This article, reposted with permission from Christienken.com, was written to challenge education bureaucrats who are using the latest PISA results to justify their crooked reforms. Diane Ravitch, Yong Zhao, and Rick Hess have excellent posts as well on the topic of PISA. Dr. Tienken’s questions for ed reformers at the end of his article take the cake!
Pundits, education bureaucrats, and policy makers rejoice! It’s PISA time once again. Cue the dark music, fear mongering, worn out slogans and dogma about the United States education system failing the country economically. Sprinkle in “global competitiveness” throughout your press release, gush over how well those non-creative, authoritarian Asian countries performed, push your market oriented, anti-local control reforms, and presto, you are ready for prime-time education-reformer status. It seems as if America is suffering from a severe case of PISA envy. But what do the vendors of PISA say about PISA?
Unfortunately, the release of the latest PISA scores tells us nothing about the quality of a country’s education system, nor do the results predict economic doom or success. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD, 2013, p.265), the private group that sells the PISA, the results should not be used to make sweeping indictments of education systems or important policy decisions. In fact, the vendors caution that the results of the PISA tests are a combination of schooling, life experiences, poverty, and access to early childhood programs, just to name a few factors:
“If a country’s scale scores in reading, scientific or mathematical literacy are significantly higher than those in another country, it cannot automatically be inferred that the schools or particular parts of the education system in the first country are more effective than those in the second. However, one can legitimately conclude that the cumulative impact of learning experiences in the first country, starting in early childhood and up to the age of 15, and embracing experiences both in school, home and beyond, have resulted in higher outcomes in the literacy domains that PISA measures.”
Not only are PISA results influenced by experiences “in the home and beyond”, but there is a sizeable relationship between the level of child poverty in a country and PISA results. Poverty explains up to 46% of the PISA scores in OECD countries (OECD, 2013, pp. 35-36). That does not bode well for the U.S. with one of the highest childhood poverty rates of the major industrialized countries.
Schooling does not end when a child turns 15 or 16, the ages of the students tested by PISA. Students continue their education for another 2-3 years and are thus exposed to more content. The vendors of PISA acknowledge that the scores from a 15 year-old child could not possibly predict or account for all that child knows or will grow to learn in the future. According to the PISA technical manual (OECD, 2009 p. 261) curriculum alignment and the selectiveness in countries’ testing populations also contribute to differences in the scores:
“This is not only because different students were assessed but also because the content of the PISA assessment was not expressly designed to match what students had learned in the preceding school year but more broadly to assess the cumulative outcome of learning in school up to age 15. For example, if the curriculum of the grades in which 15-year-olds are enrolled mainly includes material other than that assessed by PISA (which, in turn, may have been included in earlier school years) then the observed performance difference will underestimate student progress.”
Furthermore, the vendors reiterate their cautions that PISA is not aligned to any curriculum (2009, p.48):
“PISA measures knowledge and skills for life and so it does not have a strong curricular focus. This limits the extent to which the study is able to explore relationships between differences in achievement and differences in the implemented curricula.”
But what “skills for life” does PISA measure? A look at the released items suggest that some of the content measured is just rehashed versions of subject matter that has been around for the last 120 years: Hardly 21st century skills. PISA does not measure resilience, persistence, collaboration, cooperation, cultural awareness, strategizing, empathy, compassion, or divergent thinking.
So, if the vendors of PISA repeatedly warn that PISA is not aligned to school curricula, the scores are influenced strongly by poverty and wealth, the skills are left over from the 19th and 20th centuries, and out-of-school factors contribute to the overall education output in a country, then what does PISA really tell us about the quality of a school system or global competitiveness? Not much.
U.S. students have never scored at the top of the ranks on PISA or any other international test given since 1964. Countries like Estonia, Slovenia, Slovak Republic, Poland, and Latvia outscore the U.S. on every PISA. Does that matter? What is their per-capita GDP? How many Nobel Prizes have they won? How many utility patents do they produce each year? Where have high PISA scores gotten them? Are they going to “out-compete” the U.S.? I don’t think so.
Beyond the utterly anti-intellectual statements being made about the latest round of PISA scores, there are some basic questions that policy makers, education bureaucrats, and the latest crop of self-proclaimed savior-reformers should answer before thrusting assertions and untested policies upon 50 million public school children.
What is your definition of global competitiveness?
How can one test predict global competiveness or economic growth?
Was the PISA test designed to predict economic growth (OECD, 2009; 2013)?
What empirical evidence do you have that high PISA scores result in higher levels of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship (Zhao, 2012)?
Are you aware, that when you disaggregate the data by percentages of poverty in a school, the U.S. scores at the top of all the PISA tests (Riddle, 2009)?
Do you know what disaggregate means?
If countries like Estonia, Hungary, Slovenia, Vietnam, Latvia, and Poland routinely outscore us on PISA, why isn’t their per capita gross domestic product or other personal economic indicators equal to those in the U.S. (World Bank, 2013)?
What empirical evidence do you have that PISA scores cause economic growth in the G20 countries (Tienken, 2008)?
What jobs are U.S. children competing for in this economy?
What evidence do you have to demonstrate U.S. students are competing for the jobs you cite and with whom are they competing (evidence for that as well…)?
Do you think that lower wages is a reason multinational corporations choose to sell out the American public and set up shops in places like Pakistan,
Indonesia, Cambodia, India, China, Bangladesh, and Haiti?
Are you aware of the strong relationship between our growing trade with China and the loss of our manufacturing jobs (Pierce & Schott, 2012; Traywick, 2013)?
Why are companies like Boeing and GE allowed to give their technology, utility patents, and know-how to the Chinese in return for being able to sell their products in China (Prestowitz, 2012)?
Can higher PISA scores change the policy of allowing U.S. multinationals to give away our technological advantages?
Are you aware that only 10% of Chinese engineering graduates and 25% of Indian engineers are prepared to work in multinational corporations or corporations
outside of China or India (Gereffi, et al., 2006; Kiwana, 2012)?
If you are not aware of that fact, don’t you think you should be?
Are you aware that 81% of U.S. engineers are qualified to work in multinational corporations – the highest percentage in the world (Kiwana, 2012)?
Are you aware that adults in the U.S. rank at the top of the world in creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship and that those adults were educated during a time of NO state or national standards (Tienken, 2013)?
If you are not aware of that fact, don’t you think you should be?
Are you aware that the U.S. produces the largest numbers of utility patents (innovation patents) per year and has produced over 100,000 a year for at least the last 45 years? No other country comes close (USPTO, 2012).
Did you answer “No” to three or more of these questions? If so, don’t you think it is time that you save the taxpayers money and resources and resign?
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2010). PISA 2009 results: What students know and can do: Student performance in reading, mathematics and science (Vol. I). Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/pisa/ pisaproducts/pisa2009/pisa2009resultswhatstudents knowandcandostudentperformanceinreadingmath ematicsandsciencevolumei.htm
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.
*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.
Dr. Sandra Stotsky, one of the famous Common Core validation committee members who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of Common Core, is alarmed that N.H. legislators are being sold a false line by Mark Tucker about Common Core. She points out, among other things, that the Gates Foundation has “given millions to help Marc Tucker promote his own ideas on education in recent years” as it has given millions to promote Common Core nationwide. But there are more than financial incentives for Tucker, the CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), a Center for American Progress (CAP) leader, and the infamous Dear Hillary letter author.
Tucker’s life’s work hangs on Common Core. He’s made it his mission to end local control, as a progressive socialist who openly fights Constitutional, representative America. The plot of his 1992 “Dear Hillary letter” falls apart without Common standards for control of data and control of education and workforce. He can’t let it fail.
Tucker’s infamous 1992 letter to Hillary Clinton showed Tucker’s (and Clinton’s) twisted agreement that a “new” system of government should micromanage every citizen’s life, cradle to grave, using schooling as the core for the centralized control. Creepy as can be.
Fast forward to May 2013 and still, you see Tucker’s creepy goals outlined in his report from the “Center for American Progress” in which Tucker stated that “the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control.” He also dared write: “I propose to greatly strengthen the role of the state education agencies in education governance, at the expense of local control … [G]overnance roles of the local districts, as well as the federal government, would be significantly decreased. Independent citizen governing boards would be eliminated.”
“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 policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation simply cannot be justified.”
(Why don’t our state school boards share these reports with us? Why do they lead us to believe that “college and career ready standards” mean better than we had before?)
The same NCEE report goes on to say that the traditional high school English class, with its emphasis on classic literature and personal, narrative writing, is useless. The report implies that Common Core will save students from the near-worthless classics with its emphasis on technical subjects and social studies via the dominance of informational text in the Common Core classroom:
“The Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts (CCSSE) address reading in history/social studies as well as science and technical subjects, and in so doing may increase the relevance of high school instruction.”
In labeling classic literature and personal writing irrelevant, the NCEE underscores the Common Core/NCEE mentality: that only job prep matters, only the collective economy, not the liberty and potential of an individual.
Dr. Stotsky makes many important points, including the following:
1 “In October, members of the New Hampshire legislature heard Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, tell them more fibs than Pinocchio ever dreamed up. How many legislators will prove to be gullible Geppettos is another matter.”
2 “…all six of the “math experts” who “validated” Common Core’s mathematics standards are in an education school and/or spend their time on teacher education… [Dr. James Milgram, who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of the Common Core math standards], who has a doctorate in mathematics, was clearly the only mathematician on the Validation Committee. Tucker doesn’t know a mathematician from a mathematics educator.”
3 “It is true that Professor William McCallum, a consultant to Achieve, Inc., a mathematics professor at Arizona State University, and a lead writer of Common Core’s mathematics standards, asked the heads of many national mathematics and science societies for endorsements, and he received them. However, there is no evidence that any of their members ever read Common Core’s high school mathematics standards.”
5 “Mitchell Chester, current Commissioner of Education in Massachusetts, did not commission any leading education research organizations to compare the Massachusetts standards with Common Core’s …Achieve, Inc., Fordham, and the MBAE all received funding from the Gates Foundation… It is also well-known that a Race to the Top grant for $250,000,000 was promised to Massachusetts if it adopted Common Core’s standards.”
6 “Tucker plays fast and loose with the facts, and in the future New Hampshire legislators and educators should make sure a fact-checker is on the premises for a debriefing after he speaks.”
Thomas Jefferson wrote: “But 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.“
America, do we you want that sterile, big-government factory vision of workforce-focus to control the nation’s children? How has it worked out for European socialist countries and the communist nations?
Why listen to Tucker and go with his (Common Core’s) flow? Why destroy the vision of our founders, where each caring parent and locality governed the child’s education?
Local control and freedom have made us the greatest nation in the world. Others flock to our universities! Others envy our technological and medical advancement!
Freedom works. Don’t throw it away, foolishly following schemers such as Marc Tucker, David Coleman, Sir Michael Barber, Bill Gates, and Arne Duncan –no matter how fancy the titles of their organizations sound.
We’re at a critical intersection of our country’s history. Our children’s futures and our country’s future depends on us seeing what these schemers are attempting to pull; depends on us standing up and simply saying, “No.”
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 amendableby 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.
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)
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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):
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.”
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.
A letter is posted At The Chalkface. The powerful letter to seventh grade students comes from teacher Meg Norris who explains why she left teaching to fight Common Core.
Here’s just a small piece of it:
“To My Students,
I did not return to the classroom this year and I want to apologize… I want you to know none of this is your fault. It is not you… Your brain was designed perfectly. Common Core standards were not… Common Core is the first time in the history of this country that a privately written and copyrighted plan has become public policy. There is no research to back it and it has never been tested. Politicians are pushing it because these corporations are giving them money to push it. When I left, I met with members of your Board of Education and told them what was happening. They ignored me. I went to the local newspaper and they ignored me too. When I spoke to the state Senate education committee they dismissed me as a political nut job…”
The whole letter is a tearjerker. Please read it and share it.
1 Adopt College-and-Career Ready standards and high-quality, valid and reliable assessments for all students.
2 Develop and use pre-K through post-secondary and career data systems.
3 Increase teacher effectiveness and ensure equitable distribution of qualified teachers.
4 Turn around the lowest-performing schools.
These reforms sound somewhat innocuous until one starts reading… original source documents. The translation of the reforms appears to be:
Use federally-required Computer Adaptive Tests that will not be accessible to local teachers or administrators — or parents at a set point after they are given. Meanwhile, federal reformers are remaking America’s entire testing system by aligning all K-12 testing — including the GED, SAT and ACT — to Common Core so that subjective questions can assess real world knowledge as the means for social change. This overhaul is being orchestrated by the new head of the College Board, David Coleman, who is considered the architect of Common Core.
2. Develop interoperable data systems to track students from “cradle to career.”
4. Create new school grading systems to enforce the federal government’s equity measures on schools.
This explains why West High and other outstanding schools recently received failing grades. They are “underperforming” in equity measures. The system is not set up to evaluate the student achievement that local parents value, but rather the equity measures that social justice reformers demand.“
The article also points out that since governors were directed by the White House to spend the stimulus funds quickly, the directive “has allowed the federal government to remake K-12 education in three years time without public knowledge, without using our representative form of government and without vetting the ongoing costs to states.”
Some Utah leaders are working hard to fortify privacy rights, I know. But many powerful organizations, departments and corporations are working hard to ignore, dismiss, or stop any efforts to defend student privacy– all with great intentions but absolutely without authority.
The result is a data collecting and sharing network that represents loss of parental authority and loss of individual privacy.
But few Utahns know that their child is being tracked and very few know that they can’t opt out of that tracking.
Fewer still know that there’s a Utah Data Alliance (UDA) that links K-12 data, collected by schools, with higher ed., with the State workforce and other agencies.
Utah’s UDA has agreed to use the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) State Core Model –which means all of our data will be interoperable and sharable across state lines. The PESC’s State Core Model aligns different states’ SLDS data systems so that they all match.
I am not saying that Utah agencies are sharing private data yet; I am saying that there’s nothing strong preventing them from doing so and that school systems are moving in the direction of more and more data commonality and disaggregation of student data. (see point 4 at that link.)
Countless entities have lined up with a “Data Quality Campaign” to make sure all their data points and technologies match, so that student information can be pooled.
Federal FERPA laws, previously protective of student data, have now been grossly loosened, and federal agencies including the NCES and the Department of Education, as well as White House events such as “Datapalooza” and White House Chiefs such as Joanne Weiss, are encouraging us to pool data, while (weakly) noting that student privacy is, of course, important. Yet proper protections are missing.
The Department of Education does a two-faced dance, asking for “robust data” and altering FERPA on the one hand, and insisting that they don’t even collect student data when speaking to the press. The U.S. Department of Education’s intentions are, however, 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 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 Model, in its own definition, “includes early childhood, elementary and secondary, post-secondary, and workforce elements, known as “P20,” and establishes comparability between sectors and between states.”
PESC states 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…”
I find this alarming. You might find it hard to believe that Utah is lined up with it.
So here is the evidence:
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) and other XML schemas.”
Here is the PESC State Core Model abstract.
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)…
The Model [can replace] 625 distinct Federal reporting types with record-level data collections.
… The Model is designed to address unique, complex P20 SLDS relationships, business rules, and entity factoring… It addresses student-teacher link, common assessment data model, and comes pre-loaded with Common Core learning standards.
The State Core Model consists of three principle artifacts… All three artifacts can be downloaded and used without charge or attribution from [the EIMAC group site].”
And, what is EIMAC? In case you hadn’t heard of EIMAC: it’s the branch of the CCSSO that “advocates on behalf of states to reduce data collection burden and improve the overall quality of the data collected at the national level.” Yes, they said that out loud. They collect data at the national level without authority nor any representation.
But, but– (we say) –Aren’t we protected by GEPA law and by the Constitution from any sort of “accountability” to federal agencies in educational matters or privacy matters including “unreasonable searches”?
EDEN – EDFacts 79 file types
CRDC – Civil Rights Data Collection 2 parts
SFSF – State Fiscal Stabilization Fund 33 indicators, 3 descriptors
MSRI – Migrant Student Records Exchange Initiative
CSPR – Consolidated State Performance Reports 191 Indicators
OSEP – Office of Special Education Programs 34 indicators
IPEDS – Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System
CCD – Common Core Data (fiscal) Financial data collected in survey format
SDFSCA – Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Act Data are collected in CSPR
M-V – McKinney-Vento Collected through CSPR.
Perkins – Perkins Act
RTTT – Race to the Top N/A
TIF – Teacher Incentive Fund 6 Sections
N or D Annual Report of Neglected and Delinquent (N or D) Children Collected through CSPR”
To clarify: the document that signed us up for PESC is the Utah application for the ARRA grant for a SLDS database. (This document resulted in Utah receiving $9.6 million from the federal government, none of which was used for actual education, but only to build the student database (SLDS).)
That SLDS grant application talks about authorizing de-identification of data for research and it says that individuals will be authorized to access personal student information in the various Utah agencies that belong to UDA.
Who are these individuals? How many of them are there? Why does the UDA trust them with information that parents weren’t even told was being gathered on our children?
NON-COGNITIVE AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DATA, TOO.
Starting at page 87, we read how non-cognitive behaviors that have nothing to do with academics, will be collected and studied by school systems.
These include “social comfort and integration, academic conscientiousness, resiliency, etc.” to be evaluated through the psychometric census known as the “Student Strengths Inventory. (SSI)”
The SSI inventory –your child’s psychological information– will be integrated into the system (SLDS) and there are plans to do this for earlier grades, but for now it’s for 11th and 12th graders. Demographic information is captured while administering the test and SSI data will be given to whomever it is assumed needs to see it. (This is not a parental decision but a state decision.)
INTEGRATING STUDENT PSYCHOMETRIC CENSUS DATA INTO THE SLDS SYSTEM:
The SLDS grant also promises to integrate our psychological data into the SLDS (that database which the feds paid for/pushed on us.)
“Utah’s Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance programs have substantial Student Education Occupation Plan, (SEOP) data, but they are not well integrated with other student data. With the introduction of UtahFutures and the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) and its focus on noncognitive data, combining such data with other longitudinal student level data to the USOE Data
Warehouse the UDA. Both the USOE (K-12) and the Postsecondary Outcomes and Data Needs
sub-sections will address these needs.”
(My, what big data collection teeth you have, Grandmother! –The better to integrate you with, my dear.)
Next, on page 87 of the same grant, Utah’s application for the ARRA money, it says:
“… psychosocial or noncognitive factors… include, but are not limited to educational commitment, academic engagement and conscientiousness, social comfort and social integration, academic self-efficacy, resiliency… Until recently, institutions had to rely on standardized cognitive measures to identify student needs.
… We propose to census test all current student in grades 11 and 12 and then test students in grade 11 in subsequent years using the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) – a measure of noncognitive attitudes and behaviors.”
So the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) is a “psychometric census” to be taken by every 11th and 12th grade student in Utah. That’s how they’re gathering the psychological data.
Massachusetts Democratic Senator Edward Markey has taken action. He articulated his concerns on this subject in a letter to Secretary Arne Duncan. Other legislators around the nation are writing bills to take protective action for student privacy.
This would mean ending the “partnerships” by Utah with: the CCSSO, the Data Quality Campaign, the PESC State Model, the SLDS interoperability framework, the National Data Collection Model, the CEDS program of EIMAC; it would mean creating proper protections inside the Utah Data Alliance, and most of all, it would mean establishing permission from parents prior to any student SLDS surveillance.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?”
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 clearthis 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.
“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?”
“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.”
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?”
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.
I am an NEA member and building delegate for my urban high school and I do no support the Common Core. But I am more upset that the NEA is enabling corporate special interests to not only drive but shape public policy. This is the responsibility of local education boards working in concert with taxpayers and parents. Those are the people to whom public school teachers should be responsible.
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October 19, 2013 at 6:53 pm
NEA gets my dues, but it does NOT represent me when it comes to CC. Where is the link to the actual survey that you repeatedly claim shows that 75% of us support CC? How much tainted money has the NEA accepted from the Gates Foundation? Common Core is developmentally inappropriate and is intractably connected to the over testing of our children. I suggest you dedicate the next issue of NEAToday to the rebuttals against CC. You will not need to look hard for contributors. #badassteacherA
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October 20, 2013 at 2:09 pm
I cannot believe that this is happening. I cannot believe that the unions that are supposed to be supporting us are telling lies. I am an AFT member. Guess what? I was never polled about the Common Core. I do not know a teacher who supports it. Our big worry has become how to choose the right “data driven” goals so that we look like we are improving. We certainly do not want to choose a goal or a subset of students that might be too challenging–we will be evaluated on it! People who have never taught are making the rules. BIG MONEY has bought out are unions. Where are we to turn?
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October 20, 2013 at 2:34 pm
I am a member of NEA/TSTA, and I strongly oppose common core. I feel as if NEA has betrayed us. Under no circumstances should NEA be accepting money from any group with an agenda that is anti-teacher and pro TFA..
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Jamie Bowsher says:
October 20, 2013 at 2:34 pm
I am a card carrying dues paying member of NEA and I disagree wholeheartedly with this article. I especially take issue with #3. My special education students are not benefiting from CCSS. Their alternate assessments are based on grade level standards that they are not even close to achieving! ( Hence, the need for them to have IEPs!) I have a student who has severe CP, is blind, cannot walk, talk, feed herself, or use a toilet, who was expected to identify carbon dioxide as a compound on her AA! This is educational malpractice! IEPs are INDIVIDUAL, not COMMON! This way of thinking is a disservice to my students, and is making them feel even more anxious about school! Add to this that 50% of my evaluation is based on my student test scores! The CCSS was not designed for this purpose, yet that is how they are being utilized! It is maddening that my union supports this!
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Sharyle Burwell says:
October 20, 2013 at 2:47 pm
Most Teachers??? How many did you survey? Were the questions leading questions? I have been an NEA member for 30+ years and no one bothered to ask my opinion! What about the ramifications of CC based testing? Please tell ME how I feel about that! I am VERY DISAPPOINTED in an organization that seems to have sold out its members!
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October 20, 2013 at 2:48 pm
I am an NEA member and it sickens me that this organization is supporting the Common Core. Are there elements that could be useful? Yes. Will the standards be implemented in a way that fully utilizes those elements? Nope. We’re already seeing it in NY in the way that materials are being created, lessons are being scripted, and the ridiculous amounts of money spent on these tests/test prep, etc. Shame on the NEA!!
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Melissa Smearer says:
October 20, 2013 at 3:03 pm
1. I am an NEA member that does NOT support the Common core!
2. the standards are dictating how we teach. There are programs such as EngageNY that have been designed so that teachers all have to teach the same thing on the same day, regardless of the learning levels of their students. then the students are being tested on this material.
3. The standards are not designed to help all students. what about the student that has the creativity to pursue art? Music? there is no more room for these interests with these standards. Creativity should not be standardized.
4. I have not seen anyone refer to there being literature in the standards. I have only been informed of informational texts being included.
5. School climate and interdisciplinary planning would be better to create cross curricular learning.
6. these assessments are doing nothing but adding to the stress and despair of our students and teachers.
7. Implementation should not be a work in progress. these standards and their implementation should have been thoroughly planned and tested before subjecting our students to this process.
8. Teacher leadership is essential. many teachers are leading the charge against the implementation of these standards. NEA should listen to them.
9. Parents are key partners. they need to be informed about exactly what these standards are doing to their children. those parents that are already taking a stand against it need to be listened to.
10. I don’t trust resources that are designed to help us with the implementation of the Common Core when the corporate players of educational reform are being exposed as people that have no interest in our students except as future profit for themselves.
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October 20, 2013 at 3:10 pm
Is this The Onion?
I’m an NEA member and was never asked about the common core. In fact, I have yet to meet any NEA member who agrees with or supports common core. Actually I haven’t heard a single teacher to date voive approval of common core. Where is NEA getting their info and who are they interviewing. A lot of us dues paying members would love to know.
Designed to help all students? Hmm. Well I guess that’s true since reformers ignore childten with special needs, ELL’s and children in high poverty areas.
I cannot believe that the NEA has sold out the very people who they say they represent. Time to cancel my membership.
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Melissa Smearer says:
October 20, 2013 at 3:11 pm
Point by point rebuttal..1. I am an NEA member that does NOT support the Common core!
2. the standards are dictating how we teach. There are programs such as EngageNY that have been designed so that teachers all have to teach the same thing on the same day, regardless of the learning levels of their students. then the students are being tested on this material.
3. The standards are not designed to help all students. what about the student that has the creativity to pursue art? Music? there is no more room for these interests with these standards. Creativity should not be standardized.
4. I have not seen anyone refer to there being literature in the standards. I have only been informed of informational texts being included.
5. School climate and interdisciplinary planning would be better to create cross curricular learning.
6. these assessments are doing nothing but adding to the stress and despair of our students and teachers.
7. Implementation should not be a work in progress. these standards and their implementation should have been thoroughly planned and tested before subjecting our students to this process.
8. Teacher leadership is essential. many teachers are leading the charge against the implementation of these standards. NEA should listen to them.
9. Parents are key partners. they need to be informed about exactly what these standards are doing to their children. those parents that are already taking a stand against it need to be listened to.
10. I don’t trust resources that are designed to help us with the implementation of the Common Core when the corporate players of educational reform are being exposed as people that have no interest in our students except as future profit for themselves
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Vincent Gutierrez says:
October 20, 2013 at 3:12 pm
I am also an NEA member and don’t recall ever being invited to participate in any sort of survey or poll about Common Core. I am also an ELD teacher, and I can guarantee you that Common Core does not benefit my students. They will, once again, be tested for their knowledge in a language they can barely speak, read, and write. I will not be allowed to translate or answer any questions unless I want to compromise the validity of the test. They will be classified, labeled, and ultimately demoralized when they get their results. And I will once again spend the rest of the year trying to motivate them and encouraging their growth, which is never truly measured. No, Common Core and the supplemental materials (adapted versions of the original text with less words, bigger font, huge pictures, highlighted vocabulary, and “kid-friendly” speak) is not going to benefit them because they will still be tested with the same readings and judged with the same “rigor”.
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Judith Strollo says:
October 20, 2013 at 3:21 pm
I have been a member of the NEA for 36 years and feel I have been sold out by the recent embrace of the Common Core. The standards do not take into consideration neurological readiness of young children and are totally age inappropriate for the younger grades. The movement also leaves special needs children out of the mix.. IEP’s are being pushed aside even though they are the legal documents. I would venture to guess, that in the future, there will be class action suits as school districts are in violation of IDEA.
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James DeYoung says:
October 20, 2013 at 3:37 pm
I am another NEA member who is disappointed in and angry with our leadership. I do not support the CCSS. The new standards force developmentally inappropriate content to early grades, continue the problem of the mile wide inch deep math curriculum, are resulting in even more testing, and so many other problems. These standards are being pushed down or throats by special interests who stand to make millions. They are supported by many whose real aim in school reform is to devise ways to make public schools look bad to continue the privatization that is under way.
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Tracy Pryor says:
October 20, 2013 at 3:44 pm
I am an NEA member, have been for 23 years. This article is OUTRAGEOUS!
“But schools are forging ahead with the initiative—even as it faces opponents who are determined to mislabel the effort as everything from “Obamacore” to a “national curriculum.” The Common Core is a set of voluntary K–12 standards in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. The White House did not create the initiative, nor is it leading it. The standards were developed by governors and state school officials, with input from a wide range of educators, content experts, national organizations (including NEA), and community groups.”
—I CAN NOT BELIEVE THAT NEA IS STATING THIS!!!
How much $$$$$$$ did Gates give NEA to write this garbage???
I DO NOT support the CC$$. I know many teachers, and none of them support the CC$$. Can you please publish the entire survey you are referencing so that we can all see the questions and number of members who answered each question.
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John Hallowitz says:
October 20, 2013 at 3:47 pm
One of the most damning things I can say about Kommon Kore is: I am a teacher with twenty five years experience in secondary school and nobody asked me or any of my colleagues. One of the best things I can say about Common Corpse is it did do away with CST. Yeah!! So NEA where are the comments supporting this article and the common core. I could’t find any. That’s a very silent 75%. Put it another way, anything that 25% of teachers damn has got to be questionable at best.
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Sarah Ross says:
October 20, 2013 at 3:57 pm
Strange I am a NEA member and I’ve never been polled on my feelings regarding CCSS. In fact I have not met any teachers who have been asked their feelings. I suspect that they are actively seeking the few rare teachers who agree with CCSS to take these polls. Not a single teacher in my building are pro CCSS. In fact I live in Alaska and our state has not adopted CCSS because our teachers are so heartily against it. Here the teachers form committees to form our standards. Imagine that, teachers dictating what students should be learning. It makes for a much less stressful career and a much better educational system for students to be in. Being in special education I am particularly against the third point of this article. If we were in CCSS my students would be expected to know things there is no way they would be able to learn right now. I work with intensive students. Neither can read or write or speak. One has just learned to walk independently the other has just learned the alphabet. I consider learning those skills, while basic for other students, to be huge successes for these students. (Hence the need for IEPs) If they were to be tested at grade level as the alternative assessments in CCSS are, they would fail miserably. I strive to set my students up for success, not to fail. The fact that evaluations of teachers are tied to the students’ test scores, CCSS becomes dangerous for teachers. CCSS may have been good in concept, but it is being used for a purpose it was not designed and the implementation was not properly planned out. It is a sad day when NEA no longer is supporting the voices of our teacher, its members.
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Liz Brown says:
October 20, 2013 at 5:27 pm
I am a teacher with 33 years experience, and I do support the CCSS. I didn’t respond to any NEA question either, but in all honesty I don’t know for sure that I was ever asked as I don’t usually take the time to read the emails nor snail mail that arrives. I teach in Washington, and we’ve had rigorous state standards for more than a decade. It has lead us to having the highest SAT scores in the nation in recent years. I’m glad to know that kids are have little to no chance in being placed in a classroom/school that simply babysits day in and day out.
The CCSS as a curriculum is a set of skills kids should be able to do at each grade level. How and when they are taught is left up to districts/schools/teachers. If as a teacher, you feel your hands are tied, blame your administration, not the Common Core.
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Margaret Bandy says:
October 20, 2013 at 6:23 pm
I am an NEA member and would be interested in seeing the poll that says 75% of members support CC. I do not believe that 75% of NEA member teachers support CC. While some of the high school standards are acceptable, the new PARCC test and the millions that will be spent on these standardized tests are not in any way acceptable. NEA should be supporting teachers in their desire to provide an education that will raise the next generation of artists, civic leaders and scientists. Instead, you are supporting the people who want to destroy public schools as they turn students into adults who can take a standardized test but do not have a well rounded education that includes more than the basics of math and English.
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Eileen McElroy says:
October 20, 2013 at 6:38 pm
I am a special education teacher for 25 years and I feel our unions and leadership sold us out. CC standards do not allow for differentiation so that ALL students may learn. They do not consider developmental readiness. I am saddened and horrified to watch pre-teens “check -out” day by day. I pray that this all implodes on itself as it should, since there will be no financing for these initiatives in a few years.
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Brenda Schaefer says:
October 20, 2013 at 6:52 pm
I am an NEA member and a member of BATs (Badass Teacher’s Association). Teachers have never been asked if they support Common Core so reporting that most do is irresponsible at best because no actual survey has been done.
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Janis Swanson says:
October 20, 2013 at 7:11 pm
Sorry NEA, I do not like where you are headed with supporting CCSS. When I see EXXON advertisements endorsing the Common Core I start to ask “why” and find exactly what I was suspecting that big business is pulling the strings on education. A little education is a dangerous thing.
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Claudia Swisher says:
October 20, 2013 at 8:43 pm
And, remind me again…How much money DID Bill Gates ‘invest’ in NEA? You should be supporting teachers, not the Billionaire Boys’ Club efforts to own public education.
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Marla Kilfoyle says:
October 20, 2013 at 9:14 pm
NEA may know 10 things that teachers say about Common Corpse. I know one thing that 30,500 BATs are saying about this! We say no more to Common Core! Stop pushing this and get on board to support your teachers. Give Gates his money back!
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Juan Rivera says:
October 20, 2013 at 9:21 pm
If there are going to be national standards educators need to be central to that process and it needs to be democratic process. You need to step back from this pile of foo. Parents in NY are waking up to this nonsense.
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Michael Ringle says:
October 20, 2013 at 10:40 pm
NEA member here, I don’t support the Common Core. Where’d you get these numbers? Strongly reconsidering my membership given the fact that my state NEA president in Michigan speaks up for the Common Core all the time. Time for a change!
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Shannon Smith says:
October 21, 2013 at 1:03 am
Most teachers do not support Common Core. Start listening to your members.
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October 21, 2013 at 11:24 am
Are you reading the comments to this one article??? Where are the teachers who you SAY support CC$$?? NEA had better wake up and listen to what their members are saying or they will have few members left! Teachers DO NOT support the CC$$ so stop drinking Bill Gate’s intoxicating kool aid! Once you take $ from Gates, you become part of the ed reform problem. NEA has sold out for $, how much $ will you lose as membership shrinks. If we can not cunt on NEA to fight for teachers then why join?? I have been a member for 35 years and this is the first time I would tell new teachers to walk away from NEA!
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Brenda Guy says:
October 21, 2013 at 6:30 pm
I am a member of ISTA and NEA. Where did the statement that “most NEA members support common core” come from? If you ask the teachers I know, I don’t believe that would be the answer. I am a union supporter and want to continue to be a union supporter, but I’m not sure this proves to me that the NEA is in tune with its members! ^0^ BATS are watching … (30,000+)
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Julie Smith says:
October 21, 2013 at 8:56 pm
I know of NO ONE who was polled anywhere about this. We don’t need more goofy standards. If you compare the number of days our students attend school in the USA versus SIngapore or Taiwan or many other countries it shakes out thus: USA : around 180 school days per year. Taiwan: 280 days per year (they are in school Monday – Saturday, 7:00am – 4:00pm). SIngapore: 278 days per year and so on. Keep in mind that not all children attend school in many of these societies/ countries either. It is only for those whose parents can afford school. Our students have the advantage of a great deal more PLAY time. Play is VERY valuable. Hence the great creativity of our country.
This spin that our schools are failing is rubbish and I too am so sorry our union has sold us out.
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October 21, 2013 at 11:07 pm
You do not represent me any more if you truly believe what you say. YOU ARE SHAMEFUL. I am sure you will find someway to spin the comments of your members to be a “small but vocal group”. That gets old. WE ARE HERE AND WE ARE ANGRY. YOU LIE NEA. Stop it.
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Mike Hastings says:
October 22, 2013 at 12:31 am
NEA President Van Roekel warns “Common Core …. if it is implemented correctly.” In my 38 years of teaching I have NEVER seen public policies,such as PL 94-142, the Rehab Act, ESEA (No Child Left Behind), “correctly implemented”. These grand designs have ALWAYS disappointed all of their stakeholders. State and local policy makers and administrators always fight against the noble ideals of these policies. Noble ideals take an enormous and sustained effort to reach an effective threshold. Public School administrators and school boards guide their decisions by the mantra “When is my next contract or when is the next election.” This short sighted, small minded, self-serving thinking has been and continues to thwart, the correct implementation of worthy policy directions.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is dealing with teachers outraged for similar reasons. Here is an open letter written this week by Chicago high school history teacher Paul Horton, to AFT leadership.
(I am continually amazed at the number of education reforms that both Democratic and Republican teachers are rising to oppose. There are a few things we may not agree upon, but the vast majority of Obama and Arne Duncan’s education reforms are reprehensible to both sides of the political aisle.)
I had a lot of respect for AFT and Al Shanker even when I worked in a right-to-work-state, Texas. But things are changing now for many AFT members. Many of us believe that we are beyond the stage of tactical battles and diplomacy.
Many teachers are concerned with the amount of money that we have taken from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and why we haven’t taken Race to the Top (RttT) and the big foundations head-on. Mr. Duncan’s policies are clearly shaped by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundations (Gates, Walton, Joyce, Broad) are clearly doing everything they can to bust teacher unions and are working with Democrats and Republicans to do so. To be viable without foundation support we need an insurgent organization that combines the efforts of parent groups, United Opt Out, anti-Common Core movements, AFT, and NEA.
Very much like the biracial Populists of the early 1890s, we should not support any candidates who support any element of RttT (the Common Core Curriculum, Value-added teacher assessments, more support for private charters, PARCC or Smarter Balanced standardized assessments, and data mining and sharing of student and family information).
Here in Illinois, for example, we all need to support an insurgent candidate for governor who, unlike Rauner (Mr. Emanuel’s millionaire developer Republican buddy) and Quinn who signed RttT and protects the Pearson Education crony state ed superintendent Chris Koch, who will stand for local control, democratically elected school boards, an end to funding for private charters, respect and support for neighborhood schools, and who will not fund any form of standardized testing not developed and graded by Illinois teachers. This candidate must be prepared to reject Gates, Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) Wall Street bundled, and other foundation money, support higher taxation on the wealthy, and hire more qualified teachers for school wrap around services.
Many of us in Chicago want much stronger and vocal support for CTU, support for teacher pensions. We need the state and national AFT to be much more vocal and to tell the truth. We have to fight power with power.
I personally will be looking for our state representative to go after Mr. Duncan and all elements of RttT on Thursday night at the Forum on the Common Core Curriculum sponsored by David Axelrod’s Center for the Study of American Politics at the University of Chicago.
We have a war in Chicago and the Obama administration has shown nothing but hostility for teachers. The President’s former chief of staff, our current mayor, who bundles the Wall Street bucks of DFER and picked Arne to do their bidding deserves our unqualified public opposition. You can not make nice with this administration or the Gates, Walton, Broad, or Joyce foundations and enjoy support among many in the rank and file. We need to know whose side you are on.
University High School
The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools
This interview with Indiana Mother Heather Crossin is not to be missed. Speaking to the Civitas Institute, she tells the story of how she got involved with the fight against Common Core:
Her third grade daughter came home from her Catholic parochial school with Common Core math worksheets. The worksheets had a “shockingly small amount” of practice, and an “inordinate amount of time spent explaining in writing how students got to answers” which had to be written by students in very scripted ways. Heather started to ask questions.
She soon found herself at a school meeting to discuss the Common Core styled math, and heard a sales pitch from a Pearson Education sales representative. She and the parents in the room didn’t like the pitch nor the new math. Then the principal informed them that there was no choice. That was Heather’s moment of illumination.
“Suddenly I realized the control over what was being taught in my child’s third grade classroom was now not at my school level. In fact, it was not even at the state level. It had been removed and all control now resided outside the state of Indiana, with private trade associations that owned the copyright to these standards. So no one in my school building, or even in my state, had the ability to change, edit or delete a set of standards that I found right out of the gate to be problematic…
“…We could not believe that a shift of this magnitude had occurred in our state and no one was aware of it. We felt an overwhelming desire to at least let the people know what had happened. We felt strongly that if people knew that this type of a shift in power and control had occurred, they would be outraged as we were, and I think we found that they were.”
In this interview, Heather also explains why parents can and must get involved:
“The stakes are so high. This is not an issue that can be ignored. It really affects not just our children’s future but really our country’s future.”
She touches on the fact that the Common Core testing system (aligned now with college entrance exams) places even home schooled students and private school students at a serious disadvantage. She also relates the method by which she and other parents pushed for, and succeeded in getting, the first “pause” legislation to stop Common Core for Indiana, adding:
“The most powerful weapon that we’ve had… is that the truth and the facts are overwhelmingly on the side of the Common Core opponents. That is a very powerful weapon.”
Utah Mother of seven Alisa Ellis, with recently retired teacher Margaret Wilkin, spoke out in favor of rejecting Common Core in Utah, at a debate in Cedar City this month. Iron County Superintendent Shannon Dulaney and John Meisner spoke for the promotion side of Common Core.
A key moment in this debate came at minute 25:50, when Alisa Ellis said:
“Proponents of Common Core often find themselves perplexed by the information being disseminated by opponents of Common Core. That’s because we’re continually having different conversations. The proponents speak only of the standards themselves. The opponents are speaking of a much larger reform package. The standards are being sold as the “gold standard” in education but they’ve never been tried anywhere. They’re actually the “fool’s gold standards”. We’re taking these on faith.”
Margaret Wilkin, the recently retired teacher, then spoke in opposition to the tight scheduling, excessive testing and burdensome top-down oversight that affect teacher autonomy under Common Core and said, “the pressure on teachers… is intense and many teachers say that they just can’t do it anymore.”
She mentioned four “talented, wonderful teachers” she knows personally who are retiring early because of the pressure.
She said, “Yes, [teachers] are teaching to the test.”
She also said that she was opposed to having children’s report cards aligned with the national Common Core standard.
And today I’m sharing another, very similar letter that was received by a parent in Florida, from the Florida Department of Education.
So, the “Bureau Chief” of the PK20 Florida Data Warehouse informed the Florida parent that he was “unable to identify opt out provisions to PK2O Education Data Warehouse.” That’s right: unable to identify an opt out provision.
Parents like me are unable to identify any constitutional provision whereby parents might be ethically overridden so that a federal-state partnership could then track personally identifiable information about our children without our parental consent in a federally promoted and funded State Longitudinal Database System!
Are other parents in all of the other states receving similar responses from SLDS or P-20 systems managers?
Is this not America? Why can’t we opt our children out? This is unacceptable, not parentally authorized, government-assumed, long-term, nonacademic and academic, individual, family and career surveillance. Don’t believe it? Study what the 50 SLDS systems and the Data Quality Campaign and the Common Educational Data Standards do.
If there was a state left in America that didn’t now have an SLDS tracking system that followed kids –without parental consent from early childhood through workforce and beyond– I would want to move there.
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.
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”.
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.
(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).
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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>
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.
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?
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.
Alyson Williams, the remarkable Utah researcher-mom who wrote the very popular and much reblogged essay “Children For Sale,” came to Heber City to speak about education reforms and how they hurt America. Here is that video.
Jakell Sullivan, another remarkable Utah researcher-mom, also gave an excellent talk and powerpoint presentation about resource redistribution that is taking place under new education reforms. Here is that video.
“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.
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.
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.
In the latest publication by the USOE, we read that Common Core is the “new gold standard” for education. Also, this latest publication fails to address the #1 concern of opponents to Common Core: that the privately copyrighted, “living work” standards will change, but states have no representative voice in those national changes.
It would be more honest to call it the “new fool’s gold” of American education both in terms of their academic status and in terms of the lack of legitimate representation at the standards-writing level.
The standards lower college readiness standards, as they prepare students only for a 2 year Jr. college. The standards hurt little children in the youngest grades, using absurdly rigorous expectations; this has been explained by an increasing number of child psychologists nationwide.
Worst of all, Common Core is a changeable and changing standard. It calls itself “a living work.” This means that it can and will be altered.
Gold does not change its quality or makeup. These standards do.
And when the standards do change, we all know that there is no written amendment process for the states who hold the standards in common to have a guaranteed voice in those alterations and amendments which are to happen.
This is why we keep on begging the Utah State School Board to abandon these standards, which are not only insufficient as they stand, but will change on a national scale– and we have no voice in those changes.
Please encourage the board to stop using deceptive terms such as “gold standard” when discussing and publishing information about Common Core.
Betty Peters of the Alabama State School Board is fighting for the privacy rights of children in Alabama by requesting documentation about what types of information is currently being disclosed without parental consent, and to whom.
Below are draft versions of the requests.
For more information about the shredding of parental rights under previously protective federal FERPA laws, see the lawsuit currently raging against the Department of Education, brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. I have written about this issue previously as have many other people.
Memo to Alabama State Board Members:
Since there is a debate without documentation about the use of data on our students of whether personally identifiable data is released on our students, we must request the following documents to clarify and end this discussion. Once we have documents that would substantiate the use of redisclosure of data, personally
identifiable information, PII, that the US Department of Education now allows under FERPA, we can better resolve the issues and take steps to protect our children in the state of Alabama. I am requesting and demanding that all documents requested herein, be given to each State Board Members and legislators, and only then, can we make decisions to protect our students and their families. All meetings and debates should be tabled until documents are received from the Department, and/or under the Freedom of Information Act that will prove one way or another, that will substantiate whether personally identifiable information can be used or not be used without the informed written permission of parents. These documents will provide the basis of our decisions and requests to our legislators of what should be done to protect student privacy.
Request for Documents, Written Agreements, Cooperative Agreements
RE: Redisclosure of Personally Identifiable Information on Students According to 99.31 of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, FERPA Unknown to Parents and Legislators
Request the Cooperative Agreements between the US Department of Education and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers, PARCC, and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, to determine the use of redisclosed personally identifiable information, PII, used to evaluate individual students toward Common Core Standards.
Request the Cooperative agreement with the Department of Education allowing Florida to be the fiscal agent for each of the states in the PARCC consortium. Request the Cooperative Agreement with the Department of Education allowing Washington to be the negotiating partner for each state in the Smarter Balanced Assessment consortium.
Request the Memorandum of Understanding between Washington state as the negotiating partner, and WestEd, the project management partner, that has access to redisclosed personally identifiable information, PII, for each state in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.
Request the Memorandum of Understanding between Florida, and Achieve, Inc., Florida as acting fiscal agent for the PARCC consortium and Achieve, Inc as project management partner. Please submit all written agreements allowing access to redisclosed personally identifiable information , PII, for each state.
Request any written agreements, memorandums of understanding, or cooperative agreements Alabama or other states not using PARCC or Smarter Balanced Assessment, has with the US Department of Education, ACT (Aspire, Explore, or Plan,) and/or Pearson, that has access to redisclosed personally identifiable information, PII,
used to evaluate individual students toward Common Core Standards.
Request any written agreements, memorandums of understanding, or cooperative agreements with other contractors who have been given redisclosed PII on student data to develop curriculum, computer adaptive digital software, and/or any testing development. These “school officials” may be identified as private sector contractors, consultants, volunteers, or other parties to whom an agency or institution has outsourced services or functions, including, non-profit organizations, corporations, or businesses to develop curriculum and/ or computer adaptive resources for individual students. These contractors may include Microsoft, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ETS, & ACT. Please submit any written agreements that allow access to PII, which was unlocked by order of President Obama, Office of Science and Technology Policy Executive Office of the President, January 19, 2012
Request the purchase agreement and amount for each written agreement between any “school official” and the US Department of Education, PARCC, and/or Smarter Balanced Assessment, for the purchase of obtained redisclosed data on personally identifiable information, PII, on individual students to develop curricula or computer
digital programming or testing materials.
Request any memorandums of understanding or cooperative agreements to test and measure disposition test items that are ” difficult to measure” and may infringe on personal privacy rights, violate federal law for redisclosing psychological information without informed written parental consent.
Request any memorandums of understanding or cooperative agreements that may be used as identifiers for interventions for changing dispositions or improving instruction, without the informed written consent of the parent violating privacy laws, personal liberty, and illegal access to mental health criteria.
Request sample test items or test blueprints with scoring criteria that will measure dispositions and values in the new College Career Citizenship Ready Standards, CCCR, that are being introduced to the Common Core Standards by the CCSSO.
Put this letter in writing to clarify requests:
Since there is a debate without documentation about the use of data on our students of whether personally identifiable data is released on our students, we must request the following documents to clarify and end this discussion. Once we have documents that would substantiate the use of Redisclosure of data, personally identifiable information, PII, that the US Department of Education now allows under FERPA, we can better resolve the issues and take steps to protect our children in the state of Alabama. I am requesting and demand that all documents requested herein, be given to each State Board Member, and only then, can we make decisions to protect our students and their families. All debates should be tabled until documents are received from the Department, and/or under the Freedom of Information Act that will prove one way or another, that will substantiate whether personally identifiable information can be used or not without the written permission of parents. These documents will provide the basis of our decisions and requests to our legislators of what
should be done to protect student privacy.
Other questions to be answered:
Was Congressional authority given to expand FERPA regulations concerning redisclosed access of data and the flow of personally identifiable information, PII to outside contractors?
Which federal law expanded FERPA to include all outside contractors as “school officials” to have access to personally identifiable information, PII,on students without the informed written consent of parents or legislators?
Why was the Hanson Memorandum rescinded in the ‘‘direct control’’ requirement contained in the policy guidance on authorized representatives allowing the flow of personally identifiable information to outside organizations, corporations, non-profits, and business to have access to personally identifiable information, PII?
Request the Presidential Executive Order providing that FERPA regulations were to be revised and changed to unlock data and allow re-disclosure of personally identifiable information, PII, to outside contractors.
Do outside contractors pay for the data? Examples:
• If outside for-profit contractors are developing tests, assessments, curriculum, or computer software to meet individual specific outcomes aligned to the Common Core Standards, including non-cognitive areas called dispositions, do these contractors pay for the data or intellectual property rights taken from individual students to research and develop testing, assessments, curriculum, and adaptive software to be re-sold to
states and individual schools for use in the classroom?
• If non-profit contractors are developing tests, assessments, curriculum, or computer software to meet individual specific outcomes aligned to the Common Core Standards, including non-cognitive areas called dispositions, do they pay for intellectual property rights? Are they violating their non-profit status to make a profit when these items that they are developing are re-sold to states and individual schools
for use in the classroom?
• Are individual states co-contributors to Redisclosure of PII?
• Is the National Center for Education Statistics co-contributors to Redisclosure of PII?
§ 99.31 Under what conditions is prior consent not required to disclose information?
(a) An educational agency or institution may disclose personally identifiable information from an education record of a student without the consent required by § 99.30 if the disclosure meets one or more of the following conditions:
(1)(i)(A) The disclosure is to other school officials, including teachers, within the agency or institution
whom the agency or institution has determined to have legitimate educational interests.
(B) A contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom an agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions may be considered a school official under this paragraph provided that the outside party—
( 1 ) Performs an institutional service or function for which the agency or institution would otherwise use
( 2 ) Is under the direct control of the agency or institution with respect to the use and maintenance of
education records; and ( 3 ) Is subject to the requirements of § 99.33(a) governing the use and redisclosure of personally identifiable information from education records.
§ 99.31(ii) Paragraph (a)(5)(i) of this section does not prevent a State from further limiting the number or
type of State or local officials to whom disclosures may be made under that paragraph.
(6)(i) The disclosure is to organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions to:
(A) Develop, validate, or administer predictive tests;
Dr. Christopher Tienken spoke at a conference on Common Core held in New York this month. His hard-hitting speech, posted below, includes the powerful, shattering truth that there’s no evidence to support the claims of Common Core proponents. The emperor is wearing no clothes.
“I moved into my school district because it has small classes, very well educated teachers… Each year they put out a pamphlet showing where the graduates go to school… 95 out of 100 are going to good schools, some are going to the very best in the country.
Our school district was not broken.
In 2012 we got this incredible, radical shift across the curricula… I just got my son’s homework last night. It’s a MacMillan McGraw Hill which I just learned is a subsidiary of Pearson. And it’s just this incredibly rote –I just think it’s way beneath– where a lot of children are. And what’s very frustrating to me is that I can’t have a meaningful discussion with my son’s teacher or the principal or the superintendent because it’s not our call anymore.
I have this letter from 2010 signed by David Patterson saying we’re committed to Race to the Top. There was no public debate beforehand. There was no legislative debate. Now, as a parent, I’m voiceless in my school district.
I just think that’s outrageous.”
Hear more from Professor Nick Tampio about Common Core on this radio interview from Pacifica News:
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.
“More and more parents are skeptical because there is no satisfying answer to even the most basic questions about Common Core. For example: What is Common Core? It is a set of standards in English “language arts” and math. But what does that mean? The standards are not a list of items students are expected to know, but brief, vague descriptions of broad skills students are expected to have at each grade level. How teachers impart those skills is largely left to them – except that the standards come with suggested methods, some of which seem highly questionable. And even among education experts there is great disagreement over whether these standards are as rigorous or as predictive of success as supporters claim… Many people who hated No Child Left Behind now champion Common Core. But they are peas in a pod. Both amount to national experiments being conducted in real time on our children without any firm sense of what the results will be. This is exactly the wrong way to do education reform in the American republic. One of the primary benefits of a federated republic is that states can funcion, in the famous phrase, as “laboratories of democracy.” Common Core weakens that advantage when it comes to education…
See the full Manchester Union Leader editorial here:
In the video taken at last night’s event, you hear other parents in the audience pleading with the board to allow this man the dignity to ask his question. But the man was removed by security, and he was then arrested –for “disturbing a school operation” and reportedly for also assaulting an officer. The reports say Small will face jail time and/or hefty fines.
Fines for disturbing a school operation? This was an informational meeting for parents, where information was clearly not being honorably and fully disclosed.
Robert Small refused to be told that he doesn’t have a voice, refused to be told he, as a parent with concerns, doesn’t matter. He refused to say that the edu-government knows best about what is best for his child– without his input.
He is a hero. I am thinking that Rosa Parks is smiling down on Robert Small tonight.
In July (2013) a report was issued (at the request of Georgia Senator William Ligon) that compares Georgia’s pre-Common Core standards to Georgia’s now-adopted Common Core standards.
You can read the full reports at the Senator’s web page, here and you can see the web page of Dr. Mary Kay Bacallao, the Georgia math professor who provided the report, here. You can also read the report of Dr. Sandra Stotsky who provided the English Language Arts segment for Senator Ligon’s report, here.
There are a few vital highlights that I want to share.
From Dr. Bacallao’s math report:</strong>
“What is missing in the new Common Core Math Standards? A few examples:
- Mean, median, mode, and range — gone in elementary grades.
- The concept of pi, including area and circumference of circles – gone in elementary grades.
- The Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic (prime factorization) – gone completely.
- Using fractions, decimals, and percents interchangeably — gone completely.
- Measurement -density – no measurement instruction after 5th grade.
- Division of a fraction by a fraction – gone in elementary grades.
- Algebra — inadequate readiness in the elementary grades and pushed back one year (from middle school – 8th grade – to high school – 9th grade). This means the majority of Georgia students will not reach calculus in high school, as expected by selective universities.
- Geometry — simple skills such as calculating the area of triangles, parallelograms and polygons are no longer taught in elementary grades.”
“1. Georgia should re-adopt its previous standards with some revisions spelled out below because they are far superior to Common Core’s. They emphasize reading far more than does Common Core, they stress the kind of reading (literary study) that fosters critical thinking, and they serve as far better guides to the kind of reading that secondary students in Georgia should be assigned in the school curriculum whether they choose to go to an institution of higher education, go into an occupational trade, or go into the military.
2. Georgia should base its state assessments in reading and literature on its previous standards, not on Common Core’s inferior English language arts standards. It would be a waste of the taxpayers’ money to base state assessments on a set of standards that needs to be completely revised, if not abandoned.
3. Georgia’s legislators should ask literary and humanities scholars at their own fine universities to work with a group of experienced and well-trained high school English teachers to design a readiness test in reading and literature for admission to Georgia’s own colleges and universities. They should also ask engineering, science and mathematics faculty at the University of Georgia and the Georgia Institute of Technology to design a readiness test in mathematics and science for admission to Georgia’s own higher education institutions, as well as the syllabi for the advanced mathematics and science coursework this faculty wants to see Georgia high school students take. Georgia can do much better than Common Core’s standards or tests for these purposes. Georgia does not need federal education policy-makers (or test developers) to decide what admission requirements to Georgia’s colleges and universities should be in reading, literature, mathematics, or science.
4. Before Georgia uses its previous ELA standards to guide classroom curriculum and state testing, the legislature should require them to be reviewed and vetted by experienced Georgia high school teachers and literary scholars at its own colleges and universities.
a. Some standards belong at the graduate level.
b. Some standards are repetitious, superfluous, or non-accessable.
c. The Reading Across the Curriculum (RC) standards should be removed. They are inappropriate for English teachers and English classes.
d. All of the standards for “multicultural” literature should be folded as appropriate into grade 8 or the high school courses for American, British and world literature. High quality literary works by “multicultural” authors are part of one of these bodies of literature and should not be isolated.”
The fact is, the Common Core standards are an unpiloted experiment. School boards and governors signed on to them via federal coercion, to get a shot at the Race to the Top grant money. It was never about academic superiority. (That part about “international competitiveness” and “rigor” has always been an unverifiable claim / lie.)
So as brilliant and helpful as the above explanations are in educating Americans about the tragic weaknesses of Common Core, I still feel that ultimately, long term, the discussion –about whether Common Core Standards are worse or better in any given state– barely even matters. It’s always been about control of the American people and their schools; it’s never really been about raising educational standards.
Georgia (and every other state that adopted Common Core) should reject Common Core, yes. –But not primarily for the reason that previous standards were better. The standards should be rejected because they rob states of their Constitutionally guaranteed right to determine educational standards locally.
Nationally controlled education systems have been a well-known hallmark of tyrannies throughout modern history. The only thing standing between Americans and modern day kinglike tyranny is our separation of powers and our clearly defined state sovereignties outlined in the U.S. Constitution. And Common Core disrespects that– in pursuit of collectivity; of monopoly on thought, curriculum and education sales products.
Common Core pushes the nationalization of education not only federally (the Dept. of Ed used grants as a lure and NCLB waivers as a threat) but also corporate-wise (Common Core uses the biggest ed sales company on earth –Pearson– that is officially partnered with the 2nd richest man in the world –Gates–to create one size fits all curriculum and a uniform customer base.) This public-private partnershipping circumvents the American voter. We are left on the sidelines.
Just yesterday I was speaking with a friend about her kindergarten teacher/friend who says that she loves the Common Core standards, because teachers used to introduce new letters to kindergarteners too slowly and now they do many more letters fast.
(Here, I took a deep breath. I’d heard this so many times before: one can always find teachers who like Common Core, just as you can find teachers who hate Common Core. But the argument misses the more important issue: of future control of standards.)
I said, “Ask the teacher what she’d think if Common Core’s writers next year announced that they will be introducing all 26 letters of the alphabet on the first day of kindergarten. Think about it. If Common Core has the power to raise a standard in an area, it also has the power to lower it– or to raise it so high that it hurts children. The point is, why should the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors’ Association hold the right to sit there in D.C. and tell us in our state how fast to introduce kindergarterners to the letters of the alphabet?”
Common Core is education without represenation. Whether the standards are academically better or worse is NOT the issue. Whether school boards, teachers and parents remain free to chart the course for their own students is the issue.
Those who hold the power over Common Core Standards (the private, unaccountable organizations that hold the copyright on these standards: NGA and CCSSO) can and will change them. They could take Dr. Bacallao’s and Dr. Stotsky’s recommendations and turn out new and improved Common Core standards. Or they could take the advice of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) and actually lower national education standards further and further. Not kidding. The NCEE actually says this out loud: “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 policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation simply cannot be justified.”
So arguing about the academic value of the Common Core standards seems to me a little bit pointless. Good or bad, they still put us in a position of helplessness by their governance structure and testing structure and data collection schemes.
Good or bad, the Common Core standards still leave us out of decisionmaking regarding national or local standards for learning and testing. They leave us powerless and unrepresented. As American education has morphed into the opposite of freedom and self-determination under the Common Core agenda, we’ve also become powerless to alter the data-mining (without parental consent) that is such a huge part of the Common Core. Interoperable databases are aligning all states’ standards, tests, teacher accountability systems and technological capacities (interoperabilities) –under federal supervision.
Isn’t it ironic that the Common Core debate is barely even about education –it’s about political and corporate power.
We The People, are losing our constitutional rights and freedoms.
Fight back. The stakes could not be higher. We are talking about the liberty of our children. Don’t let Common Core win.
A local New Hampshire school board voted yesterday to drop Common Core.
According to a Laconia Sun report, one woman cited the N.H. state motto, “Live free or die,” and asked, “why would we want to take federal money? Once you let the government in, you can’t get rid of it. It gets bigger and bigger.”
But teacher Richard Kirby observed that despite the vote, students will have to take the Common Core test — the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC) — which is formatted to measure Common Core standards.
The school district is, for now, obligated by the state to test students under the Common Core nationally aligned tests, and on the very Common Core standards just rejected by the local school board.
Reading the comments of New Hampshire citizens quoted in the Laconia Sun highlights a tragic lack of understanding that exists even among policymakers, about Common Core.
For example, Superintendent William Lander assured citizens that “there is no mining of data,” and said privacy of students is protected. How interesting that the superintendent is still –as most superintendents still are– apparently unaware of his state’s federally funded and federally interoperable State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) , and unaware of the federal EdFacts Data collection project that the SLDS feeds, and unaware of the national data collection programs that are Common Core dependent, including EIMAC, a division of a national superintendents’ club (Council of Chief State School Officers, the private group that co-developed and co-copyrighted the standards) They simply don’t know what is going on because it’s not part of what Common Core proponents explain when they share their talking points that market Common Core to the nation.
The Laconia Daily Sun reported that NH Rep. Jane Cormier (R-Alton) said officials of the New Hampshire Department of Education could not even answer basic questions about the program. Rep. Cormier said, “they’re making it up as they go along,” and asked, “why should we adopt something when we don’t have all the answers?”
But Stephen Miller, one of the local board members who had voted to remain associated with the Common Core Initiative, claimed, “This is not a political issue. It’s an education issue.” Hmm.
I see it exactly in the opposite way, Mr. Miller. To me, Common Core is not an educational issue; it’s a political control issue. Why? Because these education standards are likely to be changed (by those who own copyright) and are impossible to affect (by those governed by the standards). So we can’t even nail down, long term, what the standards are, or legitimately call them good or bad since they’re set far away are are utterly out of our local control, folks.
Yet. Proponents of Common Core have quite successfully disguised this as an educational issue, as an improvement upon education. They’ve lured us. They’ve (falsely) asserted that Common Core is a time-tested, proven system of top standards that will solve the nation’s educational challenges –without harming local ability to innovate or control education.
Common Core’s marketing has been snake-oil salesmanship from the start. No evidence exists to support those lofty claims. The Common Core has no pilot studies to point to, no long-term empirical evidence that shows that the theories on which it rests will bring about desired results. In fact, its educational theories (which include reducing the amount of classic literature and narrative writing students engage in; slowing the pace at which algorithms are taught, etc.) have been condemned by top members of the Common Core validation committee, who have refused to sign off on the adequacy of the standards.
But even that academic condemnation is irrelevant when you consider the fact that NO educational standards are going to be settled science. Education is always going to be an issue to be debated, innovated upon, argued, and there is no ONE way that works best in every school, for every state. Think about this fact carefully, again and again: that there is no representative amendment process for the commonly held standards. That’s bad!
If New Hampshire, Utah and Florida were to privately agree that they wanted to change things, for example, and they decided that they wanted to have 100% classic literature and zero informational texts in their high school literature classes (rather than sticking with the Common Core mandate of cutting away 70% of the classics) –how would they go about persuading Vermont, New Jersey, Georgia and the others to alter the standards? And then, if somehow all 45 states agreed that more classic literature would truly be more legitimate college prep, well, it would still be too-bad-so-sad-for-us!
Because there is no representation by the states in the copywritten, privately-held standards initiative. The NGA and CCSSO hold copyright over the standards and only these unaccountable groups can alter OUR standards. Adding insult to injury, the federal government put a 15% cap on top of the copyright, so states aren’t allowed to add more than 15% to the commonly held standards.
But still worse, look at the tests. The assessments themselves –anchored in the unalterable (by us) Common standards– actually cement states’ lack of power over their own standards. Because there’s not even a 15% flexibility in the Common Core aligned testing.
What does all of this mean in practical terms?
What does it mean, for example, that teachers say that they like some (or even all) aspects of Common Core, as some verifiably do?
Short term, it’s fine and good.
But long term, it means nothing. It’s utterly meaningless. It’s like discussing the arrangement of sun chairs on the deck of the Titanic. Why spend time talking about something not likely to remain in place, something beyond our control –and all because we chose to jump onboard?
We locals can’t control, influence, or improve on the common standards and tests. It is out of our hands.
Our state school boards and governors most likely did not realize it at the time, yet they sold our state educational birthright when they adopted Common Core. They sold our data privacy birthright when they adopted federally articulated and funded State Longitudinal Database Systems.
We are not now in our Consitutionally correct place of sitting in the driver’s seat. We the People must wake up and stop Common Core.
Read the whole report by the Laconia Sun on Alton’s rejection of Common Core here.
Robert Scott is the former Texas Commissioner of Education and the man responsible for the heroic “No Thanks” that Texas gave to Common Core, back when virtually every other state was swallowing that pill for a shot at the Race to the Top millions.
“… the United States has witnessed a sweeping effort to dramatically alter how educational systems are governed and standards and curricula are developed. … the federal government has succeeded in fundamentally altering the relationships between Washington and the states… participating states have ceded their autonomy to design and oversee the implementation of their own standards and tests. The implications of ceding this autonomy are varied. Not only do some states risk sacrificing high quality standards for national standards that may be less rigorous, all states are sacrificing their ability to inform what students learn…”
That last line is the hardest punch in the gut to any of us, from Common Core: “All states are sacrificing their ability to inform what students learn.”
But the real and incomparable tragedy is the loss of control, and the twin fact that those who have lost it refuse to admit it’s gone.
This is why Robert Scott’s paper is so important. It helps expose the lie that the general public has been led to believe. That lie is everywhere; just look around you. All over countless official school board websites in various states who have fallen victim to Common Core, you see the same thing: a claim that local control remains in place, under Common Core.
But as Robert Scott explains, Common Core is a control grab by the federal government partnering with private groups, circumventing We, The People:
“… my original response to the effort was one of “wait and see.” If something truly remarkable came out of such a process, it would be foolish for Texas not to incorporate it into our curriculum frameworks. Unfortunately, that was not the offer. Once we were told that states had to adopt the so-called Common Core State Standards in English and math with only a marginal opportunity for differentiation, it was clear that this was not about collaboration among the states. It was about control by the federal government and a few national organizations who believe they will be the ones to operate this new machinery.”
I have to comment. Those “few national organizations” that Mr. Scott referred to include two big-boys’ clubs that I can not stomach: the National Governors’ Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) . Its members are not elected by the public, and they’re under no sunshine laws for accountability or transparency to taxpayers.
They work under the radar. The un-transparent and private groups have no authority to be setting state or national educational standards, yet they do it anyway. They are even the basis upon which Arne Duncan labels Common Core a “state-led” movement.
These groups happen to include many (but not all) governors and superintendents. These groups form the backbone of Common Core governance and exclude all states from any amendment process to the shared standards. These groups solely developed and copyrighted the standards –by their own claim. And they were funded, by the multi-millions by Bill Gates, another influence we can’t un-elect. These groups represent a big part of the problem: public-private-partnerships (P3) totally circumvent local authority and voter’s voices. And they run contrary to the spirit of Constitutional respect for local control. Who voted them in? Nobody. Yet they birthed Common Core which has almost entirely taken over American schooling and testing.
This “new” governance system is a direction we have to turn around from or risk losing all local autonomy.
Robert Scott writes: “…if we continue down the current path to national education standards and tests, the United States stands to lose that which makes our education system unique among nations: our long tradition of state and local autonomy. It is important to remember that American schools were established in towns and cities by parents and community members who saw the value of formal education. This organic approach ultimately led to a system of compulsory education overseen by each state, but until now, the tradition of local schooling has largely been maintained. American public schools are governed by local school boards and committees comprised of parents and community members. Even at the state level, citizens with an understanding of local norms and interests drive decision-making processes around standards and curricula. These facts beg the question: If we nationalize standards and testing in this country, what is the real impact of the likely loss of state and local autonomy and input?”
In an outrageous statement issued this week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan threatened to withhold educational funding from Calfornia because of AB 484. The California bill, moving through California’s legislature, can exempt millions of students from Common Core tests, at least for a little while.
But Duncan won’t have it. He must have his student data without delay!
I will file this one under “We Are Not a Monarchy And Arne Duncan is Not a King.”
Duncan’s “off-with-their-heads” statement brandished the threat of no-funding over California’s head.
And he dropped another ridiculous bomb: He said that federal law demands that California give the tests. Should we laugh? Duncan picks and chooses which federal laws he feels like respecting.
Is there some law he’s referring to that trumps the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA)which prohibits Duncan from supervising education and testing in any state? GEPA law 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…”
Or is Duncan referring to some kind of a federal law that suddently trumps the U.S. Constitution? The supreme law of our land demands the federal government say the heck out of the local business of educating and/or testing students.
“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.” -10th Amendment, U.S. Constitution.
Running without authority, running just on audacity, Duncan said, “While standards and tests may not match up perfectly yet, backing away entirely from accountability and transparency is not good for students, parents, schools and districts.”
Accountability and transparency to whom?
States and localities are in no way to be “held accountable” to the federal government for local educational decisions. We have always been and still ought to be sovereign states; we are a Republic of Republics.
We are accountable only to our local governance structures, and primarily to the parents of the children. This is why parents are increasingly opting their children out of common core tests. And so should states.
“A request from California to not measure the achievement of millions of students this year is not something we could approve in good conscience. Raising standards to better prepare students for college and careers is absolutely the right thing to do, but letting an entire school year pass for millions of students without sharing information on their schools’ performance with them and their families is the wrong way to go about this transition. No one wants to over-test, but if you are going to support all students’ achievement, you need to know how all students are doing. If California moves forward with a plan that fails to assess all its students, as required by federal law, the Department will be forced to take action, which could include withholding funds from the state.
“In states like California that will be field-testing more sophisticated and useful assessments this school year, the Department has offered flexibility to allow each student to take their state’s current assessment in English language arts and math or the new field tests in those subjects. That’s a thoughtful approach as states are transitioning to new standards. While standards and tests may not match up perfectly yet, backing away entirely from accountability and transparency is not good for students, parents, schools and districts.</em
And here’s California Superintendent Torklason’s response:
“Our goals for 21st century learning, and the road ahead, are clear. We won’t reach them by continuing to look in the rear-view mirror with outdated tests, no matter how it sits with officials in Washington”
I wish Torklason would have fully condemned the Common Core tests and his state’s alignment to these experimental standards entirely. But at least he told Washington to go bark up someone else’s tree. Sort of.
1) Are there plans on adding/changing the Common Core Standards in an effort to improve them? IF so, will the administration offer a detailed document so the public can see this? If not, why not?
2) What were the specific problems with the old NH standards (GLE’s)?
3) Are there other standards that are superior to Common Core and if so, why not focus on aligning w/those Standards?
If not, why not?
4) Are these standards internationally benchmarked? If so, which countries would you point to for a comparison?
5) Does the Administration believe the academic standards used in the district should be the best?
6) Will the teacher’s evaluation be tied to the standardized assessment? IF so by what percentage?
7) What evidence exists that Common Core will lead to better results?
8) Has anyone looked at or evaluated the new Smarter Balanced Assessment sample questions? If so, do they believe the Smarter Balanced Assessment is a good measurement tool for student proficiency in English and Mathematics?
9) What is the total estimated cost to the School District to implement Common Core?
10) Have they done any kind of cost/benefit analysis?
11) Are there any identified flaws with the English/Math Common Core Standards? If so, what is being done to correct those flaws? If not, has anyone in the district reached out to the two content experts on the Validation Committee to listen to their expert analysis and why they refused to sign off on the Math and English Standards?
12) Will the Administration commit to releasing the assessment questions to the public after students complete the testing?
13) What non-academic questions will be asked of the students on the new assessment?
14) Will parents be able to opt their children out of the new assessment?
15) Will parents be able to see the non-academic questions prior to their children taking the assessment?
16) Will Administrators support a policy that protects the privacy of the student and suggest a new policy to the Board?
17) How does the Administration plan on involving parents in the selection of textbooks/materials, etc?
18) Is the School District “technology” ready to implement CCSS and the new assessments? IF not, how long will that take and how much money will that cost local taxpayers?
19) What is the bandwidth capability of each school and have they run any tests to check the capacity?
20) If the bandwidth has not been tested, why not?
21) What specific actions has been taken to protect the teachers and set them up for success?
22) Does the school district have the IT staff to handle technological demands?
23) What specific adaptations and accommodations are being made for the special needs students?
24) How are the teachers aligning their curriculum to CCSS?
25) Are there additional costs to adding the Broadband for the district? IF so, what is the cost?
26) What is the timeframe for adding Broadband across all of the schools?
27) Schools began implementing CCSS 2012-2013, are there any findings that can be shared?
28) Are the CCSS definition of “college readiness” consistent with the requirements needed to enter a four-year university in the University of New Hampshire system? If not, what will the district do to alleviate that problem?
29) Do you agree that if a student graduates from a school that follows the “College and Career” readiness standards, that student will not be in need of remedial classes upon entering college?
30) Will the district evaluate graduates to see if they were in need of remedial classes? If so, will that information be made available to parents?
31) If students are graduating in need of remedial classes, what then is the course of action? Will district then need to fund new textbooks/curriculum, etc. to alleviate this problem?
32) Will Administrators commit to holding a public hearing on how Common Core will be implemented in the district? If so, will they commit to presenting all information, including info that is critical of Common Core so information is transparent to parents and residents?
Common Core is sold as a way to get your children to “think critically”. (Although the Common Core validation experts would argue that will not happen under Common Core Standards) If they really want to teach kids to “think critically,” why not present all of the critical information on Common Core to the parents too?
Why is the New Hampshire DOE running around town “selling” Common Core but refusing to offer ANY critical information or analysis on Common Core?”
According to an article at EagNews.org, some states have true local control and some do not. Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina have local control; Utah does not.
The article explains:
MADISON, Wis. – If you live in a “local control” state in terms of public education – and chances are you do – here is some enlightening news.
Your local school board probably has the legal right to remove your school district from the new Common Core academic standards that are being forced on school districts around the nation by state education officials.
It’s true in my home state of Wisconsin, and it’s been confirmed by state education officials in Ohio and North Carolina.
Legislators and (state education departments) have, in my opinion, kept this information very close to the vest. That is deceit of the ugliest kind.
I contacted the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and asked the following question: If a school district decides to reject Common Core standards and replace them with a superior set of standards, will that school district still receive state and/or federal funds?
I received the following response from Emilie Amundsen, director of the Common Core State Standards Team at DPI:
“Yes. In Wisconsin, each school board has the statutory authority to adopt the state standards or any other set of standards, inferior or superior. This is called local control. When applied to schools, local control means that decisions about standards, curriculum and instruction are made at the local level. School districts must have standards. The type, quality and scope of those standards are left to local school boards to decide. This has always been the case in Wisconsin, and this has not changed as a result of Wisconsin adopting Common Core state standards.”
The staff at EAGnews is trying to contact education officials in numerous states, to determine if their districts also have the right to opt out of Common Core.
So far only three states have responded. Officials in North Carolina and Ohio have acknowledged that districts are free to dump Common Core, but caution that students in those districts may struggle with mandatory state tests, which will be aligned with Common Core.
Officials in Utah say local districts do not have the power to drop out of Common Core…
Good news: after sending an opt out letter (seen below) I received three letters back, from my high school student’s principal, math teacher and English teacher.
Each letter said that my child may take a paper-and-pencil alternative to the Common Core tests without any academic penalty. The school is apparently not enforcing the absurd current state law which states that schools must punish the student who opts out with a non-proficient score. Hooray!
I’m sharing this, so that anyone may create or adapt this letter for their use, if they like.
Dear Principal and Teachers,
Thank you for all you do for our kids. I sincerely appreciate your hard work, dedication and caring.
I am writing to let you know that ___________ my 11th grade child, will not be participating in the state’s new AIR/SAGE tests this year or next year. These are the Common Core aligned tests that feed into the federally funded State Longitudinal Database System and measure not only math and English, but also nonacademic, personal information including behavioral indicators (according to recent state law) and are to be used in grading schools.
I would like my child to have a pencil and paper alternative that is to be used ONLY at the school level, and not sent to the district or state levels.
I believe that this choice may be hurting this high school’s “school grade” so I apologize. It is not my wish to harm this excellent school in any way. I am also aware that it may hurt my child’s academic grade. Rather than getting an opt-out score, a non-test taker may get a non-proficient score. This is a tragedy for students and schools.
Our state leaders have created this situation that punishes schools and students when parents opt out of the tests.
(–You can quit reading here. But if you are interested in why I am writing this letter to opt my child out of the tests, please read on.)
Attached are PDF copies of the original bill SB175 and the amended bill put forth by the USOE at the Aug 2. meeting. On line 164 of the amended bill is what the USOE added. This is the part of the bill I find morally wrong.
164 (2) the parent makes a written request consistent with 165 LEA administrative timelines and procedures that the parent’s
166 student not be tested. Students not tested due to parent 167 request shall receive a non-proficient score which shall be
168 used in school accountability calculations.
A parent should be able to opt their child out of the invasive computer adaptive testing without the child receiving a non-proficient score, after that child has spent an entire year in school and has received grades for the work that could easily determine proficiency.
A single test should not determine the success of a child’s school year in one swoop, any more than it should determine the grade for that school for the year. There are too many variables to consider yet testing is the only criteria by which a school (or student?) will be seriously graded. I realize there are other minor components that will factor into the grading of a school, but the main emphasis will be on the test scores.
There are many things wrong in education not the least of which are laws that tighten control over our children while telling parents what’s good for them. I should not have to pull my children out of school in order to protect them from invasive and experimental testing.
WHY DO PARENTS WANT TO OPT OUT OF COMMON CORE TESTING?
1. The AIR/SAGE/Utah Common Core tests, which test math and English, are nontransparent and secretive.
2. I don’t believe in the Common Core standards upon which these tests are based. They are experimental. They snub classic literature. They dilute classical math. They were developed and copyrighted by two D.C. private clubs who have no accountability to me as a teacher or as a voter– (the NGA and CCSSO). They give power to a centralized system that is contrary to the constitutional concept of separating powers and empowering local control.
3. The tests feed the national data collection beast via the 50 nationally interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS), feed the P-20 child tracking/surveillance program, and will gather nonacademic, private information on students, including “behavioral indicators” according to Utah state law HB5.
4. It’s nobody’s business, even in Utah, how my individual child does in math and English –except the teacher’s business, and mine. My child’s not to be counted as the government’s “human capital” and the government’s not an invited “stakeholder” in my child’s education, career, or life. Too bad for Governor Herbert’s darling, Prosperity 2020! Remember this: business leaders, governments and legislatures don’t have authority to use tests and data collection to snoop on any child (or adult) for “collective economic prosperity” or for any other reason.
5. Overemphasis on high-stakes testing hurts kids and wastes instructional time.
6. Overemphasis on high-stakes testing hurts teachers. They will be controlled by how students do on the tests; this limits teachers’ autonomy in the classroom and is an insult to teachers’ professional judgment.
First, the federal government forces Americans to choose between giving our hard-earned educational tax dollars to them –or going to jail. Next, they promise to give back some of that money –so we can stretch it tightly across our educational budgets– after the feds pay themselves most of it.
So far, so bad.
Then, the feds threaten that they will withhold even that little bit of our money if we don’t merrily skip to the illegitimate tune of Common Core.
Do the fact check.
The Department of Education in the Department’s Blueprint for Reform uses these sweet sounding words: “The goal for America’s educational system is clear: Every student should graduate from high school ready for college and a career…” Nice. (Note to self: whenever the government says something deafeningly obvious, to which nobody could raise any argument, beware: watch what the other hand is doing.)
And meanwhile– the Department slyly alters and sets in stone the new definition of what it will mean in their documents and funding formulas to be “ready for college and career.”
See their official definition: College- and career-ready standards: Content standards for kindergarten through 12th grade that build towards college- and career-ready graduation requirements (as defined in this document) by the time of high school graduation. A State’s college- and career-ready standards must be either (1) standards that are common to a significant number of States; or (2) standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education, which must certify that students who meet the standards will not need remedial course work at the postsecondary level.
(As far as I know, there is no state that has chosen to use option #2– which is using higher ed to certify that state standards are college and career ready.)
So, college and career ready standards MUST BE COMMON to a significant number of states?
Why?On whose authority? Since when is “everybody’s doing it” a legitimate reason to jump off a cliff?
What if every state in the USA had lousy standards and yours alone had good ones? (Hello, Massachusetts!)
What if your state defined college and career readiness in a completely different way than “a significant number of states” defined it? Why the choke-collar? Why the peer pressure? If Common Core is so great, why the need for federal bullying?
Is bullying too strong a word? Read on.
Back in 2011, the Department of Education was already promising to punish those who push back against Common Core, saying:
“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.”
So if your state refused to administer a common core aligned test, you’d lose federal dollars.
Is this why the Utah State School Board refuses to hear us when we point out endless evidence that we must reject Common Core? We point out endlessly that these standards are sub-par, that they’re an experiment on children, that they set up a data surveillance web on citizens without their consent; that the standards rob students of most of the classic literature their parents read in high school, that they put students at least two years behind international competitors by seventh grade in math (according to Dr. James Milgram, official member of the Common Core validation committee, who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of the standards) –and more.
Other Thoughts On Funding Schools
– I am done with my post. But I have more to say.
Even if money is the reason the USSB/USOE won’t say no to federal mandates, it still doesn’t make sense to me.
By far, the largest piece of the school funding pie is paid by LOCAL property taxes. The next largest piece is paid by STATE funds. The puniest piece of our school funding pie is paid using federal money.
Why are our state leaders not standing up to the federal demands with a clear “N” “O” when these federal demands clearly go against our best interests? Why do we let the federal govermment dictate education locally, when they hold neither the constitutional nor the actual funding authority over us? Why?
When I ask questions of our state superintendent, state school board, and the Utah State Office of Education, I feel like I’m yelling into a dark and endless pit where only my own voice echoes back to me. Is anybody at the wheel? Is anybody at the Utah State Office of Education or the State School Board doing any kind of homework on this subject?
How do parents and taxpayers feel about the fact that so much of our educational spending is diverted away from students and teachers, back to the ever-growing State Office of Education, the State School Board, and countless administrators and their support staff– rather than being spent purchasing actual school supplies and activities for students or for salaries for much-needed teachers and aides? (Needed school aides and other staff have been let go or not rehired locally –because of tough budgetary concerns. Why is the budget so tight? Hint: it’s not the legislature’s fault.)
Statewide, we have administrators and superintendents pulling in very fat paychecks. Administrative departments, paid advisory boards, paid research committees, and other wastes of money within the Federal, State and Local Offices of Education grow and grow, using our tax dollars, misapplied tax dollars.
And still, teachers and parents are ground to financial shreds.
Teachers have to purchase virtually everything for the classroom –except the textbooks and desks– out of their own paychecks. I know; I’ve done it for years.
Parents are told that they must purchase virtually everything for their students –despite having previously paid via property taxes for the privilege of attending public school (there are now locker rental fees, textbook rental fees despite having virtually no textbooks, class membership fees, planner fees, sporting fees, and on and on and on; I’m taking this list from my high school students’s actual fee paperwork from Wasatch High School, a fee list which totals almost $400 this year. That doesn’t even begin to count the fact that I have to purchase sport uniforms, musical instruments, and other participation fees and supplies. Nor does it count the fact that my child has to go door to door, selling things to neighbors to make more money for sport participation– or get dropped from the team.) This would be okay if it was a private school. But it’s a supposedly tax-funded public school.
Something isn’t as wrong with not having enough educational funding; something’s definitely wrong with how that funding is being mis-applied both locally and on the state and federal levels.
Is anybody fighting for proper use of taxpayer monies in educational decision-making?
Governor Herbert promised us in a face to face meeting that he’d do an independent cost analysis of Common Core. That was 1.5 years ago. He has not kept his word.
And what would ever motivate the USSB or USOE to analyze its spending? Not gonna happen. They’ll cry to the legislature that they’re underfunded, but they won’t assess how they’re spending what they already have.
Educational government spending has become a self-serving, messy, messy, messy mess.
Tomorrow, Sept. 3rd, at 10:30 a.m. there will be a rally. It’s not directly about Common Core. But it’s about an issue very, very closely related: school grading. And what makes this one interesting is that it’s not parents, but the Utah School Boards Association (USBA) that’s heading the rally. The USBA may even be surprised to see that many Utahns Against Common Core members will be there to support their rally. (I can’t go; I will be teaching at that time, but I’m there in spirit.)
Wendy Hart, a school board member in Alpine school district, has written an article that explains how school grading and common core are intertwined and must be opposed. I highly recommend it. She says, “School Grading is touted as a way for parents to find out how well their school is doing. Obviously, we pay lip-service to parents being primarily responsible for their child’s education, but we have higher levels of masters who take that power away from parents. If the teachers, schools, and student are graded based on how well the student does on a test, then everything is dependent on that test. I believe all those involved in setting standards, assessments, and school grading in this state are intending to have the best outcomes available for children. However, it is important to stop and look at the principles behind these issues and what the end results most likely will be. Who is the master we will serve?” (Read the rest.)
I think people get stuck on the misused word “accountability” which is often used as if it is always a good thing. But accountability’s obviously dependent on who is accountable to whom. People who don’t have authority to ask for an accounting, shouldn’t be given any accounting. It’s wrong. And it leads to abuse of power.
Should teachers and principals be accountable to the parents of the children they serve? Yes.
But should they be accountable to the long list of so-called “stakeholders” who have no authority over them under the Constitution, GEPA law, or common sense? No.
Should they be accountable to Common Core’s creators or testing agents, including the nonelected clubs of superintendents (CCSSO) and governors (NGA) and the AIR testing group, groups which now hold power over what will be on Utah’s standardized, nationally common test, to be nationally used as an accountability measuring stick? No!
And that’s why I oppose these Utah bills touting school grading. It’s accountability to the wrong groups, groups who are far removed from those who actually care.
Details of this Stop School Grading rally: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. at the Utah School Boards Association (USBA) office at 860 E. 9085 South (East on 90th South, just east of 700 East and the Canyons School District ATC buildings).
Parents and others from Utahns Against Common Core have been encouraged to bring signs saying “No School Grading tied to Common Core Tests.”
Wendy Hart has given her permission to repost her entire article here. Thanks, Wendy.
Friday, August 30, 2013
No Man Can Serve Two Masters: School Grading/Accountability
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. (Matthew 6:24)
School Grading is touted as a way for parents to find out how well their school is doing. Obviously, we pay lip-service to parents being primarily responsible for their child’s education, but we have higher levels of masters who take that power away from parents. If the teachers, schools, and student are graded based on how well the student does on a test, then everything is dependent on that test. I believe all those involved in setting standards, assessments, and school grading in this state are intending to have the best outcomes available for children. However, it is important to stop and look at the principles behind these issues and what the end results most likely will be. Who is the master we will serve?
A prime case in point is the presentation we received as a Board on Aug. 13 about the new school grading and teacher evaluation programs. (A great overview can by found online, courtesy of the Alpine Parent Society.) These programs have been put into law by the legislature, but are also requirements of the Federal Waiver from No Child Left Behind. I could go into the mathematical flaws in the system, the necessary faith in the test creators, and the fact that testing drives what is taught in the classroom. However, the biggest issue I have is who will truly have the power to determine what our children learn. If you realize teacher evaluations, school grades and student grades are all tied to the Common Core tests, you realize whoever writes and grades those tests affects every aspect of education in this state. Say what you will about standards, the practical application of it will be in the tests.
Here’s an example. Some people have heard recently of the Toni Morrison book, The Bluest Eye. I have never read it, but the excerpts I’ve read put it, in my opinion, in the category of pornography. (You may disagree, but bear with me for the sake of the argument.) I have an acquaintance back East whose children have read this repeatedly in her private, Catholic school, not because the teachers and administrators agree with the book, but because selections from the book appear on the AP English test. In this case, the AP test determines what is taught in the classroom, even if it is completely contrary to the values and mission of a particular school.
Additionally, the federally-funded Common Core tests (SBAC and PARCC) are testing “process and communication skills over content knowledge”, according to one reviewer. Since our test-developer (AIR) is also developing the SBAC test, one wonders if our state tests will follow suit. If so, anyone who fails to teach the proper methodology, not just the facts, puts their students, their career, and their school in jeopardy. (An example of this from another state can be found here.) Testing is the way standards, curricula and teaching methods are enforced.
Joseph Stalin is supposed to have said, “It doesn’t matter who votes. It matters who counts the votes.” Similarly, “He who makes the tests, controls the education.”
Parents can want certain things taught. Our laws and constitution can say how parents are primarily involved in their child’s education. We can speak till we’re blue in the face about how parents and local control of education is so important. But as soon as we tie everything to the grade on a test–a test parents have ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL over–we realize we have a different master. Instead, we must have complete faith in the test developers. Have they created a fair, accurate system of measuring what we, as parents, want? And if they do not, there is nothing we can do at a local level to change it.
We think an end-of-year test will be testing fact, knowledge, and information. However, the emphasis of Common Core and its testing is to test “higher-order thinking” over fact. Most parents want their kids to learn higher-order thinking. But what does higher-order thinking mean to the test developer? Benjamin Bloom, author of the well-respected Bloom’s Taxonomy (used extensively in education) defines it this way,”…a student attains ‘higher-order thinking’ when he no longer believes in right or wrong.” (Major Categories in the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, p. 185) This is completely inconsistent with my motto on education: Truth vanquishes darkness. You cannot serve two masters. Education cannot serve the parents if they don’t control the test. Higher-order thinking cannot lead to the discovery of truth if it also means no right or wrong. In the end, who is the master of education in Utah? The state tests, brought to you by American Institutes for Research. It’s not you, and it’s not me.
About 50% of the time, I agree with the Utah School Boards Association (USBA) on legislation. This is one of those times. We may not agree for all the same reasons, but we agree on the end result. Last session, the legislature passed SB271 on school grading. This is an update of a school grading bill from 2011. In response to the 2011 law, the State Office of Ed developed a process for grading schools, called UCAS. UCAS is mathematically flawed and, like every accountability measure emanating from the state, will take local control away. SB271 is opposed by the USBA because, while they must have some sort of school grading to get the No Child Left Behind waiver, they prefer the UCAS grading system. I think we need to get rid of it all. However, I will be at the press conference/rally the USBA is holding in opposition to the current version of school grading, SB271, on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. at the Utah School Boards Association (USBA) office at 860 E. 9085 South (East on 90th South, just east of 700 East and the Canyons School District ATC buildings). I’d invite everyone who is opposed to the enforcement Common Core via testing, or to centralized control over education to attend.
Just remember, we can’t serve two masters. Until we reassert our rightful position, as masters of our children’s education, education in Utah will continue to be subject to a master set up by those who are willing to fill the void we have left.
–Wendy Hart, member, Alpine School Board
OTHER STOP COMMON CORE EVENTS THIS WEEK:
Wednesday night, September 4th 7:00 pm
Common Core Informational Meeting
Speakers – Peter Cannon (Davis School District Board Member) and Pamela Smith (Eagle Forum)
Layton City Library – September 4, 2013
155 Wasatch Dr.
Cedar City, Utah
Saturday, September 7th, 7 pm
Speaker – Alisa Ellis – of Utahns Against Common Core
Crystal Inn (1575 W. 200 N. Cedar City, Utah)
Thursday September 12, 2013 @ 7:00 pm
Roy Library, Eagle Forum presentation on Common Core
Tuesday September 24, 2013 @ 6:30pm
North Ogden Library
(475 E. 2600 N. North Ogden, Utah 84414)
Eagle Forum presentation on Common Core
On Wednesday, I gave this talk at the Governor Hill Mansion in Augusta, Maine. I spoke alongside Erin Tuttle, Indiana mother against Common Core; Jamie Gass, of Pioneer Institute; Heidi Sampson, board member of the Maine State School Board, and Erika Russell, Maine mother against Common Core. I hope to publish the other speakers’ speeches here soon.
Speaking with legislators in Utah, I’ve learned that the number one concern that Utah constituents repeatedly bring up to representatives is the Common Core and its related data mining.
Utah has not yet followed the lead of Indiana, Michigan and other states in pausing and/or defunding the Common Core, but I believe Utah legislators will soon take a stand. They have to; the state school board and governor won’t, even though the Utah GOP voted on and passed an anti-common core resolution this year, and even though thousands of Utahns are persistently bringing up documented facts to their leaders showing that Common Core damages local liberties and damages the legitimate, classical education tradition that Utahns have treasured.
My talk today will explain how federal data mining is taking place with the assistance of the Common Core initiative.
So, I ask: Have voters given consent to be governed in matters of education, by the federal government? Nope.
Does the federal government hold any authority to set educational standards and tests, or to collect private student data?
The Constitution reserves all educational authority to the states; the General Educational Provisions Act expressly prohibits the federal government from controlling, supervising or directing school systems; and the Fourth Amendment claims “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is fully aware of these limitations placed upon his agency.
This summer Duncan made another speech, saying critics of Common Core were making “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.”</strong>
I need to get that quote cross-stitched and framed.
For years, Duncan has been saying that, “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…”
Translation: Duncan and Obama won’t let pesky laws nor the U.S. Constitution stop them from their control grab even though they’re fully aware of the laws of the land.
Are they really collecting student data without parental knowledge or consent?
How are the Common Core standards and tests involved?
There are at least six answers.
The U.S. Department of Education is:
1. STUNTING STANDARDS WITH A PRIVATE COPYRIGHT AND A 15% CAP FOR THE PURPOSE OF TRACKING STUDENTS:
Why would the federal government want to stunt education? Why would they say to any state, “Don’t add more than 15% to these common standards.” ? Simple: they can’t track and control the people without a one-size-measures-all measuring stick. It is irrelevant to them that many students will be dumbed down by this policy; they just want that measure to match so they can track and compare their “human capital.”
The federal Department of Education works intimately with the Superintendents’ club known as the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). After the CCSSO wrote and copyrighted the Common Core standards –in partnership with the governors’ club (NGA)– the federal government put a cap over that copyright, saying that all states who adopted Common Core must adhere to it exactly, not adding any more than 15% to those standards, regardless of the needs, goals or abilities of local students. This stunting is embarrassing and most state boards of education try to deny it. But it’s published in many places, both federal and private: That 15% cap is reiterated in the federal Race to the Top Grant, the federal NCLB Waiver, the federal Race to the top for Assessments grant, the SBAC testing consortia criteria, the PARCC eligibility requirement, the Achieve, Inc rules (Achieve Inc. is the contractor who was paid by CCSSO/NGA/Bill Gates to write the standards).
2. CREATING MULTIPLE NATIONAL DATA COLLECTION MECHANISMS
a) Cooperative Agreement with Common Core Testers
In its Cooperative Agreement with the testing group known as Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) the federal government mandated that tests “Comply with… requirements… including, but not limited to working with the Department to develop a strategy to make student-level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis… subject to applicable privacy laws.” Making student-level data available means that personally identifiable student information, such as name, academic scores, contact information, parental information, behavioral information, or any information gathered by common core tests, will be available to the federal government when common core tests begin.
b) Edfacts Data Exchange
Another federal data collection mechanism is the federal EDFACTS data exchange, where state databases submit information about students and teachers so that the federal government can “centralize performance data” and “provide data for planning, policy and management at the federal, state and local levels”. Now, they state that this is just aggregated data, such as grouped data by race, ethnicity or by special population subgroups; not personally identifiable student information. But the federal agency asks states to share the intimate, personally identifiable information at the NCES National Data Collection Model
c) National Data Collection Model
It asks for hundreds and hundreds of data points, including:
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.
People may say that this is not mandatory federal data collection. True; yet it’s a federal data model and many are following it.
d) CCSSO and EIMAC’s DATA QUALITY CAMPAIGN and Common Educational Data Statistics
The Dept. of Education is partnered with the national superintendents’ club, the CCSSO in a common data collection push: common data standards are asked for at the website called Common Education Data Standards, which is “a joint effort by the CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United States Department of Education.“
The CCSSO’s Data Quality Campaign has said that
“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 USDOE-CCSSO partnership.
And it’s already begun.
There are state data alliances that connect data in state agencies, and there are federal data alliances, too. In Utah, the Utah Data Alliance uses the state database to link six agencies that enables examination of citizens from preschool through the workforce. On the federal level, the Department of Defense has partnered with the Department of Education.
At a recent White House event called “Datapalooza,” the CEO of Escholar stated that Common Core is the “glue that actually ties everything together.” Without the aligned common standards, corporate-aligned curriculum, and federally-structured common tests, there would be no common measurement to compare and control children and adults.
4. BUILDING A CONCEALED NATIONAL DATABASE BY FUNDING 50 STATE DATABASES THAT ARE INTEROPERABLE
Every state now has a state longitudinal database system (SLDS) that was paid for by the federal government. Although it might appear not to be a national database, I ask myself why one of the conditions of getting the ARRA funds for the SLDS database was that states had to build their SLDS to be interoperable from school to district to state to inter-state systems. I ask myself why the federal government was so intent upon making sure every state had this same, interoperable system. I ask myself why the grant competition that was offered to states (Race to the Top) gave out more points to those states who had adopted Common Core AND who had built an SLDS. It appears that we have a national database parading as fifty individual SLDS systems.
5. SHREDDING FEDERAL PRIVACY LAW AND CRUSHED PARENTAL CONSENT REQUIREMENT
There was, up until recently, an old, good federal law called FERPA: Family Educational Rights Privacy Act. It stated, among other things, that no one could view private student data without getting written parental consent.
Without getting permission from Congress to alter the privacy law, the Department of Education made so many regulatory changes to FERPA that it’s virtually meaningless now. The Department of Ed loosened terms and redefined words such as “educational agency,” “authorized representative,” and “personally identifiable information.” They even reduced “parental consent” from a requirement to a “best practice.”
6. RELEASING A REPORT PROMOTING BIOLOGICAL AND BEHAVIORAL DATAMINING TECHNIQUES
In his speech to the American Society of News Editors this year, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that there is no federal collection of student data, and then he said, “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.”
This was another attempt to mock those who are doing their homework, and to further deceive the American people. Because biometric data mining (biometric is defined by the Dept. of Ed as biological and behavioral characteristics of students –see above–) is exactly what Duncan is advocating. In the 2013 Department of Education report entitled “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance” the federal government recommends the use of data-mining techniques that use physical responses from biofeedback devices to measure mood, blood volume, pulses and galvanic skin responses, to examine student frustration and to gather “smile intensity scores.” Using posture analysis seats, a pressure mouse, wireless skin conductors, schools are encouraged to learn which students might lack “grit, tenacity and perserverance” in engaging with, or in believing, what is being taught.
We can call the bluff on the Department of Education and on the Council of Chief State School Officers. They have no authority to gather private student data without parental knowledge or consent. We can help state leaders understand and fight against what is going on, and help them to say no to what the CCSSO terms their “coordinated data ask.” Strong legislation can be written and SLDS systems can be reworked to end privacy threatening interoperability frameworks.
Here’s a To-Do list for state representatives:
— We can stop the 50 states’ SLDS interoperability.
— We can stop the educational and data mining malpractice that is clearly happening under the Common Core Initiative, remembering what Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University said: “When school administrators implement programs and policies built on faulty arguments, they commit education malpractice.”
Please come if you can, or spread the word if you have contacts in or around Maine:
On Wednesday, August 21st at noon, there will be a Stop Common Core press conference in Augusta, Maine, at the Capitol in the Hall of Flags led by Maine State School Board member Heidi Sampson.
There will also be a Stop Common Core Rally at 6:00 pm that night at the Governor Hill Mansion, Augusta, Maine.
I am excited. I get to participate in person.
Speakers will include Heidi Sampson, of the Maine State School Board; Emmett McGroarty, of American Principles Project; Jamie Gass, of Pioneer Institute; Erin Tuttle, activist mom from Indiana; and me– Christel Swasey, from Heber City, Utah.
The East Coast is suddenly exploding with new energy dedicated toward stopping Common Core and reclaiming education.
My heart was pounding with indignation when I read today that the CCSSO (–that’s the State Superintendents’ Club– a private group, not accountable to the public and in no way under voters’ influence– the same group that created and copyrighted Common Core–) this CCSSO has a division called EIMAC. It stands for Education Information Management Advisory Consortium.
Why was my heart pounding? 2 reasons:
1) EIMAC’s formation is even more proof that America is being led into a system of nonrepresentative governance, an un-American, nonvoting system.
2) U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is a liar, a deliberate, conscious liar. (I only dare make such an awful accusation because it’s obvious to anyone who does even a small amount of fact checking on his statements.)
FACT: Duncan collects K-12 state school data directly at the federal EdFacts Exchange.
FACT: Duncan collects personally identifiable information indirectlyvia the 50 federally paid-for, fully interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS) that could be called a separated, but interlocking, national database in matchable segments.
FACT: Most angering of all, Duncan circumvented Congress to destroy the power of the longstanding federal privacy law called FERPA. His damages there mean that parents have no guarantee, no legal stand, no rule saying that they MUST be asked for consent, before their child’s personally identifiable information will be accessed by governmental and corporate “stakeholders” who have been redefined as “authorized representatives.”
The longitudinal databases don’t just track students; they track people throughout their careers. This is lifelong citizen tracking, without our vote, without our consent, and without most people’s knowledge.
Secretary Duncan has made the unconscienable, legal.
So, unless the National Center for Education Statistics deletes this information from its site, we can all see this information and then insist that elected representatives make a U-turn away from this nightmare of privacy invasion, and back to reason.
Step one: know what is happening. Step two: stop the state’s use of SLDS. I wish I could say Step two was to opt your child out of the SLDS tracking, but that is not allowed, at least not in Utah.
Below are the hundreds and hundreds of data points you’ll find there; my favorites include:
your child’s name
bus stop times
languages and dialects spoken
number of attempts at a given assignment
nonschool activity involvement
maternal last name
– even cause of death.
How they justify tracking students even beyond academics, even beyond death, I do not know.
–Keep in mind that this is the National Data Collection Model from the National Center for Educational Statistics, a federal agency. Keep in mind that it is illegal under G.E.P.A. law, and under the Constitution, to have a federal database for innocent citizen surveillance.
This illegality is why the federal government had to pay each of the 50 states to create interoperable STATE longitudinal databases, so that they’d acquire a national database parading as 50 independent ones.
How will such detailed, personal information about individuals be used or misused long-term? If a student is labeled –or mislabeled, will he/she lose future opportunities for jobs, education, political trust, or face gun ownership restrictions– based on tests or sensory devices or notes innocently scribbled by a gradeschool teacher, sent to the district-state-national databases?
Dear readers, if you are alive and breathing, you can do something to stop this. It’s your right and your duty. Contact your legislators and your governor. Show them the facts. Most simply haven’t been exposed to the facts and documentation yet.
Stand up and let your voice be heard. Our children cannot fight this fight for themselves; we have to do it.
An individual for whom instruction, services and/or care are provided in an early childhood, elementary or secondary educational program under the jurisdiction of a school, education agency, or other institution or program.
Student Elementary Secondary
has Associated Accommodation
Student Elementary Secondary
Additional Special Health Needs, Information, or Instructions
Ala Carte Non-Reimbursable Purchase Price
American Indian or Alaska native
Amount of Activity Involvement
Amount of Non-school Activity Involvement
Assessment Reporting Method
Assignment Finish Date
Assignment Number of Attempts
Assignment/Activity Points Possible
Attendance Status Time
Awaiting Initial Evaluation for Special Education
Base Salary or Wage
Black or African American
Born Outside of the U.S.
Bus Route ID
Bus Stop Arrival Time
Bus Stop Description
Bus Stop Distance
Bus Stop from School ID
Bus Stop to School Distance
Bus Stop to School ID
Career and Technical Education Completer
Change in Developmental Status
City of Birth
Class Attendance Status
Community Service Hours
Compulsory Attendance Status at Time of Discontinuing School
Condition Onset Date
Corrective Equipment Prescribed
Corrective Equipment Purpose
Country of Birth Code
Country of Citizenship Code
County FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standards) Code
County of Birth
Daily Attendance Status
Diagnosis of Causative Factor (Condition)
Diploma/Credential Award Date
Discontinuing Schooling Reason
Diseases, Illnesses, and Other Health Conditions
Distance From Home to School
Early Intervention Evaluation Process Description/Title
Economic Disadvantage Status
Electronic Mail Address
Electronic Mail Address Type
Eligibility Status for School Food Service Programs
Employment End Date
Employment Permit Certifying Organization
Employment Permit Description
Employment Permit Expiration Date
Employment Permit Number
Employment Permit Valid Date
Employment Start Date
End of Term Status
English Language Proficiency Progress/Attainment
English Proficiency Level
Established IDEA Condition
Evaluated for Special Education but Not Receiving Services
Evaluation Extension Date
Evaluation Parental Consent Date
Expulsion Return Date
Family Income Range
Family Perceptions of the Impact of Early Intervention Services on the Child
Family Public Assistance Status
Federal Program Participant Status
Fee Payment Type
Financial Assistance Amount
Financial Assistance Descriptive Title
Financial Assistance Qualifier
Financial Assistance Source
Financial Assistance Type
First Entry Date into a US School
First Entry Date into State
First Entry Date into the United States
Former Legal Name
Full Academic Year Status
Full-time Equivalent (FTE) Status
Future Entry Date
Gifted and Talented Status
Gifted Eligibility Criteria
Grade Point Average (GPA): Cumulative (High School)
Graduation Testing Status
Head of Household
Health Care History Episode Date
Health Care Plan
Health Condition Progress Report
Highest Level of Education Completed
Hispanic or Latino Ethnicity
Homeless Primary Nighttime Residence
Homeless Unaccompanied Youth Status
IEP Transition Plan
IFSP Goals Met
Immunizations Mandated by State Law for Participation
Impact of Early Intervention Services on the Family
In-school/Post-school Employment Status
Individualized Program Date
Individualized Program Date Type
Individualized Program Type
Initial Language Assessment Status
International Code Number
Languages Other Than English
Last/Surname at Birth
Length of Placement in Neglected or Delinquent Program
Nothing in Utah’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards promotes data mining of student’s personal information or other inappropriate use of student data. The Utah State Board of Education is committed to student and teacher privacy and will not share personally identifiable data.
For example, there’s a taxpayer-funded Utah propaganda campaign that the Utah State School Board is to employ this year to “correct the misinformation” that the board members won’t actually, directly address, at all. (See page 232-236 of the 518-page document) There’s the fact that the USOE refers to critics of Common Core as “The Common Core Crazies” in teacher development trainings. This has been verified to me directly by multiple teachers who’ve attended Utah teacher conferences this spring and summer.
This fear of standing in light should signal to honest seekers of truth that there’s something very wrong: intellectual honesty (defined by empirical evidence and pilot testing of new programs) and freedom of speech and thought (defined by two-sided conversations) are concepts that the proponents of Common Core dismiss in favor of hand-me-down,Gates-funded “talking points.” It’s: One Size Fits All. (“If the shoe doesn’t fit, you still have to wear it.”)
These attacks, aimed at critics of Common Core, is actually great news: It’s evidence that we are making a dent in this power-grabbing beast.
Please remember three simple facts to spread the truth and to cut through Gates’ marketing noise:
It’s a shaky academic experiment; it slashes local control; it’s the glue in the unconstitutional surveillance program.
1) Common Core is an academic experiment on our children that will affect not just K-12 but also universities.
Nothing they say changes its experimental nature. There’s no empirical testing that’s ever been done, no pilot study, no proof that these standards are academically an improvement. It’s just marketing– the repetitive use of the misused words “rigorous” and “internationally benchmarked” which, just as any grocery item that’s labeled “new and improved” — isn’t remotely new or improved. But who fact-checks? And yes, we should be rattled; these are radical changes: less literature; untested, way-different math. The time-tested, classical instruction’s flown out the standardized-common-testing window with the massive increase of testing. The ACT/SAT/GED/AP are all aligning to the experiment. And don’t forget about the massive increase of nonacademic student data-mining linked to the Common testing. It’s not small potatoes, folks.
2.) Common Core circumvents local authority and hands power to those who are furthest from the children/teachers.
The copyright by NGA/CCSSO is one proof. The 15% rule of the feds, that disallows soaring, is another proof. The micromanagement of the feds over the testing is another. The lack of any coming together to create a state-led amendment process is another proof. The monopoly on thought (via all texts being aligned, all ACT/SAT/GED/AP tests aligned) is another. There is no local control when the standards and tests are created from “on high.” There is no legitimacy when the standards and tests are experimental in nature and lack empirical validity. So even if the standards WERE excellent, states/districts have no control over those entities (NGA-CCSSO) who can alter them without our consent, sooner or later. When you lose control, you lose control. It doesn’t come back.
This week, an Edweek article focuses on Utah’s “robust” data collection system and portable “backpack” records that track students. The article doesn’t mention the fact that parents were never asked whether they wanted their children to be tracked (stalked) by the government. Nor does it mention the fact that parents have no recourse to opt out of this state surveillance program. (I know this because I asked and got a response from the State School Board.)
The article also fails to mention word one about the federal shredding of FERPA law (Family Educational Rights Privacy Act) that takes away the parental consent requirement and makes students sitting ducks for snoopy vendors, federal snoops and virtually any snoop who calls himself an “authorized representative”. Check out the lawsuit against the Federal Department of Education for more on that.
The article does expose the fact that “In addition to demographic information, state testing data, and supplementary student supports” new recommendations will be “tracking additional information” which has long being sought from numerous federal education agencies. Here and here and here.
And Utah law has created “data backpacks” so all student data is in one place. Here’s the lead to that article:
Utah Personalizes Learning With Portable Records
By Tom Vander Ark on August 7, 2013 9:25 AM Coauthored by Robyn Bagley and Tom Vander Ark
In October, Digital Learning Now! published Data Backpacks: Portable Records & Learner Profiles . The paper makes the case for portable academic K-12 transcript that follows students grade to grade and school to school. In addition to demographic information, state testing data, and supplementary student supports, the paper recommended tracking additional information in order to represent a more holistic picture of student achievement–such as a gradebook of standards-based performance data and a portfolio of personal bests–and better capture the student’s progression at any moment in time. Since this data would follow students to each new learning experience, learning could be tailored to meet their individual needs from the first lesson rather than the extra time teachers must spend diagnosing student needs and abilities.
Robyn Bagley, Parents for Choice in Education, saw the paper and knew Utah’s existing data system infrastructure gave them a big head start on a portable record. She talked to a champion of Ed Tech policy and personalized learning, Senator Jerry Stevenson who agreed to sponsor a bill. Together they were able to knock out this groundbreaking legislation in one session, placing Utah schools one step closer to tailoring education to the individual needs of the student by providing those closest to them with access to meaningful data.
The Student Achievement Backpack bill, Utah Senate Bill 82, was signed into law in March. It provides for access by a student’s parent/guardian or school/district to the electronic record. The bill gives schools until June 30, 2017 to fully incorporate the expanded record into their student information system.
When fully implemented, The Student Achievement Backpack will use cloud-based technology to create a common Student Record Store. Senate Bill 82 implementation will occur in three phases:
•Phase one creates a cloud-based repository for all grades.
•Phase two functionality will expand the data collected from student information systems into the Student Record Store.
•Phase three will ensure final mobility integration of all required data collected in the Student Record Store into all LEA student information systems; and made available to all authorized users in an easily accessible viewing format to include administrators, teachers and parents no later than June 30, 2017.
… Utah has one of the most robust longitudinal data collection systems in the nation due to federal grants adding up to nearly $15 million plus an investment of over $6 million appropriated by the Utah Legislature…