Archive for the ‘Stop Common Core’ Tag

Missouri Common Core Tests Halted by Restraining Order   2 comments

missouri

A judge has issued a restraining order in Missouri that says that Missouri is “restrained from making any payments in the form of membership fees to the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium… including but not limited to disbursements pursuant to “Invoice #1″ issued to the State.”  The restraining order is, at least temporarily, halting Common Core SBAC tests in the state.

According to the Missouri Education Watchdog, “the Solicitor General, in arguing for the state defendant, argued that  if the fees were not paid, there would be no assessments available in Missouri schools this year at all.  This contradicts what an SBAC spokesperson said on the phone to legal counsel for the plaintiff when she said  that the membership fees are separate and distinct from the charge for using the assessments.  It also seems to contradict provisions of federal regulations that require the assessments developed by the consortia to be generally available to non-member states…  if other states were to withdraw their membership based on the same grounds, this would require a significant reorganization of the test supplier into a commercial venture as opposed to a testing consortia…  it would weaken the federal government’s requirement that states use the consortia tests in order to comply with federal regulation or waivers, because then the federal government would be granting a monopoly to a particular private company.

This ruling is a sign that the court sees some merit in the case, that SBAC may be an illegal interstate compact and thus the state’s membership in it should be null and void.

Duncan Distances Himself from San Diego Protesters   1 comment

Adding to the Breitbart report that many have already have seen is this report by Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who was present during this month’s Common Core promotional visit by Secretary of Education to California.  The U.S. Secretary of Education ignored parent protesters but spoke about his programs for implementing Common Core, including his aim to lengthen the school day and to extend each school year to year-round school.  Dr. Stotsky stands in the middle of San Diego protesters in this photo.

Sandra cropped

USDE Not Interested in Parents’ Perspective on Common Core

By Sandra Stotsky

 

While Professors R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky were on a 13-city speaking tour throughout California (joined by Ze’ev Wurman in Southern California) in November, a protest rally against Common Core by parents in San Diego took place.  What exactly were they protesting?  A speech by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, invited by the Council for Chief State School Officers for prime time at its 2014 Annual Policy Forum at the U.S. Grant Hotel.  The advanced description of his speech suggested that his talk was to center on ways to promote implementation of Common Core, such as by lengthening the school day and extending the school year to include summer as well as fall, winter, and spring. A few protesters wondered if parents would be given visiting rights.

 

While marching back and forth in front of the main door to the hotel, they asked the security guards to let Duncan, CCSSO officers, and the state superintendents in the audience know they were outside. No invitation to come in and listen to Duncan’s speech was forthcoming. The protesting parents outside the hotel were completely ignored by the CCSSO, Duncan, and the state superintendents listening to him, just as parents across the country have been ignored by them for five years. Not one public meeting with upset parents in any state by a US Department of Education official, a state board of education, a state commissioner or superintendent of education, a governor, a local board of education, or a local superintendent.

 

This is apparently the official federal policy toward the parents of the children in our public schools on whom the states have imposed the deeply flawed educational policies associated with Common Core: Keep them at a distance.

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Thank you, Dr. Stotsky.

This is a pattern. Recently, a federal agent from the Department of Education visited Salt Lake City.  Although Utahns Against Common Core organized a protest during this event  to call attention to the federal visit and to support Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s letter of rebuke of the Department of Education and its false assumption of authority, the Salt Lake City protest was, like the San Diego protest, completely ignored by the visiting federal agent.   (“Keep them at a distance.”)

Video: Common Core Panelists: Kurtz, Evers, McClusky, Estrada, Rebarber   Leave a comment

Heritage Foundation hosted a panel this month to inform and update the public about Common Core.   The introduction by Lindsey Burke of Heritage Foundation includes her story of New Jersey homeschoolers who are being told by the state that they must conform to Common Core, even in home school.   Burke also cites the rapid decline of teacher support for the Common Core, from 76% down to only 46% according to the latest poll.  Enjoy.

 

Panelists:

Stanley Kurtz, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center, and contributing editor, National Review Online

Ted Rebarber
CEO and Founder, AccountabilityWorks

Neal McCluskey, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Center for Educational Freedom, The Cato Institute

William Estrada
Director of Federal Relations, Home School Legal Defense Association

Williamson M. Evers
Research fellow, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Federal Secretary of Education: “To Phase Out the Authority of States”   33 comments

Have you seen the new regulations that just came out of the White House?

Americans who see these must run screaming to legislators for protection against the Department of Education.

The new regulations declare that Secretary Arne Duncan will amend ESEA to “phase out the authority of States to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards in order to satisfy ESEA accountability requirements. These amendments will permit, as a transitional measure, States that meet certain criteria to continue to administer alternate assessments… for a limited period of time.”

http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?pubId=201410&RIN=1810-AB16

“Phasing out the authority of the states” has been precisely the point for every last one of Duncan’s promoted education reforms, from Common Core to Common Data Standards to State Longitudinal Database Systems to P-20 programs to Common Core Assessments to teacher and school evaluations.

It’s been the shared vision of non-governmental education reformers as well, from Marc Tucker to Michael Barber to Linda Darling Hammond to the Center for American Progress.

Utahns Against Common Core have been pointing out this phase-out of local authority for over two years. Others have been saying it for decades.

But fat cats (Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, School Improvement Network, Prosperity 2020, Education First, Pearson Inc., Microsoft) –each of whom wants to sell fat educational products to the fat, “uniform customer base of Common Core” (as Gates put it) will not listen, and will mock and scorn critics because they want to get fatter and fatter on the taxpayer’s dime.

Why does such a supposedly conservative state allow the educational authority of the state to be “phased out” –because of businesses’ greed and lack of care for our children?  Where are our children’s educational defenders when we need them?  Where is the action behind all the flag-waving speeches that we’ve heard, now, Governor Herbert, Education Advisor Pyfer, Senator Stephenson, Representative Powell?

Why doesn’t our Governor, our legislature, our state school board, lift a finger to fight for our Constitutional right to educational self governance?

I cannot understand the apathy and the complacency and the tolerance– even at the legislative level– of all reforms aligned to the Common Core.

Is it not tragically crazy that we, as a state, willingly allow liberties –guaranteed under the supreme law of the land– to slip so easily out of our lives?  We allow ourselves to be lied to by our leaders, who cradle these education reform lies in positive, appealing language, and only for one reason:  cash flow.   Not for our children, at all.

When will Utah, when will America, wake up to this devastation of liberty and education?

 

To Phase Out the Authority of States Screenshot

First Parent Member of Utah SAGE Test Review Committee Speaks Out   1 comment

Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
app
According to Utah law, a 15-member parent committee must be assembled to review the test questions on the Common Core SAGE test prior to the test being administered statewide.
Members of the committee now report that, contrary to what was reported by the Utah State Office of Education and the media, there was no consensus of approval on SAGE by the parent committee. Several members want to set the record straight. Here is the first of what will be a series of parental testimonies that all was not well with SAGE tests.  This comes from committee member Molly Foster, with her permission.

Email from Molly Foster (written to the other members of the 15-parent committee to review SAGE test questions)

… In the spring when I was made aware of the USOE putting words in my mouth I contacted Judy Park several times, through email and phone messages to no avail until I sent a more honest email to her one day, she immediately responded. I will enclose our emailed conversation.

…The results of the SAGE test across the state were not surprising for the 5 Supers I spoke to in southern Utah. Judy Park herself told them in training that the students would fail until they got all the curriculum aligned, this could take years, and quite frankly by then they will have another mandatory program they are shoving down each district’s throat, keeping everybody busy testing instead of teaching, and most importantly nurturing human relationships within their own schools and communities… Let’s not forget that the test scores are also tied to school grades, and teacher performance pay.

As a teacher, I believe formative and summative assessing is best done at district level. An antiquated idea, I know. While our law makers spend their time passing bills with the impression they are providing a little vehicles for educators in their state to produce “college and career ready” students, even “globally” ready for life I have to laugh (in order to not cry).
Last I checked, this is America! The rest of the world is trying to come here to work and live. Remember? We have the liberty and freedom to work and educate people as we so desire. Comparing test scores to kids in Scandinavia or Singapore does nothing. Their kids in the end have no choice of whether they will pursue arts, science, technology, this is decided for them before many have even hit puberty! I love that American kids get to choose. Some may really like science through high school but when they begin college they may find a new love for the arts and find a degree in that pursuit. In America you may even decide NOT to go to college (gasp!). Isn’t this the greatest country?!
The state is not going to get rid of a 38 million dollar exam anytime in the next few years. The parent committee is nothing but a political move they will continue to use to their advantage as long as ya’ll stay quiet and polite. Best case scenario for me would be to administer it only at the end of the year, just like the old state tests.
Cut any ties it has to teacher performance pay, and school grading. If they think this is silly you should tell Judy Park and the rest of the USOE staff and all the legislators to take it themselves three times a year, tell them they will be fired if they don’t score at an appropriate global level. Tell them not to get nervous when they sit down in front of a computer for 2-4 hours a day, for 5 days, 3 times yearly. They might have to start “working to the test” but in the end it will all be worth it, I am sure they will immediately understand why this multi million dollar test is the only way to make them college and career ready. They will see how easy it is to judge their workday hours on a CAT exam, they can grade each employee and determine pay scales on their scores.
You were all a great bunch of parents and I urge you to each speak. Share your personal opinions with the parents, teachers and administrators in your communities, that is why you are there! Be honest with the USOE. Best part…..you don’t have to all have the same opinion!
But you do have the obligation to the people you represent to be their voice. Teachers and administrators cannot safely voice personal opinion. I have a lot of family members and loved ones working in Utah that need more parents to make a stand for education. Lucky for them there are some real smart, delightful people on the committee that will do just that!
Enjoy another round of tests!
Best to each of you!
Molly Foster
The emails:
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Ms. Park,
 
I am very disturbed at what you said in a recent letter sent to districts across the state:
 
“There are also concerns that the test questions contain inappropriate content of a social or political nature.  Every question on the SAGE assessment has been reviewed by the 15 member parent committee last fall.  Every parent on the panel (including the parents that do not support the common core) agreed that there was nothing in the questions that was inappropriate.”
 
I am on your 15 member parent committee and you know we agreed there were questions that were inappropriate.
 
It is unfortunate that I have to tell people that the USOE is not a trustworthy entity. I did not intend my participation that week to be a blanket validation for your political purposes.
 
Thank you.
 
Molly Foster
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From Utah State Office of Education’s Dr. Judy Park to Molly Foster:
Molly, I am so sorry that you misunderstood my comments.  I am regularly receiving concerns that the questions have inappropriate language and are pushing a social agenda.  When we held the parent debrief panel the last day of the parent committee review, when asked if the test questions had inappropriate words or pushed a social agenda (I don’t remember exactly how it was worded), all 15 parents responded that the questions did not.  There is no doubt that there were many questions that were flagged by the parent committee.  I have freely shared the information you received from John Jesse that showed the number of items that were flagged by the parent committee and the resolution of those items.  I am also in the process of preparing the items that were dropped from the test due to the input from the parent committee, for public release.  I think it will be very helpful for any interested persons to see the actual items that have been eliminated.  I have tried in all of my comments about the parent committee (written or verbal) to honor the great work of the committee and appropriately portray the views and opinions that were shared.  I will try to be much more specific in the future to hopefully prevent misunderstanding.
Thanks
Judy W. Park, Ed.D.
Utah State Office of Education
Associate Superintendent
Student Services and Federal Programs
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Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.
- Leo Tolstoy

Dr. Sandra Stotsky: Why Do CC Supporters Try to Discredit CC Math Critics?   3 comments

Why Do Common Core’s Supporters Try to Discredit Critics of Common Core’s Mathematics Standards?

by Dr. Sandra Stotsky

 

Professor R. James Milgram, for over 40 years a full professor of mathematics at Stanford University, and I did a 13-city speaking tour on Common Core throughout California in November. At all of the meetings, Professor Milgram provided a two-page hand-out titled Missing or Delayed in Common Core’s Mathematics Standards—a short version of a 13-page critique he distributed at the time he refused to sign off on Common Core’s standards.  Not one of the thousands of parents, school board members, and legislators at these meetings challenged him about anything on this hand-out. (The Modesto Bee estimated about 500 at the meeting in Modesto alone.)

 

Yet, when speaking without Professor Milgram after distributing (with his permission) his two-page list of missing or delayed mathematics standards in Common Core, along with my own list of flaws in Common Core’s English language arts standards, I have been accused by non-mathematicians of relying on an incompetent mathematician. Why are Common Core’s supporters so desperate to discredit those with orders of magnitude more mathematical knowledge than they have at any educational level?  And to do so in such a cowardly fashion.

 

For example, I was warned by a very angry, self-identified local school board member and former K-12 mathematics teacher at a St. Louis, Missouri meeting in October that Professor Milgram is not “truthful.”  I was told in a November e-mail sent to me by a mathematics educator at a Missouri university not to “trust Milgram’s opinions.”  I was also told by an employee of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education at a Marshfield, Massachusetts meeting in October that, in contrast to Professor Milgram’s comments, a mathematics professor at Boston College thought highly of Common Core’s standards, and that for every analysis I did, there was another one that found that Common Core’s standards strengthened, not weakened, the high school curriculum.”  She also accused me of saying that “the old Massachusetts standards were so good that they couldn’t be improved.”  In response to a follow-up e-mail query from the organizer of the meeting asking for written evidence of her claims, she replied: “Professor Friedberg has not done a paper on the topic but he and other Massachusetts professors of mathematics strongly endorse Common Core’s standards and believe our previous standards were not sufficiently rigorous, didn’t stress mastery or understanding, included too many topics, and were not sufficiently focused. I’m sure Sandra Stotsky is already familiar with Bill Schmidt’s peer-reviewed study that found the standards comparable to the highest achieving nations.”

 

Yes, indeed, I am aware of William Schmidt’s study.  I am also aware of its fatal methodological deficiencies. As Ze’ev Wurman noted in his review of Schmidt’s study:

 

“Advocates of Common Core’s mathematics standards claim they are rigorous, reflect college-readiness, and are comparable with those of high achieving countries. The two members of the Common Core Validation Committee with college-level mathematics content knowledge [R. James Milgram and Dylan William] refused to sign off on them, finding them significantly lower than those of high-achieving countries….

Schmidt and Houang’s 2012 study—the only study that claimed the standards met international expectations—lacks reliable coding of the standards, and uses a variety of visual and statistical strategies to create the illusion that the profile of topics in Common Core’s mathematics standards is, indeed, comparable to the curriculum profile of six high-achieving countries. In fact, their own data suggest that Common Core’s mathematics standards are not at all like those of international high achievers, and that—at least from a statistical point of view—they do not carry any promise of improving American educational achievement.”

 

Wurman went on to conclude:

 

“Not only do Common Core’s standards remain unvalidated, but there are now many doubts that they could ever be validated as research-based, rigorous, and internationally competitive. Indeed, there is growing concern that they are far below the level of standards in high-achieving countries. Yet, these standards were officially adopted by over 46 states, national tests are being piloted based on them, textbooks and other curriculum materials have been aligned down to them, and all our seemingly independent indices of academic achievement or potential for college-level work have been or are in the process of being aligned down to them. What should be done?”

 

It is easy to understand why Common Core’s proponents would be unhappy with criticisms of Common Core’s mathematics standards. Especially when other mathematicians publicly corroborate the thrust of Professor Milgram’s criticisms (for example, the op-ed in The Wall Street Journal by Marina Ratner at the University of California/Berkeley).

 

But they should be ashamed of making spurious charges to people who do not understand high school mathematics any better than they do. And they should learn to speak directly to mathematicians themselves to try to understand the criticisms.


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Notes:

1)  http://www.modbee.com/news/local/education/article3594327.html

2)  Common Core Informational Forum, St. Louis, Missouri, October 23, 2014.   Watch these six 15-minute videos in this order.

 

  1. http://youtu.be/z_Ps_25U1VI
  2.  http://youtu.be/JRahJRom4r8
  3. http://youtu.be/9FffrrRsryY
  4.  http://youtu.be/-t8IIfr_h8U
  5.  http://youtu.be/4Wb5KclkKa0
  6.  http://youtu.be/hpvY0ymINjk

4)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZvUa4mGGQA. The Q and A is not available on this video of the Marshfield meeting.

5)  Email communication from Noel Ashekian, November 4, 2014.

6)  Ze’ev Wurman, Common Core’s Validation: A Weak Foundation for a Crooked House, Pioneer Institute White Paper #112, April 2014.

http://pioneerinstitute.org/download/common-cores-validation-a-weak-foundation-for-a-crooked-house/?utm_source=Common+Core+Validation+Apr+23+2014&utm_campaign=Common+Core+Val+April+23+2014&utm_medium=email

7)  Marina Ratner.  Making Math Education Even Worse.  Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2014.  http://online.wsj.com/articles/marina-ratner-making-math-education-even-worse-1407283282

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Thank you, Dr. Stotsky!

Dr. Sandra Stotsky (English Professor) and Dr. James Milgram (Math Professor) served on the official Common Core Validation Committee and after reviewing the standards, each refused to sign off that the Common Core was academically legitimate.

Watch these video presentations where Dr. Stotsky and Dr. Milgram explain at forums across the nation why these standards do not live up to their college-and-career-ready billing.

 

Flier: Top Ten Things Parents Hate About Common Core   Leave a comment

With gratitude to Joy Pullman, whose long version of “Top Ten Things Parents Hate About Common Core” article, with photos and videos, is posted at The Federalist, I’m sharing this extremely condensed two-pager, which can be printed out as a one-pager, front to back, on neon colored paper.

Top Ten Things Parents Hate About Common Core

 

By Joy Pullman – Condensed from:  http://thefederalist.com/2014/09/24/top-ten-things-parents-hate-about-common-core/

 

This is the year national Common Core tests kick in.  It’s also the first year most people  heard of Common Core, four years after bureaucrats signed our kids onto this complete overhaul of U.S. education. Why do 62 percent of parents think it’s a bad idea?

 

  1. The Senseless, Infuriating Math

Common Core deforms elementary math. Even simple addition takes inordinate amounts of time.

 

  1. The Lies

Common Core’s lies and half-truths  include talking points essential to selling state leaders on the project, such as that Common Core is: “internationally benchmarked,” (“well, we sorta looked at what other nations do but that didn’t change anything we did”); “evidence based” (“we know there isn’t research to undergird any standards, so we just polled some people and that’s our evidence“); “college- and career-ready” (“we meant community-college ready“); “rigorous” (as long as rigorous indicates “rigid”); and “high-performing nations nationalize education” (so do low-performing nations).

 

  1. Obliterating Parent Rights

Parents are frustrated. When they go to their school boards  they get disgusted looks or thumb-twiddling or worse. A New Hampshire dad was actually arrested for going over his two-minute comment limit in a local school board meeting that was packed with parents complaining about graphic-sex-filled literature assignments.

 

  1. Dirty Reading Assignments

Objectionable books on the Common Core-recommended (not mandated) reading list include called “The Bluest Eyes,” by Toni Morrison. “Make Lemonade” by Virginia Euwer Wolff, “Black Swan Green” by David Mitchell, and “Dreaming in Cuban” by Cristina Garcia.  There are so many excellent works of literature available that schools can’t possibly fit all the good ones in.  Why does Common Core recommend trash?

 

  1. Turning Kids Into Corporate Cogs

The workforce-prep mentality of Common Core focuses on the materialistic benefits of education, and is not concerned with passing down knowledge, heritage, and morals. The workforce talk certainly tickles the ears of Common Core’s corporate supporters, but why do corporations get to dictate what kids learn?

 

  1. Data Collection and Populace Management

Common Core enables the theft of kids’ and teachers’ data, furthering businesses’ bottom lines and governments’ populace-control fantasies, at the expense of private property and self-determination.

  1. Common Core tests are the key instrument of data collection.
  2. Common Core architect David Coleman admitted special interests packaged data mining into Common Core.
  3. Common Core classifies enormous amounts of data, like as an enormous filing system.
  4. States that use federally funded Common tests have given control of collected data to private organizations which have promised the government access to kids’ data.
  5. Common Core and data vacuuming are philosophically aligned—they both justify themselves as solutions to problems. The goal is to use data to “seamlessly integrate” education and economy. In other words, we learned nothing from the USSR.

 

  1. Distancing Parents and Children

A recent study found that the Common Core model of education results in parents being less engaged in their kids’ education and expressing more negative attitudes about schools and government.

 

  1. Making Little Kids Cry

It’s one thing to teach a child to endure life’s suffering for a higher purpose. It’s another thing to inflict suffering on children because you’ve got a society to remake. Psychologists and teachers say Common Core inflicts poorly designed, experimental instruction and testing on children.

 

  1. The Arrogance

Imagine you’re a mom or dad whose child is sobbing at the table trying to add two-digit numbers. Then you hear your elected representatives talking about Common Core. And it’s not to offer relief. It’s to ridicule opposition to Common Core. Florida Senate President Don Gaetz said of Common Core: “They’re not some federal conspiracy.” Wisconsin state Sen. John Lehman (D-Racine) told an audience state hearings on the topic were “crazy”. Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) called opponents a “distract[ing]” “fringe movement.” Well-paid “experts” say parents don’t get what’s going on because this is above parents’ ability to understand.

 

  1. The Collectivism

Common Core supporters admit that several states had better curriculum requirements than Common Core. Then they say it’s still better for those states to have lowered their expectations to Common Core’s level, because that way the US has more curricular unity.

 

Tech companies are uber-excited about Common Core because it facilitates a nationwide, uniform market for products. But the diversity of the unregulated private market far, far outstrips the diversity of the Common Core market. That variety is one of substance, not just branding. In other words, it’s true diversity, not fake diversity. Which would you rather have:  fake freedom in education, where others choose your end goal, but “let” you decide some things; or real freedom, where you pick goals and how to achieve them, and you’re the one responsible for the results? Whoops, that’s a trick question.  The overlords have already picked fake freedom for us.  It’s Common Core or the door, baby. 

 Joy Pullmann is managing editor of The Federalist and an education research fellow at The Heartland Institute.

 

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