The news report is out: “Sage Test Results Indicate Majority of Utah Students Not on Track for College”.
The Office of Education’s official comment is: “With the new standards and with the new assessments they will see fewer students actually being proficient, but take that in context…”
Thus the USOE readily admitted that the new standards (Common Core) and the new assessments (SAGE/AIR) will make it appear that fewer students are actually being proficient. So it’s not reality. It’s an illusion created by the flawed new standards and testing system. It’s not that suddenly students are failing; it’s that the measuring stick has been switched midstream.
Everything’s different! How can we say that Utah students are “not college and career ready” when even the very phrase (and meaning) of the term “college and career readiness” has been hijacked by the federal government to mean only what the federal government says it means? And that means sameness. Nothing else.
America had locally controlled, traditional, time-tested education in the past. We have Common Core –standardized but experimental– education standards now. The test and its standards are a whole different beast from anything we had a few years ago. Children taught traditionally up until the past year or two or three (depending on the location of their school district) suddenly have been tested using a different measuring stick.
It’s almost as if we used to measure children’s height and now, instead, we’re measuring their weight. It’s almost like measuring with metric when you used to use pounds, ounces and inches. It’s almost like taking a test in Spanish when you were raised speaking English. We used to test traditional learning. Now we test Common Core-defined math, Common Core-defined English. It’s not the same thing.
How is it different? Well, the Internet is buzzing with examples of awful, awkward, unwieldy Common Core math problems that confuse and slow down math learning. But what about the writing portion of the Common Core SAGE/AIR tests?
A friend who served on a state committee and recently reviewed 500 textbooks, recently expressed his Common Core English writing test concerns this way:
“In a typical Common Core practice item, children as young as 6 and 7 are given two “opinion” passages to read, usually on a social issue of some kind. The passages are short. The children are directed to read the passages, form “their own” opinion, based on one of the passages (an inherently biased exercise, but that’s a separate issue), then ADVOCATE for their opinion in writing, using information from the opinion pieces as supporting evidence. Net, net: Read little to no actual information, then form your own opinion, supported another person’s opinion.
Consider the following:
· The word “opinion” or “argument” is mentioned 38 times in the 110 Common Core writing standards.
· Under Common Core, opinion-forming practice and testing is required for EVERY student in all thirteen grades, including Kindergarten.
· “Opinion writing” testing is a central feature of the SAGE/Common Core tests.
What do you get when you combine low-info opinion practice, with messages (from the “informational texts”) to organize, resist, influence, strike, stand up, sit in, and vote, vote, vote…and you do this regularly for thirteen years? Yep, an entire generation of highly-opinionated ‘Low-Information Voters.'”
The same idea was expressed by an Arizona teacher who wrote:
“My turning point came when in answer to questions I had about a student writing sample, my Common Core handler blurted out, “We don’t ever care what the kids’ opinions are. If they write what they think or put forth their opinion then they will fail the test.” I have always taught my students to think for themselves. They are to study multiple views on a given topic, then take their own position and support it with evidence. “That is the old way of writing,” my Common Core handler sighed. “We want students to repeat the opinions of the ‘experts’ that we expose them to on the test. This is the ‘new’ way of writing with the Common Core.” From http://www.sott.net/article/280622-Creating-a-generation-of-Authoritarian-Followers-Interview-with-5th-grade-teacher-reveals-ideology-behind-Common-Core-creators
The above observations are supported by additional evidence from the actual SAGE test. When a high school student last year chose to post screen shots she’d taken of a SAGE/AIR Common Core test question, we all saw that the students were being asked to opine about whether video games or books were a better way for students to learn. The question itself framed the purpose of education oddly. And the pieces that students were to read were slanted toward the opinion that video games were better.
The point is that SAGE/AIR Common Core tests are not just the flavor of the month, not just any variety of a test. They are heavily agenda-driven. They are manipulative of academic tradition, of student thought and student beliefs.
The news that students didn’t score “well” on them, should not lead us to conclude that “Utah students aren’t ready for college.” The news should lead us to conclude that “these experimental, secretive tests are a departure from traditional, time-tested education and must be immediately revoked.”
The whole false narrative being pushed by the USOE should be scrutinized by sane minds. For example, Judy Park of the USOE defended the tests and Common standards in the Fox 13 news article cited above. Park implied that conforming to a national standard and test had been a good idea because “Our students are seeking jobs all over the world.” Her argument, that Utah needed to become Common Core- aligned to help students be more competitive, truly lacks common sense. The whole world flocks to U.S.Universities, including Utah universities– not because we have conformed to others, but because traditionally, we have been above and beyond others. Shouldn’t America remain individualistic and free, especially in the realm of education?
Making the education standards of Utah conform to Mr. David “Noneducator” Coleman‘s Common Core was a huge mistake; jumping on the “alignment of common data standards” bandwagon was likewise a huge mistake. We are losing individuality, autonomy and local innovation because of Common Core and its testing and data collection practices.
Dropping Common Core like an ugly hot potato, the way that Oklahoma did this year, is going to be increasingly difficult, however, because the Utah Attorney General fanned the flames of Common Core promotion when he reported that there’s no reason to worry about Common Core.
That’s another topic for another post.
This article is so easy to read and so well expressed. I just had to ask permssion of the author to repost it here. Read the original– and see the great embedded videos– at The Federalist.
TOP TEN THINGS PARENTS HATE ABOUT COMMON CORE
By Joy Pullmann
This is the year new national Common Core tests kick in, replacing state tests in most locales, courtesy of an eager Obama administration and the future generation’s tax dollars. It’s also the first year a majority of people interviewed tell pollsters they’ve actually heard of Common Core, four years after bureaucrats signed our kids onto this complete overhaul of U.S. education.
1. The Senseless, Infuriating Math
Common Core has impressed everyone from Bill Gates to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. So why do 62 percent of parents think it’s a bad idea? For one, they can count. But their kids can’t.
Common Core math, how do we hate thee? We would count the ways, if Common Core hadn’t deformed even the most elementary of our math abilities so that simple addition now takes dots, dashes, boxes, hashmarks, and foam cubes, plus an inordinate amount of time, to not get the right answer.
There are so many examples of this, it’s hard to pick, but a recent one boomeranging the Internet has a teacher showing how to solve 9 + 6 the Common Core way. Yes, it takes nearly a minute.
Despite claims to the contrary, Common Core does require bad math like this. The Brookings Institution’s Tom Loveless says the curriculum mandates contain “dog whistles” for fuzzy math proponents, the people who keep pushing ineffective, devastating, and research-decimated math instruction on U.S. kids for ideological reasons. The mandates also explicitly require kids to learn the least efficient ways of solving basic problems one, two, and even three grade levels before they are to learn the traditional, efficient ways. There are ways for teachers to fill in the gaps and fix this, but this means a kid’s ability to get good math instruction depends on the luck of having an extra-savvy teacher. That’s especially a downer for poor and minority kids, who already get the greenest and lowest-quality teachers.
2. The Lies
The American Enterprise Institute’s Rick Hess recently wrote about Common Core’s “half-truths,” which Greg Forster pointedly demonstrated he should have called “lies.” These include talking points essential to selling governors and other state leaders on the project, such as that Common Core is: “internationally benchmarked” (“well, we sorta looked at what other nations do but that didn’t necessarily change anything we did”); “evidence based” (“we know there is not enough research to undergird any standards, so we just polled some people and that’s our evidence“); “college- and career-ready” (“only if you mean community-college ready“); “rigorous” (as long as rigorous indicates “rigid”); and “high-performing nations nationalize education” (so do low-performing nations).
3. Obliterating Parent Rights
Common Core has revealed the contempt public “servants” have for the people they are supposedly ruled by—that’d be you and me. Indiana firebrand Heather Crossin, a mom whose encounter with Common Core math turned her into a nationally known activist, went with other parents to their private-school principal in an attempt to get their school’s new Common Core textbooks replaced. “Our principal in frustration threw up his hands and said, ‘Look, I know parents don’t like this type of math because none of us were taught this way, but we have to teach it this way because this is how it’s going to be on the new [standardized] assessment,” she says. “And that was the moment when I realized control of what was being taught in my child’s classroom — in a parochial Catholic school — had not only left the building, it had left the state of Indiana.”
A Maryland dad who stood up to complain that Common Core dumbed down his kids’ instruction was arrested and thrown out of a public meeting. See the video.
Parents regularly fill my inbox, frustrated that even when they do go to their local school boards, often all they get are disgusted looks and a bored thumb-twiddling during their two-minute public comment allowance. A New Hampshire dad was also arrested for going over his two-minute comment limit in a local school board meeting parents packed to complain about graphic-sex-filled literature assignments. The way the board treats him and his fellow parents is repulsive.
The bottom line is, parents have no choice about whether their kids will learn Common Core, no matter what school they put them in, if they want them to go to college, because the SAT and ACT are being redesigned to fit the new national program for education. Elected school boards pay parents no heed, and neither do state departments of education, because the feds deliberately use our tax dollars to put themselves in the education driver’s seat, at our expense. So much for “by the people, for the people, of the people.”
4. Dirty Reading Assignments
A red-haired mother of four kids read to our Indiana legislature selections from a Common Core-recommended book called “The Bluest Eyes,” by Toni Morrison. I’m a grown, married woman who enjoys sex just fine, thank you, but I sincerely wish I hadn’t heard her read those passages. I guess some people don’t find sympathetically portrayed rape scenes offensive, but I do. So I won’t quote them at you. If you have a perv-wish, Google will fill you in. Other objectionable books on the Common Core-recommended list include “Make Lemonade” by Virginia Euwer Wolff, “Black Swan Green” by David Mitchell, and “Dreaming in Cuban” by Cristina Garcia.
There are so many excellent, classic works of literature available for children and young adults that schools can’t possibly fit all the good ones into their curriculum. So why did Common Core’s creators feel the need to recommend trash? Either they want kids to read trash or they don’t think these are trash, and both are disturbing.
5. Turning Kids Into Corporate Cogs
The workforce-prep mentality of Common Core is written into its DNA. Start with its slogan, which is now written into federal mandates on state education systems: “College and career readiness.” That is the entire Common Core conception of education’s purpose: Careers. Job training. Workforce skills. There’s not a word about the reasons our state constitutions give for establishing public education, in which economic advancement is largely considered a person’s personal affair. (Milton Friedman takes the same tack, by the way.) State constitutions typically mimic the Northwest Ordinance’s vision for public education (the ordinance was the first U.S. law to discuss education): “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
Common Core makes no promises about fulfilling public education’s purpose of producing citizens capable of self-government. Instead, it focuses entirely on the materialistic benefits of education, although human civilization has instead long considered education a part of acculturating children and passing down a people’s knowledge, heritage, and morals. The workforce talk certainly tickles the ears of Common Core’s corporate supporters. Maybe that was the intent all along. But in what world do corporations get to dictate what kids learn, instead of the parents and kids themselves? Ours, apparently.
6. The Data Collection and Populace Management
Speaking of corporate cronyism, let’s talk about how Common Core enables the continued theft of kids’ and teachers’ information at the behest of governments and businesses, furthering their bottom lines and populace-control fantasies at the expense of private property and self-determination.Well, I coauthored a 400-footnote paper on this very topic. I’ll just summarize the list of direct connections between intrusive data-mining and Common Core from my favorite passage (in the section starting on page 52):
The documents that ‘created the (dubious) authorization for Common Core define the initative as curriculum mandates plus tests. The tests are the key instrument of data collection.
Common Core architect David Coleman has confirmed that special-interests deliberately packaged data mining into Common Core.
Common Core creates an enormous system of data classification for education. It’s probably easiest to think of it as an enormous filing system, like the equivalent of the Dewey Decimal System for lessons, textbooks, apps, and everything else kids learn. That’s by design.
States using the national, federally funded Common Core tests have essentially turned over control of what data they collect on children to private organizations that are overseen by no elected officials. Those organizations have promised complete access to kids’ data to the federal government. Common Core and data vacuuming are philosophically aligned—they both justify themselves as technocratic, progressive solutions to human problems. The ultimate goal is using data to “seamlessly integrate” education and the economy. In other words, we learned nothing from the USSR.
7. Distancing Parents and Children
A recent study found that the Common Core model of education results in parents who are less engaged in their kids’ education and express more negative attitudes about schools and government. Does it need to be noted that kids desperately need their pre-existing, natural bond with their parents to get a good start in life, and anything that attacks this is bad for both the kids and society?
In addition, math even highly educated engineers and math professors can’t understand obviously has the effect of placing a teacher and school between a child and his parent. Parents are rife with stories about how they tried to teach their kids “normal” math, but it put pressure on the tots because teacher demanded one thing and mom demanded another, which ended up in frustration, confusion, and resentment. That won’t make a kid hate school, right?
8. Making Little Kids Cry
It’s one thing to teach a child to endure life’s inevitable suffering for a higher purpose. It’s another thing to inflict children with needless suffering because you’ve got a society to remake, and “it takes a few broken eggs to make an omelet.” One is perhaps the essence of character. The other is perhaps the essence of cruelty.
There have been reports nationwide from both teachers and a litany of child psychologists that Common Core inflicts poorly designed instruction on children, thus stressing them out and turning them off academics.The video below, courtesy of Truth in American Education and a Louisiana mother, shows a second grader crying over her math homework. A SECOND GRADER. You know, when the little people are still learning addition?
Below, find a picture from a New York mother and photographer Kelly Poynter. This is her second-grade daughter, utterly frustrated at her math homework. The little girl is a cancer survivor, Poynter explains, so she doesn’t lack persistence or a fighting spirit. Incomprehensible math problems downed a child that cancer couldn’t.
9. The Arrogance
So imagine you’re a mom or dad whose small child is sobbing at the table trying to add two-digit numbers. Then you hear your elected representatives talking about Common Core. And it’s not to offer relief. It’s to ridicule your pain—no, worse. It’s to ridicule your child’s pain.
Florida Senate President Don Gaetz said of Common Core: “You can’t dip [Common Core mandates] in milk and hold them over a candle and see the United Nations flag or Barack Obama’s face. They’re not some federal conspiracy.” Ohio House Education Chairman Gerald Stebelton (R-Lancaster) called Common Core opposition a “conspiracy theory.” Wisconsin state Sen. John Lehman (D-Racine) told a packed audience state hearings on the topic were “crazy” and “a show.” Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) has called opponents a “distract[ing]” “fringe movement.” Missouri Rep. Mike Lair put $8 into the state budget for tinfoil hats for Common Core supporters.
Since when is it okay for lawmakers to ridicule their employers? Aren’t they supposed to be “public servants”? What part of “this math is from hell” sounds like “I think Barack Obama wrote this math curriculum”? Those lawmakers must have encountered an early form of Common Core in school, because they can’t comprehend their way out of a paper bag.
It gets even worse. I thought racial slurs were wrong, but Education Secretary Arne Duncan has no problems slinging those around in his disdain for people who disagree with him on Common Core. You may recall that he dismissed them as “white suburban moms who—all of a sudden—their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were.” So only white moms hate crappy curriculum?
And then parents have to endure a litany of pompous, sickeningly well-paid experts all over the airwaves telling us it’s a) good for them that our babies are crying at the kitchen table or b) not really Common Core’s fault or 3) they don’t really get what’s going on because this newfangled way of adding 8 + 6 is so far above the average parent’s ability to understand.
10. The Collectivism
It’s easy to see Common Core appeals to those anal-retentive types who cannot function unless U.S. education has some sort of all-encompassing organizing principle.
But there’s more. Common Core supporters will admit that several states had better curriculum requirements than Common Core. Then they typically say it’s still better for those states to have lowered their expectations to Common Core’s level, because that way we have more curricular unity. That’s what the Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrilli told Indiana legislators when he came to our state to explain why, even though Fordham graded Indiana’s former curriculum requirements higher than Common Core, Indiana should remain a step below its previous level. One main reason was that we’d be able to use all the curriculum and lesson plans other teachers in other states were tailoring (to lower academic expectations, natch). Yay, we get to be worse than we were, but it’s okay, because now we’re the same as everyone else!
Tech companies are uber excited about Common Core because it facilitates a nationwide market for their products. Basically every other education vendor feels the same way, except those who already had nationwide markets because they accessed pockets of the population not subject to mind-numbing state regulations such as home and private schools. But the diversity of the unregulated private market far, far outstrips that of the Common Core market. There are, you know, actual niches, and education styles, and varying philosophies, rather than a flood of companies all trying to package the same product differently. The variety is one of substance, not just branding. In other words, it’s true diversity, not fake diversity.
What would you rather have: Fake freedom, where others choose your end goal and end product, but lets you decide some things about how to achieve someone else’s vision for education, which by the way has to be the same for everyone everywhere; or genuine freedom, where you both pick your goals and how to achieve them, and you’re the one responsible for the results? Whoops, that’s a trick question, moms and dads. In education, no one can pick the latter, because our overlords have already picked for us. Common Core or the door, baby.
Join Utahns Against Common Core in a heartfelt thank you to the following U.S. Senators whose official letter both exposed Sec. Duncan’s assumption of unauthorized educational authority (which is only to be held by states); and called out Duncan’s unauthorized takeover of the rights of children with disabilities via standardized tests.
If you tweet, Facebook, or email, please thank them. What they did was important. I’m using the hashtags #THANKHATCH, #THANKKIRK, etc.
Utah – SENATOR ORRIN HATCH @SenOrrinHatch
Georgia – SENATOR JOHNNY ISAKSON @SenatorIsakson
Alaska – SENATOR LISA MURKOWSKI @lisamurkowski
Kansas – SENATOR PAT ROBERTS @PatRoberts2014
Illinois – SENATOR MARK KIRK @SenatorKirk
Wyoming – SENATOR MIKE ENZI @SenatorEnzi
North Carolina – SENATOR RICHARD BURR @SenatorBurr
Tennessee – SENATOR LAMAR ALEXANDER @SenAlexander
If you live near Salt Lake City, please join us at 11:00 at tomorrow’s public and media event at Royal Wood Office Plaza, 230 west 200 south. Bring signs. Wear green if you have green. Be prepared to take a turn on the soap box with the megaphone to use your freedom of speech and make your voice heard.
Inside the Royal Wood Office building, a federal agent of Arne Duncan’s Dept of Education will be meeting tomorrow with Utah State Office of Education leaders to ensure their compliance with federal mandates –mandates that the eight senators’ letter just called illegal. Let’s let our Utah State education employees know we defend their right to not comply, as they host this unauthorized federal visitor.
Note: Event address changed: Tomorrow, Thursday, 11:00 at Royal Wood Office Plaza, at 230 West 200 South in Salt Lake City.
Senator Orrin Hatch –together with Senators from other states: Senators Enzi, Alexander, Burr, Isakson, Roberts, Murkowski and Kirk — penned a powerful letter of rebuke to the federal Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan last month. (Read it here.)
The letter is an example of how checks and balances are supposed to work in this country. When the executive branch (Duncan) oversteps its authority, the legislative branch (Hatch) reins it in. Great system.
One would imagine that Secretary Duncan might feel humbled by the letter’s exposure of his obvious violations. The letter says:
“Please provide the specific statutory authority for each indicator under your Results-Driven Accountability Framework,” the senators’ letter states. It goes on: “Please identify the source of funding and authority to use funds for your $50 million technical assistance center.” Finally: “Changes to the existing framework must comport to the letter of the law and cannot be made by administrative fiat.”
However, Arne Duncan has shown no intention of submitting to congressional authority. Rather than apologize and retract, he’s decided to send a federal enforcer out to the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) to inspect compliance to his unauthorized authority. This week.
Utahns Against Common Core is therefore hosting a protest tomorrow at 11:00 at Royal Wood Office Plaza, at 230 West 200 South in Salt Lake City.
Please come. Shy people are needed too. You can just stand in the shade with your sign and sip a soda. Loud people are needed as well: we can stand on the soap box (crate) provided and can state exactly why we oppose Duncan’s doings, and thank Senator Hatch for his letter.
The bottom line for me –why I’m spending time, energy and gas money to drive to Salt Lake tomorrow– is this: when the federal government (and local state government enablers) step on my Constitutional right to control education locally because of money bribes or misguided faith in central planning, I lose the power to run and care for my own local school(s) and the children I love who go there.
I choose to stand up, show up, push back and say, “The buck stops here. Don’t tread on me.” My children can’t do this; it is MY responsiblity. Please join me.
I’m now going to paste what Oak Norton, of Utahns Against Common Core, wrote:
Tomorrow: Thursday at 11:00 at Royal Wood Office Plaza, at 230 West 200 South in Salt Lake City ). Invite everyone, especially parents and teachers of children with disabilities.
In a nutshell: Secretary Arne Duncan violated federal law seeking to punish state school disability programs, got caught big time, and a federal Dept. of Education official is here in Utah on a “routine” visit. Time for a protest.
What you are about to read should result in congressional hearings and Arne Duncan probably being fired as the US Secretary of Education.
Federal law sets forth certain things that can be done under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). No one may circumvent those laws. Only Congress can change laws, but because of the current Executive Branch’s agenda to bring states under federal control, grant-based regulations and mandates have increasingly been created by Secretary Duncan, in violation of the Constitution.
On June 24, 2014, Secretary Duncan circumvented congress and issued mandates for changes in the way state special education programs are evaluated. (http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/new-accountability-framework-raises-bar-state-special-education-programs)
“To improve the educational outcomes of America’s 6.5 million children and youth with disabilities, the U.S. Department of Education today announced a major shift in the way it oversees the effectiveness of states’ special education programs.”
He then went on to explain what changes he is mandating.
Eight U.S. senators prepared a letter explaining the violations of law involved in Duncan’s action and asked the Secretary a number of very pointed questions. Evidently, Senator Hatch from Utah walked that letter into a meeting, interrupting it, to deliver it to Secretary Duncan. The senators’ letter is embedded at the bottom of this article.
In essence, the mandate changes the way the school funding game is played by suddenly announcing that historical NAEP test score data will be used retroactively to evaluate federal funding on schools that have children with disabilities. As the senators’ letter points out this is a very clear violation of the law.
Duncan calls this new framework, “Results-Driven Accountability.” It’s simply unconstitutional and illegal. The press release states:
“Last year, when the Department considered only compliance data in making annual determinations, 41 states and territories met requirements. This year, however, when the Department includes data on how students are actually performing, only 18 states and territories meet requirements.”
Why are they so eager to tell states they aren’t meeting requirements? So they can enact more requirements. It’s the way things work for those in power. Tell schools they aren’t performing and then punish them with additional requirements.
Utah happens to be coming up short and is on the list of states that “need assistance.” The USDOE continues, “If a state needs assistance for two years in a row, IDEA requires the Department to takeactions such as requiring the state to obtain technical assistance or identifying the state as a high-risk grant recipient.”
So Utah is at risk of losing federal funds due to the feds moving the goal post and mandating, against the rules of the game, that teams retroactively enact the new rules. Suddenly the score that was 14-0, is 0-0.
Now I’m no fan of federal funding in any respect and I’d love to see it abolished, but until we are able to accomplish that, this is an egregious violation of the law and should result in Duncan and maybe others being short-timers on the hill for their actions.
NAEP was supposed to be for a common set of data between the states and was mandated to never be used for high stakes testing determination.
So what kind of “technical assistance” does the USDOE have in mind?
“As part of the move to RDA, OSERS [Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services] will fund a new $50 million technical assistance center – the Center on Systemic Improvement – to help states leverage the $11.5 billion in federal special education funds which they currently receive to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. In addition, OSERS will be working with each state to support them in developing comprehensive plans designed to improve results for children with disabilities.”
Because so many states were suddenly deemed to be below threshold (without knowing that’s how they would be evaluated), we’re going to see a new federal “assistance” center because obviously the states aren’t capable of educating children with disabilities. We “need” that federal help… (Oh, and Common Core isn’t being pushed by the feds either, of course.)
Interestingly, Gregory Corr, the Director of Monitoring and State Improvement Planning at OSEP (Office of Special Education Programs), is coming to Utah *right now* to do some type of investigation. This is beyond normal. Directors don’t go to states on “routine” visits. I understand he will be at the State Office of Education on Thursday.
Please come Thursday, tomorrow: 11:00 at Royal Wood Office Plaza, at 230 West 200 South in Salt Lake City . Help tell the the feds to stop violating the law, stop violating Utah’s sovereignty, and stop messing with children with disabilities. It’s OUR education system. Bring your signs: “Stop Fed Ed” “Support Children With Disabilities” “Defend Local Control” “Thank You Senator Hatch”.