A revealing CCSSO letter, leaked to the public, reveals Common Core investors’ collective panic about Ian Reid’s new film, Building the Machine.
Missouri Education Watchdog and Breitbart News reported that CCSSO deputy executive director Carissa Miller’s letter shows top Common Core moneymaking / grant-receiving businesses are combining to discredit the Common Core documentary. Many businessesneed Common Core’s claims to be believed, or they lose this gold rush. So they’re trying to stop it, understandably.
And if the documentary is seen despite their efforts to discredit it, the groups have laid a plan to smother the truth with smooth “positive” talking points and with a soon-to-be-released documentary of their own.
If you watch the film, you’ll know why they’re panicking. Truth is truth.
The documentary solidly wipes out the “higher standards” claims of Common Core’s creators, using filmed speeches by Common Core’s creators and funders, and using interviews with top Stanford professors, Common Core validation committee members and respected members of think tanks, both for and against Common Core. Importantly, it shows that the real issue of education reform is not even about academics, ultimately; it’s about power.
The CCSSO doesn’t want people to know this power struggle exists. But it does exist. In fact, who ends up holding decision-making power is the main conflict inside ed reform, despite all the pleasant words about education standards.
As the backers of the new documentary succinctly put it:
“…This issue is far more than what standards public schools should use. It is about who will decidehow and what our children are taught.” -William Estrada, in Breitbart interview.
You can read the leaked letter here. You can watch the movie here.
I want to point out this part of the panic-letter:
“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Fordham [Institute] have put together the attached two documents that can be used to clarify the vast amount of misinformation that will be circulated as a result of the movie. Please note – these are EMBARGOED until Monday, March 31st…. The U.S. Chamber is in the final stages of producing their own Common Core mini-documentary… Below we’ve include some tips for messaging and responding to the critical questions this film may generate in your state. We will send out the Chamber video when it is released.
Why do they just include “tips for messaging and responding” rather than including documentation, facts, links to contracts and legally valid, scientifically valid evidence? Evidence is not wanted. Only marketing, “messaging.”
FYI: Carissa is Carissa Miller, CCSSO deputy executive director.
I call the CCSSO a “superintendents’ club”. It does not include all state superintendents nor is it an elected body. The CCSSO seems want the public to believe –as does its twin sister, the NGA– that it has voter-designated authority to boss states around. It does not. Neither has authority and neither represents voters like our Congress does. Repeat: CCSSO and NGA have no elected authority. Do not be decieved by their pomp. They are just private groups that combined to create and copyright Common Core, heavily influenced/ funded by philanthopist-turned-takeover-king Bill Gates.
If you care about the traditional American voice of the local voter setting policy, rather than having closed-door private cliques that partner with the feds setting local policy, please oppose these goals of the CCSSO. Make your voice heard. Let your State Superintendent know you want him/her to bow out of membership in this club to focus energy on local control of education.
–While you’re at it, send your superintendent a link to the movie.
A Utah High School student took the Common Core (SAGE) test this week. Seeing objectionable issues in that test, she thought her mother should know. The student took screen shots using her cell phone and sent them to her mother. Her mother passed them along to us.
The question given in this test asks whether book literacy is inferior to the playing of video games. Read it. Most of the passages that students must refer to, claim that literature is inferior, that it forces passivity or discriminates, while video games teach students how to be leaders.
Long live grunts and smoke signals.
The articles student must refer to in taking this test make the following devilish assertions: “books understimulate the senses” and “books are downright discriminatory” and books are “choreographed by another person [while video games are not]“.
These are mean pushes toward valuing video gaming instead of books –and they precisely match the pushy philosophy of Common Core creator-turned College Board President David Coleman. They also match the philosophy of Microsoft Owner/ Common Core funder Bill Gates. So it is no surprise. It’s still sickening.
In this “writing test” there is no mention (at least in these screen shots that we have) of any of the countless positive values of reading books: no value seen in the joy of receiving a story; no value in exposure to expressive vocabulary and imagination; no value to learning traditional spelling, composition or grammar competencies which hinge on book reading. There’s no mention of the value of learning humanity’s patterns by reading complex character studies in literature. There’s no mention of poetry, of the beauty of words, of the importance of cherishing our shared cultural history. There’s no mention of the truth that voracious readers become voracious learners and expressive writers.
Nope. It’s just down with books. If this philosophy isn’t an example of the erosion of students’ exposure to traditional knowledge, and of the dumbing down and impoverishment of school children, I don’t know what is.
What would the future would look like if students actually swallowed and lived by such a philosophy? Speaking, writing, spelling, and reading would utterly devolve. So this high school student’s choice to capture the test’s philosophies and expose them was an important act of civil disobedience.
Thoreau’s classic book, Civil Disobedience, says that individuals should prioritize conscience when conscience collides with law. Benjamin Franklin put it this way: Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God. Parents, teachers and students are dealing with the tyranny of the Common Core’s wrong-headed philosophies and with the tyranny of a now-national education system that’s oppressing individual conscience.
Think it through. Utah’s law affirms the authority of a parent to have the final say over what a student will learn. But education policies have become tangled to the point that today, only a 15-member parent panel has been allowed to look at the test questions, and these 15 are sworn to confidentiality. Even after the test, no one gets to see what was tested. Ever. Remember, too, that no parent or teacher –or even a legislator– was ever consulted prior to adoption of the standards upon which the test is based. The state school board alone mandated Utah’s adoption of the standards. The test and its standards are experimental, but no parent was asked whether any of this was okay.
Confidentiality surrounding high stakes tests makes sense in that it prevents future test-takers from knowing what the questions are so that they can not have an advantage over students who took the test without knowing these questions ahead of time. But there’s a problem when, at NO time, even months after the test, a parent may ever see what was shown to the child or asked of the child on that test.
This is an especially big problem in 2014, when much of what passes for education is blatant political or social indoctrination.
Susan Kimball, an elementary school teacher, testified to the legislature that:
“In a professional development meeting inservice in November and at a faculty meeting in January, we were told in my building, and I quote: ‘Be careful about what you post on Facebook or talk about in public regarding Common Core. Don’t say anything negative. It could affect your job.’
“So even though many teachers were hating the Common Core curriculum, they would not voice their opinon to anyone. So I began speaking out –trying to educate and inform anyone who was willing to listen. When I turned in a personal day request to come to support the rally for House Bill 1490, I was asked by my principal, ‘Do you really want that in your personnel file?’
“And then I was bullied and ostracized by my administration, a few other teachers, and the president of the school board, and that continues today.
” I was denied the use of a personal day to appear here today, so I will lose my much-needed pay for the day. I need my job and I love my kids. But I feel it is that important to get Common Core out of our state…
“We teachers had no say in the Common Core standards being adopted in our school districts… “
“…The lessons are developmentally inappropriate and are not research-based or written by teachers. It has been heart wrenching to watch my students’ frustration… especially when I know better from all of my years of teaching, that this is not appropriate, but I am powerless to do anything.”
The teacher also testified that even her gifted, extremely high-I.Q. student could not possibly do what was being expected of her as a kindergartener in the Common Core curriculum, and neither –of course– could her kindergarten peers.
“We are doing way too much assessing and not enough teaching, especially in the lower grades… I can tell you which of my kids fall where without looking at the data. I don’t need the tests to know what my kids need to know. And the frustration of Common Core for me, is it has taken away all the fun out of learning. The lessons are very boring to a young child. We aren’t able to do what is interesting to our kids…. it’s very frustrating to the teachers and the students.”
“I don’t know what I’m going to face when I go home. That’s why I’m so nervous and it’s so hard for me to speak, because you have no idea what I have been through over the past six weeks of my stand. And the reason I took this stand is because it was right for my kids. They’re my main priority –and I thought it was every teacher’s priority.”
Yesterday, UT Associate Superintendent Judy Park responded to an open letter (posted below) that I sent a week ago. I had sent the letter to support St. George parents who want to opt children out of the standardized testing.
Ms. Park’s response was a one-sentence email message that included a link to a graphic, also posted below, under the open letter.
She did not respond to the vital issues brought up in the letter, nor did her graphic reveal, despite its little red lock-icons (labeled “secure“) –any actual laws or proper policy protections that exist to make our students’ data secure from inter-agency and vendor sharing. No such laws, that I am aware of, yet exist in Utah.
Here’s my letter:
Dear Associate Superintendent Judy Park,
Recently, you wrote (and were quoted in a letter sent out by a St. George charter school to the parents –a letter that aimed to prevent parents from opting children out of the Common Core testing– the following:
“The advocates of anti-common core are falsely accusing USOE and schools and districts of collecting and storing data that is “behavioral data and non-academic personal information”. They have no real evidence or examples to support this claim. The only data that is collected and maintained is the specific data required by state and federal law.”
Here’s unfortunate evidence to the contrary, Ms. Park. First there is a Utah law about Common Core standardized tests. This law, HB15, created in 2012, requires the collection of behavior indicators. It calls for “ the use of student behavior indicators in assessing student performance” as part of the testing. This is Utah’s S.A.G.E. –aka Common Core or A.I.R.– test.
But another law (HB177) has been requiring, from the 2002-03 school year on, “the use of student behavior indicators in assessing student performance.” Since 2002!
Are we to believe that although AIR’s purpose is to test behavioral and social indicators, and although Utah laws say that the test must note behavioral indicators, the AIR test still won’t?
3. Utah’s SLDS grant application talks about authorizing de-identification of data for research and says that individuals will be authorized to access personal student information in the various Utah agencies that belong to UDA. (Who are these individuals? Why does the UDA trust them with information that parents weren’t even told was being gathered on our children?)
Starting at page 87 on that same SLDS federal application, 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)” That SSI inventory –my child’s psychological information– will be integrated into the system (SLDS). Nonacademic demographic and other personal information is also captured while administering the test. SSI data will be given to whomever it is assumed, by the so-called leadership, that needs to see it. (This should be a parental decision but has become a state decision.)
The SLDS grant promises to integrate psychological data into the state database. “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.” It also 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 one way they’re gathering the psychological data.
4. Ms. Park, you are a key player and even a writer for the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) –the organization that co-created and co-copyrighted Common Core. This makes me fairly confident that you are aware of what the CCSSO stands for and what its goals are. On the CCSSO website, it states that one of its main goals is “Continued Commitment to Disaggregation” of student data. Disaggregation means that academic bundles of students’ information will be separated into groups that are increasingly easy to identify individually.
-From page 172: “Perception data: Perception data answer the question, “What do people think they know, believe or can do?” These data measure what students and others observe or perceive, knowledge gained, attitudes and beliefs held and competencies achieved. These data are often collected through pre- and post-surveys, tests or skill demonstration opportunities such as presentations or role play, data, competency achievement, surveys or evaluation forms.” (pgs. 58-59)
-From page 66: Examples of attitudes or belief data include: “74 percent of students believe fighting is wrong.”
This list of Student Outcomes (which will be tracked by computers, according to the document) is full of non-academic outcomes.
-From page 136:
MG:A1 Demonstrate a deep regard for self and others
MG:A2 Demonstrate a personal commitment to basic democratic principles
MG:A3 Demonstrate a civil and considerate spirit while participating in society”
(Some people may object to MG:A2, for example, since “basic democratic principles” aren’t the same thing as “basic republican principles” and FYI, the Constitution specifically guarantees individuals a republican form of government. (Article 4, Section 4, U.S. Constitution.) So what if my child’s been taught about Article 4, Section 4, at home, and he/she doesn’t test “correctly” on MG:A2? These outcomes may sound innocuous to many, but here’s the REAL point: if the government/school system/USOE claims the right to test our children for one set of beliefs, be they good or bad, they can test our children for other sets of beliefs. They don’t have the right to assess this, in my opinion, without parental consentor at least an opt-out-of-the-SLDS-database option for parents who do object.)
These 5 points together prove, at least to me, that the educational government of Utah is collecting behavioral and non-academic data on our children without our consent.
But lastly, there is this issue: Ms. Park also wrote, “The only data that is collected and maintained is the specific data required by state and federal law.”
This is a big problem since the state and the federal privacy protection requirements do not match anymore. Ms. Park does not seem to be aware of this. But today, the state is much more protective of students’ rights. Federal FERPA regulations have been altered –not by Congress but by the sneaky Department of Education (DOE). The DOE changed the definitions of terms. They reduced from a requirement to only a “best practice” the previously protective rule that parental consent had to be obtained (prior to sharing private student data). They redefined personally identifiable information. So, no more parental consent needed and whatever they can con states into sharing, will be shared. Is this the kind of federal rule that Ms. Park is content to have us obey?
Because Utah agreed in that same SLDS federal grant applicaton to use PESC standards and SIF interoperability frameworks, Utah’s children’s private data can be accessed by other states and federal agencies very easily as long as current Utah policy permits it. Unless bills like Rep. Anderegg’s HB169 student data privacy bill and others like it are taken seriously, we have no proper legal protections and a wide open policy of quite promiscuous data sharing here in Utah.
Yep. That one sentence is all the response that she had.
Below is what Ms. Park’s link brings up. Click here to see it for yourself at the USOE site.
Notice the continued insistence that no behavioral or belief related data is collected despite the links I provided above. Notice that the USOE states its purpose for the SLDS database is to serve schools and districts on this graphic; but in federal grant applications, federal sites and federal/corporate partnered websites, it’s stated that the SLDS exists to serve federal and “stakeholder” decision-making. Always it’s a two-step, two-faced dance.
Please know, Utahns, that while probably Ms. Judy Park is a lovely person in many ways, she is very unfortunately and very definitely not a friend to local control. She’s an active member of the CCSSO, which created national Common Core, and she was an Executive Committee co-chair of SBAC, the federally funded testing group which, by federal contract, mandated that states aligned with SBAC must allow federal management of testing and data. FYI– Utah since then dropped its SBAC membership and is currently partnered with AIR, but AIR is fully partnered with federally mandated and funded SBAC.
I can also testify that if a teacher or parent asks Ms. Park a question in person, which I have, she’ll put her hand on her hip, beam an uncomfortably long-lasting smile; notanswer the question, and lightly dismiss the legitimate issue of concern with: “You certainly are passionate about what you believe. I need to move on to the next person.”
This oft-demonstrated attitude, pervasive at the USOE and USSB, is truly hurting some of the most important and best people –the students and teachers– in our beautiful state of Utah.
If Obama succeeds unimpeded by Congress, how will states still claim the option of withdrawing from the Common Core –and all the tests and data collection that Common Core entails? How I hope Congress is watching –and will act. This is where we need those checks and balances –ACTING.
President Obama, McClusky explained, “wants to make the Core permanent by attaching annual federal funding to its use, and to performance on related tests. Just as the administration called for in its 2010 NCLB reauthorization proposal, [the President] wants to employ more than a one-time program, or temporary waivers, to impose “college and career-ready standards,” which–thanks to RTTT and waivers–is essentially synonymous with Common Core. In fact, President Obama proposes changing Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – of which NCLB is just the most recent reauthorization – to a program called “College- and Career-Ready Students,” with an annual appropriation of over $14 billion.
This was utterly predictable … RTTT was the foot in the door, and once most states were using the same standards and tests, there was little question what Washington would eventually say: “Since everyone’s using the same tests and standards anyway, might as well make federal policy based on that.”
Perhaps given the scorching heat the Common Core has been taking lately, most people didn’t expect the administration to make the move so soon, but rational people knew it would eventually come. Indeed, the “tripod” of standards, tests, and accountability that many Core-ites believe is needed to make “standards-based reform” function, logically demands federal control… the end game is almost certainly complete federal control by connecting national standards and tests to annual federal funding. And that, it is now quite clear, is no conspiracy theory.”
So much for the Utah State Office of Education’s oft-published claim that Common Core is federal-strings-free. Maybe now they’ll remove those lies from the USOE website. Maybe now our State School Board will stop dismissing people’s concerns by assaulting them with the label “conspiracy theorists.” Maybe.
But I’m finding no relief in the thought that the state school board can’t keep calling us names anymore. (It really never bothered me that much, to tell you the truth. I just took it as a sign of their confusion.)
But I wish– oh, how I wish– that Utah had never given away the right to keep control. We had a Constitutional RIGHT to locally control that “tripod” — standards, tests, and local accountability. We did not fight for it. Too few made a peep.
If Obama’s budget succeeds, we appear to be toast.
Two leaders who make judgments for our schools –two whose judgment I wish we were able to trust, each have made statements: that high-stakestests and data mining are unrelated to Common Core standards.
This is a fact-checking post.
First, look at their statements:
Our governor’s education advisor, Tami Pyfer, was quoted in the Morgan News: “whilenot related to the Common Core, data mining and over-testing ‘will not be happening with Utah students.’” The Morgan News also wrote that Pyfer: “is concerned with high stakes testing and test results being used for purposes the tests were not originally designed for. ‘Wedo not support high stakes testing.‘”
Pyfer also wrote, at a blog called The Blue Hat Movement:
“I’m confused about how/why you are connecting assessment issues, like the one in this video, to the Common Core Standards.“
Meanwhile, Superintendent Martell Menlove has also said in many settings that he has concerns with high stakes testing and data mining –but says that he does not understand the relationship between high stakes testing and the Common Core. In emails to the public he has also written, “I am not aware of any additional data reporting requirements that are associated with Common Core.”
Oh, Dear. Tami and Martell!
Utah’s new school test is inseparable from the Common Core standards.
(FYI, readers, the test goes by many names: Computer Adaptive, AIR/SAGE, Utah Core, Common Core). And neither is the data-mining inseparable from Common Core, with its CEDS (common education data standards) and its SLDS (my nickname: longitudinal student stalking system).
2.) The four assurances or four key reforms for which the executive branch gave ARRA stimulus dollars (in exchange for Utah’s agreement to obey them) included common college and career-readiness standards, tests, and data collection. It was always a package deal.
“SFSF requires progress on four reforms …. 1.Making progress toward rigorous college- and career-ready standardsand high-quality assessmentsthat are valid and reliable for all students, including English language learners and students with disabilities; 2.Establishing pre-K-to college and career data systems that trackprogress and foster continuous improvement; 3.Making improvements in teacher effectiveness and in the equitable distribution of qualified teachers for all students, particularly students who are most in need; 4.Providing intensive support and effective interventions for the lowest-performing schools.”
4. The lead sponsor of Common Core Standards, Bill Gates, spoke at at national Conference for State Legislatures. He said that “We’ll only know if this effort has succeeded when the curriculum and tests are aligned to these standards.” This alignment has been the point all along. (Wouldn’t the man who funded multimillions of dollars toward the creation, development, marketing, implementation, and curriculum development of Common Core know what the goal was to be?)
It is difficult for me to understand how Menlove, who belongs to the CCSSO, or how Pyfer, who works so intimately with both the NGA and CCSSO, can mentally separate the Common Core aligned, high-stakes tests from the goals of the Common Core standards creators themselves.
The Common Education Data Standards Initiative is a joint effort by CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United States Department of Education. Educators and policy makers need clear, consistent data about students and schools in order to draw valid comparisons between key indicators of educational success and identify areas where we can improve classroom instruction and student support from early childhood through K-12 education to post secondary education and the workforce.
Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC)
The Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) is CCSSO’s network of state education agency officials tasked with data collection and reporting; information system management and design; and assessment coordination. EIMAC advocates on behalf of states to reduce data collection burden and improve the overall quality of the data collected at the national level.”
In light of these five points, can anybody honestly say that they cannot see a connection between the Common Core test and the Common Core high stakes AIR tests? Are we still to be called “conspiracy theorists” (my school board member Dixie Allen’s latest term of endearment for me) –for declaring that the tests and standards are one, are inseparable, and are equally harmful to our schools and to our liberties?
So, having made this point, now let me share what Principal Bob Schaeffer of Colorado shared with me today: a compilation of how bad the national Common Core high-stakes testing is waxing.
NEWS UPDATE: NATIONAL PROBLEMS WITH HIGH-STAKES TESTS
New York Professor’s Run-in With NY Common Core Promotion Machine
Guest Post by Professor Alan Singer
This story is posted with permission from Professor Singer, and the article is also posted at the Huffington Post under the title: “Questions about Common Core – NYS Education Officials Do Not Want to Hear About It.”
In December 2013, the New York Regents, the policy making body for education in the state, formed a sub-committee to evaluate implementation of the national Common Core Standards. Merryl Tisch the chair of the Board of Regents and John King, the state’s educational commissioner, are both strong advocates for the rapid introduction of the Common Core accompanied by high-stakes testing of students and the evaluation of teachers based on student test scores. However, in a series of public forums across the state, Commissioner King was sharply criticized by both parents and teachers. Some Regents, including Roger Tilles who represents Long Island and Geraldine Chapey of Belle Harbor in Queens, have also been very critical of implementation of Common Core.
New York State United Teachers, the umbrella organization representing unionized teachers in New York State responded to the campaign to rapidly introduce Common Core and new high-stakes tests by calling for the immediate removal of the Commissioner of Education John King by the Board of Regents and postponement of Common Core graduation requirements. This move is supported by Randi Weingarten, president of the national union, the American Federation of Teachers. In addition, a coalition of 45 educational organizations called the NYS Allies for Public Education has launched a campaign to have four new members elected to the state educational governing body, all of whom have expressed reservations about the rapid implementation of Common Core in the state. Members of the Board of Regents are elected by the New York State Legislature.
In May 2011, in an essay published in New York Newsday and on the Washington Post website, Regent Tilles raised concerns about Common Core that have been largely ignored by its proponents for the last three years. Tilles argued “Student learning is complex” and “impacted by many factors which include, but are not limited to, prior learning, family background, level of poverty, classroom and school culture, access to private tutors, learning disabilities, access to adequate resources, and even school district governance,” none of which are taken into account by the Common Core standards, the testing program, or teacher evaluations. He objected to “using the student results of New York’s standardized tests to evaluate teachers” because it contributed to “the corrupting influence of high stakes on the education programs.” He was especially concerned that the focus of Common Core and the high-stakes assessments on reading and math skills was “snuffing out the creative thinking” and worried “that all of the above is an attempt to promote charter schools and dismantle the public school system.”
There are legitimate questions about how serious Tisch and King are about rethinking Common Core. At the same time as Tisch announced formation of the Regents sub-committee, Tisch and King, in an opinion article published in the Albany Times-Union declared “We want to hear from teachers, parents, and students about what’s working and what could work better. But we also know that moving forward with Common Core is essential.”
As far as I can see, there is little real discussion going on about the Common Core standards. Politicians and corporations who are selling the standards to the public and forcing it on teachers and schools ignore both supportive suggestions and opposition. The story I report here says that the champions of Common Core, no matter what they say, do not want to hear any other ideas.
In New York State, Common Core is promoted by EngageNY, a website “created and maintained by the New York State Education Department,” and a secretive non-governmental group called the Regents Research Fund. As the EngageNYwebsite makes clear, its primary purpose is promoting Common Core.
“The New York State Education Department (NYSED) is engaging teachers, administrators, and education experts across the State and nation in the creation of curriculum resources, instructional materials, professional development materials, samples of test questions, test specifications, and other test-related materials that will help with the transition to the New York State P-12 Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS).”
The actions of the Regents Research Fund are a little harder to pin down. The Albany Times Union calls it a “shadow government” within the New York State Education Department. It is supported by $19 million in donations from wealthy individuals and foundations.
On the EngageNY website and for the Regents Research Fund the chief salesperson for Common Core is Kate Gerson, a very attractive woman who appears to have minimal teaching experience. Although she is not an actual employ of the State Education Department, Gerson represents them at Common Core meetings across the state and is the featured Common Core cheerleader on EngageNY online videos. The Times Herald-Record, based in Middletown, New York, described Gerson’s performance at a staff development workshop for teachers in the Monticello school district this way.
“With a microphone dangling under her chin, Kate Gerson paced the front of the high school auditorium in sweater dress and heeled boots, prodding teachers to rethink the Gettysburg Address. She used the word “text” over and over again.”
Gerson’s advice to teachers was “Try it out; get smarter at it. This is hard work. Pick a text and dive in, and build a unit around a text that you are devoted to, that you have to teach anyway, and teach it differently.”
You can view Gerson’s traveling show at the EngageNY website. In a fifteen minute video titled “Quick Explanation of the Shifts by Kate Gerson,” she basically tells the audience that they are already doing Common Core in small bursts, but they now have to do it more systematically and have students think more deeply about what they read.
I did not have many disagreements with the goals Gerson presented in her show, but I was very surprised by two things. It was very unclear how deeper literacy was going to be achieved in classrooms where students have serious academic difficulty. Mostly she just repeated educational clichés – we were going to have a shift in focus, text-based instruction, rigorous standards, and students would think deeply and marshal evidence. Teaching these academic skills to real students in actual classrooms was almost a hopeful wish on her part.
I was also struck by Gerson’s lack of knowledge about the English Language Arts curriculum in New York State. According to Gerson, as part of the new rigor and higher standards, students would read To Kill a Mocking Bird in eighth grade rather than in ninth grade. But students always read To Kill a Mocking Bird in eight grade because that is when they learned about the Civil Rights movement in social studies. Students were also going to read Achebe’s book Things for Apart in 10th grade rather than in12th grade, but students always read Things Fall Apart in 10th grade because that is when they study the impact of European imperialism on traditional societies in Global History.
Gerson is promoted as a former New York City teacher and school principal who brings legitimate educational credentials and experience to the discussion of Common Core. According to her LinkedIn site, Gerson has a B.A. in Women’s Studies from the University of Arizona and a M.A in Language Education from Indiana University. She began her career as a teacher in Indiana, but only worked in New York City for two years at a transfer school for over-aged-under-credited students before leaving for an organization called New Leaders for Schools where she worked from 2007 to 2010. Gerson is also associated with Frederick Hess, Resident Scholar and Director of Education Policy Studies at theAmerican Enterprise Institute, which pushes free market pro-business solutions to educational and social issues.
Gerson will be the keynote speaker at an Uncommon Core at a conference in Binghamton, New York on March 14, 2014.
I was also invited by conference organizers to speak there because of my Huffington Posts on Common Core where I am critical of Common Core, but also offer practical suggestions and lesson ideas on how it can be useful in the classroom. For example, I recently posted a blog on Huffington Post with quotations from two speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. where he offers a more radical critique of American society.
My position on Common Core is that it is useful to teachers and schools as a guideline but not as a mandated set of skills that must be achieved in a specific time frame by every student. I am also disturbed that the almost universal focus on skills acquisition will interfere with the teaching of subject content. AsRegent Tilles argued, to be most effective, Common Core Standards must be separated from high-stakes testing for students and the evaluation of teachers. State Education needs to provide teachers with sample material that defines what they mean by “college and career ready,” but scripted lessons that inhibit teacher creativity and eliminate flexibility are not useful. Among the things I like about Common Core is that it encourages the Horizontal (across subject) and Vertical (across grade level) Integration of instruction and it supports systematic planning and conscious decision-making by teachers. However, to the extent that it is tied into the privatization of curriculum, staff development, student assessment, and teacher preparation it is undermining public education.
The problem with the invitation to speak at the Binghamton conference with Gerson is that the conference organizers were not be able to pay an honorarium despite the fact that I would have a ten-hour round trip drive from New York City and have to spend the night. This basically meant I am unable to participate.
Merryl Tisch (non-responder)
I emailed Merryl Tisch, Chair of the New York State Board of Regents, Education Commissioner Jon King, Ken Wagner, Deputy Commissioner for Curriculum, Assessment, and Educational Technology at the New York State Education Department, and Kate Gerson and Joshua Skolnick of the Regents Research Fund in an effort to secure financial support to participate in the conference. I did not get a response from Tisch, King, or Skolnick. Gerson emailed back that she had forwarded my request to Skolnick and Wagner.
Ken Wagner, Deputy Commissioner for Curriculum, Assessment, and Educational Technology and a person in charge of implementing Common Core standards in New York State
I received a curt response from Wagner, Deputy Commissioner for Curriculum, Assessment, and Educational Technology at the New York State Education Department. According to his LinkedIn page, Mr. Wagner has a very interesting resume. He has worked at the State Education Department in different capacities since 2009. Before that he was a district administrator in Suffolk County for three years, an assistant principal and a principal for five years, and a school psychologist for four years. However, Mr. Wagner rose to become Deputy Commissioner for Curriculum, Assessment, and Educational Technology and a person in charge of implementing Common Core standards in New York State without ever having been a classroom teacher.
Mr. Wagner emailed me: “There is no funding available. Perhaps you should cancel.”
I later emailed Mr. Wagner the Common Core based lesson on the speeches of Martin Luther Kin, Jr. that I had developed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemorations in local secondary schools.
This time he responded:
Please remove me from your list.
Thanks a bunch,
I emailed him back:
“I thought you were a state official and this was a public email address?
Any update on the honorarium so that I can present on Common Core at the Binghamton Uncommon Core Conference?”
Mr. Wagner responded, denying funding for the conference again, and this time accusing me of sending spam in violation of federal law:
From: Ken Wagner
Sent: Saturday, January 11, 2014 8:28 PM
To: Alan J. Singer
Subject: Re: The Other Martin Luther King – Alan’s Latest Huffington Post
No worries, thanks.
It is generally best practice for authors to provide their readers with options and choice. Self-publishing has changed all that, I suppose.
You should be aware, however, that sending unsolicited email without the ability to decline meets the federal definition of Spam.
As I said, funding is not an option.
At least in my experience, education officials in New York State are not interested in what anyone else has to say about Common Core.
Post-It Note: I checked the federal definition of spam. According to the CAN-SPAM act of 2003 spam is “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.”
I fail to see how a lesson on Martin Luther King, Jr. aligned with Common Core that I am making freely available to teachers and available to state curriculum officials constitutes spam under this law,but I guess Mr. Wagner, as an expert on Common Core, is able to understand the statute’s deeper meaning.
Alan Singer, Director, Secondary Education Social Studies Department of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership 128 Hagedorn Hall / 119 Hofstra University / Hempstead, NY 11549
Boiling down the conflict about personal data, we get to two ideas; which one do you value more?
1) - Our Constitutional right to be free from “unreasonable search and seizure” of “private effects” (unless there truly is some “probable cause” of our guilt)
2) - The corporate and government-backed movement to gather and share “robust data” to enable “data-driven decisions” that may serve educational research.
Take some time. Think about it. We cannot have our cake and eat it, too.
Many organizations, agencies and movements have begun to depend on the second philosophy and Utah has aligned its school systems and other government agencies to it– without thinking too deeply about it.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hosts the White House “Datapalooza” event and gives speeches about the wonders of data collection. He persuades unrelated governmental agencies to share personal data. His right-hand woman, Joanne Weiss, encourages inter-agency “data-mashing.” And Duncan not only supports, but has been the main speaker at Data Quality Campaign’s summit. This is key. I’ll tell you all about the DQC.
“Data Quality Campaign” has many partners including (no coincidence) all of the Common Core creators and testers! “Achieve,” “National Governors’ Association,” “Council of Chief State School Officers,” “American Institutes for Research,” “PESC” (a council that makes data standards common) and MANY more share the DQC’s “vision of an education system in which all stakeholders… are empowered with high-quality data from the early childhood, K–12, postsecondary, and workforce systems.”
From the DQC’s site: “as states build and enhance K12 longitudinal data systems they continue building linkages to exchange and use information across early childhood, postsecondary and the workforce and with other critical agencies such as health, social services and criminal justice systems.”
Do you share that vision?
On November 12, 2009, at a Data Quality Campaign conference, (note: the keynote speaker was an NGA leader; NGA copyrighted Common Core) they encouraged “the status of states’ ability to link data across agencies and provided several state case studies of promising strategies to sharing individual-level data across systems and agencies.”
And Utah was “honored” by DQC for providing an example of linking criminal justice agencies, educational agencies, medical agencies, etc. using school-collected data and common data standards. Some data on a child that had been USOE-collected (private student data) was accessed by Utah’s Department of Human Services, according to this DQC brief, because of Utah MOUs that permitted data exchanges. Excerpt:
“Utah’s State Office of Education (USOE) has an extensive data warehouse, but initially, concerns about student privacy protection, especially related to the federal FERPA legislation, prohibited data sharing. However, Human Services worked with the USOE to develop two memoranda of understanding (MOUs) to permit data exchange and mitigate student privacy concerns. One MOU established that the state serves as the child’s parent when the child is in state custody. Although this MOU often is not employed, it did clarify the role of the state and its permission to attain and view student records housed in the USOE. The second MOU established that by connecting these two databases to evaluate the educational outcomes of children who aged out of foster care. Utah Human Services was conducting research on behalf of the USOE and, therefore, could be granted access to student-level data. http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/files/65_meetings-dqc_quarterly_issue_brief_091807.pdf
Why isn’t this stuff in the papers?
But DQC reminds us that “Every Governor and Chief State School Officer agreed to build longitudinal data systems that can follow individual students from early learning through secondary and postsecondary education and into the workforce as a condition for receiving State Fiscal Stabilization Funds. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) not only provided states the venture and political capital to build on the growing momentum behind statewide longitudinal data systems, but also offered state agencies the chance to think creatively and break down traditional silos. For policymakers, educators, parents, and students to have the information they need to improve student and system performance, state K-12 longitudinal data systems must be able to exchange and use information across the early learning, postsecondary, and workforce sectors as well as health and social services systems.”
So, to ponder how this affects YOUR child:
DQC is partnered with American Institutes for Research (AIR) which is Utah’s Common Core test maker for the Computer Adaptive Math and English Common Core test, also known as the SAGE test. (FYI, AIR is fully partnered with SBAC, the testing group Utah dropped in 2012.)
American Institutes for Research will not only test Common Core standards teachings, but will also upload all Utah student test takers’ personally identifiable information, academic and nonacademic information into its database.
(Why the nonacademic information too? Because Utah’s HB15 mandates that behavioral indicators will be tested and conveniently, AIR is a psychometrics specialist.)
Understandably, all over the country and in my own home state of Utah, legislators are scrambling to create student data protection bills. But they face a problem that most maybe don’t want to see.
Every state has a federally-invented SLDS: State Longitudinal Database System. In Utah, we have been recipients of millions of dollars (and have been entangled in the federal strings that have come with those dollars) because we agreed to the four education reform assurances that came with the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund money (ARRA Stimulus funding). And we agreed to build our SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System) to federal specs. So did all the other states. It’s an illegal, de facto national database because of that interoperability factor and because we’ve agreed to it through PESC.
We built the SLDS monster. Now legislation is trying to put a muzzle and a leash on him. Why keep him around at all?
The SLDS’s core function is “to fulfill federal reporting.”This fact comes from the PESC State Core Model, which Utah agreed to when the Utah Data Alliance agreed to the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) Model and the SIF (interoperability framework) in the SLDS grant application –which means all of our data will be interoperable and sharable across state lines. The PESC’s State Core Model deliberately aligns different states’ SLDS data systems so that they all match.
Not surprisingly, the PESC model was developed by the unelected, private trade group, CCSSO, as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) funded by the Gates Foundation. (CCSSO is the same private group that developed and copyrighted Common Core standards). The PESC “establishes comparability between sectors and between states” and brags that it “will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting…”
The agreement is stated on page 4 of section 1 (page 20 on the PDF) of Utah’s 2009 ARRA Data Grant: “The UDA will adhere to standards such as the School Interoperability Framework (SIF), the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC)
Nothing’s preventing agencies from sharing data. In fact, the DQC praises those who, like Utah’s USOE, have created ways to share data with other agencies.
But there’s an even bigger fish to fry.
Although, years ago, there was a protective federal privacy law called FERPA, it’s been corrupted by the Department of Education.
The U.S. Department of Education’s intentions are further, very clearly, revealed in the student-level data-sharing mandate in its cooperative testing agreements (and in the contrast between what Secretary Arne Duncan says and does.)
The bottom line is that we should not align any privacy law with federal FERPA and we should shut the SLDS monster’s big mouth by creating opt-out allowances for parents to protect their children from this big government stalker.
I have serious concerns about a bill that’s being written in Utah right now, SB0049, which aligns with federal FERPA’s definitions of “personally identifiable information” and “authorized representative.”
Reading this bill, I could hardly believe that Utah legislators care to protect us.
Surely legislators have read that the Department of Education has, without Congressional approval, altered federal FERPA to loosen privacy protections by having redefined terms. (This resulted in a big law suit with the Electronic Privacy Information Center.) The loosening of student privacy protections by the federal government took place during the same time as the Department of Education was creating national school assessment contracts that stated that the Department would access student-level data through the assessments “subject to applicable privacy law.” Thus they changed the law to suit their data-hungry point of view. The federal FERPA reduced parental consent over student data from a requirement to a “best practice”!
It changed the definition of “personally identifiable information” to include biometric information, which includes DNA, handwriting, iris scans, fingeprints, as well as behavioral information
Is this what we want for Utah?
Behavioral and belief-based information on a child is without question going to be collected by Utah’s math and English tests by psychometric embedding by test writer and psychometric specialist AIR -American Institutes for Reasearch. Utah gave AIR $39 million to do this terrible mistake when the Utah legislature mandated it, in HB15, the Computer Adaptive Testing bill.
To align state privacy laws with federal definitions is to guarantee a toothless and spineless pretense of protection.
This is not hyperbole. Follow the money trail to see who has a vested interest in denying parents and students authority over their own private data. We can’t afford to give our ear to those who are making the money from the exposure of student data to “researchers” —who are really just greedy vendors.
Microsoft owner Bill Gates, who has called schools a “uniform customer base” has paid hundreds of millions to align common data standards with common educational standards. He has partnered with Pearson (who is contracted to make Utah’s UTREX) which pushes the same thing. Gates/Pearson partnered with the Midvale, Utah-based School Improvement Network, which pushes the same thing. They give lip service to student privacy, but none of these groups seems to want to see REAL protection for privacy.
Sharing a long string of emails between my State School Board representative and me, from this week and last.
I hope that given the time you have spent the last couple of years discussing this issue, that you would understand that Utah has already adopted and put in place the Common Core Standard in Mathematics and English/Language Arts. We have added some standards and will contiue to update the Standards as needed – but we have already adopted and have wonderful teachers working on Curriculum and lesson design to effectively teach the Core.
If you have specific concerns with specific standards – please let me know.
Utah State Board of Education
It cannot back up its lies of “being an improvement” academically, since it’s totally experimental and untested. Similarly, it cannot back up its lie of being “internationally benchmarked” because it’s not internationally benchmarked.
It cannot back up its lie of being unattached to the federal government since it is tied like an umbilical cord to the Department of Education; the Dept. of Ed is officially partnered with the very group that created it (CCSSO) both in the standards and in common data technologies. The Department of Ed has contracts that mandate micromanagement of Common Core testing. There is much more –all documented online and you can prove or disprove it if you are honest enough to try.
And why should we– why should you, specifically, fight federal intrusion into education?
I am a teacher. Common Core diminishes teachers’ autonomy –and students’ well-being– through federally supervised testing that drives curriculum (or will, by next year when testing really kicks in) and by the federally funded SLDS data mining that amounts to “unreasonable search and seizure” of private effects.
While there are some harmless or even some good things in the standards themselves at the elementary school level perhaps, the standards do diminish classic literature especially for high schoolers, and they marginalize narrative writing, and dumb down high school math –as has been admitted even by its creators. (Click here to see this very short video link of this out loud admission of the math-dumbing, by Common Core creator Jason Zimba).
Even if this all were not true– if somehow standards did not diminish classic literature, marginalize narrative writing, and dumb down high school math, they are still AN ATROCITY, Dixie, from which you should be protecting the children of Utah. And the teachers of Utah.
Because they suffocate the spirit of liberty and independence.
1. COMMON CORE LACKS A REPRESENTATIVE AMENDMENT PROCESS.
If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would be amendable by those governed by it.
Dixie, if this were legitimate, you and I would have a voice. But we do not.
Neither you as a state school board member, nor I as a Utah credentialed teacher, have diddly squat to say over what gets tested and taught in our math and English classrooms in Utah– because Common Core is only amendable by the NGA/CCSSO, according to their own words on their own creepy website.
Read it, for heaven’s sake! It states: “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and
better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised.” (Revised by whom?)
Not you and not me.
Again, from the official Common Core site: (their caps, not mine) “ANY USE OF THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS OTHER THAN AS AUTHORIZED UNDER THIS LICENSE OR COPYRIGHT LAW IS PROHIBITED. ANY PERSON WHO EXERCISES ANY RIGHTS TO THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS THEREBY ACCEPTS AND AGREES TO BE BOUND BY THE TERMS… NGA Center/CCSSO shall be acknowledged as the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards, and no claims to the contrary shall be made.”
2. IT LACKS CHECKS AND BALANCES. The use of checks and balances was designed to make it difficult for a minority of people to control the government and to restrain the government itself. If the Common Core Initiative– a nationalized system of standards, aligned tests, data collection and teacher accountability measures promoted federally– if this initiative were in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be held in the power of a minority of the people (of the NGA/CCSSO and of the Dept. of Ed which is partnered with CCSSO). It would have been vetted prior to implementation by the proper means outlined in the Constitution– but it wasn’t. As Alyson Williams pointed out, “There is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors… Governors working together to jointly address issues and create rules that affect the whole nation is not a legitimate alternative to Congress, our national representative body.”
3. IT LACKS AUTHORITY. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would have been born legitimately: but its only “authority” is the unprecedented assigning of money to the discretion of the Education Secretary without proper congressional oversight. From that Stimulus money came the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and the Race to the Top grant programs that enabled the Department of Ed to get away with setting up their own, experimental rules for us to follow in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States alone.
4. IT ALTERS THE LIMITS OF FEDERAL POWER. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be openly admitted even by its most notorious proponent, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, to alter the traditionally limited role of the federal government. Look:
: “Our vision of reform takes account of the fact that, in several respects, the governance of education in the United States is unusual. Traditionally, the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy… The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more… [THIS IS CLEARLY, CLEARLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL, DIXIE.] …the Recovery Act created additional competitive funding like the high-visibility $4.35 billion Race to the Top program and the $650 million Investing in Innovation Fund… America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform… In March of 2009, President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments… Virtually everyone thought the president was dreaming. But today, 37 states and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing a white paper—they have actually done it.”
Do you hear Secretary Duncan gloating over his ability to control us?
Yet the honorable Utah State School Board continues to promote the notion that we are free under Common Core. It’s a lie. The State School Board may be full of very good people like yourself, who donate to Sub-for-Santa and read to their grandchildren; but they are still guilty of passing along huge lies which they have received and believed from the pushers of the Common Core gold rush.
Common Core governance is a slap in the face to the work of the Founding Fathers.
We are rightly shuddering at the math disaster and the high-stakes testing, are rightly gasping at the lack of any cost analysis to taxpayers and at the privacy-robbing aspects of the Common Core agenda. But these arguments are secondary to the hairiest of the reform devils, the destruction of individual liberty and the end of local control of education.
Dixie, my dear representative! Please, please stand up to these people. Stop swallowing the hogwash. Stop allowing your peers on the board to spread the propaganda. It is not based in truth.
Updating with more letters 1-17-14
To answer your question, I taught public high school English for five years, University level English at UVU for two years, and public school third grade for two years. I have also been a home school teacher of fourth and fifth grade for two years. I began teaching in 1995, am still teaching, and my credential has never expired.
But. I don’t think my resume (nor yours) matters, though, because it is the principle of local and individual liberty that is the issue most harmed by the Common Core Initiative and the “Blueprint for Reform” that Common Core rides upon.
Educational experience and resumes don’t even come into the question; anyone can see through this if they take five minutes to use their brains.
I notice that you are still avoiding the issues I raised, and that you are unruffled by where the Common Core came from, or who gains financially at our expense from them, and who ultimately controls them –and thus who ultimately controls you and me and our grandchildren.
It is unfortunate that you will not confront these uncomfortable realities, very sad for the rest of us whom you are supposed to be elected to represent.
I’m forwarding news links that a Colorado principal forwarded to me today. I hope you become aware of not only the important reasons, but also the speed at which Common Core opposition is growing.
Many State Legislatures 2014 Sessions to Debate Common Core Testing Issues
It is good to know where you have experienced teaching and educational oversight. Thanks for sharing!
However, the concerns you share form the Colorado administrator still are mostly about the assessment programs. I hope that you are aware that we are developing our own assessments with the help of the AIR Company. We are doing everything we can to be in control of our Standards, Assessments and Data and I am convinced we are accomplishing our goals.
Thanks for your input, but would really like to see you look at what Utah is actually doing and not align us to other states, especially without checking out the facts as they apply to our state. It would be so good to have you working to help us improve our school system, rather than identifying what isn’t working across the nation. We still are trying to focus on improving education for the students of Utah and I believe we are making progress each and every year.
It’s not just other states that are unhappy with Common Core tests. Utahns have plenty to say about Common Core tests and their AIR/SAGE $39 million dollar waste– costs to us not only in dollars but costs to student data privacy and costs to liberty from oppressive federal and corporate oversight of Utah’s own educational business.
Have you read Matthew Sanders’ Deseret News “Common Core Testing Fraught With Flaws” op-ed on AIR? Have you read Dr. Gary Thompson’s many writings and heard his testimony? Thompson, a Utah child psychologist, exposed how AIR tests are to embed subjective assessments which are illegal. He sees AIR subjecting all students, but especially more vulnerable populations (including African Americans, gifted students, autistic students, Latino students, Asbergers’ students) to what he names “cognitive child abuse”. Thompson has spoken out here in Utah and across the nation, notably at the Wisconsin Legislature, specifically about the huge problems with AIR and similar tests.
Dr. Thompson said: “AIR’s stated mission is to “to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation towards improving peoples’ lives, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged,” and any reasonable minded person, as well as a State Superintendent of Public Schools, should at least reasonably conclude that this billion dollar research corporation (AIR) with some of the brightest minds on the planet can design tests any way that they please, unless per contractual agreement and other applied constraints, they are expressly forbidden from doing so. Utah’s parents have been told in multiple town hall meetings by the USOE that they will never be able to have access to testing questions devised by AIR in order to ensure “test integrity.” Although I am impressed with USOE and various politicians who stated that 15 parents and a few politicians will be allowed to view the tests being designed by AIR, I question their qualifications to perform anything more than a cursory review of the questions being designed. Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart may be able to balance a complex state budget, but I doubt that she has the necessary background in psychometrics to perform a critical analysis of the issues that need to be examined.”
Matt Sanders expressed additional concerns with AIR/SAGE very concisely. I would love to see the state board answer his questions, and Dr. Thompson’s concerns, about privacy of student data under AIR/SAGE.
Sanders’ article, in the April 2013 Deseret News, said:
“A key component of the Utah Common Core implementation is a new online, adaptive testing system called Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence (SAGE). The the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) contracted to pay $39 million to American Institutes of Research, a Washington, D.C., behavior and social science research organization, to build and host the new testing environment.
I applaud innovation in education and believe the pursuit of standards to improve competitiveness a step in the right direction. I also believe adaptive testing shows some promise. Further, I admire the efforts made by USOE personnel to hold town meetings across the state to introduce the proposed new testing approach to educators and parents — at times encountering some hostility from parents concerned about their children being subjected to unproven educational systems.
At the SAGE introduction in Davis County, I observed many concerns raised by parents. While there, I also asked a couple of questions, but the answers left me wanting. Upon further reflection and analysis, I believe the SAGE approach is deeply problematic, and I put forth the following questions:
Where is the evidence?
Public sector projects should carry assurance of maximum societal benefit for optimal cost. For approval, they should present evidence from research and pilot or scaled tests of the proposed reform.
Despite substantial searching, I could find no defensible studies anywhere on the USOE website, and was given no assurance by state officials that any pilot studies underpin the wholesale changes. They have not cited, as would be asked of any high school research paper, any support for their reforms. Thus, the USOE has implemented new standards, new curriculum and has spent scarce state resources on an apparently untested, unproven testing approach.
How will student data be used?
The contract with AIR contains no explicit protections of student data collected in testing by the well-known federally funded researcher. Despite repeated questions to USOE officials, they could provide no reference statutory protection of student data. USOE should provide complete assurance to families and educators that data are protected and not available for personal identification.
One of the key objectives of the Common Core initiative is to provide means for inter-state performance comparisons. However, the USOE FAQ on testing indicates that, “There are currently no national norms for the new common core or Utah Core Standards … they cannot indicate where Utah’s students stand relative the common-core standards.” So no collaborative benefits exist for developing a unique Utah test.
Why not a different approach?
Consistent with its mandate, the USOE is appropriately concerned by the college readiness of Utah students. Rather than wholesale reforms dependent on unproven curricula and tests, why not direct efforts to proven methods with known cost effectiveness?
For instance, the USOE could be redirecting the $39 million to Utah school districts to reduce class size and invest in technology, increasingly necessary to accommodate Utah’s rising student population.
… Utah schools could adopt and adapt the use of ACT benchmark tests beginning in the 8th grade to determine college preparation progress. The ACT and SAT tests have long been considered robust indicators of readiness by educators and college admissions staff alike.
While the Common Core aims are admirably ambitious, the outcomes so far don’t seem to make the grade…” — Matt Sanders firstname.lastname@example.org TWITTER: Sanders_Matt
Another point is my own: It is clear to all Utahns (it’s stated on AIR’s website) that AIR is partnered with SBAC, which is under a stranglehold by the Department of Ed. SBAC is mandated to “share student data”, to “synchronize tests” with other national common core testing groups, and to give constant reports to the feds. By its partnership, thus AIR is entangled in the same stranglehold. That means Utah is entangled, despite what the state board claims and wishes.
I have yet to see any evidence that AIR/SAGE tests are purely math and English assessments. I have yet to see any evidence that the tests are even being developed by Utahns rather than by the psychometricians that the AIR website flaunts as spearheading all the works of AIR.
Again, thanks for talking.
I am well aware of all your quotes and concerns. Having served on the adoption committee for our new assessment with testing directors, superintendents, teachers and specialists in the field from districts and the state office, I have heard all the concerns and recommendations on our new assessment program. I also was privileged to meet with the parent committee that examined all the test items and helped correct a few minor problems, but heard nothing about any far reaching problems that hadn’t been noted and improved.
I also had the opportunity to oversee several of the pilot districts that used “computer adaptive assessment” which was then the North West Evaluation Association. The pilots were created by the State Board and Governor Huntsman after a year or so of looking at quality assessment programs. These districts had used the assessment to accomplish great growth in student scores for about five years. NWEA was one of the companies that applied to fill the role of our assessment program that had been funded and approved by the legislature. However, NWEA was not willing to write test items that addressed Utah’s specific Core Items. Thus our committee chose AIR because of their willingness to help us (teachers in the field) to help write items that addressed our specific Core Curriculum and they also had great recommendations from other educational entities throughout the nation.
It would be great if we did not have to invest so much in evaluation, but with Grading Schools and other legislation throughout our state and the nation, we must insure we are providing accurate information for the public and our schools. It has also been proven over the past few years that the Computer Adaptive Assessments have been valuable to teacher, parents and students, as it provides a clear understanding of what curricular issues students understand and what needs extra work and support. Testing is now and has always been an instructional support to help teachers, students and parents know how to help our students improve and be successful.
Now, as you suggest, it would be great if our legislature understood how important it is to fund lower class size, preschool education for “At-Risk” students and establishing enough funding to attract the best and brightest teachers to our classrooms. As the lowest per pupil funding in the nation, I really believe that both the State Office of Education and our district partners are doing the very best they can to provide a quality education for our students. Can we do more? SURE!! But the more takes funding and spending less energy and resources to fight battles that reflect on issues that we have already identified and attempted to solve.
Christel, it would be so nice if you would come to our Board Meetings and take in all that has and continues to be done to improve our standards, our curriculum support systems, our assessment and our commitment to quality educators and education for all of our students. Many people are working so hard to insure we are doing the best with what we can afford to provide the children of our state.
Thanks for the opportunity to discuss these issues, but hope you will come see the process in action and join with us to improve our education with a positive attitude and support system.
I guess I should thank you for the invitation to “join with you to improve education with a positive attitude” at school board meetings.
But I noticed at the State School Board Meetings that I went to in 2013 and 2012 that there was an elephant that filled the room; he was so big that people couldn’t even see around him and so loud that people couldn’t talk.
He stood so that people could not move. He silenced visitors who were in his way just by leaning on them, and his glare frightened teachers, parents, and students who had come to participate in the meetings. He had his feet on some children. He wore a huge banner with his name on it, but the school board used different language to name him than what he had named himself, if they spoke of him at all.
Oddly, the Board most often dodged elephant-related questions.
He attended the Wasatch District’s school board meetings too.
For two years now, he’s eaten endlessly at the expense of taxpayers –money which was reserved for the sacred use of school children and their teachers. He ate a lot.
He’s still eating. There is not enough food for him as well as for the children, yet the Board said it would rather feed him, for some reason. So the board asks the legislature to feed the children and the teachers. Because all the board’s money is gone to feeding the elephant.
A positive attitude?
I howl because I can not get the damn elephant off my children without your help.
You have the power. Please remove him.
Although you don’t name the “elephant in the room” — I surmise you see it as Federal Intrusion. I encourage you to really look at what the Federal Government does to help provide dollars for public education and the actual data that they and our state legislature ask for in policy and then help us find ways to insure that such data doesn’t compromise the individual rights of our students. Some data is absolutely necessary, but if we know specifically what data is problematic, we can look at those issues. From my point of view as an educator, I see that test data pulled together for teachers, schools, districts and the state helps us insure that we are providing a quality education. If we overstep the process in regard to trying to insure a quality educational system — we need to know specifics — not the letters to the editor or posting on facebook, twitter and etc., with no details as to what is the real problem.
We all want to improve and support public education. Hope you will help us, instead of continuing to state there is an “elephant in the room” — but with no definition of what the elephant is and how you see we can solve the problem.
The elephant is the Common Core Initiative.
The Common Core elephant –its head is the set of experimental, untested, distorted standards which were neither written nor known about by Utahns before they were forced upon us.
I say “forced” because that is exactly what happened. The board never asked legislators, teachers, principals or parents to analyze these standards prior to throwing away classic standards. And if we speak against them now, we are labeled “insubordinate” or “misinformed”.
I say “distorted” because they are inappropriately “rigourous” for the youngest grades and inappropriately low, especially in math, for the high school grades.
The Common Core elephant– its heart is common data standards (via PESC) which Utah agreed to in its acceptance of federal grant money for the federal SLDS system. This is the heart of the data problem. We don’t have a state system; we have a federal system that we call the “state” longitudinal database. But there is nothing protecting private student data from being submitted to the federal Edfacts exchange nor to the federally partnered EIMAC/CCSSO national data collection vehicle.
Individual student data is none of anyone’s business beyond the district. Only the teacher and principal and parents need to know how a student is doing. Period. The end of the data story.
Governments grading schools is a wrong concept and should be fought but until that’s won, let them grade in aggregate form. That’s not what is happening. Even Superintendent Menlove is a member of the CCSSO, whose stated goal is to disaggregate student data.
I do not see any justification for Utah’s FORCED database (SLDS) from which no parent may opt her child out, according to this very board.
The Common Core elephant– its legs are the tests. The tests drive the future curriculum. They label teachers. They force the standards to center stage, stealing from other subjects and activities that the teacher would otherwise focus on, for example, Utah’s added standard of cursive or a teacher’s personal expertise and enthusiasm for things that go above or beyond Common Core.
Utah’s AIR/SAGE test’s alignment with all the other national common core tests are the death of its autonomy. And the federal say in these tests makes them illegitimate under the Constitution and GEPA law, which states: No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system .
Common Core is the elephant in the room because at the board meeting, nobody talks about it. They call it “Utah core.” They call them “Utah’s standards.”
Common Core sits on top of and drives EVERYTHING in Utah education today. It saps all our funding. It dominates all our teacher preparation. It dictates all new technologies. It defines our data collection. It is the basis for our $39 million dollar test. And alignment to Common Core is the ONLY prerequisite for any textbook to be used in a classroom anymore– content no longer matters; just common core alignment matters. I know this from speaking with the Utah curriculum committee.
One would think that Common Core must be remarkable and wonderful, to have such honored place in Utah, to wield such power. But it’s a joke. A joke on us. It costs us countless millions yet it’s academically distorted, is not even written by educators and has never been field tested!
It’s nothing that it says it is– not “globally competitive,” not “internationally benchmarked,” not “state-led” nor “state created.” It was David “Corporate” Coleman who on a whim decided informational text is better than classic literature, and he is the King of Common Core. Not only did he design the ELA, but now he runs the entire College Board where he aligns college entrance exams to his creation– not the other way around, as has been claimed. This is not college readiness. It’s corporate control of what that term even means anymore. We don’t get a say. The corporate elite, meaning David Coleman/Achieve Inc./Bill Gates/Pearson/CCSSO who are officially in partnership with Arne Duncan, are calling the shots. And why don’t they want us to have legitimate, high, classical college-ready standards? Because it costs too much money. This is clearly explained by Marc Tucker, CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy .
Dixie, I have told you all of this before. You either don’t believe me or don’t think it matters.
Many people don’t want to call anything evil. But I believe there is no good if there is no evil, and I believe that good and evil do not form alliances. There are people and collaborations with whom we should not shake hands, no matter how pleasingly they present themselves to us. Because they are selfish; they are steal what is good and important away from us. They hurt us while promising us the moon.
Common Core is the excuse and the rallying cry for the robbers of autonomy and our local conscience in educational decision making. These people ride on the back of the elephant and get richer and more powerful all the way. These riders of the elephant include David Coleman and his corporations, the CCSSO, NGA, Pearson, Gates, Arne Duncan, and the corporations that sell Common Core aligned products. None of them care whether they’re selling snake oil or something real. They don’t care. They count on us to be too busy or too stupid to check their claims and their price tags.
Thanks for listening.
Wow — I really thought you might have a valid point with the intrusion element. However, as a teacher, principal, curriculum director and now a State School Board Member for now over 40 years total, I have to tell you some facts!
First – all of our standards for the State of Utah have been unproven — mostly because they were created by educators in the field and tested over time and revised over time. Over the years we have, as a state, created our own assessments with help of great talent at our State Office — but both standards and testing items are created by our state teachers and specialists and evaluated and revised over time. The Common Core is and will be the same — except there are several specialists at the university level who has helped us look forward to the ramifications of State and Federal Standards and how all students will be equipped for college and universities regardless of what state university or college they choose.
Secondly, as a Principal of elementary, a 5th grade center and a high school, I can attest that with our past “stair step curriculum” – using Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 and 2, we lost almost a third of our students in being prepared to master the math curriculum for the high school. The standards for both the Mathematics and Language Arts for the Common Core is much more relevant to the investigative and inquiry expectations of both learning and work skills needed by our graduates.
Finally, Utah did not take any money specifically from the Feds for adopting the Common Core. We, along with 47 other states, found the standards higher and more relevant to the expectations of higher education and careers throughout the United States. Also, we had the support of our Governor and the Governor’s Association, the Chief School Officers and our Chief School Officer and almost all university professors and teachers we asked to evaluate the standards.
Bottom line, Christel, the Standards are a higher quality than what we have had previously and they have saved our state thousands of dollars, as we did not have to bring the specialists together by ourselves, but were able to share with the rest of the nation in the creation and evaluation of the standards.
I am sorry you see the Standards as the “Elephant in the Room” — because they are a very effective step forward toward a 21st century curriculum for our state and our teachers and students are rising to the level of the new standards very effectively. Even my elementary grandchildren now know how to substitute letters for numbers and solve for the unknown. Interestingly, as a high school junior I was the only one in my small high school that was taking Algebra — and that was only about 40 years ago. Needless to say our standards need to change over time and working together is much more effective than attempting to do it by ourselves.
Let me know if you want to find answers and work to help us move forward. I would like to have you working with us, instead of buying into the right wing rhetoric that you find on the internet.
Previous standards were not unproven; they were time-tested. Common Core is not time tested. ( Did you look at the article I shared about the “dataless decision making” that is Common Core, the link from Seton Hall University?)
Students have NEVER been deprived of classic literature or basic high school math in past sets of standards. They have never been pushed, for example, to write so many “boring” informational essays to the exclusion of narrative writing. They have not been given insurmountable, unreasonable obstacles to hurdle at first grade levels before. They have not been deprived of calculus in high school math before. This is all new. This is all totally unproven. This is so dangerous as we have no idea what the consequences will be, good or bad. We are putting unfounded, undeserved faith in people like noneducator David Coleman who wrote the ELA standards. We are putting all our eggs in a soggy paper basket.
Math: Thousands of Utahns disagree with your assessment of what good math teaching should look like. You are entitled to your opinion, but I can tell you that my son’s friends’ mothers (of children who remained in public school when I took my son out to home school him two years ago) now tell me their children cry and hate school, and ask their mothers (who are not as willing) to please home school them also. This is tragic. And these mothers always say the children’s cries of discontent center on the bad “new” math– which is Common Core math. These are fifth graders.
Money: We took millions from the feds for their ed reforms– which specifically included Common Core and SLDS. Utah took these many millions in exchange for adoption of four federal education reforms. Part of the money, $9.6 million from the feds, built the student-snooping system they wanted, which we now call the Utah State Longitudinal Database System. As part of that SLDS grant, we agreed to PESC common data standards. This agreement is stated on page 4 of section 1 (page 20 on the PDF) of Utah’s 2009 ARRA Data Grant: “The UDA will adhere to standards such as… the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC)…”
“The State Core Model is a common technical reference model for states implementing state longitudinal data systems (SLDS). It was developed by CCSSO as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) adoption work with funding from the Gates Foundation…The State Core Model will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting (EDEN/EDFacts)…”
Those are their words, not mine.
Obama gave governors $53.6 billion from the “State Fiscal Stabilization Fund” contained in the federal stimulus. The money, used in exchange for the adoption of four federal ed reforms, was given conditionally: These reforms are detailed on the US Department of Education’s website. They are:
1.Adopt College-and-Career Ready standards [COMMON CORE] and high-quality, valid and reliable assessments [SAGE/AIR].
2.Develop and use pre-K through post-secondary and career data systems [SLDS].
3.Increase teacher effectiveness and ensure equitable distribution of qualified teachers. [FORCED REDISTRIBUTION]
4.Turn around the lowest-performing schools [ACCORDING TO THE FEDS' DEFINITION, NOT OURS].
How anyone can say with a straight face that the feds aren’t involved with Common Core, is beyond me. They even redefined the term “college and career readiness” as “standards common to a significant number of states” which is only Common Core, on their federal site.
As for right-wing rhetoric or left-wing rhetoric, there’s as much left-wing rhetoric condemning Common Core (tests and standards and student data snooping) as there is right-wing rhetoric, anyway.
And there are right wingers who praise it –or refuse to condemn it– (notably Jeb Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Gary Herbert) just as there are left-wingers.
Thanks again for talking and listening.
Christel – since you choose to post my responses – I am through trying to help you understand the REAL truth.
I appreciated your openness, which seemed so much more courteous and open-minded than other USOE and USSB representatives have been to the teachers and public who have asked to talk with them about Common Core.
I am sorry that you aren’t comfortable with others reading your responses. I feel people have a right to know what their board representatives really think and what they see as the truth, especially where their children are concerned.
As you know, all state school board correspondence is open to the public via GRAMA legal requests as well.
The Stop Common Core movement is gaining tremendous momentum and the proponents of Common Core seem to be slowing down. Some of the leading characters have been so slowed that they have been stopped in their tracks.
—David Coleman! The noneducator-businessman-leading architect of the Common Core, the one who dismissed the value of narrative writing and espoused letting informational text edge out classic literature in English classrooms— THIS David Coleman who is now president of the College Board, who is aligning college entrance exams to his Common Core– this is the man who is admitting he cannot push his Common Core agenda up the hill fast anymore, because of so much pushback.
But that’s not all. Look at what is happening all over the nation!
But listening to David Coleman and Mike Huckabee it becomes clear that the proponents have no intention of veering from their end goal: to hold complete local control in D.C. using the partnershipping of corporations and federal entities (neither of which have any authority over constitutionally state-held educational decisions).
Huckabee said, “Common Core is dead, but common sense shouldn’t be.”
What part of stealing local control away from those who have a constitutional right to it, makes sense to Huckabee? What part of constitutionally, locally-set education standards aligns with the top-down “let’s raise standards nationwide” movement that pretends to serve while it robs? Huckabee even said that it was once a state-led movement that was hijacked by others. Really? Show me the convention at which my state representative helped write Common Core. I’ve talked to Sen. Lee and Sen. Chaffetz and they were not invited. Neither did anyone from my state school board come to such an event. There was none. It was businessmen and elite D.C. clubs that pushed this thing from day one, with the full support of the Obama Administration.
Sadly, it is clear that Huckabee in no way has abandoned the Common Core philosophy; he just wants to rebrand it.
Isn’t it AMAZING though, that Common Core has become an offensive word to many –even to Huckabee?
Isn’t it amazing that Huckabee wants to get away from the word, and that the U.S. Secretary of Education never uses it (instead using the term “college and career ready standards”. This could be seen as evidence that honest people with persistent voices can succeed against the mainstream, evidence that heaven has helped us.
But Common Core, by any other name, is still the unconstitutional partnershipping of corporations and federal entities to steal power from us.
Don’t be fooled. Obama’s Blueprint for Education is still with us although it never uses the term “Common Core,” either. But it’s all there: the federally-pushed standards, the standardization of student data, the teacher controls, etc. etc. etc. A rose by any other name…
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.
For a 15-minute crash-course on the connection between Common Core and student data mining, watch this video by Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project:
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?”