Archive for the ‘teachers against common core’ Tag
Utahns Against Common Core published the resignation letter of Utah high school physics teacher Stuart Harper today. The letter is powerful. These are the words of a noble man, and his resignation is a tragic loss to Utah’s school system.
When will our state leaders acknowledge the train wreck of Common Core and turn our state around? When will they read and heed teachers like Stuart Harper?
Read the full letter here.
“… After much research I know that the Common Core (CC), the way it has been implemented, and the reforms which have accompanied it are wrong. They are unsound, of poor quality, take power from local government, and further empower federal agencies and policy makers. Most importantly, their enactment was unconstitutional, both in Utah and in the nation. However wrong CC may be, my reasons for resigning are only tangent to this constitutional breech. I was aware of the core before signing on, and though I did not approve of it I gave my word in contract to teach whatever curriculum I was given.
In the summer of 2013 a personal letter I had written, stating my concerns with Common Core, was posted on the Utahns Against Common Core website. It was an opinion piece, not a scholarly review. I saw no problem with stating my opinion, it is my right as a citizen, at least so I thought.
A few months later, I was informed that the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) had learned of my published letter and was not happy with my opinions or concerns. Local school authorities were instructed to meet with me and put me back in line. During this meeting with the district representatives I was told that I was shallow, ignorant and emotional in the way I wrote my concerns and that by writing things like this I would create rebellion and insubordination across the district. I was told I can have an opinion with other state’s educational systems but as a teacher in the state of Utah I cannot be concerned with my own state’s educational affairs.
I reminded them that my intent was not to promote rebellion, but to simply encourage personal research on the subject and exercise freedom of speech on my off time, as a citizen and father. I was told “Those freedom of speech rights you are probably referring to do not apply.”
I was shocked, but I stood my ground. I made it clear that if I continued to be intimidated into silence that I would resign same day. I told them that I have given my word to teach what they want me to in the classroom and would continue, but I would also continue to use my rights as an American citizen to effect political change. They said I could share my research if I get my facts straight, but even then my job is on the line. When I told them that I would continue to research information from original sources as well as writings from those for and against Common Core they were confused. They discouraged me from seeking information from anywhere other than the USOE, and accept only their interpretations of the facts. I refused, reminding them that true education comes from educating yourself on all sides.
I was threatened on three separate occasions with professional action all because I stated my opinion. I did not resign at any of the instances where I found myself threatened because I realized that I had given my word that I would teach for the year, and I will not break my word. However I refuse to remain in an environment that clearly has no respect for the Constitutional right of free speech. I refuse to be a part of the problem.
Over the years the school system has fallen far below what it should be. The public school system is just that – public. It should represent those served by it – We the People. Each level of the system (classroom, school, district and state) fails to remember that its duty is to the people, not to the establishment. We should be representing what is in our students’ and our community’s best interest. Our current system expects acceptance and conformity to its decisions and policies by all of its teachers and administrators. Further, it expects this without questioning or voicing concerns and even goes as far as intimidating and threatening those who have differing opinions. Any society or organization that silences and discourages freedom of speech removes the possibility to express ideas, and without competing ideas we close the door on true education and open the door to tyranny.
… We have lost control of the classroom and continue to hand more and more power over to the government. Our current system no longer promotes learning, but rather focuses on training. It teaches what to think, not how to think. It is now a system of hoops for students, teachers, and administrators, and with further national control and regulations of education, these hoops have been set on fire.
I believe that until we can get education to become self-sufficient where it no longer relies on the funding and intimidation from federal and even state levels, until we can bring education back to learning how to think and not being trained for a test, and until we can bring freedom back to the individual teachers, students, and schools, our public system will continue to decay. I hope the system and its people can exercise the self discipline to do this, but where I cannot foresee this happening, my greatest hope for education now resides in home-schools, home-school groups, and in private education.
My hands are tied within this system. But I now know that I can be more productive on the outside. I will continue to promote true and correct educational principles, awareness of civic affairs, and our duty to be involved. I am going to be a part of the solution. Asking questions is the essence of education. All I encourage of others is to ask questions, seek truth and not be afraid to share that truth with other Americans who are willing to listen.
Mr. Stuart Harper
Teacher, Citizen, and Father”
First, here’s a list.
It’s a smattering of teachers’ names with links to what they have said or spoken. Their experience and research make a powerful, nearly unarguable case for stopping corporate-federal Common Core. They are current teachers, retired teachers, and teachers-turned-professors-or-administrators.
Malin Williams, Mercedes Schneider, Christy Hooley, Peter Greene, Susan Kimball, Paul Bogush, Laurie Rogers, Paul Horton, Gerald Conti, Alan Singer, Kris Nielsen, Margaret Wilkin, Renee Braddy, Sandra Stotsky, J. R. Wilson Amy Mullins, Susan Wilcox, Diane Ravitch, Susan Sluyter, Joseph Rella, Christopher Tienken, Jenni White, David Cox, Peg Luksik, Sinhue Noriega, Susan Ohanian, Pat Austin, Cami Isle, Terrence Moore, Carol Burris, Stan Hartzler, Orlean Koehle, Nakonia Hayes, Barry Garelick, Heidi Sampson; also, here’s a young, un-named teacher who testified in this filmed testimony, and an unnamed California teacher/blogger.
Notice that these teachers come from all sides of the political spectrum. It turns out that neither Democrats nor Republicans relish having their rights and voices trampled.
And alongside those individual voices are teacher groups. To name a handful: the Left-Right Alliance, 132 Catholic Professors Against Common Core, the United Opt Out teachers, the BadAss Teachers, Utah Teachers Against Common Core, Conservative Teachers of America, and over 1,100 New York professors.
These teachers have really, really done their homework.
I’m going to share the homework of one brilliant teacher, a Pennsylvania teacher/blogger named Peter Greene who wrote about what he called his “light bulb moment” with how the Common Core Standards exist to serve data mining.
Speaking of the millions of data points being collected “per day per student,” he explained:
“They can do that because these are students who are plugged into Pearson, and Pearson has tagged every damn thing. And it was this point at which I had my first light bulb moment. All that aligning we’ve been doing, all that work to mark our units and assignments and, in some places, every single work sheet and assignment so that we can show at a glance that these five sentences are tied to specific standards– all those PD [professional development] afternoons we spent marking Worksheet #3 as Standard LA.12.B.3.17– that’s not, as some of us have assumed, just the government’s hamfisted way of making sure we’ve toed the line. It’s to generate data. Worksheet #3 is tagged LA.12.B.3.17, so that when Pat does the sheet his score goes into the Big Data Cloud as part of the data picture of pat’s work. (If you’d already figured this out, forgive me– I was never the fastest kid in class).”
Peter Greene further explained why the common standards won’t be decoupled from the data collection. His words explain why proponents cling so doggedly to the false claim that these Common Core standards are better academically (despite the lack of research-based evidence to support that claim and the mounting, on-the-job evidence to the contrary.)
“Don’t think of them as standards. Think of them as tags.
“Think of them as the pedagogical equivalent of people’s names on facebook, the tags you attach to each and every photo that you upload.
“We know from our friends at Knewton what the Grand Design is– a system in which student progress is mapped down to the atomic level. Atomic level (a term that Knewton lervs deeply) means test by test, assignment by assignment, sentence by sentence, item by item. We want to enter every single thing a student does into the Big Data Bank.
“But that will only work if we’re all using the same set of tags.
“We’ve been saying that CCSS [Common Core Standards] are limited because the standards were written around what can be tested. That’s not exactly correct. The standards have been written around what can be tracked.
“The standards aren’t just about defining what should be taught. They’re about cataloging what students have done.
“Remember when Facebook introduced emoticons. This was not a public service. Facebook wanted to up its data gathering capabilities by tracking the emotional states of users. But if users just defined their own emotions, the data would be too noisy, too hard to crunch. But if the user had to pick from the facebook standard set of user emotions– then facebook would have manageable data.
“Ditto for CCSS. If we all just taught to our own local standards, the data noise would be too great. The Data Overlords need us all to be standardized, to be using the same set of tags. That is also why no deviation can be allowed. Okay, we’ll let you have 15% over and above the standards. The system can probably tolerate that much noise. But under no circumstances can you change the standards– because that would be changing the national student data tagging system, and THAT we can’t tolerate.
“This is why the “aligning” process inevitably involves all that marking of standards onto everything we do. It’s not instructional. It’s not even about accountability. It’s about having us sit and tag every instructional thing we do so that student results can be entered and tracked in the Big Data Bank.
“And that is why CCSS [Common Core] can never, ever be decoupled from anything. Why would facebook keep a face tagging system and then forbid users to upload photos?
“The Test does not exist to prove that we’re following the standards. The standards exist to let us tag the results from the Test.
“… Because the pedagogical fantasy delineated by the CCSS does not match the teacher reality in a classroom, the tags are applied in inexact and not-really-true ways. In effect, we’ve been given color tags that only cover one side of the color wheel, but we’ve been told to tag everything, so we end up tagging purple green. When a tagging system doesn’t represent the full range of reality, and it isn’t flexible enough to adapt, you end up with crappy tagging. And that’s the CCSS… Decoupling? Not going to happen. You can’t have a data system without tagging, and you can’t have a tagging system with nothing to tag. Education and teaching are just collateral damage in all this, and not really the main thing at all.”
Read more here.
I’ll add more two points in support of Peter Greene’s words:
1- First, the creators of Common Core and its copyright have openly stated that they work toward both academic standards’ commonality and data standards’ commonality –I suppose for the very reasons Greene outlined. Check out the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) –a Department of Education/private CCSSO partnered enterprise, here.
2– Second, the federal grants that the states all swallowed, the data mining capability-hooks embedded in the juicy worm of funding, called “State Longitudinal Database System” grants, did specify that states MUST use interoperable data standards (search for SIF Framework, PESC model, CEDS standards, NDCM model) to track educational progress.
In other words, the 50 individual states’ database systems were designed so that they can, if states are foolish enough to do so, fully pool student and workforce data for governments or corporations– on an national or international level.
How quickly Common Core has gone from being almost a secret, a truly under-the-news-radar movement, to being a sharp bone of contention and a scorchingly hot topic across the nation as right and left, legislators, parents, teachers and yes, students– join to fight the erosion of local control of education, and the erosion of high quality education.
Here’s just a smattering of the pushback happening across this nation. Please feel free to leave additional related Common Core pushback news links in the comments section!
* Alabama – “Bill In Works That Would Allow Common Core Opt-Out For Schools”
* Arizona – “Senate backtracks on Common Core”
* Connecticut – “Stamford Rep. Molgano Calls For Public Hearing On Common Core”
* Florida - FLA Ed Commissioner’s Arrogant Letter Angers Mother of Recently Deceased Disabled Child http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/04/ethan-rediske-act_n_4899010.html
Florida - Testing Fixation Drives Florida School Board Member to Quit, Fight on Larger Battleground http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/03/06/the-drive-to-test-test-and-re-test-leads-famous-school-board-member-to-quit/
* Georgia – “Common Core bill debated in Georgia House”
* Maryland – Dressed in Clown Suits, Maryland Teachers Protest Excessive Testing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sn_xJ9P1I2k
* Maryland – Super Tells Parents State Test is Useless http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/District_Dossier/2014/03/joshua_starr_to_parents_upcomi.html
* Mississippi – “Common Core comes back up at State Capitol”
* Missouri – “Mo. lawmakers debate retreating from Common Core”
* Illinois - Educators Boycotting Chicago Exam – Spend Day Teaching Not Testing http://www.wbez.org/news/saucedo-teachers-spend-day-1-isat-teaching-concerns-raised-about-intimidation-109815
Illinois - National Leaders Support Chicago Test Boycott http://dianeravitch.net/2014/03/09/leading-educators-support-chicago-test-boycott/
Illinois- Resources for Supporting Chicago Parents and Teachers Protesting the ISAT http://morethanascorechicago.org/2014/03/03/isat-opt-out-support-kit/
*Indiana - http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2014/03/11/indianas-attempt-replace-common-core-under-fire
* New York – bill S6604 pending: http://stopccssinnys.com/uploads/SCCINYS_PR_S6604.pdf – Bill to place a three-year suspension on items such as the Common Core
State Standards and the associated age-inappropriate curriculum; it also addresses excessive testing.
New York – “Assembly Passes Bill Halting Common Core”
New York Protests Intensify as Common Core Tests Loom http://www.longislandpress.com/2014/03/10/common-core-tests-loom-intensifying-debate-in-ny/ Rochester, NY, Teachers Association Brings Suit Against “Value Added” Evaluations http://www.rochestercitynewspaper.com/rochester/teachers-union-sues-over-evaluations/Content?oid=2346958
* Massachusetts - Protesters at Secretary Arne Duncan’s town hall meeting: http://www.masslive.com/news/worcester/index.ssf/2014/03/groups_organized_to_picket_us.html
Worcester Mass. School Committee Will Allow Students to Opt Out of Common Core Pilot Exam http://www.telegram.com/article/20140307/NEWS/303079875/1116
More Massachusetts Education Leaders Criticize Double-Testing http://www.patriotledger.com/article/20140310/NEWS/140319857
* Connecticut – Connecticut Educators Want to Reexamine Test-Based Teacher Evaluation Model http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/teacher_union_wants_to_revisit_teacher_evaluation_method Connecticut Parents Seek to Opt Children Out of Common Core Tests http://www.ctnow.com/news/hc-parents-opting-out-20140228,0,1363518.story The Brave New World of “College and Career Readiness” Testing http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/the_brave_new_world_of_being_college_and_career_ready
*North Carolina - North Carolina Families Opt Out of Standardized Tests http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/03/09/3682922/opting-out-of-standardized-testing.html
Penn. Parents Join Forces to Opt Kids Out of Standardized Tests http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/parents-join-forces-to-opt-kids-out-of-standardized-tests/article_88aff918-a643-11e3-aa64-0017a43b2370.html
*Arkansas - Arkansas Professor Urges 11th Graders to Opt Out of Literacy Test http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2014/03/10/ua-prof-calls-for-students-to-opt-out-of-11th-grade-literacy-test
*Tennessee - Tennessee Teacher Sue Claiming “Value-Added” Assessment is Arbitrary and Unconstitutional http://tnedreport.com/?p=753
Virginia Lawmakers Seek to Reduce Number of Standardized Tests http://www.newsplex.com/home/headlines/Va-Lawmakers-Aim-to-Reduce-Number-of-Standardized-Tests-249339961.html
*New Hampshire – Nashua, New Hampshire Board Backs Delay of New Test http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/1030167-469/majority-of-nashua-school-board-members-back.html
*Nebraska – Testimony regarding Common Core Academic Error: http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/testimony-regarding-proposed-nebraska-english-standards/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TruthInAmericanEducation+%28Truth+in+American+Education%29
* Washington, D.C. – http://unitedoptout.com/helpful-readings-and-resources/the-official-schedule-for-occupy-doe-2-0-the-battle-for-public-schools/
Thanks to Donna Garner, Mike Antonucci, Dr. Bill Evers, Pioneer Institute, and Bob Schaeffer for assistance with this compilation.
New York Professor’s Run-in With NY Common Core Promotion Machine
Guest Post by Professor Alan Singer
This story is posted with permission from Professor Singer, and the article is also posted at the Huffington Post under the title: “Questions about Common Core – NYS Education Officials Do Not Want to Hear About It.”
In December 2013, the New York Regents, the policy making body for education in the state, formed a sub-committee to evaluate implementation of the national Common Core Standards. Merryl Tisch the chair of the Board of Regents and John King, the state’s educational commissioner, are both strong advocates for the rapid introduction of the Common Core accompanied by high-stakes testing of students and the evaluation of teachers based on student test scores. However, in a series of public forums across the state, Commissioner King was sharply criticized by both parents and teachers. Some Regents, including Roger Tilles who represents Long Island and Geraldine Chapey of Belle Harbor in Queens, have also been very critical of implementation of Common Core.
New York State United Teachers, the umbrella organization representing unionized teachers in New York State responded to the campaign to rapidly introduce Common Core and new high-stakes tests by calling for the immediate removal of the Commissioner of Education John King by the Board of Regents and postponement of Common Core graduation requirements. This move is supported by Randi Weingarten, president of the national union, the American Federation of Teachers. In addition, a coalition of 45 educational organizations called the NYS Allies for Public Education has launched a campaign to have four new members elected to the state educational governing body, all of whom have expressed reservations about the rapid implementation of Common Core in the state. Members of the Board of Regents are elected by the New York State Legislature.
In May 2011, in an essay published in New York Newsday and on the Washington Post website, Regent Tilles raised concerns about Common Core that have been largely ignored by its proponents for the last three years. Tilles argued “Student learning is complex” and “impacted by many factors which include, but are not limited to, prior learning, family background, level of poverty, classroom and school culture, access to private tutors, learning disabilities, access to adequate resources, and even school district governance,” none of which are taken into account by the Common Core standards, the testing program, or teacher evaluations. He objected to “using the student results of New York’s standardized tests to evaluate teachers” because it contributed to “the corrupting influence of high stakes on the education programs.” He was especially concerned that the focus of Common Core and the high-stakes assessments on reading and math skills was “snuffing out the creative thinking” and worried “that all of the above is an attempt to promote charter schools and dismantle the public school system.”
There are legitimate questions about how serious Tisch and King are about rethinking Common Core. At the same time as Tisch announced formation of the Regents sub-committee, Tisch and King, in an opinion article published in the Albany Times-Union declared “We want to hear from teachers, parents, and students about what’s working and what could work better. But we also know that moving forward with Common Core is essential.”
As far as I can see, there is little real discussion going on about the Common Core standards. Politicians and corporations who are selling the standards to the public and forcing it on teachers and schools ignore both supportive suggestions and opposition. The story I report here says that the champions of Common Core, no matter what they say, do not want to hear any other ideas.
In New York State, Common Core is promoted by EngageNY, a website “created and maintained by the New York State Education Department,” and a secretive non-governmental group called the Regents Research Fund. As the EngageNY website makes clear, its primary purpose is promoting Common Core.
“The New York State Education Department (NYSED) is engaging teachers, administrators, and education experts across the State and nation in the creation of curriculum resources, instructional materials, professional development materials, samples of test questions, test specifications, and other test-related materials that will help with the transition to the New York State P-12 Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS).”
The actions of the Regents Research Fund are a little harder to pin down. The Albany Times Union calls it a “shadow government” within the New York State Education Department. It is supported by $19 million in donations from wealthy individuals and foundations.
On the EngageNY website and for the Regents Research Fund the chief salesperson for Common Core is Kate Gerson, a very attractive woman who appears to have minimal teaching experience. Although she is not an actual employ of the State Education Department, Gerson represents them at Common Core meetings across the state and is the featured Common Core cheerleader on EngageNY online videos. The Times Herald-Record, based in Middletown, New York, described Gerson’s performance at a staff development workshop for teachers in the Monticello school district this way.
“With a microphone dangling under her chin, Kate Gerson paced the front of the high school auditorium in sweater dress and heeled boots, prodding teachers to rethink the Gettysburg Address. She used the word “text” over and over again.”
Gerson’s advice to teachers was “Try it out; get smarter at it. This is hard work. Pick a text and dive in, and build a unit around a text that you are devoted to, that you have to teach anyway, and teach it differently.”
You can view Gerson’s traveling show at the EngageNY website. In a fifteen minute video titled “Quick Explanation of the Shifts by Kate Gerson,” she basically tells the audience that they are already doing Common Core in small bursts, but they now have to do it more systematically and have students think more deeply about what they read.
I did not have many disagreements with the goals Gerson presented in her show, but I was very surprised by two things. It was very unclear how deeper literacy was going to be achieved in classrooms where students have serious academic difficulty. Mostly she just repeated educational clichés – we were going to have a shift in focus, text-based instruction, rigorous standards, and students would think deeply and marshal evidence. Teaching these academic skills to real students in actual classrooms was almost a hopeful wish on her part.
I was also struck by Gerson’s lack of knowledge about the English Language Arts curriculum in New York State. According to Gerson, as part of the new rigor and higher standards, students would read To Kill a Mocking Bird in eighth grade rather than in ninth grade. But students always read To Kill a Mocking Bird in eight grade because that is when they learned about the Civil Rights movement in social studies. Students were also going to read Achebe’s book Things for Apart in 10th grade rather than in12th grade, but students always read Things Fall Apart in 10th grade because that is when they study the impact of European imperialism on traditional societies in Global History.
Gerson is promoted as a former New York City teacher and school principal who brings legitimate educational credentials and experience to the discussion of Common Core. According to her LinkedIn site, Gerson has a B.A. in Women’s Studies from the University of Arizona and a M.A in Language Education from Indiana University. She began her career as a teacher in Indiana, but only worked in New York City for two years at a transfer school for over-aged-under-credited students before leaving for an organization called New Leaders for Schools where she worked from 2007 to 2010. Gerson is also associated with Frederick Hess, Resident Scholar and Director of Education Policy Studies at theAmerican Enterprise Institute, which pushes free market pro-business solutions to educational and social issues.
Gerson will be the keynote speaker at an Uncommon Core at a conference in Binghamton, New York on March 14, 2014.
I was also invited by conference organizers to speak there because of my Huffington Posts on Common Core where I am critical of Common Core, but also offer practical suggestions and lesson ideas on how it can be useful in the classroom. For example, I recently posted a blog on Huffington Post with quotations from two speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. where he offers a more radical critique of American society.
My position on Common Core is that it is useful to teachers and schools as a guideline but not as a mandated set of skills that must be achieved in a specific time frame by every student. I am also disturbed that the almost universal focus on skills acquisition will interfere with the teaching of subject content. AsRegent Tilles argued, to be most effective, Common Core Standards must be separated from high-stakes testing for students and the evaluation of teachers. State Education needs to provide teachers with sample material that defines what they mean by “college and career ready,” but scripted lessons that inhibit teacher creativity and eliminate flexibility are not useful. Among the things I like about Common Core is that it encourages the Horizontal (across subject) and Vertical (across grade level) Integration of instruction and it supports systematic planning and conscious decision-making by teachers. However, to the extent that it is tied into the privatization of curriculum, staff development, student assessment, and teacher preparation it is undermining public education.
The problem with the invitation to speak at the Binghamton conference with Gerson is that the conference organizers were not be able to pay an honorarium despite the fact that I would have a ten-hour round trip drive from New York City and have to spend the night. This basically meant I am unable to participate.
Merryl Tisch (non-responder)
I emailed Merryl Tisch, Chair of the New York State Board of Regents, Education Commissioner Jon King, Ken Wagner, Deputy Commissioner for Curriculum, Assessment, and Educational Technology at the New York State Education Department, and Kate Gerson and Joshua Skolnick of the Regents Research Fund in an effort to secure financial support to participate in the conference. I did not get a response from Tisch, King, or Skolnick. Gerson emailed back that she had forwarded my request to Skolnick and Wagner.
Ken Wagner, Deputy Commissioner for Curriculum, Assessment, and Educational Technology and a person in charge of implementing Common Core standards in New York State
I received a curt response from Wagner, Deputy Commissioner for Curriculum, Assessment, and Educational Technology at the New York State Education Department. According to his LinkedIn page, Mr. Wagner has a very interesting resume. He has worked at the State Education Department in different capacities since 2009. Before that he was a district administrator in Suffolk County for three years, an assistant principal and a principal for five years, and a school psychologist for four years. However, Mr. Wagner rose to become Deputy Commissioner for Curriculum, Assessment, and Educational Technology and a person in charge of implementing Common Core standards in New York State without ever having been a classroom teacher.
Mr. Wagner emailed me: “There is no funding available. Perhaps you should cancel.”
I later emailed Mr. Wagner the Common Core based lesson on the speeches of Martin Luther Kin, Jr. that I had developed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemorations in local secondary schools.
This time he responded:
Please remove me from your list.
Thanks a bunch,
I emailed him back:
“I thought you were a state official and this was a public email address?
Any update on the honorarium so that I can present on Common Core at the Binghamton Uncommon Core Conference?”
Mr. Wagner responded, denying funding for the conference again, and this time accusing me of sending spam in violation of federal law:
From: Ken Wagner
Sent: Saturday, January 11, 2014 8:28 PM
To: Alan J. Singer
Subject: Re: The Other Martin Luther King – Alan’s Latest Huffington Post
No worries, thanks.
It is generally best practice for authors to provide their readers with options and choice. Self-publishing has changed all that, I suppose.
You should be aware, however, that sending unsolicited email without the ability to decline meets the federal definition of Spam.
As I said, funding is not an option.
At least in my experience, education officials in New York State are not interested in what anyone else has to say about Common Core.
Post-It Note: I checked the federal definition of spam. According to the CAN-SPAM act of 2003 spam is “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.”
I fail to see how a lesson on Martin Luther King, Jr. aligned with Common Core that I am making freely available to teachers and available to state curriculum officials constitutes spam under this law, but I guess Mr. Wagner, as an expert on Common Core, is able to understand the statute’s deeper meaning.
Alan Singer, Director, Secondary Education Social Studies Department of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership 128 Hagedorn Hall / 119 Hofstra University / Hempstead, NY 11549
How would you like to be a fly on the wall in a teacher education classroom? What are colleges training teachers to teach today? Is it legitimate education?
Barry Garelick, a California math teacher, has written a book (his introduction is below) based on his university teacher- education experiences, and experiences as a student teacher. Garelick used two pen names, “Huck Finn” and “John Dewey” –to avoid ruining his chance of obtaining a teaching credential at the time, and to avoid being blackballed from teaching because of differences in teaching philosophy.
The insightful and sometimes very funny chronicles show that the one-size-fits-all mentality displayed by Common Core starts before our children enter K-12 classrooms; it starts in the groupthink of teacher education schools.
In Which I Explain Myself Without Apology
Guest post by Barry Garelick
I have written a book entitled “Letters from John Dewey/Letters from Huck Finn: A Look at Math Education from the Inside”. It is a collection of letters that I wrote which chronicle my experiences in a math teaching methods class in Ed. school (using the name John Dewey) and my experiences student teaching (using the name Huck Finn). I teach mathematics in California. I have a degree in the subject and an intense interest in how it is taught.
When my daughter was in elementary school I saw things I didn’t like about the way she was being taught math. I was also tutoring high school students in math and saw disturbing weaknesses in basic math skills. This caused me to embark in research about what is going on in math education. I decided that the way I could possibly make a difference was to teach mathematics in middle or high school. In the fall of 2005, with six more years left until I could retire, I enrolled in education school.
By way of a short background, the debate over how math is best taught in K-12 (and which is known as the “math wars“) has been going on for many years, starting perhaps in the early part of the 20th century. The education theory at the heart of the dispute can be traced to John Dewey, an early proponent of learning through discovery. Fast forward to 1957 when Sputnik was launched and the New Math era began in earnest, which continued until the early 70′s. Then came the “back to basics” movement, and in 1989 the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) came out with The Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics, also known as the NCTM standards.
The NCTM’s view was that traditional teaching techniques were akin to “rote memorization” and that in order for students to truly learn mathematics, the subject must be taught “with understanding”. Thus, process trumped content. Showing how students obtained the answer to a problem was more important than getting a right answer. Open-ended ill-posed problems became the order for the day. The prevailing education groupthink was (and still is) that teaching the mathematical procedures for particular types of problems was just more rote. Such approaches didn’t teach students “higher order thinking skills”, “critical thinking” and many other terms that are part of the education establishment’s lexicon.
By the time I enrolled in Ed. school, I pretty much knew what I was in for. I was well acquainted with the theories of teaching and learning which dominated the education establishment in general and education schools in particular. Nevertheless, I was surprised at what I heard when going through the candidate interviews, which was part of the application process. Future teachers of science and math were herded in one group and given a brief talk by the coordinator of secondary education. Among her opening remarks was the announcement that “The way math and science are taught today is probably not how you were taught when you were in school.” A few sentences later, the coordinator, with index finger pointing to the ceiling for emphasis, said “Inquiry-based learning!” Though a bit unnerved, I at least knew where I was.
All in all, my Ed. school experience had some redeeming features. Most of my teachers had taught in K-12, and had valuable advice about classroom management problems and some good common-sense approaches to teaching that didn’t rely on nausea-inducing theories. Also, I learned how to make it sound like my approach to teaching was what was being taught. I learned to talk about discovery approaches and small group exercises—no one has to know that such techniques are not going to be your dominant teaching approach. In short, since future teachers will be working in a bureaucracy that is often dictated by the groupthink of the education establishment, Ed. school serves the purpose of teaching survival techniques.
Sometime after I took my first course, I decided to write a series of letters documenting my experience in Ed. school, using the pseudonym of John Dewey. There was a new education blog that had emerged called Edspresso, edited by a genial and talented young man named Ryan Boots. (Unfortunately, he left Edspresso several years ago). I pitched the idea to him, asking him what he thought. He responded almost immediately along the lines of “An Ed. school mole writing about his experiences? When can you start?”
My series of letters for Edspresso covered mainly one class—the beginning math teaching methods class. The letters proved to be very popular and many people left comments—some supportive, and some very angry. I wrote the letters almost in real time—there was perhaps a one or two week delay between the letter I was writing and the events of a particular class.
As I progressed through the class, I noticed that while my views on teaching may have differed from that of the teacher (an adjunct professor who I refer to as Mr. NCTM), there were certain views that we shared in common. We were both around the same age, and he had taught high school math for 30 years. He had very good advice and it was clear that he liked me. I came to the realization that though there were vast differences in teaching philosophies within the teaching profession, one had to work with fellow teachers as well as the people in power on a daily basis. The trick would be to find a situation in which I could be loyal to how I believed math should be taught, and find that common bond with the other teachers and the administration that would allow us all to get along.
I decided to stop writing the letters when the math teaching methods class ended. This was not only because of the time involved in writing them, but because of a fear that their continuation would ultimately lead someone to discover the identity of the author. I didn’t want to ruin any chance of obtaining a teaching credential, nor to be blackballed from any teaching positions because of differences in teaching philosophy.
After several years, I had completed all my coursework and was ready to move on to student teaching. I had a few months to go until retirement, and then could take on the commitment for the remaining task. I felt that this phase called for a resurrection of John Dewey, but my initial draft of a letter seemed forced and the voice of Mr. Dewey no longer seemed appropriate.
Around that time, I had the good fortune to have seen a performance of Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain. Mr. Holbrook was 85, so I knew this might be my last chance to see him. The performance lived up to everything I had heard about it, but one part of the evening stood out. He did a reading from Huckleberry Finn that was extremely moving and convincing. I heard the voice of a naive young boy commenting on rather serious matters over which he had no control, but about which he was beginning to form life-changing opinions. I realized the next day that Huck Finn was the perfect choice for the author of the letters about student teaching, immersed in the polarized world of education, and drifting along the ideological, political and cultural divide.
I asked Katharine Beals who runs the blog “Out In Left Field” if she wouldn’t mind publishing some letters from Huck Finn about the process of becoming a math teacher. She was excited about this and so I decided to give it a go. I was grateful for her taking Huck in; she is known as “Miss Katharine” in the letters. The name seemed to fit her quite well.
The first two Huck Finn letters are about a year apart, and then they follow the student teaching. I couldn’t write those in real time since the teaching kept me rather busy, so I wrote the letters after I finished. After another year I wrote six more episodes, this time looking at Huck’s experience as a substitute teacher.
I’m trying to think of something profound and moving to close with here and the best I could come up with was “For anyone wanting to make a movie based on these letters, please don’t have me played by Matt Damon.” Actually, a comment I received on one of the Huck Finn letters from Niki Hayes, a former teacher and principal, is much better I think, so let me close with that and offer it to you as advice:
So you learned what teaching is about: The dispensing of content information so that kids don’t have to “struggle” repeatedly to understand it (which makes most humans turn off the learning switch) AND experiencing those wonderful young eyes that make you want to be a better teacher and person. You’ll always remember these kids because they were your first “tutors.” Let me assure you, there will be many more as you enter the special land of teaching.
My goal is to get this book to be required reading in math teaching methods classes at ed schools. So if you know anyone in an Ed. school with influence, please tell them about this book. -Barry Garelick
“Letters from John Dewey/Letters from Huck Finn: A Look at Math Education from the Inside” is available on Amazon.
Dixie Allen, my State School Board Representative
Sharing a long string of emails between my State School Board representative and me, from this week and last.
I hope that given the time you have spent the last couple of years discussing this issue, that you would understand that Utah has already adopted and put in place the Common Core Standard in Mathematics and English/Language Arts. We have added some standards and will contiue to update the Standards as needed – but we have already adopted and have wonderful teachers working on Curriculum and lesson design to effectively teach the Core.
If you have specific concerns with specific standards – please let me know.
Utah State Board of Education
My purpose in sharing the article was to suggest that Utah’s State School Board, like so many boards and legislators nationwide, might consider halting or at least pausing Common Core as many other places are doing (or are seriously considering doing) given the amount of pushback that continues on this subject.
I am fully aware that Utah adopted Common Core!
Common Core is, frankly, evil posing as good. For the state school board to continue to deny this is either evidence of incompetence or it’s endorsement of these evils.
I do not use the word “evil” casually.
Common Core is evil because it is based on political power-grabbing that snuffed the voice of the people, a move that was based on dollar signs and not academic honesty. It was agreed to for a chance at federal cash.
It cannot back up its lies of “being an improvement” academically, since it’s totally experimental and untested. Similarly, it cannot back up its lie of being “internationally benchmarked” because it’s not internationally benchmarked.
It cannot back up its lie of being unattached to the federal government since it is tied like an umbilical cord to the Department of Education; the Dept. of Ed is officially partnered with the very group that created it (CCSSO) both in the standards and in common data technologies. The Department of Ed has contracts that mandate micromanagement of Common Core testing. There is much more –all documented online and you can prove or disprove it if you are honest enough to try.
And why should we– why should you, specifically, fight federal intrusion into education?
I am a teacher. Common Core diminishes teachers’ autonomy –and students’ well-being– through federally supervised testing that drives curriculum (or will, by next year when testing really kicks in) and by the federally funded SLDS data mining that amounts to “unreasonable search and seizure” of private effects.
While there are some harmless or even some good things in the standards themselves at the elementary school level perhaps, the standards do diminish classic literature especially for high schoolers, and they marginalize narrative writing, and dumb down high school math –as has been admitted even by its creators. (Click here to see this very short video link of this out loud admission of the math-dumbing, by Common Core creator Jason Zimba).
Even if this all were not true– if somehow standards did not diminish classic literature, marginalize narrative writing, and dumb down high school math, they are still AN ATROCITY, Dixie, from which you should be protecting the children of Utah. And the teachers of Utah.
Because they suffocate the spirit of liberty and independence.
1. COMMON CORE LACKS A REPRESENTATIVE AMENDMENT PROCESS.
If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would be amendable by those governed by it.
Dixie, if this were legitimate, you and I would have a voice. But we do not.
Neither you as a state school board member, nor I as a Utah credentialed teacher, have diddly squat to say over what gets tested and taught in our math and English classrooms in Utah– because Common Core is only amendable by the NGA/CCSSO, according to their own words on their own creepy website.
Read it, for heaven’s sake! It states: “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and
better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised.” (Revised by whom?)
Not you and not me.
Again, from the official Common Core site: (their caps, not mine) “ANY USE OF THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS OTHER THAN AS AUTHORIZED UNDER THIS LICENSE OR COPYRIGHT LAW IS PROHIBITED. ANY PERSON WHO EXERCISES ANY RIGHTS TO THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS THEREBY ACCEPTS AND AGREES TO BE BOUND BY THE TERMS… NGA Center/CCSSO shall be acknowledged as the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards, and no claims to the contrary shall be made.”
2. IT LACKS CHECKS AND BALANCES. The use of checks and balances was designed to make it difficult for a minority of people to control the government and to restrain the government itself. If the Common Core Initiative– a nationalized system of standards, aligned tests, data collection and teacher accountability measures promoted federally– if this initiative were in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be held in the power of a minority of the people (of the NGA/CCSSO and of the Dept. of Ed which is partnered with CCSSO). It would have been vetted prior to implementation by the proper means outlined in the Constitution– but it wasn’t. As Alyson Williams pointed out, “There is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors… Governors working together to jointly address issues and create rules that affect the whole nation is not a legitimate alternative to Congress, our national representative body.”
3. IT LACKS AUTHORITY. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would have been born legitimately: but its only “authority” is the unprecedented assigning of money to the discretion of the Education Secretary without proper congressional oversight. From that Stimulus money came the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and the Race to the Top grant programs that enabled the Department of Ed to get away with setting up their own, experimental rules for us to follow in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States alone.
4. IT ALTERS THE LIMITS OF FEDERAL POWER. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be openly admitted even by its most notorious proponent, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, to alter the traditionally limited role of the federal government. Look:
Duncan said, in his 2010 “Vision of Education Reform” speech
: “Our vision of reform takes account of the fact that, in several respects, the governance of education in the United States is unusual. Traditionally, the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy… The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more… [THIS IS CLEARLY, CLEARLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL, DIXIE.] …the Recovery Act created additional competitive funding like the high-visibility $4.35 billion Race to the Top program and the $650 million Investing in Innovation Fund… America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform… In March of 2009, President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments… Virtually everyone thought the president was dreaming. But today, 37 states and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing a white paper—they have actually done it.”
Do you hear Secretary Duncan gloating over his ability to control us?
Yet the honorable Utah State School Board continues to promote the notion that we are free under Common Core. It’s a lie. The State School Board may be full of very good people like yourself, who donate to Sub-for-Santa and read to their grandchildren; but they are still guilty of passing along huge lies which they have received and believed from the pushers of the Common Core gold rush.
Common Core governance is a slap in the face to the work of the Founding Fathers.
We are rightly shuddering at the math disaster and the high-stakes testing, are rightly gasping at the lack of any cost analysis to taxpayers and at the privacy-robbing aspects of the Common Core agenda. But these arguments are secondary to the hairiest of the reform devils, the destruction of individual liberty and the end of local control of education.
Dixie, my dear representative! Please, please stand up to these people. Stop swallowing the hogwash. Stop allowing your peers on the board to spread the propaganda. It is not based in truth.
Updating with more letters 1-17-14
To answer your question, I taught public high school English for five years, University level English at UVU for two years, and public school third grade for two years. I have also been a home school teacher of fourth and fifth grade for two years. I began teaching in 1995, am still teaching, and my credential has never expired.
But. I don’t think my resume (nor yours) matters, though, because it is the principle of local and individual liberty that is the issue most harmed by the Common Core Initiative and the “Blueprint for Reform” that Common Core rides upon.
Educational experience and resumes don’t even come into the question; anyone can see through this if they take five minutes to use their brains.
I notice that you are still avoiding the issues I raised, and that you are unruffled by where the Common Core came from, or who gains financially at our expense from them, and who ultimately controls them –and thus who ultimately controls you and me and our grandchildren.
It is unfortunate that you will not confront these uncomfortable realities, very sad for the rest of us whom you are supposed to be elected to represent.
I’m forwarding news links that a Colorado principal forwarded to me today. I hope you become aware of not only the important reasons, but also the speed at which Common Core opposition is growing.
Many State Legislatures 2014 Sessions to Debate Common Core Testing Issues
New York Assembly Speaker Says Case for Common Core Testing Should be Delayed
New York Teachers to Vote “No Confidence” in State Ed. Head for Ignoring Common Core Testing Moratorium Call
New York Common Core Website Links to Offensive Test-Prep
Florida Lawmakers Question Rush to Implement Common Core Exams
North Carolina State Ed Board May Delay Move to Common Core Tests
New Testing Standards Stress Connecticut Educators
Rushed Common Core Testing Rollout is Like Driving in the Fog
How Progressives Opposing Common Core Testing Should Deal with Strange Political Bedfellows
FairTest Fact Sheet on Why a Common Core Testing Moratorium is Necessary
Educators Explain Alternatives to High-Stakes Exams
See Why and How Performance Assessment Works
Opt Out of Tests to Force a Balanced Assessment System
Virginia Lawmakers Call for Fewer Tests
North Carolina Teachers Protest Plan to Give Third-Graders 36 Mini-Tests
Rhode Island Expands Graduation Test Waivers
Mass. Teachers Reject Test-Based “Merit” Pay Bonuses
Let’s Teach Students to Think Critically, Not Test Mindlessly
Weingarten: Teaching and Learning Over Testing
Standardized Testing Has Created Standardized Students with Useless skills
Anthem for a High-Stakes Testing Era (with apologies to Country Joe and the Fish)
“Standardized,” the Movie, Screening Schedule
It is good to know where you have experienced teaching and educational oversight. Thanks for sharing!
However, the concerns you share form the Colorado administrator still are mostly about the assessment programs. I hope that you are aware that we are developing our own assessments with the help of the AIR Company. We are doing everything we can to be in control of our Standards, Assessments and Data and I am convinced we are accomplishing our goals.
Thanks for your input, but would really like to see you look at what Utah is actually doing and not align us to other states, especially without checking out the facts as they apply to our state. It would be so good to have you working to help us improve our school system, rather than identifying what isn’t working across the nation. We still are trying to focus on improving education for the students of Utah and I believe we are making progress each and every year.
It’s not just other states that are unhappy with Common Core tests. Utahns have plenty to say about Common Core tests and their AIR/SAGE $39 million dollar waste– costs to us not only in dollars but costs to student data privacy and costs to liberty from oppressive federal and corporate oversight of Utah’s own educational business.
Have you read Matthew Sanders’ Deseret News “Common Core Testing Fraught With Flaws” op-ed on AIR? Have you read Dr. Gary Thompson’s many writings and heard his testimony? Thompson, a Utah child psychologist, exposed how AIR tests are to embed subjective assessments which are illegal. He sees AIR subjecting all students, but especially more vulnerable populations (including African Americans, gifted students, autistic students, Latino students, Asbergers’ students) to what he names “cognitive child abuse”. Thompson has spoken out here in Utah and across the nation, notably at the Wisconsin Legislature, specifically about the huge problems with AIR and similar tests.
Dr. Thompson said: “AIR’s stated mission is to “to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation towards improving peoples’ lives, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged,” and any reasonable minded person, as well as a State Superintendent of Public Schools, should at least reasonably conclude that this billion dollar research corporation (AIR) with some of the brightest minds on the planet can design tests any way that they please, unless per contractual agreement and other applied constraints, they are expressly forbidden from doing so. Utah’s parents have been told in multiple town hall meetings by the USOE that they will never be able to have access to testing questions devised by AIR in order to ensure “test integrity.” Although I am impressed with USOE and various politicians who stated that 15 parents and a few politicians will be allowed to view the tests being designed by AIR, I question their qualifications to perform anything more than a cursory review of the questions being designed. Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart may be able to balance a complex state budget, but I doubt that she has the necessary background in psychometrics to perform a critical analysis of the issues that need to be examined.”
Matt Sanders expressed additional concerns with AIR/SAGE very concisely. I would love to see the state board answer his questions, and Dr. Thompson’s concerns, about privacy of student data under AIR/SAGE.
Sanders’ article, in the April 2013 Deseret News, said:
“A key component of the Utah Common Core implementation is a new online, adaptive testing system called Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence (SAGE). The the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) contracted to pay $39 million to American Institutes of Research, a Washington, D.C., behavior and social science research organization, to build and host the new testing environment.
I applaud innovation in education and believe the pursuit of standards to improve competitiveness a step in the right direction. I also believe adaptive testing shows some promise. Further, I admire the efforts made by USOE personnel to hold town meetings across the state to introduce the proposed new testing approach to educators and parents — at times encountering some hostility from parents concerned about their children being subjected to unproven educational systems.
At the SAGE introduction in Davis County, I observed many concerns raised by parents. While there, I also asked a couple of questions, but the answers left me wanting. Upon further reflection and analysis, I believe the SAGE approach is deeply problematic, and I put forth the following questions:
Where is the evidence?
Public sector projects should carry assurance of maximum societal benefit for optimal cost. For approval, they should present evidence from research and pilot or scaled tests of the proposed reform.
Despite substantial searching, I could find no defensible studies anywhere on the USOE website, and was given no assurance by state officials that any pilot studies underpin the wholesale changes. They have not cited, as would be asked of any high school research paper, any support for their reforms. Thus, the USOE has implemented new standards, new curriculum and has spent scarce state resources on an apparently untested, unproven testing approach.
How will student data be used?
The contract with AIR contains no explicit protections of student data collected in testing by the well-known federally funded researcher. Despite repeated questions to USOE officials, they could provide no reference statutory protection of student data. USOE should provide complete assurance to families and educators that data are protected and not available for personal identification.
One of the key objectives of the Common Core initiative is to provide means for inter-state performance comparisons. However, the USOE FAQ on testing indicates that, “There are currently no national norms for the new common core or Utah Core Standards … they cannot indicate where Utah’s students stand relative the common-core standards.” So no collaborative benefits exist for developing a unique Utah test.
Why not a different approach?
Consistent with its mandate, the USOE is appropriately concerned by the college readiness of Utah students. Rather than wholesale reforms dependent on unproven curricula and tests, why not direct efforts to proven methods with known cost effectiveness?
For instance, the USOE could be redirecting the $39 million to Utah school districts to reduce class size and invest in technology, increasingly necessary to accommodate Utah’s rising student population.
… Utah schools could adopt and adapt the use of ACT benchmark tests beginning in the 8th grade to determine college preparation progress. The ACT and SAT tests have long been considered robust indicators of readiness by educators and college admissions staff alike.
While the Common Core aims are admirably ambitious, the outcomes so far don’t seem to make the grade…” — Matt Sanders firstname.lastname@example.org TWITTER: Sanders_Matt
Another point is my own: It is clear to all Utahns (it’s stated on AIR’s website) that AIR is partnered with SBAC, which is under a stranglehold by the Department of Ed. SBAC is mandated to “share student data”, to “synchronize tests” with other national common core testing groups, and to give constant reports to the feds. By its partnership, thus AIR is entangled in the same stranglehold. That means Utah is entangled, despite what the state board claims and wishes.
I have yet to see any evidence that AIR/SAGE tests are purely math and English assessments. I have yet to see any evidence that the tests are even being developed by Utahns rather than by the psychometricians that the AIR website flaunts as spearheading all the works of AIR.
Again, thanks for talking.
I am well aware of all your quotes and concerns. Having served on the adoption committee for our new assessment with testing directors, superintendents, teachers and specialists in the field from districts and the state office, I have heard all the concerns and recommendations on our new assessment program. I also was privileged to meet with the parent committee that examined all the test items and helped correct a few minor problems, but heard nothing about any far reaching problems that hadn’t been noted and improved.
I also had the opportunity to oversee several of the pilot districts that used “computer adaptive assessment” which was then the North West Evaluation Association. The pilots were created by the State Board and Governor Huntsman after a year or so of looking at quality assessment programs. These districts had used the assessment to accomplish great growth in student scores for about five years. NWEA was one of the companies that applied to fill the role of our assessment program that had been funded and approved by the legislature. However, NWEA was not willing to write test items that addressed Utah’s specific Core Items. Thus our committee chose AIR because of their willingness to help us (teachers in the field) to help write items that addressed our specific Core Curriculum and they also had great recommendations from other educational entities throughout the nation.
It would be great if we did not have to invest so much in evaluation, but with Grading Schools and other legislation throughout our state and the nation, we must insure we are providing accurate information for the public and our schools. It has also been proven over the past few years that the Computer Adaptive Assessments have been valuable to teacher, parents and students, as it provides a clear understanding of what curricular issues students understand and what needs extra work and support. Testing is now and has always been an instructional support to help teachers, students and parents know how to help our students improve and be successful.
Now, as you suggest, it would be great if our legislature understood how important it is to fund lower class size, preschool education for “At-Risk” students and establishing enough funding to attract the best and brightest teachers to our classrooms. As the lowest per pupil funding in the nation, I really believe that both the State Office of Education and our district partners are doing the very best they can to provide a quality education for our students. Can we do more? SURE!! But the more takes funding and spending less energy and resources to fight battles that reflect on issues that we have already identified and attempted to solve.
Christel, it would be so nice if you would come to our Board Meetings and take in all that has and continues to be done to improve our standards, our curriculum support systems, our assessment and our commitment to quality educators and education for all of our students. Many people are working so hard to insure we are doing the best with what we can afford to provide the children of our state.
Thanks for the opportunity to discuss these issues, but hope you will come see the process in action and join with us to improve our education with a positive attitude and support system.
I guess I should thank you for the invitation to “join with you to improve education with a positive attitude” at school board meetings.
But I noticed at the State School Board Meetings that I went to in 2013 and 2012 that there was an elephant that filled the room; he was so big that people couldn’t even see around him and so loud that people couldn’t talk.
He stood so that people could not move. He silenced visitors who were in his way just by leaning on them, and his glare frightened teachers, parents, and students who had come to participate in the meetings. He had his feet on some children. He wore a huge banner with his name on it, but the school board used different language to name him than what he had named himself, if they spoke of him at all.
Oddly, the Board most often dodged elephant-related questions.
He attended the Wasatch District’s school board meetings too.
For two years now, he’s eaten endlessly at the expense of taxpayers –money which was reserved for the sacred use of school children and their teachers. He ate a lot.
He’s still eating. There is not enough food for him as well as for the children, yet the Board said it would rather feed him, for some reason. So the board asks the legislature to feed the children and the teachers. Because all the board’s money is gone to feeding the elephant.
A positive attitude?
I howl because I can not get the damn elephant off my children without your help.
You have the power. Please remove him.
Although you don’t name the “elephant in the room” — I surmise you see it as Federal Intrusion. I encourage you to really look at what the Federal Government does to help provide dollars for public education and the actual data that they and our state legislature ask for in policy and then help us find ways to insure that such data doesn’t compromise the individual rights of our students. Some data is absolutely necessary, but if we know specifically what data is problematic, we can look at those issues. From my point of view as an educator, I see that test data pulled together for teachers, schools, districts and the state helps us insure that we are providing a quality education. If we overstep the process in regard to trying to insure a quality educational system — we need to know specifics — not the letters to the editor or posting on facebook, twitter and etc., with no details as to what is the real problem.
We all want to improve and support public education. Hope you will help us, instead of continuing to state there is an “elephant in the room” — but with no definition of what the elephant is and how you see we can solve the problem.
The elephant is the Common Core Initiative.
The Common Core elephant –its head is the set of experimental, untested, distorted standards which were neither written nor known about by Utahns before they were forced upon us.
I say “forced” because that is exactly what happened. The board never asked legislators, teachers, principals or parents to analyze these standards prior to throwing away classic standards. And if we speak against them now, we are labeled “insubordinate” or “misinformed”.
I say “distorted” because they are inappropriately “rigourous” for the youngest grades and inappropriately low, especially in math, for the high school grades.
The Common Core elephant– its heart is common data standards (via PESC) which Utah agreed to in its acceptance of federal grant money for the federal SLDS system. This is the heart of the data problem. We don’t have a state system; we have a federal system that we call the “state” longitudinal database. But there is nothing protecting private student data from being submitted to the federal Edfacts exchange nor to the federally partnered EIMAC/CCSSO national data collection vehicle.
Individual student data is none of anyone’s business beyond the district. Only the teacher and principal and parents need to know how a student is doing. Period. The end of the data story.
Governments grading schools is a wrong concept and should be fought but until that’s won, let them grade in aggregate form. That’s not what is happening. Even Superintendent Menlove is a member of the CCSSO, whose stated goal is to disaggregate student data.
I do not see any justification for Utah’s FORCED database (SLDS) from which no parent may opt her child out, according to this very board.
The Common Core elephant– its legs are the tests. The tests drive the future curriculum. They label teachers. They force the standards to center stage, stealing from other subjects and activities that the teacher would otherwise focus on, for example, Utah’s added standard of cursive or a teacher’s personal expertise and enthusiasm for things that go above or beyond Common Core.
Utah’s AIR/SAGE test’s alignment with all the other national common core tests are the death of its autonomy. And the federal say in these tests makes them illegitimate under the Constitution and GEPA law, which states: No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system .
Common Core is the elephant in the room because at the board meeting, nobody talks about it. They call it “Utah core.” They call them “Utah’s standards.”
Common Core sits on top of and drives EVERYTHING in Utah education today. It saps all our funding. It dominates all our teacher preparation. It dictates all new technologies. It defines our data collection. It is the basis for our $39 million dollar test. And alignment to Common Core is the ONLY prerequisite for any textbook to be used in a classroom anymore– content no longer matters; just common core alignment matters. I know this from speaking with the Utah curriculum committee.
One would think that Common Core must be remarkable and wonderful, to have such honored place in Utah, to wield such power. But it’s a joke. A joke on us. It costs us countless millions yet it’s academically distorted, is not even written by educators and has never been field tested!
It’s nothing that it says it is– not “globally competitive,” not “internationally benchmarked,” not “state-led” nor “state created.” It was David “Corporate” Coleman who on a whim decided informational text is better than classic literature, and he is the King of Common Core. Not only did he design the ELA, but now he runs the entire College Board where he aligns college entrance exams to his creation– not the other way around, as has been claimed. This is not college readiness. It’s corporate control of what that term even means anymore. We don’t get a say. The corporate elite, meaning David Coleman/Achieve Inc./Bill Gates/Pearson/CCSSO who are officially in partnership with Arne Duncan, are calling the shots. And why don’t they want us to have legitimate, high, classical college-ready standards? Because it costs too much money. This is clearly explained by Marc Tucker, CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy .
Dixie, I have told you all of this before. You either don’t believe me or don’t think it matters.
Many people don’t want to call anything evil. But I believe there is no good if there is no evil, and I believe that good and evil do not form alliances. There are people and collaborations with whom we should not shake hands, no matter how pleasingly they present themselves to us. Because they are selfish; they are steal what is good and important away from us. They hurt us while promising us the moon.
Common Core is the excuse and the rallying cry for the robbers of autonomy and our local conscience in educational decision making. These people ride on the back of the elephant and get richer and more powerful all the way. These riders of the elephant include David Coleman and his corporations, the CCSSO, NGA, Pearson, Gates, Arne Duncan, and the corporations that sell Common Core aligned products. None of them care whether they’re selling snake oil or something real. They don’t care. They count on us to be too busy or too stupid to check their claims and their price tags.
Thanks for listening.
Wow — I really thought you might have a valid point with the intrusion element. However, as a teacher, principal, curriculum director and now a State School Board Member for now over 40 years total, I have to tell you some facts!
First – all of our standards for the State of Utah have been unproven — mostly because they were created by educators in the field and tested over time and revised over time. Over the years we have, as a state, created our own assessments with help of great talent at our State Office — but both standards and testing items are created by our state teachers and specialists and evaluated and revised over time. The Common Core is and will be the same — except there are several specialists at the university level who has helped us look forward to the ramifications of State and Federal Standards and how all students will be equipped for college and universities regardless of what state university or college they choose.
Secondly, as a Principal of elementary, a 5th grade center and a high school, I can attest that with our past “stair step curriculum” – using Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 and 2, we lost almost a third of our students in being prepared to master the math curriculum for the high school. The standards for both the Mathematics and Language Arts for the Common Core is much more relevant to the investigative and inquiry expectations of both learning and work skills needed by our graduates.
Finally, Utah did not take any money specifically from the Feds for adopting the Common Core. We, along with 47 other states, found the standards higher and more relevant to the expectations of higher education and careers throughout the United States. Also, we had the support of our Governor and the Governor’s Association, the Chief School Officers and our Chief School Officer and almost all university professors and teachers we asked to evaluate the standards.
Bottom line, Christel, the Standards are a higher quality than what we have had previously and they have saved our state thousands of dollars, as we did not have to bring the specialists together by ourselves, but were able to share with the rest of the nation in the creation and evaluation of the standards.
I am sorry you see the Standards as the “Elephant in the Room” — because they are a very effective step forward toward a 21st century curriculum for our state and our teachers and students are rising to the level of the new standards very effectively. Even my elementary grandchildren now know how to substitute letters for numbers and solve for the unknown. Interestingly, as a high school junior I was the only one in my small high school that was taking Algebra — and that was only about 40 years ago. Needless to say our standards need to change over time and working together is much more effective than attempting to do it by ourselves.
Let me know if you want to find answers and work to help us move forward. I would like to have you working with us, instead of buying into the right wing rhetoric that you find on the internet.
Previous standards were not unproven; they were time-tested. Common Core is not time tested. ( Did you look at the article I shared about the “dataless decision making” that is Common Core, the link from Seton Hall University?)
Students have NEVER been deprived of classic literature or basic high school math in past sets of standards. They have never been pushed, for example, to write so many “boring” informational essays to the exclusion of narrative writing. They have not been given insurmountable, unreasonable obstacles to hurdle at first grade levels before. They have not been deprived of calculus in high school math before. This is all new. This is all totally unproven. This is so dangerous as we have no idea what the consequences will be, good or bad. We are putting unfounded, undeserved faith in people like noneducator David Coleman who wrote the ELA standards. We are putting all our eggs in a soggy paper basket.
Math: Thousands of Utahns disagree with your assessment of what good math teaching should look like. You are entitled to your opinion, but I can tell you that my son’s friends’ mothers (of children who remained in public school when I took my son out to home school him two years ago) now tell me their children cry and hate school, and ask their mothers (who are not as willing) to please home school them also. This is tragic. And these mothers always say the children’s cries of discontent center on the bad “new” math– which is Common Core math. These are fifth graders.
Money: We took millions from the feds for their ed reforms– which specifically included Common Core and SLDS. Utah took these many millions in exchange for adoption of four federal education reforms. Part of the money, $9.6 million from the feds, built the student-snooping system they wanted, which we now call the Utah State Longitudinal Database System. As part of that SLDS grant, we agreed to PESC common data standards. This agreement is stated on page 4 of section 1 (page 20 on the PDF) of Utah’s 2009 ARRA Data Grant: “The UDA will adhere to standards such as… the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC)…”
“The State Core Model is a common technical reference model for states implementing state longitudinal data systems (SLDS). It was developed by CCSSO as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) adoption work with funding from the Gates Foundation…The State Core Model will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting (EDEN/EDFacts)…”
Those are their words, not mine.
Obama gave governors $53.6 billion from the “State Fiscal Stabilization Fund” contained in the federal stimulus. The money, used in exchange for the adoption of four federal ed reforms, was given conditionally: These reforms are detailed on the US Department of Education’s website. They are:
1.Adopt College-and-Career Ready standards [COMMON CORE] and high-quality, valid and reliable assessments [SAGE/AIR].
2.Develop and use pre-K through post-secondary and career data systems [SLDS].
3.Increase teacher effectiveness and ensure equitable distribution of qualified teachers. [FORCED REDISTRIBUTION]
4.Turn around the lowest-performing schools [ACCORDING TO THE FEDS' DEFINITION, NOT OURS].
How anyone can say with a straight face that the feds aren’t involved with Common Core, is beyond me. They even redefined the term “college and career readiness” as “standards common to a significant number of states” which is only Common Core, on their federal site.
As for right-wing rhetoric or left-wing rhetoric, there’s as much left-wing rhetoric condemning Common Core (tests and standards and student data snooping) as there is right-wing rhetoric, anyway.
Left wing criticism of Common Core/SLDS: Diane Ravitch, Paul Horton, Mass Sen. Ed Markey (D)
Right wing criticism of Common Core/SLDS: Pioneer Institute, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, The Blaze network, Fox News network.
And there are right wingers who praise it –or refuse to condemn it– (notably Jeb Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Gary Herbert) just as there are left-wingers.
Thanks again for talking and listening.
Christel – since you choose to post my responses – I am through trying to help you understand the REAL truth.
I appreciated your openness, which seemed so much more courteous and open-minded than other USOE and USSB representatives have been to the teachers and public who have asked to talk with them about Common Core.
I am sorry that you aren’t comfortable with others reading your responses. I feel people have a right to know what their board representatives really think and what they see as the truth, especially where their children are concerned.
As you know, all state school board correspondence is open to the public via GRAMA legal requests as well.
This post is long. But I cannot “byte” these pieces apart for easier consumption. They have to be seen as a whole.
Thanks for reading –and sharing. Unpaid parents and teachers like me (and there are many of us) –have to report, because the so-called “real” reporters are failing to give us real reports with actual evidence and fact-checkable links about what is going on in education.
Today I’m reporting that the Common Core developers (in corporate and governmental partnerships) and the United Nations’ global education developers (also in corporate and governmental partnerships) are working hand in hand to deliberately take away classical education. Yep. They call it “whole system revolution.”
Actual classic literature and classic math takes up too much time that the globalists desire to use to teach environmental “education.” (Why? It sounds so nutty.)
The reason is both sneaky and evil. The one-world-government believers (U.N., Sir Michael Barber, Bill Gates, and others) want big power and big money, and that comes when they get rid of pesky things like loyalty to a country, local control and local rights, –all easily done when they circumvent the voice of the people by creating public-private partnerships. –Which is exactly how Common Core’s developers have done what they’ve done. (Links and specifics on that, below)
This puts our most basic rights and liberties at risk. If we have no actual representation, no actual say in how education is run, what is to be taught, or whether our children will have to attend these nonrepresentative systems, what do we have?
Let me bring you to some sites to show what I mean.
Did you know that there was a global monitoring report on education put out by the International Bureau of Education at the U.N.?
Did you know that last year, the U.N. launched a “Global Education First Initiative”?
What is the “GLOBAL EDUCATION FIRST INITIATIVE“?
The Global Education First Initiative is the United Nations’ Secretary General’s new program, launched last year. (See http://www.globaleducationfirst.org/ )
It states that it plans to:
1. Put every child in school.
2. Improve the quality of learning.
3. Foster global citizenship.
This might sound nice to some. But think about it.
1. “Put every child in school”? Will this pit the government against some parents? (What if the student’s physical or other circumstances mean he or she should not be in school? What if the U.N.’s definition of school differs from yours or mine? What if the school is a danger to the student?) The word “every” can be tyrannical as easily as it can be compassionate.
2. “Improve the quality of learning” ? Whose definition is meant by “quality” of learning? Newsflash: the UN’s “global” and “sustainable” definition of education is not about classical education, nor is it about teaching time-tested truths.
It’s full of politics in “environmental stewardship” lessons, an environmental focus used as a facade to teach that individual freedoms and individual property rights should be destroyed for the global, collective, environmental “good”. (But again, whose definition of “good”? See globalist/Common Core Implementation Guru, Sir Michael Barber’s international speech where he explains that “ethical underpinnings” of global education are nothing other than an intensely environment-bent focus.) So when they say “quality of learning” they are not talking, for example, about helping more students learn calculus in high school, as you might assume. –In fact, the globalist NCEE has called Algebra II “too much” math for high schools.
They are talking about teaching students to be prepared to sacrifice country loyalty, religious loyalty, and God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of property– anything for the global green collective. The U.N.’s education arm, UNESCO, has endless documents which preach the same doctrine: environmentalism IS the new global education.
This leads us to #3.
3. “Foster Global Citizenship”? As opposed to what– local citizenship, national citizenship? Yep. What global citizenship really means is global law and global punishment. They talk about the obliteration of local and individual liberty. They make the United Nations a governmental god.
Don’t believe this?
Check out Article 29 of the U.N.’s Declaration of Human Rights which states that “rights and freedoms may IN NO CASE be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.”
Please read that out loud.
“RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS MAY IN NO CASE BE EXERCISED contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.”
My question is: What purposes or principles could possibly deserve more weight than human rights and freedoms?
I’ll answer the question for myself: one purpose and principle of the U.N. that the U.N. feels deserves more weight than human rights is “sustainable growth“.
But free agency is more important than the U.N.’s “sustainability” principle. Freedom is a God-given natural right that every person can claim and no person nor government has a right to steal, no matter how pretty their reasoning.
My rights should only end when I aim to destroy the freedoms of others; that’s why we have laws– to protect individual freedoms and rights. Article 29 of the U.N.’s Declaration of Human Rights is perversion.
Because the U.N. believes that it should destroy individual rights when they conflict with the U.N.’s designs, it flat out believes in tyranny. It believes that it knows better than anyone and that it has more authority than anyone.
One of my religious leaders, Elder James Faust, spoke about the United Nations’ “sustainability” phraseology, in a 1994 speech at Brigham Young University entitled, “Trying to Serve the Lord Without Offending the Devil.”
Elder James Faust said:
“Much controversy surrounded a recently concluded United Nations International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo, Egypt. No doubt the conference accomplished much that was worthwhile. But at the very center of the debate was the socially acceptable phrase “sustainable growth.”
This concept is becoming increasingly popular. How cleverly Satan masked his evil designs with that phrase.
Few voices in the developed nations cry out in the wilderness against this coined phrase “sustainable growth.” In Forbes magazine of September this year, a thoughtful editorial asserts that people are an asset, not a liability. It forthrightly declares as preposterous the broadly accepted premise that curbing population growth is essential for economic development. The editorial then states convincingly that “free people don’t ‘exhaust resources.’ They create them” (Forbes, 12 September 1994, p. 25).
… Those who argue for sustainable growth lack vision and faith. The Lord said, “For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare” (D&C 104:17).
That settles the issue for me. It should settle the issue for all of us. The Lord has spoken.”
Elder Faust, a man I recognize as an apostle of Christ, just said that the phrase “sustainable growth” is being used as a tool of Satan to try to curb population growth in the name of economic prosperity, and that those who argue for “sustainable growth” (U.N.) are lacking “vision and faith”.
I say Amen.
Just as I don’t believe in the assumptions of “sustainable growth” nor of the “Global Education First Initiative,” I do not believe in the U.N.’s “Academic Impact” program.
WHAT IS “ACADEMIC IMPACT“?
The United Nations is not content simply to push their version of education on children. They also mean to push it on university students via the initiative called “Academic Impact.”
What is the “Academic Impact”?
The stated purpose is to bring together “universities committed to the goals and values of the United Nations.”
Why should we oppose this?
The United Nations has a stated opposition to individual liberty if it conflicts with U.N. dogma. The United Nations places itself above countries’ and individuals’ freedom.
Why would ANY university or college join the “Academic Impact” movement? Doing so means that the institution agrees with the U.N.’s Declarations, which –I am repeating this because it’s so important– openly states:
Article 29- “rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.”
Please tell your local colleges and universities and schools to RUN from the United Nations’ “purposes and principles”. Don’t JOIN with them, for heaven’s sake.
Now, what does all of this have to do with Common Core?
You won’t see it in the text of the standards but you will find it in the network of individuals and corporations and governments that worked in harmony to develop, fund, market, implement and entrench Common Core’s power grab everywhere.
The Common Core is the globalists’ approved method for making sure students in the U.S. can be tracked and compared, and also that they will not be able to be exceptional, very easily. Everyone must be the same.
See this: http://asiasociety.org/education/learning-world/global-roots-common-core-state-standards for more evidence of the globalists fawning over the United States’ acceptance of Common Core to reach their global goals.
For evidence of this globalist-approval of Common Core, study globalist (and Pearson CEA) Sir Michael Barber who has been praising and pushing and profiting from Common Core and its alignment with globalist goals, all along.
Worldwide, Pearson’s CEA is pushing the idea of partnering governments and corporations (which circumvents voters).
Public-private partnerships (such as Pearson and Microsoft’s partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, via the U.S. Council of Chief State School Officers acting as middleman, is a case like that old song:
“The hipbone’s connected to the thighbone, the thighbone’s connected to the kneebone, the kneebone’s connected to the shinbone…”
These groups that promote Common Core, whether globally or locally, are all partnered and connected with MONEY and not by any vote by the people’s voice:
Pearson is officially partnered with Microsoft. Microsoft’s officially partnered with UNESCO. (UNESCO is the education arm of the U.N.)
The owner of Microsoft and partner of Pearson, Bill Gates, is partnered with, or the creator of, Common Core, having given millions to Common Core’s developers, CCSSO and NGA, and to its paid promoters, the National PTA and Harvard and Fordham Institute and Jeb Bush and many, many others.
“The hipbone’s connected to the thighbone, the thighbone’s connected to the kneebone, the kneebone’s connected to the shinbone…”
Pearson AND Microsoft are corporate partners of the Council of Chief State School Officers. And the Council of Chief State School Officers is officially partnered with the National Governors’ Association and have developed and copyrighted the Common Core together.
The U.S. Department of Education and the Council of Chief State School Officers are officially partnered to collect national Common Core data.
The U.S. Department of Education is financially partnered with SBAC and PARCC test creation and data collection.
No potty breaks. We’re not done.
“The hipbone’s connected to the thighbone, the thighbone’s connected to the kneebone, the kneebone’s connected to the shinbone…”
Pearson’s CEA, Sir Barber, is on the Board of Directors of U.S. Education Delivery Institute. He also has made Pearson the lead implementer of Common Core nationwide. And Pearson’s CEA is a directing force behind Common Core test creation at PARCC. Pearson’s Sir Barber wrote the book “Deliverology” for American educators to help them implement Common Core (like good little globalists.)
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Pearson’s CEA Sir Michael Barber are as mutually fawning as can be. Secretary Duncan quotes Barber and praises his “Deliverology” methods (which are controversial in their ruthless aim to “deliver” without regard for people). See Secretary Duncan’s Vision of Education speech to UNESCO.
And Barber is equally cozy with Duncan. He retweets Duncan’s tweets on Twitter all the time. Think about that. Our U.S. Secretary of Education is holding hands with the head of the largest educational sales company on earth.
“The hipbone’s connected to the thighbone, the thighbone’s connected to the kneebone, the kneebone’s connected to the shinbone…”
And the CEA of the world’s largest educational sales company, (who is cozy with the U.S. Secretary of Education, who, like Duncan, loves and praises Common Core) happens to believe that education reform is a “global phenomenon,” and reform is no longer to be managed by individuals or sovereign countries; education reform has “no more frontiers, no more barriers.”
Pearson’s Sir Barber shows a chart during this summit speech, displayed at 12:06 minutes, which he calls his goal of ”whole system revolution,” pinpointed as the sum of the following addends: systemic innovation + sameness of standards + structure + human capital.
–Whole system revolution? Human capital? What awful word choices, even for a global-control-freak.
Sir Michael Barber admits that he’s after your privacy, too: “We want data about how people are doing. We want every child on the agenda.” (6:05)
Who will control or protect global student data? And what if my desire to maintain my rights to privacy, conflicts with the U.N.’s article 29 “purposes and principles?”
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: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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, unceasingly– Common Core could not stand.
Common Core has no legs –except expensive marketing legs and lies– to stand on.
It has no academic pilot testing, no written amendment process for states to retain local control, no privacy protections for its tests’ data collection processes, no wisdom, no international benchmarking, no chance of improving “global competitiveness,” no heart, no state-led history, no commitment to local control; no hope to develop any real love of learning; no common sense.
What it does have is millions upon millions of dollars gambled on this takeover of American schools as a “uniform customer base” and many more millions spent on marketing its unsupportable talking points.
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.
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: email@example.com
Here is the state superintendent’s address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is the governor’s education counselor’s address: email@example.com
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
DR. TERRENCE MOORE
This week “Grassroots Radio Colorado” hosted two lively, informative Common Core debates. The podcasts are available by clicking here.
Hour one features History Professor Terrence Moore of Hillsdale College (opposed to Common Core) versus former school board member Laura Boggs (pro Common Core).
Highlights from hour one:
At minute 10:45 Laura Moore gives a 7-minute pro-Common Core intro. She explains why she thinks that it is good to have national education standards, comparing educational standards to car wheels. She speaks about the “states coming together” as if they did so.
She says that she is opposed to the federal government having much say in education, which really confuses me. I don’t comprehend how she can sit on that fence, but she apparently believes that Colorado’s Common Core was created largely by Colorado teachers, rather than the CCSSO and NGA. This, even though the CCSSO/NGA declares, right on the copyright page, that it is the sole developer of the standards, and even though the CCSSO declares, on its official website, that it is partnered with the federal Department of Education.
At minute 17:50 Dr. Terrence Moore gives a 7-minute anti-Common Core intro.
He talks about the reduction of literary texts, and discusses the lexile framework of the Common Core creators that makes huge errors, such as placing Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” on a 3rd grade reading level; he discusses the Appendix B recommendations of Common Core that crowds out classics and religious writers and Ben Franklin, with the Common Core’s preference for modern authors and informational text.
Here’s a great moment: at minute 36:00 the question is asked: “Are Common Core standards actually field tested?”
Laura Boggs says that they are “absolutely tested.” (She does not say where or how or by whom they were supposedly tested.)
Dr. Terrence Moore answers the same question: he says that the Common Core standards were absolutely not field tested.
At minute 42:00 Dr. Terrence Moore explains why we should reject Common Core outright. He also mentions learning more about this in his book, “Storykillers.”
He asks when the last time was, that we heard Secretary Arne Duncan or a school board member quote Shakespeare. He makes the point that one of the biggest problems we have in education is that “the people who are in charge do not love education.”
LAURA BOGGS (FORMER SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER)
TEACHER ANTHONY CODY
Hour two features California teacher Anthony Cody (opposed to Common Core) versus Fordham Institute member Michael Brickman (pro Common Core).
Hour two also includes Common Core validation committee member Dr. Sandra Stotsky and The American Principles Project’s Jane Robbins.
DR. SANDRA STOTSKY
If you scour the official Common Core websites, ed.gov website, and the official speeches of Secretary Duncan and President Obama and the Pearson CEA on education, as many of us have done, you may at first knit your eyebrows in confusion.
It all sounds sweet.
How would education reforms that use such pleasant words ever be taking away my constitutional rights? Did the reformers really aim in completely opposite directions from their peachy words in arrangements and mandates and deprivations written elsewhere, in contracts and speeches and grant documents and regulatory changes on the same subject, written by the same groups of people?
Yes, they did.
Government and CCSSO/NGA sites come across as harmless, toothless, and positive, making it nearly impossible to interest the masses in fighting education reforms even though they are hurting our children and our country’s future. It’s even harder to change the direction of state school board members, governors and business people who also see nothing wrong with implementation of Common Core.
Why don’t they see the shackles?
It’s all about the language.
Daniel Greenfield at the Sultan Knish Blog has shed light on the deception. He illuminates the differences between the “new speak” envisioned by “1984″ author George Orwell, and the actual “new speak” deceiving people in 2013.
Below are highlights from Greenfield’s explanation.
Read his full article here.
“Orwell’s mistake in 1984 was assuming that a totalitarian socialist state would maintain the rigid linguistic conventions of bureaucratic totalitarianism…. Liberal Newspeak is the hybrid product of advertising, academia and bureaucracy. It takes ideas from creative leftists, rinses them in conformity, uses techniques from the ad world to make them as safe as possible and then shoves them down everyone’s throat.
[In Orwell's "1984"] Newspeak’s objective was to enforce linguistic schizophrenia… making opposition into a form of madness. Liberal Newspeak’s is less ambitious. It settles for muddling your brain.
Like modern advertising, its goal is to make you feel comfortable without actually telling you anything.
Liberal Newspeak is the chirpy announcer in a drug commercial soothingly telling you about all the fatal side effects while on screen couples have romantic picnics and go whitewater rafting.
That is the job of most of the news media… to be that announcer telling you that… your taxes will go up, your job will go to China and you will die, without getting you upset about the terrible news.
The dictionary of Liberal Newspeak is full of empty and meaningless words. Community, Care, Access, Sharing, Concern, Affordability, Options, Communication, Listening, Engage, Innovating and a thousand others like it are wedged into sentences. Entire pages can be written almost entirely in these words without a single note of meaning intruding on the proceedings.
… The techniques of advertising have been used to pluck up words that people once felt comfortable with and wrap them around the agendas…
Liberal Newspeak is concerned with making people safe while telling them absolutely nothing. It’s a new language that conveys reassurance rather than meaning. Its totem words are almost pre-verbal in that they mean nothing except “You are safe” and “We are taking care of you.”
That is what gibberish like, “We are improving access options for all community interest groups” or “We are striving to innovate while listening to everyone’s concerns” means. Daily life has become filled with meaningless pats on the head like that, which dedicated liberal newspeakers spew up like newborns. This empty babble says nothing. It’s the hum of the beehive. The signal that keeps all the drones headed in the same direction.
… It owes less of its perversity to Marxism than it does to Madison Avenue. The language that was used to convince millions to buy junk that was bad for them or that they didn’t need is used to convince them to buy liberalism.
While the implications of Liberal Newspeak are ominous, its tones aren’t. It deliberately embraces the feminine side of language. It strives to be comforting, nurturing and soothing. It never tells you anything directly. Instead it makes you read everything between the lines. It rarely answers questions. Instead its answers indirectly explain to you why you shouldn’t even be asking the questions.
… Its terminology is so vague that specific questions require a convoluted assemblage of words … There is no room for thoughts, only feelings. You can feel guilty in Liberal Newspeak. You can be outraged, self-righteous or concerned. But you can’t weigh one idea against another because it isn’t a language of ideas. It’s a vocabulary of emotional cues that could just as easily be taught to a smart animal.
… what they are really doing is maintaining conformity in the same way that the Soviet and Red Chinese engineers constantly discussing Lenin and Mao as inspirations for their work…Liberal Newspeak is full of terms about listening, engaging and sharing, but it’s a closed loop.
It’s language as a command and control mechanism for establishing conformity… It’s an unbroken loop of reassuring gibberish punctuated by bursts of anger at outsiders who are not part of the hive and don’t understand how important community access and engaged listening really are.
… It has emotions, but no ideas. Its purpose is to take an individualistic culture… and reduce it to a conformity that promises safety in exchange for never thinking again.”
COMMON CORE (AKA VOLDEMORT)
If you want to see one example of Greenfield’s idea applied to Common Core, simply look at the word Common Core.
It is the phrase that is most often unspoken. Like Voldemort.
In Utah, they call Common Core the “Utah Core”. In other states it has other names.
On the federal website, it is magically defined without even using the term at all!
“College and Career Ready Standards” are defined there as standards common to a significant number of states.
So any time –ANY TIME– you hear the phrase “college and career ready” you are being talked at, about Common Core.
But you don’t know that, or most people don’t.
You think it could be anybody’s legitimate definition of what makes a student prepared for a great career or a great college. Right? Nope. It means a mediocre standard that may or may not mean a student even studied as high as what used to be a normal course of high school math. (Just ask the NCEE or Jason Zimba.)
It’s all about the language.
The only way to fight manipulation of words and of truth is with its opposite: clear, direct, truthful language.
Thank you, Daniel Greenfield.
Here’s another teacher who is standing up and speaking out, saying exactly why she does not like Common Core for her students.
She recently took a large pay cut to transfer from a public school to an independent, Common-Core-less private school.
She speaks out here about what seven year olds really need and how Common Core hurts them, in this 7-minute video.
A letter is posted At The Chalkface. The powerful letter to seventh grade students comes from teacher Meg Norris who explains why she left teaching to fight Common Core.
Here’s just a small piece of it:
“To My Students,
I did not return to the classroom this year and I want to apologize… I want you to know none of this is your fault. It is not you… Your brain was designed perfectly. Common Core standards were not… Common Core is the first time in the history of this country that a privately written and copyrighted plan has become public policy. There is no research to back it and it has never been tested. Politicians are pushing it because these corporations are giving them money to push it. When I left, I met with members of your Board of Education and told them what was happening. They ignored me. I went to the local newspaper and they ignored me too. When I spoke to the state Senate education committee they dismissed me as a political nut job…”
The whole letter is a tearjerker. Please read it and share it.
Here are 82 comments written by teachers who commented after this week’s National Education Association (NEA) promo article about Common Core. The article is here.
The teachers call the Common Core, and the NEA’s phony poll (that said that teachers love it) and the NEA’s shameless promotion of it, rubbish.
82 Responses to “10 Things You Should Know About the Common Core”
David R Mawson says:
October 19, 2013 at 6:36 pm
I am an NEA member and building delegate for my urban high school and I do no support the Common Core. But I am more upset that the NEA is enabling corporate special interests to not only drive but shape public policy. This is the responsibility of local education boards working in concert with taxpayers and parents. Those are the people to whom public school teachers should be responsible.
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October 19, 2013 at 6:53 pm
NEA gets my dues, but it does NOT represent me when it comes to CC. Where is the link to the actual survey that you repeatedly claim shows that 75% of us support CC? How much tainted money has the NEA accepted from the Gates Foundation? Common Core is developmentally inappropriate and is intractably connected to the over testing of our children. I suggest you dedicate the next issue of NEAToday to the rebuttals against CC. You will not need to look hard for contributors. #badassteacherA
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October 20, 2013 at 2:09 pm
I cannot believe that this is happening. I cannot believe that the unions that are supposed to be supporting us are telling lies. I am an AFT member. Guess what? I was never polled about the Common Core. I do not know a teacher who supports it. Our big worry has become how to choose the right “data driven” goals so that we look like we are improving. We certainly do not want to choose a goal or a subset of students that might be too challenging–we will be evaluated on it! People who have never taught are making the rules. BIG MONEY has bought out are unions. Where are we to turn?
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October 20, 2013 at 2:34 pm
I am a member of NEA/TSTA, and I strongly oppose common core. I feel as if NEA has betrayed us. Under no circumstances should NEA be accepting money from any group with an agenda that is anti-teacher and pro TFA..
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Jamie Bowsher says:
October 20, 2013 at 2:34 pm
I am a card carrying dues paying member of NEA and I disagree wholeheartedly with this article. I especially take issue with #3. My special education students are not benefiting from CCSS. Their alternate assessments are based on grade level standards that they are not even close to achieving! ( Hence, the need for them to have IEPs!) I have a student who has severe CP, is blind, cannot walk, talk, feed herself, or use a toilet, who was expected to identify carbon dioxide as a compound on her AA! This is educational malpractice! IEPs are INDIVIDUAL, not COMMON! This way of thinking is a disservice to my students, and is making them feel even more anxious about school! Add to this that 50% of my evaluation is based on my student test scores! The CCSS was not designed for this purpose, yet that is how they are being utilized! It is maddening that my union supports this!
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Sharyle Burwell says:
October 20, 2013 at 2:47 pm
Most Teachers??? How many did you survey? Were the questions leading questions? I have been an NEA member for 30+ years and no one bothered to ask my opinion! What about the ramifications of CC based testing? Please tell ME how I feel about that! I am VERY DISAPPOINTED in an organization that seems to have sold out its members!
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October 20, 2013 at 2:48 pm
I am an NEA member and it sickens me that this organization is supporting the Common Core. Are there elements that could be useful? Yes. Will the standards be implemented in a way that fully utilizes those elements? Nope. We’re already seeing it in NY in the way that materials are being created, lessons are being scripted, and the ridiculous amounts of money spent on these tests/test prep, etc. Shame on the NEA!!
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Melissa Smearer says:
October 20, 2013 at 3:03 pm
1. I am an NEA member that does NOT support the Common core!
2. the standards are dictating how we teach. There are programs such as EngageNY that have been designed so that teachers all have to teach the same thing on the same day, regardless of the learning levels of their students. then the students are being tested on this material.
3. The standards are not designed to help all students. what about the student that has the creativity to pursue art? Music? there is no more room for these interests with these standards. Creativity should not be standardized.
4. I have not seen anyone refer to there being literature in the standards. I have only been informed of informational texts being included.
5. School climate and interdisciplinary planning would be better to create cross curricular learning.
6. these assessments are doing nothing but adding to the stress and despair of our students and teachers.
7. Implementation should not be a work in progress. these standards and their implementation should have been thoroughly planned and tested before subjecting our students to this process.
8. Teacher leadership is essential. many teachers are leading the charge against the implementation of these standards. NEA should listen to them.
9. Parents are key partners. they need to be informed about exactly what these standards are doing to their children. those parents that are already taking a stand against it need to be listened to.
10. I don’t trust resources that are designed to help us with the implementation of the Common Core when the corporate players of educational reform are being exposed as people that have no interest in our students except as future profit for themselves.
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October 20, 2013 at 3:10 pm
Is this The Onion?
I’m an NEA member and was never asked about the common core. In fact, I have yet to meet any NEA member who agrees with or supports common core. Actually I haven’t heard a single teacher to date voive approval of common core. Where is NEA getting their info and who are they interviewing. A lot of us dues paying members would love to know.
Designed to help all students? Hmm. Well I guess that’s true since reformers ignore childten with special needs, ELL’s and children in high poverty areas.
I cannot believe that the NEA has sold out the very people who they say they represent. Time to cancel my membership.
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Melissa Smearer says:
October 20, 2013 at 3:11 pm
Point by point rebuttal..1. I am an NEA member that does NOT support the Common core!
2. the standards are dictating how we teach. There are programs such as EngageNY that have been designed so that teachers all have to teach the same thing on the same day, regardless of the learning levels of their students. then the students are being tested on this material.
3. The standards are not designed to help all students. what about the student that has the creativity to pursue art? Music? there is no more room for these interests with these standards. Creativity should not be standardized.
4. I have not seen anyone refer to there being literature in the standards. I have only been informed of informational texts being included.
5. School climate and interdisciplinary planning would be better to create cross curricular learning.
6. these assessments are doing nothing but adding to the stress and despair of our students and teachers.
7. Implementation should not be a work in progress. these standards and their implementation should have been thoroughly planned and tested before subjecting our students to this process.
8. Teacher leadership is essential. many teachers are leading the charge against the implementation of these standards. NEA should listen to them.
9. Parents are key partners. they need to be informed about exactly what these standards are doing to their children. those parents that are already taking a stand against it need to be listened to.
10. I don’t trust resources that are designed to help us with the implementation of the Common Core when the corporate players of educational reform are being exposed as people that have no interest in our students except as future profit for themselves
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Vincent Gutierrez says:
October 20, 2013 at 3:12 pm
I am also an NEA member and don’t recall ever being invited to participate in any sort of survey or poll about Common Core. I am also an ELD teacher, and I can guarantee you that Common Core does not benefit my students. They will, once again, be tested for their knowledge in a language they can barely speak, read, and write. I will not be allowed to translate or answer any questions unless I want to compromise the validity of the test. They will be classified, labeled, and ultimately demoralized when they get their results. And I will once again spend the rest of the year trying to motivate them and encouraging their growth, which is never truly measured. No, Common Core and the supplemental materials (adapted versions of the original text with less words, bigger font, huge pictures, highlighted vocabulary, and “kid-friendly” speak) is not going to benefit them because they will still be tested with the same readings and judged with the same “rigor”.
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Judith Strollo says:
October 20, 2013 at 3:21 pm
I have been a member of the NEA for 36 years and feel I have been sold out by the recent embrace of the Common Core. The standards do not take into consideration neurological readiness of young children and are totally age inappropriate for the younger grades. The movement also leaves special needs children out of the mix.. IEP’s are being pushed aside even though they are the legal documents. I would venture to guess, that in the future, there will be class action suits as school districts are in violation of IDEA.
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James DeYoung says:
October 20, 2013 at 3:37 pm
I am another NEA member who is disappointed in and angry with our leadership. I do not support the CCSS. The new standards force developmentally inappropriate content to early grades, continue the problem of the mile wide inch deep math curriculum, are resulting in even more testing, and so many other problems. These standards are being pushed down or throats by special interests who stand to make millions. They are supported by many whose real aim in school reform is to devise ways to make public schools look bad to continue the privatization that is under way.
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Tracy Pryor says:
October 20, 2013 at 3:44 pm
I am an NEA member, have been for 23 years. This article is OUTRAGEOUS!
“But schools are forging ahead with the initiative—even as it faces opponents who are determined to mislabel the effort as everything from “Obamacore” to a “national curriculum.” The Common Core is a set of voluntary K–12 standards in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. The White House did not create the initiative, nor is it leading it. The standards were developed by governors and state school officials, with input from a wide range of educators, content experts, national organizations (including NEA), and community groups.”
—I CAN NOT BELIEVE THAT NEA IS STATING THIS!!!
How much $$$$$$$ did Gates give NEA to write this garbage???
I DO NOT support the CC$$. I know many teachers, and none of them support the CC$$. Can you please publish the entire survey you are referencing so that we can all see the questions and number of members who answered each question.
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John Hallowitz says:
October 20, 2013 at 3:47 pm
One of the most damning things I can say about Kommon Kore is: I am a teacher with twenty five years experience in secondary school and nobody asked me or any of my colleagues. One of the best things I can say about Common Corpse is it did do away with CST. Yeah!! So NEA where are the comments supporting this article and the common core. I could’t find any. That’s a very silent 75%. Put it another way, anything that 25% of teachers damn has got to be questionable at best.
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Sarah Ross says:
October 20, 2013 at 3:57 pm
Strange I am a NEA member and I’ve never been polled on my feelings regarding CCSS. In fact I have not met any teachers who have been asked their feelings. I suspect that they are actively seeking the few rare teachers who agree with CCSS to take these polls. Not a single teacher in my building are pro CCSS. In fact I live in Alaska and our state has not adopted CCSS because our teachers are so heartily against it. Here the teachers form committees to form our standards. Imagine that, teachers dictating what students should be learning. It makes for a much less stressful career and a much better educational system for students to be in. Being in special education I am particularly against the third point of this article. If we were in CCSS my students would be expected to know things there is no way they would be able to learn right now. I work with intensive students. Neither can read or write or speak. One has just learned to walk independently the other has just learned the alphabet. I consider learning those skills, while basic for other students, to be huge successes for these students. (Hence the need for IEPs) If they were to be tested at grade level as the alternative assessments in CCSS are, they would fail miserably. I strive to set my students up for success, not to fail. The fact that evaluations of teachers are tied to the students’ test scores, CCSS becomes dangerous for teachers. CCSS may have been good in concept, but it is being used for a purpose it was not designed and the implementation was not properly planned out. It is a sad day when NEA no longer is supporting the voices of our teacher, its members.
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Liz Brown says:
October 20, 2013 at 5:27 pm
I am a teacher with 33 years experience, and I do support the CCSS. I didn’t respond to any NEA question either, but in all honesty I don’t know for sure that I was ever asked as I don’t usually take the time to read the emails nor snail mail that arrives. I teach in Washington, and we’ve had rigorous state standards for more than a decade. It has lead us to having the highest SAT scores in the nation in recent years. I’m glad to know that kids are have little to no chance in being placed in a classroom/school that simply babysits day in and day out.
The CCSS as a curriculum is a set of skills kids should be able to do at each grade level. How and when they are taught is left up to districts/schools/teachers. If as a teacher, you feel your hands are tied, blame your administration, not the Common Core.
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Margaret Bandy says:
October 20, 2013 at 6:23 pm
I am an NEA member and would be interested in seeing the poll that says 75% of members support CC. I do not believe that 75% of NEA member teachers support CC. While some of the high school standards are acceptable, the new PARCC test and the millions that will be spent on these standardized tests are not in any way acceptable. NEA should be supporting teachers in their desire to provide an education that will raise the next generation of artists, civic leaders and scientists. Instead, you are supporting the people who want to destroy public schools as they turn students into adults who can take a standardized test but do not have a well rounded education that includes more than the basics of math and English.
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Eileen McElroy says:
October 20, 2013 at 6:38 pm
I am a special education teacher for 25 years and I feel our unions and leadership sold us out. CC standards do not allow for differentiation so that ALL students may learn. They do not consider developmental readiness. I am saddened and horrified to watch pre-teens “check -out” day by day. I pray that this all implodes on itself as it should, since there will be no financing for these initiatives in a few years.
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Brenda Schaefer says:
October 20, 2013 at 6:52 pm
I am an NEA member and a member of BATs (Badass Teacher’s Association). Teachers have never been asked if they support Common Core so reporting that most do is irresponsible at best because no actual survey has been done.
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Janis Swanson says:
October 20, 2013 at 7:11 pm
Sorry NEA, I do not like where you are headed with supporting CCSS. When I see EXXON advertisements endorsing the Common Core I start to ask “why” and find exactly what I was suspecting that big business is pulling the strings on education. A little education is a dangerous thing.
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Claudia Swisher says:
October 20, 2013 at 8:43 pm
And, remind me again…How much money DID Bill Gates ‘invest’ in NEA? You should be supporting teachers, not the Billionaire Boys’ Club efforts to own public education.
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Marla Kilfoyle says:
October 20, 2013 at 9:14 pm
NEA may know 10 things that teachers say about Common Corpse. I know one thing that 30,500 BATs are saying about this! We say no more to Common Core! Stop pushing this and get on board to support your teachers. Give Gates his money back!
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Juan Rivera says:
October 20, 2013 at 9:21 pm
If there are going to be national standards educators need to be central to that process and it needs to be democratic process. You need to step back from this pile of foo. Parents in NY are waking up to this nonsense.
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Michael Ringle says:
October 20, 2013 at 10:40 pm
NEA member here, I don’t support the Common Core. Where’d you get these numbers? Strongly reconsidering my membership given the fact that my state NEA president in Michigan speaks up for the Common Core all the time. Time for a change!
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Shannon Smith says:
October 21, 2013 at 1:03 am
Most teachers do not support Common Core. Start listening to your members.
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October 21, 2013 at 11:24 am
Are you reading the comments to this one article??? Where are the teachers who you SAY support CC$$?? NEA had better wake up and listen to what their members are saying or they will have few members left! Teachers DO NOT support the CC$$ so stop drinking Bill Gate’s intoxicating kool aid! Once you take $ from Gates, you become part of the ed reform problem. NEA has sold out for $, how much $ will you lose as membership shrinks. If we can not cunt on NEA to fight for teachers then why join?? I have been a member for 35 years and this is the first time I would tell new teachers to walk away from NEA!
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Brenda Guy says:
October 21, 2013 at 6:30 pm
I am a member of ISTA and NEA. Where did the statement that “most NEA members support common core” come from? If you ask the teachers I know, I don’t believe that would be the answer. I am a union supporter and want to continue to be a union supporter, but I’m not sure this proves to me that the NEA is in tune with its members! ^0^ BATS are watching … (30,000+)
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Julie Smith says:
October 21, 2013 at 8:56 pm
I know of NO ONE who was polled anywhere about this. We don’t need more goofy standards. If you compare the number of days our students attend school in the USA versus SIngapore or Taiwan or many other countries it shakes out thus: USA : around 180 school days per year. Taiwan: 280 days per year (they are in school Monday – Saturday, 7:00am – 4:00pm). SIngapore: 278 days per year and so on. Keep in mind that not all children attend school in many of these societies/ countries either. It is only for those whose parents can afford school. Our students have the advantage of a great deal more PLAY time. Play is VERY valuable. Hence the great creativity of our country.
This spin that our schools are failing is rubbish and I too am so sorry our union has sold us out.
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October 21, 2013 at 11:07 pm
You do not represent me any more if you truly believe what you say. YOU ARE SHAMEFUL. I am sure you will find someway to spin the comments of your members to be a “small but vocal group”. That gets old. WE ARE HERE AND WE ARE ANGRY. YOU LIE NEA. Stop it.
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Mike Hastings says:
October 22, 2013 at 12:31 am
NEA President Van Roekel warns “Common Core …. if it is implemented correctly.” In my 38 years of teaching I have NEVER seen public policies,such as PL 94-142, the Rehab Act, ESEA (No Child Left Behind), “correctly implemented”. These grand designs have ALWAYS disappointed all of their stakeholders. State and local policy makers and administrators always fight against the noble ideals of these policies. Noble ideals take an enormous and sustained effort to reach an effective threshold. Public School administrators and school boards guide their decisions by the mantra “When is my next contract or when is the next election.” This short sighted, small minded, self-serving thinking has been and continues to thwart, the correct implementation of worthy policy directions.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is dealing with teachers outraged for similar reasons. Here is an open letter written this week by Chicago high school history teacher Paul Horton, to AFT leadership.
(I am continually amazed at the number of education reforms that both Democratic and Republican teachers are rising to oppose. There are a few things we may not agree upon, but the vast majority of Obama and Arne Duncan’s education reforms are reprehensible to both sides of the political aisle.)
I had a lot of respect for AFT and Al Shanker even when I worked in a right-to-work-state, Texas. But things are changing now for many AFT members. Many of us believe that we are beyond the stage of tactical battles and diplomacy.
Many teachers are concerned with the amount of money that we have taken from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and why we haven’t taken Race to the Top (RttT) and the big foundations head-on. Mr. Duncan’s policies are clearly shaped by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundations (Gates, Walton, Joyce, Broad) are clearly doing everything they can to bust teacher unions and are working with Democrats and Republicans to do so. To be viable without foundation support we need an insurgent organization that combines the efforts of parent groups, United Opt Out, anti-Common Core movements, AFT, and NEA.
Very much like the biracial Populists of the early 1890s, we should not support any candidates who support any element of RttT (the Common Core Curriculum, Value-added teacher assessments, more support for private charters, PARCC or Smarter Balanced standardized assessments, and data mining and sharing of student and family information).
Here in Illinois, for example, we all need to support an insurgent candidate for governor who, unlike Rauner (Mr. Emanuel’s millionaire developer Republican buddy) and Quinn who signed RttT and protects the Pearson Education crony state ed superintendent Chris Koch, who will stand for local control, democratically elected school boards, an end to funding for private charters, respect and support for neighborhood schools, and who will not fund any form of standardized testing not developed and graded by Illinois teachers. This candidate must be prepared to reject Gates, Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) Wall Street bundled, and other foundation money, support higher taxation on the wealthy, and hire more qualified teachers for school wrap around services.
Many of us in Chicago want much stronger and vocal support for CTU, support for teacher pensions. We need the state and national AFT to be much more vocal and to tell the truth. We have to fight power with power.
I personally will be looking for our state representative to go after Mr. Duncan and all elements of RttT on Thursday night at the Forum on the Common Core Curriculum sponsored by David Axelrod’s Center for the Study of American Politics at the University of Chicago.
We have a war in Chicago and the Obama administration has shown nothing but hostility for teachers. The President’s former chief of staff, our current mayor, who bundles the Wall Street bucks of DFER and picked Arne to do their bidding deserves our unqualified public opposition. You can not make nice with this administration or the Gates, Walton, Broad, or Joyce foundations and enjoy support among many in the rank and file. We need to know whose side you are on.
University High School
The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools
Utah Mother of seven Alisa Ellis, with recently retired teacher Margaret Wilkin, spoke out in favor of rejecting Common Core in Utah, at a debate in Cedar City this month. Iron County Superintendent Shannon Dulaney and John Meisner spoke for the promotion side of Common Core.
A key moment in this debate came at minute 25:50, when Alisa Ellis said:
“Proponents of Common Core often find themselves perplexed by the information being disseminated by opponents of Common Core. That’s because we’re continually having different conversations. The proponents speak only of the standards themselves. The opponents are speaking of a much larger reform package. The standards are being sold as the “gold standard” in education but they’ve never been tried anywhere. They’re actually the “fool’s gold standards”. We’re taking these on faith.”
Margaret Wilkin, the recently retired teacher, then spoke in opposition to the tight scheduling, excessive testing and burdensome top-down oversight that affect teacher autonomy under Common Core and said, “the pressure on teachers… is intense and many teachers say that they just can’t do it anymore.”
She mentioned four “talented, wonderful teachers” she knows personally who are retiring early because of the pressure.
She said, “Yes, [teachers] are teaching to the test.”
She also said that she was opposed to having children’s report cards aligned with the national Common Core standard.
By Christy Hooley, Wyoming Teacher (Reposted with permission)
In the course of a year and a half, I have found myself thrown into the midst of what is one of our nation’s greatest grassroots movements. I could have NEVER imagined those short 18 months ago, what my life currently entails, that my love of being in the classroom, the thrill of watching my students grow and learn, building relationships with them, and my colleagues, would have been replaced: Replaced by my desire to help restore, educate, and fix what has long been a broken education system.
Broken….wow, I still can’t believe I am saying that. After all, that has been my goal since I graduated from high school. To be a teacher. I LOVED going to public school. I look up to many of my teachers and colleagues. Mr. Hoyt (who taught for 40+ years in the same position) – was the first teacher to start me on the path of loving music and the clarinet, which ultimately opened up many possibilities in higher education for me over the years. Eric Stemle and Maryanne Bocquin, for instilling a love of the English Language and Literature.
What has caused this deep reflection…
It’s realizing that my passion for education is still alive and well, it has just taken on a new face!
I was recently interviewed by Joy Pullman, and during the interview I described what started me on the path I’m currently on. (Joy Pullmann is a research fellow of The Heartland Institute and managing editor of School Reform News, a national monthly publication. Pullmann has been published in the New York Times, Washington Examiner, The Weekly Standard, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, National Review Online, Real Clear Policy, and various other U.S. newspapers and outlets. She is the author of Heartland’s Policy Document, The Common Core: A Poor Choice for States.)
I highly recommend you read this and encourage others that are looking to find out more on the subject. You can download the full document on their site here, as well as other documents, videos, PowerPoints, and testimonies concerning Common Core.
Joy asked if I was willing to share my experience, as a public school teacher being trained to use Common Core State Standards, and how it lead me to take the position I currently do, against it. I also share my experience with teacher evaluations during the interview.
You can listen to the full interview here: Podcast with Joy Pullman
Part of the interview discusses my experience with the new McREL’s Teacher Evaluation System that the state of Wyoming has adopted.
It assess a teacher’s performance as it relates to the Professional Teaching Standards. These Professional Teaching Standards are the basis for teacher preparation, teacher evaluation, and professional development. Each standard includes the skills and knowledge needed for, what the creators deem, is needed for 21st century teaching and learning.
Here is what is stated on their training materials introductory page:
A NEW VISION OF TEACHING
The different demands on 21st century education dictates new roles for teachers in their classrooms an schools. These new roles reflect a deeper understanding about the content knowledge, skills, competencies, and outcomes that define a successful student in the 21st century. Teachers must understand what comprises a 21st century education and how their practice must reflect the demands of the education in order to realize a new vision of teaching.
These are the standards:
1: Teachers Demonstrate Leadership
2: Teachers Establish a Respectful Environment for a diverse population of students
3. Teachers Know the Content They Teach
4. Teachers Facilitate Learning for Their Students
5. Teachers Reflect on their practice
The standards are broken down with very detailed information for each individual standard. Teachers are rated as either: Developing, Proficient, Accomplished, Distinguished.
I found it extremely concerning at my end of the year evaluation, that my administrator chose not to give me a distinguished verses accomplished rating on the sub section of standard 4:
Standard 4 Section f states “Teachers help students work in teams and develop leadership qualities. Teachers teach the importance of cooperation an collaboration. They organize learning teams in order to help students define roles, strengthen social ties, improve communication and collaborative skills, interact with people from different cultures and backgrounds, and develop leadership qualities.”
My administrator mentioned she felt I needed to attend a particular training about collaborative teams she felt strongly about, before I could be marked higher. We debated it back and forth a bit, but of course it was her ultimate choice where to rate me.
My concern after reflecting on this process, is that this is truly about control, control of how and even what a teacher teaches. What if future circumstances required a higher rating to keep my job, position, or status. I would need to take the training my administrator suggested, even if it was against my personal philosophy as a teacher.
The fact that my administrator can come into my classroom a handful of times, if I’m lucky, and gain a TRUE and ACCURATE understand of my teaching is ludicrous. The majority of the teachers I speak with roll their eyes and just “jump through the hoops”. Test scores being tied into this is something that should wake teachers up!
Recently, I have been encouraged to see a new movement among teachers, rightly named as BATS – The Badass Teacher’s Association. They have a HUGE following on their facebook group of nearly 30,000 members. Their mission and goals are:
MISSION: Badass …Teachers Association was created to give voice to every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality through education. BAT members refuse to accept assessments, tests and evaluations created and imposed by corporate driven entities that have contempt for authentic teaching and learning.
GOALS: BATs aim to reduce or eliminate the use of high stakes testing, increase teacher autonomy in the classroom and work to include teacher and family voices in legislative decision-making processes that affect students.
MEMBERS CAN BE BANNED FOR: Supporting corporate deform entities (TFA, StudentsFirst, Pearson, Bill Gates, etc.); supporting Common Core State Standards; excessive arguing or disrespecting decisions made by the mods/admins/founders, making comments that conflict with the mission of BAT. We oppose the Common Core State Standards.
Some feel it is offensive or unprofessional to use the word “badass” and are uncomfortable with its use. We disagree. As Dr. Naison says: “We’ve had enough. We are not your doormats. We are not your punching bags. We are some of the hardest working, most idealistic people in this country and we are not going to take it anymore. We are going to stand up for ourselves, and stand up for our students even if no organization really supports us. We are Badass. We are legion. And we will force the nation to hear our voice!”
I may not be teaching in public school (I’m starting a private school/homeschool support academy), but they are near and dear to my heart and I’m proud to say I’m part of their movment…even the BADA$$ part, as they put it…
Jenni White, co-founder of ROPE (Restore Oklahoma Public Education) did a wonderful write up concerning this information. She states it perfectly when she asks,
“TEACHER EFFECTIVENESS or CONFORMITY?”
I have been truly blessed to have met some of the most intelligent, hard working, caring, passionate, American loving, patriotic people in this movement! Some of them call themselves “JUST MOMS” as Jenni White so eloquently writes about. These are superwomen that call themselves Mom, but are also Common Core Warriors!
I want to give a special Wyoming Shout OUT to those whom I have had the pleasure to meet and thank them for leading this movement and supporting me!
Michelle Sabrosky and Lisa Glauner – Wyoming Freedom In Education and Stop CC in WY
Amy Edmonds and Susan Gore – Wyoming Liberty Group
Rep. Tom Reeder
Rep. Kendell Kroeker
Kelly Simone – Stop CC in WY
Erin Giving – Stop CC in WY
Judy Helmick – Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core
Shane Vander Hart and James – Truth In American Education
Bill and Karen Lee
Sean and Kris Sherwin
Natalie Clyde – Home School Warrior and awesome sister
Glenn J. Kimber Academy National
Kyle Olsen – EAGnews.org
Matt Kibbe, Whitney Neal, Caitlyn Korb, Kristina Ribali, Heather Williamson – FreedomWorks
Dr. Sandra Stotsky – CC Validation Committee and University of Arkansas
Joy Pullmann – Heartland Institute
Senator Mike Lee (Utah)
Christel Swasey, Renee Braddy, Alisa Ellis – What is Common Core
Glenn Beck (though it was just a quick hand shake at a book signing, he told me to “stay strong and keep fighting”)
Mom and Dad – I LOVE you!
Bill Hooley – my greatest support and love of my life!
Thank you, Christy Hooley, for standing up and speaking out. (More writing and filmed discussions by Christy Hooley can be found at Wyoming Against the Common Core and at FreedomWorks.)
Diana McKay is a currently teaching, Utah public school teacher who wrote this poem, “I Became a Teacher– Why?” and the essay “Saturday Musings” below, and also the statement on Common Core below that.
She said, “This poem sums up what it is that we want for our educated children and why I went into education –and why I never would in today’s climate. It is frightening to look at how political maneuvering can have a subversive intent that is not immediately apparent”.
I Became a Teacher. Why?
I became a teacher
to lead children along the journey of learning
so they might journey to where the love of learning leads.
I became a teacher
to introduce children to the world of awesome art
so they might create art to awe the world.
I became a teacher
to ensure children recognize and cherish nature’s gifts
so they might ensure nature’s gifts are preserved to cherish.
I became a teacher to encourage children to dream so they might find encouraging dreams to follow.
I became a teacher to open children’s minds to all that is possible so they might put their open minds to making the impossible, possible.
I became a teacher to show children how to find peace in the world around them
so they might bring peace to the world.
I became a teacher to inspire these future citizens of our country to have a vision
so they might envision a greater future for our country.
I became a teacher to model putting one’s efforts toward that which is greater than one’s self
so that my students might find the greatness within themselves.
This why I can no longer be a teacher. I can no longer do what I went
into teaching to do.
by Diana McKay
A Letter to my mother-who believed I could have been more.
I just called you, wanting you to tell me that it is acceptable, no, justifiable, to still be in my pajamas at almost noon, escaping in novels, or just musing, thereby avoiding the endless and monumental pile of test papers waiting to be scored. I wanted you to tell me, that after almost forty years of nights, weekends, spent on lesson plans, on time consuming preparations and collections for science experiments or social studies lessons, on wasted hours providing so called “instructional feedback” that I deserve a break. I needed you to tell me that I am entitled to enjoy a Saturday. You didn’t answer. But, you would have scolded me again reminding me that I was magna cum laude, Phi Beta
Kappa, for hell’s sake, I could have been a doctor, lawyer, chief executive officer and I’d
retort, “They make only money, I make a difference.”
I often wonder was a “difference” worth it?
Then, once in a decade, a letter arrives at the school address, with “please forward to” in front of my name. No need to “forward to” me, I’m still here. The letter opens with, “You may not remember me, but I was in your 2nd grade class in 1988 and I became a teacher because of the way you taught,” or “ I just wanted to thank you for making me believe in myself,” and a flood of emotion washes over me. Is it joy in knowing I did indeed make a little difference or is it relief that my life was not totally wasted in hours of test grading? But, then it hits me with astounding clarity. It is not the lessons, the science experiments, the hours spent writing “constructive” feedback on papers or comments on report cards that make a difference. It is the moments spent in “real” time, the “teachable” moment, guiding students toward something far more vital and ephemeral. It is the discovery that we are only here in this world, this universe, to learn and grow into whomever we are meant or choose to be, and we’re here for such a short time.
So in these last hours of a lifetime career, I will wave a white flag and surrender the minutia of unnecessary skill “kill” drills.
I’ll surrender soul-sucking data delirium, and follow my 1969 musings about my future in education. I’ll embrace this quote by John Holt as I did in those youthful years when choosing to become a teacher.
“Children do poorly in school because they’re bored with the meaningless work . . . scared of being punished or humiliated . . . In essence I’d realized, from observing and teaching, that school is a place where children learn to be stupid!” – John Holt
Holt explains why in these last ten years I am shockingly aware of the seeming decline of intellect. In the effort to “train” students to perform better in world competition for the right answers on tests, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 has failed to raise test scores, failed to lower drop out rates, failed to increase literacy rates and failed to increase rates of college graduation. It has only been successful in “failure”. Failure is the theme, the torch, the stick, and the misnomer given to the public schools. Feed on failure, focus on failure, hold failure foremost, and what you get is failure. Is it the schools or the teachers’ failure or is it a failure of leadership?
It is a fact, as the proportion of children in poverty rises, the scores for US schools drop. In November 2012 the U.S. Census Bureau reported more than 16% of the U.S. population lived in poverty, including 22% of all people under age 18, approximately 13 million children. The number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty is approaching 1960s levels that led to the national War on Poverty. The war on poverty has been replaced with a war on public education scapegoating teachers who devote their
lives to educating our youth, despite the rhetoric.
Maybe next year will be my last.
I’ll be a casualty of that war, but, before I go I may just finally teach children “to fish” so that they will always be able to satisfy their hunger for information. Maybe I’ll create “seekers of knowledge” and guide them in their self selected quests to quench their curiosity. I will promote passion. I will not police production, or sort students by standardized scores, and waste gifted minds with endless mind numbing repetition so that “no child is left behind”. Next year, I will not bow to the tyranny of parent terrorists whose agenda is to destroy at least one teacher each year to appease their guilt over not really wanting to participate in educating their own child. I will not become dispirited by legislators abusing their political right to blame educators for their own failure in economic policy to reduce poverty. I will not surrender to the district dictates to demonstrate mastery of core skills under the NCLB Act which demoralizes both the student and me, with the threat of being doomed to failure if we don’t continually collect data as mandated, and to master the skills on the testing timeline. I think next year I will actually choose to “fail” to do what I am accused of failing to do and instead I’ll make a difference. But first, I’ll have to quit musing and get busy. I still have all those tests to score.
Statement by Diana McKay on Common Core:
My position is that the Common Core Standards left to teachers to teach is not the problem.
The problem is multifaceted. The data addiction and dictates derived from research using easily measured variables in schools impacted from poverty and applied to all settings is causing no child to be “left ahead”.
Overzealous testing of easily measured objectives using multiple choice answers and the omission of any untestable processes that are essential, reduces education to training. The arts are therefore being lost, but it might be worse if the arts were to be tested.
Scapegoating teachers and reducing them to robots who follow scripted lessons “with fidelity” that are designed by publishing companies has killed the professionalism of talented teachers. Publishing companies are profiting most from the Common Core– one set of texts fit all–no updates needed. Profiteers selling data system management has caused spread sheets to become more important than the content of instruction.
The grading of schools is a precursor to justifying voucher systems to line the pockets of richly connected individuals who can tap the taxpayers for private school buildings, etc. that aren’t needed, and which contribute to a caste system as children are prevented from mixing with ethnically or economically different peers.
This is my position. Politicians and corporations have no business in education and school districts
should not use taxpayers’ money to support the goals of business.
Thank you, Diana McKay.
Robert Scott is the former Texas Commissioner of Education and the man responsible for the heroic “No Thanks” that Texas gave to Common Core, back when virtually every other state was swallowing that pill for a shot at the Race to the Top millions.
This week, Pioneer Institute has published a white paper by Robert Scott that explains why preserving the local control guaranteed in our U.S. Constitution demands stopping funding for Common Core. It is called “A Republic of Republics: How Common Core Undermines State and Local Autonomy over K-12 Education“.
Its summary states:
“… the United States has witnessed a sweeping effort to dramatically alter how educational systems are governed and standards and curricula are developed. … the federal government has succeeded in fundamentally altering the relationships between Washington and the states… participating states have ceded their autonomy to design and oversee the implementation of their own standards and tests. The implications of ceding this autonomy are varied. Not only do some states risk sacrificing high quality standards for national standards that may be less rigorous, all states are sacrificing their ability to inform what students learn…”
That last line is the hardest punch in the gut to any of us, from Common Core: “All states are sacrificing their ability to inform what students learn.”
We may see great damages from Common Core’s confusing math, limitation of classic literature, discouraged cursive, or creation of a monopoly on thought throughout the textbook publishing industry. And yes, all these things are bad.
But the real and incomparable tragedy is the loss of control, and the twin fact that those who have lost it refuse to admit it’s gone.
This is why Robert Scott’s paper is so important. It helps expose the lie that the general public has been led to believe. That lie is everywhere; just look around you. All over countless official school board websites in various states who have fallen victim to Common Core, you see the same thing: a claim that local control remains in place, under Common Core.
But as Robert Scott explains, Common Core is a control grab by the federal government partnering with private groups, circumventing We, The People:
“… my original response to the effort was one of “wait and see.” If something truly remarkable came out of such a process, it would be foolish for Texas not to incorporate it into our curriculum frameworks. Unfortunately, that was not the offer. Once we were told that states had to adopt the so-called Common Core State Standards in English and math with only a marginal opportunity for differentiation, it was clear that this was not about collaboration among the states. It was about control by the federal government and a few national organizations who believe they will be the ones to operate this new machinery.”
I have to comment. Those “few national organizations” that Mr. Scott referred to include two big-boys’ clubs that I can not stomach: the National Governors’ Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) . Its members are not elected by the public, and they’re under no sunshine laws for accountability or transparency to taxpayers.
They work under the radar. The un-transparent and private groups have no authority to be setting state or national educational standards, yet they do it anyway. They are even the basis upon which Arne Duncan labels Common Core a “state-led” movement.
These groups happen to include many (but not all) governors and superintendents. These groups form the backbone of Common Core governance and exclude all states from any amendment process to the shared standards. These groups solely developed and copyrighted the standards –by their own claim. And they were funded, by the multi-millions by Bill Gates, another influence we can’t un-elect. These groups represent a big part of the problem: public-private-partnerships (P3) totally circumvent local authority and voter’s voices. And they run contrary to the spirit of Constitutional respect for local control. Who voted them in? Nobody. Yet they birthed Common Core which has almost entirely taken over American schooling and testing.
This “new” governance system is a direction we have to turn around from or risk losing all local autonomy.
Robert Scott writes: “…if we continue down the current path to national education standards and tests, the United States stands to lose that which makes our education system unique among nations: our long tradition of state and local autonomy. It is important to remember that American schools were established in towns and cities by parents and community members who saw the value of formal education. This organic approach ultimately led to a system of compulsory education overseen by each state, but until now, the tradition of local schooling has largely been maintained. American public schools are governed by local school boards and committees comprised of parents and community members. Even at the state level, citizens with an understanding of local norms and interests drive decision-making processes around standards and curricula. These facts beg the question: If we nationalize standards and testing in this country, what is the real impact of the likely loss of state and local autonomy and input?”
Please read the rest.
At a filmed “Understanding Common Core” forum in Oklahoma a week ago, a passionate elementary school teacher spoke up. This is what she said.
(She speaks just after minute 50:08 to 52:00.)
“My name is Olivia Goodwin and I’m a first grade classroom teacher. You have used the phrase ‘if Common Core is implemented’ . We’ve been implementing it in our classrooms for almost two years…. so it’s not a question of if. It’s already happening.
“We’re spending our own time and money doing a lot of professional development on how to incorporate it into our classrooms because there is no state funding or professional development, or it’s really vague.
“With that being said: you’ve said that Common Core is going to be raising the bar and increasing the rigor. From my first grade standards in math, nothing has become more rigorous. The standards are exactly the same as what the past was. They’ve just taken some away.
“I’m no longer teaching my first graders about money. They don’t get any money skills in kindergarten. They no longer get money skills in first grade. They don’t get any money skills until second grade. Calendar skills are gone. Fractions are gone. Patterning is gone. That’s all moved up to a higher grade. So how is Common Core more rigorous when in my personal experience with my first grade math standards, nothing has become more rigorous? They’ve just taken stuff away.”
In response, one of the forum leaders waffles for awhile: “I can speak to what I’ve read so far… They are focused on making sure students learn… to build on knowledge over time… I’m not a teacher so I don’t know all the terminology, but it is an attempt to raise standards.”
The elementary teacher then repeats, “But how is that bar being raised if it’s taking away a portion of standards that we previously taught, but it’s not being made more rigorous?”
Then the forum speaker then says, “I don’t have an answer to your specific issue… I think it would be an issue that– what does your principal say?”
The teacher says, “We don’t have a choice. We have to teach common core.”
Some teachers, like this Oklahoma teacher and many others, say the standards are not at all rigorous. Other teachers say they are much, much too rigorous. It depends on the grade level taught, the subjects taught, and the level of Common Core exposure. So, what’s to be done?
One more story.
A very close friend of mine teaches fifth grade Common Core. She says that she isn’t so sure about liking the math, but she does like the Common Core English Language Arts.
I say, “Even if you loved both ELA and math today, what happens when the unelected D.C. groups that wrote and copyrighted the standards change them next year to something you really hate? The heart of this issue isn’t the standards themselves. It’s a battle for control of who gets to set them and who’s writing the tests and books for them.”
Come on, America. We can do better than to marry the concept of standardization and give up our constitutional responsibility to drive education locally.
We can shake this thing off our shoulders if many keep gathering courage and speaking up.
Yay! Click on the link for the text/t.v. clip, showing students, teachers and parents who rallied at the Utah State Office of Education today to protest Common Core.
When Carie Valentine, a mother against Common Core, secured the proper permit yesterday to have a peaceful demonstration against Common Core this coming Friday, she also called the Salt Lake Police to let them know about the event.
The officer on the other end of the line told her that he was thrilled that Utahns are not backing down and asked her to continue the fight, saying that he spoke for many in his office.
So, this Friday, outside the State School Board’s monthly, all-day meeting, Utah teachers, parents and citizens will demonstrate against Common Core. The peaceful demonstration has been organized for many reasons.
1. Normally, the public may only speak at USSB meetings if a request is made ahead of time, and only two minutes are given per person, with a firm limit on numbers allowed to speak.
2. There is a long history with most of the members of this board, that demonstrates a refusal do adequate research about the experiment called Common Core or to acknowledge that there are terrible, sobering academic flaws, and even unconstitutional flaws, in the new agenda. The board tends to use talking points rather than evidence or references, such as pilot studies, references to laws, or empirical data, to make their parroted claims that the Common Core system is legitimate. Many citizens feel that this atmosphere of no debate is an anti-intellectual, un-American stance.
3. There are numerous, serious concerns about the 518-page agenda to be addressed in the meeting, (including a tax-funded propaganda campaign to push common core acceptance on schools, media and parents).
4. The board did not provide a thorough public and media vetting of the transformative changes to our children’s educational experience prior to implementation; and Common Core cannot be amended without Utah asking permission from unelected D.C. groups who copyrighted the standards Utah uses. Local control has thus been opted away by the board.
5. There appears to be no escape now for parents who object to Common Core’s tests (for many reasons, including behavioral assessments mandated by HB 15). Why? SB 175 mandates that any child who opts out of Common Core testing will be labeled “non-proficient” and the child’s teacher is forced by the state to give the child a bad grade and the school will be punished. It reads: “A teacher shall consider students’ summative adaptive assessments in determining students’ academic grades for the appropriate courses and students’ advancement to the next grade level… Students not tested due to parent request shall receive a non-proficient score which shall be used in school accountability calculations.” Opting out of tests, standards or attendance quotas should be a parental decision, God-given. As long as we are a free country, the state should take a back seat to parental conscience. But most of the education reforms happening in Utah display a disregard for parental (or teachers’) conscience and agency.
Many who would stand up and protest can not do so; they have to be at jobs at 8:30 on a Friday morning; or they are children, who don’t have a voice to articulate their displeasure with the Common Core situtation; or they are principals, staff and teachers whose jobs depend on them appearing to agree with Common Core’s implementation in Utah.
Keeping that in mind, if you can make it, please come. Know that you likely represent thousands who cannot join us Friday.
Utah State Office of Education
250 East 500 South
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84114
When: beginning 8:30 a.m. this Friday, August 2.
Who: All are welcome.
From Carie Valentine, event organizer:
“…[W]hen I found out about Common Core I was upset and even angry that our state would make such radical and damaging changes to our education system. Since that time, many good parents just like you have worked tirelessly to get the word out about Common Core. Parents are not being educated by our own state school board and so we have had to educate ourselves.
The rally at the capitol was amazing. The [many hundreds of] people that showed up to voice their opposition was inspiring. I would like to continue that momentum and demonstrate in front of the state education offices. Their last meeting before the traditional school schedule begins is this Friday, Aug 2. Please join me to send them a message that we are in this for the long haul.
I have secured the proper permit for a demonstration this Friday at the State School Board Offices in Salt Lake City. This is considered a spontaneous demonstration.
…I have also called the SLC police dept. and they know we are coming and the officer I spoke with was thrilled we aren’t backing down. He asked us to continue the fight and said he spoke for many in his office.
If you have access to a bigger bank of people, please pass the word along. These are our children, our tax dollars, and our schools. You have my permission to give out my email address to others who want to come. Please try and make time. We are all busy but this is important.
This is a chance to let them know we are not going away. If you are coming, plan on attending the public comment period from 8-8:30 and the picketing will be from 8:30am-9:30am. Please make your own sign and if you have an button wear that. Here are the “rules”.
We can’t block the sidewalk or the entrance to the building. We can’t (shouldn’t) swear or yell through bull horns. We can hold signs and chant something clever about “no common core”. We can’t prevent movement of pedestrians on the sidewalk. Please email me your confirmation so I can have an idea of how many of us there will be.
If you would like to speak to the board directly the public comment period will be from 8-8:30.
You must sign up in advance. I tried attending and signing up at the meeting and they took the sign up away before I could put my name on it.
To sign up to speak at the board meeting in advance, contact Board Secretary Lorraine Austin at (801) 538-7517.
To picket outside, there is no need to sign up in advance, but if you want to give us a head count, email Carie Valentine at firstname.lastname@example.org
Utahn Laureen Simper, a former school teacher, gave the following speech at the State Capitol last week to an audience of 500-600 people, including dozens of legislators as well as teachers, parents, students, and other citizens concerned about Common Core. She has given permission to publish it here.
I am a former school teacher, I currently teach privately, and as a mother, I battled Common Core in the 90′s under its former name: outcome-based education. There are a number of red flags I have seen as I have studied and learned about Common Core.
When parents can’t get anything more concrete from a teacher than to call Common Core standards “more rigorous,” this is a red flag.
When teachers are afraid to speak against the Common Core standards for fear of losing their jobs, this is a red flag.
When university students studying in the education department are told that their professors don’t know what to teach them to qualify them as certified teachers because of Common Core, this is a red flag.
When teachers skulkingly hand a parent a text book to help their child at home, as if that text book is contraband, this is a red flag.
When the federal government is spending the money of taxpayers who have not yet been born to fund the untested Common Core and bribe states to receive waivers for No Child Left Behind or money from Race to the Top, this is a red flag.
When educrats advocate funneling a child into an educational system that will determine what that child will grow up to be for the good of a global job market, which undermines the true self-determination that has been a prized value of liberty since this country’s beginnings, THIS IS A RED FLAG!
When someone wants to run for the Utah State Board of Education fills out an application and one of the first questions is, “Do you support the Common Core”, essentially eliminating him for consideration if he answers “NO”, this is a red flag.
That is a succinct fact that is absolutely appalling.
There is good news across the country about states taking a closer look, pulling out, and defunding Common Core – exhibiting true leadership on this issue, rather than sheep-like group think.
I ask Utah legislators to put Utah on that list.
Hooray, Hooray! Today, the Deseret News published my op-ed. Here’s the link and the text:
Utah state delegates officially disapproved Common Core when they passed the anti-common core resolution this year by a 65 percent vote.
Was that not enough for our state school board and governor?
Gov. Gary Herbert continues to promote the Common Core-dependent Prosperity 2020 initiative. And the state school board continues to label teachers and others who long to reclaim local control and who want legitimate, non-experimental education standards, “the misinformed.”
The fact is, we are not misinformed; we know what Common Core is, and we reject it.
The board won’t even respond to requests for specifics about what we’re so misinformed about.
Now, despite the Utah anti-common core resolution passing; despite the examples of Michigan, Indiana and other states passing time-out bills against Common Core implementation; despite Obama’s recent announcement that he plans to tax Americans to pay for Common Core technologies in his ConnectEd Initiative; still, Utah’s school board has not softened its rigorous-praise-of-Common-Core talking points and is moving it forward as if nothing is wrong.
In fact, the board markets Common Core as being beyond debate; it’s so minimalistic, so consensually adopted, so protective of privacy rights and so academically legitimate (none of which is true) that it is too big to fail and is beyond any future need for amendments (which is indeed fortunate for them, since there is no Common Core amendment process).
Something is truly amiss when experienced Utah teachers with credentials, like me, are perpetually rejected for requests to the state school board to discuss the pros and cons of Common Core. The board doesn’t want a two-sided discussion.
The board is silent on these simple questions:
Where is a shred of evidence to support the claim that Common Core improves education?
Where are any studies showing that the reduction of literary study improves college readiness?
Where is some evidence that slowing the age at which students learn math algorithms improves college readiness?
Where is any amendment process for Utah’s math and English standards, under the copyrighted Common Core?
How can one opt out of the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) tracking and the Common Core tests?
Where is the legal — constitutional — authority for people outside our state to set our local standards and to create and monitor our tests?
Why does Utah stand by while Obama announces that he will redesign schools and tax all Americans to pay for it, without Utah putting up a fight?
Why is there a spiral of silence culture now, that demands everyone pretend to agree; where is freedom of expression and freedom of speech in the common agenda, now that teachers and principals don’t speak out for fear of losing their jobs?
How on earth can anyone call Common Core “state-led” when unelected boards that operate behind closed doors, that are not accountable to the public, developed and copyrighted the standards, bypassing voters and the vast majority of teachers and legislators?
Where is the line-item cost analysis of taxpayers’ money being spent on Common Core technologies, teacher training and texts?
When will state leadership address Common Core’s specific damages with the people who elected these leaders to serve us, rather than bowing to every federal whim?
Will the board and governor ever stand up to the Department of Education’s tsunami of assaults on liberties?
Will they continue to fight against local teachers and citizens who rightfully demand local liberty and who rightfully ask for proven, non-experimental, amendable standards — following the example set by the national and world-leading education system in Massachusetts, prior to Common Core?
Truth in American Education also published the article. This one’s actually a later draft, and is a bit better, with links to references. http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/were-not-misinformed-we-know-what-common-core-is-and-we-reject-it/
Shine light on Common Core
By Donna Colorio
As I see it, our country is going through a major educational transformation and I ask myself, “Where are the parents?”
In 2010, a D.C.-based nonprofit called Achieve, under the guidance of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, created what is now known as the “Common Core” standards. It appears that the goal is to create standardized learning throughout our country.
I hope this makes you ask yourself, “What is the Common Core?”
In my opinion, the lack of transparency is disturbing. In May 2008, The Gates Foundation started funding the promotion of the Common Core standards. In December 2008, the National Governors Association, Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve released their report “Benchmarking for Success.”
The first draft of the Common Core grade level standards was released to states in November 2009. The first public draft followed, on March 10, 2010. By that time, 40 states had already applied for Race to the Top phase-one grant funding.
If the new and largely untested Common Core standards were not adopted by a state by Aug. 1, 2010, the state would lose crucial points in Round 2.
Massachusetts applied for Race to the Top funds by the Jan. 19, 2010, round one deadline. Our Department of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the Common Core state standards that July, with a goal to be fully implemented in 2013-14.
Just like that, essentially brand new curricular standards had re-oriented 17 years of curricular development and MCAS alignment, which had evolved in Massachusetts since passage of the Education Reform Act of 1993.
Now is it clear: Parents, elected representatives, school committee members and teachers appear to have been largely bypassed in the initial process of adopting the Common Core state standards.
Educational policy is too important to be decided this way. It ignores the very heart of the democratic process, and the value of thoughtful, deliberative, inclusive planning. As parents, we should be very concerned.
As a parent and School Committee member, I believe many questions still need to be answered:
How much local control of education do we lose to a nationalized-educational curriculum? Have the Common Core standards been piloted to show they work? Are the present Massachusetts educational standards (using the MCAS as a benchmark) better or at least equal to the Common Core? How much will this new standard cost the Massachusetts taxpayers (estimates are over $15 billion)? What kind of tests will be required as a result of the implementation of the Common Core? How are our disadvantaged or higher achieving students affected by this change in standards? What will the impact be on our teachers?
There is a secondary impact of the Race to the Top money. In 2012, there was a change in federal educational privacy law. According to the Massachusetts Department of Education website ( http://www.doe.mass.edu) a significant share of the Race to the Top money awarded to Massachusetts mandate enhanced data collection activities about our students. As parents, we should ask ourselves, “What type of questions are our students being asked? How much of this student data will be shared with the federal or state government? Do we want this data collected or shared?”
I have long believed that education is a state and local responsibility. As a member of the Worcester School Committee, I believe it is my job to ensure that our students are being taught to the highest academic standards and that curriculum is developed or chosen by our state and/or local authority.
Parents have the right to know what is happening with their child’s education. It seems that Common Core is yet another reform being pushed through too quickly with too many potential costs and lifelong learning consequences (remember Whole Language?).
Neither parents nor educators had a truly effective opportunity to study the standards, to enable them to exercise an informed and persuasive voice in the process or decision, prior to their adoption. Some Catholic and other private schools are also implementing the Common Core. As parents, we need to understand what we gain or lose with this decision.
A forum titled “Can Common Core Standards Make Massachusetts Students Competitive?” will take place at the Worcester Public Library, 3 Salem St., in Worcester from 6:30 to 9 p.m. next Tuesday, May 28. It is free and open to the public. The forum features English Language Arts curriculum author Sandra Stotsky and cost and accountability expert Ted Rebarber.
I encourage Massachusetts’ parents, members of school committees, state representatives and teachers to attend this one-time forum. Don’t be left in the dark.
Donna Colorio is an educator at Quinsigamond Community College and serves on the Worcester School Committee. She can be reached at email@example.com.
This op ed was published at Telegram.com and is republished with permission from Donna Colorio. http://www.telegram.com/article/20130522/NEWS/105229940/0/SEARCH&Template=printart
The forum mentioned in the article was filmed and viewable online.
Weingarten Wants Me to Want the Common Core State Standards.
This Louisiana teacher, Mercedes Schneider, has darned good aim. In this post, she explains why the AFT teachers’ union has Common Core wrong.
“I have not met American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten in person, but from what I have read about her, I have learned that she has chosen to “play to the middle”– to appear to support both traditional public school teachers and corporate reform at the same time. And now, Weingarten has positioned herself to appear to stand against Common Core via her ‘moratorium” while simultaneously standing with it…
… This AFT study is lousy research. Weingarten could have just dropped the insulting, shoddy “research,” cut to the chase, and said, “Bill and I have already decided to endorse CCSS. Forget the moratorium.
Teachers never asked for this federally-imposed curriculum in the first place.”
Read the rest: http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/weingarten-wants-me-to-want-the-common-core-state-standards/
Brave New Schools
Guest post by California English teacher Cherie Zaslawsky
The much touted Common Core Standards (CCS) Initiative that is being pushed as a silver bullet to improve our schools is not simply the latest fad in education: CCS is actually an unprecedented program that would radically alter our entire K-12 educational system, affecting content (i.e. curriculum), delivery (largely via computer), testing (also via computer), teacher evaluations (connected to test scores), as well as creating an intrusive database of sensitive information from student “assessments.” This program, for all the protestations to the contrary, represents the nationalization of education in America, extinguishing any semblance of local control. Furthermore, it was essentially developed at the behest of billionaire Bill Gates, who also funded it to the tune of some $150 million, and who clearly thinks he knows what’s best for everybody else’s children. (His own are safely ensconced in private schools).
California adopted the Common Core Standards (CCS) Initiative on August 2, 2010, only two months after the standards were released. Nor has this multi-billion dollar program ever been piloted anywhere! It’s a nationwide experiment—with our children as the subjects. Nor was CCS ever internationally benchmarked. In California, as in most states, there was no time to devote to studying the intricacies of the program, vetting it, or introducing it to the public. Instead, Race to the Top money was dangled in front of state legislatures, and 45 states sprang for it, but 16 of these states at last count are already seeking to withdraw from the program.
Parents need to understand the implications of the Common Core Standards. These standards, which amount to a national curriculum via bundled tests, texts and teacher evaluations, would severely degrade our local schools. How? By lowering the standards of high-performing schools to make them “equal” with low-performing schools, in a misguided attempt to reach what its proponents call “equity” or “fairness” by mandating the lowest common denominator for all schools. True, this would close the muchballyhooed “achievement gap”—but only by dumbing down the education of the best and brightest to better match that of the unmotivated and/or less academically gifted.
The idea that all students should perform identically sounds eerily like something out of Mao’s China. What happened to our relishing of individual talents and uniqueness? Would we lower the standards for the best athletes to put them on a par with mediocre athletes to close the “performance gap” in, say, high school football?
How do a few of the experts view this program? Dr. James Milgrim of Stanford University, the only mathematician on the Common Core validation team, refused to sign off on the math standards because he discovered that by the end of 8th grade, CCS will leave our students two years behind in math compared to those in high-performing countries. And according to Dr. Sandra Stotsky, the respected expert who developed the Massachusetts standards, widely regarded as the best in the nation, “Common Core’s ‘college readiness’ standards for ELA are chiefly empty skill sets and cannot lead to even a meaningful high school diploma. Only a literature-rich curriculum can. College readiness has always depended on the complexity of the literary texts teachers teach and a coherent literature curriculum.”
As English teacher Christel Swasey notes: “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.” Instead, students will swim in the murky waters of relativism where all things are equal and no moral compass exists. We should not be surprised if they are also encouraged to view history along the lines of multiculturalism, “social equity,” and the Communitarian glorification of the collectivist “global village.”
Consider how drastically literature is being marginalized (30%) in favor of “informational” texts (70%) in the 12th grade, with a maximum of only 50% literature ever, throughout middle and high school English classes. The switch to a steady diet of “informational” texts virtually ensures that students won’t be learning to think critically or to write probing, analytical essays, let alone to develop the love of reading and appreciation for the literary masterpieces of Western culture. Put in practical terms, it means that instead of reading Hamlet, Great Expectations and Pride and Prejudice, your child will be reading computer manuals and tracts on “climate change,” “environmental justice,” and the virtues of recycling.
And the price of mediocrity? In California, implementation cost is estimated at $2.1 billion, with $1.4 billion as upfront costs—mainly for computers (every child needs one—along with special apps—could that be one reason Bill Gates poured a cool $150 million into this program? Perhaps giving new meaning to the word “philanthropist”…) along with training teachers to navigate the complicated new programs. Even though it’s been proven—as if we needed proof—that children learn better from real live teachers than from staring at LCD screens.
In addition, tests and “assessments” will be taken on computers—resulting in the harvesting of personal data that amounts to a dossier on every child, including choice tidbits about Mommy and Daddy. And what is to stop the powers-that-be from using these assessments and test results to “re-educate” “politically incorrect” students who show too much independence?
Clearly Common Core is a disaster in the making. So what can we do? The simplest solution is to insist that our school boards turn down the carrot of federal funding and reject Common Core in order to preserve the integrity of our local schools through local control and to continue to allow our teachers to use their creativity in the classroom. The price of compliance with Common Core, however tempting monetarily speaking, is just too high— the mortgaging of our children’s future.
Thanks to Cherie Zaslawsky for permission to publish her essay here.
Common Core presentation- this week in Orem, Utah.
“There is much more involved here, than just a list of standards… if all the facts were known,
it would be more than obvious that the legislature would make the move to abandon Common Core.”
- Recently retired Utah Teacher Margaret Wilkin
Margaret Wilkin has given permission to post her letter to the Utah legislature. She retired last year from Canyons District.
May 4, 2013
Senator Aaron Osmond
South Jordan, Utah 84095
… On March 21, 2013, I was asked to return to the elementary school from which I retired last June, to give a presentation at their Literacy Night. Some of the parents and students I taught in the past came down to the room where I was to say hello. In the course of the conversation, a mother of one of the smartest and most conscientious students I have ever had, said that her daughter was struggling in math.
I was surprised, but told her mother that teachers are required to teach to a rigid schedule and must move on to the next unit of study, even if the students don’t understand it.
Sticking to the schedule is more important than spending the time making sure everyone understands.
I knew as a teacher what I didn’t like about Common Core, as well as what had taken place leading up to it, but I didn’t have any concrete facts; therefore, I couldn’t give the parents any verifiable information other than my own story. I have spent the last five weeks researching and learning about Common Core. There are so many facets to Common Core, and I still don’t know everything, but I know much more than I did five weeks ago and enough to know that even without my own experience, I could not support it.
This morning I saw the e-mail from Diana Suddreth, the STEM Coordinator at the USOE, asking the Curriculum Director in each school district in Utah to solicit “success stories” from teachers using Common Core standards. She has further stated in her e-mail that she has seen marvelous and exciting things happening in classrooms since the implementation of Common Core. She stated that these “success stories” are needed to counteract the “vicious attacks” by those opposed to Common Core.
Aaron, are you aware that you and Senator Weiler are named by Diana Suddreth as the only two legislators to contact with the Common Core “success stories”? Am I to understand that you and Senator Weiler are therefore supportive of the Common Core Standards for the State of Utah? If you are, I find this confusing since you have spoken so often of the important principle of local and State control of education. Common Core takes away local and State control, and puts the control into the hands of the Federal Government.
My response to Diana Suddreth is:
1. Utah has always had standards which teachers were required to follow. 2. It is not a matter of “voila” Common Core is here and at long last, wonderful things are happening in classrooms! Exciting and wonderful things happen in classrooms because of the teacher’s own hard work and creativity along with the freedom to decide how to best teach the standards that make for success in the classroom, NOT because a list of Federally mandated Common Core standards. 3. Tax payers asking legitimate questions of elected officials and those employed at the USOE, and having the expectation of them to have studied the issues more carefully than the people asking the questions “is not too much to ask”. Asking questions is not a “vicious attack”. This is the future of our children’s education at stake as well as millions of taxpayer dollars.
Here is my unsolicited “success” story about Common Core:
Please note that I am speaking only to what is happening in the Canyons School District and at the elementary level. And I am speaking out because I am retired. Those teachers in the school system are afraid of losing their jobs if they speak out against Common Core and against the policies of the District.
The teachers have been given a rigid schedule which MUST be followed. In the morning, there is to be three hours of reading and language arts followed in the afternoon by two hours of math. P.E. and computer time has been shortened from 45 minutes to 30 minutes once a week. That leaves 15 minutes of time each day for one of the following: music, art, science and social studies.
The teachers are monitored regularly by the principal, reading specialist and district personnel to make sure they are following the schedule.
Last year, when I was still teaching, the math portion of Common Core was put into place with the District’s purchase of the Pearson-Scott Foresman math series. As of last year, the “curriculum map” or math schedule did not match the organization of the book. So every night, I had to hunt, using many sources, for what I was to teach the next day in order to follow the curriculum map. This is still the case as of this year.
We were to teach certain concepts during specified blocks of time and sometimes these concepts had no relationship to each other. After the specified blocks of time are completed, the students are tested in the computer lab, mainly so that the district can make sure the teachers are following the schedule. Even if the students do not understand the concepts being taught, the teacher must move on to the next block in order to follow the mandated schedule.
This removes the teacher’s ability to teach according to the needs of her/his particular class. One of the basic tenants of teaching is: monitor and then adjust to the needs of your students. The schedule as required by the District makes this very difficult to do.
We skim over the surface of many concepts. If you have seen any of the ridiculous examples of teaching two-digit multiplication and addition that people have posted on Facebook, yes, I have taught this because it is on the test.
I was in the classroom through the time leading up to the implementation of Common Core, as math was being “dumbed down” and during the time when we were told not to teach multiplication facts, two and three digit multiplication and long division to fourth graders. How could any respectable teacher not teach this? This is not the case at the present time (times tables and long division and two and three digit multiplication are again being taught); however, the time allotted to teach these concepts is not long enough for many kids to grasp the idea.
My ability to be an effective math teacher was GREATLY diminished by having to follow the Common Core standards.
For this current school year, Canyons District purchased the Pearson reading series, “Reading Street” to match up with Common Core. (A perfectly good reading series which was not worn out was discarded. Why couldn’t this discarded series just have been supplemented with additional materials instead of wasting taxpayer money on new books?)
Reading and language arts, as in math, requires strict adherence to the schedule with regular monitoring by the principal, reading specialist and district personnel.
The students have 8 math and 6 reading computerized tests as well as three oral reading tests administered by the district. The upper grades have an additional test called MAZE. This does not count the end of the year testing in the computer lab. After the results are back the teacher is called into the principal’s office, along with the reading specialist, to account for the scores.
These tests are in addition to the regular weekly spelling, reading and math tests from the book publisher and teacher for the report card grades.
Speaking of report cards, we were told last year that the District was going to have workshops for parents so that they could understand the new report card which was going to be aligned with the Common Core standards. Wouldn’t the necessity of needing a workshop to teach parents how to interpret an elementary school report card, tell the District that this was a bad idea?
The lower performing students have just plain given up with this constant testing and will not even try any more. Teachers report that some of their students’ scores are actually getting worse. And again, teachers are called into the principal’s office to be grilled about what the teacher is going to do to bring up the scores, so that EVERY student is meeting the required benchmarks, when they are already doing everything they can to teach the material. Apparently, a child’s developmental readiness or ability is not taken in to consideration.
Is the child’s or teacher’s value only a test score?
The pressure on the teachers from the administration is INTENSE and many teachers say all they can do is teach to the test.
A second grade teacher recounted that she didn’t even dare have her class color a shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day because of the constant micromanaging by the administration and coloring a shamrock is not on the schedule.
Many teachers are saying they just can’t do this anymore. The joy and creativity of teaching in elementary school has been taken away by Common Core and the excessive testing. Kids and teachers both are burning out. Is this really what we want for our children?
Because of Common Core our freedom is being lost even down to the lowest level: the classroom.
There are MANY reasons to oppose Common Core. Here are just a few:
1. Data and assessment driven. 2. Adopted by the State School Board by accepting stimulus money and agreeing to the Common core standards before they had even been written. 3. Family rights to privacy, as spelled out in FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), have been essentially amended making computer testing a major tool in gathering information about students that should remain private. This is known as Data Mining. 4. Adopting these standards takes decision making out of State and local school boards and districts, but, even more importantly, out of the hands of teachers and parents. 5. The State Legislature was bypassed by not being included in the decision of whether or not to adopt Common Core.
There are so many layers to Common Core. There is much more involved here, than just a list of standards. My experience is just one part, but an important part. Frankly, it seems to me that if all the facts were known, it would be more than obvious that the legislature would make the move to abandon Common Core.
I am not against Common Core because I have been around for SO long that I don’t want change, but because I can see the harm it is doing to my profession and to students. The freedom of the parents, teachers, school districts and states to choose what is best for them has been taken away and will be controlled by the Federal government.
May I recommend to you a video presentation explaining Common Core that has been posted on You Tube. It is one of the best presentations I have seen. If you type in Google “You Tube Subversive Threat to Education”, you should be able to find it. It is a current talk given to a group in Tennessee.
Thank you again for all the hours of service you give to our community and State.
Is it logical to say that writing and literature will be effectively taught by all subject teachers? All teachers do not have adequate training in grammatical, literary and editing background teach writing and literature. But our Utah State Office is claiming that this will be the case. A letter, seen below, from Tiffany Hall of the Utah State Office of Education, will serve as evidence.
The USOE is telling legislators and parents that nothing is really being taken away by Common Core, but informational text is being added to English literature in all classes and across all subjects:
“The study of literature is not limited or reduced by the Standards,” writes Tiffany Hall of USOE, “Rather, we are looking at a more comprehensive view of literacy that includes a focus on reading information text in all content areas—and not just reading, but reading and writing with purpose and understanding in every subject area.”
Does that make sense? Can you imagine P.E. teachers, math teachers, and woodworking teachers effectively sharing the burden of teaching reading and writing skills, including literature and informational texts? This is how we cut down on remedial college work?
Before I post the USOE’s letter, here are two messages from Dr. Stotsky– a video, (above) and an explanation (below) from an email I received this week dealing with the misleading statements being put out by the Utah State Office of Education.
Dr. Sandra Stotsky, as you recall, served on the official Common Core Validation Committee and refused to sign off on the validity of the standards because they were so academically weak.
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Sandra Stotsky
This needs to be explained over and over again. The reading standards for ELA are divided into 10 informational standards and 9 literature standards. That division goes from K to 12. It affects high school English as well as middle school English.
It means that over 50% of the reading instruction must be devoted to informational reading and less than 50% to poetry, drama, and fiction. The 30/70 division is from NAEP and is for the selection of reading passages on NAEP reading assessments. It is specifically NOT for the English curriculum.
Just because David Coleman thinks that the NAEP chart is for the English curriculum doesn’t mean that it is. He does want informational reading in other subjects. But he refuses to clarify his stupid misunderstanding of the NAEP percentages. He doesn’t know how to read tables and charts.
If Tiffany really thinks the 30/70 split means what she thinks it does, ask her how the English teacher can take care of 30% literary reading on a weekly basis (or daily basis) when she only teaches English 20- 25% of the school day or week. Where is more literary reading to be done to get kids up to the 30% Tiffany thinks kids should be doing? What other classes will literary reading be done in, if 30% of what kids read every day or every week must be literary and the English teacher is only 1 of 5 subject teachers?
–Dr. Sandra Stotsky
From USOE’s Tiffany Hall:
I appreciate your concern about the Utah Core Standards limiting the study of literature in English classes. I studied and have taught English literature, and if I felt that students were not going to be reading high-quality literature as a part of their K-12 education, I would be devastated.
The study of literature is not limited or reduced by the Standards. Rather, we are looking at a more comprehensive view of literacy that includes a focus on reading information text in all content areas—and not just reading, but reading and writing with purpose and understanding in every subject area. You are correct that we already have these informational books; we are now focusing on using them more effectively, and in supplementing them with authentic reading from the appropriate content discipline.
On page 3, the Standards state “The Standards insist that instruction in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language be a shared responsibility within the school. The K–5 standards include expectations for reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language applicable to a range of subjects, including but not limited to ELA. The grades 6–12 standards are divided into two sections, one for ELA and the other for history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. This division reflects the unique, time-honored place of ELA teachers in developing students’ literacy skills while at the same time recognizing that teachers in other areas must have a role in this development as well.”
This section continues on page 4, where there is a table indicating the recommended distribution of literary and informational passages by grade. This table shows a 50-50% split between literary and informational text in grade 4; 45-55% in grade 8; and 30-70% in grade 12. However, this refers to reading over the entire school day, not in a student’s English Language Arts course alone. The Standards strive to balance the “reading
of literature with the reading of informational texts, including texts in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects…” The level and quality of reading informational text in all subjects is a critical element of creating independent readers who can read and understand a wide variety of texts that are present in career and college settings.
So what do the Standards say about reading in English Language Arts courses? In addition to literature, they also include literary nonfiction. A good example of what these two categories mean can be found page 65, where literary fiction and literary nonfiction texts are sampled. These are not required texts; the choosing of texts remains a local decision. These are offered to illustrate the range of high-quality reading. For example, these are the sample texts listed for students in grades 11 and 12:Literary Fiction:
“Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats (1820)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1848)
“Because I Could Not Stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson (1890)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (1959)
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (2003)Literary Non-Fiction:
Common Sense by Thomas Paine (1776)
Walden by Henry David Thoreau (1854)
“Society and Solitude” by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1857)
“The Fallacy of Success” by G. K. Chesterton (1909)
Black Boy by Richard Wright (1945)
“Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell (1946)
“Take the Tortillas Out of Your Poetry” by Rudolfo Anaya (1995)
These selections have merit for their content and their writing. An ELA teacher has the opportunity to link themes and subjects across the full range of literary choices: novels, poems, dramatic works, essays, speeches, memoirs, etc. As an English teacher, I always tried to provide a variety of reading choices for students. Great literary works are how we understand other people, other times, and other cultures. Students need examples of many kinds of great writing.
In Appendix B, found here http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/langartsec/Language-Arts-Secondary-Home/APPENDIX-B.aspx, the Standards provide a list of exemplary texts. (These are not required texts, but rather examples of appropriate reading selections.) Please look at the Table of Contents, beginning on page 5, for a listing of readings organized by grade level. You will notice informational readings are included in addition to stories and poetry. Informational reading is an important part of helping students answer questions and learn content in the elementary classroom. However, the topics and presentation are interesting and grade-appropriate. At the elementary level, all subjects are generally taught in the same classroom and by the same teacher, so a wider range of topics is included in these lists.
You’ll notice that by the grades 6-8, the examples of Informational texts have been grouped by content area (ELA, History/Social Studies, and Science, Mathematics, and Technical Subjects); the ELA texts are literary nonfiction. And, you will probably also notice that the lists of fiction and poetry contain many of your favorites—there are certainly many of mine, including Chaucer, Faulkner, Hemingway, and Shakespeare.
I completely and fundamentally agree with your statement, beautifully written: “Great writing creates great writers. We learn how to write best from studying great literature. We learn about shared values. We learn the consequences of both good and bad choices without having to experiment personally. We learn about our rich culture and heritage when we study the works of Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson and others.” And when I look at the suggested readings in the Standards, these readings are reflected. They are the study of English and Language Arts.
I am not sure from whence the claim that we are replacing literature with “tracts from the EPA” or “dry technical writing” stems. As you have seen in the Standards, the writing is high-quality, appropriate, and interesting.
The Standards outline reading in all the content areas, including writing created by and for scientists, historians, engineers…every field has writing and communication that is important to the work that field supports. While I might not pick up a computer programming manual to read for fun, I know that there are many people who would, and I’m grateful that we are all different in our interests and reading. I am also glad that teachers in all the content areas will choose appropriate informational texts for their students to read and develop content knowledge and communication fluency. As a concerted effort, as a collaborative school, students will have the opportunity to read and learn what they will need to know in our society.
And I will always believe that includes Macbeth and To Kill a Mockingbird.
Thank you for your concern. I hope that examining the evidence—the actual Standards document—has assured you that students in Utah are reading high-quality literature in their ELA classrooms—and reading high-quality writing in all the content areas.
Tiffany Hall, MA, M.Ed.
K-12 Literacy Coordinator
Teaching and Learning
Utah State Office of Education
Please note: Utah has a very broad public records law. Most written communications to or from state employees regarding state business are public records available to the public and media upon request. Your email communication may be subject to public disclosure.
Another #Stopcommoncore Twitter Rally
Just a week ago Parent Led Reform rallied 2,493,308 Twitter users to #Stopcommoncore. A second Twitter Rally is planned for today, Thursday, May 2, at 9pm EST- 7pm MST to include participation of working parents, educators and citizens.
Parent Led Reform will host the rally as a collaborative project with Truth In American Education, designed to share the research diligently collected by parents and citizens concerned about the government’s push for national common standards in education.
This rally is an encore of the April 16 #Stopcommoncore Twitter event, which reached 2,493,308 Twitter users.
Karin Piper, spokesperson for Parent Led Reform, said, “Parent Led Reform opposes a lock-step approach to education that takes the focus away from the student and decisions away from the parent.”
The #Stopcommoncore Twitter Rally features a panel of experts who are planning on answering questions by the moderator, as well as taking live questions from Twitter users across the nation.
Panelists are Shane Vander Hart (Truth in American Education), William Estrada (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) Joy Pullmann (Heartland Institute), Ben DeGrow (Independence Institute), Emmett McGroarty (American Principles Project).
Follow our host and panel: @parentledreform @shulsie @shanevanderhart @BenDegrow @will_estrada @Joypullmann @approject @Truthinamed
Supported by Pioneer Institute, AFP, Heartland, Independence Institute, American Principles Project, Freedom Works, Home School Legal Defense Association
America, we need to get smart about education reform. Fast.
Lesson one: when education reformers use the term “rigorous,” they mean to impress you. Don’t be impressed. One size fits all education can never be rigorous for every student. That’s like calling a mile run “rigorous.” It might be rigorous for the couch potatoes but it won’t be for the athletes. The term is meaningless when applied to every child and stripped of teacher input.
Lesson two: when education reformers use the term “high quality teacher,” they mean their version. Don’t buy the assumption that what they call a high quality teacher is what you imagine when you think of a great teacher. The new high quality teacher must be “effective” as a data-collector, test-prepper, and political indoctrinator of environmental and social justice agendas. Gone are the days when good teachers were characterized by benevolence, spontaneity, creativity, love, nurturing, and intellectual openness and honesty. A high quality teacher to the Dept. of Ed means one that pushes the line that the government wants pushed, one that no parent got to vote on.
Lesson three: when education reformers use the term “education reform,” they mean their version. It’s a tightly controlled, standardized, data-collection focused, collective-not-individual focused, environmentally-obsessed, social-justice promoting, uncreative form of education that has little to do with what a particular student needs or wants. Don’t buy the assumption that it’s actually improving education the way a reasonable parent or grandparent would want education to be improved! Ask for evidence and empirical studies to back up claims– always.
Lesson four: when education reformers use the term “internationally competitive,” they mean to intimidate you. Don’t be intimidated. The truth is that America turns out so many highly qualified college graduates that we can’t even employ them all. We are incredibly competitive internationally. Not only are we smart, but we are creative because we have been free. We innovate miracles in medicine, technology, entertainment and agriculture because we have not been stifled as so many other countries are. Watch this video.
Lesson five: when education reformers name-drop, (Harvard, Stanford, Fordham Foundation, Manhattan Institute, the P.T.A., etc.) they mean to marginalize you. Don’t be moved. Common Core is educational malpractice and many –even in academia– know it. Common Core is an untested experiment being pushed without empirical evidence as a foundation. Harvard, Stanford and countless other supposedly intellectual institutions have been literally bought with Bill Gates’ foundation money –bribed to say that the naked emperor is wearing clothes– and these establishments have, by taking Gates’ bribes, lost their ability to question the validity of the Common Core. Don’t listen to anyone’s academic reviews who has been paid to say Common Core is valid. That’s not honest; that’s gold digging.
Lesson six: when education reformers say Common Core is “state-led,” they mean to reassure you that it’s no threat to your constitutional rights. Don’t be fooled. There’s nothing state-led about Common Core. Legislators were completely bypassed. There was never a vote. There was never a public discussion. Most people in most states still don’t even know what the term Common Core means, much less feel they led the process. The standards were developed stealthily behind closed doors in Washington, D.C., by the NGA/CCSSO, two unelected groups who copyrighted the standards and who have provided no amendment process for any state to alter a single strand of a standard. And the federal government claims credit for pushing the standards on the states. Just listen to Sec. Duncan’s and Pres. Obama’s speeches on the subject. For example, see Sec. Duncan’s 2010 speech on “The Vision of Education Reform“:
“In March of 2009, President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to “develop standards and assessments that don’t simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test, but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking and entrepreneurship and creativity.” Virtually everyone thought the president was dreaming.
But today, 37 states and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing a white paper—they have actually done it. Over three-fourths of all U.S. public school students now reside in states that have voluntarily adopted higher, common college-ready standards that are internationally benchmarked. That is an absolute game-changer in a system which until now set 50 different goalposts for success.
The second game-changer is that states have banded together in large consortia to develop a new generation of assessments aligned with the states’ Common Core standards.”
The unconstitutional, detrimental, top-down nationalization of education and usurpation of states’ rights to determine education has clearly and without question, occurred.
The thing that remains unclear is this: what are Americans going to do about it?
By Paul Horton, Chicago History Teacher
We need to look past our differences on curricular content and focus on freeing our schools from the grip of a well-intended, but horribly conceived attempt at instituting a national curriculum that lacks the consent of 99.9% of the American people.
The way forward in our movement against Common Core is for all groups to forget their differences and focus on the complete state and Federal repeals of NCLB and RTTT. We need to return schools to local control and this includes large urban school districts where mayors have complete control over schools like CEOs.
The Occupy and Tea Party movements need to show the rest of the American people that we can work together on issues that concern us all. Progressive Democrats and Conservative Republicans all want the best schools for all Americans so that we can move our country forward. We need to look past our differences on curricular content and focus on freeing our schools from the grip of a well-intended, but horribly conceived attempt at instituting a national curriculum that lacks the consent of 99.9% of the American people.
When we call this attempt into question, the DOE and the Chester Finns of the world have the gall to call us “conspiracy theorists.” This is the definition of absurdity.
Here is an action plan that we can all follow. We can worry about our differences when we have put this sad chapter in the history of American education to rest:
1) Everybody needs to write all of their public officials, district, state, and national every day with a simple copy and paste message: We want all state and Federal mandates associated with NCLB and RTTT repealed at all levels now! We want repeal legislation introduced now!
2) We will vote for no candidate from either major party or any independent group for any office that does not completely support the repeals above.
3) We want Arne Duncan fired immediately and we want those in the DOE who have served in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation fired immediately to return the control of the Department of Education to the people. We do not want anyone his replacement or anyone in the Department of Education who has worked with any corporate Education vendor. We do not want anybody in the Department Education who has worked with any Foundation or Think Tank that has sought to influence Education policy in the last fifteen years.
4) We want any state officer who has taken a trip from a corporate Education company fired, recalled, or voted out of office in the next election cycle. We are especially concerned about any state officer who has gone on any all-expenses-paid trip on Pearson Education’s dime.
5) We want local control of all school districts.
6) We demand that all public officials in State Boards of Education, Governors, state legislators, district boards, and DOE employees take 12th grade Common Core Tests. All of these officials who do not score proficient or better should be fired, recalled, or voted out of office during the next election cycle.
7) We support student strikes on high-stakes testing days. We support general strikes on scheduled high stakes testing day (K-21).
8) We will vote Educational leaders who have at least ten years of classroom experience. We do not anyone employed in leadership positions in the Department of Education who have not proven themselves as exemplary classroom teachers for ten years. We need to stop the war on experienced teachers. The New Education Class that has little or no classroom experience is engaged in a “Cultural Revolution” against experienced teachers.
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Thanks to Paul Horton for permission to post his initiative.
After a whole year of never receiving an email response from Asst. Superintendent Judy Park, today she wrote back! Wow.
But. The billion dollar question was dodged again. It’s been dodged in emails for over a year. It was dodged twice more at last night’s Common Core (S.A.G.E./A.I.R.) presentation, both during and after the event. But I wrote an email asking it again.
Here it is, and here’s her answer.
My Question: Please direct me to documentation of the claim that the common core standards, upon which this test is built, are legitimate and that they have been empirically tested, rather than being the experimental idea of unelected noneducators?
Ms. Park’s Answer: You have received a great deal of information about the common core from Brenda Hales, Associate Superintendent. I would encourage you to direct your questions about the common core to her.
Another dodge! Another D O D G E!
Utterly, completely unbelievable!
This dodge is like building a house (a new Utah educational system) on quicksand (illegitimate standards) and insisting that everyone to keep admiring the roof (nifty technology) –and telling the homeowner (teacher/taxpayers/parents) who paid for the whole thing and will live in it for life, to quit asking the pesky questions about those sinking wobbly motions in the foundation, directing that homeowner to ask an irrelevant wallpaper hanger why the home was built in quicksand.
There comes a time when you either keep yelling at the t.v./radio/computer screen/newspaper, or you make a move.
Utah, I am asking you to make a move. Call. Write. Tell our Governor, School Board, legislature and U.S.O.E. that we deserve answers to these most basic of all questions that affect our children and grandchildren in dramatic ways, for the rest of their lives. Please act.
This is what I wrote to Assistant Superintendent Judy Park today.
Thank you for taking the time to partially respond to some of my questions.
Please– stop dodging the most important question, for me and for all Utahns.
“First, do no harm” applies to education as well as to medicine. Please show us proof that the USSB/USOE is doing no harm by implementing Common Core; this should be easy. Brenda Hales, the public relations person is not an academic expert; you are. By dodging the question to her it appears that you don’t even know whether Common Core is snake oil –or not.
Don’t teachers, parents and legislators deserve to know that hundreds of millions of dollars and hours and children’s minds all pushing toward Common Core implementation is being spent wisely?! Do we not deserve to see evidence and references backing up the oft-repeated claim that these standards are helpful?
Where is the study showing that long-term, lives are enhanced when high school seniors are deprived of 70% of their classic literature? Where is the study showing that long-term, students who are deprived of the knowledge of how to convert fractions into decimals, are blessed by that fact? Countless examples could be shared.
You serve on the CCSSO, the D.C. group which developed and copyrighted these unproven standards. You have been doing this longer than our State Superintendent and you stand uniquely qualified to answer questions about the academic legitimacy of the standards and about the lack of any empirical evidence to back up the U.S.O.E.’s claims– which have been replicated on every district website in this state– and which are false.
The standards are not serving children honorably. They take away from, rather than raise, Utah’s educational hopes. Less classic literature. Less traditional math. Slowing of the age at which algorithms are introduced. Less narrative writing. Less parental consent. No district-held control over the sharing of student data. And worst of all, the standards and connected reforms and mandates have robbed Utah of educational sovereignty, a constitutional right. We have no voice, no amendment process. For such a trade, the standards must surely be magnificent.
Yet you cannot even point me to the documentation that these standards are more than a blind experiment on our kids, written by noneducators and adopted at grant-point, rather than after thorough and honorable academic vetting in Utah?
This is an absolute outrage.
In the name of integrity, what are you going to do about it?
Karin Piper, a freedom fighter at Colorado’s @Parent Led Reform is leading a national #StopCommonCore Twitter rally. The rally is promoted and supported by Michelle Malkin, the Truth in American Education network and countless parent and teacher groups for educational freedom nationwide. The event begins Tuesday, April 16th at 10:00 and goes until 12:00.
@ParentLedReform is also hosting an expert panel and a multi-state coalition of organizations to talk discuss #stopcommoncore in conjunction with the rally.
Join LIVE via Twitter to listen or share your view about Common Core Standards. Twitter is free and easy to join.
This is a public event. Please share with your friends and neighbors.
Jeremiah Chaffee. Gerald Conti. Kris Nielsen. Stephen Round. Paul Horton. Susan Wilcox. Anonymous Utah Teachers. Anonymous California Teacher. Paul Bogush. David Cox. Chasidy White. Pat Austin. Stephanie Sawyer. Renee Braddy. Warriors. Heroes. Freedom Fighters. Teachers.
Common Core is a tragedy. Wake up, America. Listen to these teachers.
Some teach now; some have retired over Common Core. Each has spoken out and each needs to be heard. Today I want to highlight Gerald Conti, whose resignation letter was just published in the Washington Post.
Gerald Conti’s Letter:
“Data driven education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core…
Creativity, academic freedom, teacher autonomy, experimentation and innovation are being stifled in a misguided effort to fix what is not broken in our system of public education and particularly not at Westhill…
…The New York State United Teachers union has let down its membership by failing to mount a much more effective and vigorous campaign against this same costly and dangerous debacle… our own administration has been both uncommunicative and unresponsive to the concerns and needs of our staff and students …
This situation has been exacerbated by other actions of the administration, in either refusing to call open forum meetings to discuss these pressing issues, or by so constraining the time limits of such meetings that little more than a conveying of information could take place. This lack of leadership at every level has only served to produce confusion, a loss of confidence and a dramatic and rapid decaying of morale.
The repercussions of these ill-conceived policies will be telling and shall resound to the detriment of education for years to come. The analogy that this process is like building the airplane while we are flying would strike terror in the heart of anyone should it be applied to an actual airplane flight, a medical procedure, or even a home repair. Why should it be acceptable in our careers and in the education of our children?
… My profession is being demeaned by a pervasive atmosphere of distrust, dictating that teachers cannot be permitted to develop and administer their own quizzes and tests (now titled as generic “assessments”) or grade their own students’ examinations. The development of plans, choice of lessons and the materials to be employed are increasingly expected to be common to all teachers in a given subject. This approach not only strangles creativity, it smothers the development of critical thinking in our students and assumes a one-size-fits-all mentality more appropriate to the assembly line than to the classroom.
Teacher planning time has also now been so greatly eroded by a constant need to “prove up” our worth to the tyranny of APPR (through the submission of plans, materials and “artifacts” from our teaching) that there is little time for us to carefully critique student work, engage in informal intellectual discussions with our students and colleagues, or conduct research and seek personal improvement through independent study. We have become increasingly evaluation and not knowledge driven…
I am not leaving my profession, in truth, it has left me. It no longer exists. I feel as though I have played some game halfway through its fourth quarter, a timeout has been called, my teammates’ hands have all been tied, the goal posts moved, all previously scored points and honors expunged and all of the rules altered.
Read the rest.
Here is the whole show from last Thursday, March 14, 2013.
It was a privilege to speak with Glenn Beck on his t.v. show on Thursday, along with Utah teacher David Cox of Odyssey Charter School , Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project, and Sherena Arrington of Stop Common Core in Georgia. I’m posting three clips from the show.
This first portion of the show is a clip of Glenn Beck introducing common core and its “Equity and Excellence Commission” which aims to use the educational system to redistribute; to redistribute not only exactly the same standards and testing nationwide, but also the nation’s wealth. Glenn calls the Common Core issue bigger than any other issue facing America today.
The next clip introduces the scarily non-traditional Common Core math, the dumbing-down via “student-centered” rather than teacher-directed instruction; and shows –my favorite part– the moment Glenn was stunned to find out that state legislatures were not a part of the adoption of Common Core, in any state.
Notice when Sherena Arrington describes this. She calls it the executive branch being “off the chain.” Great choice of words. Off the chain– like a mad bulldog. Yes, there is a chain and American needs to stay attached to it because it’s an umbilical cord to mother freedom. It’s a chain forged by the U.S. Constitution, the process of voter representation, the importance of due process and the separation and balance of powers.
This next clip covers the part of the show where we discussed the “no-parental-consent” school data mining.
I mentioned one of the seminal documents of the Common Core movement, the Cooperative Agreement between Secretary Arne Duncan and the SBAC testing group, which says that the SBAC and PARCC (the other testing group) have to synchronize their tests and data, and that student-level data (personal, identifiable data) must be shared. That creates a national testing system, nationalizing education just like China or any socialist/communist country. This is so offensive, considering the fact that both the Constitution and U.S. GEPA law (General Educational Provisions Act) specify that the federal government may not direct or supervise educational programs or curriculum or tests in any way.
Then I brought up the fact that the Department of Education went behind Congress’ back to alter FERPA law (privacy law) so that parental consent is no longer a legal requirement to access student information. The National Data Collection Model asks for hundreds of data points to be collected on our loved ones, including family income, religion, nicknames, psychological issues, and so much more.
Yes, the executive branch is way off the chain and does need to be brought to account by Congress. By We, The People.
Thank you, Glenn Beck. Thank you for exposing to parents and other viewers nationwide what common core is really all about: it’s so much more than just academic standards.
There’s an 8th grade teacher by the name of Paul Bogush in Connecticut, who writes a blog called BLOGUSH. He says:
“I don’t think anyone would teach using a unit on tolerance given to them by the enemies of civil rights. No teacher would put up with that.
But yet, teachers (including myself) will start off this year fully supporting the Common Core in the classroom.
I feel as though every day when I come home I need to take a shower, because I have spent my day in bed with the enemy.”
Bogush has researched the corporate web of common core promoters, has studied the standards themselves, has felt the pressure of having to teach lessons that feel, he says, more like advertisements than education, and recently, he’s made a video that expresses his feelings about Common Core.
The video’s funny. It’s smart. And it’s sad.
The funny part is when he shows the absurdity of micromanagement on the sports field. A coach lifts a player up under the armpits to make sure she’s jumping high enough. A coach runs right behind a soccer dribbler, almost making it impossible for the player to play. You get the idea.
Then he says: If micromanagement doesn’t work in the field, why would it work in the classroom?
He points out that Common Core standards tell a teacher what, when, and how to teach –and it comes from people who are not teachers, and who don’t know HIS kids. This, he notes, also comes with 13 years of continuous testing of the little ones. Sad music plays as the video ends. Worth watching.
“4equity2″ is the name of a teacher who wrote the following story as a follow up comment on Diane Ravitch’s blog: http://dianeravitch.net/2013/01/13/a-math-teacher-on-common-core-standards/
Another Math Teacher Speaks –
“Today I participated in a math PD [professonal development] held in our state capitol. Before embarking on the actual content of the training session, the facilitator had teacher participants read related Common Core Standards. The quiet was broken by occasional gasps, sighs, and moans before the now oft repeated objections were verbalized.
We’ve read them before. Nothing new. And these were same old criticisms and objections that have been raised in previous math PD’s across the country, for sure.
Next, we looked at a few of the sample test items that would be used to assess the new standards.
The facilitator, wanting to keep us on track, I am sure, said, “Look, this is way it’s going. We need to get used to it, There is nothing we can do.”
Someone near my table called out, “Yes, there is!”
All eyes turned toward me. Did I just say that?
“What?” I was asked. “What can we do?”
“We are teachers, yes. But we don’t have to be passive – play the part of victims. We are also parents and citizens. We can opt our own children out of testing, and we can talk to friends and neighbors about doing the same. We need to use the power we have as citizens – not just teachers – to turn this around.”
One woman raised her arm with a clenched fist, and stated, “I like that!”
These few words from an “invisible” and “voiceless” teacher who has been empowered through this blog and others in realizing that she is not alone spoke out. It felt good. I just might do it again.
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Thank you, 4equity2, whoever you are. We need more teachers like you.
Speaking of which…
Talking to a friend tonight, I heard a sad story. My friend’s neighbor, who is a teacher, said she was recently written up for insubordination, for refusing to attend another Common Core meeting. She said to my friend that “if the government doesn’t get out of our schools, they will destroy them.”
A History Teacher’s Message to America
About Common Core Standards
by C.E. White
This week, President Obama will be sworn into office as the 45th President of the United States of America.
As a history teacher, I was elated to learn he would be placing his hand on two Bibles, one belonging to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the other belonging to President Abraham Lincoln, when he takes the oath of office to lead our great nation. Dr. King and President Lincoln helped define civil rights for America…historical heroes who transformed the idea of justice and equality.
As jubilant as I am that President Obama is symbolically using the bibles of two of the greatest Americans in our nation’s history, I am saddened that this administration seems to have forgotten what Dr. King and President Lincoln promoted regarding education.
In Dr. King’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” he stated “the goal of America is freedom.” As a teacher, it is such an honor to teach America’s children about freedom and patriotism. However, over the past few years, I began to learn about a new education reform initiative called Common Core Standards. A few years ago, when I first heard of Common Core, I began doing my own research. My students represent the future of the United States of America, and what they learn is of utmost importance to me. I care about their future, and the future of our country.
My research of Common Core Standards kept me awake at night, because what I discovered was so shocking. I discovered that Common Core Standards is about so much more than educational standards. I wanted so badly to believe these changes would be good for our children. How can “common” standards be a bad thing? After all, isn’t it nice to have students learning the same exceptional standards from Alabama to Alaska, from Minnesota to Massachusetts?
As a teacher, I began to spend nights, weekends, summers, even Christmas Day researching Common Core, because these reforms were so massive and were happening so quickly, it was hard to keep up with how American education was being transformed. I quickly began to realize that the American education system under Common Core goes against everything great Americans like Dr. King and President Lincoln ever taught. The very freedoms we celebrate and hold dear are in question when I think of what Common Core means for the United States.
One of my favorite writings about education from Dr. King is a paper entitled “The Purpose of Education.” In it, he wrote “To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.”
When I sit in faculty meetings about Common Core, I hear “curriculum specialists” tell me that Common Core is here to stay and I must “embrace change.” I am forced to drink the kool-aid. These specialists don’t tell us to search for facts about Common Core on our own, they simply tell us what the people paid to promote Common Core want us to know. Didn’t Dr. King want us to separate facts from fiction? Why are we only given information from sources paid to say Common Core is a good thing? Isn’t that the exact same type of propaganda Dr. King discussed in his writings about education? Shouldn’t we discuss why thousands of Americans are calling for a repeal of the standards?
I am told that I must embrace Common Core and I infer that resisting the changes associated with Common Core will label me “resistant to change.” As a teacher, I definitely believe our classrooms are changing with the times and I am not afraid of change. Teachers across America are hearing similar stories about how they should “feel” about Common Core. This is a brainwashing bully tactic. It reminds me of my 8th graders’ lesson on bullying, when I teach them to have an opinion of their own. Just because “everyone’s doing it,” doesn’t make it right. In regards to Common Core, I am not afraid of change. I am just not going to sell-out my students’ education so that Pearson, the Gates Foundation, David Coleman, Sir Michael Barber, Marc Tucker and others can experiment on our children.
I agree with Dr. King, which is why I am so saddened at how propaganda from an elite few is literally changing the face of America’s future with nothing more than a grand experiment called Common Core Standards. Our children deserve more. Our teachers deserve more. Our country deserves more. Education reform is the civil rights issue of our generation, and sadly, parents, teachers, and students have been left out of the process.
President Lincoln once said “the philosophy of the classroom today, will be the philosophy of government tomorrow.” With Common Core, new standardized tests have inundated classrooms with problems of their own. Teachers find themselves “teaching to the test” more and more. These tests violate our states’ rights. I wonder if parents realized that all states aren’t created equal in Common Core tests? Shouldn’t all states, under “common” standards for everyone have everyone’s equal input on how students are tested?
What about privacy under Common Core? Why didn’t local boards of education tell parents about the changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act? Do parents realize their child’s data, including biometric data such as fingerprints and retinal scans, is being placed in a state longitudinal data system and shared with others?
If our philosophy of the classroom is to violate states’ rights, use children and teachers as guinea pigs, and hide from parents the fact that their child’s data is no longer private, it can only be inferred that the philosophy of government tomorrow will do the same. What is America becoming?
As I watched President Obama place his hand on the bibles of Dr. King and President Lincoln, the history teacher in me was overjoyed to watch such a patriotic moment in U.S. history. And yet, I was crushed at the realization that if we do not stop Common Core and preserve the United States educational system, the philosophy of our government tomorrow will not be the America we know and love.
One Step to New Standards, One Giant Leap of logic
By Alyson Williams
Did the people get the chance to debate the pros and cons of accepting a national curriculum?
Some steps are more significant than others.
When Neil Armstrong took his first step onto the moon, everyone knew it was the beginning of a new era. It was the “space age” and it seems everything from the appliances we used in our homes to the way we thought about foreign policy changed.
While far less inspiring, I compare the step my state took to comply with Common Core, to a trip to the moon. Education reform is hardly new, but in adopting “national” standards, or standards controlled by an outside consortium in a process that circumvented all the traditional policy-setting paths of “we the people,” we have entered uncharted territory. That one step, over a long-maintained boundary in education, makes it more significant.
“No nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space…” John F. Kennedy said when introducing his ambitions for space exploration to the country.
I’ve heard a similar argument – appealing to our competitive nature, and our fear of falling behind other nations – used in favor of sticking with Common Core. Our children’s future and our nation’s prosperity and security depend on it I’m told. Okay, I’m a Whitney Houston fan. I too believe the children are our future. But opposition to Common Core is not opposition to progress, nor is it ignorance of the challenges my children face in the future.
I see a greater threat to my children’s future in NOT insisting we adhere to established systems of checks and balances in the crafting of policy. Upholding our Constitution and resisting government overreach is what will keep us from falling behind other nations because this, and primarily this, is what sets our nation apart in the first place.
Bill Gates, whose foundation funded every aspect of Common Core standards, spoke to the National Conference of State Legislators saying, “If your state doesn’t join the common standards, your kids will be left behind; and if too many states opt out—the country will be left behind. Remember—this is not a debate that China, Korea, and Japan are having. Either our schools will get better—or our economic position will get worse.”
Hmmmm. Do the people in China, Korea and Japan get the chance to debate issues like this? Exactly.
Come to think of it, did the people of Utah get the chance to debate the pros and cons of accepting a national curriculum? No. What Chinese attribute are we trying to emulate here – high math test scores, or top-down policy making? Do we really believe that we can’t have the former, without the latter?
This point was discussed this week in a public “debate” of sorts between two of the country’s high-profile voices on education policy, Marc Tucker and Yong Zhao. (http://zhaolearning.com/2013/01/17/more-questions-about-the-common-core-response-to-marc-tucker/)
Tucker: Without broad agreement on a well designed and internationally benchmarked system of standards, we have no hope of producing a nation of students who have the kind of skills, knowledge and creative capacities the nation so desperately needs…
Zhao: This I will have to respectfully disagree with. The U.S. has had a decentralized education system forever (until Bush and Obama) and it has become one of the most prosperous, innovative, and democratic nations on earth. The lack of a common prescription of content imposed on all children by the government has not been a vice, but a virtue. As Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz wrote in their book The Race between Education and Technology: “We must shed our collective amnesia. America was once the world’s education leader. The rest of the world imported its institutions and its egalitarian ideals spread widely. That alone is a great achievement and one calls for an encore.”
The third man to walk on the moon, Charles Conrad Jr. also said something that resonates with my feelings on the Common Core. He said, “Whoopee! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but it’s a long one for me!”
Presented as simple cause and effect steps between policy and anticipated outcomes, some of the assumptions of how we’ll benefit from these standards defy gravity of reason and leave me mentally drifting in midair, wondering how they got from point A to point B.
Just one example of this is in Utah’s Race to the Top Grant application. On page thirty-two I read, “Expanding our mathematics initiative, while implementing the new core, will help us increase our capacity to deliver high-quality mathematics instruction, which will increase our high school graduation rate and increase college enrollment.”
So, if we just get the teachers to be more “high-quality” because they’re using the new standards, more kids will graduate and enroll in college? That seems like a bit of an oversimplification. I’d love to see the study that supports that conclusion. What? No references for this claim?
I’m not an expert on writing grants, or standards for that matter, so maybe the rules are different. All I know is if I’d submitted a paper to my high school English teacher as lacking in rhetorical support or references as this I’d have flunked the assignment.
Technically, I guess we did flunk. Utah was not awarded that grant, but it wasn’t for that reason. This statement from the document sent to Utah explaining why our grant was rejected is especially telling:
“Utah, however, has presented evidence through its statements that the State is not taking the lead at developing fiscal, policy, and public support for LEAs; its leaving that to LEAs to do themselves.”
In other words, Utah didn’t get the grant because there is still too much local control afforded to each local school district. I can’t help but feel that this exposes the true landing point of these reforms – a shifting of control away from LEAs and away from the state.
Now, before someone reiterates the claim that this is a “state-led” initiative I have to ask this question, “To which branch of government does the National Governor’s Association belong?”
The NGA is a trade organization, not a constitutional representative of the states. The writing of the standards started and ended there. The NGA and Council of Chief State School Officers (another trade organization) hold the Common Core State Standards copyright.
The only participation of the actual states was whether or not they would adopt the standards – with federal dollars hanging in the balance. Even the decision to comply with the standards eluded traditional legislative process or input by teachers or parents who actually live in Utah. For the average parent wanting to stay involved with her children’s education, the process of advocacy now may as well involve a trip to outer space.
The leaps of logic don’t end with the grant application. The standards themselves are lacking in substantive references.
In a 2011 article entitled “Common Core State Standards: An Example of Data-less Decision Making” Christopher H. Tienken, Editor of the AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice, wrote:
“When I reviewed that ‘large and growing body of knowledge’ offered by the NGA, I found that it was not large, and in fact built mostly on one report, Benchmarking for Success, created by the NGA and the CCSSO, the same groups that created these standards; hardly independent research.
The Benchmarking report has over 135 end notes, some of which are repetitive references. Only four of the cited pieces of evidence could be considered empirical studies related directly to the topic of national standards and student achievement.
The remaining citations were newspaper stories, armchair magazine articles, op-ed pieces, book chapters, notes from telephone interviews, and several tangential studies.”
Common Core centralizes curriculum in a way that Americans have resisted on Constitutional grounds for our entire existence as a nation, in exchange for what appears to be the most expansive, most expensive education experiment in this country ever – and our children will be the lab rats.
Will we be surprised then, if the outcomes are not what we were promised?
I worry that if we are beguiled into accepting these standards, along with the over-testing, intrusive tracking, and loss of local advocacy – not because they’ve proven effective but because they have been advertised to us as the only path to our children achieving the 21st century equivalent of man’s first steps on the moon – we will live to regret it.
Even if the outcome is neutral, I have to consider that the legacy of Common Core also includes a burden of debt, and further erosion of freedoms with increased government control.
Principles of limited government (federal AND state) and self-determination are just as important in education policy as they are in crafting policies for healthcare, or protecting a free market. Abraham Lincoln said it this way, “The philosophy of education today, will be the philosophy of government tomorrow.”
We gain inspiration from past events like the Apollo moon landing, and we gain wisdom in the things history has taught us about the consequences of not resisting increasing government intrusion into the lives of individuals.
Maybe Common Core and all the other programs of centralization and equalization being pushed on us lately are like to going to the moon – not because we are aiming high, but for another reason.
For a nation that has enjoyed freedoms and prosperity unlike any other on the earth, the stark contrast between that way of life compared to the outcomes of more common principles of government might seem like going from the Garden of Eden to what Buzz Aldrin described, while standing on the surface of the moon: as “magnificent desolation.”
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Thanks to Alyson Williams for this article.
New York teacher William Johnson writes “classroom dispatches” for the Gotham Schools website.
Many teachers are caught in the spiral of silence, afraid to speak about the problems of Common Core for fear of losing their jobs.
I understand why they don’t want to make waves. But I deeply respect the teachers like Susan Wilcox, David Cox, Kris Nielsen, Stephen Round and William Johnson, who do dare to speak their minds. Today I’m highlighting New York teacher William Johnson who writes at the Gotham Schools website.
His observations about the absurd vocabulary requirements of Common Core and its disrespect of the English teacher and the English classroom are insightful.
“Thanks to the Common Core, this year a series of “Shifts in ELA/Literacy” will be imposed upon English teachers across the country. These shifts require, among other things, that English teachers spend less time on “esoteric literary terms … such as ‘onomatopoeia’ or ‘homonym’” and more time on “pivotal and commonly found words…such as ‘discourse,’ ‘generation,’ ‘theory,’ and ‘principled.’”
It’s worth noting that not one of the terms identified as “pivotal” under these common core shifts is specific to the discipline of English. This is particularly interesting given the Common Core’s insistence on “domain-specific” vocabulary….
Why do the folks behind the Common Core think domain-specific vocabulary isn’t important when it comes to English? Again, the language used to describe the new Common Core approach highlights the ways that these standards will change the goal of English study from understanding and mastery of literature and literary writing to “constantly build[ing] students’ ability to access more complex texts across the content areas.” In other words, the goal of English class will become helping students read texts for their other subject areas — the ones that really matter, like math.
…Unfortunately, the folks behind the Common Core have made it abundantly clear that they see little value in having students understand literature.
Over and over again, Common Core advocates have promoted teaching “informational texts” over literature. According to the Common Core, more than 50 percent of high school English curricula are supposed to consist of informational texts.
By 12th grade, the Common Core recommends that 70 percent of the texts students read in English be informational, not literary.”
Full Text: http://gothamschools.org/2012/11/14/common-english-and-its-domain-specific-vocabulary/
In another article, Johnson writes:
“The truth is, teachers don’t need elected officials to motivate us. If our students are not learning, they let us know. … Good administrators use the evaluation processes to support teachers and help them avoid those painful classroom moments — not to weed out the teachers who don’t produce good test scores or adhere to their pedagogical beliefs.
Worst of all, the more intense the pressure gets, the worse we teach. When I had administrators breathing down my neck, the students became a secondary concern. … I was scared of losing my job, and my students suffered for it.”
Full Text: http://gothamschools.org/2012/03/05/from-near-and-far-responses-pour-in-to-bad-teacher-essay/
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Thank you, William Johnson.
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.
Unknown to most parents, children’s data is being shared beyond the school district with six agencies inside the Utah Data Alliance and UTREX, according to Utah Technology Director John Brandt. The student data is further being “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 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, 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
But first, an interjection: I want to introduce this article: http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/your-students-privacy/
I like this article because it exposes the facts plainly, that parents are unaware that their children’s information is being shared without parental permission, beyond the school, beyond the district, and even beyond the state. It is verifiable and true.
What it means: Courses taken, grades earned, every demographic piece of information, including family names and income, is being watched by the U.S. government via schools.
Verify for yourself: 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 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…
These databases (State Longitudinal Database Systems, SLDS; also, P-20 and state data combinations such as the Utah Data Alliance) are to share data with anybody they define as “authorized,” according to alterations made to FERPA (Family Education Privacy Act) regulations by the Dept. of Education.
These now-authorized groups who will access student data will most likely include the A-list “philanthropists” like Bill Gates, as well as corporate snoops (Microsoft, Pearson, Wireless Generation, and K-12 Inc., Achieve, Inc., SBAC, PARCC, NGA, CCSSO, for examples) 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 (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 )
This is a nightmare of Big Brother in action, except it’s not a fiction. You can verify it all on the government’s own public sites, such as:
States would not get stimulus money if they didn’t agree to build the SLDS system.
So they all agreed. All.
I happened to ask 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 and will be tracked.
I ask you, dear readers, to turn your feelings about this intrusion toward positive action.
Call your governor.
If you are from Utah, Governor Herbert is here 801 538-1000 and here: http://demo.utah.gov/governor/contact/index.html
Public feeling and individual actions are the only, only chance we have to alter the course we are currently traveling.
I’m reposting Shane Vander Hart’s blog post. I think it’s important that people understand his point: that even private schools will no longer enjoy the freedoms they have enjoyed previously if they accept federal monies in the form of school choice vouchers, because they will then be forced to obey the mandates and curricular guidance of the Common Core Initiative. This desperately needs attention and discussion among among parents and voters nationally.
Through popular school choice efforts several states like Indiana and Louisiana have adopted school vouchers. While that seems great, and I am a proponent of school choice, vouchers seem to have unintended consequences for those who pushed for them – in that they give government a foot-in-the-door so to speak. Because of this I’m concerned about a collective silence from private schools about the Common Core State Standards.
And Florida Governor Rick Scott is pushing for that very thing. He said that students who receive tax dollars should be held to the same standards that apply to public schools.
That would be the Common Core folks.
Florida has adopted them. Louisiana has some strings attached with their voucher program in the form of assessments. Iowa even though they don’t have a voucher system (they offer a tax credit for donations made to school tuition organizations) private schools who are accredited through the Iowa Department of Education. This is the only body who can accredit non-public schools at the moment. Let’s put this in perspective failing public schools in Iowa are accredited. Parents also can only access school tuition organization money if they are sending their child to an accredited non-public school. Non-public schools don’t have to be accredited, but their parents can’t receive the tuition assistance.
So private school parents, teachers, administrators and boards – wake up. You need to be concerned about the Common Core State Standards. If you are forced to adopt these standards what choice will we really have?
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Shane Vander Hart is the founder and editor-in-chief of Caffeinated Thoughts. He is also the President of 4:15 Communications, LLC, a social media & communications consulting/management firm. He is a communications director for American Principles Project’s Preserve Innocence Initiative. Prior to this Shane spent 20 years in youth ministry serving in church, parachurch, and school settings. He has also served as an interim pastor and is a sought after speaker and pulpit fill-in. Shane has been married to his wife Cheryl since 1993 and they have three kids. Shane and his family reside near Des Moines, IA. You can connect with Shane on Facebook or follow him on Twitter and Google +.
Sometimes I look at the search terms that have brought you here. Some of you have typed terms like “I can’t stand teaching anymore common core,” for example.
I would like to hear and share your stories- especially students, teachers’ and parents’ stories.
Please email me if you would like to post your experiences, perspectives and stories here, anonymously or not. firstname.lastname@example.org Write “What Is Common Core” in the subject heading so I can recognize and open the email.