Utahns Against Common Core published the resignation letter of Utah high school physics teacher Stuart Harper today. The letter is powerful. These are the words of a noble man, and his resignation is a tragic loss to Utah’s school system.
When will our state leaders acknowledge the train wreck of Common Core and turn our state around? When will they read and heed teachers like Stuart Harper?
“… After much research I know that the Common Core (CC), the way it has been implemented, and the reforms which have accompanied it are wrong. They are unsound, of poor quality, take power from local government, and further empower federal agencies and policy makers. Most importantly, their enactment was unconstitutional, both in Utah and in the nation. However wrong CC may be, my reasons for resigning are only tangent to this constitutional breech. I was aware of the core before signing on, and though I did not approve of it I gave my word in contract to teach whatever curriculum I was given.
In the summer of 2013 a personal letter I had written, stating my concerns with Common Core, was posted on the Utahns Against Common Core website. It was an opinion piece, not a scholarly review. I saw no problem with stating my opinion, it is my right as a citizen, at least so I thought.
A few months later, I was informed that the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) had learned of my published letter and was not happy with my opinions or concerns. Local school authorities were instructed to meet with me and put me back in line. During this meeting with the district representatives I was told that I was shallow, ignorant and emotional in the way I wrote my concerns and that by writing things like this I would create rebellion and insubordination across the district. I was told I can have an opinion with other state’s educational systems but as a teacher in the state of Utah I cannot be concerned with my own state’s educational affairs.
I reminded them that my intent was not to promote rebellion, but to simply encourage personal research on the subject and exercise freedom of speech on my off time, as a citizen and father. I was told “Those freedom of speech rights you are probably referring to do not apply.”
I was shocked, but I stood my ground. I made it clear that if I continued to be intimidated into silence that I would resign same day. I told them that I have given my word to teach what they want me to in the classroom and would continue, but I would also continue to use my rights as an American citizen to effect political change. They said I could share my research if I get my facts straight, but even then my job is on the line. When I told them that I would continue to research information from original sources as well as writings from those for and against Common Core they were confused. They discouraged me from seeking information from anywhere other than the USOE, and accept only their interpretations of the facts. I refused, reminding them that true education comes from educating yourself on all sides.
I was threatened on three separate occasions with professional action all because I stated my opinion. I did not resign at any of the instances where I found myself threatened because I realized that I had given my word that I would teach for the year, and I will not break my word. However I refuse to remain in an environment that clearly has no respect for the Constitutional right of free speech. I refuse to be a part of the problem.
Over the years the school system has fallen far below what it should be. The public school system is just that – public. It should represent those served by it – We the People. Each level of the system (classroom, school, district and state) fails to remember that its duty is to the people, not to the establishment. We should be representing what is in our students’ and our community’s best interest. Our current system expects acceptance and conformity to its decisions and policies by all of its teachers and administrators. Further, it expects this without questioning or voicing concerns and even goes as far as intimidating and threatening those who have differing opinions. Any society or organization that silences and discourages freedom of speech removes the possibility to express ideas, and without competing ideas we close the door on true education and open the door to tyranny.
… We have lost control of the classroom and continue to hand more and more power over to the government. Our current system no longer promotes learning, but rather focuses on training. It teaches what to think, not how to think. It is now a system of hoops for students, teachers, and administrators, and with further national control and regulations of education, these hoops have been set on fire.
I believe that until we can get education to become self-sufficient where it no longer relies on the funding and intimidation from federal and even state levels, until we can bring education back to learning how to think and not being trained for a test, and until we can bring freedom back to the individual teachers, students, and schools, our public system will continue to decay. I hope the system and its people can exercise the self discipline to do this, but where I cannot foresee this happening, my greatest hope for education now resides in home-schools, home-school groups, and in private education.
My hands are tied within this system. But I now know that I can be more productive on the outside. I will continue to promote true and correct educational principles, awareness of civic affairs, and our duty to be involved. I am going to be a part of the solution. Asking questions is the essence of education. All I encourage of others is to ask questions, seek truth and not be afraid to share that truth with other Americans who are willing to listen.
It’s a smattering of teachers’ names with links to what they have said or spoken. Their experience and research make a powerful, nearly unarguable case for stopping corporate-federal Common Core. They are current teachers, retired teachers, and teachers-turned-professors-or-administrators.
These teachers have really, really done their homework.
I’m going to share the homework of one brilliant teacher, a Pennsylvania teacher/blogger named Peter Greene who wrote about what he called his “light bulb moment” with how the Common Core Standards exist to serve data mining.
Speaking of the millions of data points being collected “per day per student,” he explained:
“They can do that because these are students who are plugged into Pearson, and Pearson has tagged every damn thing. And it was this point at which I had my first light bulb moment. All that aligning we’ve been doing, all that work to mark our units and assignments and, in some places, every single work sheet and assignment so that we can show at a glance that these five sentences are tied to specific standards– all those PD [professional development] afternoons we spent marking Worksheet #3 as Standard LA.12.B.3.17– that’s not, as some of us have assumed, just the government’s hamfisted way of making sure we’ve toed the line. It’s to generate data. Worksheet #3 is tagged LA.12.B.3.17, so that when Pat does the sheet his score goes into the Big Data Cloud as part of the data picture of pat’s work. (If you’d already figured this out, forgive me– I was never the fastest kid in class).”
Peter Greene further explained why the common standards won’t be decoupled from the data collection. His words explain why proponents cling so doggedly to the false claim that these Common Core standards are better academically (despite the lack of research-based evidence to support that claim and the mounting, on-the-job evidence to the contrary.)
“Don’t think of them as standards. Think of them as tags.
“Think of them as the pedagogical equivalent of people’s names on facebook, the tags you attach to each and every photo that you upload.
“We know from our friends at Knewton what the Grand Design is– a system in which student progress is mapped down to the atomic level. Atomic level (a term that Knewton lervs deeply) means test by test, assignment by assignment, sentence by sentence, item by item. We want to enter every single thing a student does into the Big Data Bank.
“But that will only work if we’re all using the same set of tags.
“We’ve been saying that CCSS [Common Core Standards] are limited because the standards were written around what can be tested. That’s not exactly correct. The standards have been written around what can be tracked.
“The standards aren’t just about defining what should be taught. They’re about cataloging what students have done.
“Remember when Facebook introduced emoticons. This was not a public service. Facebook wanted to up its data gathering capabilities by tracking the emotional states of users. But if users just defined their own emotions, the data would be too noisy, too hard to crunch. But if the user had to pick from the facebook standard set of user emotions– then facebook would have manageable data.
“Ditto for CCSS. If we all just taught to our own local standards, the data noise would be too great. The Data Overlords need us all to be standardized, to be using the same set of tags. That is also why no deviation can be allowed. Okay, we’ll let you have 15% over and above the standards. The system can probably tolerate that much noise. But under no circumstances can you change the standards– because that would be changing the national student data tagging system, and THAT we can’t tolerate.
“This is why the “aligning” process inevitably involves all that marking of standards onto everything we do. It’s not instructional. It’s not even about accountability. It’s about having us sit and tag every instructional thing we do so that student results can be entered and tracked in the Big Data Bank.
“And that is why CCSS [Common Core] can never, ever be decoupled from anything. Why would facebook keep a face tagging system and then forbid users to upload photos?
“The Test does not exist to prove that we’re following the standards. The standards exist to let us tag the results from the Test.
“… Because the pedagogical fantasy delineated by the CCSS does not match the teacher reality in a classroom, the tags are applied in inexact and not-really-true ways. In effect, we’ve been given color tags that only cover one side of the color wheel, but we’ve been told to tag everything, so we end up tagging purple green. When a tagging system doesn’t represent the full range of reality, and it isn’t flexible enough to adapt, you end up with crappy tagging. And that’s the CCSS… Decoupling? Not going to happen. You can’t have a data system without tagging, and you can’t have a tagging system with nothing to tag. Education and teaching are just collateral damage in all this, and not really the main thing at all.”
I’ll add more two points in support of Peter Greene’s words:
1- First, the creators of Common Core and its copyright have openly stated that they work toward both academic standards’ commonality and data standards’ commonality –I suppose for the very reasons Greene outlined. Check out the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) –a Department of Education/private CCSSO partnered enterprise, here.
2– Second, the federal grants that the states all swallowed, the data mining capability-hooks embedded in the juicy worm of funding, called “State Longitudinal Database System” grants, did specify that states MUST use interoperable data standards (search for SIF Framework, PESC model, CEDS standards, NDCM model) to track educational progress.
In other words, the 50 individual states’ database systems were designed so that they can, if states are foolish enough to do so, fully pool student and workforce data for governments or corporations– on an national or international level.
Hello, my name is Shannon Crouch. I am a 20-year-old college student studying Mathematics and Statistics at Eastern Kentucky University.
I attended high school at Morgan County High School in West Liberty, Kentucky. I was a part of the graduating class in 2011 and though I did not receive this method of schooling I have seen it enacted in my brother’s high school career as he began Sophomore year in 2011-2012. I also dealt with its repercussions as a Developmental Lab Instructor at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) for the Department of Mathematics & Statistics.
My brother’s story
To begin, I will share a brief description of the classes my brother has undertaken these last three years. At the beginning of each school year, all students are given a pre-test to determine the student’s understanding of the oncoming class content. As the semester continues, all homework assignments are handouts that relate to a ‘weekly’ mini-subject (ex. for math: solving for zeros, logarithms, solving rational functions, etc.) that make up the course outline. I will use the term ‘week’ loosely to relay the expected time frame schools believe each mini-subject should be taught. Students are pre-tested and post-tested at the beginning and ends of each ‘week’ and they move into the next ‘week’ mini-subject if a defined majority of the class passes. If that majority does not pass, then the class must repeat the subject content until either the majority has passed –or it has been taught three ‘weeks’ in a row.
To convey the detriment of such a process on student learning in full needs more than just typed words, but nonetheless I will try.
In simple terms, this modular system of teaching causes the average student to be the only student to excel. To break that sentence down further and define the difference from ‘average’ students to others, we have to look at the system being used. Given a student who makes good grades in a class and passes these pre- and post-tests each time, the process of having to repeat the class hinders his or her development in the progression of studies, but also thinking of a student who is not passing the pre- and post-tests, he/she is being dragged along by the system, unable to understand basic subjects, but often passing the class because he or she has been able to copy off peers. Some would ask what difference this last case has to older developmental systems. In return to that question, I would like to point out the handouts. These handouts are created based on the subjects to be taught for each class and are the only required work for the class. Students are no longer required to put in individualized effort into using textbooks, writing out questions, or even using critical thinking. These handouts are the perfect tools for a student to cheat with given that everything is outlined the same way.
My experience as a university math tutor
Taking a step away from its implementation, however, let’s look at the results some colleges and universities are seeing now. I will use Eastern Kentucky University as my example: According to statistics presented to us at orientation, when I enrolled in Fall 2011, approximately 48% of the incoming freshmen were required to take developmental math or Reading/English courses. This was before the implementation of Common Core –and you are correct in thinking that is a pretty high number.
The scarier thought, however, is information they shared in my job training as a developmental instructor and a tutor for the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. In the 2013-2014 academic year, approximately 60% of our incoming freshmen were required to take developmental Math or Reading/English classes. That means in a span of two years with Common Core Standards implemented in High Schools, college preparedness dropped by an extra 12% for students that enrolled to Eastern Kentucky University.
The effect seen at EKU frightens me as a student today and even as a future parent. This influx of developmental students tells me that our students are being pushed through high school without the literacy skills and basic math skills required to function in the world today. Students are being trained to pass the test rather than retain what they learn and so when it comes to their college readiness exams like the ACT, COMPASS, and KYOTE they fail to have the knowledge required to think through the questions they come across.
As an update to this story: Shannon’s relative lives in Utah. She sent a copy of the above article to a member of her Wasatch County School Board. This is what she received:
It makes me sad that implementation of the standards isn’t going well for some districts, like the one in this story. I’m so grateful we have amazing teachers who are doing great things for students in our district.
Shannon then wrote back:
I was interested to learn that you believe the effects of common core in Morgan County are a result of poor teachers, but I feel that I must correct your assumption on this.
Morgan County has many amazing teachers, especially for their core curriculum in Math, Science, and English. One such teacher, Stacey Perry is a mathematics teacher. She is qualified to teach not only the required mathematics programs for high school but extends her knowledge to AP curriculum for Calculus I and Calculus II, with one of the highest AP Exam passing percentiles for AP Calculus in Eastern Kentucky.
I want to mention this in detail so that I can relay to you that it is not the desire of beautifully brilliant teachers such as Mrs. Perry to implement common core so poorly, but rather it has been forced on them via the agreements of common core with all states.
Please do not consider your district and state as having immunity because if you do then you will see your students declining in individuality, scholastic achievement, and critical thinking. If you have any concern for you future generations, take the matter seriously and question all that you are being told by Common Core representatives.
If Obama succeeds unimpeded by Congress, how will states still claim the option of withdrawing from the Common Core –and all the tests and data collection that Common Core entails? How I hope Congress is watching –and will act. This is where we need those checks and balances –ACTING.
President Obama, McClusky explained, “wants to make the Core permanent by attaching annual federal funding to its use, and to performance on related tests. Just as the administration called for in its 2010 NCLB reauthorization proposal, [the President] wants to employ more than a one-time program, or temporary waivers, to impose “college and career-ready standards,” which–thanks to RTTT and waivers–is essentially synonymous with Common Core. In fact, President Obama proposes changing Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – of which NCLB is just the most recent reauthorization – to a program called “College- and Career-Ready Students,” with an annual appropriation of over $14 billion.
This was utterly predictable … RTTT was the foot in the door, and once most states were using the same standards and tests, there was little question what Washington would eventually say: “Since everyone’s using the same tests and standards anyway, might as well make federal policy based on that.”
Perhaps given the scorching heat the Common Core has been taking lately, most people didn’t expect the administration to make the move so soon, but rational people knew it would eventually come. Indeed, the “tripod” of standards, tests, and accountability that many Core-ites believe is needed to make “standards-based reform” function, logically demands federal control… the end game is almost certainly complete federal control by connecting national standards and tests to annual federal funding. And that, it is now quite clear, is no conspiracy theory.”
So much for the Utah State Office of Education’s oft-published claim that Common Core is federal-strings-free. Maybe now they’ll remove those lies from the USOE website. Maybe now our State School Board will stop dismissing people’s concerns by assaulting them with the label “conspiracy theorists.” Maybe.
But I’m finding no relief in the thought that the state school board can’t keep calling us names anymore. (It really never bothered me that much, to tell you the truth. I just took it as a sign of their confusion.)
But I wish– oh, how I wish– that Utah had never given away the right to keep control. We had a Constitutional RIGHT to locally control that “tripod” — standards, tests, and local accountability. We did not fight for it. Too few made a peep.
If Obama’s budget succeeds, we appear to be toast.
Just a heads up that today in the House Education Standing Committee HB342 (Powers and Duties of the State Board of Education by Rep. Layton) will be heard.
This bill essentially gives more power to parents over curriculum standards, would prohibit us from adopting any national standards, and would require a revision of our current math and ELA standards.
Go to www.le.utah.gov to read the bill and find additional information should you want to take any action. Rep. Layton has promised a substitute that will be softer but as of yet, the original bill is still on the agenda.
Sydnee Dickson, Ed. D.
Director, Teaching and Learning
Utah State Office of Education
Please note Utah has a very broad public records law. Most written communication to or from our state employees regarding state business are public records availiable to the public and media upon request. Your email communication may be subject to public disclosure.
Parents and teachers against Common Core in New York are celebrating the fact that both Democratic and Republican legislators are now taking a stand against the Common Core.
Why are the two parties coming together?
Senator George Latimer (D) -Westchester County, wrote an article for the Albany Times last month that explained it well:
“For decades we have heard the rallying cry that American students’ performance is falling behind that of students in other countries and for decades education experts have attempted to come up with ONE solution. This time, under the guise of making students more prepared for a global economy, New York has adopted the “Common Core” standards and is forging ahead at breakneck speed to implement a new top-down education mandate on local school districts. Without dissecting the validity of the “global competition” argument, there are elements of the Common Core’s implementation in New York that must be addressed first.
… There is something wrong with asking our students to perform at a higher level without properly preparing them. There is something wrong with asking someone in Albany or beyond to evaluate a student in Brooklyn the same as one in Bedford or Buffalo.
There are many issues with New York’s implementation of Common Core, and the concerns are not limited to a small contingent, as some have suggested. Real people who have students in schools and are of every ethnic, socioeconomic, gender, age and geographic makeup share reservations about the Common Core. It is also an issue that does not pit Democrats versus Republicans; it is truly about the students.
New York is asking students to take exams based on curricula that are not fully implemented in and certainly not readily embraced by those who are actually in classrooms every day. Yet proponents of Common Core continue to move forward without compromise.
With significant corporate interests behind the shifts toward a “global” education system, I think it is imperative to analyze this in a business-oriented manner.
Many business school students and graduates are surely aware of failure of the “New Coke” initiative in the early ’80s, a product that the top brass of Coca-Cola were convinced would usher in a new generation of an already successful brand. Consumers rejected it, prefering they product they already knew and liked.
Aggregate scores from the entire state have already slipped in the first year of these new tests, and we know our students are not X percent less intelligent than they were the previous year. The scores dropped because the top officials at the Education Department, like those at Coca-Cola in the ’80s, are convinced that they have a new “brand” of education that will usher in a new generation of globally competitive students. The scores dropped because in its haste to implement the new “brand” of education, SED did not do “consumer” research and development before bringing this product to New York’s education “marketplace.”
The critics of elements of the Common Core, myself included, are not against having students who are able to understand the “why behind how things work,” but we are opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach to educating children in a state, nation and world where one size rarely fits all.
… the outcry against specific aspects of the Common Core — the lack of preparation, privacy of student data, and over-reliance on testing — is an opportunity for us to respond to consumer feedback and adjust to the market. … [P]roponents have failed to properly assess the need for a completely new product in their market, and if we don’t evaluate the public opposition to the Common Core as a gauge of the education market, we will make a mistake that will hurt our children.”
Two leaders who make judgments for our schools –two whose judgment I wish we were able to trust, each have made statements: that high-stakestests and data mining are unrelated to Common Core standards.
This is a fact-checking post.
First, look at their statements:
Our governor’s education advisor, Tami Pyfer, was quoted in the Morgan News: “whilenot related to the Common Core, data mining and over-testing ‘will not be happening with Utah students.’” The Morgan News also wrote that Pyfer: “is concerned with high stakes testing and test results being used for purposes the tests were not originally designed for. ‘Wedo not support high stakes testing.‘”
Pyfer also wrote, at a blog called The Blue Hat Movement:
“I’m confused about how/why you are connecting assessment issues, like the one in this video, to the Common Core Standards.“
Meanwhile, Superintendent Martell Menlove has also said in many settings that he has concerns with high stakes testing and data mining –but says that he does not understand the relationship between high stakes testing and the Common Core. In emails to the public he has also written, “I am not aware of any additional data reporting requirements that are associated with Common Core.”
Oh, Dear. Tami and Martell!
Utah’s new school test is inseparable from the Common Core standards.
(FYI, readers, the test goes by many names: Computer Adaptive, AIR/SAGE, Utah Core, Common Core). And neither is the data-mining inseparable from Common Core, with its CEDS (common education data standards) and its SLDS (my nickname: longitudinal student stalking system).
2.) The four assurances or four key reforms for which the executive branch gave ARRA stimulus dollars (in exchange for Utah’s agreement to obey them) included common college and career-readiness standards, tests, and data collection. It was always a package deal.
“SFSF requires progress on four reforms …. 1.Making progress toward rigorous college- and career-ready standardsand high-quality assessmentsthat are valid and reliable for all students, including English language learners and students with disabilities; 2.Establishing pre-K-to college and career data systems that trackprogress and foster continuous improvement; 3.Making improvements in teacher effectiveness and in the equitable distribution of qualified teachers for all students, particularly students who are most in need; 4.Providing intensive support and effective interventions for the lowest-performing schools.”
4. The lead sponsor of Common Core Standards, Bill Gates, spoke at at national Conference for State Legislatures. He said that “We’ll only know if this effort has succeeded when the curriculum and tests are aligned to these standards.” This alignment has been the point all along. (Wouldn’t the man who funded multimillions of dollars toward the creation, development, marketing, implementation, and curriculum development of Common Core know what the goal was to be?)
It is difficult for me to understand how Menlove, who belongs to the CCSSO, or how Pyfer, who works so intimately with both the NGA and CCSSO, can mentally separate the Common Core aligned, high-stakes tests from the goals of the Common Core standards creators themselves.
The Common Education Data Standards Initiative is a joint effort by CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United States Department of Education. Educators and policy makers need clear, consistent data about students and schools in order to draw valid comparisons between key indicators of educational success and identify areas where we can improve classroom instruction and student support from early childhood through K-12 education to post secondary education and the workforce.
Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC)
The Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) is CCSSO’s network of state education agency officials tasked with data collection and reporting; information system management and design; and assessment coordination. EIMAC advocates on behalf of states to reduce data collection burden and improve the overall quality of the data collected at the national level.”
In light of these five points, can anybody honestly say that they cannot see a connection between the Common Core test and the Common Core high stakes AIR tests? Are we still to be called “conspiracy theorists” (my school board member Dixie Allen’s latest term of endearment for me) –for declaring that the tests and standards are one, are inseparable, and are equally harmful to our schools and to our liberties?
So, having made this point, now let me share what Principal Bob Schaeffer of Colorado shared with me today: a compilation of how bad the national Common Core high-stakes testing is waxing.
NEWS UPDATE: NATIONAL PROBLEMS WITH HIGH-STAKES TESTS
There are many Stop Common Core rallies happening now in Utah, Missouri, Louisiana, New York and elsewhere. The rallies come on the heels of a U.S. Senate resolution that denounced Common Core, signed by senators from South Carolina, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Wyoming.
Tonight, Tuesday, February 18th, at 6:30 at the State Capitol Building, Hall of Governors, is the Utah Stop Common Core rally. As the press release indicated, this is an action rally that sends a message to Utah legislators: “Stand up against Common Core or prepare to be voted out of office.”
Please, Utahns, come.
We need many hundreds of people here tonight. Your physical presence speaks more loudly than many other things. There is a battle going on, involving your children and their well-being. Drop your laundry folding and your soccer game and your genealogy club meeting and come; defend. I’ll tell you why.
If you care about liberty and local control, if you care about what your children will be learning in school and you want a voice in that, if you care about teachers being given respect and not micromanaged by an increasingly top-heavy government, if you care about the privacy of student data, if you think that classic literature should remain in schools, not edged out by “informational texts” down to 70% by the senior year, if you think that children should have access to calculus and other higher level math classes if they want to learn it, in high school; if you think traditional math algorithms are more valuable than group discovery of math pathways, if you believe in the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee that states, not federal forces or corporate boardrooms, should be directing schools; if you believe in the Declaration’s guarantee that innocent people will not be subjected to “unreasonable search and seizure” to which the educational SLDS tracking system does subject all schoolchildren; if you think schools should be using educational standards that are un-experimental, time-tested, and actually analyzed and vetted locally prior to adoption; if you want to send a message to the state school board and governor that we don’t want national sex standards, national social studies standards, and national science standards which are waiting in the wings to join our current math and English national standards; if you want to send a message that you believe in representation and not in having unelected corporate boards and untransparent, unelected groups like the CCSSO and NGA making decisions for US that we cannot alter; if you want to see independent thought and not just groupthink taking over the textbooks of our state and nation; if you believe in the principle of honest debate rather than profiteers paying for their version of reforms without the debate of the people ever happening; if you think education reforms should have something to do with parents and teachers rather than with bureaucrats and corporate partners— then COME TO THE RALLY TONIGHT. GOD BLESS YOU FOR COMING.
Speakers will each be giving 5-minute-or-shorter power speeches.
Utah Mom Alisa Ellis will be the Emcee.
Tonight’s speakers will be:
State Senator Margaret Dayton
Representatives Brian Greene and Dana Layton
Radio Host Rod Arquette
Attorney Ed Flint
Alpine School Board Member Brian Halladay – essay contest winner
Teacher Amy Mullins – essay contest winner
Teacher Cami Isle - essay contest winner
Agency Based Education – Oak Norton
Utahns Against Common Core – Renee Braddy
Teacher and Author Sinhue Noriega
Libertas Institute – Connor Boyack
Left/Right Alliance – Autumn Cook
Eagle Forum – Gayle Ruzicka
Mental Health Expert Joan Landes
There will be a meet-and-greet at 6:00 if you want to come early to ask questions.
…AND, IN OTHER PLACES….
THE NEW YORK RALLY:
The New York iREFUSE Rally will happen before the HST testing takes place in NY which is the following Monday (March 31st ) just after the rally. One of the goals of the rally is to help build awareness that a child can refuse the HST Common Core test. The iREFUSE New York community page: https://www.facebook.com/irefusethegreatamericanoptout
This post aims to be as unmistakably direct and documented as possible. Feel free to use it without asking permission.
DOES COMMON CORE PREPARE STUDENTS FOR COLLEGE?
Not for a 4-year university. It minimally prepares students for the non-collegiate workforce or for non-selective community colleges.
A key Common Core creator, Jason Zimba, said that the Common Core can prepare students for non-selective colleges but that it does not prepare students for STEM careers. He said: “I think it’s a fair critique that it’s a minimal definition of college readiness… but not for the colleges most parents aspire to… Not only not for STEM, it’s also not for selective colleges. For example, for U.C. Berkeley, whether you are going to be an engineer or not, you’d better have precalculus to get into U.C. Berkeley.”
IS THERE AN AMENDMENT PROCESS FOR VOTERS TO ALTER THE COMMON CORE?
No. When it changes, it will be changed by those who wrote them. (See official site .)
DO THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS IMPROVE K-12 EDUCATION?
No one knows. They are an unpiloted experiment. But people who are financially invested in Common Core say yes to the question, while people who aren’t financially interested, and who study and analyze the Common Core standards, say no.
Dr. James Milgram (Stanford University emeritus professor who served on the official Common Core validation committee) reported:
“I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by 7th grade,and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, coursein Algebra I or Geometry. Moreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course…They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries when it comes to being hired to top level jobs.“
Dr. Sandra Stotsky (University of Arkansas emeritus professor who served on official Common Core validation committee and also refused to sign off on the academic legitimacy of the Common Core) said:
“As empty skill sets, Common Core’s ELA standards do not strengthen the high school curriculum. Nor can they reduce post-secondary remedial coursework in a legitimate way. As empty skill sets, Common Core’s ELA “college readiness” standards weaken the base of literary and cultural knowledge needed for authentic college coursework, decrease the capacity for analytical thinking… and completely muddle the development of writing skills.” Full testimony here.
IS COMMON CORE LEGAL?
No. Under the Constitution, education belongs to individual states. It is illegal for the federal government to interfere in the states’ right of making educational decisions. National standards are illegal. National data collection is illegal. And the General Educational Provisions Act 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…”
DOES COMMON CORE REALLY TAKE AWAY MOST OF THE TRADITIONAL CLASSIC LITERATURE AND NARRATIVE WRITING?
Yes. Although it does not specify which classic books cannot be read, the Common Core contains a chart that explains that in fourth grade, students must cut their classic/fiction reading to 50%. By twelfth grade, students must reduce their classic/fiction reading to 30% with informational text taking up 70% of the time spent reading.
WHAT IS INFORMATIONAL TEXT?
Informational text is anything that used to belong mostly in other subjects. It is now taking 70% of high school seniors’ English class readings, in the form of scientific writings, political writings; opinion pieces; almost anything other than classic novels, poetry, plays or other fictional works.
WHY DON’T COMMON CORE PROPONENTS WANT STUDENTS TO LEARN MUCH MATH?
It costs money to educate beyond minimal workforce training. In this 2013 document put out by the NCEE (National Center on Education and the Economy) we learn that it’s not important under Common Core to have high educational standards in high school; it’s seen as a waste of time to educate the high school graduates past Algebra II. They’re pushing for an emphasis on the lowest common denominator, while deceptively marketing Common Core as a push for “rigorous” academics.
Read these Common Core proponents’ lips: “Mastery of Algebra II is widely thought to be a prerequisite for success in college and careers. Our research shows that that is not so… Based on our data, one cannot make the case that high school graduates must be proficient in Algebra II to be ready for college and careers. The high school mathematics curriculum is now centered on the teaching of a sequence of courses leading to calculus that includes Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus and Calculus. However, fewer than five percent of American workers and an even smaller percentage of community college students will ever need to master the courses in this sequence in their college or in the workplace… they should not be required courses in our high schools. To require these courses in high school is to deny to many students the opportunity to graduate high school because they have not mastered a sequence of mathematics courses they will never need. In the face of these findings, the policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation simply cannot be justified.”
The report goes on to say that traditional high school English classes, with their emphasis on classic literature and personal, narrative writing, is useless. The report says that Common Core will save students from the irrelevant classics with a new emphasis on technical subjects and social studies via the dominance of informational text:
“The Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts (CCSSE) address reading in history/social studies as well as science and technical subjects, and in so doing may increase the relevance of high school instruction.”
In calling classic literature and personal writing irrelevant, these Common Core proponents underscore the idea that job prep matters, but not the pursuit of wisdom or knowledge.
WHY DID ALMOST EVERY STATE IN THE U.S. DROP THEIR EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS, WHETHER LOWER OR HIGHER, TO ADOPT COMMON CORE STANDARDS?
Proponents say that the reason was to improve education. Opponents say that it had nothing to do with education; that the standards were adopted without analysis or any vetting because the adoption was offered by the federal government under time pressure, in exchange for a chance at large federal grant monies called Race to the Top. Even those states that applied and won no money (like Utah) stayed with Common Core, because there were many other federal reasons and incentives to do so.
WILL THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS REMAIN AS THEY ARE TODAY?
No. Common Core’s official site says: “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised accordingly.” There’s no way for the governed to revise the document by which they’ve agreed to be governed.
WHY DOES THE STATE SCHOOL BOARD SAY WE’RE FREE TO CHANGE THEM?
States can’t delete anything. We can add –a tiny bit. A Common Core 15% rule says: “A State may supplement such standards with additional standards, provided that the additional standards do not exceed 15 percent of the State’s total standards”
(This rule is repeated in the federal waivers from No Child Left Behind, in the Race to the Top Assessments Grant application, in documents of both PARCC and SBAC testing groups, and in the implementation guide of Achieve, the group contracted to create Common Core.)
WILL THE CREATORS OF COMMON CORE CHANGE THESE STANDARDS WITHOUT OUR APPROVAL?
Yes. Common Core’s official site says: “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised accordingly.” There’s no invitation for the governed to revise.
WHERE DO PROPONENTS GET THE NOTION THAT COMMON CORE WILL IMPROVE EDUCATION?
WAS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT “HANDS-OFF” THE STATES’ ADOPTION OF COMMON CORE?
No. Secretary Duncan announced and praised the release of the standards in 2010. He bribed states using Race to the Top grant money. He contracted with the testing groups to micromanage the Common Core tests, in exchange for federal grant money.
DID THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BRIBE STATES TO ADOPT COMMON CORE?
Yes. But Secretary Arne Duncan told the American Society of News Editors that opponents make “outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t.”
WHAT SPECIFICALLY DID THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION DO TO REMOVE PRIVACY FROM STUDENT DATA?
– It bribed the states with ARRA Stimulus monies to build 50 linkable, twinlike State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS). This created a virtual national database.
– It altered the (previously privacy-protective) federal FERPA (Family Educational Rights Privacy Act) law to make access to personally identifiable student data –including biological and behavioral data– “legal”. Now, the act of requiring parental consent (to share personally identifiable information) has been reduced from a requirement to just a “best practice” according to the altered federal FERPA regulations.
For more information on this, study the lawsuit between the Electronic Information Privacy Center and the Department of Education.
For a 15-minute crash-course on Common Core’s connection with student data mining, watch this video by Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project:
IS THIS ABOUT MAKING MONEY AT THE EXPENSE OF QUALITY EDUCATION?
Yes. Educational gains are not the motivator for Common Core. Notice that proponents are either financially invested in the implementation of Common Core, or else must be subservient to it and call it good because they rely on payment from those who are invested. The financial obligation should make the following groups’ promotion of Common Core extremely suspect:
“What appalls me most about the standards … is the cavalier contempt for great works of human art and thought, in literary form. It is a sheer ignorance of the life of the imagination. We are not programming machines. We are teaching children. We are not producing functionaries, factory-like. We are to be forming the minds and hearts of men and women… to be human beings, honoring what is good and right and cherishing what is beautiful.”
The standards are portrayed as so consensual, so universally endorsed, so thoroughly researched and vetted, so self-evidently necessary to economic progress, so broadly representative of beliefs in the educational community—that they cease to be even debatable… The principle of opportunity costs prompts us to ask: “What conversations won’t we be having?” Since the CCSS virtually ignore poetry, will we cease to speak about it? What about character education, service learning? What about fiction writing in the upper high school grades? What about the arts that are not amenable to standardized testing? … We lose opportunities when we cease to discuss these issues and allow the CCSS to completely set the agenda, when the only map is the one it creates.”
“Yes, man is made for work, but he’s also made for so much more… Education should be about the highest things. We should study these things of the stars, plant cells, Mozart’s Requiem… not simply because they’ll get us into the right college or into the right line of work. Rather, we should study these noble things because they can tell us who we are, why we’re here… If education has become –as Common Core openly declares– preparation for work in a global economy, then this situation is far worse than Common Core critics ever anticipated. And the concerns about cost, and quality, and yes, even the constitutionality of Common Core, pale in comparison to the concerns for the hearts, minds, and souls of American children.”
“Education reform in the United States is being driven largely by ideology, rhetoric, and dogma instead of evidence…. Where is the evidence of the efficacy of the standards? … Let us be very frank: The CCSS are no improvement over the current set of state standards. The CCSS are simply another set of lists of performance objectives.” Dr. Tienken also has two powerful short videos on the subject of standards and of assessments.
“The Core standards just set in concrete approaches to reading/writing that we already know don’t work very well. Having the Core standards set in concrete means that any attempts to innovate and improve reading/writing instruction will certainly be crushed. Actual learning outcomes will stagnate at best. An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than less attention the reading/analysis of stories known to effective in terms of structure (i.e. “classic” time-tested stories). An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than fewer exercises where students write stories themselves that are modeled on the classics. This creates a more stable foundation on which students can build skills for other kinds of writing. The Core standards would prevent public schools from testing these kinds of approaches.”
“The Common Core — effectively national math and English curriculum standards coming soon to a school near you — is supposed to be a new, higher bar that will take the United States from the academic doldrums to international dominance.
So why is there so much unhappiness about it? There didn’t seem to be much just three years ago. Back then, state school boards and governors were sprinting to adopt the Core. In practically the blink of an eye, 45 states had signed on.
But states weren’t leaping because they couldn’t resist the Core’s academic magnetism. They were leaping because it was the Great Recession — and the Obama administration was dangling a $4.35 billion Race to the Top carrot in front of them. Big points in that federal program were awarded for adopting the Core, so, with little public debate, most did.”
“Literature is the study of human nature. If we dissect it in this meaningless way, kids not only do not become college and career ready, they don’t even have a love of learning; they don’t even have an understanding of their fellow men… The thing that bothers me more than anything else is found on page number one of the introduction. That says that Common Core is a living work. That means that the thing that you vote on today could be something different tomorrow, and five years from now it is completely unrecognizable.” (Dr. Moore also wrote a most excellent book about Common Core English standards, entitled “The Storykillers.”)
Dr. Sandra Stotky (spoken of at the top) has written:
“The wisest move all states could make to ensure that students learn to read, understand, and use the English language appropriately before they graduate from high school is first to abandon Common Core’s ‘standards’…”
“The notion that Common Core’s college and career readiness standards are “rigorous” needs to be publicly put to bed by Arne Duncan, his friends at the Fordham Institute and the media. Two of Common Core’s own mathematics standards writers have publicly stated how weak Common Core’s college readiness mathematics standards are. At a public meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in March 2010, physics professor Jason Zimba said, “The concept of college readiness is minimal and focuses on non-selective colleges.”
Dr. Stotsky also testified that:
“Beyond the lack of clarity from the outset about what college readiness was intended to mean and for whom, Common Core has yet to provide a solid evidentiary base for its minimalist conceptualization of college readiness–and for equating college readiness with career readiness. Moreover… it had no evidence on both issues.”
“Common Core supporters still can’t figure out how to deal with legitimate criticisms of its English language arts (ELA) standards. So they just keep parroting the line that Common Core’s ELA skills are actually standards, are rigorous and prioritize literary study, when it’s quite obvious to any English teacher that they are none of the above.”
“Common Core was/is not about high-quality national education standards. It was/is not about getting low-income, high-achieving students into advanced math and science courses in high school and then into college. CCSSI was and is about how to lower the academic level of what states require for high school diplomas and for admission to public colleges.”
“Of course, Common Core proponents can’t say that lowering academic standards is their goal. Instead, they claim that its standards will reduce the seemingly terrible problems we have with interstate mobility (actually less than 2 percent nationally) or enable Massachusetts teachers to know how Mississippi students compare to theirs (something they never said they were eager to learn), or facilitate nationally the sale of high-tech products to the public schools (something the P-21 skills folks were eager for). They have looked desperately for motivating issues and these are the best cards in their deck, as poor as they are.”
“Their major selling point is how poor our K-12 public education system is in too many states. But it needs to be strengthened, not weakened. We continue to need capable doctors and engineers who build bridges and tunnels that won’t collapse.”
“Are we as a society really ready to agree to Common Core’s low-expectations for college readiness (as professors Zimba and McCallum indicate)? Are we willing to lower the bar as a way of closing the achievement gap?”
“We hear no proponents or endorsers of Common Core’s standards warning this country about the effects of the college-readiness level in Common Core’s mathematics standards on postsecondary and post-baccalaureate academic and professional programs. We hear no proponents or endorsers of Common Core’s standards advising district superintendents and state education policy makers on the kind of mathematics curriculum and courses they need to make available in our secondary schools if our undergraduate engineering colleges are to enroll American students. At this time we can only conclude that a gigantic fraud has been perpetrated on this country, in particular on parents in this country, by those developing, promoting, or endorsing Common Core’s standards. We have no illusion that the college-readiness level in ELA will be any more demanding than Common Core’s college-readiness level in mathematics.” – Sept. 2013 paper: Can This Country Survive Common Core’s College Readiness Level? by R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky
“The adoption of a set of standards and assessments, by themselves, is unlikely to improve learning, increase test scores, or close the achievement gap. • For schools and districts with weak or non-existent curriculum articulation, the CCSS may adequately serve as a basic curriculum. • The assessment consortia are currently focused on mathematics and English/language arts. Schools, districts, and states must take proactive steps to protect other vital purposes of education such as citizenship, the arts, and maximizing individual talents – as well as the sciences and social sciences. As testbased penalties have increased, the instructional attention given to non-tested areas has decreased. • Educators and policymakers need to be aware of the significant costs in instructional materials, training and computerized testing platforms the CCSS requires. It is unlikely the federal or state governments will adequately cover these costs. • The nation’s “international economic competitiveness” is unlikely to be affected by the presence or absence of national standards.”
Parents and retired teachers, it is up to us to stop this thing. Teachers who are currently teaching, or principals, or others who work in the education sales industry dare not speak up too loudly or risk losing their jobs. It is up to us.
ESSAY CONTEST for FEBRUARY 18th STOP COMMON CORE RALLY
On the 18th of Feburary at 6:30 – 8:00 p.m., hundreds of Utahns will gather at the State Capitol to take a stand against Common Core. As part of that event, Utahns Against Common Core has announced an essay contest. Three essays will be chosen and read by their authors at this event. Here’s the announcement:
What’s the powerful reason that you’ve taken a stand against Common Core? Why do you want the restoration of high quality, time-tested education standards and local control in Utah? Do you have a great story? Utahns Against Common Core wants to hear it!
Submit your essay to Utahns Against Common Core at firstname.lastname@example.org by the deadline: midnight on February 15th. Three essays will be selected to be read at the State Capitol Common Core Event on February 18th from 6:30 to 8:00. Winners will be notified on February 17th and winners will be announced at the public meeting. Winning and non-winning essays will be posted at Utahns Against Common Core. If you do not want your essay made public, please let us know.
Topic: Why I oppose the Common Core Initiative
Length: Essay must be readable in less than three minutes.
Deadline: 12:00 midnight on February 15th, 2014
Prize: You get to share your story/essay at the State Capitol Common Core Event
Guest post by Chicago high school history teacher Paul Horton, also posted at Edweek
Back before the President was elected, he spoke to the 80th annual convention of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). It is useful to compare the President’s speech to the AFT in July of 2008 and his state of the union address last week. In his state of the Union speech of 2013, he spoke of states “voluntarily” complying with the DOEd’s Race to the Top program. He is fond of saying that learning “is more than bubble tests,” and that “change is hard.”
It is also interesting to note that the President began this year’s state of the union speech with a compliment to teachers–an election cycle is approaching—but that he stuck with the “bubble test” line, and, most importantly, with the “change is hard” line.
My guess is that he dropped the “voluntary” line because many teachers, students, and parents don’t buy it anymore. Too many folks know too much.
I have just taken a closer look at the history of Illinois compliance. This example might be similar to what happened in many other states.
On January 13 and 14 of 2010, Governor Quinn and state Education Superintendent Christopher Koch signed the first round RTTT Illinois Application. Initial endorsements came from the Commercial Club of Chicago’s who’s who.
When Tennessee and D.C. won the first round, the pressure was on to beef up endorsements for the 2nd round of grants. This is where the heavy political muscle was applied. Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) put out fact sheets indicating that Illinois’ first application lacked broader support from education, business, and political leaders, the state legislature then magically brought a bill to the floor that called for a 1% increase in Education funding right at the point when Federal money that had allowed districts to retain thousand of teachers was cut off for the next fiscal year.
The money available would be dangled before the states facing huge cuts in the form of a Race to the Top grant competition. According to Illinois AFT President Ed Geppert, “Illinois is on the brink of budget disaster.” (Illinois AFT Facebook posting, March 10, 2010)
In response, AFT mobilized its base in rallies to increase state funding. But the state legislature had the NEA and AFT over a barrel. Not surprisingly, as the state Education bill was being negotiated, NEA and AFT both sent in phase two RTTT application endorsement letters. At the same time (February-July), district superintendents and NEA and AFT locals were being pressured to sign Memorandums of Understanding (MOUS) to mandate adherence to the Common Core Curriculum (CCCS), standardized testing based on the CCCS, Value Added Assessments (VAM), greater openness to charter school openings, and more support for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education (STEM). This all sounded great to districts and locals facing huge job cuts, they could see the gruesome budget guillotine out the window.
With some resistance from better-funded north shore (Chicago) districts (i.e. Evanston) the state achieved “voluntary” buy-in when districts gave up local control of curriculum and union locals begged for crumbs at the legislative bargaining table.
A question that could be asked is: how could the state legislature be lined up so quickly to apply the pressure on districts and unions? My educated guess is DFER. DFER had access to “insider information” from DOEd.
A very porous membrane exists between the Department of Education, Democrats for Education Reform, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Pearson Education.
DFER made it known to the Illinois House Speaker and Governor that Illinois’ application did not look “voluntary” enough. The House Speaker and the Governor’s allies in the state legislature came up with the idea of an underfunded Education bill as the leverage needed to create “voluntary” support for RTTT. Dozens of letters of endorsement began arriving to the Governor’s office in early May.
“Voluntary” my…. foot!
Back to the President’s campaign speech in July 2008 to the AFT convention. At this point Bill Gates was playing pretty coy with the President’s campaign. Candidate Obama already had strong ties to DFER, having worked with DFER as a state senator and US senator. His close circle of friends, the friends who had provided him with the cash to make it through the primaries, all supported charter schools. John Rogers created created the Ariel Academy and the Ariel Foundation. Marty Nesbitt and Penny Pritzker were breaking into the business of creating charter schools: the Noble Charter chain. Mr. Nesbitt, Diana Mendley Rauner, Rahm Emanuel, and Valerie Jarrett had close ties with the Chicago Housing Authority. Mr. Nesbitt was the CHA Board Chairman and worked to implement a Federally subsidized plan (Hope VI) in the Plan for Transformation that demolished public housing units and created public-private partnerships for mixed income development on the west and “mid-south” sides.
At the same time, the Commercial Club of Chicago hatched the Renaissance 2010 plan that sought to close 60 public schools in these mixed income developments and replace them with a mix of 100 public and private charter schools. The push for the Olympic bid for 2016 was intended to speed up south side gentrification to create a developer’s profit bonanza. Brand new “streamlined” charter schools would attract upper middle class buyers into mixed-income neighborhoods. (Pauline Lipman, The New Political Economy of UrbanEducation, 74-99)
The Olympic bid fell flat on its face, and the neighborhoods were not mixing as rapidly as developers hoped in the wake of the 2008 crash.
But the charter schools are still being built and public schools are still being closed in gentrifying areas. Former public housing residents are pushed out of these mixed income neighborhoods. Because the neighborhood schools lose enrollment, they are closed. Public schools are then replaced by charters that require an extensive application process. This story is the narrative of “reform” in several major cities. (Lipman, 95-99)
“It is time to start treating teachers properly….In May, I visited a school in Colorado where just three years ago, only half the seniors are accepted to college. But thanks to the hard work of caring parents, innovative educators, and some very committed students, all forty-four seniors at this year’s class were accepted to more than seventy colleges and universities across the country. And that example trickles down.”
What the President did not tell the AFT crowd in 2008 was that the school that he was describing was a charter school that had closed its doors to a large percentage of students who started with the class that the future President was holding up as a model for all educators. He was also very careful not to mention that the school employed non-union teachers and was created by a former Teacher for America teacher—Michael Johnston.
The President knew what he was planning because his closest friends, and most important bundlers: John Rogers (Arne Duncan’s best friend), Marty Nesbitt (the President’s best friend), and Penny Pritzker (Marty Nesbitt’s boss who invested $50 million in his “Parking Spot” start-up), all board members of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools (who served on that board with Michelle Obama), were heavily invested in the Noble charter chain.
For President Obama, education policy will not change because he owes the DFER bundlers, his closest friends, and Bill Gates a huge payback for their investment of time and funds into his campaign.
Our education policy is their education policy. It is a policy for those who own stock in charter chains, Microsoft, Apple, HP, and Pearson Education.
“Change is hard.”
Should Corporations and political friends be allowed to dictate Education Policy?
How would you like to be a fly on the wall in a teacher education classroom? What are colleges training teachers to teach today? Is it legitimate education?
Barry Garelick, a California math teacher, has written a book (his introduction is below) based on his university teacher- education experiences, and experiences as a student teacher. Garelick used two pen names, “Huck Finn” and “John Dewey” –to avoid ruining his chance of obtaining a teaching credential at the time, and to avoid being blackballed from teaching because of differences in teaching philosophy.
The insightful and sometimes very funny chronicles show that the one-size-fits-all mentality displayed by Common Core starts before our children enter K-12 classrooms; it starts in the groupthink of teacher education schools.
In Which I Explain Myself Without Apology
Guest post by Barry Garelick
I have written a book entitled “Letters from John Dewey/Letters from Huck Finn: A Look at Math Education from the Inside”. It is a collection of letters that I wrote which chronicle my experiences in a math teaching methods class in Ed. school (using the name John Dewey) and my experiences student teaching (using the name Huck Finn). I teach mathematics in California. I have a degree in the subject and an intense interest in how it is taught.
When my daughter was in elementary school I saw things I didn’t like about the way she was being taught math. I was also tutoring high school students in math and saw disturbing weaknesses in basic math skills. This caused me to embark in research about what is going on in math education. I decided that the way I could possibly make a difference was to teach mathematics in middle or high school. In the fall of 2005, with six more years left until I could retire, I enrolled in education school.
By way of a short background, the debate over how math is best taught in K-12 (and which is known as the “math wars“) has been going on for many years, starting perhaps in the early part of the 20th century. The education theory at the heart of the dispute can be traced to John Dewey, an early proponent of learning through discovery. Fast forward to 1957 when Sputnik was launched and the New Math era began in earnest, which continued until the early 70′s. Then came the “back to basics” movement, and in 1989 the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) came out with The Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics, also known as the NCTM standards.
The NCTM’s view was that traditional teaching techniques were akin to “rote memorization” and that in order for students to truly learn mathematics, the subject must be taught “with understanding”. Thus, process trumped content. Showing how students obtained the answer to a problem was more important than getting a right answer. Open-ended ill-posed problems became the order for the day. The prevailing education groupthink was (and still is) that teaching the mathematical procedures for particular types of problems was just more rote. Such approaches didn’t teach students “higher order thinking skills”, “critical thinking” and many other terms that are part of the education establishment’s lexicon.
By the time I enrolled in Ed. school, I pretty much knew what I was in for. I was well acquainted with the theories of teaching and learning which dominated the education establishment in general and education schools in particular. Nevertheless, I was surprised at what I heard when going through the candidate interviews, which was part of the application process. Future teachers of science and math were herded in one group and given a brief talk by the coordinator of secondary education. Among her opening remarks was the announcement that “The way math and science are taught today is probably not how you were taught when you were in school.” A few sentences later, the coordinator, with index finger pointing to the ceiling for emphasis, said “Inquiry-based learning!” Though a bit unnerved, I at least knew where I was.
All in all, my Ed. school experience had some redeeming features. Most of my teachers had taught in K-12, and had valuable advice about classroom management problems and some good common-sense approaches to teaching that didn’t rely on nausea-inducing theories. Also, I learned how to make it sound like my approach to teaching was what was being taught. I learned to talk about discovery approaches and small group exercises—no one has to know that such techniques are not going to be your dominant teaching approach. In short, since future teachers will be working in a bureaucracy that is often dictated by the groupthink of the education establishment, Ed. school serves the purpose of teaching survival techniques.
Sometime after I took my first course, I decided to write a series of letters documenting my experience in Ed. school, using the pseudonym of John Dewey. There was a new education blog that had emerged called Edspresso, edited by a genial and talented young man named Ryan Boots. (Unfortunately, he left Edspresso several years ago). I pitched the idea to him, asking him what he thought. He responded almost immediately along the lines of “An Ed. school mole writing about his experiences? When can you start?”
My series of letters for Edspresso covered mainly one class—the beginning math teaching methods class. The letters proved to be very popular and many people left comments—some supportive, and some very angry. I wrote the letters almost in real time—there was perhaps a one or two week delay between the letter I was writing and the events of a particular class.
As I progressed through the class, I noticed that while my views on teaching may have differed from that of the teacher (an adjunct professor who I refer to as Mr. NCTM), there were certain views that we shared in common. We were both around the same age, and he had taught high school math for 30 years. He had very good advice and it was clear that he liked me. I came to the realization that though there were vast differences in teaching philosophies within the teaching profession, one had to work with fellow teachers as well as the people in power on a daily basis. The trick would be to find a situation in which I could be loyal to how I believed math should be taught, and find that common bond with the other teachers and the administration that would allow us all to get along.
I decided to stop writing the letters when the math teaching methods class ended. This was not only because of the time involved in writing them, but because of a fear that their continuation would ultimately lead someone to discover the identity of the author. I didn’t want to ruin any chance of obtaining a teaching credential, nor to be blackballed from any teaching positions because of differences in teaching philosophy.
After several years, I had completed all my coursework and was ready to move on to student teaching. I had a few months to go until retirement, and then could take on the commitment for the remaining task. I felt that this phase called for a resurrection of John Dewey, but my initial draft of a letter seemed forced and the voice of Mr. Dewey no longer seemed appropriate.
Around that time, I had the good fortune to have seen a performance of Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain. Mr. Holbrook was 85, so I knew this might be my last chance to see him. The performance lived up to everything I had heard about it, but one part of the evening stood out. He did a reading from Huckleberry Finn that was extremely moving and convincing. I heard the voice of a naive young boy commenting on rather serious matters over which he had no control, but about which he was beginning to form life-changing opinions. I realized the next day that Huck Finn was the perfect choice for the author of the letters about student teaching, immersed in the polarized world of education, and drifting along the ideological, political and cultural divide.
I asked Katharine Beals who runs the blog “Out In Left Field” if she wouldn’t mind publishing some letters from Huck Finn about the process of becoming a math teacher. She was excited about this and so I decided to give it a go. I was grateful for her taking Huck in; she is known as “Miss Katharine” in the letters. The name seemed to fit her quite well.
The first two Huck Finn letters are about a year apart, and then they follow the student teaching. I couldn’t write those in real time since the teaching kept me rather busy, so I wrote the letters after I finished. After another year I wrote six more episodes, this time looking at Huck’s experience as a substitute teacher.
I’m trying to think of something profound and moving to close with here and the best I could come up with was “For anyone wanting to make a movie based on these letters, please don’t have me played by Matt Damon.” Actually, a comment I received on one of the Huck Finn letters from Niki Hayes, a former teacher and principal, is much better I think, so let me close with that and offer it to you as advice:
So you learned what teaching is about: The dispensing of content information so that kids don’t have to “struggle” repeatedly to understand it (which makes most humans turn off the learning switch) AND experiencing those wonderful young eyes that make you want to be a better teacher and person. You’ll always remember these kids because they were your first “tutors.” Let me assure you, there will be many more as you enter the special land of teaching.
My goal is to get this book to be required reading in math teaching methods classes at ed schools. So if you know anyone in an Ed. school with influence, please tell them about this book. -Barry Garelick
Let’s be like Indiana! The support of the State Superintendent Ritz and Governor Pence are making it possible for the people to reclaim local control of education. Indiana’s dropping Common Core. We in Utah should do the same, rather than continually giving lip service to local autonomy.
Please, fellow Utahns– write often to our Utah leaders. Let them know what is going on in national education reform and pushback, since our local newspapers rarely do. Tell them what you want them to do. They are supposed to represent us– not D.C. corporations or agencies of the federal government. We must speak up.
If you are in Missouri, here is the directory of all MO representatives. If you see your rep’s name as a co-sponsor, give him or her a call and let him or her know how grateful you are. If not, shoot your rep and email and ask him or her to sponsor this bill.
My concerns about the academic merits of Common Core paled in comparison to the much larger issue of the loss of freedom and the stripping away of local control – Alisa Ellis
Picture a bread-baking, fun-loving, church-going, small-town mother of seven –who was never politically active, who never even used to vote, –picture her becoming a sudden political activist who now travels across Utah and to other states to speak to live audiences, radio audiences, and on t.v. about the Common Core Initiative. Let me tell you a little bit about Alisa Ellis, a woman whose motto is, “I do not live in fear.”
To Alisa, education had always been important. She and her husband liked to say that they were proudly raising a family of nerds. They were the kind of parents who volunteered in the classroom. They were the kind who paid attention.
But their introduction to the educational transformation of America known as Common Core came in 2011, long after the initiative had been adopted by the state. (2011 is a whole year after the Utah state school board adopted Common Core without public knowledge or vetting; and it was two years after the state had agreed to accept the federal $9.6 million to create an “SLDS” student tracking database.)
Alisa received a Common Core pamphlet at a parent-teacher conference.
She stared at it. She puzzled. She asked the teacher to explain.
“I didn’t know how one size-fits-all would work without hurting the top and bottom students,” she recalls. But when she asked the teacher to expound on the subject, that teacher didn’t know anything.
Alisa began to ask around.
“I asked everyone I knew for their thoughts on Common Core. I tried researching online but everything was fluff,” she said, “It was nine months before I was invited to a meeting to learn more.”
One day at the grocery store, she bumped into a friend who actually knew something about the Common Core Initiative. The conversation lasted a long time. The friend invited Alisa to come to a “Cornerstone of Freedom” meeting to learn more. The friend added, “Oh, and would you make a few comments?”
Alisa thought that meant that she should raise her hand and make comments. She found out, during the meeting, that she was an actual scheduled speaker– after the other speaker.
“I saw my name on the schedule and immediately panicked. I pulled out my tablet and started researching ‘What is Common Core?’ After a few minutes, I realized it was pointless and I would be better off just sharing my concerns.”
She told the audience of her concerns which had begun with the Common Core pamphlet at the parent/teacher conference. She told the story of another meeting, a gifted-and-talented informational meeting, where the director said that next year, teachers would ‘start digging deeper.’
(“Digging deeper? That same line was repeated so many times that I knew I was being fed something,” she explained.)
She also told the audience another story: a school guidance counselor had advised her to take her son out of AP history. The counselor had said that her son’s “career track was more along the lines of engineering.”
He’d said, based on Alisa’s son’s ACT practice test, that: “clearly your son isn’t going to be a history professor, so we should pull him out of AP world history and put him in a class that follows his career path.” Because Alisa had trusted the system, she hadn’t questioned the counselor’s advice so she pulled her son out of AP history. This was a decision she later regretted.
“My concerns about the academic merits of Common Core paled in comparison to the much larger issue of the loss of freedom and the stripping away of local control,” she said.
She went with her friend, Renee Braddy, to meet with local teachers, principals, local school board members, the community council, and the local superintendent to discuss Common Core. These discussions resulted in the opportunity to make a presentation at the local school board meeting. (That presentation was filmed, and is called Two Moms Against Common Core on YouTube.) The superintendent had asked them not to film their presentation, but since it was an open, public meeting they did anyway. The video was shared around the state and ignited a firestorm of activists to stand up and fight against Common Core. I was among the people who got to see Alisa and Renee’s video the first week it was posted.
Next, Alisa decided it was time to become more active. She became the county delegate to the Republican convention, and before the convention, she started making phone calls to find out which candidates were promoters of Common Core. She found that all the candidates running for national level seats were opposed to Common Core. All the local candidates, aside from the current Governor, were also against it. (Governor Herbert was undecided at the time.) However, the candidates running for state legislature seats were less willing to take a position.
With unflinching determination, she successfully set up two face-to-face meetings with Governor Herbert to discuss Common Core. Then she organized public meetings and helped bring in expert academic witnesses to meet with legislators; she started her blog called Common Core Facts, she repeatedly attended and spoke up at state school board meetings, and she co-founded Utahns Against Common Core with a handful of other Utahns. (That website and petition “Utahns Against Common Core” today has over 8,000 signatures.)
Alisa’s actions, along with other activism happening around the state, eventually helped push Utah’s leadership to agree to withdraw from the SBAC Common Core testing consortia. It was a chink in the seemingly impenetrable armor of Common Core. (Side note: after Utah bowed out of SBAC, other states also began to withdraw from SBAC and PARCC. Sadly, Utah’s state school board subsequently chose to use another Common Core testing entity, AIR, which is partnered with the same SBAC. –But that’s another story.)
From the beginning, Alisa began to get invitations to speak across the state and then from other states. Today, she has probably given over fifty speeches on the subject, in tiny places and large venues, both with other speakers from Utahns Against Common Core and on her own.
This week, she will be speaking in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and in Merriam, Kansas.
You are invited.
What: WHAT YOU HAVEN’T BEEN TOLD ABOUT COMMON CORE: TRACKING YOUR CHILDREN FROM PRE-K INTO THE WORKFORCE
Where: Snow King Resort Teton Room
When: 6:15 PM on January 28, 2014
Who: Speakers will include Amy Edmonds – Wyoming Liberty Group; Alisa Ellis – Utahns Against Common Core; Christy Hooley – Wyoming Teacher; Kelly Simone – Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core – Presented by Concerned Women’s Group of Jackson Hole
Cost: Admission free; a donation of any amount to help cover expenses will be appreciated.
What: Alisa Ellis will speak on the history and truth about Common Core and its impact on our children and their education.
Dr. Terrence Moore of Hillsdale College speaks in this video about the Common Core standards in a college lecture entitled “Story-Killers: How the Common Core Destroys Minds and Souls”.
The architects of Common Core, Dr. Moore contends, are deliberately killing stories.
First Dr. Moore discusses what Common Core leaves out, in great detail. Then he asks (at minute 16:50) “what kind of mind, indeed what kind of soul will you have after going through this sort of stuff [Common Core high school]?”
He answers. This is the part we must hear.
“Nothing but mischief” is what students are learning that our country has been up to for over two centuries; and, that the past is a dark cloud that has nothing to teach us.
“No appreciation for beauty or heroism or faith” is what students will hold –because they will most likely never have discussed such things in relation to a whole book of classic literature.
“Not too high of an opinion as a family as an institution” nor of the love that holds families together –because no such models are being provided.
“Not to have been invited to love the thing we call good” and “not being taught how to laugh and how to find humor in the human condition” are additional results Dr. Moore sees coming from Common Core English classes.
Common Core high school English classes will take students down one of two roads, says Dr. Moore: either “utter boredom” or, “if you actually took these lessons seriously, down the depressing path of the prematurely jaded, postmodern anti-heroic view of life.”
He calls this movement intellectual and moral debilitation, as it deprives students of the best stories, and as it deprives them of learning about what it means to be human. Whoever controls the narrative, he explains, also controls the politics, the economics, the families, the ways we think, the ways we believe.
What is wrong with the rhetoric surrounding education reform, he asks? The architects of Common Core are simply asserting that their scheme will make students college and career ready, with no proof to back them up. “That is astonishing!” he says.
(Yes, it is.)
The authors of Common Core can point to no successes where this scheme has been tried. So the 45 states that have adopted Common Core, Dr. Moore says, “bought the farm, sight unseen.”
The traditional aims of education: truth, knowledge goodness, virtue, justice, industriousness, and happiness are no longer the aims of education.
“There is no search for happiness in the Common Core,” Dr. Moore says, noting that happiness was one of the main purposes for education according to our founding fathers.
Art, music and literature, he says, which are focused on the human soul, are being seen as increasingly dispensible under Common Core. Modern journalists are seen at the same status level as Shakespeare. “Drive by’s” of literature are now encouraged, rather than the careful, slow reading of a great classic work.
He speaks about the numbers of hours students are being put in front of a computer in the quest to prepare them for jobs. But “Jobs” he says, “do not make the human mind. The human mind makes jobs.”
Then he points out the wordiness and the silliness and the lack of age-appropriateness of many of the standards themselves.
There are pathetically humorous examples, such as why students studying “Frankenstein” don’t actually get asked to read the book.
“I am not making this up. This is straight out of the Common Core State Standards.”
He speaks about the Constitution.
“The scariest thing I actually think is written on the first page of the introduction to the Common Core…and I will read that… ‘The standards are intended to be a living work. As new and better evidence emerges, the standards will be revised accordingly.’ … Who gets to decide what constitutes new and better evidence? … The standards will be rewritten and rewritten again… what states have signed on to, they have no control over whatsoever.”
He says this is the way the progressives are pulling off the takeover. But Moore says that the authors of Common Core made two fundamental mistakes.
“First, they didn’t think that the American people would want to fight for its stories. They thought that the American people with the promises of a globally competitive society (as though we’d never seen that before) somehow would embrace computers and new technologies every new fangled idea in education and forget the fact that we as a nation understand what it means to be a globally competitive society and what we should be doing in the classroom is forming the minds and souls of the nation’s youth and therefore, we need our stories because stories are the thing that form and educate the heart.
“The second thing that they overshot and did not expect is that they simply underestimated the suburban mom. There is nothing that a suburban mom –or any mom, for that matter– cares more about than the heart and happiness of her children.
“And when that comes into danger, suburban moms who vote and who know how to organize themselves (as two ladies in Indiana do, named Heather Crossin and Erin Tuttle) and who can form organizations like Hoosiers Against the Common Core, they will mobilize people and they will take action and state legislatures then have to listen…”
“The issue that is boiling right now (other than Obamacare) in this country right now, is Common Core. And this is a fight over our schools and ultimately the souls and minds of our young people.”
“This is the time to take our stories back. After we do that, we can take our schools back, and once we have our schools back we are on the road to taking our nation back.”
Sharing a long string of emails between my State School Board representative and me, from this week and last.
I hope that given the time you have spent the last couple of years discussing this issue, that you would understand that Utah has already adopted and put in place the Common Core Standard in Mathematics and English/Language Arts. We have added some standards and will contiue to update the Standards as needed – but we have already adopted and have wonderful teachers working on Curriculum and lesson design to effectively teach the Core.
If you have specific concerns with specific standards – please let me know.
Utah State Board of Education
It cannot back up its lies of “being an improvement” academically, since it’s totally experimental and untested. Similarly, it cannot back up its lie of being “internationally benchmarked” because it’s not internationally benchmarked.
It cannot back up its lie of being unattached to the federal government since it is tied like an umbilical cord to the Department of Education; the Dept. of Ed is officially partnered with the very group that created it (CCSSO) both in the standards and in common data technologies. The Department of Ed has contracts that mandate micromanagement of Common Core testing. There is much more –all documented online and you can prove or disprove it if you are honest enough to try.
And why should we– why should you, specifically, fight federal intrusion into education?
I am a teacher. Common Core diminishes teachers’ autonomy –and students’ well-being– through federally supervised testing that drives curriculum (or will, by next year when testing really kicks in) and by the federally funded SLDS data mining that amounts to “unreasonable search and seizure” of private effects.
While there are some harmless or even some good things in the standards themselves at the elementary school level perhaps, the standards do diminish classic literature especially for high schoolers, and they marginalize narrative writing, and dumb down high school math –as has been admitted even by its creators. (Click here to see this very short video link of this out loud admission of the math-dumbing, by Common Core creator Jason Zimba).
Even if this all were not true– if somehow standards did not diminish classic literature, marginalize narrative writing, and dumb down high school math, they are still AN ATROCITY, Dixie, from which you should be protecting the children of Utah. And the teachers of Utah.
Because they suffocate the spirit of liberty and independence.
1. COMMON CORE LACKS A REPRESENTATIVE AMENDMENT PROCESS.
If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would be amendable by those governed by it.
Dixie, if this were legitimate, you and I would have a voice. But we do not.
Neither you as a state school board member, nor I as a Utah credentialed teacher, have diddly squat to say over what gets tested and taught in our math and English classrooms in Utah– because Common Core is only amendable by the NGA/CCSSO, according to their own words on their own creepy website.
Read it, for heaven’s sake! It states: “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and
better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised.” (Revised by whom?)
Not you and not me.
Again, from the official Common Core site: (their caps, not mine) “ANY USE OF THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS OTHER THAN AS AUTHORIZED UNDER THIS LICENSE OR COPYRIGHT LAW IS PROHIBITED. ANY PERSON WHO EXERCISES ANY RIGHTS TO THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS THEREBY ACCEPTS AND AGREES TO BE BOUND BY THE TERMS… NGA Center/CCSSO shall be acknowledged as the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards, and no claims to the contrary shall be made.”
2. IT LACKS CHECKS AND BALANCES. The use of checks and balances was designed to make it difficult for a minority of people to control the government and to restrain the government itself. If the Common Core Initiative– a nationalized system of standards, aligned tests, data collection and teacher accountability measures promoted federally– if this initiative were in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be held in the power of a minority of the people (of the NGA/CCSSO and of the Dept. of Ed which is partnered with CCSSO). It would have been vetted prior to implementation by the proper means outlined in the Constitution– but it wasn’t. As Alyson Williams pointed out, “There is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors… Governors working together to jointly address issues and create rules that affect the whole nation is not a legitimate alternative to Congress, our national representative body.”
3. IT LACKS AUTHORITY. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would have been born legitimately: but its only “authority” is the unprecedented assigning of money to the discretion of the Education Secretary without proper congressional oversight. From that Stimulus money came the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and the Race to the Top grant programs that enabled the Department of Ed to get away with setting up their own, experimental rules for us to follow in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States alone.
4. IT ALTERS THE LIMITS OF FEDERAL POWER. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be openly admitted even by its most notorious proponent, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, to alter the traditionally limited role of the federal government. Look:
: “Our vision of reform takes account of the fact that, in several respects, the governance of education in the United States is unusual. Traditionally, the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy… The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more… [THIS IS CLEARLY, CLEARLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL, DIXIE.] …the Recovery Act created additional competitive funding like the high-visibility $4.35 billion Race to the Top program and the $650 million Investing in Innovation Fund… America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform… In March of 2009, President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments… Virtually everyone thought the president was dreaming. But today, 37 states and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing a white paper—they have actually done it.”
Do you hear Secretary Duncan gloating over his ability to control us?
Yet the honorable Utah State School Board continues to promote the notion that we are free under Common Core. It’s a lie. The State School Board may be full of very good people like yourself, who donate to Sub-for-Santa and read to their grandchildren; but they are still guilty of passing along huge lies which they have received and believed from the pushers of the Common Core gold rush.
Common Core governance is a slap in the face to the work of the Founding Fathers.
We are rightly shuddering at the math disaster and the high-stakes testing, are rightly gasping at the lack of any cost analysis to taxpayers and at the privacy-robbing aspects of the Common Core agenda. But these arguments are secondary to the hairiest of the reform devils, the destruction of individual liberty and the end of local control of education.
Dixie, my dear representative! Please, please stand up to these people. Stop swallowing the hogwash. Stop allowing your peers on the board to spread the propaganda. It is not based in truth.
Updating with more letters 1-17-14
To answer your question, I taught public high school English for five years, University level English at UVU for two years, and public school third grade for two years. I have also been a home school teacher of fourth and fifth grade for two years. I began teaching in 1995, am still teaching, and my credential has never expired.
But. I don’t think my resume (nor yours) matters, though, because it is the principle of local and individual liberty that is the issue most harmed by the Common Core Initiative and the “Blueprint for Reform” that Common Core rides upon.
Educational experience and resumes don’t even come into the question; anyone can see through this if they take five minutes to use their brains.
I notice that you are still avoiding the issues I raised, and that you are unruffled by where the Common Core came from, or who gains financially at our expense from them, and who ultimately controls them –and thus who ultimately controls you and me and our grandchildren.
It is unfortunate that you will not confront these uncomfortable realities, very sad for the rest of us whom you are supposed to be elected to represent.
I’m forwarding news links that a Colorado principal forwarded to me today. I hope you become aware of not only the important reasons, but also the speed at which Common Core opposition is growing.
Many State Legislatures 2014 Sessions to Debate Common Core Testing Issues
It is good to know where you have experienced teaching and educational oversight. Thanks for sharing!
However, the concerns you share form the Colorado administrator still are mostly about the assessment programs. I hope that you are aware that we are developing our own assessments with the help of the AIR Company. We are doing everything we can to be in control of our Standards, Assessments and Data and I am convinced we are accomplishing our goals.
Thanks for your input, but would really like to see you look at what Utah is actually doing and not align us to other states, especially without checking out the facts as they apply to our state. It would be so good to have you working to help us improve our school system, rather than identifying what isn’t working across the nation. We still are trying to focus on improving education for the students of Utah and I believe we are making progress each and every year.
It’s not just other states that are unhappy with Common Core tests. Utahns have plenty to say about Common Core tests and their AIR/SAGE $39 million dollar waste– costs to us not only in dollars but costs to student data privacy and costs to liberty from oppressive federal and corporate oversight of Utah’s own educational business.
Have you read Matthew Sanders’ Deseret News “Common Core Testing Fraught With Flaws” op-ed on AIR? Have you read Dr. Gary Thompson’s many writings and heard his testimony? Thompson, a Utah child psychologist, exposed how AIR tests are to embed subjective assessments which are illegal. He sees AIR subjecting all students, but especially more vulnerable populations (including African Americans, gifted students, autistic students, Latino students, Asbergers’ students) to what he names “cognitive child abuse”. Thompson has spoken out here in Utah and across the nation, notably at the Wisconsin Legislature, specifically about the huge problems with AIR and similar tests.
Dr. Thompson said: “AIR’s stated mission is to “to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation towards improving peoples’ lives, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged,” and any reasonable minded person, as well as a State Superintendent of Public Schools, should at least reasonably conclude that this billion dollar research corporation (AIR) with some of the brightest minds on the planet can design tests any way that they please, unless per contractual agreement and other applied constraints, they are expressly forbidden from doing so. Utah’s parents have been told in multiple town hall meetings by the USOE that they will never be able to have access to testing questions devised by AIR in order to ensure “test integrity.” Although I am impressed with USOE and various politicians who stated that 15 parents and a few politicians will be allowed to view the tests being designed by AIR, I question their qualifications to perform anything more than a cursory review of the questions being designed. Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart may be able to balance a complex state budget, but I doubt that she has the necessary background in psychometrics to perform a critical analysis of the issues that need to be examined.”
Matt Sanders expressed additional concerns with AIR/SAGE very concisely. I would love to see the state board answer his questions, and Dr. Thompson’s concerns, about privacy of student data under AIR/SAGE.
Sanders’ article, in the April 2013 Deseret News, said:
“A key component of the Utah Common Core implementation is a new online, adaptive testing system called Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence (SAGE). The the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) contracted to pay $39 million to American Institutes of Research, a Washington, D.C., behavior and social science research organization, to build and host the new testing environment.
I applaud innovation in education and believe the pursuit of standards to improve competitiveness a step in the right direction. I also believe adaptive testing shows some promise. Further, I admire the efforts made by USOE personnel to hold town meetings across the state to introduce the proposed new testing approach to educators and parents — at times encountering some hostility from parents concerned about their children being subjected to unproven educational systems.
At the SAGE introduction in Davis County, I observed many concerns raised by parents. While there, I also asked a couple of questions, but the answers left me wanting. Upon further reflection and analysis, I believe the SAGE approach is deeply problematic, and I put forth the following questions:
Where is the evidence?
Public sector projects should carry assurance of maximum societal benefit for optimal cost. For approval, they should present evidence from research and pilot or scaled tests of the proposed reform.
Despite substantial searching, I could find no defensible studies anywhere on the USOE website, and was given no assurance by state officials that any pilot studies underpin the wholesale changes. They have not cited, as would be asked of any high school research paper, any support for their reforms. Thus, the USOE has implemented new standards, new curriculum and has spent scarce state resources on an apparently untested, unproven testing approach.
How will student data be used?
The contract with AIR contains no explicit protections of student data collected in testing by the well-known federally funded researcher. Despite repeated questions to USOE officials, they could provide no reference statutory protection of student data. USOE should provide complete assurance to families and educators that data are protected and not available for personal identification.
One of the key objectives of the Common Core initiative is to provide means for inter-state performance comparisons. However, the USOE FAQ on testing indicates that, “There are currently no national norms for the new common core or Utah Core Standards … they cannot indicate where Utah’s students stand relative the common-core standards.” So no collaborative benefits exist for developing a unique Utah test.
Why not a different approach?
Consistent with its mandate, the USOE is appropriately concerned by the college readiness of Utah students. Rather than wholesale reforms dependent on unproven curricula and tests, why not direct efforts to proven methods with known cost effectiveness?
For instance, the USOE could be redirecting the $39 million to Utah school districts to reduce class size and invest in technology, increasingly necessary to accommodate Utah’s rising student population.
… Utah schools could adopt and adapt the use of ACT benchmark tests beginning in the 8th grade to determine college preparation progress. The ACT and SAT tests have long been considered robust indicators of readiness by educators and college admissions staff alike.
While the Common Core aims are admirably ambitious, the outcomes so far don’t seem to make the grade…” — Matt Sanders email@example.com TWITTER: Sanders_Matt
Another point is my own: It is clear to all Utahns (it’s stated on AIR’s website) that AIR is partnered with SBAC, which is under a stranglehold by the Department of Ed. SBAC is mandated to “share student data”, to “synchronize tests” with other national common core testing groups, and to give constant reports to the feds. By its partnership, thus AIR is entangled in the same stranglehold. That means Utah is entangled, despite what the state board claims and wishes.
I have yet to see any evidence that AIR/SAGE tests are purely math and English assessments. I have yet to see any evidence that the tests are even being developed by Utahns rather than by the psychometricians that the AIR website flaunts as spearheading all the works of AIR.
Again, thanks for talking.
I am well aware of all your quotes and concerns. Having served on the adoption committee for our new assessment with testing directors, superintendents, teachers and specialists in the field from districts and the state office, I have heard all the concerns and recommendations on our new assessment program. I also was privileged to meet with the parent committee that examined all the test items and helped correct a few minor problems, but heard nothing about any far reaching problems that hadn’t been noted and improved.
I also had the opportunity to oversee several of the pilot districts that used “computer adaptive assessment” which was then the North West Evaluation Association. The pilots were created by the State Board and Governor Huntsman after a year or so of looking at quality assessment programs. These districts had used the assessment to accomplish great growth in student scores for about five years. NWEA was one of the companies that applied to fill the role of our assessment program that had been funded and approved by the legislature. However, NWEA was not willing to write test items that addressed Utah’s specific Core Items. Thus our committee chose AIR because of their willingness to help us (teachers in the field) to help write items that addressed our specific Core Curriculum and they also had great recommendations from other educational entities throughout the nation.
It would be great if we did not have to invest so much in evaluation, but with Grading Schools and other legislation throughout our state and the nation, we must insure we are providing accurate information for the public and our schools. It has also been proven over the past few years that the Computer Adaptive Assessments have been valuable to teacher, parents and students, as it provides a clear understanding of what curricular issues students understand and what needs extra work and support. Testing is now and has always been an instructional support to help teachers, students and parents know how to help our students improve and be successful.
Now, as you suggest, it would be great if our legislature understood how important it is to fund lower class size, preschool education for “At-Risk” students and establishing enough funding to attract the best and brightest teachers to our classrooms. As the lowest per pupil funding in the nation, I really believe that both the State Office of Education and our district partners are doing the very best they can to provide a quality education for our students. Can we do more? SURE!! But the more takes funding and spending less energy and resources to fight battles that reflect on issues that we have already identified and attempted to solve.
Christel, it would be so nice if you would come to our Board Meetings and take in all that has and continues to be done to improve our standards, our curriculum support systems, our assessment and our commitment to quality educators and education for all of our students. Many people are working so hard to insure we are doing the best with what we can afford to provide the children of our state.
Thanks for the opportunity to discuss these issues, but hope you will come see the process in action and join with us to improve our education with a positive attitude and support system.
I guess I should thank you for the invitation to “join with you to improve education with a positive attitude” at school board meetings.
But I noticed at the State School Board Meetings that I went to in 2013 and 2012 that there was an elephant that filled the room; he was so big that people couldn’t even see around him and so loud that people couldn’t talk.
He stood so that people could not move. He silenced visitors who were in his way just by leaning on them, and his glare frightened teachers, parents, and students who had come to participate in the meetings. He had his feet on some children. He wore a huge banner with his name on it, but the school board used different language to name him than what he had named himself, if they spoke of him at all.
Oddly, the Board most often dodged elephant-related questions.
He attended the Wasatch District’s school board meetings too.
For two years now, he’s eaten endlessly at the expense of taxpayers –money which was reserved for the sacred use of school children and their teachers. He ate a lot.
He’s still eating. There is not enough food for him as well as for the children, yet the Board said it would rather feed him, for some reason. So the board asks the legislature to feed the children and the teachers. Because all the board’s money is gone to feeding the elephant.
A positive attitude?
I howl because I can not get the damn elephant off my children without your help.
You have the power. Please remove him.
Although you don’t name the “elephant in the room” — I surmise you see it as Federal Intrusion. I encourage you to really look at what the Federal Government does to help provide dollars for public education and the actual data that they and our state legislature ask for in policy and then help us find ways to insure that such data doesn’t compromise the individual rights of our students. Some data is absolutely necessary, but if we know specifically what data is problematic, we can look at those issues. From my point of view as an educator, I see that test data pulled together for teachers, schools, districts and the state helps us insure that we are providing a quality education. If we overstep the process in regard to trying to insure a quality educational system — we need to know specifics — not the letters to the editor or posting on facebook, twitter and etc., with no details as to what is the real problem.
We all want to improve and support public education. Hope you will help us, instead of continuing to state there is an “elephant in the room” — but with no definition of what the elephant is and how you see we can solve the problem.
The elephant is the Common Core Initiative.
The Common Core elephant –its head is the set of experimental, untested, distorted standards which were neither written nor known about by Utahns before they were forced upon us.
I say “forced” because that is exactly what happened. The board never asked legislators, teachers, principals or parents to analyze these standards prior to throwing away classic standards. And if we speak against them now, we are labeled “insubordinate” or “misinformed”.
I say “distorted” because they are inappropriately “rigourous” for the youngest grades and inappropriately low, especially in math, for the high school grades.
The Common Core elephant– its heart is common data standards (via PESC) which Utah agreed to in its acceptance of federal grant money for the federal SLDS system. This is the heart of the data problem. We don’t have a state system; we have a federal system that we call the “state” longitudinal database. But there is nothing protecting private student data from being submitted to the federal Edfacts exchange nor to the federally partnered EIMAC/CCSSO national data collection vehicle.
Individual student data is none of anyone’s business beyond the district. Only the teacher and principal and parents need to know how a student is doing. Period. The end of the data story.
Governments grading schools is a wrong concept and should be fought but until that’s won, let them grade in aggregate form. That’s not what is happening. Even Superintendent Menlove is a member of the CCSSO, whose stated goal is to disaggregate student data.
I do not see any justification for Utah’s FORCED database (SLDS) from which no parent may opt her child out, according to this very board.
The Common Core elephant– its legs are the tests. The tests drive the future curriculum. They label teachers. They force the standards to center stage, stealing from other subjects and activities that the teacher would otherwise focus on, for example, Utah’s added standard of cursive or a teacher’s personal expertise and enthusiasm for things that go above or beyond Common Core.
Utah’s AIR/SAGE test’s alignment with all the other national common core tests are the death of its autonomy. And the federal say in these tests makes them illegitimate under the Constitution and GEPA law, which states: No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system .
Common Core is the elephant in the room because at the board meeting, nobody talks about it. They call it “Utah core.” They call them “Utah’s standards.”
Common Core sits on top of and drives EVERYTHING in Utah education today. It saps all our funding. It dominates all our teacher preparation. It dictates all new technologies. It defines our data collection. It is the basis for our $39 million dollar test. And alignment to Common Core is the ONLY prerequisite for any textbook to be used in a classroom anymore– content no longer matters; just common core alignment matters. I know this from speaking with the Utah curriculum committee.
One would think that Common Core must be remarkable and wonderful, to have such honored place in Utah, to wield such power. But it’s a joke. A joke on us. It costs us countless millions yet it’s academically distorted, is not even written by educators and has never been field tested!
It’s nothing that it says it is– not “globally competitive,” not “internationally benchmarked,” not “state-led” nor “state created.” It was David “Corporate” Coleman who on a whim decided informational text is better than classic literature, and he is the King of Common Core. Not only did he design the ELA, but now he runs the entire College Board where he aligns college entrance exams to his creation– not the other way around, as has been claimed. This is not college readiness. It’s corporate control of what that term even means anymore. We don’t get a say. The corporate elite, meaning David Coleman/Achieve Inc./Bill Gates/Pearson/CCSSO who are officially in partnership with Arne Duncan, are calling the shots. And why don’t they want us to have legitimate, high, classical college-ready standards? Because it costs too much money. This is clearly explained by Marc Tucker, CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy .
Dixie, I have told you all of this before. You either don’t believe me or don’t think it matters.
Many people don’t want to call anything evil. But I believe there is no good if there is no evil, and I believe that good and evil do not form alliances. There are people and collaborations with whom we should not shake hands, no matter how pleasingly they present themselves to us. Because they are selfish; they are steal what is good and important away from us. They hurt us while promising us the moon.
Common Core is the excuse and the rallying cry for the robbers of autonomy and our local conscience in educational decision making. These people ride on the back of the elephant and get richer and more powerful all the way. These riders of the elephant include David Coleman and his corporations, the CCSSO, NGA, Pearson, Gates, Arne Duncan, and the corporations that sell Common Core aligned products. None of them care whether they’re selling snake oil or something real. They don’t care. They count on us to be too busy or too stupid to check their claims and their price tags.
Thanks for listening.
Wow — I really thought you might have a valid point with the intrusion element. However, as a teacher, principal, curriculum director and now a State School Board Member for now over 40 years total, I have to tell you some facts!
First – all of our standards for the State of Utah have been unproven — mostly because they were created by educators in the field and tested over time and revised over time. Over the years we have, as a state, created our own assessments with help of great talent at our State Office — but both standards and testing items are created by our state teachers and specialists and evaluated and revised over time. The Common Core is and will be the same — except there are several specialists at the university level who has helped us look forward to the ramifications of State and Federal Standards and how all students will be equipped for college and universities regardless of what state university or college they choose.
Secondly, as a Principal of elementary, a 5th grade center and a high school, I can attest that with our past “stair step curriculum” – using Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 and 2, we lost almost a third of our students in being prepared to master the math curriculum for the high school. The standards for both the Mathematics and Language Arts for the Common Core is much more relevant to the investigative and inquiry expectations of both learning and work skills needed by our graduates.
Finally, Utah did not take any money specifically from the Feds for adopting the Common Core. We, along with 47 other states, found the standards higher and more relevant to the expectations of higher education and careers throughout the United States. Also, we had the support of our Governor and the Governor’s Association, the Chief School Officers and our Chief School Officer and almost all university professors and teachers we asked to evaluate the standards.
Bottom line, Christel, the Standards are a higher quality than what we have had previously and they have saved our state thousands of dollars, as we did not have to bring the specialists together by ourselves, but were able to share with the rest of the nation in the creation and evaluation of the standards.
I am sorry you see the Standards as the “Elephant in the Room” — because they are a very effective step forward toward a 21st century curriculum for our state and our teachers and students are rising to the level of the new standards very effectively. Even my elementary grandchildren now know how to substitute letters for numbers and solve for the unknown. Interestingly, as a high school junior I was the only one in my small high school that was taking Algebra — and that was only about 40 years ago. Needless to say our standards need to change over time and working together is much more effective than attempting to do it by ourselves.
Let me know if you want to find answers and work to help us move forward. I would like to have you working with us, instead of buying into the right wing rhetoric that you find on the internet.
Previous standards were not unproven; they were time-tested. Common Core is not time tested. ( Did you look at the article I shared about the “dataless decision making” that is Common Core, the link from Seton Hall University?)
Students have NEVER been deprived of classic literature or basic high school math in past sets of standards. They have never been pushed, for example, to write so many “boring” informational essays to the exclusion of narrative writing. They have not been given insurmountable, unreasonable obstacles to hurdle at first grade levels before. They have not been deprived of calculus in high school math before. This is all new. This is all totally unproven. This is so dangerous as we have no idea what the consequences will be, good or bad. We are putting unfounded, undeserved faith in people like noneducator David Coleman who wrote the ELA standards. We are putting all our eggs in a soggy paper basket.
Math: Thousands of Utahns disagree with your assessment of what good math teaching should look like. You are entitled to your opinion, but I can tell you that my son’s friends’ mothers (of children who remained in public school when I took my son out to home school him two years ago) now tell me their children cry and hate school, and ask their mothers (who are not as willing) to please home school them also. This is tragic. And these mothers always say the children’s cries of discontent center on the bad “new” math– which is Common Core math. These are fifth graders.
Money: We took millions from the feds for their ed reforms– which specifically included Common Core and SLDS. Utah took these many millions in exchange for adoption of four federal education reforms. Part of the money, $9.6 million from the feds, built the student-snooping system they wanted, which we now call the Utah State Longitudinal Database System. As part of that SLDS grant, we agreed to PESC common data standards. This agreement is stated on page 4 of section 1 (page 20 on the PDF) of Utah’s 2009 ARRA Data Grant: “The UDA will adhere to standards such as… the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC)…”
“The State Core Model is a common technical reference model for states implementing state longitudinal data systems (SLDS). It was developed by CCSSO as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) adoption work with funding from the Gates Foundation…The State Core Model will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting (EDEN/EDFacts)…”
Those are their words, not mine.
Obama gave governors $53.6 billion from the “State Fiscal Stabilization Fund” contained in the federal stimulus. The money, used in exchange for the adoption of four federal ed reforms, was given conditionally: These reforms are detailed on the US Department of Education’s website. They are:
1.Adopt College-and-Career Ready standards [COMMON CORE] and high-quality, valid and reliable assessments [SAGE/AIR].
2.Develop and use pre-K through post-secondary and career data systems [SLDS].
3.Increase teacher effectiveness and ensure equitable distribution of qualified teachers. [FORCED REDISTRIBUTION]
4.Turn around the lowest-performing schools [ACCORDING TO THE FEDS' DEFINITION, NOT OURS].
How anyone can say with a straight face that the feds aren’t involved with Common Core, is beyond me. They even redefined the term “college and career readiness” as “standards common to a significant number of states” which is only Common Core, on their federal site.
As for right-wing rhetoric or left-wing rhetoric, there’s as much left-wing rhetoric condemning Common Core (tests and standards and student data snooping) as there is right-wing rhetoric, anyway.
And there are right wingers who praise it –or refuse to condemn it– (notably Jeb Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Gary Herbert) just as there are left-wingers.
Thanks again for talking and listening.
Christel – since you choose to post my responses – I am through trying to help you understand the REAL truth.
I appreciated your openness, which seemed so much more courteous and open-minded than other USOE and USSB representatives have been to the teachers and public who have asked to talk with them about Common Core.
I am sorry that you aren’t comfortable with others reading your responses. I feel people have a right to know what their board representatives really think and what they see as the truth, especially where their children are concerned.
As you know, all state school board correspondence is open to the public via GRAMA legal requests as well.
Hear Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram explain to interviewer Ann Marie Banfield why they each refused to sign off on the academic legitimacy of the Common Core standards, when they served as official Common Core validation committee members. Intro is about five minutes; Dr. Stotsky begins to speak at about minute 5:00.
Tonight’s much-anticipated Common Core debate, featuring Alpine school board member Wendy Hart and mother Alyson Williams arguing against Common Core, versus two state school board members, Dave Thomas and Tami Pyfer arguing for Common Core, will be live-streamed by the Deseret News.
If you want to attend the event in person, here is the time and address.
(Note: a Logan newspaper mistakenly wrote the start time to be 7:00. It is actually 6:00.)
Where: Mount Logan Middle School at 875 N. 200 E. Logan, Utah.
When: January 6th, 2014, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Who: The public, legislators and press will be there. Moderator: radio personality Jason Williams of KVNU’s “For the People.”
The public is invited to submit questions for the debaters to: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Utah radio personality Jason Williams of KVNU’s “For the People” has asked the public to submit questions for next week’s Common Core debate, which will take place at Mount Logan Middle School on January 6th, 2014, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in Logan, Utah, at 875 N. 200 E.
Submit questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Legislators have already committed to attend the debate. I hope thousands of teachers, parents, grandparents, students and reporters show up.
The debaters will be Alpine School Board member Wendy Hart and mother Alyson Williams (against Common Core) versus state school board members Dave Thomas and Tami Pyfer (for Common Core). The event will be moderated by radio personality Jason Williams.
I sat down to write a few questions and ended up with 40. Some are borrowed from Professors Yong Zhao, Professor Christopher Tienken, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Dr. Daniel Coupland and others. I hope Mr. Williams has time to ask them all.
2. How important is the defense of local autonomy and local control of schools, to you personally –and does Common Core affect local control in any way? Yes or no?
3. The Common Core itself calls itself a “living work” and it admits that the document will change. Does the Utah State School Board have authority over the copyrighted Common Core “document” to change the document itself? ( To clarify: this is not a question of adding 15% as the Common Core governance allows a state to add in-state, but we are asking about changing the national standards themselves.) Yes or No?
4. Can Utah voters remove from positions of power the people who hold copyright over Utah’s Common Core standards (Board of Directors of CCSSO/NGA) if we do not approve of the direction of Common Core? Yes or No?
5. Are those who hold copyright over Common Core subject to transparency (“sunshine” laws) –so that the Utah State School Board can supervise the decisions which affect and govern Utahns? Yes or No?
6. Where can I read for myself how the states-led (inter-state) amendment process will work when we want to change something in the Common Core standards, if a process exists?
7. Where can I see for myself the evidence that Common Core standards have been field tested prior to implementation, so they were proven to be of superior academic quality, if testing evidence exists?
8. Professor Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University has called Common Core “educational malpractice.” Regardless of how you feel about Common Core, how would you recognize educational malpractice if you saw it; what would be its hallmarks?
16. Several official documents show that there is a 15% cap on a state adding to the Core; we also from Common Core architect Jason Zimba and validation committee member James Milgram that Common Core math does not prepare students for STEM math careers; then how are Utahns to prepare for STEM careers?
17. If local Utahns break through the common core academic ceiling and add more than the allowable 15% to their local standards, how will that 15% be taught using common core aligned math and English tests and texts?
18. Although we have been told that Common Core was state-led, no citizen in this state received an invitation to discuss this, before math and English standards were decided. To make sure this does not happen again, please explain the vetting process for Utah teachers and parents, before we add upcoming national science, national social studies, and national sex ed standards.
19. Which element played a larger role in Utah’s decision to adopt Common Core: the chance to win Race to the Top grant money, or a thorough review of the Common Core academically? Please give evidence for your answer.
20. Where can I read our state’s cost analysis for implementing Common Core standards, tests and professional development costs?
21. Does the Common Core essentially discriminate against talents and interests that are not consistent with their prescribed knowledge and skills?
22. What roles does the Utah State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS)play in reporting to the federal Edfacts Exchange and to the national E.I.M.A.C./CCSSO data collection machines?
23. How do you respond to the question asked by Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University? He said:
“This is not data-driven decision making… Yet this nation will base the future of its entire public education system, and its children, upon this lack of evidence. Where is the evidence to support the rhetoric surrounding the Common Core standards?”
24. Do you see Common Core’s emphasis on testing as potentially harming American creativity and entrepreneurial fields in which U.S. graduate have historically led the world– or do you see this emphasis on standardization and testing as simply creating more individuals who are very good at taking tests– like students in some Asian countries– without any harm being done to creativity or love of learning?
25. 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 …“ In light of this, please explain why our state has partnered with those who agree to micromanagement by the federal department of education such as the CCSSO.
26. Which portions of local autonomy have been traded for federally-lauded Common Core standards and tests?
27. What types of legal protections does student data have in writing that can protect us from the federal government and vendors and researchers– in light of recent changes to FERPA privacy regulations, and in light of the federally funded and federally-reporting State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) that is partnered with the CCSSO (and PESC) under Utah’s SLDS grant agreement?
28. Why has the Utah State School Board not stood up against federally-partnered and SBAC-partnered Common Core tests to defend local control?
29. For students in the United States to be globally competitive, they must offer something different, that is, something that cannot be obtained at a lower cost in developing countries. High test scores in a few subjects can be achieved in most developing countries, so how could Common Core increase global competitiveness for U.S. students?
30. How can any test predict global competiveness or economic growth?
31. What empirical evidence do you have that high Common Core test scores could result in higher levels of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship?
33. Are you aware, that when you disaggregate the data by percentages of poverty in a school, the U.S. scores at the top of all the international PISA tests? (see Riddle, 2009) In other words, why are we pushing Common Core when our previous system of local control and freedom worked better academically than other countries’ governmentally standardized systems?
34. Companies like Boeing and GE are allowed to give their technology, utility patents, and know-how to the Chinese in return for being able to sell their products in China (Prestowitz, 2012). Can U.S. emphasis on standardized test scores create global competitiveness, really, or is it more likely that we should change the policy of allowing U.S. multinationals to give away our technological advantages, to increase our global competitiveness?
35. Are you aware that 81% of U.S. engineers are qualified to work in multinational corporations – the highest percentage in the world (Kiwana, 2012) while only 10% of Chinese engineering graduates and 25% of Indian engineers are prepared to work in multinational corporations or corporations outside of China or India (Gereffi, et al., 2006; Kiwana, 2012)?
36. Are you aware that the U.S. produces the largest numbers of utility patents (innovation patents) per year and has produced over 100,000 a year for at least the last 45 years? No other country comes close (USPTO, 2012).
37. Are you aware that adults in the U.S. rank at the top of the world in creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship –and that those adults were educated during a time of NO state or national standards (Tienken, 2013)?
(More thoughts on the ongoing Common Core debate:)
If you aren’t going to attend the debate, please use these questions or your own to create more strong pushback from the Common Core disaster.
This is America! We are the people with the power to make things right when we see that they are wrong. This is not a land of centralized power, dictatorship, socialism. This is a land of liberty, where the local people self-govern. We have to wake people up to see that freedom matters– and that Common Core surely takes it away from our children.
We can use the beautiful American processes of debate, of real representation, and of constitutional balances of powers that are supposed to defend freedom and local autonomy.
If everyone who cared deeply about the damages of Common Core were to weary the school boards and governors with questions –repeatedly, weekly, persistently, patiently, unceasingly– Common Core could not stand.
Common Core has no legs –except expensive marketing legs and lies– to stand on.
It has no academic pilot testing, no written amendment process for states to retain local control, no privacy protections for its tests’ data collection processes, no wisdom, no international benchmarking, no chance of improving “global competitiveness,” no heart, no state-led history, no commitment to local control; no hope to develop any real love of learning; no common sense.
What it does have is millions upon millions of dollars gambled on this takeover of American schools as a “uniform customer base” and many more millions spent on marketing its unsupportable talking points.
“There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”
Weary them, weary them.
We can write or call newspapers and t.v. stations.
We can politely and persistently pester our governor: 801-538-1000 or 800-705-2464 (Utah’s Governor Herbert’s number).
We can politely and persistently pester the principal and others in the school districts and especially make sure to pester state and local school board members, who are supposed to REPRESENT US, not Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, or Sir Michael Barber.
Here is the Utah State School Board’s address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is the state superintendent’s address: email@example.com
Here is the governor’s education counselor’s address: firstname.lastname@example.org
At minute 10:45 Laura Moore gives a 7-minute pro-Common Core intro. She explains why she thinks that it is good to have national education standards, comparing educational standards to car wheels. She speaks about the “states coming together” as if they did so.
She says that she is opposed to the federal government having much say in education, which really confuses me. I don’t comprehend how she can sit on that fence, but she apparently believes that Colorado’s Common Core was created largely by Colorado teachers, rather than the CCSSO and NGA. This, even though the CCSSO/NGA declares, right on the copyright page, that it is the sole developer of the standards, and even though the CCSSO declares, on its official website, that it is partnered with the federal Department of Education.
At minute 17:50 Dr. Terrence Moore gives a 7-minute anti-Common Core intro.
He talks about the reduction of literary texts, and discusses the lexile framework of the Common Core creators that makes huge errors, such as placing Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” on a 3rd grade reading level; he discusses the Appendix B recommendations of Common Core that crowds out classics and religious writers and Ben Franklin, with the Common Core’s preference for modern authors and informational text.
Here’s a great moment: at minute 36:00 the question is asked: “Are Common Core standards actually field tested?”
Laura Boggs says that they are “absolutely tested.” (She does not say where or how or by whom they were supposedly tested.)
Dr. Terrence Moore answers the same question: he says that the Common Core standards were absolutely not field tested.
At minute 42:00 Dr. Terrence Moore explains why we should reject Common Core outright. He also mentions learning more about this in his book, “Storykillers.”
He asks when the last time was, that we heard Secretary Arne Duncan or a school board member quote Shakespeare. He makes the point that one of the biggest problems we have in education is that “the people who are in charge do not love education.”
LAURA BOGGS (FORMER SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER)
TEACHER ANTHONY CODY
Hour two features California teacher Anthony Cody (opposed to Common Core) versus Fordham Institute member Michael Brickman (pro Common Core).
The event is open to the public and will be moderated by radio personality Jason Williams of KVNU’s “For the People.”
Please come and bring friends.
The public is invited to submit questions for the debaters to: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This informative video, “Utah Bites Into Common Core” features Wendy Hart, one of the debaters, who is both an elected member of the Alpine School Board, and an active member of Utahns Against Common Core.
I loved this year’s public high school Christmas concert. The jazz band and orchestra were energetic, talented and joyful — as you’d expect from teenaged musicians jamming at Christmas. (I almost forgot about Common Core.)
But meanwhile, my friend Laureen attended a very different kind of school Christmas concert.
And her story, (the guest post below) has little to do directly with the Common Core Standards. I’m posting it because it is a metaphor for the numbing-down of children who are viewed, even by the U.S. Secretary of Education, as “human capital” – a mass to wrangle, clump and process commonly. Not to expect to excel, individually.
EXCELLENT OR COMMON
Guest Post by Laureen Simper, Utah mother and piano teacher
I attended our elementary school’s “Christmas” program last night, because my piano student invited me to come hear her play her Christmas piano solo. She and her little sister – also my student – were singing in the “choir”.
I would estimate that less than a third of the kids knew the songs. It didn’t matter; they were singing to recordings. As in, singing WITH recordings. As in, SINGING WITH RECORDED VOICES. Ish.
It absolutely DID NOT MATTER that less than a third of the kids were prepared to perform after spending hours coming to school early to be in this choir.
Then there was the “choreography”: either running in a circle, shaking a stick with a streamer on the end of it, or shifting weight back and forth to shake those booties! And no need to practice or remember this either – either the teacher or a couple of the older students were doing the movements down in the front so the children could just copy them. The recordings, all with the same mind-numbing beats and instrumentals, just flowed over the top of this unorganized, unlearned trainwreck, making any effort inconsequential, making any non-effort inconsequential, dumbing down…dumbing down…dumbing down…numbing down…
The only bright spot was my piano student playing the Christmas piano solo she had spent weeks learning and mastering.
And where was the piano, where everyone could see her? No, no, no! Over at the side, like an afterthought.
Because HELLO! It –of course– wasn’t used to accompany any numbers! Who needs a live instrument when you’ve descended into sort-of-lip-syncing…..ish?
So maybe the first three rows were able to see her. And would you like to know why she was the ONE AND ONLY real musical number on the program? THEY DIDN’T HAVE TIME FOR THE CHOIR TO “LEARN” THAT PARTICULAR SONG. Excuse me, LEARN? Who learned ANYTHING?
And of course there wasn’t a single song about the Savior in the program – it was all mindless, secular drivel. I swear they did nothing but use the same CD for every single number.
I thought about all these families, a week before Christmas, rushing to get to this program after a busy day. Younger siblings were tired – babies and toddlers – many had probably been at day care all day, who still didn’t get to go home. I watched tired parents bouncing babies on their laps, walking with them in the back or in the hall, chasing toddlers – or not, getting phones ready to video the big moment.
WHAT BIG MOMENT?
I watched the children on stage – MOST of whom had no clue what was going on. I pictured the homes they lived in on any particular school morning as they had to get up early and shake up the families’ routines to get to school early to practice….. THIS? Families all through my neighborhood were sacrificing family time – weekly for the practices, and now, the final culmination of all that……was THIS? You could be home watching a secular movie like “A Christmas Story” and baking Christmas cookies and it would have been a more valuable use of your family’s time than THIS.
Then I thought about what we are teaching the children, the “participation trophy” mentality that rears its ugly head everywhere.
My student told her mother the day of the program that she shouldn’t even bother coming because it was so bad. She TOLD her mother that nobody knew the songs, that they didn’t know what they were doing, that it was bad.
So, in spite of the hype – she knew. ‘Cause HELLO! Kids are not dumb!
I imagined other kids with similar sensibilities, knowing in their hearts that this program was a mediocre mess, and then I imagined them being told what a great job they did, how cute it was, etc., etc. I thought, WOW.
What a great way to train a populace to not trust their instincts, to go along, because what’s the harm in it? – to believe the unbelievable. If, in your heart of hearts, you know the sky is blue, and you spend thirteen years of your life at a place that tells you in a million ways every day that it is green, what kind of discrimination skills do you end up developing?
How capable will you be of detecting lies when all you have ever heard are lies?
I feel so unbelievably sad for all the children sitting in schools across this country this morning. They are being taught that COMMON is good, because public school has become nothing – NOTHING – more than a giant bucket for all the little crabs.
Public education has become nothing more than a training program for all the common little crabs to yank any free-thinking crabs back down into the common swill.
They are all being taught that excellence is what we pay lip service to, but in subtle ways, you will be singled out – negatively – if you try to achieve it (Harrison Bergeron!)
All the while, the ever-lowering bar continues to be celebrated, photographed for a scrapbook page, and videotaped for Instagram and Facebook brags.
Worst of all, they are subtly being taught that even THIS is more important than time spent at home with your family. How subtly, subtly, subtly is the message being taught that home and family are absolutely, completely, at the bottom of your priorities.
So thanks for listening to the rant. I weep for so many well-meaning parents who do not see – maybe WILL not see.
Even though my job as a piano teacher is nearly dead because of this cultural shift, I feel like I need to point out the sign that hangs over my front door every week my students leave my house. I need to teach them more intentionally the reason I do what I do.
The plaque says: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” (Aristotle)
Duncan’s comment revealed an odd disrespect for white, suburban moms (I wonder what his wife thought of the comment) and it also revealed that Mr. Duncan believes the reason that the average American mother is opposed to Common Core is as simple as (excuse the Secretary of Education’s grammar, please) “their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought.” Really, Mr. Duncan?
We’re upset because students and teachers are being subjected to unpiloted standards and privacy-invading tests that no parent nor teacher had a say in crafting –standards contrived by businessmen intent on making a buck off the “uniform customer base” that schools represent.
We’re upset, too, that Department of Education officials label us, but they do not listen. Last summer, the Department gave speeches labeling us as “just” right-wing tea-partiers. Now your spokesman, Massie Ritsch, is saying: “The far right and far left have made up their minds, but there’s angst in the middle.” Really?
Mr. Duncan, moms are going to bite back; that’s what mother bears do.
It’s not because your Common Core is discovering faults in our children! We already know our children.
Common Core is an affront to children, to parents, to teachers, and is a robbery of legitimate, time-tested education. Mr. Duncan, we do not and will not hold back when it comes to our childrens’ education, their Constitutional right to privacy (no “unreasonable searches”) and to their teachers’ freedom to teach as THEY —not as bureaucrats and corporate talking heads and grant lures— see fit.
On teacher evaluations: “These subjective anxiety producers do more to damage a teacher’s self esteem than you realize.”
“Erroneous evaluation coupled with strategic compensation presents a punitive model that as a student is like watching your teacher jump through flaming hoops to earn a score.”
“A teacher cannot be evaluated without his students, because as a craft, teaching is an interaction. Thus, how can you gauge a teacher’s success with no control of a student’s participation or interest? I stand before you because I care about education but also because I want to support my teachers… This relationship is at the heart of instruction and there will never be a system by which it is accurately measured.”
On bureaucratic convenience: “We can argue the details ad infinitum. Yet I observe a much broader issue with education today. Standards based education is ruining the way we teach and learn. Yes, I’ve already been told by legislators and administrators: “Ethan, that’s just the way things work.” But why? I’m going to answer that question. It’s bureaucratic convenience.”
“…It works with nuclear reactor and business models…. I mean, how convenient: calculating exactly who knows what and who needs what? I mean, why don’t we just manufacture robots instead of students? They last longer and they always do what they’re told.”
“Education is unlike every other bureaucratic institute in our government. The task of teaching is never quantifiable. If everything I learned in high school is a measurable objective, I haven’t learned anything.“
On the way Common Core sprung up:
“The initiative seemed to spring from states when in reality it was contrived by an insular group of testing executives with only two academic content specialists. Neither specialist approved the final standards and the English consultant, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, publicly stated she felt the standards left students with “an empty skill set, lacking literary knowledge.”
“While educators and administrators were later included in the validation committee and feedback groups, they did not play a role in the actual drafting of the standards…. the standards aren’t rigorous, just different, designed for industrial-model schools.”
“If nothing else, these standards are a glowing conflict of interest. And they lack the research they allegedly received. And most importantly, the standards illustrate a mistrust of teachers.”
On the purpose of teaching:
“Creativity, appreciation, inquisitiveness, these are impossible to scale. But they are are the purpose of education, why our teachers teachers, why I choose to learn.”
“And today we find ourselves in a nation that produces workers. Everything is career and college preparation. Somewhere our Founding Fathers are turning in their graves pleading, screaming, and trying to say to us that we teach to free minds, we teach to inspire, we teach to equip, and the careers will come naturally.”
“Ask any of these teachers, ask any of my peers… Haven’t we gone too far with data?”
“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.. but… the problems I cite are very real… Do not dismiss them as another fool’s criticisms…”
“You can not ignore me, my teachers or the truth. We need change, but not Common Core, high stakes evaluations, or more robots.”
A letter is posted At The Chalkface. The powerful letter to seventh grade students comes from teacher Meg Norris who explains why she left teaching to fight Common Core.
Here’s just a small piece of it:
“To My Students,
I did not return to the classroom this year and I want to apologize… I want you to know none of this is your fault. It is not you… Your brain was designed perfectly. Common Core standards were not… Common Core is the first time in the history of this country that a privately written and copyrighted plan has become public policy. There is no research to back it and it has never been tested. Politicians are pushing it because these corporations are giving them money to push it. When I left, I met with members of your Board of Education and told them what was happening. They ignored me. I went to the local newspaper and they ignored me too. When I spoke to the state Senate education committee they dismissed me as a political nut job…”
The whole letter is a tearjerker. Please read it and share it.
Subservience to truly stupid ideas –like dumbing down high school math for economic gain– was never meant to be the destiny of the free American people.
Yet that is what has happened to American education under Common Core. In the video testimony of Common Core creator Jason Zimba, in recent articles by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), in the written testimony of Common Core validation members Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram, and in the 2013 Common Core report of the National Center for Education and the Economy (NCEE) we see that Common Core math deliberately diminishes and weakens, rather than adding to, high school math standards.
At the American Institutes for Research (AIR) website, (FYI, this is the company that writes Utah’s Common Core math and English test) there are articles claiming that it’s in the best interest of the taxpayers that more students should only aim for a two year college degree.
AIR dismisses the idea that a student might WANT to learn more than what is available at the associates’ degree level. Individual desires and rights don’t even factor into the collectivism of education reform.
AIR fails to address the fact that not all college educations are tax-funded; some people actually pay for their own tuition. AIR takes the socialist view that taxpayers are “stakeholders” so they should determine whether a student may or may not get more education. AIR says: “Do graduates who earn an associate’s degree and participate in the labor force experience returns, such as higher wages, that justify the costs incurred by them in obtaining that degree? Do taxpayers receive a positive return on their investment in the production of associate’s degrees?”
Dr. Stotsky writes that states adopted Common Core math because they were told that it would make high school students “college- and career-ready” and would strengthen the pipeline for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), but it is clearthis claim was not true. Stotsky reminds us that Professor James Milgram has testified to the fact that common core math dumbed down U.S. high school standards.
With the exception of a few standards in trigonometry, the math standards END after Algebra II, reported Stanford emeritus professor James Milgram (Milgram was also an official member of the Common Core validation committee.)
Both Milgram and Stotsky refused to sign off on the academic quality of the national standards, and made public their explanation and criticism of the final version of Common Core’s standards.
“U.S. government data show that only one out of every 50 prospective STEM majors who begin their undergraduate math coursework at the precalculus level or lower will earn bachelor’s degrees in a STEM area. Moreover, students whose last high school mathematics course was Algebra II or lower have less than a 40 percent chance of earning any kind of four-year college degree.”
Not only that: Stotsky points out that in January 2010, William McCallum, another lead mathematics standards writer, told a group of mathematicians: “The overall standards would not be too high, certainly not in comparison [to] other nations, including East Asia, where math education excels.”
Dr. Stotsky also notes that there are “other consequences to over 46 states having a college readiness test with low expectations.” The U.S. Department of Education’s competitive grant program, Race to the Top, required states to place students who have been admitted by their public colleges and universities into credit-bearing (non-remedial) mathematics (and English) courses if they have passed a Common Core–based “college readiness” test. Stotsky writes: “Selective public colleges and universities will likely have to lower the level of their introductory math courses to avoid unacceptably high failure rates.”
Stotsky says, “It is still astonishing that over 46 boards of education adopted Common Core’s standards—usually at the recommendation of their commissioner of education and department of education staff—without asking the faculty who teach mathematics and English at their own higher education institutions (and in their own high schools) to do an analysis of Common Core’s definition of college readiness… Who could be better judges of college readiness?”
“Mastery of Algebra II is widely thought to be a prerequisite for success in college and careers. Our research shows that that is not so… Based on our data, one cannot make the case that high school graduates must be proficient in Algebra II to be ready for college and careers. The high school mathematics curriculum is now centered on the teaching of a sequence of courses leading to calculus that includes Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus and Calculus. However, fewer than five percent of American workers and an even smaller percentage of community college students will ever need to master the courses in this sequence in their college or in the workplace… they should not be required courses in our high schools. To require these courses in high school is to deny to many students the opportunity to graduate high school because they have not mastered a sequence of mathematics courses they will never need. In the face of these findings, the policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation simply cannot be justified.”
This interview with Indiana Mother Heather Crossin is not to be missed. Speaking to the Civitas Institute, she tells the story of how she got involved with the fight against Common Core:
Her third grade daughter came home from her Catholic parochial school with Common Core math worksheets. The worksheets had a “shockingly small amount” of practice, and an “inordinate amount of time spent explaining in writing how students got to answers” which had to be written by students in very scripted ways. Heather started to ask questions.
She soon found herself at a school meeting to discuss the Common Core styled math, and heard a sales pitch from a Pearson Education sales representative. She and the parents in the room didn’t like the pitch nor the new math. Then the principal informed them that there was no choice. That was Heather’s moment of illumination.
“Suddenly I realized the control over what was being taught in my child’s third grade classroom was now not at my school level. In fact, it was not even at the state level. It had been removed and all control now resided outside the state of Indiana, with private trade associations that owned the copyright to these standards. So no one in my school building, or even in my state, had the ability to change, edit or delete a set of standards that I found right out of the gate to be problematic…
“…We could not believe that a shift of this magnitude had occurred in our state and no one was aware of it. We felt an overwhelming desire to at least let the people know what had happened. We felt strongly that if people knew that this type of a shift in power and control had occurred, they would be outraged as we were, and I think we found that they were.”
In this interview, Heather also explains why parents can and must get involved:
“The stakes are so high. This is not an issue that can be ignored. It really affects not just our children’s future but really our country’s future.”
She touches on the fact that the Common Core testing system (aligned now with college entrance exams) places even home schooled students and private school students at a serious disadvantage. She also relates the method by which she and other parents pushed for, and succeeded in getting, the first “pause” legislation to stop Common Core for Indiana, adding:
“The most powerful weapon that we’ve had… is that the truth and the facts are overwhelmingly on the side of the Common Core opponents. That is a very powerful weapon.”
Utah Mother of seven Alisa Ellis, with recently retired teacher Margaret Wilkin, spoke out in favor of rejecting Common Core in Utah, at a debate in Cedar City this month. Iron County Superintendent Shannon Dulaney and John Meisner spoke for the promotion side of Common Core.
A key moment in this debate came at minute 25:50, when Alisa Ellis said:
“Proponents of Common Core often find themselves perplexed by the information being disseminated by opponents of Common Core. That’s because we’re continually having different conversations. The proponents speak only of the standards themselves. The opponents are speaking of a much larger reform package. The standards are being sold as the “gold standard” in education but they’ve never been tried anywhere. They’re actually the “fool’s gold standards”. We’re taking these on faith.”
Margaret Wilkin, the recently retired teacher, then spoke in opposition to the tight scheduling, excessive testing and burdensome top-down oversight that affect teacher autonomy under Common Core and said, “the pressure on teachers… is intense and many teachers say that they just can’t do it anymore.”
She mentioned four “talented, wonderful teachers” she knows personally who are retiring early because of the pressure.
She said, “Yes, [teachers] are teaching to the test.”
She also said that she was opposed to having children’s report cards aligned with the national Common Core standard.
Not only is teen Patrick Richardson’s powerpoint presentation excellent, but as a kid –free of the parental panic that is quite paralyzing to many adults– he finds humor in the horror story of the takeover of U.S. education!
For example, at minute 16:48 Patrick says:
“How will student data be collected? This is another funny topic when you start asking people who are supposed to know the answers, because they swear up and down that they aren’t collecting this data, they never will, they never have. They tell you no. Bottom line is, they’re sort of being bypassed too.”
Then he goes on to show exactly how it’s happening.
I LOVE THIS BOY!
Patrick Richardson is the 2013 version of the boy in “The Emperor’s New Clothes” who dares say out loud, that the darn emperor is stark naked. And he’s right.
At the Arkansas Against Common Core site, you will find this video, and an introduction to the remarkable Patrick Richardson. The site explains:
“Grace Lewis, founder and organizer of Arkansas Against Common Core, did not know the power she would unleash when she asked a technologically savvy local youth to help her create a website for Arkansas Against Common Core. Patrick Richardson, a then 15 year old youth with high personal standards and a vast interest in technology, answered that request when he presented Mrs. Lewis with an organized, well researched, fact based website… shocked and elated, Mrs. Lewis asked Richardson if he would also like to speak at the upcoming House and Senate Joint Education Committee Interim Study on Common Core. He was up to the challenge and showed up at the hearing with a presentation that completely amazed everyone including the Joint Education Committee and the State Department of Education. No one was prepared for Patrick’s well researched power point presentation on the money trail behind Common Core. He left many with dropped jaws and stunned faces.”
Rep. John Hikel, a Republican Member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives since 2008, often shares this quote from Thomas Jefferson:
“The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then”.
A little rebellion is exactly what’s happening in New Hampshire, as more and more parents and legislators are waking up to the takeover of education by corporate and federal forces. Rep. Hikel is asking New Hampshire citizens to sign the petition, to stop common core.
New Hampshire may be at an advantage constitutionally (state-constitutionally). As Representative Hikel reminds people, there is a New Hampshire redress allowance to repeal problems (such as common core.) It states, in part 1, article 31: “The legislature shall assemble for the redress of public grievances and for making such laws as the public good may require”.
Rep. Hikel notes that article 32 also states that the people have the right to instruct their representatives to redress wrongs:
[Art.] 32. [Rights of Assembly, Instruction, and Petition.] The people have a right, in an orderly and peaceable manner, to assemble and consult upon the common good, give instructions to their representatives, and to request of the legislative body, by way of petition or remonstrance, redress of the wrongs done them, and of the grievances they suffer.
Hikel explains: “Most states have a redress process but New Hampshire is the only one that has a mandate written in its Constitution– that the People are guaranteed redress. People need to know their full authority.”
Let me tell you about that line. If you are a birder or someone who enjoys nature you may have experience with this. On a number of occasions I have been out in the wild and spotted nests in trees and cliff aeries of owls, falcons, and hawks when there have been young ones in the nest. It usually was the cries of the young ones in the nest that attracted my attention. The momma bird has a protective eagle eye (pun intended). I have approached and found the line. The line was never visible. I knew I found the line when I stepped too close and the momma bird took flight and started to attack me. One step back and momma bird, while still on guard, would cease her attack. That is how you know where the line is—-when momma starts to attack out of a maternal instinct to protect her offspring.
This line occurs elsewhere in nature and not just with birds of prey. You do not want to get between a momma bear and her cub or between a cow moose and her calf (I have watched the nostrils flare and the ears lay back on a cow moose). If you do, you are in danger. And I never want to get so far across the line with a bird of prey or any other living creature that I can’t rapidly, within one step, retreat across the unseen line.
Well, they, with the CCSS and related issues, have crossed the line. As a result the CCSS is in serious danger. The CCSS and related issues have been placed smack between parents and their children and as a result are or will be seen as an imminent threat. And parents, in particular, moms, are on the attack as maternal instincts kick in to protect their offspring from accurately perceived physical, emotional, and/or intellectual harm.
The common core could and should go down for any number of reasons—federal overreach, constitutional issues, content, cost, privacy… but it really is going to go down because it has crossed the invisible line that will invoke the protective parental nature. That is what will bring it down. All of you have been instrumental in helping, and must continue to help, parents see where that line is.
I have been tracking issues related to CCSS since spring of 2009. It was a rare article that could be found at that time about it and it was usually one glowing with what we now see as the standard boiler plate blather. As time progressed it was a busy day if there were three to five articles about the CCSS. Of course, they were all positive about the CCSS or promoting the CCSS. That continued for some time. At some point a rare article would appear that was negative towards the CCSS. Over time that grew—-now I see what appears to be as many anti=CCSS articles as pro-CCSS. Even after filtering out many articles, it is common to see 10 to 30+ new articles a day. A significant portion of those articles is about the push back against the CCSS or they are anti-CCSS. With the increase in articles it is hard to find the time to read them all. It is easy to see that the CCSS is in trouble. The CCSS is not just in trouble it is in serious trouble. At this point only a small portion of parents have realized the line has been crossed. More will realize it soon enough.
Don’t let up. Keep the pressure on and help others learn to see the line and what it means to them and the future of their children. Keep up the good work!
A few weeks ago, Vacaville, California hosted a pro- and con- Common Core Forum.
Speakers include Bill Evers, of Hoover Institute, Stanford University; Wendy Hart, of Alpine School Board, Alpine, Utah; Daly Gordon Koch, 4th grade teacher; Jeannette LaFors, former teacher and education analyst.
Pro Common Core:
Daly Jordan Koch, California Teachers Association teachers union
Jeannette LaFors, Education West-West
Con Common Core:
Bill Evers, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution
Wendy Hart, parent, Highland, Utah
Opening statements begin at minute 11:30, followed by a round table discussion, questions and responses among panelists; and questions and answers with audience members.
“All these groups want accountability from our children but I demand accountability from them“ – Debbie Higginbotham, Florida mother
FLORIDA’S FIGHT FOR EDUCATION: FREEDOM FROM “THE MACHINE”
By Debbie Higginbotham
In every state across this great nation, parents, grandparents, and great Americans are speaking out loudly against Common Core and the Race to The Top Agreement (RTTT). And they should!
Each state has their grassroots groups and coalitions marching to their state capitols demanding answers on why their children have been sold to the Federal Government.
When I started this personal crusade to save my children’s educational freedoms about a year ago, I had no idea what I was going to encounter. I am just a mom who is enjoying raising six beautiful children with no political aspirations nor experience in debating these political cronies.
Every state has their mountains to climb when fighting CC and ridding their state of these horrible standards and mandates all enclosed with the RTTT. Here in Florida most of our battles are the same, but we are fighting a white elephant in the room as well. That white elephant is Jeb Bush and his foundations and other groups he has “founded” that are promoting “higher standards”.
Many refer to Jeb Bush and his cronies as “The Machine”.
When originally talking with school board members and legislators– and being told that Common Core was here to stay and there was nothing I could do about it, I knew something was not right with this whole thing.
Some legislators were giving me the smile and wink –and I thought I was making progress.
It was pleasing to know, at the time, that my elected officials were taking my complaints to heart because this was going to affect their children as well.
I quickly started doing more research and that old saying of “follow the money trail” came to light so true and it wasn’t just looking into Bill Gates anymore, but looking into Jeb Bush and his involvement with Gates and his continuing efforts to alter Florida’s education system for his own political gain and a bid for the White House.
Those winks and nods were just that, empty promises.
The more I was learning, it soon disgusted me. How can a man with no elected accountability from voters have such an influence on my children’s education?
Everywhere I turned I was hitting the same roadblocks and that was “The Machine”. It wasn’t only Jeb Bush but I came to find out through more digging that Jeb Bush has pretty much bought and paid for almost all of the Republican legislators in office right now, including Governor Rick Scott. Even Lobbyists have a loyalty to him.
Jim Horne is the prominent one.
Back in August, Rick Scott called for an education summit to make it look like he was making an effort of hearing all sides of the education issues. He never showed up at the summit he’d called for, but then decided to further his political career and make decisions about Florida’s children over a bottle of an alcoholic beverage and dinner
on a Thursday evening with “The Machine” and its allies, Chair of the State Board of Education Gary Chartrand, and Republican Rep John Thrasher.
He also stated he would hold three district hearings to give parents and experts opportunities to voice their concerns on specific standards within Common Core. Great move on the Governor’s part, but the response from all of us was that this is just smoke and mirrors. Scott was only trying to pacify us, the parents, while still keeping “The Machine” happy.
REALLY! That just goes to prove it is all smoke and mirrors.
Everywhere we turn this white elephant shows up uninvited! There are little worker bees “The Machine” spreads throughout the state to try and shut us down. They make it their life each day to seek out moms like me and try to prove that we are misinformed about Common Core and how Florida needs higher standards and accountability from our children and teachers.
ACCOUNTABILITY!?Who is holding “The Machine” accountable?
Who is holding the NGA and CCSSO accountable? Let’s not forget ACHIEVE!
All these groups want accountability from our children but I demand accountability from them and what they believe to be best for my children. They have nothing better to do than come after moms and dads like me and call us misinformed! Only my husband and I, the true authorities, know what is best for our children.
“The Machine” has even promoted radio ads to be played boasting the standards on how they will give our children higher learning. The group “Conservatives For Higher Standards” was also involved with making and promoting the ad. We know those two have close ties to each other. The ad also touts making getting into college a fair playing field, no rote memorization, helping kids learn more, and states can opt in or our of the standards along with the lie that there are no DC mandates.
We are working on a counter ad to make sure our voices are right with theirs, and we are not backing down.
Jenni White, cofounder of Restore Oklahoma Public Education (R.O.P.E.) is a remarkable mother of five who writes research papers on ed reform with her children at the kitchen table, runs the organization of R.O.P.E., writes a lively education reform blog, creates videos, and also finds time to go (or sends a friend) to monitor each public meeting of the state department of education. Jenni’s videos, essays, memes, and white paper research are exceptional.
She’s very smart, and she’s very, very funny!
Attending the state meetings allowed Jenni/R.O.P.E. to discover (and share) that Oklahoma (like all 50 states) tracks students in a State Longitudinal Database. Attending meetings is also how Jenni and R.O.P.E. realized that Common Core was a network of corporate collusion that uses taxpayers and schools for their gigantic, uniform market base. Reading countless government documents and contracts added to the knowledge base, and now, R.O.P.E.’s website teaches the general population of Oklahoma vital, little-known facts about state and federal education reforms that are hurting children, teachers and taxpayers.
She has given permission to repost her writing. Here’s a favorite:
WHAT WOULD EINSTEIN THINK OF COMMON CORE?
I commented on an article today regarding Michigan’s attempts to shake free from the Common Core. Many of the comments came from sadly misinformed individuals who seem to believe that “common” is good and anything to which a large number of others subscribe must amount to some kind of awe-inspiring notion, spawning my concern that none apparently had mothers like mine, who constantly queried, “If Mary was going to jump off a bridge, would you?”
One man began his comment with this, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” (Sign hanging in Einstein’s office at Princeton)
This thought captured my imagination thoroughly. I have been blessed to know a man named Dr. Everett Piper, the President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University. I love to hear him discuss the horrors of Common Core from a philosophical perspective, not only because he is such an excellent orator, but because people tend to forget the philosophical point of view – the notion that ideas shape the human condition and ideas reduced to commonalities do not advance the human condition.
The best opponents of Common Core predicate their arguments on fact – in stark opposition to proponents who tend to use half-truths and lies upon which to base their case – but the philosophy behind our Common Core concerns are palpable and real and I believe we need to advance these arguments at least as often as we tout our facts.
In this thought, I penned the following response:
The Common Core State Standards were written by several individuals – without education degrees I might add – who then, knowing national standards are against federal law, sent them out through a private organization – Achieve – to the nation’s governors and superintendents with the promise of federal money waiting in the wings – 500 BILLION dollars through Race to the Top – if they adopted them for their state sight unseen. It happened here in Oklahoma exactly as it happened in Michigan and all other adopting states.
Granted, the term “Common” was used to mean ubiquitous, however, another meaning for “Common” is the OPPOSITE of “individual”, which begs the question: How in the world can America continue to be seen as the most innovative country in the world when states fully intend to collaboratively adopt standards to “commonize” all students across all states?
How do you INCREASE student knowledge levels by pulling successful students down to the level of the ‘common’?
Are there really that many low performing students in every school in every state in the nation that we need to stop everything to bring them up to the ‘common’ level of each class?
Do we bring down 25 kids for 1 kid or even 6 kids in a class?
If so, then what are we doing to the other 21?
The simple, straightforward answer is that we’re dumbing them down – there is no other characterization possible – and we can’t scream “civil rights” for those at the bottom without inquiring about the “civil rights” of the individuals in the majority being pulled down.
For those of you in the Chamber of Commerce sect, how do you convince a company to come to Michigan when your students will be taught in a thoroughly homogenous way, forcing out uniqueness, drive and imagination – the very qualities necessary to produce the Einstein’s and Edison’s of this world?
How well do you think Einstein would fair with the Common Core?
Do you think we would have had a Theory of Relativity with the Common Core…well silly question…of course we would – the Common Core is nothing if not ‘relative’ among every state and every child.
Common Core is what it is – nonsense dreamed up by well-connected philanthropists (Carnegie, Broad, etc) and innovator/billionaires such as Bill Gates, with a dollar to be made in the education “industry”.
I hope no one escapes the irony imbued in the fact that these people who worked and scrapped and sacrificed to make their dreams reality – who reached the pinnacle of success by truly innovating in America – suddenly seem to forget that the great thing about America – the thing that gave them the ability to get to the top – was the variety inherent in every aspect of the American condition – the FREEDOM to receive the best education one could seek out from the very variety contained within.
In the latest publication by the USOE, we read that Common Core is the “new gold standard” for education. Also, this latest publication fails to address the #1 concern of opponents to Common Core: that the privately copyrighted, “living work” standards will change, but states have no representative voice in those national changes.
It would be more honest to call it the “new fool’s gold” of American education both in terms of their academic status and in terms of the lack of legitimate representation at the standards-writing level.
The standards lower college readiness standards, as they prepare students only for a 2 year Jr. college. The standards hurt little children in the youngest grades, using absurdly rigorous expectations; this has been explained by an increasing number of child psychologists nationwide.
Worst of all, Common Core is a changeable and changing standard. It calls itself “a living work.” This means that it can and will be altered.
Gold does not change its quality or makeup. These standards do.
And when the standards do change, we all know that there is no written amendment process for the states who hold the standards in common to have a guaranteed voice in those alterations and amendments which are to happen.
This is why we keep on begging the Utah State School Board to abandon these standards, which are not only insufficient as they stand, but will change on a national scale– and we have no voice in those changes.
Please encourage the board to stop using deceptive terms such as “gold standard” when discussing and publishing information about Common Core.
“I moved into my school district because it has small classes, very well educated teachers… Each year they put out a pamphlet showing where the graduates go to school… 95 out of 100 are going to good schools, some are going to the very best in the country.
Our school district was not broken.
In 2012 we got this incredible, radical shift across the curricula… I just got my son’s homework last night. It’s a MacMillan McGraw Hill which I just learned is a subsidiary of Pearson. And it’s just this incredibly rote –I just think it’s way beneath– where a lot of children are. And what’s very frustrating to me is that I can’t have a meaningful discussion with my son’s teacher or the principal or the superintendent because it’s not our call anymore.
I have this letter from 2010 signed by David Patterson saying we’re committed to Race to the Top. There was no public debate beforehand. There was no legislative debate. Now, as a parent, I’m voiceless in my school district.
I just think that’s outrageous.”
Hear more from Professor Nick Tampio about Common Core on this radio interview from Pacifica News:
The following Common Core informational meetings are scheduled in Utah.
– LOGAN: September 24th, 6 p.m. 29 South Main Street, Logan, Utah
Speakers: Autumn Cook and Christel Swasey
– HEBER: September 24th, 7 p.m. in the Senior Center at the Wasatch County Library
Speakers: Alyson Williams and Jakell Sullivan
– MANTI: September 26th, 7 p.m. 50 S. Main Street, Highway 89
Eva Beal Auditorium, City Building
Speakers: Alisa Ellis and Christel Swasey
The meetings are free and open. We especially hope teachers, principals, legislators and school board members will attend. There will be question and answer discussions following each presentation. If you cannot attend, please study Common Core facts for yourself and verify before trusting those who say that Common Core is a blessing to our economy or to our children. It is neither.
A recommended Syllabus for Common Core Study might look like this:
The General Educational Provisions Act – this law prohibits the federal government from directing or supervising state education. “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system…”
U.S. Constitution – powers are delegated to the states. “Amendment 10 – The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
The Race to the Top Grant Application- Utah got points from the federal government for having a child tracking SLDS database system. This tracks children without parental consent or knowledge. Also in this document, see that Utah got more points for having adopted Common Core. This was how we got into it. Despite not winning the grant money, we remained in these systems.
The lawsuit against the Department of Education– The Electronic Privacy Information Center has sued the DOE for destroying the previously data-privacy protective federal FERPA. The lawsuit explains which terms were redefined, which agencies now have legal access to the private data of students, and much more.
The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission – This report was commissioned by Obama. It reveals that redistribution of wealth is the real reason that Obama wants a national education system.
The Cooperative Agreement between the Dept. of Education and the testing consortia – Even though Utah escaped the SBAC and is not bound by the Cooperative Agreement directly, Utah’s current testing group, A.I.R., works closely with SBAC. This document shows how clearly the DOE has broken laws like the General Educational Provisions Act and the 10th Amendment. It mandates the synchronizing of tests and the sharing of data to triangulate the SBAC, PARCC and DOE.
The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education – He states that Common Core was Obama’s idea and that the federal government is moving to play a larger role in education.
The speeches of President Obama on education – Obama’s top 4 education goals: control data, common standards, teachers, and to take over low-performing schools.
The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber – Barber wants every school on the globe to have the exact same academic standards and to underpin every standard with environmental propaganda. He also likes having global data on kids and stresses the term “sustainable reform” which is “irreversible reform”.
The speeches and actions of the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates – He’s funded Common Core almost completely on his own; he’s partnered with Pearson; he says “we won’t know it works until all the tests and curriculum aligns with the standards” so he’s writing curriculum for his “uniform customer base” –all children.
The speeches of David Coleman, a noneducator, the architect of the Common Core ELA standards and now promoted to College Board President -He mocks narrative writing, he’s diminished the percentage of classic literature that’s allowable in the standards, he’s not been elected, he’s never taught school, yet he’s almost singlehandedly destroyed the quality and liberty of an English teacher’s classroom. And as he’s now the College Board President, he’s aligning the SAT to his version of what Common standards should be. This will hurt colleges.
The Dept. of Ed report: Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance– behavioral indicators of students are wanted by the federal government. This may include physically monitoring children using cameras, posture chairs, and bracelets. (see graphic embedded in the report.)
The federal websites such as the EdFacts Exchange, the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites because three of these four ask us to give personally identifiable information on students, from our state database. -The first link shows what we already give to the federal government; the others show what the federal government is requesting that we share, which does include intimate, personally identifiable information.
The Official Common Core Standards – English and Math standards – These are the actual standards. Here you will see that it’s a “living work” meaning that what you think Common Core is, it may not remain in the future. There is no amendment process for states to have a voice in the commonly held standards. There is a recommended reading list in Appendix B that includes “The Bluest Eye,” a pornographic novel.
Guest Post by Stacie R. Tawbush: mother, math major, and common core opponent from Leeds, Alabama
I’m about to be controversial but it’s about damn time somebody be.
For more than a year now I’ve talked about the effect that Common Core is having on my family and on my life in general – and what it’s doing to the morale of my children. CC has now been fully implemented. And just as other parents are starting to wake up – I’ve absolutely had all I can take!
We had another 3-hours-of -homework-night tonight. The kind of night I’ve told you all about. The kind of night some have called me a liar about.
Tonight, though, instead of taking a picture of the ridiculous math my child is being forced to do, I decided to take a picture of my child doing it. Call me insensitive, but I don’t care what you think. What I care about is my children. I see this on a regular basis and it’s time for others to see it, too… Because this is what Common Core really looks like.
This is Savannah. This is a 3rd grader at 10 o’clock on a Wednesday night literally crying over her homework. This is a child hungry for knowledge – a child who loves to learn. This is a child with a broken spirit. I didn’t have to take several pictures to capture one that happened to include a tear, because the tears were pouring down her face. This is a very smart kid in the midst of feeling like a failure.
So: To those of you who tell me Common Core is a good thing. To those of you who claim it’s no different than what children have always done. To those who speak against it but don’t act. To those without the spine to stand up against political pressure. To those in which CC has just become another political talking point. To those who think we need the money from the federal government to sustain AL education. And to those who had a chance to stop this and didn’t…
Tonight I’m mad at YOU.
Tonight you share blame in making a child feel stupid and her [single] mother feel like a disappointment.
And guess what? This happened all over the state tonight. Not just in my house. You had a hand in that, too.
Finally: To the warriors out there who’ve been fighting this as long (or longer) as I have. To the parents who just heard about CC yesterday. To the few politicians who refuse to back into the darkness. To the moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends who are seeing this everyday in your own home…
This is why we’re so passionate.
This is why we fight.
Postscript from Stacie Tawbush:
“It is not that the teacher is assigning massive amounts of homework. It is that the Common Core way of solving math problems is irrational. I sit up with her as long as I need to to help her understand equations. I teach her every which way to solve an equation – even algorithms! If we didn’t do this, my daughter would still be struggling to add. I blame nothing on the teachers. The blame is on the curriculum. I am a math major and cannot wrap my brain around how these teachers are being forced to teach the kids math. It takes us 3 hours to work through 5 or 6 word problems. I’m not worried about her getting the assignment completed… I’m worried about her learning.” -Stacie R. Tawbush
Postscript from Christel Swasey:
Child psychologists agree with what Stacie Tawbush is saying. Increasingly, clinical psychologists are speaking out about Common Core’s inappropriate standards and pressure, especially on the lower grades.
Here in Utah, Joan Landes and Gary Thompson have spoken out. Dr. Thompson calls Common Core and its testing program “cognitive child abuse.”
Dr. Thompson has written:
“There are kids/teens (as well as adults like myself) who will never master “symbolic processing” of numbers and math concepts…..just like I will never be able to hit a 90 mile per hour fastball 385 feet over the left field wall in Dodger Stadium.
We have high functioning, genius IQ autistic/Aspergers kids who, despite demonstrated giftedness in math, will never be able to answer this question due to their brains’ inability to process anything symbolically….let alone stuck at a desk in front of a computer screen.
Tens of thousands of Utah public school children will never be able to process math in this manner over the course of their public school education.
This is cognitive child abuse.”
Utah Child Psychologist Joan Landes explained in an email:
“I agree that CC standards are not only developmentally inappropriate for youngsters, they focus on a very limited range of learning modalities (neo-cortical left-brain areas) thus limiting future abilities to learn much more complex subjects. The CC developers entirely missed the point of early/young childhood education when they focus on either the acquisition of facts (losing the opportunity to develop other areas of the brain to enhance future learning capabilities) or by making demands for abstract reasoning before developmentally ready (which will create a myriad of behavioral, emotional and learning problems). In addition, because the standards and assessments are so hyper-focused and high pressured for rigid cognitive (left-brain) activities, the children who have learning disabilities and/or delays will find school even more destructive to self-confidence and flexible learning.
In my opinion, a better approach to education in the primary grades would incorporate many of the tried and true activities from the first part of the 20th century to activate many disperate areas of their incredibly plastic brain (not to mention a child’s heart): Learning an instrument, Character values, Art, Sports, Games, Penmanship, Speaking, Singing, Reading and listening to narrative fiction and poetry and memorization (the kids even used to memorize poetry in foreign languages!). These activities (while not meeting a fact-acquisition or analytical benchmark) nevertheless activates critical areas of the brain which increases later connections exponentially.
Where’s the CC assessment for creativity? Or innovation? Integrity? Or emotional intelligence? It is a grave mistake to force youngsters to limit their brain activities to narrow interests, thus diminishing future originality and future ability to learn. It is a graver mistake to neglect educating the heart with character values, thus producing unfeeling, self-centered “clever devils” at graduation.”
Bergen County, NJ has put together a resolution against Common Core stanards and tests.
Resolution in Opposition to Common Core Standards and Assessments Adopted by Both Democrats and Republicans
Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders
September 17, 2013
(The text of the Resolution is copied below these comments.)
With sincere and heartfelt appreciation, please join me in thanking all of our Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders for their unanimous vote earlier tonight opposing Common Core Standards and Assessments, and, in particular, Vice-Chairwoman Joan Voss (D) and Freeholder John Mitchell (R) who jointly sponsored and actively lobbied for this important Resolution! Had you been there to hear all their wonderful comments, (and I hope to share the entirety with you soon as such must be circulated – not only in New Jersey – but across the USA), you would have been as overwhelmed as I with thankfulness for their passion, understanding, and commitment to the wise education of our children. Further, the date of this passage is significant: on September 17, 1787, the Constitution of the United States was adopted. The very wording of this Resolution honors that as Common Core violates Constitutional law by granting the United States power that the Constitution reserves for the States and we the people.
It has been my extraordinary privilege to appear before this august body on several occasions sharing a multitude of information concerning the topic of this Resolution. In each appearance, I have experienced their utmost respect, sincere concern, and obvious careful examination of all presented. It is impressive to note that members of both Parties came together, in unanimity, to oppose this unconstitutional, expensive takeover and dumbing down of the education of children.
Joining me tonight to express our appreciation was Kim Barron and Susan Winton. Kim’s son, Jordan, a student in 8th grade, was our *star* witness! He spoke with ease, experience, and excellence regarding why he opposes Common Core. He had also been our *star* when he testified before the New Jersey State Board of Education and at a “Stop Common Core” press conference this month in Trenton with Kim, Nora Brower, Barbara and Bill Eames, Jan Lenox, Michelle Mellon, and Roseann Salanitri.
Please thank the Freeholders:
David L. Ganz, Freeholder Chairman, 201-336-6280
Joan M. Voss, Freeholder Vice-Chairwoman, 201-336-6279 (Sponsor of Resolution)
John D. Mitchell, Freeholder, 201-336-6277 (Sponsor of Resolution)
John A. Felice, Freeholder, 201-336-6275
Maura DeNicola, Freeholder, 201-336-6276
Steven A. Tanelli, Freeholder, 201-336-6278
Tracy Silna Zur, Freeholder, 201-336-6281
BERGEN COUNTY BOARD OF CHOSEN FREEHOLDERS RESOLUTION
IN OPPOSITION OF
COMMON CORE STANDARDS AND ASSESSMENTS
SEPTEMBER 17, 2013
WHEREAS, the Board of Chosen Freeholders believes that the Common Core State Standards initiative is not representative of Bergen County’s residents but rather developed by non-governmental organizations and unelected boards outside of Bergen County.
WHEREAS, the Common Core is financed by private foundation funds and is therefore influenced by private interest and not representative of our voters.
WHEREAS, the Common Core violates privacy laws by requiring storage and sharing of private student and family data without individuals consent.
WHEREAS, the New Jersey Education Association urges the State to “slow down a headlong rush to over-rely on student test scores to evaluate teachers in New Jersey”.
WHEREAS, the Common Core has been repudiated by both Republicans and Democrats and it has been stated that curriculum reform should be done at the state level.
WHEREAS, the Common Core violates Constitutional and Federal Law by granting the United States powers which the Constitution reserves for the States, or to the people.
WHEREAS, the New Jersey General Assembly and New Jersey Senate have introduced legislation to further investigate the principals of The Common Core Initiative, and that The Bergen Board of Chosen Freeholders fully supports the passage of *A4197 and *S2973.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders opposes The Common Core Initiative; asks Congress and the Administration to withdraw support and discontinue funding The Common Core Standards Initiative.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this Resolution shall be delivered to Senator Robert Menendez, Senator Jeffrey Chiesa, Governor Chris Christie, Congressman William Pascrell, Congressman Albio Sires, Congressman Scott Garrett, and the entire State Legislative Delegation from Bergen County.
According to an article at EagNews.org, some states have true local control and some do not. Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina have local control; Utah does not.
The article explains:
MADISON, Wis. – If you live in a “local control” state in terms of public education – and chances are you do – here is some enlightening news.
Your local school board probably has the legal right to remove your school district from the new Common Core academic standards that are being forced on school districts around the nation by state education officials.
It’s true in my home state of Wisconsin, and it’s been confirmed by state education officials in Ohio and North Carolina.
Legislators and (state education departments) have, in my opinion, kept this information very close to the vest. That is deceit of the ugliest kind.
I contacted the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and asked the following question: If a school district decides to reject Common Core standards and replace them with a superior set of standards, will that school district still receive state and/or federal funds?
I received the following response from Emilie Amundsen, director of the Common Core State Standards Team at DPI:
“Yes. In Wisconsin, each school board has the statutory authority to adopt the state standards or any other set of standards, inferior or superior. This is called local control. When applied to schools, local control means that decisions about standards, curriculum and instruction are made at the local level. School districts must have standards. The type, quality and scope of those standards are left to local school boards to decide. This has always been the case in Wisconsin, and this has not changed as a result of Wisconsin adopting Common Core state standards.”
The staff at EAGnews is trying to contact education officials in numerous states, to determine if their districts also have the right to opt out of Common Core.
So far only three states have responded. Officials in North Carolina and Ohio have acknowledged that districts are free to dump Common Core, but caution that students in those districts may struggle with mandatory state tests, which will be aligned with Common Core.
Officials in Utah say local districts do not have the power to drop out of Common Core…
First, the federal government forces Americans to choose between giving our hard-earned educational tax dollars to them –or going to jail. Next, they promise to give back some of that money –so we can stretch it tightly across our educational budgets– after the feds pay themselves most of it.
So far, so bad.
Then, the feds threaten that they will withhold even that little bit of our money if we don’t merrily skip to the illegitimate tune of Common Core.
Do the fact check.
The Department of Education in the Department’s Blueprint for Reform uses these sweet sounding words: “The goal for America’s educational system is clear: Every student should graduate from high school ready for college and a career…” Nice. (Note to self: whenever the government says something deafeningly obvious, to which nobody could raise any argument, beware: watch what the other hand is doing.)
And meanwhile– the Department slyly alters and sets in stone the new definition of what it will mean in their documents and funding formulas to be “ready for college and career.”
See their official definition: College- and career-ready standards: Content standards for kindergarten through 12th grade that build towards college- and career-ready graduation requirements (as defined in this document) by the time of high school graduation. A State’s college- and career-ready standards must be either (1) standards that are common to a significant number of States; or (2) standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education, which must certify that students who meet the standards will not need remedial course work at the postsecondary level.
(As far as I know, there is no state that has chosen to use option #2– which is using higher ed to certify that state standards are college and career ready.)
So, college and career ready standards MUST BE COMMON to a significant number of states?
Why?On whose authority? Since when is “everybody’s doing it” a legitimate reason to jump off a cliff?
What if every state in the USA had lousy standards and yours alone had good ones? (Hello, Massachusetts!)
What if your state defined college and career readiness in a completely different way than “a significant number of states” defined it? Why the choke-collar? Why the peer pressure? If Common Core is so great, why the need for federal bullying?
Is bullying too strong a word? Read on.
Back in 2011, the Department of Education was already promising to punish those who push back against Common Core, saying:
“Beginning in 2015, formula funds will be available only to states that are implementing assessments based on college- and career-ready standards that are common to a significant number of states.”
So if your state refused to administer a common core aligned test, you’d lose federal dollars.
Is this why the Utah State School Board refuses to hear us when we point out endless evidence that we must reject Common Core? We point out endlessly that these standards are sub-par, that they’re an experiment on children, that they set up a data surveillance web on citizens without their consent; that the standards rob students of most of the classic literature their parents read in high school, that they put students at least two years behind international competitors by seventh grade in math (according to Dr. James Milgram, official member of the Common Core validation committee, who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of the standards) –and more.
Other Thoughts On Funding Schools
– I am done with my post. But I have more to say.
Even if money is the reason the USSB/USOE won’t say no to federal mandates, it still doesn’t make sense to me.
By far, the largest piece of the school funding pie is paid by LOCAL property taxes. The next largest piece is paid by STATE funds. The puniest piece of our school funding pie is paid using federal money.
Why are our state leaders not standing up to the federal demands with a clear “N” “O” when these federal demands clearly go against our best interests? Why do we let the federal govermment dictate education locally, when they hold neither the constitutional nor the actual funding authority over us? Why?
When I ask questions of our state superintendent, state school board, and the Utah State Office of Education, I feel like I’m yelling into a dark and endless pit where only my own voice echoes back to me. Is anybody at the wheel? Is anybody at the Utah State Office of Education or the State School Board doing any kind of homework on this subject?
How do parents and taxpayers feel about the fact that so much of our educational spending is diverted away from students and teachers, back to the ever-growing State Office of Education, the State School Board, and countless administrators and their support staff– rather than being spent purchasing actual school supplies and activities for students or for salaries for much-needed teachers and aides? (Needed school aides and other staff have been let go or not rehired locally –because of tough budgetary concerns. Why is the budget so tight? Hint: it’s not the legislature’s fault.)
Statewide, we have administrators and superintendents pulling in very fat paychecks. Administrative departments, paid advisory boards, paid research committees, and other wastes of money within the Federal, State and Local Offices of Education grow and grow, using our tax dollars, misapplied tax dollars.
And still, teachers and parents are ground to financial shreds.
Teachers have to purchase virtually everything for the classroom –except the textbooks and desks– out of their own paychecks. I know; I’ve done it for years.
Parents are told that they must purchase virtually everything for their students –despite having previously paid via property taxes for the privilege of attending public school (there are now locker rental fees, textbook rental fees despite having virtually no textbooks, class membership fees, planner fees, sporting fees, and on and on and on; I’m taking this list from my high school students’s actual fee paperwork from Wasatch High School, a fee list which totals almost $400 this year. That doesn’t even begin to count the fact that I have to purchase sport uniforms, musical instruments, and other participation fees and supplies. Nor does it count the fact that my child has to go door to door, selling things to neighbors to make more money for sport participation– or get dropped from the team.) This would be okay if it was a private school. But it’s a supposedly tax-funded public school.
Something isn’t as wrong with not having enough educational funding; something’s definitely wrong with how that funding is being mis-applied both locally and on the state and federal levels.
Is anybody fighting for proper use of taxpayer monies in educational decision-making?
Governor Herbert promised us in a face to face meeting that he’d do an independent cost analysis of Common Core. That was 1.5 years ago. He has not kept his word.
And what would ever motivate the USSB or USOE to analyze its spending? Not gonna happen. They’ll cry to the legislature that they’re underfunded, but they won’t assess how they’re spending what they already have.
Educational government spending has become a self-serving, messy, messy, messy mess.
The Wunderlich Family of Germany was attacked by their own government yesterday, as armed police stormed into their home and took away their four children.
There was no criminal charge of any kind– other than home-schooling.
This, in a so-called free nation? Although millions of children are home schooled legally in in many places, including the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Peru, Botswana, and so on, it is a sad fact that home school is now a punishable crime in Germany, Sweden, Beijing, and elsewhere.
And– while technically not illegal in the countries of France, Greece or Norway, it is extremely tightly –and sometimes cruelly– controlled by the governments there and elsewhere.
This nightmare treatment of the Wunderlich family, the Romeike family, the Himmelstrand family and others undermines the right for children to belong with and belong to their families, not to a government.
Did we just get that right? The President of what is supposed to be the freest country on earth doesn’t approve of private or religious schools and likes the German example of education? So, does Obama approve of Germany’s actions against these families? His Attorney General Eric Holder sure does.
Would they approve of U.S. police taking away custody of the millions of U.S. children who are home schooled here, as well?
Considering the fact that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder kicked the Romeike family out of the USA, how far off are we from truly having to fight this fight?
Huge kudos to Congressman Marlin Stutzman of Indiana and the 26 additional members of Congress who recently signed a powerful letter to Attorney General Eric Holder saying what needed to be said: “Americans don’t subscribe to the European notion that children belong to the community or the state—they belong to their parents.” The letter also said:
Dear Attorney General Holder,
We respectfully ask that, as the chief law enforcement officer of a nation founded as a safe haven for those who seek liberty, you grant asylum to the Romeike family who fled to the United States in 2008 after suffering persecution from the German government as a result of their decision to homeschool their children.
A decision to deny the Romeikes the opportunity to educate their children freely is a decision to abandon our commitment to freedom. Doing so would put America alongside those countries that believe children belong to the community or state. A country founded on freedom should stand for the fact that they belong to their parents.
When I saw, both in a Politichicks article and in a Blaze article, that it was on the recommended reading list of Common Core for 11th grade students to read “The Bluest Eye,” a book that graphically, vividly narrates sex crimes of a child molester in first person, I found it hard to believe that this would be approved in my state.
I wrote to my state school board member.
“Dixie, please tell me that in Utah, we have not approved “The Bluest Eye” for our students’ English reading which is on the Common Core’s list of approved readings. Please tell me that our curriculum committee is more selective. This is disgusting child pornography.
Thank you for finding out the answer.”
She wrote back after consulting with someone at the Office of Education with an assurance that although it was recommended by Common Core, it was not recommended by the Utah State Office of Education. Here is that letter:
“I hope this helps-was what I thought but wanted to be sure.
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: “Dickson, Sydnee”
Date: Aug 25, 2013 10:43 AM
Subject: RE: Common Core approved reading: The Bluest Eye
To: “Allen, Dixie”
Cc: “Hales, Brenda”
You are correct in that there are no prescribed texts for the Common Core. There are examples of texts that could be used for text complexity by grade level but this is certainly not one of them in Utah. When you go to our Appendix A and look at the suggestions for 11th grade, you will not find Bluest Eyes listed http://schools.utah.gov/CURR/langartelem/Core-Standards/ELA-Color-Standards-8-12-13.aspx. When you look at Appendix B (pg. 154) in the document published by CCSSO and NGA you will find the following brief excerpt from Bluest Eyes considered as a piece of text with complex language. This is not a recommended book but a section of brief text from the book.
[Excerpt was shared here from Morrison's "The Bluest Eye"]
We have not recommended this excerpt nor is it published in our Core ELA Standards documents. Because the Common Core is NOT a prescribed curriculum, districts, schools, and teachers are free to use texts and materials that comply with their district policies. This is not a book or text that would be likely be approved by schools in Utah. Also, we are developing digital texts by teachers for teachers and have started with 6-8. Those can be found at http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/langartsec/Digital-Books.aspx. Last, and most importantly, we have the RIMS review process that is conducted by a commission of appointed community leaders, parents, and educators. They create a list of published materials that are recommended, recommended with reservation, or not recommended. That list can be found at http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/imc/RIMs-Search.aspx. You will not find Bluest Eyes on that list as it has not been requested to be reviewed by either a publisher or a school/district.”
For a moment, I was relieved. Utah students were off the pedophilia-literature hook, it seemed.
But then the wheels started turning in my head again. Ms. Dickson had written that the book was not recommended reading in Utah. But we know that Utah’s teachers must follow the national Common Core to prepare children for a nationally-aligned Common Core test (AIR test) this year.
It would seem that an excerpt from this book or any Common Core approved book could be used on Utah’s AIR test, since AIR writes the test to Common Core alignment. Since I wasn’t completely sure whether AIR writes to Utah’s recommended reading list or to Common Core’s recommended readings, I asked Dixie to find out for me. I’m waiting very anxiously to hear back.
Meanwhile, I fact-checked the Blaze article’s statement that said that the Common Core expected students to read the whole texts, not just excerpts. Sadly, that was correct!
At the official Common Core website, it says: “When excerpts appear, they serve only as stand-ins for the full text. The Standards require that students engage with appropriately complex literary and informational works; such complexity is best found in whole texts rather than passages from such texts.”
So, “improving college and career readiness” and “rigor” means, to the architects of Common Core, exposing 11th graders to the literature of pedophilia.
I’m worried about what kinds of “literature” may appear on the Common Core test that Utah students will be exposed to this year. I’m also worried about their exposure to the new version of the ACT/SAT –since David Coleman has both led the creation of Common Core and is now the College Board president. He’s said he’s altering college entrance exams to match his vision of what college and career readiness means. I do not like and do not trust that man.
Then there’s this:
In Utah, there’s a law that 15 parents will be chosen to serve on a test watching committee. These 15 can see the test questions for the new Common Core AIR tests. I applied to be on the 15 parent panel. (I hope many, many Utah parents apply.) The state wrote back to say they received my application, and that I should know that there is a confidentiality agreement. So if any parent serving on this committee sees anything we find unacceptable like this, we can not speak out and specify what we saw. This seems to defeat the purpose of having the committee.
All of this makes me despise the Common Core Initiative, it’s nontransparent testing and nonrepresentative decision making, more and more and more.
I’ve spoken with one of the highest-ranking education leaders in Utah about Common Core. His primary reason for wanting Utah to remain tied to Common Core was to make Utah’s children ready for the altered college testing; ACT and SAT are now aligning to Common Core. I pointed out to this man that lemming-like adherence to Common Core, regardless of the fact that these standards are LOWERING high school graduation requirements for most states, and are ending local control of education, might be unwise. But he wanted to be a lemming. (Not his exact words.) If ACT/SAT was aligning, Utah would align. Hmmm.
Do you think it’s never going to become household knowledge that these standards are unpiloted, untested, and that they dumb down high school graduates? Do you really think that the ACT, SAT, and other tests will maintain their former levels of respect and authority once people realize that they’ve lowered themselves into the academic murk of Common Core math and its diminishment of classical English standards that used to lead out with classic literature?
Already, the truth is seeping into the general consciousness. The ACT and SAT are going to lose credibility with thousands if not millions, of Americans.
Proponents of Common Core are running scared. We are onto their racket. So, evidence that damns Common Core and its appendages is disappearing, lately. Did you notice that the video where the current College Board President David Coleman, (lead architect on Common Core English standards) curses and demeans student narrative writing– is gone? The video where MSNBC spokesperson Melissa Harris-Perry promotes collectivism/socialism, saying that “we have to break away from the notion that children belong to their parents–” is gone! Even our local Utah State Office of Education broke the link to the portion of their “Utah Core Standards” that said that Utah only modified our local standards after getting permission from the unelected D.C. group called CCSSO. Gone!
But proponents can’t cover up everything. The evidence trail is so wide and so damning. Dozens and dozens of links to documents, videos and government reports are still online and openly available. Please read them. Share them.
What I really think about the whole now-college-consuming monopoly of Common Core, via David Coleman making sure that every formerly respected college-related test in America now aligns with his Frankenstein (Common Core): it’s just a puffed up bully tactic, an intimidation technique. Without long-term muscle.
When I see articles describing how the ACT/SAT/GED/AP/textbooks/K-12 testing are ALL ALIGNING to this new monopoly on thought: Common Core? I think it’s no scarier than any other schoolyard bully intimidation game.
Why? Because we can choose not to fall for it, no matter how many big name companies and institutions Bill Gates’ dollar bills have persuaded to “endorse” Common Core alignment.
We can choose to opt out of the now experimentally-aligned tests, and we can still get our kids into good colleges. We can stand strong and have higher expectations for colleges and schools, and work to make sure alternatives materialize.
Liberty– and legitimate, time-tested education: That’s where I’m placing my bets.
Because what do the proponents of Common Core really have? Nothing real, just marketing and money. They don’t own our children’s futures.
Please click on the links to get to the original source documents that verify Common Core does far more damage than good.
The Race to the Top Grant Application – In this, Utah got points toward possibly winning grant money. Points were awarded in this application for the state’s having a student-tracker, this federally funded, nationally interoperable SLDS database system. (It is illegal to have a national student database; yet, all 50 states have matching, interoperable SLDS systems. The 50 SLDS’s effectually function as a national student database.
States submit K-12 data to the federal Edfacts Exchange –despite the U.S. Constitution and GEPA law which makes such accountability to the federal government illegal. Note that it is not allowed for any Utah student to opt out of being tracked, and parents are not notified nor asked for consent for this P-20 (preschool through grade 20) surveillance.) Also in this application, Utah got points to adopt the Common Core (without having seen any empirical data to prove Common Core academically legitimate). This lure of federal money was how Utah got in to the current bind. Despite not winning any grant money, Utah unfortunately chose to remain in both the Common Core and what amounts to the federal student surveillance program.
The State Longitudinal Database System Grant – This is the federally paid-for database that every state in the U.S. has. It tracks students within the state. But each SLDS can communicate with another. There is no apparent limit to how much information is being collected by schools, and no permission is collected from parents to have such information, nor is there any limit on how much information can be given by states to the federal government about students, because of Department of Education alterations to federal FERPA regulations. Vendors, volunteers and other unwanted “stakeholders” can now be considered “authorized representatives” to access data. Parental consent has been reduced from a requirement to a “best practice.”
Utah’s Core Standards – This document (link below) has been removed, but it used to show on page four, how Utah lost local control under Common Core. Utah had to ask permission from an unelected D.C. group to alter its own state standards. It said: modified by permission from CCSSO 2010.
The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission – This report was commissioned by Obama. It reveals that power to forcibly redistribute resources, including teachers, principals and money, is a key reason that federal education reformers want a national education system.
The Executive Summary of Race to the Top – see page 3, part D 3. This clearly shows the same tactic: the federal education reformers hope to gain the power to redistribute teachers and principals to their definition of “ensuring equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals.”
The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education – He claims Common Core was Obama’s plan. He also states that he hopes to make schools replace families as the center of people’s lives, with schools open seven days a week, all year round, almost all day long. See video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuO_nB7WY9w
The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber – Barber wants every school on the globe to have the same academic standards and he promotes the underpinning of global education standards with environmental extremism. He promotes ending diversity, using global sameness and uses the term “irreversible reform.” His ruthless book, Deliverology, is dedicated to American education reformers. It advocates delivering a set goal at any price and at any cost. Pearson is the world’s largest education sales company; it’s now partnered with Bill Gates, the second wealthiest man on earth, to promote global common education, devoid of any academic empirical proving that the standards are beneficial rather than harmful.
Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance – see p. 62/44 – This U.S. Dept. of Education report assures all that data about behavioral and attitudinal indicators of students are desperately wanted by the federal government. It’s all about controlling students by knowing their inner thoughts. Facial expression cameras, posture analysis seats, pressure mouses, wireless skin sensors are all recommended as ways to collect data about children in a continuous stream, in this document.
The federal websites such as the EdFacts Exchange, the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites -Three of these four ask states to match other states’ personally identifiable information collection. – The first link shows what we already give to the federal government; the others show what the federal government is requesting that all states do, which does include collecting intimate, personally identifiable information such as bus stop times, nicknames, parental voting record, academic scores, health information, mother’s maiden name, social security number, etc.
The Common Core English and Math standards – These are the actual standards. (CCSS)
American Institutes for Research - AIR’s common core implementation document shows that AIR is not an academic testing group but a behavioral research institute partnered with the federally funded and federally controlled SBAC testing group. Parents and teachers may not see these subjectively written, attitude assessing test questions; and students cannot succeed in this computer adaptive test, which guarantees that all students fail about half the questions.
HB15 – This bill shows that Utah law requires the assessment of behavior and attitudes. See line 59.
SB 175 – proposed amendments to this bill show that it is Utah educational leadership’s will that any student who opts out of Common Core testing will be punished academically (see line 135) and his/her school will be punished as well (see line 168)
Legislators in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Georgia, North Carolina, and elsewhere are working to write protective laws guarding data privacy, upholding parental and local teachers’ voices in education, and halting education dollars for unpiloted, experimental Common Core trainings and tests.
They aren’t only concerned that time and money are being invested in an academic train wreck. It’s a precendent-setting liberty issue. Unelected groups now set governance policies that Utahns must abide by. Surely, CCSSO, NGA, Achieve, Inc., or Bill Gates have no constituency. Yet the whims of this group are ruling teachers, administrators and students in Utah.