Archive for February 2013

Professor Thomas Newkirk of University of New Hampshire Speaks About Common Core   1 comment

Thomas Newkirk image

Professor Thomas Newkirk of the University of New Hampshire has laid out the problems with Common Core in Speaking Back to the Common Core.  It is well worth our time to read every word.  He eloquently addresses each of the following points that characterize Common Core:

1.  Conflict of Interest.

2.  Misdiagnosis of the problem.

3. Developmental inappropriateness.

4. A sterile view of reading.

5. Underplaying role of narrative.

6.  A reform that gives extraordinary power to standardized tests.

7.  A bonanza for commercialism.

8. Standards directing instruction.

9.  Drowning out other conversations.

Newkirk explains this so well that I find myself reading and re-reading his words.  Not all articles are created equally.  This one is above and beyond.  I’ll post the first half and then the link:

Speaking Back to the Common Core

Thomas Newkirk

The Common Core initiative is a triumph of branding. The standards are portrayed as so consensual, so universally endorsed, so thoroughly researched and vetted, so self-evidently necessary to economic progress,  so broadly representative of beliefs in the educational community—that they cease to be even debatable. They are held in  common; they penetrate to the core of our educational aspirations, uniting even those who might usually disagree. We can be freed from noisy disagreement, and should get on with the work of reform.

This deft rollout may account for the absence of vigorous debate about the Common Core State Standards. If they represent a common core—a center—critics are by definition on the fringe or margins, whiners and complainers obstructing progress. And given the fact that states have already adopted them—before they were completely formulated—what is the point in opposition? We should get on with the task of implementation, and, of course, alignment.

But as the great rhetorician Kenneth Burke continually reminds us, all arguments are from a debatable perspective— there is no all-encompassing position, no argument from everywhere. The arguments that hide their controversial edges, their perspective, are the most suspect. “When in Rome act as the Greeks” he advises us. So in that spirit I would like to raise a series of concerns.

1. Conflict of interest. It is a fundamental principle of governance that those who establish the guidelines do not benefit financially from those guidelines. We don’t, for example, let representatives of pharmaceutical companies set health guidelines, for fairly obvious reasons. But in the case of the CCSS, the two major college testing agencies, the College Board and ACT, were engaged to write the standards, when it was obvious that they would create products (or had created products) to test them. The College Board, for example, almost immediately claimed that “The SAT demonstrates strong agreement to the Common Core Writing Standards and there is very strong agreement between the skills required on the SAT essay and the Common Core State Standards” (Vasavada et al. 2011, 5). In fact, the College Board claims that there is also a strong alignment between other products, the PSAT/NMSQT and Redistep, which starts in eighth grade.

Clearly, there is a conflict of interest here.

2. Misdiagnosis of the problem. A central premise of the CCSS is that students are not reading difficult enough texts and that we need to ramp up the complexity of the texts they encounter. I would argue that the more serious problem is that students cease to read voluntarily, generally around middle school—and fail to develop the stamina for difficult texts (Newkirk 2008). Once they get to high school, they are “overmatched” by standard books like Lord of the Flies and To Kill a Mockingbird (Smith and Wilhelm 2002)—and they resort to SparkNotes and other strategies that allow them to avoid reading the books. This evasion is epidemic in our schools. Increasing the complexity of what they read—and requiring books like Grapes of Wrath in ninth or tenth grade, as recommended by the CCSS—will only exacerbate the problem. In order to develop fluency and real reading power (that will enable students to tackle the classics), students need abundant practice with engaging contemporary writing that does not pose a constant challenge (or maybe a range of challenges) to them. The reading workshop models of Penny Kittle and Nancie Atwell provide a much more plausible road map for creating readers who can handle difficulty.

3. Developmental inappropriateness. It is clear now that the designers of the CCSS took a top-down approach, beginning with expectations for eleventh and twelfth graders and then working down to the earlier grades. The process, it seems to me, is one of downshifting; early college expectations (at least what I do in my college classes) are downshifted to eleventh or twelfth grade, and the process continues right into kindergarten. The target student texts in Appendix C are clearly those of exceptional, even precocious students; in fact, the CCSS has taken what I see as exceptional work, that of perhaps the top 5 percent of students, and made it the new norm. What had once been an expectation for fourth graders becomes the standard for second graders as in this example:

Write informative/explanatory texts in which they [i.e., second graders] introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points and provide a concluding statement. Normally this would be the expectation of an upper-elementary report; now it is the requirement for seven-year-olds.

It might be argued that high standards, even if they are beyond the reach of many students, will still be useful in raising performance. But if legitimately tested, these standards will result in a substantial proportion, in many schools a majority, of students failing to meet them—thus feeding the narrative of school failure (already the case in Kentucky). Given the experience with the unrealism of the No Child Left Behind demand for 100 percent proficiency, it seems to me unwise to move to a new set of unrealistic expectations.

4. A sterile view of reading. Another serious issue is the view of reading that underlies the standards. This view is spelled out by two authors of the English/Language Arts standards, David Coleman (now President of the College Board) and Susan Pimentel (2011) in a set of guidelines that are designed to help publishers align their material. It is a revealing and consequential document that helps us move beyond generalities to the way standards are to be taught (and most likely tested). Much of what Coleman and Pimentel say is appealing. I like the focus on thoughtful reading—and rereading. I agree that discussions can move away from the text too often (I can think of many examples from my own classes). I like the idea of helping students engage with challenging texts. And I like that they urge publishers to refrain from making pages so busy with distracting marginalia that they come to resemble People magazine.

The central message in their guidelines is that the focus should be on “the text itself”—echoing the injunctions of New Criticism during the early and mid-1900s. The text should be understood in “its own terms.” While the personal connections and judgments of the readers may enter in later, they should do so only after students demonstrate “a clear understanding of what they read.” So the model of reading seems to have two stages—first a close reading in which the reader withholds judgment or comparison with other texts, focusing solely on what is happening within “the four corners of the text.” And only then are prior knowledge, personal association, and appraisal allowed in.

This seems to me an inhuman, even impossible, and certainly unwise prescription. Test it out yourself on the opening to Jennifer Egan’s

 A Visit from the Goon Squad:

Found Objects

It began the usual way, in the bathroom of the Lassimo Hotel. Sasha was adjusting her yellow eye shadow in the mirror when she noticed a bag on the floor beside the sink that must have belonged to the woman whose peeing she could faintly hear through the vaultlike door of the toilet stall. Inside the rim of the bag, barely visible, was a wallet made of pale green leather. It was easy for Sasha to recognize, looking back, that the peeing woman’s blind trust had provoked her. We live in a city where people will steal the hair off your head if you give them half a chance, but you leave your stuff lying in plain sight and expect it to be waiting for you when you come back. It made her want to teach the woman a lesson. (2011, 3)

My own reading focus was on Sasha’s thought process, how she is beginning to rationalize the taking of this woman’s wallet. But when I shared this opening with female readers, many of them picked up the detail of the yellow eye shadow, something I had totally ignored. What kind of woman wears yellow eye shadow? What do you say about yourself when you wear it? Combined with the fact that Sasha seems familiar with bathrooms in swank hotels, some speculated that she was a prostitute (not a bad guess as it turns out). But these readers were hardly staying in the four corners of the text; they were using their knowledge of makeup and the message it sends. It’s what readers do.

To get down to practicalities, there is bound to be great confusion about what a “text-dependent question” is. Must that question stay within the “four corners of the text” and not draw on prior experience or knowledge? Purely literal questions can be confined in this way, but any inference or judgment rests on some information not in the text (as in the case of the eye shadow). Even language itself evokes a world beyond the text. As two Stanford psychologists put it: “The bare text is something like a play script that the reader uses like a theatre director to construct in imagination a full stage production” (Bower and Morrow 1990, 44). We can never stay within the four corners of the text—even if we tried…

5. Underplaying role of narrative. The CCSS present us with a “map” of writing types that is fundamentally flawed—because it treats “narrative” as a type of discourse, distinguished from “informational” and “argumentative” writing. In doing so (and the CCSS are not alone in this), they fail to acknowledge the central role narrative plays in all writing, indeed in human understanding. Mark Turner, a cognitive psychologist and literary critic, puts the claim this way: “Narrative imagining—story—is the fundamental instrument of thought. Rational capacities depend on it. It is our chief means of looking into the future, of predicting, of planning, of explaining”…

Read the rest: http://heinemann.com/shared/onlineresources%5CE02123%5CNewkirk_Speaking_Back_to_the_Common_Core.pdf

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Thanks to Professor Newkirk for his research, talent and the time spent on this topic –which must not be drowned out by the loud messages of those who benefit financially from the fact that few understand what Common Core really is.

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Radio Podcast: The Rod Arquette Show with Alisa Ellis   Leave a comment

 

Last night, the Rod Arquette radio show discussed Common Core again with Alisa Ellis speaking.  Here’s the podcast.

Diane Ravitch on Common Core: First Do No Harm   Leave a comment

Diane Ravitch has finally put her foot down. In this article, she explains that although she had long advocated voluntary national standards, the Common Core doesn’t meet the hope she had for them; the CCSS process is fundamentally flawed in the way these standards were foisted upon states and in the way that they can just as easily be doing harm, as doing good, to public education.

Diane Ravitch's blog

I have thought long and hard about the Common Core standards.

I have decided that I cannot support them.

In this post, I will explain why.

I have long advocated for voluntary national standards, believing that it would be helpful to states and districts to have general guidelines about what students should know and be able to do as they progress through school.

Such standards, I believe, should be voluntary, not imposed by the federal government; before implemented widely, they should be thoroughly tested to see how they work in real classrooms; and they should be free of any mandates that tell teachers how to teach because there are many ways to be a good teacher, not just one. I envision standards not as a demand for compliance by teachers, but as an aspiration defining what states and districts are expected to do. They should serve as a promise that…

View original post 1,126 more words

Posted February 26, 2013 by Christel Swasey in Uncategorized

Children need more parental warmth and less institutionalization   1 comment

A friend forwarded the article below to me.  I have to repost the whole thing– there’s not a sentence I can leave out.  The authors, Raymond and Dorothy Moore, point out that parental time and warmth –and less child-institutionalization– benefits children in significant ways.  This method creates the success that eludes the institutions who attempt to force ever more government styled schooling upon ever-younger members of society.

This article validates what I see every day at home.  But before you read the Moore article, I want to explain why it means so much to me.

This is our first year doing homeschool and we’re thriving.  My fourth grader liked his public school teacher and the children in his class, but he so disliked being institutionalized.

He disliked the one-size-fits-all approach to computers, to math, to art, to most things.  He disliked the repetitious “sell-stuff” and “anti-bully” assemblies.  He disliked having so little time at home.  But he didn’t know how to articulate these things fully. He said that he was bored.

Now homeschooling my nine year old (and two year old) we have learned so much together.  (No matter how many degrees any adult has, there are so many knowledge gaps.  There is so much to learn or re-learn while teaching– in geography, biography, science, literature, history.)

We do a lot of out-loud reading.  And he reads alone plenty, too.

This year he has read books I couldn’t have imagined he was capable of comprehending and enjoying at age nine:  Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Twain’s Tom Sawyer, for example.  We’re starting Dickens’ Great Expectations this week.  Did I mention that he’s a fourth grader?

He was not previously a stand out academic at the top of his school class; yet now he’s far ahead of his age group.  Why?

His curriculum is so far beyond what the governments hope for: to  churn out worker bees –or “human capital.”

His curriculum’s limitless; it’s customized to his abilities, interests, faith  and curiosity;  he gets to independently explore; he gets to bask in the love of his family every day.  Who wouldn’t thrive?

He has come to the end of the 5th/6th grade Saxon math book (the old, trustworthy, pre-common core text) already; he has read U.S. History and world geography, learned about the elements, electricity and astronomy; studied the life of Joseph of Egypt, short stories and  Fairy Tales.  He has written Haiku, Limericks, fiction, a 500-word essay (for a contest) and all kinds of codes.

I give him a lot of freedom.  I rarely force anything because I want him to love learning and love life. I don’t impose things unless I feel very strongly about them, and then I do it in small amounts:  some cursive, some grammar, some sentence diagramming, some multiplication drills, all Swedish conversing all day (until my husband comes home).

On his own, he has studied volcanoes, cars, optical illusions, magic tricks, dinosaurs and inventions.  The things my nine year old loves, we do much more of:  math, talking, reading, and field trips.

Other things we minimize.  For example, although I wanted him to learn a lot of music (piano) he’s not that interested, so we only do a little.   I wanted him to do calligraphy, but he’s not that interested, so he draws.  I want him to do more reading in Swedish, but he only wants to do a little.  (He does speak Swedish with me, but doesn’t want to read much in Swedish.)

I let him take time to live life, to sit on a swing, to visit new places, see animals, play with his baby brother or his cars, his legos –or waste time in the bathtub long after his hair’s been washed, if there are experiments with bubbles or food coloring or squirt guns or thinking that he wants to do.  One day he spent hours making Valentine’s Day decorations; another day he spent hours organizing his drawers and his room.  We plant things and make things and I let him sit and think.

And the two year old?  Well, I don’t believe in “schooling” two year olds, but I do read to my two year old almost every time he wants to, and I speak only Swedish to him and ask him questions all day.  He shouts: “MAFF!” (math) and grabs a pencil and does his hieroglyphics in his way while the nine year old does his Saxon math lesson.  The two year old loves to point out letters of the alphabet everywhere we go.   And when the two year old interrupts the nine year old’s lesson one too many times, we don’t call for a babysitter.  We just go outside or take an early lunch or put on his favorite Swedish YouTube video, or move the lesson into the hallway, so we can distract the two year old with toys from another room.

I give this as an introduction to why I appreciate the article below so much.  It rings so true to me now.  I would not fully have appreciated it a year ago.

This article is enlightening for everyone, whether you choose to homeschool or not.  It shows a parent what a child really needs to thrive.

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When Education Becomes Abuse:

A Different Look at the Mental Health of Children

By Raymond S. Moore, Dorothy Moore

Reposted from http://www.moorefoundation.com/article/48/about-moore-home-schooling/moore-foundation/articles/when-education-becomes-abuse

“We need more parent education and less institutionalizing of young children.”

In Acres of Diamonds, Russell Conwell’s most famous Chautauqua story, Al Hafed sold his farm to finance his quest for a legendary diamond mine. He searched the world over until his fortune was gone. He died penniless, unaware that a vast diamond deposit had been discovered in the river sands which snaked through his own backyard, now the famed Golconda Diamond Mines.

America’s quest for excellence—for healthy, self directed, student minds—very well could have the same ending.

From the White House to the humblest home, Americans are groping for answers to declines in literacy, ethics, and general behavior which threatens our nation. Apparently, few have noticed the close relationship between the achievement, behavior and sociability we prefer, and the lifestyles that we impose on our children daily which may amount to our most pervasive form of child abuse. For example, a surprising ignorance or indifference exists to peer dependency, a mental health nemesis that is rampant even in preschools.

Instead of studying how best to meet their needs, we often put our “little ones” out of the home, away from environments that best produce outgoing, healthy, happy, creative children. In a federally-sponsored analysis of more than 8,000 early childhood studies, Moore Foundation concluded that the United States is rushing its little ones out of the home and into school long before most, particularly boys, are ready. [1] The effect on mental and emotional health is deeply disturbing. Dropout rates also are mute testimony, though in some cases, the dropout, like Thomas Edison, is more fortunate than those who stay.

From Piagetian specialist David Elkind in Boston to William Rohwer in Berkeley, Calif., top learning and development authorities warn that early formal school is burning out our children. Teachers who attempt to cope with these youngsters also are burning out. The learning tools of the average child who enrolls today between the ages of four and six or seven are neither tempered nor sharp enough for the structured academic tasks that increasingly are thrown at them. Worse still, we destroy positive sociability.

The sequence for the average child these days often spells disaster for both mental and physical health in a sure sequence:1) uncertainly as the child leaves the family nest early for a less secure environment, 2) puzzlement at the new pressures and restrictions of the classroom, 3) frustration because unready learning tools — senses, cognition, brain hemispheres, coordination — cannot handle the regimentation of formal lessons and the pressures they bring, 4) hyperactivity growing out of nerves and jitter, from frustration, 5) failure which quite naturally flows from the four experiences above, and 6) delinquency which is failure’s twin and apparently for the same reason.

RESEARCH

Indifference to the mental and emotional health of children is not new. The pages of history outline great cycles that began with vigorous cultures awaking to the needs of children and ending with surrender of family ties and the death of societies and empires.

Research provides a link from past to present and provides a moving perspective on children today. Persuasive reasons exist for declining literacy, academic failures, widespread delinquency, and rampant peer dependency. All four act in concert to deny our goal of happy, confident children who are healthy in body, mind, and spirit.

Whether or not we can be conclusive about causes, America’s decline in literacy from the estimated 90 percentiles in the last century to the 50 percentiles today parallels the parental scramble to institutionalize children at ever younger ages. [2]

Achievement

The Moore Foundation analyses [1] concluded that, where possible, children should be withheld from formal schooling until at least ages eight – ten. Elkind [3] warned against student burnout which has become pervasive in American schools. Rohwer [4] agreed, basing his conclusions in part on investigations in 12 countries by Sweden’s Torsten Husen. Husen subsequently confirmed Rohwer’s perceptions, according to a letter from Husen, Nov. 23, 1972. Rohwer, with deep concern for conceptual demands of reading and arithmetic, offered a solution:

“All of the learning necessary for success in high school can be accomplished in only two or three years of formal skill study. Delaying mandatory instruction in the basic skills until the junior high school years could mean academic success for millions of school children who are doomed to failure under the traditional school system.”

Torsten Husen: Conversations in Comparative Education

This solution would delay school entrance at least until the child is 11 or 12, ages which become critical.

In face of present practice, how can these remarks be justified, bearing in mind that the present and future health of the child is at stake? First, children normally are not mature enough for formal school programs until their senses, coordination, neurological development, and cognition are ready. Piagetian experiments have shown repeatedly that cognitive maturity may not come until close to age 12.

Interestingly, the ancient Bar Mitzvah of the Orthodox Jew provided no schooling until after age 12 when the child was considered able to accept full responsibility for his actions. Fisher, then considered dean of American psychiatrists, wrote in 1950 how he started school at 13, unable to read or write. Graduating from a Boston high school at 16, he thought he was a genius until he found that any “normal” child could do it. He added, “if a child could be assured of a wholesome home life and proper physical development, this might provide the answer to … a shortage of qualified teachers.” [5]

Nearly a century ago, Dewey [6] called for school entry at age eight or later. A half century ago, Skeels [7] proved that loving, though retarded, teenagers made remarkably good teachers.  A quarter century ago, Geber [8] demonstrated that mothers in the African bush brought up children who were more socially and mentally alert than youngsters of the elite who could afford preschool. Warmth was the key.

Still later, Mermelstein and others [9] proved that, at least until ages nine or ten, children who went to school did no better than those who did not attend school. De Rebello (unpublished data, January 1985) reported that dropouts who find employment are ahead of their peers in mental and social perception.

Few conventional educators understand this situation. We do not understand fully the damage of frustration nor denial of free exploration, nor the value of warmth as a learning motivator, nor yet the tutorial method which historically never has been equaled.

A UCLA study [10] of 1,016 public schools found that teachers averaged about seven minutes daily in personal exchanges with their students. This would allow for no more than one or two personal responses for each student. In contrast, our counts of daily responses in typical home schools ranged from about 100 to more than 300.

We should not be shocked then by the Smithsonian Report [11] on genius which offered a three -part recipe for high achievement, consisting of 1) much time spent with warm, responsive parents and other adults, 2) very little time spent with peers, and 3) a great deal of free exploration under parental guidance.

Study director Harold McCurdy concluded:

“the mass education of our public school system is, in its way, a vast experiment on reducing … all three factors to a minimum; accordingly, it should tend to suppress the occurrence of genius.” [11]

At the Moore Foundation we recently obtained the court-approved standardized test scores of children whose mothers or fathers were arrested for teaching at home. Most parents were of low socio-economic status with less formal education than usual, yet , the children averaged 80.1%, or 30 percentile ranks higher than the nation’s average classroom child.

Very young children do indeed learn very fast, as is commonly believed, yet only in proportion to their maturity.

The child who combines cognitive maturity with eight – ten years more of free exploration has developed thousands of “learning hooks” and an ability to reason consistently which is impossible for the younger child. Without this maturity, and confined to a classroom, the child often becomes anxious, frustrated, and eventually learning disabled.

Sociability

The common assumption these days is that well – socialized children require the association schools afford. Replicable evidence clearly points the other way. Cornell studies [12] found that children who spend more elective time with their peers than with their parents until the fifth or sixth grades — about ages 11 or 12 — will become peer dependent. Such “knuckling under” to peer values incurs four losses crucial to sound mental health and a positive sociability. These losses are self worth, optimism, respect for parents, and trust in peers.

The loss to boys is of particular concern academically, behaviorally, and socially. Despite their widely-acknowledged delay in maturity, we demand their enrollment in school at the same ages as girls. In recent years, many reports suggest that boys are several times as likely as girls to fail, become delinquent, or acutely hyperactive. Perhaps most ominous are recent (Education Week, March 14, 1984, p. 19) findings in American high schools that there are eight boys for each girl in classes for the emotionally impaired, and 13 boys for each girl are in remedial learning groups. Self worth, male identity, and respect for women are lost—unfortunate outcomes especially in today’s society.

A COMMON SENSE SOLUTION

We need more parent education and less institutionalizing of young children.

In the home school renaissance, hundreds of thousands of parents have re-evaluated their child-rearing roles and have begun to study warmly their children’s developmental needs. The result is higher achieving, better behaving, self-directed children.

Some demur, pointing to Head Start. Yet, the Ypsilanti study, the only long -range experiment consistently upholding Head Start, involves the home far more than typical programs. Even such key Head Start founders as Bloom and Nimnicht now laud the home as the best learning nest and parents as the best teachers. [13,14] In physical health and behavior — in exposure to disease (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 5, 1984) and to negative aggressive acts — the home is 15 times as safe as the average day care center.[15]

Several suggestions can help us improve the mental and emotional health of our children:

1) More of home and less of formal school;

2) More free exploration with the guidance of warm, responsive parents and fewer limits of classrooms and books;

3) More concern for readiness for learning and ability to think and less training to be simple repeaters;

4) More attention to educating parents and less to institutionalizing young children;

5) More and higher priorities to child-rearing and fewer to material wants; and

6) More old fashion chores —children working with parents—and less attention to rivalry sports and amusements.

To some educators and parents such ideas may appear prosaic or dull—like the backyard Al Hafed left. Yet, everyone likes diamonds, and that backyard can be an exciting place.

Anything else may be more child abuse than education.

References

1. Moore RS: School Can Wait. Provo, Utah, Brigham Young University Press, 1979, pp 175-186

2. The Adult Performance Level Project (APL). Austin, Texas, University of Texas, 1983

3. Elkind D: The case for the academic preschool: Fact or fiction: Young Child 1970; 25:180-188.

4. Rohwer WD Jr.: Prime time for education: Early childhood or adolescence? Harvard Education Rev 1971;41:316-341

5. Fisher JT, Hawley LSH: A Few Buttons Missing. Philadelphia JB Lippincott, 1951, p 14.

6. Dewey J: The primary education fetish. Forum 1898; 25:314-328

7. Skeels HM: Adult Status of Children with Contrasting Early Life Experiences: A follow-up study. Chicago, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1966.

8. Geber M: The psycho-motor development of African children in the first year, and the influence of maternal behavior. J Soc Psychol 1958;47: 185-195

9. Mermelstein E, Shulman LS: Lack of formal schooling and the acquisition of conversation. Child Dev 1967;38:39-52

10. Goodlad JI: A study of schooling: Some findings and hypotheses. Phi Delta Kappan 1983;64(7):465

11. McCurdy HG: The childhood pattern of genius. Horizon 1960;2:33-38

12. Bronfenbrenner U: Two Worlds of Childhood; US and USSR. New York, Simon and Schuster, 1970,pp97-101.

13. Bloom BS: All Our Children Learning. Wash. DC, McGraw-Hill, 1980

14. Hoffman BH: Do you know how to play with your child? Women’s Day 1972;46:118-120.

15. Farran D: Now for the bad news….Parents Magazine 1982 (Sept.)

Journal of School Health February 1986, Vol. 56, No. 2 73

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Thank you, Raymond and Dorothy Moore.

What One Person Can Do To Stop Common Core   28 comments

Across the nation, many people are beginning to raise concerns about implementing Common Core in our schools.

Wondering what you can do?  Here are some suggestions that add to what you’ll find in Truth in American Education’s action center tool kit.

1) Check this map of the U.S. to see if legislative educational liberty movements are happening in your state.

2) Check this spreadsheet to see if there are people fighting common core in your state and join them.

3) If nothing is happening at all in your state, do an internet search for Race to the Top application  (name your own state) and find the application from Jan. 2010
4) Go to your state school board’s minutes site and find out at which meeting the CCSS were approved (June 2, 2010 the standards were finalized… states such as Illinois approved them 22 days later!)
5) Like Truth in American Education because this is a main hub for national cooperation.

6) Start speaking to friends, teachers and family about common core — many use Facebook FB, Twitter, Pinterest, email, etc.

7) Call or write your state representatives.

8) Sign your state’s educational liberty petition  or start one.  If you need assistance, ask people from other states for help.

9) Attend local and state school board meetings and visit or call your state superintendent to find out who actually cares about this issue.  Sample questions to ask:

  • Where can I read our state’s cost analysis for implementing Common Core and its tests?
  • What is the amendment process for Common Core standards if we find out they are not working for us?
  • Where can I see for myself the evidence that Common Core standards have been proven to be of superior quality and that they are internationally benchmarked?
  • Where can I see for myself evidence that Common Core’s transformations  (deleting cursive, minimizing classic literature, moving away from traditional math, etc.) –will benefit our children?
  • What is the American process of representation of individuals in the Common Core education and assessments  system?
  • Does it seem good that the meetings of the standards writers (the CCSSO/NGA) are all closed-door meetings?
  • I read that there is a 15% cap on a state adding to the Core; so what do we do if we need to add a whole lot more to actually prepare our children well?
  • Although I have been told that Common Core is state-led, I missed the invitation to discuss this before it was decided for me and my children; please explain the analysis and vetting process for the upcoming national science and social studies standards.
  • The Constitution assigns education to the states, not to the federal government.  Also, the federal General Educational Provisons Act (GEPA) states: “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…”    In light of this, please explain why our state has agreed to intense micromanagement by the federal government under Common Core testing.

 

ALABAMA DEBATES COMMON CORE WITHDRAWAL THIS WEEK   Leave a comment

 

This is a huge week for educational liberty and for the future quality of education in Alabama.  Other states are watching breathlessly.

The AL legislature will listen to testimony from both sides of the argument and will decide whether or not to pass SB 190.  If passed, the bill would:

  • prohibit implementation of Common Core;
  • prohibit state bodies from compiling/sharing data about students or teachers except under limited circumstances;
  • prohibit the State Board of Education from ceding control to an entity outside the state; and
  • require notice and public hearings before the State Board of Education adopts or implements any statewide standards.

 

This is such a good and important bill –for reasons that are academic, financial and constitutional.

Yet, Alabama’s pro-common core superintendent fears that Alabama will be “an island” if the state votes to withdraw from Common Core.

An island of educational freedom in a nation of now mostly fettered states– is bad thing?

An island of potentially high educational standards that could soar beyond the unpiloted experiment called Common Core– that’s a bad thing?

An island of educational solvency, no longer under mandate to implement the costly and unwanted technologies demanded by Common Core– also a bad thing?

Both the pro- and anti- Common Core groups cite detrimental effects on the economy and on the children’s academic achievements as reasons to implement –or to drop– Common Core.  Only the pro-common core side cites a fear of being isolated.

I’ll bet there were people in the 1700’s who feared withdrawing from Great Britain’s rule over the American colonies for the same reason.  There are always those who would prefer to risk dying like a lemming than to stand independently.

My questions to the AL superintendent would be:

How bad was it before, when we were “isolated,” before the advent of Common Core?  Were we unable to work collaboratively with other states before?  If not, what prevents us from working with others now?  We don’t have to be fettered to others to collaborate with the best they have to offer.

What Alabama –or any state– would be isolated from, would be great things to skip out on:  skip the unpiloted experiment, skip the micromanagement of state education data by the federal testing/data collection system; skip “standards” mandates coming forth from secret closed-door meetings of the CCSSO (the Council of Chief State School Officers, FYI, is a group that, along with whomever Bill Gates pays to join his agenda– created, and continues to create, the federally-promoted common standards.)

Many people across the nation are praying for Alabama this week.  We are praying that those who study this issue look at the whole issue and all of its intended and unintended consequences.

It is not enough to study common core on academic points, although they are in trouble on their own; the Common Core initiative hurts the states it touches in many ways– in academics, in finances, in constitutionality, and in the ability to have any voice in future decisions over local education.

 

Map of States Wanting Freedom From Common Core   1 comment

Which States Want Freedom from Common Core?   The red and blue states are strongest.  Click to see Truth In American Education‘s map.

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