Archive for the ‘How the Common Core Initiative Hurts Kids, Teachers, and Taxpayers’ Category

Update: Pushback Against Testing Increases   2 comments

Guest Post by Bob Schaeffer, Colorado Principal

 

In this week’s stories, all key public education stakeholder constituencies — parents, teachers, administrators, school board members, community activists, and the general public — add their voices to the ever louder call for assessment reform. Too many politicians, however, give little but lip service to the movement’s demands while continuing to double down on failed test-and-punish policies. The Atlanta and Philadelphia standardized exam cheating scandals are reminders of one kind of ugly fallout from this obsession

Be sure to check out FairTest’s new fact sheet, “Teacher Evaluation Should Not Rest on Student Test Scores”
http://fairtest.org/teacher-evaluation-fact-sheet-2014Arizona Legislators Should Take the Tests They Promote
http://www.azcentral.com/story/brahm-resnik/2014/09/24/12news-arizona-citizenship-test-state-legislators-pass/16139755/

Largest Southern Colorado School District Proposes to Opt-Out of State Testing
http://gazette.com/d-11-board-votes-unanimously-to-request-change-in-testing-rules/article/1538211
Colorado Teacher Refuses to Administer Common Core Exams
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/09/23/colorado-teacher-i-refuse-to-administer-the-parcc-common-core-test-to-my-students/

Connecticut Governor’s Record on Testing Contradicts His Record
http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/default/article/Lecker-Malloy-s-empty-words-about-testing-5768147.php

Did Rhee-formers Close any Washington, DC Public School Achievement Gaps?
http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/28/did-rheeformers-rhee-and-henderson-actually-close-any-of-those-achievement-gaps-in-dc-public-schools/

Calls to Suspend Florida State Testing Intensify as More Districts Weigh In
http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/testing/calls-to-suspend-state-mandated-testing-intensify-as-more-school-districts/2199071
Lee County School Board Strikes Down All Grade K-5 District-Mandated Tests
http://www.abc-7.com/story/26620085/district-mandated-k-5-test-elimination-makes-florida-history#.VCNcscmwRrs
Florida Parents Push Back on Standardized Testing
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article2261678.html
Florida Education Association Position on Testing and Opt Out
http://feaweb.org/fea-resolution-on-accountability-and-testing-opt-out
Florida School Superintendents Ask For Testing Relief
http://tbo.com/news/politics/schools-superintendents-ask-for-relief-in-transition-year-to-new-test-standards-20140929/

Atlanta Test Cheating Scandal is “Tip of an Iceberg”
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/30/us/racketeering-trial-opens-in-altanta-schools-cheating-scandal.html
http://www.fairtest.org/%E2%80%9Catlanta-tip-iceberg%E2%80%9D-new-count-shows-widespread-t
Georgia Seeks One-Year Delay in Test-Based Teacher Evaluation
http://www.ajc.com/news/news/state-regional/georgia-seeks-one-year-delay-in-high-stakes-teache/nhTB7/

Illinois Districts May Seek Legislative Relief From Testing Mandates
http://evanstonnow.com/story/education/charles-bartling/2014-09-23/66202/d202-board-may-seek-relief-from-springfield-on

New Massachusetts Board of Ed Chair Says Schools Too Focused on Test Prep
http://www.patriotledger.com/article/20140923/NEWS/140928749/12344/NEWS
Boston Teachers’ Petition: Say “No” to PARCC and High-Stake Exams
http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/boston-say-no-to-parcc

Minnesota Educators Concerned With New High School ACT Test Requirement
http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_26624750/minnesotas-new-act-requirement-has-some-educators-worried

Testing in New Mexico Has Gone Too Far
http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-opinion/ci_26605498/elaine-hampton-new-mexico-has-gone-too-far
Teachers Sue to Block New Mexico Teacher Evaluation System
http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-news/ci_26628104/union-sues-over-new-mexico-teacher-evaluation-system
Moratorium Urged on Using Student Test Scores to Assess Teachers
http://www.abqjournal.com/470012/news/moratorium-urged-on-using-test-scores-in-teacher-evals.html

New York Congressman Promotes Bill to Reduce Federal Testing Mandates
http://www.theislandnow.com/opinions/readers-write-legislation-would-end-excessive-testing/article_4b158d08-44d0-11e4-bbe1-ef9f4e73f305.html
Thousands of Long Islanders Opt Out of Common Core Tests
http://www.antonnews.com/farmingdaleobserver/news/39726-common-core-tests-parents-choice.html
Mapping Poverty and Test Scores in New York State
http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2014/09/8551205/mapping-poverty-and-test-scores-new-york-state
Federal Mandates Set Some New York Kids Up For Failure
http://www.newsday.com/opinion/oped/some-students-being-set-up-to-fail-roger-tilles-1.9414375

Ohio Triples Number of Exams Required for Graduation
http://www.bucyrustelegraphforum.com/story/news/local/2014/09/26/testing-overload-grad-tests-triple-high-schoolers/16261961/
Ohio Parents Debate Effects of Increased Standardized Testing
http://ysnews.com/news/2014/09/parents-consider-effects-of-increased-standardized-testing

No “Accountability” for Oklahoma Testing Contractor
http://www.newschannel6now.com/story/26624035/oklahoma-board-to-consider-testing-contract

Two Former Philadelphia Principals Arrested for Alleged Test Cheating to Meet NCLB Mandates
http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20140926_2_more_Philly_principals_charged_in_cheating_probe.html
Penn. School Leaders Say Intense Pressure to Increase Test Scores Created Climate for Cheating
http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/73265-fallout-of-pa-cheating-scandal-continues-with-charges-against-two-philly-principals?

Tennessee Teachers Want Testing Transparency, Accountability From State
http://www.knoxnews.com/opinion/columnists/citizens-voice-beth-brown-teachers-want-accountability-from-state-testing-transparency_98316156

Texas Seeks $30 Million to Develop, Pilot Alternative Assessments
http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/2014/09/texas-education-agency-wants-30-mil-to-pilot-alternative-to-staar.html/

West Virginia Teacher Evaluations Must Be Fair
http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140927/ARTICLE/140929417/1103

“No Pineapple Left Behind” — New Video Game Skewers Testing and Corporate Ed. “Reform”
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2014/09/satirical_video_game_skewers_n.html

Standardized Tests Don’t Accurately Reflect Anything Meaningful
http://conversationed.com/2014/09/22/why-standardized-tests-dont-accurately-reflect-anything

Why “Ed Reformers” Are Having Second Thoughts About Test-Driven Schooling
http://www.salon.com/2014/09/24/arne_duncans_staggering_statement_why_ed_reformers_are_having_second_thoughts/

Common Core Testing Will Take More Time Than Initially Estimated
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2014/09/common-core_assessment_group_revises_testing_time.html

Will Common Core Testing Technology Undermine New Math Performance Tasks?
http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/09/24/05math.h34.html

The Scarring Effects of Primary Grade Retention
http://sf.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/09/03/sf.sou074.full

Mercyhurst University Adopts Test-Optional Policy
http://www.yourerie.com/news/news-article/d/story/mercyhurst-u-adopts-satact-optional-policy/17370/lBxxnviAm0uCw3l65v56Mg

Test-Optional Colleges vs. Test-Fixated K-12 Education
http://lancasteronline.com/opinion/editorials/standardized-tests-are-a-more-helpful-to-college-bound-kids/article_26901790-45d0-11e4-9e2d-0017a43b2370.html

Common Core Kills Love of Reading: Anonymous UT Student Teacher’s Story   5 comments

by an anonymous Utah student teacher
————————————
Last semester I worked in a first grade classroom as part of a class I was I was taking at Utah Valley University.  The teacher said she could do more teaching if she didn’t have to do so much Common Core testing, so she had me do the testing.  These children have 4 packets, 20-25 pages each, they have to get through during the year.   Part of this is a list of 100 words, 400 for the year, they need to know by sight.  As I was testing, one little boy he stopped and said, “I don’t like words.  I don’t like reading.  I don’t like books.”
My heart broke.
apple books
I went to our library here in town and checked out as many books as I could.  I went back to school every day and pulled him out of class to read just one book to him.   At first he was hesitant because he thought he was going to have to read to me. Eventually he relaxed and started enjoying.  He got so he would even turn the pages on occasion. We read one book, “The Red Book,” which has no words in it.  You make up the story yourself. When we finished I asked him if he’d rather read a book like this or would he rather have a book with the words already there.
He preferred a book with words in it.  This went on for several weeks.
book and kite
Then they had a reading competition in the classroom. On Friday whoever read the most books that week got to wear the pirate hat.  I came in one Friday and he was wearing the pirate hat.
I was thrilled.pirate
Since then it has occurred to me that I should talk to the principal.  How would he feel if someone came into his office and tested him regularly, and often, to see whether he is making any progress, getting everything done that he should do, etc.?  He would probably quit his job if he was under such testing regulations, and still they put these little kids through all this stress.
Stress-at-work
This teacher has eighteen students.  Within a week I could tell which six children were working above grade level, which 6 children were working at grade level, and which 6 children were working below grade level.  This was simply from my observations, not from any testing I was doing.  Six children took the assignments and whizzed through them.  Six children took the assignments and worked through them, but eventually they got there.  Six children got very little of the assignments done without help, and in some cases a lot of help.  Obviously, Common Core upsets me.  I’m sure there is some good there, and there are good intentions, but they are way off base.

 

Reframing the Common Core Discussion: A Battle for our Freedom   4 comments

Educator Laurie Rogers has written “Reframing the Common Core Discussion: A Battle for our Freeedom” at her website, Betrayed.  It is published with permission here.  Even starting at its title it is brilliant and important.

When Governor Herbert and others say that they want to “take another look” at Common Core, that only means a narrow discussion of Common Core math and English standards.  It doesn’t mean to look at the entire monstrous machine, from standards to tests to test-score-driven teacher evaluation to student data mining without parental consent to corporate-political knots that remove the voter from the decision-making table.  It pretends that it’s about nothing but academics (and great ones– that fit all needs).

But the parent-led Stop Common Core movement is barely even about academics –kind of like the Revolutionary War was kind of about tea.  It’s beautifully clear in Rogers’ essay:  it’s all about your freedom and mine.  It’s local control.  It’s autonomy.  It’s not having our hands tied and decisions made for us by people we never elected and cannot vote out or fire.  It’s valuing individuals– not prioritizing a centrally controlled “collective workforce.”  This is what we are fighting for.

 

 

 

REFRAMING THE COMMON CORE DISCUSSION:  A BATTLE FOR OUR FREEDOM

by Laurie Rogers

 

“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”Voltaire

“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.”George Orwell

If I were to build a list of the worst systemic problems in public education, the Common Core State Standards would not be at the top of the list. The Common Core (CCSS) is a huge problem, to be sure. It’s dictatorial, inadequate, experimental, expensive, developmentally inappropriate, politically infused – it’s nearly everything critics have said it is. But it isn’t the worst problem we face.

That dishonor goes to The Network, a moniker I’ve given to the conglomeration of corporate and government interests (and their allies) that have seized control of America’s classrooms. The Network is huge – containing most of the K-12 education mob, plus its allies in the Department of Education; colleges of education; unions; media; government agencies, associations and legal teams; foundations; corporations; legislatures; fundraising groups; colleges and universities; business; and even the courts.

The Network prefers to operate quietly, promoting supposedly good intentions. Its hallmark phrase: “It’s all about the kids.” But try opposing The Network on behalf of a child – yours or anyone else’s. If you can’t be put off, persuaded, ignored, bullied or bought out, The Network has no problem getting nasty. The more honest and honorable you are, the nastier The Network becomes.

This isn’t about left or right, Democrat or Republican. It’s about “in” and “out”; money and power; agenda and ideology. The Network spends a lot of taxpayer money growing itself, feeding itself and shielding itself from accountability. The bigger it is, the more power it has. The more power it has, the more friends it gains. The more friends it gains, the more money it gets. The more money it gets, the bigger it grows – even as it completely fails our children. Allies of all stripes play along.

In Washington State, legislators and judges now tout the additional billions they’ll rip from taxpayers for failed school districts. They don’t say how much is spent currently or what it buys. They don’t hold districts accountable. Education already is a bottomless pit of wasted dollars; they don’t seem to care.

Parents must understand: The Network will never properly educate our children. A) It doesn’t know how. Its power structure has lost any sense of how to teach academics sufficiently, efficiently and effectively. B) It doesn’t care. The agenda is to gain money and power; push a particular political view onto the next generation; maintain position and income; and avoid accountability and transparency. Some allies work agreeably with The Network; others accept the benefits of looking the other way.

This is how we were stuck with the CCSS. They claim it will raise the bar and foster international competitiveness, but unless they mean to foster competitiveness IN our competitors, their claim is easily disproved by a comparison of what they’ve done versus what happens in the classrooms of our competitors. The CCSS is designed to deliver the agenda in such a way that it cannot be overcome.

The Network wants freedom, choices and privacy for itself, not for us. If it’s successful, it will have replaced the light constraints of a free people with the ropes and chains of the subjugated. To have what it wants in education, The Network must have it all – K-12, secondary education, early learning, preschools, private and faith-based schools – and someday – mark my words – homeschooling. Dissenters spend time and energy fighting off the CCSS but almost none fighting off The Network. Thus, they can’t defeat the agenda, and The Network knows it.

A few in The Network believe they’re doing right by children, but most deceive themselves and us about their level of independence — as they accept money, votes or benefits or do The Network’s bidding. You can establish who’s “in” by: following the money; speaking up publicly; or asking for help in opposing the agenda. The players and sycophants will undermine your message or crush it.

The Network will not tell the truth about the CCSS, for example. It was destined to be authoritarian and politically useful – not academically excellent. Nationalizing systems can work well for widgets, but not for children, learning, individuality or freedom. Politically biased, uninformed by what works elsewhere, and academically counterproductive, the CCSS is a national experiment on children and dangerous to the nation. The people who control it and push it aren’t accountable for it. It’s a lesser product than what many states had. It was deceitful from its inception in its adoption, writing, content, promotion and implementation. This was a bipartisan deceit – Republicans are as guilty as Democrats.

The CCSS is a godsend for district leaders, however. Many lack the knowledge necessary to identify a solid curriculum. They habitually adopt programs that are unproved or proved to be failures. The failures of the CCSS won’t be known for generations, so they’ll have lots of time to retire in comfort.

In math, the CCSS is cementing processes proved over three decades to be failures. Nationalization of education is how extreme constructivists plan to ultimately win the “math wars” – by using the CCSS to mandate their stupid methods across the country. They will destroy more generations of students and further endanger the country.

In English, the CCSS is allowing districts to eliminate great literature, replacing it with “informational” (pro-government, pro-extremist) material. Much of the history, culture, context, and factual information that would help to inform a student’s “critical thinking” has been or is being removed or minimized. Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, once presciently noted: “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” The CCSS is doing that.

In history and civics, the new themes are content-light and opinion-heavy, pro-victimization, anti-Christian and anti-patriot. America is to be portrayed as bigoted, imperialistic, genocidal, misogynistic and anti-immigrant. Great historical figures and much daring and innovative history are to be eliminated, criticized or minimized. (This is what happens when those who view America with contempt are given free reign over academic standards.)

If the CCSS was ever about helping students academically, its promoters would have had proof of its efficacy – a track record of success. They don’t have it. The CCSS is an unproved product. Unfortunately, as bad as it is, the CCSS is just one tentacle of the monster. The Network remains largely hidden as its agenda oozes out around us, like a nasty sludge. It’s difficult to confront and defeat what we can’t see. It’s an ongoing challenge to explain this to people who would rather not believe it.

Another tentacle is the privacy-destroying longitudinal data systems. Another is the flawed testing, all online. Another is teacher evaluations, based on the faulty premise that good teachers can overcome bad curriculum, policy and administration. Another is the de facto federal takeover, now seeping into private schools, preschools, daycares and colleges. Another is the creepy technology: emails for children (that disallow parental access); scanning of driver’s licenses; and biometric intrusions on children.

We try to put all of this under the umbrella of the CCSS, and we can’t, because the CCSS is not the umbrella. We struggle because we’re missing the point. These are tentacles of the same monster. They’re separate – related but independent. It’s fascist, it’s corporatist, it’s dictatorial, selfish, larcenous… Call it what you like, but The Network is in charge and not accountable to anyone.

This is how national tyrannies are born.

The Network’s strengths are in its size, money, and near-sociopathic ability and willingness to lie on a daily basis and with impunity. It benefits from our ignorance and passivity. It’s easy, safe and pleasant for us to believe that government/corporate “partnerships” are benevolent and that the government is still on our side. We are failing to recognize our new reality.

It’s almost too late. The Network now determines problems, makes decisions and provides solutions. It essentially has oversight over itself, and it’s rapidly gaining power over the rest of us. It cares less about the children or our rights than it does about protecting its interests. The finer details of the content of the CCSS were always immaterial – a distraction. The CCSS will be whatever The Network wants it to be. The goal was that we lose our power as individuals. Graduates won’t know they’ve been manipulated. The Network wants to be the decider; we are to be the obeyers. Hop to it.

It’s risky to draw this picture for the public. Network allies will kick into gear to mock and undermine the message. Since 2009, I’ve watched this come to fruition, hearing lie after lie about it, even as the dark truth blossomed right there in front of our face. We asked for help from legislators, board directors, government watchdogs, and the media — only to find out that most are part of The Network.

Sometimes a conspiracy “theory” isn’t a theory.

Fighting it off requires a certain mindset about freedom, knowledge, the law, the Constitution, and individuality – hence The Network’s attacks on those things. The Network is self-regenerating, with a long institutional memory. If it loses a tentacle to a determined group of dissenters, it grows another and renames it. In math, it can be Outcome-Based Education; New Math; Reform Math; inquiry-based math; student-centered learning; or constructivism. If a state rejects the CCSS, The Network can keep it in place under a different name. The Network isn’t worried. It intends to win. For the kiddoes, of course.

This is grim, so I hate to leave it here. This is America, and in America, it’s never over. But we’re now in a battle for our freedom, and most of us appear to not know it. It isn’t going to be a walk in the daffodils. The battle cannot be won by a few of us while the rest wait to hear how it went.

More citizens must become motivated, questioning, informed and involved. We must learn, vote, dissent, and inform others (including the few in The Network who will listen). We must stop supporting powerful people who demand that we acquiesce to The Network. We must vote against legislators who vote for The Network. We must walk away from schools run by well-heeled administrators and board directors who express solemn concern over students they never actually help. The Network prefers that we remain uninformed and obedient. As we wait in vain for it to do the right thing for our children, it advances the agenda. It’s symbiotic to itself but parasitic to the rest of us.

Americans have been asleep for too long. This battle is necessary to our children’s future as free Americans. If we don’t save them now from The Network, we risk losing them to it forever.

—————————————————————

Rogers, L. (September 2014). “Reframing the Common Core: A battle for our freedom.” Retrieved (date) from the Betrayed Web site: http://betrayed-whyeducationisfailing.blogspot.com

Top Ten Things Parents Hate About Common Core – by Joy Pullman   3 comments

This article is so easy to read and so well expressed.  I just had to ask permssion of the author to repost it here.   Read the original– and see the great embedded videos– at  The Federalist.

 

TOP TEN THINGS PARENTS HATE ABOUT COMMON CORE

 

By Joy Pullmann

This is the year new national Common Core tests kick in, replacing state tests in most locales, courtesy of an eager Obama administration and the future generation’s tax dollars. It’s also the first year a majority of people interviewed tell pollsters they’ve actually heard of Common Core, four years after bureaucrats signed our kids onto this complete overhaul of U.S. education.

1. The Senseless, Infuriating Math

Common Core has impressed everyone from Bill Gates to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. So why do 62 percent of parents think it’s a bad idea? For one, they can count. But their kids can’t.

Common Core math, how do we hate thee? We would count the ways, if Common Core hadn’t deformed even the most elementary of our math abilities so that simple addition now takes dots, dashes, boxes, hashmarks, and foam cubes, plus an inordinate amount of time, to not get the right answer.

There are so many examples of this, it’s hard to pick, but a recent one boomeranging the Internet has a teacher showing how to solve 9 + 6 the Common Core way. Yes, it takes nearly a minute.

Despite claims to the contrary, Common Core does require bad math like this. The Brookings Institution’s Tom Loveless says the curriculum mandates contain “dog whistles” for fuzzy math proponents, the people who keep pushing ineffective, devastating, and research-decimated math instruction on U.S. kids for ideological reasons. The mandates also explicitly require kids to learn the least efficient ways of solving basic problems one, two, and even three grade levels before they are to learn the traditional, efficient ways. There are ways for teachers to fill in the gaps and fix this, but this means a kid’s ability to get good math instruction depends on the luck of having an extra-savvy teacher. That’s especially a downer for poor and minority kids, who already get the greenest and lowest-quality teachers.

 

2. The Lies

The American Enterprise Institute’s Rick Hess recently wrote about Common Core’s “half-truths,” which Greg Forster pointedly demonstrated he should have called “lies.” These include talking points essential to selling governors and other state leaders on the project, such as that Common Core is: “internationally benchmarked” (“well, we sorta looked at what other nations do but that didn’t necessarily change anything we did”); “evidence based” (“we know there is not enough research to undergird any standards, so we just polled some people and that’s our evidence“); “college- and career-ready” (“only if you mean community-college ready“); “rigorous” (as long as rigorous indicates “rigid”); and “high-performing nations nationalize education” (so do low-performing nations).

 

3. Obliterating Parent Rights

Common Core has revealed the contempt public “servants” have for the people they are supposedly ruled by—that’d be you and me. Indiana firebrand Heather Crossin, a mom whose encounter with Common Core math turned her into a nationally known activist, went with other parents to their private-school principal in an attempt to get their school’s new Common Core textbooks replaced. “Our principal in frustration threw up his hands and said, ‘Look, I know parents don’t like this type of math because none of us were taught this way, but we have to teach it this way because this is how it’s going to be on the new [standardized] assessment,” she says. “And that was the moment when I realized control of what was being taught in my child’s classroom — in a parochial Catholic school — had not only left the building, it had left the state of Indiana.”

A Maryland dad who stood up to complain that Common Core dumbed down his kids’ instruction was arrested and thrown out of a public meeting. See the video.

Parents regularly fill my inbox, frustrated that even when they do go to their local school boards, often all they get are disgusted looks and a bored thumb-twiddling during their two-minute public comment allowance. A New Hampshire dad was also arrested for going over his two-minute comment limit in a local school board meeting parents packed to complain about graphic-sex-filled literature assignments. The way the board treats him and his fellow parents is repulsive.

The bottom line is, parents have no choice about whether their kids will learn Common Core, no matter what school they put them in, if they want them to go to college, because the SAT and ACT are being redesigned to fit the new national program for education. Elected school boards pay parents no heed, and neither do state departments of education, because the feds deliberately use our tax dollars to put themselves in the education driver’s seat, at our expense. So much for “by the people, for the people, of the people.”

4. Dirty Reading Assignments

A red-haired mother of four kids read to our Indiana legislature selections from a Common Core-recommended book called “The Bluest Eyes,” by Toni Morrison. I’m a grown, married woman who enjoys sex just fine, thank you, but I sincerely wish I hadn’t heard her read those passages. I guess some people don’t find sympathetically portrayed rape scenes offensive, but I do. So I won’t quote them at you. If you have a perv-wish, Google will fill you in. Other objectionable books on the Common Core-recommended list include “Make Lemonade” by Virginia Euwer Wolff, “Black Swan Green” by David Mitchell, and “Dreaming in Cuban” by Cristina Garcia.

There are so many excellent, classic works of literature available for children and young adults that schools can’t possibly fit all the good ones into their curriculum. So why did Common Core’s creators feel the need to recommend trash? Either they want kids to read trash or they don’t think these are trash, and both are disturbing.

5. Turning Kids Into Corporate Cogs

The workforce-prep mentality of Common Core is written into its DNA. Start with its slogan, which is now written into federal mandates on state education systems: “College and career readiness.” That is the entire Common Core conception of education’s purpose: Careers. Job training. Workforce skills. There’s not a word about the reasons our state constitutions give for establishing public education, in which economic advancement is largely considered a person’s personal affair. (Milton Friedman takes the same tack, by the way.) State constitutions typically mimic the Northwest Ordinance’s vision for public education (the ordinance was the first U.S. law to discuss education): “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

Common Core makes no promises about fulfilling public education’s purpose of producing citizens capable of self-government. Instead, it focuses entirely on the materialistic benefits of education, although human civilization has instead long considered education a part of acculturating children and passing down a people’s knowledge, heritage, and morals. The workforce talk certainly tickles the ears of Common Core’s corporate supporters. Maybe that was the intent all along. But in what world do corporations get to dictate what kids learn, instead of the parents and kids themselves? Ours, apparently.

6. The Data Collection and Populace Management

Speaking of corporate cronyism, let’s talk about how Common Core enables the continued theft of kids’ and teachers’ information at the behest of governments and businesses, furthering their bottom lines and populace-control fantasies at the expense of private property and self-determination.Well, I coauthored a 400-footnote paper on this very topic. I’ll just summarize the list of direct connections between intrusive data-mining and Common Core from my favorite passage (in the section starting on page 52):

The documents that ‘created the (dubious) authorization for Common Core define the initative as curriculum mandates plus tests. The tests are the key instrument of data collection.

Common Core architect David Coleman has confirmed that special-interests deliberately packaged data mining into Common Core.
Common Core creates an enormous system of data classification for education. It’s probably easiest to think of it as an enormous filing system, like the equivalent of the Dewey Decimal System for lessons, textbooks, apps, and everything else kids learn. That’s by design.
States using the national, federally funded Common Core tests have essentially turned over control of what data they collect on children to private organizations that are overseen by no elected officials. Those organizations have promised complete access to kids’ data to the federal government. Common Core and data vacuuming are philosophically aligned—they both justify themselves as technocratic, progressive solutions to human problems. The ultimate goal is using data to “seamlessly integrate” education and the economy. In other words, we learned nothing from the USSR.

7. Distancing Parents and Children

A recent study found that the Common Core model of education results in parents who are less engaged in their kids’ education and express more negative attitudes about schools and government. Does it need to be noted that kids desperately need their pre-existing, natural bond with their parents to get a good start in life, and anything that attacks this is bad for both the kids and society?

In addition, math even highly educated engineers and math professors can’t understand obviously has the effect of placing a teacher and school between a child and his parent. Parents are rife with stories about how they tried to teach their kids “normal” math, but it put pressure on the tots because teacher demanded one thing and mom demanded another, which ended up in frustration, confusion, and resentment. That won’t make a kid hate school, right?

8. Making Little Kids Cry

It’s one thing to teach a child to endure life’s inevitable suffering for a higher purpose. It’s another thing to inflict children with needless suffering because you’ve got a society to remake, and “it takes a few broken eggs to make an omelet.” One is perhaps the essence of character. The other is perhaps the essence of cruelty.

There have been reports nationwide from both teachers and a litany of child psychologists that Common Core inflicts poorly designed instruction on children, thus stressing them out and turning them off academics.The video below, courtesy of Truth in American Education and a Louisiana mother, shows a second grader crying over her math homework. A SECOND GRADER. You know, when the little people are still learning addition?

Below, find a picture from a New York mother and photographer Kelly Poynter. This is her second-grade daughter, utterly frustrated at her math homework. The little girl is a cancer survivor, Poynter explains, so she doesn’t lack persistence or a fighting spirit. Incomprehensible math problems downed a child that cancer couldn’t.

Common-Core-tears
9. The Arrogance

So imagine you’re a mom or dad whose small child is sobbing at the table trying to add two-digit numbers. Then you hear your elected representatives talking about Common Core. And it’s not to offer relief. It’s to ridicule your pain—no, worse. It’s to ridicule your child’s pain.

Florida Senate President Don Gaetz said of Common Core: “You can’t dip [Common Core mandates] in milk and hold them over a candle and see the United Nations flag or Barack Obama’s face. They’re not some federal conspiracy.” Ohio House Education Chairman Gerald Stebelton (R-Lancaster) called Common Core opposition a “conspiracy theory.” Wisconsin state Sen. John Lehman (D-Racine) told a packed audience state hearings on the topic were “crazy” and “a show.” Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) has called opponents a “distract[ing]” “fringe movement.” Missouri Rep. Mike Lair put $8 into the state budget for tinfoil hats for Common Core supporters.

Since when is it okay for lawmakers to ridicule their employers? Aren’t they supposed to be “public servants”? What part of “this math is from hell” sounds like “I think Barack Obama wrote this math curriculum”? Those lawmakers must have encountered an early form of Common Core in school, because they can’t comprehend their way out of a paper bag.

It gets even worse. I thought racial slurs were wrong, but Education Secretary Arne Duncan has no problems slinging those around in his disdain for people who disagree with him on Common Core. You may recall that he dismissed them as “white suburban moms who—all of a sudden—their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were.” So only white moms hate crappy curriculum?

And then parents have to endure a litany of pompous, sickeningly well-paid experts all over the airwaves telling us it’s a) good for them that our babies are crying at the kitchen table or b) not really Common Core’s fault or 3) they don’t really get what’s going on because this newfangled way of adding 8 + 6 is so far above the average parent’s ability to understand.

10. The Collectivism

It’s easy to see Common Core appeals to those anal-retentive types who cannot function unless U.S. education has some sort of all-encompassing organizing principle.

But there’s more. Common Core supporters will admit that several states had better curriculum requirements than Common Core. Then they typically say it’s still better for those states to have lowered their expectations to Common Core’s level, because that way we have more curricular unity. That’s what the Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrilli told Indiana legislators when he came to our state to explain why, even though Fordham graded Indiana’s former curriculum requirements higher than Common Core, Indiana should remain a step below its previous level. One main reason was that we’d be able to use all the curriculum and lesson plans other teachers in other states were tailoring (to lower academic expectations, natch). Yay, we get to be worse than we were, but it’s okay, because now we’re the same as everyone else!

Tech companies are uber excited about Common Core because it facilitates a nationwide market for their products. Basically every other education vendor feels the same way, except those who already had nationwide markets because they accessed pockets of the population not subject to mind-numbing state regulations such as home and private schools. But the diversity of the unregulated private market far, far outstrips that of the Common Core market. There are, you know, actual niches, and education styles, and varying philosophies, rather than a flood of companies all trying to package the same product differently. The variety is one of substance, not just branding. In other words, it’s true diversity, not fake diversity.

What would you rather have: Fake freedom, where others choose your end goal and end product, but lets you decide some things about how to achieve someone else’s vision for education, which by the way has to be the same for everyone everywhere; or genuine freedom, where you both pick your goals and how to achieve them, and you’re the one responsible for the results? Whoops, that’s a trick question, moms and dads. In education, no one can pick the latter, because our overlords have already picked for us. Common Core or the door, baby.

 

Legislative Meeting: Utah Discussing Adopting Founderless Version of U.S. History   4 comments

Today, right now, the unmaking of history is happening at the Utah State Capitol. I just found out now, via email.

Listen at this link: http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&event_id=83651

So the Utah Legislature’s education committee is meeting now, listening to (among other things) the Utah State Office of Education’s reasoning for adopting the David Coleman-pushed, awful, transformed U.S. History standards for A.P. History.  These standards have come under extreme criticism for promoting a negative view of American accomplishments.  They deleted the necessity for teachers to even mention –at all– Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, Martin Luther King, the Gettysburg Address, Hitler, and much, much more that is crucial to understanding American history.  The noble portions of history and vital facts simply won’t  be on the test.

It seems truly too bad to be true.

I wish some mom, grandpa, teacher, or professor were there, testifying, as this Texas mother did, that the state must absolutely fight, not adopt, these new history standards!

I wish that Sydnee Dickson, Diana Suddreth, and Robert Austin ( USOE officials responsible for promoting the new history standards) were elected officials –so that we could vote them out.  But they are plain state employees, so they stay in, reel in fat taxpayer funded salaries, and they are unstopped by the legislators, parents or administrators who have the power to stop them –if enough would just stand up.

So much is happening, so fast, to transform and deform our educational system now that it feels impossible to keep up with or try to rein in.

We have to try.  We have to educate and activate the necessary numbers of citizens to push our elected representatives to say no.

Please write to your representatives and  school boards.  Let them know that you oppose the transformed AP U.S. History Standards for our schools.

 

Here is the link to find your Representative:   http://www.le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp

Here is the link to find your Senator: http://www.utahsenate.org/#

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USA Today published an opinion editorial– today– by Jane Robbins of American Principles Project on this subject.  I’m reposting:

AP EXAM ERASES U.S. EXCEPTIONALISM

Defenses of the College Board’s revised Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) Curriculum Framework have ranged from “it’s a balanced document” to “teachers will have flexibility” to “what’s wrong with a leftist slant?” None of these defenses should be acceptable.

To the “balanced document” argument, we say: Read it. A Pioneer Institute study by experts, including renowned Madisonian scholar Ralph Ketcham, describes the framework as “a portrait of America as a dystopian society — one riddled with racism, violence, hypocrisy, greed, imperialism and injustice.”

The origins of the framework have been traced to the philosophy that the U. S. is only one nation among many, and not a particularly admirable one at that. Every trace of American exceptionalism has been scrubbed; seminal documents such as the Gettysburg Address have vanished.

What about teachers’ flexibility? Will APUSH teachers still teach the vital content in their state history standards? Although the College Board (under duress) is erasing its warning that none of this state material will be tested, the practical reality remains that teachers won’t waste time on it.

The exam’s structure will encourage students and teachers to stick to the leftist framework. We’ll have a national history curriculum rather than state flexibility and control.

The College Board’s recent release of the previously secret sample exam confirms this conclusion. All sample questions are anchored firmly in the framework, even the pejorative language used to describe President Reagan. The sample exam makes it clear that if teachers want their students to score well on the APUSH exam, they will teach the framework.

So we’re left with the argument that the APUSH course rightly veers off into progressive territory (diminishing content knowledge in favor of “historical skills” and “themes” and embracing identity politics) because accurate history is disfavored in some university programs. If so, parents will want their children to avoid APUSH. The unelected College Board may decide to impose revisionist history, but its customers need not buy it.

Jane Robbins is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project, a conservative advocacy group.

Alpine School Board Members Speak Out For Student Privacy   4 comments

Alpine-Board-10x8-1024x819

 

Three remarkable Alpine School Board Members: Wendy Hart (front left) Brian Halladay (standing, middle)  and Paula Hill (front, right) have written an open letter on student privacy, citing documented realities (contracts, documents and laws) that boldly stand for student privacy and parental rights, against Common Core SAGE/AIR testing.  The letter stands tall against statements from State Associate Superintendent Judy Park and the Utah State Office of Education that claim all is well with student privacy in Utah schools.

Hats off to Hart, Halladay and Hill for speaking up despite pressure to go along in silence with the decisions or positions held at the state level.

Before I post the letter, here’s a little background:

Before Common Core testing even began, Utah officially dropped out of SBAC (a federally funded Common Core test maker) but then immediately picked up, as a replacement, test maker  AIR  (American Institutes for Research– also  federally approved, but not federally funded; Common Core-aligned; a test maker that specializes in psychometrics and behavioral testing,  prioritizes promoting the LGTB philosophy –and is officially partnered with SBAC!)  Many Utah parents are opting their children out of these tests, and state level officials are desperately trying to persuade the population that there’s no reason to opt out.

Statements promoting and approving AIR and SAGE, by Assistant Superintendent Judy Park, have been rebutted and even publically debated before– but this new letter stands very, very  tall, shedding much more light on the student privacy dangers of SAGE/AIR and highlighting the lack of Utah laws that protect an individuals’ ownership over his/her own data.

 

Here’s the letter:

 

September 18, 2014

 

Dr. Judy Park

Utah State Office of Education

Dear Dr. Park,

 

Thank you for taking the time to address some of the issues with AIR and SAGE testing.  We especially appreciate your citations of the contract.  In the interest of openness and transparency, we have a point of clarification, as well as some follow-up questions.

To begin, a point of clarification.  Your letter is directed to Superintendent Henshaw who communicated some of our concerns about SAGE and AIR to you.  In your letter, you indicate that “False, undocumented and baseless allegations need to cease.”  We wish to clarify that the concerns expressed by Dr. Henshaw were not coming from him, and, as such, your directive would not be to him but to those of us on the board and our constituents who are raising questions, based on our reading of the AIR contract with USOE.  Because Dr. Henshaw reports to the Alpine School Board and not the other way around, any directive for Dr. Henshaw to rein in these ‘allegations’ from board members or constituents would be inappropriate.  We can appreciate that you are troubled by this, but we would recommend that more information and more discussion would be a preferable way of resolving concerns, as opposed to suggesting that concerned representatives and their consitutents simply remain silent.

So, in that spirit of openness, we have the following clarifications and follow-up questions.

We begin by addressing the sections of the AIR contract cited in your letter of August 14.  It was very much appreciated because these are the same sections of the contract that we have studied.  We were hopeful that there would be additional insight.  Unfortunately, we did not find any assurance in the pages listed.

I-96 – I-98:  This section nicely addresses the physical, network, and software security for the server and test items.  However, the only reference to AIR employees, their ability to access or use any data is left to “Utah’s public records laws, FERPA, and other federal laws.”  FERPA, as many know, has been modified by the US Dept of Education to allow for the sharing of data without parental knowledge or consent as long as it can be justified as an ‘educational program’. Additionally, FERPA only contains penalties for those entities receiving federal funds.  Since Utah is paying directly for SAGE testing, FERPA is a meaningless law in this regard.  Additionally, Utah’s public records laws appear to only address the openness of public records, but are insufficient when it comes to privacy or use of data, including that of a minor.  If there are robust privacy laws in Utah’s public records laws, we would appreciate additional citations.  Please cite the other federal laws that protect the privacy of our students.

I-61:  Addresses the technical protocols for the data transfer, as well as encryption of passwords.  Again, this doesn’t address those who are given access by AIR to the data for whatever purpose.

I-72 – I-73:  Addresses the security of those contractors who will be manually scoring during the pilot testing.  This addresses a particular third-party in a particular role, but not AIR as an entity or its employees, other than this particular instance.

I-85 – I-86:  Addresses the issues of users and roles for the database and USOE updates.  This limits the appropriate access to those of us in Utah, based on whether we are teachers, principals, board members, USOE, etc.  Again, this does not address anything about AIR as an entity or its employees.

While all these security precautions are necessary, and we are grateful they are included, they do nothing to address the particular issues that were raised at the August 12, 2014 Alpine School Board Meeting.  Some of our concerns are as follows:

1)  Prior to the Addendum from March 2014 (for which we are grateful) there was no prohibition on sharing data with a third-party.  As indicated, the changes to FERPA would allow AIR to legally share data with a third-party as long as that sharing was for ‘an educational program’ without parental knowledge or consent.  As such, the addendum now allows for that sharing only with the USOE’s consent.  We are still concerned that parents are not asked to give consent and may not have knowledge of their student’s data being shared.

2) AIR itself is a research firm dedicated to conducting and applying the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation.  As such, they are involved with data collection and evaluation. In the contract and addendum cited, there is nothing that prohibits how AIR or its subsidiary organizations may use, query, analyze or access any or all student data from the SAGE tests in Utah.  They would have access to many data sets from many entities.  They also would have multiple on-going research projects.  There is no prohibition on what inquiries, research or analysis can be done on the data from SAGE testing.  As long as AIR does not profit from the data or share with a third-party without the USOE’s consent, the data is managed by AIR and available for access.  What are the methods in place to prevent AIR from accessing the data for additional research or analysis?  AIR does not need to share the data with a third-party to violate the privacy of a student or a set of students.  However, since they control and manage the database, there is nothing that would prevent this access.

3) There are no prohibitions in the contract regarding behavioral data.  While we realize Mr. Cohen has said the contract does not call for gathering or evaluating behavioral data, and that AIR is not inclined to do so, there are, again, no prohibitions or penalties associated with gathering or evaluating behavioral data.  State law allows for the use of behavioral data in the year-end testing.  So, there are no legal prohibitions on the use or collection of behavioral data.  Since behavioral research is the primary mission of AIR, as indicated by its mission statement, it is a concern for parents.  If AIR has no desire to collect behavioral data as part of the SAGE testing, it should state so explicitly in a legally-binding manner.

4) Many parents have, legally, opted out of SAGE testing for their students.  As such, why is AIR receiving any information on these students?  Parents feel it is a grave violation of their trust by USOE that any data the USOE has received from the schools can be input into the SAGE database, not to mention the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS).  There must, at a minimum, be a way for parents to opt out of all sharing of their student’s dat with AIR and the SLDS.  At what point, if any, will student data be purged from the AIR database?  What is the method for demonstrating the data has been properly purged?

Additionally, we appreciate the response of Mr. Cohen to our concerns.  Based on his response, we have the following questions.

1)  Please list the “express purposes” for which the release, sharing or sale of data is not prohibited, per contract.

2) What third parties are AIR “explicitly permitted by the State of Utah” to provide data to?

3) What research has AIR been requested and directed by the Utah State Office of Education to conduct?

4) What entity (or entities) has AIR been authorized by the State of Utah to release data to?

5) Please list the source of the contract that states that AIR is prohibited from releasing data to the federal government.

6) What entity (or entities) have been designated by the USOE to receive data from AIR?

7) The memo does not address companies owned or operated by AIR, which would not be considered third-parties.  Please state, per contract, where AIR does not share data within related party entities.

Finally, we have the following questions related to the validity and reliability of the SAGe testing.  We understand that this information would not be protected by copyright, and therefore, could be provided to us, as elected officials.

1. Normative Sample Details (who took the test)

2. Coefficient Alpha Reliability

3. Content description Validity

4. Differential Item Function Analysis

5. Criterion Prediction Validity

6. Construct Identification Validity

7. Other types of validity scales/constructs that are applicable only to CAT test designs

We appreciate the opportunity to discuss this more in the future.  As those who are responsible to the parents of this district, we feel it is imperative that our concerns are addressed.  And, when all is said and done, it is most important that parents have the opportunity to protect whatever student information they feel is necessary.  Just because parents decide to educate their children in our public school system does not mean that we, as a state government, are entitled to whatever information about their children we feel in necessary.  Parents are still, by state law, primarily responsible for the education and the upbringing of their children.  As such, their wishes and their need to protect information on their students is paramount.  As members of the Alpine School Board, we must represent the different views and concerns of all the parents in our area.  For those who have no concerns, then you may proceed as usual.  For those who do have concerns, it is incumbent on us to raise these questions and to obtain the most accurate information possible.

Thank you for your time, and we look forward to more information in the future.

 

Sincerely,

 

Brian Halladay

ASD4

Wendy Hart

ASD2

Paula Hill

ASD1

 

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I wish every Utah parent, teacher, student and principal read this letter– and took action!

The time has long passed for blind trust in Dr. Park, in the State Office of Education and in the State School Board. Surely, power holders –in the legislature, in district administrative offices, and in the governor’s office who read this letter– will finally act.

Share this letter!

UT Canyons District Teacher: “This is Why Teachers Are Afraid to Speak Out”   9 comments

Utahns Against Common Core receives notes from parents and teachers on a regular basis.  Here is a heartbreaking message from an anonymous teacher in Canyons District:

 

“We are currently gearing up for our new educator evaluation system called CTESS.  Today I was reading through the evaluation and of the 12 standards 3 require you to show that you are supportive of and actively teaching the “Utah Core Standard”, otherwise known as “Common Core.”  This is why teachers are afraid to speak out. I really am fearful for my job. There have been times when I have wanted to speak up, like recently when attending a district meeting and Common Core came up. The comment was made by a district official that those who were against Common Core were “kooks.”  This is the environment teachers have to work in.  If you disagree, you have no place to turn. I am ready to find another career and get out.”

 

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