If you are interested in attending the Glenn Beck “We Will Not Conform” event which will play live on the big screen at the Provo, Utah Cinemark 16 on 1200 Towne Center Boulevard, today’s a lucky day. I’ve been given four special event passes by a Glenn Beck producer to give away and they need your name on them.
Just send an email to email@example.com with one reason that you would like two free tickets to this show. Give me your mailing address and I’ll send out the four tickets, two tickets per winner, today. If you don’t win the free tickets, you may buy tickets at FathomEvents.com
About the event:
This Tuesday, July 22nd, liberty goes up against the Common Core. A live, interactive event will take place at about 700 local movie theaters across the nation simultaneously. It will be filmed at the Glenn Beck studios in Dallas, Texas, where a handful of Utah friends will join others in Dallas as part of Glenn Beck’s participant panel.
Michelle Malkin, Glenn Beck, Jenni White, David Barton and many other Common Core fighters will interact with the nationwide audience, via social media, in a meeting of the minds to use “the brainpower, experience and passion of thousands of people from around the country…captured in a comprehensive, unified plan of action”.
You don’t want to miss this.
Another, non-interactive repeat showing of the evening will be rebroadcast in theaters on the evening of July 29th.
Renee Braddy, a Utah mother and a former elementary school teacher, has given permission to post this letter which she sent to the Utah Educator’s Association office.
As of this posting, she has still not heard back from the UEA.
Thank you, Renee.
I am writing to you first and foremost as a parent and second as a former public school teacher in Utah. I faithfully belonged to and supported the UEA the entire time I taught.. Today, I was sent an email from a friend. [Read it here.] The letter was from the UEA and it was a request for its members to voice their support for the Common Core because of concerns being voiced by a “small vocal minority”.
I would likely fit into that category. It seems this emailwas an attempt to label, marginalize, and thus dismiss those who have voiced concerns or opposition. I feel that my concerns, both as a parent and educator, are valid and are based on legal documents and lengthy research. I am writing in hopes of working together.
My experience has been that the large majority of citizens (including parents, teachers and administrators) are unaware of the big picture that comes with the adoption of the Common Core agenda. It is so much more than a set of standards. So, I would say that my experience has been that a large majority are silent on their like or dislike for Common Core. Silence is not acceptance; it is most likely ignorance.
I believe that as American citizens, we have a responsibility and a right to voice our opinions and to have questions answered and concerns addressed. Unfortunately, this opportunity never happened with Utah’s adoption of common core. Due process didn’t occur and the parents and teachers feel like a trust was violated.
I believe that Utah has some of the finest educators in the nation and my hope is to return educational decisions to the hands of parents, teachers and local administrators. I don’t think the shift began with Common Core, but it is the current reform and parents and teachers aren’t happy now. The issues need to be addressed, not dismissed.
Teachers have been told that “it will not bode well professionally to speak against Common Core.” They have told me that they have been sent a clear message that they should not talk about their concerns –and definitely not while at school. Local school board members are also being told to not speak out, and that they need to support the state board.
I am happy to meet and listen to your concerns and attempt to work together for a solution that is right for our state.
Please let me know when is most convenient.
July 9, 2014
Thank you for your email to the Office of the Governor regarding Education (Common Core). I have been asked to respond on behalf of the Governor.
Our office appreciates hearing from constituents and your comments and opinion regarding this issue have been noted.
Thank you for taking time to contact us regarding this matter.
- 1) Why are parents denied the right to opt children out of the state longitudinal database system (SLDS) which tracks them almost for their entire lives without parental consent?
- 2) Why has there been no freedom of conscience, no open debate among educators when it comes to Common Core?
- 3) How can we maintain the reins of local control of education when we are attached like siamese twins to the will of the D.C. groups that control Common Core?
- 4) Why doesn’t Utah have her own standards, instead of copyrighted standards coming out of unelected D.C. groups?
- 5) Why has Utah agreed to Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) which align our private data with federal data standards?
- 6) Why doesn’t Utah look to the example of South Carolina’s and Oklahoma’s governors, who have decried the Common Education Agenda, and get Utah out of it, as those states have so wisely, so importantly, done?
These are watershed moments for education in our State.
If you’ve signed the petition at http://utahnsagainstcommoncore.com you received the following update today. If not, here you go.
Common Core Alerts
1. Attend the Utah State Board of Education meetings Thursday, July 17 from – 4:00 PM to 5:45 PM and Friday, August 8 (please save the date) at Utah State Office of Education, Board Room/Conference Rooms, 250 East 500 South, Salt Lake City, Utah. We plan to PACK THE HOUSE.
The state school board will consider “a decision on whether to apply for an extension to its waiver under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)” to be voted on at the August Board meeting (http://schoolboard.utah.gov/news/board-considers-not-applying-for-an-extension-on-utahs-esea-waiver). We hope that they DO NOT renew the waiver from No Child Left Behind. By not renewing the waiver, Utah can send a clear message that we are in charge of our education and would take us one step closer to cutting the many federal ties that are preventing true local control over education. We will not be the first state to make this vital stand. Read more here.
Our strong presence is vital to voice our support so that the board to vote in our favor. This is a critical vote. Please attend; bring your children; we need to fill the room. (This is their work meeting but with brief public input, so we need to be respectful. Signs are welcome to use in the hallways or outside.)
2. Call and write, before the July 17th meeting, to Governor Herbert, the State School Board, USOE representatives and send copies to your legislators, newspapers, and local school boards, asking them NOT to renew the ESEA waiver, to get us out of Common Core, and to return full control of education to Utah.
Find other officials here - http://vote.utah.gov/vote/menu/index
3. WE WILL NOT CONFORM – GLENN BECK EVENT
JULY 22nd we hope to see you as we pack all the available movie theaters throughout our state (and nationwide) for Glenn Beck’s event: “We Will Not Conform: A night to make Common Core history”. It’s in 700 movie theaters! Several Utah parents will be attending the event live in Texas as well. An updated theater list can be found here: http://www.fathomevents.com/event/we-will-not-conform-live/more-info/theater-locations
4. Parent Groups and Candidates Organized to Stop Common Core:
We have updated the local parent group listings for those organizing in their areas.
There is a large SLC group until smaller groups form from it. Here’s an announcement from them.
Salt Lake County Committees – To Organize, Plan, Educate, and Act! Salt Lake County Committees will meet each fourth Thursday, except when it is a Holiday – like July 24. In which case we will meet on the third Wednesday (to help other attend that might not be able to). So we will meet July 16th 7 PM, at 7679 South Main St. (700 West), Midvale, a nicer and more central location. All are needed at these education and organization meetings (but attendance is more vital at State Board meeting on the 17th). Come one, come all and join your efforts to making Utah Education the best. The building is Utah Addition Centers – but is unmarked so look for signs, to enter, on the front and rear doors. Parking is in the rear. Contact Wendell W. Ashby firstname.lastname@example.org, and Administrative Support – Michelle Rodgers email@example.com
The NEA just passed a resolution calling for the resignation of federal education secretary Arne Duncan.
The fact that the NEA is calling for Duncan’s resignation is a very big deal. Duncan’s trying to downplay it. But this is a very big deal.
Check out details here:
A Utah elementary school teacher, Lily Garcia, happens to be the brand new head of that huge teachers union, the NEA. Interesting.
The Utah Education Association sent out an email yesterday. I’m posting it at the bottom (scroll down.)
It’s sad evidence of the loss of open debate and the loss of freedom of conscience that the UEA pretends all educators agree with its pro-Common Core agenda.
I’m a Utah credentialed teacher and I sure don’t agree.
Please help counteract their mass email request by writing to Governor Herbert (and cc it to legislators, newspapers and school boards). If you want to share, feel free to post your letter here in the comments section as well.
Governor Herbert is surely tired of people like you and me by now. We’ve been speaking with him and writing to him for well over two years, pleading with him to free us from the Common Core agenda and to restore local control of education and of student data privacy.
Still, he needs to hear from us again. The UEA’s action bulletin is recruiting pro-Common Core emails to hang on to Common Core in Utah. The UEA asked readers to forward the email to those who care about public education. — Hey, that is you and me!
Below is the letter that I sent. If you write, please use this instead of the non-functioning email address the UEA gave out: http://governor.utah.gov/goca/form_governor.html. You may also send a copy to all members of the state school board at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Governor Herbert,
|875 E Pontiac Dr. Murray, UT 84107-5299 Phone: 801-266-4461|
by DR. SANDRA STOTSKY
The burning education issue facing most states at the moment is which tests should they give their K-12 students next year to satisfy the conditions of their waivers from the United States Department of Education (USED) or the commitments they made in their Race to the Top (RttT) applications, whether or not they received an RttT grant or other funds from the USED or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The two testing consortia funded by the USED – Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) – for the purpose of developing common tests based on Common Core’s standards have experienced dwindling state commitments. SBAC is down to less than 20, and PARCC is down to possibly 9. Both consortia have been piloting test items across the states this past academic year to acquire the pool of items needed for computer-adaptive testing (by SBAC) and for gauging difficulty levels at all the grade levels participating in the assessments (K-11).
A new twist is the question of whether state boards, commissioners, and/or departments of education committed their states (i.e., the taxpayers) to particular testing companies and future technology costs without going through statute-mandated bidding procedures and cost-benefit analyses. New Mexico and Louisiana seem to be tied up in constitutional issues on contractual matters, while Arizona is trying to ensure it follows its own statutory bidding procedures.
What hasn’t been getting much attention from mainstream media, possibly because most reporters have no children in Common Core-based classrooms and don’t talk to parents of school-age children on a regular basis, are the problems students and teachers are encountering with the tests themselves and the similarities in the problems reported for PARCC and SBAC pilot tests.
The information on PARCC’s pilot tests comes from school administrators in the Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School District in Massachusetts, as reported on June 18 in Wickedlocal.com. The article was based chiefly on what took place at a school board meeting in June, during which the School Committee voted unanimously to stay with MCAS, the state test, for the next academic year. At the meeting, the school administrators explained why they wanted to stay with MCAS, based on the experiences teachers and students had with the PARCC pilot tests the school district gave in the spring of 2014.
“It’s like telling our teachers, ‘We’ll teach you how to drive.’ But then the test says you won’t be driving cars. You’ll be driving boats,” said Bridgewater-Raynham school Superintendent Jacqueline Forbes of the PARCC exam. “It’s not aligning with our curriculum or instruction.”
Based on pilot testing, school officials said PARCC did not match up with Bridgewater-Raynham’s teaching methods and also contained numerous technological flaws.
“The one word I’d use to sum up our experience is ‘frustration,’” said Brian Lynch, an elementary school principal. “First, there were a lot of problems administering the test, which is taken on a computer – and the snags weren’t on the district’s end.”
“Second, the test requires students to be familiar with software programs the district does not teach,” Lynch continued. “The district uses a lot of technology, but students still take basic math tests on topics such as number lines and graphing using a paper and pencil.”
“Are we testing math or are we testing a child’s ability to drag and type?” asked Forbes.
“We don’t teach typing in third grade. It’s not developmentally appropriate.”
According to high school Principal Angela Watson, the district piloted the PARCC Algebra I test to randomly selected ninth graders.
“Unfortunately, what we found is our written, taught and assessed curriculum doesn’t match up exactly with the PARCC exam. … It puts kids in unfamiliar territory,” Watson said. “It would take time and resources to make the switch to a curriculum that matches up with PARCC.”
Forbes, however, said that effort might turn out to be misdirected because other districts have articulated similar concerns about the PARCC test. Regarding SBAC’s pilot tests, a recent letter by Fairgrounds Middle School Principal John Nelson to Nashua Superintendent Mark Conrad provided a disturbing picture, wrote the Nashua Telegraph in late January.
New Hampshire teachers had been asked by their local superintendent of schools to take an early version of SBAC in December 2013. According to the article, the teachers said the “new computerized test is confusing, doesn’t work well, and leads to frustration.”
In his letter to members of the Nashua Board of Education, Nelson said, “Teachers shared frustrations they had when they were taking the test and disappointment in test format and the difficulties they had trying to use their computer to take this test.”
His teachers agreed the test should not be used on Nashua students.
The FMS staff collectively believe that the Smarter Balance Test is inappropriate for our students at this time and that the results from this test will not measure the academic achievement of our students; but will be a test of computer skills and students’ abilities to endure through a cumbersome task.
Despite the teachers’ plea and support from Nashua’s teacher union, Conrad, the state board, and Department of Education refused to back down, leaving Nashua’s students with a test their own teachers think is meaningless.
As in Nashua and Bridgewater-Raynham, local reporters all over the country are likely reporting what is happening in their local schools as they pilot Common Core-based tests.
But Congress, state legislators, governors, and other policymakers at the state and national levels are not getting an accurate picture of what is happening to the curriculum in our public schools or to the children in them.
Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D. is Professor Emerita at the University of Arkansas. She served on the official Common Core validation committee. This article is published with her permission and was first posted at Breitbart.com
By Sandra Stotsky
The FMS staff collectively believe that the Smarter Balance Test is inappropriate for our students at this time and that the results from this test will not measure the academic achievement of our students; but will be a test of computer skills and students’ abilities to endure through a cumbersome task.
The Domino effect is happening. States are getting free of Common Core.
First was Indiana. South Carolina and Oklahoma officially dropped out next. Now, here are two more immediately dropping dominoes, Louisiana and Mississippi:
Domino one: Mercedes Schneider provided details on Louisiana Governor Jindal’s Common Core and PARCC exit here. Fascinating conflict of powers in Louisiana. (Thank you, Mercedes Schneider!)
Domino two: The Clarion-Ledger reports that Governor Bryant of Mississipi wants to be free of Common Core.
“I think Common Core is a failed program, and the United States is beginning to realize that,” Bryant said. “Governors all across America are realizing states can do it better.”
Hope that Utah’s Governor Herbert is next.
An interesting art exhibit now at the 464 Gallery in Buffalo, New York features the work of a teacher, Jennifer Scott. It’s receiving national attention because the art is an anti-Common Core protest. The central piece in Scott’s exhibit, “For the Love of Learning: Students First” stars a man in a crown of standardized test bubble sheets –a man exactly resembling NY Education Commissioner John King.
Another Jennifer Scott art piece with a privacy-invasion theme also features Commissioner King. This time he’s a giant, peering in through the school room window with a gleeful countenance at small, unhappy students.
Why does Jennifer Scott use King as the puppetmaster of Common Core? Why not Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, Sir Michael Barber, David Coleman or President Obama?
Commissioner King has been an longtime, outspoken defender of the indefensible in New York.
Recently, King has been more than just hotly criticized. The New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE, a coalition of 45 parent and educator groups in the state) actually, publically condemned Commissioner King to termination last month in a press release.
NYSAPE cited too much emphasis on testing, problems with Common Core standards, “one-size-fits-all” statewide curriculum, and the casual dismissal of the concerns of parents and educators “to the detriment of their children for far too long.” (Stop Common Core New York, a parent-led group, had been calling for King’s resignation for at least six months previous to NYSAPE’s call.)
The New York anti-fed-ed-reform movement grows and grows. (A full 48% of Worcester Central School District, NY, opted out of standardized math tests!) It was New York (Comsewogue District) Superintendent Joseph Rella who led a huge rally in his school’s football stadium against Common Core last year. And now, national news about the poignant art of teacher Jennifer Scott is receiving media attention while New York legislators work to restore local control and legitimate education.
Still, can the art of an indignant teacher, or can a handful of legislators, or can the pressure of 45 educational coalitions in New York, or can the clear reasoning of remarkable, outspoken local professors– Diane Ravitch, Alan Singer, Christopher Tienken, Nick Tampio and others– really oust John King, his Board of Regents and the fed-ed reforms?
Consider the fact that King is a favorite, a true darling of Secretary Arne Duncan and a staunch member of the brave new politicorporate ed reform establishment. For years, King and Duncan have been buddying about, making speeches both together and separately, officially explaining the religion of fed-ed. This includes not only Common Core and “robust” federally accessible data but also the idea that children should be forced to stay in school for more hours of the day, (a longtime Duncan favorite theme) or “let’s mandate more and more high stakes testing with Common Core adoption” –notions the two insist are very, very good for children– despite a complete lack of empirical evidence to support their points.
How do they get away with this?
I don’t know. It’s so clearly wrong. More people need to know it.
Let’s hope Jennifer Scott’s art multiplies and influences millions of additional New Yorkers to take a long, hard look at the awful transformations happening in their school systems. Let’s hope the parents and educators in New York win the fight for their children.
Then, let’s have an early –very early– retirement party for Commissioner King.
Thank you, Jennifer Scott.
Note to Utahns: Utah children are being tested by AIR, not by Pearson. So why post this article?
It’s no secret that Utah, as well as the federal government, has heavily invested in Pearson/Microsoft‘s philosophy and product. Pearson leads out in all Common Core implementation and student-data gathering products nationwide, including here in Utah (except for the SAGE/AIR test itself).
Alan Singer’s article adds to the growing argument against Pearson, period. My hope is that both Pearson’s products and its “one-global-governance-system” philosophy will be vigorously rejected and that Pearson will not receive one more penny of the countless Utah tax dollars it has already claimed, both via curriculum sales and via its creepy database building for our state’s school system.
Why Pearson Tests Our Kids
by Alan Singer, Hofstra University
(Posted with permission from the author and also published here)
Pearson invited me to breakfast. Well not just me. I received an email inviting Long Island educators to a free “Breakfast Briefing” promoting “Pearson Personalized Learning” that would empower me to “Turn your traditional student learning into Student-Centered learning by delivering the right curriculum to the right student, at the right time.” I checked out Pearson’s personal learning products online and then decided that the free breakfast and the opportunity to annoy them was not worth the trip.
Pearson is promoting GradPoint, “an easy to use web based solution for grades 6-12″ that “includes over 180 rigorous courses (Core, Electives, AP and Foreign Language & CTE).;” iLit, “a tablet-based reading intervention for students in grades 4-10″ which promises “it has everything your class needs to gain two years of reading growth in a single year;” and aimsweb, “the leading assessment and RTI solution in school today-a complete web-based solution for universal screening, progress monitoring, and data management for Grades K-12.”
I thought calling their literacy program iLit was pretty funny, but otherwise I find their promotion scary. “Pearson Personalized Learning” is not about supporting schools; it is about replacing them. And it is about replacing them without any evidence that their products work or any concern for the impact of their products on schools and student learning.
Pearson executives Sir Michael Barber, Saad Rizvi and John Fallon call their global market strategy “The Incomplete Guide To Delivering Learning Outcomes.” Fallon, Pearson CEO, has been with the company for most of his professional career. He is behind the push for “efficacy,” the corporate buzzword, which in practical terms translates into the constant assessing of student performance who are using Pearson products. The testing strategy tied into common core in the United States is neither an accident nor an accessory. Testing is the core of common core.
I find Barber and Rizvi even more interesting than Fallon for understanding Pearson’s marketing strategies. Barber is Pearson’s chief education strategist and leads its three-pronged assault on education around the world through what Pearson calls efficacy, affordable learning, and the Pearson Knowledge and Research Centre. Efficacy is supposed to be about what works in education based on research done at the research centre, but everything is actually organized around the Pearson goal of “finding business models for affordable schools” that they will be selling, especially in “developing areas of the world.”
If you want to know how Pearson plans to operate, you have to look at McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm and advisor to some of the world’s leading businesses, governments, and institutions. Before joining Pearson, Michael Barber had a similar role at McKinsey where he was a partner. Saad Rizvi, who is Pearson’s Senior Vice President for Efficacy and head of its Catalyst for Education team, was a consultant at McKinsey. McKinsey & Company’s clients include 100 of the top 150 companies in the world. It has advised the Bank of England, the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, and the German government.
The main job of McKinsey is to help companies maintain profitability by closing subsidies, selling assets, shifting production, and laying off workers. McKinsey has had its share of mishaps. Former employees include Jeff Skilling, the disgraced chief executive of Enron and Rajat K. Gupta, who was convicted of insider trading. Other disasters include advising Time Warner on its ill-fated merger with AOL, advising General Motors on how to compete with Japanese automakers, and advising AT&T not to be concerned about cellphones. A top McKinsey partner dismissed these failures saying “We are advisers, and it is management’s job to take all the advice they receive and make their own decisions. Not to say that McKinsey told me to do this.”
I think a fair question to ask is, do we want the business model that led to the Eron scam and these other corporate disasters employed in operating American schools and McKinsey’s no-fault attitude toward advising local, state, and federal governments on educational policy?
Pearson’s Affordable Learning division currently focuses on emerging markets in Africa and India, but it is the model for Pearson business worldwide. It includes eAdvance (South Africa), which sponsors a blended learning chain called Spark Schools; Omega, a chain of thirty-eight private schools in Ghana; Bridge International Academies in Kenya; and Zaya, an educational technology and service company contracted to operate twenty-seven schools; Suiksha, a chain of pre-schools; Experifun, which markets science learning products; Avanti, after-school test prep; and Village Capital (Edupreneurs) promoting private education start-up companies, all based in India. The blurb for eAdvance’s Spark Schools give some sense of what Pearson is trying to do in Africa, India and worldwide – under price the market to disrupt existing educational institutions so Pearson companies can move in, take over, and gobble up profits.
“SPARK Schools has bold aspirations to disrupt the South African education system through introducing an innovative learning methodology to the African continent. In the SPARK Schools model, students split their time between digital content that adapts in difficulty to their learning and classroom interaction based on best practice pedagogy. Importantly, the blended model also allows eAdvance to deliver high quality education at an affordable price.” It will “build eight low-cost blended learning schools over the next three years, and more than 60 in the next ten.”
Pearson is also using mergers to expand its markets and influence. In December 2013, Pearson agreed to purchase Grupo Multi, an English-language training company in Brazil, to accelerate growth in Latin America.
Pearson uses the desperation of Third World countries to modernize to get its foot in the door and to act without regulation or oversight. Up until now, about sixty percentof Pearson’s sales were in the United States, however expansion stalled in this country because of lower freshman enrollments in U.S. colleges and a slowdown in textbook markets. Sales also suffered in Great Britain because of curriculum changes and the company spent about $200 million organizing its push into foreign digital markets.
As a result of these issues, Moody’s Investors Service, a ratings agency, lowered its evaluation of Pearson from stable to negative. “We are changing the outlook to negative as Pearson’s debt protection metrics for fiscal year 2013 are likely to weaken considerably,” says According to Gunjan Dixit, a Moody’s Assistant Vice President-Analyst, “This view reflects Pearson’s tough trading conditions, particularly in North America and the UK; the greater-than-originally-anticipated spending on restructuring; and certain start-up costs for new contracts in higher education and increased provisions for returns.” According to Moody’s, key challenges for Pearson in the future include (1) the fiscal health of U.S. states and international government funding bodies, in its schools and higher education businesses; (2) difficult market conditions in the U.S. education market; (3) the vulnerability of its Financial Times group; and (4) the accelerating transition of trade book publishing to electronic formats. Pearson stockholders were so disappointed in the company’s financial performance that in April 2014, shareholders protested against excessive executive bonuses.
In the United States, Pearson faces other problems that may be related to over expansion, the inability to deliver what was promised, and possible under the table agreements on contracts. In Florida, state officials blamed Pearson Education when at least a dozen Florida school districts were forced to suspend online testing this April because students had trouble signing in for the test. for the situation. Other problems included slowness when students tried to download test questions or submit answers and an inexplicable warning message that students should notify their teacher or proctor about a problem that did not exist. “State Education Commissioner Pam Stewart complained to Pearson that the “failure is inexcusable. Florida’s students and teachers work too hard on learning to be distracted by these needless and avoidable technological issues.”
Pearson blamed the test problems on a third-party hosting service provider. However, in recent years Pearson has had similar problems with computerized tests in Florida before as well as in other states. In 2011, Wyoming fined Pearson $5.1 million because of software problems and then switched back to paper tests. In April, Pearson was also forced to acknowledge and apologize for “intermittent disruptions to some of our online testing services.” This time they blamed a different sub-contractor.
In the meantime, the American Institutes for Research is challenging the awarding of a lucrative common core test development contract to Pearson. While the complaint is being brought in New Mexico, it has national ramification. The contract is for developing test-items, test delivery, reporting results, and analysis of student performance for states that are part of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, one of two main consortia designing tests linked to the common-core standards. The plaintiff claims the process for awarding the contract was designed to specifically benefit Pearson, which ended up being the only bidder, and was therefore illegal.
In New York State, parents and teachers are outraged because teachers and building administrators are forced to sign statements promising not to discuss or release questions about new Pearson “Common Core” aligned high-stakes tests. In the past, questions from past state high school “Regents” exams were posted on the State Education website. Now Pearson, which is paid $32 million by New York State to create the tests is demanding a payment of an additional $8 million to permit the state to post the questions.
In New Zealand, a group called Save Our Schools NZ is protesting the misuse of PISA (Programme of International Student Assessment) tests and rankings by national education departments. They charge “Pisa, with its three-year assessment cycle, has caused a shift of attention to short-term fixes designed to help a country quickly climb the rankings, despite research showing that enduring changes in education practice take decades, not a few years, to come to fruition.” Pearson holds the contract to prepare PISA assessments starting in 2015.
For all its claims about efficacy, Pearson is not a very efficient company. For all its claims about valuing education, the only thing Pearson appears to value is profit.
Department of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership
128 Hagedorn Hall / 119 Hofstra University / Hempstead, NY 11549
In this video, Utah County’s Repubican Chairman Casey Voeks explains why his party’s opposed to Common Core.
<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/97553651″>Casey Voeks (Utah County GOP Chairman) explains how Common Core violates Republican principles.</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user8069880″>Sound Image Productions</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
South Carolina Rejects Common Core
(Although Indiana was the first state to drop Common Core, it appears the new Indiana standards are simply a rebranding; Oklahoma’s and South Carolina’s new laws have language designed to prevent the drop-retrieve-rebrand trick.)
This is wonderful news for South Carolina and Oklahoma.
God Bless (the rest of) America.
The hoped-for miracle happened.
Governor Fallin stated:
“We are capable of developing our own Oklahoma academic standards that will be better than Common Core … What should have been a bipartisan policy is now widely regarded as the president’s plan to establish federal control of curricula, testing and teaching strategies.
“We cannot ignore the widespread concern of citizens, parents, educators and legislators who have expressed fear that adopting Common Core gives up local control of Oklahoma’s public schools…
“For that reason I am signing HB 3399 to repeal and replace Common Core with Oklahoma designed and implemented education standards… They must raise the bar – beyond what Common Core offers… I also ‘get it’ that Oklahoma standards must be exceptional, so when businesses and military families move to Oklahoma they can rest assured knowing their children will get a great education.
… While those new standards are being written, the state standards for English and math will revert to the Oklahoma Priority Academic Student Skills (PASS) standards used from 2003 to 2010. “
How I wish I could be a fly on the wall, listening to conversations in Oklahoma now! What is the local Oklahoma PTA saying? What are Oklahoma state and local school boards thinking? And what are Oklahoma’s chambers of commerce saying now to their members? All these figureheads have pushed pro-Common Core marketing on parents and teachers and businesses for several years, and now they are having to change their whole story.
What are the students in Oklahoma saying? What about the teachers!? Are they having big bonfires, using the worthless pro-common core pamphlets, professional development handouts and books?
This is truly an historic moment.
The withdrawal from Common Core by Governor Fallin –not only a member, but the chair of the National Governors Association –the same NGA to which Bill Gates has given millions upon millions of dollars to create and implement Common Core– is a very big deal.
And the elephant that’s been crowding the room for years now –Common Core’s pretense of academic excellence– has taken a serious hit with Governor Fallin’s acknowledgement that Oklahoma’s soon-to-be-written NEW standards “must raise the bar beyond what Common Core offers.“
Questions that will keep me up tonight:
Will Oklahoma’s new standards reintroduce Oklahoma’s children to mountains of stories and literature in unlimited amounts, re-igniting the love of language and reading?
Will Oklahoma’s new standards reinstate the traditional Algebra standards, and add higher math –beyond Common Core’s Algebra II? Will they drop the absurd constructivist math methodology and teach math in clear, classical ways?
Will Oklahoma’s new standards require creation of an alternate college entrance exam, since the ACT, SAT, GED and AP have become Common Core aligned (corrupted)?
Will Oklahoma drop the common educational data standards (CEDS) and the common database that tracks children (SLDS) as well?
Will Oklahoma’s precedent of saying “no” to the unconstitutional moves of Secretary Duncan and President Obama also extend itself to dismiss the federally partnered, solely Common Core-aligned, Pearson-Microsoft ed sales monstrosity?
How many thousands of not-from-Oklahoma teachers plan to move from other states to Oklahoma –solely based on this turn of educational events? How many parents in other states, who are exhausted from the effort of being endlessly dismissed by their state school boards and governors, are thinking what I’m thinking?
If the rest of our U.S. governors, legislators and school boards don’t see the light –and fast– it’s going to be wahoo, pack your bags and let’s move to Oklahoma.
These two excellent letters are written by two Utah dads, Oak Norton and Jared Carman.
If you would like to write to the state board, send an email to: email@example.com -and if you would like to attend their meeting and speak during a two minute public comment allowance, email the board with your request.
If you would like to share your letter about Utah math and standards that you have sent to the board, please feel free to use the comments section below, so we can all read these letters. I’ll post mine there, too.
Dear State School Board members,
I have reviewed the presentation the USOE has prepared for the math committee members on Thursday night (http://schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda/docs/Tab11.aspx). I have a conflict and cannot come to make a public comment so I am emailing you my comments.
I see you are also discussing the search for a new state superintendent. I have honestly appreciated Superintendent Menlove’s outreach, particularly these last few months. He truly made an effort to be a good listener to concerns and also helped resolve them, particularly as families around the state had difficulty opting their children out of SAGE tests. That said, I believe it is time to hire from outside the education circles of Utah. There are people within the power structure that must be fired. It is very difficult for friends to fire friends. Political games are played to ensure their jobs. Hiring from out of state would allow someone to come in and clean house and give the USOE the course correction they need. Someone experienced with a top notch education system elsewhere would be an ideal candidate.
It is obvious from the USOE presentation to you just how biased they are toward maintaining CCSS in Utah. During the last legislative session they succeeded in getting a $2 million fiscal note attached to Rep. Layton’s bill to replace Common Core, so I am happy to see they have dramatically lowered that figure for your presentation. Replacing standards is not nearly as expensive as they want to make it look. In fact, I know they were telling people that adopting Common Core was free, while doing anything else was expensive. Common Core was not free, it was quite expensive, but since Bill Gates funded its multi-million dollar creation and we only had to spend some millions of dollars in Utah to implement it, I guess we can play the game that it was free.
There happen to be free or extremely low cost solutions that are far superior to Common Core.
In math, we could adopt California, Indiana, or Massachusetts’ pre-Common Core math standards which Fordham identified as clearly superior to CCSS. The wonderful thing here is solid textbooks were completely aligned for CA due to its population size, and assessments would most likely be available with a 100% match to those standards.
In English, we have the Massachusetts revision to their excellent ELA standards, which never got implemented due to MA adopting CCSS. We also have another set of “English Success Standards” written by teachers which is free and could be adopted for free. We also have a standing offer from Dr. Sandra Stotsky, one of the MA authors, to come to Utah for the cost of lodging and incidentals, and work with Utah teachers to create our own top of the nation ELA standards.
I was heavily involved in getting Utah the 2007 standards. In 2009, before the 2007 standards had even been fully implemented in the state, the USOE signed onto an agreement to develop CC. This caused a number of districts to slow or stop their roll out of the 2007 standards because they knew something else was coming. By 2010, CCSS was released and adopted so many districts never even fully rolled out the 2007 standards because of the speed with which they were replaced. For the USOE to say that only 44% of students on the 2007 standards would achieve the 66% college goal of the governor is a wild falsehood and a scare tactic. They have no idea. For them to say CCSS will achieve this goal is also a wild stab in the dark since these standards are an experiment that just begun. Fordham actually said our 2007 standards were clearer and stronger than CCSS. Further, the 2007 standards would have been even stronger if the USOE had not wholesale rejected the recommendations of Dr. Wu, the external reviewer from Berkeley, for those standards. Their disgust at having to replace our D rated prior standards showed through the process and we wound up with A- rated standards instead of what would have probably been A rated standards. What we had was superior to Common Core and what we would have gotten would have put us in line with states like CA, IN, and MA.
Further, it is a bald faced lie that CCSS were internationally benchmarked. That has been completely disproven. They are not “world class” standards. The only professional mathematician on the Common Core validation committee, who also writes standards and reviews international standards, refused to sign off on CCSS precisely for this reason –that CCSS leaves us 2 years behind international competitors. CCSS is already damaging our children by pushing them too hard in early grades and too slow in upper, particularly due to the awful implementation of the integrated method by the USOE in order that they could push their constructivist agenda into schools with the awful MVP program. Our 2007 standards were supposed to have been internationally benchmarked against Singapore and Japan. Nicole Paulson at the USOE told the committee this would take place, but to my knowledge she never did it.
Utah must have a complete break from anything tied to the federal government. CCSS, regardless of who you think actually created it, has clearly been hijacked by the federal government in an effort to consolidate the powers of education and control the system. The best decision, I believe, is to grant control of standards to the LEAs and shatter the ability for the feds or even the state to affect truly local control. Lets set up the laboratories within the state. There are no parents in this state who are going to want less than a wonderful education experience for their children. We always talk about increasing parental involvement. This would maximize it from the standards perspective. If you’re not willing to do this, then I would strongly recommend adopting the excellent [pre-common core] standards of California for which there are textbooks and a large test bank that could be accessed.
The USOE slide of supporters contains a practical who’s who of constructivist, Investigations math loving people, as well as others who are financially benefiting from the USOE. Of course they are going to support them in CCSS!
I wish there was time and space to comment on many other slides in their presentation, but it’s obvious they are biased on their perspective, and it’s obvious that there is a strong growing concern about the direction they are taking Utah. Nothing impacts someone like having their child who once loved math now hate it. It only hits home when it affects you, as several legislators have now had happen to them.
Please get Utah off anything close to CCSS and its one-size-fits-all “solution.” LEA’s controlling their own standards can innovate and do things they otherwise couldn’t do.
I have read your June 6 memo to the USBE regarding Mathematics Standards. As a parent and citizen activist, I ask you to please restore control of standards and testing to local districts & charters (LEAs).
This will not be as costly or problematic as the table in the memo suggests. By engaging directly with parents, LEAs can adopt pre-common core standards from other states, and use time-tested, pre-common core textbooks.
‘Children are an heritage of the Lord,’ given to parents, not the state. By restoring LEA control of standards & testing, Utah would take an important step in support of this fundamental truth.
Restoring LEA control would not mean that the state does not have a role to play. In fact the state could help LEAs:
- Build a culture of serving parents/guardians, who are the consumers of educational services on behalf of their children.
- Create smaller districts that are more responsive to parents.
- Work with parent/church groups to help mentor children with less than ideal home circumstances.
Thank you for listening.
A smiling school board member, tired of me and unwilling to fight the Common Core monster, advised me to do what she does: focus on the positive parts of Common Core. Be an optimist, she said.
“The positive parts? –You mean the lies?” I thought, because I’ve not seen positive parts unless you count the positive-sounding parts.
There are lots of those– the Common Core advertisements, the school board’s website promotions and newspaper quotes.
To the non-researcher, the Common Core sounds completely positive– but this “initiative” turns out to be very bad when the naked facts are revealed, about how it’s controlled, whom it pays off and what it robs.
Because the smiling board member knew many of these unsavory facts that she wished not to know, her advice reminded me of the part in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when Dr. Jekyll tells Utterton not to worry about Mr. Hyde. How illogical, dangerous and self-defeating. But to some, it seems that being an optimist requires putting ourselves at the mercy of bullies and pretending to agree to things that are clearly not so.
This conversation exposed the wide gap between the pretty surface language versus the ugly facts under the belly of Common Core.
In response to that conversation, I’m promoting George Orwell’s brilliant 1946 “catalogue of swindles and perversions” entitled Politics and the English Language.
Orwell’s great at explaining how to cut through verbal jungles of lies. (Please read his whole essay here; I’m just borrowing highlights.)
My favorite image from the essay tops Orwell’s explanation of how manipulators make a bad situation sound grand by using language to cloud truth: as a cuttlefish clouds his intentions by squirting a lot of ink.
“When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns… to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink” … “the great enemy of clear language is insincerity,” he wrote.
Orwell’s essay does more than reveal how political language deceived listeners in 1946; it also foretells 2014 ed reform lingo. It could have been titled “Interesting Ways That People Cook Up Lies to Appear Not Only True, But Delicious.”
Many people have never considered Orwell’s main point: that official language is not only used to express thought; language can be and is also used “for concealing or preventing thought.” Orwell said that political language can “make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”.
The politicorporate cuttlefish do this!
They can’t risk alerting Americans to the real direction in which ed reforms have taken our liberties. Speaking plainly would reveal everything, so they use language to conceal and cloud the sources of the power grab, banking on the fact that most people accept wordiness as if it were smartness and lawfulness.
As a cuttlefish squirts out ink to mask the direction in which he’s really swimming, so do Duncan, Obama, Gates, Coleman, Barber, Tucker, writers of grants, reports and publications try to cloud our minds to lull us, as school boards, governors, parents and taxpayers, to nod and hand over our keys– because we can’t see where the cuttlefish is going and the ink’s kind of pretty.
This is how they do it.
1. BORROWED WORDS OR PRIVATE DEFINITIONS
Those who are either lazy or liars continually borrow phrases and metaphors “tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house,” as Orwell called it, rather than to actually work to think of an original phrase, metaphor or image.
Keeping that henhouse in mind, watch for the repetitive phrases tacked together in education reformers’ speeches. The repeated handful of vague, positive terms include:
- “rigorous standards“
- “social justice“
- “the equity imperative“
- “human capital“
- “robust data“
- “world-class education“
- “global economy“ and “global flourishing” and “globally competent“
These terms have defined, mostly private second meanings. For one example, “world class education” does not mean the best in the world, as we might think –instead, it means noncompetitive, as in: the same as all the world –which is supremely ironic given the fact that the phrase “international competitiveness” is another prefabricated ed reform hen house phrase.
Orwell said that people use words of this kind “in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different.” The trendy, pre-fab terms are re-echoed by the federal government, the NGA, CCSSO, Achieve Inc., the Chamber of Commerce, and top university leaders. Some high up officials do not even know that there are private definitions, and they parrot what they’ve heard from people who they may not even recognize as being liars; real, actual, ongoing, habitual, caught-in-the-act liars.
The prime example, of course, of an overused, overborrowed term with a private definition is President Obama’s “call for success in college and careers” also known as “college and career ready standards.” It sounds unobjectionable. But it’s not just a nice, vague term to Obama. It’s narrowly defined on the federal website as standards “common to a significant number of states.” That’s no definition at all except common, the same. Excellence doesn’t come into it. And the phrase is repeated seven times just in one short white house press release. It’s that important and weighty. Now I can’t hear the term “college and career ready” without groaning and rolling my eyes. The ed reformers stole its innocent meaning.
Another pet deceit among ed reformers is to misuse the word “back” by equating any attempt anyone makes (to restore freedoms previously held) to moving backward, or making unintelligent decisions. Bill Gates said that controversy around Common Core “comes from people who want to stop the standards, which would send us back to what we had before.” He did not define “what we had before” as freedom. He left that intentionally vague. But ponder it: would restoring text and test diversity really be a step backward? Would restoring student privacy by getting rid of common data standards (CEDS) and the common databases (SLDS) be a step backward or forward for lovers of freedom? Is all change positive change?
Of course, some changes are good and some are bad. But top ed reformers, including education sales giant Pearson, relentlessly push the idea that deletion of traditional education is good. Pearson CEA Sir Michael Barber said, “governments need to rethink their regulatory regimes for an era when university systems are global rather than national… standing still is not an option.”
Do you buy the idea that governments should give up their national constitutions and local systems and that holding fast to time-tested traditions in education is stupidly “standing still”? Me neither. But this gives us insight into the private definition of “globally competent”.
2. VERBAL FALSE LIMBS
Overuse of the quantity words, especially of overused and educratically vogue words, is usually deliberate snowing. Ed reformers cover up the sharp truths so people don’t recognize what they’re doing, nor fight back. But George Orwell pointed out that adding extra, unneeded words is as obvious and cumbersome –if you pay attention– as adding an extra limb to the body. Watch for phrases lacking usefulness but still commanding space and posing as credibile.
The excessive limbs game was used, for example, when the Federal Register attempted to hide its removal of parental consent over student data-sharing in FERPA policy, by using so many words that only a committee of lawyers could uncover it.
Remember: the motive is to conceal, not to reveal, truth. Orwell said that these excess words “fall upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outlines and covering up all the details… ”
Indeed they try. But there are red flags that they themselves created, phrases that can signal to us that lies are afoot. One especially irksome phrase is “informed by” –such a trendy, snooty false limb. Its academic tone may intimidate some readers, but the phrase is often used as a spout near missing evidence. For example, the Common Core official website states that “Common Core is informed by the highest, most effective standards from states across the United States and countries around the world.” Not true!
Promoters used to claim, often and loudly, that Common Core was internationally benchmarked, but after critics pointed out that not a single country had math and English standards that matched Common Core, promoters changed to the term “informed by” which is so vague that it’s harder to prove it’s a lie.
Still, it’s a lie: top state standards-holders prior to Common Core were Massachusetts, Indiana and California, and they dropped their high standards and came down to common core. Common Core didn’t reach up at all. There’s nothing “internationally informed” about them. Just ask validation committee member Dr. James Milgram, who said that the reason he didn’t sign off on the standards was that “they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least two years behind practices in high achieving countries by seventh grade”.
A very wordy example of verbal false limbs running amok is seen in a federal Common Core grant called the “Cooperative Agreement.” It connects the federal government and the Common Core tester, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). The lengthy agreement applies to PARCC, too. And since SBAC partnered with Utah’s and Florida’s current testing group, A.I.R., this document still matters to me despite Utah’s dropping out of SBAC. Buried in its snowbanks of wordiness is a micromanaging federal bully. States must:
“Actively participate in any meetings and telephone conferences with ED staff… Be responsive to requests from ED for information about the status of the project… providing such information in writing… Comply with… ED staff … make student-level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis… [R]espective Project Directors [this means the testing arms] will collaborate to coordinate appropriate tasks and timelines to foster synchronized development of assessment systems… The Program Officer for the RTTA grantees [this means the Feds] will work with the Project Directors for both RTTA grantees [this means the testing arms] to coordinate and facilitate coordination across consortia.”
In other words, conform. But that sharp message is buried behind pleasant phrases earlier in the document, such as “the purpose of this agreement is to support the consortium recipient.” Support? The way that a jail supports those jailed inside it? This brings us to the next tool: pretentious diction.
3. PRETENTIOUS DICTION
Orwell said that pretentious diction tries to “dignify sordid processes” and to “give an air of scientific impartiality to biased judgments.”
Example: Read the pretentious, one-sided judgments underlying the highly controversial Obama-Duncan “Preschool For All Initiative”. For those who don’t know, this move puts four year old toddlers in federal preschools –based on supposedly settled scientific research that concludes that this will benefit little ones.
Yet, highly respected researchers oppose what Obama-Duncan tout; they say that it is best to keep young children free of institutionalization (not to mention keeping them free of data tracking and high stakes testing). Still, President Obama speaks about the federal Preschool For All, using “research” that serves his idea that government should rear children from the cradle.
Watch how he does it. He imposes the intimate, tiny yet very pretentious term “we” on listeners, and implies that “we” can simultaneously –and fairly– serve the child, the business interests, and the educational-political interests:
“Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education.”
Notice that the president omits any mention of governmental mandate. Elsewhere, we learn that Preschool For All is to be mandatory. In an April 29, 2014 speech, Duncan called for mandatory preschool, saying, “The third major priority in the 2015 request is to continue the President’s commitment to expanding educational opportunity for millions of children through a $75 billion mandatory Preschool for All program…”
Pretentious diction overflows, like the polluted froth on a sick river, over and through the current math and English Common Core standards. It lives in the speeches of education sales giant Pearson CEA Sir Michael Barber as he explains reasons for making environmental education a centerpiece of every school in every subject in every nation (see Pearson’s CEA Sir Michael Barber‘s speeches.) It’s in the term “misinformed” that proponents loves to call all Common Core’s opponents. Pretention is everywhere ed reformers speak and write. They depend on pretense because they lack actual authority.
A clue to detecting the lies that are hidden behind pretentious diction is to search for links to research that supports the claims being made. Usually, there are no references, no links; listeners are expected to be trusting and dumb enough to assume what is being said is truthful. On those rare occasions that links to evidence are provided, find out if the cited think tank/university/publisher is financially partnered with the politicorporate cuttlefish of Common Core. Invariably, they are.
We are left to realize that in Common Core ed reform, money now has a stronger voice than voters, teachers, parents, students or taxpayers in determining what will be policy. And that money is deeply committed to making more of itself. Case in point:
Gates’ company, Microsoft, wrote: “At Microsoft, we are deeply committed to working with governments… [blah blah blah] … learning for all.”
“Deeply committed” sounds good. It sounds noble. But why is Gates’ company so deeply committed to “learning for all”? Because they’re making money while altering political and educational policy. Making money is a good thing; I’m all for capitalism. The problem is that nobody elected Microsoft or Pearson; they have no authority other than the dollars they use as bait. We can’t un-elect them now or ever, and we’ve swallowed their baited hooks right and left in countless “partnerships” with our governments.
4. MEANINGLESS WORDS
Orwell pointed out that much of what passes for writing is “strictly meaningless, in the sense that they not only do not point to any discoverable object, but are hardly even expected to do so by the reader.” Orwell despised “long passages almost completely lacking in meaning.” He would not enjoy the 26-transcript-paged speech by David Coleman, current president of the College Board, because it is a black hole that says nothing except for the part when Coleman admitted he’s unqualified for his office. That part would be funny if the education of children were some kind of laughing matter.
Here’s more meaninglessness: Bill Gates said: “common standards could transform U.S. education.” It’s meaningless because nobody would argue it; it’s like saying rain could make your hair wet. Common standards could and ARE transforming education. But is it a disasterous or a delightful transformation? He left out that part so nobody could argue with him or criticize his sound byte. Except that I am criticizing it for its desperate spineless meaninglessness.
Sometimes Gates speaks so vaguely that he covers both ends of opposing concepts. He said that Common Core would “enable American students to better compete globally.” He didn’t explain how (considering the fact that the standards are only preparing students for nonselective colleges). But since it’s an established, defined fact that “world-class education” now means “noncompetitive education,” Gates’ statement passes neither the logic nor the meaningfulness test.
Why does the second richest man in the world, who probably has dozens of speech writers and image makers, deliberately choose to speak and write meaninglessly, vaguely? Because Common Core is a power grab and the truth would upset people. He can’t say so.
Neither can Arne Duncan or President Obama. So the cuttlefish use words that mean “we control; you submit” but that don’t sound that way. Look at the beige terms they use such as:
turning around schools
flexibility for states
These terms support the top-down edu-politicorporate control system that boils down to “we are the boss of you.”
Orwell warned readers against such ready-made phrases, not only because they often veil corrupt power moves, but also because “every such phrase anaesthetizes a portion of one’s brain.”
Not to mention that they smell like lies from miles away.
I thought this post was so funny (and vital) that I had to ask the author for permission to repost it. It was previously published at Huffington Post.
How to Pass a Pearson Test or Peeling the Pearson Pineapple
by Alan Singer
On Tuesday, June 3, 2014, high school students in New York State take the first new series of math and English exams that are supposed to be aligned with the national Common Core standards. Anticipating that students will have difficulty with the new tests, the State Education Department plans to score exams so that approximately the same percentage of students pass who passed similar tests in the past. I hope it is not too late to offer students, teachers, and State Education some help.
I confess. I have a super-power. It is taking tests. I can pass any test on any subject without knowing anything as long as it is written in English. Other languages are my kryptonite. I figured out geometry on the tenth grade standardized final. I passed the AP bio test without doing any work. As with most super powers, taking tests is both a blessing and a curse. I do not get the highest scores and I do not learn very much, but I do pass.
I have been applying my super-power to analyzing the latest wave of Pearson-created Common Core aligned high stakes assessments for students and student teachers and I realize they are designed just for me. They are skills based tests that do not require any knowledge. In fact, knowledge interferes with your ability to pass a Pearson test.
The United States is its biggest market and Pearson makes a lot of money selling Common Core aligned tests, curriculum, and test review books and programs. It stands to make even more as it develops, markets, assesses new Common Core PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) content area exams. Sixteen states, plus the District of Columbia, are scheduled to participate in PARCC testing.
As a public service these are my FREE test taking tips that will save parents and school districts a lot of money and students and teachers a lot of anguish.
1. Know the jargon they use in the instructions. For example, “selected-response items” means multiple-choice questions. I do not know why they do not just call them multiple-choice.
2. Do all the steps and read all the passages before looking at the choices. The answer, no matter how inaccurate or ridiculous, is in the reading passage. You are not looking for the best answer. You are looking or their answer.
3. In math, be confident in your answer. If your answer is not among the choices, figure out which of their answers has the same value as yours.
Most of us who followed the Pearson Pineapple controversy thought the reading passage on the 2013 8th grade reading test about the pineapple that challenged a rabbit (hare) to a race and questions about which animal was wisest were absurd. The problem, at least in my case, was that at the time I really did not understand what Pearson and the Common Core were trying to do. Now I think I have it figured out. The passage and questions were absurd on purpose.
Pearson and Common Core are not testing what you know, what you think, or what you can explain. They are testing what you can find in the passage and whether you follow directions. They select reading passages using a mathematical formula or algorithm based on what they call “text complexity” which measures the length of sentences and the use of obscure vocabulary. There is no meaningful content on a Pearson Common Core test, it is all about peeling the pineapple.
Ironically, I found the same approach on Pearson’s Academic Literacy Skills Test (ALST) for teachers. The sample question has an extended reading passage about Gertrude Stein from a book by Joshua Cooper Ramo, The Age of the Unthinkable.
The first question is: “In Paragraph 1, the repetition of the phrase “well-rounded, prosperous” emphasizes . . . ” I always think of “well-rounded” and “prosperous” as positive attributes and when I looked at the choices I leaned toward choice A, “the sophistication of Stein’s family.”
But Pearson says the correct answer is choice B, “the predictability of life Stein rejected.” Although well-rounded does not mean predictable, if you look at paragraph 1, “well-rounded” is equated with “stability,” boring sameness, qualities that Stein rejected.
In other words, if you know what well-rounded means, you get the answer wrong. Just as with the Pearson pineapple, the test is not about knowing the right answer, it is about finding their answer in the text. I can hardly wait for the new Pearson PARCC tests based on reading skills that I expect will be missing all content.
Actually I should not have been so surprised to discover that Pearson, PARCC, and Common Core ignore knowledge. In a promotional video for the national Common Core standards, David Coleman, who the New York Times described as an “architect of the common core curriculum standards,” discussed how James Madison explained the regulation of political factions in Federalist Paper #51. The only problem was that Federalist Paper #10 is about the regulation of political factions. Federalist Paper #51 is about checks and balances and the structure of the national government. But he was only off by forty-one essays.
I am a little concerned that it took me so long to figure out the problem with these Pearson tests. I just worry my super-power may be slipping.
Department of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership
128 Hagedorn Hall / 119 Hofstra University / Hempstead, NY 11549
(P) 516-463-5853 (F) 516-463-6196
#CANiSEE ™© SOLUTIONS CONFERENCE – COUNTERING COMMON CORE – JUNE 20 – 21, 2014 – AUSTIN, TEXAS
Because the pro-Common Core National PTA planned to have its convention in Austin, Texas, a group of educators and parents decided to hold a counter event. It is called #CANiSEE ™© Solutions Conference and will be held in Austin on June 20 – 21, 2014 in the downtown area close to the convention center.
The #CANiSEE hashtag means:
#CanISee™© WHAT you are teaching my child?
#CANISEE™© HOW you are teaching my child?
#CANISEE™© WHO is financially benefiting from the curriculum on which my child’s teacher is being evaluated?
For information and to make reservations:
To give a donation: https://secure.piryx.com/donate/zS27Wsi7/WomenOnTheWall-Org/
The Heritage Foundation is one #CANiSEE ™© Solutions Conference sponsor.
Lined up to speak are many of the nation’s best anti-Common Core voices to speak at our #CANiSEE ™© Solutions Conference, to speak at the same time as the National PTA is bringing #FedLedEd Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to town.
Dr. Sandra Stotsky – Professor Emeritus, University of Arkansas
Dr. James Milgram — Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Stanford University
Jane Robbins – Attorney and senior fellow with American Principles Project
Dr. Peg Luksik – Founded on Truth
Alice Linahan – Moderator, Women on the Wall
MerryLynn Gerstenschlager – Texas Eagle Forum
Mary Bowen – Current Texas classroom teacher
Jeanine MacGregor – Writer, researcher, cognitive learning expert
Nakonia (Niki) Hayes – “The Story of John Saxon” – Saxon Math
Henry W. Burke — EducationViews.org Contributor
Jenni White – ROPE – Oklahoma
Anita Moncrief – True the Vote
Lisa Benson — National Security Radio
Karen Schroeder – President of Advocates for Academic Freedom
NOTABLE LEADERS WITH VIDEO MESSAGES TO SHARE WITH AMERICA
Dr. Terrence Moore — Author of “The Story Killers: A Common Sense Case Against the Common Core”
Dr. Chris Tienken – Co-author of “The School Reform Landscape: Fraud, Myth, and Lies”
Dr. Duke Pesta — Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, and the Academic Director of FreedomProject Education
The #CANiSEE ™© Solutions Conference will be highly attended, videotaped, and shared widely across this nation through DVD’s, MP3’s, On Demand, and Pay-Per View.
“Arne Duncan does not own our children; we do; and we are not ready to surrender their hearts and souls to the dumbing down and indoctrination of #FedLedEd. We believe that with the ever-growing backlash all across the country against Common Core that our COUNTER EVENT will draw more interest from grassroots moms, pops, grandparents, and citizens than Arne Duncan can generate. Even people attending the PTA convention across the street may come to our event to find out what is really happening in our nation’s schools,” organizers wrote.
If you wish to volunteer to help at the #CANiSEE ™© Solutions Conference, please contact Rebecca Forest who can arrange for your 2-day admission ticket to be paid: Rebecca@womenonthewall.org.
*Subject to Change
Friday, June 20, 2014
Day 1 — #CANiSEE the Reality on the Ground
|9:00 – 9:05||Prayer, Pledge, Opening Remarks||Alice LinahanRebecca Forest|
|9:05 – 10:00||The Battles Fought and Won, The Story Called Common Core Begins (Video Message)||Dr. Peg LuksikPhyllis Schlafly|
|10:10 – 11:10||Common Core Validation Committee||Dr. Sandra StotskyDr. James Milgram|
|11:20 – 12:00||Common Core Implementation Costs, Type #1 vs. Type #2 Education||Henry W. Burke|
|12:00 – 1:00||LUNCH||–|
|12:00 – 1:00||Vendor Booths and Exhibits Open||–|
|1:00 – 1:20||(Video Message)||Dr. Terrence Moore|
|1:30 – 2:30||The Story Behind Saxon Math||Nakonia Hayes|
|2:40 – 3:50||Reality on the Ground: Panel of Teachers
Panel of Parents
Panel of Students
|Mary BowenDr. Stan Hartzler
|4:00 – 5:00||Reality on the Ground – Is Fed Led Ed a National Security Threat?||Frank Gaffney|
|5:10 – 6:10||The Big Picture – From Fed Led Ed to the Reality for Our Children’s Data Collection, Questions and Answers||Jane Robbins|
#CAN I SEE SOLUTIONS CONFERENCE SCHEDULE
Saturday, June 21, 2014
Day 2 — #CANiSEE What Is Your Role?
|9:00 – 9:05||Prayer, Pledge, Opening Remarks||Alice LinahanRebecca Forest|
|9:05 – 9:40||Special Audio Messages from Experts||Dr. Duke PestaDr. Chris Tienken|
|9:50 – 10:40||Questions and Answers with Experts||Jane RobbinsDr. Sandra Stotsky
Dr. James Milgram
|10:50 – 11:30||Huge Success in Oklahoma – Repeal of Common Core||Jenni White|
|11:40 – 12:30||Policy Think-Tank Panel||Jane RobbinsLori Mashburn
|12:30 – 1:30||LUNCH||–|
|12:30 – 1:30||Vendor Booths and Exhibits Open||–|
|1:30 – 2:30||Creating Change by Asking Questions||Mary BowenJeanine MacGregor|
|2:40 – 3:40||Creating a Local Initiative – Building the Ground Troops||Anita MontcriefAlice Linahan|
|3:50 – 4:50||Taking It Local, Parental Rights LegislationKeys to Testifying at Your State Capital||Karen SchroederMerryLynn Gerstenschlager|
|5:00 – 6:00||Where Do We Go from Here?How Do We Take It Local?||Mary BowenNakonia Hayes
Agency Based Education (ABE) is an important organization started by Oak Norton, the same man who is the webmaster for Utahns Against Common Core.
ABE holds yearly conferences attended by parents, teachers and legislators who want educational freedom. (Agency here means free agency– not a government agency.) It teaches the average person what should be widely known, but isn’t, about individual agency in education.
ABE’s site states:
Our mission is to provide an opportunity for the parents and children of the state of Utah to choose an Agency-Based Education.
Principles of an Agency-Based Education
- Must be based in choice and not compulsion
- Helps develop an internal moral compass as one fosters a recognition and love of truth
- Recognizes that truth best inspires when sought from original source materials
- Should be individualized to allow children to identify and develop their gifts and talents and discover their life’s missions
- Must recognize that parents have the sovereign stewardship to guide their children’s educational journey
Our Organization’s Purpose
This is an educational organization that teaches parents:
- Their natural rights
- Principles of a higher quality education
- Current laws on education (Utah)
- What is wrong with compulsory education and why we want change
- What education options are currently available and what they could be in the future
- How to get involved with us
HELPING AGENCY BASED EDUCATION
ABE’s asking friends of the cause for help. I am a friend of ABE and I signed up. It cost me nothing and it helps ABE. You can help, too.
Rather than holding a traditional fundraiser, ABE is asking people to simply sign up for a free account here, so that ABE can receive points (and money) from the retailers who have agreed to pay ABE for the referral. For details on how it works, just click here.
For more information about why ABE’s educational mission is so important, click here.
Here’s a portion of and ABE article that defines the term “agency based education.”
Defining “Agency-Based” Education
By Rebecca Bocchino
What is “agency-based” education as opposed to constructivism and behaviorism, and is there any scientific research supporting these methods? Addressing these questions requires that we consider the various underlying assumptions of the nature of man, upon which are based the intellectual, moral, and cultural foundations for our differing views of the nature and purpose of education. It might also help to put the issue of “scientific research”, with its emphasis on measurable, quantifiable, observable, and replicable behaviors, into a more Judeo-Christian perspective.
Behaviorism, as articulated by John Watson and B. F. Skinner, sees man as an object that is only capable of responding to external stimuli. It claims that man acquired sense organs through evolution, not Divine design, and these sensory organs receive and transfer the environmental stimuli which then act upon the human “object”, causing a response. Thus, choice and action are determined by the process of controlling and manipulating stimuli, which can be reduced to a science in a laboratory.
In his book, Beyond Freedom and Dignity, B. F. Skinner dismisses any belief in the free will or agency of man, claiming instead that
man does not act upon the world, the world acts upon him. … Freedom and dignity…are the possessions of the autonomous man of traditional theory, and they are essential to practices in which a person is held responsible for his conduct and given credit for his achievements. A SCIENTIFIC ANALYSIS [BEHAVIORISM] SHIFTS BOTH THE RESPONSIBILITY AND THE ACHIEVEMENT TO THE ENVIRONMENT. (emphasis added)
It is upon this humanist moral foundation that behavioral methods using operant conditioning are based.
Constructivism or progressivism takes the concept of free will to the other extreme by operating on the assumption that man is not only a “self”, but that he possesses within himself all the wisdom and individual determination needed to progress. InSummerhill, the British educator A. S. Neill counters the behaviorist assumption by suggesting that…
we should allow children to be themselves…renounce all discipline, all direction, all suggestion, all moral training, all religious instruction…a child is innately wise and realistic. If left to himself, he will develop as far as he is capable of developing.
From this extreme springs methods such as “whole language” and “fuzzy math”.
Many are united in their rejection of constructivism and progressivism as one extreme, but controversy still exists between the humanist underpinnings of behaviorism and the Judeo-Christian belief in redemption and the nature of man. Differences arise in how we define the capacity and nature of man: whether he is a moral agent accountable to a higher, divine law, or a non-redemptive organism to be manipulated, controlled, shaped, and used by an external environment….
Read the rest here.
I was among many happy in our country this week. We were dancing on the tables to see that a bipartisan group had finally passed a Stop Common Core bill in Oklahoma!
But then I learned there is more to the story; the struggle isn’t over there yet. It hangs on one thread called Governor Fallin.
If Oklahoma’s Governor does not sign the bill by June 2nd, it will die.
Common Core would then retain its stranglehold on the students and teachers in that state.
And the situation’s sticky because Governor Fallin happens to be a leading player in that NGA club –the group of (some, not all) governors that co-created and co-copyrighted Common Core in the first place.
If Fallin signs it, she makes enemies at the National Governors’ Association. Can she stand up to that pressure?
That’s why I’m posting the contents of email (below) which I had forwarded to me today. Please put some pressure on Governor Fallin. An email or a phone call can be short but she needs to hear from hundreds of thousands of us before June 2nd.
Here are several important news/action items for those concerned about stopping the Common Core “reforms” and restoring freedom in education:
1. Michelle Malkin has joined American Principals Project and others on a letter-signing campaign aimed at governors, insisting that they break free of Common Core. Read and sign here.
2. The Utah State Office of Education is permitting people to give public comment on the new common library book standards.
I urge you to comment; the survey takes very, very little time. Also, send a personal letter to the USOE on this issue, to these addresses for the board: firstname.lastname@example.org and Board@schools.utah.gov
Here is one of the library standards: 1.2.4. Maintain a critical stance by questioning the validity and accuracy of all information.
This simple little sentence begins with “maintain a critical stance” –implying having good critical thinking skills, but then it veers into idiocy by “questioning the validity and accuracy of ALL information.”
Are children to doubt the existence of any truth? Yes, according to the state school board’s library standards.
Classical (very pre-common core) education taught children to confidently and logically pursue truth. But “progressive” education teaches children that there is no truth, no morality, no known anything. Thus all information is of equal importance and any library book is of equal worth: reading the rantings of Joe the communist pedophile may be as worthy a way to spend class time as studying what Washington, Einstein and Shakespeare wrote. What a terrible “standard”!
Of course there is truth; and there are facts. Doesn’t our existence on earth depend on the truth that the earth is a certain, precise, indisputable distance from the sun? If it were not so, we’d freeze or burn! That library standard has got to go.
Utah Standards for Library Media are posted; comment please. (The USOE Web site is hosting the public comment –before Aug 17, 2014. Also widen your audience by posting your opinion of the library standards to email@example.com and Board@schools.utah.gov as well as to your local newspapers and radio stations.)
3. Jenni White of Oklahoma’s ROPE has this blog post: If you do nothing, nothing happens!
4. Governor Herbert has approved government preschool in Utah, and President Obama is pushing for federal preschool for all, but is anyone questioning the wisdom of such a move? What are its impacts on the business of private preschools? What are its impacts on little ones who would stay home with their families if not for the big government push to put them in rigorous preschools? Jonas Himmelstrand’s my favorite opponent of this push. This Swede has spoken to countless groups in many countries about the disintegration of families, mental health and academic success when government daycare becomes the norm. He speaks from experience. Himmelstrand’s voice needs to be more widely heard. Please read more here and here.
5. If you haven’t already seen them, see these news links, published by Oak Norton at Utahns Against Common Core today:
Pioneer Institute Study Finds That New Technology, Relaxation of Protections Threaten Student Privacy A must read press release: you can also download the full Pioneer Institute study.
Here’s a relevant clip: “These expansive data structures are intimately connected to the Common Core State Standards Initiative and national testing. Any information from the data initiatives mentioned above that is given to the two federally funded national assessment consortia aligned with the Common Core State Standards will be made available to the USED. The national standards will also create a unified “taxonomy” that facilitates creation of common instructional materials and data-collection technology. Because Common Core focuses not on academic knowledge but rather on “skills” that involve attitudes and dispositions, it paves the way for national assessments and digital platforms that measure such attributes.” http://pioneerinstitute.org/featured/study-new-technology-relaxation-of-protections-threaten-student-privacy/
Massachusetts Teachers Association Elects Anti-Common Core President We’ve already had the NY and Chicago teachers unions take anti-CC stances, but for a strong teachers association to join in is a great step. “The Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), a union that represents about 110,000 teachers in the Bay State, elected an anti-Common Core president on May 10 in a hotly contested and close election. Barbara Madeloni, a clinical psychologist turned teacher, beat a Brockton teacher by 681 to 584 votes. A proponent of local control, Madeloni opposes high stakes testing and nationalization of educational standards.” http://www.hslda.org/hs/state/ma/201405130.asp
Saber-Rattling on Common Core (Utah) This is why we want legislators who understand Common Core issues. “On Wednesday, education officials climbed Capitol Hill to inform lawmakers of the progress they’re making on implementing the Common Core education system into Utah’s K-12 schools. But the educators were met with an extremely hostile welcome, as Republican lawmakers expressed their animosity towards the Core changes, which have grown increasingly unpopular among conservatives nationwide.”
Conflict: Common Core Testing Company VP Evaluating NCLB Waivers Utah mom Autumn Cook dug this interesting tidbit out showing a Vice-President of AIR (the SAGE test company) was selected to review NCLB waivers. http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/conflict-common-core-testing-company-vp-evaluating-nclb-waivers/
Student-centered or subject-centered education?
This article by Lynn Stoddard in the Standard contains a great story about a mom who noticed what her struggling autistic child was good at, and now, as a 15-year old, the child is being considered for a Nobel prize. For that full story here’s a link (http://themotherlist.com/mother-tore-label-nurtured-sons-hidden-genius/) http://www.standard.net/Opinion/2014/05/08/Student-centered-or-subject-centered-education.html
It is published here with permission, but without the name of the teacher.
I’ve been following your emails regarding Common Core, and the situation certainly is not pretty. Thanks a million for all you do. Many of my liberal friends are no longer liberals. They’re being screwed, and now they know it. We teachers had a meeting with the man who is basically in charge of all school programming, and it isn’t pretty. He’s leaving since they want him to reapply for a job; but he knows his job is being cut. He will be gone. More on that in a minute –
Hopefully Common Core can be neutered. I heard that 35 states have legislation to either restrict or eliminate Common Core. WOW!
Most of our math teachers are puzzled themselves by what they have seen in CC.
Our dept. chair (who is a vocal liberal and was a proponent of CC) came back from a district-wide meeting. He said the entire CC plan was so illogical that his hands were literally shaking after the meeting was over.
I personally don’t think we have seen the worst of CC as of yet, just a mild prelude. That’s why it needs to be eliminated and right now! Anyway, thanks ever so much for the emails and updates. I share them with my fellow teachers.
I learned today that LAUSD is eliminating the Special Ed. dept. altogether. I have no idea what they are doing, but it sounds crazy.
Our staff was asked to “apply” for a new school daily operations plan, whereby we could hire our own principal and have a say in the day-to-day operations. That has all backfired as of today, and one of the teachers said she would sue if she has the option. They have made it a living hell for teachers.
LAUSD is also getting rid of all Advanced Placement teachers. They have to reapply to get a job – now teachers will be called “Instructional Advisors” instead of teachers. Welcome to the real Common Core. Welcome Facilitators. We are no longer to be considered teachers.
People don’t understand the forethought into Common Core and what the feds want to implement. I’ll work at Home Depot or Wal Mart if it gets me out of here “yesterday.”
I am leaving California and moving to Texas. I would have left this year but because of health problems, I could not afford to leave my insurance. However, I am in the process of trying to get my Texas teaching certificate… At first, the Texas assessments were only given in Texas, but now they are available in San Diego. I’ll try and take them, but…we’ll see. I used to be a salesman, and I can do that again. I will do anything to get out of LAUSD.
Donna, please keep letting people, teachers, and parents know what is going on in the schools here. If parents really knew, they would be utterly shocked. This is where the education is heading. Complete control by the Feds. They are doing it to the teachers right now, yet the unsuspecting public is like the proverbial “frog in boiling water.” It’s over with here!
Anyway, just thought I’d let you know where Common Core is going. We in LAUSD are at the forefront. I’m going to try and document as many of the changes as possible so that I can send it to you. Maybe you can use it to alert the rest of America.
Take care, Donna, and thanks for helping me see some of the CC stuff; the whole picture is clearly coming into view now. I hope Texas is a better place for me to live and teach.
The Latest Fed-Ed Assault on Local Control: Mandatory Preschool and Principals’ Re-Education Programs 11 comments
Nothing real supports the outrageous, increasing, ongoing federal overtake of schools. Federal bluffing and federal pretense to education authority continues because it is upheld by the stupored, undefending millions of us who aren’t aware of our right to control education locally –and who do not defend it.
Two federal overtake moves stand out in my mind today as heart-stoppingly wrong. These are things that we should firmly, loudly oppose.
- The first is Secretary Arne Duncan’s mandatory preschool. In his “Statement for the Record” to Congress concerning the new education budget request, Duncan lay aside the former practice of calling federal preschool voluntary. In this recent (April 29, 2014) speech, Duncan called for mandatory preschool: “The third major priority in the 2015 request is to continue the President’s commitment to expanding educational opportunity for millions of children through a $75 billion mandatory Preschool for All program…” he said.
- The other is the Department of Education’s principals’ re-education program, aka “Principal Ambassador Fellowship” (PAF). Do you like the idea of federally-approved-and-groomed, model “Fellowship” principals, teaching your local principal how to “engage with” federal policies? Me neither.
From the Department of Education’s site, learn why the PAF program exists: —”principals should have meaningful opportunities to both contribute to and understand the [federal] policies” —”to implement needed reforms, all stakeholders… must understand the intent of [federal] policy…” —”PAF’s will spend time gaining greater knowledge of the content of key federal programs and policies…” — “Principal Ambassador Fellows (PAF) are hired.. to facilitate cooperation between the Federal Government and the non-Federal entity…”
The Department of Education Secretary said, on the very same page where he announced the PAF program, that “The best ideas in education will never come from me or anyone else in Washington, D.C. They’re always going to come from a local level.” Yet principals are also told to understand and engage with federal policies. Such doublespeak. It is pretty unlikely that principals lack or need “greater knowledge” of the federal agenda. Given the increasing number of examples of defenders, notably schools like Maesar Prep in Utah, superintendents like Joseph Rella in New York, or the example of the state of Washington, which recently refused to tie teacher evaluation to Common Core student testing and got punished by Arne Duncan’s yanking of the state’s NCLB waiver– given these examples, it is more likely that principals are showing signs of resistance to the federal standardizations being shoved down their throats. Good for them.
Mercedes Schneider has written another detailed, rich article exposing the “unprecedented education profiteering” scandal that is Pearson Education’s partnership with the U.S. Department of Education.
Update: here is a list of articles documenting the increasing surge in resistance to governmental/school-based mandatory standardized testing.
Is Opting Out of Common Core Tests a “Crime” in Alabama? No!
Strong Critic of Standardized Testing Elected to Lead Los Angeles, California Teachers Union
Students Blow Off California Smarter Balanced Pilot Exams
Why My Kids Played Hookey From This Year’s Colorado State Tests
Many Connecticut Students Skip New Common Core Tests
Alternative to Connecticut’s Failed Tests is Not More Tests
Meet the New Florida Test, Same as the Old Test With a Different Name
Florida Legislature OK’s One Year School Grading Pause
Time to Opt Out of Georgia High-Stakes Tests
Sample Georgia Opt Out Letter
Missouri Families Begin to Opt Out of Standardized Tests
New Jersey Testing Revolt
New York Senate Bill Filed to Require Disclosure of Common Core Test Questions
New York Must Make New Tests Open to Public Review
New York Postpones Deadline for New Teacher Assessment
Test Prep Endures in NY Schools Despite Calls to Ease It
Teachers Refuse to Give Tests at High School for New Immigrants
Thousands of New York Families Opt Out of Standardized Tests
The Big Lie About “Social Promotion” in New York
Some North Carolina Students Refuse to Take State Tests
North Carolina Children Talk About Test Stress
Politically Driven Third-Grade Reading Test is “Path to Failure” for North Carolina
School Board Member Calls North Carolina Testing Regime “Abuse”
Ohio Parents and Teachers Skewer State-Mandated High-Stakes Exams
Parents Mobilize to Overhaul Third Grade Reading Test Requirement
Cutting Exams Will Save Pennsylvania Taxpayers Millions
Letter: Opt Your Kids Out of Pennsylvania’s Classroom Diagnostic Test
Rhode Island Legislature May End Grad Test Requirement
Teachers to Sue Houston, Texas, Over Test-Score-Based Evaluations
Texas Governor Candidate Supports Less Testing, More Performance-Based Assessment
Arne Duncan Will Soon Label Every Washington State School a Failure: Cue the Revolt
Washington School Board Member to Duncan: Take Your Waiver and . . . .
Pearson Wins Huge Common Core Testing Contract Despite Track-Record of Failures
10 Things SAT Scores Won’t Tell You
Principal: Test-Fixated “Reform” Is Destroying Childhood
Standardized Exam Essay Robo-Graders Flunk the Test
This list was compiled by Bob Schaeffer of http://www.fairtest.org
U.S. Secretary of Education Punishes Children of Washington State as State Stands Up For Teachers 4 comments
by Whitne Strain and Christel Swasey
Long ago, the horrific invading soldiers of Genghis Khan used children as shields. Seeing innocent children sandwiched between defenders and invaders, few defenders would continue a defense.
That image, from “The Miracle of Freedom: Seven Tipping Points that Saved the World” comes to mind as we watch the U.S. Secretary of Education’s recent war against what he sees as a noncompliant Washington State.
Washington State became a thorn in Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s side when the state refused to comply with the federal agenda that would tie teacher evaluations to students’ Common Core test scores.
Washington State’s leaders had listened to teachers and parents; they then stood up to the unconstitutional federal demands and just said no. They would not comply with the damaging policy of tying teacher evaluation to student scores.
The federal response was a punch in the face: Duncan stripped Washington of its waiver from ESEA (aka No Child Left Behind).
Why is that a punch in Washington State’s face? Losing the waiver means that Washington now will get reburied in the absurd, impossible NCLB mandates –and will lose funding.
Duncan not only punished Washington state; he especially punished the state’s neediest children.
According to the Washington Spokesman-Review, “Washington is the first state to lose control over federal dollars used to help students in the poorest schools. The result: Districts will be forced to set aside the $40 million they had been getting for those student services”.
We wonder: how does Duncan sleep at night?
Read his wordy, meaningless federal explanation letter here. It is so verbiose and devoid of goodness that we won’t quote a single word. But do read teacher Peter Greene’s clever and hilarious teacher’s translation of Duncan’s letter to Washington, it here — spot-on.
“Washington got to ignore its violation of federal NCLB laws if they agreed to install Duncan’s own untried, untested, unproven, unsubstantiated but very specific prescriptions about how to use CCSS [Common Core] tests to evaluate teachers and principals… Duncan doesn’t just believe that CCSS [Common Core] test-based measures of teachers and principals are a good idea. He doesn’t just deny every stone on the mountain made out of evidence that he’s wrong. He has given CCSS test-based measurement the full weight of federal law.
So what will happen to Washington, and who will do it? Or will the legislators freak out and panic, installing Arne’s junk science system at the 11th hour to win back his Kingly affection? You can bet a few other states will be watching… “
Thank you, Mr. Greene. Yes, we are watching.
The Dying of the Light: How Common Core Damages Poetry Instruction
Published by Pioneer Institute, a new white paper entitled, “The Dying of the Light: How Common Core Damages Poetry Instruction” — which you can read here– begins by asking whether poetry has a future in the face of Common Core:
“The fate of poetry in the school curriculum may seem like an odd subject for a Pioneer Institute report. But these are unusual times. It is not clear that the literary genre called poetry has a future in the face of a reduction in literary study that Common Core’s English language arts standards implicitly mandate— and in the context of Common Core’s drive for workforce development.”
I’ve never read an academic research paper more important to me personally. I’ve never read one so beautifully composed that it moved me to tears.
Please read and share this paper.
Maybe it’s the subject. Maybe it’s the writing. Maybe it’s my recognition that these people are defending what has not been defended, and must be.
The title alludes to the Dylan Thomas poem, which says: “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” The original poem is about the value of life and the importance of fighting for life regardless of the ultimate inevitability of mortality. But here, the words are about the value of poetry and the importance of fighting for it, regardless of the seeming inevitability of poetry’s death because of education deformations posing as education reformations.
Thanks to the three authors: two literature professors and one Teacher of the Year: Anthony Esolen, Jamie Highfill, and Sandra Stotsky!
The paper contains five sections:
In part I, Dr. Anthony Esolen discusses why students should read poetry, the kind of reading that poetry demands from us, and what poetry has to do with the child’s developing imagination.
In part II, Jamie Highfill explains how poetry has traditionally been taught in the public schools.
In part III, Dr. Sandra Stotsky traces what is known from large-scale studies about the poetry curriculum in this country’s public schools.
Part IV discusses how Common Core’s standards seem to be influencing the poetry curriculum in schools.
Part V explores the fate of poetry in the school curriculum as long as Common Core’s standards and tests shape education and teacher training.
Part I, which answers the question of why students need poetry, has five parts:
A. Raising Children to be Free
B. The Free Arts are for All
C. Beauty, the Common Desire of Man
D. An Education in Love
E. The Love that Moves the Sun and the Other Stars
I will post the beginning here and hope you will read and share the whole paper:
“Why should a young person read a poem?
Why should he read those lines from “Ode to Autumn”? We cannot answer that question without asking some more fundamental ones.
What is a child? What is a child for?
He shares life with all the other living creatures upon the earth. He eats and drinks, he moves about, he grows, he may bring others of his kind into the world. All these things he shares in common with cattle, dogs, birds of the air, fish of the sea. Yet we perceive that his life is more than food and drink and raiment. His cup runneth over. What is the life of his life?
It would seem odd, even mad, if someone were to say “I have a new and improved method of raising horses” without having first ascertained what horses are.
It would hardly be sufficient if such a person, or a committee, or a bureaucracy flush with billions of dollars, were to assure us that they could tell the difference between a horse and a camel, that they once rode upon a horse in a parade, that they could spell the word, that they knew how much horse-meat could sell by the pound, and that they had received bids from a glue factory for so much tonnage of equine bones. We would be even more wary, and more ready to call the men from the home for the insane, if they should assure us that their single centrally-directed method must be applied to ponies on the Orkney Islands as well as to wild mustangs in the American plains and draft-horses on the steppes of Mongolia.
Yet what the madmen would do with, or to, that patient dumb animal with the slow sad eyes, the ideologues of education today would do with children all over America.
They would strap them all onto the same treadmill, subjecting their teachers to the same overseers with the same conforming textbooks, computer files, databases, and standardized tests, now and forevermore.
And they would do so without troubling to ask the questions we are asking. What is a child? What is a child for? What is the life of his life? We shall make three interrelated assertions.
The child, as well as the fully realized human person to which his education should aim, is meant to be free; he is meant to behold what is good and beautiful and true; and he is meant to love it because it is so.
None of these assertions is original to us. They are the common wisdom of men and women who have thought and written about education from ancient Greece to the present day. They are to be found, expressed in a variety of ways but true to the central vision nonetheless, in the pagan Plato and the Christian Newman, in the metaphysical Aquinas and the artistic Leonardo, in poets as diverse as the Christian Dante and the skeptic Arnold, and in educational reformers of our own age, such as Maria Montessori, John Senior, and Stratford Caldecott. Let us examine each assertion to see how a poetic education bears upon it…
Read and share the whole paper.
One more thing. A personal memory–
I’m thinking about Colton High School, in Colton, CA, where I taught English.
This was not necessarily a great school at that time. We had more than our fair share of drugs, poverty, gangster wannabees and teen pregnancy. We had the highest teen pregnancy rate in the state of California.
I remember reading poetry out loud there. I remember the poems students wrote, too.
My classes decided to publish a little yearly volume that students dubbed “Poetryoni”. It contained some great poetry and also some trashy poetry; some sonnets, some limericks, some illustrations, some writings that were more graffiti and smoke signals than literature; some cheesy stuff but also some powerful language that hit a true nerve when you read it; it was such lively, original literature spattered on the pages, all written by teenagers. They wrote after and during the time that they had studied classic poetry and had practiced its different forms for themselves in the class.
Poetryoni mattered to me. I know it mattered to many of them.
I wonder if these types of joys can continue in public schools during teaching time, under the brave new Common Core world that pushes for poetry reduction and pushes for so much time on government/corporate tests?
Some people get hot round the collar when the Common Core Standards Initiative is blamed for the absurd Common Core-aligned horrible worksheets.
“Common Core is just minimum, state-created, better standards,” they insist.
Few people understand that there’s an intimate connection between Common Core standards, tests and curriculum –because there’s an intimate connection between the corporate edu-sellers and the government, both of whom push for Common Core standardization of education –because it increases their power and money flow. (Click here to read about the corporate Common Core gold rush; click here to read about the federal Common Core gold rush. Click here to read about the official partnership between the federal government and the “state-led” creators of Common Core.)
To me, the horrible worksheets are illustrations of what happens when we let slip the reins of local control of education, which is an abdication of our Constitutional duty and right to determine education quality locally. Whether we give up local control to the federal government, to a consortium of states, or to a monopolistic corporate connivance, the fact remains that we’ve given up local control. Central planning by distant, self-appointed “experts” is the opposite of what made America, her scholars, and her universities, great.
What a lot of people don’t understand is that Obama’s 2010 blueprint for education reform had four main points, only one of which is the national common standards. Look at all four, equally being pushed alongside the Common Core, each part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 : (1) Judging teachers and principals by federally approved standards; (2) Collecting more data about students via more tests and state databases than ever; 3) Using Common Core “college- and career-ready standards” along with tests (“assessments aligned with those standards”); (4) Intervening –or closing down– any (government-determined, government test-determined) “low performing” schools.
Think about those FOUR things, not just the standards; now add this: Bill Gates (partnered with Pearson) has paid for virtually all the development, promotion and implementation of the standards (and the rest of the four-part initiative Obama outlined in his blueprint). He has called schools a uniform customer base. He has begun to create, together with Pearson, curriculum to match the national standards and tests. He has said that “we’ll only know if the standards work” when the curriculum and tests all align to the standards. Watch him on Youtube speaking to legislators on the subject.
When you look at these things as a whole, you see that we are dealing with an entire coffle, not just minimum standards. And sure: coffles are efficient, more efficient than “letting” freedom loving individuals (what governments, including our Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, now refer to as “human capital“) run off in any direction they desire.
But is standardization and efficiency worth the loss of freedom, worth the end of American exceptionalism in education?
Speaking of coffles and the ugly history of human slavery, here’s a question for you.
Why did U.S. slavery last so long, when people knew it was wrong, when the founding fathers condemned it, when brilliant thinkers decried the practice? It continued and continued until only bloodshed could end it.
And the reason was simply economic: slavery brought wealth to plantation owners and indirectly to the rest of the nation, even to those who said they opposed it.
So it goes with Common Core. Standardizing American tests, curriculum, standards and teacher development is a mass market for educrats, one never before seen.
So, although an increasing number of Americans are now awake, and know Common Core is wrong, see that the Common Core Initiative is a step away from local control and liberty and real, legitimate, traditional education– the kind of education our ancestors struggled for– they do nothing but pretend to oppose it. Even though they see that the tests are data collection vehicles, that that the academics are problematic, that teachers are being de-professionalized with the central planning and test-score-based judgments of teachers and schools, they don’t stop the Common Core machine.
Common Core goes on and on, full speed ahead, in my state, at least. Not a hiccup. Even in states where there have been legislative hiccups, the Common Core wolf gets renamed and reintroduced to the state wearing the same federal leash and eating the same federal fodder.
Common Core will continue to strangle us –until we say no to the money! We must say no to federal grants, federal “rewards” and “incentives” and say no to the corporate gold rush.
We can do it!
Most of what supports our schools locally is LOCAL property tax. Another huge chunk is state money. The smallest fraction of what supports our local schools is federal money.
Ideas for how to tighten the belt: Fire those officials at the Utah State Office of Education who are not friends to liberty and local control, whose fat salaries could fund five or six teachers’ salaries combined. Justify –or fire– all of the money-sappers at the state and federal offices of education. Stop buying absurdly expensive testing technologies before making class sizes smaller and teacher salaries better. Rebudgeting could mean we don’t even need the federal/corporate grants with their absurd Common Core Initiative and data-collecting handcuffs.
We can do this. But will we?
We may be haunted by Sam Adams’s words,echoing in our ears:
“If ye love wealth better than liberty…. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.” – Samuel Adams
Go to http://www.resistthetest.org to share upcoming events with allies across the nation. Note, also, that some politicians are beginning to change policies in response to constituent pressure.
The Gathering Resistance to Standardized Testing
The Long and Narrow Rut of Standardized Testing
Testing Season Reveals Big Media Coverage Failures
Is Common Core Testing Really Working?
Why an LA Times Editorial Writer’s Daughter Is Opting Out of California Standardized Exams
Bullets Fly But the California Tests Must Go On
Hundreds of Technical Problems Plague California Computerized Tests
Colorado Teacher Resigns Due to Testing Obsession
Rush to Administer Computerized Assessments Tests Colorado Schools
Wilton Connecticut Teachers Learn How to Develop Quality Performance Assessments
Listen to Youth About Problems of Standardized Testing
Two Decades of Testing Leave Delaware With a Legacy of Failure
Florida 8-Year Old Talks About Test-Prep Driven Schooling
Resistance to Final Administration of Florida Test
Florida State Senate Unanimously Supports “Time Out” From Test-Based Accountability
Georgia High-Stakes Testing Reaches a Low Point
Indiana Officials Weigh Testing Cutback
Massachusetts Schools Concerned About Cost of Online Testing
Don’t Let Your Kids Be Pushed Around by Mass. State Test
Why Middle Class Minnesota Families Are Opting OUt
Nebraska Parent Explains State Test Opt Out Procedure
“We Refuse” — Parents Explain Successful Campaign: 80% of Students Did Not Test at Their School
Principals Lead Protests at Three Dozen NYC Schools
Upstate Parents Join Opt-Out Movement
We Need to Talk About the Test: Time for Transparency
NYC Chancellor Says Test Scores Will No Longer Be Major Factor in Student Promotion
First Ohio Students Begin to Skip Tests
Statewide Testing Raises Stress Levels in Oklahoma Schools
Testing Becomes Major Issue in Pennsylvania Governors Race
More Pennsylvania Families Opt Out From Standardized Tests
Tennessee House Unanimously Sends Governor Bill to Bar “Value-Added” Evaluation of Teachers
Fewer Tests More Learning in Virginia
Washington State Teachers Union Backs Parents Holding Children Out of Testing
Will Wisconsin Students Join Opt-Out Movement
Utah Teacher Fired for Standing Up to High Stakes Overtesting
Utah SAGE test opt outs discussion at Salt Lake Tribune’s Trib Talk:
THANKS TO BOB SCHAEFFER OF COLORADO FOR PROVIDING MOST OF THESE LINKS.
“Raise your heads out of the dust and realize that America is great because America bucked against the status quo. Thinking a standardized and common core curriculum is innovative is like discovering water in the ocean and patting yourself on the back for it. This system is not new. Its greatest success was to create a conforming working class for the industrial revolution. It is not fit for a dynamic 21st century that needs constant innovation and the confidence to create new solutions to the problems that continue to beset and confound the smartest minds in the world. ”
Alma Ohene-Opare, now a Utahn, is originally from Accra, Ghana. Alma came to the U.S. at age 19, primarily because of what he called “America’s innovative educational system.” He said, “I was educated from K-12th grade in a Common-Core-like educational system. My family (who owns and runs a private K-12 institution) battles daily because of the system.The end result is seemingly educated (on paper) graduates, with no ability to think for themselves, solve problems or innovate in any way. Parents and teachers alike have become conditioned to place the standardized tests at the forefront of education, leading to what we call in Ghana, “Chew and pour, pass and forget.” Here is his story.
Common Core – A Failed Idea Newly Cloaked in the Robes of Good Intentions
My name is Alma Ohene-Opare, an alumnus of BYU and a native of Accra, Ghana. Over the past few months, I have followed with much amusement, the nationwide debate for or against the adoption and implementation of the Common Core standards. The arguments have been fierce and passionate on both sides and seem to stem from a universal desire to raise the quality of education in America. The desire is noble. However, this noble desire will not compensate for or mitigate the empirically documentable effects of the failed policy being proposed.
Common Core may be new to America, but to me and the thousands who have migrated to the United States to seek better educational opportunities, it is in large part the reason we came here. If you are wondering what qualifies me to make the assertions I will make in this article, know this; I am one of the few victims of a standardized national education system in Ghana, who was lucky enough to escape its impact. I am also a member of the Board of Directors of a private K-12 institution in Accra, Ghana. Golden Sunbeam Montessori School was founded by my mother in 1989 and is currently leading the fight to rid our country of an educational system that has led to the systematic degradation and deterioration of our human capital.
Let’s get to the core of my argument; pun intended. What Americans are calling Common Core is eerily similar to my educational experience growing up in Ghana. In Ghana, K-12th grade education was tightly controlled by the Ghana Education Service, an organization similar to the US Department of Education. From curricula to syllabi to standardized testing, the government controlled everything.
In 9th grade, all students, in order to progress to high school are required to take a standardized exam known as the B.E.C.E, which stands for Basic Education Certification Examination. Depending on the results of the test, each student is assigned by a computer program to a public high school without regard to his or her interests, passions or ambitions. Each student is then assigned an area of focus for the next three years. Some of the focus areas are General Science, Business Management, General Arts, Visual Arts, Home Economics, Agriculture, etc.
Although things may have changed slightly since I graduated, most students generally did not have a choice as to which area of focus they were assigned. The only way to get a choice was to ace the standardized exam or to call in a favor either through bribery or some other type of corruption. The students who failed miserably were usually those who attended public schools; many of whom dropped out of school entirely.
The process was then repeated at the end of High School with another standardized exam called the W.A.S.S.S.C.E. This exam tested your readiness for college and ultimately determined which course of study you were assigned by the government in college. I did not ace that exam and did not get admission into the state run college of my choice. Instead, I went to a private university founded by a former Microsoft employee and was found smart enough to be admitted to BYU a year later as a transfer student, to graduate with a Bachelor’s in Information Technology and to be hired right out of college as a Program Manager at Microsoft Corporation.
Although the education system in Ghana is not similar in all aspects to Common Core as it is being proposed today, some of the basic tenets are the same. The curriculum was controlled by an external body without input from or accountability to teachers, individual schools or parents. Some argue that teachers and parents have control in Common Core. It pains me to witness such naivety. That myth has always been an inevitable play by proponents of any centralized system. The goal is to make people think they are in control while nudging them blindly towards a perceived public interest. The truth is simple; the institution that controls the exams, controls the curriculum.
By controlling the standardized exams, each school in Ghana was forced to make passing the exam its primary focus rather than actual teaching and learning. Hence anything that was deemed outside the purview of the test was cast aside and treated as non-important. Extra-curricular activities were cut if not totally eliminated and the school day was lengthened to ensure that students had even more time to prepare for the test.
In my case, school started at 6:00 am and ended as late as 6:00 pm. We attended school on Saturdays. Even when school was out we still attended school half day. Our lives were consumed with preparation for the standardized test. We all had booklets of past tests going back 15 years. Those who anticipated failing the test registered in advance to retake the test. The value of teachers was measured solely on the performance of their students on the standardized tests. Scammers who purported to know what would appear on the tests duped schools, parents and teachers alike by selling bogus test questions. Schools with political connections always unanimously aced the tests.
You may wonder why nobody ever tried to change the system. The answer was simple. The government made it impossible by requiring all students who wanted to go to High School or College to take the test. Hence, any time spent trying to change the system meant time taken away from preparing for the test. Parents became completely beholden to the system and would threaten to take the kids to other schools if administrators spent any time not preparing their kids for the test.
Now that you have a sense of how an education system can become trapped in the death spiral of standardized tests, let me interest you with the impact of this system on actual student outcomes. In Ghana, we had a phrase to describe how we felt about standardized tests. We called it “chew and pour, pass and forget”. Translated, it means memorize, regurgitate, pass the exam and forget everything.
Unfortunately that has become reality for many graduates of our educational system. As my father put it in a recent petition to the Ghana Education Service, “the education system in Ghana is akin to an assembly line setup by the government to create employees for an economy largely devoid of innovation, entrepreneurship, originality or risk taking”. Because students never learn to solve problems or think critically for themselves and are largely discouraged from challenging their teachers or the status quo, they are inevitably groomed to maintain the failed traditions of the past while believing they are completely powerless to change anything. The result is the fact that even with an abundance of natural resources, the country in general continues to suffer in the doldrums of socio-economic development without any clear path out of it.
Recently my brother left a well-paying job in the US to return to Ghana to take over my parent’s school. He had dreams of changing the system. He imagined students groomed to become innovators and entrepreneurs. He soon learned it was impossible to achieve any of those dreams if the school was to remain subject to the rules, restrictions and common standards the government had set. The only solution was to completely abandon the system, which he fears would cause parents to withdraw their children from the school. He is now stuck in the limbo of a catch 22 but continues to fight to win students, teachers and parents over to a new beginning for the education of their children.
In December 2012, I returned to Ghana with my family and had the opportunity to speak to 10th grade students at the school. I gave what I thought was an inspiring speech. I proposed to start an innovation and entrepreneurship club which will employ students to identify and propose solutions to some of the problems facing the country. I promised to provide the capital and resources necessary to support these kids in this new challenge. I ended by asking the kids who were interested to write their names on a piece of paper and email it to me. It’s been more than 18 months since I returned. I have received nothing and I don’t blame them. Their parents have paid a large sum of money because they believed our school would help their kids pass the standardized exam. I was not about to distract them from that goal. What a tragedy.
I have personally wondered what makes Africa so uniquely challenged in its attempts at economic development especially when all the innovations needed to do so are readily available to us. I came to a personal conclusion which admittedly is not scientific but captures what I believe to be the elusive culprit. It is contentment with mediocrity and a lack of curiosity to change the status quo. The problem is not inherent in the nature of Africans but rather the imposition of an educational system that burned out the light of innovation and made us content to live on the spoils of the countries brave enough to venture into the glory of the unknown.
When I came to the US, many people would ask what the difference was between the US and Ghana. I responded that in Ghana, I could dream. In America I can do.
In writing this article, I am by no means endorsing the current state of public education in the United States. The problem with the system today is that the US government, aided by self-interested unions, has spent decades and billions of dollars trying to return to a system of education that America abandoned a long time ago; a system which has proven a failure in many parts of the world. Common Core is just the latest iteration of the failed system. Like a wise man once said, oh that I were an angel and could have the wish of my heart; to stand on the mountain top to warn against the path you are choosing to take. As an outsider looking in, I recognize one thing that most Americans lack. Because America has been free for so long, many have no sense of what tyranny looks like and how quickly physical and intellectual freedom can be lost on the path paved with good intentions.
I plead with all you well-intentioned but definitely misguided administrators, teachers and politicians. Raise your heads out of the dust and realize that America is great because America bucked against the status quo. Thinking a standardized and common core curriculum is innovative is like discovering water in the ocean and patting yourself on the back for it. This system is not new. Its greatest success was to create a conforming working class for the industrial revolution. It is not fit for a dynamic 21st century that needs constant innovation and the confidence to create new solutions to the problems that continue to beset and confound the smartest minds in the world.
America is desperate to find a solution to a problem that you solved decades ago. Return to originality. Put teachers and parents in charge of the education of their children. Encourage critical thinking that rejects conformity for the sake of some perceived societal benefit. Teach children to solve problems and not just to regurgitate the solutions of generations past. I have been silent too long and have now seized this opportunity to stand up for what I believe, which ironically is something I have learned from my experience in America.
America, I urge you to learn from the mistakes of those around because, like the plaque in my former bishop’s office read, “you may not live long enough to make all those mistakes yourself.”
Salt Lake Tribune Hosts Video Interview: Judy Park v. Christel Swasey on Common Core Aligned SAGE Tests 5 comments
This week, the Salt Lake Tribune invited Utah Assistant State Superintendent Dr. Judy Park and me to a filmed interview concerning the increasing number of Utah parents who are opting their children out of the Common Core aligned SAGE testing. Here is the link if you want to watch the half hour at “Trib Talk.”
(I will return to this post to update it soon. There is so much more that needed to be explained about the psychometrics that are apparent when you read the AIR (test writer) contract with Utah; about the data collection SLDS machine that is fed by student participation in SAGE and other digital testing/learning; about the need to defend teaching time and teacher professional judgment which are harmed by this testing; about the national opt out movement that is growing in strength and numbers across the nation. I also want to transcribe some of the questions and answers, word for word, later.)
Ann Florence: Utah English Teacher Stands Up for Real Teaching and is Shut Down by Administrators 13 comments
“I am required to teach key reading comprehension strategies, the writing process, information-gathering skills, grammar, vocabulary, etc., etc. But I also hope to awaken a love of reading and literature, ignite curiosity about our complex world…. “All children are gifted—some just open their presents earlier than others.” I know that every one of my students understands something I don’t and has something to tell the world that no one else ever has. I am a “treasure seeker” and “talent scout,” hoping to help young people discover the gold within themselves and each other.”
This quote is excerpted from the disclosure statement of Utah English teacher Ann Florence who has been placed on forced leave, pending probable termination. How awful. This beautiful quote reveals that Florence is a treasure, not some problem teacher to be forced out. But she has been pushed out, for her act of standing up for the right to teach and the right to be judged on her actual teaching rather than endless government mandated tests.
Administrators have labeled her insubordinate. Read the news. See what has happened.
It seems to me that Ann Florence doesn’t buy the notion that teachers must give up their rights to free speech, nor give up their rights to participation in the political process, just because they are employed by the government. She certainly doesn’t believe that teachers should give up the art of real teaching to bow to government enforced, excessive high-stakes tests that narrowly judge not only students, but teachers as well.
A year ago, Florence wrote an op-ed voicing her concerns. She explained (excerpt):
“Managing teachers through intimidation is not working… teachers are looking for work elsewhere. Teachers who have loved their jobs are discouraging their own children from pursuing careers in education…. we feel exhausted and demoralized by the avalanche of mandates from the state and district… While legislators constantly raise expectations and think they can motivate us by publicly posting test scores, our time for teaching has shrunk….I now administer 19 days of standardized tests, costing me an entire month of instruction. This doesn’t include the days the testing site is down or the system crashes, eating up even more days…. I am held accountable for nine months of curriculum without enough time to teach it… Granite District has required teachers to learn the new Common Core, use a new grades program (which crashes regularly), design a new honors curriculum, use a new online system requiring the scanning and posting of all assignments and a daily summary of class activities, and learn to analyze complex data … No test score reflects the number of students who return to thank a teacher, the number who fall in love with reading again, gain new confidence to speak up in class, find solace in a teacher’s support, decide to try one more time just when they want to quit… We are tired of having our dedication reduced to a number.”
Now, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that after Florence criticized new “standardized tests as a waste of time and irrelevant to what students are being taught” she was “placed on administrative leave and may be fired.”
Her students’ response?
“Oh captain, my captain, you have taught me so much this year. The value of honesty, imagination, and freedom to express myself. I cannot thank you enough for that. You are the best teacher Wasatch could ever ask for.”
Along with the emailed poetry, students launched a petition drive, urging that Florence not be terminated.
The Tribune reported that Granite District spokesman “Ben Horsley said personnel decisions of this gravity take time to make the right choice. He said Florence has been unreasonably aggressive in demanding an answer.”
“Unreasonably aggressive” seems a more appropriate label for the policymakers at the district, state and federal levels who are intimidating and degrading the professionalism of top notch teachers while trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the public. Shame on them.
Bravo, Ann Florence.
Update: The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Ann Florence has been fired. I sent a letter today and encourage others to write as well. Every voice counts. Here’s mine, and contact info if you want to write too, down after the letter:
Dear Granite School District, State Board, and State Office of Education:
The Acuity Test (McGraw Hill) was offering financial compensation to schools for having students take this test.
Did Granite District actually fire Ann Florence for refusing to enable the District to make money –by using children for unpaid research guinea pigs? What does “professional compliance” and “teacher ethics” really mean to the district?
Ann Florence’s opinion editorial of one year ago in the Salt Lake Tribune deserves careful re-reading. Her concerns included the non-validity of high-stakes testing because of the testing conditions provided at the school, about the push for Common Core and data analysis, and about the non-validity of reducing the whole time and dedication of a teacher to one student-test-based number, a number over which that teacher has relatively little actual control.
The Tribune also reported that this teacher was punished for speaking about her concerns with the high-stakes tests vocally, including speaking out in front of students. Does a teacher lose her Constitutional right to freedom of speech just because she is employed by the government? Are teachers to pretend to political neutrality or should they instead be shining exemplars as vibrant participants in the American process of open debate –and sometimes also in honorable disagreement?
Furthermore, basing the heaviest “accountability measures” of state tests on the federal-corporate collusion known as Common Core State Standards, in my opinion, is not only an error but a form of academic malpractice.
Thus, any teacher who refuses to push the SAGE test on students, or refuses to give or grade the Acuity Test, or to promote other high-stakes tests that do not honestly benefit students nor teachers –tests that exist to benefit powermonering politicians and moneygrubbing corporate aims, is, in my opinion, the teacher who is ethically and morally defensible.
The Granite District has marred its honor by firing Ann Florence. The State Board and Office, by doing nothing in this teacher’s defense, are complicit in the wrong.
Granite District Superintendent Martin Bates: firstname.lastname@example.org
State Superintendent Dr. Martell Menlove: Martell.Menlove@schools.utah.gov
Wasatch Jr High Principal Christine Judd: email@example.com
Wasatch Jr High Asst. Principal John Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org
State School Board:
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; jeffersonRmoss@gmail.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com;
Granite School Board:
Governor Herbert: http://governor.utah.gov/goca/form_comment.html (copy/paste your email into this form to send it to the Governor)
Utah legislators: http://le.utah.gov (look up by address here)
A revealing CCSSO letter, leaked to the public, reveals Common Core investors’ collective panic about Ian Reid’s new film, Building the Machine.
Missouri Education Watchdog and Breitbart News reported that CCSSO deputy executive director Carissa Miller’s letter shows top Common Core moneymaking / grant-receiving businesses are combining to discredit the Common Core documentary. Many businesses need Common Core’s claims to be believed, or they lose this gold rush. So they’re trying to stop it, understandably.
And if the documentary is seen despite their efforts to discredit it, the groups have laid a plan to smother the truth with smooth “positive” talking points and with a soon-to-be-released documentary of their own.
If you watch the film, you’ll know why they’re panicking. Truth is truth.
The documentary solidly wipes out the “higher standards” claims of Common Core’s creators, using filmed speeches by Common Core’s creators and funders, and using interviews with top Stanford professors, Common Core validation committee members and respected members of think tanks, both for and against Common Core. Importantly, it shows that the real issue of education reform is not even about academics, ultimately; it’s about power.
The CCSSO doesn’t want people to know this power struggle exists. But it does exist. In fact, who ends up holding decision-making power is the main conflict inside ed reform, despite all the pleasant words about education standards.
As the backers of the new documentary succinctly put it:
“…This issue is far more than what standards public schools should use. It is about who will decide how and what our children are taught.” -William Estrada, in Breitbart interview.
I want to point out this part of the panic-letter:
“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Fordham [Institute] have put together the attached two documents that can be used to clarify the vast amount of misinformation that will be circulated as a result of the movie. Please note – these are EMBARGOED until Monday, March 31st…. The U.S. Chamber is in the final stages of producing their own Common Core mini-documentary… Below we’ve include some tips for messaging and responding to the critical questions this film may generate in your state. We will send out the Chamber video when it is released.
Why do they just include “tips for messaging and responding” rather than including documentation, facts, links to contracts and legally valid, scientifically valid evidence? Evidence is not wanted. Only marketing, “messaging.”
FYI: Carissa is Carissa Miller, CCSSO deputy executive director.
For newcomers: The CCSSO is a nontransparent group that co-created the Common Core and then partnered with the federal Department of Education to collect data on a national level. It’s the same group that openly admits it has a “commitment to disaggregation of student data.”
I call the CCSSO a “superintendents’ club”. It does not include all state superintendents nor is it an elected body. The CCSSO seems want the public to believe –as does its twin sister, the NGA– that it has voter-designated authority to boss states around. It does not. Neither has authority and neither represents voters like our Congress does. Repeat: CCSSO and NGA have no elected authority. Do not be decieved by their pomp. They are just private groups that combined to create and copyright Common Core, heavily influenced/ funded by philanthopist-turned-takeover-king Bill Gates.
If you care about the traditional American voice of the local voter setting policy, rather than having closed-door private cliques that partner with the feds setting local policy, please oppose these goals of the CCSSO. Make your voice heard. Let your State Superintendent know you want him/her to bow out of membership in this club to focus energy on local control of education.
–While you’re at it, send your superintendent a link to the movie.
I hope every American watches it.
by the mother of the Utah high school student who captured questionable screen shots of the Common Core/SAGE test
The minds of our children are our most precious asset. They are the most vulnerable citizens and we must protect them.
If my daughter comes to me with a questionable essay test, then I must listen to her and validate her feelings. But more than that, I felt like other parents deserve to know that kind of propaganda that is being pushed on our children.
Abraham Lincoln said, “He who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statues or pronounces decisions”. The public sentiment is being changed here, little by little. These high school students who were in the room with my daughter were not, for the most part, taking this essay test seriously. They thought the questions were a joke. Her daughter was offended by the claims in the articles attached to her test question.
The statement made about books and dyslexia was a complete joke. We know people who have had dyslexia and work through it. Now they are fabulous readers. Books do not discriminate against them.
Even if these questions are just being posed in some alternate universe, they are biased.
Ultimately, the reason why Common Core and SAGE tests are raising so many flags for parents is because we cannot even see the test after the fact.
Why not make test questions available to see after the tests are taken? Why does everything have to be kept secret?
Again, I say, that my daughter was not cheating. No one even felt it necessary to cheat because they were not being graded anyway.
Let’s have some common sense here. Let’s try to reason together for the safety and protection of our children from powerful men and women who want to take over our education system so they can rule the minds of our children.
Thank you to this mother and her courageous high school daughter.
Now, another Utah mother reported that her high-school attending son took the Common Core writing test this week.
Her son saw bias in a question that was framed around the question of whether property ownership or renting is better. (He didn’t take any screen shots.)
Some readers may not see his test question as propaganda. I do. Property ownership is basic to the pursuit of happiness. Americans have always seen this as true; it’s one reason we fought England in the 1770′s. Being subservient to a landlord will never be superior to the empowerment of owning your own land, in any universe.
As Professor Boettke of George Mason University has put it, “Few concepts have been more important for human survival, yet maligned as unjust by intellectuals, as the concept of private property rights. Since at least the time of Aristotle, the superiority of private property over collective ownership in generating incentives to use scarce resources effectively has been recognized. It was a core idea of the Scottish Enlightenment thinkers such as David Hume and Adam Smith, as well as the American Revolutionaries such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington.”
But there are some today (including the test writers, apparently) who want young people to question the wisdom of property ownership. It’s a very trendy concept within the education branch of the United Nations and elsewhere to suggest that individual property ownership is “not sustainable”. Renting, they say, is more compassionate to Mother Earth.
Introducing this socialist notion to impressionable minds during a secret test makes a lot of sense to those who oppose personal property ownership. Undiscerning others think it’s fine. They chalk it up to “critical thinking” and the humanists’ idea that truth and God don’t exist. Yet critical-thinking humanists don’t like it when students or parents think critically about the assignments. Ironically, thinking critically about the test is called a shutting down of critical thinking.
In the 80′s when I took high school writing tests, we were given literature-based writing assignments that were not very controversial nor politically charged, yet they demanded strong critical thinking skills –and as a bonus, the test itself exposed students to time-tested classics.
If the shift from classic literature to modern informational text hadn’t taken place, as it did under the Common Core, our students might actually have been exposed to something valuable during these tests, rather than being exposed to the ideas that video games could have more value than libraries of books, or that renting a little apartment might have more value than owning a mansion.
How dumb do they think our children are?
Utahns Against Common Core published the resignation letter of Utah high school physics teacher Stuart Harper today. The letter is powerful. These are the words of a noble man, and his resignation is a tragic loss to Utah’s school system.
When will our state leaders acknowledge the train wreck of Common Core and turn our state around? When will they read and heed teachers like Stuart Harper?
Read the full letter here.
“… After much research I know that the Common Core (CC), the way it has been implemented, and the reforms which have accompanied it are wrong. They are unsound, of poor quality, take power from local government, and further empower federal agencies and policy makers. Most importantly, their enactment was unconstitutional, both in Utah and in the nation. However wrong CC may be, my reasons for resigning are only tangent to this constitutional breech. I was aware of the core before signing on, and though I did not approve of it I gave my word in contract to teach whatever curriculum I was given.
In the summer of 2013 a personal letter I had written, stating my concerns with Common Core, was posted on the Utahns Against Common Core website. It was an opinion piece, not a scholarly review. I saw no problem with stating my opinion, it is my right as a citizen, at least so I thought.
A few months later, I was informed that the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) had learned of my published letter and was not happy with my opinions or concerns. Local school authorities were instructed to meet with me and put me back in line. During this meeting with the district representatives I was told that I was shallow, ignorant and emotional in the way I wrote my concerns and that by writing things like this I would create rebellion and insubordination across the district. I was told I can have an opinion with other state’s educational systems but as a teacher in the state of Utah I cannot be concerned with my own state’s educational affairs.
I reminded them that my intent was not to promote rebellion, but to simply encourage personal research on the subject and exercise freedom of speech on my off time, as a citizen and father. I was told “Those freedom of speech rights you are probably referring to do not apply.”
I was shocked, but I stood my ground. I made it clear that if I continued to be intimidated into silence that I would resign same day. I told them that I have given my word to teach what they want me to in the classroom and would continue, but I would also continue to use my rights as an American citizen to effect political change. They said I could share my research if I get my facts straight, but even then my job is on the line. When I told them that I would continue to research information from original sources as well as writings from those for and against Common Core they were confused. They discouraged me from seeking information from anywhere other than the USOE, and accept only their interpretations of the facts. I refused, reminding them that true education comes from educating yourself on all sides.
I was threatened on three separate occasions with professional action all because I stated my opinion. I did not resign at any of the instances where I found myself threatened because I realized that I had given my word that I would teach for the year, and I will not break my word. However I refuse to remain in an environment that clearly has no respect for the Constitutional right of free speech. I refuse to be a part of the problem.
Over the years the school system has fallen far below what it should be. The public school system is just that – public. It should represent those served by it – We the People. Each level of the system (classroom, school, district and state) fails to remember that its duty is to the people, not to the establishment. We should be representing what is in our students’ and our community’s best interest. Our current system expects acceptance and conformity to its decisions and policies by all of its teachers and administrators. Further, it expects this without questioning or voicing concerns and even goes as far as intimidating and threatening those who have differing opinions. Any society or organization that silences and discourages freedom of speech removes the possibility to express ideas, and without competing ideas we close the door on true education and open the door to tyranny.
… We have lost control of the classroom and continue to hand more and more power over to the government. Our current system no longer promotes learning, but rather focuses on training. It teaches what to think, not how to think. It is now a system of hoops for students, teachers, and administrators, and with further national control and regulations of education, these hoops have been set on fire.
I believe that until we can get education to become self-sufficient where it no longer relies on the funding and intimidation from federal and even state levels, until we can bring education back to learning how to think and not being trained for a test, and until we can bring freedom back to the individual teachers, students, and schools, our public system will continue to decay. I hope the system and its people can exercise the self discipline to do this, but where I cannot foresee this happening, my greatest hope for education now resides in home-schools, home-school groups, and in private education.
My hands are tied within this system. But I now know that I can be more productive on the outside. I will continue to promote true and correct educational principles, awareness of civic affairs, and our duty to be involved. I am going to be a part of the solution. Asking questions is the essence of education. All I encourage of others is to ask questions, seek truth and not be afraid to share that truth with other Americans who are willing to listen.
Mr. Stuart Harper
Teacher, Citizen, and Father”
The Utah teenager and her mother who decided to take a stand last week by taking screen shots and sharing them with the public –photos of the SAGE/Common Core writing test, hit some raw nerves. Over a hundred comments were added here, with more posted on Facebook, and almost a hundred thousand views of those screen shots were logged in a few days.
Why? Reasons ranged and tempers flared: Was the act of sharing screen shots heroic– or was it cheating? Was the test itself fair –or manipulative? Should the student be failed and the teacher who didn’t see or stop her be fired? Was the blog posting itself fair or manipulative? Is this all evidence of an improved education system that creates deep-thinking students, or the very opposite?
A few of the responders words are worth repeating and are posted below.
Former teacher Laureen Simper wrote:
“Author Ray Bradbury could have used a SAGE test with a prompt like this, in his book “Farenheit 451″. As another commenter mentioned, Bradbury wrote: ‘There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running around with lit matches.’
“I have questioned the motives of central educational planners for years, ever since I had school-aged children. That was when I learned about John Dewey, when “Common Core” was going by the name du jour: “Outcome-Based Education“. That was when I read the original Humanist Manifesto. John Dewey was one of the original drafters/signers of what I recognized as an anti-God constitution. I learned that secular humanism and progressivism were the idealogies driving education “reform”.
“Progressive central planners continually repackage education reform when “the ignorant masses” figure out what the true motive is: to manage the lives of those ignorant masses, because they’re seen as too ignorant to manage their lives for themselves. Sadly, as long as a shell game can continually be played with shifting appellations, all the sleepy little frogs go back to sleep, as our nice warm bath continues to heat up.
“The agenda to shift public thinking away from self-government started at least as early as the early 20th century. The Intercollegiate Socialist Society was founded in 1905. Its original members believed that 60 college campuses were enough leavening to turn social thinking towards government dependence.
“Originally, the movement focused on higher education. Woodrow Wilson, former president of Princeton, said that the goal of higher education should be for a young man to come out of university as unlike his father as possible.
“But the plan was not limited to changing graduates of higher education. John Dewey, a few decades later, said that the influences of the home and family are properly challenged (by “steadying” ) in the government schools. This came from the “father” of modern education.
“Those who have not connected the same dots will disagree. But I’ve read what I’ve read and heard what I’ve heard – straight from the mouths of the arrogant progressive central planners.
“Their motives are not pure. They plan to manage our lives of the ignorant masses, because they think that people are too stupid or too lazy to govern themselves. And the education reformers’ answer is not Jefferson’s answer: ‘…If we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. ‘ –Thomas Jefferson, 1820
“Education reformers today, from Dewey to Coleman, seem to feel that the best answer is to wrest that self-government from the people.
“It is a big deal that a 16-year-old kid risked photographing test questions, knowing what kind of retribution could be brought to bear if she were caught.
“It is a big deal that a mother, equally aware of that retribution, would get those photos into the hands of a group of warriors who have connected the same dots I have connected – putting these test prompts into a completely different, stark, sobering context.
“Those who are screaming that anti-Common Core crusaders are taking these test questions out of context need to ask themselves if it is not they, themselves, who are taking them out of context.” –Laureen Simper
Another commenter, Michelle, wrote:
“And this is how they test “critical thinking skills”: “Your argument must be based on ideas, concepts, and information that can be determined through analysis of the four passages.” Students must base their argument on four passages alone. No room for their own ideas. No place for the inclusion of information outside of those four passages. No opportunity to question the ideas and information given in the passages.
“One of the selections is a blog post. Yes, a blog post. “Why playing videogames better than reading books.” (That wasn’t a typo; that is the title of the post as written on the actual blog site.) I wonder if they don’t refer to Wikipedia articles as well in other test questions.
“The other selection is from Steven Johnson’s book, “Everything Bad is Good for You” which, according to a review by The Guardian, asserts that TV, film, and video games make us smarter, yet the assertion fails miserably to back up those claims with actual science.
“So apparently, when Common Core proponents speak of “critical thinking skills” they don’t actually mean teaching children to think for themselves or to critically analyze arguments presented in selections of informational text or even to carefully select reliable and credible sources on which to gather information to form arguments. Instead, they mean teaching children to write argumentative essays by cutting and pasting information and ideas from blog posts and pseudo-science.
Our poor children.”
A dad named Jared wrote:
“I review hundreds of ELA books & tests every year. I am seeing these kinds of two-sided “opinion” reading/writing assignments all the time now. Here’s how to recognize it:
- ‘Two sides’ of a controversial/political/social/environmental/values-oriented subject are presented.
- The material is billed as “balanced” because “two sides” of an issue are presented.
- The student reads both sides, then writes an essay promoting one side.
“… these kinds of “opinion” writing assignments are subject to bias by nature, because the author/publisher controls the entire argument. In the examples I have seen, the author typically gives a reasonable-sounding Opinion A, and an unreasonable (straw man) Opinion B. The child naturally gravitates toward the more reasonable-sounding argument, and thinks she logically came to her own conclusion.
“If test question writers wanted to test a child’s writing ability, while avoiding straw men and indoctrination (intended or otherwise), they could simply avoid controversial subjects for their material. Why don’t they?”
Just sharing Wyoming teacher Christy Hooley’s article.
Negative changes have been made to AP History, which analysts are calling “a curricular coup that sets a number of dangerous precedents…”
Read it here:
A Utah High School student took the Common Core (SAGE) test this week. Seeing objectionable issues in that test, she thought her mother should know. The student took screen shots using her cell phone and sent them to her mother. Her mother passed them along to us.
The question given in this test asks whether book literacy is inferior to the playing of video games. Read it. Most of the passages that students must refer to, claim that literature is inferior, that it forces passivity or discriminates, while video games teach students how to be leaders.
Long live grunts and smoke signals.
The articles student must refer to in taking this test make the following devilish assertions: “books understimulate the senses” and “books are downright discriminatory” and books are “choreographed by another person [while video games are not]“.
These are mean pushes toward valuing video gaming instead of books –and they precisely match the pushy philosophy of Common Core creator-turned College Board President David Coleman. They also match the philosophy of Microsoft Owner/ Common Core funder Bill Gates. So it is no surprise. It’s still sickening.
In this “writing test” there is no mention (at least in these screen shots that we have) of any of the countless positive values of reading books: no value seen in the joy of receiving a story; no value in exposure to expressive vocabulary and imagination; no value to learning traditional spelling, composition or grammar competencies which hinge on book reading. There’s no mention of the value of learning humanity’s patterns by reading complex character studies in literature. There’s no mention of poetry, of the beauty of words, of the importance of cherishing our shared cultural history. There’s no mention of the truth that voracious readers become voracious learners and expressive writers.
Nope. It’s just down with books. If this philosophy isn’t an example of the erosion of students’ exposure to traditional knowledge, and of the dumbing down and impoverishment of school children, I don’t know what is.
What would the future would look like if students actually swallowed and lived by such a philosophy? Speaking, writing, spelling, and reading would utterly devolve. So this high school student’s choice to capture the test’s philosophies and expose them was an important act of civil disobedience.
Thoreau’s classic book, Civil Disobedience, says that individuals should prioritize conscience when conscience collides with law. Benjamin Franklin put it this way: Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God. Parents, teachers and students are dealing with the tyranny of the Common Core’s wrong-headed philosophies and with the tyranny of a now-national education system that’s oppressing individual conscience.
Think it through. Utah’s law affirms the authority of a parent to have the final say over what a student will learn. But education policies have become tangled to the point that today, only a 15-member parent panel has been allowed to look at the test questions, and these 15 are sworn to confidentiality. Even after the test, no one gets to see what was tested. Ever. Remember, too, that no parent or teacher –or even a legislator– was ever consulted prior to adoption of the standards upon which the test is based. The state school board alone mandated Utah’s adoption of the standards. The test and its standards are experimental, but no parent was asked whether any of this was okay.
Confidentiality surrounding high stakes tests makes sense in that it prevents future test-takers from knowing what the questions are so that they can not have an advantage over students who took the test without knowing these questions ahead of time. But there’s a problem when, at NO time, even months after the test, a parent may ever see what was shown to the child or asked of the child on that test.
This is an especially big problem in 2014, when much of what passes for education is blatant political or social indoctrination.
Case in point: the following screen shots.
Update: Utahns Against Common Core has published screen shots of school worksheets submitted by a third grade teacher. These worksheets feature the same promotion of video games seen in the SAGE test, but with a parents-don’t-know-what’s-up tone.
With Bill Gates, the Common Core promoter and funder and Microsoft owner, pushing for video gaming in schools, one must wonder whether these worksheets and test items’ focus on video gaming being so important in schools, is a coincidence or is profit-driven.
Video: Susan Kimball, Kindergarten Teacher: Too Much Assessing and Not Enough Teaching Under Common Core 3 comments
First, here’s a list.
It’s a smattering of teachers’ names with links to what they have said or spoken. Their experience and research make a powerful, nearly unarguable case for stopping corporate-federal Common Core. They are current teachers, retired teachers, and teachers-turned-professors-or-administrators.
Malin Williams, Mercedes Schneider, Christy Hooley, Peter Greene, Susan Kimball, Paul Bogush, Laurie Rogers, Paul Horton, Gerald Conti, Alan Singer, Kris Nielsen, Margaret Wilkin, Renee Braddy, Sandra Stotsky, J. R. Wilson Amy Mullins, Susan Wilcox, Diane Ravitch, Susan Sluyter, Joseph Rella, Christopher Tienken, Jenni White, David Cox, Peg Luksik, Sinhue Noriega, Susan Ohanian, Pat Austin, Cami Isle, Terrence Moore, Carol Burris, Stan Hartzler, Orlean Koehle, Nakonia Hayes, Barry Garelick, Heidi Sampson; also, here’s a young, un-named teacher who testified in this filmed testimony, and an unnamed California teacher/blogger.
Notice that these teachers come from all sides of the political spectrum. It turns out that neither Democrats nor Republicans relish having their rights and voices trampled.
And alongside those individual voices are teacher groups. To name a handful: the Left-Right Alliance, 132 Catholic Professors Against Common Core, the United Opt Out teachers, the BadAss Teachers, Utah Teachers Against Common Core, Conservative Teachers of America, and over 1,100 New York professors.
These teachers have really, really done their homework.
I’m going to share the homework of one brilliant teacher, a Pennsylvania teacher/blogger named Peter Greene who wrote about what he called his “light bulb moment” with how the Common Core Standards exist to serve data mining.
Speaking of the millions of data points being collected “per day per student,” he explained:
“They can do that because these are students who are plugged into Pearson, and Pearson has tagged every damn thing. And it was this point at which I had my first light bulb moment. All that aligning we’ve been doing, all that work to mark our units and assignments and, in some places, every single work sheet and assignment so that we can show at a glance that these five sentences are tied to specific standards– all those PD [professional development] afternoons we spent marking Worksheet #3 as Standard LA.12.B.3.17– that’s not, as some of us have assumed, just the government’s hamfisted way of making sure we’ve toed the line. It’s to generate data. Worksheet #3 is tagged LA.12.B.3.17, so that when Pat does the sheet his score goes into the Big Data Cloud as part of the data picture of pat’s work. (If you’d already figured this out, forgive me– I was never the fastest kid in class).”
Peter Greene further explained why the common standards won’t be decoupled from the data collection. His words explain why proponents cling so doggedly to the false claim that these Common Core standards are better academically (despite the lack of research-based evidence to support that claim and the mounting, on-the-job evidence to the contrary.)
“Don’t think of them as standards. Think of them as tags.
“Think of them as the pedagogical equivalent of people’s names on facebook, the tags you attach to each and every photo that you upload.
“We know from our friends at Knewton what the Grand Design is– a system in which student progress is mapped down to the atomic level. Atomic level (a term that Knewton lervs deeply) means test by test, assignment by assignment, sentence by sentence, item by item. We want to enter every single thing a student does into the Big Data Bank.
“But that will only work if we’re all using the same set of tags.
“We’ve been saying that CCSS [Common Core Standards] are limited because the standards were written around what can be tested. That’s not exactly correct. The standards have been written around what can be tracked.
“The standards aren’t just about defining what should be taught. They’re about cataloging what students have done.
“Remember when Facebook introduced emoticons. This was not a public service. Facebook wanted to up its data gathering capabilities by tracking the emotional states of users. But if users just defined their own emotions, the data would be too noisy, too hard to crunch. But if the user had to pick from the facebook standard set of user emotions– then facebook would have manageable data.
“Ditto for CCSS. If we all just taught to our own local standards, the data noise would be too great. The Data Overlords need us all to be standardized, to be using the same set of tags. That is also why no deviation can be allowed. Okay, we’ll let you have 15% over and above the standards. The system can probably tolerate that much noise. But under no circumstances can you change the standards– because that would be changing the national student data tagging system, and THAT we can’t tolerate.
“This is why the “aligning” process inevitably involves all that marking of standards onto everything we do. It’s not instructional. It’s not even about accountability. It’s about having us sit and tag every instructional thing we do so that student results can be entered and tracked in the Big Data Bank.
“And that is why CCSS [Common Core] can never, ever be decoupled from anything. Why would facebook keep a face tagging system and then forbid users to upload photos?
“The Test does not exist to prove that we’re following the standards. The standards exist to let us tag the results from the Test.
“… Because the pedagogical fantasy delineated by the CCSS does not match the teacher reality in a classroom, the tags are applied in inexact and not-really-true ways. In effect, we’ve been given color tags that only cover one side of the color wheel, but we’ve been told to tag everything, so we end up tagging purple green. When a tagging system doesn’t represent the full range of reality, and it isn’t flexible enough to adapt, you end up with crappy tagging. And that’s the CCSS… Decoupling? Not going to happen. You can’t have a data system without tagging, and you can’t have a tagging system with nothing to tag. Education and teaching are just collateral damage in all this, and not really the main thing at all.”
Read more here.
I’ll add more two points in support of Peter Greene’s words:
1- First, the creators of Common Core and its copyright have openly stated that they work toward both academic standards’ commonality and data standards’ commonality –I suppose for the very reasons Greene outlined. Check out the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) –a Department of Education/private CCSSO partnered enterprise, here.
2– Second, the federal grants that the states all swallowed, the data mining capability-hooks embedded in the juicy worm of funding, called “State Longitudinal Database System” grants, did specify that states MUST use interoperable data standards (search for SIF Framework, PESC model, CEDS standards, NDCM model) to track educational progress.
In other words, the 50 individual states’ database systems were designed so that they can, if states are foolish enough to do so, fully pool student and workforce data for governments or corporations– on an national or international level.
Reblogged from Wendy Hart’s blog.
(Wendy Hart is a current member of the Alpine School Board, Alpine, Utah. She is running for re-election. Please, if you live in ASD District, vote for her, as she is one of the few truly courageous, truly principled, outspoken and extremely knowledgable school board members in the entire state of Utah.)
SAGE State Tests
- Data privacy isn’t guaranteed.
- Opposition to high-stakes testing.
- Opposition to teacher/school grading, based on a single test
- Inability to view test questions
- Discomfort with the mission and contract of our test provider, American Institutes for Research
- Concern of the possible use of behavioral indicators (not prohibited by state law or by the contract)
- Concern that a teacher’s professional judgement and interaction over 180 days in a classroom will be reduced to a single set of scores on a test that parents don’t control
- Reducing classroom instruction to teaching to the test, or ONLY to the standards.
- Individual concerns: student IEP’s, test anxiety, etc
Just because a parents doesn’t want their student to take the test doesn’t mean that we, as a society, must agree with and approve of that parent’s reasons. State Code says: ” Under both the United States Constitution and the constitution of this state, aparent possesses a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody, and management of the parent’s children.” It is your right and your responsibility to properly care for your child. In a free country, that means you shouldn’t need the State’s permission to decide your child won’t take a test.
Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform:
Marc Tucker, President of National Center on Education and the Economy
Countdown # 3
This is the seventh in a countdown series of introductions, a list of the top ten scariest people leading education in America. For number 4, number 5, number 6, number 7, number 8, number 9 and number 10, click here.
Yet Marc Tucker has openly worked for decades to “strengthen the role of the state education agencies in education governance at the expense of “local control” and insists that “the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control.” (See links below.) He wants to alter the actual quality of U.S. education, also. For example, he hopes to remove “the policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation” because he feels that overeducating the masses is a waste of collective tax money.
These goals and others are published by Tucker at the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) and the Center for American Progress. The NCEE, the organization over which he presides, is paid millions to promote these damaging ideas by Common Core main-funder Bill Gates.
Tucker’s ideas have garnered widespread acceptance. He speaks at countless education conferences; for example, he’s spoken at the Annenberg Institute, the Public Education and Business Coalition, at Kentucky’s Conference on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, the Aspen Institute, at numerous colleges and universities and has testified to state legislatures about education.
And these ideas are nothing new. In Tucker’s infamous 1992 letter to Hillary Clinton, now part of the Congressional Record, he outlined his vision of a communist-styled pipeline of education and workforce that would control individuals from early childhood through workforce. He and Hillary shared the vision: “to remold the entire American system for human resources development… This is interwoven with a new approach to governing… What is essential is that we create a seamless web… from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone — young and old, poor and rich, worker and full-time student. It needs to be a system… guided by clear standards… regulated on the basis of outcomes…”
Can anyone distinguish between that Tucker quote and actual, literal Communism for me? I see no difference.
That was in 1992. It seemed conspiratorial at that time. But it’s openly pursued today by Tucker and by his associates on the Top Ten Scariest list).
Fast forward to 2007.
In a report entitled “Tough Choices for Tough Times” Tucker’s NCEE implied that America had the constitutional authority, and suggested that America should: develop national standards, tests and curriculum; create “personal competitiveness accounts,”should “create regional competitveness authorities,” should provide “universal early childhood education,” should tie teacher evaluation to teacher pay, and more. Remember, Common Core national standards weren’t adopted by the majority of states (or even offered via the Race to the Top grant) until 2009-2010. But Tucker had this going on long ago.
Fast forward to 2013.
The Center for American Progress published this report in which Tucker asserted, among other things, that “the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control.”
Here’s a little taste of what his report proposed:
If Americans are going to decide which level of government we want to run our education systems, the only realistic choice is the state. No one wants a national education system run by the federal government, and the districts cannot play that role. [Why wouldn't local school districts serve in that controlling role? --Too "we the people" for Mr. Tucker, perhaps?]
…Each state needs to consolidate in its state department of education the policymaking and implementation authority that now resides in a welter of state-level commissions, agencies, and other independent bodies. And the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control. If the goal is to greatly increase the capacity and authority of the state education agencies, much of the new authority will have to come at the expense of local control.
….I propose to greatly strengthen the role of the state education agencies in education governance, at the expense of “local control…” The line of political accountability would run to mayors and governors through their appointees… governance of the schools, higher education, early child- hood education and youth services would all be closely coordinated through the governance system… I propose that a new National Governing Council on Education be established, composed of representatives of the states and of the federal government, to create the appropriate bodies…”
Did Tucker really think that “we, the people” would roll over and give in to his constitution-slaughtering dream to end local control and to permit governmental tyranny over education?
Don’t go refill your soda yet. There’s more.
In 2013, Marc Tucker also put out this document at the National Center on Education and the Economy, that says out loud that it’s not important under Common Core to have high educational standards in high school; that it’s silly to waste time educating all high school graduates as high as the level of Algebra II.
Tucker thus pushed for an emphasis on the lowest common denominator, while also marketing Common Core as a push for “rigorous” academics.
Read for yourself:
“Mastery of Algebra II is widely thought to be a prerequisite for success in college and careers. Our research shows that that is not so… Based on our data, one cannot make the case that high school graduates must be proficient in Algebra II to be ready for college and careers. The high school mathematics curriculum is now centered on the teaching of a sequence of courses leading to calculus that includes Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus and Calculus. However, fewer than five percent of American workers and an even smaller percentage of community college students will ever need to master the courses in this sequence in their college or in the workplace… they should not be required courses in our high schools. To require these courses in high school is to deny to many students the opportunity to graduate high school because they have not mastered a sequence of mathematics courses they will never need. In the face of these findings, the policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation simply cannot be justified.”
So, Tucker’s NCEE report goes on to say that traditional high school English classes, with their emphasis on classic literature and personal, narrative writing, is useless. The report says that Common Core will save students from the worthless classics with its emphasis on technical subjects and social studies via the dominance of informational text in the Common Core classroom:
“The Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts (CCSSE) address reading in history/social studies as well as science and technical subjects, and in so doing may increase the relevance of high school instruction.”
Did you catch that? Tucker and the NCEE just trashed English literature, calling it irrelevant. And, in calling classic literature and personal writing irrelevant, he underscores the socialist mentality: that only job prep matters, only the collective economy, not the mind and soul of the individual.
In 2014, Marc Tucker wrote an article entitled “On Writing” in which he suggested the country should “hold our teachers accountable for the quality of student writing” –saying that incentivizing teachers would increase college level literacy. (To Tucker, teachers and students seem to be lab rats. Hand out larger government chunks of cheese and the rats will do whatever you like.)
Teacher Mercedes Schneider shredded Tucker’s “On Writing” arguments here. Sandra Stotsky, Cherilyn Eagar , Diane Ravitch, Paul Horton and Susan Ohanian have written important points about Marc Tucker as well.
Lastly, for those who follow the money trail: Marc Tucker and his NCEE have accepted many millions from Common Core-builder/funder Bill Gates. So has the Tucker-publishing, CommonCore – friendly Center for American Progress.