Archive for the ‘How the Common Core Initiative Hurts Kids, Teachers, and Taxpayers’ Category
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 4 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: email@example.com
State Superintendent Dr. Martell Menlove: Martell.Menlove@schools.utah.gov
Wasatch Jr High Principal Christine Judd: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wasatch Jr High Asst. Principal John Anderson: email@example.com
State School Board:
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; jeffersonRmoss@gmail.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org;
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.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is accepting the “philanthopy” of Bill Gates, putting our nation and its children directly in Gates’ deep pocket.
Not okay. Wake up, America. Our rights and voice are being buried under truckload after truckload of government-embraced corporate “philanthopy.”
And thank you, Mercedes Schneider. (I want to point out that Ms. Schneider, the author of this research, is a teacher.)
Read her research on the subject here:
Guest Post by Shannon Crouch
Hello, my name is Shannon Crouch. I am a 20-year-old college student studying Mathematics and Statistics at Eastern Kentucky University.
I attended high school at Morgan County High School in West Liberty, Kentucky. I was a part of the graduating class in 2011 and though I did not receive this method of schooling I have seen it enacted in my brother’s high school career as he began Sophomore year in 2011-2012. I also dealt with its repercussions as a Developmental Lab Instructor at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) for the Department of Mathematics & Statistics.
My brother’s story
To begin, I will share a brief description of the classes my brother has undertaken these last three years. At the beginning of each school year, all students are given a pre-test to determine the student’s understanding of the oncoming class content. As the semester continues, all homework assignments are handouts that relate to a ‘weekly’ mini-subject (ex. for math: solving for zeros, logarithms, solving rational functions, etc.) that make up the course outline. I will use the term ‘week’ loosely to relay the expected time frame schools believe each mini-subject should be taught. Students are pre-tested and post-tested at the beginning and ends of each ‘week’ and they move into the next ‘week’ mini-subject if a defined majority of the class passes. If that majority does not pass, then the class must repeat the subject content until either the majority has passed –or it has been taught three ‘weeks’ in a row.
To convey the detriment of such a process on student learning in full needs more than just typed words, but nonetheless I will try.
In simple terms, this modular system of teaching causes the average student to be the only student to excel. To break that sentence down further and define the difference from ‘average’ students to others, we have to look at the system being used. Given a student who makes good grades in a class and passes these pre- and post-tests each time, the process of having to repeat the class hinders his or her development in the progression of studies, but also thinking of a student who is not passing the pre- and post-tests, he/she is being dragged along by the system, unable to understand basic subjects, but often passing the class because he or she has been able to copy off peers. Some would ask what difference this last case has to older developmental systems. In return to that question, I would like to point out the handouts. These handouts are created based on the subjects to be taught for each class and are the only required work for the class. Students are no longer required to put in individualized effort into using textbooks, writing out questions, or even using critical thinking. These handouts are the perfect tools for a student to cheat with given that everything is outlined the same way.
My experience as a university math tutor
Taking a step away from its implementation, however, let’s look at the results some colleges and universities are seeing now. I will use Eastern Kentucky University as my example: According to statistics presented to us at orientation, when I enrolled in Fall 2011, approximately 48% of the incoming freshmen were required to take developmental math or Reading/English courses. This was before the implementation of Common Core –and you are correct in thinking that is a pretty high number.
The scarier thought, however, is information they shared in my job training as a developmental instructor and a tutor for the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. In the 2013-2014 academic year, approximately 60% of our incoming freshmen were required to take developmental Math or Reading/English classes. That means in a span of two years with Common Core Standards implemented in High Schools, college preparedness dropped by an extra 12% for students that enrolled to Eastern Kentucky University.
The effect seen at EKU frightens me as a student today and even as a future parent. This influx of developmental students tells me that our students are being pushed through high school without the literacy skills and basic math skills required to function in the world today. Students are being trained to pass the test rather than retain what they learn and so when it comes to their college readiness exams like the ACT, COMPASS, and KYOTE they fail to have the knowledge required to think through the questions they come across.
As an update to this story: Shannon’s relative lives in Utah. She sent a copy of the above article to a member of her Wasatch County School Board. This is what she received:
Subject: Re: Kentucky and Common CoreDate: March 13, 2014 at 8:33:22 AM MDTIt makes me sad that implementation of the standards isn’t going well for some districts, like the one in this story. I’m so grateful we have amazing teachers who are doing great things for students in our district.Take care,Deb———————-Shannon then wrote back:———————-
Ms. Jones,I was interested to learn that you believe the effects of common core in Morgan County are a result of poor teachers, but I feel that I must correct your assumption on this.Morgan County has many amazing teachers, especially for their core curriculum in Math, Science, and English. One such teacher, Stacey Perry is a mathematics teacher. She is qualified to teach not only the required mathematics programs for high school but extends her knowledge to AP curriculum for Calculus I and Calculus II, with one of the highest AP Exam passing percentiles for AP Calculus in Eastern Kentucky.I want to mention this in detail so that I can relay to you that it is not the desire of beautifully brilliant teachers such as Mrs. Perry to implement common core so poorly, but rather it has been forced on them via the agreements of common core with all states.Please do not consider your district and state as having immunity because if you do then you will see your students declining in individuality, scholastic achievement, and critical thinking. If you have any concern for you future generations, take the matter seriously and question all that you are being told by Common Core representatives.Shannon Crouch
Video update here: http://www.masslive.com/news/worcester/index.ssf/2014/03/video_common_core_protesters_v.html
“We met a lot of great folks at the protest but I spent most of my time with my favorite little activist! It was fitting this little man in the Spider Man hat was with us, as Common Core, PARCC and the policies of Arne Duncan and Mitchell Chester will directly impact his education and his future along with the rest of his generation….unless we stop them!
As a parent who cares deeply about my children (and others across my state and our country) I have a message for Arne, Mitchell Chester, Bill Gates, the big testing and data collection companies and my elected representatives on Beacon Hill who either support Common Core and PARCC or who are not willing to speak out in an effort to tow the party line……
Why throw all of that hard work and progress away for yet another untested education reform experiment? The little boy holding the sign in the picture will have to pay the price if your experiment fails as will children across the great state of Massachusetts. I refuse to let you throw away a generation of children without a fight and the army of parents, educators and citizens from across our state and our country have my back!
Good news for education and for freedom: the Utah Senate today passed SB 39 - a homeschool-friendly bill. I want to post these words, written by another Utah mom, Rhonda Hair, because her point is an important one: that her high educational goals for her children are not the same as the goals of the board of education, nor of the new national dictators of education in Washington D.C. (Common Core copyright holders NGA/CCSSO).
This mother’s goals are higher, not lower; but being subjected to state-set or D.C.-set standards and testing could disrupt what she, the educational director (and ultimate authority over her children) has set out to do.
(Write to the senators and thank them for upholding liberty and education in this state, please!)
My Goals Are Not the Board of Education’s Goals
By Rhonda Hair
-a love of reading and of good books, -the ability to understand and express themselves well through writing, -enough math to manage their own affairs, -an understanding of what their God-given rights are, and what their duties are towards God, family, country, and neighbor, -the ability to discern between truth and error, which requires qualifying for and listening to the Holy Ghost, which requires obedience to God’s commandments, -high appreciation for virtue, good character, and self-control, and to apply these to themselves, -a strong work ethic, -gratitude, -understanding of human nature, -understanding of history- how we got to be where we are, and what great people have learned and written along the way, -an understanding of their unique abilities, gifts, and talents and how to use them for good.
Few of these are taught in the public schools, and particularly not encouraged in Common Core.
If they do the things above, they will naturally learn about the world around them, serve the Lord faithfully, and be a benefit to others in whatever they choose to focus on.
Some people think that homeschooled children should be subject to yearly testing to be sure they’re ‘on track’.
The problem with this is that my goals are not the Board of Education’s goals. The testing is to see if I’m on board with their objectives. I’m not. My goals far exceed theirs, but each subject taught might not be taught at the same time as they dictate.”
How quickly Common Core has gone from being almost a secret, a truly under-the-news-radar movement, to being a sharp bone of contention and a scorchingly hot topic across the nation as right and left, legislators, parents, teachers and yes, students– join to fight the erosion of local control of education, and the erosion of high quality education.
Here’s just a smattering of the pushback happening across this nation. Please feel free to leave additional related Common Core pushback news links in the comments section!
* Arizona – “Senate backtracks on Common Core”
* Connecticut – “Stamford Rep. Molgano Calls For Public Hearing On Common Core”
* Florida - FLA Ed Commissioner’s Arrogant Letter Angers Mother of Recently Deceased Disabled Child http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/04/ethan-rediske-act_n_4899010.html
Florida - Testing Fixation Drives Florida School Board Member to Quit, Fight on Larger Battleground http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/03/06/the-drive-to-test-test-and-re-test-leads-famous-school-board-member-to-quit/
* Georgia – “Common Core bill debated in Georgia House”
* Maryland – Dressed in Clown Suits, Maryland Teachers Protest Excessive Testing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sn_xJ9P1I2k
* Maryland – Super Tells Parents State Test is Useless http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/District_Dossier/2014/03/joshua_starr_to_parents_upcomi.html
* Mississippi – “Common Core comes back up at State Capitol”
* Missouri – “Mo. lawmakers debate retreating from Common Core”
* Illinois - Educators Boycotting Chicago Exam – Spend Day Teaching Not Testing http://www.wbez.org/news/saucedo-teachers-spend-day-1-isat-teaching-concerns-raised-about-intimidation-109815
Illinois - National Leaders Support Chicago Test Boycott http://dianeravitch.net/2014/03/09/leading-educators-support-chicago-test-boycott/
Illinois- Resources for Supporting Chicago Parents and Teachers Protesting the ISAT http://morethanascorechicago.org/2014/03/03/isat-opt-out-support-kit/
* New York – bill S6604 pending: http://stopccssinnys.com/uploads/SCCINYS_PR_S6604.pdf – Bill to place a three-year suspension on items such as the Common Core
State Standards and the associated age-inappropriate curriculum; it also addresses excessive testing.
New York – “Assembly Passes Bill Halting Common Core”
New York Protests Intensify as Common Core Tests Loom http://www.longislandpress.com/2014/03/10/common-core-tests-loom-intensifying-debate-in-ny/ Rochester, NY, Teachers Association Brings Suit Against “Value Added” Evaluations http://www.rochestercitynewspaper.com/rochester/teachers-union-sues-over-evaluations/Content?oid=2346958
* Massachusetts - Protesters at Secretary Arne Duncan’s town hall meeting: http://www.masslive.com/news/worcester/index.ssf/2014/03/groups_organized_to_picket_us.html
Worcester Mass. School Committee Will Allow Students to Opt Out of Common Core Pilot Exam http://www.telegram.com/article/20140307/NEWS/303079875/1116
More Massachusetts Education Leaders Criticize Double-Testing http://www.patriotledger.com/article/20140310/NEWS/140319857
* Connecticut – Connecticut Educators Want to Reexamine Test-Based Teacher Evaluation Model http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/teacher_union_wants_to_revisit_teacher_evaluation_method Connecticut Parents Seek to Opt Children Out of Common Core Tests http://www.ctnow.com/news/hc-parents-opting-out-20140228,0,1363518.story The Brave New World of “College and Career Readiness” Testing http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/the_brave_new_world_of_being_college_and_career_ready
*North Carolina - North Carolina Families Opt Out of Standardized Tests http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/03/09/3682922/opting-out-of-standardized-testing.html
Penn. Parents Join Forces to Opt Kids Out of Standardized Tests http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/parents-join-forces-to-opt-kids-out-of-standardized-tests/article_88aff918-a643-11e3-aa64-0017a43b2370.html
*Arkansas - Arkansas Professor Urges 11th Graders to Opt Out of Literacy Test http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2014/03/10/ua-prof-calls-for-students-to-opt-out-of-11th-grade-literacy-test
*Tennessee - Tennessee Teacher Sue Claiming “Value-Added” Assessment is Arbitrary and Unconstitutional http://tnedreport.com/?p=753
Virginia Lawmakers Seek to Reduce Number of Standardized Tests http://www.newsplex.com/home/headlines/Va-Lawmakers-Aim-to-Reduce-Number-of-Standardized-Tests-249339961.html
*New Hampshire – Nashua, New Hampshire Board Backs Delay of New Test http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/1030167-469/majority-of-nashua-school-board-members-back.html
*Nebraska – Testimony regarding Common Core Academic Error: http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/testimony-regarding-proposed-nebraska-english-standards/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TruthInAmericanEducation+%28Truth+in+American+Education%29
ON NATIONAL COLLEGE ENTRANCE EXAMS (SAT – ACT)
ALIGNING TO ERRANT COMMON CORE:
David Coleman, 2016 SAT: A Sow’s Ear http://www.educationviews.org/david-coleman-2016-sat-sows-ear/
FAIR TEST: http://fairtest.org/node/2964
Critics Give SAT Revisions a Failing Grade http://www.mintpressnews.com/critics-give-new-sat-reforms-failing-score/185941/
The Real Reason the SAT is Changing: Competition from ACT http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/03/05/why-the-sat-is-really-changing-its-facing-tough-competition-from-the-act/
College President: SAT is Part Hoax and Part Fraud http://time.com/15199/college-president-sat-is-part-hoax-and-part-fraud/
NEA Pushes Bill to Reduce Federal Testing Mandates http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2014/03/nea_pushes_legislation_to_redu.html
When Education is Nothing But a Test Score http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/03/05/23mcgill.h33.html
13 Ways High-Stakes Exams Hurt Students http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/03/10/13-ways-high-stakes-standardized-tests-hurt-students/
Believing We Can Improve Schooling with More Tests is Like Believing You Can Make Yourself Grow Taller by Measuring Your Height http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BiKnOqrIQAAVIEg.jpg
Accountability and Motivation — Test-Driven Policies Get it Wrong http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/top_performers/2014/03/accountability_and_motivation.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-TW
Common Core Testing Further Undermines Educational Equity http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/03/10/the-myth-of-common-core-equity/
I Opted My Kids Out of Standardized Tests, Then Learned a Thing or Two http://www.slate.com/articles/life/family/2014/03/standardized_testing_i_opted_my_kids_out_the_schools_freaked_out_now_i_know.html
Testing Diverted The War on Poverty — By FairTest Board member Deborah Meier http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/03/05/23meier.h33.html
Parent to Pres. Obama: Why Don’t Private Schools Adopt Test-Driven “Reforms”? http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/03/05/parent-to-obama-why-dont-private-schools-adopt-your-test-based-school-reforms/
What the U.S. Can Learn From Finland http://www.npr.org/2014/03/08/287255411/what-the-u-s-can-learn-from-finland-where-school-starts-at-age-7
Activists Call for Congressional Hearings on Standardized Test Misuse http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/03/04/activist-calls-for-congressional-hearings-on-standardized-testing-gets-unexpected-support/
Interview: Stanford University Scholar Bill Evers of Hoover Institute on Common Core – KFI Radio 2 comments
Conspiracy theory: not. This is conspiracy fact.
It’s become impossible to ignore the Constitutionally illegal federal takeover of education that uses federal grants, corporate partnerships with federal agencies, and now, the federal budget, to wrench power away from “we the people.” They are successfully moving the levers of control from us to these non-transparent, unaccountable-to-voters, closed-door organizations which are officially partnered with the federal government.) The voter and her representatives are forgotten in the process.
If Obama succeeds unimpeded by Congress, how will states still claim the option of withdrawing from the Common Core –and all the tests and data collection that Common Core entails? How I hope Congress is watching –and will act. This is where we need those checks and balances –ACTING.
President Obama, McClusky explained, “wants to make the Core permanent by attaching annual federal funding to its use, and to performance on related tests. Just as the administration called for in its 2010 NCLB reauthorization proposal, [the President] wants to employ more than a one-time program, or temporary waivers, to impose “college and career-ready standards,” which–thanks to RTTT and waivers–is essentially synonymous with Common Core. In fact, President Obama proposes changing Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – of which NCLB is just the most recent reauthorization – to a program called “College- and Career-Ready Students,” with an annual appropriation of over $14 billion.
This was utterly predictable … RTTT was the foot in the door, and once most states were using the same standards and tests, there was little question what Washington would eventually say: “Since everyone’s using the same tests and standards anyway, might as well make federal policy based on that.”
Perhaps given the scorching heat the Common Core has been taking lately, most people didn’t expect the administration to make the move so soon, but rational people knew it would eventually come. Indeed, the “tripod” of standards, tests, and accountability that many Core-ites believe is needed to make “standards-based reform” function, logically demands federal control… the end game is almost certainly complete federal control by connecting national standards and tests to annual federal funding. And that, it is now quite clear, is no conspiracy theory.”
So much for the Utah State Office of Education’s oft-published claim that Common Core is federal-strings-free. Maybe now they’ll remove those lies from the USOE website. Maybe now our State School Board will stop dismissing people’s concerns by assaulting them with the label “conspiracy theorists.” Maybe.
But I’m finding no relief in the thought that the state school board can’t keep calling us names anymore. (It really never bothered me that much, to tell you the truth. I just took it as a sign of their confusion.)
But I wish– oh, how I wish– that Utah had never given away the right to keep control. We had a Constitutional RIGHT to locally control that “tripod” — standards, tests, and local accountability. We did not fight for it. Too few made a peep.
If Obama’s budget succeeds, we appear to be toast.
Call your Congressmen.
Utah Public School Rejects Common Core: Maeser Prep’s Open Letter to State School Board Leave a comment
Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy, in Lindon, Utah, is the first public school in Utah to issue a letter to the State School Board that asks the board to reject Common Core and return to time-tested, legitimate education.
The letter is posted here. The board of directors of this public charter school writes that the Common Core Standards compromise Maesar’s educational mission and purpose. They say that Common Core Standards were adopted without an opportunity for the local school districts or parents to review them first. And they urge the state school board, Governor Herbert, and the Utah legislature to replace the Common Core with locally vetted standards.
Amen, Karl G. Maeser Academy.
Parents and teachers against Common Core in New York are celebrating the fact that both Democratic and Republican legislators are now taking a stand against the Common Core.
Why are the two parties coming together?
Senator George Latimer (D) -Westchester County, wrote an article for the Albany Times last month that explained it well:
“For decades we have heard the rallying cry that American students’ performance is falling behind that of students in other countries and for decades education experts have attempted to come up with ONE solution. This time, under the guise of making students more prepared for a global economy, New York has adopted the “Common Core” standards and is forging ahead at breakneck speed to implement a new top-down education mandate on local school districts. Without dissecting the validity of the “global competition” argument, there are elements of the Common Core’s implementation in New York that must be addressed first.
… There is something wrong with asking our students to perform at a higher level without properly preparing them. There is something wrong with asking someone in Albany or beyond to evaluate a student in Brooklyn the same as one in Bedford or Buffalo.
There are many issues with New York’s implementation of Common Core, and the concerns are not limited to a small contingent, as some have suggested. Real people who have students in schools and are of every ethnic, socioeconomic, gender, age and geographic makeup share reservations about the Common Core. It is also an issue that does not pit Democrats versus Republicans; it is truly about the students.
New York is asking students to take exams based on curricula that are not fully implemented in and certainly not readily embraced by those who are actually in classrooms every day. Yet proponents of Common Core continue to move forward without compromise.
With significant corporate interests behind the shifts toward a “global” education system, I think it is imperative to analyze this in a business-oriented manner.
Many business school students and graduates are surely aware of failure of the “New Coke” initiative in the early ’80s, a product that the top brass of Coca-Cola were convinced would usher in a new generation of an already successful brand. Consumers rejected it, prefering they product they already knew and liked.
Aggregate scores from the entire state have already slipped in the first year of these new tests, and we know our students are not X percent less intelligent than they were the previous year. The scores dropped because the top officials at the Education Department, like those at Coca-Cola in the ’80s, are convinced that they have a new “brand” of education that will usher in a new generation of globally competitive students. The scores dropped because in its haste to implement the new “brand” of education, SED did not do “consumer” research and development before bringing this product to New York’s education “marketplace.”
The critics of elements of the Common Core, myself included, are not against having students who are able to understand the “why behind how things work,” but we are opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach to educating children in a state, nation and world where one size rarely fits all.
… the outcry against specific aspects of the Common Core — the lack of preparation, privacy of student data, and over-reliance on testing — is an opportunity for us to respond to consumer feedback and adjust to the market. … [P]roponents have failed to properly assess the need for a completely new product in their market, and if we don’t evaluate the public opposition to the Common Core as a gauge of the education market, we will make a mistake that will hurt our children.”
Two leaders who make judgments for our schools –two whose judgment I wish we were able to trust, each have made statements: that high-stakes tests and data mining are unrelated to Common Core standards.
This is a fact-checking post.
First, look at their statements:
Our governor’s education advisor, Tami Pyfer, was quoted in the Morgan News: “while not related to the Common Core, data mining and over-testing ‘will not be happening with Utah students.’” The Morgan News also wrote that Pyfer: “is concerned with high stakes testing and test results being used for purposes the tests were not originally designed for. ‘We do not support high stakes testing.‘”
Pyfer also wrote, at a blog called The Blue Hat Movement:
“I’m confused about how/why you are connecting assessment issues, like the one in this video, to the Common Core Standards.“
Meanwhile, Superintendent Martell Menlove has also said in many settings that he has concerns with high stakes testing and data mining –but says that he does not understand the relationship between high stakes testing and the Common Core. In emails to the public he has also written, “I am not aware of any additional data reporting requirements that are associated with Common Core.”
Oh, Dear. Tami and Martell!
Utah’s new school test is inseparable from the Common Core standards.
(FYI, readers, the test goes by many names: Computer Adaptive, AIR/SAGE, Utah Core, Common Core). And neither is the data-mining inseparable from Common Core, with its CEDS (common education data standards) and its SLDS (my nickname: longitudinal student stalking system).
Here are several hard-to-ignore reasons why:
1.) Utah’s 2012 house bill 15 makes Computer Adaptive Testing the law in this state, and it uses specific language that mandates that Common Core standards are used for the Common Core Computer Adaptive Tests for all Utahns.
2.) The four assurances or four key reforms for which the executive branch gave ARRA stimulus dollars (in exchange for Utah’s agreement to obey them) included common college and career-readiness standards, tests, and data collection. It was always a package deal.
“SFSF requires progress on four reforms ….
1.Making progress toward rigorous college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments that are valid and reliable for all students, including English language learners and students with disabilities;
2.Establishing pre-K-to college and career data systems that track progress and foster continuous improvement;
3.Making improvements in teacher effectiveness and in the equitable distribution of qualified teachers for all students, particularly students who are most in need;
4.Providing intensive support and effective interventions for the lowest-performing schools.”
3.) The federal government paid for the Common Core tests and mandated in its test grant contract that testing groups align to one another and to Common Data Collection standards and to Common Core Standards. The standards promoters use veiled language and most often refer to Common Core as “college and career ready standards” instead, but they have been specifically defined on the ed.gov official website in a way that can only be interpreted as the Common Core. Utah’s testing group, AIR, is officially partnered with SBAC, which is under mandate to align its tests with Common Core and with the other testing groups.
4. The lead sponsor of Common Core Standards, Bill Gates, spoke at at national Conference for State Legislatures. He said that “We’ll only know if this effort has succeeded when the curriculum and tests are aligned to these standards.” This alignment has been the point all along. (Wouldn’t the man who funded multimillions of dollars toward the creation, development, marketing, implementation, and curriculum development of Common Core know what the goal was to be?)
5. The Council of Chief State School Officers, to which Supt. Menlove belongs, co-created and copyrighted Common Core. The CCSSO officially partnered with the Department of Education toward a common goal to collect “data on the national level” (see below) and to “coordinate assessments” –and to use the Common Core standards which CCSSO co-wrote.
It is difficult for me to understand how Menlove, who belongs to the CCSSO, or how Pyfer, who works so intimately with both the NGA and CCSSO, can mentally separate the Common Core aligned, high-stakes tests from the goals of the Common Core standards creators themselves.
Take a closer look at the CCSSO/EIMAC website:
“Education Data & Information Systems Programs:
Common Education Data Standards (CEDS)
The Common Education Data Standards Initiative is a joint effort by CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United States Department of Education. Educators and policy makers need clear, consistent data about students and schools in order to draw valid comparisons between key indicators of educational success and identify areas where we can improve classroom instruction and student support from early childhood through K-12 education to post secondary education and the workforce.
Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC)
The Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) is CCSSO’s network of state education agency officials tasked with data collection and reporting; information system management and design; and assessment coordination. EIMAC advocates on behalf of states to reduce data collection burden and improve the overall quality of the data collected at the national level.”
In light of these five points, can anybody honestly say that they cannot see a connection between the Common Core test and the Common Core high stakes AIR tests? Are we still to be called “conspiracy theorists” (my school board member Dixie Allen’s latest term of endearment for me) –for declaring that the tests and standards are one, are inseparable, and are equally harmful to our schools and to our liberties?
So, having made this point, now let me share what Principal Bob Schaeffer of Colorado shared with me today: a compilation of how bad the national Common Core high-stakes testing is waxing.
NEWS UPDATE: NATIONAL PROBLEMS WITH HIGH-STAKES TESTS
Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich Blasts “Obsessive Focus on Standardized Tests” http://dianeravitch.net/2014/02/19/robert-reich-on-standardized-testing/
Test Score Pressure May Lead to More ADHD Drug Prescriptions http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304275304579392932032900744
NCLB Waivers Reinforce Flawed Accountability Measures http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2014/02/waivers_missed_opportunities.html
Testing Resistance & Reform Spring Alliance Formed to Bring Sanity to Education Policy
Timely Statement by Former U.S. Labor Sec. Robert Reich on Eve of Testing Resistance & Reform Spring Launch
Campaigns Against Test Misuse, Overuse Explode Across Nation
New National Alliance Aims to Unite Grassroots Opposition to Testing Overkill
High School Grades Are Better Predictors of College Performance Than Test Scores Are
New Report: Test-Optional Admissions Promotes Equity and Excellence
The Failure of Test-Based School “Reform” — By the Numbers
Test-Based “Accountability” Does Not Work
No High-Stakes Testing Moratorium, No Common Core
Common Core Testing Costs Strain Rural Schools
Washington State Senate Revolts Against Teaching to the Test
Feds Threaten Washington State With Return to NCLB Testing Rules
Chicago Parents Organize Opt-Out Campaign
Left and Right in Colorado Agree on Testing Cutback
Colorado Students Take a Stand Against One-Size-Fits-All Test-Driven Education
N.Y. Gov. Cuomo Continues to Support Common Core Test-Based Evaluation
Computerizing a Poor Standardized Exam Does Not Magically Make it Better (or Stop Test Score-Misuse)
Common Core Assessments: Myths and Realities
Teacher Apologizes to Third Grades for Being Forced to Label Them with Test Scores
Mom of Severely Disabled Boy Asks Florida School Board to Let All Kids Experiencing “Pain and Suffering” Opt Out of High-Stakes Testing
Washington, D.C. Mayoral Candidate Says Test-Driven Schooling is a Failure
Important New Book: “50 Myths & Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools” by David Berliner, Gene Glass and Associates
Representative Dana Layton
The bill would return local control to Utah’s educational system. Utah needs this bill. I hope every Utahn writes to his or her legislators and begs them to pass this bill.
For those who don’t know, Rep. Layton’s bill “specifies procedures for the development and adoption of core curriculum standards for English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies, including: the establishment of a standards development committee consisting of parents, teachers, and representatives of school districts, business, and higher education to assist the board in developing standards; and public review and comment of draft core curriculum standards; equires the State Board of Education to establish a standards review committee consisting of 15 parents of Utah public education students to review proposed core curriculum standards for English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies; requires the State Board of Education to maintain control of, and the power to modify, core curriculum standards for English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies; and requires the State Board of Education, on or before July 1, 2016, to adopt revised core curriculum standards for English language arts and mathematics that are developed specifically for Utah.”
All day, I keep asking myself, why would the state school board NOT want this, not want a return to local control of education?
Anyway, I copied my letter (email number one, below) to legislators also to the school board.
Dixie Allen, my state school board representative, wrote back to me and to the same legislators, saying that what I had written was untrue. It’s not every day that I get called a liar, and I dislike it, for some reason. I doubt the school board enjoys it, either. So rather than rebut the lies, I simply wrote again, asking the legislators to fact-check for themselves. The truth can stand up under close inspection. Empty claims cannot.
Then Dave Thomas, another state school board member, sent the legislators and me the Utah State School Board’s link to a wordy, undocumented, verbiose posting –which is without any footnotes, without links or proof of truthfulness –and he said it “explains its position, inclusive of documentary evidence.”
Sigh. I try to keep giving the board the benefit of the doubt; they were rushed into Common Core adoption; they wanted that Race to the Top grant application turned in so fast; they made trusting assumptions about what the quality of the standards would be once they actually had the opportunity to study them; they asumed the standards had been pilot tested; whatever.
But now, now in 2014, when it’s been made so clear and obvious that the standards are not what they claimed to be, now that it’s so clear and obvious that we’ve traded local control for a substandard mess of pottage– now can’t we just ‘fess up and agree that Utah made a big mistake, a mistake anyone in the shoes of the state board could have made and would likely have made– and just turn around now and walk away from the mistake? Why hold on to this judgment error with such doggedness? It is not too late for us to change our course. In fact, the longer we stay in Common Core, the more money we waste and the more entrenched our curriculums are becoming in this substandard and centrally controlled monster.
So, here are all those emails in case anyone is interested.
EMAIL NUMBER ONE: (It was very long so I am not copying the whole thing; it’s just the Common Core 101 research that I cut and pasted from the front page of my blog.)
The State Board has had a website for a long time that explains its position, inclusive of documentary evidence. If you would like to read the State Board’s position it is at http://www.utahpublicschools.org/index.html.
David L. Thomas
Utah State Board of Education
1st Vice Chair
EMAIL NUMBER FIVE:
From Dixie Allen again:
EMAIL NUMBER SIX:
A REPORT ON THIS WEEK’S STOP COMMON CORE RALLIES
This week, and especially Tuesday night, the Common Core Initiative took some tough hits. All on the same night, Florida had a newsmaking Common Core protest while Missouri had its Stop Common Core event, while here in Utah about 600 people gathered at the Capitol; on Wednesday, South Carolina was up to bat. More and more, people are taking a stand for local control: for the end of any involvement with Common Core.
Here’s my shorter version of the events: photos first.
Siri Davidson, a Utah mother who began to home school her children because of Common Core math
Attendance was strong at Salt Lake City’s rally to Stop Common Core on Tuesday night
Judge Norman Jackson, who gave the prayer, in this photo is on the front row, left.
After a prayer and a song, the rally began with Representative Brian Greene speaking about fairness and transparency in state school board elections. His new bill –if it gets a chance to be heard– creates it: House Bill 228. He asked Utahns to please write to the representatives and ask them to help push that bill out of committee so legislators may vote on it.
Representative Dana Layton spoke about her bill to restore local control of education, House Bill 342. She quoted Diane Ravitch’s words about Common Core from the speech/article “Everything You Need To Know About Common Core.”
State Senator Margaret Dayton spoke about the need for informed citizens and for a return to local control and away from Common Core.
Psychotherapist Joan Landes spoke about the psychological devastation that the age-inappropriate Common Core and its experimental testing wreaks on students.
Three essay winners read their essays and won boxes of Mrs. Cavanaugh’s chocolates: Brian Halladay, a member of the Alpine School Board; Amy Mullins, a teacher; and Cami Isle, a teacher. All the essays that were entered into the contest will be posted at Utahns Against Common Core.
I got to introduce these three writers, and got to explain why we held the essay contest. In the spirit of restoring legitimate learning and the joy of reading and writing, Utahns Against Common Core aimed to model the practice of written human conversation and critical thought –which happens in personal essays.
Common Core doesn’t encourage personal writing. It prefers technical writing and info-texts. In fact, David Coleman, lead architect of Common Core, explained why he ditched personal writing: ““As you grow up in this world you realize that people really don’t give a !% #*^ about what you feel or what you think… it is rare in a working environment that someone says, ‘Johnson I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.’ ” Coleman mocks personal writing and slashed it, as he also slashed the allowable amounts of classic literature, starting in elementary grades at just 50% but cutting more and more– until, as high school seniors, students must devote 70% of their readings to informational texts, allowing only 30% to be fictional stories, the stuff that makes us love reading in the first place. (Excuse me while I pull out my hair and scream.) So. Since Coleman mocks the personal essay and works to incrementally delete classical literature, we must work to restore them.
This is why we held the essay contest.
After the essay readings, teacher and author Sinhue Noriega spoke about Common Core being much more than just standards, and also being –despite proponents’ claims to the contrary– a curriculum; and he spoke about the unconstitutionality of the Common Core.
Attorney Ed Flint spoke about the Common Core-related law suit in which he is involved. Details here.
Radio host Rod Arquette spoke passionately, telling the story of how the Seattle Seahawks won the Superbowl this year in part because of the athlete who often asked the team, as his father had often asked him, “Why not you? Why not us?” Arquette turned the question to the audience. Why can’t we change the course of the Common Core? Why not us?
Representatives from the Left-Right Alliance, Libertas Institute, Utahns Against Common Core, FreedomWorks, and several other organizations spoke for just one minute apiece.
Dad Oak Norton and Mom Alisa Ellis closed the meeting with calls to action.
The words that stayed in my mind more than anything else from the evening were the words of retired Judge Norman Jackson’s opening prayer. These deserve to be remembered and pondered.
Judge Jackson prayed:
“Dear God and Father of us all,
We express our Gratitude for the time, means and opportunity to gather this day at the seat of our Government. We acknowledge our firm reliance on Thy Divine protection and guidance in all the affairs of life. And ask Thy forgiveness of our trespasses as we forgive those of others. Enable us to live with charity for all.
We thank Thee for the endowment of unalienable rights – including life, liberty and the education of our children. May our land, schools and homes be places of light, liberty and learning. Bless us and all citizens with the desire to be governed by correct principles. Bless those who govern with that same desire.
Protect parents, children and teachers from the designs of conspiring men and women. And from the pretensions of those who occupy high places. Preserve the sanctity of our homes from the decay of individual responsibility and religion. Stay the hands of those who would harm and offend our children. Grant us and all citizens the strength to be eternally vigilant in this great cause.
Bless the proceedings and participants of this gathering with Thy guiding influence and sustaining care. Bless us and our children with Thy holy light – we humbly pray in the name of Thy Son Jesus Christ. Amen.”
GOVERNOR HERBERT: email@example.com
STATE SCHOOL BOARD: firstname.lastname@example.org
EDUCATION COMMITTEE: (SENATE)
Stuart Reid email@example.com
Patricia W. Jones firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark B. Madsen email@example.com
Aaron Osmond firstname.lastname@example.org
Howard Stephenson email@example.com
Jerry W. Stevenson firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephen H. Urquhart email@example.com
EDUCATION COMMITTEE: (HOUSE)
UTAH CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
(It promotes Common Core via “Prosperity 2020″):
MANY OTHER UTAH CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE:
There are many Stop Common Core rallies happening now in Utah, Missouri, Louisiana, New York and elsewhere. The rallies come on the heels of a U.S. Senate resolution that denounced Common Core, signed by senators from South Carolina, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Wyoming.
Tonight, Tuesday, February 18th, at 6:30 at the State Capitol Building, Hall of Governors, is the Utah Stop Common Core rally. As the press release indicated, this is an action rally that sends a message to Utah legislators: “Stand up against Common Core or prepare to be voted out of office.”
Please, Utahns, come.
We need many hundreds of people here tonight. Your physical presence speaks more loudly than many other things. There is a battle going on, involving your children and their well-being. Drop your laundry folding and your soccer game and your genealogy club meeting and come; defend. I’ll tell you why.
The New York iREFUSE Rally will happen before the HST testing takes place in NY which is the following Monday (March 31st ) just after the rally. One of the goals of the rally is to help build awareness that a child can refuse the HST Common Core test. The iREFUSE New York community page: https://www.facebook.com/irefusethegreatamericanoptout
Truth in American Education and Principal Bob Schaeffer of Colorado have compiled most of the following information and I thank them for it.
First, here are many of the Common Core, testing and student data privacy pushback bills happening right now, almost all over this nation:
Alabama tba; Arizona: SB 1121 SB 1153 SB 1095 HB 2316 SB 1310 ; Arkansas: HR 1007 SR 4; Colorado: SB 14-136; Connecticut: SB 53 Florida: PCB KTS 14-01: See Karen Effrem’s analysis of it here; HB 25 CS/HB 195 CS/SB 188 SB 232 SB 864 ; Georgia: B 167 SB 203 ; Illinois: HR0543 SR0638; Indiana: SB 91: This bill has passed the Senate 36-12 and will be considered by the Indiana House; Iowa HF 2140 HF 2141 SF 2123; Kansas tba; Kentucky: HB 5 HF 215; Louisiana: Here’s an article that discusses the work being done; Maryland: HB 76 SB 0578 SB 0579 SB 0408 Minnesota tba; Mississippi SB 2736; Missouri: HB 1708 HJR 74 SB 514 SB 798 SB 819 ; New Hampshire: HB 1239 HB 1508 HB 1262 HB 1586 HB 1496 HB 1587 HB 1238; New Jersey: S. 2973 A. 4403; New Mexico: SB 296: New York: A07994 S6604 S06267; Ohio: HB 237 HB 181 HB 193 HB 413; Oklahoma: HB 2786 HB 2849 HB 3331 HB 3166 HB 3399 SB 1146 SB 1310 Rhode Island: H 7095 South Carolina: SB 300 H. 3943 South Dakota: HB 1237: South Dakotans Against Common Core is against this bill. You can read why here. HB 1214 HB 1187 HB 1243 SB 63; Tennessee: SB 2405 HB 1549 SB 1835 (Tennessee Against Common Core is not excited about this bill.) HB 1826 HB 1825 SB 1985 HB 1828 SB 1984 HB 2253 HB 1697 HB 1696 HB 1841 HB 2453 SB 2559 HB 2290 SB 2057 HB 1882 SB 1470 HB 1705 Utah tba; Wisconsin tba; Wyoming: HB 0097
(To see a brief analysis of each bill, go to Truth in American Education.)
If you are a Utahn, did you notice Utah is on the “to be announced” list? We have no stop Common Core bill yet. We have too little political pressure from the people upon our leaders. So please: please come to the State Capitol next week, on Feb. 18th at 6:30-8:00 to show your concern for this issue. Please share this event where we will hear from and speak with legislators, parents and organizations who are opposed to Common Core. We need large numbers of people to show up and to show support, to get proper protections for our children here in Utah.
And here’s more related news:
Senate Republicans to Obama: No More Common Core Coercion http://dailycaller.com/2014/02/05/senate-republicans-no-more-common-core-coercion/#!
Both Houses of New York Legislature Support Two-Year Delay in Common Core Testing
Regents Likely to Stall Parts of Common Core Implementation
Parents and Educators Outraged by Regents Failure to Address Deeper Flaws
N.Y. PTA Survey Finds Students Stressed Out by Testing, Parents Opposed to Common Core Exams
Gov. Cuomo Appoints Common Core Proponents to Evaluate Common Core
Missouri Board of Ed. Plans Major Reduction in Testing
Alaska State Board of Education Supports Graduation Test Repeal
Virginia Senate Votes for Delay in Test-Based School Grades, Reduction in Testing Volume
Kentucky Ed. Commissioner: Kids Over-tested, Scores Misused
Connecticut Students Say Testing Fixation Kills Learning
“Guinea Pigs” and “Lab Rats” Storm Rhode Island State House as Student Protest Exit Exam
Students Aren’t “Guinea Pigs” — How Field Testing Hurts Children
Oregon Test is Wrong for Children
Parent of Dying Florida Boy Has to Prove Her Son Can’t Take Standardized Tests
Tennessee Teachers Fight Back Against Test-Fixated Evaluations
Exit Exams Make Diplomas, Jobs Elusive for Special Education Students
Technical Problems Plaque Nebraska Online Writing Exam
Chicago Opt Out Leaders Push Back Against Chief Executive Officer’s Hollow Threat
The 95% Participation Rate and How Schools Do Not Lose Funding
Test Scores = Voodoo Data for Evaluating Students, Teachers and Schools
Colorado School Testers Flunk Themselves
Federal Court Upholds New York City Liability for Teacher Licensing Test Racial Bias
Tennessee School Board Reconsiders Role of Student Test Scores in Teacher Licensure
Documentary Takes Standardized Testing Fight to Big Screen
NJ Professor Releases Common Core-Opposing “Assessments Landscape” Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1r9_ZpNbU6A
Common Rotten Core Testing ‘Toon
Mexico Eliminates National Exam, Test Score Bonuses
Last July, the last time Utahns got together at the State Capitol to discuss Common Core with legislators listening, there was standing room only. Television stations and newspaper reporters were there. So many people wanted to stand and speak that hundreds and hundreds were turned away due to time running out.
This time it will be a bit different, and better. This time, along with listening, some Utah legislators will be speaking out about the problems of the Common Core Initiative. We hope to fill the capitol –not only to standing-room-only– but to overflowing: past the doors and into the parking lots.
This time –February 18th, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m., the speaker lineup includes State Senator Margaret Dayton, Representative Dana Layton, radio host Rod Arquette, Representative Brian Greene, Left-Right Alliance Spokeswoman Autumn Cook, and others that I can’t yet announce (yet to be confirmed). Please save the date and come. Show by your presence that you are awake and aware, that you claim authority over your own children’s learning and testing and data privacy — and that you are not going away. Let’s give the local media something of importance to take pictures of, to write about; please, come if you can.
Not with my child you won’t: Psychological Damages of Common Core Analyzed by Joan Landes 26 comments
NOT WITH MY CHILD YOU WON’T
Guest Post by Joan Landes
Joan Landes, a Utah mental health therapist, has spoken out in opposition to Common Core. The speech posted below comes from a recent conference where she spoke. She has given permission to post her findings here, and they are also posted on her blog here: Not with my child you won’t!
Thank you, Joan Landes.
National Educational Standards are Based on Myths and False Premises
Myth 1: International standardized tests are important indicators of international competitiveness
Fact: The U.S. has never scored well on these tests, but still led the world in all economic indicators.
- The international tests began in the mid-sixties and the most important test, PISA began more recently. Since the 1960s, the U.S. has led the world in every significant prosperity indicator including patents, research and development funding, business formation, growth in productivity (Baker, 2007). During this time, the number of years that U.S. students topped the international test scores? None. (Ravitch, 2013)
- High test scores are negatively correlated with national indicators of innovation and entrepreneurship (Baker, 2007). China and Singapore know this and are worried (Zhao, 2012).
- Twenty-five years ago, mediocre scores triggered biased groups to warn “that America’s inadequate education system and workforce skills imperiled our competitiveness and future. Their warnings were followed by a substantial acceleration of American productivity growth in the mid-1990s, and by an American economy whose growth rate surpassed the growth rates of countries that were alleged to have better prepared and more highly skilled workers”(Strauss, 2013).
Myth 2: International tests prove American students don’t perform as well as other industrialized nations’ students.
Fact: The tests don’t compare “apples to apples” for many reasons.
- For instance, the scores from China come only from Shanghai which is the richest and most educationally elite city in China, which forbids migrant children and represents a mere 2 percent of the students in China. (Nisan, 2013).
- U.S. scores, by contrast, are a much more representative sampling of our complex demographics. In fact, students from affluent suburban school districts in the U.S. are very competitive with other students. The student groups who don’t perform well tend to come from dysfunctional families and communities of which the U.S. samples contain more than most other OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) nations (Strauss, 2013; Carnoy & Rothstein, 2013).
- The score spread between all countries is fairly narrow. Between the highest performing state in the U.S. and the highest performing nation in the world (Taiwan) in 2009 is only about a 10% difference in raw scores (Schneider, 2009). Even the spread between Taiwan and the lowest performing “state” (Washington D.C) is only about a 30%. So, that would mean Taiwan scores an “A”, Massachusetts an “A- or B+” and Washington D.C. earns a C-.
- The validity and reliability of the test itself is under serious question (Carnoy & Rothstein, 2013). Translations may not be good, scoring has not been validated and many student groups are not tested (Schneider, 2009). Many countries “cheat” on the test by using non-representative sampling and by “teaching to the test” to increase student scores (Stephen, 2013).
Myth 3: We should seek to emulate China and Singpore’s rigid educational system because they score well on standardized tests.
Fact: China and Singapore are very low on indices of innovation and creativity.
- High test scores are inversely related to high levels of creativity and innovation. Merely 473 innovations from China were recognized by the world’s leading patent offices outside China in 2008 versus 14,399 from the United States. (Zhao, 2012).
- Other indicators of happiness/prosperity/creativity are also inversely related to high test scores (Baker, 2007).
A noted expert on Asia predicted at the World Economic Summit: “The next Apple, the next Google will come, but probably not in China, at least not in the 100 years . . .If China wants (to have an Apple or Google), it must rebuild its education system.”
Another expert states: “Standardized, narrow, and uniform educational experiences, high-stakes standardized testing, (and) a push for conformity . . . are . . . identified in China and Singapore’s education system for destroying the nations’ creativity and entrepreneurial spirits” (Zhao, 2012).
Steve Wozniak from Apple said of rigid systems like Singapore, “When you’re very structured almost like a religion . . . Uniforms, uniforms, uniforms . . . everybody is the same. Look at structured societies like Singapore where bad behavior isn’t tolerated. You are extremely punished. Where are the creative people? Where are the great artists? Where are the great musicians? Where are the great singers? Where are the great writers? Where are the athletes? All the creative elements seem to disappear” (BBC, 2011).
The highest performing nations on the tests (China, Singapore, India, Korea) are moving away from constant testing and rigid structure while the U.S., with the Common Core assessments are diving headlong into old methods that will kill innovation.
In fact, an educational “superstar”, Finland, has NO assessment program until the end of high school, shorter school days and a 3 month break in summer, and very little homework. Furthermore, school is not compulsory until age 7! (Hendrickson, 2012). In addition, the national curriculum is not used to roll spindle and mutilate students and teachers through punitive assessments. The nation has a very “hands-off” attitude toward individual schools and understands that individual customization of curriculum and independence of teachers and schools creates the best results overall (Hendrickson, 2012).
- After an average level of educational achievement is attained, further emphasis on tests is counterproductive to innovation (Baker, 2007).
“Among high-scoring nations, a certain level of educational attainment, as reflected in test scores, provides a platform for launching national success, but once that platform is reached, other factors become more important than further gains in test scores. Indeed, once the platform is reached, it may be bad policy to pursue further gains in test scores because focusing on the scores diverts attention, effort, and resources away from other factors that are more important determinants of national success.” (Baker, 2007)
Myth 4: We should embark on a national, top-down restructuring of educational standards such as Goals 2000, Outcome-Based Education, No Child Left Behind and the Common Core Standards to improve our scores and thus future prosperity.
Are you kidding?
Fact: National Standards in themselves do not determine student excellence. Both the highest and lowest performing nations have national standards. National standards/programs don’t correlate with high achievement on international testing.
But what does make a difference?
Unique state standards do make a difference in student achievement when combined with other layers of teacher requirements, moderate levels of subject mastery assessments and customizable programs for individual students. Massachusetts had a true state-led effort to craft excellent standards and supports. This process was transparent and involved years of public debate and input before a consensus was reached. The results were the envy of the rest of the U.S. and, even with the disparate SES, managed to compare favorably on international tests with the highest performing students in the world.
Using the 50 states as individual laboratories, each state and even each district can learn from the successes and failures of the others. An excellent example of this process is our neighbor to the north, Canada.
When international testing commenced, Canada occupied the middle of the pack, similar to the U.S. They have about 24% of students who are immigrants. But within a few decades, Canada was able to shoot to the top tier, while the U.S. remained stuck. What did Canada do? Did they fund a federal department of education, impose a draconian, coast-to-coast set of uniform standards, assessments and eventually curricula?
No, they did not (Edwards, 2013).
In fact, Canada’s educational system is much less structured than ours. They don’t have a national department of education or provide any federal funding. Each separate province (similar to States) is very competitive with the other provinces and seeks through a process of competition to quickly innovate and implement strategies which make real differences for students (Macleans, 2010). The gains have been real and well-documented by research. This kind of real evidence is what should drive educational decisions—not the machinations of special interests, crony governmentalism, and federal bribes from the Department of Education.
With monolithic national standards, students are effectively trapped with nowhere to escape for a better education. Unless they move to Canada.
Common Core Standards ignore recent research in neuroscience
Science/Research findings are of limited value and can be biased. If the findings of a particular study don’t sound intuitively correct, be very skeptical. Poor science has been used in the past to justify very harmful practices.
Example of the limits of Science: Marasmus
In the early part of the 20th century babies in orphanages were dying at an alarming rate. Scientists were flummoxed. They called the fatal disease “Marasmus” (Montagu & Matson 1979). Assuming the mortality rate was due to bacteria, they prescribed strict separation for the babies from touching or contact. Only ultra-hygenic feeding and diapering were allowed with no extra handling.
The babies continued to die as if in a plague.
Finally, some bright soul decided to start cuddling and hugging the babies. They stopped dying and started thriving. “Marasmus” was nothing more than the deprivation of attention and love (Stout, 2005).
Programs like Common Core Standards may be the “marasmus” of the 21st century. Will our children have to suffer because of badly researched programs?
No experts on child development, mental health, or neuroscience helped to craft Common Core
- CC is based on old motivational science from the 1910s and 1930s with B.F. Skinner.
- He studied “stimulus-response” patterns to learn how to manipulate animals and people.
- A Skinnerian Box
- Skinner developed ways to train people and animals through the coercion of punishments and rewards.
- He even had his own baby daughter in a glass box crib for the first years of life although he said the contraption was a solution to keep her warm without bedclothes (Snopes, 2014)
Problems with using punishments and rewards as motivation
- External reinforcers tend to lose effectiveness over time
- External reinforcers usually take significant time/effort to administer properly
- External reinforcers are often expensive
- External reinforcers often leave subjects feeling manipulated and dependent on external control
- External reinforcers abrogate freedom
- External rewards tend to diminish intrinsic motivation (Timms, 2013)
Current Neuroscience finds that human learning occurs best in loving relationships
Unlike factory production methods from the 1910s, recent findings from neuroscience support the idea that relationships foster better, faster and more permanent learning for children (Cozolino, 2013).
Stressors from Common Core Assessments can interfere with two important types of learning
- Cognitive learning: Facts, procedures, memory, etc.
- Emotional learning: Interpreting others intent, expressing and identifying feelings, self-soothing, risk-taking, etc.
Common Core over-testing creates anxiety
Common Core Assessment partners SBAC and PARC add even more testing than NCLB requires at present. In addition their tests are longer and the consortiums encourage interim testing 2 or 3 times during the year besides the year-end test-weeks. In addition, these tests will be used improperly to decided teacher evaluation and sometimes pay, school rankings, child-progress and possibly even graduation (FairTest, 2014).
Common Core over-testing creates an environment of “conditions of worth”
Children need to feel intrinsically loved and valuable. Failure at tests, and even the testing itself can stress even the most resilient children. The are convinced that their worth is based on their performance.
Vulnerable children respond negatively to even normal stressors
- Children who have been abused, neglected or traumatized often display alarming responses to stress– especially outside of a safe, loving relationship. (Cozolino, 2013; Adams, 2014).
- Studies show that mammals and human that experience little nurturing in early childhood result in lower abilities to emotionally regulate themselves. (Raabe & Spengler, 2013)
Current neuroscience shows how early stress creates later emotional dysregulation
- Epigenetic studies show how the relational stress of maternal deprivation or early trauma creates genetic changes in protein synthesis resulting in the failure to uptake cortisol. This results in longer periods of distress to smaller triggers. (University of Utah, 2014; Weaver et. al, 2004)
Common Core Will Widen the Achievement Gap and Hurt the Most Vulnerable Children.
- 20% of students in school have a “serious” mental/emotional condition that could receive a DSM diagnosis (NIH, 2013)
- Examples: Depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, suicidality, self-mutilation, addictions, obsessions, compulsions, panic disorder, reactive attachment disorder, phobias, oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD, trichotillomania, etc.
- Sexual and other abuse is not rare. Approximately 20% of girls and 10% of boys have been sexually abused and have many resulting emotional, cognitive and behavioral problems. (Bolen, 1999)
- Many more students have experienced physical/emotional abuse and neglect and other traumatizing factors which create problems for learning (Childhelp, 2014; Adams, 2014)
Common Core Doesn’t Allow for Individualized Needs of Traumatized Children:
- Healing relationships first (Adams, 2014)
- Development of neglected neural modalities
- Relief from assessments which can create anxiety, depression and avoidance symptoms
The following harms are predictable
- The most vulnerable children will fall further behind the rest of the students.
- The achievement gap will widen (Adams, 2014)
- Vulnerable children will react more dramatically
- Expect more mental disorders
- Expect more anti-social behavior
- Expect more school shootings
- Expect more self-harming and suicides
How Should We Be Teaching Vulnerable Children?
With conditions of supportive relationships and few other resources, even traumatized students will tend to blossom (Cozolino, 2013, Adams, 2014).
Marva Collins taught “unteachable” inner city students in her home with practically no resources and they learned Shakespeare in third grade! Why? She first established a relationship! “I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care” (Cozolino, 2013)
Relationships are Better Motivators Than Material Rewards
Children will perform better because of a relationship (I want my teacher to be proud of me!) more than for material rewards (I earned a candy bar!). Psychic rewards tend to be more powerful than material rewards.
Optimal Brain Development Requires Early Activation of Many Learning Modes
- Visual processing: drawing, painting, animation, and art appreciation, optical illusions, Where’s Waldo, video games.
- Auditory processing: foreign language, music, reading aloud, being read to, singing
- Emotional centers: identifying emotions, reading emotions on others, self-soothing strategies, emotional expression in safe environment (drama)
- Spatial/movement processing centers: building/manipulating objects, dance, sports, games, puzzles, cursive handwriting
- Memory centers: short term memory, long-term memory
Common Core Neglects Many Brain Modalities
- Common Core focuses huge amounts of time developing the left, prefrontal cortex activities in children to the neglect of other modalities. This will result in later difficulties in synthesis required for higher order thinking tasks such as creativity, innovation, critical analysis, perseverance in the face of opposition, etc. (Young & Doidge, 2013).
Common Core Reduces Experience with Literature
Common Core’s mandates for informational texts over literature deprive student’s brains of context (relationships). Stories/narratives foster larger areas of brain activation and memory activation than dry facts (Cozolino, 2013) Kids tell stories for a reason. The context gives meaning and meaning signals to the brain to remember (Cozolino, 2013)
Literature teaches both cognitive and emotional skills that informational texts can’t teach
One of the most important mental health purposes of education is to teach children to be empathetic, kind, to delay gratification and to become sensitive to their internal self-talk (conscience). Literature can assist with this through social learning. If these skills are not developed, the child becomes a heartless “clever devil” or as C.S. Lewis described, “Men without chests.” (People with active intellects and libido, but no heart or compassion). More admirable literature, not less, is what is need for children’s resilience.
Common Core Assessments Violate Student Privacy and Professional Ethics
Hundreds of assessment points on students and parents have been authorized by the DOE (NCES 2014) including substance abuse, record of child protective services, illnesses, affiliations, etc. These are information points which in the medical or mental health profession would be protected by HIPAA regulations.
New FERPA Changes Violate Privacy
Because the Obama administration made significant, executive changes to FERPA, student information can now be accessed by corporations, school personnel or any other entity that the state approves.
If doctors or psychologists did this, they would be fined at least $100,000 for each instance. And they could lose their license because of breach of confidentiality.
Why can the government get away with this violation?
Common Core is Completely Untested
Common Core Standards are completely untested experimentally yet are being inflicted on virtually every student in the entire U.S. from K-12 with NO PREVIOUS TESTING. This is an egregious violation of basic ethics and good science and shows the developers’ absolute disregard or ignorance of potential harms to children. The EPA conducts more testing for the food dyes in Kool-Aid than has been conducted on Common Core which kids will live with for 8 hours a day for 12 years.
No Hard Evidence Supports Common Core
Unlike other professions, educational bureaucrats are not using “evidence-based practices.”
Instead of funding yet another untested scheme, we must demand “Evidence-based Education”.
Show us the evidence FIRST.
Common Core Aligned Curriculum Provides Validation for Radical Lessons Which Can Harm Children.
CC alignment makes it more difficult for parents to challenge because the administrator appeals to the authority of the standards, “But it’s Common Core aligned!” However, the developers are careful to distance themselves from curriculum development so they can’t be held responsible for damaging lessons. We as parents can’t let them have it both ways. Either the Standards are RESPONSIBLE for the curriculum that is validated by “alignment” or they shouldn’t allow the label “Common Core Aligned.”
Numerous Examples Exist of Radical Curricula “Aligned” or Even Officially Recommended by Common Core:
The examples are multiplying every day, but here are just four problematic sources:
ELA recommended books for 11 graders (Common Core Standards, 2012)
- The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (Landes, 2013) Graphic child sex abuse depictions. Landes is a mental health professional who asserts that this book could endanger youth who are victims of sexual abuse by forcing them to relive their trauma while justifying the perpetrator.
- Dreaming in Cuban, by Cristina Garcia (Berry, 2013) Graphic sex depictions.
Other texts/books aligned with Common Core
- The Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison (Kane, 2013) Graphic rape depictions.
- Voices in Literature and Writing, (Landes, 2013) Teaches first-graders how to create propaganda and trains them in mental health cognitive distortions.
- Adams, J.M. (2014). New ‘trauma-informed’ approach to behavioral disorders in special education. Ed Source website. Retrieved from: http://edsource.org/today/2014/new-trauma-informed-approach-to-behavioral-disorders-in-special-education/56753
- Arrowsmith-Young, B. & Doidge, N. (2013). The Woman Who Changed Her Brain: And Other Stories of Cognitive Transformation. Published by Simon and Shuster, New York; NY USA.
- Baker, K. (2007). Are International Tests Worth Anything? Phi Delta Kappan, 89(2). 101-104
- BBC. (2011, Jan. 20). Steve Wozniak: “Think for yourself.” www.bbc.co.uk
- Berry, S. (2013). ArizonaSchool District Pulls Sexually Explicit Book Recommended by Common Core Standards. Retrieved from: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/09/12/Arizona-School-District-Pulls-Sexually-Explicit-Book-Recommended-by-Common-Core-Standards
- Bolen, R.M. and M. Scannapieco, Prevalence of child sexual abuse: A corrective metanalysis. Social Service Review, 1999. 73(3): p. 281-313.
- Carnoy, M. & Rothstein, R. (2013). What do international tests really show about U.S. student performance? Economic Policy Institute. January 28, 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.epi.org/publication/us-student-performance-testing/
- Childhelp (2014). National Abuse Statistics, Childhelp website. Retrieved from: http://www.childhelp-usa.com/pages/statistics#gen-stats
- Common Core Standards (2012). Appendix B: text exemplars and sample performance tasks. Retrieved from: http://www.corestandards.org
- Cozolino, L. (2013) The Social Neuroscience of Education: Optimizing Attachment and Learning in the Classroom. Published by W.W. Norton and Company. New York: NY USA.
- Edwards, C. (2013). PISA school test results. CATO Institute website. Retrieved from: http://www.cato.org/blog/pisa-school-test-results
- Henrickson, K.A. (2012). Assessment in Finland: A Scholarly Reflection on One Country’s Use of Formative, Summative, and Evaluative Practices. Mid-Western Educational Researcher. Volume 25, Issues 1/2. Retrieved from: http://www.mwera.org/MWER/volumes/v25/issue1-2/v25n1-2-Hendrickson-GRADUATE-STUDENT-SECTION.pdf
- Kane, A. (2013). Common Core reading lists and pornography. Retrieved from: http://watchdogwire.com/northcarolina/2013/09/29/common-core-reading-lists-and-pornography/
- Landes, J. (2013). Why the book, “The Bluest Eye” should be banned from schools. Psychouttheopposition website. Retrieved from: http://psychouttheopposition.wordpress.com/category/education/
- Maclean’s (2010). Website. Retrieved from: http://oncampus.macleans.ca/education/tag/pisa/
- Montagu, A., & Matson, F. (1979). The human connection. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- NCES(2014) NationalCenter for Educational Statistics. Retrieved from: http://nces.ed.gov/forum/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary
- NIH (2013) National Institute of Health website. Retrieved from: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/1anydis_child.shtml
- Nisan, M. (2013). Why Shanghai’s Amazing Test Scores are “Almost Meaningless,” Business Insider, December 3, 2013.
- Raabe, F.J. & Spengler, D. (2013). Epigenetic Risk Factors in PTSD and Depression. Frontiers of Psychiatry. 2013; 4: 80. Published online 2013 August 7. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00080 PMCID: PMC3736070
- Ravitch, D. (2013). What You Need to Know About the International Test Scores, The Huffington Post. December 3, 2013.
- Schnieder, M. (2009) The International PISA Test. EducationNext. Fall 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 4.
- Snopes, (2014) One Man and a Baby Box. Snopes.com retrieved from http://www.snopes.com/science/skinner.asp
- Stephen, M. (2013). PISA: Poor Academic Standards–an Even Poorer Test, The Telegraph. December 2, 2013.
- Stout, M. (2005) The Sociopath Next Door. Broadway Books, a division of Random House Publishing.
- Strauss, V. (2013). How Public Opinion About the New PISA Test Scores is Being Manipulated. The Washington Post. December 1, 2013.
- Timms, M. (2013). Who cares about money? The New Economy. Retrieved from: http://www.theneweconomy.com/strategy/who-cares-about-money
- University of Utah Health Sciences Website (2014). Epigenetics: Lick Your Rats. Retrieved from: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/epigenetics/rats/
- Weaver, I.C.G, Cervoni, N., Champagne, F.A., D’Alessio, A.C., Sharma, S., Seckl, J.R., Dymov, S., Szyf, M., & Meaney, M. (2004). Epigenetic programming by maternal behavior. Nature Neuroscience, 7, 847-854
- Zhao, Y. (2012) Flunking Innovation and Creativity. Phi Delta Kappan, September 2012 vol. 94 no. 1 56-61.
Guest Post by Wendy Hart, member of the Alpine School Board, Alpine, Utah
Some of you have followed my journey on this issue from the beginning. Others have just become acquainted. Here is a short summary of my opposition to Common Core. [As posted below] http://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/2014/02/why-i-oppose-common-core.htmlI know many of you are in support of Common Core, and that’s fine. One of my biggest complaints about the whole process was the lack of transparency in the adoption process. I have found that the more people who can weigh in on an issue, the greater the opportunity we, as elected officials, have to see all the potential ramifications. I have been told that we, the public, just didn’t show up when we had the opportunity.In point of fact, the Alpine School Board minutes do not make mention of Common Core or new standards at all until well after the formal adoption by the State Board in Aug. 2010. With all due respect, the public and, at least, the Alpine School Board were kept in the dark.All that is to say, feel free to advocate for whatever position you see fit. I will not be offended.I hope you will not be offended by my standing for what I believe.
Why I Oppose Common CoreWho is in control of our children’s education?This shift to the Common Core is a huge lurch away from bottom-up, local control to top-down, centralized control. Common Core is about creating a single pathway to supposed economic and educational success. Think about it, 45 states all adopting the same standards at the same time. 45 states all implementing Common Core testing, nationwide, at the same time. All the publishers and teacher training courses aligning to Common Core at the same time. And, what about college? the ACT and SAT? They, too, will be aligning to Common Core. What are the options should you object, as a parent, as a school, as a district?What are the options if we decide, once we have full implementation and actual experience to back up the Common Core experiment, that we made a mistake? How do we amend? How do we turn back? A few years from now, it will be too late. We have just signed on to a system to eliminate, through attrition, virtually all other options in public education.And who made this decision about what our kids will learn? Five people with a nod from Bill Gates and a couple of D.C. lobbying groups, were able to get their untested vision implemented via financial and legal incentives, as well as disputed promises of ‘greater rigor’, ‘college and career readiness’, and ‘international benchmarking’. We have decided to go down this path due, in part, to incentives, but also to the idea of not being left behind the rest of the states. That, somehow, Utah wasn’t capable of taking care of our own. It shows a supreme lack of confidence in the people, teachers, and principals of Utah that our State Board thought they needed to rush to adopt the Common Core, along with other states to get the federal money, instead of allowing the debate, discussion, and involvement of local Utahns in this process.People will say, “It doesn’t matter where we get it; the ends justify the means.” We must reject that notion. What we are saying, in effect, is that the principles we stand for don’t matter. That parents and local communities don’t matter—only the opinion of the so-called experts matters, as long as our kids learn what the experts want them to learn. Why would we want to encourage a system where the people are not involved in creating the best schools? Instead, we have a system where we trust the experts to tell us what ‘the best’ actually means. And in this case, those ‘experts’ are in control.In 1816, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter about education and linked it to the proper role of government. In it, he articulates two important principles. He said, “if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by the governor and council, the commissioners of the literary fund, or any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward, it is a belief against all experience. …No, my friend, the way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to.”
Common Core violates both these principles: 1) Parents must direct the education of their kids in school, not the government, and 2) Good and safe government, and that includes public schools, comes from dividing and distributing power. Consolidated power is not safe, and creates the potential for corruption, and, at the very least, destroys the means for innovation and outside the box thinking.Jefferson goes on to say,“What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body…”This is EXACTLY what Common Core does.We are at the crossroads. We can abdicate our parental and local responsibilities to the so-called experts and the rich philanthropists, or we can reclaim bottom-up, parent-controlled education. In the end, I will stand on the side of parents, local teachers, and local communities deciding what is of most worth to pass on to their own children.————Wendy Hart has also explained Utah’s unthinking adoption of Common Core in this video.
Why Obama’s Education Policies will not Change
Guest post by Chicago high school history teacher Paul Horton, also posted at Edweek
Back before the President was elected, he spoke to the 80th annual convention of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). It is useful to compare the President’s speech to the AFT in July of 2008 and his state of the union address last week. In his state of the Union speech of 2013, he spoke of states “voluntarily” complying with the DOEd’s Race to the Top program. He is fond of saying that learning “is more than bubble tests,” and that “change is hard.”
It is also interesting to note that the President began this year’s state of the union speech with a compliment to teachers–an election cycle is approaching—but that he stuck with the “bubble test” line, and, most importantly, with the “change is hard” line.
My guess is that he dropped the “voluntary” line because many teachers, students, and parents don’t buy it anymore. Too many folks know too much.
I have just taken a closer look at the history of Illinois compliance. This example might be similar to what happened in many other states.
On January 13 and 14 of 2010, Governor Quinn and state Education Superintendent Christopher Koch signed the first round RTTT Illinois Application. Initial endorsements came from the Commercial Club of Chicago’s who’s who.
When Tennessee and D.C. won the first round, the pressure was on to beef up endorsements for the 2nd round of grants. This is where the heavy political muscle was applied. Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) put out fact sheets indicating that Illinois’ first application lacked broader support from education, business, and political leaders, the state legislature then magically brought a bill to the floor that called for a 1% increase in Education funding right at the point when Federal money that had allowed districts to retain thousand of teachers was cut off for the next fiscal year.
The money available would be dangled before the states facing huge cuts in the form of a Race to the Top grant competition. According to Illinois AFT President Ed Geppert, “Illinois is on the brink of budget disaster.” (Illinois AFT Facebook posting, March 10, 2010)
In response, AFT mobilized its base in rallies to increase state funding. But the state legislature had the NEA and AFT over a barrel. Not surprisingly, as the state Education bill was being negotiated, NEA and AFT both sent in phase two RTTT application endorsement letters. At the same time (February-July), district superintendents and NEA and AFT locals were being pressured to sign Memorandums of Understanding (MOUS) to mandate adherence to the Common Core Curriculum (CCCS), standardized testing based on the CCCS, Value Added Assessments (VAM), greater openness to charter school openings, and more support for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education (STEM). This all sounded great to districts and locals facing huge job cuts, they could see the gruesome budget guillotine out the window.
With some resistance from better-funded north shore (Chicago) districts (i.e. Evanston) the state achieved “voluntary” buy-in when districts gave up local control of curriculum and union locals begged for crumbs at the legislative bargaining table.
A question that could be asked is: how could the state legislature be lined up so quickly to apply the pressure on districts and unions? My educated guess is DFER. DFER had access to “insider information” from DOEd.
A very porous membrane exists between the Department of Education, Democrats for Education Reform, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Pearson Education.
DFER made it known to the Illinois House Speaker and Governor that Illinois’ application did not look “voluntary” enough. The House Speaker and the Governor’s allies in the state legislature came up with the idea of an underfunded Education bill as the leverage needed to create “voluntary” support for RTTT. Dozens of letters of endorsement began arriving to the Governor’s office in early May.
“Voluntary” my…. foot!
Back to the President’s campaign speech in July 2008 to the AFT convention. At this point Bill Gates was playing pretty coy with the President’s campaign. Candidate Obama already had strong ties to DFER, having worked with DFER as a state senator and US senator. His close circle of friends, the friends who had provided him with the cash to make it through the primaries, all supported charter schools. John Rogers created created the Ariel Academy and the Ariel Foundation. Marty Nesbitt and Penny Pritzker were breaking into the business of creating charter schools: the Noble Charter chain. Mr. Nesbitt, Diana Mendley Rauner, Rahm Emanuel, and Valerie Jarrett had close ties with the Chicago Housing Authority. Mr. Nesbitt was the CHA Board Chairman and worked to implement a Federally subsidized plan (Hope VI) in the Plan for Transformation that demolished public housing units and created public-private partnerships for mixed income development on the west and “mid-south” sides.
At the same time, the Commercial Club of Chicago hatched the Renaissance 2010 plan that sought to close 60 public schools in these mixed income developments and replace them with a mix of 100 public and private charter schools. The push for the Olympic bid for 2016 was intended to speed up south side gentrification to create a developer’s profit bonanza. Brand new “streamlined” charter schools would attract upper middle class buyers into mixed-income neighborhoods. (Pauline Lipman, The New Political Economy of Urban Education, 74-99)
The Olympic bid fell flat on its face, and the neighborhoods were not mixing as rapidly as developers hoped in the wake of the 2008 crash.
But the charter schools are still being built and public schools are still being closed in gentrifying areas. Former public housing residents are pushed out of these mixed income neighborhoods. Because the neighborhood schools lose enrollment, they are closed. Public schools are then replaced by charters that require an extensive application process. This story is the narrative of “reform” in several major cities. (Lipman, 95-99)
Candidate Obama, in his speech video cast to the American Federation of Teachers convention, insisted, “that we must fix the failures of “No Child Left Behind by providing the funding that was promised, giving states the resources that they need, and finally meeting our commitment to special education.”
“It is time to start treating teachers properly….In May, I visited a school in Colorado where just three years ago, only half the seniors are accepted to college. But thanks to the hard work of caring parents, innovative educators, and some very committed students, all forty-four seniors at this year’s class were accepted to more than seventy colleges and universities across the country. And that example trickles down.”
What the President did not tell the AFT crowd in 2008 was that the school that he was describing was a charter school that had closed its doors to a large percentage of students who started with the class that the future President was holding up as a model for all educators. He was also very careful not to mention that the school employed non-union teachers and was created by a former Teacher for America teacher—Michael Johnston.
The President knew what he was planning because his closest friends, and most important bundlers: John Rogers (Arne Duncan’s best friend), Marty Nesbitt (the President’s best friend), and Penny Pritzker (Marty Nesbitt’s boss who invested $50 million in his “Parking Spot” start-up), all board members of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools (who served on that board with Michelle Obama), were heavily invested in the Noble charter chain.
For President Obama, education policy will not change because he owes the DFER bundlers, his closest friends, and Bill Gates a huge payback for their investment of time and funds into his campaign.
Our education policy is their education policy. It is a policy for those who own stock in charter chains, Microsoft, Apple, HP, and Pearson Education.
“Change is hard.”
Should Corporations and political friends be allowed to dictate Education Policy?
God bless these senators!
From a press release from Senator Mike Lee’s website:
Feb 05 2014
- Education belongs in the hands of parents, local education officials, and states.
- The federal government should not coerce states into adopting common education standards.
- No future application process for any federal grant funds or waivers should award additional points, or provide any preference, for the adoption of Common Core.
FACT SHEET :
- Strongly denounces President Obama’s coercion of states into adopting Common Core by conferring preferences in federal grants and flexibility waivers.
- Strongly supports the restoration and protection of state authority and flexibility in establishing and defining challenging student academic standards and assessments.
By the way, the Utah State Office of Education still claims that there are “no federal strings” attached to Common Core. Will they ever tell the people of Utah ?
New York Professor’s Run-in With NY Common Core Promotion Machine
Guest Post by Professor Alan Singer
This story is posted with permission from Professor Singer, and the article is also posted at the Huffington Post under the title: “Questions about Common Core – NYS Education Officials Do Not Want to Hear About It.”
In December 2013, the New York Regents, the policy making body for education in the state, formed a sub-committee to evaluate implementation of the national Common Core Standards. Merryl Tisch the chair of the Board of Regents and John King, the state’s educational commissioner, are both strong advocates for the rapid introduction of the Common Core accompanied by high-stakes testing of students and the evaluation of teachers based on student test scores. However, in a series of public forums across the state, Commissioner King was sharply criticized by both parents and teachers. Some Regents, including Roger Tilles who represents Long Island and Geraldine Chapey of Belle Harbor in Queens, have also been very critical of implementation of Common Core.
New York State United Teachers, the umbrella organization representing unionized teachers in New York State responded to the campaign to rapidly introduce Common Core and new high-stakes tests by calling for the immediate removal of the Commissioner of Education John King by the Board of Regents and postponement of Common Core graduation requirements. This move is supported by Randi Weingarten, president of the national union, the American Federation of Teachers. In addition, a coalition of 45 educational organizations called the NYS Allies for Public Education has launched a campaign to have four new members elected to the state educational governing body, all of whom have expressed reservations about the rapid implementation of Common Core in the state. Members of the Board of Regents are elected by the New York State Legislature.
In May 2011, in an essay published in New York Newsday and on the Washington Post website, Regent Tilles raised concerns about Common Core that have been largely ignored by its proponents for the last three years. Tilles argued “Student learning is complex” and “impacted by many factors which include, but are not limited to, prior learning, family background, level of poverty, classroom and school culture, access to private tutors, learning disabilities, access to adequate resources, and even school district governance,” none of which are taken into account by the Common Core standards, the testing program, or teacher evaluations. He objected to “using the student results of New York’s standardized tests to evaluate teachers” because it contributed to “the corrupting influence of high stakes on the education programs.” He was especially concerned that the focus of Common Core and the high-stakes assessments on reading and math skills was “snuffing out the creative thinking” and worried “that all of the above is an attempt to promote charter schools and dismantle the public school system.”
There are legitimate questions about how serious Tisch and King are about rethinking Common Core. At the same time as Tisch announced formation of the Regents sub-committee, Tisch and King, in an opinion article published in the Albany Times-Union declared “We want to hear from teachers, parents, and students about what’s working and what could work better. But we also know that moving forward with Common Core is essential.”
As far as I can see, there is little real discussion going on about the Common Core standards. Politicians and corporations who are selling the standards to the public and forcing it on teachers and schools ignore both supportive suggestions and opposition. The story I report here says that the champions of Common Core, no matter what they say, do not want to hear any other ideas.
In New York State, Common Core is promoted by EngageNY, a website “created and maintained by the New York State Education Department,” and a secretive non-governmental group called the Regents Research Fund. As the EngageNY website makes clear, its primary purpose is promoting Common Core.
“The New York State Education Department (NYSED) is engaging teachers, administrators, and education experts across the State and nation in the creation of curriculum resources, instructional materials, professional development materials, samples of test questions, test specifications, and other test-related materials that will help with the transition to the New York State P-12 Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS).”
The actions of the Regents Research Fund are a little harder to pin down. The Albany Times Union calls it a “shadow government” within the New York State Education Department. It is supported by $19 million in donations from wealthy individuals and foundations.
On the EngageNY website and for the Regents Research Fund the chief salesperson for Common Core is Kate Gerson, a very attractive woman who appears to have minimal teaching experience. Although she is not an actual employ of the State Education Department, Gerson represents them at Common Core meetings across the state and is the featured Common Core cheerleader on EngageNY online videos. The Times Herald-Record, based in Middletown, New York, described Gerson’s performance at a staff development workshop for teachers in the Monticello school district this way.
“With a microphone dangling under her chin, Kate Gerson paced the front of the high school auditorium in sweater dress and heeled boots, prodding teachers to rethink the Gettysburg Address. She used the word “text” over and over again.”
Gerson’s advice to teachers was “Try it out; get smarter at it. This is hard work. Pick a text and dive in, and build a unit around a text that you are devoted to, that you have to teach anyway, and teach it differently.”
You can view Gerson’s traveling show at the EngageNY website. In a fifteen minute video titled “Quick Explanation of the Shifts by Kate Gerson,” she basically tells the audience that they are already doing Common Core in small bursts, but they now have to do it more systematically and have students think more deeply about what they read.
I did not have many disagreements with the goals Gerson presented in her show, but I was very surprised by two things. It was very unclear how deeper literacy was going to be achieved in classrooms where students have serious academic difficulty. Mostly she just repeated educational clichés – we were going to have a shift in focus, text-based instruction, rigorous standards, and students would think deeply and marshal evidence. Teaching these academic skills to real students in actual classrooms was almost a hopeful wish on her part.
I was also struck by Gerson’s lack of knowledge about the English Language Arts curriculum in New York State. According to Gerson, as part of the new rigor and higher standards, students would read To Kill a Mocking Bird in eighth grade rather than in ninth grade. But students always read To Kill a Mocking Bird in eight grade because that is when they learned about the Civil Rights movement in social studies. Students were also going to read Achebe’s book Things for Apart in 10th grade rather than in12th grade, but students always read Things Fall Apart in 10th grade because that is when they study the impact of European imperialism on traditional societies in Global History.
Gerson is promoted as a former New York City teacher and school principal who brings legitimate educational credentials and experience to the discussion of Common Core. According to her LinkedIn site, Gerson has a B.A. in Women’s Studies from the University of Arizona and a M.A in Language Education from Indiana University. She began her career as a teacher in Indiana, but only worked in New York City for two years at a transfer school for over-aged-under-credited students before leaving for an organization called New Leaders for Schools where she worked from 2007 to 2010. Gerson is also associated with Frederick Hess, Resident Scholar and Director of Education Policy Studies at theAmerican Enterprise Institute, which pushes free market pro-business solutions to educational and social issues.
Gerson will be the keynote speaker at an Uncommon Core at a conference in Binghamton, New York on March 14, 2014.
I was also invited by conference organizers to speak there because of my Huffington Posts on Common Core where I am critical of Common Core, but also offer practical suggestions and lesson ideas on how it can be useful in the classroom. For example, I recently posted a blog on Huffington Post with quotations from two speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. where he offers a more radical critique of American society.
My position on Common Core is that it is useful to teachers and schools as a guideline but not as a mandated set of skills that must be achieved in a specific time frame by every student. I am also disturbed that the almost universal focus on skills acquisition will interfere with the teaching of subject content. AsRegent Tilles argued, to be most effective, Common Core Standards must be separated from high-stakes testing for students and the evaluation of teachers. State Education needs to provide teachers with sample material that defines what they mean by “college and career ready,” but scripted lessons that inhibit teacher creativity and eliminate flexibility are not useful. Among the things I like about Common Core is that it encourages the Horizontal (across subject) and Vertical (across grade level) Integration of instruction and it supports systematic planning and conscious decision-making by teachers. However, to the extent that it is tied into the privatization of curriculum, staff development, student assessment, and teacher preparation it is undermining public education.
The problem with the invitation to speak at the Binghamton conference with Gerson is that the conference organizers were not be able to pay an honorarium despite the fact that I would have a ten-hour round trip drive from New York City and have to spend the night. This basically meant I am unable to participate.
Merryl Tisch (non-responder)
I emailed Merryl Tisch, Chair of the New York State Board of Regents, Education Commissioner Jon King, Ken Wagner, Deputy Commissioner for Curriculum, Assessment, and Educational Technology at the New York State Education Department, and Kate Gerson and Joshua Skolnick of the Regents Research Fund in an effort to secure financial support to participate in the conference. I did not get a response from Tisch, King, or Skolnick. Gerson emailed back that she had forwarded my request to Skolnick and Wagner.
Ken Wagner, Deputy Commissioner for Curriculum, Assessment, and Educational Technology and a person in charge of implementing Common Core standards in New York State
I received a curt response from Wagner, Deputy Commissioner for Curriculum, Assessment, and Educational Technology at the New York State Education Department. According to his LinkedIn page, Mr. Wagner has a very interesting resume. He has worked at the State Education Department in different capacities since 2009. Before that he was a district administrator in Suffolk County for three years, an assistant principal and a principal for five years, and a school psychologist for four years. However, Mr. Wagner rose to become Deputy Commissioner for Curriculum, Assessment, and Educational Technology and a person in charge of implementing Common Core standards in New York State without ever having been a classroom teacher.
Mr. Wagner emailed me: “There is no funding available. Perhaps you should cancel.”
I later emailed Mr. Wagner the Common Core based lesson on the speeches of Martin Luther Kin, Jr. that I had developed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemorations in local secondary schools.
This time he responded:
Please remove me from your list.
Thanks a bunch,
I emailed him back:
“I thought you were a state official and this was a public email address?
Any update on the honorarium so that I can present on Common Core at the Binghamton Uncommon Core Conference?”
Mr. Wagner responded, denying funding for the conference again, and this time accusing me of sending spam in violation of federal law:
From: Ken Wagner
Sent: Saturday, January 11, 2014 8:28 PM
To: Alan J. Singer
Subject: Re: The Other Martin Luther King – Alan’s Latest Huffington Post
No worries, thanks.
It is generally best practice for authors to provide their readers with options and choice. Self-publishing has changed all that, I suppose.
You should be aware, however, that sending unsolicited email without the ability to decline meets the federal definition of Spam.
As I said, funding is not an option.
At least in my experience, education officials in New York State are not interested in what anyone else has to say about Common Core.
Post-It Note: I checked the federal definition of spam. According to the CAN-SPAM act of 2003 spam is “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.”
I fail to see how a lesson on Martin Luther King, Jr. aligned with Common Core that I am making freely available to teachers and available to state curriculum officials constitutes spam under this law, but I guess Mr. Wagner, as an expert on Common Core, is able to understand the statute’s deeper meaning.
Should parents have the right to opt out of having children essentially stalked by SLDS, the State Longitudinal Database?
The State School Board doesn’t think so.
Boiling down the conflict about personal data, we get to two ideas; which one do you value more?
1) - Our Constitutional right to be free from “unreasonable search and seizure” of “private effects” (unless there truly is some “probable cause” of our guilt)
2) - The corporate and government-backed movement to gather and share “robust data” to enable “data-driven decisions” that may serve educational research.
Take some time. Think about it. We cannot have our cake and eat it, too.
Many organizations, agencies and movements have begun to depend on the second philosophy and Utah has aligned its school systems and other government agencies to it– without thinking too deeply about it.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hosts the White House “Datapalooza” event and gives speeches about the wonders of data collection. He persuades unrelated governmental agencies to share personal data. His right-hand woman, Joanne Weiss, encourages inter-agency “data-mashing.” And Duncan not only supports, but has been the main speaker at Data Quality Campaign’s summit. This is key. I’ll tell you all about the DQC.
“Data Quality Campaign” has many partners including (no coincidence) all of the Common Core creators and testers! “Achieve,” “National Governors’ Association,” “Council of Chief State School Officers,” “American Institutes for Research,” “PESC” (a council that makes data standards common) and MANY more share the DQC’s “vision of an education system in which all stakeholders… are empowered with high-quality data from the early childhood, K–12, postsecondary, and workforce systems.”
From the DQC’s site: “as states build and enhance K12 longitudinal data systems they continue building linkages to exchange and use information across early childhood, postsecondary and the workforce and with other critical agencies such as health, social services and criminal justice systems.”
Do you share that vision?
On November 12, 2009, at a Data Quality Campaign conference, (note: the keynote speaker was an NGA leader; NGA copyrighted Common Core) they encouraged “the status of states’ ability to link data across agencies and provided several state case studies of promising strategies to sharing individual-level data across systems and agencies.”
And Utah was “honored” by DQC for providing an example of linking criminal justice agencies, educational agencies, medical agencies, etc. using school-collected data and common data standards. Some data on a child that had been USOE-collected (private student data) was accessed by Utah’s Department of Human Services, according to this DQC brief, because of Utah MOUs that permitted data exchanges. Excerpt:
“Utah’s State Office of Education (USOE) has an extensive data warehouse, but initially, concerns about student privacy protection, especially related to the federal FERPA legislation, prohibited data sharing. However, Human Services worked with the USOE to develop two memoranda of understanding (MOUs) to permit data exchange and mitigate student privacy concerns. One MOU established that the state serves as the child’s parent when the child is in state custody. Although this MOU often is not employed, it did clarify the role of the state and its permission to attain and view student records housed in the USOE. The second MOU established that by connecting these two databases to evaluate the educational outcomes of children who aged out of foster care. Utah Human Services was conducting research on behalf of the USOE and, therefore, could be granted access to student-level data. http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/files/65_meetings-dqc_quarterly_issue_brief_091807.pdf
Why isn’t this stuff in the papers?
But DQC reminds us that “Every Governor and Chief State School Officer agreed to build longitudinal data systems that can follow individual students from early learning through secondary and postsecondary education and into the workforce as a condition for receiving State Fiscal Stabilization Funds. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) not only provided states the venture and political capital to build on the growing momentum behind statewide longitudinal data systems, but also offered state agencies the chance to think creatively and break down traditional silos. For policymakers, educators, parents, and students to have the information they need to improve student and system performance, state K-12 longitudinal data systems must be able to exchange and use information across the early learning, postsecondary, and workforce sectors as well as health and social services systems.”
So, to ponder how this affects YOUR child:
DQC is partnered with American Institutes for Research (AIR) which is Utah’s Common Core test maker for the Computer Adaptive Math and English Common Core test, also known as the SAGE test. (FYI, AIR is fully partnered with SBAC, the testing group Utah dropped in 2012.)
American Institutes for Research will not only test Common Core standards teachings, but will also upload all Utah student test takers’ personally identifiable information, academic and nonacademic information into its database.
(Why the nonacademic information too? Because Utah’s HB15 mandates that behavioral indicators will be tested and conveniently, AIR is a psychometrics specialist.)
Understandably, all over the country and in my own home state of Utah, legislators are scrambling to create student data protection bills. But they face a problem that most maybe don’t want to see.
Every state has a federally-invented SLDS: State Longitudinal Database System. In Utah, we have been recipients of millions of dollars (and have been entangled in the federal strings that have come with those dollars) because we agreed to the four education reform assurances that came with the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund money (ARRA Stimulus funding). And we agreed to build our SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System) to federal specs. So did all the other states. It’s an illegal, de facto national database because of that interoperability factor and because we’ve agreed to it through PESC.
We built the SLDS monster. Now legislation is trying to put a muzzle and a leash on him. Why keep him around at all?
The SLDS’s core function is “to fulfill federal reporting.” This fact comes from the PESC State Core Model, which Utah agreed to when the Utah Data Alliance agreed to the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) Model and the SIF (interoperability framework) in the SLDS grant application –which means all of our data will be interoperable and sharable across state lines. The PESC’s State Core Model deliberately aligns different states’ SLDS data systems so that they all match.
Not surprisingly, the PESC model was developed by the unelected, private trade group, CCSSO, as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) funded by the Gates Foundation. (CCSSO is the same private group that developed and copyrighted Common Core standards). The PESC “establishes comparability between sectors and between states” and brags that it “will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting…”
The agreement is stated on page 4 of section 1 (page 20 on the PDF) of Utah’s 2009 ARRA Data Grant: “The UDA will adhere to standards such as the School Interoperability Framework (SIF), the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC)
Nothing’s preventing agencies from sharing data. In fact, the DQC praises those who, like Utah’s USOE, have created ways to share data with other agencies.
But there’s an even bigger fish to fry.
Although, years ago, there was a protective federal privacy law called FERPA, it’s been corrupted by the Department of Education.
The U.S. Department of Education’s intentions are further, very clearly, revealed in the student-level data-sharing mandate in its cooperative testing agreements (and in the contrast between what Secretary Arne Duncan says and does.)
The bottom line is that we should not align any privacy law with federal FERPA and we should shut the SLDS monster’s big mouth by creating opt-out allowances for parents to protect their children from this big government stalker.
I have serious concerns about a bill that’s being written in Utah right now, SB0049, which aligns with federal FERPA’s definitions of “personally identifiable information” and “authorized representative.”
Reading this bill, I could hardly believe that Utah legislators care to protect us.
Surely legislators have read that the Department of Education has, without Congressional approval, altered federal FERPA to loosen privacy protections by having redefined terms. (This resulted in a big law suit with the Electronic Privacy Information Center.) The loosening of student privacy protections by the federal government took place during the same time as the Department of Education was creating national school assessment contracts that stated that the Department would access student-level data through the assessments “subject to applicable privacy law.” Thus they changed the law to suit their data-hungry point of view. The federal FERPA reduced parental consent over student data from a requirement to a “best practice”!
It changed the definition of “personally identifiable information” to include biometric information, which includes DNA, handwriting, iris scans, fingeprints, as well as behavioral information
Is this what we want for Utah?
Behavioral and belief-based information on a child is without question going to be collected by Utah’s math and English tests by psychometric embedding by test writer and psychometric specialist AIR -American Institutes for Reasearch. Utah gave AIR $39 million to do this terrible mistake when the Utah legislature mandated it, in HB15, the Computer Adaptive Testing bill.
To align state privacy laws with federal definitions is to guarantee a toothless and spineless pretense of protection.
This is not hyperbole. Follow the money trail to see who has a vested interest in denying parents and students authority over their own private data. We can’t afford to give our ear to those who are making the money from the exposure of student data to “researchers” —who are really just greedy vendors.
Microsoft owner Bill Gates, who has called schools a “uniform customer base” has paid hundreds of millions to align common data standards with common educational standards. He has partnered with Pearson (who is contracted to make Utah’s UTREX) which pu