Archive for the ‘It’s Not Too Late To Reclaim Educational Sovereignty For Utah’ Category
“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:
Granite District made news this week by firing Ann Florence, an honors English teacher who stood on principle and did what she (and I) saw as the right thing to do. I am writing to voice my support for Ann Florence’s actions and to ask the District and State Board to take action to right this wrong.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported
, “Florence refused to grade the writing portion of the districtwide Acuity Test. She said the exam was a waste of students’ and teachers’ time, did not further any education agenda and that it was unethical to have teachers grade their own students on a standardized test that then would be used to judge the teacher. In a letter to her students, she said she loved her career but had to stand up for principle.”
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:
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com;
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 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.
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.
Click to hear this week’s KFI radio interview with Dr. Bill Evers on Common Core, on KFI AM, Los Angeles. Dr. Evers is a scholar at the Hoover Institute of Stanford University. He has been an outspoken critic of the Common Core initiative from the beginning of the movement.
In addition to this radio Q & A with Dr. Evers, you’ll get to hear some VERY lively clips of parents, including a terrible one I hadn’t heard before about “daddy-baby biology”. (It is an example of the kinds of negative “curricular” value shifting that’s trickling into school rooms now, as more and more local control goes away under the Common Core power shift.)
In this interview, Dr. Evers also reminds listeners that they can legally opt their children out of any test for any reason at any time.
Utah parents, please take note:
Diana Suddreth, a curriculum director at Utah’s State Office of Education, sent out this email today:
From: Suddreth, Diana <Diana.Suddreth@schools.utah.gov>
Date: Mon, Mar 3, 2014 at 9:06 AM Subject: HB342
Just a heads up that today in the House Education Standing Committee HB342 (Powers and Duties of the State Board of Education by Rep. Layton) will be heard.
This bill essentially gives more power to parents over curriculum standards, would prohibit us from adopting any national standards, and would require a revision of our current math and ELA standards.
Go to www.le.utah.gov to read the bill and find additional information should you want to take any action. Rep. Layton has promised a substitute that will be softer but as of yet, the original bill is still on the agenda.
Sydnee Dickson, Ed. D.
Director, Teaching and Learning
Utah State Office of Education
Please note Utah has a very broad public records law. Most written communication to or from our state employees regarding state business are public records availiable to the public and media upon request. Your email communication may be subject to public disclosure.
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.”
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.html
I 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 Core
Who 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
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.
Federal FERPA laws have been grossly loosened. Every federal agency I can find, including the NCES and the Department of Education are encouraging us to pool data.
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 pushes the same thing. Gates/Pearson partnered with the Midvale, Utah-based School Improvement Network, which pushes the same thing. They give lip service to student privacy, but none of these groups seems to want to see REAL protection for privacy.
Dixie Allen, my State School Board Representative
Sharing a long string of emails between my State School Board representative and me, from this week and last.
I hope that given the time you have spent the last couple of years discussing this issue, that you would understand that Utah has already adopted and put in place the Common Core Standard in Mathematics and English/Language Arts. We have added some standards and will contiue to update the Standards as needed – but we have already adopted and have wonderful teachers working on Curriculum and lesson design to effectively teach the Core.
If you have specific concerns with specific standards – please let me know.
Utah State Board of Education
My purpose in sharing the article was to suggest that Utah’s State School Board, like so many boards and legislators nationwide, might consider halting or at least pausing Common Core as many other places are doing (or are seriously considering doing) given the amount of pushback that continues on this subject.
I am fully aware that Utah adopted Common Core!
Common Core is, frankly, evil posing as good. For the state school board to continue to deny this is either evidence of incompetence or it’s endorsement of these evils.
I do not use the word “evil” casually.
Common Core is evil because it is based on political power-grabbing that snuffed the voice of the people, a move that was based on dollar signs and not academic honesty. It was agreed to for a chance at federal cash.
It cannot back up its lies of “being an improvement” academically, since it’s totally experimental and untested. Similarly, it cannot back up its lie of being “internationally benchmarked” because it’s not internationally benchmarked.
It cannot back up its lie of being unattached to the federal government since it is tied like an umbilical cord to the Department of Education; the Dept. of Ed is officially partnered with the very group that created it (CCSSO) both in the standards and in common data technologies. The Department of Ed has contracts that mandate micromanagement of Common Core testing. There is much more –all documented online and you can prove or disprove it if you are honest enough to try.
And why should we– why should you, specifically, fight federal intrusion into education?
I am a teacher. Common Core diminishes teachers’ autonomy –and students’ well-being– through federally supervised testing that drives curriculum (or will, by next year when testing really kicks in) and by the federally funded SLDS data mining that amounts to “unreasonable search and seizure” of private effects.
While there are some harmless or even some good things in the standards themselves at the elementary school level perhaps, the standards do diminish classic literature especially for high schoolers, and they marginalize narrative writing, and dumb down high school math –as has been admitted even by its creators. (Click here to see this very short video link of this out loud admission of the math-dumbing, by Common Core creator Jason Zimba).
Even if this all were not true– if somehow standards did not diminish classic literature, marginalize narrative writing, and dumb down high school math, they are still AN ATROCITY, Dixie, from which you should be protecting the children of Utah. And the teachers of Utah.
Because they suffocate the spirit of liberty and independence.
1. COMMON CORE LACKS A REPRESENTATIVE AMENDMENT PROCESS.
If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would be amendable by those governed by it.
Dixie, if this were legitimate, you and I would have a voice. But we do not.
Neither you as a state school board member, nor I as a Utah credentialed teacher, have diddly squat to say over what gets tested and taught in our math and English classrooms in Utah– because Common Core is only amendable by the NGA/CCSSO, according to their own words on their own creepy website.
Read it, for heaven’s sake! It states: “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and
better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised.” (Revised by whom?)
Not you and not me.
Again, from the official Common Core site: (their caps, not mine) “ANY USE OF THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS OTHER THAN AS AUTHORIZED UNDER THIS LICENSE OR COPYRIGHT LAW IS PROHIBITED. ANY PERSON WHO EXERCISES ANY RIGHTS TO THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS THEREBY ACCEPTS AND AGREES TO BE BOUND BY THE TERMS… NGA Center/CCSSO shall be acknowledged as the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards, and no claims to the contrary shall be made.”
2. IT LACKS CHECKS AND BALANCES. The use of checks and balances was designed to make it difficult for a minority of people to control the government and to restrain the government itself. If the Common Core Initiative– a nationalized system of standards, aligned tests, data collection and teacher accountability measures promoted federally– if this initiative were in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be held in the power of a minority of the people (of the NGA/CCSSO and of the Dept. of Ed which is partnered with CCSSO). It would have been vetted prior to implementation by the proper means outlined in the Constitution– but it wasn’t. As Alyson Williams pointed out, “There is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors… Governors working together to jointly address issues and create rules that affect the whole nation is not a legitimate alternative to Congress, our national representative body.”
3. IT LACKS AUTHORITY. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would have been born legitimately: but its only “authority” is the unprecedented assigning of money to the discretion of the Education Secretary without proper congressional oversight. From that Stimulus money came the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and the Race to the Top grant programs that enabled the Department of Ed to get away with setting up their own, experimental rules for us to follow in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States alone.
4. IT ALTERS THE LIMITS OF FEDERAL POWER. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be openly admitted even by its most notorious proponent, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, to alter the traditionally limited role of the federal government. Look:
Duncan said, in his 2010 “Vision of Education Reform” speech
: “Our vision of reform takes account of the fact that, in several respects, the governance of education in the United States is unusual. Traditionally, the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy… The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more… [THIS IS CLEARLY, CLEARLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL, DIXIE.] …the Recovery Act created additional competitive funding like the high-visibility $4.35 billion Race to the Top program and the $650 million Investing in Innovation Fund… America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform… In March of 2009, President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments… Virtually everyone thought the president was dreaming. But today, 37 states and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing a white paper—they have actually done it.”
Do you hear Secretary Duncan gloating over his ability to control us?
Yet the honorable Utah State School Board continues to promote the notion that we are free under Common Core. It’s a lie. The State School Board may be full of very good people like yourself, who donate to Sub-for-Santa and read to their grandchildren; but they are still guilty of passing along huge lies which they have received and believed from the pushers of the Common Core gold rush.
Common Core governance is a slap in the face to the work of the Founding Fathers.
We are rightly shuddering at the math disaster and the high-stakes testing, are rightly gasping at the lack of any cost analysis to taxpayers and at the privacy-robbing aspects of the Common Core agenda. But these arguments are secondary to the hairiest of the reform devils, the destruction of individual liberty and the end of local control of education.
Dixie, my dear representative! Please, please stand up to these people. Stop swallowing the hogwash. Stop allowing your peers on the board to spread the propaganda. It is not based in truth.
Updating with more letters 1-17-14
To answer your question, I taught public high school English for five years, University level English at UVU for two years, and public school third grade for two years. I have also been a home school teacher of fourth and fifth grade for two years. I began teaching in 1995, am still teaching, and my credential has never expired.
But. I don’t think my resume (nor yours) matters, though, because it is the principle of local and individual liberty that is the issue most harmed by the Common Core Initiative and the “Blueprint for Reform” that Common Core rides upon.
Educational experience and resumes don’t even come into the question; anyone can see through this if they take five minutes to use their brains.
I notice that you are still avoiding the issues I raised, and that you are unruffled by where the Common Core came from, or who gains financially at our expense from them, and who ultimately controls them –and thus who ultimately controls you and me and our grandchildren.
It is unfortunate that you will not confront these uncomfortable realities, very sad for the rest of us whom you are supposed to be elected to represent.
I’m forwarding news links that a Colorado principal forwarded to me today. I hope you become aware of not only the important reasons, but also the speed at which Common Core opposition is growing.
Many State Legislatures 2014 Sessions to Debate Common Core Testing Issues
New York Assembly Speaker Says Case for Common Core Testing Should be Delayed
New York Teachers to Vote “No Confidence” in State Ed. Head for Ignoring Common Core Testing Moratorium Call
New York Common Core Website Links to Offensive Test-Prep
Florida Lawmakers Question Rush to Implement Common Core Exams
North Carolina State Ed Board May Delay Move to Common Core Tests
New Testing Standards Stress Connecticut Educators
Rushed Common Core Testing Rollout is Like Driving in the Fog
How Progressives Opposing Common Core Testing Should Deal with Strange Political Bedfellows
FairTest Fact Sheet on Why a Common Core Testing Moratorium is Necessary
Educators Explain Alternatives to High-Stakes Exams
See Why and How Performance Assessment Works
Opt Out of Tests to Force a Balanced Assessment System
Virginia Lawmakers Call for Fewer Tests
North Carolina Teachers Protest Plan to Give Third-Graders 36 Mini-Tests
Rhode Island Expands Graduation Test Waivers
Mass. Teachers Reject Test-Based “Merit” Pay Bonuses
Let’s Teach Students to Think Critically, Not Test Mindlessly
Weingarten: Teaching and Learning Over Testing
Standardized Testing Has Created Standardized Students with Useless skills
Anthem for a High-Stakes Testing Era (with apologies to Country Joe and the Fish)
“Standardized,” the Movie, Screening Schedule
It is good to know where you have experienced teaching and educational oversight. Thanks for sharing!
However, the concerns you share form the Colorado administrator still are mostly about the assessment programs. I hope that you are aware that we are developing our own assessments with the help of the AIR Company. We are doing everything we can to be in control of our Standards, Assessments and Data and I am convinced we are accomplishing our goals.
Thanks for your input, but would really like to see you look at what Utah is actually doing and not align us to other states, especially without checking out the facts as they apply to our state. It would be so good to have you working to help us improve our school system, rather than identifying what isn’t working across the nation. We still are trying to focus on improving education for the students of Utah and I believe we are making progress each and every year.
It’s not just other states that are unhappy with Common Core tests. Utahns have plenty to say about Common Core tests and their AIR/SAGE $39 million dollar waste– costs to us not only in dollars but costs to student data privacy and costs to liberty from oppressive federal and corporate oversight of Utah’s own educational business.
Have you read Matthew Sanders’ Deseret News “Common Core Testing Fraught With Flaws” op-ed on AIR? Have you read Dr. Gary Thompson’s many writings and heard his testimony? Thompson, a Utah child psychologist, exposed how AIR tests are to embed subjective assessments which are illegal. He sees AIR subjecting all students, but especially more vulnerable populations (including African Americans, gifted students, autistic students, Latino students, Asbergers’ students) to what he names “cognitive child abuse”. Thompson has spoken out here in Utah and across the nation, notably at the Wisconsin Legislature, specifically about the huge problems with AIR and similar tests.
Dr. Thompson said: “AIR’s stated mission is to “to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation towards improving peoples’ lives, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged,” and any reasonable minded person, as well as a State Superintendent of Public Schools, should at least reasonably conclude that this billion dollar research corporation (AIR) with some of the brightest minds on the planet can design tests any way that they please, unless per contractual agreement and other applied constraints, they are expressly forbidden from doing so. Utah’s parents have been told in multiple town hall meetings by the USOE that they will never be able to have access to testing questions devised by AIR in order to ensure “test integrity.” Although I am impressed with USOE and various politicians who stated that 15 parents and a few politicians will be allowed to view the tests being designed by AIR, I question their qualifications to perform anything more than a cursory review of the questions being designed. Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart may be able to balance a complex state budget, but I doubt that she has the necessary background in psychometrics to perform a critical analysis of the issues that need to be examined.”
Matt Sanders expressed additional concerns with AIR/SAGE very concisely. I would love to see the state board answer his questions, and Dr. Thompson’s concerns, about privacy of student data under AIR/SAGE.
Sanders’ article, in the April 2013 Deseret News, said:
“A key component of the Utah Common Core implementation is a new online, adaptive testing system called Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence (SAGE). The the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) contracted to pay $39 million to American Institutes of Research, a Washington, D.C., behavior and social science research organization, to build and host the new testing environment.
I applaud innovation in education and believe the pursuit of standards to improve competitiveness a step in the right direction. I also believe adaptive testing shows some promise. Further, I admire the efforts made by USOE personnel to hold town meetings across the state to introduce the proposed new testing approach to educators and parents — at times encountering some hostility from parents concerned about their children being subjected to unproven educational systems.
At the SAGE introduction in Davis County, I observed many concerns raised by parents. While there, I also asked a couple of questions, but the answers left me wanting. Upon further reflection and analysis, I believe the SAGE approach is deeply problematic, and I put forth the following questions:
Where is the evidence?
Public sector projects should carry assurance of maximum societal benefit for optimal cost. For approval, they should present evidence from research and pilot or scaled tests of the proposed reform.
Despite substantial searching, I could find no defensible studies anywhere on the USOE website, and was given no assurance by state officials that any pilot studies underpin the wholesale changes. They have not cited, as would be asked of any high school research paper, any support for their reforms. Thus, the USOE has implemented new standards, new curriculum and has spent scarce state resources on an apparently untested, unproven testing approach.
How will student data be used?
The contract with AIR contains no explicit protections of student data collected in testing by the well-known federally funded researcher. Despite repeated questions to USOE officials, they could provide no reference statutory protection of student data. USOE should provide complete assurance to families and educators that data are protected and not available for personal identification.
One of the key objectives of the Common Core initiative is to provide means for inter-state performance comparisons. However, the USOE FAQ on testing indicates that, “There are currently no national norms for the new common core or Utah Core Standards … they cannot indicate where Utah’s students stand relative the common-core standards.” So no collaborative benefits exist for developing a unique Utah test.
Why not a different approach?
Consistent with its mandate, the USOE is appropriately concerned by the college readiness of Utah students. Rather than wholesale reforms dependent on unproven curricula and tests, why not direct efforts to proven methods with known cost effectiveness?
For instance, the USOE could be redirecting the $39 million to Utah school districts to reduce class size and invest in technology, increasingly necessary to accommodate Utah’s rising student population.
… Utah schools could adopt and adapt the use of ACT benchmark tests beginning in the 8th grade to determine college preparation progress. The ACT and SAT tests have long been considered robust indicators of readiness by educators and college admissions staff alike.
While the Common Core aims are admirably ambitious, the outcomes so far don’t seem to make the grade…” — Matt Sanders firstname.lastname@example.org TWITTER: Sanders_Matt
Another point is my own: It is clear to all Utahns (it’s stated on AIR’s website) that AIR is partnered with SBAC, which is under a stranglehold by the Department of Ed. SBAC is mandated to “share student data”, to “synchronize tests” with other national common core testing groups, and to give constant reports to the feds. By its partnership, thus AIR is entangled in the same stranglehold. That means Utah is entangled, despite what the state board claims and wishes.
I have yet to see any evidence that AIR/SAGE tests are purely math and English assessments. I have yet to see any evidence that the tests are even being developed by Utahns rather than by the psychometricians that the AIR website flaunts as spearheading all the works of AIR.
Again, thanks for talking.
I am well aware of all your quotes and concerns. Having served on the adoption committee for our new assessment with testing directors, superintendents, teachers and specialists in the field from districts and the state office, I have heard all the concerns and recommendations on our new assessment program. I also was privileged to meet with the parent committee that examined all the test items and helped correct a few minor problems, but heard nothing about any far reaching problems that hadn’t been noted and improved.
I also had the opportunity to oversee several of the pilot districts that used “computer adaptive assessment” which was then the North West Evaluation Association. The pilots were created by the State Board and Governor Huntsman after a year or so of looking at quality assessment programs. These districts had used the assessment to accomplish great growth in student scores for about five years. NWEA was one of the companies that applied to fill the role of our assessment program that had been funded and approved by the legislature. However, NWEA was not willing to write test items that addressed Utah’s specific Core Items. Thus our committee chose AIR because of their willingness to help us (teachers in the field) to help write items that addressed our specific Core Curriculum and they also had great recommendations from other educational entities throughout the nation.
It would be great if we did not have to invest so much in evaluation, but with Grading Schools and other legislation throughout our state and the nation, we must insure we are providing accurate information for the public and our schools. It has also been proven over the past few years that the Computer Adaptive Assessments have been valuable to teacher, parents and students, as it provides a clear understanding of what curricular issues students understand and what needs extra work and support. Testing is now and has always been an instructional support to help teachers, students and parents know how to help our students improve and be successful.
Now, as you suggest, it would be great if our legislature understood how important it is to fund lower class size, preschool education for “At-Risk” students and establishing enough funding to attract the best and brightest teachers to our classrooms. As the lowest per pupil funding in the nation, I really believe that both the State Office of Education and our district partners are doing the very best they can to provide a quality education for our students. Can we do more? SURE!! But the more takes funding and spending less energy and resources to fight battles that reflect on issues that we have already identified and attempted to solve.
Christel, it would be so nice if you would come to our Board Meetings and take in all that has and continues to be done to improve our standards, our curriculum support systems, our assessment and our commitment to quality educators and education for all of our students. Many people are working so hard to insure we are doing the best with what we can afford to provide the children of our state.
Thanks for the opportunity to discuss these issues, but hope you will come see the process in action and join with us to improve our education with a positive attitude and support system.
I guess I should thank you for the invitation to “join with you to improve education with a positive attitude” at school board meetings.
But I noticed at the State School Board Meetings that I went to in 2013 and 2012 that there was an elephant that filled the room; he was so big that people couldn’t even see around him and so loud that people couldn’t talk.
He stood so that people could not move. He silenced visitors who were in his way just by leaning on them, and his glare frightened teachers, parents, and students who had come to participate in the meetings. He had his feet on some children. He wore a huge banner with his name on it, but the school board used different language to name him than what he had named himself, if they spoke of him at all.
Oddly, the Board most often dodged elephant-related questions.
He attended the Wasatch District’s school board meetings too.
For two years now, he’s eaten endlessly at the expense of taxpayers –money which was reserved for the sacred use of school children and their teachers. He ate a lot.
He’s still eating. There is not enough food for him as well as for the children, yet the Board said it would rather feed him, for some reason. So the board asks the legislature to feed the children and the teachers. Because all the board’s money is gone to feeding the elephant.
A positive attitude?
I howl because I can not get the damn elephant off my children without your help.
You have the power. Please remove him.
Although you don’t name the “elephant in the room” — I surmise you see it as Federal Intrusion. I encourage you to really look at what the Federal Government does to help provide dollars for public education and the actual data that they and our state legislature ask for in policy and then help us find ways to insure that such data doesn’t compromise the individual rights of our students. Some data is absolutely necessary, but if we know specifically what data is problematic, we can look at those issues. From my point of view as an educator, I see that test data pulled together for teachers, schools, districts and the state helps us insure that we are providing a quality education. If we overstep the process in regard to trying to insure a quality educational system — we need to know specifics — not the letters to the editor or posting on facebook, twitter and etc., with no details as to what is the real problem.
We all want to improve and support public education. Hope you will help us, instead of continuing to state there is an “elephant in the room” — but with no definition of what the elephant is and how you see we can solve the problem.
The elephant is the Common Core Initiative.
The Common Core elephant –its head is the set of experimental, untested, distorted standards which were neither written nor known about by Utahns before they were forced upon us.
I say “forced” because that is exactly what happened. The board never asked legislators, teachers, principals or parents to analyze these standards prior to throwing away classic standards. And if we speak against them now, we are labeled “insubordinate” or “misinformed”.
I say “distorted” because they are inappropriately “rigourous” for the youngest grades and inappropriately low, especially in math, for the high school grades.
The Common Core elephant– its heart is common data standards (via PESC) which Utah agreed to in its acceptance of federal grant money for the federal SLDS system. This is the heart of the data problem. We don’t have a state system; we have a federal system that we call the “state” longitudinal database. But there is nothing protecting private student data from being submitted to the federal Edfacts exchange nor to the federally partnered EIMAC/CCSSO national data collection vehicle.
Individual student data is none of anyone’s business beyond the district. Only the teacher and principal and parents need to know how a student is doing. Period. The end of the data story.
Governments grading schools is a wrong concept and should be fought but until that’s won, let them grade in aggregate form. That’s not what is happening. Even Superintendent Menlove is a member of the CCSSO, whose stated goal is to disaggregate student data.
I do not see any justification for Utah’s FORCED database (SLDS) from which no parent may opt her child out, according to this very board.
The Common Core elephant– its legs are the tests. The tests drive the future curriculum. They label teachers. They force the standards to center stage, stealing from other subjects and activities that the teacher would otherwise focus on, for example, Utah’s added standard of cursive or a teacher’s personal expertise and enthusiasm for things that go above or beyond Common Core.
Utah’s AIR/SAGE test’s alignment with all the other national common core tests are the death of its autonomy. And the federal say in these tests makes them illegitimate under the Constitution and GEPA law, which states: No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system .
Common Core is the elephant in the room because at the board meeting, nobody talks about it. They call it “Utah core.” They call them “Utah’s standards.”
Common Core sits on top of and drives EVERYTHING in Utah education today. It saps all our funding. It dominates all our teacher preparation. It dictates all new technologies. It defines our data collection. It is the basis for our $39 million dollar test. And alignment to Common Core is the ONLY prerequisite for any textbook to be used in a classroom anymore– content no longer matters; just common core alignment matters. I know this from speaking with the Utah curriculum committee.
One would think that Common Core must be remarkable and wonderful, to have such honored place in Utah, to wield such power. But it’s a joke. A joke on us. It costs us countless millions yet it’s academically distorted, is not even written by educators and has never been field tested!
It’s nothing that it says it is– not “globally competitive,” not “internationally benchmarked,” not “state-led” nor “state created.” It was David “Corporate” Coleman who on a whim decided informational text is better than classic literature, and he is the King of Common Core. Not only did he design the ELA, but now he runs the entire College Board where he aligns college entrance exams to his creation– not the other way around, as has been claimed. This is not college readiness. It’s corporate control of what that term even means anymore. We don’t get a say. The corporate elite, meaning David Coleman/Achieve Inc./Bill Gates/Pearson/CCSSO who are officially in partnership with Arne Duncan, are calling the shots. And why don’t they want us to have legitimate, high, classical college-ready standards? Because it costs too much money. This is clearly explained by Marc Tucker, CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy .
Dixie, I have told you all of this before. You either don’t believe me or don’t think it matters.
Many people don’t want to call anything evil. But I believe there is no good if there is no evil, and I believe that good and evil do not form alliances. There are people and collaborations with whom we should not shake hands, no matter how pleasingly they present themselves to us. Because they are selfish; they are steal what is good and important away from us. They hurt us while promising us the moon.
Common Core is the excuse and the rallying cry for the robbers of autonomy and our local conscience in educational decision making. These people ride on the back of the elephant and get richer and more powerful all the way. These riders of the elephant include David Coleman and his corporations, the CCSSO, NGA, Pearson, Gates, Arne Duncan, and the corporations that sell Common Core aligned products. None of them care whether they’re selling snake oil or something real. They don’t care. They count on us to be too busy or too stupid to check their claims and their price tags.
Thanks for listening.
Wow — I really thought you might have a valid point with the intrusion element. However, as a teacher, principal, curriculum director and now a State School Board Member for now over 40 years total, I have to tell you some facts!
First – all of our standards for the State of Utah have been unproven — mostly because they were created by educators in the field and tested over time and revised over time. Over the years we have, as a state, created our own assessments with help of great talent at our State Office — but both standards and testing items are created by our state teachers and specialists and evaluated and revised over time. The Common Core is and will be the same — except there are several specialists at the university level who has helped us look forward to the ramifications of State and Federal Standards and how all students will be equipped for college and universities regardless of what state university or college they choose.
Secondly, as a Principal of elementary, a 5th grade center and a high school, I can attest that with our past “stair step curriculum” – using Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 and 2, we lost almost a third of our students in being prepared to master the math curriculum for the high school. The standards for both the Mathematics and Language Arts for the Common Core is much more relevant to the investigative and inquiry expectations of both learning and work skills needed by our graduates.
Finally, Utah did not take any money specifically from the Feds for adopting the Common Core. We, along with 47 other states, found the standards higher and more relevant to the expectations of higher education and careers throughout the United States. Also, we had the support of our Governor and the Governor’s Association, the Chief School Officers and our Chief School Officer and almost all university professors and teachers we asked to evaluate the standards.
Bottom line, Christel, the Standards are a higher quality than what we have had previously and they have saved our state thousands of dollars, as we did not have to bring the specialists together by ourselves, but were able to share with the rest of the nation in the creation and evaluation of the standards.
I am sorry you see the Standards as the “Elephant in the Room” — because they are a very effective step forward toward a 21st century curriculum for our state and our teachers and students are rising to the level of the new standards very effectively. Even my elementary grandchildren now know how to substitute letters for numbers and solve for the unknown. Interestingly, as a high school junior I was the only one in my small high school that was taking Algebra — and that was only about 40 years ago. Needless to say our standards need to change over time and working together is much more effective than attempting to do it by ourselves.
Let me know if you want to find answers and work to help us move forward. I would like to have you working with us, instead of buying into the right wing rhetoric that you find on the internet.
Previous standards were not unproven; they were time-tested. Common Core is not time tested. ( Did you look at the article I shared about the “dataless decision making” that is Common Core, the link from Seton Hall University?)
Students have NEVER been deprived of classic literature or basic high school math in past sets of standards. They have never been pushed, for example, to write so many “boring” informational essays to the exclusion of narrative writing. They have not been given insurmountable, unreasonable obstacles to hurdle at first grade levels before. They have not been deprived of calculus in high school math before. This is all new. This is all totally unproven. This is so dangerous as we have no idea what the consequences will be, good or bad. We are putting unfounded, undeserved faith in people like noneducator David Coleman who wrote the ELA standards. We are putting all our eggs in a soggy paper basket.
Math: Thousands of Utahns disagree with your assessment of what good math teaching should look like. You are entitled to your opinion, but I can tell you that my son’s friends’ mothers (of children who remained in public school when I took my son out to home school him two years ago) now tell me their children cry and hate school, and ask their mothers (who are not as willing) to please home school them also. This is tragic. And these mothers always say the children’s cries of discontent center on the bad “new” math– which is Common Core math. These are fifth graders.
Money: We took millions from the feds for their ed reforms– which specifically included Common Core and SLDS. Utah took these many millions in exchange for adoption of four federal education reforms. Part of the money, $9.6 million from the feds, built the student-snooping system they wanted, which we now call the Utah State Longitudinal Database System. As part of that SLDS grant, we agreed to PESC common data standards. This 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 Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC)…”
“The State Core Model is a common technical reference model for states implementing state longitudinal data systems (SLDS). It was developed by CCSSO as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) adoption work with funding from the Gates Foundation…The State Core Model 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 (EDEN/EDFacts)…”
Those are their words, not mine.
Obama gave governors $53.6 billion from the “State Fiscal Stabilization Fund” contained in the federal stimulus. The money, used in exchange for the adoption of four federal ed reforms, was given conditionally: These reforms are detailed on the US Department of Education’s website. They are:
1.Adopt College-and-Career Ready standards [COMMON CORE] and high-quality, valid and reliable assessments [SAGE/AIR].
2.Develop and use pre-K through post-secondary and career data systems [SLDS].
3.Increase teacher effectiveness and ensure equitable distribution of qualified teachers. [FORCED REDISTRIBUTION]
4.Turn around the lowest-performing schools [ACCORDING TO THE FEDS' DEFINITION, NOT OURS].
How anyone can say with a straight face that the feds aren’t involved with Common Core, is beyond me. They even redefined the term “college and career readiness” as “standards common to a significant number of states” which is only Common Core, on their federal site.
As for right-wing rhetoric or left-wing rhetoric, there’s as much left-wing rhetoric condemning Common Core (tests and standards and student data snooping) as there is right-wing rhetoric, anyway.
Left wing criticism of Common Core/SLDS: Diane Ravitch, Paul Horton, Mass Sen. Ed Markey (D)
Right wing criticism of Common Core/SLDS: Pioneer Institute, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, The Blaze network, Fox News network.
And there are right wingers who praise it –or refuse to condemn it– (notably Jeb Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Gary Herbert) just as there are left-wingers.
Thanks again for talking and listening.
Christel – since you choose to post my responses – I am through trying to help you understand the REAL truth.
I appreciated your openness, which seemed so much more courteous and open-minded than other USOE and USSB representatives have been to the teachers and public who have asked to talk with them about Common Core.
I am sorry that you aren’t comfortable with others reading your responses. I feel people have a right to know what their board representatives really think and what they see as the truth, especially where their children are concerned.
As you know, all state school board correspondence is open to the public via GRAMA legal requests as well.
The Stop Common Core movement is gaining tremendous momentum and the proponents of Common Core seem to be slowing down. Some of the leading characters have been so slowed that they have been stopped in their tracks.
A recent broadcast by proponent Mike Huckabee said he’s suddenly turned around and is now NOT not a proponent of Common Core.
A recent public letter from David Coleman said he’s decided he must delay the Common Core version of the SAT until 2016.
—David Coleman! The noneducator-businessman-leading architect of the Common Core, the one who dismissed the value of narrative writing and espoused letting informational text edge out classic literature in English classrooms— THIS David Coleman who is now president of the College Board, who is aligning college entrance exams to his Common Core– this is the man who is admitting he cannot push his Common Core agenda up the hill fast anymore, because of so much pushback.
But that’s not all. Look at what is happening all over the nation!
We’ve seen handfuls of states drop out of the SBAC and PARCC Common Core testing consortia.
We’ve seen the Manchester, NH school district outright reject Common Core.
We’ve seen New York superintendent Joseph Rella hold a district-wide rally in a football stadium to create awareness about the damages of Common Core
We’ve read the testimonies of the official members of the Common Core validation committee who refused to sign off on the standards.
We’ve read parents’ own executive order against Common Core.
We’ve seen lawsuits and demonstrations.
We’ve even seen teenagers speaking out to legislatures in Arkansas and Tennessee, pleading with them to stop Common Core.
Top leaders in both the Democratic and the Republican parties are standing up and speaking out against Common Core.
There are countless grassroots groups in almost every state that are fighting Common Core, each going strong with thousands of Facebook and Twitter shares.
Every day we see more and more major news articles and radio programs and even debates and op-eds about the Stop Common Core movement.
There’s now a much-shared movie trailer for a Common Core documentary that comes out in February 2014. (It was posted on YouTube four days ago.)
We’ve seen anti-Common Core statements by many outstanding university professors; also, a letter from 132 Catholic scholars to Catholic Bishops, opposing Common Core.
There have been Stop Common Core resolutions passed in Bergen County, NJ; at Tammany Parish, Louisiana; at the Utah GOP convention, at the Alabama Republican Women’s Convention, and the national GOP convention, and elsewhere.
Many governors and other legislators are writing anti-Common Core documents and executive orders.
These happenings are simply amazing.
But listening to David Coleman and Mike Huckabee it becomes clear that the proponents have no intention of veering from their end goal: to hold complete local control in D.C. using the partnershipping of corporations and federal entities (neither of which have any authority over constitutionally state-held educational decisions).
Huckabee said, “Common Core is dead, but common sense shouldn’t be.”
What part of stealing local control away from those who have a constitutional right to it, makes sense to Huckabee? What part of constitutionally, locally-set education standards aligns with the top-down “let’s raise standards nationwide” movement that pretends to serve while it robs? Huckabee even said that it was once a state-led movement that was hijacked by others. Really? Show me the convention at which my state representative helped write Common Core. I’ve talked to Sen. Lee and Sen. Chaffetz and they were not invited. Neither did anyone from my state school board come to such an event. There was none. It was businessmen and elite D.C. clubs that pushed this thing from day one, with the full support of the Obama Administration.
Sadly, it is clear that Huckabee in no way has abandoned the Common Core philosophy; he just wants to rebrand it.
Isn’t it AMAZING though, that Common Core has become an offensive word to many –even to Huckabee?
Isn’t it amazing that Huckabee wants to get away from the word, and that the U.S. Secretary of Education never uses it (instead using the term “college and career ready standards”. This could be seen as evidence that honest people with persistent voices can succeed against the mainstream, evidence that heaven has helped us.
But Common Core, by any other name, is still the unconstitutional partnershipping of corporations and federal entities to steal power from us.
Don’t be fooled. Obama’s Blueprint for Education is still with us although it never uses the term “Common Core,” either. But it’s all there: the federally-pushed standards, the standardization of student data, the teacher controls, etc. etc. etc. A rose by any other name…
Here is the trailer for the upcoming Common Core documentary movie, Building the Machine.
To find out more, visit Common Core Issues at the Home School Legal Defense Association. http://www.commoncoremovie.com
For those who still don’t realize that there’s an ugly, illicit student-data selling racket going on, here’s a news story for you.
A California school district just traded their students’ data for the large amount of money that they wanted for an event, a visit from the U.S. Secretary of Education. There’s thick irony in having the data-hungry Secretary of Education being the very guest of honor at the event that was purchased by the sale of student data to his Department of Education’s “Promise Neighborhoods” group.
So, this week’s article in the San Diego Reader exposes the racket of buying and selling private student data. The article says:
“Castle Park Middle School is a Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood school. Promise Neighborhoods are funded by the Department of Education and claim to offer “cradle to career” services. South Bay Community Services is the organization that oversees and distributes the $60 million government investment in Chula Vista.
On August 2 Principal Bleisch wrote to [district CFO Albert Alt]: “By the way, FYI-SBCS [Promise Neighborhood/South Bay Community Services] is prepared to give my school a good chunk of change (over $100K of PN money allocated last year for staff that was not used.) The catch is that they are kinda using the data-sharing agreement as leverage.) They promised to expedite this money transfer as soon as we deliver on the data agreement.
“We sent Dr Brand the revised [data] agreement yesterday. He said it looked good. If there is any way you can help me get that signed I then can put the pressure on them to get me the money. I plan to use this money for the stage and other things needed for the 9/13 visit.”
On August 5, Bleisch wrote Alt a reminder. The subject of the email is “Data-Sharing.”
“Just a kind reminder if you can help us get this data-sharing agreement signed.” FYI-They’re [reference to South Bay Community Services] holding up money until I deliver on this [smiley face] need this PN money to pay $17k for a new stage and $3000 Flags, $5000 cafeteria college banners for Arne’s visit…”
On August 22, Alt wrote to various staff regarding reimbursements for Castle Park Middle School:
“With approval from the Superintendent, I have authorized General Funds to be reimbursed to Castle Park Middle ASB funds. Mr. Bleisch utilized ASB funds to purchase a stage for the school, in particular for the visit of the United States Secretary of Education, Mr. Arne Duncan.”
Read the whole article here.
(If you don’t know what I’m talking about with Secretary Duncan and the student data racket, catch up here and here and here.)
Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s opinion editorial with Maureen Downey in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is just plain important. It’s published in this week’s AJC:
SHOULD AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOLS PREPARE ANY STUDENTS FOR STEM? COMMON CORE DOESN’T THINK SO.
By Sandra Stotsky
When states adopted Common Core’s mathematics standards, they were told (among other things) that these standards would make all high school students “college- and career-ready” and strengthen the critical pipeline for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
However, with the exception of a few standards in trigonometry, the math standards end after Algebra II, as James Milgram, professor of mathematics emeritus at Stanford University, observed in “Lowering the Bar: How Common Core Math Fails to Prepare High School Students for STEM,” a report that we co-authored for the Pioneer Institute.
Who was responsible for telling the Georgia Board of Education when it adopted these standards in 2010 that Common Core includes no standards for precalculus or for getting to precalculus from a weak Algebra II? Who should be telling Georgia business executives and Georgia college presidents today that high school graduates taught only to Common Core’s mathematics standards won’t be able to pursue a four-year degree in STEM?
Superintendents, local school committees, and most parents, in fact, have been led to believe that Common Core’s mathematics standards are rigorous. They are not complicit in this clever act of educational sabotage. But those who wrote these standards are. They knew that only one out of every 50 prospective STEM majors who begin their undergraduate math coursework at the precalculus level or lower will earn bachelor’s degrees in a STEM area.
It’s not as if the lead mathematics standards writers themselves didn’t tell us how low Common Core’s high school mathematics standards were. At a March 2010 meeting* of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Jason Zimba, a lead writer, told the board that the standards are “not for STEM.” In January 2010, William McCallum, another lead writer, told a group of mathematicians: “The overall standards would not be too high, certainly not in comparison [to] other nations, including East Asia, where math education excels.”
Moreover, Professor Milgram and I were members of Common Core’s Validation Committee, which was charged with reviewing drafts of the standards. We both refused to sign off on the academic quality of the final version of Common Core’s standards and made our criticism public.
There are other consequences to having a college readiness test in mathematics with low expectations. The U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top program requires states to place students who have been admitted by their public colleges and universities into credit-bearing (non-remedial) mathematics (and English) courses if they have passed a Common Core–based “college readiness” test. All public colleges, engineering schools, and universities in Georgia will likely have to lower the level of their introductory math courses to avoid unacceptably high failure rates.
It is still astonishing that Georgia’s state Board of Education adopted Common Core’s standards without asking the engineering, science, and mathematics faculty at its own higher education institutions (and the mathematics teachers in its own high schools) to analyze Common Core’s definition of college readiness and make public their recommendations. After all, who could be better judges of what students need for a STEM major?
Georgia should revise or abandon its Common Core’s mathematics standards as soon as possible unless, of course, the governor and the state’s board of education aren’t interested in having American-born and educated engineers, doctors, or scientists.
If that is the case, then keep the Common Core status quo.
Professor Sandra Stotsky, who served on Common Core’s official Validation Committee from 2009-2010, wrote a report for Georgia state Sen. William Ligon comparing Common Core’s English standards with Georgia’s Performance Standards.
*The above-mentioned meeting (where Common Core creators admitted that Common Core does not prepare students for STEM careers, and that it is only meant for nonselective, two year colleges) was filmed and is viewable here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJZY4mh2rt8
Also, here is a link to view Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Dr. Christopher Tienken, and others speaking at a recent Carroll County, Maryland, pro-and-con Common Core Forum.
On December 8th, in Howard County, Dr. Stotsky and Dr. Tienken will be speaking at another forum, alongside many others including the Maryland Superintendent of Schools and the cofounder of United Opt Out. The press release gave the following time and address for anyone who is able to attend: 5:00 pm, Sunday, December 8th: Reservoir High School, 11550 Scaggsville Road in Fulton, Maryland.
All over the internet, all over Facebook, and not just in America we see problems with Common Core –confusing math, twisted worksheets, stressful high-stakes tests. They’re troubling. But what about the blatant unconstitutionality of the system itself?
This week’s striking op-ed by Michael Lotfi at BenSwann.com and Alyson Williams’ recent speech at a debate in Utah (posted here) each make the point that commentary about Common Core should end when we realize it is unconstitutional!
“We cannot oppose Common Core because it does not align with our values. We must oppose it because it violates this country’s principles. The pundits, journalists, etc. who report and commentate on Common Core only serve to further the disease. The commentary should end at Common Core being unconstitutional because it is not an explicit power delegated to Congress and therefore the Tenth Amendment is remedy.
Say Common Core was struck down because of the values it teaches, but was kept in place with neutral, or conservative values. Again, many would applaud this as victory. However, you’ve only picked off the flower of the weed, which has roots growing ever deeper through the soil. This is no victory. For it is only a matter of time until someone strikes at the values again and replaces them with their own, thus growing the flower back.”
“My opposition to the way we’ve adopted Common Core (and the rest of the education reforms introduced in the Stimulus) is not just about the education of my children, it is about the type of government I hope my children will inherit when they have children of their own. I believe we can set high standards for math and English without circumventing, stretching, or ignoring the high standards for self government that have made our nation unique in all the history of the world. This is the Constitution of the United States of America.”
How is Common Core unconstitutional?
1. IT LACKS A REPRESENTATIVE AMENDMENT PROCESS. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would be amendable by those governed by it. You and I would have a voice. But it’s only amendable by the NGA/CCSSO, according to their own words and website. They claim: “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and
better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised.” Revised by whom? Again, from the official Common Core site: (their caps, not mine) “ANY USE OF THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS OTHER THAN AS AUTHORIZED UNDER THIS LICENSE OR COPYRIGHT LAW IS PROHIBITED. ANY PERSON WHO EXERCISES ANY RIGHTS TO THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS THEREBY ACCEPTS AND AGREES TO BE BOUND BY THE TERMS… NGA Center/CCSSO shall be acknowledged as the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards, and no claims to the contrary shall be made.”
2. IT LACKS CHECKS AND BALANCES. The use of checks and balances was designed to make it difficult for a minority of people to control the government and to restrain the government itself. If the Common Core Initiative– a nationalized system of standards, aligned tests, data collection and teacher accountability measures promoted federally– if this initiative were in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be held in the power of a minority of the people (of the NGA/CCSSO and of the Dept. of Ed which is partnered with CCSSO). It would have been vetted prior to implementation by the proper means outlined in the Constitution– but it wasn’t. As Alyson Williams points out, “There is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors… Governors working together to jointly address issues and create rules that affect the whole nation is not a legitimate alternative to Congress, our national representative body.”
3. IT LACKS AUTHORITY. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would have been born legitimately: but its only “authority” is the unprecedented assigning of money to the discretion of the Education Secretary without proper congressional oversight. From that Stimulus money came the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and the Race to the Top grant programs that enabled the Department of Ed to get away with setting up their own, experimental rules for us to follow in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States alone.
4. IT ALTERS THE LIMITS OF FEDERAL POWER. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be admitted even by its most notorious proponent, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, to alter the traditionally limited role of the federal government.
Duncan said, in his 2010 “Vision of Education Reform” speech: “Our vision of reform takes account of the fact that, in several respects, the governance of education in the United States is unusual. Traditionally, the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy… The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more… the Recovery Act created additional competitive funding like the high-visibility $4.35 billion Race to the Top program and the $650 million Investing in Innovation Fund… America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform… In March of 2009, President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments… Virtually everyone thought the president was dreaming. But today, 37 states and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing a white paper—they have actually done it.”
Common Core governance is a slap in the face to the work of the Founding Fathers.
Yes, we should rightly be shuddering at the math disasters and the high-stakes tests, should be gasping at the lack of any cost analysis to taxpayers, and at the privacy-robbing aspects of the Common Core agenda. But these arguments are secondary to the hairiest of the reform devils, the destruction of individual liberty.
“I don’t know how you feel, my brethren and sisters, but I’d rather be dead than to lose my liberty…” – Ezra Taft Benson, 1952.
Published this week at The Federalist is an article by Joy Pullman: “Common Core: The Biggest Election Issue Washington Prefers to Ignore”.
Pullman points out that while Washington does its best to ignore or discredit Common Core opposition, the fact remains that some heavy names and powerful organizations are fighting Common Core:
“Common Core opponents include, as entire institutions or representatives from them, the American Principles Project, Americans for Prosperity, the Badass Teachers Association, the Brookings Institution, the Cato Institute, Class Size Matters, Eagle Forum, FreedomWorks, the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the Goldwater Institute, the Heartland Institute (where I work), the Heritage Foundation, Hillsdale College, the Hoover Institute, Notre Dame University, the National Association of Scholars, the Pioneer Institute, Stanford University, United Opt-Out, and leaders from Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to a coalition of Catholic university scholars and teachers union darling Diane Ravitch. These organizations’ flavors range from constitutionalist to libertarian to liberal. The people making the noise are regular moms, dads, and grandparents, but they’re backed up by organizations with intellectual chops.”
She writes, “Even so, knowledge of Common Core is relatively low among the general public, so many politicians have seen this as an opening to disregard or ignore it. That’s a dangerous move….the biggest thing Washington politicos may be overlooking about Common Core is the simple fact that wedge issues matter. Most of the populace does not show up to vote for most elections. People who have strong reasons to vote do, and turnout often determines elections. Getting passionate people to vote is half the point of a campaign. The Common Core moms have a reason to vote, and boy, do they have a lot of friends.”
Read the whole article.
Folks, there can be no question that the federal government is using Common Core to take away our freedoms.
So why do many people still believe that “there’s no federal control of Common Core”? Because trusted education leaders are not being forthright with –or are not in possession of– the truth. Here in Utah, for example, the Utah State Office of Education, has a “fact-versus-fiction” pamphlet which still says that the standards “are not federally controlled.”
The fact is that states that adopted Common Core standards are being co-parented by two groups in partnership, neither of which takes seriously the constitutional rights of the states to govern education locally: these partners are 1) The federal government and 2) Private trade clubs financed by Bill Gates– NGA and CCSSO.
So first, here’s evidence of terrible federal controls: (click to fact check, please)
1. Federal micromanagement in Common Core testing grant conditions and now, Race to the Top grant lures that go directly to districts and ignore state authority over districts.
2.Federal ESEA 15% capped waiver conditions that deny states the right to add more than 15% to our standards;
3. Federal reviews of tests
4. Federal data collection
5. Federal disfiguration of previously protective FERPA laws that removed parental rights over student data;
6. President Obama’s four assurances for education reform which governors promised to enact in exchange for ARRA stimulus funds;
7.Obama’s withholding of funds from schools that do not adopt Common Core as read in his Blueprint for Reform (aka The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act) which says, “Beginning in 2015, formula funds will be available only to states that are implementing assessments based on college- and career-ready standards that are common to a significant number of states.”
And here’s evidence of unelected, corporate controls of Common Core:
1) Common Core copyrights (and “living work” alteration rights) are held solely by two unelected, private clubs, the superintendents’ club (aka CCSSO) and a governors’ club (aka NGA).
2) These two clubs’ Common Core creation was influenced and funded not by voters/taxpayers, by the politically extreme Bill Gates, who has spent over $5 Billion on his personal, awful version of education reform– and that dollar amount is his own admission.
3) No amendment process exists for states to co-amend the “living work” standards. The “living work” statement means that OUR standards will be changed without representation from US as the states; it will be controlled by the private trade groups CCSSO/NGA.
4) Bill Gates and Pearson are partnered. (Biggest ed sales company partnered with 2nd richest man on earth, all in the effort to force Common Core on everyone.)
5) The speech of corporate sponsor Bill Gates when he explains that “We’ll only know [Common Core] this works when the curriculum and the tests are aligned to these standards.” This explains why he is giving away so much money so that companies can be united in the gold rush of creating Common Core curriculum.
6. Virtually every textbook sales company now loudly advertises being “common core aligned” which creates a national monopoly on textbook-thought. This, despite the fact that the standards are unpiloted, experimental (in the words of Dr. Christopher Tienken, Common Core is education malpractice.)
7. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and many huge corporations (ExxonMobil) are loudly selling Common Core as a way of creating wealth, despite the standards’ untested nature.
The federal partnering with the private groups like CCSSO/NGA, means that mandates and thought-monopolies of Common Core are truly beyond even legislative control. –Because they are privately controlled, they’re beyond voters’ influence.
This is why nothing short of an outright rejection of all things Common Core can restore us to educational freedom.
Why should you care? Why should you fight this, even if you don’t have children in school? Because of the Constitution.
The Constitution sets us apart as the only country on earth that has ever truly had the “freedom experiment” work. This makes us a miraculous exception. Why would we ever shred the Constitution by accepting initiatives that disfigure our representative system?
The G.E.P.A. law states that “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…”
So the federal government is prohibited from creating tests or instructional materials– but the private groups NGA and CCSSO, funded by Gates, are not! This is why the federal Department of Education officially partnered with these unelected, private corporate interests –groups which are not accountable to G.E.P.A. laws, to teachers, principals, taxpayers, voters or children. (This may also explain why Arne Duncan goes to such great lengths to distinguish between standards and curriculum. Everybody knows that standards dictate curriculum like a frame dictates the height and width of a house. But GEPA law doesn’t use the word “standards.”)
We are in unrepresented dire straits: In no way do voters or teachers (or states themselves) control what is now set in the Common Core standards.
This is true in spite of the so often-repeated “the standards are state-led” marketing line. Don’t believe the marketing lines! So much money is money being spent on marketing Common Core because of Bill Gates. Gates sees this whole Common Core movement as a way to establish his (and Pearson’s) “uniform customer base.”
Watch Gates say these words in his speech if you haven’t already. This speech needs to be widely known, especially by school boards –so that we can boycott this monopoly on thought and on our precious taxpayer dollars.
Please don’t let people keep getting away with saying that the Common Core is free from federal controls, or that “we can add anything we want to it” and “there are no strings attached.” It simply isn’t true.
(How we wish that it was.)
Utah Mom Alyson Williams’ razor-sharp wit and use of unarguable facts makes the speech she gave at a Common Core debate (with State School Board member Dixie Allen and two professors) a powerful tool in the national Stop Common Core arsenal. Below are her prepared remarks. The event was filmed and will be posted soon.
6 few smashing highlights from the speech –words I’d like to slap up on websites and billboards and bumpers all over the country:
1 “There is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors… Allowing rules for education to be set by those with no authority to do so is not a high enough standard for me or my children.”
2 “The Department of Ed … set rules for education, in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States themselves under the 10th Amendment.”
3 “The Utah Constitution … does not say that [the board] can outsource a role we entrusted to them to a non-governmental trade organization who outsourced it to another group of hand-picked experts. This is called “delegation” and it has been established in legal precedent to be unconstitutional.”
4 “Unelected officials gutting laws that were established by Congress to protect my family’s privacy is not a high enough standard for me and my children.”
5 “No meaningful public input on changes that affect all of our community schools is not a high enough standard for me and my children.”
6 “We can set high standards for math and English without circumventing, stretching, or ignoring the high standards for self government that have made our nation unique in all the history of the world.”
THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS THAT WE AREN’T TALKING ABOUT
Guest post by Alyson Williams, Utah mom
We’ve heard that with Common Core we’re just setting higher standards for learning, right? Why would a mom who wants the very best for her children be against that?
We are a community with high standards for all kinds of things, not just education. Standards can be examples, expectations, models, patterns, or precedents to follow or measure oneself against.
Keeping those synonyms in mind I’d like to talk about the standards we’ve set for our children in the course of adopting the Common Core. You may be surprised to learn that we have set new standards not only for math and english, but also for how public education is governed.
At the beginning of Obama’s first term our Congress passed the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, also known as “the Stimulus” which included $100 Billion dollars for education. At the time major newspapers buzzed about the unprecedented power of assigning this much money to the discretion of the Education Secretary with virtually no congressional oversight. From the Stimulus came the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and the Race to the Top grant programs that enabled the Department of Ed to set rules for education, in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States themselves under the 10th Ammendment.
This 36 page document, “The Road to a National Curriculum” was written by two former top lawyers for the US Department of Education. In it they offer an analysis of how these reforms violate three Federal laws. They conclude, “The Department has simply paid others to do that which it is forbidden to do.” (p.18)
Using taxpayer money from the stimulus to implement reforms that weaken the State’s autonomy over education is not a high enough standard for me and my children.
Proponents of these reforms like to point out that adopting these reforms was a legitimate exercise of state’s rights because the development of the standards was led by the Governors at the National Governors Association. The problem is, the Utah State Constitution does not grant authority over education to our Governor. Furthermore, there is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors. Comparing best practices is one thing, but Governors working together to jointly address issues and create rules that affect the whole nation is not a legitimate alternative to Congress, our national representative body. The organizations that introduced Common Core to our nation, state-by-state, had no constitutional commission to do what they did.
Allowing rules for education to be set by those with no authority to do so is not a high enough standard for me or my children.
The Governor didn’t decide on his own that Utah would adopt these reforms. The agreements were also signed by the State Superintendent acting in behalf of the State School Board. The Utah Constitution does give authority to the State School Board to set academic standards. It does not say that they can outsource a role we entrusted to them to a non-governmental trade organization who outsourced it to another group of hand-picked experts. This is called “delegation” and it has been established in legal precedent to be unconstitutional.
Elected officials delegating a job we entrusted to them to a body outside the jurisdiction of state oversight is not a high enough standard for me and my children.
The official USOE pamphlet on the Common Core adoption says that the State School Board “monitored this process.” But Dane Linn who was the education director for the NGA at the time the standards were being written stated, “All of the standards writing and discussions were sealed by confidentiality agreements, and held in private.” http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2013/06/07/five-people-wrote-state-led-common-core
There were no meeting minutes, no public records, no obligation by the lead writers to even respond to the input of anyone who submitted it, including any input from our school board. As a parent and a taxpayer, this process cuts me out completely.
As citizens of a self-governing Republic, this non-representative process is not a high enough standard for me and my children.
While this process was different than the way standards have been vetted in the past, the State School Board insists their involvement and review was adequate and that there was time for public input. The USOE published this timeline for adoption of the standards. Here it says that the summer of 2010 was the public comment period. However, the final draft was not available until June 2, and the Board took their first of two votes to adopt them two days later on June 4. The second and final vote was made a month later, but the first formally announced public comment period I could find was in April of 2012 – 22 months after the Board officially adopted the standards.
No meaningful public input on changes that affect all of our community schools is not a high enough standard for me and my children.
When the Department of Education ran out of grant money to get states to implement their reforms, they offered the states waivers from unpopular requirements of No Child Left Behind that many Utah schools were not anticipated to meet. While the No Child Left Behind law did grant limited authority to the Department of Education to waive certain conditions, it did not grant them authority to require new conditions in exchange.
This increasingly common habit of the executive branch to waive laws and replace them with their own rules, as if they held the lawmaking authority assigned to Congress, is not an acceptable standard for me and my children.
This is not the only example of the Department of Education overstepping their authority. In order for States to collect the individual student data required by these reforms, the US Department of Ed altered the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) weakening the protection of parental control over sharing student data. Both the Electronic Privacy Information Center and Fordham University’s Center for Law and Information Policy have written briefs charging that the Education Department acted illegally.
Unelected officials gutting laws that were established by Congress to protect my family’s privacy is not a high enough standard for me and my children.
Ever since we started down the road of adopting Common Core, in fact, I’ve noticed a much greater influence over education by unelected special interests. In an article published in the Washington Post in May (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/12/gates-gives-150-million-in-grants-for-common-core-standards/), for example, it was estimated that the Gates Foundation has spent at least $150 million dollars to fund and promote Common Core.
A July 2010 BusinessWeek Coverstory on Bill Gates quotes Jack Jennings, director of the Center on Education Policy saying, “As a private entity that doesn’t answer to voters, Gates can back initiatives that are politically dicey for the Obama Administration, such as uniform standards … In the past, states’ rights advocates have blocked federal efforts for a national curriculum. Gates ‘was able to do something the federal government couldn’t do.” http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_30/b4188058281758.htm#p4
When one very rich man has a greater influence over the direction of public education than parents, teachers and local communities that sets an unacceptable standard for “we the people,” for me, and for my children.
What is the justification for pushing these reforms through, bypassing the checks and balances of our established legal framework? We have to do it we are told so that our children will be “career and college ready.”
The Govenor, on his webpage for education, says we need to implement these reforms to “align educational training to meet the workforce demands of the marketplace.” http://www.utah.gov/governor/priorities/education.html
To me, all of these workforce goals seem to imply that the highest aim of education is work. Historically, the purpose of American education was to nurture the development of self-governing citizens, with work being incidental to that development. This nation has uniquely thrived according to the principle that a free market with good people pursuing their own dreams works better than attempts at centrally regulated markets with efficiently trained workers.
Being an efficient employee in a job that matches a data profile collected by the state from cradle to career is not a high enough standard for education, not for my children.
Thomas Jefferson was an early proponent of publicly funded education. He saw literate citizens educated in history and principles of good government as a necessary condition of maintaining liberty. He said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
How tragically ironic if, in the very name of public education, we end up eroding those very safeguards of liberty that he championed.
My opposition to the way we’ve adopted Common Core (and the rest of the education reforms introduced in the Stimulus) is not just about the education of my children, it is about the type of government I hope my children will inherit when they have children of their own. I believe we can set high standards for math and English without circumventing, stretching, or ignoring the high standards for self government that have made our nation unique in all the history of the world. This is the Constitution of the United States of America. These standards ARE high enough for me, and my children.
Brilliant. Thank you, Alyson Williams.
Countless –countless– men and fathers are publically and boldly standing up against Common Core. It’s not only “white, suburban moms” who oppose Common Core, and it’s not only the right or the left, either– despite what the U.S. Secretary of Education has so absurdly claimed— not by a long shot.
A very partial list of a lot of dads who are fighting Common Core is listed below. They are professors, pastors, governors, truck drivers, psychologists, mathematicians, ministers and more. Read what they say.
First, please read this article written by a guest author, an Ohio father who is fighting Common Core.
DADS TOO, MR. DUNCAN.
Guest post by an Ohio father against Common Core.
As a stay-at-home father of 2 elementary school children here in Ohio (where Common Core is being implemented), I take an active role in my kids’ education. I’ve tried to educate myself about Common Core – the history, the funding, how it’s been adopted – all of it. I have read many arguments, both pro and con. So when I read your recent comments labeling Common Core critics as: “white, suburban moms” who “All of a sudden, their child isn’t as bright as they thought and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought,” my reactions were varied.
First – How predictable: an elitist Progressive injecting race and gender into the debate (how does it go again? Identify it, label it, marginalize it? -something like that). I wasn’t insulted that you chose to identify all Common Core critics as white, suburban women. I don’t take offense at such things. But remember, these (the critics, whatever their gender or skin color) are the people who are seeing the actual Common Core materials and the effects they are having in the schools. Your response is to insult them.
I would think you might counter criticism of Common Core with tangible results showing how great it is. Lacking that, I guess you went with what you had. Trust me, there are serious problems and denigrating the critics only paints you as a tone-deaf authoritarian.
Second – Your comments help to dispel the “state-led” falsehood that was being thrown around some months back. Is it me, or has “state-led” become less frequently used by those who support Common Core? Like many of the oft-repeated buzz phrases and unsubstantiated claims used by Common Core supporters, when scrutinized they seem to dissolve. As the debate intensifies, and the federal government’s educrats become more vocal for the Common Core cause, it becomes exposed for what it is – a top-down, centrally-planned federalization of school curricula. Many Common Core opponents realize that it will lead to a near-total loss of local control over their schools.
Last, it may turn out that your comments have the opposite effect that you intended. It could be that you’ve drawn more interest to the Common Core from involved parents who aren’t going to be placated by claims of “college-preparedness” and “international competitiveness” that have exactly zero data to back them up. That remains to be seen. But more and more people are paying attention as this is being implemented.
Unlike others, I don’t want you fired over your recent comments. I want Common Core repealed in my state. Your removal would all-too-easily make this a “problem solved, let’s move on, shall we” scenario. And by all means, Mr Duncan, don’t suppress any contempt when making comments about Common Core critics. I actually appreciate the honesty.
Many thanks to this Ohio Dad and to all the fantastic fathers who are fighting for their children, for legitimate education, and for freedom.
Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina
Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project
Dr. Gary Thompson, clinical child psychologist
Dr. Yong Zhao of the University of Oregon
Superintendent Joseph Rella, NY
Dr. Bill Evers, Stanford University
Jim Stergios, Pioneer Institute
Dr. Anthony Esolen, Providence College
Dr. James Milgram, mathematician on official Common Core validation committee
Jamie Gass, Pioneer Institute
Robert Small of Maryland
Robert Scott, former Texas Education Commissioner
Dr. Christopher Tienken, Seton Hall University
Lt. Governor of North Carolina, Dan Forest
Rep. Scott Schneider, Indiana
Paul Horton, Chicago high school history teacher
DADS AGAINST COMMON CORE (Including the men pictured above):
Robert Small, father in Maryland; Superintendent Joseph Rella of Comsewogue District, New York; Dr. Bill Evers, of Stanford University’s Hoover Institute; Dr. Christopher Tienken, professor at Seton Hall University; Emmett McGroaty of the American Principles Project; Rep. Brian Greene of Utah; Dr. Gary Thompson, Utah clinical child psychologist; Robert Scott, former Commissioner of Education, Texas; Senator Mike Fair of South Carolina; Rep. John Hikel of New Hampshire; Nick Tampio and Fr. Joseph Koterski, professors at Fordham University; Oak Norton, author at Utah’s Republic; Senator Mike Fair, Alabama Governor Bentley; Dr. James Milgram of Stanford University, Emeritus; Ze’ev Wurman, mathematician and former Dept. of Education advisor; Dr. Terrence Moore and Dr. Daniel Coupland, of Hillsdale College; TX Governor Rick Perry; Paul Horton, high school history teacher – Chicago, Illinois; Maine Governor Paul LePage; Dr. Yong Zhao, professor at University of Oregon; Dr. Alan Manning, professor at Brigham Young University; Dr. Gerard Bradley and Dr. Duncan Stroik, both of the University of Notre Dame; NC Teacher Kris Nielsen; NY Father Glen Dalgleish; UT teacher David Cox; Dr. Robert George of Princeton University; Jamie Gass, of Pioneer Institute; Dr. Anthony Esolen, Professor of English at Providence College; Dr. Kevin Doak and Dr. Thomas Farr, professors at Georgetown University; Dr. Ronald Rychlak of the University of Mississippi; Professor Kenneth Grasso of Texas State University; Dr. James Hitchcock, professor at Saint Louis University; Francis Beckwith, professor at Baylor University; Dr. John A. Gueguen Emeritus Professor at Illinois State University; North Carolina Lt. Governor Dan Forest; Pastor Paul Blair, Fairview Baptist Church, Edmond, Oklahoma; Reverend Dr. Perry Greene, South Yukon Church of Christ, Oklahoma; Reverend Tim Gillespie, Seminole Free Will Baptist Church, Oklahoma; Reverend Dr. Steve Kern, Olivet Baptist Church, Oklahoma; Reverend Dr. Tom Vineyard, Windsor Hills Baptist Church, Oklahoma; Reverend Gerald R. Peterson, Sr. Pastor, First Lutheran Church, Oklahoma; Reverend Dan Fisher, Trinity Baptist Church – Yukon, Oklahoma; Reverend Christopher Redding, Stillwater, Oklahoma; Reverend Dr. Kevin Clarkson, First Baptist Church – Moore, Oklahoma; Reverend Bruce A. DeLay, Church in the Heartland – Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Reverends Chilles Hutchinson, David Evans, Dr. Bruce A. Proctor, Dr. Jim D. Standridge, Donnie Edmondson, Paul Tompkins, Craig Wright, Jesse Leon Rodgers, Ken Smith, Dr. Charles Harding, Rod Rieger, Ron Lindsey, Glen Howard, Dr. Jim Vineyard, Brad Lowrie, Jerry Pitts, Jerry Drewery, Mark McAdow, Jack Bettis, Stephen D. Lopp, Mark D. DeMoss, Jason Murray, Dr. Eddie Lee White, Mike Smith, Alan Conner, Dwight Burchett, Bill Kent, Keith Gordon, Wendell Neal– all Oklahoma Reverends; Glenn Beck, t.v. producer; Dr. Richard Sherlock, professor at Utah State University; Dr. Thomas Newkirk of the University of New Hampshire; Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina; Indiana Representative Scott Schneider.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan felt free to slam moms who stand against Common Core –yes, MOMS– during an official speech last week.
He lashed out against “white, suburban moms” who stand up against Common Core. The story was reported by Politico and was echoed by Fox News, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, the Manchester Union Leader, the New York Post, Washington Times, CNN and others.
Moms are biting back. Read what they are saying. From New York mom Ali Gordon to Virginia mom Gretchen Moran Laskas to the Utah moms like me, we are all kinds of mothers –there are tea partiers and there are also moms who call themselves “Progressive, bleeding heart liberals.” Mother bears all.
Duncan’s comment revealed an odd disrespect for white, suburban moms (I wonder what his wife thought of the comment) and it also revealed that Mr. Duncan believes the reason that the average American mother is opposed to Common Core is as simple as (excuse the Secretary of Education’s grammar, please) “their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought.” Really, Mr. Duncan?
We’re upset because students and teachers are being subjected to unpiloted standards and privacy-invading tests that no parent nor teacher had a say in crafting –standards contrived by businessmen intent on making a buck off the “uniform customer base” that schools represent.
We’re upset, Mr. Duncan, that education without representation is being sold to us deceptively, and that children are being experimented upon. We’re upset, Mr. Duncan, that the standards themselves were rejected by top members of their own validation committee, but are being touted as excellent college prep –Even Common Core’s own architects have admitted that they prepare kids at best for a nonselective college, not a four year degree, and do not prepare students for STEM careers. (What was that you said about international competitiveness?)
We’re upset, too, that Department of Education officials label us, but they do not listen. Last summer, the Department gave speeches labeling us as “just” right-wing tea-partiers. Now your spokesman, Massie Ritsch, is saying: “The far right and far left have made up their minds, but there’s angst in the middle.” Really?
Mr. Duncan, moms are going to bite back; that’s what mother bears do.
It’s not because your Common Core is discovering faults in our children! We already know our children.
Common Core is an affront to children, to parents, to teachers, and is a robbery of legitimate, time-tested education. Mr. Duncan, we do not and will not hold back when it comes to our childrens’ education, their Constitutional right to privacy (no “unreasonable searches”) and to their teachers’ freedom to teach as THEY —not as bureaucrats and corporate talking heads and grant lures— see fit.
Count on it.
Recently America met the remakable Patrick Richardson, a teenager from Arkansas, who blasted through Common Core in power point presentations and speeches to his legislators.
Now, meet the eloquent Ethan Young of Tennessee, another brilliant teenager whose five minute, out-of-the-ballpark speech, utterly flattens the many false claims of the Common Core.
In this video speech you can hear these highlights:
On teacher evaluations: “These subjective anxiety producers do more to damage a teacher’s self esteem than you realize.”
“Erroneous evaluation coupled with strategic compensation presents a punitive model that as a student is like watching your teacher jump through flaming hoops to earn a score.”
“A teacher cannot be evaluated without his students, because as a craft, teaching is an interaction. Thus, how can you gauge a teacher’s success with no control of a student’s participation or interest? I stand before you because I care about education but also because I want to support my teachers… This relationship is at the heart of instruction and there will never be a system by which it is accurately measured.”
On bureaucratic convenience: “We can argue the details ad infinitum. Yet I observe a much broader issue with education today. Standards based education is ruining the way we teach and learn. Yes, I’ve already been told by legislators and administrators: “Ethan, that’s just the way things work.” But why? I’m going to answer that question. It’s bureaucratic convenience.”
“…It works with nuclear reactor and business models…. I mean, how convenient: calculating exactly who knows what and who needs what? I mean, why don’t we just manufacture robots instead of students? They last longer and they always do what they’re told.”
“Education is unlike every other bureaucratic institute in our government. The task of teaching is never quantifiable. If everything I learned in high school is a measurable objective, I haven’t learned anything.“
On the way Common Core sprung up:
“The initiative seemed to spring from states when in reality it was contrived by an insular group of testing executives with only two academic content specialists. Neither specialist approved the final standards and the English consultant, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, publicly stated she felt the standards left students with “an empty skill set, lacking literary knowledge.”
“While educators and administrators were later included in the validation committee and feedback groups, they did not play a role in the actual drafting of the standards…. the standards aren’t rigorous, just different, designed for industrial-model schools.”
“If nothing else, these standards are a glowing conflict of interest. And they lack the research they allegedly received. And most importantly, the standards illustrate a mistrust of teachers.”
On the purpose of teaching:
“Creativity, appreciation, inquisitiveness, these are impossible to scale. But they are are the purpose of education, why our teachers teachers, why I choose to learn.”
“And today we find ourselves in a nation that produces workers. Everything is career and college preparation. Somewhere our Founding Fathers are turning in their graves pleading, screaming, and trying to say to us that we teach to free minds, we teach to inspire, we teach to equip, and the careers will come naturally.”
“Ask any of these teachers, ask any of my peers… Haven’t we gone too far with data?”
“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.. but… the problems I cite are very real… Do not dismiss them as another fool’s criticisms…”
“You can not ignore me, my teachers or the truth. We need change, but not Common Core, high stakes evaluations, or more robots.”
Watch the video here.
St. Tammany Federation of Teachers President Elsie Burkhalter, and St. Tammany Schools Superintendent, Trey Folse, of the St. Tammany Parish Public school system in Louisiana, have taken a public stand against Common Core. The resolution to stop Common Core involvement hit teachers’ mailboxes this week.
This was reported by the Greater New Orleans Times-Picayune as well as by teacher Mercedes Schneider, who added that “In response to St Tammany’s drafting the [anti-Common Core] resolution, the Louisiana Board … pushed Common Core in a tour of St. Tammany Schools in late October. The tour did not go well, with State Superintendent John White being met with lawn signs protesting his intent to push Common Core State Standards.”
Love those yard signs.
Thank you, Louisiana.
One hundred thirty two Catholic Professors have taken “the extraordinary step” of signing a letter that asks all Catholic Bishops to stand up and firmly oppose Common Core.
The letter says that “Sadly, over one hundred Catholic dioceses have set aside our teaching tradition in favor of these secular standards,” and says that “Common Core adopts a bottom-line, pragmatic approach to education. The heart of its philosophy is, as far as we can see, that it is a waste of resources to “over-educate” people.”
The letter says, too, that “notwithstanding the good intentions of those who made these decisions, Common Core was approved too hastily and with inadequate consideration of how it would change the character and curriculum of our nation’s Catholic schools. We believe that implementing Common Core would be a grave disservice to Catholic education in America.”
This thoughtfully written letter feels like an answer to the prayers of many parents of many children who cannot easily get out from under Common Core.
Thank you, professors.
Gerard V. Bradley, Professor of Law
c/o University of Notre Dame, The Law School
3156 Eck Hall of Law, PO Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556
October 16, 2013
This letter was sent individually to each Catholic bishop in the United States. 132 Catholic professors signed the letter.
We are Catholic scholars who have taught for years in America’s colleges and universities. Most of us have done so for decades. A few of us have completed our time in the classroom; we are professors “emeriti.” We have all tried throughout our careers to put our intellectual gifts at the service of Christ and His Church. Most of us are parents, too, who have seen to our children’s education, much of it in Catholic schools. We are all personally and professionally devoted to Catholic education in America.
For these reasons we take this extraordinary step of addressing each of America’s Catholic bishops about the “Common Core” national reform of K-12 schooling. Over one hundred dioceses and archdioceses have decided since 2010 to implement the Common Core. We believe that, notwithstanding the good intentions of those who made these decisions, Common Core was approved too hastily and with inadequate consideration of how it would change the character and curriculum of our nation’s Catholic schools. We believe that implementing Common Core would be a grave disservice to Catholic education in America.
In fact, we are convinced that Common Core is so deeply flawed that it should not be adopted by Catholic schools which have yet to approve it, and that those schools which have already endorsed it should seek an orderly withdrawal now.
Why – upon what evidence and reasoning – do we take such a decisive stand against a reform that so many Catholic educators have endorsed, or at least have
acquiesced in? In this brief letter we can only summarize our evidence and sketch our reasoning. We stand ready, however, to develop these brief points as you wish. We also invite you to view the video recording of a comprehensive conference critically examining Common Core, held at the University of Notre Dame on September 9, 2013. (For a copy of the video, please contact Professor Gerard Bradley at the address above.)
News reports each day show that a lively national debate about Common Core is upon us. The early rush to adopt Common Core has been displaced by sober second
looks,and widespread regrets. Several states have decided to “pause” implementation. Others have opted out of the testing consortia associated with Common Core. Prominent educators and political leaders have declared their opposition. The national momentum behind Common Core has, quite simply, stopped. A wave of reform which recently was thought to be inevitable now isn’t. Parents of K- 12 children are leading today’s resistance to the Common Core. A great number of these parents are Catholics whose children attend Catholic schools.
Much of today’s vigorous debate focuses upon particular standards in English and math. Supporters say that Common Core will “raise academic standards.” But we find persuasive the critiques of educational experts (such as James Milgram, professor emeritus of mathematics at Stanford University, and Sandra Stotsky, professor emerita of education at the University of Arkansas) who have studied Common Core, and who judge it to be a step backwards. We endorse their judgment that this “reform” is really a radical shift in emphasis, goals, and expectations for K-12 education, with the result that Common Core-educated children will not be prepared to do authentic college work. Even supporters of Common Core admit that it is geared to prepare children only for community-college-level studies.
No doubt many of America’s Catholic children will study in community colleges. Some will not attend college at all. This is not by itself lamentable; it all depends upon the personal vocations of those children, and what they need to learn and do in order to carry out the unique set of good works entrusted to them by Jesus. But none of that means that our Catholic grade schools and high schools should give up on maximizing the intellectual potential of every student. And every student deserves to be prepared for a life of the imagination, of the spirit, and of a deep appreciation for beauty, goodness,
truth, and faith.
The judgments of Stotsky and Milgram (among many others) are supported by a host of particulars. These particulars include when algebra is to be taught, whether advanced mathematics coursework should be taught in high school, the misalignment of writing and reading standards, and whether cursive writing is to be taught. We do not write to you, however, to start an argument about particulars. At least, that is a discussion for another occasion and venue. We write to you instead because of what the particular deficiencies of Common Core reveal about the philosophy and the basic aims of the reform. We write to you because we think that this philosophy and these aims will undermine Catholic education, and dramatically diminish our children’s horizons.
Promoters of Common Core say that it is designed to make America’s children “college and career ready.” We instead judge Common Core to be a recipe for
standardized workforce preparation. Common Core shortchanges the central goals of all sound education and surely those of Catholic education: to grow in the virtues necessary to know, love, and serve the Lord, to mature into a responsible, flourishing adult, and to contribute as a citizen to the process of responsible democratic self-government. Common Core adopts a bottom-line, pragmatic approach to education. The heart of its philosophy is, as far as we can see, that it is a waste of resources to “over-educate” people. The basic goal of K-12 schools is to provide everyone with a modest skill set; after that, people can specialize in college – if they end up there. Truck-drivers do not need to know Huck Finn. Physicians have no use for the humanities. Only those
destined to major in literature need to worry about Ulysses.
Perhaps a truck-driver needs no acquaintance with Paradise Lost to do his or her day’s work. But everyone is better off knowing Shakespeare and Euclidean geometry, and everyone is capable of it. Everyone bears the responsibility of growing in wisdom and grace and in deliberating with fellow-citizens about how we should all live together. A sound education helps each of us to do so.
The sad facts about Common Core are most visible in its reduction in the study of classic, narrative fiction in favor of “informational texts.” This is a dramatic change. It is contrary to tradition and academic studies on reading and human formation. Proponents of Common Core do not disguise their intention to transform “literacy” into a “critical” skill set, at the expense of sustained and heartfelt encounters with great works of literature.
Professor Stotsky was the chief architect of the universally-praised Massachusetts English language arts standards, which contributed greatly to that state’s educational success. She describes Common Core as an incubator of “empty skill sets . . . [that] weaken the basis of literary and cultural knowledge needed for authentic college coursework.” Rather than explore the creativity of man, the great lessons of life, tragedy, love, good and evil, the rich textures of history that underlie great works of fiction, and the tales of self-sacrifice and mercy in the works of the great writers that have shaped our cultural literacy over the centuries, Common Core reduces reading to a servile activity.
Professor Anthony Esolen, now at Providence College, has taught literature and poetry to college students for two decades. He provided testimony to a South Carolina legislative committee on the Common Core, lamenting its “cavalier contempt for great works of human art and thought, in literary form.” He further declared: “We are not programming machines. We are teaching children. We are not producing functionaries, factory-like. We are to be forming the minds and hearts of men and women.”
Thus far Common Core standards have been published for mathematics and English language arts. Related science standards have been recently released by Achieve, Inc. History standards have also been prepared by another organization. No diocese (for that matter, no state) is bound to implement these standards just by dint of having signed onto Common Core’s English and math standards. We nonetheless believe that the same financial inducements, political pressure, and misguided reforming zeal that rushed those standards towards acceptance will conspire to make acceptance of the history and science standards equally speedy – and unreflective and unfortunate.
These new standards will very likely lower expectations for students, just as the Common Core math and English standards have done. More important, however, is the likelihood that they will promote the prevailing philosophical orthodoxies in those disciplines. In science, the new standards are likely to take for granted, and inculcate students into a materialist metaphysics that is incompatible with, the spiritual realities –soul, conceptual thought, values, free choice, God– which Catholic faith presupposes.
We fear, too, that the history standards will promote the easy moral relativism, tinged with a pervasive anti-religious bias, that is commonplace in collegiate history departments today.
Common Core is innocent of America’s Catholic schools’ rich tradition of helping to form children’s hearts and minds. In that tradition, education brings children to the Word of God. It provides students with a sound foundation of knowledge and sharpens their faculties of reason. It nurtures the child’s natural openness to truth and beauty, his moral goodness, and his longing for the infinite and happiness. It equips students to understand the laws of nature and to recognize the face of God in their fellow man.
Education in this tradition forms men and women capable of discerning and pursuing their path in life and who stand ready to defend truth, their church, their families, and their country.
The history of Catholic education is rich in tradition and excellence. It embraces the academic inheritance of St. Anselm, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Blessed John Henry Newman. In contrast to such academic rigor, the Common Core standards lack an empirical evidentiary basis and have not been field-tested anywhere. Sadly, over one hundred Catholic dioceses have set aside our teaching tradition in favor of these secular standards.
America’s bishops have compiled a remarkable record of success directing Catholic education in America, perhaps most notably St. John Neumann and the Plenary
Councils of Baltimore. Parents embrace that tradition and long for adherence to it – indeed, for its renaissance. That longing reflects itself in the growing Catholic homeschool and classical-education movements and, now, in the burgeoning desire among Catholic parents for their dioceses to reject the Common Core.
Because we believe that this moment in history again calls for the intercession of each bishop, we have been made bold to impose upon your time with our judgments of Common Core.
Faithfully in Christ, we are:
Institutional Affiliations Are for Identification Purposes Only
Professor of Law
University of Notre Dame
Robert P. George
McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence
Anthony M. Esolen
Professor of English
Professor of Sociology
Franciscan University of Steubenville
Joseph A. Varacalli
S.U.N.Y. Distinguished Service Professor
Nassau Community College-S.U.N.Y.
Patrick McKinley Brennan
John F. Scarpa Chair in Catholic Legal Studies
Villanova University School of Law
Robert Fastiggi, Ph.D.
Professor of Systematic Theology
Professor of Architecture
University of Notre Dame
Thomas F. Farr
Director, Religious Freedom Project and
Visiting Associate Professor
Matthew J. Franck, Ph.D.
Director, Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution
Ronald J. Rychlak
Butler Snow Lecturer and Professor of Law
University of Mississippi, School of Law
V. Bradley Lewis
Associate Professor of Philosophy
The Catholic University of America
Patrick J. Deneen
David A. Potenziani Memorial Associate
Professor of Political Science
University of Notre Dame
E. Christian Brugger, D.Phil.
J. Francis Cardinal Stafford Professor of Moral Theology
Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary, Denver
Kenneth L. Grasso
Professor of Political Science
Texas State University
Professor of History
Saint Louis University
Maria Sophia Aguirre, Ph.D.
Director of Economics Programs and Academic Chair
The Catholic University of America
Fr. Joseph Koterski SJ
President, Fellowship of Catholic Scholars
Francis J. Beckwith
Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies
Thomas V. Svogun
Professor of Philosophy and Administration
of Justice and Chairman of the Department of Philosophy
Salve Regina University
Scott W Hahn
Professor of Theology
Franciscan University of Steubenville
Eduardo J. Echeverria, Ph.D., S.T.L.
Professor of Philosophy and Systematic Theology
Sacred Heart Major Seminary
Ryan J. Barilleaux, Ph.D.
Paul Rejai Professor of Political Science
Miami University (Ohio)
Brian Simboli, Ph.D.
John A. Gueguen
Emeritus Professor, Political Philosophy
Illinois State University
G. Alexander Ross
Institute for the Psychological Sciences
Suzanne Carpenter, Ph.D., R.N.
Associate Professor of Nursing
McAleer Professor of Bioethics
Franciscan University of Steubenville
Peter J. Colosi, PhD
Associate Professor of Moral Theology
St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
Dr. Robert Hunt
Professor of Political Science
Matthew Cuddeback, PhD
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Dr. Joseph H. Hagan
John A. Cuddeback, PhD
Professor of Philosophy
Dr. Michael J. Healy
Professor and Chair of Philosophy
Franciscan University of Steubenville
Dean of the Honors College
Susan Orr Traffas
Co-Director, Honors Program
Michael J. Behe
Professor of Biological Sciences
Thomas R. Rourke
Professor of Politics
Robert H Holden
Professor, Dept. of History
Old Dominion University
Philip J. Harold
Associate Dean, School of Education and
Robert Morris University
David T. Murphy, Ph.D.
Dept. of Modern & Classical Languages
Saint Louis University
W. H. Marshner
Professor of Theology
David W. Fagerberg
Associate Professor, Theology
University of Notre Dame
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Catholic University of America
Daniel J. Costello, Jr.
Bettex Professor of Electrical Engineering,
University of Notre Dame
Associate Professor of Law
Ave Maria School of Law
Assistant Professor of Comparative Cultural
University of Houston
Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law
Ave Maria School of Law
Professor, Political Science and Peace Studies
University of Notre Dame
Anne Barbeau Gardiner
Professor emerita, Dept of English
John Jay College, CUNY
Assistant Professor of Theology
The Catholic University of America
Professor Emeritus of English
New York University
Adjunct Professor of Church History
Holy Apostles College and Seminary
Raymond F. Hain, PhD
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Professor of Mathematics
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Dr. Francis P. Kessler
Prof. Political Science
Co-Director, Thomas International Center
Emeritus Professor, Marquette University
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Nebraska at Omaha
Stephen M. Krason, J.D., Ph.D.
Society of Catholic Social Scientists
Laura Hirschfeld Hollis
Associate Professional Specialist and
Concurrent Associate Professor of Law
University of Notre Dame
Wilson D. Miscamble, C.S.C.,
Professor of History
University of Notre Dame
Stephen M. Barr
Professor of Physics
University of Delaware
Associate Professor of Metaphysics and Anthropology
The John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family
Jeanne Heffernan Schindler
Senior Research Fellow
Center for Cultural and Pastoral Concerns
David L. Schindler
Gagnon Professor of Fundamental Theology
Pontifical John Paul II Institute, Catholic University of America
Rev. Edward Krause, C.C.C.
Professor of Social Sciences, Emeritus
Christopher O. Tollefsen
Professor of Philosophy
University of South Carolina
Paige E. Hochschild
Assistant Professor of Theology
Mount St. Mary’s University
Robert C. Jeffrey
Professor of Government
Rev. Anthony E. Giampietro, CSB
Executive Vice President and Academic Dean
Saint Patrick’s Seminary & University
Dr. Roger Loucks
Associate Prof. of Physics
J. Daniel Hammond
Professor of Economics
Wake Forest University
Kenneth R. Hoffmann, Ph.D.
Professor of Neurosurgery
SUNY at Buffalo
Timothy T. O’Donnell, STD, KGCHS
President Christendom College
Thomas W. Jodziewicz
Department of History
University of Dallas
Sr J. Sheila Galligan IHM
Professor of Theology
Assistant Professor of Theology
University Distinguished Professor of
Texas State University
Professor of English
University of California, Berkeley and University of Mississippi
Carol Nevin (Sue) Abromaitis
Professor of English
Loyola University Maryland
Dr. Sean Innerst
Theology Cycle Director,
St. John Vianney Theological Seminary
Robert A. Destro
Professor of Law & Director
The Catholic University of America
Prof. of Philosophy
Utah State University
Adrian J. Reimers
Adjunct Assistant Professor in Philosophy
University of Notre Dame
Dr. Jessica M. Murdoch
Assistant Professor of Fundamental and Dogmatic Theology
Mary Shivanandan, S.T.L., S.T.D.
Professor of Theology Retired
John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at
The Catholic University of America
Alice M. Ramos
Professor of Philosophy
St. John’s University
Dennis J. Marshall, Ph.D.
Professor of Theology
Dennis D. Martin
Associate Professor of Theology
Loyola University Chicago
Janet E. Smith
Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics
Sacred Heart Major Seminary
Leonard J. Nelson,III
Retired Professor of Law
Charles D. Presberg, PhD
Associate Professor of Spanish
University of Missouri-Columbia
Brian T. Kelly
Thomas Aquinas College
Michael F. McLean
Thomas Aquinas College
Philip T. Crotty
Professor of Management (Emeritus)
James Matthew Wilson
Assistant Professor of Literature
R. E. Houser
Bishop Wendelin J. Nold Chair in Graduate Philosophy
University of St. Thomas (TX)
Gary D. Glenn
Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus
Department of Political Science, Northern Illinois University
Cynthia Toolin, Ph.D.
Professor of Dogmatic and Moral Theology
Holy Apostles College and Seminary
Virginia L. Arbery, Ph. D.
Associate Professor of Humanities
Wyoming Catholic College
Maryanne M. Linkes, Esquire
University of Pittsburgh & Community
College of Allegheny County
James Likoudis, M.S.Ed.
Montour Falls, NY 14865
Dr. Emil Berendt
Assistant Professor of Economics
Mount St. Mary’s University
David F. Forte
Professor of Law
Cleveland State University
Anthony W. Zumpetta, Ed.D.
West Chester University (PA)
Thomas D. Watts
University of Texas, Arlington
Catherine Ruth Pakaluk, PhD
Assistant Professor of Economics
Ave Maria University
Craig S. Lent
Freimann Professor of Electrical Engineering
University of Notre Dame
Christina Jeffrey, Ph.D.
Lecturer on the Foundations of American Government
Robert G Kennedy
Professor of Catholic Studies
University of St Thomas (MN)
Holly Taylor Coolman
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Theology
Raymond F. Hain, PhD
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
David M. Wagner
Professor of Law
Regent University School of Law
John G. Trapani, Jr., Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy
Tina Holland, Ph.D.
South Bend, Indiana
James F. Papillo, J.D., Ph.D
Former Vice President of Administrative
Affairs and Associate Professor in the Humanities
Holy Apostles College and Seminary
Dr. J. Marianne Siegmund
Theo. Department and SCSS member
University of Dallas
Dr. Daniel Hauser
Professor of Theology
University of St. Francis
Mount St. Mary’s University
William Edmund Fahey, Ph.D.
Fellow and President
The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts
John C. McCarthy
Dean, School of Philosophy
The Catholic University of America
Christopher O. Blum
Assistant Professor of English and African-American Studies
University of Mississippi
Mark C. Henrie
Senior V.P., Chief Academic Officer
Intercollegiate Studies Institute
Jeffrey Tranzillo, Ph.D.
Professor, Systematic Theology
Craig Steven Titus, S.Th.D/Ph.D.
Director of Integrative Studies
Institute of the Psychological Sciences
Rev. Peter M.J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Catholic Education Foundation
William W. Kirk
Vice President for Student Affairs and General Counsel
Ave Maria University
Curt H. Stiles, Ph.D.
Professor of Business Policy
Cameron School of Business
University of North Carolina
Dr. Gary Thompson of the Utah-based Early Life Child Psychology and Education Center traveled to Wisconsin to testify about the damages of Common Core to the Wisconsin Legislature.
You can watch his whole testimony by clicking here.
Below is a lively commentary by Dr. Thompson about his reasons for testifying boldly against Common Core both as a father and as a clinical psychologist.
Our Kids Are Bigger Than You: Final Thoughts on Wisconsin Common Core Legislative Testimony
by Dr. Gary Thompson
“All students are expected to participate in the state accountability system with only a few exceptions, as noted below. This principle of full participation includes EL students, students with an IEP, and students with a Section 504 plan…. The IEP, EL, Section 504, EL with disabilities, and EL on Section 504 team cannot exempt a student from the statewide testing requirements.”
-Utah State Office Of Education, 2013-14 Testing accomodations policy
Part I: Pre Hearing, or, My Motivations for Professional Suicide
On October 12, 2013, “a person in a position of influence” called from Wisconsin and asked if I would like to participate as an expert witness in the State of Wisconsin’s “War against Common Core.”
He obviously did not have that much influence, because my response was a quick, “Thank you, but hell, no.”
Education leadership, both at the local and national levels, is talented at turning any movements geared towards change into politically-based personal warfare.
I had already attempted to fight this battle in Utah and did not wish to engage in it any further.
But then an interview, featuring my teenage daughter and her battle to drop an AP class that was exacerbating her anxiety, appeared in our local newspaper:
“Utah Father Had To Fight To Have Daughter Drop A Class“.
After reading over 50 ignorant and cruel comments directed toward my daughter —many of which were made by (alleged) current educators/administrators in Utah—I simply could not take it anymore.
Now, I generally have a pretty thick skin. Although I currently do not practice clinical psychology in any licensed form, I am a licensed – eligible trained clinician with over 5,000 documented clinical training hours (11,000 hours total). Part of that training revolves around maintaining a healthy professional distance from highly emotional situations. But these people were attacking my child. And they didn’t even know her!
Prior to my daughter’s situation with her school, I had given up all thoughts of future participation regarding Utah’s education reform. Politicians, educators, and parents had decided the current path of Common Core-based education was just fine for their constituents and their children. My response to that was basically, “Good for you. Have fun with that… I’m out.”
My focus would be on my work, my wife and my children. I felt relief.
To hell with the State of Utah.
To hell with the Common Core movement.
It was not my problem anymore. My kids were “safe.”
Wisconsin’s education issues? Not my problem either.
But after my daughter’s school decided to play hardball over what should have been a relatively simple decision and total strangers decided to weigh in with their opinions on my daughter’s character, my wife received the following e-mail from a professor at the University of Wisconsin:
Dear Dr. Frances Thompson:
I write to thank you sincerely for understanding why it is imperative that Gary testify against Common Core in the state of Wisconsin on 23 October 2013.
Common Core will put our most vulnerable students at risk, and is especially destructive to special needs children. We have already seen the damage done to these students by programs like No Child Left Behind, which in reality left behind many of our poorest and most needy students, especially minority students.
The problems with No Child Left Behind are magnified significantly with Common Core, and the high stakes testing and one size fits all approach to education will wreak irreparable harm for a whole new generation of special needs kids.
We have invited anumber of specialists in Math and Science and English to testify about the data and explain to our state senatorial committee why Common Core is bad education, bad pedagogy, and bad for teachers and students in general These committed scholars will provide raw numbers and make academic arguments.
Gary’s gift –beyond his credentials and professionalism–lies in putting a human face on these kids for the committee, humanizing a problem that is all too often viewed in terms of statistics and dollars, and championing with great compassion those who have no voice of their own in this battle for our children’s futures. In the final analysis, this is what matters most, and without Gary our case is merely mechanical.
I cannot guarantee that Gary’s testimony will be the blow that turns back Common Core in Wisconsin. But I do know that without him, our case is weakened. I understand the hardship his absence will cause your family in the short term, but I also believe that Gary’s advocacy for thousands and thousands of school children in Wisconsin will bless them and his family in the long run. We would be extremely grateful to you for enduring his absence for a short period of time on behalf of the people of Wisconsin.
Thank you very much,
Dr. Duke Pesta
Professor of English
University of Wisconsin
That simple, humble plea from someone who has dedicated his life to teaching our nation’s young adults affected me deeply.
I decided I had to go to Wisconsin.
I also decided that if I went, I wanted to be effective. I am not an effective public speaker. I speak slowly, and I stammer sometimes when my brain processes information faster than I can speak.
It is my disability, and going to Wisconsin would display it to the world. However, if my teenager had the courage to display her “disability” to the world, I did not care if I stuttered and stammered like an uneducated idiot on crack on live television for two hours for the world to see. I was going.
Part II: Preparation, or, Ensuring That My Professional Suicide Is Effective
That meant I had to condense a very complex issue down to a few key points and hammer them home with the force of my convictions. I also had to communicate in a way that would resonate with conservatives and liberals of all cultures.
I also had to prepare myself for those who seek to destroy reputations and self-esteem. People entrenched in the political and education machines of either party will go to great lengths to keep the status quo. I knew the facts of what I would testify to would be indisputable. However, I had to find a way to blunt the comments of those who would seek to make this about politics,religion, as opposed to what was in the best interest of the children or myself.
My theme was simply going to be this: “You are not bigger than the children.”
It was this thought that came to mind when what I feared the most occurred during the very first question of the hearing from a Senate Democrat Lehman. It was not about the issues, but about the money.
Politics and money have to take a backseat to the best interests of the children in order for education to be effective. Ironically, the comments directed towards my family and my daughter in the Tribune served as a training ground for the upcoming testimony. I read every of those vile attacks in preparation. I was more than prepared for “straw man” attacks.
The “Core” Of the Issue: Testing — the Ultimate Trojan Horse
The November 13, 2013 issue of Wired magazine published an article titled, “How A Radical New Teaching Method Could Unlock A Generation of Geniuses”.
I found it by accident on the plane to Wisconsin. Here are some excerpts that hit home:
“…the dominant model of public school education is still fundamentally rooted in the industrial revolution that spawned it, when work places valued punctuality, regularity, attention, and silence above all else.” (P.159).
“…we don’t openly profess those values nowadays, but our educational system—which routinely tests kids on their ability to recall information and demonstrate a master of narrow skill sets— doubles down on the view that students are material to be processed.” (P.160).
I found that I could not focus on research articles on the subject at hand, but was drawn to read the hundreds of letters and texts I have received from parents around the country whose children have been victimized, some permanently, by a education system that values conformity over the common sense and expertise of the parent.
I then made the decision to use these letters as my motivation, but to keep the issue simple. I have always advised “professional” activists to focus less on the political or religious aspects that may or may not be associated with the Common Core. Trying to convince a group of Democrat lawmakers that President Obama is a socialist from Kenya who is undergoing mind control from the Chicago Political Machine did not make sense to me as a Doctor. If the goal was to stop Common Core, then my plan was to relentlessly attack their “Trojan Horse,” which was the test itself.
So in the 20 minutes of… testimony, the following points were hammered home:
1. Despite misleading reports from State Superintendents from Utah and Wisconsin regarding how well Core Tests have been “pilot tested”, it was indisputable that the FINAL version of the Core test (complete with its most experimental component of “adaptability”) would never be properly tested, evaluated and “tweaked” in a transparent manner by independent experts prior to our children taking the tests in 2014-2015.
2. With that fact in mind, the only reasonable conclusion was that our children were being used as research guinea pigs under the direction and approval of our respective State Superintendents. (See Dr. Thompson and Attorney Ed Flint’s Letter To Utah Superintendent of Schools Dr. Martell Menlove: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/dr-thompsons-letter-to-superintendent-menlove/)
3. We have over 50 years of peer reviewed data showing psychology’s struggles of measuring “achievement” as well as cognitive potential (I.Q.) of African American, Latino, ADHD, Autistic, Dual Exceptional, and children diagnosed with specific learning disabilities.
The SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium), the group that the federal government paid hundreds of millions of dollars to facilitate the production of these tests, proudly proclaimed on their web pages that they have basically solved this problem. My exact words were, “SBAC has just announced to the world that they have created the ‘Holy Grail’ of Achievement Tests.” That feat is kind of hard to perform if no validation studies have been performed.
4. I compared and contrasted the extreme difference between the ways children were tested/evaluated in the private clinical psychology sector, versus the current way proposed by the U.S. Department of Education via the SBAC. Professionals in clinical psychology have learned through a 100-year history of well-documented testing abuse in America to put into place restraints to ensure the safety of our children. Common Core testing policies arrogantly ignored each and every one of these.
5. We need to stop our obsessive focus on measuring WHAT our children havel earned and focus on utilizing neuropsychology technologies available that can now measure with great accuracy HOW a child’s brain processes information (PASS Theory, Naglieri, 2008).
6. Professional recommendation: Stop Common Core testing.
7. Recommendation as a father: Don’t let your kids take the test.
Part III: The Night Before: Fearless or Foolish?
I did not sleep the entire night before the Hearing. The enormity of what I was about the say to the entire country, and the probable consequences for engaging in this form of idiocy against the “machine” weighed heavily on my mind. It is one thing for a father to get ticked off at a local high school’s treatment of his daughter and have that anger on display in a mid-market newspaper.
It’s a entire different ballgame for a Black dude to get up in front of 17 of the State of Wisconsin’s lawmakers with cameras rolling and tell them that the most significant piece of the U.S. Department of Education’s signature education reform in the history of the nation… was simply made up.
If that was not enough, I was going to tell them this piece of legislation that came through under their watch, as currently constituted, has a very high statistical chance of harming millions of children while the “kinks” get worked out. Indeed, they would be initiating “cognitive child abuse.”
Unlike the Affordable Care Act, whose rocky start has been chronicled by both liberal and conservative media outlets, if Common Core displays similar problems, a generation of children will not be able to take advantage of the power that higher education bestows. Ironically, the group of children of Black and Latino descent stand to suffer at the hands of the nation’s first African American President. Even more ironic was the fact that I campaigned for the President with my daughter.
Mark Twain famously penned, “There are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics.”
The education machine was caught without a significant form of statistical validity proof showing that the Common Core tests will actually work on a significant population of children.
The solution for the education machines problem? Make something up. Publish the imaginary statistics. Call the Doctor an idiot. Move on.
When Utah’s Superintendent of Schools Martell Menlove was confronted with the same exact proof that Common Core tests will be nothing more than an experimentation that will most likely harm tens of thousands of vulnerable children in Utah, he responded to the masses with a letter from the Test Designer (American Institute of Research) that is still posted on the Utah State Office of Education website.
After the powers to be from the powerful AIR test development group devoted a page-and-a-half of weak attempts to debunk solid concerns surrounding privacy issues of testing, my concerns were addressed in a single paragraph. The response from the V.P. of AIR can be roughly translated as, “Trust me.”
“On a final note, Dr. Thompson expresses concern about the tests appropriately serving students with disabilities. AIR has a long history of serving students with disabilities, and we have invested in making our testing platform the most accessible possible. In addition, we always advise our clients to design tests that adhere to the principles of fair testing outlined by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities guidelines for adaptive testing, which can be found at: http://www.c-c-d.org/task_forces/education/CCD_Computer_Adaptive_Testing_final.pdf.
Part V: Aftermath, or, What’s Next?
…Suffice to say, I do not feel that I am a hero or a role model. Heroes and role models do the right thing, regardless of consequences, because of a well-formed sense of right and wrong based on well-developed principles.
Me? Arne Duncan of the U.S. Department of Education sent down a bunch of unproven education policies that harmed not one, but two of my children over the past two years. I went to Wisconsin because I was a rage-filled dad. I was a father who was able to tap into a Doctoral level education as well as his “inner A-Hole.” The e-mail sent to my wife by Professor Pesta was influential in my decision, but it was not what fueled my passion. Nelson Mandela I am not.
A parent wrote me last night and asked if I was going to send a copy of this treatise along with the clip of my testimony to the very same Utah Board of Education that ignored my public pleas as a father. I did not respond at the time, but here is my emphatic reply: No.
With a few clicks of a mouse on Google, interested parties, parents, and activist groups can find close to 100 pages of my written opinions, multiple video testimonies, and radio/television interviews. There is nothing more to say.
I did, however, hire a publicist yesterday after my cell phone started ringing off the hook with media requests and my Facebook page filled up with everything from a marriage proposal, to a guy in Georgia who called me a “House Negro.” My days of putting myself out there via attempts to reform public school education are over. It appears from the size of her operation that Julie Jakob of Jakob Marketing Partners does not need a business plug from me, but perhaps it may save our clinic some money when the first invoice arrives (http://www.jakobmp.com).
In addition to answering inquiries and protecting the brand of my wife’s clinic that may come under siege because her husband “lost his mind”, I will be using this firm to assist those without means to obtain the state-of-the-art services my wife’s educational psychology clinic offers. Jakob Marketing Partners will be responsible for touting a future webpage/link that will solicit donations from this community to help children whose families are not otherwise in a position to help them.
In 2014, we will be proud to announce the formation of the “Booker-Dewey Early Life Scholarship Foundation” which will be the vehicle for securing funds for those children in Utah with unique learning disabilities to obtain services not offered in public schools.
The scholarship is named after two highly influential people in my life. The first is my recently deceased grandmother, Lizzette Booker. While living in the sticks of West Virginia without plumbing, she raised two African-American daughters who obtained college degrees. She also obtained one herself when she was 70 years old. John Dewey is a former classmate of mine who saved my life during a difficult time during my long journey to obtain my doctorate degree. You would not be reading this letter if it was not for either of them. Their legacy will ensure that the lives of at least some vulnerable children in the States of Utah and California will be able to take advantage of the talents of the next generation of clinical psychologists. I placed emphasis on the word “next” because my time at the clinic needs to come to an end.
I have a three-year-old that is (still) waiting for her dad to help her learn to “poop in the potty”.
I also need to contribute my time and talents to the “Booker-Dewey Foundation”. Someone sent me a message two days ago stating that there is a book about Common Core on Amazon that apparently is making profit off the fruits of my many interesting journeys as a reluctant “activist.” I figure I could probably do the book thing better, since they were my experiences. All proceeds will be donated to the Foundation. I would encourage you all reading this to “Like”the Clinic’s Facebook page so you can be informed of future developments of the foundation and the upcoming e-book.
Thank you, State of Wisconsin, for this opportunity. Please remember and practice the mantra, “Parents are, and must always be, the resident experts of their own children.”
Why? Because “They are not bigger than your children.”
Dr. Gary T. Thompson
Director of Clinical Training and Community Advocacy Services
Early Life Child Psychology and Education Center, Inc.
Thank you, Dr. Thompson.
Subservience to truly stupid ideas –like dumbing down high school math for economic gain– was never meant to be the destiny of the free American people.
Yet that is what has happened to American education under Common Core. In the video testimony of Common Core creator Jason Zimba, in recent articles by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), in the written testimony of Common Core validation members Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram, and in the 2013 Common Core report of the National Center for Education and the Economy (NCEE) we see that Common Core math deliberately diminishes and weakens, rather than adding to, high school math standards.
At the American Institutes for Research (AIR) website, (FYI, this is the company that writes Utah’s Common Core math and English test) there are articles claiming that it’s in the best interest of the taxpayers that more students should only aim for a two year college degree.
AIR dismisses the idea that a student might WANT to learn more than what is available at the associates’ degree level. Individual desires and rights don’t even factor into the collectivism of education reform.
AIR fails to address the fact that not all college educations are tax-funded; some people actually pay for their own tuition. AIR takes the socialist view that taxpayers are “stakeholders” so they should determine whether a student may or may not get more education. AIR says: “Do graduates who earn an associate’s degree and participate in the labor force experience returns, such as higher wages, that justify the costs incurred by them in obtaining that degree? Do taxpayers receive a positive return on their investment in the production of associate’s degrees?”
Professor Sandra Stotsky, who served on the official Common Core Validation Committee, has written an article, Common Core Math Standards Do Not Prepare U.S. Students for STEM Careers. How Come?” (It is posted in full at Heritage Foundation’s website.)
Dr. Stotsky writes that states adopted Common Core math because they were told that it would make high school students “college- and career-ready” and would strengthen the pipeline for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), but it is clear this claim was not true. Stotsky reminds us that Professor James Milgram has testified to the fact that common core math dumbed down U.S. high school standards.
With the exception of a few standards in trigonometry, the math standards END after Algebra II, reported Stanford emeritus professor James Milgram (Milgram was also an official member of the Common Core validation committee.)
Both Milgram and Stotsky refused to sign off on the academic quality of the national standards, and made public their explanation and criticism of the final version of Common Core’s standards.
Stotsky points out that the lead mathematics standards writers themselves were telling the public how LOW Common Core’s high school math standards were. At a March 2010 meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Jason Zimba, a lead writer, told the board that the standards are “not only not for STEM, they are also not for selective colleges.”
Yet, strangely, Stotsky was the only member of the board who expressed concern upon hearing Zimba’s words. Watch that one minute video here.
“U.S. government data show that only one out of every 50 prospective STEM majors who begin their undergraduate math coursework at the precalculus level or lower will earn bachelor’s degrees in a STEM area. Moreover, students whose last high school mathematics course was Algebra II or lower have less than a 40 percent chance of earning any kind of four-year college degree.”
Not only that: Stotsky points out that in January 2010, William McCallum, another lead mathematics standards writer, told a group of mathematicians: “The overall standards would not be too high, certainly not in comparison [to] other nations, including East Asia, where math education excels.”
Dr. Stotsky also notes that there are “other consequences to over 46 states having a college readiness test with low expectations.” The U.S. Department of Education’s competitive grant program, Race to the Top, required states to place students who have been admitted by their public colleges and universities into credit-bearing (non-remedial) mathematics (and English) courses if they have passed a Common Core–based “college readiness” test. Stotsky writes: “Selective public colleges and universities will likely have to lower the level of their introductory math courses to avoid unacceptably high failure rates.”
Stotsky says, “It is still astonishing that over 46 boards of education adopted Common Core’s standards—usually at the recommendation of their commissioner of education and department of education staff—without asking the faculty who teach mathematics and English at their own higher education institutions (and in their own high schools) to do an analysis of Common Core’s definition of college readiness… Who could be better judges of college readiness?”
Read the rest of Stotsky’s article here.
What about NCEE? Surely the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) would not want to dumb down your child!
In the 2013 report from NCEE, “What Does It Really Mean to be College and Career Ready?” it recommends that we all throw out the higher math we used to teach in high schools in America.
“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.”
Read the rest of the NCEE report here.
When will people stop saying that Common Core standards are legitimate preparation for 4 year colleges? It so obviously isn’t true.
When will people admit that Common Core caters to a low common denominator and robs high achievers and mid-achievers? Probably never. Proponents pushed Common Core on Americans for a deliberate purpose: so that politicians and the private corporations they’ve partnered with, can analyze, punish and reward those who have forgotten that they have real rights under a real Constitution to direct and control their own affairs.
Thank you, Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram for your tireless testimonies about American education reforms that hurt our children and our country.
Democratic Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey has written a vital letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan about the loss of student privacy under new education reforms. The Senator asks the Secretary eight great questions. My favorite is question #2.a): “Should parents, not schools, have the right to control information about their children?”
Senator Markey’s full letter is posted below. Please share it with your senators and with your state superintendents, who may, by their connection to the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and its partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, have sway in getting to real answers more quickly.
October 22, 2013
The Honorable Arne Duncan
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202
Dear Secretary Duncan:
The efficient collection, analysis and storage of K-12 students’ academic records holds promise for improving scholastic performance and closing the achievement gap. By collecting detailed personal information about students’ test results and learning abilities, educators may find better
ways to educate their students. However, putting the sensitive infomation of students in private hands raises a number of important questions about the privacy rights of parents and their children.
According to a recent article in The New York Times (“Decidir1g Who Sees Students’ Data”, October 5, 2013), a growing number of school districts are outsourcing data storage functions to private companies. This change, the companies assert, will “streamline access to students’ data to bolster the market for educational products”. While better analysis of student reading may, for example, help educators better target the appropriate reading materials to students, disclosure of such information, which mayr extend well beyond the specific private company hired by the school district to a constellation of other firms with which the district does not have a business relationship, raises concerns about the degree to which student privacy mayI be compromised.
Moreover, as the article cited above also explains, sensitive information such as students’ behavior and participation patterns also may be included in files outsourced to third-party data firms and potentially distributed more widely to additional companies without parental consent.
Such loss of parental control over their child’s educational records and performance information could have longstanding consequences for the future prospects of students.
Recent changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) permit “schools to share student data, without notifying parents, with companies to which they have outsourced core functions like scheduling or data management,” according to the Times article. The infomation shared with private companies mayr vary from infomation such as grades, test scores, and attendance records, to other sensitive data such as disability, family relationships, and
In an effort to understand the Department’s views on the impact of increased collection and distribution of student data on their privacy, I respectfully request that the Department provide answers to the follow questions:
1) In 2008 and 2011, the Department issued new regulations with respect to FERPA that addressed how schools can outsource core functions such as scheduling or data management and how third parties may access confidential information about students. These changes also permit other government agencies that are not under the direct control of state educational authorities, such as state health departments, to access student infomation. Please explain those changes.
a. Why did the Department make these changes?
b. Did the Department perform any analysis regarding the impact of these changes on student privacy? If yes, please provide it. If not, why not?
2) Has the Department performed an assessment ofthe types of infomation that are shared by schools with third party vendors, including but not limited to Contact information, grades, disciplinary data, test scores, curriculum planning, attendance records, academic subjects, course levels, disabilities, family relationships, and reasons for enrollment? If yes, please provide it. If not, why not?
a. Should parents, not schools, have the right to control infomation about their children even when their data is in the hands of a private company?
b. Do you believe that parents should have the right to choose which infomation is shared by schools with third party vendors and which is kept confidential?
In other words, is it the Department’s view that some elements of personal data are more sensitive than others, and therefore deserve greater protections?
2) Has the Department issued federal standards or guidelines that detail what steps schools should take to protect the privacy of student records that are stored and used by private companies? For example, are there guidelines about access to the information, how long it can be retained, hcw it will be used, whether it will be shared with other parties (including but not limited to colleges to which students apply), and if it can be sold to others? lf yes, please provide those standards 0r guidelines. If not, why not and will the Department undertake the development and issuance of such guidelines?
4) Are there minimization requirements that require private companies to delete information that is not necessary to enhance educational quality for students?
5) Do students and their families continue to have the right to access their personal infomation held by private companies as they would if their personal information were held by educational institutions? If yes, please explain how students and families may exercise this right and how they should be informed of the existence of this right. If not, why not?
6) While there are significant potential benefits associated with better collection and analysis of student data, does the Department believe that there also are possible risks when students’ personal infomation is shared with such ñrms and third parties? If yes, what is the Department doing to mitigate these risks? If not, why not?
7) Does the Department require entities that access student data to have security measures in place, including encryption protocols or other measures, to prevent the loss of or acquisition of data that is transferred between schools and third parties? What security measures does the Department require that private companies have in place to safeguard the data once it is stored in their systems?
8) Does the Department monitor whether these third parties are safeguarding students’ personal infomation and abide by FERPA or guidelines released by the Department? If yes, please explain. If not, why not?
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Please provide written responses to these questions no later than November 12, 2013. If you have any questions, please have a member of your staff contact Joseph Wender on Senator Markey’s staff at 202-224-2742.
Edward J. Markey
United States Senator
Thank you, Senator Markey.
The story of Common Core and data mining begins as most stories do, with a huge, unmet need.
Self-appointed “stakeholder” know-it-alls at the federal level (also at state, corporate, and even university levels) determined that they had the right, and the need, for open access to personal student data– more so than they already had.
They needed state school systems to voluntarily agree to common data core standards AND to common learning standards to make data comparisons easy. They didn’t care what the standards were, as teachers and parents and students do; they only cared that the standards would be the same across the nation.
So, without waiting around for a proper vote, they did it. The CEDS (Common Education Data Standards) were created by the same people who created and copyrighted Common Core: the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). No surprise.
Because the federal “need” to control schools and data was and is illegal and unconstitutional –the federal government “needed” to do (and did) at least six sneaky things.
SIX SNEAKY THINGS THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION DID TO DEPRIVE YOUR CHILD OF PRIVACY:
1. Sneaky Thing Number One: It bribed the states with ARRA Stimulus monies to build 50 linkable, twinlike State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS). This act created a virtual national database.
These SLDS’s had to be interoperable within states and outside states with a State Interoperability Framework. Utah, for example, accepted $9.6 million to create Utah’s SLDS. Think about it. All states have an SLDS, and they are built to be interoperable. How is this not a de facto national database?
2. Sneaky Thing Number Two: It altered the (previously privacy-protective) federal FERPA (Family Educational Rights Privacy Act) law to make access to personally identifiable student data –including biological and behavioral data– “legal”.
So now, the act of requiring parental consent (to share personally identifiable information) has been reduced from a requirement to just a “best practice” according to the altered federal FERPA regulations.
For more information on this, study the lawsuit against the Department of Education by the Electronic Information Privacy Center (EPIC).
The Department of Ed also altered FERPA’s definitions of terms, including what would be defined as “personally identifiable information”.
So personally identifiable, shareable information now includes biometric information, (which is behavioral and biological information) collected via testing, palm scanning or iris scanning, or any other means. Schools have not been told that the information they submit to the state SLDS systems are vulnerable to federal and corporate perusal. Legislators write bills that call for the testing of behavioral indicators– but have they considered how this can damage a student’s lifelong need for, and right to, privacy?
The Department of Education openly promotes schools collecting data about students’ personalities and beliefs in the report called “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance.” This document promotes the use of facial expression cameras, posture analysis seats, wireless skin conductance sensors and other measures of students’ beliefs and emotions. See page 44.
3. Sneaky Thing Number Three: The US Department of Education partnered with private groups, including the CCSSO (that’s the Council of Chief State School Officers –copyright holders on Common Core–) to collect student data nationally.
The CCSSO, or “Superintendents’ Club” as I like to call it, is a private group with no accountability to voters. This makes it in-valid and un-American, as far as governance goes. The CCSSO has a stated mission: to disaggregate student data. Disaggregate means to take away anonymity.
The CCSSO states that it has a mission to collect data nationally in partnership with the US Dept of Ed: “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.
The CCSSO site states that its data collection effort is a USDOE partnership: “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 Staes Department of Education.”
(Do you recall voting for this arrangement, anyone? Anyone? –Me neither! )
4. Sneaky Thing Number Four: It used private-public partnerships to promote data linking among agencies. The Data Quality Campaign is one example. The National Data Collection Model is another example. The Common Educational Data Standards is another example.
What do these “models” really model?
Example one: from the Data Quality Campaign: “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.”
Let that sink in: linking data from schools, medical clinics, and criminal justice systems is the goal of the Federal-to-CCSSO partnership. So nothing will be kept from any governmental agency; nothing is to be sacred or private if it is known by an SLDS serving entity (any state-funded, state-accountable school).
Example two: from the National Data Collection Model:
your child’s name
bus stop times
languages and dialects spoken
number of attempts at a given assignment
nonschool activity involvement
maternal last name
– and even cause of death.
Proponents point out that this is not mandatory federal data collection. True; not yet. But it’s a federally partnered data model and many states are following it.
5. Sneaky Thing Number Five: The Department of Ed created grants for Common Core testing and then mandated that those testing groups synchronize their tests, report fully and often to the U.S. Department of Education, share student-level data, and produce “all student-level data in a manner consistent with an industry-recognized open-licensed interoperability standard that is approved by the Department”.
So federally funded Common Core tests require Common data interoperability standards.
Check out that Cooperative Agreement document here.
But, do you think this “Agreement” information does not apply to you because your state dropped its SBAC or PARCC membership –as several states have? Think again. There is an incestuous, horrific pool of private and public organizations, all of which are VOLUNTARILY agreeing to Common Core based, technological interoperability and data collection standards!
The Data Quality Campaign lists as its partners dozens of groups– not only the CCSSO and NGA (Common Core creators), not only the College Board –which is now run by the lead architect of Common Core, David Coleman; –not only Achieve, Inc., the group that contracted with CCSSO/NGO to write the Common Core, but even the School Interoperability Framework Association, the Pell Institute (Pell Grants), Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, American Institutes for Research (Utah’s Common Core testing provider) and many other Common Core product-providing organizations.
So virtually everyone’s doing data the same way whether they’re privately or publically funded. This should freak anybody out. It really should. We the People, individuals, are losing personal power to these public-private partnerships that cannot be un-elected and that are not subject to the transparency laws of elected offices.
6. Sneaky Thing Number Six: The Department of Education directly lied to the American Society of News Editors. In a June 2013 speech given to the American Society of News Editors, Secretary Duncan mocked the concerns of parents and educators who are fighting Common Core and its related student data mining:
“A new set of standards — rigorous, high-quality learning standards, developed and led by a group of governors and state education chiefs — are under attack as a federal takeover of the schools. And your role in sorting out truth from nonsense is really important… They make.. outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t. And let’s not even get into the really wacky stuff: mind control, robots, and biometric brain mapping. This work is interesting, but frankly, not that interesting.”
Despite what the state school board and the federal Department of Education claim, corporations do know that Common Core and student data mining are interdependent.
CEO of Escholar Shawn Bay spoke at a recent White House event called “Datapalooza.” He said (see his speech on this video, at about minute 9:15) that Common Core “is the glue that actually ties everything together” for student data collection.
And President Obama himself has called his educational and data related reforms so huge that they are “cradle to career” -affecting reforms. Secretary Duncan now refers to the reforms not as “K-12″ but as “p-12″ meaning preschool/prenatal. These reforms affect the most vulnerable, but not in a positive way, and certainly not with voters’ knowledge and consent.
The sneakiness and the privacy invasion isn’t just a federal wrong; there’s state-level invasion of local control, too: to be specific, our state’s robbing parents of the right to fully govern their own children.
When I asked my state school board how to opt out of having my children tracked by the State Longitudinal Database System, I was told that the answer was no. There was no way to opt out, they said: all children registered in any state school system (charters, online schools, homeschool-state hybrid programs) are tracked by the SLDS. Here’s that letter.
Despite Constitutional and G.E.P.A.-law prohibitions, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan admitted that “The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more”. Duncan also said, “America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform.” (Yes, it’s been so quiet that the people governed by it weren’t asked about this revolution.)
Yet, federal speeches, and scholarly research conferences and corporate marketers now openly push for common standards and common data systems. From the official White House website to federal educational grant applications to federally partnered corporate sites, to Secretary Duncan’s speeches, there are countless examples to show that the priorities of the federal government are these four things: 1) standards 2) staff 3) “robust” national data systems 4) labeling certain schools as low-achieving.
And the data product sales companies couldn’t agree more.
Common Core proponents insist that Common Core has nothing to do with data mining. But the federal government always bundles the common standards and the data systems, always. This federal push for common data standards and common education standards ought to be household knowledge. That is step number one, seeing the federal patterns and federal pushes for what they are.
So, what difference does it make? I hear people say that since they have nothing to hide, they’re unconcerned about who’s tracking their children or their families without consent.
I say our founding fathers didn’t write the Constitution without inspiration.
The Constitution describes the God-given right to privacy:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
How easy will it be for those with access to the national databases to label a person as behaviorally unstable and therefore, unworthy of passing a background check for a job or for a gun purchase? How easy will it be for those with access to the databases to search and seize anything at all that they deem inappropriate, that they deem threatening, that they deem theirs?
Privacy is not properly protected by our state school systems and those who ought to know this, don’t. It’s not their fault; the truth has been carefully, quietly hidden. But widespread knowledge of the facts can –and must-- alter these facts.
Postscript: About Control
State school boards tell citizens to give them feedback on the Common Core Standards, and not to discuss anything else related to Common Core or its governance structures.
But citizens have the right to determine what will be discussed; this is America. And any discussion of the standards themselves can only be very temporarily relevant.
Why is academic argument about Common Core only temporarily relevant?
Because two private D.C. trade groups, the NGA (Governors’ club) and the CCSSO (Superintendents’ club) own the standards and have copyrighted them. They alone control the standards. The states do not; nor do the voters in the states.
Inside the state: We can alter the standards only by 15%, according to federal mandates and the writings of the private trade groups that created the standards.
Outside the state: We have no voice in future alterations to the standards. There is no written amendment process outlined for states to have a voice in “their” standards. There is no representative process. That’s why Common Core is unAmerican.
This is why we call Common Core education without representation. It is also accurate to call the education reform package citizen surveillance without warrant, as detailed above.
For a 15-minute crash-course on the connection between Common Core and student data mining, watch this video by Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project:
My jaw is on the ground.
Not only is teen Patrick Richardson’s powerpoint presentation excellent, but as a kid –free of the parental panic that is quite paralyzing to many adults– he finds humor in the horror story of the takeover of U.S. education!
For example, at minute 16:48 Patrick says:
“How will student data be collected? This is another funny topic when you start asking people who are supposed to know the answers, because they swear up and down that they aren’t collecting this data, they never will, they never have. They tell you no. Bottom line is, they’re sort of being bypassed too.”
Then he goes on to show exactly how it’s happening.
I LOVE THIS BOY!
Patrick Richardson is the 2013 version of the boy in “The Emperor’s New Clothes” who dares say out loud, that the darn emperor is stark naked. And he’s right.
At the Arkansas Against Common Core site, you will find this video, and an introduction to the remarkable Patrick Richardson. The site explains:
“Grace Lewis, founder and organizer of Arkansas Against Common Core, did not know the power she would unleash when she asked a technologically savvy local youth to help her create a website for Arkansas Against Common Core. Patrick Richardson, a then 15 year old youth with high personal standards and a vast interest in technology, answered that request when he presented Mrs. Lewis with an organized, well researched, fact based website… shocked and elated, Mrs. Lewis asked Richardson if he would also like to speak at the upcoming House and Senate Joint Education Committee Interim Study on Common Core. He was up to the challenge and showed up at the hearing with a presentation that completely amazed everyone including the Joint Education Committee and the State Department of Education. No one was prepared for Patrick’s well researched power point presentation on the money trail behind Common Core. He left many with dropped jaws and stunned faces.”
Read the rest.
This week, a group of Florida parents, supported by parents and educators nationwide, released an executive order, demanding an end to Common Core and the parentally unauthorized student data mining that’s taking place in every state.
As parents, we claim the privilege of directing our childrens’ educations, free from SLDS (state longitudinal database tracking systems), free from Common Core-aligned testing, standards, or “model” curriculum; free from private trade group EIMAC/CCSSO data collection, free from federal micromanagement, free from federal “accountability”; free from the both student and teacher data mining and tracking that is offensive to individual liberty and to Constitutional, local control.
As parents and teachers, we claim the privilege outlined in the Declaration of Independence that government is by consent of the governed. We, the governed, have not been asked nor have we approved these unvetted standards and systems. Therefore, any governance of children or school staff under the Common Core agenda is simply invalid.
Why: The promises of the promoters of the Common Core Standards do not add up. The evidence is overwhelming, and increases daily, that the Common Core agenda damages where it claims to serve; yet those who push back against the Common Core agenda are disrespected by school boards and in hearings around the nation. This is outrageous. We are the children’s parents; children are not the government’s human capital” despite what the Department of Education repeatedly claims.
Along with the executive order, parents have issued a longer, referenced document that explains the reasoning behind the executive order. This document is entitled “Welcome to the Common Core Fuzzy Math: Common Core Equals Conditions Plus Coercion Plus Conflict of Interest.”
Please pass this message along.
Here is a partial list of all the parent-educator groups working to fight the federal-and-corporate partnered machine of Common Core.
■Colorado: https://www.facebook.com Mesa County Citizins/Businesses Against Common Core Curriculum & Colorado Parents Against Common Core
■Florida (Central): https://www.facebook.com/groups/CentralFPACC/?fref=ts
■Louisiana: http://www.facebook.com/StopCommonCoreLa andhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-Common-Core-in-Louisiana/325178490918603?fref=ts
■New Hampshire:https://www.facebook.com/NHSchoolChoice; https://www.facebook.com/StopCommonCoreInNH?ref=hl; https://www.facebook.com/CornerstonePolicyResearch?ref=hl
■New Hampshire: http://nhfamiliesforeducation.org/;https://www.facebook.com/groups/nhfamiliesforeducation
■New Mexico: http://www.facebook.com/StopCommonCoreInNewMexico
■New Jersey: https://www.facebook.com/pages/CURE-NJ/274974855970782
■New Jersey: https://www.facebook.com/groups/220888071386355
■New Jersey: http://www.facebook.com/groups/363967600385017/
■New York: https://www.facebook.com/groups/607166125977337/
■New York (State Island specifically): http://www.facebook.com/groups/638305829518125/
■New York (Long Island specifically): https://www.facebook.com/groups/141680156005331/
■North Carolina: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-Common-Core-in-NC/150345585132550?fref=ts
■North Dakota: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-Common-Core-in-North-Dakota/431076243650481
■ Ohio: ohioansagainstcommoncore.com
■Rhode Island: https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=542616145789229&_mn_=11&refid=7&_ft_=qid.5865817560745279255%3Amf_story_key.-1168715708737317007
■Rhode Island: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-common-core-in-Rhode-Island/542616145789229?ref=ts&fref=ts
■South Carolina: https://www.facebook.com/StopCommonCoreInSouthCarolina?ref=stream
■South Dakota: http://www.facebook.com/SouthDakotansAgainstCommonCore
■South Dakota: http://www.facebook.com/groups/stop.common.core.in.south.dakota/
■Washington State Group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/WAstateAgainstCommonCore/?fref=ts
■Washington State Page: http://stopcommoncorewa.wordpress.com/
■West Virginia: https://www.facebook.com/pages/WV-Against-Common-Core/359684890815537
■Special Education Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/249171258560458/249174031893514/?comment_id=249175028560081¬if_t=group_comment
Rep. John Hikel, a Republican Member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives since 2008, often shares this quote from Thomas Jefferson:
“The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then”.
A little rebellion is exactly what’s happening in New Hampshire, as more and more parents and legislators are waking up to the takeover of education by corporate and federal forces. Rep. Hikel is asking New Hampshire citizens to sign the petition, to stop common core.
New Hampshire may be at an advantage constitutionally (state-constitutionally). As Representative Hikel reminds people, there is a New Hampshire redress allowance to repeal problems (such as common core.) It states, in part 1, article 31: “The legislature shall assemble for the redress of public grievances and for making such laws as the public good may require”.
Rep. Hikel notes that article 32 also states that the people have the right to instruct their representatives to redress wrongs:
[Art.] 32. [Rights of Assembly, Instruction, and Petition.] The people have a right, in an orderly and peaceable manner, to assemble and consult upon the common good, give instructions to their representatives, and to request of the legislative body, by way of petition or remonstrance, redress of the wrongs done them, and of the grievances they suffer.
Hikel explains: “Most states have a redress process but New Hampshire is the only one that has a mandate written in its Constitution– that the People are guaranteed redress. People need to know their full authority.”
To read more about inherent parental rights over the children’s educational system, or to sign the NH petition, or to read the September 2013 testimony of New Hampshire Parents for Education against Commmon Core click here.
Common Core Down: Crossing the Line
An Open Letter to Parent Advocates for Local Control
Guest Post –by someone who wishes to remain anonymous
The Common Core is going down.
It is going down one way or another. It will happen sooner in some places and later in others. In large part it is going to go down as a result of your efforts and the efforts of countless and nameless others like you. It will go down in spite of the efforts of the likes of Boeing, Microsoft, Exxon, Gates, the federal government and the rest of the human capital/workforce pipeline driven corporate entities, within and without our country (read that as global corporations). They have been messing with the education of students in our country for decades now. They have gone too far this time. They have crossed the line.
Let me tell you about that line. If you are a birder or someone who enjoys nature you may have experience with this. On a number of occasions I have been out in the wild and spotted nests in trees and cliff aeries of owls, falcons, and hawks when there have been young ones in the nest. It usually was the cries of the young ones in the nest that attracted my attention. The momma bird has a protective eagle eye (pun intended). I have approached and found the line. The line was never visible. I knew I found the line when I stepped too close and the momma bird took flight and started to attack me. One step back and momma bird, while still on guard, would cease her attack. That is how you know where the line is—-when momma starts to attack out of a maternal instinct to protect her offspring.
This line occurs elsewhere in nature and not just with birds of prey. You do not want to get between a momma bear and her cub or between a cow moose and her calf (I have watched the nostrils flare and the ears lay back on a cow moose). If you do, you are in danger. And I never want to get so far across the line with a bird of prey or any other living creature that I can’t rapidly, within one step, retreat across the unseen line.
Well, they, with the CCSS and related issues, have crossed the line. As a result the CCSS is in serious danger. The CCSS and related issues have been placed smack between parents and their children and as a result are or will be seen as an imminent threat. And parents, in particular, moms, are on the attack as maternal instincts kick in to protect their offspring from accurately perceived physical, emotional, and/or intellectual harm.
The common core could and should go down for any number of reasons—federal overreach, constitutional issues, content, cost, privacy… but it really is going to go down because it has crossed the invisible line that will invoke the protective parental nature. That is what will bring it down. All of you have been instrumental in helping, and must continue to help, parents see where that line is.
I have been tracking issues related to CCSS since spring of 2009. It was a rare article that could be found at that time about it and it was usually one glowing with what we now see as the standard boiler plate blather. As time progressed it was a busy day if there were three to five articles about the CCSS. Of course, they were all positive about the CCSS or promoting the CCSS. That continued for some time. At some point a rare article would appear that was negative towards the CCSS. Over time that grew—-now I see what appears to be as many anti=CCSS articles as pro-CCSS. Even after filtering out many articles, it is common to see 10 to 30+ new articles a day. A significant portion of those articles is about the push back against the CCSS or they are anti-CCSS. With the increase in articles it is hard to find the time to read them all. It is easy to see that the CCSS is in trouble. The CCSS is not just in trouble it is in serious trouble. At this point only a small portion of parents have realized the line has been crossed. More will realize it soon enough.
Don’t let up. Keep the pressure on and help others learn to see the line and what it means to them and the future of their children. Keep up the good work!
Thank you, anonymous friend, for this guest post.
A few weeks ago, Vacaville, California hosted a pro- and con- Common Core Forum.
Speakers include Bill Evers, of Hoover Institute, Stanford University; Wendy Hart, of Alpine School Board, Alpine, Utah; Daly Gordon Koch, 4th grade teacher; Jeannette LaFors, former teacher and education analyst.
Pro Common Core:
Daly Jordan Koch, California Teachers Association teachers union
Jeannette LaFors, Education West-West
Con Common Core:
Bill Evers, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution
Wendy Hart, parent, Highland, Utah
Opening statements begin at minute 11:30, followed by a round table discussion, questions and responses among panelists; and questions and answers with audience members.
In January 1986 I was a high school student in Orlando, watching out the window as the Challenger Space Shuttle launched about fifty miles away. Christa MacAuliffe, the first teacher in space, was being launched with a seven member crew.
Then we all saw the explosion in the sky.
The plumes represented total failure and the deaths of seven people. Christa MacAuliffe perished along with every one of the seven members of the Challenger crew– a horrible, history-scarring launch. But.
What wasn’t widely known until years later was that the Challenger disaster had been avoidable.
Top engineers had alterted NASA not to launch. Memos had been circulated. Calls had been made but ignored. Groupthink had taken over.
NASA chose to ignore legitimate concerns –under financial and cultural pressures. That decision to ignore proved disasterous to the entire country.
Today, launch-executives of Common Core (including School Boards/PTA/NGA/CCSSO/Bill Gates’-funded thinktanks) are choosing to ignore concerns because of financial pressure. This will prove disasterous to the children and teachers now being launched into Common Core.
The morning of the Challenger’s launch, Florida temperatures were very cold.
As NASA has documented:
NASA remembered that the builder of the shuttle, Morton-Thiokol, had been concerned about low temperature launches and made a call to the Utah headquarters.
“A manager came by my room and asked me if I was concerned about an 18 degree launch,” recalled Morton Thiokol engineer Bob Ebeling. “I said ‘What?’ – because we’re only qualified to 40 degrees. I said, ‘What business does anyone even have thinking about 18 degrees, we’re in no man’s land.’”
The O-rings had never been tested below freezing.
The Senior Representative for Morton Thiokol, at the Kennedy Space Center, Alan McDonald, refused to sign off that the project was ready and safe; he said temperatures were too cold to safely use the booster motors Morton Thiokol had built.
But his supervisors in Utah OVERRULED HIM and faxed a signature to NASA indicating that the company approved the launch anyway. (Doesn’t this remind you of the way the state school boards are overruling concerned, local superintendents, teachers, parents and administrators?)
It wasn’t just the temperatures on that day that were a problem. It wasn’t just the fact that they hadn’t tested the O-rings at these temperatures. Problems had been percolating all along. Months earlier, in October 1985, engineer Bob Ebeling had sent out a memo with the subject heading, “HELP!”
The purpose of Ebeling’s memo was to draw attention to dangerous structural errors in engineering. Roger Boijoly, yet another Morton Thiokol Engineer, validated Ebeling and McDonald, saying that the management’s style, the atmosphere at Morton Thiokol, dis-allowed dissent. (Doesn’t this description remind you of the atmosphere of the State Office of Education which treats dissenting voices on Common Core as “misinformed” and insubordinate?)
Boijoly testified that “Many opportunities were available to structure the work force for corrective action, but the Morton Thiokol management style would not let anything compete or interfere with the production and shipping of boosters. The result was a program which gave the appearance of being controlled while actually collapsing from within due to excessive technical and manufacturing problems as time increased.”
Why were these whistleblowers ignored? This question lingers. Many university courses use the Challenger disaster as a case study in the dangers of groupthink and the importance of listening to dissenting voices –even when listening means risking great financial and cultural pressures.
(See samples of university case studies of the Challenger ethics/groupthink disaster here and here.)
Today, the Florida Department of Education uses this image on its website, calling it “Countdown to Common Core.” It is eerie but it’s real.
Eerie logo or not, most states in the US are launching these un-vetted, un-tested, un-piloted, un-constitutionally governed Common Core standards. And whistleblowers who testify that this launch must be stopped, are being marginalized and scorned, rather than being heard.
Here are five parallels between the launch of Common Core and the launch of the 1986 Challenger.
1. In both cases, teachers were placed in harm’s way yet they nobly and confidently took on the high-risk role.
2. In both cases, there was a lack of pilot testing and a lack of proper study of the structure of the thing that was to be launched.
See Professor Christopher Tienken’s condemnation of the launching of Common Core without pilot testing in his research paper, here. See the side-by-side studies of pre and post Common Core academic standards, commissioned by Senator William Ligon of Georgia, here. See Pioneer Institute’s white paper on the rapid, unvetted implementation of Common Core across the nation, here.
3. In both cases, leading experts risked reputation and careers to be whistleblowers, to stop the doomed launches.</strong>
See expert educators’ testimonies here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.
4. In both cases, whistleblowers were marginalized and leadership forged ahead, heedlessly.
See how the U.S. Secretary of Education and his corporate allies and pseudo-governmental allies deride the increasing number of dissenting voices.
5. <strong>In both cases, there was no escape hatch provided for those who chose to be onboard.
In the case of the Challenger shuttle, evidence suggests that some if not all of the people on board were alive during part or all of the descent of the cabin after it detached from the rest of the shuttle. It took over 2 minutes for the cabin to crash into the Atlantic. Might lives have been saved if there had been an escape system?
Launch escape systems had been considered several times during shuttle development, but NASA’s conclusion was that the shuttle’s expected high reliability would PRECLUDE THE NEED for one.
In the case of the Common Core launch, again, high expectations for reliability have apparently precluded the need for an escape hatch. While states may technically drop out of the Common Core initiative at any time, it becomes about as realistic to do so as it was for Hansel and Gretel being able to find their trail of crumbs in the woods that might have led them to freedom; with each passing day, that likelihood diminishes.
States are investing hundreds of millions upon hundreds of millions nationwide to create technological infrastructures, teacher trainings, textbook repurchasings, and public advocacy programs to implement Common Core. They are not likely to pull out.
States staying in do try to make these standards feel locally owned, by changing the name from “Common Core” to “Utah Core” or “California Core,” or by adding some of the federally permitted 15% to the Common Core.
But the nationally aligned tests will never take any 15% into account. (How could they? Differing would mean states’ standards were no longer “common.” And then comparisons from state to state would not be useful to the data hungry corporations and governmental “stakeholders” who crave that student testing data)
And if states were to try to get together and actually significantly alter and improve the commonly held standards, GOOD LUCK.
The Common Core State Standards are under private copyright and there’s no amendment process offered outside of that private club which claims to be the “sole developers and owners” of the standards.
Anybody see see an actual, functioning escape hatch for Common Core?
What happens if we decide, down the line, that we don’t like how things are going? How can we regain that control, that copyright, that states-owned amendability of state standards, and that privacy (pre-S.L.D.S?)
I don’t see proper testing or vetting in the history of these standards. Do you?
I don’t see proper discussion of whistleblowers’ concerns. Do you?
I don’t see proponents caring at all for the well-being of the children and teachers being launched without their consent on this thing. Proponents are driven by money and by indebtedness to funders and by the desire for greater power over our children and over all people.
It is time to stop the Common Core launch.
And if we can’t stop this launch– if our leaders choose to ignore all reason and ignore the voices of those who not only have elected them, but who are the first authorities over the children– then it is time to take action and pull our children off the machine.
This press release was issued last month by Pittsburgh Catholics Against Common Core, a group of parents dedicated to educating citizens about, and reversing the adoption of, the Common Core in Catholic schools across the country.
(Below the press release, see the video-statement about why Catholic K-12 private schools are moving to Common Core, by Sister Dale McDonald, Director of NCLA Public Policy.)
National Catholic Educational Association promoting controversial Common Core Standards across the country
Pittsburgh, PA – The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), the largest private professional education organization in the world (according to their website), had its first national conference on June 30, 2013 in Nashville, TN in support of the very controversial Common Core State Standards. It has hosted a total of three conferences in major cities this summer, called “The Cure for the Common Core Conference” in addition to a convention this past spring that presented everything Common Core and “21st Century” education models.
Common Core is being hotly debated right now. Citizens and legislators in cities and states nationwide have sounded the alarm about Common Core and have decried its content and inferior standards. And yet – the NCEA is forging ahead in building and promoting a vast network of resources for Catholic schools centered on Common Core
instruction and content. Sadly, over 100 Diocese across the country have succumbed to the secular influence of the Common Core proponents.
The NCEA is actively promoting and marketing these nationalized one-size fits all standards by providing teaching materials to Catholic Educators all over the country. They have helped create a Catholic version of Common Core, called the Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative (CCCII) that is stated to 1) empower Catholic schools and dioceses to design and direct the implementation of the Common Core standards within the culture and context of a Catholic school curriculum and 2) infuse the Common Core standards with the faith/principles/values/social justice themes inherent in the mission and Catholic identity of the school.
We are hearing from some Dioceses that they are using the Common Core Standards as a “minimum” benchmark for students, because Catholic standards are already so high. One wonders why they are needed if Catholic schools already have such a strong tradition and history of success with their existing standards. It is confounding to think that a minimum is even required when student performance can be, and always has been, measured
against the higher standard. The Common Core proponents tell us that the Common Core standards are more rigorous and require higher order thinking skills. With this, why would they be considered “minimum” standards by Catholic school leaders? This makes no sense.
We are also hearing from our sources in several cities that parents simply cannot get answers from their Diocesan school leaders about how it will be implemented. What parts of Common Core have been approved? What tests will be used? How will technology be used? Is the Diocese using CCCII? Parents are being left in the dark about these major shifts in how their children will be taught and how they will be expected to learn.
This has led us to believe that Diocesan leaders are either very uninformed on this significant shift in Catholic education and are merely reiterating what they were sold, or they are purposefully being elusive.
Under the direction of Dr. Lorraine Ozar, from Loyola University Chicago, and Sr. Dale McDonald, Director of Public Policy for the NCEA, the CCCII has created a massive amount of materials and detailed teaching guidelines, even showing the controversial behavioral psychology methods and philosophies that it is based on (Bloom’s taxonomy, Understanding by Design, Backward Design, Outcome Based Education, digital learning), weeks of unit content by grade and theme – including book lists for 1st grade that contain books referencing same-sex marriage, website links and books promoting social activism, questioning of parental authority and secular ideas such as building a Facebook page to make friends.
The NCEA has declared in a statement on their website that it does not “endorse” the Common Core State Standards. Yet it has fully embraced them; they were a “Launch supporter” of CCCII, according to the CCCII website. Its conferences allowed them to aggressively market this “Catholic” version of Common Core.
According to Dr. Lorraine Ozar in a July 2012 presentation, “Catholic schools need to pay attention to the fact that the common core standards are here and it is important to get on board”. And Sr. Dale McDonald said in an April 2012 video, “even though these are called ‘secular’ standards, there are ways in which we can make them personal to the Catholic School”.
Why do Catholic schools “need to get on board”? Are they worried about accreditation? Will they lose funding from the government in some way? Are they fearful of losing their alliances with Public-private organizations and partnerships?
Why are they embracing such an insidious agenda that is so diametrically opposed to the Catholic
Dioceses are being pushed and swooned in this direction and then guided by the NCEA, when really they should be seizing this opportunity to proclaim the accolades of a traditional Catholic classical education. We could see a true renaissance in Catholic education if school leaders chose to lead and purposefully distinguish themselves from public schools. But if Common Core is implemented in Catholic Schools, will it be worth the sacrifice that families are making to send their children to them? There are so many questions that have gone unanswered.
And we keep asking – why?
Catholic schools surely do not “need to get on board”. There is always a choice. And as this moves forward, many more Catholic parents will be asking the same questions and wanting to take their Catholic schools back.
Pittsburgh Catholics Against Common Core is a group of Catholic parents who are dedicated to educating citizens on the dangers of Common Core in Catholic schools and reversing the adoption of these standards in Catholic schools across the country.
“All these groups want accountability from our children but I demand accountability from them“ – Debbie Higginbotham, Florida mother
FLORIDA’S FIGHT FOR EDUCATION: FREEDOM FROM “THE MACHINE”
By Debbie Higginbotham
In every state across this great nation, parents, grandparents, and great Americans are speaking out loudly against Common Core and the Race to The Top Agreement (RTTT). And they should!
Each state has their grassroots groups and coalitions marching to their state capitols demanding answers on why their children have been sold to the Federal Government.
When I started this personal crusade to save my children’s educational freedoms about a year ago, I had no idea what I was going to encounter. I am just a mom who is enjoying raising six beautiful children with no political aspirations nor experience in debating these political cronies.
Every state has their mountains to climb when fighting CC and ridding their state of these horrible standards and mandates all enclosed with the RTTT. Here in Florida most of our battles are the same, but we are fighting a white elephant in the room as well. That white elephant is Jeb Bush and his foundations and other groups he has “founded” that are promoting “higher standards”.
Many refer to Jeb Bush and his cronies as “The Machine”.
When originally talking with school board members and legislators– and being told that Common Core was here to stay and there was nothing I could do about it, I knew something was not right with this whole thing.
Some legislators were giving me the smile and wink –and I thought I was making progress.
It was pleasing to know, at the time, that my elected officials were taking my complaints to heart because this was going to affect their children as well.
I quickly started doing more research and that old saying of “follow the money trail” came to light so true and it wasn’t just looking into Bill Gates anymore, but looking into Jeb Bush and his involvement with Gates and his continuing efforts to alter Florida’s education system for his own political gain and a bid for the White House.
Those winks and nods were just that, empty promises.
The more I was learning, it soon disgusted me. How can a man with no elected accountability from voters have such an influence on my children’s education?
Everywhere I turned I was hitting the same roadblocks and that was “The Machine”. It wasn’t only Jeb Bush but I came to find out through more digging that Jeb Bush has pretty much bought and paid for almost all of the Republican legislators in office right now, including Governor Rick Scott. Even Lobbyists have a loyalty to him.
Jim Horne is the prominent one.
Back in August, Rick Scott called for an education summit to make it look like he was making an effort of hearing all sides of the education issues. He never showed up at the summit he’d called for, but then decided to further his political career and make decisions about Florida’s children over a bottle of an alcoholic beverage and dinner
on a Thursday evening with “The Machine” and its allies, Chair of the State Board of Education Gary Chartrand, and Republican Rep John Thrasher.
Most recently, Governor Rick Scott issued an Executive Order to withdraw from PARCC and resign from being the lead state. http://www.fldoe.org/news/2013/2013_09_23-2.asp?style=print
He also stated he would hold three district hearings to give parents and experts opportunities to voice their concerns on specific standards within Common Core. Great move on the Governor’s part, but the response from all of us was that this is just smoke and mirrors. Scott was only trying to pacify us, the parents, while still keeping “The Machine” happy.
When will this man stand on his own two feet? Even more disturbing is in the last few days our Education Commissioner, Pam Stewart, has come out and said that even though the hearings will be held, it will not change any outcome continuing with the implementation of Common Core.
REALLY! That just goes to prove it is all smoke and mirrors.
Everywhere we turn this white elephant shows up uninvited! There are little worker bees “The Machine” spreads throughout the state to try and shut us down. They make it their life each day to seek out moms like me and try to prove that we are misinformed about Common Core and how Florida needs higher standards and accountability from our children and teachers.
ACCOUNTABILITY!? Who is holding “The Machine” accountable?
Who is holding the NGA and CCSSO accountable? Let’s not forget ACHIEVE!
All these groups want accountability from our children but I demand accountability from them and what they believe to be best for my children. They have nothing better to do than come after moms and dads like me and call us misinformed! Only my husband and I, the true authorities, know what is best for our children.
“The Machine” has even promoted radio ads to be played boasting the standards on how they will give our children higher learning. The group “Conservatives For Higher Standards” was also involved with making and promoting the ad. We know those two have close ties to each other. The ad also touts making getting into college a fair playing field, no rote memorization, helping kids learn more, and states can opt in or our of the standards along with the lie that there are no DC mandates.
We are working on a counter ad to make sure our voices are right with theirs, and we are not backing down.
We are going to call their lies out.
Debbie Higginbotham is a mighty but tiny, very adorable, very-pregnant-with-her-seventh-child, mother and fredom fighter, who currently homeschools all but her oldest child.
She can be reached via Florida Parents Against Common Core. (www.flparentsagainstcommoncore.com)
Thank you, Debbie.
Jenni White, cofounder of Restore Oklahoma Public Education (R.O.P.E.) is a remarkable mother of five who writes research papers on ed reform with her children at the kitchen table, runs the organization of R.O.P.E., writes a lively education reform blog, creates videos, and also finds time to go (or sends a friend) to monitor each public meeting of the state department of education. Jenni’s videos, essays, memes, and white paper research are exceptional.
She’s very smart, and she’s very, very funny!
Attending the state meetings allowed Jenni/R.O.P.E. to discover (and share) that Oklahoma (like all 50 states) tracks students in a State Longitudinal Database. Attending meetings is also how Jenni and R.O.P.E. realized that Common Core was a network of corporate collusion that uses taxpayers and schools for their gigantic, uniform market base. Reading countless government documents and contracts added to the knowledge base, and now, R.O.P.E.’s website teaches the general population of Oklahoma vital, little-known facts about state and federal education reforms that are hurting children, teachers and taxpayers.
She puts a lot of fun into the dysfunction of education reform, with blogposts like “What Would Einstein Think of Common Core?” or “Critical Thinking and the Common Core – Snake Oil Salesmanship At Its Best!” or “The Dirty Little Secret of Common Core” or “Jeb Bush’s Common Core Valentine.”
She has given permission to repost her writing. Here’s a favorite:
WHAT WOULD EINSTEIN THINK OF COMMON CORE?
I commented on an article today regarding Michigan’s attempts to shake free from the Common Core. Many of the comments came from sadly misinformed individuals who seem to believe that “common” is good and anything to which a large number of others subscribe must amount to some kind of awe-inspiring notion, spawning my concern that none apparently had mothers like mine, who constantly queried, “If Mary was going to jump off a bridge, would you?”
One man began his comment with this, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” (Sign hanging in Einstein’s office at Princeton)
This thought captured my imagination thoroughly. I have been blessed to know a man named Dr. Everett Piper, the President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University. I love to hear him discuss the horrors of Common Core from a philosophical perspective, not only because he is such an excellent orator, but because people tend to forget the philosophical point of view – the notion that ideas shape the human condition and ideas reduced to commonalities do not advance the human condition.
The best opponents of Common Core predicate their arguments on fact – in stark opposition to proponents who tend to use half-truths and lies upon which to base their case – but the philosophy behind our Common Core concerns are palpable and real and I believe we need to advance these arguments at least as often as we tout our facts.
In this thought, I penned the following response:
The Common Core State Standards were written by several individuals – without education degrees I might add – who then, knowing national standards are against federal law, sent them out through a private organization – Achieve – to the nation’s governors and superintendents with the promise of federal money waiting in the wings – 500 BILLION dollars through Race to the Top – if they adopted them for their state sight unseen. It happened here in Oklahoma exactly as it happened in Michigan and all other adopting states.
Granted, the term “Common” was used to mean ubiquitous, however, another meaning for “Common” is the OPPOSITE of “individual”, which begs the question: How in the world can America continue to be seen as the most innovative country in the world when states fully intend to collaboratively adopt standards to “commonize” all students across all states?
How do you INCREASE student knowledge levels by pulling successful students down to the level of the ‘common’?
Are there really that many low performing students in every school in every state in the nation that we need to stop everything to bring them up to the ‘common’ level of each class?
Do we bring down 25 kids for 1 kid or even 6 kids in a class?
If so, then what are we doing to the other 21?
The simple, straightforward answer is that we’re dumbing them down – there is no other characterization possible – and we can’t scream “civil rights” for those at the bottom without inquiring about the “civil rights” of the individuals in the majority being pulled down.
For those of you in the Chamber of Commerce sect, how do you convince a company to come to Michigan when your students will be taught in a thoroughly homogenous way, forcing out uniqueness, drive and imagination – the very qualities necessary to produce the Einstein’s and Edison’s of this world?
How well do you think Einstein would fair with the Common Core?
Do you think we would have had a Theory of Relativity with the Common Core…well silly question…of course we would – the Common Core is nothing if not ‘relative’ among every state and every child.
Common Core is what it is – nonsense dreamed up by well-connected philanthropists (Carnegie, Broad, etc) and innovator/billionaires such as Bill Gates, with a dollar to be made in the education “industry”.
I hope no one escapes the irony imbued in the fact that these people who worked and scrapped and sacrificed to make their dreams reality – who reached the pinnacle of success by truly innovating in America – suddenly seem to forget that the great thing about America – the thing that gave them the ability to get to the top – was the variety inherent in every aspect of the American condition – the FREEDOM to receive the best education one could seek out from the very variety contained within.
Thank you, Jenni White.
By Christy Hooley, Wyoming Teacher (Reposted with permission)
In the course of a year and a half, I have found myself thrown into the midst of what is one of our nation’s greatest grassroots movements. I could have NEVER imagined those short 18 months ago, what my life currently entails, that my love of being in the classroom, the thrill of watching my students grow and learn, building relationships with them, and my colleagues, would have been replaced: Replaced by my desire to help restore, educate, and fix what has long been a broken education system.
Broken….wow, I still can’t believe I am saying that. After all, that has been my goal since I graduated from high school. To be a teacher. I LOVED going to public school. I look up to many of my teachers and colleagues. Mr. Hoyt (who taught for 40+ years in the same position) – was the first teacher to start me on the path of loving music and the clarinet, which ultimately opened up many possibilities in higher education for me over the years. Eric Stemle and Maryanne Bocquin, for instilling a love of the English Language and Literature.
What has caused this deep reflection…
It’s realizing that my passion for education is still alive and well, it has just taken on a new face!
I was recently interviewed by Joy Pullman, and during the interview I described what started me on the path I’m currently on. (Joy Pullmann is a research fellow of The Heartland Institute and managing editor of School Reform News, a national monthly publication. Pullmann has been published in the New York Times, Washington Examiner, The Weekly Standard, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, National Review Online, Real Clear Policy, and various other U.S. newspapers and outlets. She is the author of Heartland’s Policy Document, The Common Core: A Poor Choice for States.)
I highly recommend you read this and encourage others that are looking to find out more on the subject. You can download the full document on their site here, as well as other documents, videos, PowerPoints, and testimonies concerning Common Core.
Joy asked if I was willing to share my experience, as a public school teacher being trained to use Common Core State Standards, and how it lead me to take the position I currently do, against it. I also share my experience with teacher evaluations during the interview.
You can listen to the full interview here: Podcast with Joy Pullman
Part of the interview discusses my experience with the new McREL’s Teacher Evaluation System that the state of Wyoming has adopted.
It assess a teacher’s performance as it relates to the Professional Teaching Standards. These Professional Teaching Standards are the basis for teacher preparation, teacher evaluation, and professional development. Each standard includes the skills and knowledge needed for, what the creators deem, is needed for 21st century teaching and learning.
Here is what is stated on their training materials introductory page:
A NEW VISION OF TEACHING
The different demands on 21st century education dictates new roles for teachers in their classrooms an schools. These new roles reflect a deeper understanding about the content knowledge, skills, competencies, and outcomes that define a successful student in the 21st century. Teachers must understand what comprises a 21st century education and how their practice must reflect the demands of the education in order to realize a new vision of teaching.
These are the standards:
1: Teachers Demonstrate Leadership
2: Teachers Establish a Respectful Environment for a diverse population of students
3. Teachers Know the Content They Teach
4. Teachers Facilitate Learning for Their Students
5. Teachers Reflect on their practice
The standards are broken down with very detailed information for each individual standard. Teachers are rated as either: Developing, Proficient, Accomplished, Distinguished.
I found it extremely concerning at my end of the year evaluation, that my administrator chose not to give me a distinguished verses accomplished rating on the sub section of standard 4:
Standard 4 Section f states “Teachers help students work in teams and develop leadership qualities. Teachers teach the importance of cooperation an collaboration. They organize learning teams in order to help students define roles, strengthen social ties, improve communication and collaborative skills, interact with people from different cultures and backgrounds, and develop leadership qualities.”
My administrator mentioned she felt I needed to attend a particular training about collaborative teams she felt strongly about, before I could be marked higher. We debated it back and forth a bit, but of course it was her ultimate choice where to rate me.
My concern after reflecting on this process, is that this is truly about control, control of how and even what a teacher teaches. What if future circumstances required a higher rating to keep my job, position, or status. I would need to take the training my administrator suggested, even if it was against my personal philosophy as a teacher.
The fact that my administrator can come into my classroom a handful of times, if I’m lucky, and gain a TRUE and ACCURATE understand of my teaching is ludicrous. The majority of the teachers I speak with roll their eyes and just “jump through the hoops”. Test scores being tied into this is something that should wake teachers up!
Recently, I have been encouraged to see a new movement among teachers, rightly named as BATS – The Badass Teacher’s Association. They have a HUGE following on their facebook group of nearly 30,000 members. Their mission and goals are:
MISSION: Badass …Teachers Association was created to give voice to every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality through education. BAT members refuse to accept assessments, tests and evaluations created and imposed by corporate driven entities that have contempt for authentic teaching and learning.
GOALS: BATs aim to reduce or eliminate the use of high stakes testing, increase teacher autonomy in the classroom and work to include teacher and family voices in legislative decision-making processes that affect students.
MEMBERS CAN BE BANNED FOR: Supporting corporate deform entities (TFA, StudentsFirst, Pearson, Bill Gates, etc.); supporting Common Core State Standards; excessive arguing or disrespecting decisions made by the mods/admins/founders, making comments that conflict with the mission of BAT. We oppose the Common Core State Standards.
Some feel it is offensive or unprofessional to use the word “badass” and are uncomfortable with its use. We disagree. As Dr. Naison says: “We’ve had enough. We are not your doormats. We are not your punching bags. We are some of the hardest working, most idealistic people in this country and we are not going to take it anymore. We are going to stand up for ourselves, and stand up for our students even if no organization really supports us. We are Badass. We are legion. And we will force the nation to hear our voice!”
I may not be teaching in public school (I’m starting a private school/homeschool support academy), but they are near and dear to my heart and I’m proud to say I’m part of their movment…even the BADA$$ part, as they put it…
Jenni White, co-founder of ROPE (Restore Oklahoma Public Education) did a wonderful write up concerning this information. She states it perfectly when she asks,
“TEACHER EFFECTIVENESS or CONFORMITY?”
I have been truly blessed to have met some of the most intelligent, hard working, caring, passionate, American loving, patriotic people in this movement! Some of them call themselves “JUST MOMS” as Jenni White so eloquently writes about. These are superwomen that call themselves Mom, but are also Common Core Warriors!
I want to give a special Wyoming Shout OUT to those whom I have had the pleasure to meet and thank them for leading this movement and supporting me!
Michelle Sabrosky and Lisa Glauner – Wyoming Freedom In Education and Stop CC in WY
Amy Edmonds and Susan Gore – Wyoming Liberty Group
Rep. Tom Reeder
Rep. Kendell Kroeker
Kelly Simone – Stop CC in WY
Erin Giving – Stop CC in WY
Judy Helmick – Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core
Shane Vander Hart and James – Truth In American Education
Bill and Karen Lee
Sean and Kris Sherwin
Natalie Clyde – Home School Warrior and awesome sister
Glenn J. Kimber Academy National
Kyle Olsen – EAGnews.org
Matt Kibbe, Whitney Neal, Caitlyn Korb, Kristina Ribali, Heather Williamson – FreedomWorks
Dr. Sandra Stotsky – CC Validation Committee and University of Arkansas
Joy Pullmann – Heartland Institute
Senator Mike Lee (Utah)
Christel Swasey, Renee Braddy, Alisa Ellis – What is Common Core
Glenn Beck (though it was just a quick hand shake at a book signing, he told me to “stay strong and keep fighting”)
Mom and Dad – I LOVE you!
Bill Hooley – my greatest support and love of my life!
Thank you, Christy Hooley, for standing up and speaking out. (More writing and filmed discussions by Christy Hooley can be found at Wyoming Against the Common Core and at FreedomWorks.)
Diana McKay is a currently teaching, Utah public school teacher who wrote this poem, “I Became a Teacher– Why?” and the essay “Saturday Musings” below, and also the statement on Common Core below that.
She said, “This poem sums up what it is that we want for our educated children and why I went into education –and why I never would in today’s climate. It is frightening to look at how political maneuvering can have a subversive intent that is not immediately apparent”.
I Became a Teacher. Why?
I became a teacher
to lead children along the journey of learning
so they might journey to where the love of learning leads.
I became a teacher
to introduce children to the world of awesome art
so they might create art to awe the world.
I became a teacher
to ensure children recognize and cherish nature’s gifts
so they might ensure nature’s gifts are preserved to cherish.
I became a teacher to encourage children to dream so they might find encouraging dreams to follow.
I became a teacher to open children’s minds to all that is possible so they might put their open minds to making the impossible, possible.
I became a teacher to show children how to find peace in the world around them
so they might bring peace to the world.
I became a teacher to inspire these future citizens of our country to have a vision
so they might envision a greater future for our country.
I became a teacher to model putting one’s efforts toward that which is greater than one’s self
so that my students might find the greatness within themselves.
This why I can no longer be a teacher. I can no longer do what I went
into teaching to do.
by Diana McKay
A Letter to my mother-who believed I could have been more.
I just called you, wanting you to tell me that it is acceptable, no, justifiable, to still be in my pajamas at almost noon, escaping in novels, or just musing, thereby avoiding the endless and monumental pile of test papers waiting to be scored. I wanted you to tell me, that after almost forty years of nights, weekends, spent on lesson plans, on time consuming preparations and collections for science experiments or social studies lessons, on wasted hours providing so called “instructional feedback” that I deserve a break. I needed you to tell me that I am entitled to enjoy a Saturday. You didn’t answer. But, you would have scolded me again reminding me that I was magna cum laude, Phi Beta
Kappa, for hell’s sake, I could have been a doctor, lawyer, chief executive officer and I’d
retort, “They make only money, I make a difference.”
I often wonder was a “difference” worth it?
Then, once in a decade, a letter arrives at the school address, with “please forward to” in front of my name. No need to “forward to” me, I’m still here. The letter opens with, “You may not remember me, but I was in your 2nd grade class in 1988 and I became a teacher because of the way you taught,” or “ I just wanted to thank you for making me believe in myself,” and a flood of emotion washes over me. Is it joy in knowing I did indeed make a little difference or is it relief that my life was not totally wasted in hours of test grading? But, then it hits me with astounding clarity. It is not the lessons, the science experiments, the hours spent writing “constructive” feedback on papers or comments on report cards that make a difference. It is the moments spent in “real” time, the “teachable” moment, guiding students toward something far more vital and ephemeral. It is the discovery that we are only here in this world, this universe, to learn and grow into whomever we are meant or choose to be, and we’re here for such a short time.
So in these last hours of a lifetime career, I will wave a white flag and surrender the minutia of unnecessary skill “kill” drills.
I’ll surrender soul-sucking data delirium, and follow my 1969 musings about my future in education. I’ll embrace this quote by John Holt as I did in those youthful years when choosing to become a teacher.
“Children do poorly in school because they’re bored with the meaningless work . . . scared of being punished or humiliated . . . In essence I’d realized, from observing and teaching, that school is a place where children learn to be stupid!” – John Holt
Holt explains why in these last ten years I am shockingly aware of the seeming decline of intellect. In the effort to “train” students to perform better in world competition for the right answers on tests, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 has failed to raise test scores, failed to lower drop out rates, failed to increase literacy rates and failed to increase rates of college graduation. It has only been successful in “failure”. Failure is the theme, the torch, the stick, and the misnomer given to the public schools. Feed on failure, focus on failure, hold failure foremost, and what you get is failure. Is it the schools or the teachers’ failure or is it a failure of leadership?
It is a fact, as the proportion of children in poverty rises, the scores for US schools drop. In November 2012 the U.S. Census Bureau reported more than 16% of the U.S. population lived in poverty, including 22% of all people under age 18, approximately 13 million children. The number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty is approaching 1960s levels that led to the national War on Poverty. The war on poverty has been replaced with a war on public education scapegoating teachers who devote their
lives to educating our youth, despite the rhetoric.
Maybe next year will be my last.
I’ll be a casualty of that war, but, before I go I may just finally teach children “to fish” so that they will always be able to satisfy their hunger for information. Maybe I’ll create “seekers of knowledge” and guide them in their self selected quests to quench their curiosity. I will promote passion. I will not police production, or sort students by standardized scores, and waste gifted minds with endless mind numbing repetition so that “no child is left behind”. Next year, I will not bow to the tyranny of parent terrorists whose agenda is to destroy at least one teacher each year to appease their guilt over not really wanting to participate in educating their own child. I will not become dispirited by legislators abusing their political right to blame educators for their own failure in economic policy to reduce poverty. I will not surrender to the district dictates to demonstrate mastery of core skills under the NCLB Act which demoralizes both the student and me, with the threat of being doomed to failure if we don’t continually collect data as mandated, and to master the skills on the testing timeline. I think next year I will actually choose to “fail” to do what I am accused of failing to do and instead I’ll make a difference. But first, I’ll have to quit musing and get busy. I still have all those tests to score.
Statement by Diana McKay on Common Core:
My position is that the Common Core Standards left to teachers to teach is not the problem.
The problem is multifaceted. The data addiction and dictates derived from research using easily measured variables in schools impacted from poverty and applied to all settings is causing no child to be “left ahead”.
Overzealous testing of easily measured objectives using multiple choice answers and the omission of any untestable processes that are essential, reduces education to training. The arts are therefore being lost, but it might be worse if the arts were to be tested.
Scapegoating teachers and reducing them to robots who follow scripted lessons “with fidelity” that are designed by publishing companies has killed the professionalism of talented teachers. Publishing companies are profiting most from the Common Core– one set of texts fit all–no updates needed. Profiteers selling data system management has caused spread sheets to become more important than the content of instruction.
The grading of schools is a precursor to justifying voucher systems to line the pockets of richly connected individuals who can tap the taxpayers for private school buildings, etc. that aren’t needed, and which contribute to a caste system as children are prevented from mixing with ethnically or economically different peers.
This is my position. Politicians and corporations have no business in education and school districts
should not use taxpayers’ money to support the goals of business.
Thank you, Diana McKay.
Reposted with permission from Alan Singer of Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY
Gideon, my grandson, is almost nine-years old and starting fourth grade this year. He loves soccer, baseball, online videos, hip-hop, and school because that is where his friends are during the day. His attitude toward homework, and I suspect any school assignment, is to get it done fast so he can move on to more important and interesting things.
On last year’s New York State 3rd grade common core aligned math assessment Gideon scored in the proficient range, not the highest level, but not bad on a test where 70% of the students failed. I have been doing math homework with Gideon since school started and I noticed a couple of things that concern me about how math is being taught. I am not blaming his teachers or the school. I am certainly not blaming Gideon. But I worry that the problems he is having in math reflect the push for test prep for standardized tests.
The first problem is that Gideon seems to be convinced that there is only one right way to solve a problem and if he does not solve it that way he will be marked wrong. This problem he will get over either as he learns more about how the world works or becomes less interested in pleasing his teachers.
The second problem is a bit more serious to me as a teacher and grandparent. Instead of trying to understand a math problem and being willing to play with the numbers, Gideon is committed to remembering a long, complicated sequence of steps to finding a solution. If he makes a mistake somewhere in the sequence he gets the answer incorrect, but he does not recognize it as incorrect, because his goal was following the prescribed steps, not coming up with a result that makes sense.
Kids are supposed to be learning to estimate from the start of elementary school so they can stop and say this cannot possibly be the answer, but estimation requires both feeling comfortable with the relationships between numbers and a willingness to experiment and speculate, qualities that appear to be neglected in the test prep math curriculum.
One night recently Gideon had to figure out how many tens are in 540. He set up number groups. There are 10 tens in one hundred so he had five groups of 10 tens each. There are 4 tens in forty. He then added 10+10+10+10+10+4=54. I did not have a problem so far. But then he had to figure out how many tens were in 370 and he started to set up his number groups again instead of just saying if there are 54 tens in 540, there must be 37 tens in 370. He did not see or even look for the relationship between the two problems. They were separate entities.
The third question was how many twenties are in 640 and again he started by setting up his number groups. I asked him how many tens were in 640 and if there were more tens or twenties, but his response was “That’s not the way we are supposed to do it.”
Maybe that was what he was told, maybe he was misinterpreting instructions, but in either case, he would not play with the numbers and try to figure out a solution on his own. He was memorizing rules, not learning math.
Initially I thought the problem here might just be Gideon’s stubbornness and anxiousness to be finished, after all there were other more rewarding things to be done. But email exchanges on the Long Island “Middle School Principals” listserv (email@example.com) point towards much more serious problems with the way math is being taught and assessed in the New World of Common Core and high-stakes assessments.
A principal at one affluent Nassau County middle school reported that in his school 235 eighth grade students took accelerated ninth grade math and 190 of them, 78.6% of the students, earned a grade of 80% or better. But inexplicably, 82 out of the 190 high scorers, 43%, scored less than proficient on the 8th-grade common math assessment. Three other middle school principals from similar districts reported the same phenomenon.
A fifth principal from another affluent high-performing Nassau County school district described the state math assessments as a “Kafkaesque system” that “does not make sense,” as a “fake testing system” that “hurts kids” and their teachers. He has middle school students who passed high school math examines with mastery level scores but who failed the common core standardized test and now must be assigned to remedial classes. He also cannot figure out how when his school had the highest seventh grade English and math assessment results in the state on the common core test, only one out of six of his seventh grade ELA and math teachers was rated highly effective.
He charged that the current instructional and testing system “only enriched consultants, textbook companies and service corporations.” He called it a “fiasco” that “only ensures further unfunded mandates, pushes schools to become test-prep centers, further institutionalizes an over-testing system that terribly hurts kids, and enshrines an unfair evaluation system that actually makes it harder to terminate unsatisfactory teachers.”
Actually, I do not find the lack of correlation between the 9th-grade algebra test scores and the 8th-grade common core assessments inexplicable. I think the same phenomenon is at work that I saw in Gideon’s homework. Students are not learning math, they are being prepped for tests to maximize test scores.
When you put different types of questions on the math test they are stymied because the procedures they were taught to follow do quite line up with the problems and they either do not know how, or are afraid to, adjust. They do not estimate, they do not hypothesize, they do not “do the math,” they just get lost in the steps and get the answers incorrect.
I remember learning math the old-fashioned way, my friends and I had fun figuring out things we actually wanted to know and were very competitive at it. Back in the days before calculators and computers, the newspapers only updated baseball batting averages on Sundays, except for the league leaders. My friends and I were big baseball fans, our elementary and middle schools were about a mile from Yankee Stadium, and we needed to know the latest batting averages for Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, and “The Moose” Bill Skowron, so we calculated them every day during lunch (and sometimes when we were not paying attention in classes). It was not that we liked math –we loved baseball. Math was just a tool.
I walked into my high school 10th grade statewide geometry math test without having paid attention for most of the year (Bill Cosby used to tell the joke that when he was a kid his family was so poor he couldn’t afford to pay attention). But I was comfortable with math, numbers and problem solving and actually figured out geometry while taking the test itself.
I like finding patterns in math, I enjoy problem solving, and I appreciate the way it helps me to think systematically and provide evidence to support my conclusions. But I am convinced my comfort level is rooted in my love of baseball and the Yankees.
The other night I asked a group of college students if Robbie Cano is batting .310 and goes one for three with a sharp single, two fly outs, and a base on balls, what happens to his batting average. Some of the students had no idea, some of them started to calculate, but I knew his batting average went up, by just a little bit, because I know the relationships between numbers. That is what I am trying to teach Gideon.
Alan Singer, Director, Secondary Education Social Studies
Department of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership
128 Hagedorn Hall / 119 Hofstra University / Hempstead, NY 11549
Thanks to Professor Singer for this article which is also published at Huffington Post.
The following Common Core informational meetings are scheduled in Utah.
– LOGAN: September 24th, 6 p.m. 29 South Main Street, Logan, Utah
Speakers: Autumn Cook and Christel Swasey
– HEBER: September 24th, 7 p.m. in the Senior Center at the Wasatch County Library
Speakers: Alyson Williams and Jakell Sullivan
– MANTI: September 26th, 7 p.m. 50 S. Main Street, Highway 89
Eva Beal Auditorium, City Building
Speakers: Alisa Ellis and Christel Swasey
The meetings are free and open. We especially hope teachers, principals, legislators and school board members will attend. There will be question and answer discussions following each presentation. If you cannot attend, please study Common Core facts for yourself and verify before trusting those who say that Common Core is a blessing to our economy or to our children. It is neither.
A recommended Syllabus for Common Core Study might look like this:
The General Educational Provisions Act – this law prohibits the federal government from directing or supervising state education. “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system…”
U.S. Constitution – powers are delegated to the states. “Amendment 10 – The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
The Race to the Top Grant Application- Utah got points from the federal government for having a child tracking SLDS database system. This tracks children without parental consent or knowledge. Also in this document, see that Utah got more points for having adopted Common Core. This was how we got into it. Despite not winning the grant money, we remained in these systems.
The No Child Left Behind Waiver– This shows the 15% cap the federal government put on top of the copyrighted, unamendable (by states) common standards.
The State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) Grant– All states have one. This is a federally paid-for database that every state in the US now has. It tracks students within the state. Aggregated data ion students is sent from this system to the federal EdFacts Exchange. Parents can not opt their children out. (They can, however, opt out of Common Core tests.)
The lawsuit against the Department of Education– The Electronic Privacy Information Center has sued the DOE for destroying the previously data-privacy protective federal FERPA. The lawsuit explains which terms were redefined, which agencies now have legal access to the private data of students, and much more.
The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission – This report was commissioned by Obama. It reveals that redistribution of wealth is the real reason that Obama wants a national education system.
The Cooperative Agreement between the Dept. of Education and the testing consortia – Even though Utah escaped the SBAC and is not bound by the Cooperative Agreement directly, Utah’s current testing group, A.I.R., works closely with SBAC. This document shows how clearly the DOE has broken laws like the General Educational Provisions Act and the 10th Amendment. It mandates the synchronizing of tests and the sharing of data to triangulate the SBAC, PARCC and DOE.
The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education – He states that Common Core was Obama’s idea and that the federal government is moving to play a larger role in education.
The speeches of President Obama on education – Obama’s top 4 education goals: control data, common standards, teachers, and to take over low-performing schools.
The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber – Barber wants every school on the globe to have the exact same academic standards and to underpin every standard with environmental propaganda. He also likes having global data on kids and stresses the term “sustainable reform” which is “irreversible reform”.
The speeches and actions of the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates – He’s funded Common Core almost completely on his own; he’s partnered with Pearson; he says “we won’t know it works until all the tests and curriculum aligns with the standards” so he’s writing curriculum for his “uniform customer base” –all children.
The speeches of David Coleman, a noneducator, the architect of the Common Core ELA standards and now promoted to College Board President -He mocks narrative writing, he’s diminished the percentage of classic literature that’s allowable in the standards, he’s not been elected, he’s never taught school, yet he’s almost singlehandedly destroyed the quality and liberty of an English teacher’s classroom. And as he’s now the College Board President, he’s aligning the SAT to his version of what Common standards should be. This will hurt colleges.
The Dept. of Ed report: Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance– behavioral indicators of students are wanted by the federal government. This may include physically monitoring children using cameras, posture chairs, and bracelets. (see graphic embedded in the report.)
The federal websites such as the EdFacts Exchange, the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites because three of these four ask us to give personally identifiable information on students, from our state database. -The first link shows what we already give to the federal government; the others show what the federal government is requesting that we share, which does include intimate, personally identifiable information.
The Common Core creators’ data management branch, EIMAC of CCSSO, with its stated mission to disaggregate student data.
The Official Common Core Standards – English and Math standards – These are the actual standards. Here you will see that it’s a “living work” meaning that what you think Common Core is, it may not remain in the future. There is no amendment process for states to have a voice in the commonly held standards. There is a recommended reading list in Appendix B that includes “The Bluest Eye,” a pornographic novel.
The testimonies of the official Common Core validation committee members who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of the standards; other professors who have testified that Common Core hurts legitimate college readiness.
Follow the money trails – See what Bill Gates has paid for, and see how Common Core is a money-making monopoly that circumvents voters via public-private partnerships.
Utah Moms Alisa Ellis and Renee Braddy, the two whose 2012 presentation was my first introduction to Common Core, spoke this week at the Stop Common Core Forum in West Harrison, New York.
Here’s what they said. Please watch and share.