Archive for the ‘Transparency Problems: Why Won’t State Leaders Answer Questions?’ Category
Utah’s Republican state delegates sent a clear message to the Governor, Utah legislators, and to the State Office of Education at Saturday’s GOP convention when 65% of the state delegates voted yes to support the resolution written by Utahns Against Common Core.
Utah’s delegates are calling on Governor Herbert and the Utah State School Board to withdraw from Common Core, and are calling on the Utah State Legislature to discontinue funding all programs in association with the Common Core Initiative.
If you missed the GOP convention, here’s what happened.
An ocean of people swarmed in from every corner of Utah to the South Jordan Expo Center Saturday to debate and vote upon the issues of the day. Present were the Governor and his bodyguard; legislators, activists, school board members; candidates for political offices, and 2,584 delegates. The swarm began before 7 a.m. and didn’t end until late in the afternoon.
At the Utahns Against Common Core booth there was a video loop showing the audience current, common core aligned textbooks that are approved for Utah schools. The booth also featured a handful of teachers and parents, answering questions about why they opposed Common Core. (The video that was looped is viewable here. For further analysis of these texts from a Utah mental health therapist’s view – see this video, too.)
There were more delegates clustered around the Utahns Against Common Core (UACC) booth than around any other, by a long shot. Many of the delegates signed the UACC petition, wore Stop Common Core buttons and stickers, and asked questions because of the conflicting (and may I point out, unreferenced) information coming from the State Office about Common Core.
I told delegates near our booth that I dislike the mandates of the common standards and I don’t believe for a minute that they are the solution to our educational problems. (It seems a no-brainer that it’s harmful, not helpful, to lessen the amount of classic literature that a child may read, and to delay the age at which students learn basic math algorithms, etc.)
But academics are not the key issue; academic problems can normally be fixed, but under Common Core there is not even an amendment process. These are copyrighted, D.C.-written, common standards.
Without a written amendment process, it’s a case of education without representation. It’s a case of giving up the ability to even debate what the standards for Utah children ought to be. It’s a case of allowing the federal government, and the philosophies (and money) of Bill Gates-Pearson Co., to micromanage local educational decisions.
Driving home, after four hours, I wondered if the resolution for local control would pass. It did not seem likely even though our resolution closely matched the Republican National Committee’s anti-common core resolution that had passed earlier this year in California.
But in Utah, the GOP committee had given our resolution an “unfavorable” rating, saying that the wording was inflammatory. The Governor was against us, having long been promoting Common Core and a related project, Prosperity 2020, very openly. The State Office of Education was against us and had been passing out pamphlets, fliers and stickers to “support common core” –and had sent mailers to delegates, telling them to support common core. (They used our tax money for this. Since when is tax money used to lobby for one side?)
And the media were generally against us. Both the Tribune and KSL had been covering this issue mostly from a pro-common core point of view.
So I was just thankful that we had gotten the opportunity to educate people at our booth. I hoped for, but didn’t expect, the miracle of the resolution passing.
Four hours later, I was completely stunned with the great news. Alisa, my friend and a state delegate, texted me one word: “PASSED!!!!”
Our resolution passed! It did match the feelings of a majority of Utahns. 65% of the elected state delegates in the State of Utah voted NO to Common Core.
It was a welcome surprise.
Delegate friends filled me in on the details of what I’d missed. I learned that the powers-that-be tried their best to muffle the resolution. They held it to the very end, after multiple speakers and presentations and other votes were held. Some even called for the meeting to adjourn before the resolution could be debated on the stage. There was a vote about whether to adjourn that was soundly defeated by the delegates.
Finally the resolution was debated. There were elecrifying speeches, for and against. Then there was the vote.
Sixty five percent voted for it to pass! That’s well over a thousand people, elected by their neighbors, from caucuses in every corner of Utah, who all said NO to Common Core. This is huge, huge news to teachers, school boards, parents, students, and politicians, regardless of which side of the argument you choose.
But it didn’t make the Tribune. It didn’t make the Deseret News. It didn’t make the Daily Herald or KSL.
Who knows why? Sigh.
Looks like we have to spread this one by social media, folks. There are powerful people who want to muffle the voice of WE, THE PEOPLE.
Let’s not let them get away with it.
The shortest, most important post I’ve written:
In addition to the Constitution’s 10th Amendment, a federal law called The General Educational Provisons Act (G.E.P.A.)
prohibits the federal government from directing education –very, very clearly:
“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…“
Read the rest here: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/20/1232a
Please ask an honest legislator to notice that Obama and Secretary Duncan openly promote Common Core –and use our taxes to give out grants for common core tests. Someone has to stop this.
Last night at your presentation on Common Core tests, you promised to direct me to references documenting the truth of your statement: that the new common core AIR/SAGE tests are written by Utahns, for Utahs, in Utah. I am writing to request a direct link to that documentation. I appreciate your response.
You also promised to answer questions after the meeting; however, when I asked you mine after the meeting, you turned away from me and began to speak to a principal instead. The question remains unanswered: will you please direct me to documentation of the claim that the common core standards, upon which this test is built, are truly legitimate and that they have been empirically tested, rather than being the experimental idea of unelected noneducators?
While the testing technology is indeed impressive, it reminds me of admiring a shiny new roof on a building built on quicksand. Admiring the roof seems a bit pointless. I’m asking you to prove we’re not on quicksand. Can you?
Last night, a few of us were asking whether student behavioral indicators would be tested. You smiled warmly and said the test would only cover math, English and science.
However, in HB15, the legislation that created space for these new common core computer adaptive tests, it says:
59 (d) the use of student behavior indicators in assessing student performance;
I was unsure what student behavior indicators were until I read the recent explanation of a licensed clinical psychologist, who explained that it’s literally anything– anything from mental health evaluation to sporting events to social habits to family status and that measuring behavioral indicators gives results-readers “godlike predictive ability” over that child. Since A.I.R. is a behavioral research agency before it’s an academic testing company, according to its own website, this concerns me greatly.
Please explain how Utah parents can rest assured that their children will not be tested and tracked concerning anything other than math, English and science in light of this legislation and in light of A.I.R.’s stated purpose.
I’m calling for a hogwash alert on today’s National Review article about Common Core.
The ironically titled The Truth About Common Core article cannot be taken seriously. It’s written without any links or references for its Common Core-promoting claims, and it’s written by two authors whose employers are largely funded by the main funder of all things Common Core.
Can anyone take seriously those who praise Common Core while being paid to do so?
The article makes “truth” claims that include the notion that Common Core is “more rigorous,” (where’s the proof?) and that the standards allow policymaking to happen locally. How can that be? The standards are written behind closed doors in D.C. The standards are copyrighted and are unamendable by locals. There is a 15% cap on adding to them, written into the ESEA Flexibility Waiver Request. And there is no amendment process; thus, no local control.
For anyone who has been living under an education reform rock, know this: Gates is the single biggest promoter and funder of Common Core, bar none.) So, Fordham’s and Manhattan Institute’s writers should not be expected to be objective about Common Core.
If it seems like practically everyone supports Common Core, Gates’ money is why. Bill Gates has said he’s spent $5 BILLION pushing (his version of) education reform. He’s bribed the national PTA to advocate for Common Core to parents; he’s paid the CCSSO to develop Common Core; and he owns opinion maker Education Week magazine. There’s a near-endless list of Gates’ attempts (very successful, I might add) to foist his vision of education without voter input. In 2004, Gates signeda 26 page agreement with UNESCO to develop a master curriculum for global teacher training. Robert Muller, the former assistant secretary general of the U.N. is the grandfather of the world core curriculum, the goal being to bring all schools in all nations under one common core curriculum.
The National Review writes that it is a ”right-of-center” organization, as if that claim is a “trust-me” pass. This is meaningless in Common Core land because, as Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project, has said, ”Opposition to Common Core cuts across the left-right spectrum. It gets back to who should control our children’s education — people in Indiana or people in Washington?”
But we should clarify that oodles of Democrats and Republicans sell or benefit from Common Core implementation. That is the top reason for the gold rush anxiety to promote the national standards. A secondary reason is lemminghood (misplaced and unproven trust).
Republican Jeb Bush is behind the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a nongovernmental group which pushes Common Core and is, of course, funded by Gates. Republican Rupert Murdoch owns not only Fox News, but also the common core implementation company Wireless Generation that’s creating common core testing technology. Democrat Bob Corcoran, President of GE Foundation (author of cap and trade and carbon footprint taxes to profit GE on green tech) and 49% owner of NBC also bribed the PTA to promote Common Core, and gave an additional $18 million to the states to push common core implementation. Corcoran was seen recently hobnobbing with Utah’s Republican Lt. Governor Greg Bell, business leaders in the Chamber of Commerce, and has testified in the education committee that the opponents of Common Core in Utah “are liars”. Meanwhile, Republican Todd Huston of Indiana got his largest campaign donation from David Coleman, common core ELA architect; then, after Huston was elected as an Indiana State Representative and placed on Indiana’s education committee, Coleman hired Huston to be on the College Board. They are both profiting from the alignment of and AP courses and alignment of the SAT to the Common Core. And of course, Huston’s listed on Jeb Bush’s controversial Foundation for Excellence in Education. Even my own Republican Governor Herbert of Utah serves on the elite executive committee of NGA, the Common Core founding group. He doesn’t make money this way, but he does make lots of corporations happy.
I could go on and on about the Common Core gold-and-glory rush. I have barely touched the countless Democrats who promote Common Core for gain. But I don’t want to be up all night.
So, on to the liberals and/or not-right wing radicals who oppose Common Core:
California Democrat/author Rosa Koire and respected educator like Diane Ravitch oppose Common Core as an untested academic and political experiment that increases the high-stakes of standardized testing. They see that Common Core is promoting unrepresentative formations of public-private-partnerships, and promotes teacher-micromanagement. Chicago history teacher Paul Horton says Common Core turns teacher-artisans into teacher-widgets; he also sees it as a Pearson anti-trust issue. Teacher Kris Nielsen has written “Children of the Core” and teacher Paul Bogush calls teaching Common Core sleeping with the enemy. Math teacher Stephanie Sawyer predicts that with Common Core, there will be an increase in remedial math instruction and an increase in the clientele of tutoring centers. Writing teacher Laura Gibbs calls the writing standards an inspid brew of gobbledygook. Anonymously, many teachers have published other concerns in a survey produced by Utahns Against Common Core.
Still, political funders of the standards and corporations selling its implementation try to get away with marginalizing the opposition. But it can’t be done honestly. Because it’s not a fight between left and right.
This battle is between the collusion of corporate greed and political muscle versus the individual voter.
It’s a battle between the individual student, teacher, or parent– versus huge public/private partnerships. That’s the David and Goliath here.
The Common Core movement is not about what’s best for children. It’s about greed and political control. A simple test: if Common Core was about helping students achieve legitimate classical education, wouldn’t the Common Core experiment have been based on empirical study and solid educator backing?
Did the authors of the Hogwash article really not know that Common Core wasn’t based on anything like empirical data but simply fluffed up on empty promises and rhetoric, from the beginning.
Where’s the basis for what proponents call ”rigorous,” ”internationally competitive,” and “research-based?” Why won’t the proponents point to proof of “increased rigor” the way the opponents point to proof of increased dumbing down? We know they are fibbing because we know there is no empirical evidence for imposing this experiment on students in America. The emperor of Common Core is wearing no clothes.
Many educators are crying out –even testifying to legislatures– that Common Core is an academic disaster. I’m thinking of Professors Christopher Tienken, Sandra Stotsky, Thomas Newkirk, Ze’ev Wurman, James Milgram, William Mathis, Susan Ohanian, Charlotte Iserbyt, Alan Manning, and others.
The National Review authors insist that Common Core is not a stealth “leftist indoctrination” plot by the Obama administration. But that’s what it looks like when you study the reformers and what they create.
First, let’s look at the Common Core textbooks. Virtually every textbook company in America is aligning now with Common Core. (So even the states who rejected Common Core, and even private schools and home schools are in trouble; how will they find new textbooks that reflect Massachusetts-high standards?)
Pearson’s latest textbooks show extreme environmentalism and a global citizen creating agenda that marginalizes national constitutions and individual rights in favor of global collectivism. The biggest education sales company of all the Common Core textbook and technology sales monsters on the planet is Pearson, which is led by mad ”Deliverology” globalist Sir Michael Barber. Watch his speeches.
He doesn’t just lead Pearson, the company that is so huge it’s becoming an anti-trust issue. Sir Michael Barber also speaks glowingly of public private partnerships, of political “revolution,” ”global citizenship” and a need for having global data collection and one set of educational standards for the entire planet. He’s a political machine. Under his global common core, diversity, freedom and local control of education need not apply.
Along with some of the gold-rushing colluders chasing Common Core-alignment product sales, there are political individuals calling educational shots, and these are without exception on the far, far left. And of these, the National Review is correct in saying that their goal to nationalize U.S. education has been happening since long before Obama came to power.
But they are wrong in saying that Common Core isn’t a road map to indoctrinating students into far left philosophy. Power players like Linda Darling-Hammond and Congressman Chaka Fattah ram socialism and redistribution down America’s throat in education policy, while Pearson pushes it in the curriculum.
It’s safe to say that Linda Darling-Hammond has as much say as anyone in this country when it comes to education policy. She focuses on “equity” and “social justice” –that is, redistribution of wealth using schools. Reread that last sentence.
Darling-Hammond has worked for CCSSO (Common Core developer) since long before the standards were even written. She served on the standards validation committee. She now works for SBAC (the Common Core test writer); she also consults with AIR (Utah’s Common Core test producer) and advises Obama’s administration; she promotes the secretive CSCOPE curriculum and more.
Study her further here to learn the groups she works for, what’s in the books she writes, how many times she quoted herself in her report for the U.S. equity commission, and what she said in last summer’s speech to UNESCO about the need to take swimming pools away from students.
So yes, there is an undeniable socialism push in Common Core textbooks and in the Department of Education.
The National Review’s authors claim Common Core won’t “eliminate American children’s core knowledge base in English, language arts and history.” By cutting classic literature by 70% for high school seniors, they are absolutely doing exactly that. The article says that Common Core doesn’t mandate the slashing of literature. Maybe not. But the tests sure will.
What teacher, constricted by the knowledge that her job is on the line, will risk lowering the high stakes student scores by teaching beyond what is recommended in the model curriculum of the national test writers?
And that’s the tragic part for me as an English teacher.
Classic literature is sacred. Its removal from American schools is an affront to our humanity.
Common Core doesn’t mandate which books to cut; the National Review is correct on that point; but it does pressure English teachers to cut out large selections of great literature, somewhere. And not just a little bit. Tons.
Informational text belongs in other classes, not in English. To read boring, non-literary articles even if they are not all required to be Executive Orders, insulation manuals, or environmental studies (as the major portion of the English language curriculum) is to kill the love of reading.
What will the slashing do to the students’ appreciation for the beauty of the language, to the acquisition of rich vocabulary, to the appreciation for the battle between good and evil?
We become compassionate humans by receiving and passing on classic stories. Souls are enlarged by exposure to the characters, the imagery, the rich vocabulary, the poetic language and the endless forms of the battle between good and evil, that live in classic literature.
Classic stories create a love for books that cannot be acquired in any other way. Dickens, Shakespeare, Hugo, Orwell, Dostoevsky, Rand, Marquez, Cisneros, Faulkner, Fitzgerald– where would we be without the gifts of these great writers and their writings? Which ones will English teachers cut away first to make room for informational text?
The sly and subtle change will have the same effect on our children as if Common Core had mandated the destruction of a certain percentage of all classic literature.
How does it differ from book burning in its ultimate effects?
Cutting out basic math skills, such as being able to convert fractions to decimals, is criminal. Proponents call this learning “fewer but deeper” concepts. I call it a sin. Common Core also delays the age at which students should be able to work with certain algorithms, putting students years behind our mathematical competitors in Asia.
For specific curricular reviews of Common Core standards, read Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s and Dr. Ze’ev Wurman’s math and literature reviews in the appendix of the white paper by Pioneer Institute. (See exhibit A and exhibit B, page 24.)
The National Review claims that the standards “simply delineate what children should know at each grade level and describe the skills that they must acquire to stay on course toward college or career readiness” and claim they are not a ceiling but a floor. This is a lie. The standards are bound by a 15% rule; there’s no adding to them beyond 15%. That’s not a ceiling?
The article claims that ”college and career readiness” doesn’t necessarily mean Common Core. Well, it does, actually. The phrase has been defined on the ed. gov website as meaning sameness of standards to a significant number of states. I would give you a link but this week, so oddly, the Department of Education has removed most of its previous pages. You can see it reposted here:
The article insists that Common Core is not a curriculum; it’s up to school districts to choose curricula that comply with the standards. Sure. But as previously noted: 1) all the big textbook companies have aligned to Common Core. Where are the options? 2) Common core tests and the new accountability measures put on teachers who will lose their jobs if students don’t score well on Common Core tests will ensure that teachers will only teach Common Core standards. 3) Test writers are making model curriculum and it’s going to be for sale, for sure.
The article falsely claims that “curriculum experts began to devise” the standards. Not so: the architect of Common Core ELA standards (and current College Board president) is not, nor ever has been, an educator. In fact, that architect made the list of Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform. A top curriculum professor has pointed out that the developers of Common Core never consulted with top curricular universities at all.
The article claims that states who have adopted Common Core could opt out, “and they shouldn’t lose a dime if they do” –but Title I monies have been threatened, and the No Child Left Behind waiver is temporary on conditions of following Common Core, and for those states who did get Race to the Top money (not my state, thank goodness) the money would have to be returned. Additionally, every state got ARRA stimulus money to build a federally interoperable State Longitudinal Database System. Do we want to give back millions and millions to ensure that we aren’t part of the de facto national database of children’s longitudinal school-collected, personally identifiable information?
The article states that the goal is to have children read challenging texts that will build their vocabulary and background knowledge. So then why not read more –not less– actual literature?
The article also leaves out any analysis of the illegality of Common Core. The arrangement appears to be illegal. Under the Constitution and under the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA) the federal government is restricted from even supervising education.
GEPA states: “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…”
And for those still believing the federal government isn’t “exercising direction, supervision or control” of the school system, look at two things.
1. The federal technical review of tests being mandated by the Department of Education.
2. The federal mandate that testing consoria must synchronize “across consortia,” that status updates and phone conferences must be made available to the Dept. of Education regularly, and that data collected must be shared with the federal government “on an ongoing basis”
3. The recent federal alteration of privacy laws that have taken away parental consent over student data collection.
Finally: the “most annoying manipulation tactic” award for the National Review Article is a tie between the last two sentences of the National Review article, which, combined, say, “Conservatives used to be in favor of holding students to high standards… aren’t they still?” Please.
Let’s rephrase it:
Americans used to be in favor of legitimate, nonexperimental standards for children that were unattached to corporate greed and that were constitutionally legal… Aren’t we still?
Arne Duncan: U.S. Secretary of Education
This is the third in a countdown series of introductions, a list of the top ten scariest people leading education reform in America. For number 9 and 10 click here.
Before I begin, let’s remember a few pesky laws that make it illegal for Arne Duncan’s Department of Education (as part of the Executive Branch) to tell any state what to do about any aspect of education. States, not the federal government, hold authority over education. Period.
Under 1) the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA law) and 2) the U.S. Constitution, the Department of Education has zero authority. You already know the Constitution gives states authority over education in the tenth amendment. But did you know that federal GEPA law states this?
“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”) Translation: the Department of Education has no authority and nobody really knows why it exists at all.
This is, in some circles, common knowledge.
So topping the list of reasons that U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan is on the “Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform” list is this: he’s doing the wrong thing –and he knows it.
SECRETARY DUNCAN’S MICROMANAGEMENT PLANS
“…We have tried to flip the traditional tight-loose relationship between the federal government and the states, where the federal government had been loose“
“…We have pursued a cradle-to-career agenda, from early childhood programs through postsecondary graduation… [the] final core element in our strategy is promoting a career-to-cradle agenda.”
Part of that agenda involves the creation of a school-centered rather than a family-centered nation. Duncan aims to make the schools the community center, to include health care clinics and after school programs and to extend school to fourteen hours a day, seven days a week. He insists that America needs to extend learning time and says, “we have to learn to think very, very differently about time. I think our school day is too short. I think our school week is too short. I think our school year is too short.”
- In a June 2009 speech Duncan showed his aim to centralize power over education through tracking and data collection:
“[No Child Left Behind] let every state set its own bar and we now have 50 states, 50 different states all measuring success differently, and that’s starting to change. We want to flip that.”
“Hopefully, some day, we can track children from preschool to high school and from high school to college and college to career. We must track high growth children in classrooms to their great teachers and great teachers to their schools of education.”
“Robust data gives us the roadmap to reform.” (Who exactly is the “us” in a country that constitutionally gives zero authority to the executive branch over education?)
- In 2010 speech to Unesco Duncan showed how he consciously –though illegally– grows the federal intrusion into states’ running of education:
“Our goal for the coming year will be to work closely with global partners, including UNESCO” –Wait a minute. What business does UNESCO have in my state’s right to educate? It’s almost unbelievable that Duncan dares say this stuff out loud. But it does get worse.
“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…”
Reread that quote. Then check G.E.P.A. law, above. Really, Mr. Duncan?
Duncan has also admitted that the Common Core Standards were not state-led: “President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments,” he said, adding, “America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform… To cite just one example, the department’s Race to the Top Program…”
–Quiet revolution is right. Virtually no one knows what Common Core really is.
In the most ironic line, Duncan called Common Core assessments the tests teachers have longed for. Seriously, Mr. Duncan. “Teachers will have the assessments they have longed for“? The truth is, teachers are lining up to sign a Dump Duncan petition because –the petition states– Duncan coerces states into using high-stakes tests and student test scores in the evaluation of teachers, as well as using test scores as a basis for closing schools; Duncan excludes and demoralizes teachers and discourages creative pedagogy, instead pushing assessments and “teaching to the test.”
- Most tellingly, we read Duncan’s Cooperative Agreement with the Common Core testing groups and we see even more micromanagement and data collection to come:
The Cooperative Agreement mandates that “the recipient [all the states under Common Core testing] will …provide updated, detailed work plans and budgets for all major activities… use and validation of artificial intelligence for scoring…. actively participate in any meetings and telephone conferences with ED staff… collaboration with the other RTTA recipient… be responsive to requests from ED for information… Comply with, and where applicable coordinate with the ED staff … working with the Department to develop a strategy to make student-level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis… foster synchronized development of assessment systems”
SECRETARY DUNCAN’S PRIVACY-KILLING FERPA ALTERATIONS
Secretary Duncan altered longstanding federal privacy law (FERPA) and loosened its parental consent rules and redefined its key terms. These alterations got his Department of Education sued by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, but for some reason, that doesn’t seem to be newsworthy. According to Khalia Barnes, the lead lawyer on the E.P.I.C. case, they’ve had virtually no press on the law suit.
She also told me that few people realize that it’s not just children who will be hurt by the alterations to privacy law. Any one, of any age, whose records are archived at any university that ever received federal funding, can have their data seen without their knowledge or consent.
The Department of Education has lied. It said that the FERPA alterations would improve student privacy, while the opposite is true. The regulations exceed the agency’s legal authority and expose students to huge privacy risks. The new rules permit educational institutions to release student records to non-governmental agencies without obtaining parents’ consent. The rules broaden the permissible purposes for which third parties can access students records. The rules also fail to safeguard students from the risk of re-identification.
Not newsworthy at all.
SECRETARY DUNCAN’S REDEFINITIONS OF TERMS
Next, let’s look at the terms that our U.S. Secretary of Education has had redefined to better suit his purposes:
1) COLLEGE AND CAREER READINESS. Did you know that ”college and career readiness” can now officially mean only one thing? It means having the same standards as other states. Odd! Check it out on the ed.gov website.
2) AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE – Did you know that an “authorized representative” has been redefined by the Dept. of Education (without Congressional approval) to expand privacy exemptions that had previously protected student privacy under FERPA law? And reinterpretations ”remove affirmative legal duties for state and local educational facilities to protect private student data.” Yes, the Dept. has been sued over this. Yet, ”authorized representative” can now mean anyone who wants to see student data, even “a contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom an agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions…” A volunteer can be “authorized” to see personally identifiable data without parental consent.
3) EDUCATION PROGRAM – Did you know that Sec. Duncan’s redefinition of “education program” now ”includes, but is not limited to” early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, postsecondary education, special education, job training, career and technical education, and adult education, “regardless of whether the program is administered by an educational authority.” That last part is almost funny. But not.
4) DIRECTORY INFORMATION – Sec. Duncan made sure it would be allowable to “nonconsensually disclose a studentnumber or other unique personal identifier” and that directory information could include a name; address; telephone listing; electronic mail address; photograph; date and place of birth; major field of study; grade level; enrollment status, dates of attendance; participation in activities and sports; weight and height; degrees, honors and awards received; and educational institution attended.
5) BIOMETRIC DATA - in the Dept. of Education’s definition of “personally identifiable information,” biometric data means a record of one or more measurable biological or behavioral characteristics that can be used for automated recognition of an individual. Examples include fingerprints; retina and iris patterns; voiceprints; DNA sequence; facial characteristics; and handwriting. That one wins the creepy award.
SECRETARY DUNCAN’S ROLE IN WEALTH REDISTRIBUTION
Of all the reasons Secretary Duncan is scary, the cherry on top is his role in the Obama wealth redistribution agenda. With the help of Congressman Fattah (PA) and Congressman Honda (CA) Sec. Duncan was an architect of the wealth redistribution program known as The Equity and Excellence Commission, which is sliding under the public radar disguised as education reform.
Congressman Fattah explained what he and Duncan and Honda created: “The Equity and Excellence Commission I worked with Congressman Honda to initiate and that has been established by Secretary Arne Duncan will begin to close the gap in resource distribution between rich and poor…” The commission presents “a big and bold new vision on the federal role in education by recommending transformations in school funding structures.”
While Duncan more often employs the term “social justice” than the term “wealth redistribution,” the documents of his Equity and Excellence Commission reveal that they are one and the same. And Duncan does push for both. At a University of Virginia speech, Duncan said: “Great teaching is about so much more than education; it is a daily fight for social justice.” At an IES research conference, he said: “The fight for quality education is about so much more than education. It’s a fight for social justice.”
FYI, social justice means governmentally-enforced financial equality; it means wealth and property redistribution.
We are not talking about philanthropy, compassionate, voluntary giving. We are talking about force.
Alisa, Renee and I have been doing more and more of these Google Hangout filming chats. So far we’ve interviewed Jenni White, Dr. Bill Evers, and Angela Weinzinger. Today Renee and Alisa said they wanted to interview me, to talk about what it was like to visit the Glenn Beck t.v. show as a guest. So we did.
There may be someone in America who has studied the education data collection scheme more than Jenni White of Restore Oklahoma Public Education. But I haven’t found that person. Here’s a video interview that Alisa, Renee and I filmed with Jenni this week.
What is the State Longitudinal Database System?
Why does every state track every citizen with the SLDS?
What is the P20 system?
Why did the federal government pay every state many millions to build the system?
Why did they require states to build interoperable systems if they were not to share data outside the state?
How do schools, prisons, hospitals and military agencies now share data?
Is this really just career path assistance or is it citizen surveillance?
I received permission to post this letter from a woman in Illinois who is trying to rally others in the state to stand up against Common Core. If you live in Illinois, please contact her at StopcommoncoreIllinois@yahoo.com
Thank you, Heather.
Dear People of Illinois,
Recently I’ve done some research on Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and have questions regarding how CCSS will affect the students, taxpayers, teachers, and parents of Illinois. I hope you do your own homework and see these questions demand to be answered by our State government!
First, where can we see Illinois’ cost analysis of what CCSS will cost us, the taxpayers? Currently, Illinois is one of the top states with the highest property taxes. There are projected numbers of upwards of $700 million to fully implement CCSS in Illinois alone. (Not to mention on going cost of yearly testing, keeping computers up to date for the testing, and teacher training.) Where will this money come from, in our already struggling state? (http://www.accountabilityworks.org/photos/Cmmn_Cr_Cst_Stdy.Fin.2.22.12.pdf)
Second, what if CCSS is not working for our students, where is the amendment process? As a parent where will my voice be heard if I am unhappy with the way these standards are being implemented? Currently, from my research, we have no amendment process; we are locked in to CCSS with no way out and no voice! This is education without representation! Please note these standards have not been tested in real classrooms with real students and are considered “experimental”!
Third, those in favor of CCSS claim that these standards were state-led, if that were the case where was the public invitation to discuss these standards and why can we not see who is currently writing the science and social studies standards? Why the secrecy if these standards are so excellent? Also, when the Illinois State Board of Education approved CCSS they claim, in the minutes of the meeting, that “Parents, teachers, school administrators and experts from across the country together with state leaders….have led the effort to develop a common core of state standards.” And, “Teachers have been a critical voice in the development of the standards.”
In my research I find this to not be the case. If it is the case, can you please let me know when the teachers of Illinois came together to have a “critical voice” in the development of CCSS? Teachers of Illinois, were any of you invited in this process? (Link to minutes: http://web1.isbespr1.isbe.net/board/meetings/2010/june/rules.pdf)
Fourth, Race to the Top application was turned in January 19, 2010 which committed our state to CCSS, in order to receive $400 million dollars and this was five months before the standards were even complete (and the testing portion is yet to be completed). The standards were completed on June 2, 2010 and the Illinois State Board of Education approved these standards just 22 days later on June 24, 2010. In the minutes of their meeting it clearly states that there is “no legislative action” needed. Did the legislation even know this was taking place back in 2010?
Who would approve to implement something without even seeing what it was they were implementing? It could be compared to getting married without meeting your mate before hand! Ludicrous! (http://www.isbe.state.il.us/racetothetop/pdf/phase1/application.pdf)
Fifth, the Constitution assigns education to the states, not to the federal government. Also, the federal General Education Provisions Act states, “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United State to exeerciseany direction, supervision or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any education institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks or other printed or published instructional materials by any education institution or school system…” In light of this please explain why our state has agrees to intense micromanagement by the federal government under Common Core testing? We are the “state” and why do we have no say? (http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf)
As you can see I have a few alarming concerns about the CCSS (Not to mention the fact that CC lowers math standards in Illinois, that there will be less fiction used, that there will be a rather large data base gather on our students that parents don’t have to know about, that teachers will also have more data tracking, which will foster the “teach to the test” mentality, and that even now more standards are being written behind closed doors!)
My hope is to see the legislature of Illinois write a bill that brings the control of state standards back to state control! Yes, the purse strings of Washington are powerful, but these are our children and should not be subject to people in Washington deciding what is best for them.
I see Common Core as education without representation, which flies in the face of what America was founded on!
Do your own homework! Spread the word! Call the government (reps, senate, school boards) and demand answers!
Thank you for your time,
—- —- —-
Watch these videos: Stop Common Core: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coRNJluF2O4
Hot off the press– a NASBE press release that lets us know Common Core science standards are on their way to local schools –unless parents, teachers and legislators rise up and say no.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Steve Berlin
March 7, 2013
703-684-4000 , ext. 1118
NASBE Launches Next Generation Science Standards Policy Initiative
Arlington, VA — As states work to implement new math and English standards, policymakers from 26 lead state partners are participating in the development of the voluntary Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for K-12 education, which are now nearing completion. The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) is embarking on a yearlong initiative to provide state board members with information, analysis, and resources about the new standards so they are fully prepared to make the best, evidence-based decisions for their states. The project is supported by a $319,000 grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York.
NASBE has been a leader in the effort to assist states as they adopt and implement the Common Core State Standards, and it will apply that experience to help state board members understand the development, history, and future of the Next Generation Science Standards. The development of the science standards – now in their second draft, with a final version expected in March – is being spearheaded by Achieve in conjunction with the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
“State education policymakers, like many others, are working hard to answer the national call for greater emphasis on science, and the Next Generation Science Standards will provide them with a critical tool to do this,” said NASBE Deputy Executive Director Brad Hull. “But the existence of the NGSS is just a first step. The state board members who must adopt them need targeted resources and opportunities to discuss the meaning, content, and policy implications of the standards in order to effectively do their jobs. NASBE, in partnership with other education stakeholders, including those involved in the NGSS development as well as other state-level policy organizations, is uniquely positioned to provide this assistance to state boards.”
The NGSS are focused on four areas: physical science; life science; earth and space science; and engineering, technology, and practical applications of science. The standards, which were built upon on a vision for science education established by the Framework for K-12 Science Education, published by the National Academies’ National Research Council in 2011, seek to move science instruction from an inch-deep, mile-wide approach to one that is centered on deeper learning and helping students grasp concepts that stretch across traditional scientific disciplines.
During the year, NASBE will host regional symposia at which state board of education members can develop adoption plans and conduct policy audits to identify other policy areas affected by the NGSS, such as assessments, teacher professional learning, and educator licensure. In addition, NASBE staff will provide state board members with online and print resources, webinars, and toolkits – all with a special emphasis on communications – to help inform policymakers and other local, district, and state-level stakeholders.
The National Association of State Boards of Education represents America’s state and territorial boards of education. NASBE exists to strengthen State Boards as the preeminent educational policymaking bodies for citizens and students. For more, visitwww.nasbe.org.
Across the nation, many people are beginning to raise concerns about implementing Common Core in our schools.
Wondering what you can do? Here are some suggestions that add to what you’ll find in Truth in American Education’s action center tool kit.
1) Check this map of the U.S. to see if legislative educational liberty movements are happening in your state.
2) Check this spreadsheet to see if there are people fighting common core in your state and join them.
3) If nothing is happening at all in your state, do an internet search for Race to the Top application (name your own state) and find the application from Jan. 2010
4) Go to your state school board’s minutes site and find out at which meeting the CCSS were approved (June 2, 2010 the standards were finalized… states such as Illinois approved them 22 days later!)
5) Like “Truth in American Education“ because this is a main hub for national cooperation.
6) Start speaking to friends, teachers and family about common core — many use Facebook FB, Twitter, Pinterest, email, etc.
7) Call or write your state representatives.
8) Sign your state’s educational liberty petition or start one. If you need assistance, ask people from other states for help.
9) Attend local and state school board meetings and visit or call your state superintendent to find out who actually cares about this issue. Sample questions to ask:
- Where can I read our state’s cost analysis for implementing Common Core and its tests?
- What is the amendment process for Common Core standards if we find out they are not working for us?
- Where can I see for myself the evidence that Common Core standards have been proven to be of superior quality and that they are internationally benchmarked?
- Where can I see for myself evidence that Common Core’s transformations (deleting cursive, minimizing classic literature, moving away from traditional math, etc.) –will benefit our children?
- What is the American process of representation of individuals in the Common Core education and assessments system?
- Does it seem good that the meetings of the standards writers (the CCSSO/NGA) are all closed-door meetings?
- I read that there is a 15% cap on a state adding to the Core; so what do we do if we need to add a whole lot more to actually prepare our children well?
- Although I have been told that Common Core is state-led, I missed the invitation to discuss this before it was decided for me and my children; please explain the analysis and vetting process for the upcoming national science and social studies standards.
- The Constitution assigns education to the states, not to the federal government. Also, the federal General Educational Provisons Act (GEPA) states: “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…“ In light of this, please explain why our state has agreed to intense micromanagement by the federal government under Common Core testing.
RECLAIM EDUCATIONAL LIBERTY
Many people –including bipartisan U.S. groups and freedom fighters in other nations– are working to save educational liberty. We are waking up to shake off the chains that have settled over education.
Please leave a comment if you know of updates to this chart.
This week, the vivacious president of the Alabama Federation of Republican Women spoke at the Wetumpka Tea Party meeting.
Here’s a video of the event.
“Would you like Obama in your child’s classroom? How about Bill Ayers?”
In a related forum, Alabamians United for Excellence in Education (AUEE) put out the following press release:
Sharon Sewell Email: email@example.com Phone: 334/324-0035
Donna Burrage Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 205/553-2888
CITIZENS TASK FORCE RESPONDS TO GOP HOUSE LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
Asks Alabama Legislature to Include Legislation that Returns K-12 Education to Parents
BIRMINGHAM, AL: A new citizens group, formed to return K-12 education to parents, responded quickly to the Alabama House Speaker’s press release about the legislative priorities of the Alabama Republican House members and specifically about the absence of a bill to protect Alabama values and states rights in education. The group, Alabamians United for Excellence in Education (AUEE), met on January 18th to discuss mutual concerns of how to protect Alabama children from becoming part of a national database, mandated by Common Core, and their curriculum being controlled by the federal government. The group feels that a bill to preserve state education sovereignty and to protect our children from becoming part of a national database and tracked without parental permission should be included as a top priority by the House.
Members of the citizens task force include parents, teachers, representatives from conservative organizations, and other concerned individuals who find that state’s rights and Alabama values are in jeopardy, and that Alabama has ceded its constitutional rights to decide what values and subjects our children study in schools.
Spokesperson and retired teacher Sharon Sewell, who served as a member of Alabama’s textbook committee, stated: “We support the House’s focus on protecting the constitutional rights of Alabama citizens, but we notice the absence of what we consider the top priority — preserving the constitutional rights of parents and the state to decide what values and subjects our children study in school. We are concerned about the transformational overhaul of K-12 now being implemented in our schools; and textbooks, which do not reflect Alabama values, are being aligned to Common Core. Our bill is the only bill under discussion that can return education decisions to Alabamians.”
Kathy Peterson, another member of this citizens task force, stated, “While I applaud the idea of the Speaker of the House appointing a ‘Commission on State Rights and Alabama Values’ to solicit input from the public, the meetings were not publicly advertised, so attendance was scarce.” Peterson stated she attended one meeting and commission members reported that the repeal of Common Core to return parental authority and local control was brought up at every meeting. “Therefore,” she stated, “I can’t understand why a bill to defund and repeal Common Core is not backed by the Speaker.”
Elois Zeanah, president of the Alabama Federation of Republican Women, stated: “I’m surprised that the Speaker did not choose to include repealing Common Core as a priority, especially since the school flexibility bill the Speaker cited does nothing to protect Alabama values, parental rights or state sovereignty in education. It’s urgent that the legislature withdraw from Common Core this year since Common Core will be fully implemented in 2014. We hope the House Caucus will add this goal to their priority list to protect Alabama citizens from the federal government.”
—- —- —-
Go, Fight, Win, Alabama!
To Heck With Diamonds:
Common Core is Forever
By Jenni White
Reposted with permission from: http://restoreoklahomapubliceducation.blogspot.com/2013/02/to-heck-with-diamonds-common-core-is.html
Restore Oklahoma Public Education (ROPE) has been closely following the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) cost issue, since NO ONE in charge of public education in Oklahoma – including the purse string holders at the state legislature – have been able to tell Oklahomans what the Common Core will cost Oklahoma taxpayers.
I wrote an article last month that was published in the American Thinker titled “The Ed Tech Scam”, to shed light on the fact that the CCSS have become an unfunded state mandate – specifically in the area of technology requirements.
Yes, the CCSS lovers say,
“Adopting new materials isn’t really a cost of the Common Core, it’s just a cost in education of providing relevant materials to students that are there anyway.”
However, when you have at least one Oklahoma Superintendent honestly reporting (to a national education magazine) how pinched he is to get technology in place prior to the roll out of the Common Core tests, we are inclined to suspend belief.
“Once you get into a testing situation, you have to be able to support it without interruption,” said Mr. Kitchens, who added: “I do not think this is going to be a cheap exercise at all.”
As we’ve reported previously, legislators cemented the Common Core State Standards into Oklahoma law in order to get Race to the Top funds without even a cursory review of draft forms of the standards as there were none available at that time. This would seem a clear violation of the public trust.
Legislators to taxpayers,
“Hey guys, you’re responsible for funding these, but we have no idea exactly what’s in them or how much they’ll cost the state or what they’ll do to Oklahoma education, but trust us.”
Obviously the trust wasn’t warranted. Currently, fourteen states have some form of legislation against the CCSS.
Clearly all is not well in CCSS-land.
Indiana recently threw out their Chief For Change (Jeb Bush/Foundation for Educational Excellence) state Superintendent Tony Bennett in favor of relatively unknown candidate Glenda Ritz, mainly because of flap over the cost and effectiveness of the Common Core State Standards. Directly on the heels of this upset comes legislation to force the Indiana state legislature to examine the cost of the Common Core before continuing their implementation.
Tony Bennett has not left the building, however. He now presides over the Florida State Department of Education, where, interestingly, the Florida state Board of Education is questioning whether or not the Florida education juggernaut is ready to roll out and administer the PARCC tests because of their cost.
“One hundred million won’t get done everything we need to get done,” Barbara Jenkins, superintendent of Orange County schools, told the board.
Hoosiers have already caught on to the fact that their former State Supe has gone to another state and told Floridians they just can’t afford the reform measures he was deposed for pushing inside their borders. I’m not sure how this could inspire confidence in any Common Core state.
Then there’s the fact that so much of today’s ‘education reform’ efforts have been tied to private funding by Bill Gates.
In a clear, well-researched article written for the Heartland Institute on this topic, Joy Pullman quotes Betty Peters’ (Alabama State School Board member) concerns,
“A lot of private foundations are making decisions that would normally be left up to a public institution that would be accountable to the taxpayers.”
As often as we have heard the word “accountability” from our Oklahoma State Department of Education, this should be an eye-opener.
How in the world can the Council of Chief State School Officers or the National Governor’s Association (architects of the Common Core State Standards, funded in part by the Gates Foundation) be held accountable to Oklahoma taxpayers for education ‘reform’ efforts such as the CCSS? They are all copyrighted so they can’t be modified yet the CCSSO and the NGA have a disclaimer;
“NGA Center and CCSSO do not warrant, endorse, approve or certify the information on this site, nor do they make any representation as to the accuracy, completeness, efficacy, or timeliness of such information. Use of such information is voluntary on your part. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process or service does not constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation or favoring by NGA Center and CCSSO.”
Then there is the Jeb Bush factor. As information trickles into the public domain reporting the methods in which the Foundation for Educational Excellence writes educational policy through Janet Barresi and other Chiefs for Change, jaws should drop. Why should Oklahoma taxpayers be supporting Florida education reforms – especially those shown not to be as successful as first advertised?
This session in Oklahoma, Senator Clark Jolley has drafted a bill (SB447) which will usher in yet another new education ‘reform’ measure. MORE new tests! Yes, Oklahoma has chosen to believe the CCSSO’s verdict that most students will fail the PARCC ‘assessments’ when they are to be instituted in 2014.
Certainly, Oklahoma’s public school students cannot fail these tests with so much riding on them (the A-F school designation for one). Consequently, not only is Senator Jolley advocating that we must buy another set of tests (formative tests) to be given up to four times per year before the summative PARCC tests come on line, but that we should support this plan by cementing it into law – as with all other Race to the Top education reforms Oklahoma is currently implementing – without RTT funds.
Why must these tests be written into law? Every teacher gives (or should give) formative tests over content taught – something akin to chapter tests. These allow teachers to see whether or not students are ‘getting it’ in time to re-teach or re-direct learning to improve concept understanding. Certainly, this type of testing is better than summative (high stakes) type testing, but why should Oklahoma teachers have another law to follow?
Oklahoma teachers have enough on their plate without being mandated to follow another type of test. Even formative tests can be misused in such a way as to force teachers to teach to the test and isn’t that all PARCC tests are doing?
It has come to my attention this week that a company called Bellwether Education Partners supplies this type of “transitional national achievement test”.
I did a little research on Bellwether and found they work with such organizations as Chiefs for Change and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
We know Dr. Barresi is a Chief for Change. One must wonder if there is a connection here as with the other education ‘reforms’ to which she’s been linked. Again, Oklahoma should not be implementing education ‘reforms’ simply because they are being done elsewhere or because another foundation is willing to ‘help’ Oklahoma with their implementation.
From what source is the money going to materialize to pay for these new tests? We haven’t even figured out how to pay for the PARCC tests. It must be taxpayer funded – all government is. Maybe that’s why Dr. Barresi has asked for a whopping $75 to $100 million in extra funding for next year. The press release sent out by her office lauding Senator Halligan and Senator Ford – from whom the funding requests were submitted – quotes Senator Ford as saying,
“We have three areas in education we must address, including statutory requirements to fund programs such as medical benefits, additional appropriations to pay for reforms we’ve already enacted, and additional funding at the local level that school boards can use to address specific needs in their individual districts,” said Ford, R-Bartlesville.
Why are you asking taxpayers to fund these reforms AFTER you enacted them into LAW, Senator Ford? Why should taxpayers be jumping up and down to fund ‘reforms we’ve already enacted’ when they haven’t originated in Oklahoma, were never read by those who enacted them, never had any functional testing demonstrating their efficacy and have been shown not to work in Florida from where they did originate?
Certainly, taxpayers deserve an answer to that question.
In closing, several interesting polls have come out recently regarding the Common Core.
Whiteboard Advisors, Education Insider “conducts an anonymous survey of a small group of key education influential (policymakers, though leaders, and association heads) to get their thoughts and commentary about the context of the current debate and possible outcomes.”
Their survey for February 2013 that polled ‘insiders’ on the Common Core show that support for PARCC testing is falling. In addition, 87% of respondents say they expect more states to drop out of the Common Core Assessment Consortia (like Alabama and Utah), “as they start to get a fuller picture for the implementation costs of assessments and professional development and get very unhappy about what they have signed up for in a budget constrained environment.”
77% of respondents believe schools will not have enough bandwidth to meet the Consortia’s recommended specifications in time for the tests to come on line.
The 2013 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, shows that only a maximum of 24% of teachers and principals either believed the Common Core would improve student achievement or prepare students for college and the workforce (page 76).
So why are we doing this ed ‘reform’ thing again?
I get the sneaky suspicion it’s not about kids…
—– —– —–
Thank you, Jenni White and R.O.P.E.
After a recent town hall meeting, I stood in line to mention to my visiting Congressman that the Department of Education had gone behind Congress’ back to alter FERPA (family privacy law) that circumvented parental consent and broadened definitions of who gets access to personal student data, including nonacademic and family data.
This is, of course, dangerous to student privacy and ultimately, to citizen autonomy.
The Congressman said he was interested in more information about what the Department of Education had done. So, here is what I have shared, and I share it here, too, for anyone who’s interested in parental consent laws or student privacy protection.
The interplay of the several Dept. of Ed. actions reveal to me that a main reason the Executive Branch alloted so much money toward incentivizing Common Core to states, is this fact: common, national tests will collect so much data, to be perusable by the federal government –and others.
“Others” will include public-private-partnerships (PPP’s) as modeled by global-education sales giant Pearson. Pearson’s CEA, Michael Barber –who is quoted often and praised by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan– says that education standards should be the same globally, and that global data must be perused “without borders”. See Pearson’s new global education data bank .
Arne Duncan is aware of the limitations of the federal role in educational decision making and data collection, legally, in America.
Still, he meddled. He altered the Family Education Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations to benefit the Dept. of Education’s testing/data collection goals; the FERPA alterations will continue to benefit corporations, notably Pearson; and will link to various state and federal agencies under the Data Quality Campaign. Any “authorized representative” who claims to be a “stakeholder” –even a school “volunteer” can access the now loosened rules about seeing personally identifiable information (PII) unless a school refuses to collect it in the first place. You will notice that the Federal Register speaks out of both sides of its mouth about loosening and preserving privacy rights. It is impossible to do both, and the Dept. of Education has not done both.
It loosened the requirement that school systems previously were under; previously, schools had to get parental consent (or above 18-yr-old students’) consent, before sharing data. It also altered definitions of terms including “directory information” and “educational agency.” Very dangerous stuff.
The alterations by the Dept. of Education really need a context, to understand the motives, and why the Dept. didn’t wait for Congressional approval.
So, in addition to recommending you read the incredibly boring but vital Federal Register vol 76.232: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-02/html/2011-30683.htm which laid out the alterations to FERPA– in addition to that, I’m also recommending reading:
1. A link to the lawsuit filed by EPIC (Electronic Privacy Info Center) against the Dept. of Ed: http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html
2. A “Cooperative Agreement” – another super boring but vital “governmentspeak” document that shows the Sec. Arne Duncan micromanagement and oversight that the Dept. of Ed plans to have over citizen data, via national test consortia: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf
3. A link to the National Data Collection Model’s recommended data points, for schools to collect (including health-care history, family income, nicknames, family voting status, gestational age of students at birth, student ID number, and bus stop times among other pieces of information on the student and the families. http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary
4. The official White House push for “robust data” for tracking of citizens (students): http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/ed_data_commitments_1-19-12.pdf and by Sec. Duncan: http://www2.ed.gov/news/speeches/2009/06/06082009.html
5. The SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System) information. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/index.asp SLDS was bought with ARRA Stimulus money; every state bought one and they must be interoperable; they track students/citizens using personally identifiable information that includes biometric, psychometric, nonacademic and academic info.
6. A link to the Race to the Top application, since it shows that one of the points necessary was the SLDS people-tracking database. http://www.schools.utah.gov/arra/Uses/Utah-Race-to-the-Top-Application.aspx The No Child Left Behind waiver pushes the same thing. See: http://truthinamericaneducation.com/federalized-education/facts-about-the-no-child-left-behind-waivers/ and http://pdflike.com/read.php?url=http://www.nsba.org/SchoolLaw/Issues/NCLB/NSBAFederalGuidanceDocumentsandPublications/ESEA-Flexibility-Request.pdf
7. Another link to how FERPA alterations of the USDE allow DNA, fingeprints, voiceprints and other biometric records to be used to identify persons. http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf This link states: “’Biometric record,’ as used in the definition of “personally identifiable information,” means a record of one or more measurable biological or behavioral characteristics that can be used for automated recognition of an individual. Examples include fingerprints; retina and iris patterns; voiceprints; DNA sequence; facial characteristics; and handwriting.”
By stealth, and by financial incentivization to states (increasingly to school districts directly, in states that rejected Common Core data collection tests), it appears that the Department of Education used school systems to create a strong citizen surveillance web, better known as “robust data.”
It turns out that the Constitutional rights-saving fairies are off duty. They’ve left it up to you and me.
We, the People, must call the Dept. of Education on this.
The Council of Great City Schools
The Council of Great City Schools (CGCS) is paid by the Gates Foundation to promote Common Core. CGCS makes videos such as ”From the Page to the Classroom: Implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English Language Arts and Literacy”
CGCS also made this video http://vimeo.com/51933492 to supply the background for the Common Core Standards. (But there’s no mention in these videos that The Council of Great City Schools received many millions of dollars to promote Common Core, from Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation.)
Jane Robbins, Emmett McGroarty of American Principles Project
Compare those two CGCS videos to this short video series put out by the American Principles Project, together with Concerned Women of Georgia. Watching them together is quite an education. http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/stop-the-common-core/
WHAT WE KNOW:
1. ALL UTAHNS ARE TRACKED VIA SCHOOLS USING A FEDERALLY PROMOTED AND PAID-FOR SLDS.
I have an email from the State School Board that says there is no possibility for my student to opt out of being tracked. When a parent signs his/her child up for school, the information is gathered and added to, throughout the life of that child because of the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS). The SLDS was paid for by the federal government and all states accepted the money and built this interoperable system. It works with the P-20 (preschool through workforce) council, which is appointed by the Governor. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/state.asp?stateabbr=UT
2. THE TRACKING OF CITIZENS GOES BEYOND THE SCHOOL DISTRICT AND STATE OFFICE OF EDUCATION.
The Utah Data Alliance, directed by John Brandt, links six state agencies to share the data collected by schools. These include workforce services; the system is a socialist program to align education and workforce and manage the people as “human capital,” one of their favorite phrases. According to a John Brandt online powerpoint, federal agencies also receive access to the data in the Utah Data system. According to the Joanne Weiss, chief of staff of the Dept. of Education, federal agencies are mashing data and are going to be “helpful” to states “wishing” to do the same.
3. INTEROPERABILITY WAS REQUIRED OF ALL SLDS SYSTEMS FOR FEDERAL PURPOSES.
4. REGULATIONS HAVE BEEN ALTERED WITHOUT CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL CONCERNING PRIVACY LAW.
The Dept. of Education changed definitions and broadened allowances of the Family Education Rights Privacy Act. Though they have been sued for this move, the fact remains that without parental consent, researchers, federal agencies and any “authorized” volunteer can look at the collected data, which includes biometric information (personally identifiable).
5. DATA POINTS TO BE COLLECTED BY STATES HAVE BEEN “RECOMMENDED” BY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT:
According to the National Data Collection Model, the government should collect information on health-care history, family income, family voting status, gestational age of students at birth, student ID number, and bus stoptimes among other pieces of information on the student and their families. You can view the National Data Collection Model database attributes (data categories) at http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary
6. DEPT. OF EDUCATION COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS CONTRACTED WITH TESTING CONSORTIA MANDATE INFORMATION SHARING
This means that there is a triangulation of tests, test data and federal supervision (all highly illegal under G.E.P.A. law and the 10th Amendment). http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW:
1. John Brandt has not revealed the exact number of people or agencies in Utah (or elsewhere) who have access to the personally identifiable information collected by schools on individuals. He does not return emails or phone calls.
2. At what point does “allowance” to share information turn into “must” share information? The FERPA alterations right now only removed the requirement for schools to keep the data on students private without parental consent. They have not yet mandated that schools must share the data without parental consent. But we also don’t know which identified information is being shared with which agency in Utah, or which agency outside Utah. We just don’t know.
3. What effect will the Common Core (national) testing have on the data collection and ease of persual by the federal agencies? Is there a “Cooperative Agreement” between Utah’s test writer, the American Institutes for Research, and the federal government, as there is with the other testing consortia SBAC and PARCC?
Of all the things that the Truth in American Education site has posted, my favorite thing is that title.
Truth in American Education. The title itself teaches a fact most Americans still don’t realize: that there are loads of lies parading as education reform improvements that need exposure via verifiable, well researched facts. It does not matter if good people with good intentions, merely parroting information received from other organizations, tell those lies in all sincerity. Sincerity does not trump truth. Facts are still facts and the consequences for all of us are huge for aligning our school systems with such lies.
Our children’s futures are at stake, yet few parents stand up. Why? For those of us who are naturally nonconfrontational and trusting, the title, Truth in American Education, is a wakeup call that we should ask questions, verify claims and demand references for promises being spoken by authority figures in education reform today. We should know our educational rights under the Constitution and know our rights as parents. Don’t take unreferenced promises as answers.
Speaking of which: today I became aware of a 204-page document put out by the Utah State Office of
It’s called “A Complete Resource Guide On Utah’s Core Standards.”
You can access the 204-pager here:
Dr. Sandra Stotsky, an education scholar and whistleblower, one who is often quoted at the Truth in American Education website, happens to have read the 204-page Utah document, “A Complete Resource Guide On Utah’s Core Standards.”
Stotsky previously served on the official Common Core Validation Committee and was among those who refused to sign off that the Common Core standards were, in fact, adequate.
Of ”A Complete Resource Guide On Utah’s Core Standards,” Stotsky states, ”lies and unsupported claims“ abound in the document.
She also writes:
“the writers didn’t even get the committee I was on right. I was appointed to the Validation Committee, not the Standards Development Committee, and along with the one mathematician on the Validation Committee (and 3 others) declined to sign off on the final version of Common Core’s standards.
The writers keep repeating ad nauseam that Common Core was a state-led effort. Everyone knows most of the effort was financed by the Gates Foundation and that Gates chose the standards writers who had no qualifications for writing K-12 standards in either ELA or math (David Coleman and Jason Zimba).
… I frankly can’t spend time on people who can’t document with citations their claims. What country was used for international benchmarking? Where’s the evidence?
The document simply repeats the false claims made by CCSSO from the beginning.”
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Despite not being willing to spend time rebutting a resource guide that fails to document its claims with citations, Dr. Stotsky took the time to bust 5 myths that the document contains:
1. Myth (Lie): Common Core was a state-led initiative.
Truth: Common Core was funded and directed behind-the-scenes by the Gates Foundation at every step. Gates funded NGA and CCSSO to serve as the front organizations, selected key people to be on the standards development committees (mostly from testing agencies), and funded many organizations, including the Fordham Institute and the PTA, to promote its adoption. Fordham was funded in particular to ensure that Common Core’s math and ELA standards (no matter what their condition) were given a high grade in a comparison review so that most states would accept the lie that CC’s standards were fewer, clearer, and more in-depth than whatever they had. Most states were willing to accept this lie because the USDE dangled RttT funds before their eyes. Gates and the USDE worked together on the incentives to states. Gates also funded the writing of many states’ applications for RttT funds by hiring consultants to write the applications for them.
2. Myth (Lie): Common Core’s standards were developed by the states—or by experts.
Truth: CC’s standards were written by people chosen by the Gates Foundation to write the standards: David Coleman and Jason Zimba, in particular. Coleman had no credentials for writing ELA standards, had never taught at any grade level, and was not a literary scholar. (Nor had his associate—Susan Pimentel. She had taught only in Head Start and had no degree in English.) Zimba, too, had never taught in K-12 mathematics, and had no experience in developing or writing math standards.
3. Myth (Lie): Common Core’s standards are internationally benchmarked.
Truth: Common Core’s standards were never internationally benchmarked because they couldn’t be. They are about two grades lower than what most other countries accept as “college readiness”. No countries have ever been mentioned by CCSSO as “benchmarking” countries.
4. Myth (Lie): Common Core’s standards prepare students for college or university.
Truth: Jason Zimba told the Massachusetts Board of Education in March 2010 that college readiness in mathematics means readiness for admission to a non-selective community college. (This is recorded in the minutes of the meeting.)
5. Myth (Lie): Common Core’s ELA standards promote literary study.
Truth: Coleman’s 50/50 mandate requires English teachers to teach to 10 informational reading standards and 9 literary standards each year. His mandate reduces literary study because English teachers must add informational texts to their curriculum. There is no research base showing that an increase in informational reading in the English class leads to greater college readiness. Just the contrary. The evidence, historical and empirical, shows that a focus on reading and discussing complex literature in high school leads to college readiness.
What more can I possibly add to Dr. Stotsky’s clear corrections to the Utah State Office of Education?
–Maybe an acronym translator:
ELA – English Language Arts
NGA – National Governors’ Association (the group that with CCSSO created Common Core)
CCSSO – Council of Chief State School Officers (the group that with NGA created Common Core)
USDE (U.S. Department of Education)
RTTT – Race To The Top (a competitive grant opportunity that the federal government used to incentivize Common Core adoption to the states)
PTA (Parent-Teacher Association, a national group that promoted Common Core because Bill Gates paid them to)
California Republicans and Democrats are coming together to fight a common problem: the Common Core takeover of education.
At the Californians United Against Common Core website (CUACC) you can purchase Orlean Koehle’s book, “Common Core: A Trojan Horse for Education Reform” and see the growing list of Californian individuals and organizations opposing the Obama-backed initiative:
Eagle Forum of California – Orlean Koehle, President
Eagle Forum of Long Beach – Jeanne Goodin, President
Eagle Forum of Sonoma County – Carol Pascoe, Vice President
Pacific Justice Institute – Brad Dacus, President
Pacific Research Institute – Lance T. Izumi
David Geer – City Council Member Modesto
Redding Tea Party – Erin Ryan
Angela Weinzinger – President of Travis Unified School Board
Rosa Koire – Director of postsustainabilityinstitute.org – democratsagainstUNAgenda21.com
Nina Pellegrini – Californians For Property Rights
Heather Gass – President CitizensTownHall.org and East Bay Tea Party
‘COMMON CORE’ STRIPS LOCAL POWER ON EDUCATION
By U-T San Diego – Jennifer Kabbany
Changes are headed to your child’s school — big ones — and they’re not good.
The federal government has mounted a massive effort to control what students are expected to learn, how they are to be tested, what they will be tested on, and so forth.
These changes are called “Common Core State Standards,” but any time the feds try to run anything, it never turns out well. Yet the folks in Washington think they know best what and how to teach Southwest County kids? Yikes.
But the changes are afoot. California schools chief Tom Torlakson, in an announcement last week, stated that with the state budget fiasco averted, education officials can now focus on fully implementing these so-called common core standards. Education leaders in other states are taking similar measures.
Meanwhile, longtime Murrieta Valley Unified School District Trustee Paul Diffley shares my concern and has voiced grave reservations about the impending changes at recent school board meetings and to local parents.
Problem No. 1, Diffley said in an interview last week, is that parents don’t even really know it’s happening.
“Oh, it’s not on the radar, and that’s what’s scary,” he said. “I have mentioned this to parents, and they look at me and say, ‘What is common core?’”
Bureaucrats have billed common core standards as a way to align what students learn nationally, so everyone is on the same page, so to speak. Both Diffley and I agree, however, it’s more about the federal government controlling schools and what students are taught.
Once common core is instituted, “school boards and local superintendents will be largely meaningless, and what we have to say about curriculum, and what we have to say about the particular needs of particular students, will be meaningless,” Diffley said, adding that’s a big problem.
“Students in Murrieta are not the same as students in Compton, students in the Silicon Valley, or students in Mississippi or Louisiana,” he said.
The common core academic changes proposed also hurt the learning experience, Diffley said, referring to their emphasis on nonfiction for English classes at the expense of literature and creative writing.
“We are going to lose a lot of fiction, where the core of rich vocabulary is learned,” he said.
What’s more, common core math standards eliminate Algebra I in the eighth grade. Instead, it will be taught in ninth grade. Another change pushes division from fifth to sixth grade.
“They have an overall lack of rigor,” Diffley said. “It’s the dumbing-down of education.”
People need to contact lawmakers and make a big deal about this, before it’s too late.
Contact Jennifer Kabbany at Jennifer.Kabbany@gmail.com
Thanks to Jennifer Kabbany for permission to repost her article here.
The following is published anonymously to protect the educator(s) who are sharing this information.
“Recently certain teachers were selected to attend Common Core training sessions. We were divided according to subject.
We were subjected to “groupthink.”
We were given an article called “Making the Common Core Come Alive!” It is published by an organization called “Just ASK” and it came from that organization’s October 2012 newsletter. The author of the article is Heather Clayton Kwit, who is the principal of Mendon Center Elementary School in Pittsford Central School District, New York.
The article’s main purpose at the top of the article says COMMON CORE MIND SHIFTS. We had to read part of the article and then answer questions about our “feelings.”
Here are the seven mind shifts we had to read about in the meeting:
1. “The goal of curriculum should not be the coverage of content, but rather the discovery of content.” It goes on to say “If done well, Common Core will elevate our teaching to new heights, and emphasize the construction of meaning, while deepening our understanding of our students.”
2. “A deep understanding of the content to be taught is paramount.”
3. “In our classrooms, it is the students’ voices, not the teachers’, that are heard.”
4. “We are preparing our students to do the work without us.”
5. “We are educating our children for an unknown future.” It also says “these skills can then be translated into new or novel situations, without the teacher needing to guide the work.”
6. “We have a responsibility to help each student reach higher.”
7. “We can’t ignore the evidence before us.” It goes on to say the standards were created using an extensive body of evidence.
The concluding paragraph says, “In conclusion, we have the innate ability to change our mindset if it no longer helps us accomplish our goals. Our current beliefs are grounded in the prior knowledge we’ve gained through our administrative and teaching experiences, our lives as students, and our collaboration with educators. Our beliefs impact all that we do, how we act and react, and the potential we see in others. When we can successfully shift our mindset, we are ready to form new lines of thinking and abandon old habits. By doing so, we have successfully positioned ourselves to do the work required by the Common Core.”
Here are the seven questions we had to answer in writing about our feelings about each mind shift (NOTE: these questions were created by OUR system):
1. How would you explain the differences between the discovery of content and the coverage of content?
2. How would you describe the payoff for teachers who demonstrate deep and flexible understanding of the content to be taught?
3. What do you see as the role of the teacher and the students in a classroom filled predominately with student talk?
4. What benefits to you see for students as we begin to teach them to do the work without us?
5. Why would it be important for teachers to shift their thinking about the purpose and method of their practice as they work with students?
6. How will the standards support teachers as they meet the needs of both fragile and accelerated learners?
7. As outlined in this section of the text, what do you see as important pieces of evidence that can’t be ignored? Why should this evidence be considered valuable.
As you can see, this is what teachers are dealing with. So right now, these “reading coaches” from elementary schools are training teachers to be Common Core people in their schools. [Someone] stated that next year our system hopes to fund 19 Common Core IP’s (Instructional Partners). Some of these 19 will be from the “reading coaches” in elementary schools and some will be selected from the secondary level.
Probably, the people who “shift their minds” the best will be the ones selected.”
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Thank you to the educator(s) who shared this information with us anonymously here.
The official Common Core websites make the program sound good. The Department of Education promotes it. The purveyors of Common Core implementation guides make it sound magnificent. Many educators have said they support it.
At the same time, research groups, think tanks, parent groups, university professors and increasingly, more and more teachers, stand against it. So who’s to believe? How can you get to the truth?
Truth is truth, no matter what story the spinners may spin about Common Core. The repetitve use of Common Core’s favorite words, “rigorous” and “benchmarked” and “state-led” and “college ready” cannot alter reality.
But, rather than repeat myself further, and rather than to ask you to read hundreds of articles and reviews others have written, I have a new approach today.
I’m offering you an open book test.
Do the research for yourself. You will most likely find that Common core is a shaky experiment that dilutes good education, invades data privacy, robs states of autonomy, breaks the law (General Educational Provisions Act, and 10th Amendment to the Constitution) and it’s about to break the taxpaying public.
This is like one of those little craft kits you can buy at the county fair. The bulk of the work has been done for you; just put the pieces together and call it your own.
Welcome to A Common Core Open Book Test:
•Is the Common Core Initiative legal?
See: General Education Provisions Act Law (GEPA law): “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” http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/20/1232g
See: U.S. Constitution- 10th Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html
• Are the Common Core standards really un-amendable and copyrighted?
- Who are the sole developers of Common Core?
•How serious are the privacy issues involved in Common Core tests?
EPIC lawsuit against Dept of Ed. http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html
Fox News http://youtu.be/wVI78lPCFfs
Reader-friendly explanation: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/christel-swasey-responds-to-brenda-hales/
SLDS (state longitudinal database system) http://nces.ed.gov/forum/datamodel/Information/faq.aspx
UTREX grant that meshes data all the way up to feds: http://nces.ed.gov/Programs/SLDS/state.asp?stateabbr=UT (also see John Brandt’s online powerpoint, page 6).
National Data Collection Model database attributes http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary “Assurances” here:
Federal supervision, triangulation of tests (illegal under G.E.P.A. law) http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf
•Are the Common Core math and English standards themselves helping or hurting education for kids?
- Has a budget been created or a cost analysis been done?
•Has Common Core been led by states or by the federal government?
http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/debunking-misconceptions-the-common-core-is-state-led/ (reader friendly)
http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/the-common-core-lie/ (less readable but provides links to prove it was not state led)
See the Race to the Top grant – federal incentivization of Common Core: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CDIQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.schools.utah.gov%2Farra%2FUses%2FUtah-Race-to-the-Top-Application.aspx&ei=PSQDUaKkLvCWyAGb8YDACw&usg=AFQjCNFk2icoHCsO-TViXtbkFHJQWizg5Q&sig2=4re2ypxeoPF7RuhE00opug&bvm=bv.41524429,d.aWc (page 28 Utah agreed to Common Core in this federal document before public or legislative vetting had taken place)
Exit strategy: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/12/a-national-education-standards-exit-strategy-for-states
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Finally, a motives check:
Ask yourself: who are the people standing against the Common Core? Are they gaining financially from it? Well, I am one of the fighters, and I’m not gaining. I receive not a penny, nor ever will, for this work. I deliberately reject offers of ads on this blog, so that readers can –I hope– trust it as a labor of love from a parent and teacher, and not a labor of personal gain. Why spend hundreds of hours writing to legislators, school boards, parents and members of the media to fight against Common Core’s continued implementation?
Next, ask yourself this: why do many of the loudest proponents of Common Core never reference their claims? They claim grandeur for these standards, but nothing is verified, nothing is solid. Also, many proponents happen to be corporations that are making a lot of money to implement texts and tools for the Common Core. (Bill Gates’ Microsoft. The Pearson company’s lobbyists and Pearson company’s CEA Sir Michael Barber. Even the national PTA received $2 million from Gates to promote Common Core.) And lastly, ask yourself this: why is there no transparency or clarity, and why the secretive meetings, of the CCSSO –the developers of the standards; and why is there no amendment process for a principal, parent or teacher who sees a problem with these national standards?
Indiana legislators are in the middle of a huge decision. Will they vote for or against Indiana Senator Scott Schneider’s bill to withdraw Indiana from Common Core?
Indystar scholar/reporter Andrea Neal writes: ”…the biggest reason to oppose Common Core has nothing to do with policy considerations and everything to do with quality. The standards are inferior to what Indiana already had in place. They are hard to understand. Yet teacher training, course materials and student testing must all be based on them.
…One need only read the new standards to spot glaring problems. They’re wordy, redundant and poorly organized. Some of the language leaves your head spinning. For example, Grade 6 students are to “write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence” by using “words, phrases and clauses to clarify the relationships among claim(s) and reasons.”
Compare that to the clarity and specificity of the old Massachusetts state standards, which were considered the nation’s best:
“Write brief research reports with clear focus and supporting detail” or “write a short explanation of a process that includes a topic statement, supporting details and a conclusion.”
Great article. Read it here: http://www.indystar.com/article/20130130/OPINION04/301300309/ and here: http://www.courierpress.com/news/2013/jan/30/state-can-do-better-than-common-core/?print=1
From Gretchen Logue, Missouri Education Watchdog:
“I would have thought astute business people would have realized a long time ago that you shouldn’t sign on to any public school plan that had no price tag, had no specifics and would be controlled by private corporations held unaccountable to the taxpayers whose money they were using.
Would the Chamber of Commerce endorse such a plan in private industry? Would they support a business plan that had no budget, no oversight? Would they endorse a construction project with no blueprint and only promises of grandeur?
Of course not. Then why is the Chamber endorsing CCSS? The processes used and the product promised by CCSS is what I described above. If the Chamber endorses such pie in the sky promises of CCSS that have no research to back them up, and the Chamber thinks THAT is common sense, Indiana is in deep trouble.” -Gretchen Logue, Missouri Education Watchdog, commenting on an Indiana Barrister editorial.
That ridiculous editorial is here: http://www.indianabarrister.com/archives/2013/01/indiana_chamber_show_common_sense_on_common_core.html,
Gretchen Logue also points out that the editorial insinuates taxpayers should like the fact that private corporations now have authority “to own the copyright to the standards and assessments used in teaching their children…and if a parent or a school district should find some of these items objectionable, they have no due process to stop using it in their schools.”
Full blog post here: http://www.missourieducationwatchdog.com/2013/01/common-core-wars-heating-up-in-indiana.html
Tiffany Mouritsen, another Utah mother against Common Core, has been researching a very important aspect of Common Core, the American Institutes for Research (AIR).
AIR is the Utah School Board’s unfortunate choice for national Common Core testing. Millions and millions and millions of our tax dollars are going to A.I.R. right now.
And for what? Federally promoted tests that align to unamendable standards written by a questionable research group to cost us endless amounts of tax money, to stress out our kids, to tightly control our teachers, and to make nobody (okay, a handful of replaceable politicians and a load of educational product-selling corporations) actually smile.
AIR markets its values, which includes promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual agendas for teens, and publicizes its client list (George Soros and Bill and Melinda Gates, of course, are listed) –on the AIR website. Check it out for yourself. http://www.air.org/focus-area/human-social-development/?id=138
Read Tiffany’s review, here. http://sunlightandstars.blogspot.com/2013/01/utah-american-institutes-for-research.html
Read Utahns Against Common Core’s review, here. http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/is-the-usoe-the-most-subversive-utah-agency/
A new Heartlander article by Joy Pullman raises some very big questions for school districts that do not have the money, the computers, bandwidth, or IT staff to administer Common Core tests. It seems that “strapped states must soon pitch money at a new, complicated testing program” that is “likely to make their schools look bad”.
The article asks:
1. Where will the new national testing groups get money once federal grants run out, six months before the tests appear in classrooms?
2. Can testmakers and states handle the technical problems of creating and administering ambitious, online tests?
3. Will states tolerate higher passing score requirements?
The article quotes a survey of “education insiders” with at least one respondent noting that both the PARCC and SBAC testing consortia operate with such opacity that it is hard to know where things stand.
Full Article: http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2013/01/28/unwritten-tests-present-major-common-core-obstacle
“Giving students problems to solve for which they have little or no prior knowledge or mastery of algebraic skills is not likely to develop the habit of mind of algebraic thinking. But the purveyors of this practice believe that continually exposing children to unfamiliar and confusing problems will result in a problem-solving “schema” and that students are being trained to adapt in this way. In my opinion, it is the wrong assumption. A more accurate assumption is that after the necessary math is learned, one is equipped with the prerequisites to solve problems that may be unfamiliar but which rely on what has been learned and mastered. I hope research in this area is indeed conducted.”
Full text posted at Education News: http://www.educationnews.org/k-12-schools/developing-the-habits-of-mind-for-algebraic-thinking/
Developing the Habits of Mind for Algebraic Thinking
by Barry Garelick
The idea of whether algebraic thinking can be taught outside of the context of algebra has attracted much attention over the past two decades. Interestingly, the idea has recently been raised as a question and a subject for further research in a recent article appearing in American Mathematical Society Notices which asks, “Is there evidence that teaching sense making without algebra is more or less effective than teaching the same concepts with algebra?” I sincerely hope this request is followed up on.
The term “habits of mind” comes up repeatedly in discussions about education — and math education in particular. The idea that teaching the “habits of mind” that make up algebraic thinking in advance of learning algebra has attracted its share of followers. Teaching algebraic habits of mind has been tried in various incarnations in classrooms across the U.S.
Habits of mind are important and necessary to instill in students. They make sense when the habits taught arise naturally out of the context of the material being learned. Thus, a habit such as “Say in your head what you are doing whenever you are doing math” will have different forms depending on what is being taught. In elementary math it might be “One third of six is two”; in algebra “Combining like terms 3x and 4x gives me 7x”; in geometry “Linear pairs add to 180, therefore 2x + (x +30) = 180”; in calculus “Composite function, chain rule, derivative of outside function times derivative of inside function”.
Similarly, in fourth or fifth grade students can learn to use the distributive property to multiply 57 x 3 as 3 x (50 + 7). In algebra, that is extended to a more formal expression: a(b + c) = ab + ac.
But what I see being promoted as “habits of mind” in math are all too often the teaching of particular thinking skills without the content to support it. For example, a friend of mine who lives in Spokane directed me to the website of the Spokane school district, where they posted a math problem at a meeting for teachers regarding best practices for teaching math.
The teachers were shown the following problem which was given to fifth graders. They were to discuss the problem and assess what different levels of “understanding” were demonstrated by student answers to the problem:
Not only have students in fifth grade not yet learned how to represent equations using algebra, the problem is more of an IQ test than an exercise in math ability. Where’s the math? The “habit of mind” is apparently to see a pattern and then to represent it mathematically.
Such problems are reliant on intuition — i.e., the student must be able to recognize a mathematical pattern — and ignore the deductive nature of mathematics. An unintended habit of mind from such inductive type reasoning is that students learn the habit of inductively jumping to conclusions. This develops a habit of mind in which once a person thinks they have the pattern, then there is nothing further to be done. Such thinking becomes a problem later when working on more complex problems.
Presentating problems like the button problem above prior to a pre-algebra or algebra course will likely result in clumsy attempts at solutions that may or may not lead to algebraic thinking. Since the students do not have the experience or mathematical maturity to express mathematical ideas algebraically, algebraic thinking is not inherent at such a stage.
Specifically, one student answered the problem as 1 x (11 x 3) + 1, which would be taken as evidence by some that the child is learning the “habit” of identifying patterns and expressing them algebraically. Another student answered it as 4 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 34.
Rather than establishing an algebraic habit of mind, such problems may result in bad habits. It is not unusual, for example, to see students in algebra classes making charts for problems similar to the one above, even though they may be working on identifying linear relationships, and making connections to algebraic equations. By making algebraic habits of mind part of the 5th-grade curriculum in advance of any algebra, students are being told “You are now doing algebra.” By the time they get to an actual algebra class, they revert back to their 5th grade understanding of what algebra is.
In addition, the above type of problem (no matter when it is given) is better presented so as to allow deductive rather than inductive reasoning to occur.
“Gita makes a sequence of patterns with her grandmother’s buttons. For each pattern she uses one black button and several white buttons as follows: For the first pattern she takes 1 black button and places 1 white button on three sides of the black button as shown. For the second pattern she places 2 white buttons on each of three sides of one black button; for the third 3 white buttons, and continues this pattern. Write an expression that tells how many buttons will be in the nth pattern.”
The purveyors of providing students problems that require algebraic solutions outside of algebra courses sometimes justify such techniques by stating that the methods follow the recommendations of Polya’s problem solving techniques. Polya, in his classic book “How to Solve It”, advises students to “work backwards” or “solve a similar and simpler problem”.
But Polya was not addressing students in lower grades; he was addressing students who are well on their way to developing problem solving expertise by virtue of having an extensive problem solving repertoire — something that students in lower grades lack. For lower grade students, Polya’s advice is not self-executing and has about the same effect as providing advice on safe bicycle riding by telling a child to “be careful”. For younger students to find simpler problems, they must receive explicit guidance from a teacher.
As an example, consider a student who stares blankly at a problem requiring them to calculate how many 2/15 mile intervals there are in a stretch of highway that is 7/10 of a mile long. The teacher can provide the student with a simpler problem such as “How many 2 mile intervals are there in a stretch of highway that is 10 miles long?” The student should readily see this is solved by division: 10 divided by 2. The teacher then asks the student to apply that to the original problem. The student will likely say in a hesitant voice: “Uhh, 7/10 divided by 2/15?”, and the student will be on his way. Note that in this example, the problem is set in the context of what the student has learned — not based on skills or concepts to be learned later.
Giving students problems to solve for which they have little or no prior knowledge or mastery of algebraic skills is not likely to develop the habit of mind of algebraic thinking. But the purveyors of this practice believe that continually exposing children to unfamiliar and confusing problems will result in a problem-solving “schema” and that students are being trained to adapt in this way. In my opinion, it is the wrong assumption. A more accurate assumption is that after the necessary math is learned, one is equipped with the prerequisites to solve problems that may be unfamiliar but which rely on what has been learned and mastered. I hope research in this area is indeed conducted. I hope it proves me right.
Barry Garelick has written extensively about math education in various publications including The Atlantic, Education Next, Educational Leadership, and Education News. He recently retired from the U.S. EPA and is teaching middle and high school math in California.
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Thanks to Barry Garelick for permission to post his article here.
I just did an Internet search using the term “common core implementation books” and got over eight million hits.
Corporations including Pearson, Microsoft and thousands of little mom and pop textbook writers you never heard of, seem to realize that Common Core implementation is the gold rush of this decade.
If the Common Core was honestly good for American education, maybe I could understand asking taxpayers to go more deeply into debt to pay and pay and pay… for all the new teacher “professional development,” all the new software and hardware and endless consumables that implementation of national standards demands.
But taxpayers, parents and teachers, do you understand that Common Core is glutting corporate America while harming true literacy and numeracy?
But the truth is still the truth, no matter what story the spinners may spin about Common Core. All the shiny, colorful marketing for Common Core, all the repetitious uses of Common Core’s favorite phrases, “rigorous” and “benchmarked” and “state-led” and “college ready” cannot alter reality: common core is devastation to American education, privacy and autonomy.
With that introducation, please read Jenni White’s article in “American Thinker” on the subject:
The Educational Tech Scam. By Jenni White of ROPE (Restore Oklahoma Public Education)
The reason I’m reposting this article is that there are many things happening in schools that parents may not feel comfortable with, but most do not speak up because they don’t know their rights over their own children.
Many schools administer something called the “SHARP” survey. Locally, here in Heber City, it’s done in schools. But you can opt out.
SHARP is an in-your-face survey that asks very detailed, intimate, and intrusive questions, without attaching names to the results. So what could be wrong?
Proponents of “SHARP” or ”Communities That Care” or other survey-based youth data collection instruments claim that the survey is a necessary way to assess whether children are involved in drugs, sex, alcohol, violence, or mental ill health.
Others say that these types of surveys may do more harm than good, by introducing children to the ideas of many deviant behaviors they would otherwise not have known about, and/or should be learning about from their parents in a loving, trusting environment rather than on a bubble sheet in a classroom. Others also say that embedded in the language of the surveys are values that may not match those of the parents. (For example, some surveys I have seen do equate gun ownership with gun violence rather than realizing that many homes have guns for protection, hunting and to demonstrate 2nd Amendment rights. See: http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/10-reasons-not-to-adopt-communities-that-care-ctc/ )
Children may not have the courage to tell school staff they would like to opt out, but you can send your school a letter to let your wishes be known at the beginning of the school year. Then your child will not be allowed to take the survey.
With that intro, here is Morgan Olsen’s article on your parental rights, with links to laws you can point to when you go to your school district with concerns.
What are my parental rights?
Published at Utahns Against Common Core website January 24, 2013. | By Morgan Olsen | Reposted here with thanks to Morgan Olsen.
When faced with incorrect school policies and practices, parents can easily feel overwhelmed and powerless. Throughout my Common Core research, I have gathered a few tidbits of law that can help you re-establish your parental rights in the education of your child. Exercise regularly your God-given right to advocate for your child’s best interest, and remind schools and government agencies that your child’s unique needs are better served with a parental representative over a hired one. No amount of social planning, exorbitant spending or teacher training can provide a better representative than an emotionally attached lifelong parent who’s most basic instinct and sacred duty is to lovingly protect, nurture, and guide their child. Regularly claim your God-given right and duty to advocate for your child’s best interest as their primary representative. For as the old saying goes, “Use it or lose it.”
Right to review Curriculum (United States Code, Title 20 1232h)
1232h Protection of pupil rights
(a) Inspection of instructional materials by parents or guardians
All instructional materials, including teacher’s manuals, films, tapes, or other supplementary material which will be used in connection with any survey, analysis, or evaluation as part of any applicable program shall be available for inspection by the parents or guardians of the children.
Limits on Survey, Analysis, Evaluations, or Data Collection (United States Code, Title 20 1232h)
(b) Limits on survey, analysis, or evaluations
No student shall be required, as part of any applicable program, to submit to a survey, analysis, or evaluation that reveals information concerning—
(1) political affiliations or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent;
(2) mental or psychological problems of the student or the student’s family;
(3) sex behavior or attitudes;
(4) illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
(5) critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships;
(6) legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers;
(7) religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or student’s parent; or
(8) income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program), without the prior consent of the student (if the student is an adult or emancipated minor), or in the case of an unemancipated minor, without the prior written consent of the parent.
Here is a brochure to help teach your children to say NO to these types of questions.
United States Code, Title 20 1232c
(c) Surveys or data-gathering activities; regulations
Not later than 240 days after October 20, 1994, the Secretary shall adopt appropriate regulations or procedures, or identify existing regulations or procedures, which protect the rights of privacy of students and their families in connection with any surveys or data-gathering activities conducted, assisted, or authorized by the Secretary or an administrative head of an education agency. Regulations established under this subsection shall include provisions controlling the use, dissemination, and protection of such data. No survey or data-gathering activities shall be conducted by the Secretary, or an administrative head of an education agency under an applicable program, unless such activities are authorized by law.
Activities prohibited without prior written consent (Utah Code Title 53A Section 302)
(1) Policies adopted by a school district under Section 53A-13-301 shall include prohibitions on the administration to a student of any psychological or psychiatric examination, test, or treatment, or any survey, analysis, or evaluation without the prior written consent of the student’s parent or legal guardian, in which the purpose or evident intended effect is to cause the student to reveal information, whether the information is personally identifiable or not, concerning the student’s or any family member’s:
(a) political affiliations or, except as provided under Section 53A-13-101.1 or rules of the State Board of Education, political philosophies;
(b) mental or psychological problems;
(c) sexual behavior, orientation, or attitudes;
(d) illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
(e) critical appraisals of individuals with whom the student or family member has close family relationships;
(f) religious affiliations or beliefs;
(g) legally recognized privileged and analogous relationships, such as those with lawyers, medical personnel, or ministers; and
(h) income, except as required by law.
(2) Prior written consent under Subsection (1) is required in all grades, kindergarten through grade 12.
Here is a brochure to help teach your children to say NO to these types of questions.
Right of the Parent to raise their child without undue government interference (Utah Code Title 62A Chapter 4a Section 201)
(1) (a) Under both the United States Constitution and the constitution of this state, a parent possesses a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody, and management of the parent’s children. A fundamentally fair process must be provided to parents if the state moves to challenge or interfere with parental rights. A governmental entity must support any actions or allegations made in opposition to the rights and desires of a parent regarding the parent’s children by sufficient evidence to satisfy a parent’s constitutional entitlement to heightened protection against government interference with the parent’s fundamental rights and liberty interests.
(b) The fundamental liberty interest of a parent concerning the care, custody, and management of the parent’s children is recognized, protected, and does not cease to exist simply because a parent may fail to be a model parent or because the parent’s child is placed in the temporary custody of the state. At all times, a parent retains a vital interest in preventing the irretrievable destruction of family life. Prior to an adjudication of unfitness, government action in relation to parents and their children may not exceed the least restrictive means or alternatives available to accomplish a compelling state interest. Until the state proves parental unfitness, the child and the child’s parents share a vital interest in preventing erroneous termination of their natural relationship and the state cannot presume that a child and the child’s parents are adversaries.
(c) It is in the best interest and welfare of a child to be raised under the care and supervision of the child’s natural parents. A child’s need for a normal family life in a permanent home, and for positive, nurturing family relationships is usually best met by the child’s natural parents. Additionally, the integrity of the family unit and the right of parents to conceive and raise their children are constitutionally protected. The right of a fit, competent parent to raise the parent’s child without undue government interference is a fundamental liberty interest that has long been protected by the laws and Constitution and is a fundamental public policy of this state.
(d) The state recognizes that:
(i) a parent has the right, obligation, responsibility, and authority to raise, manage, train, educate, provide for, and reasonably discipline the parent’s children; and
(ii) the state’s role is secondary and supportive to the primary role of a parent.
(e) It is the public policy of this state that parents retain the fundamental right and duty to exercise primary control over the care, supervision, upbringing, and education of their children.
Michelle Malkin is determined to wake America up to recognize what harm Common Core is doing to American K-12 education.
Most parents don’t even know what Common Core is.
In part II of her analysis of the Common Core, a nationalized education program heavily promoted, overseen and incentivized by President Obama’s administration, Malkin emphasizes the fact that the Common Core’s “cheerleaders’ claim that their agenda came from the bottom up is false. Flat-out false.”
She says that although the Washington, D.C., board of education “earned widespread mockery this week when it proposed allowing high school students — in the nation’s own capital — to skip a basic U.S. government course to graduate,” that this proposal ”is fiddlesticks compared to what the federal government is doing to eliminate American children’s core knowledge base in English, language arts and history.”
Read Malkin’s article: http://michellemalkin.com/2013/01/25/rotten-to-the-core-part-2-readin-writin-and-deconstructionism/
For full effect, this article really needs to be read out loud.
Eduschuyster exposes some ugly truths about corporate edu-opportunism.
Full Text Here: http://edushyster.com/?p=1653#more-1653
Minneapolis: Land of 10,000 Rephorm Miracles
The Twin Cities’ Venture Academy is already raising expectations—not to mention a boatload of cash—despite the fact that the school hasn’t opened yet.
‘Tis the season for miracles and today I give you a miraculous one indeed. Imagine a school so excellent, so innovative that it has succeeded in raising expectations and boosting achievement before its doors have even opened. Where is this miracle occurring? Reader: it’s time to squeeze into your ski pants and slip the insulator over your wine box. We’re headed to Minneapolis, or as I like to call it, the Land of 10,000 Rephorm Miracles.
2 Cool 4 School
Today the Rephorm Express is making but a single stop: the Twin Cities’ Venture Academy. Alas we can’t go inside to see the excellence as the school won’t officially open its doors until August 2013, but breathe in the frosty air, reader, and the scent is unmistakable: audaciousness. Now hater, I know what you’re thinking: how can a school be handed a gold star before it admits a single student? Meet my edu-visionary friend Bill Gates, who just named named Venture one of 20 winners of the Next Generation Learning Challenges award, which identifies breakthrough school models, because next generation learning knows no boundaries.™
Also, we know that Venture is different because of its totally cool job titles. Whereas old school union-stifled public schools are filled with space occupiers with titles like “LIFO lifer” and “clock watcher,” Venture Academy has a Chief Learning Officer AND a Chief Entrepreneurship Officer. And the stuff they do at the school is way cooler and more innovative than the achievement gap widening that happens at a failing public school—or at least it will be when Venture actually opens. They don’t “teach,” reader, they “transfer” and “coach.” And forget about old school educating—Venture is about Growing Good People™ and Try-Measure-Learn-Iterate-ing™. And how cool is this? During all-school assemblies, students will be encouraged to celebrate “marvelous mistakes” by sharing weekly failures and what they’ve learned.
Did I mention that Venture Academy is hiring? Old, union-stifled teachers need not apply though. Venture is only interested in what Chief Learning Officer Kerry Muse describes on his blog, Blend My Learning, as the “MacGyvers” of education: mission-driven, able to think on his feet and solve complex problems in resourceful and creative ways, and as a scientist he also has in-depth content knowledge. If you’re baffled by this particular pop culture reference allow me to translate: using his Swiss Army Knife and knowledge of a few common scientific principles, the innovative educator at Venture Academy “MacGyvered” a solution to what had long seemed like an intractable problem: poverty, which, by the way, is not an excuse.
The Next Big Thing
But will tricked out job titles and a mad entrepreneurial ethic really be enough to ensure that Venture Academy is able to prepare poor minority students for college? Absolutely, reader. You see Venture embodies the Next Big Thing: blended learning, which will FINALLY reverse our schools’ long slide into suckage by filling them with cool new hand-held devices. And we already know that this approach is guaranteed to succeed because the people peddling the hand-held devices keep telling us this. The only thing holding Operation Big Blender back is that it costs so much to employ living, breathing, teachers that there isn’t enough dough left over to purchase the miracle blenders. Note to LIFO lifers: this is a different kind of blender then the one you fire up at 3:07 PM and, on very special occasions, in the teachers’ lounge.
That’s why Venture Academy is guaranteed to be a success—it’s the model of the very School of the Future™, one where edu-stuff, helpfully provided by an endless and evolving parade of edu-vendors, is the real star of the show. Best of all, before it even opens its doors, Venture Academy has already joined the ranks of Minneapolis’ growing roster of miracle schools: institutions that teach the EXACT SAME STUDENTS as the city’s union-stifled public schools but with EXTRAORDINARY, OUTSTANDING and AUDACIOUS results. Venture Academy will soon be working miracles with these exact same students—as long as they meet a few simple requirements.
Are you a MacGyver of education? Send comments to email@example.com.
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Thank you, Eduschuyster, for keeping us informed about educorporate goings-on in Minnesota.
“4equity2″ is the name of a teacher who wrote the following story as a follow up comment on Diane Ravitch’s blog: http://dianeravitch.net/2013/01/13/a-math-teacher-on-common-core-standards/
Another Math Teacher Speaks –
“Today I participated in a math PD [professonal development] held in our state capitol. Before embarking on the actual content of the training session, the facilitator had teacher participants read related Common Core Standards. The quiet was broken by occasional gasps, sighs, and moans before the now oft repeated objections were verbalized.
We’ve read them before. Nothing new. And these were same old criticisms and objections that have been raised in previous math PD’s across the country, for sure.
Next, we looked at a few of the sample test items that would be used to assess the new standards.
The facilitator, wanting to keep us on track, I am sure, said, “Look, this is way it’s going. We need to get used to it, There is nothing we can do.”
Someone near my table called out, “Yes, there is!”
All eyes turned toward me. Did I just say that?
“What?” I was asked. “What can we do?”
“We are teachers, yes. But we don’t have to be passive – play the part of victims. We are also parents and citizens. We can opt our own children out of testing, and we can talk to friends and neighbors about doing the same. We need to use the power we have as citizens – not just teachers – to turn this around.”
One woman raised her arm with a clenched fist, and stated, “I like that!”
These few words from an “invisible” and “voiceless” teacher who has been empowered through this blog and others in realizing that she is not alone spoke out. It felt good. I just might do it again.
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Thank you, 4equity2, whoever you are. We need more teachers like you.
Speaking of which…
Talking to a friend tonight, I heard a sad story. My friend’s neighbor, who is a teacher, said she was recently written up for insubordination, for refusing to attend another Common Core meeting. She said to my friend that “if the government doesn’t get out of our schools, they will destroy them.”
Months ago, I said that I was wishing we could move to Texas or Virginia because they were the only two states that had wisely, and 100%, rejected the Common Core.
But I would not move to Texas now.
While Texas escaped the Common Core, it got something equally bad in its place: CSCOPE.
One Texas science teacher who blogs extensively about CSCOPE http://www.txcscopereview.com/ has written that “CSCOPE and Common Core Standards are the same, just in different wrapping.” She says if parents don’t stop district superintendents, they will give away Texas schools to the federal government in return for money.
I repost her article here with thanks for enlightening all Americans, not just Texans.
CSCOPE: Texas Renowned Science Author Banned
By Janice VanCleave
January 19, 2013
As a science writer, I work with many educators and online curriculum companies. I’ve written 50+ science activity books for kids and educators, thus I can say without being immodest that I understand the basics of science. Since the content of my books cover all the topic taught in taught in elementary science, I can with confidence claim to be an expert in elementary science.
Some of my books are translated into fifteen different languages. Google my name and you will find over one hundred thousand sources.
I am not much on tooting my own horn, but the CSCOPE directors are not taking me seriously. They have banned me from viewing the CSCOPE lessons. This has made me even more curious about what this group, called the TESCCC, is hiding. What are in the CSCOPE lessons that not even parents can view?
Teachers are anonymously supplying me with copies of the CSCOPE lessons and assessments because they are concerned about the education of their students. They have good reason to be concerned. The CSCOPE lessons are poorly written and many are incorrect or misleading.
Since CSCOPE lessons are not transparent, how do you know they align with the TEKS?
§ CSCOPE lessons do not align with the TEKS.
§ CSCOPE lessons do not have the rigor required by TEA.
Parents: Your school administrators are not telling you the truth about CSCOPE. This is an unapproved supplementary material. It has nothing to do with the state. It is all about the money. Textbook funds are being used to RENT CSCOPE each year. Listen up! CSCOPE is online and your superintendent is paying $7.00 to $10.00 per student each year just to view the material. NOTE: CSCOPE has never been evaluated independently.
I’ve reported errors in the CSCOPE lessons, such as how gravity affects the motion of objects.
When it comes to the effects of gravity, I have more experience than most educators. Few have had the opportunity to investigate changes in gravity due to the flight path of NASA’s “Vomit Comit,” a plane that had been used to train astronauts and later was used for zero gravity investigations.
Prior to and after this flight, I spent time researching the effects of gravity and have a very good understanding of its effects.
CSCOPE has mystery authors as well as mystery science experts who are never identified. The CSCOPE science experts make the decisions about the science being taught to Texas children in CSCOPE schools. They use no science books, so kids are at the mercy of CSCOPE mystery science experts.
The CSCOPE assessment are the worst example of testing I’ve ever viewed. Not only do the questions often not relate to the lessons, but the answers are incorrect or there are no answers.
For example, the fifth grade lesson on forces has no investigation related to gravity. But one of the assessments is all about the effects of gravity of an object on a ramp. As is too often done, the assessment question is not grade appropriate. See for yourself the errors in a CSCOPE 5th grade force assessment for two consecutive years. This will give you proof that CSCOPE directors do not improve the CSCOPE instruction material — not even when errors are pointed out to them. While I am not wasting time sending in errors, I will do what I can to publish the errors and corrections.
If CSCOPE directors were interested in education, they would be encouraging veteran teachers and experts in education to identify errors in the CSCOPE instruction materials. Instead, veteran teachers as well as experts in specific subjects are vilified by the administrators and CSCOPE directors.
Actually I am being nice. I was courted so to speak by CSCOPE directors and encouraged to work with them. I could have been a CSCOPE consultant, maybe even have my name listed along with atheist Linda Darling-Hammond and Marxist Lev Vygotsky —YIKES! For this degradation of my name, I had to sign a gag-order promising never to reveal the content of CSCOPE. After viewing some of the CSCOPE lessons, I can understand why authors of CSCOPE material do not want their names published. I decided to “pass” on this offer. Instead, I asked and received from teachers CSCOPE lessons. They are much worse than I ever thought possible. It is understandable that the CSCOPE directors do not want the public to view this material. It does not align with the TEKS and was never designed to do so.
As to rigor, not even TEA knows what this means, but CSCOPE claims to have it.
I originally requested copies of the CSCOPE lessons to help tutor elementary kids in Marlin ISD. This was about 14 months ago and these elementary kids still have no science or math textbooks. Nothing has changed. The school still uses CSCOPE, which provides no instructions for students. Technology–HA!!! CSCOPE has nothing for students except a list of websites, many sites that parents would not allow their children to access at home.
How could I tutor kids when I had no clue what they were studying? Note that the Marlin elementary school has failed the state tests six consecutive years. One would think help would be appreciated. Not so. In fact, Marsha Ridlehuber the interim superintendent at the time, was most unpleasant when I met with her. This woman looked me in the eyes and said that CSCOPE is copyrighted; thus, CSCOPE lessons cannot be viewed by the public–not even parents.
Copyrighted? Was this woman crazy? No! She actually was getting away with this stupid answer. Of course she added what has been coined as CSCOPE Educaneze, which are terms that have been made up by the CSCOPE directors. Basically, the CSCOPE Educaneze is used in an effort to intimidate some parents and make the news media think CSCOPE really has substance. But it doesn’t.
All the Educaneze floating out of Ridlehuber’s mouth brought to mind Shana Twain’s song, “That Don’t Impress Me Much.”
At this point I was not sure what was going on. Had the superintendent really said textbooks were not used because they don’t provide the rigor required by the state standards?
Instead, the online program called CSCOPE was being used. and it had secret lessons because they were copyrighted. Thankfully the program director of Faith, Hope and Charity, an after school program, accompanied me to this meeting. Someone else heard this absurd conversation.
I asked Rhidlehuber how parents could find out what was being taught to their children. Ridlehuber said parents could visit their children’s classes if they wanted to know what was going on. What a pompous, rude response.
Having parents visit classrooms in order to know what was being taught was a stupid suggestion, but one that I was happy to make happen. Thus, I asked what procedure parents needed to follow to schedule their visits. Obviously, Ridlehuber had made a tongue-in-cheek comment and now was forced to resend it. The answer was that parents have to have an FBI clearance to visit their children’s classrooms.
I was no longer interested in volleying stupid ideas around but had every intention of viewing the CSCOPE lessons. I contacted the local Region Service Center, ESC-12 and spoke with Becca Bell, the CSCOPE director. Same response with a little extra added. As a published author, I am considered a vendor and can view the lessons if I sign a non-disclosure document stating I’ll not reveal what I see. Are these people crazy?
I felt like I’d stepped into the Twilight Zone. “Beam me up Scotty, there is no intelligent life down here.”
Had I actually discussed Texas education with President George Bush? Yep! I was not sold on his idea of “No Child Left Behind.” It is not realistic to think that teachers can provide individualized instruction for every student, especially now that children of all ability levels are mixed together in one class.
Obama’s catchy education phrase is “Race to the Top.” CSCOPE and Common Core Standards have embraced both slogans. With CSCOPE, a mandatory schedule is dreamed up by some unknown author. Teachers are forced to stick to this timeline. They are even rated low on performance if they don’t. CSCOPE directors have no clue if the schedule is doable. Education is not the objective. Instead, the objective is control. Control over the teachers so that they will do what they are told. Teach what they are told to teach, no questions asked. CSCOPE directors train administrators to view veteran teachers as being negative instead of listening to their constructive criticism of CSCOPE. Young teachers with no experience are easier to mould.
The CSCOPE schedule is much like a race and many students fall behind. But, there is no time in the schedule to reteach. Stragglers are not left behind, instead teachers just carry on with the next lesson. According to CSCOPE directors, kids that don’t understand will eventually figure it all out and all the kids will cross the finish line together. YEA! This is the CSCOPE and TASA [Texas Association of School Administrators] vision that all kids are equally educated.
Yep! The accelerated classes and basic skills classes will in time be one happy group, all functioning on the same level. Since CSCOPE promotes that education is more about experiences and how students feel about things than facts, this could happen. The US students would all be equally under-educated and easily controlled.
Are we there yet? Is this what you want for your children and grandchildren?
It didn’t make sense that public school lessons were not transparent to anyone. I contacted the Texas State Board of Education, Commissioner of Education Robert Scott. and about everyone I could think of including Rep. Rob Eissler, who was chair of the House Education Committee.
In late January, 2012, Wade Labay (State CSCOPE Director) and Ed Vera (State CSCOPE Instruction Director) at Region 13, drove from Austin to Marlin, Texas, to meet with me. Along with Becca Bell, Region 12 CSCOPE director, Rhidlehuber, and the Marlin curriculum director, the five of them had planned for me to come alone and they would convince me how wonderful CSCOPE is.
I arrived with Ginger Russell, my daughter, and Earl Johnson, both members of the Woodland’s Tea Party. The CSCOPE group was shocked that I was not alone. They repeated several times, “We thought you would be alone!”
The CSCOPE group refused to allow the meeting to be videotaped.
Ed Vera had brought a copy of one of my books and he asked me to sign it for a friend. Soon after this meeting, Ed sent a petition to the Texas Attorney General (TAG). In the petition Ed asked the TAG to protect CSCOPE from me and other vendors who might write a competitive product if allowed to view the content of the CSCOPE instruction materials.
WHAT! One day I am autographing a book for the State CSCOPE Instruction Director, and Wade Labay (State CSCOPE Director) is inviting me to join the CSCOPE team. Then they reported me to the TAG as not being trustworthy.
Speaking of being trustworthy—Teachers are still reporting that some CSCOPE lessons are plagiarized. I was sent a section of a first grade CSCOPE weather lesson that is either deliberately plagiarized or someone “forgot” to credit the website source because the information was directly copied word-for-word. The lesson was quickly taken off the CSCOPE website when it was reported. Must have been time to retire this lesson, like the following Islamic power point.
Neither Wade Labay, Ed Vera, nor Becca Bell from Region 12 had a clue what was in the CSCOPE lessons. Becca said other people read the lessons. Ginger pointed out the 25 colored power-point slides used to teach world history students about Allah and the Islamic religion. Labay seemed genuinely surprised and within weeks I was contacted by Labay that the slides were removed— Not because of the content of the slides, but as a general clearing out of older materials.
I assume this means that at any time comparable material may again be part of the CSCOPE lessons for our children.
One selling point for CSCOPE is that 80% of the Texas school districts have purchased it. The CSCOPE directors point this out and use it as proof that CSCOPE is wonderful. NOT SO! Our Texas superintendents know little-to-nothing about education, but they do understand perks if they follow the TASA leaders. TASA stands for Texas Association of School Administrators. With no shame or fear of consequences, in 2006, TASA published its education mission, which aligns with the federal government’s takeover plan for American schools.
CSCOPE, which has the same Socialist education philosophy being promoted by TASA, entered some Texas schools in 2006. At first, schools had to use local tax money to purchase CSCOPE. No problem, school board members are elected with the public thinking these members represent them. But, TASA took care of this problem. Via, TASB, Texas Association of School Boards, school board members have been trained? –coerced?– bribed? or made an offer they can’t refuse to allow the superintendent to make all the decisions.
Decisions, such as using local tax funds to pay for their TASA/TASB membership dues as well as finance TASA/TASB conferences, amount to tens of thousands of dollars for each school district.
Since TASA has robbed schools of their local school taxes, there is money to pay lobbyists to deceive legislators into proposing and passing legislation, such as Senate Bill 6. I am trying to understand how this happened. But hopefully giving superintendents the right to use student textbook money to purchase unapproved materials, such as CSCOPE, will be viewed as not being such a good idea.
Superintendents do have to sign a statement that what they purchase provides instruction for every element of the TEKS. BIG DEAL!! Who checks to see if this is true? NO ONE!
What happens if it can be proven that CSCOPE does not align with the TEKS? NOTHING! There is nothing on the record about punishment. The same is true with Thomas Ratliff who is a lobbyist and is serving on the Texas State Board of Education. The TAG says it is not legal. SO WHAT? Ratliff does what he pleases–why? Only law-abiding people obey the law. If it is illegal, they don’t do it or if they do they expect to be punished. Not Ratliff. No punishment is on the books. Now this makes a great Texas history lesson for our kids.
This must be Ratliff’s motto: “Do anything you want to as long as you can get away with it.”
I have gone to the Geographic South Pole, not because I like snow and ice. Instead, I was there doing an experiment designed by students. This was an enrichment activity that any child regardless of where they live, age, ability, etc.. could be involved in. Sadly, if the project were being done now, CSCOPE teachers would not be allowed to be involved. They are being trained to do nothing that is not on the CSCOPE schedule and it must be done within the time frame that is set in stone.
Prior to the hostile takeover of Texas Public Schools by CSCOPE, authors, such as me, presented special programs to students. Programs that included activities, such as measuring how far the Geographic South Pole moves toward the ocean each year. Note in the picture above, the poles in the distance. The first pole is marked with a green flag. This was the pole that marked where the south end of Earth’s axis exits Earth. The position of the axis doesn’t change, but the ice the pole is stuck in moves. A new pole is positioned each year.
The picture to the right shows me at the frozen edge of the Arctic Ocean on the coast of Barrow, Alaska.
[Please go to http://www.txcscopereview.com/2013/tx-renowned-sci-author-banned/ to view the photos. – Donna Garner]
I dislike what CSCOPE is doing to our schools. I plan to continue screaming about CSCOPE until someone listens. REALLY LISTENS!
I want children to do more than make posters and tri-folds that are considered science investigations. I want kids to have opportunities to really learn by discovery.
CSCOPE and Common Core Standards are the same, just in different wrapping. If you don’t stop your superintendents, they will give away our Texas schools to the federal government.
Someone! Please look Governor Perry in the eyes and tell him that TASA is making him look stupid.
The TASA president is in Washington learning how to implement the federal government’s Common Core standards in our Texas schools. Will someone in Austin get the attention of Governor Perry and let him know that TASA has no concern about his statement that Common Core will not be used in Texas Schools? If Governor Perry doesn’t take action, our disloyal school superintendents will have Common Core Standards filling the CSCOPE framework by fall of 2013. CSCOPE directors have already lined up the online textbook and resource materials to sell to schools to support the Common Core Standards.
- Janice VanCleave
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Thank you to Janice VanCleave for sharing this work and for promoting educational freedom and quality of education.
One Step to New Standards, One Giant Leap of logic
By Alyson Williams
Did the people get the chance to debate the pros and cons of accepting a national curriculum?
Some steps are more significant than others.
When Neil Armstrong took his first step onto the moon, everyone knew it was the beginning of a new era. It was the “space age” and it seems everything from the appliances we used in our homes to the way we thought about foreign policy changed.
While far less inspiring, I compare the step my state took to comply with Common Core, to a trip to the moon. Education reform is hardly new, but in adopting “national” standards, or standards controlled by an outside consortium in a process that circumvented all the traditional policy-setting paths of “we the people,” we have entered uncharted territory. That one step, over a long-maintained boundary in education, makes it more significant.
“No nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space…” John F. Kennedy said when introducing his ambitions for space exploration to the country.
I’ve heard a similar argument – appealing to our competitive nature, and our fear of falling behind other nations – used in favor of sticking with Common Core. Our children’s future and our nation’s prosperity and security depend on it I’m told. Okay, I’m a Whitney Houston fan. I too believe the children are our future. But opposition to Common Core is not opposition to progress, nor is it ignorance of the challenges my children face in the future.
I see a greater threat to my children’s future in NOT insisting we adhere to established systems of checks and balances in the crafting of policy. Upholding our Constitution and resisting government overreach is what will keep us from falling behind other nations because this, and primarily this, is what sets our nation apart in the first place.
Bill Gates, whose foundation funded every aspect of Common Core standards, spoke to the National Conference of State Legislators saying, “If your state doesn’t join the common standards, your kids will be left behind; and if too many states opt out—the country will be left behind. Remember—this is not a debate that China, Korea, and Japan are having. Either our schools will get better—or our economic position will get worse.”
Hmmmm. Do the people in China, Korea and Japan get the chance to debate issues like this? Exactly.
Come to think of it, did the people of Utah get the chance to debate the pros and cons of accepting a national curriculum? No. What Chinese attribute are we trying to emulate here – high math test scores, or top-down policy making? Do we really believe that we can’t have the former, without the latter?
This point was discussed this week in a public “debate” of sorts between two of the country’s high-profile voices on education policy, Marc Tucker and Yong Zhao. (http://zhaolearning.com/2013/01/17/more-questions-about-the-common-core-response-to-marc-tucker/)
Tucker: Without broad agreement on a well designed and internationally benchmarked system of standards, we have no hope of producing a nation of students who have the kind of skills, knowledge and creative capacities the nation so desperately needs…
Zhao: This I will have to respectfully disagree with. The U.S. has had a decentralized education system forever (until Bush and Obama) and it has become one of the most prosperous, innovative, and democratic nations on earth. The lack of a common prescription of content imposed on all children by the government has not been a vice, but a virtue. As Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz wrote in their book The Race between Education and Technology: “We must shed our collective amnesia. America was once the world’s education leader. The rest of the world imported its institutions and its egalitarian ideals spread widely. That alone is a great achievement and one calls for an encore.”
The third man to walk on the moon, Charles Conrad Jr. also said something that resonates with my feelings on the Common Core. He said, “Whoopee! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but it’s a long one for me!”
Presented as simple cause and effect steps between policy and anticipated outcomes, some of the assumptions of how we’ll benefit from these standards defy gravity of reason and leave me mentally drifting in midair, wondering how they got from point A to point B.
Just one example of this is in Utah’s Race to the Top Grant application. On page thirty-two I read, “Expanding our mathematics initiative, while implementing the new core, will help us increase our capacity to deliver high-quality mathematics instruction, which will increase our high school graduation rate and increase college enrollment.”
So, if we just get the teachers to be more “high-quality” because they’re using the new standards, more kids will graduate and enroll in college? That seems like a bit of an oversimplification. I’d love to see the study that supports that conclusion. What? No references for this claim?
I’m not an expert on writing grants, or standards for that matter, so maybe the rules are different. All I know is if I’d submitted a paper to my high school English teacher as lacking in rhetorical support or references as this I’d have flunked the assignment.
Technically, I guess we did flunk. Utah was not awarded that grant, but it wasn’t for that reason. This statement from the document sent to Utah explaining why our grant was rejected is especially telling:
“Utah, however, has presented evidence through its statements that the State is not taking the lead at developing fiscal, policy, and public support for LEAs; its leaving that to LEAs to do themselves.”
In other words, Utah didn’t get the grant because there is still too much local control afforded to each local school district. I can’t help but feel that this exposes the true landing point of these reforms – a shifting of control away from LEAs and away from the state.
Now, before someone reiterates the claim that this is a “state-led” initiative I have to ask this question, “To which branch of government does the National Governor’s Association belong?”
The NGA is a trade organization, not a constitutional representative of the states. The writing of the standards started and ended there. The NGA and Council of Chief State School Officers (another trade organization) hold the Common Core State Standards copyright.
The only participation of the actual states was whether or not they would adopt the standards – with federal dollars hanging in the balance. Even the decision to comply with the standards eluded traditional legislative process or input by teachers or parents who actually live in Utah. For the average parent wanting to stay involved with her children’s education, the process of advocacy now may as well involve a trip to outer space.
The leaps of logic don’t end with the grant application. The standards themselves are lacking in substantive references.
In a 2011 article entitled “Common Core State Standards: An Example of Data-less Decision Making” Christopher H. Tienken, Editor of the AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice, wrote:
“When I reviewed that ‘large and growing body of knowledge’ offered by the NGA, I found that it was not large, and in fact built mostly on one report, Benchmarking for Success, created by the NGA and the CCSSO, the same groups that created these standards; hardly independent research.
The Benchmarking report has over 135 end notes, some of which are repetitive references. Only four of the cited pieces of evidence could be considered empirical studies related directly to the topic of national standards and student achievement.
The remaining citations were newspaper stories, armchair magazine articles, op-ed pieces, book chapters, notes from telephone interviews, and several tangential studies.”
Common Core centralizes curriculum in a way that Americans have resisted on Constitutional grounds for our entire existence as a nation, in exchange for what appears to be the most expansive, most expensive education experiment in this country ever – and our children will be the lab rats.
Will we be surprised then, if the outcomes are not what we were promised?
I worry that if we are beguiled into accepting these standards, along with the over-testing, intrusive tracking, and loss of local advocacy – not because they’ve proven effective but because they have been advertised to us as the only path to our children achieving the 21st century equivalent of man’s first steps on the moon – we will live to regret it.
Even if the outcome is neutral, I have to consider that the legacy of Common Core also includes a burden of debt, and further erosion of freedoms with increased government control.
Principles of limited government (federal AND state) and self-determination are just as important in education policy as they are in crafting policies for healthcare, or protecting a free market. Abraham Lincoln said it this way, “The philosophy of education today, will be the philosophy of government tomorrow.”
We gain inspiration from past events like the Apollo moon landing, and we gain wisdom in the things history has taught us about the consequences of not resisting increasing government intrusion into the lives of individuals.
Maybe Common Core and all the other programs of centralization and equalization being pushed on us lately are like to going to the moon – not because we are aiming high, but for another reason.
For a nation that has enjoyed freedoms and prosperity unlike any other on the earth, the stark contrast between that way of life compared to the outcomes of more common principles of government might seem like going from the Garden of Eden to what Buzz Aldrin described, while standing on the surface of the moon: as “magnificent desolation.”
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Thanks to Alyson Williams for this article.
It’s always fun to watch smart people debate an important topic, but it’s especially satisfying when the person whose side you are on wins the day. That is Yong Zhao, who seems to me not only smart but also wise.
Many are following the Marc Tucker/ Yong Zhao interchange about Common Core with great interest. http://zhaolearning.com/2013/01/17/more-questions-about-the-common-core-response-to-marc-tucker/
Marc Tucker is an old pal and co-conspirator with Hillary Clinton, and their written “Let’s Take Over American Education” exchange has long been archived in the Congressional Record, partially because of its conspiratorial nature. I’ve posted about it before: http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/anti-liberty-plot-for-american-education-full-text-of-the-letter-from-marc-tucker-to-hillary-clinton-2/
So, Tucker is no friend to educational freedom; Zhao is.
Here is almost the whole of the latest brilliant response to Tucker by Yong Zhao. Full text here: http://zhaolearning.com/2013/01/17/more-questions-about-the-common-core-response-to-marc-tucker/
More Questions about the Common Core: Response to Marc Tucker
17 January 2013
…It is impossible, unnecessary, and harmful for a small group of individuals to predetermine and impose upon all students the same set of knowledge and skills and expect all students progress at the same pace (if the students don’t, it is the teachers’ and schools’ fault).
I am not against standards per se for good standards can serve as a useful guide. What I am against is Common and Core, that is, the same standards for all students and a few subjects (currently math and English language arts) as the core of all children’s education diet. I might even love the Common Core if they were not common or core.
Tucker disagrees. He argues it is both possible and necessary to predetermine and impose upon all students the same knowledge and skills and America is immune to the damages of such efforts that have been experienced in China and other similar East Asian countries.
Now response to Tucker’s arguments point by point.
Tucker: It is now more important than ever to figure out what all young people need to know and be able to do.
Zhao: First, it is not true that “it is now more important than ever to figure out what all young people need to know and be able to do.” Over a hundred and fifty years ago, the British philosopher Herbert Spencer thought it was so important to decide what children should learn that he wrote the essay What Knowledge is of Most Worth and came up with the answer “science” and his criteria was the utilitarian value of knowledge. He did not think Latin, Greek, and the classics were of much value for a person to live in a society being transformed by industrialization and history , to Spencer was “mere tissue of names and dates and dead unmeaning events…it has not the remotest bearings on any our actions.”
In 1892, the National Education Association (NEA) thought it was so important that it appointed the Committee of Ten, chaired by Harvard president Charles Elliot, to figure out what schools should teach.
In early 1900s, The NEA had another commission to rethink the curriculum and came up with The Cardinal Principals of Secondary Education
Activities intended to determine what all students should know and be able to do never actually stopped. In recent years, the 1994 Goals 2000 Act under President Clinton provided funds to develop standards that “identify what all students should know and be able to do to live and work in the 21st century.” Under NCLB, states were mandated to develop both content and academic achievement standards in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science.
There has never been a lack of attempts to figure out what all young people should know and be able to do, consequently there is no shortage of standards around. The fact that there have been so many attempts suggests the difficulty of the task. People simply cannot seem to agree what all children should know and learn in general. People cannot even agree what to teach in math, the supposedly the most straightforward, and have fought many math wars over the last century. It is actually a good thing, in my mind, that people cannot come to agreement and the American federal government was not given the authority to impose its own version upon all children. But despite the lack of a consistently implemented nationalized curriculum and standards, America did just fine as a nation.
The Common Core initiative seems to suggest that either there are no standards in America or the existing standards are not good enough. But what evidence is there to show the Common Core is better than previous ones, including those from all 50 states? Granted that things change and what students learn should reflect the changes, but how frequently should that happen? The state standards developed under NCLB are merely a decade old. If we have to make massive changes every five or 10 years, does not it mean it is nearly impossible to come up with content that is valid long enough for the nation’s over 100,000 schools to implement before it becomes outdated? If so, would it be much more likely that individual schools and teachers have a better chance to make the adjustment faster than large bureaucracies?
An anecdote: For hundreds of years it was possible for the adults in my little village in China to figure out what all children should know and be able to do: handling the water buffalo was one for the boys and sewing for the girls. My village was small and isolated, with around 200 people. But that predication became invalid when China opened up to the outside world in the 1980s. The common standards in my village proved to be wrong later in at least two cases. First it did not work for me. I was pretty bad at what my village’s Common Core prescribed (handling the water buffalo) so I had to do something else (coming to America to debate with Marc Tucker, for example). Second, it did not work for the rest of the children in the village either, because working as a migrant worker in the city is different from handling a water buffalo.
Tucker: Truly creative people know a lot and they have worked hard at learning it. They typically know a lot about unrelated things and their creativity comes from putting those unrelated things together in unusual ways. Learning almost anything really well depends on mastering the conceptual structure of the underlying disciplines, because, without that scaffolding, we are not able to put new information and skills to work.
Zhao: Very true, truly creative people know a lot and they have worked hard at learning it, but do they know a lot about what they are passionate about, or what the government wants them to know? Do they work hard at learning something that is personally meaningful, or do they work hard at learning something prescribed by others?
Also true that learning anything really well depends on mastering the conceptual structure of the underlying disciplines, but what disciplines: math, science, the arts, music, languages, or politics? I am embarrassed to admit as a Chinese, I had horrible math scores in school, which is why I chose to study English, but somehow I am good at computer programming and developed large-scale software. I am also good at understanding statistics and empirical evidence.
Tucker: Zhao says that we will not be competitive simply by producing a nation of good test takers. That is, of course, true. Leading Asian educators are very much afraid that they have succeeded in producing good test takers who are not going to be very good at inventing the future. But that does not absolve us of the responsibility for figuring out what all students will need to know to be competitive in a highly competitive global labor market, nor does it absolve us of the responsibility to figure out how to assess the skills we think are most important.
Zhao: Is it responsibility or arrogance? Almost all totalitarian governments and dictators claim that they have the responsibility to engineer a society so their people can live happily and that their people are not capable of knowing what is good for them and top-level design is necessary. For example, they claim that their people cannot defend themselves against bad information, thus the leaders have to impose censorship. The leaders should decide what their people should view, listen to, and read. This self-assigned responsibility comes from the assumption that the authority knows best. By the way, we adults (parents and teachers) often committee the same error of arrogance: we automatically assume we know better than our children.
Tucker: It is true that the future will be full of jobs that do not exist now and challenges we cannot even imagine yet, never mind anticipate accurately. But, whatever those challenges turn out to be, I can guarantee you that they will not be met by people without strong quantitative skills, people who cannot construct a sound argument, people who know little of history or geography or economics, people who cannot write well.
Zhao: Almost true but strong quantitative skills are not the same as the skills to mark the right choice on a multiple choice exam, constructing a sound argument is different from repeating the “correct way” of arguing, and writing well certainly does not mean scoring high against a writing rubric. More importantly, as far as I can tell, the Common Core does not include what Tucker wants: history, geography, or economics. Where do the children learn these and other “unrelated things” when they are pushed aside by the Common Core?
Tucker: Zhao grew up in a country in which the aim was not learning but success on the test. There was wide agreement that the tests were deeply flawed, emphasizing what Mao called “stuffing the duck”— shoving facts and procedures into students—in lieu of analysis, synthesis and creativity. But few wanted to change the system, because the tests were one of the few incorruptible parts of a deeply corrupt system.
Zhao: Very good observation but I cannot help but pointing out that Tucker just published a book entitled Surpassing Shanghai: An Agenda for American Education Built on the World’s Leading Systems. If it is such a bad system, why does Tucker consider it one of the world’s leading systems and want to build American education on it? If it is so bad, what is it in Shanghai, a city of China, he wants America to surpass?
And by the way, it is not true that “few wanted to change the system, because the tests were one of the few incorruptible parts of a deeply corrupt system.” Many, perhaps, most people in China, want the system changed. The Ministry of Education and provincial governments have been making changes over the past few decades (for details read my books Catching Up or Leading the Way and World Class Learners)
Tucker: So Zhao is very much aware of the consequences of a rigid system set to outdated standards. But that is not the problem in the United States. We don’t suffer from ancient standards wildly out of tune with the times, enforced by tests that are no better. We suffer from lack of agreement on any standards that could define what all students must know and be able to do before they go their separate ways. We suffer in a great many schools from implicit standards that translate into abysmally low expectations for far too many students.
Zhao: I am very appreciative of Tucker’s understanding of my background but I am not convinced that the U.S. is immune to the same problems China has suffered from testing. Is it not the goal of the Common Core to instill a rigid system? Isn’t the Common Core to be enforced by tests? If not, why do we have the Common Assessment? Why are we connecting teacher evaluation to test scores? Moreover, haven’t we seen plenty of cases of cheating on standardized testing in our schools under NCLB? Isn’t there enough evidence of states manipulating data and cut scores? For more evidence, read Collateral Damage: How High-stakes Testing Corrupts America’s Schools by Sharon Nichols and David Berliner.
Another by the way: When I described the teacher evaluation efforts mandated by the Race to the Top to a group of science teachers from Beijing to study American science education this week, they were appalled and commented: Isn’t that a violation of human dignity?
Tucker: Without broad agreement on a well designed and internationally benchmarked system of standards, we have no hope of producing a nation of students who have the kind of skills, knowledge and creative capacities the nation so desperately needs. There is no substitute for spelling out what we think students everywhere should know and be able to do. Spelling it out is no guarantee that it will happen, but failing to spell it out is a guarantee that we will not get a nation of young people capable of meeting the challenges ahead.
Zhao: This I will have to respectfully disagree with. The U.S. has had a decentralized education system forever (until Bush and Obama) and it has become one of the most prosperous, innovative, and democratic nations on earth. The lack of a common prescription of content imposed on all children by the government has not been a vice, but a virtue. As Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz wrote in their book The Race between Education and Technology: “We must shed our collective amnesia. America was once the world’s education leader. The rest of the world imported its institutions and its egalitarian ideals spread widely. That alone is a great achievement and one calls for an encore.”
Tucker: Zhao apparently believes that standards mean standardization and standardization would inevitably lead to an inability to produce creative solutions to the problems the workforce will face in the years ahead. That could certainly happen. But it need not happen.
Zhao: Yes, it does not need to, but it does happen, has happened, and is unavoidable. When standards are enforced with high stakes testing, when teachers and principals are evaluated based on students’ test scores, when students’ fate are decided by test scores, the teaching and learning must become standardized and constrained. One does not have to go to China to see this. Just take a look at what happened under NCLB. It did not ask schools to narrow the curriculum, to reduce time for music and the arts, for social studies and science, or for lunch and recess, but it all happened. For the impact of NCLB on instructional time and curriculum, check out these reports (1 and 2)from the Center on Education Policy.
Tucker: It is simply not true that our inability to predict the jobs people will have to do in the future and the demand of creative, entrepreneurial young people relieves us of the obligation to figure out what skills and knowledge all young people need to have before they go their separate ways, or the obligation to translate that list of skills and knowledge into standards and assessments that can drive instruction in our schools.
Zhao: It is simply not true that the Common Core will prepare our children for the future. To conclude, I quote a comment left on my Facebook page by one of my personal heros, former president of America Educational Research Association (AERA) and widely respected educational researcher Gene Glass: “Common Core Standards are idiots’ solution to a misunderstood problem. The problem is an archaic, useless curriculum that will prepare no child for life in 2040 and beyond.”
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The Garfield Stand and the Common Core
This article was originally published January 12, 2013 on The Underground Parent at http://undergroundparent.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-garfield-stand-and-common-core-will.html and is in part republished here, with permission from the author.
What is the Garfield Stand? It is what the teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School are doing—they are taking a stand on important issues related to student assessment.
You can read about it in the letter from teachers at Garfield High School and at additional links provided below.
Teachers at another school, Ballard High School, are not just in sympathy with their Garfield colleagues; they are taking the same stand.
…Read the letter from the Garfield teachers.
The Ballard teachers wrote a letter supporting their Garfield colleagues. That letter is copied below.
In a few years how many of the statements below will have a ring of truth if MAP is replaced with SBAC or PARCC assessments [Common Core national tests]?
25 teachers at nearby Ballard High School signed a letter against continuing to use the MAP test,
and in support of our Garfield colleagues
- The MAP test is a resource expensive and cash expensive program in a district with very finite financial resources,
- The MAP test is not used in practice to inform student instruction,
- The MAP test is not connected to our curricula,
- The MAP test has been repurposed by district administration to form part of a teacher’s evaluation, which is contrary to the purposes it was designed for, as stated by its purveyor, making it part of junk science,
- The MAP test has also been repurposed for student placement in courses and programs, for which it was not designed,
- The MAP test was purchased under corrupt crony-ist circumstances (Our former superintendent, while employed by SPS sat on the corporation board of NWEA, the purveyor of the MAP test. This was undisclosed to her employer. The initial MAP test was purchased in a no-bid, non-competitive process)
- The MAP test was and remains unwanted and unneeded and unsolicited by SPS professional classroom educators, those who work directly with students,
- The MAP test is not taken seriously by students, (They don’t need the results for graduation, for applications, for course credit, or any other purpose, so they routinely blow it off.)
- The MAP test’s reported testing errors are greater than students’ expected growth,
- The technology administration of the MAP test has serious flaws district wide which waste students’ time,
We, the undersigned educators from Ballard High School do hereby support statements and actions of our colleagues at Garfield High School surrounding the MAP test. Specifically, the MAP test program throughout Seattle Public Schools ought to be shut down immediately. It has been and continues to be an embarrassing mistake. Continuing it even another day, let alone another month or year or decade, will not turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse.
…It is unfortunate teachers feel the need to take such a stand.
Should they, and other teachers across the country, be making more of the decisions that will directly effect their instructional practices and their students’ education or should those decisions continue to be made by… state departments of education, business and corporate offices, wealthy foundations, and Washington, D.C.?
Links to further reading on the topic:
Seattle Ballard High School teachers have followed suit: No MAP test!
The letter from the teachers at Garfield High School regarding the MAP test
Letter of support for Garfield High School teachers from Diane Ravitch
Garfield High School teachers say “NO!” to high stakes testing
Standardized test backlash: Some Seattle teachers just say ‘no’
Garfield High teachers won’t give required test they call flawed
Garfield High teachers refuse to give standardized test
Garfield High teachers refuse to administer District-mandated reading and math test
Garfield High School teachers boycott MAP assessment test
This article was originally published January 12, 2013 on The Underground Parent at http://undergroundparent.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-garfield-stand-and-common-core-will.html and is republished here with permission from the author.
Children for Sale
By Alyson Williams
No more decisions behind closed doors! Let’s get everyone talking about Common Core.
In the spring of 2011 I received a receipt for the sale of my children. It came in the form of a flyer that simply notified me that my state and thereby my children’s school would comply with the Common Core. No other details of the transaction were included. The transaction was complete, and I had no say. In fact, it was the very first time I’d heard about it.
I know what you’re thinking. That’s outrageous! Common Core has nothing to do with selling things, especially not children!
Okay, so the idea that the State School Board and Governor who’d made this decision could be described as “selling” my children is hyperbole. It is an exaggeration intended to convey an emotion regarding who, in this land of the free, has ultimate authority over decisions that directly affect my children’s intellectual development, privacy, and future opportunities. It is not even an accurate representation of my initial reaction to the flyer. I say it to make a point that I didn’t realize until much, much later… this isn’t just an issue of education, but of money and control. Please allow me to explain.
That first day my husband picked up the flyer and asked me, “What is Common Core?” To be honest, I had no idea. We looked it up online. We read that they were standards for each grade that would be consistent across a number of states. They were described as higher standards, internationally benchmarked, state-led, and inclusive of parent and teacher in-put. It didn’t sound like a bad thing, but why hadn’t we ever heard about it before? Again, did I miss the parent in-put meeting or questionnaire… the vote in our legislature? Who from my state had helped to write the standards? In consideration of the decades of disagreement on education trends that I’ve observed regarding education, how in the world did that many states settle all their differences enough to agree on the same standards? It must have taken years, right? How could I have missed it?
At first it was really difficult to get answers to all my questions. I started by asking the people who were in charge of implementing the standards at the school district office, and later talked with my representative on the local school board. I made phone calls and I went to public meetings. We talked a lot about the standards themselves. No one seemed to know the answers to, or wanted to talk about my questions about how the decision was made, the cost, or how it influenced my ability as a parent to advocate for my children regarding curriculum. I even had the chance to ask the Governor himself at a couple of local political meetings. I was always given a similar response. It usually went something like this:
Question: “How much will this cost?”
Answer: “These are really good standards.”
Question: “I read that the Algebra that was offered in 8th grade, will now not be offered until 9th grade. How is this a higher standard?”
Answer: “These are better standards. They go deeper into concepts.”
Question: “Was there a public meeting that I missed?”
Answer: “You should really read the standards. This is a good thing.”
Question: “Isn’t it against the Constitution and the law of the land to have a national curriculum under the control of the federal government?’
Answer: “Don’t you want your kids to have the best curriculum?”
It got to the point where I felt like I was talking to Jedi masters who, instead of actually answering my questions, would wave their hand in my face and say, “You will like these standards.”
I stopped asking. I started reading.
I read the standards. I read about who wrote the standards. I read about the timeline of how we adopted the standards (before the standards were written.) I read my state’s Race to the Top grant application, in which we said we were going to adopt the standards. I read the rejection of that grant application and why we wouldn’t be given additional funding to pay for this commitment. I read how standardized national test scores are measured and how states are ranked. I read news articles, blogs, technical documents, legislation, speeches given by the US Education Secretary and other principle players, and even a few international resolutions regarding education.
I learned a lot.
I learned that most other parents didn’t know what the Common Core was either.
I learned that the standards were state accepted, but definitely not “state led.”
I learned that the international benchmark claim is a pretty shaky one and doesn’t mean they are better than or even equal to international standards that are considered high.
I learned that there was NO public input before the standards were adopted. State-level decision makers had very little time themselves and had to agree to them in principle as the actual standards were not yet complete.
I learned that the only content experts on the panel to review the standards had refused to sign off on them, and why they thought the standards were flawed.
I learned that much of the specific standards are not supported by research but are considered experimental.
I learned that in addition to national standards we agreed to new national tests that are funded and controlled by the federal government.
I learned that in my state, a portion of teacher pay is dependent on student test performance.
I learned that not only test scores, but additional personal information about my children and our family would be tracked in a state-wide data collection project for the express purpose of making decisions about their educational path and “aligning” them with the workforce.
I learned that there are fields for tracking home-schooled children in this database too.
I learned that the first step toward getting pre-school age children into this data project is currently underway with new legislation that would start a new state preschool program.
I learned that this data project was federally funded with a stipulation that it be compatible with other state’s data projects. Wouldn’t this feature create a de facto national database of children?
I learned that my parental rights to deny the collection of this data or restrict who has access to it have been changed at the federal level through executive regulation, not the legislative process.
I learned that these rights as protected under state law are currently under review and could also be changed.
I learned that the financing, writing, evaluation, and promotion of the standards had all been done by non-governmental special interest groups with a common agenda.
I learned that their agenda was in direct conflict with what I consider to be the best interests of my children, my family, and even my country.
Yes, I had concerns about the standards themselves, but suddenly that issue seemed small in comparison to the legal, financial, constitutional and representative issues hiding behind the standards and any good intentions to improve the educational experience of my children.
If it was really about the best standards, why did we adopt them before they were even written?
If they are so wonderful that all, or even a majority of parents would jump for joy to have them implemented, why wasn’t there any forum for parental input?
What about the part where I said I felt my children had been sold? I learned that the U.S. market for education is one of the most lucrative – bigger than energy or technology by one account – especially in light of these new national standards that not only create economy of scale for education vendors, but require schools to purchase all new materials, tests and related technology. Almost everything the schools had was suddenly outdated.
When I discovered that the vendors with the biggest market share and in the position to profit the most from this new regulation had actually helped write or finance the standards, the mama bear inside me ROARED!
Could it be that the new standards had more to do with profit than what was best for students? Good thing for their shareholders they were able to avoid a messy process involving parents or their legislative representatives.
As I kept note of the vast sums of money exchanging hands in connection with these standards with none of it going to address the critical needs of my local school – I felt cheated.
When I was told that the end would justify the means, that it was for the common good of our children and our society, and to sit back and trust that they had my children’s best interests at heart – they lost my trust.
As I listened to the Governor and education policy makers on a state and national level speak about my children and their education in terms of tracking, alignment, workforce, and human capital – I was offended.
When I was told that this is a done deal, and there was nothing as a parent or citizen that I could do about it – I was motivated.
Finally, I learned one more very important thing. I am not the only one who feels this way. Across the nation parents grandparents and other concerned citizens are educating themselves, sharing what they have learned and coming together. The problem is, it is not happening fast enough. Digging through all the evidence, as I have done, takes a lot of time – far more time than the most people are able to spend. In order to help, I summarized what I thought was some of the most important information into a flowchart so that others could see at a glance what I was talking about.
I am not asking you to take my word for it. I want people to check the references and question the sources. I am not asking for a vote or for money. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I do believe with all my heart that a decision that affects the children of almost every state in the country should not be made without a much broader discussion, validated research, and much greater input from parents and citizens than it was originally afforded.
If you agree I encourage you to share this information. Post it, pin it, email it, tweet it.
No more decisions behind closed doors! Let’s get everyone talking about Common Core.
Thanks to Alyson Williams for permission to publish her story.
Sources for research: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/FlowchartSources.pdf
Math Teacher Stephanie Sawyer
speaks out about the weak math in Common Core Standards.
Math Teacher Stephanie Sawyer was quoted on Diane Ravitch’s website saying the following about Common Core:
“…They pay lip service to actually practicing standard algorithms.
Seriously, students don’t have to be fluent in addition and subtraction with the standard algorithms until 4th grade?
I teach high school math. I took a break to work in the private sector from 2002 to 2009. Since my return, I have been stunned by my students’ lack of basic skills. How can I teach algebra 2 students about rational expressions when they can’t even deal with fractions with numbers?
Please don’t tell me this is a result of the rote learning that goes on in grade- and middle-school math classes, because I’m pretty sure that’s not what is happening at all. If that were true, I would have a room full of students who could divide fractions. But for some reason, most of them can’t, and don’t even know where to start.
I find it fascinating that students who have been looking at fractions from 3rd grade through 8th grade still can’t actually do anything with them. Yet I can ask adults over 35 how to add fractions and most can tell me. And do it. And I’m fairly certain they get the concept. There is something to be said for “traditional” methods and curriculum when looked at from this perspective.
Grade schools have been using Everyday Math and other incarnations for a good 5 to 10 years now, even more in some parts of the country. These are kids who have been taught the concept way before the algorithm, which is basically what the Common Core seems to promote. I have a 4th grade son who attends a school using Everyday Math. Luckily, he’s sharp enough to overcome the deficits inherent in the program. When asked to convert 568 inches to feet, he told me he needed to divide by 12, since he had to split the 568 into groups of 12. Yippee. He gets the concept. So I said to him, well, do it already! He explained that he couldn’t, since he only knew up to 12 times 12. But he did, after 7 agonizing minutes of developing his own iterated-subtraction-while-tallying system, tell me that 568 inches was 47 feet, 4 inches. Well, he got it right. But to be honest, I was mad; he could’ve done in a minute what ended up taking 7. And he already got the concept, since he knew he had to divide; he just needed to know how to actually do it. From my reading of the common core, that’s a great story. I can’t say I feel the same.
If Everyday Math and similar programs are what is in store for implementing the common core standards for math, then I think we will continue to see an increase in remedial math instruction in high schools and colleges. Or at least an increase in the clientele of the private tutoring centers, which do teach basic math skills.”
The Indiana news outlet “Indystar” discussed Common Core today.
Indystar author Russell Pulliam quoted Emmett McGroarty’s observation, that criticism of Common Core has transcended liberal-conservative ideological differences.
“The opposition to Common Core cuts across the left-right spectrum,” he said. “It gets back to who should control our children’s education — people in Indiana or people in Washington?”
To which Pulliam added: “Who elected the big foundations who are helping drive the Common Core?”
Link to full article: http://www.indystar.com/article/20130112/OPINION07/301120307/Russ-Pulliam-Common-Core-foes-hope