Archive for the ‘Sandra Stotsky’ Tag

40 Questions for Common Core Debaters   7 comments

state school board picture photo utah

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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: jasonthe@gmail.com or kvnuftp@gmail.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.

40 COMMON CORE DEBATE QUESTIONS

1. Is Common Core constitutional? Why or why not?

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?

9. Would widespread mandating of experimental, untested standards constitute educational malpractice?

10. Where can I see for myself the specific countries and specific standards to which the Common Core standards are “internationally benchmarked” if such benchmarking exists?

11. Where is the American process of representation of individuals in the Common Core education and assessments system, if it exists?

12. Where can I see for myself empirical, researched evidence (not opinion) that Common Core’s increasing informational text and decreasing classic literature will benefit children, if it exists?

13. Where can I see for myself empirical, researched evidence that Common Core’s move away from traditional math toward constructivist math will benefit our children, if it exists?

14. Many mathematicians and math experts, even including Common Core architect and advocate Jason Zimba, have pointed out that students who want to take Calculus in college will need to take more math than Common Core math courses in high school. What should the Utah State School Board do to make sure Utah students are truly prepared for STEM careers despite Common Core’s low math standards?

15. A mathematician is one who has an advanced degree in advanced mathematics; a math educator is one who has an advanced degree in educating students on any level of math. How do you feel about the fact that there was only one actual mathematician on the Common Core validation committee, Dr. James Milgram, and that he refused to sign off because he said the standards were not legitimate math for college preparation?

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?

32. If countries like Estonia, Hungary, Slovenia, Vietnam, Latvia, and Poland routinely outscore the U.S. on standardized tests such as PISA, why isn’t their per capita gross domestic product or other personal economic indicators equal to those in the U.S. (World Bank, 2013)? In other words, what evidence do we have that pressuring students to focus on standardized testing will improve the U.S. economy?

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)?

38. To what extent do you agree with this statement? “Common Core is a standardized education philosophy that transmits prescribed content via nationally aligned standards, aligned tests and aligned texts; the previous system was less organized, more loosely monitored, less unified, but spent more time on creativity, individual exploration and innovation.”

39. How do you feel about the funding of the Common Core: one unelected businessman– Bill Gates– funded the Common Core initiative, paid the PTA and the pro-Common Core think tanks (Fordham Institute, Manhattan Institute, Foundation for Educational Excellence) that advocate for it, he partnered with Pearson, the largest educational text sales company in the world to market it, that he publically calls American schools his “uniform customer base”, and that he has said that his goal is for Common Core tests, curriculum and standards to align? See Gates’ public speech here.

40. How do you feel about Secretary Arne Duncan’s stated goals for national Common Core Educational Standards and Common Data Standards? To summarize, a few of Duncan’s stated goals are:

–1) to have the federal government take more control over American schools than ever before,
–2) to make schools (not families) be the community centers, open 6-7 days a week, 12 months a year, 14 hours per day; and
–3) to partner the federal department of education with the copyrighters of the Common Core (CCSSO) for both education standards AND for data collection standards.

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THE CONTINUAL WEARYING a.k.a. THE SQUEAKY WHEEL

(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, unceasinglyCommon 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.

But it lacks the important stuff.

Parents (and teachers) can win back local control. We care more deeply about our children and about legitimate education than the proponents care about our children or Common Core.

We just have to be the squeaky wheel.

unrighteous judge parable

Remember the parable of Jesus from Luke 18:

“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: board@schools.utah.gov

Here is the state superintendent’s address: martell.menlove@schools.utah.gov

Here is the governor’s education counselor’s address: ckearl@utah.gov

If you want to get 2 minutes to testify about these things at the monthly state school board meeting, contact secretary Lorraine at: Lorrain.Austin@schools.utah.gov

Admitted: Common Core Math is NOT Meant to Prepare Students for Bachelor’s Degrees   8 comments

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?”

stotsky

Professor Sandra Stotsky, who served on the official Common Core Validation Committee, has written an article, Common Core Math Standards Do Not Prepare U.S. Students for STEM Careers. How Come?” (It is posted in full at Heritage Foundation’s website.)

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 clear this 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.

milgram
James Milgram

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.

Stotsky points out that the lead mathematics standards writers themselves were telling the public how LOW Common Core’s high school math standards were. At a March 2010 meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Jason Zimba, a lead writer, told the board that the standards are “not only not for STEM, they are also not for selective colleges.”

Yet, strangely, Stotsky was the only member of the board who expressed concern upon hearing Zimba’s words. Watch that one minute video here.

Stotsky explains:

“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?”

Read the rest of Stotsky’s article here.

What about NCEE? Surely the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) would not want to dumb down your child!

Sigh.

In the 2013 report from NCEE, “What Does It Really Mean to be College and Career Ready?” it recommends that we all throw out the higher math we used to teach in high schools in America.

“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.”

MARC TUCKER NCEE

Read the rest of the NCEE report here.

When will people stop saying that Common Core standards are legitimate preparation for 4 year colleges? It so obviously isn’t true.

When will people admit that Common Core caters to a low common denominator and robs high achievers and mid-achievers? Probably never. Proponents pushed Common Core on Americans for a deliberate purpose: so that politicians and the private corporations they’ve partnered with, can analyze, punish and reward those who have forgotten that they have real rights under a real Constitution to direct and control their own affairs.

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Thank you, Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram for your tireless testimonies about American education reforms that hurt our children and our country.

ben franklin tyrants rebellion is obedience

Common Core Eerily Like Challenger Launch   2 comments

In January 1986 I was a high school student in Orlando, watching out the window as the Challenger Space Shuttle launched about fifty miles away. Christa MacAuliffe, the first teacher in space, was being launched with a seven member crew.

shuttle challenger

Then we all saw the explosion in the sky.

The plumes represented total failure and the deaths of seven people. Christa MacAuliffe perished along with every one of the seven members of the Challenger crew– a horrible, history-scarring launch. But.

What wasn’t widely known until years later was that the Challenger disaster had been avoidable.

Avoidable!

Top engineers had alterted NASA not to launch. Memos had been circulated. Calls had been made but ignored. Groupthink had taken over.

help memo challenger

NASA chose to ignore legitimate concerns –under financial and cultural pressures. That decision to ignore proved disasterous to the entire country.

Today, launch-executives of Common Core (including School Boards/PTA/NGA/CCSSO/Bill Gates’-funded thinktanks) are choosing to ignore concerns because of financial pressure. This will prove disasterous to the children and teachers now being launched into Common Core.

The morning of the Challenger’s launch, Florida temperatures were very cold.

ice and challenger launch pad

As NASA has documented:

NASA remembered that the builder of the shuttle, Morton-Thiokol, had been concerned about low temperature launches and made a call to the Utah headquarters.

“A manager came by my room and asked me if I was concerned about an 18 degree launch,” recalled Morton Thiokol engineer Bob Ebeling. “I said ‘What?’ – because we’re only qualified to 40 degrees. I said, ‘What business does anyone even have thinking about 18 degrees, we’re in no man’s land.’”

The O-rings had never been tested below freezing.

The Senior Representative for Morton Thiokol, at the Kennedy Space Center, Alan McDonald, refused to sign off that the project was ready and safe; he said temperatures were too cold to safely use the booster motors Morton Thiokol had built.

But his supervisors in Utah OVERRULED HIM and faxed a signature to NASA indicating that the company approved the launch anyway. (Doesn’t this remind you of the way the state school boards are overruling concerned, local superintendents, teachers, parents and administrators?)

It wasn’t just the temperatures on that day that were a problem. It wasn’t just the fact that they hadn’t tested the O-rings at these temperatures. Problems had been percolating all along. Months earlier, in October 1985, engineer Bob Ebeling had sent out a memo with the subject heading, “HELP!”

The purpose of Ebeling’s memo was to draw attention to dangerous structural errors in engineering. Roger Boijoly, yet another Morton Thiokol Engineer, validated Ebeling and McDonald, saying that the management’s style, the atmosphere at Morton Thiokol, dis-allowed dissent. (Doesn’t this description remind you of the atmosphere of the State Office of Education which treats dissenting voices on Common Core as “misinformed” and insubordinate?)

Boijoly testified that “Many opportunities were available to structure the work force for corrective action, but the Morton Thiokol management style would not let anything compete or interfere with the production and shipping of boosters. The result was a program which gave the appearance of being controlled while actually collapsing from within due to excessive technical and manufacturing problems as time increased.”

Why were these whistleblowers ignored? This question lingers. Many university courses use the Challenger disaster as a case study in the dangers of groupthink and the importance of listening to dissenting voices –even when listening means risking great financial and cultural pressures.

(See samples of university case studies of the Challenger ethics/groupthink disaster here and here.)

Today, the Florida Department of Education uses this image on its website, calling it “Countdown to Common Core.” It is eerie but it’s real.

Eerie logo or not, most states in the US are launching these un-vetted, un-tested, un-piloted, un-constitutionally governed Common Core standards. And whistleblowers who testify that this launch must be stopped, are being marginalized and scorned, rather than being heard.

florida countdown common core launch logo

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Here are five parallels between the launch of Common Core and the launch of the 1986 Challenger.

1. In both cases, teachers were placed in harm’s way yet they nobly and confidently took on the high-risk role.

2. In both cases, there was a lack of pilot testing and a lack of proper study of the structure of the thing that was to be launched.

See Professor Christopher Tienken’s condemnation of the launching of Common Core without pilot testing in his research paper, here. See the side-by-side studies of pre and post Common Core academic standards, commissioned by Senator William Ligon of Georgia, here. See Pioneer Institute’s white paper on the rapid, unvetted implementation of Common Core across the nation, here.

3. In both cases, leading experts risked reputation and careers to be whistleblowers, to stop the doomed launches.</strong>

See expert educators’ testimonies here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.

4. In both cases, whistleblowers were marginalized and leadership forged ahead, heedlessly.

See how the U.S. Secretary of Education and his corporate allies and pseudo-governmental allies deride the increasing number of dissenting voices.

5. <strong>In both cases, there was no escape hatch provided for those who chose to be onboard.

In the case of the Challenger shuttle, evidence suggests that some if not all of the people on board were alive during part or all of the descent of the cabin after it detached from the rest of the shuttle. It took over 2 minutes for the cabin to crash into the Atlantic. Might lives have been saved if there had been an escape system?

Launch escape systems had been considered several times during shuttle development, but NASA’s conclusion was that the shuttle’s expected high reliability would PRECLUDE THE NEED for one.

In the case of the Common Core launch, again, high expectations for reliability have apparently precluded the need for an escape hatch. While states may technically drop out of the Common Core initiative at any time, it becomes about as realistic to do so as it was for Hansel and Gretel being able to find their trail of crumbs in the woods that might have led them to freedom; with each passing day, that likelihood diminishes.

States are investing hundreds of millions upon hundreds of millions nationwide to create technological infrastructures, teacher trainings, textbook repurchasings, and public advocacy programs to implement Common Core. They are not likely to pull out.

States staying in do try to make these standards feel locally owned, by changing the name from “Common Core” to “Utah Core” or “California Core,” or by adding some of the federally permitted 15% to the Common Core.

But the nationally aligned tests will never take any 15% into account. (How could they? Differing would mean states’ standards were no longer “common.” And then comparisons from state to state would not be useful to the data hungry corporations and governmental “stakeholders” who crave that student testing data)

And if states were to try to get together and actually significantly alter and improve the commonly held standards, GOOD LUCK.

The Common Core State Standards are under private copyright and there’s no amendment process offered outside of that private club which claims to be the “sole developers and owners” of the standards.

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Anybody see see an actual, functioning escape hatch for Common Core?

What happens if we decide, down the line, that we don’t like how things are going? How can we regain that control, that copyright, that states-owned amendability of state standards, and that privacy (pre-S.L.D.S?)

I don’t see proper testing or vetting in the history of these standards. Do you?

I don’t see proper discussion of whistleblowers’ concerns. Do you?

I don’t see proponents caring at all for the well-being of the children and teachers being launched without their consent on this thing. Proponents are driven by money and by indebtedness to funders and by the desire for greater power over our children and over all people.

It is time to stop the Common Core launch.

And if we can’t stop this launch– if our leaders choose to ignore all reason and ignore the voices of those who not only have elected them, but who are the first authorities over the children– then it is time to take action and pull our children off the machine.

shuttle challenger

Notre Dame Conference Address of Dr. Sandra Stotsky: Common Core’s Invalid Validation Committee   11 comments

notre dame conference

On Monday, at the University of Notre Dame, Dr. Sandra Stotsky will present a white paper about Common Core’s validation committee at a conference entitled “The Changing Role of Education in America: Consequences of the Common Core.” It is posted below.

A few of powerful points from Dr. Stotsky’s paper:

1. “One aspect of the ELA standards that remained untouchable despite the consistent criticisms I sent to the standards writers… was David Coleman’s
idea that nonfiction or informational texts should occupy at least half of the readings in every English class, to the detriment of classic literature… Even though all the historical and empirical evidence weighed against this concept, his idea was apparently set in stone.”

2. “The standards were created by people who wanted a “Validation Committee” in name only. An invalid process, endorsed by an invalid Validation Committee, resulted not surprisingly in invalid standards.”

3. “Because the Work Group labored in secret, without open meetings, sunshine-law minutes of meetings, or accessible public comment, its reasons for making the decisions it did are lost to history.”

4. “There has been no validation of Common Core’s standards by a public process, nor any validation of its college-readiness level in either mathematics or English language arts by the relevant higher education faculty in this country… It is possible to consider the original vote by state boards of education to adopt Common Core’s standards null and void, regardless of whether a state board of education now chooses to recall its earlier vote. Any tests based on these invalid standards are also invalid, by definition.”

Dr. Stotsky has permitted widespread publication of her paper, and it is posted here.

notredame

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Common Core’s Invalid Validation Committee

Sandra Stotsky


Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas

Paper prepared for a conference at University of Notre Dame

September 9, 2013

Common Core’s K-12 standards, it is regularly claimed, emerged from a state-led process in which experts and educators were well represented. But the people who wrote the standards did not represent the relevant stakeholders. Nor were they qualified to draft standards intended to “transform instruction
for every child.” And the Validation Committee (VC) that was created to put the seal of approval on the drafters’ work was useless if not misleading, both in its membership and in the procedures they had to follow.

I served as the English language arts (ELA) standards expert on that committee and will describe today some of the deficiencies in its make-up, procedures, and outcome. The lack of an authentic validation of Common Core’s so-called college-readiness standards (by a committee consisting largely of discipline based higher education experts who actually teach freshmen and other undergraduates mathematics or English/humanities courses) before state boards of education voted to adopt these standards suggests their votes had no legal basis. In this paper, I set forth a case for declaring the votes by state boards of education to adopt Common Core’s standards null and void—and any tests based on them.

For many months after the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) was launched in early 2009, the identities of the people drafting the “college- and career-readiness standards” were unknown to the public. CCSSI eventually (in July) revealed the names of the 24 members of the “Standards Development
Work Group” (designated as developing these standards) in response to complaints from parent groups and others about the lack of transparency.

What did this Work Group look like? Focusing only on ELA, the make-up of the Work Group was quite astonishing: It included no English professors or high-school English teachers. How could legitimate ELA standards be created without the very two groups of educators who know the most about what students should and could be learning in secondary English classes? CCSSI also released the names of individuals in a larger “Feedback Group.” This group included one English professor and one high-school English teacher. But it was made clear that these people would have only an advisory role – final decisions would be made by the English-teacher-bereft Work Group.

Indeed, Feedback Group members’ suggestions were frequently ignored, according to the one English professor on this group, without explanation. Because the Work Group labored in secret, without open meetings, sunshine-law minutes of meetings, or accessible public comment, its reasons for making the decisions it did are lost to history.

The lead ELA writers were David Coleman and Susan Pimentel, neither of whom had experience teaching English either in K-12 or at the college level. Nor had either of them ever published serious work on K-12 curriculum and instruction. Neither had a reputation for scholarship or research; they were virtually unknown to the field of English language arts. But they had been chosen to transform ELA education in the US. Who recommended them and why, we still do not know.

In theory, the Validation Committee (VC) should have been the fail-safe mechanism for the standards. The VC consisted of about 29 members during 2009-2010. Some were ex officio, others were recommended by the governor or commissioner of education of an individual state. No more is known officially about the rationale for the individuals chosen for the VC. Tellingly, the VC contained almost no experts on ELA standards; most were education professors and representatives of testing companies, from here and abroad. There was only one mathematician on the VC—R. James Milgram (there were several mathematics educators—people with doctorates in mathematics education and, in most cases, appointments in an education school). I was the only nationally acknowledged expert on English language arts standards by virtue of my work in Massachusetts and for Achieve, Inc.’s American Diploma Project high school exit standards for ELA and subsequent backmapped standards for earlier grade levels.

As a condition of membership, all VC members had to agree to 10 conditions, among which were the following:

Ownership of the Common Core State Standards, including all drafts, copies, reviews, comments, and nonfinal versions (collectively, Common Core State Standards), shall reside solely and exclusively with the Council of Chief State School Officers (“CCSSO”) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (“NGA Center”).

I agree to maintain the deliberations, discussions, and work of the Validation Committee, including the content of any draft or final documents, on a strictly confidential basis and shall not disclose or communicate any information related to the same, including in summary form, except within the membership of the Validation Committee and to CCSSO and the NGA Center.

As can be seen in the second condition listed above, members of the VC could never, then or in the future, discuss whether or not the VC discussed the meaning of college readiness or had any recommendations to offer on the matter. The charge to the VC spelled out in the summer of 2009, before the grade-level mathematics standards were developed, was as follows:

1. Review the process used to develop the college- and career-readiness standards and recommend improvements in that process. These recommendations will be used to inform the K-12 development process.

2. Validate the sufficiency of the evidence supporting each college- and career-readiness standard. Each member is asked to determine whether each standard has sufficient evidence to warrant its inclusion.

3. Add any standard that is not now included in the common core state standards that they feel should be included and provide the following evidence to support its inclusion: 1) evidence that the standard is essential to college and career success; and 2) evidence that the standard is internationally comparable.”

It quickly became clear that the VC existed as window-dressing; it was there to rubber-stamp, not improve, the standards. As all members of the VC were requested to do, I wrote up a detailed critique of the College and Career Readiness Standards in English language arts in the September 2009 draft and
critiques of drafts of the grade-level standards as they were made available in subsequent months. I sent my comments to the three lead standards writers as well as to Common Core’s staff, to other members of the VC (until the VC was directed by the staff to send comments only to them for distribution), and to Commissioner Chester and the members of the Massachusetts Board of Education (as a fellow member).

At no time did I receive replies to my comments or even queries from the CCSSI staff, the standards writers, or Commissioner Chester and fellow board members. In a private conversation at the end of November, 2009, I was asked by Chris Minnich, a CCSSI staff member, if I would be willing to work on the standards during December with Susan Pimentel, described to me as the lead ELA standards writer. I had worked with her (working for StandardsWork) on the 2008 Texas English language arts standards and, earlier, on other standards projects. I was told that Pimentel made the final decisions on the ELA standards. I agreed to spend about two weeks in Washington, DC working on the ELA standards pro bono with Pimentel if it was made clear that agreed-upon revisions would not be changed by unknown others before going out for comment to other members of the VC and, eventually, the public.

A week after sending to Minnich and Pimentel a list of the kind of changes I thought needed to be made to the November 2009 draft before we began to work together, I received a “Dear John” letter from Chris Minnich. He thanked me for my comments and indicated that my suggestions would be considered along with those from 50 states and that I would hear from the staff sometime in January.

In the second week of January 2010, a “confidential draft” was sent out to state departments of education in advance of their submitting an application on January 19 for Race to the Top (RttT) funds. (About 18 state applications, including the Bay State’s, were prepared by professional grant writers chosen and paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—at roughly $250,000 each.) A few states included the watermarked confidential draft in their application material and posted the whole application on their department of education’s website (in some cases required by law), so it was no longer confidential. This draft contained none of the kinds of revisions I had suggested in my December e-mail to Minnich and Pimentel. Over the next six months, the Pioneer Institute published my analyses of that January draft and succeeding drafts, including the final June 2 version. I repeatedly pointed out serious flaws in the document, but at no time did the lead ELA standards writers communicate with me (despite requests for a private discussion) or provide an explanation of the organizing categories for the standards and the focus on skills, not literary/historical content.

One aspect of the ELA standards that remained untouchable despite the consistent criticisms I sent to the standards writers, to those in charge of the VC, to the Massachusetts board of education, to the Massachusetts commissioner of education, to the media, and to the public at large was David Coleman’s
idea that nonfiction or informational texts should occupy at least half of the readings in every English class, to the detriment of classic literature and of literary study more broadly speaking. Even though all the historical and empirical evidence weighed against this concept, his idea was apparently set in stone.

The deadline for producing a good draft of the college-readiness and grade-level ELA (and mathematics) standards was before January 19, 2010, the date the U.S. Department of Education had set for state applications to indicate a commitment to adopting the standards to qualify for Race to the Top grants.

But the draft sent to state departments of education in early January was so poorly written and contentdeficient that CCSSI had to delay releasing a public comment draft until March. The language in the March version had been cleaned up somewhat, but the draft was not much better in organization or substance – the result of unqualified drafters working with undue haste and untouchable premises.

None of the public feedback to the March draft has ever been made available. The final version released in June 2010 contained most of the problems apparent in the first draft: lack of rigor (especially in the secondary standards), minimal content, lack of international benchmarking, lack of research support.

In February 2010, I and presumably all other members of the VC received a “letter of certification” from the CCSSI staff for signing off on Common Core’s standards (even though the public comment draft wasn’t released until March 2010 and the final version wasn’t released until June). The original charge
to the VC had been reduced in an unclear manner by unidentified individuals to just the first two and least important of the three bullets mentioned above. Culmination of participation on the committee was reduced to signing or not signing a letter by the end of May 2010 asserting that the standards were:

1 Reflective of the core knowledge and skills in ELA and mathematics that students need to be college- and career ready.

2. Appropriate in terms of their level of clarity and specificity.

3. Comparable to the expectations of other leading nations.

4. Informed by available research or evidence.

5. The result of processes that reflect best practices for standards development.

6. A solid starting point for adoption of cross-state common core standards.

7. A sound basis for eventual development of standards-based assessments.

The VC members who signed the letter were listed in the brief official report on the VC (since committee work was confidential, there was little the rapporteur could report), while the five members who did not sign off were not listed as such, nor their reasons mentioned. Stotsky’s letter explaining why she could not sign off can be viewed here, and Milgram’s letter can be viewed here.

This was the “transparent, state-led” process that resulted in the Common Core standards. The standards were created by people who wanted a “Validation Committee” in name only. An invalid process, endorsed by an invalid Validation Committee, resulted not surprisingly in invalid standards.

States need to reconsider their hasty decisions to adopt this pig in an academic poke for more than substantive reasons. There has been no validation of Common Core’s standards by a public process, nor any validation of its college-readiness level in either mathematics or English language arts by the relevant higher education faculty in this country. And there is nothing in the history and membership of the VC to suggest that the public should place confidence in the CCSSI or the U.S. Department of Education to convene committees of experts from the relevant disciplines in higher education in this country and elsewhere to validate Common Core’s college-readiness level. It is possible to consider the original vote by state boards of education to adopt Common Core’s standards null and void, regardless of whether a state board of education now chooses to recall its earlier vote. Any tests based on these invalid standards are also invalid, by definition.

Intimidated? Stand Strong Against the Bully of Common Core   8 comments

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.

They just want us to think they do.

Your Children: Free Thinkers or Socialist-Owned Cogs?   1 comment

An opinion editorial by Glenn Jacobs in today’s Daily Caller says that the Common Core should be renamed the “Lowest Common Denominator.” He suggests that American schools have been scientifically designed to prevent over-education, thus “ensuring workers who will never be tempted to better their stations in life.”

What do you think of that?

Considering the fact that common core creator Jason Zimba admitted that Common Core only prepares graduates for 2-year nonselective colleges or vocational careers, and considering the fact that top common core validation committee members refused to sign off on the standards; and considering the fact that career-orientation is one of the primary reasons that the younger children must now face common core tests, I really agree.

Glenn Jacobs also writes:

Common Core is designed to churn out young people who will be educated enough to work, consume, and pay taxes, but who are not encouraged to be creative, or to use critical thinking, or to develop anything remotely characteristic of those who possess superior minds and the ability to achieve great things…. it should be students, not bureaucrats, who determine what path their lives take: be it as workers, scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers, architects, artists, or whatever.”

Of course. It should be up to the student, not up to a force-fed common test, and up to the government’s latest “need” list.

But nowadays, superior minds and the ability to truly achieve are damnable qualities in education reformer circles where collective, business-and-governmentally shared, top down control, are valued. Equity and equality and redistribution are the trendy words in education, far above concepts like individual superior achievement or individual worth. But what made America so great? Liberty. People showing off. People magnifying their gifts, not slowing down to fit into a common denominator.

Truly great achievements won’t happen in the educational future without freedom. Yet our Utah leaders fail to guard against these losses of freedom in education. The reformers want equity and equality so desperately that they are willing to sacrifice liberty and innovation– or maybe, they don’t realize that they have sacrificed it. But think it through: equity as defined by new U.S. Dept. of Education reports, now means forced, mandated redistribution of all things, including teachers, principals, standards, tests and money.

This sameness, the one-size-for-all that claims to ensure that no one can fail only ensures that no one can soar. This is their terrible plan.

It is, unapologetically, communism.

Jacobs explains:

“…Common Core sets a very low bar for students. Its language arts component is so lacking that Dr. Sandra Stotsky, a professor emerita at the University of Arkansas and a member of the Common Core Validation Committee, refused to approve the program. Common Core’s mathematical component is no better. The Validation Committee’s Dr. James Milgram, a professor emeritus at Stanford University, also refused to sign off on Common Core, saying that the math standards are “as non-challenging as possible. … The Core Mathematics Standards are written to reflect very low expectations.”

However, many Americans are falling for the outright lie– the line that Obama’s “college and career readiness” catch phrase means raising, rather than lowering, the educational bar for high school graduates. They don’t fact-check. They don’t ask for empirical evidence. And they are fooled –or bribed into pretending to be fooled.

Even the Chamber of Commerce, the national PTA, and Harvard– are fooled by the words “rigorous” and “benchmarked” (or paid by Bill Gates) to assume that Common Core is an improvement –and most have not fact-checked claims of Common Core.

How dare I say that the special interest groups who copyrighted the Common Core, or my own governor, my President, my Utah Chamber of Commerce, my State School Board, and some of my favorite teachers, are all working toward a goal that will ultimately numb and dumb the population? (I realize that most of these people don’t realize what they are doing. Still, the effect happens, whether the intentions were good or not.)

The answer is that those who feel they are experts feel entitled to control the freedoms of the general population. They don’t care that we don’t want to be leashed. They are imposing a parental role over free adults. And weak people allow it.

Some believe that the economic stability of the state is ensured by the educational leashing and tracking of young citizens. But, after studying the promises used by proponents about Common Core, comparing them to government-produced reports and source documents, one can NOT reconcile common core claims with the truth. It becomes clear that proponents are either looking at a very narrow piece of the sky, or they are lying, or they are paid by others to pretend to believe the talking points.

Please read the many source documents with your own eyes, and plead with everyone you know to study these for themselves. Only by educating ourselves can we escape this disaster.

And it is a disaster. It is, truly, communism. Proof?

Multiple U.S. Department of Education reports show that the forcible redistribution of Americans’ earned wealth, and of teachers and principals, is a key goal of Common Core education reforms.

Redistribution of teachers, principals and wealth are tentacles of education reforms that most educators don’t see yet. Study “For Each and Every Child” — a Dept. of Education report. Study the videos of Linda Darling-Hammond, SBAC staff member and Obama advisor. Study the Executive Summary of Race to the Top. Do word searches for “equity” and “equality” and “redistribution.”

Those who do see, know that Common Core and its accompanying reforms are sobering and dangerous to personal liberty, to clusters of good schools, to ownership of locally-controlled education, and to innovative and independent thought.

Our children deserve not to have their teachers redistributed to worse (or better) schools by the government’s reforms. They deserve to learn more than a government-designed worker bee’s lowest common denominator version of learning. They deserve to be free to choose and change their life paths.

But Common Core tests and SLDS tracking systems coerce students into predetermined career paths, and U.S. Dept. of Ed documents push the forced redistribution of teachers, principles, and money.

Is this what we want, America?

Glenn Jacobs’ thoughts echo those of Daniel Coupland of Hillsdale College, who said:

“When a nation expands workforce training so that it crowds out other things that rightly belong in education, we end up turning out neither good workers nor good citizens… 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 requium… 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.”

The late, great C.S. Lewis couldn’t agree more. He wrote:

“Vocational training … aims at making not a good man but a good banker, a good electrician, a good scavenger, or a good surgeon. You see at once that education is essentially for freemen and vocational training for slaves. – C.S. Lewis

So when you hear the Utah Chamber of Commerce endorsing Common Core, when you see your local PTA endorsing Common Core, when you hear the Governor’s radio ads pushing Prosperity 2020, an appendage of Common Core, remember the thoughts of Jacobs, Coupland, and Lewis.

Free people are lifelong, joyful learners, and are not just technically-educated, government-ordered, cogs in the state machine.

Concerned Women For America: Informational Conference Call June 27   2 comments

I received this email announcing an informational conference call. Joy Pullman, Sandra Stotsky and Richard Innes will be the guest speakers.

Many of us have watched the video that the Concerned Women’s group produced together with the American Principles Project, about Common Core. (If not, click here.)

Here is the CWA invitation:

CWA Hosts Nation-Wide “Facts about Common Core Conference Call”

Calling all parents and grandparents! There is a power grab unfolding within your local school system. And it’s time you know the truth.

Over the past three years, the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been quietly working to seize control of the American education system without any input by the states. As a part of President Barak Obama’s stimulus package, Race to the Top grant money was earmarked for education initiatives in the states. Tied to this money is the progressive Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSS) and the results could be devastating to parent’s rights and our respective states’ education system.

It is imperative that you understand the CCSS initiative and how it will affect your child’s classroom.

Please join CWA’s nation-wide “Facts Common Core Conference Call” on June 27 at 8:30 p.m. EDT, as CWA’s Executive Director, Kenda Bartlett, moderates the discussion on exactly what is the CCSS, the program’s origins and the steps you can take to educate yourself and others on the Common Core.

Expert guests will include:
•Joy Pullmann, Heartland Institute

•Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Common Core Validation Committee Member
•Richard Innes, Bluegrass Institute

Please don’t miss this unique opportunity.

Call (760) 569-7676 , and enter the participant access code 303989 to join the conference call.

Most states adopting CCSS did so to be eligible to compete for federal funding. To have a chance at that money, recession-racked states agreed to adopt the CC standards and the aligned national tests sight unseen. Only five states did not sign on to the CCSS; so unless you live in Alaska, Nebraska, Minnesota, Texas, or Virginia, this will affect your school system.

So please, learn everything you need to know about Common Core on CWA’s “Facts about Common Core Conference Call”.

Sincerely,

Penny Nance
Chief Executive Officer and President

Video: Conejo Valley District’s Forum on Common Core   1 comment

This week, concerned parents of the Conejo Valley Unified School District in California held a forum about Common Core.

One of the first panelists in the video is Stanford Professor and Hoover Institute researcher Bill Evers, who shares facts, experiences, lively stories and teacher quotes that point out the absurdity of accepting the Common Core, on academic and on federalism-related issues.

Professor Sandra Stotsky is another panelist. Dr. Stotsky served on the official Common Core validation committee and refused to sign off on the standards because they do not prepare students adequately and because they reduce literary study.

Here’s the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srYHUdSpuR0

Video: Common Core Forum in Massachusetts   3 comments

The following videos are from last Tuesday night’s forum,”Can Common Core Standards Make Massachusetts Students Competitive?” at the Worcester Public Library in Massachusetts.

At minute 2:15 on the first video, adjunct professor Donna Colorio says, “The bottom line is that there are serious questions and overwhelming evidence that Massachusetts currently has a higher academic standard than the Common Core. Why, when we are among the top in the nation in academic standards and testing, would we change? After 17 years of revising our standards… would we abandon our standards and our curriculum? Just like that? These national standards are unproven, untested, and underfunded.”

At minute 3:04, Colorio says, “It was the best kept education reform secret yet. Do a little experiment. Ask random parents at your next meeting if they know what the Common Core is…. parents, elected representatives, school committee members… were largely bypassed.”

In this next video, Professor Sandra Stotsky speaks. She was the expert who served on the official Common Core validation committee and refused to sign off on the adequacy of the standards.

In this next video, Ted Rebarber of Accountability Works, speaks about the costs associated with Common Core.

To see all of the video clips from this forum, click here: http://www.youtube.com/user/EndCommonCore

Orem, Utah – Video Presentation about Common Core by Three Moms   8 comments

Common Core presentation- this week in Orem, Utah.

Hogwash Alert: “National Review” on Common Core   50 comments

I’m calling for a hogwash alert on today’s National Review article about Common Core.

The ironically titled  The Truth About Common Core article cannot be taken seriously.  It’s written without any links or references for its Common Core-promoting claims, and it’s written by two authors whose employers are largely funded by the main funder of all things Common Core.

Can anyone take seriously those who praise Common Core while being paid to do so?

The article makes “truth” claims that include the notion that Common Core is “more rigorous,” (where’s the proof?) and that the standards allow policymaking to happen locally.  How can that be? The standards are written behind closed doors in D.C.  The standards are  copyrighted and are unamendable by locals.  There is a 15% cap on adding to them, written into the ESEA  Flexibility Waiver Request.  And there is no amendment process; thus, no local control.

For anyone who has been living under an education reform rock, know this:   Gates is the single biggest promoter and funder of Common Core, bar none.) So, Fordham’s and Manhattan Institute’s writers should not be expected to be objective about Common Core.

If it seems like practically everyone supports Common Core, Gates’ money is why. Bill Gates has said he’s spent $5 BILLION  pushing (his version of) education reform.  He’s bribed the national PTA to advocate for Common Core to parents; he’s paid the CCSSO to develop Common Core; and he owns opinion maker Education Week magazine.  There’s a near-endless list of Gates’ attempts   (very successful, I might add)  to foist his vision of education without voter input.  In 2004, Gates signeda 26 page agreement with UNESCO  to develop a master curriculum for global teacher training.  Robert Muller, the former assistant secretary general of the U.N. is the grandfather of the world core curriculumthe goal being to bring all schools in all nations under one common core curriculum.

The National Review writes that it is a “right-of-center” organization, as if that claim is a “trust-me” pass.   This is meaningless in Common Core land because, as Emmett McGroarty  of the American Principles Project, has said,  “Opposition to Common Core cuts across the left-right spectrum.  It gets back to who should control our children’s education — people in Indiana or people in Washington?”

But we should clarify that oodles of Democrats and Republicans sell or benefit from Common Core implementation.  That is the top reason for the gold rush anxiety to promote the national standards.  A secondary reason is lemminghood (misplaced and unproven trust).

Republican Jeb Bush is behind the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a nongovernmental group which pushes Common Core and is, of course, funded by Gates.   Republican Rupert Murdoch owns not only Fox News, but also the common core implementation company Wireless Generation that’s creating common core testing technology.   Democrat Bob Corcoran, President of GE Foundation (author of cap and trade and carbon footprint taxes to profit GE on green tech) and 49% owner of NBC also bribed the PTA to promote Common Core, and gave an additional $18 million to the states to push common core implementation. Corcoran was seen recently hobnobbing with Utah’s Republican Lt. Governor Greg Bell, business leaders in the Chamber of Commerce, and has testified in the education committee that the opponents of Common Core in Utah “are liars”.  Meanwhile, Republican Todd Huston of Indiana got his largest campaign donation from David Coleman, common core ELA architect;  then, after Huston was elected as an Indiana State Representative and placed on Indiana’s education committee, Coleman hired Huston to be on the College Board.  They are both profiting from the alignment of  and AP courses and alignment of the SAT to the Common Core.  And of course, Huston’s listed on Jeb Bush’s controversial Foundation for Excellence in Education. Even my own Republican Governor Herbert of Utah serves on the elite executive committee of NGA, the Common Core founding group.  He doesn’t make money this way, but he does make lots of corporations happy.

I could go on and on about the Common Core gold-and-glory rush.  I have barely touched the countless Democrats who promote Common Core for gain.  But I don’t want to be up all night.

So, on to the liberals and/or not-right wing radicals who oppose Common Core:

California Democrat/author Rosa Koire  and respected educator like Diane Ravitch  oppose Common Core as an untested academic and political experiment that increases the high-stakes of standardized testing.  They see that Common Core is promoting unrepresentative formations of public-private-partnerships, and promotes teacher-micromanagement.   Chicago history teacher Paul Horton says Common Core turns teacher-artisans into teacher-widgets; he also sees it as a Pearson anti-trust issue.  Teacher Kris Nielsen has written  “Children of the Core” and  teacher Paul Bogush  calls teaching Common Core sleeping with the enemy.  Math teacher Stephanie Sawyer  predicts that with Common Core, there will be an increase in remedial math instruction and an increase in the clientele of tutoring centers.  Writing teacher Laura Gibbs calls the writing standards an inspid brew of gobbledygook.  Anonymously, many teachers have published other concerns in a survey produced by Utahns Against Common Core.

Still, political funders of the standards and corporations selling its implementation try to get away with marginalizing the opposition.  But it can’t be done honestly.  Because it’s not a fight between left and right.

This battle is between the collusion of corporate greed and political muscle versus the  individual voter.

It’s a battle between the individual student, teacher, or parent– versus huge public/private partnerships.  That’s the David and Goliath here.

The Common Core movement is not about what’s best for children.  It’s about greed and political control.   A simple test:  if Common Core was about helping students achieve legitimate classical education, wouldn’t the Common Core experiment have been based on empirical study and solid educator backing?

Did the authors of the Hogwash article really not know that Common Core wasn’t based on anything like empirical data but simply fluffed up on empty promises and rhetoric, from the beginning.

Where’s the basis for what proponents call  “rigorous,” “internationally competitive,”  and “research-based?”  Why won’t the proponents point to proof of “increased rigor” the way the opponents point to proof of increased dumbing downWe know they are fibbing because we know there is no empirical evidence for imposing this experiment on students  in America.  The emperor of Common Core  is wearing no clothes.

Many educators are crying out –even  testifying to legislatures– that Common Core is an academic disaster.  I’m thinking of  Professors Christopher Tienken, Sandra StotskyThomas Newkirk, Ze’ev Wurman, James Milgram, William Mathis, Susan Ohanian, Charlotte Iserbyt, Alan Manning, and others.

The National Review authors insist that Common Core is not a stealth “leftist indoctrination” plot by the Obama administration.  But that’s what it looks like when you study the reformers and what they create.

First, let’s look at the Common Core textbooks.  Virtually every textbook company in America is aligning now with Common Core.  (So even the states who rejected Common Core, and even private schools and home schools are in trouble; how will they find new textbooks that reflect Massachusetts-high standards?)

Pearson’s latest textbooks show extreme environmentalism and a global citizen creating agenda that marginalizes national constitutions and individual rights in favor of global collectivism. The biggest education sales company of all the Common Core textbook and technology sales monsters on the planet is Pearson, which is led by  mad “Deliverology” globalist  Sir Michael Barber.   Watch his speeches.

He doesn’t just lead Pearson, the company that is so huge it’s becoming an anti-trust issue.  Sir Michael Barber also speaks glowingly of public private partnerships, of political “revolution,” “global citizenship” and a need for having global data collection and one set of educational standards for the entire planet.  He’s a political machine.  Under his global common core, diversity, freedom and local control of education need not apply.

Along with some of the gold-rushing colluders chasing Common Core-alignment  product sales, there are political individuals calling educational shots, and these are without exception on the far, far left.  And of these, the National Review is correct in saying that their goal to nationalize U.S. education has been happening   since long before Obama came to power.

But they are wrong in saying that Common Core isn’t a road map to indoctrinating students into far left philosophy.  Power players like Linda Darling-Hammond and Congressman Chaka Fattah  ram socialism and redistribution down America’s throat in education policy, while Pearson pushes it in the curriculum.

It’s safe to say that Linda Darling-Hammond has as much say as anyone in this country when it comes to education policy.  She focuses on “equity” and “social justice” –that is, redistribution of wealth using schools.  Reread that last sentence.

Darling-Hammond has worked for CCSSO (Common Core developer) since long before the standards were even written.  She served on the standards validation committee.  She now works for SBAC (the Common Core test writer); she also consults with AIR (Utah’s Common Core test producer) and advises Obama’s administration;  she promotes the secretive CSCOPE curriculum and more.

Study her further here to learn the groups she works for, what’s in the books she writes, how many times she quoted herself in her report for the U.S. equity commission, and what she said in last summer’s speech to UNESCO about the need to take swimming pools  away from students.

So yes, there is an undeniable socialism push in Common Core textbooks and in the Department of Education.

Next.

The National Review’s authors claim Common Core won’t “eliminate American children’s core knowledge base in English, language arts and history.”  By cutting classic literature by 70% for high school seniors, they are absolutely doing exactly that.  The article says that Common Core doesn’t mandate the slashing of literature.  Maybe not.  But the tests sure will.

What teacher, constricted by the knowledge that her job is on the line, will risk lowering the high stakes student scores by teaching beyond what is recommended in the model curriculum  of the national test writers?

And that’s the tragic part for me as an English teacher.

Classic literature is sacred.  Its removal from American schools is an affront to our humanity.

Common Core doesn’t mandate which books to cut; the National Review is correct on that point; but it does pressure English teachers to cut out large selections of great literature, somewhere.  And not just a little bit.  Tons.

Informational text belongs in other classes, not in English.  To read boring, non-literary articles even if they are not all required to be Executive Orders, insulation manuals, or environmental studies (as the major portion of the English language curriculum) is to kill the love of reading.

What will the slashing do to the students’ appreciation for the beauty of the language, to the acquisition of rich vocabulary, to the appreciation for the battle between good and evil?

We become compassionate humans by receiving and passing on classic stories.  Souls are enlarged by exposure to the characters, the imagery, the rich vocabulary, the poetic language and the endless forms of the battle between good and evil, that live in classic literature.

Classic stories create a love for books that cannot be acquired in any other way.  Dickens, Shakespeare, Hugo, Orwell, Dostoevsky, Rand, Marquez, Cisneros, Faulkner, Fitzgerald– where would we be without the gifts of these great writers and their writings?  Which ones will English teachers cut away first to make room for informational text?

The sly and subtle change will have the same effect on our children as if Common Core had mandated the destruction of  a certain percentage of all classic literature.

How does it differ from book burning in its ultimate effects?

Cutting out basic math skills, such as being able to convert fractions to decimals, is criminal.  Proponents call this learning “fewer but deeper” concepts.  I call it a sin. Common Core also delays the age  at which students should be able to work with certain algorithms, putting students years behind our mathematical competitors in Asia.

For specific curricular reviews of Common Core standards, read Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s and Dr. Ze’ev Wurman’s math and literature reviews in the appendix  of the white paper by Pioneer Institute. (See exhibit A and exhibit B, page 24.)

Next.

The National Review claims that the standards “simply delineate what children should know at each grade level and describe the skills that they must acquire to stay on course toward college or career readiness” and claim they are not a ceiling but a floor.  This is a lie. The standards are bound by a 15% rule; there’s no adding to them beyond 15%.  That’s not a ceiling?

The article claims that “college and career readiness” doesn’t necessarily mean Common Core.  Well, it does, actually.  The phrase has been defined on the ed. gov website as meaning sameness of standards to a significant number of states.  I would give you a link but this week, so oddly, the Department of Education has removed most of its previous pages.  You can see it reposted here:

The article insists that Common Core is not a curriculum; it’s up to school districts to choose curricula that comply with the standards.  Sure.  But as previously noted: 1) all the big textbook companies have aligned to Common Core.  Where are the options?   2) Common core tests and the new accountability measures put on teachers who will lose their jobs if students don’t score well on Common Core tests will ensure that teachers will only teach Common Core standards.  3) Test writers are making model curriculum and it’s going to be for sale, for sure.

The article falsely claims that “curriculum experts began to devise” the standards.  Not so: the architect of Common Core ELA standards (and current College Board president) is not, nor ever has been, an educator.  In fact, that architect made the list of Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform.   A top curriculum professor has pointed out that the developers of Common Core never consulted with top curricular universities at all.

The article claims that states who have adopted Common Core could opt out, “and they shouldn’t lose a dime if they do” –but Title I monies have been threatened, and the No Child Left Behind waiver is temporary on conditions of following Common Core, and for those states who did get Race to the Top money (not my state, thank goodness) the money would have to be returned.  Additionally, every state got ARRA stimulus money to build a federally interoperable State Longitudinal Database System.  Do we want to give back millions and millions to ensure that we aren’t part of the de facto national database of children’s longitudinal school-collected, personally identifiable information?

The article states that the goal is to have children read challenging texts that will build their vocabulary and background knowledge.  So then why not read more –not less– actual literature?

The article also leaves out any analysis of the illegality of Common Core. The arrangement appears to be  illegal. Under the Constitution and under the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA) the federal government is restricted from even supervising education.

GEPA states: “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…”

And for those still believing the federal government isn’t “exercising direction, supervision or control” of the school system, look at two things.

1.  The federal technical review of tests being mandated by the Department of Education.

2.  The federal mandate that testing consoria must synchronize “across consortia,” that status updates and phone conferences must be made  available to the Dept. of Education regularly, and that data collected must be shared with the federal government “on an ongoing basis”

3.  The recent federal alteration of privacy laws that have taken away parental consent over student data collection.

Finally:  the “most annoying manipulation tactic” award for the National Review Article is a tie between the last two sentences of the National Review article, which, combined, say, “Conservatives used to be in favor of holding students to high standards… aren’t they still?”  Please.

Let’s rephrase it:

Americans used to be in favor of legitimate, nonexperimental standards for children that were unattached to corporate greed and that were constitutionally legal…  Aren’t we still?

Georgia Doing “Everything in its Power to Release Itself” From Common Core   1 comment

Senator William Ligon of Georgia led a recent press conference to discuss the reasons Georgia will do  “everything in its power to release itself from the commitment of the Common Core and the P.A.R.C.C”.

Jane Robbins,  Tish Strange, Sandra Stotsky, Ze’ev Wurman and others also spoke at this press conference.

 

Senator William Ligon explained more about SB 167 in his Facebook update from last week: “Capitol Update: Feb. 25 – March 5″

Review of Action on SB 167 (Legislation to Withdraw from Common Core)

Prior to last week’s hearing on SB 167 before the Senate Education Committee, Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) told members of the press that it was time to withdraw Georgia from its participation in the Common Core State Standards Initiative and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

The Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) were adopted on July 8, 2010 under Governor Sonny Perdue‚s administration as part of the state’s efforts to comply with the Federal Race to the Top (RTTT) grant. The Common Core represents the first attempt at nationalized curriculum standards in math and English language arts (ELA) for grades K – 12. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is responsible for the development of assessments that will be aligned to the Common Core.

“Though I am sure the previous administration had the best of intentions when deciding to apply for Race to the Top, the lack of accountability to the parents and taxpayers of this state is stunning,” said Sen. Ligon. “First of all, there has been no thorough cost analysis of what the unfunded mandates will cost Georgia’s taxpayers at either the state or the local level to implement and maintain the terms of the grant.”

“Secondly, allowing a consortium of states to work with non-profits and other unaccountable parties to develop our standards without open public oversight is untenable in a country of free people, especially considering that Georgia’s taxpayers support K-12 education with approximately $13 billion of hard-earned dollars every year,” Sen. Ligon explained. “Georgia needs to have a transparent, democratic process of developing curriculum standards and a means to ensure more direct accountability at the local level. Our educational system should not be accountable to Washington bureaucrats, but to the people of this state who pay the taxes and to the parents who have children in our public schools.”

Lending his voice of support to the effort, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle stated, “The most important task we face each Legislative Session is finding ways to strengthen and reform the education of Georgia’s children. I believe that Georgians know best how to educate our children, not Washington, D.C. bureaucrats. I look forward to working with Sen. Ligon on this important issue to ensure that we‚re able to continue making decisions about the education of our children right here in Georgia rather than having curriculum standards enforced from Washington, D.C.”

During the press conference and at the hearing, Sen. Ligon was joined by Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who served on the Common Core Validation Committee and as senior associate commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education; Ze‚ev Wurman, a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution and former Senior Adviser at the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development in the U.S. Department of Education; Jane Robbins, a Harvard-trained attorney and Senior Fellow with the American Principles Project; and Dr. Jim Arnold, Superintendent of Pelham City Schools, GA.

In addition, a number of grassroots organizations, parents, citizens, and K-12 as well as collegiate educators offered testimony in support of SB 167 at the hearing which took place before a standing-room only crowd. Groups included organizations such as Concerned Women for America, Americans for Prosperity, American Principles Project, Georgia Conservatives in Action, Citizen Impact, the Conservative Leadership Coalition, the Georgia Republican Assembly, the Capitol Coalition of Conservative Leaders, among others.

Action has been deferred on the legislation due to the fact that time constraints and the dynamics of the Senate would prevent the bill from reaching the House this session even if it had passed the committee.

Sen. Ligon will take up the bill next January, as well as SB 203, the companion legislation to establish a transparent, democratic process for the adoption of curriculum standards.

Why Won’t Utah Pull Out of Common Core? An Email Exchange   2 comments

Today’s string of interesting emails

(between my State School Board representative, Dixie Allen, and me)

 

On Sat, Feb 16, 2013 at 7:45 AM, <dixieleeallen@gmail.com> wrote:

There is some very informative information in this weeks Ed Week – Thought you might gain some valuable insight – if you have time to check it out.

Dixie

 ——–

 

Dear Dixie,

 

Thanks again for including me in your loop.

 

Were you aware that Ed Week, like so many organizations that promote Common Core, is a Gates’ product?

 

I can’t take Ed Week seriously because it is published by Gates’ funding and its articles support his unelected-dictatorial influence over American education policy.

 

Christel

 ——–

Christel – that saddens me because most of their articles are written by educators and of all the participants involved in education – I trust teachers, students and parents most.

I also believe it is important to keep an open mind.

Best Wishes,

 

Dixie

  ——–

Dixie,

 

Openmindedness is great, but sincerity does not trump truth. Teachers and parents have written articles on both sides of the Common Core debate. I hope you listen to all of us, not just those published by Gates. There are some teachers and parents whose side of this story has been published elsewhere, because Gates will never publish the side that hurts his well-intentioned but unrepresentative agenda.

 

Christel

 ——–

 

Yes Christel, I do — however, in Utah where we are the lowest funded state in the nation by a long shot for per student expenditure, it would be so costly to throw out the Core curriculum that we have adopted and try to put in place another curriculum — especially the way we have developed curriculum over the past many years I have been in education (over 30 years).

 

The way we have created core standards over time is to bring teachers and other educators together from all over the state and decide which standards work in specific curricular areas and grade level expectations. By adopting the Common Core we upgraded all the curriculum by grade level for both Language Arts and Mathematics. Up until that time our State ranked about a C in Language Arts curriculum and a B for our Mathematics curriculum. So the issue of rewriting the curriculum is just not economically possible for this state — the best we can do is take standards that we know work and change those that we don’t believe will work.

 

When a state like Utah funds education at such a low level, there are many parts of the educational process that we must borrow from others who have the funding to develop them. In some cases that has been other states, that allowed us to use some of their identified quality education practices — so you may be right that those with lots of money have influenced this core — however, I know from experience that our State Office and many experts in the fields of educational mathematics and language arts were really the ones who wrote the standards — not the Bill Gates of the world.

 

Please, in conjunction with your fellow educators who have concerns – share those concerns with us or the State Office of Education and allow us to work on improving what we can with the little funding we do have now and over time. But don’t ask us to throw out the Core, because we cannot afford to do that, either in time or money.

Thanks for your passion.

 

Dixie

  ——–

 

Dear Dixie,

 

Thanks for continuing to talk with me.

 

As you know, Utah districts are funded primarily by local taxpayers, then some by the state, and then a small fraction of funding comes from the federal government. So, the fact that the people who pay the most have the least say, and the people who pay the least have the most say, is absurd. I’m sure you agree.

 

We can’t afford NOT to toss out the core. Although we have invested tens of millions (at least) in the tests and standards and PD so far, this is a drop in the bucket. California and Mississippi and other states are publishing news articles about the painfulness of having to implement all Common Core’s platforms without having the financial support from those who invited us to join Common Core. It’s a huge burden that will only become heavier with time.

 

The cost of creating our own Utah standards need not be exorbitant. In fact, I can almost promise you that it could be FREE. Many of the top curriculum and standards writers in our nation are on the stop common core side of this debate. ELA standards have been posted and published for free, for use by us or any state, for example, here: http://www.uaedreform.org/wp-content/uploads/2000/01/Stotsky-Optional_ELA_standards.pdf

                       

Math standards, I am sure would also be available for free if we were to ask, from such giants in the math and curriculum fields as James Milgram, Ze’ev Wurman, Christopher Tienken, William Mathis, Jim Stergios, David Wright, and others who are true friends to education and to Utah.

 

The CCSSO/NGA have published that they solely developed the standards, so I don’t know how any Utahns can claim to have done it.

 

The CCSSO meetings are closed-door without transparency for some reason, so there is no way that we will ever be able to find out who really did what. Nor can we influence what they’re doing with social studies and science right now. Nor can we amend the many problems we see, and/or that teachers and parents will be seeing over the next few years. By then it may be way too expensive to pull out.

 

That’s why I feel the time is now. Thanks for listening.

 

Christel

 ——–

 

Weber County Republican Women’s Meeting Speech on Common Core   2 comments

Stop Common Core

Talk given by Christel Swasey at the Weber County Republican Women’s Meeting Jan.7, 2013

A few months ago, a University of Utah exhibit displayed original documents, newspapers, books and letters written by Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin and many others. The exhibit did not only show the freedom fighters’ side of the argument, but also displayed articulate, meaningful debate from the other side. The heated 1700s argument boiled down to either standing for local freedom or standing for America remaining a managed colony under England’s non-representative government.

In retrospect, how obvious it is to us which side was correct; America should be free. But at the time it was not so clear to all. Both sides had strong arguments that made some sense.

There is a similar, heated battle going on in America over education now. Will we retain local freedom or will we be a managed colony under the Department of Education’s rule, with no say over testing, education standards and innovation? Unconstitutional though it is, this is the battle we face today– a battle for control of American classrooms. Most parents, students, teachers, governors and even State School Board Members seem unaware that it is going on at all.

It’s a battle for constitutional education with local decision making, versus nationalized education without representation. It’s a battle between states retaining the freedom to soar, versus having mediocre sameness of education across states. It’s a battle between teaching the traditional academics versus teaching the extreme political agendas of the Obama Administration; it’s a battle for who gets to decide what is to be planted in the mind of the child.

One of America’s strengths has long been its educated people. The world flocks to our universities. We have had one of the most intellectually diverse public education systems in the world.

But this is changing dramatically.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) leads the changes. The vast majority of states have already replaced previous education standards with Common Core. These national standards standardize– McDonaldize– a dreary and mediocre education plan for the country that lies far below the previous standards of top-ranking states, such as Massachusetts. Although many respected organizations have pledged support for the Common Core, evidence is painfully lacking to support Common Core’s claims. The common core proponents are quick to make sweet-sounding claims, but their claims are not referenced and are, in fact, false.

Many independent reviews suggest supporters of Common Core are sorely misguided. Dr. Michael Kirst of Stanford University pointed out that the standards define college readiness as being the same for 4-year, 2-year, and vocational colleges, essentially dumbing down expectations for university students.

Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University pointed out that the standards are meant to save us from what is a myth– the idea that American students are lagging behind international peers; Tienken writes: “When school administrators implement programs and policies built on faulty arguments, they commit education malpractice.”

Despite claims to the contrary, Common Core Standards do not meaningfully increase academic rigor, are not internationally benchmarked, do not adequately prepare students for 4-year universities, were never assessed by top curriculum research universities, were never voted upon by teachers nor the public, do not allow a voice for the individual; have no amendment process, and do rob states of control of education and students of privacy.

The Common Core is an untested, federally promoted, unfunded experiment.

The standards creators (NGA/CCSSO) have not set up a monitoring plan to test this national experiment, to see what unintended consequences the Core will have on children. The standards slash the vast majority of classic literature, especially from high school English classes; minimize narrative writing skills acquisition, and push student-investigative, rather than instructive, math at all levels.

COMMON CORE HISTORY:

The Constitution and 10th amendment have long made it clear that only states –not any federal agency– have the right to direct education. Americans seem to have forgotten that we do not live in a top down kingdom but in a Constitutional republic. Many believe the federal government has power to rule over the state governments. This is false. States alone hold the right to educate.

Our Constitution was set up with a vital balance of powers between states and federal powers, and each maintains separate roles and authorities. Nowhere is any authority given to the federal government to direct education.

In addition to the Constitution’s and the tenth amendment’s giving states sole authority to direct education, another law called the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA) states: “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…”

So the Common Core standards are a set of national education standards which the federal government are forbidden, by law, to control or supervise. Yet the standards were foisted upon the states by the federal government with the repeated assertion that they were state-led standards.
    The Dept. of Education paid others to do what they were forbidden to do. The common standards were not written by the federal government, but they were financially incentivized by the federal government and then were promoted by private interests. Bill Gates, for example, spent $100M and plans to spend $150M more to push Common Core.

He gave the national PTA $@ million to promote it in schools. Common Core represents an ongoing cash cow for many groups, which explains why the media does not cover this issue. Many media outlets, even Fox News via Wireless Generation, are entangled in the massive money-making factory that is Common Core implementation. Microsoft and Pearson and others are seeing what a huge opportunity it presents them, as they benefit financially from the newly created false need: millions of new textbooks, teacher development programs, and new testing technologies are called for under the common core and its nationalized tests.

The standards were solely developed –and copyrighted– by nonacademic groups– the National Governors’ Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Neither state education agencies nor major curriculum research universities were asked for meaningful input.

We were told that the Common Core was voluntary and “state led,” but it was a case of arm-twisting and financial bribery on the part of the Dept. of Education. States did not come together to write and share great ideas. (If that had been the case, we would likely have adopted high standards, instead, like those previously had in Massachusetts.)
The first time states were introduced to these national standards was when the federal government bribed states with a shot at a huge grant (our own tax money) in 2009. It was called Race to the Top, a grant for states. The Department of Education made a state’s promise to adopt common standards –sight unseen– a prerequisite to getting points in the grant contest called “Race to the Top”. There were 500 points possible. Adopting Common Core and its tests gave us some 70 points. Making the federal tracking database on students, the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) gave us 47 additional points.

Not by any authority of Congress, but by the lure of money –the Stimulus Bill– was Obama’s Race to the Top funded. States were given only two months to apply.

States competed for this money like a taxpayers’ lottery with a points system. There were 500 points possible. By adopting Common Core tests and standards, a state could earn 70 points. By implementing the SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System that serves as surveillance on citizens) a state could earn 47 points. Even though Utah didn’t win any money at all, we took the Race to the Top bait. Then we were stuck with Common Core standards as well as the SLDS database which would track and control citizens.

We were repeatedly assured, “states can get out of Common Core any time they like” but, like the story of Gulliver, tied down by many strings, we are in fact bound– unless we realize our rights and privileges and assert them firmly to free ourselves while we still may, to shake off the ties that bind us down.

Gulliver’s First String: No cost analysis

One of the strings that ties us down is the financial obligation of Common Core. No cost analysis has been done by Utah to date. It’s like a family agreeing to build a house without knowing what it will cost beforehand. It’s absurd. Virginia and Texas rejected Common Core, citing on both educational and financial reasons.

While textbook companies without exception are on a marketing spree with “Common Core Alignment,” it is taxpayers who will carry the burden for the unwanted texts, tests, the professional development, testing technology, data centers, administration and more.
If corporations were getting wealthy at taxpayer expense yet we had agreed to it, by a vote after thorough public vetting, that would be acceptable.

But Common Core never had pre-adoption teacher or parent or media attention, had no public vetting, no vote, and now we see that some of the corporations providing implementation of the common core standards have alarming political agendas that will harm our children. One example is Pearson, headed by Sir Michael Barber, with whom the Utah State Office of Education has multiple contracts.

   Gulliver’s Second String:

    The myth: that Common Core solves educational problems

The second string tying states down, Gulliver-like, is the problem-solving myth, the myth that our many educational problems, such as low expectations or college remediation, are to be solved by Common Core. Without a doubt, Common Core will worsen our educational problems.

   

Professor Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram, English and Math professors who refused to sign off on the adequacy of the common standards when they served on the official Common Core validation committee, have written and have testified before legislatures that the standards are not sufficiently rigorous at all.
Students in our schools and universities are required to provide references for their reports. Yet the information provided by official Common Core sites, as well as by our state office of education, is unreferenced and contains half truths and false claims about Common Core.

I asked the Utah State Office of Education to provide me, a Utah teacher, with references to verify the “facts” about Common Core, but the office refused to do so. Why?

The myth that Common Core solves educational problems is far-reaching and is far from being harmless.

There’s a questionnaire that must be answered by any person wishing to be a candidate for Utah’s state school board. The first question on it is: Do you support the Common Core State Standards?

So anyone who for any reason opposes Common Core may not even stand in the candidates’ pool to run for this vital, elected position as a member of the state school board.

The emperor of Common Core is wearing no clothes. Yet, the myth that Common Core solves educational problems is so widespread that most teachers and principals fear raising concerns.

We are experiencing a huge Spiral of Silence. The Spiral of Silence is a well-known communications theory by Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann. The Spiral of Silence phenomenon happens when people fear separation or isolation from those around them, and, believing they are in the minority, they keep their concerns to themselves.

The Spiral theory arose as an explanation for why many Germans remained silent while their Jewish neighbors were being persecuted in the 1940s. This silence extends to parents and legislators who do not know enough about the common standards to feel comfortable arguing that we should be free of them. Truly, this movement has slid under the public radar.

Gulliver’s Third String: One Size Forever, For All

The third string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is the fact that we will never have a vote or a voice in the one-size-fits-all-standards.

Common Core’s copyright, placed on the standards by the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, takes away educational flexibility. There is no way a local voice or voices can alter the standards when we discover the system doesn’t fit our needs. There is no amendment process.

Additionally, the NGA/CCSSO has zero transparency. Though the Council of Chief State School Officers holds over one hundred meetings per year, CCSSO meetings are closed to teachers, taxpayers, and the general public.

I asked a lawyer at the Utah State Office of Education what the process would be to amend the standards. She told me, “Why would there need to be [an amendment process]? The whole point is to be common.”

Her response illustrates the tragic fact that many of our state education leaders do not appreciate local, constitutional control over education for our state.

There is a 15% cap placed on the NGA/CCSSO’s copyrighted standards, a cap placed on top of the copyright by the Department of Education. We may delete nothing. We may add no more than 15% to any standard.

So when we run into a disaster –such as the rule that 12th grade reading material in an English class can contain no more than 30 percent classic literature, and must be 70% informational text, we are stuck. When we run into another disaster –such as the rule that Algebra I be introduced in 9th grade, when it used to be an 8th grade topic, we are stuck. We are literally voiceless and bound by the 15% rule plus the copyright it is based upon. But it gets worse:

Gulliver’s Fourth String: Problems with national testing

The fourth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is nationalized, federally-supervised, compulsory testing. It commits our dollars without our input. And the content of the tests will be dictated by the NGA/CCSSO to test writers.

There isn’t even the tiny bit of 15% wiggle room on tests. I wrote to a test writer how they would incorporate the 15% variation in state standards and they told me that it is “in each state’s best interest” not to have “two sets of standards.” Why? Because the test won’t be incorporating anything in addition to the national standards.

Why is this bad? What we are valuing and testing is extremely narrow and cannot be altered by any state, but only by the NGA/CCSSO. It opens the door for a one-track, politicized agenda to be taught and tested.

Our local leaders continue to refer to “The Utah Core” as if it were not the exact same core as all the other states. This is misleading.

Teachers and principals will be evaluated and compared using these national tests’ results, so what would motivate them to teach anything beyond or different than what will be tested? The motivation to be an innovative educator is gone with the high stakes national tests. Right now Utah has only adopted math and English standards, but soon the NGA/CCSSO will be releasing social studies and science standards. One can only imagine how these subjects will be framed by the “progressive” groups who write the tests and shape the curriculum. And the test writers will be providing model curriculum for states to follow to prepare students for the tests.

Gulliver’s Fifth String: Common Core English:

David Coleman’s version of what is appropriate for the rest of the nation

The fifth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, was wrought almost singlehandedly by one wrongheaded man with too much power, named David Coleman.

Coleman was the main architect of the English standards for Common Core, despite never having been a teacher himself, and is now president of the College board. He is now aligning the national college entrance exams with Common Core standards. He holds a dreary, utilitarian vision of the language, without appreciation for classic literature or narrative writing. He has deleted much of it, and has deleted all cursive for students.

It was Coleman’s idea to make all children read 50% informational texts and 50% fiction in English classes, and then gradually to get rid of more and more fiction and classic literature, so that when a student is in 12th grade, he or she is reading 70% informational text and very little classic literature.

Does this differ from actual book burning?

It is as if Coleman mandated that all English teachers must put 70% of their classic textbooks outside the classroom door to be picked up for burning. Would the teachers put Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare, Melville, or O’Connor on the pile? Which classic books would you remove from a high school English classroom? And what informational texts are being recommended by Common Core proponents to replace the classics? Among the suggestions: Executive Order 13423. Writings by the Federal Reserve Bank. And more. (See: http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_B.pdf )

David Coleman explained why he decided that narrative writing should not be taught:
“As you grow up in this world you realize that people really don’t give a sh__ about what you feel or what you think… it is rare in a working environment that someone says, ‘Johnson I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.’”
If Coleman were to value a diamond, he would base its worth solely on the fact that it’s the hardest substance in nature. The diamond’s beauty, or its history as the symbol of eternal romance, would not matter. Just so long as the darn rock can drill. That’s how he thinks about reading and writing.
This is why he has gotten rid of all things beautiful in education:
• No more cursive.
• Very little classic literature, to make room for mostly informational text.
• Informational texts to include Executive Order 13423, in the English classroom.

Gulliver’s Sixth String: Weakening Math

The sixth string tying us down, Gulliver-style, down is weak math. While the Common Core math standards may be an improvement over previous standards in some states, they are deficient for most, including for Utah.
Scholars have written extensively about these standards in reports published by Pioneer Institute and others. They say:
– Common Core replaces the traditional foundations of Euclidean geometry with an experimental approach. This approach has never been successfully used but Common Core imposes this experiment on the country.
– Common Core excludes certain Algebra II and Geometry content that is currently a prerequisite at almost every four-year state college. This effectively redefines “college-readiness” to mean readiness for a nonselective community college, as a member of the Common Core writing team acknowledged in his testimony before the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
– Common Core fails to teach prime factorization and consequently does not include teaching about least common denominators or greatest common factors.
– Common Core fails to include conversions among fractions, decimals, and percents, identified as a key skill by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
– Common Core de-emphasizes algebraic manipulation, which is a prerequisite for advanced mathematics, and instead effectively redefines algebra as “functional algebra”, which does not prepare students for STEM careers.
– Common Core does not require proficiency with addition and subtraction until grade 4, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
– Common Core does not require proficiency with multiplication using the standard algorithm (step-by-step procedure for calculations) until grade 5, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
– Common Core does not require proficiency with division using the standard algorithm until grade 6, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
– Common Core starts teaching decimals only in grade 4, about two years behind the more rigorous state standards, and fails to use money as a natural introduction to this concept.
– Common Core fails to teach in K-8 about key geometrical concepts such as the area of a triangle, sum of angles in a triangle, isosceles and equilateral triangles, or constructions with a straightedge and compass that good state standards include.
There is already evidence that book publishers’ revisions to texts that align with the standards are highly likely to be “inquiry-based”. Discovery and group learning approaches to math have had poor results when they have been used in classrooms across the country.


Gulliver’s Seventh String:

Neither Local Education Leaders Nor Federal Educational Leaders Value American Rights

• A current Utah State School Board member said to me, “I have always understood it is the principle of “equality” not “freedom” that was the guiding principle of our constitution… I have always understood the theme to be equality… you continue to reference freedom over equality.”
• The Dept. of Education has created regions for all America. These regions are to be answerable to the Department of Education. The creation of regional identities ignores the existence of states and consequently, of states’ rights, under the Constitution. This is a dangerous affront to our rights as states.
• Predestining kids: Secretary Arne Duncan says the government needs to control education and teachers via data-driven decisions. The data will be collected: “… so that every child knows on every step of their educational trajectory what they’re going to do.” He says, “You should know in fifth and sixth and seventh and eighth grade what your strengths are, what you weaknesses are.” He’s talking about a managed society, not a free society, where children are to be compliant tools for the government’s purposes, not the other way around.
• The Utah Data Alliance, SLDS system, and the federal Department of Education each seek data at all costs, even without parental consent. Sec. Duncan often says, ”We have to be transparent about our data.” (What Duncan really means is, states have to be transparent about their data to be supervised by the federal government– which is not Constitutional by any stretch of the imagination.)

Duncan’s data transparency statement explains much: why Duncan aims to triangulate data Common Core tests which will be collected and compared under his (unconstitutionally) watchful eye; why Duncan rewrote FERPA regulations without authority or Congressional oversight, why the Department of Education paid states to create SLDS systems to track citizens; why federally, states are pushed to have P-20 tracking councils, and more.
Duncan’s desire to grab private data is further illustrated by the changes Duncan has led in redefining key terms.
For example, you may notice that federal education leaders seldom refer to this movement as the Common Core. They use a code phrase (you can verify this on the definitions page at ed.gov) which is “college and career readiness”. But that code phrase is a deception. College and Career Readiness does not mean what you think it means; there is a new mediocrity to the standards which has made the same standards appropriate for 4 year universities, 2 year colleges, and technical colleges. It has essentially dumbed down the expectations for 4 year universities. So college readiness actually means nothing other than common and mediocre standards. By this definition, states can’t be preparing students for college unless standards are the same as every other state’s and country’s standards. It’s like the old Ford Advertisement: You can Have Any Color As Long as it’s Black.” Secretary Duncan’s version is– “You can have any standards as long as they are the exact same as all other states’ standards.”
Another phrase you’ll hear a lot is “world class education” which doesn’t mean “excellent education.” It means “non-competitive education.” Yikes. Some other phrases that have been officially redefined by the Dept. of Education in federal regulations are: “authorized representative” “education program” and “directory information”
What is the effect of these re-definings?
According to a group that has sued the Dept. of Education, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, this redefining has removed legal duties for state and local educational facilities that used to be in place to protect private student data.
The redefinings open up what used to be tightly protected. But why?
Because the Dept. of Education is using the testing consortia to triangulate the tests and to oversee the data collection. They want access to the data. Words give them access. This brings me to Gulliver’s string, and it’s a whopper.


Gulliver’s Eighth String: Invading Citizen Privacy

The eighth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is a set of horrific privacy violations. It begins with the fact that Utah built a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) system, as required by the federal government in exchange for money. The SLDS was supposed to be a benefit to Utahns. The argument was that the more data they collect, the smarter decisions could be made about education. It sounded logical at first.

But the SLDS tracks children from preschool through workforce. It interacts with six other Utah state governmental agencies, beyond the K-12 system. It essentially guides and monitors citizens.

When I found out about this, I wanted to opt out for my children. I asked the Utah State Office of Education myself whether it is even allowed to have a student attend a school without being tracked by the Utah Data Alliance and the federal SLDS.

They finally gave me a straight answer, after I nagged them many a time, finally, and it was simply ”No.”No child, no citizen may escape tracking. We are all being closely tracked. Schools are the starting point.

Unknown to most parents, children’s data is being shared beyond the school district with six agencies inside the Utah Data Alliance and with UTREX, according to Utah Technology Director John Brandt. The student data is further to be “mashed” with federal databases, according to federal Education Dept. Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/ed_urges_states_to_make_data_s.html

While Utah’s John Brandt assures us that only a handful of people in Utah have access to the personally identifiable data of children, recent alterations to federal FERPA (Famly Education Rights Privacy Act) regulations which were made by the U.S. Dept of Education, as we noted earlier, have radically redefined terms and widened the window of groups who can access private data without parental consent. (For more on that, see the lawsuit against the U.S. Dept of Education on the subject: http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html)

In America, a law is a representative thing. Laws are made by people who either directly vote for that law, or who vote for a representative who votes for a law. Then the people must obey the law, or be forcibly punished.
But watch out for rules and regulations, which are not laws, and which come from unelected boards with appointed members who cannot be repealed by us. Rules and regulations are a form of nonrepresentation, and can be dangerous. Common Core is quickly becoming a snare because of its rules and regulations. FERPA regulatory changes are a prime example. Congress never changed the privacy law that FERPA was written originally to be. But the Department of Education made un-approved regulatory changes to FERPA that are being treated as if they were law today.

Our schools (teachers, adminstrators, and even State Office of Education workers) are being used: used to collect private data, both academic and nonacademic, about our children and their families.

I choose the word “used” because I do not believe they are maliciously going behind parents’ backs. They are simply expected to comply with whatever the U.S. Dept. of Education asks them to do. And the Dept. of Education is all for the “open data” push as are some notable Utahns, such as Utah Technology Director John Brandt and even some BYU Education professors, notably David Wiley. I have heard these men speak and they are passionate about getting data at all costs, even at the cost of not pausing for students’ parental consent.

What it means: Courses taken, grades earned, every demographic piece of information, including family names, attitudes and income, can now legally be known by the government via schools.

The U.S. Dept. of Education’s own explanation is here, showing why SLDS systems exist: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html

There are 12 elements that states had to share or they would not have received ARRA stimulus money. The twelve elements of the SLDS (State longitudinal data system) include enrollment history, demographic characteristics, student’s scores on tests; info on students, even those who are not tested; transcripts, grades earned; whether they enrolled in remedial courses; and the sharing of data from preschool through postsecondary systems.

While all this data gathering could theoretically, somehow, benefit a child, or community, it can definitely hurt a child. Denial of future opportunities, based on ancient academic or behavioral history, comes to mind. The databases are to share data with anybody they define as “authorized.”

The now-authorized groups who will access student data will most likely include the A-list “philanthropists” like Bill Gates, as well as corporate educational sales groups (Microsoft, Pearson, Wireless Generation, and K-12 Inc., Achieve, Inc., SBAC, PARCC, NGA, CCSSO, for example) as well as federal departments that are far outside of education, such as the military, the workforce agencies, etc.)

Furthermore, even psychometric and biometric data (such as student behavioral qualities, DNA, iris and fingerprints) are also acceptable data collection points, to the Dept. of Education (verify: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf )

Verify these facts on the government’s public sites, such as:

http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html

http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/stateanalysis/states/UT/

http://www.utahdataalliance.org/links.shtml

http://nces.ed.gov/forum/datamodel/edview/edview.aspx?class=StudentTracking

In Closing:

Our country is a miracle in the history of the earth. No other country has ever had such a Constitution that limits and spreads out the power of the government to ensure the maximum liberty of each individual, balancing the need for limited government to prevent anarchy. It is important to understand the document. “The powers not delegated to the United States Government are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Nothing could be more clear. It is unconstitutional for the federal government to exercise any power over education.

Our Department of Education is aware of this. Recent speeches by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan include the fact that the Department is “limited” in this country. Yes, very limited. Like, not allowed at all.

We may not be able to take back all the ground we have lost by allowing the federal government to dictate regulations to us in return for our own tax money. But we must not allow them any further ground.

The states (except for the handful of states that rejected Common Core) are otherwise like the neighbor who does not know where his rights are and can never know when they are taken and is thus unable to defend them. This neighbor believes he owns a piece of ground which his neighbor also claims, but he doesn’t know its boundaries. The other neighbor continues to encroach further and further onto land which the first neighbor suspects is his, but since he is never certain where the boundary is, he cannot stop the encroachment.

Until we take a firm position and say: “no further,” there is no line. Unless we remember our rights, we have none. My hope is that as a state, we will say “no further,” and hold onto our own right to educate our own children without interference.

Common Core does not improve college readiness. The educational value of the standards is low. And even if they were to be significantly improved, remember that educational standards are meaningless without political freedom.

There is no amendment process for Common Core. The standards have no checks and balances. Common Core was never voted upon. Common Core administrators cannot be recalled by a vote. Common Core represents an assumption of power never delegated by the voice of the people. The Common Core Initiative has transferred sovereignty from states to a collective controlled by the National Governors’ Association and by the Council of Chief State School Officers. It also transferred educational sovereignty from states to testing groups to be overseen by the Department of Education.

We must realize the strength of our position as states under the U.S. Constitution, and must hold up the Constitution, thus holding the Dept. of Education away from monitoring and directing states’ education.


Senator Mike Fair of South Carolina stated: In adopting Common Core, states have sold their birthright without even getting the mess of pottage. He is right.
Currently, thousands of people have signed the petition at Utahns Against Common Core. Websites and organizations are forming all over the country to fight Common Core. At least six U.S. Governors staunchly oppose Common Core. The majority of Utah legislators have said they oppose it.   Americans deserve high quality education without federal interference and this will not happen without first dropping all ties to the Common Core Initiative.

Please let state leaders and school boards know we expect them to be valiant in that effort.
Thank you.

—–  —–  —–

Contact information: Utah Governor Herbert&nbsp; 801-538-1000 Utah State School Board. Board@schools.utah.gov

State Technology Director / leader of Utah Data Alliance: john.brandt@schools.utah.gov

Utah State Superintendent: martell.menlove@schools.utah.gov

Assistant Superintendent: judy.park@schools.utah.gov

Utah State Office of Education: Brenda.Hales@schools.utah.gov

Senate Education Committee members – (801) 538-1035

Stuart C.  Reid screid@le.utah.gov

Patricia W. Jones pjones@le.utah.gov

Mark B. Madsen  mmadsen@le.utah.gov

Wayne L. Niederhauser wniederhauser@le.utah.gov

Aaron Osmond – aosmond@le.utah.gov

Howard A. Stephenson hstephenson@le.utah.gov

Jerry W. Stevenson – :jwstevenson@le.utah.gov

Stephen H. Urquhart – surquhart@le.utah.gov

Sandra Stotsky on Common Core’s confusing way of teaching writing skills   1 comment

Remember Sandra Stotsky?  She’s the brilliant Arkansas professor with the courage to stand up and say no to the common core standards, when she served on the official Common Core Validation Committee and she realized they were not, in fact, going to prepare children legitimately for college.  She is also the wonderful woman who offered to work with the state of Utah (for free!) to help write legitimate, high educational standards rather than to see us remain on the faulty Common Core bandwagon.  (Our state leaders have not taken her up on this generous offer.)
This brand new Sandra Stotsky article is highly recommended:
http://inpolicy.org/2012/12/common-core-standards-which-way-for-indiana/

In it, Sandra Stotsky explains in detail,  looking at individual standards at a time, exactly how confusing the teaching and learning process becomes, as outlined by common core writing standards. She shows that concepts are expected to be used in essays to be written by sixth graders, for example, but the concepts were never previously introduced or taught.

This is forcing teachers to invent worksheets and writing samples to quickly scaffold students to the missing concepts without having allotted space and time to do so. It also leaves the slower learners at a disadvantage.

Additionally, Stotsky makes the point that there is no way for the flaws in common core to be altered by a vote or by a locality.  Neither those flaws which are now known nor  those yet to be discovered can be changed except by the central planners who copyrighted the standards: the NGA/CCSSO (National Governors’ Association and Council of Chief State School Officers).  —Who are not, by the way, teachers.

Colorado Conference Dec. 6 To Expose Common Core Initiative   1 comment

 

Bob Schaffer was the man who blew the whistle on Marc Tucker and Hillary Clinton’s plot to take over American education.  Schaffer got their letter recorded in the official Congressional Record years ago.  http://www.eagleforum.org/educate/marc_tucker/

Robert Scott was the very wise Education Commissionar who, together with Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, rejected Common Core for Texas –and enraged Sec. of Education Arne Duncan.

Bill Evers, who is a Hoover Institute, Stanford University research fellow, also served on Mitt Romney’s Education Committee.  He spoke on the danger of Common Core education this summer, to a standing room only group in Salt Lake City.

Sandra Stotsky served on the official Common Core Validation Committee (and refused to sign off on the standards because, among other things, they cut out classic literature and call it improving education.)

Jim Stergios and Ted Rebarber spoke this summer, here in Salt Lake City, to our senate Education Committee, testifying of the alarming error it was to adopt Common Core on educational and on Constitutional grounds.

This is going to be a great meeting.  If you get to go, please leave a comment here, letting others know what you learned.

Fiction vs. Nonfiction Smackdown: Washington Post   Leave a comment

For those who still believe Common Core is “rigorous” and good for kids, here is a must-read from Jay Mathews and the Washington Post. 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/fiction-vs-nonfiction-smackdown/2012/10/17/cbb333d0-16f0-11e2-a55c-39408fbe6a4b_print.html

Fiction vs. nonfiction smackdown

By , Published: October 17

There is no more troubling fact about U.S. education than this: The reading scores of 17-year-olds have shown no significant improvement since 1980.

The new Common Core State Standards in 46 states and the District are designed to solve that problem. Among other things, students are being asked to read more nonfiction, considered by many experts to be the key to success in college or the workplace.

The Common Core standards are one of our hottest trends. Virginia declined to participate but was ignored in the rush of good feeling about the new reform. Now, the period of happy news conferences is over, and teachers have to make big changes. That never goes well. Expect battles, particularly in this educationally hypersensitive region.

Teaching more nonfiction will be a key issue. Many English teachers don’t think it will do any good. Even if it were a good idea, they say, those who have to make the change have not had enough training to succeed — an old story in school reform.

The clash of views is well described by two prominent scholars for the Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based public policy group, in a new paper. Sandra Stotsky of the University of Arkansas and Mark Bauerlein of Emory University say the reformers who wrote the Common Core standards have no data to support their argument that kids have been hurt by reading too much fiction. They say analyzing great literature would give students all the critical thinking skills they need. The problem, they say, is not the lack of nonfiction but the dumbed-down fiction that has been assigned in recent decades.

“Problems in college readiness stem from an incoherent, less-challenging literature curriculum from the 1960s onward,” Bauerlein and Stotsky say. “Until that time, a literature-heavy English curriculum was understood as precisely the kind of pre-college training students needed.”

The standards were inspired, in part, by a movement to improve children’s reading abilities by replacing standard elementary school pabulum with a rich diet of history, geography, science and the arts. University of Virginia scholar E.D. Hirsch Jr. has written several books on this. He established the Core Knowledge Foundation in Charlottesville to support schools that want their third-graders studying ancient Rome and their fourth-graders listening to Handel.

Robert Pondiscio, a former fifth-grade teacher who is vice president of the foundation, quotes a key part of the Common Core standards making this case:

“By reading texts in history/social studies, science, and other disciplines, students build a foundation of knowledge in these fields that will also give them the background to be better readers in all content areas. Students can only gain this foundation when the curriculum is intentionally and coherently structured to develop rich content knowledge within and across grades.”

The Common Core guidelines recommend fourth-graders get an equal amount of fiction and nonfiction. Eighth-grade reading should be about 55 percent nonfiction, going to a recommended 70 percent by 12th grade.

Bauerlein and Stotsky say that could hurt college readiness. The new standards and associated tests, they say, will make “English teachers responsible for informational reading instruction, something they have not been trained for, and will not be trained for unless the entire undergraduate English major as well as preparatory programs in English education in education schools are changed.”

Pondiscio says he admires Bauerlein and Stotsky and doesn’t see why English classes have to carry the nonfiction weight. Social studies and science courses can do that. The real battle, he says, will be in the elementary schools, where lesson plans have failed to provide the vocabulary, background knowledge and context that make good readers.

Those who want the new standards say learning to read is more than just acquiring a skill, like bike riding. It is absorbing an entire world. That is what the fight in your local district will be about.

Resource List   Leave a comment

Donna Garner has put together a list of resources for those who are just beginning the fight against the Common Core dissolution of sovereignty over American education.

  Thank you, Donna.

http://nocompromisepac.ning.com/profiles/blog/show?id=6457500%3ABlogPost%3A28400

9.25.12 — “Mitt Romney Takes Stand Against Common Core at Education Nation Summit” – http://caffeinatedthoughts.com/2012/09/mitt-romney-common-core-educ…

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9.25.12 — “Romney: No Federal Support for Common Core” by Alyson Klein, EducationWeek http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2012/09/mitt_romney_do…

CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF ANTI-CCSI RESOURCES

(Most Recent First)

10.11.12 – “Is Common Core About To Melt Down” – by Neal McCluskey, Cato Institute –

http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/is-common-core-about-to-melt-down/

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10.9.12 –“Like Obamacare, Obama Core Is Another Power Grab” — by Phyllis Schlafly, President of Eagle Forum –  http://nocompromisepac.ning.com/profiles/blogs/like-obamacare-obama…

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9.30.12 – “Uncommon Allies Question a Common Core” – Editorial Board, JournalGazette.net – http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20120930/EDIT10/309309979/114…

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9.28.12 – “States Beginning To Rebel Against Common Core Standards” – http://nocompromisepac.ning.com/profiles/blogs/states-beginning-to-…

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9.28.12 – “South Carolina Could Regret Student Testing Scheme” – by Sen. Mike Fair – The State – South Crolina’s Homepage http://www.thestate.com/2012/09/28/v-print/2459190/fair-sc-could-re…

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9.27.12 – “The Pedagogical Agenda of Common Core Math Standards” by Barry Garelick  — EducationNews.org –

http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/the-peda…

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9.23.12 – “Do Not Let the DOE Nationalize the Schools in Your State” – by Henry W. Burke, Donna Garner –

http://educationviews.org/do-not-let-the-doe-nationalize-the-school…

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9.14.12 – “Fighting the Common Core Standards’ Social Justice Math” – by Oak Norton –

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/jordan-sd-rips-out-unsolvabl…

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9.14.12 – “Nationalized Public Schools Almost Here in America”  — by Donna Garner –

http://educationviews.org/nationalized-public-schools-almost-here-i…

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9.10.12 — “Obama’s Inferior English Common Core Standards” – by Donna Garner –

http://educationviews.org/obamas-inferior-english-common-core-stand…

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9.7.12 – “Should the White House Control What Your Kids Learn?” by Stanley Kurtz –

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/09/07/should-white-house-contro…

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9.5.12 — “How To Indoctrinate Students’ Minds with Math” by Donna Garner –

http://educationviews.org/how-to-indoctrinate-students-minds-with-m…

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8.27.12 – “Parents Need To Know About Student Data Privacy” by J. R. Wilson — EducationNews.org

http://www.educationnews.org/parenting/jr-wilson-parents-need-to-kn…

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8.15.12 – “An Ominous Political Trend for Common Core-ites” – by Frederick M. Hess – Education Week

http://www.frederickhess.org/2012/08/an-ominous-political-trend-for…

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8.12.12 – “Utah Teachers Speak out Against the Obama Administration’s Common Core Standards” – Utahns Against Common Core – http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/teacher-comments-on-common-c…

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8.5.12 – “Caring Parents, Where Are You? – Common Core Standards and Big Bang Theory” – by Donna Garner –

http://libertylinked.com/posts/10007/caring-parents-where-are/View….

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5.16.12 – “Incoming College Board Head Wants SAT To Reflect Common Core” – by Catherine Gewertz, Education Week http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/05/16/32collegeboard.h31.htm…

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4.23.12 – “Common Core Math Standards Fail To Add Up” by Evan Walter, The Heritage Foundation

http://blog.heritage.org/2012/04/23/common-core-math-standards-fail…

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4.17.12 – “Six-Minute Interview: Federal Takeover by the Obama Administration of  Education Standards and Assessments” – Lindsey Burke, The Heritage Foundation

http://online.wsj.com/video/opinion-standardizing-schools-/FA09455F…

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3.26.12 — “Two Education Philosophies with Two Different Goals”  — by  Donna Garner –

http://libertylinked.com/posts/9703/2-education-philosophies-with/V…

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3.6.12 – “Handwaving Away Opposition to the National Standards” by Jim Stergios , Pioneer Institute –

http://jaypgreene.com/2012/03/06/handwaving-away-opposition-to-the-…

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2.20.12 – “Obama Imposing National School Curriculum” – by Bob Unruh – World Net Daily

http://www.wnd.com/2012/02/obama-imposing-national-school-curriculum/

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2.12 – “National Cost of Aligning States and Localities to the Common Core Standards” – The Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project White Paper

http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120222_CCSSICost.pdf

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12.28.11 – “Feds To Be Able to Track Your School Children’s Personal Information” by Donna Garner –

http://teabook.org/profiles/blogs/feds-to-be-able-to-track-your-sch…

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12.21.11 – “A National Education Standards Exit Strategy for States” – by Lindsey Burke –

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/12/a-national-educati…

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10.27.11 – “Students Losing Their Right To Exress Their Opinions” – by Donna Garner –

http://libertylinked.com/posts/8754/students-losing-their-right/Vie…

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7.27.11 – “National Standards and Tests: An Unprecedented Federal Overreach”—The Heritage Foundation – Lindsey Burke, Robert Scott, et al –

http://www.heritage.org/events/2011/07/national-standards

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5.31.11 — “Liberals Interpret Themselves Liberally: Common Core Standards, Race to the Top” by Doug Lasken –

http://www.flashreport.org/featured-columns-library0b.php?faID=2011…

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5.28.11 — “A ‘Common’ Education Disaster” by Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Annie Hsiao — Politico.com -http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0511/55857.html#ixzz1NsJZQKOh

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5.26.11 — “Race to the Cradle” by Neal McCluskey, The Cato Institute – http://libertylinked.com/posts/7408/race-to-the-cradle—-by-neal/V…

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5.25.11 — “South Carolina Will Not Participate in Race to the Top” Spartanburg Tea Party –

http://www.spartanburgteaparty.org/2011/05/25/sc-will-not-participa…

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5.22.11 — “The Three-Legged Stool:  Obama, Duncan, Gates” by Donna Garner –

http://libertylinked.com/posts/7461/the-three-legged-stool/View.aspx

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5.9.11 — “Association of American Educators Signs on in Opposition to National Curriculum” –

http://www.educationnews.org/ed_reports/edu_assoc_articles/155783.html

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5.9.11 – “Why One Curriculum Is Bad for America” – by Jonathan Kantrowitz – 100+ signatories – http://blog.ctnews.com/kantrowitz/2011/05/09/why-one-national-curri…

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4.12.11 — “The Other Shoe Drops: National Testmakers Worried” — by Donna Garner –

http://www.educationnews.org/ednews_today/153790.html

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4.9.11 — “Congressmen: A Great Place To Cut Funding — National Assessments” — by Donna Garner – http://www.educationnews.org/political/153529.html

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4.6.11 — “Standards Overreach, or According to Plan?” — by Neal McCluskey –

http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/standards-overreach-or-according-to-…

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3.24.11 — “Obama’s Carrot and Stick Control of Our Nation’s Public Schools” – by Donna Garner –  http://www.educationnews.org/commentaries/152238.html

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3.20.11 — “Our Hope Rests with Congressman Kline” – by Donna Garner –

http://www.educationnews.org/commentaries/151843.html

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2.24.11 –“The Race to the Top Scheme” – by Henry W. Burke and Donna Garner –

http://www.educationnews.org/ednews_today/108436.html

2.24.11 – “Let’s Get Off the National Standards Train” by Henry W. Burke and Donna Garner –

http://alinahan.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/lets-get-off-the-national-…

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2.14.11 — “Let’s Get off the National Standards Train” –  by Henry W. Burke and Donna Garner –  http://alinahan.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/lets-get-off-the-national-…

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11.7.10 — “Open Letter to Parents, Legislators, School Personnel: Which Policy Are You Going To Promote?” –  http://www.educationnews.org/blogs/102489.html

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10.27.10 — “Bullying Agenda” –  by Donna Garner –

http://www.educationnews.org/commentaries/opinions_on_education/101…

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10.23.10 — “What Is the Centers for Disease Control?” – by Donna Garner – http://www.educationnews.org/breaking_news/health/101841.html

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9.16.10 — “Am I a Wacko Now?” – by Donna Garner – http://www.educationnews.org/commentaries/100137.html

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7.29.10 – “Stotsky on the Common Core Vote in Massachusetts” – by Dr. Sandra Stotsky

http://jaypgreene.com/2010/07/29/stotsky-on-the-common-core-vote-in…

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7.27.10 — “Where Have All the Caring Parents Gone?” – by Donna Garner -

http://www.educationnews.org/commentaries/insights_on_education/968…

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7.10 – “Common Core Standards Still Don’t Make the Grade” — a Pioneer Institute White Paper — http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/common_core_standards.pdf

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4.19.10 — “Marc Tucker’s Bologna” – by Donna Garner –http://www.educationnews.org/commentaries/89899.html

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3.4.10 — “Obama’s Doublespeak” –  by Donna Garner – 

http://ramparts360.wordpress.com/obama%E2%80%99s-doublespeak/

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3.10 — “Fair to Middling: A National Standards Progress Report” – by R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky  – The Pioneer Institute –

http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/100402_fair_to_middling.pdf

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2.10 – “Why Race to the Middle” by Sandra Stotsky and Ze’ev Wurman – The Pioneer Institute – http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/100223_why_race_to_the_middle.pdf

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1.29.10 — “Cradle-to-Career Plan by Obama and Duncan” –  by Donna Garner –

http://www.educationnews.org/ednews_today/39076.html

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1.13.10 — “Texas Tells Feds ‘Enough Is Enough’” –  by Donna Garner –

http://www.educationnews.org/ednews_today/29200.html

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12.11.09 — “Children and the Future of Our Country” – by Donna Garner – http://www.educationnews.org/blogs/7704.html

http://nocompromisepac.ning.com/profiles/blog/show?id=6457500%3ABlogPost%3A28400

How Common Core’s ELA Standards Place College Readiness at Risk   1 comment

    A new white paper, “How Common Core’s ELA Standards Place College Readiness at Risk,” by Emory University English Professor Mark Bauerlein and University of Arkansas Professor Sandra Stotsky, was released this month by Pioneer Institute.  http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120917_CommonCoreELAStandards.pdf

What are the highlights of this 44-page white paper?

Diminishing of  Literature:

College readiness will decrease under Common Core, say the paper’s authors, because secondary English curriculum in Common Core prioritizes informational reading and reduces the study of literary traditions.

“A literature-heavy English curriculum, properly constructed, yields college-readiness in reading better than an information-heavy English curriculum.  And we know of no research showing otherwise.”

The authors explain that Common Core provides no evidence to support its promise that more informational reading in the English class will make students ready for college-level coursework.

“We know of no research… to support that faith. Rather, the history of college readiness in the 20th century suggests that problems in college readiness stem from an incoherent, less-challenging literature curriculum from the 1960s onward. Until that time, a literature-heavy English curriculum was understood as precisely the kind of pre-college training students needed.”

Do Students Need More Than Reading Lessons in High School?

The paper also says that Common Core “yokes the English curriculum to a test of general reading ability” and transforms English classrooms into reading comprehension classes, even at the high school level.  Although Common Core does not specify that only English teachers will teach informational text, the authors feel that English teachers will bear the brunt of this mandate.

“It is hard to imagine that low reading scores in a school district will force grade 11 government/history and science teachers to devote more time to reading instruction. Instead, it is more likely that English teachers will be expected to diminish the number of their literary selections and align readings with test proportions.”

Politicized texts:

The authors bring up another point:  the stress on more informational reading in the English class will not only lead to a decreased capacity for analytical thinking, but will also raise political red flags: “Informational texts are often assigned today not for their complexity and promotion of college readiness in reading, but for their topical and/or political nature. Clear examples can be found in a volume published in 2011 by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) to show teachers how to implement Common Core’s standards…”

Artificial college readiness a camouflage for lowering academic challenge

The authors also speculate that perhaps “the case for more informational texts and increasing complexity (but not necessarily text difficulty) is a camouflage for lowering academic challenge so that more high school students will appear college-ready upon (or perhaps before) graduation.”

Conclusion

The authors recommend that because Common Core’s stress on informational reading is “misplaced” –and because it reflects standards built with “the limited expertise of Common Core’s architects,” standards that were “not developed nor approved by English teachers and Humanities scholars, nor were they research-based or internationally benchmarked,” –because of this, the professors recommend that those states who have adopted Common Core should 1) emphasize the literary-historical content that already exists in the standards and 2) should add an additional literature-based standard to address Common Core’s lack of literary content.  These actions, they say, are fully supported by Common Core.

“Far from contradicting Common Core, these actions follow its injunction that, apart from ‘certain critical content for all students, including…American literature and Shakespeare… the remaining crucial decisions about what should be taught are left to state and local determination.’”

http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120917_CommonCoreELAStandards.pdf  (full text)

What Experts Realize About Common Core Standards: 2012   1 comment

  Is it smart to ignore the mathematical advice of a mathematician so highly regarded that he’s on the NASA advisory council?  Dr. James Milgram, Professor of Math at Stanford University, emeritus, had such serious reservations about the fuzzy math of Common Core (Obama’s educational movement) that Milgram refused to sign off on the standards’ adequacy– as an official member of the Common Core Validation Committee.*

  Dr. Milgram’s NASA Advisory Council bio:  http://www.nasa.gov/offices/nac/members/milgram-bio.html

Dr. Milgram’s specific concerns about Common Core math are recorded in the white paper put out by Pioneer Institute:   http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120510_ControllingEducation.pdf

Meanwhile…

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, another Validation Committee** member, felt the same way about the Common Core English standards.

   Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Endowed Chair in Teacher Quality at the University of Arkansas

Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram not only refused to sign off on the standards, but have gone on to testify with a warning voice to state legislatures and school boards about the inadequacy of the standards.

Dr. Stotsky’s concerns about Common Core can be read here:  http://www.uark.edu/ua/der/People/Stotsky/Heritage_April_17_2012.pdf  and here http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/sandra-stotsky-offers-utah-the-best-ela-standards-in-the-nation/ and here http://www.uark.edu/ua/der/People/Stotsky/Comment_for_South_Carolina_April_18_2012.pdf and here http://www.uaedreform.org/People/stotsky.php

Meanwhile…

Sutherland Institute, a Utah-based think tank, gave two thumbs down to Common Core, based on three principles:

1. Utah standards should be broad in substance and application in order to preserve a personalized learning environment for each individual student.

2. Utah standards should be the best possible.

3. Utah standards should be independent, with the ability to be changed at will.

To read the executive summary: http://www.sutherlandinstitute.org/uploaded_files/sdmc/Common%20Core%20Executive%20Summary%20FINAL%207-9.pdf

To read the full report:  http://www.sutherlandinstitute.org/uploaded_files/sdmc/Common%20Core%20FINAL%207-9.pdf

And meanwhile…

                                            

And  Pioneer Institute,  a Boston-based think tank, partnered with American Principles Project to research the topic and they both gave two thumbs down to Common Core, based on five similar principles:

1. The Common Core Standards Are of Mediocre Quality and Rest on Questionable Philosophies

2. The Common Core Standards/Race to the Top Effort Violates Three Federal Statutes and Eliminates State Autonomy

3. The Common Core Standards Scheme Requires a Governance System that Will Further Impair State and Parental Rights

4. States and Their Taxpayers Will Incur Substantial Costs to implement Common Core

5. The Common Core Standards System Intrudes on Student and Family Privacy

                          Full text of formal white paper:  http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120510_ControllingEducation.pdf

                                 Pioneer’s blog:   http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/blog/news/handwaving-away-opposition-to-the-national-standards/

And meanwhile…

    Pennsylvania’s bipartisan Commonwealth Education Organization has truckloads of links to articles on Common Core, that display why so many nationally respected education experts are sounding an alarm about Common Core:   http://www.ceopa.org/education-standards.aspx .

Happy Reading:

Common Core Standards

Dr. Bill Evers of the Hoover Institution discusses how the education is turning into a federal power grab that has profound effects for America’s children. While most advanced countries expect their children to learn algebra in the 8th grade, the federal government is setting a 9th grade standard. Is the new math worse than the old math? Is the Obama Administration deliberating setting lower standards for your children? Find out as Alexis Garcia brings you the latest from the front lines of US education policy.  >>link to video>>

*Summer 2012             THE COMMON CORE MATH STANDARDS             “I believe the Common Core marks the cessation of educational standards improvement in the United States. No state has any reason left to aspire for first-rate standards, as all states will be judged by the same mediocre national benchmark enforced by the federal government.” >>read more>>
*August 7, 2012             SOLVING THE TEXTBOOK-COMMON CORE CONUNDRUM             “Educational publishers have the resources to create comprehensive and effective materials that could significantly support teachers’ efforts to realize the promise of the new standards. Empowering well-informed adoption teams to make intelligent selections of effective instructional materials and then having teachers use them in the classroom are key steps in making the necessary changes to implement the new standards with fidelity.” >>read more>>
*August 6, 2012             UTAH DROPS OUT OF CONSORTIUM DEVELOPING COMMON CORE TESTS             “The state school board decided to withdraw Friday from a consortium of states working to develop tests based on new Common Core academic standards, after months of pressure from some conservatives.” >>read more>>
*Aug. 3, 2012             INDIANA SUPERINTENDENT: OBAMA ADMINISTRATION NATIONALIZED COMMON CORE STANDARDS             “At a Tea Party gathering last month, Indiana Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett expressed his concern with the growing federal overreach of Common Core education standards. ‘This administration has an insatiable appetite for federal overreach,’ he said. ‘The federal government’s involvement in these standards is wrong.’ ” >>read more>>
July 24, 2012             DON’T BUY THE SNAKE OIL OF COMMON CORE             “…the nation’s teachers will find it difficult to implement these standards. And that the training they received in the nation’s education schools is one of the major sources of their difficulty…The very effort to develop the national standards that have been sprung upon this country is a response (however poorly thought out and executed) to the dismal results of the ideas about curriculum and instruction prospective teachers and administrators have been taught by our education schools for over half a century.” >>read more>>
July 20, 2012             MILGRAM ON COMMON CORE vs. INDIANA MATH STANDARDS             Dr. James Milgram of Stanford University answers some questions about the Common Core Standards. >>read more>>             Related article:             July 17, 2012             JIM MILGRAM ON THE COMMON CORE MATH STANDARDS >>read more>>
July 19, 2012             COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS IS HEAVY ON THE ‘COMMON’             “The Common Core seems to create a façade of academic rigor to hide the perpetuation – or even proliferation – of mediocrity. The new standards supposedly will produce students who are ‘ready for first-year credit-bearing, post-secondary coursework in mathematics and English without the need for remediation.’ This suggests that all post-secondary coursework is created equal.” >>read more>>
July 17, 2012             STANDARDIZED TESTS OF TOMORROW BEHIND SCHEDULE, ACCORDING TO INSIDER SURVEY “(A) new survey, … suggests that ‘education insiders’ aren’t so sure that the one of the new tests will resolve all of the issues with standardized testing. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed reported that they believe the Smarter, Balanced Assessment Coalition one of the two state-based consortia developing the tests, is on the wrong track.” >>read more>>
June 16, 2012             ROMNEY CAN SCORE BY HITTING OBAMA ON ACADEMIC STANDARDS “Where will the states get the money to pay for CCS? No one knows, except that it won’t come from the feds. States that are laying off thousands of teachers and cutting school days are expected to mortgage themselves to subsidize the publishing and testing industries. And for what? The Brookings Institute says the net benefit of the new standards for American students will be zero. Academic standards, by themselves, don’t do much.” >>read more>>
May 23, 2012             DESIGNING COMMON CORE TESTS FOR ALL PROVING A CHALLENGE             “Although more students with disabilities than ever are included in state testing programs, the task of giving these students high-quality assessments in the future that measure how adept they are at mastering the Common Core State Standards seems to have an endless number of hurdles to overcome before students face these new assessments in the 2014-15 school year.” >>read more>>
May 16, 2012             INCOMING COLLEGE BOARD PRESIDENT WANTS S.A.T. TO REFLECT COMMON CORE             “With $360 million in federal Race to the Top funds, all but five states are collaborating, in two groups, to design tests for those standards. Public institutions of higher education have pledged support to the idea of using a “college-readiness” cutoff score on those tests to allow students to skip remedial work and enroll in entry-level, credit-bearing courses. Leaders of that effort have been careful to emphasize that the common assessments will be used for course placement, not college admissions.” >>read more>>             Related article:             May 21, 2012             THE WRONG LESSON ON NATIONAL STANDARDS “The next time you would like to opine about why you and others should set national standards, curricula, and testing for America’s 50 million schoolchildren, I would ask you to reflect on your and your peers’ lack of even the most basic understanding of our Founding principles.” >>read more>>
May 10, 2012             NATIONAL CURRICULUM PLAN MAY FACE CHALLENGE “An influential group of conservative state lawmakers is on the verge of proposing model legislation to block the Common core national education standards that have been heavily promoted by the Obama administration.” >>read more>>
May 9, 2012             IS THE COMMON CORE JUST A DISTRACTION?             “One interpretation of the emphasis on developing the Common Core curriculum is that these debates provide a convenient distraction from potentially more intractable fights over bigger reform ideas like teacher evaluations, expanded school choice, or improved accountability systems.” >>read more>>
May 6, 2012             COMMON CORE RESEARCH IS ‘JUST ANOTHER PIECE OF MISLEADING ADVOCACY’             “What Dr. Schmidt presented is just another piece of misleading advocacy research, brought to you and paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and channeled through the friendly services of Achieve (which received a recent $375K grant for advocacy from the Gates Foundation), the Foundation for Excellence in Education (which received a recent $1M grant for advocacy from the Gates Foundation), CCSSO (which received $9.5M last year from the Gates Foundation to promote the Common Core), and Chiefs for Change (funded by the Foundation for Excellence in Education).” >>read more>>
May 3, 2012             COLORADO BOARD OF ED REJECTS ADOPTION OF MULTI-STATE TESTING             “Colorado Board of Education isn’t the only body expressing concern of federal intrusion into education decisions traditionally made by states and local communities, and that sees national test-drafting and curriculum-drafting groups being “clearly all about” the eventual adoption of a national curriculum.” >>read more>>
May 2, 2012             CONTROVERSY OVER COMMON CORE SHOWS NO SIGNS OF SUBSIDING             “As the adoption of Common Core Curriculum is drawing closer, the critics on both sides of the political divide are attacking the efforts. Although the national standards that became the CC were envisioned as voluntary, after the Obama Administration made their adoption a prerequisite to the further granting of the No Child Left Behind waivers, conservative lawmakers, who saw the CC as federal overreach, started protesting.” >>read more>>
May 1, 2012             SELF-DEALING AMONG EDUCATION OFFICIALS             “I fully agree with Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution who has been saying that in most instances higher standards don’t correlate with higher student achievement, but those states (like Massachusetts) that have used standards to drive the iron triangle of curricula, accountability and teacher quality, win big on student achievement.” >>read more>>
April 30, 2012             COMMON CORE STANDARDS DRIVE WEDGE IN EDUCATION CIRCLES             “A high-profile effort by a pair of national education groups to strengthen, simplify and focus the building blocks of elementary and secondary education is finally making its way into schools. But two years ahead of its planned implementation, critics on both the right and left are seizing upon it. A few educators say the new standards, supported by the U.S. Department of Education, are untested, and one Republican governor wants to block the measure, saying it’s a federal intrusion into local decisions.” >>read more>>
April 29, 2012             BATTLE LINES DRAWN IN COMMON CORE STANDARDS: WHOLE LANGUAGE VS. PHONICS             “(A) big argument has erupted over the Common Core Standards between those who know it is crucial for students to achieve mastery in sounding out words to the automaticity level vs. those whole language proponents who rely upon their prereading strategies (i.e., metacognitive strategies) that actually eliminate the need for students to be able to read the text.” >>read more>>
April 26, 2012             SARAH PALIN WAS A PROPHET ABOUT OBAMA’S EDUCATION TAKEOVER             “Sarah Palin was the first to recognize the problem: By participating in President Obama’s signature education initiative, the Common Core Standards, Alaska would lose control over its own curriculum.” >>read more>>
April 25, 2012             CONCERN ABOUNDS OVER TEACHERS’ PREPAREDNESS FOR STANDARDS, AS MANY TEACHERS NOT READY FOR THE COMMON CORE             “many teachers won’t be inclined to actually change what they are doing until they become familiar with the assessments aligned to the new standards.” >>read more>>
April 24, 2012             MATH TEACHING OFTEN DOESN’T FIT WITH NEW STANDARDS             “Many mathematics teachers are teaching topics at higher or lower grade levels—and for more years—than the Common Core State Standards recommend, according to preliminary results from new research. That finding suggests that when the new standards are fully implemented, many math teachers could face significant shifts in what they will teach.” >>read more>>
April 23, 2012             WHY STATES SHOULD HOP OFF THE NATIONAL STANDARDS BANDWAGON             “States across the nation are doing just that: reforming education by putting control back into the hands of parents and local leaders and empowering them with school choice. Common Core education standards would undermine these efforts by giving greater control to Washington. States that have adopted Common Core standards should reverse course and push back on federal control of standards and curriculum, ensuring that the needs of students—not Washington—come first.” >>read more>>
April 23, 2012             COMMON CORE MATH STANDARDS FAIL TO ADD UP             “The push to nationalize the content taught in public schools across the country should be of great concern to state leaders. The Common Core national standards effort represents a massive federal overreach into what is taught in local schools, further removing parents from the educational decision-making process, and likely to cost state taxpayers $16 billion over seven years just to implement.” >>read more>>
April 19, 2012             ANTI-COMMON CORE FLIER HITS DELEGATE MAILBOXES             Stakeholders in Utah fight the Common Core standards participation by their state. >>read more>>
April 18, 2012             DOES THE COMMON CORE MATTER?             “On the basis of past experience with standards, the most reasonable prediction is that the common core will have little to no effect on student achievement.” >>read more>>
April 16, 2012             ROBOT ESSAY GRADING “A direct comparison between human graders and software designed to score student essays achieved virtually identical levels of accuracy, with the software in some cases proving to be more reliable, a groundbreaking study has found.” >>read more>>
Related article:             April 30, 2012             ROBOT GRADERS BEHAVING BADLY “In Concord, MA, there was a print shop that had a sign: “Good, Fast, Cheap: CHOOSE TWO, the point being you could not have all three. It seems clear to me that the Deeper Learning Project of the Hewlett Foundation is looking for writing assessment that is fast and cheap. It is hard to beat 16,000 “scores” in 20 seconds.” The interview goes on to discuss just how “good” it can be. >>read more>>
April 16, 2012             STATES MUST REJECT NATIONAL EDUCATION STANDARDS WHILE THERE IS STILL TIME             “States and local school districts can have success improving their standards and assessments without surrendering control to Washington. Increasing transparency of outcomes in a way that is meaningful to parents and taxpayers, providing flexibility for local school leaders, and advancing systemic reforms that include school choice options for families will go a long way in improving academic outcomes while at the same time preserving local control of education.” >>read more>>
April 12, 2012             OBAMA’S 2013 EDUCATION BUDGET: COSTLY FEDERAL CONTROL EXPANSION             “At a time when American taxpayers are calling for fiscal restraint in Washington, including restraint at the Department of Education, the budget and blueprint create a path to continued federal profligacy. These are proposals that exacerbate the existing bureaucratic maze of federal programs and further remove educational decision-making authority from state and local policymakers.” >>read more>>
March 30, 2012             AN INTERVIEW WITH JAMIE GASS: THOSE PESKY LITTLE THINGS CALLED LAWS “It’s a very troubling development in our democracy, but especially in K-12 education, which is supposed to teach our schoolchildren about the basic tenants of the rule of law. When unelected DC education trade groups and private foundations are willing to work with federal officials to either violate or circumvent federal laws, something has gone seriously wrong. These laws that proscribe the limits of national standards, testing, and curricula are not just a list of recommendations, but clear and longstanding prohibitions.” >>read more>>
March 25, 2012             THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN (TEACHER-PROOF RIDES AGAIN)             “The process of implementing the Common Core Standards is under way in districts across the country as almost every state has now signed onto the Common Core, (some of them agreeing to do in hopes of winning Race to the Top money from Washington D.C.). The initiative is intended to ensure that students in all parts of the country are learning from the same supposedly high standards. As we looked through the exemplar, examined a lesson previously created by some of our colleagues, and then began working on our own Core-related lessons, I was struck by how out of sync the Common Core is with what I consider to be good teaching. I have not yet gotten to the “core” of the Core, but I have scratched the surface, and I am not encouraged.” >>read more>>
March 2012             AN UNCOMMON APPROACH TO COSTLY COMMON CORE EDUCATION STANDARDS “Almost every state in the nation has rushed to join the Common Core curriculum movement with hardly a thought of the cost, financial or otherwise. In most cases, however, the ‘states’ have barely been involved. Simply put, massive educational bureaucracies have signed on to the Common Core and have expected, and generally received, no interference from the three branches of government….The Common Core provides a perfect example of how quickly a state can lose control of its K-12 educational system. Obviously, curriculum is central to education.” >>read more>>
Summer 2012             THE COMMON CORE MATH STANDARDS: ARE THEY A STEP FORWARD OR BACKWARD?             “… Common Core marks the cessation of educational standards improvement in the United States. No state has any reason left to aspire for first-rate standards, as all states will be judged by the same mediocre national benchmark enforced by the federal government. Moreover, there are organizations that have reasons to work for lower and less-demanding standards, specifically teachers unions and professional teacher organizations. While they may not admit it, they have a vested interest in lowering the accountability bar for their members.” >>read more>>
March 1, 2012             THINK COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS ARE STATE LED? GET THE FACTS             A history of how Common Core Standards have been in the works for years and where it all began. >>read more>>
February 2012 NATIONAL COST OF ALIGNING STATES AND LOCALITIES TO THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS             “Implementation of the Common Core standards is likely to represent substantial additional expense for most states. While a handful of states have begun to analyze these costs, most states have signed on to the initiative without a thorough, public vetting of the costs and benefits.” >>read more>>
February 27, 2012             MEET THE CHILDREN WHERE THEY ARE…AND KEEP THEM THERE             “Say what you will about CCSS, but there are three big ideas embedded within the English Language Arts standards that deserve to be at the very heart of literacy instruction in U.S. classrooms, with or with or without standards themselves. ” >>read more>>
February 24, 2012             THE CORE CONUNDRUM             “Whether you think that is a worthy goal is beside the point. Over the last fifty years Congress has repeatedly told the executive branch of the U.S. government “keep out” of the school curriculum.” >>read more>>
February 24, 2012             ‘SAY I THREATENED YOU AGAIN, AND YOU’LL REALLY BE SORRY!’             “Why is Duncan lashing out? Quite possibly, he’s reacting to a recent spate of research and commentary attacking the Common Core based on its highly dubious legality, quality, and odds of success.” >>read more>>
February 23, 2012             WHY COMMON CORE STANDARDS WILL FAIL             “The idea that common standards might create efficiencies and motivations that raise achievement is disproved by what has happened in the many states that created their own standards. Those states still have some schools scoring very well and others scoring miserably. That variation has not declined, defying happy talk from Common Core advocates.” >>read more>>
February 16, 2012             TEAM OBAMA HIJACKS SCHOOLS’ CORE STANDARDS             “Last week, two of the top former lawyers for the federal Department of Education released a peer-reviewed report showing the administration violating or evading three separate federal laws by pressuring states to adopt a national core curriculum. Those laws exist for good reason: Control of educational content by the national government risks creating a national system of indoctrination, without local recourse to diversity of thought.” >>read more>>
January 2012             COMMON CORE STANDARDS AREN’T CHEAP             “Numerous states currently struggling in the midst of steep education budget cuts may have more fiscal problems than they realize. Though 45 states rushed to adopt Common Core standards in the past two years, many have not taken the time to evaluate what the adoption of these standards will cost them. States that jumped on the Common Core bandwagon in hopes of securing Obama administration grant money may find themselves increasingly strapped for cash in the next few years as implementation costs begin to accumulate.” >>read more>>
January 2012             KENTUCKY TEACHERS SHOW LITTLE PROGRESS UNDER COMMON CORE             “A new report by the National Council on Teacher Quality has claimed that the state of Kentucky has failed to show considerable improvements in the two years since it implemented Common Core standards.” >>read more>>
December 19, 2011             NATIONALIZATION TRAIN STARTS GOING OFF THE TRACK             “As the train moves further along and the full implications of nationalizing key aspects of the education system become more obvious to everyone, more and more people will jump that train. Without significant coercion it will be very hard to keep everyone on board until they reach the station where standards, assessments, and curriculum are all centrally imposed.” >>read more>>
December 4, 2011             CHOKING ON THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS             “In reality, then, these standards were written by highly educated adults who do not teach children at present and, possibly, never did. Unconnected to the scientific research on children’s intellectual and emotional development and the everyday realities of children’s needs, interests and behavior, these writers relied only the folklore of academia, fantasizing not only what children should be expected to know and do, but also what adults need to function in actual colleges and workplaces.” >>read more>>
November 28, 2011             IMPLEMENTING COMMON CORE COULD COST STATES $30 BILLION “Many states have not evaluated the cost of implementing the Core, notes a 2011 McGraw-Hill education brief, but will be working through implementation in the next three years, so by 2014 most changes will be in place….Beyond the taxpayer-paid costs of implementing the Common Core, states are weighing the perhaps even greater cost of ceding education authority to federal control.” >>read more>>
November 2, 2011             OBAMA ED AIMS AT U.S. TAKEOVER             “Home School Legal Defense A’s federal relations staff have read this 868-page bill, and we believe that while it does not directly impact homeschool freedom, the bill will 1) increase the federal role in education at the expense of state, local and parental control, and 2) will greatly increase the pressure on states to align their curriculum and standards, resulting in de facto national education standards…While some specifics that could be included in a final bill remain unclear, ‘the trend of national standards could lead to homeschoolers losing the freedom to choose the curriculum for their children.’…national standards would remove control from local boards and districts and allow ‘unelected bureaucrats, not parents’ to decide what subjects should be taught.” >>read more>>
October 20, 2011             THE MARXIST REDISTRIBUTION OF TEACHERS AND FORCED CCSS “Good news for schools on getting rid of AYP but if you’re successful, it’s time to chop that school up and send some of those teachers to failing schools to make sure they get quality teachers too. Oh, and don’t miss the great news that the Feds aren’t mandating national standards, they’ll just force you to be on “college- and career-ready” standards. Gee, I wonder where we can find national standards that will fit that bill? Oh yeah, the CCSS are available for use.” >>read more>>
October 11, 2011             NATIONAL FEDERATION OF REPUBLICAN WOMEN RESOLUTION             NFRW passed this resolution unanimously to ‘Defeat National Standards for State Schools’ >>read more>>
September 26, 2011             WITH WAIVERS, NATIONAL STANDARDS ANYTHING BUT VOLUNTARY             “Now, the conditions-based NCLB waivers, with their requirement for national standards, get to the heart of the matter: The Common Core State Standards Initiative has been pushed as far as it has gotten in large part by federal dollars and pressure. This push for national standards and tests has become a federal enterprise—and a dangerous direction for our nation’s education system.” >>read more>>
September 21, 2011             JAY GREENE’S TESTIMONY ON NATIONAL STANDARDS BEFORE US HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE “The progress we were making in education, however, stalled when we started significantly centralizing education and reducing the extent of choice and competition among districts. The policies, practices, and funding of schools has increasingly shifted to the state and national governments and greater uniformity has been imposed by unionization. The enemy of high standards and improving outcomes is centralization.” >>read more>>
September 14, 2011             SENATOR RUBIO TO SECRETARY DUNCAN: CAJOLING STATES TO ADOPT OBAMA EDUCATION REFORMS UNCONSTITUTIONAL             Rubio: “This initiative is an overstep of authority that undermines existing law, and violates the constitutional separation of powers.” >>read more>>
September 4, 2011             NATIONAL STANDARDS WON’T HELP, WON’T WORK             “They are executing plans for instruction in all grades and, eventually, common assessments in math and English language arts. It sounds great. But it won’t help and won’t work. Such specific standards stifle creativity and conflict with a two-century American preference for local decision-making about schools….We should focus on better teaching methods and better training of teachers, as well as school structures that help educators work more as teams.” >>read more>>
August 22, 2011             THE STEALTH STRATEGY OF NATIONAL STANDARDS “It was also interesting that once I pressed people to say why they supported nationalization out loud, the flaws and limitations of their arguments became apparent — even to themselves. Having to articulate your reasons can serve as a useful check on whether people have really thought something through.” >>read more>>
August 10, 2011             FEDERAL EDUCATION AGENDA DUMBED DOWN             “There seem to be few limits on how far the administration will go to foist its ill-conceived national standards upon states. That apparently includes slamming the door on the only escape hatch available to countless underprivileged students. What began with great promise has devolved into disaster.” >>read more>>
August 10, 2011             SCHOOLS MISLEAD BY DUMBING DOWN THE MEANING OF ‘PROFICIENT’             By offering waivers and removing the “failing” school label, the Education Department hopes to give states more flexibility and encourage them to raise standards by removing the risk they’ll be stigmatized by low test scores. But raising the bar isn’t the cure-all for states and school districts: Their students should be expected to reach it.” >>read more>>
August 4, 2011             EDUCATION TO RAISE TECHNOLOGY CONSUMERS INSTEAD OF TECHNOLOGY CREATORS             “This framework does not expect our students to be able to do any science, or to be able to solve any science problem. This framework simply teaches our students science appreciation, rather than science. It expects our students to become good consumers of science and technology, rather than prepare them to be the discoverers of science and creators of technology.” >>read more>>
June 24, 2011             CONFUSION OVER NATIONAL STANDARDS “If, as Bush and Klein argue, most states have woefully inadequate standards, isn’t it likely that the central bureaucracy you’re creating will gravitate to mediocrity rather than excellence? And isn’t that just what Common Core represents, given that its standards for what count as “college ready” are actually set below what you need to even apply to, much less succeed at, most colleges?” >>read more>>
June 2011             COMMON CORE SPARKS WAR “Despite all the financial inducements to cede state educational control to federal bureaucrats, counter-manifesto signatory Shelby Steele of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution urged Americans to consider the long-term consequences. ‘Decentralization has been the engine of educational innovation. We shouldn’t trade our federalist birthright for a national-curriculum mess of pottage,’ he said.” >>read more>>
June 2011             “COUNTER-MANIFESTO” CHALLENGES COMMON CORE STANDARDS “A coalition of more than 150 education reformers, state and federal policymakers past and present, teachers, and opinion leaders has released a manifesto opposing a state and federal government effort to establish a national curriculum and testing system.” >>read more>>
May 23, 2011             THE CORE BETWEEN THE STATES “ ‘Common Core’ is the name attached to 12 standards for mathematics and English Language Arts/Reading that 40-plus states have now adopted. These standards are to guide the development of common assessments and curricula for these states. A good many colleges and universities also use the name “common core” for the mandatory part of their curricula, but the capitalized Common Core is very much its own thing.” >>read more>>
May 9, 2011AGAINST A NATIONAL CURRICULUM “A national curriculum backed by national tests will stifle innovation, freeze the status quo into place, end state and local control of schooling and “impose a one-size-fits-all model on America’s students,” argues Closing the Door on Innovation, signed by 100 education and public policy leaders.” >>read more>>CLOSING THE DOOR ON INNOVATION: WHY ONE NATIONAL CURRICULUM IS BAD FOR AMERICA “A Critical Response to the Shanker Institute Manifesto and             the U.S. Department of Education’s Initiative             to Develop a National Curriculum and National Assessments             Based on National Standards” >>read more>>
April 6, 2011             STANDARDS OVERREACH, OR ACCORDING TO PLAN? “(J)ust by defining the goal you are driving curricula, stating what must be taught. Indeed, there would be no point to the standards if the intention weren’t in some way to affect curricula — what is actually taught in the schools.” >>read more>>
April 5, 2011 SCHOOL DISTRICT PETITIONS LEGISLATURE TO OPT OUT OF COMMON EDUCATION STANDARDS”A Massachusetts school committee has petitioned their legislature to opt out of Federal education standards which most states have adopted in attempt to get federal funding during lean budget times.” >>read more>>
September 27, 2010SCHOOL REFORM’S NEXT FRONTIERE. D. Hirsch says: Translate new standards into good curriculum that puts reading first >>read more>>
September 17, 2010             COMMON CORE STANDARDS FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS: A BAD IDEA “Children will never be adequately educated under a system run by bureaucrats handing out money and the teachers unions (the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers) spending the money in the classroom. The NEA and the AFT also have extraordinary millions of dollars extracted from their members to lobby for policies they want to have enacted by Congress, state legislatures and school boards and also to elect their favored political candidates.” >>read more<<
September 15, 2010             ARE WE READY FOR TESTING UNDER CCSS? “There’s a bumpy road ahead on the way to a successful Common Core State Standards (CCSS) movement. Already states and districts are examining the match between current standards, what they currently teach at various grade levels, and the CCSS. Of particular significance is that online tests will become the norm in the years ahead for many states.” >>read more<<
September 9, 2010             MARK YOUR CALENDARS “September 9 was the date that Checker Finn and the Fordham Institute began to turn against the national standards movement they so enthusiastically championed.” >>read more<<
September 9, 2010             SHAKY NEW STANDARDS FOR COLLEGE READINESS “It is not too early to ask what will happen when high school sophomores or juniors pass these high stakes tests and are declared to be “college-ready.” Will two or four year public colleges be required to place them in credit-bearing freshman courses if these students want to avoid meeting high school graduation requirements? Probably. It is also likely that college instructors will find themselves compelled, for the sake of survival, to adopt texts at the middle and high school level of difficulty in order to ensure that these “college-ready” students can read what is assigned, do the mathematics in them, and pass their college freshman courses.” >>read more<<
September 2010             THE DEBATE OVER COMMON CORE STANDARDS FOR K-12 IS HEATING UP “Although the idea of common standards at the state level has long been talked about by educators and policymakers, the movement received its most significant support last year. That was when the Common Core States Standards Initiative was announced, promoting the same set of standards for use in English-language arts and mathematics for grades K-12. The initiative won the backing of the National Governors Association as well as the Council of Chief State School Officers. Governors and chief state school officers from 48 states promised state-led efforts to develop core standards that will be based on research.” >>read more<<
August 25, 2010             THE NATIONAL STANDARDS COME WITH NO GUARANTEE “These standards and the upcoming assessments are a huge and long-shot gamble. That may be okay for a state and localities to do, when they are picking up 90 percent of the tab for K-12 education. It’s another thing when the feds pay a mere 10 percent of the cost of educating our kids and then insist that we be their guinea pig.” >>read more<<
August 12, 2010             WHAT CAN PARENTS EXPECT TO SEE IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS CLASSROOMS AFTER COMMON CORE’S STANDARDS BEGIN TO BE IMPLEMENTED? “A Worst Case Scenario—But Probably Not Far from Reality Common Core’s ELA standards assume that if English teachers are compelled to assign a lot of informational texts, students will learn how to read them. They won’t if these teachers don’t teach close, analytical reading.” >>read more<<
August 10, 2010             THE QUIET REVOLUTION DESERVES LOUD OPPOSITION “This “quiet revolution” isn’t about better educational options for American children. It’s about control, pure and simple.” >>read more<<
August 5, 2010             THE ASCENT OF AMERICA’S CHOICE & THE CONTINUING DESCENT OF AMERICA’S HIGH SCHOOLS “With an additional $30,000,000 to come to Marc Tucker’s NCEE from the USED’s “competition” for assessment consortia grants, his hare-brained scheme for enticing high school sophomores or juniors deemed “college-ready” by the results of the Cambridge University-adapted “Board” exams that he plans to pilot in 10 states (including Massachusetts now) comes closer to reality.” >>read more<<
August 4, 2010             ACQUISITION NEWS IN THE WORLD OF STANDARDS, TESTS “Some players in the common-standards-and-assessments arena have announced a business deal.” >>read more<<
July 30, 2010-08-06             PROFESSOR JAMES MILGRAM’S REVIEW OF COMMON CORE MATH STANDARDS             Professor Milgram’s Full Review with Detailed Grade Level Comments >>read more<<
July 29, 2010             STOTSKY ON THE COMMON CORE VOTE IN MASSACHUSETTS “There needs to be more public attention to the quality of Common Core’s ELA (and mathematics) standards. There also needs to be public attention to the methodology of the reports of several national organizations all claiming to show that Common Core’s ELA standards are among the best in this country, all being used to sway the vote of our state boards of education.” >>read more<<
July 29, 2010 ‘HARD TRUTH’ ON EDUCATION NEW, HIGHER STANDARDS FOR PROFICIENCY ALTER VIEW OF YEARS OF PERCEIVED GAINS “Erasing years of academic progress, state education officials on Wednesday acknowledged that hundreds of thousands of children had been misled into believing they were proficient in English and math, when in fact they were not.” >>read more<<
June 2, 2010             NATIONAL GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION & STATE EDUCATION CHIEFS LAUNCH COMMON STATE ACADEMIC STANDARDS “Today, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) released a set of state-led education standards, the Common Core State Standards, at Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, GA. The English-language arts and mathematics standards for grades K-12 were developed in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders including content experts, states, teachers, school administrators and parents. The standards establish clear and consistent goals for learning that will prepare America’s children for success in college and work.” >>read more>>Math standards English Language standards Opposing view:             *May 21, 2010             WHY NATIONAL STANDARDS WON’T FIX AMERICAN EDUCATION: MISALIGNMENT OF POWER AND INCENTIVES “Abstract: American education needs to be fixed, but national standards and testing are not the way to do it. The problems that need fixing are too deeply ingrained in the power and incentive structure of the public education system, and the renewed focus on national standards threatens to distract from the fundamental issues. Besides, federal control over education has been growing since the 1960s as both standards and achievement have deteriorated. Heritage Foundation education policy experts Lindsey Burke and Jennifer Marshall explain why centralized standard-setting will likely result in the standardization of mediocrity, not excellence.” >>read more>>
May 10, 2010             DO YOU BELIEVE US NOW? “Pearson will not only provide the curriculum and test materials but will also provide teacher training and community support. I cannot even imagine how much the entire Pearson package will cost a local school district, but it will undoubtedly be a small fortune.” >>read more<<
December 29, 2009             Red Flags, National PTA, and Common Core Standards “Some general and well written articles have been published recently with serious concerns about the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI), a federal push to nationalize mathematics and reading standards in American public schools.* Other, more specific, articles have focused on the National PTA’s involvement. These reports should send an alarming signal to parents, educators and legislators as that group ‘positions itself as a key player at the front line of education reform” with regards to the CCSSI’.” >>read more>>
December 11, 2009             Alternative Needed to Common Core Standards “The new consortium would endeavor to create better and more rigorous academic standards than those of the CCSSI. These alternative standards will be truly internationally benchmarked. With over twenty per cent of the American population, such a consortium of states would easily qualify as “significant” as well. Such states might even be joined by other states that do not want to embrace the intellectually impoverished and internationally uncompetitive Common Core standards.” >>read more>>
January 6, 2009Racing to National Tests”While everyone in educatorland obsesses over the $4 billion competition among the states for Race to the Top (RTT) funding, the Education Department (ED) is readying a separate competition for less than one-tenth as much money that may nonetheless prove far more consequential for American education over the long term. I am referring to the upcoming announcement of how $350 million will be meted out to “consortia of states” to develop “common assessments” that are aligned with ‘common standards.’ “>>read more>>

January 14, 2010             FIRST, DO NO HARM “We Americans have had an allergy to tackling the content problem at any level—ignoring the fact that somebody (mainly textbook makers) must always be dictating content in the schools, even if it is trivial, fragmented, skills-based content. If the crafters of our standards don’t encourage or require content coherence and cumulativeness (just to name two necessary elements), they will have failed the most basic requirement of this task: First, do no harm. And they will have done little to improve the unacceptable stasis in American education.”>>read more>> January 14, 2010             U.S. COMMON-STANDARDS PUSH BARES UNSETTLED ISSUES “Elected officials and educators have been talking about establishing national, or common, academic standards for at least a half-century…..Some regard nationwide standards as a threat to the United States’ federal system and the widely supported principle of state and local control over curriculum.”>>read more>> January 22, 2010             OBAMA IS BRIBING STATES TO ACCEPT NATIONAL CURRICULUM “School reformers have cheered the Obama administration for using RttT to pressure states to be more receptive to independently managed charter schools and use student test scores in evaluating teachers. But if the feds are calling the shots via standards-setting and enforcement, charter schools will be accountable not to local parents but to Washington power brokers, and teachers will teach to tests manipulated by national special interests and be held accountable for results having nothing to do with academic excellence.”>>read more>> January 31, 2010             EDUCATION’S ‘CORE’             “No one will object if Massachusetts adopts new standards as good as the ones it now has. But draft Common Core standards for English and mathematics released Jan. 13 are unacceptably inferior – not for any “dumbing down,” but because they are incoherent and unusable by real teachers.”>>read more>> February 6, 2010             CRITICS: STANDARDS PUSH THREATENS ED GAINS “Caught between wanting to participate in the process {of helping with national standards} while protecting the high benchmarks already set for Massachusetts students, education officials insist they will settle for nothing less than the rigorous curriculum already in place. Critics, however, worry that the state could find itself pressured by the lure of federal grants and other incentives to adopt the new standards and undermine nearly two decades of achievements that have lead to national and international accolades.”>>read more>>

**The full list of the members of the Common Core validation committee included:

  • Bryan Albrecht, President, Gateway Technical College, Kenosha, Wisconsin
  • Arthur Applebee, Distinguished Professor, Center on English Learning & Achievement, School of Education, University at Albany, SUNY
  • Sarah Baird, 2009 Arizona Teacher of the Year, K-5 Math Coach, Kyrene School District
  • Jere Confrey, Joseph D. Moore Distinguished University Professor, William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, College of Education, North Carolina State University
  • David T. Conley, Professor, College of Education, University of Oregon CEO, Educational Policy Improvement Center (Co-Chair)
  • Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education, Stanford University
  • Alfinio Flores, Hollowell Professor of Mathematics Education, University of Delaware
  • Brian Gong, Executive Director, Center for Assessment (Co-Chair)
  • Kenji Hakuta, Lee L. Jacks Professor of Education, Stanford University
  • Kristin Buckstad Hamilton, Teacher, Battlefield Senior High School, NEA
  • Feng-Jui Hsieh, Associate Professor of the Mathematics Department, National Taiwan Normal University
  • Mary Ann Jordan, Teacher, New York City Dept of Education, AFT
  • Jeremy Kilpatrick, Regents Professor of Mathematics Education, University of Georgia
  • Dr. Jill Martin, Principal, Pine Creek High School
  • Barry McGaw, Professor and Director of Melbourne Education Research Institute, University of Melbourne; Director for Education, OECD
  • James Milgram, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University
  • David Pearson, Professor and Dean, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley
  • Steve Pophal, Principal, DC Everest Junior High
  • Stanley Rabinowitz, Senior Program Director, Assessment and Standards Development Services, WestEd
  • Lauren Resnick, Distinguished University Professor, Psychology and Cognitive Science, Learning Sciences and Education Policy, University of Pittsburgh
  • Andreas Schleicher, Head, Indicators and Analysis Division of the OECD Directorate for Education
  • William Schmidt, University Distinguished Professor, Michigan State University
  • Catherine Snow, Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Christopher Steinhauser, Superintendent of Schools, Long Beach Unified School District
  • Sandra Stotsky, Professor of Education Reform, 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality, University of Arkansas
  • Dorothy Strickland, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Professor of Ed., Emerita, Distinguished Research Fellow, National Institute for Early Education Research, Rutgers, The State University of NJ
  • Martha Thurlow, Director, National Center on Educational Outcomes, University of Minnesota
  • Norman Webb, Senior Research Scientist, Emeritus, Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin
  • Dylan William, Deputy Director, Institute of Education, University of London

I cannot find each member’s analysis of the common standards.  But I did find out that Linda Darling-Hammond is an Obama insider and that she approved of Common Core. http://gothamschools.org/2008/11/19/its-official-linda-darling-hammond-heading-obama-policy-team/   The search goes on.

Dr. Sandra Stotsky to Utah: We Can Write Higher, Better Standards — Free   Leave a comment

Dear School Board, Superintendent Shumway and Governor Herbert,

I am writing to express my gratitude to those who were instrumental in yesterday’s vote to reverse Utah’s membership in the SBAC testing consortium.  It was a heroic moment and America is watching.

Early on, when I read the Cooperative Agreement between the SBAC and the Department of Education, I was horrified to see that it required  SBAC members to expose student data to the federal government “on an ongoing basis, subject to applicable privacy laws,” and I knew that the Dept. of Education had changed privacy FERPA regulations to make that data easy to access.

I had also been horrified by the micromanagement the Dept. of Education planned to do, in demanding that PARCC and SBAC synchronize tests “across consortia,” effectively nationalizing education under the triangulation of those two consortia with the Dept. of Education.  Also, in writing to WestEd, the SBAC’s test writing project manager, I had found out that “In order for this [testing] system to have a real impact within a state, the state will need to adopt the Common Core State Standards (i.e., not have two sets of standards.)” -April 2012 statement from WestEd Assessments and Standards Senior Research Associate Christyan Mitchell, Ph.D.

This meant that the 15% additional content which the Dept. of Education was permitting states to add to their local version of Common Core, would have been meaningless in the context of the tests.  Teachers would not have been motivated to teach that extra 15% of unique Utah content, since there would be such pressure to conform to the high-stakes, competitive tests.  Now they are freed from that pressure and can teach students, not teach for others.

I am extremely relieved to find that we have reclaimed our independence in the realm of testing and in the realm of easy federal access to student data collected via tests.  But I am still concerned that the federally paid-for state longitudinal database system (SLDS) and the P-20 student tracking systems will be available to the federal government and marketers, since our Utah Technology leader, John Brandt, who is a chair member of CCSSO and a member of NCES, the research arm of the Dept. of Education, has published the fact that our data can be shared with state agencies and at the federal level.  Also, Chief of Staff of the Dept. of Education Joanne Weiss made a statement recently that she is mashing data systems on the federal level, and is releasing reports to “help” states to use SLDS systems to mash data as well.  These things trouble me.  I hope you are aware of them and are taking steps to fortify our citizens’ privacy rights against federal intrusion which can easily invade in these other ways –other than the SBAC test data collection method, which we seem to be freed from.

–Or are we?  Attendees at yesterday’s State School Board meeting have informed me that there is school board talk of purchasing SBAC tests anyway, regardless of the conflict of interest issue.  This, even now that we’ve cut membership ties with SBAC.  If our board votes to use SBAC tests, we will hardly be better off than if we had not taken the step of cutting off membership ties.  Our childrens’ data would then still be collected by SBAC, and we know from the Cooperative Agreement that the SBAC will triangulate tests and data collected with the federal government.  We must cut all ties with SBAC, including purchasing or using SBAC or PARCC written tests.

On Sept. 6th, the ESEA flexibility waiver window ends.  I have asked a question but have not received a response:  does that Sept. 6th deadline mean that after Sept. 6th, Utah’s option to write her own standards, ends?

We need legitimately high, not spottily or for just some grades/topics, occasionally high, standards.  We need standards like those Massachusetts had before that state caved to political pressure to lower standards in adopting Common Core.  Massachusetts tested as an independent nation and was among the very top.  Massachusetts’ standards were the highest in the USA.  Then Common Core took them down to the middle of the road.  Does Utah really want that?  If so, why?  Is it Superintendent Shumway’s board membership in CCSSO and SBAC that is driving these decisions?  Or is it what’s really the highest possible standards for our children and teachers?

Political and money-making pressures are pushing Utah to stay aligned with Common Core, while attempting to obscure the truth:  that Common Core is not rigorous enough.  It does not solve our very real educational problems.

First, it blurs excellence and sub-par into a common standard that is mediocre.  Stanford University Professor Michael Kirst assessed the standards and said that “My concern is the assertion in the draft that the standards for college and career readiness are essentially the same. This implies the answer is yes to the question of whether the same standards are appropriate for 4 year universities, 2 year colleges, and technical colleges. The burden of proof for this assertion rests with CCSSO/NGA, and the case is not proven from the evidence presented”.

Dr. Bill Evers, Hoover Institute scholar and professor at Stanford, said that the “Asian Tigers” countries keep Algebra I in 8th grade, as Utah’s prior standards had them; but Common Core retards Algebra I to 9th grade.

Dr. James Milgram, the only math professor on the Common Core Validation Committee, refused to sign off that the standards were adequate.  Dr. Sandra Stotsky, the head English professor on the same committee, also refused to sign off on the standards.  She said they did not represent a coherent, legitimate pre-college program and she opposed slashing classic literature and narrative writing, as 99% of all English teachers –and parents– would surely agree.

Importantly, the NCLB/ESEA waiver allows two ways to fulfull the “college readiness” requirement.  1) States can use Common Core.  Or 2)states can write their own standards, using University approval as a benchmark.  If we choose option 2, by Sept. 6th, 2012, then we can write our own standards, using what’s best out of common core, building up to a better standard set by Massachusetts, led by the very professor who created Massachusetts’ superior standards— for free!

    Dr. Sandra Stotsky has promised Utah that if we pull out of Common Core and want help in developing our own ELA standards (better than what we used to have), she will help write them, for free.   She worked on the excellent, (Common Core-Less) Texas standards in 2007-2008, contracted with StandardsWork.

Dr. Alan Manning, of BYU, who is opposed on academic grounds and on grounds of lost liberty, to Common Core, would be a great resource for writing Utah’s standards, as well.

Please contact Dr. Stotstky and Dr. Manning about the possibilities of creating superior standards for Utah.

Thank you sincerely for your continued work on educational issues in Utah.

Christel Swasey

Heber City

You Are Invited: Utah Senate Education Committee Meeting Aug. 15th @ 2:00   Leave a comment

There’s a meeting, open to the public, to be held in room 30 in the House Building at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City. This meeting will be important, as heavy hitters will be speaking about Common Core issues:

  Dr. Larry Shumway, Utah Superintendent of Schools, John Brandt, Technology Director, and Dr. Judy Park, Associate Superintendent, will be speaking.

 Dr. Sandra Stotsky, University of Arkansas, member of Common Core Validation Committee  http://www.uark.edu/ua/der/People/stotsky.html

   –and Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott, will be speaking.

A G E N D A

Education Interim Committee – Utah Legislature

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 • 2:00 p.m. • Room 30 House Building

 1.   Committee Business

2.   Flexibility Waiver

Utah is among the 32 states granted a flexibility waiver to replace the federal accountability system created under No Child Left Behind with its own state accountability system. Beginning with the 2011-12 school year, schools will be evaluated based on a new state accountability system, and school performance reports will be issued this fall showing each school’s results under the new state accountability system. Committee members will receive a briefing on the flexibility waiver and the new state accountability system.

3.   Utah Data Alliance and the State Longitudinal Data System

As a collaborative, multi-organizational partnership, the Utah Data Alliance seeks to enhance the quality of educational research and analysis in Utah regarding policies, practices, and programs by utilizing an integrated statewide longitudinal data system of individual, de-identified information. The Utah Data Alliance provides policy and decision makers research findings with the goal of improving education and workforce policy and practice. Committee members will receive a briefing on the Utah Data Alliance and the state longitudinal data system.

4.   Report on Utah’s Core Standards and Participation in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium

Dr. Shumway will report on a process for the State Board of Education to receive and consider proposed changes to Utah’s core standards for English language arts and mathematics. He will also report on State Board of Education action regarding Utah’s participation in the Smarter Balanced Assessment consortium.

5.   Common Core

Dr. Stotsky, a member of the National Validation Committee for the Common Core State Standards Initiative, will testify on the common core standards. Mr. Robert Scott, Commission of Education of Texas, a state that has not adopted the common core, will express his concerns with the common core.

•    Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Department of Education Reform, University of Arkansas

•    Robert Scott, Commissioner of Education of Texas

6.   Other Items/Adjourn

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