the opposition. But it can’t be done honestly. Because it’s not a fight between left and right.
This battle is between the collusion of corporate greed and political muscle versus the individual voter.
It’s a battle between the individual student, teacher, or parent– versus huge public/private partnerships. That’s the David and Goliath here.
Did the authors of the Hogwash article really not know that Common Core wasn’t based on anything like empirical data but simply fluffed up on empty promises and rhetoric, from the beginning.
Where’s the basis for what proponents call ”rigorous,” ”internationally competitive,” and “research-based?” Why won’t the proponents point to proof of “increased rigor” the way the opponents point to proof of increased dumbing down? We know they are fibbing because we know there is no empirical evidence for imposing this experiment on students in America. The emperor of Common Core is wearing no clothes.
The National Review authors insist that Common Core is not a stealth “leftist indoctrination” plot by the Obama administration. But that’s what it looks like when you study the reformers and what they create.
First, let’s look at the Common Core textbooks. Virtually every textbook company in America is aligning now with Common Core. (So even the states who rejected Common Core, and even private schools and home schools are in trouble; how will they find new textbooks that reflect Massachusetts-high standards?)
He doesn’t just lead Pearson, the company that is so huge it’s becoming an anti-trust issue. Sir Michael Barber also speaks glowingly of public private partnerships, of political “revolution,” ”global citizenship” and a need for having global data collection and one set of educational standards for the entire planet. He’s a political machine. Under his global common core, diversity, freedom and local control of education need not apply.
But they are wrong in saying that Common Core isn’t a road map to indoctrinating students into far left philosophy. Power players like Linda Darling-Hammond and Congressman Chaka Fattah ram socialism and redistribution down America’s throat in education policy, while Pearson pushes it in the curriculum.
Study her further here to learn the groups she works for, what’s in the books she writes, how many times she quoted herself in her report for the U.S. equity commission, and what she said in last summer’s speech to UNESCO about the need to take swimming pools away from students.
So yes, there is an undeniable socialism push in Common Core textbooks and in the Department of Education.
The National Review’s authors claim Common Core won’t “eliminate American children’s core knowledge base in English, language arts and history.” By cutting classic literature by 70% for high school seniors, they are absolutely doing exactly that. The article says that Common Core doesn’t mandate the slashing of literature. Maybe not. But the tests sure will.
And that’s the tragic part for me as an English teacher.
Classic literature is sacred. Its removal from American schools is an affront to our humanity.
Common Core doesn’t mandate which books to cut; the National Review is correct on that point; but it does pressure English teachers to cut out large selections of great literature, somewhere. And not just a little bit. Tons.
Informational text belongs in other classes, not in English. To read boring, non-literary articles even if they are not all required to be Executive Orders, insulation manuals, or environmental studies (as the major portion of the English language curriculum) is to kill the love of reading.
What will the slashing do to the students’ appreciation for the beauty of the language, to the acquisition of rich vocabulary, to the appreciation for the battle between good and evil?
We become compassionate humans by receiving and passing on classic stories. Souls are enlarged by exposure to the characters, the imagery, the rich vocabulary, the poetic language and the endless forms of the battle between good and evil, that live in classic literature.
Classic stories create a love for books that cannot be acquired in any other way. Dickens, Shakespeare, Hugo, Orwell, Dostoevsky, Rand, Marquez, Cisneros, Faulkner, Fitzgerald– where would we be without the gifts of these great writers and their writings? Which ones will English teachers cut away first to make room for informational text?
The sly and subtle change will have the same effect on our children as if Common Core had mandated the destruction of a certain percentage of all classic literature.
How does it differ from book burning in its ultimate effects?
Cutting out basic math skills, such as being able to convert fractions to decimals, is criminal. Proponents call this learning “fewer but deeper” concepts. I call it a sin. Common Core also delays the age at which students should be able to work with certain algorithms, putting students years behind our mathematical competitors in Asia.
For specific curricular reviews of Common Core standards, read Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s and Dr. Ze’ev Wurman’s math and literature reviews in the appendix of the white paper by Pioneer Institute. (See exhibit A and exhibit B, page 24.)
The National Review claims that the standards “simply delineate what children should know at each grade level and describe the skills that they must acquire to stay on course toward college or career readiness” and claim they are not a ceiling but a floor. This is a lie. The standards are bound by a 15% rule; there’s no adding to them beyond 15%. That’s not a ceiling?
The article claims that ”college and career readiness” doesn’t necessarily mean Common Core. Well, it does, actually. The phrase has been defined on the ed. gov website as meaning sameness of standards to a significant number of states. I would give you a link but this week, so oddly, the Department of Education has removed most of its previous pages. You can see it reposted here:
The article insists that Common Core is not a curriculum; it’s up to school districts to choose curricula that comply with the standards. Sure. But as previously noted: 1) all the big textbook companies have aligned to Common Core. Where are the options? 2) Common core tests and the new accountability measures put on teachers who will lose their jobs if students don’t score well on Common Core tests will ensure that teachers will only teach Common Core standards. 3) Test writers are making model curriculum and it’s going to be for sale, for sure.
The article falsely claims that “curriculum experts began to devise” the standards. Not so: the architect of Common Core ELA standards (and current College Board president) is not, nor ever has been, an educator. In fact, that architect made the list of Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform. A top curriculum professor has pointed out that the developers of Common Core never consulted with top curricular universities at all.
The article claims that states who have adopted Common Core could opt out, “and they shouldn’t lose a dime if they do” –but Title I monies have been threatened, and the No Child Left Behind waiver is temporary on conditions of following Common Core, and for those states who did get Race to the Top money (not my state, thank goodness) the money would have to be returned. Additionally, every state got ARRA stimulus money to build a federally interoperable State Longitudinal Database System. Do we want to give back millions and millions to ensure that we aren’t part of the de facto national database of children’s longitudinal school-collected, personally identifiable information?
The article states that the goal is to have children read challenging texts that will build their vocabulary and background knowledge. So then why not read more –not less– actual literature?
The article also leaves out any analysis of the illegality of Common Core. The arrangement appears to be illegal. Under the Constitution and under the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA) the federal government is restricted from even supervising education.
GEPA states: “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…”
And for those still believing the federal government isn’t “exercising direction, supervision or control” of the school system, look at two things.
2. The federal mandate that testing consoria must synchronize “across consortia,” that status updates and phone conferences must be made available to the Dept. of Education regularly, and that data collected must be shared with the federal government “on an ongoing basis”
Finally: the “most annoying manipulation tactic” award for the National Review Article is a tie between the last two sentences of the National Review article, which, combined, say, “Conservatives used to be in favor of holding students to high standards… aren’t they still?” Please.
Let’s rephrase it:
Americans used to be in favor of legitimate, nonexperimental standards for children that were unattached to corporate greed and that were constitutionally legal… Aren’t we still?
The question of who’s controlling education today could be fodder for a hilarious classic comedy skit, like “Who’s On First?”
–Except that messing with our children and wasting tens of millions of hard-earned tax dollars ain’t funny.
Does anyone really know the answer to the question of who has the authority to change Utah’s education standards today? Where is the statewide pressure point? Does the state board have to change the standards –or can the legislature? Can the Governor?
Utahns have been contacting their school boards and teachers and local superintendents. The school boards and superintendents insist, “It came down to us from the state. Our hands are tied. We have to do Common Core.”
They feel it is a mandate that they can’t get out of.
Utahns also contact their elected representatives about Common Core. These representatives and D.C. congressmen almost unanimously say that they are also concerned about Common Core, but are not sure the legislature can do anything about it. They then redirect citizens back to the local and state school boards. The buck gets passed back again.
Utahns have spoken with the Governor about this. He tells us he’s for Common Core because he believes that teachers and principals are for it. But teachers won’t speak up (except anonymously, or except if they are retired) because they fear for their jobs. So how would the governor or anyone really know what teachers are feeling? They don’t.
Governor Herbert does sit on the board of the NGA/CCSSO that wrote and copyrighted the standards. (But no, he can’t affect the standards. The NGA/CCSSO position is a token position that makes the governor –and Utah– buy into the idea that Utah has a voice in Common Core, even though we don’t.)
Constitutionally, the Department of Education has zero authority to direct states’ educational systems, although many Utahns act as though there is no constitutional rule on the matter. To our detriment.
In 2007, Utahns got the superintendent and state board to change the standards because concerned parents brought the standards under fire from the legislature. But today, with a copyrighted Common Core held by the very D.C. groups that wrote Common Core –the NGA and CCSSO– parents can’t pressure the state to improve standards anymore.
So no one knows who’s in charge, but all believe and repeat the claim that it’s not the Federal Government. Now that is classic confusion!
It is worse than the blind leading the blind.
When the academic, privacy, financial and legal liabilities fallout, as soon as a majority of people realize how bad Common Core really is, who will take the blame?