Archive for the ‘teachers against common core’ Tag
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. email@example.com Write “What Is Common Core” in the subject heading so I can recognize and open the email.
How Did David Coleman Persuade a Nation
To Drop All Things Beautiful From Schools?
I imagine if David Coleman were to value a diamond, he would base its worth solely on the fact that it’s the hardest substance in nature. The diamond’s beauty, its way of bringing people joy, or its history as the symbol of eternal romance, would not matter to Coleman. Just so long as the darn rock can drill through some stuff. That’s how he thinks about reading and writing.
This is why he has gotten rid of all things beautiful in education:
- No more cursive.
- No more traditional math.
- Very little classic literature, to make room for mostly informational text.
- Informational texts to include insulation manuals and Executive Orders, in the English classroom.
That’s Common Core. The perfect lockstep methodology for delivering whatever the person or people at the top consider to be appropriate for the rest of the nation. A potential propaganda machine with no amendability by local voices. It’s under copyright by the “sole developers,” the National Governors’ Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).
And the Common Core English standards were produced under the direction of David Coleman, who moved from being the national standards leader to being president of the College Board in one fell swoop.
Is this the man you want leading a nation’s educational standards?
Not me. In fact, I don’t want any one man having that much power over so many.
Remember back in B.C.C.? Before Common Core? We used to determine standards locally, not top-down from Washington. We were free to soar as high as Massachusetts, or to fail as badly as the worst of the worst. It was up to us.
It seemed almost that we remembered the spirit of the Constitution, the spirit of independence and local power, once upon that pre-common core time. The promoters of Common Core continue to claim it’s a grass-roots, state-led initiative. But who can honestly see it that way, when nobody even knew about Common Core until the elite groups that produced it, had already sold it to governors and state school boards without a public vote or any kind of vetting by the average teacher, parent or principal? It was an under-the-radar sneaky move that nationalized American education just like any other socialist nation’s educational system. And we are stuck with it, until enough people tell their school boards and governors NO.
As for David Coleman, he’s not a teacher and never has been. Somehow he still managed to acquire the job of central architect of the now mostly-national Common Core English Standards –and also, to repeat, to drill the fact into our collective conscious– he became president of the College Board and he is now aligning the Common Core standards with college entrance exams. Yes, the SAT.
My purpose for writing today is not to figure out how he wormed his way to such positions of power without any teaching experience. My purpose is to ponder the unlovely place he’s taking us, to shake us up and help us to see that he’s wrecking the beauty and effectiveness of real education.
The absolutely least lovely comment I’ve ever heard from any educator, ever, came from David Coleman:
“As you grow up in this world you realize that people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think… it is rare in a working environment that someone says, ‘Johnson I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.’ That is rare”
It’s on this very short video clip:
What kind of legitimate educator would speak so narrowly about the purposes and benefits of writing narratively? Such a dreary-minded, utilitarian philosopher should not be honored with the leading of our nation’s K-12 –and now, also, our nation’s university– environment.
My fourth grader saw this poster. He asked me what a carbon footprint was.
I told him that some scientists think carbon hurts our earth, while other scientists say that is not actually true. Some people think that the government wants to tax people so much that they use, as an excuse, the idea of carbon footprints. They will tax people more if they do an activity that increases carbon on earth.
I told him that I have not studied it enough yet to have an opinion of my own. I do not know which scientists are closer to the truth, but because it’s not settled, schools should not be teaching it as if it were a fact.
And people should not be hanging posters like this where children will see and assume one side of the argument is the only true side.
This anecdote is just a forward to the reason I’m writing today. The original reason is this link:
Thanks to the Missouri Education Watchdogs publicizing it, here: http://www.missourieducationwatchdog.com/2012/12/wading-into-standards-weeds.html
If you click on that top link, you’ll find a powerpoint presentation entitled: “EPA Region 3 Sub-Award Update.”
EPA means Environmental Protection Agency. And Region 3 refers to a region –not a state– that the US Dept. of Education is now recognizing (moving away from the concept of states which can be such a pesky reminder of Constitutional rights). ”Sub-Award update” means that money is being accounted for, having been awarded by the federal government to “region 3″ to alter local education to align with EPA goals –rather than previously held academic priorities for schools, which were previously determined by local entities like school boards and principals.
Yes, it’s creepy. It is propaganda, pure and simple. And the head of all public schools in our country, Arne Duncan, has promised us he’s going to push for more and more of it.
US Sec. of Education Arne Duncan announced, “Education plays a vital role in the sustainability movement… education must be part of the solution… This week’s sustainability summit represents the first time that the Department is… educating the next generation of green citizens and preparing them to contribute to the workforce through green jobs… Educators have a central role in this… teach students about how the climate is changing… explain the science behind climate change and how we can change our daily practices…. prepar[e] students for jobs in the green economy… the Department of Education hasn’t been doing enough in the sustainability movement. Today, I promise you that we will be a committed partner…”
You’re kidding, right, Arne? You are saying that you will use schools to promote green propaganda despite the fact that millions of scientists, teachers, students and parents don’t believe a word of the “global warming” and “climate change” science?
Not only is he not kidding, he’s now paying the EPA to “align” with Common Core.
It’s interesting that “Green Schools” are being promoted by the U.S. Department of Education. On the surface, greening schools sounds a little bit boring but not bad. Students learn wonders like “turn off the lights when you leave the room” and “eat healthy food”.
But along with that, they also learn things that are not science, not high-quality, uncontroversial, settled science. Teachers are being told to teach sustainable propaganda and call it science. Controversial points will be taught as if they were absolutes. It goes against the whole spirit of what education is about: students are not told to weigh information, study empirical evidence from many sources, and judge truth from fiction, fact from opinion.
They are just told that the sustainablility movement is true.
Schools will get grants if they push the green curriculum.
And teachers better teach it.
Yesterday, Cato Institute published a great article that exposes some serious problems about Common Core “education.”
Here’s my favorite part.
Neal McClusky writes: “I sure hope the Common Core doesn’t have lessons on ambiguity, because I don’t think the crafters grasp the concept. This explanation couldn’t be much more ambiguous, stating that English classes must focus on literature “as well as” nonfiction. Sure sounds like a 70-30 or 50-50 split could be mandated under that. This is, of course, exactly the kind of obtuse mumbo-jumbo one should expect from a document — and overall effort — that tries to simultaneously be revolutionary and innocuous. And wouldn’t it have been wonderful if this sort of thing had been hashed out before states were cajoled into adopting the standards? But then there would have been public disagreements, and all the silliness of people holding different opinions is exactly what destroyed past efforts to impose uniform standards on the country.”
Here’s a link to the full text of the United Nations’ Agenda 21 global transformation plan: http://habitat.igc.org/agenda21/index.html
I take particular interest in these three chapters: 25, 24, and 36, as a teacher and as a mother.
Chapter 25 – the one about children: http://habitat.igc.org/agenda21/a21-25.htm
Chapter 24- the one about girls: http://habitat.igc.org/agenda21/a21-24.htm
Chapter 36- the one about education: http://habitat.igc.org/agenda21/a21-36.htm
If you are new to governmentspeak, you won’t see many red flags. It’s not until you slow down and really think about what they are writing (and not writing) that you begin to see how twisted this Agenda 21 really is.
From Chapter 25: “Ensure access for all youth to all types of education… ensure that education… incorporates the concepts of environmental awareness and sustainable development throughout the curricula…”
Did you catch that? Throughout curricula, that means in every single class– spelling, grammar, science, English, math, history, technology, art, languages, sports, student government, debate, home economics, and the rest– students must be learning environmental awareness and sustainable development? Does that not strike you as dogmatic- almost crazy?
Also from Chapter 25: ” Consider…recommendations of… youth conferences and other forums that offer youth perspectives.”
–On first reading, that sounds fine, right? Listening to young people. What could possibly be wrong with it?
Well, look up “Delphi Technique” when you have some time on your hands.
There are sustainability youth “conferences” happening right now that are clearly little more than the globalists’ politically motivated indoctrination camps.
After youth spend time ”dialoging” about environmental issues –where the dialogue is being controlled by Agenda 21 activist facilitators– those facilitators will take the youth recommendations back to headquarters. Nice. Here’a a link to such a youth conference. All 14-year-olds and up are cordially invited to be totally immersed in the green, anti-sovereignty, anti-constitution, pro-collectivism, pro-communist, environmental agenda: http://www.agenda21now.org/index.php?section=home
It should not be creeping into our schools. But it is.
Teachers are being taught to teach sustainable development across the curricula.
The U.S. Department of Education is pushing it. http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/greening-department-education-secretary-duncans-remarks-sustainability-summit
Secretary Duncan says in the above linked speech, “Educators have a central role in this… They teach students about how the climate is changing. They explain the science behind climate change and how we can change our daily practices to help save the planet. They have a role in preparing students for jobs in the green economy. Historically, the Department of Education hasn’t been doing enough in the sustainability movement. Today, I promise you that we will be a committed partner.”
And here: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001433/143370e.pdf Unesco promotes “Guidelines and Recommendations for Reorienting Teacher Education to Address Sustainability”
It’s obvious that teachers are being pushed in the direction of Agenda 21 without knowing it’s a political agenda. The Agenda 21 tenets, such as the supposed importance of limiting human reproduction, of limiting building, sports or recreational activities that touch grass, oceans or trees; of limiting airplane and car use, or of believing that there is human made global warming, are not settled facts among scientific communities (or in religious ones, for that matter.) Yet teachers are supposed to teach them as settled facts, as doctrine.
Please have the courage to say no if you are a teacher, a school board member, a principal, or a parent.
Even if you happen to believe in the tenets of Agenda 21, such as global warming, population control, or putting plants above or equal with humans’ needs, do you believe that all children should be subject to these teachings, regardless of what their parents or teachers or churches believe?
Shouldn’t a child be taught to weigh competing theories and judge empirical evidence for his/herself, rather than accepting a dogma blindly? Isn’t that what education is supposed to mean?
Yukon College Professor Bob Jickling’s article on this subject is worth reading: “Why I Don’t Want my Children to be Educated for Sustainable Development”
The Washington Post has a hilarious article about the stupidity of deleting so much classic literature in high school English classes while calling Common Core education an increase in rigor. Love it. Reposting.
The Common Core’s 70 percent nonfiction standards and the end of reading?
By Alexandra Petri
Forget “The Great Gatsby.”
New Common Core standards (which impact 46 out of 50 states) will require that, by graduation in 2014, 70 percent of books studied be nonfiction. Some suggested texts include “FedViews” by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the EPA’s “Recommended Levels of Insulation,” and “Invasive Plant Inventory” by California’s Invasive Plant Council.
Forget “Catcher in the Rye” (seems to encourage assassins), “The Great Gatsby” (too 1 percenty), “Huckleberry Finn” (anything written before 1970 must be racist) and “To Kill A Mockingbird” (probably a Suzanne Collins rip-off). Bring out the woodchipping manuals!
I like reading. I love reading. I always have. I read recreationally still. I read on buses, in planes, while crossing streets. My entire apartment is covered in books. And now, through some strange concatenation of circumstances, I write for a living.
And it’s all because, as a child, my parents took the time to read me “Recommended Levels of Insulation.”
Oh, “Recommended Levels of Insulation.” That was always my favorite, although “Invasive Plant Inventory” was a close second. (What phrases in literature or life will ever top the rich resonance of that opening line? “The Inventory categorizes plants as High, Moderate, or Limited, reflecting the level of each species’ negative ecological impact in California. Other factors, such as economic impact or difficulty of management, are not included in this assessment.” And we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past has nothing on it!)
“It is important to note that even Limited species are invasive and should be of concern to land managers,” I frequently tell myself, in moments of crisis. “Although the impact of each plant varies regionally, its rating represents cumulative impacts statewide.” How true that is, even today. Those words have brought me through moments of joy and moments of sorrow. They are graven on my heart. I bound them as a seal on my hand.
My dog-eared, beaten copy of “Recommended Levels of Insulation” still sits on my desk. I even got it autographed. Their delay in making a movie of this classic astounds me. That was where I first learned the magic of literature.
“Insulation level are specified by R-Value. R-Value is a measure of insulation’s ability to resist heat traveling through it.” What authority in that sentence!
And then came the table of insulation values. I shudder every time that table appears. It is one of the great villains in the history of the English language. Uriah Heep and Captain Ahab have absolutely nothing on it. In fact, I do not know who these people are. I have never read about them.
“Wall Insulation: Whenever exterior siding is removed on an
Uninsulated wood-frame wall:
· Drill holes in the sheathing and blow insulation into the empty wall cavity before installing the new siding, and
· Zones 3–4: Add R5 insulative wall sheathing beneath the new siding
· Zones 5–8: Add R5 to R6 insulative wall sheathing beneath the new siding”
I remember curling up with that and reading it over and over again. It was this that drove me to pursue writing as a career — the hope one day of crafting a sentence that sang the way “Drill holes in the sheathing and blow insulation into the empty wall cavity before installing the new siding and” sings.
But I doubt I will ever achieve this lambent perfection.
Look, I was an English major, so I may be biased.
People often, feelingly, write about a vague namby-pamby thing called the Magic of Literature. By the time you stagger out of one of these essays you wish that they had not been read to as children.
But I am not saying this as an advocate of the vague namby-pamby magic. I truly believe that everything you need is already there, in the greatest works of literature. If you want to fight your way through a thorny sentence, look no further than Shakespeare. If you are having trouble figuring out what equipment is necessary for the task you are about to perform, look no further than the Iliad, where Achilles has a similar problem.
Life is full enough of instruction manuals.
The best way to understand what words can do is to see them in their natural habitat, not constrained into the dull straitjackets of legalese and regulationish and manualect. It’s like saying the proper way of encountering puppies is in puppy mills. Words in regulations and manuals are words mangled and tortured and bent into unnatural positions, and the later you have to discover such cruelty, the better.
The people behind the core have sought to defend it, saying that this was not meant to supplant literature. This increased emphasis on nonfiction would not be a concern if the core worked the way it was supposed to, with teachers in other disciplines like math and science assigning the hard technical texts that went along with their subjects. But teachers worry that this will not happen. Principals seem to be having trouble comprehending the requirement themselves. Besides, the other teachers are too busy, well, teaching their subjects to inflict technical manuals on their students too, and they may expect the English department to pick up the slack. And hence the great Purge of Literature.
These are good intentions, but it will be vital to make sure the execution is as good, or we will head down the road usually paved with good intentions. There, in the ninth circle, students who would otherwise have been tearing through Milton and Shakespeare with great excitement are forced to come home lugging manuals of Exotic Plants.
All in all, this is a great way to make the kids who like reading hate reading.
That’s certainly one way of addressing the reading gap.
Great article. Thank you, Alexandra Petri.
Here’s the UNESCO’s brainwashing site for teachers. It’s aim is to “reorient” academics to focus on “sustainability” and to slowly eradicate personal liberty in favor of collectivism.
The goal: UNESCO (United Nations) wants to “teach” (indoctrinate) everyone to become obsessed with “sustainability” to the point that they are willing to give up everything for sustainability– traditional academics; traditional authority of parents over their own children; parents, especially women, raising their own children; personal property, Constitutions, religions; traditional museums and media. Nothing will be allowed to be more important than “sustainability” in anyone’s mind.
UNESCO wants to transform the thinking of every human on earth. This is easier to do if they first indoctrinate teachers, since they can more easily “teach” their new religion of sustainability if teachers are converted first.
This link will bring you to UNESCO’s teacher training page: Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future: a multimedia teacher education programme.
Another interesting and scary page on the same site is : http://www.unesco.org/education/tlsf/ This is where they show which political programs teachers are to focus on. One that is particularly disturbing to me is the emphasis on girls and women.
They want to make sure every mother is in the workforce rather than being home with her child. And they want to limit the amount of babies being born in the first place; thus, they redefine as “rights” things like reproductive norms.
Those who think the “sustainability” obsession of the United Nations (and increasingly, of the U.S. Department of Education) is just about recycling are very naiive. Sustainability is an ultimately anti-human, cruel political agenda that aims to governmentally control every person on earth –under the deceptive banner of earth care.
”Sustainability” has no business in legitimate academic life.
Our Job Is Not To Indoctrinate
By Utah Teacher Susan Wilcox
We are being duped.
My trust of our district people led me to just go along with many things that I was not aware would be so controlling. At the end of the year, while we were cleaning out things and had little time to talk, they called us together to ask if they could spend the money on SRA courses that were excellent (in their opinion) – brought NO SAMPLES, and we agreed.
– In one short moment, we had changed from our own lesson plans to nationally written materials.
When we got them during the summer, there was no training yet for using them; they were piled on our shelves and one district person said to just pick them up and get going; the other said wait for training. (I’m not sure they even knew what they were doing.)
After being trained, I was excited at first with how well these were put together. Then I noticed the green agenda in there and political stuff that could be controversial, and just thought I was being “old fogie” in my thinking.
There were sideline comments about extinction of certain animals. It was the SRA Reading Mastery program, and the 2nd year we switched to another program by the same company.
It was more directly teaching reading skills. It didn’t have a lot of writing in it, but what it had I liked.
The problem is – I was between a rock and a hard place; we, as teachers, were directly responsible for their IEP goals, and these programs did NOT serve the IEP goals for each of my students. In my own training and part of my OWN resolve to help Special Education students, I determined to copy and read NIGHTLY their goals when preparing lessons. I don’t know WHAT could be more important (since parents sign this document and it is a legal paper of what this child NEEDS..) than following the individual needs of a student. I never felt there was any place or time to express these things within the district. They just plowed forward training us.
It was kind of exciting that a course would be followed when students transferred in the district, so they would have the same course going on. There were other selling points, but in the end there is no better course for a student than the inspired lessons of a loving eacher, who lives with that child for hours every day – even more hours than their parents see and work with them.
It is a sacred trust to me, and I was NOT happy to have that taken away. It is the reason good people choose to be teachers. We realize that PEOPLE are our most important resource, and we want to mold and train them to have the skills they need.
Our job is not to indoctrinate in ANY way. That is a parent’s privilege and borders on religion.
I felt SO outcast in the schools. Everyone is just worried about keeping their jobs and talk REALLY softly when expressing their feelings, when what they FEEL is what they should be loudly acclaiming.
Teachers have to express in private because they are afraid of losing their jobs. I will no longer hold back, because I don’t have and don’t WANT a job in the public sector again. I held out to help my husband get retired and pay off debt so we could free ourselves. I hope to be of value to the WONDERFUL teachers in our schools, who need our help.
Since I taught resource, I only listened in the faculty room to teachers who were very upset, but stayed calm to keep their jobs. They need those of us who are in a good situation to help to do exactly that.
I don’t like our unions because, at least in Utah, they have done nothing to help our teachers. They can’t speak up because the unions have no power to save their jobs and side with the district in defending them.
But I wish the district could record faculty room talk…they would find out that most of the teachers feel pressured, blamed for everything that goes wrong with parents, and end up being the beating stick in education, when we are actually the only ones saving those students between what they need and what is coming to them.
I was told to read a script to my resource students – SRA Reading course, and it did not serve the IEP’s of my students.
I did a much better job designing lessons for EACH student as I prayed over my stewardship as a teacher. I greatly resented being told my methods were not research-based, and therefore not acceptable.
I researched the files of my students, and I don’t know what better research a teacher could do but read the entire written history of each student, and follow through with a lesson plan for what they needed.
The direct instruction was very nicely designed. It was easy and saved time for all the ridiculous paperwork in Special Education. But I only taught half day and did paperwork the rest. I wanted to be more effective to my students.
Since music is being cut, my chances were better at business at home. I always did better at home – I got up to $6000 in grants to run a children’s orchestra over a period of 25 years from outside sources, but always felt like “WHY do I have to do this OUTSIDE the schools?” – They were my dream classes in orchestra.
The district held me back. I am not happy though that only kids who could pay a community school fee got my expertise. The schools should unleash teachers and their talents and stop all the accountability nonsense. They can use those programs on teachers who have not done well and evaluate them…to help them. These programs stops teachers from planning – and wearies their day. It takes their attention away from planning and doing a good job. I am very against the focus on teachers as though THEY were the problem.
I home schooled, half-and-half, with my own children. They were too smart for the wasted time in the public school.
This doesn’t feel like the America I once knew. The time to speak up strongly has come for me. I am not holding back. I read a lot and study the issues, but I know the feelings I have I can always trust in the situations I encounter. I go by those…they don’t fail me.
By Susan Wilcox
The author of this wordpress site thanks Susan Wilcox for sharing her story.
U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan just might be a Agenda 21 (United Nations takeover) supporter. How can I say such a thing?
Well. Not once in this speech does he mention “United States citizens” but he mentions “global citizens” and being “internationally engaged” and “globally competent” and playing on the “world stage” ad nauseum.
If enough people are taught to think of themselves as global citizens, they will have less loyalty to the sacred United States and its unique, freedom-upholding Constitution.
Will people treat American values more and more lightly and be more and more accepting of global decision making, global government, global laws and global punishments?
Remember– this is coming at us from many angles. It’s not just Arne Duncan or Obama. It’s not just one speech.
Pearson Education, led by CEA Sir Michael Barber, also pushes for “no borders” for education reform.
And Pearson’s Barber makes speeches (you can view them on YouTube) that he and his elite education leaders “want data” on “every citizen” on earth. And they want to replace academics with environmentalism as a central concern of teaching worldwide. Barber’s stated “formula” for education now is to multiply all knowledge or skills taught, by environmental education. That places environmentalism #1. Above academics. Above knowledge. That’s dogmatic and it’s extremely creepy when you realize that their philosophy is seeping into schools and governments worldwide –without pushback.
It should be on the news. Why isn’t it?
Sec. Arne Duncan is revealing his true colors as much by what he does not say as by what he says.
And “International Education Week” is a concept that makes me want to run screaming from the room.
The Utah State Office of Education is allowing public comment on the Common Core Standards. (Click on above link.)
- If you are concerned that Algebra I is being taught to ninth graders now, when previous to common core, it was taught to our eighth graders…
- If you are concerned that by your child’s senior year, he/she will be taught only 30% classic literature and 70% informational text by mandate…
- If you are concerned that cursive is no longer allowed/encouraged to be taught…
- If you think calculus should be a high school option, not just a college option…
Then take the time to make your voice heard.
If you click on the link, prepare to be shocked.
It is a common core math book.
It models an absurd way to teach math. And it pushes a terrible, negative agenda.
You can find questions relating to serial killers, food shortages, population control, drug lords, infectious diseases, oil spills, and loneliness. You can also find dozens of questions that do not even remotely relate to mathematics at all but instead pushes collectivism, communal thinking and consensus.
diminishes by 4.5%. How many residents are left after the killer’s three-year rampage? HOW WILL YOU
instance of poor judgment on your part. At 22% interest per year, how much will you owe on a loan of
%5,000 after one year? What about after three years?
food supply is adequate for 4 million people (now) and is increasing at a constant rate adequate for an additional
0.5 million people per year. Based on these assumptions, in approximately what year will this country first experience shortages of food?
15. A student comes to school with the flu and infects three other students within an hour before going home. Each newly infected student passes the virus to three new students in the next hour. This pattern continues until all students in the school are infected with the virus…
Did anyone try to include that person? If not, why not? If yes, then how? What might you have done to help with the situation?
What has been your experience when someone in your group has made a mistake?
How do you think a group should handle mistakes by other group members?
Think of a time when you wanted to say something, or you did not understand something, but were too
afraid to say something. Describe the situation and why you did not say what you wanted to. How do you wish you would have had handled the situation?
discussions and how your preparation affects the grade your group receives?
I wrote this letter to our State Superintendent today. Do you think he’ll respond this time? He never has before. But hope springs eternal.
Dear Superintendent Shumway,
Although I have asked for a meeting with Carol Lear, with Judy Park, and with Brenda Hales, my requests have been turned down.
As you may know, I’m a Utah teacher with an up to date level II credential and a former English professor at UVU, and am concerned about Common Core nationalized education both for academic and liberty-based reasons.
I have tried to meet with your staff to discuss this in person. I would deeply appreciate a meeting to talk about these things, or a referenced, thorough email response to the following:
1. What proof can you offer teachers and parents that Common Core standards are not equalizing education within such narrow limits that they actually dumb down the expectations for 4-year college readiness to cater to career readiness and 2-year nonselective college readiness? People as diverse as Stanford’s Michael Kirst and Jason Zimba, Common Core architect, have addressed this issue but Utah has not done so on the USOE website or elsewhere.
2. Why is the board citing the retiring CCSSO leader Gene Wilhoit’s verbal assurances that “there’s no common core police” rather than believing what our state has committed to in writing, which is the federal government’s 15% speed limit on adding to the non-amendable standards, being copyrighted (by NGA/CCSSO) ?
Fact: We need to be able to add more than 15%. More than a year’s worth of math is missing for most grades, according to Dr. James Milgram, the only math professor on the Common Core Validation Committee. Speed limit on learning is set in stone at 15% in writing. Why is that okay with the Utah school board? Please explain.
3. It has been claimed that many teachers actually had input into the writing of the standards; yet no one I know, including myself, was ever asked to help write the national standards. And the copyright on the standards (held by NGA/CCSSO) states: NGA/CCSSO are the “sole developers” and sole owners, and “no claims to the contrary shall be made.” http://www.corestandards.org/public-license
4. Why was Common Core never piloted nor ever discussed in the public eye, with parents or teachers or legislators, before this transformative, experimental program was implemented across America?
5. How can Common Core avoid lowering standards for top-achieving students when “college and career readiness” means the exact same thing for 4-year college, 2-year college, and vocational school prep?
6. Why does Common Core diminish classic literature? What research supports this drastic change? What percentage of English Language Arts teachers and professors actually approve of this, or believe in the idea that this is increasing rigor and improving college prep? Do you know?
7. Common Core claims to improve international competitiveness. Why then is Algebra I introduced in 9th grade under Common Core, but it was previously introduced in 8th grade in most states and is introduced in 8th grade in the amazing Asian countries? Fact: Massachusetts had the highest standards in the nation but dropped them to adopt mediocre Common Core. Massachusetts even tested independently as an independent country, and ranked extremely high –but before Common Core.
8. If it is true, as has been claimed, that Common Core is a state-led program, then why is the federal government incentivizing its adoption via grants (Race to the Top and Race to the Top for Assessments)?
9. Why is the federal government further incentivizing its adoption via No Child Left Behind waivers if there are no federal strings attached?
10. How can states afford Common Core in this economy? Utah, like most states, hasn’t done a cost analysis. Texas and Virginia did a cost analysis and both states rejected the offer to join Common Core. (Texas estimated a $3 billion dollar implementation).
11. Why can’t we have an open, referenced, well-publicized public hearing on common core with experts from both sides being heard in a non-confrontational, non-argumentative way?
The Granite District meeting was dominated by Ms. Roberts’ long speech, with only 2 minutes then given for hundreds of members of the public; and no experts were given time there from the opposition to common core side.
12. Why hasn’t the Longitudinal Database System and the P-20 student tracking system been made transparent to the public, so that parents who would prefer not to have their child and family tracked by the government, could choose to send their children to private school or homeschool?
Let’s talk openly about these issues, for the good of the students, the teachers, the taxpayers, the general public, and the cause of liberty as it applies to education under the U.S. Constitution.
Have to repost this one. From the Washington Post this week:
Eight problems with Common Core Standards
By Marion Brady
E.D. Hirsch, Jr.’s book, “Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know,” was published March 1, 1987.
So it was probably in March of that year when, sitting at a dining room table in an apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, my host — a publishing executive, friend, and fellow West Virginian — said he’d just bought the book. He hadn’t read it yet, but wondered how Hirsch’s list of 5,000 things he thought every American should know differed from a list we Appalachians might write.
I don’t remember what I said, but it was probably some version of what I’ve long taken for granted: Most people think that whatever they and the people they like happen to know, everybody else should be required to know.
In education, of course, what it’s assumed that everybody should be required to know is called “the core.” Responsibility for teaching the core is divvied up between teachers of math, science, language arts, and social studies.
Variously motivated corporate interests, arguing that the core was being sloppily taught, organized a behind-the-scenes campaign to super-standardize it. They named their handiwork the Common Core State Standards to hide the fact that it was driven by policymakers in Washington D.C., who have thus far shoved it into every state except Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia.
This was done with no public dialogue, no feedback from experienced educators, no research, no pilot or experimental programs — no evidence at all that a floor-length list created by unnamed people attempting to standardize what’s taught is a good idea.
It’s a bad idea. Ignore the fact that specific Common Core State Standards will open up enough cans of worms to keep subject-matter specialists arguing among themselves forever. Consider instead the merit of Standards from a general perspective:
One: Standards shouldn’t be attached to school subjects, but to the qualities of mind it’s hoped the study of school subjects promotes. Subjects are mere tools, just as scalpels, acetylene torches, and transits are tools. Surgeons, welders, surveyors — and teachers — should be held accountable for the quality of what they produce, not how they produce it.
Two: The world changes. The future is indiscernible. Clinging to a static strategy in a dynamic world may be comfortable, even comforting, but it’s a Titanic-deck-chair exercise.
Three: The Common Core Standards assume that what kids need to know is covered by one or another of the traditional core subjects. In fact, the unexplored intellectual terrain lying between and beyond those familiar fields of study is vast, expands by the hour, and will go in directions no one can predict.
Four: So much orchestrated attention is being showered on the Common Core Standards, the main reason for poor student performance is being ignored—a level of childhood poverty the consequences of which no amount of schooling can effectively counter.
Five: The Common Core kills innovation. When it’s the only game in town, it’s the only game in town.
Six: The Common Core Standards are a set-up for national standardized tests, tests that can’t evaluate complex thought, can’t avoid cultural bias, can’t measure non-verbal learning, can’t predict anything of consequence (and waste boatloads of money).
Seven: The word “standards” gets an approving nod from the public (and from most educators) because it means “performance that meets a standard.” However, the word also means “like everybody else,” and standardizing minds is what the Standards try to do. Common Core Standards fans sell the first meaning; the Standards deliver the second meaning. Standardized minds are about as far out of sync with deep-seated American values as it’s possible to get.
Eight: The Common Core Standards’ stated aim — “success in college and careers”— is at best pedestrian, at worst an affront. The young should be exploring the potentials of humanness.
I’ve more beefs, but like these eight, they have to do with the quality of education, and the pursuit of educational quality isn’t what’s driving the present education reform farce.
An illustration: As I write, my wife is in the kitchen. She calls me for lunch. The small television suspended under the kitchen cabinets is tuned to CNN, and Time cover girl Michelle Rhee is being interviewed.
“On international tests,” she says, “the U.S. ranks 27th from the top.”
Michelle Rhee, three-year teacher, education reactionary, mainstream media star, fired authoritarian head of a school system being investigated for cheating on standardized tests, is given a national platform to misinform. She doesn’t explain that, at the insistence of policymakers, and unlike other countries, America tests every kid — the mentally disabled, the sick, the hungry, the homeless, the transient, the troubled, those for whom English is a second language. That done, the scores are lumped together. She doesn’t even hint that when the scores of the disadvantaged aren’t counted, American students are at the top.
If Michelle Rhee doesn’t know that, she shouldn’t be on CNN. If she knows it but fails to point it out, she shouldn’t be on CNN.
It’s hard not to compare Rhee with Jennifer, a friend of my oldest son. He wrote me recently:
…I asked Jenn if she was ready for school.
“I’m waiting for an email from my principal to find out if I can get into my classroom a week early.”
“Why a whole week?”
“To get my room ready.”
She teaches second graders. I ask her why she loves that grade. She laughs and says, “Because they haven’t learned to roll their eyes yet.”
But I know it’s much more than that. Her sister was down from Ohio for Jenn’s birthday, and when she asked her what she wanted, Jenn said she needed 18 sets of colored pencils, 18 boxes of #2 pencils, 18 boxes of crayons, construction paper, name tags and so on — $346 dollars total.
She’s been doing this for 25 years. I’m sure she makes less than I do, but they could probably cut her salary 25 or 30% and she’d still want to get into her room early.”
Rhee gets $50,000 a pop plus first-class travel and accommodations for putting in an appearance to tell her audiences what’s wrong with the Jennifers in America’s schools, and what clubs should be swung or held over their heads to scare them into shaping up.
Future historians (if there are any) are going to shake their heads in disbelief. They’ll wonder how, in a single generation, the world’s oldest democracy dismantled its engine — free, public, locally controlled, democratic education.
If they dig into the secretive process that produced the Common Core State Standards, most of their questions will be answered.
The following essays were written about Common Core by four teachers whose names are being protected. See http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/teacher-comments-on-common-core/
I just attended the Core Academy for math as an elementary teacher and was told for 4 straight days that the common core does NOT require math facts or the teaching of standard algorithms. I was taught how to teach solely using discovery learning or weird, unusable, at least with larger numbers, fuzzy math algorithms which actually make understanding place value unnecessary to solve problems requiring regrouping. What? I thought the core was supposed to help teachers REMEMBER to teach skills and standard algorithms … I am devastated and do not even know if I can teach in Utah if this is the direction we are going…aligning ourselves with Washington state which is all discovery and has some of the poorest performing math students in the country…where they still believe Terc Investigations is great Curriculum. May the saints preserve us all.
I teach in the ________ district. Our district is adopting the core and is very involved in training their teachers. I will be attending meetings at my school to receive training. What can I do, if anything to keep my job, but not be chained to teaching the core? Last year, we implemented the writing portion of the core. I followed the core. My students did not accomplish as much with the core, as with the program I had been using. This year, I am quietly going back to the writing program I used before. This year we will be implementing the core math curriculum, I think I will quietly take ideas that I like, but keep teaching what I know works. Any advice?
Last Tuesday, Rep. Kraig Powell hosted a forum in Heber on Common Core. In attendance at this meeting were a number of teachers and administrators including Wasatch Superintendent Shoemaker. At lunch, a teacher who is involved with trying to get Utah off Common Core, was speaking with Sup. Shoemaker and another long time teacher’s name came up that this teacher had student-taught under. The Superintendent told this teacher how fortunate it was that she student-taught under her because she was a master teacher. She told the Superintendent that this long time teacher told her she wasn’t thrilled with Common Core and the Superintendent replied, “I’m not surprised, a teacher like her wouldn’t be.” The exact note this master teacher had sent her was “too bad districts aren’t questioning [common core] instead of parents. As a teacher, I am having common core shoved down my throat. We’re back to the 70’s. Way to go on your endeavors. ”
I am a 3rd grade teacher at a Charter School in Utah. I am becoming very frustrated with Common Core, and I am starting to feel helpless, and feel that I am failing my students, which will one day affect me as they grow up and enter the workforce.
I attended the Math CORE Academy this summer and was told that Utah is not going to suggest a math book that will meet the new standards, instead I have to use whatever math book my school is using to create work for the students. It is incredibly difficult to teach the Common Core using Tasks with the math book we have, and I imagine it is just as difficult with any math book. First of all, it takes 2-3 hours to create a Task using a math book, I had to help create 2 at Core Academy. Secondly, the instructors encouraged us to leave out key pieces of information so that the students could construct their own knowledge. I cannot imagine elementary students doing well in Algebra or Calculus after spending years learning that whatever number they come up with is correct. I am frustrated that students are required to make a guess to solve the problem, and of course, they are correct, because any number they choose would work. They would then see that their classmates all chose different numbers, and yet all of the answers are correct? How confusing for an elementary student! I have decided to send these Tasks home as extra credit so that the parents in my class can see what to expect in the next school year. I am sure I will get many complaints that the problems are unsolvable, because important information has been left out! I believe that math has right and wrong answers, and that teaching students that any answer can be correct is foolish.
I am so upset that cursive has been removed from the Core! I had such a successful year last year teaching cursive. When I ask students during the first week of school what they are excited to learn in 3rd grade, at least 10 students say learning to write in cursive! I already had 2nd graders telling me they were so excited to be in 3rd grade so they could learn cursive. I am then supposed to deny them something they want to learn!? That is absurd! Even before the actual cursive instruction began, I had many students trying cursive on their own and asking if they were doing it correctly. My students became better readers because they learned cursive last year, seeing italics or cursive in books did not confuse them any more. Most of my students handwriting improved considerably once they could write in cursive, especially the boys’ handwriting. If I can’t teach cursive, the students will miss out on developing those fine motor skills- many suggest typing, but my students will only get keyboarding once a week, and yet I have set aside 20 minutes each day for them to learn cursive. I think it is also a way of self expression. I write in cursive all of the time; my signature is part of who I am. So, this generation will not be able to create a signature for themselves? Nor will they be able to read any handwriting other than print. It is so much fun for me and my students when I write on the board in cursive and they can read it! How empowering for them! They are all able to write faster in cursive, and even in third grade they realize this. They are learning to concentrate, and focus their attention- which is very helpful for all other areas of learning. They are learning to slow down, and watch what they are doing. They are learning the you have to work hard to get good at something, and yet they improve quickly enough that they are motivated to stick with it, they can see week by week that they are getting better. They are learning that practicing something over and over will help you get better. These skills are, in my opinion, only found in handwriting. There is nothing else that I can teach them that they can see improvement day by day, and that they can see themselves getting better at. Writing, math, science, social studies- none of these can show the student progression, nor help in motivating a student to keep trying. I am hoping that I can change my administrator’s mind about letting me teach cursive, but if they don’t I will certainly make sure the parents of my students know that I feel it is an important skill and I suggest that they teach their students at home.
If it comes down to being on the principle’s good side or doing what’s best for my 28 students, I’m going to do what’s best for my students. If I get fired, then I’ll look for another job and hope I can find one.
Many people are upset about federally imposed ”education reforms” that leave teachers and parents out of decision making. There’s now a nationwide ”Dump Duncan” movement that’s petitioning President Obama to fire the Secretary of Education.
Dump Duncan was started by two grandfathers, one in Washington State and one in New York, who are upset about what is happening to the public schools of the nation. Those who have signed the Letter to Obama include parents, teachers, college professors, and other citizens.
The petition asks the President for: a Secretary of Education who is a lifetime educator; a meaningful voice for teachers, parents and administrators in Dept. of Education decision making that affect them; an end to the compelling of municipalities to use student test data as a basis for evaluating teachers, and more.
“Dump Duncan” has a Facebook page, a “Dump Duncan” website and a petition at http://dumpduncan.org/ . It even put on an “Occupy the Department of Education” event this year.
There’s a collection of teacher-written poetry on the ”Dump Duncan” poetry contest page, and a lot of creative graphics uploaded by various petition signers. So far, there are about 6,000 Dump Duncan petition signers. This is what the full petition requests:
Dear President Obama,
We, the undersigned, a cross section of the nation’s teachers and their supporters, wish to express our extreme displeasure with the policies implemented during your administration by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Although many of us campaigned enthusiastically for you in 2008, it is unlikely that you will receive continued support unless the following three dimensions of your administration’s education initiatives are changed:
- The exclusion of teachers from policy discussions in the US Department of Education and from Education Summits called under your leadership.
- The use of rhetoric which blames failing schools on “bad teachers” rather than poverty and neighborhood distress.
- The use of federal funds to compel states and municipalities to use student test scores in the evaluation of teachers and as the basis for closing low performing schools.
Because of these policies, teachers throughout the nation have become discouraged and demoralized, undermining your own stated goals of improving teacher quality, upgrading the nation’s educational performance, and encouraging creative pedagogy rather than “teaching to the test.”
We therefore submit the following measures to put your administration’s education policy back on the right track and to bring teachers in as full partners in this effort:
- The removal of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education and his replacement by a lifetime educator who has the confidence of the nation’s teachers.
- The incorporation of parents, teachers, and school administrators in all policy discussion taking place in your administration, inside and outside the Department of Education.
- An immediate end to the use of incentives or penalties to compel states and municipalities to use student test scores as a basis for evaluating teachers, preferring charter schools to existing public schools, and requiring closure of low performing schools.
- Create a National Commission, in which teachers and parent representatives play a primary role, which explores how to best improve the quality of America’s schools.
We believe such policies will create an outpouring of good will on the part of teachers, parents and students which will promote creative teaching and educational innovation, leading to far greater improvements in the nation’s schools than policies which encourage a proliferation of student testing could ever hope to do.
I stumbled upon “Outside the Box,” another blog of another teacher who can’t stand Common Core. I will have to start keeping a list of blog links to teachers nationally who don’t believe the Common Core propaganda and who don’t want Common Core telling them what to do. It’s here: http://teacher-anon.blogspot.com/
This teacher is so mad –and so funny– that I have to repost part of her/his blog post here:
outside the box
where public education needs to happen. ~ musings from a highly-qualified, highly-effective, credentialed, enormously pissed off teacher… and sometimes i’ve just gotta use my outside voice.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Recently, my school district sent out a survey to teachers asking for input on the Common Crap Core National $tate $tandard$. The district has hand-picked a Common Core $tate $tandard$ Implementation Steering Committee to represent teachers and allow for transparency. Sadly, what my district tends to do is only select teachers who will passively, yet enthusiastically, suck down whatever Kool-Aid the district puts before them. If one is an advocate for doing what’s best for kids as opposed to corporations, well, don’t sit around waiting for a call to join a committee. And let me be clear: its not that my district evil, its just that they think they don’t have a choice, so they cowardly roll over and accept the truly bad ideas being shoved down from on high. Then the dominoes continue to fall as administrators push these bad ideas on teachers who are then expected to push them onto our students. This circle-of-educational-life truly sucks. No Hakuna Matatas from me. I’m seeing problems everywhere and it doesn’t look like they’re going to be going away any time soon.
So, though I doubt it will garner anything more than an eye roll and maybe an Oh, she’s the developmental one… followed by yet another eye roll, here’s my response to the survey:
Common Core $tate $tandards $urvey
1. What are you particularly excited about regarding the transition to CC$$?
· Is this a trick question? (I really wanted to say Are you #%!*$#% kidding me? but I’m trying to be somewhat professional.)
· And BTW – Most teachers don’t even know what the CC$ are or how they will impact our students and our profession.
2. What obstacles or issues do you foresee?
· Continued de-professionalization of teaching
· Teacher burnout from over a decade of top down mandates that have yet to close the achievement gap.
· Continued student burnout.
· Increased stress experienced by children, teachers and school districts due to increased high-stakes testing.
· Continued mislabeling of children as failures because they are not developmentally ready to master the standards.
· A further narrowing of the curriculum
3. What essential questions do you have regarding the $tandard$ or the transition?
· Why are only TK and K having to implement the CC$ in the 2012-13 school year? (Though I’d vote for NO one implementing them next year, or any year, for that matter!)
· Implementing the CC$ will be co$tly (follow the money): more profe$$ional development; more high-$take te$t$; more technology; new textbook$, etc. How can there be adequate funding for implementing all aspects of the CC$ when we are experiencing continued budgetary crises?
· The CC$ will require substantially more high-$take$ te$ting (Stephen Krashen predicts that testing will increase 20 fold.)
o More high-stakes testing = less teaching.
o More high-stakes testing = more teaching to the test.
o How are we going to protect our students from such abuse?
· The CC$ were NOT developed by classroom teachers or child development experts. We will still be in a ‘one size fits all’, test-centric environment, expecting ALL children to learn and master standards at the same pace. How will this benefit our children?
· Will our curricula become even more narrowed? (Hint: Yes)
· Will our curricula become even MORE test focused? (Hint: Yes)
· And, yes, are the CC$ developmentally appropriate at any grade level? (They aren’t at my grade level and they go against best practices based on rigorous, peer-reviewed research.)
· The CC$ diminishes the importance of fiction and personal narrative writing. Coleman, a leading idiot
author and smarmy
architect of the CC$, expressed his view of personal narrative quite succinctly: “[A]s you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pu6lin88YXU
Coleman is not an educator. Bill Gates, who bank rolled the CC$, is not an educator. Are we comfortable implementing standards that were determined by non-educators?
· Have we learned nothing from the failure of NCLB? Basing everything on one test score is lunacy. The most important things cannot be measured. Creativity in American students is declining. Duncan, Gates and Obama would never submit their own children to these mandates. Why are they submitting ours?
· Will the CC$ eventually be challenged in the courts as a violation of federal law that prohibits the federal government from imposing a national curriculum on our nation’s schools?
· How will implementing the CC$ close the achievement gap? Please be specific and cite peer-reviewed research to support your argument.
Interesting links addressing the CC$:
NCLB’s Lost Decade for Educational Progress: What Can We Learn from this Policy Failure?