Archive for the ‘commoncore’ Tag

Dr. Peg Luksik: The Unasked Question   4 comments

The Unasked Question

by Dr. Peg Luksik

Reposted from http://foundedontruth.com/index.php/battlelines-news-info/32-the-unasked-question

The public debate over the Common Core Standards is intensifying as parents and teachers learn more about the changes to our educational system.

When the proponents of the standards mention them, they always begin with the word “rigorous”.  The word is always used, and there is never a synonym.  This is marketing at its finest.

Who could ever be opposed to rigorous standards that would make America’s children college and career-ready?

Then the definition of “rigorous” began to emerge.  To quote the training materials being used with teachers across Pennsylvania, rigor does not mean “difficult, as AP Calculus is difficult”.  Rigor meant… that lots of effort would be required.  In the example given by one of the official presenters, the rigorous activity in a high school chemistry class was to have the students use balls to build little models of each of the atoms in the Periodic Table.  She explained that the brightest students were frustrated with this activity because they were not used to having to do such “rigorous” work.

And now the Common Core based secondary school math assessment has been revealed.  To meet these “rigorous” new standards and be able to graduate from high school, America’s students will have to pass Algebra I.

In testimony before the PA Senate Education Committee this month, a proponent of these standards was asked about this situation.  He responded that a graduate only needed Algebra I to be “career-ready” – which he clarified by specifying that he was referring to working a service or manufacturing job or joining the military.

His response brings us to the unasked questions in this movement to radically restructure our schools.

Who is the client of the educational system? What is the purpose of  education?

In classical education, which is how most adults over the age of 35 were taught, the client of education was the child, and the purpose was to give each child the ability to reach his fullest potential.  The school was supposed to open doors so children from any background would have the chance to achieve their dreams.  Educational programs were not aimed at what a child “only needed” – they were aimed at giving each child as many options as possible.  They aimed a child at the ceiling instead of the floor.

And in reaching the ceiling, those adults learned what they needed to find and keep a job.  Some of them went to college and some of them entered the work force and some of them joined the military.  But those decisions were theirs, based on their abilities and preferences and effort.  And if they decided to make a different choice, they had the ability to do so.

But the Common Core changes the answers to those basic questions.  In the new system, the client of the educational system is business, and the purpose of the educational system is to create a work force with the skills they need to do the job.  And if the job only requires Algebra I, then, as the gentleman testifying said, there is no need for the workers in that job to have any education beyond Algebra I.

Who decides which students will be allowed to continue learning and which will be stopped at “the skills they need to do their jobs”?

That too is an un-asked, and un-answered, question.

And it is the most chilling question of all.

http://foundedontruth.com/index.php/battlelines-news-info/32-the-unasked-question

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Thanks to Dr. Luksik for her essay.

Ask Utah Businesses to Stop Pushing Common Core and Prosperity 2020   6 comments

On August 9, 2012, two groups sent a mass mailer to all legislators in Utah.

The two groups are  Prosperity 2020,   a business group led by our Governor, and a politcal action group Education First, who say they are a business-led movement concered with accountability.   They do explain that their vision is to “champion educational investment,” but they never explain who is accountable to whom, and under what law they assume authority for such accountability.

Since when do business leaders take such an interest in elementary schools and secondary schools?  What are all the reasons for this going out of their way– just altruism?  What do they hope to gain?  Why are they promoting the awful, untested experiment of Common Core? What will be the intended or unintended consequences of having businesses influence what’s taught in our schools? 

They use the claim of “consensus” rather than persuading others that their group and its goals are based on a legitimate constitutional or voter-based foundation.

Has anyone noticed the extreme similarities between Prosperity 2020’s goals and Obama’s 2020 vision?  Has nobody noticed how many “2020” groups exist nationally and internationally? Why isn’t anyone questioning Prosperity 2020 in the local news?

Well, this is what last summer’s letter said.

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PROSPERITY 2020

IT STARTS WITH EDUCATION

August 9, 2012

RE:  SUPPORT FOR COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS

Utah business leaders have organized a movement– Prosperity 2020– to advance educational investment and innovation.  We share a common vision with Education First, a citizens group dedicated to improved accountability, innovation and increased investment for education in Utah.  Our vision is that Utah’s educated and trained workforce will propel Utah to enduring prosperity

Prosperity and Education First comprise the largest business led education movement in state history.

During the 2012 legislative session, Prosperity 2020 championed Common Core implementation accompanied by robust student assessment…

Business leaders have found consensus support for Utah’s utilization of Common Core… We stand with… our state board of education in moving forward with Common Core….

Prosperity 2020 and Education First are prepared to again champion educational investment and innovation during the 2013 legislative session…

———————–

And on and on the letter goes.

I am concerned about the effect of public-private partnerships on true capitalism and individual representation.  It appears that Prosperity 2020 and Education First are concerned primarily about the economy, not about the well being of children or teachers.  Evidence for this lies in the fact that even the state school board admits there is no evidence to support the theories upon which the Common Core experiment is built– it’s based on unfounded “consensus” and money-hungry “trust.”

These groups represent businesses and a political action committee, linking arms with the governing powers of Utah’s education system– for financial gain.

It’s scary.

Do you know about public-private-partnerships?  Study it.

“What is a public-private partnership? What purposes were they supposedly created to serve? What, on the other hand, is free enterprise? Are the two compatible? In answering these questions we shall see that although advocates of public-private partnerships frequently speak of economic development, public-private partnerships really amount to economic control—they are just one of the key components of the collectivist edifice being built…  -Dr. Steven Yates (Professor Yates’ white paper is available here. )

His main points are these:

  • Public-private partnerships really amount to economic control—they are just one of the key components of the collectivist edifice
  • The individual person does not own himself; he exists to serve the state or the collective
  • Public-private partnerships bring about a form of “governance” alien to the founding principles of Constitutionally limited government, government by consent of the governed
  • Vocationalism in education makes sense if one’s goals are social engineering, since it turns out worker bees who lack the  tools to think about the policies shaping their lives

By not questioning the motivations and the possibly unintended consequences of these public-private partnerships, we set ourselves up to lose even more local control and voter representation.

Let’s analyze Prosperity 2020 a little bit more.  Let’s not “consensus” our way to disaster.

KrisAnne Hall of Florida Speaks Out   4 comments

Worth watching to the end.

No More Databases Tracking Our Kids Without Our Consent!   4 comments

I want to share this most VITAL point recently articulated on the Utahns Against Common Core website by Utah parent Oak Norton:

“We totally agree [with the State Office of Education] that we should strengthen privacy laws. In fact, the most secure way to secure our children’s personally identifiable information is to NOT STORE IT IN A DATABASE.  It’s pathetic that the USOE and State Board signed us onto this whole mess with grant and wavier applications and now go running to the legislature (whom they constantly criticize for interfering in education), and ask them to protect them from themselves. HELLO??? Who signed the waivers and applications? The Board President, State Superintendent, and the Governor.

The best way to protect this data is to unwind it.”

Cato Institute on Indiana’s “Time Out” Law Against Common Core   Leave a comment

Neal McClusky of Cato Institute has written an Op-Ed for the IndyStar. Read the whole thing here:

Highlights:

“Indiana has just shot into the spotlight of the education world, with the legislature voting over the weekend to hit the pause button on the Common Core national curriculum standards. But this action is just the loudest strike in a growing backlash against the Core, a revolt set off by the arrival of the federally backed standards in schools across the country. And people are right to be wary, especially since Core supporters have too often ridiculed dissenters instead of engaging in honest debate.
While 45 states have adopted the Common Core, don’t mistake that for enthusiastic, nationwide support. States were essentially coerced into adopting by the President’s Race to the Top program, which tied federal dough to signing on. Even if policymakers in recession-hobbled states would have preferred open debate, there was no time. Blink, and the money would be gone. Which isn’t to say there wasn’t opposition — there certainly was among policy wonks — but most people hadn’t heard of the standards at adoption time, and their effects wouldn’t be felt for several years.

…Indiana is arguably the highest-profile rebel, with its new legislation set to halt implementation of the core so Hoosiers can, at the very least, learn about what they’re getting into. Nationally, the Republican National Committee has officially condemned the standards, while several states are in the process of potentially withdrawing from the core. Finally, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has requested that a Senate subcommittee handling education end federal meddling in standards and assessment.

…Rather than address worries and evidence that the Common Core is empirically ungrounded, moves the country closer to a federal education monopoly and treats unique children like identical cogs, supporters have often smeared opponents and dodged constructive debate.

… Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, complained that the move “will bestow a degree of legitimacy upon the anti-standards coalition.” –As if the people who have been decrying the absence of research support for national standards, potential flaws in its content, or other logic and evidence-based concerns have all somehow been illegitimate.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — a leading Common Core spokesperson — elected to dismiss the RNC as ignorant for resisting the Core. “I don’t really care if the RNC, based on no information, is going to oppose this because of some emotional pitch,” he said. This despite the RNC resolution offering several valid reasons for opposing the Core, including the indisputable fact of federal coercion.

To be sure, there are some specious arguments being made against the Common Core, such as the claim that it requires schools to ditch Emerson in favor of reading EPA regulations. Such assertions should be refuted by people on both sides. But those are hardly the only concerns of Core opponents, and many standards supporters are guilty of no lesser deception when they insist, for instance, that the Common Core is “state-led” and “voluntary.”

…As Common Core continues to be implemented, the chorus of opposition is likely to grow, and it is critical that supporters and opponents alike keep sight of their truly common goal: improving American education. Dodging honest discussion is no way to get there.

McCluskey is associate director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom and author of the report http://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/behind-curtain-assessing-case-national-curriculum-standards.

Wyoming Teacher: “Should We Turn a Blind Eye and Be Led Like Sheep Off a Cliff?”   6 comments

Truth in American Education posted a powerful article from a Wyoming teacher that I hope many people read.

It’s so ironic.  In this article, the teacher says that an administrator told the teachers “not to use school resources to push political agendas.” Yet the entire Common Core Initiative is a political agenda!  Look at who leads it:  Arne Duncan, Linda Darling-Hammond, Chaka Fattah, Bill Gates, Sir Michael Barber and other extremists who have no respect for local control, the state-directed provisions of the U.S. Constitution or the forbidding by G.E.P.A. law for the federal government to direct state educational systems.

Here’s that quote:

“…My administrator said that there would be no more emailing, or talking about the common core amongst the staff. There was a finality to his tone and the meeting was quickly over at that point. I then received an email from my administrator reminding me of our district policy of not using school resources to push political concerns or agendas. He also stated that there was to be no more discussion about common core unless it was on an “educational” basis between staff members.

Ironically, I had several teachers contact me outside of school that same day, to say they were shocked at my administrator’s tone. They feel I was being genuine in sharing information that was previously unknown and could potentially affect educators. Several staff member have also approached me saying that they are grateful for this information and are now researching it on their own.

The question being asked in my school now is…Why can’t educators do what they do best? Research, question, inform?? Isn’t it better to question and discuss things, even if we don’t agree on them as to find what is best for the children we have been entrusted with? Should we turn a blind eye, and be lead like sheep off the cliff?”

Read the rest:     http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/a-wyoming-schools-common-core-gag-order/

Utahns Discuss Common Core Math   10 comments

I’m going to share some email strings from Utah school board members who are pro-common core, and me, and two mathematicians who are opposed to common core on academic grounds.

Ze’ev Wurman: 2010 California Common Core math validation committee member and former Dept. of Education advisor; opposes Common Core.

James Milgram: Stanford and NASA mathematician; served on official common core validation committe and refused to sign off on the academic legitimacy of the Common Core.

Dr. Milgram wrote (responding to a request for clarification about math standards) in a very recent email:

  ““I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or Geometry.  Moreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course…  They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries when it comes to being hired to top level jobs.


Tami Pyfer: Utah school board member, pro-common core


Dixie Allen: Utah school board member, pro-common core

Tami,
I am a little confused — From your email yesterday I thought you said that you, Brenda and others at USOE had decided we shouldn’t answer any questions from the Anti-Core patrons.  Could you please make sure we know what the expectation is for all of us as Board Members.  I had tried to answer anyone that was my constituents and some others, as I felt like it was my job as chair of Curriculum and Standards.  But we probably need to know what the expectation is in regard to these questionable emails, etc.
Thanks,
Dixie

On Fri, Apr 19, 2013 at 9:49 AM, Tami Pyfer <tami.pyfer@usu.edu> wrote:

Christel – Here is the specific standard that requires students to know how to convert fractions to decimals. (Fractions are rational numbers, perhaps that’s how you missed it in your examination of the standards.) See (d) and also the sample assessment task at the very bottom which asks kids to convert 2/3 to a decimal using long division.

Board members – Feel free to forward this chart along to legislators, constituents, and others asking you about the incorrect claim that we are not going to be teaching kids to convert fractions to decimals. It’s taken from our Utah Core Math Standards documents. I’ve already sent it to everyone who has emailed me about it.

Hope this helps!

Tami

Dear Tami,
In seventh grade?
My ten year old fourth grader (home schooled) knows how to convert fractions to decimals and ratios.  Does the Utah Common Core recommend this skill be taught only at the level of seventh grade?  That seems not very “rigorous.”
However, I am happy that it is taught at all.  I am glad you found this for me. Thank you.
Please look at exhibit B which is on page 26 of this document, as you will see that in the math review of Common Core, by 2010 California Common Core validation committee member and math expert Ze’ev Wurman, Wurman states that Common Core fails to teach many key math skills along with the one we are discussing.  I would love to see your review of his complete review to see if these things are taught, and at what grade levels.
Perhaps Ze’ev was reviewing the non-integrated math portion of Common Core, which as I understand it, only Utah and Vermont have adopted.
Christel
Tami,
Minutes ago, I forwarded to James Milgram a copy of your email about Common Core math.  He served on the official common core validation committee, and would not sign off on the academic legitimacy of these standards.  Milgram was also a math professor at Stanford University and a NASA consultant.
Dr. Milgram wrote back:
“I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or Geometry.  Moreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course…  They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries when it comes to being hired to top level jobs.   – Jim Milgram 
Please, return our state to local control of eduation and to academically legitimate, empirically tested standards.
Christel
Dear Christel,
The 7th grade standard Tami refers to is, indeed, the only   Common Core standard that deals, at least partially, with  converting between representations of fractions:

7. NS. 2.d: Convert a rational number to a decimal using       long division; know that the decimal form of a rational number   terminates in 0s or eventually repeats.

It only obliquely deals with converting a regular fraction to      decimal, with a particular focus on the fact that rational      fractions repeat. It does not deal with conversion between      fractional forms (representations) per se. Further, it doesn’t      deal with conversion of decimals to rational fractions, it does      not deal with conversion between decimal fractions and percents      and vice versa, and it does not deal with conversion of rational      fractions to percent and back. In other words, it deals with only      one out of 6 possible conversions. It also does it — as you      correctly say — too late, and only obliquely at that.
Compare it to the careful work the NCTM Curriculum        Focal Points did on this important issue:

Grade 4: Developing an understanding of          decimals, including the connections between fractions and          decimals Grade 6: Developing an understanding of and fluency          with multiplication and division of fractions and decimals                          … They use the relationship between decimals        and fractions, as well as the relationship between finite        decimals and whole numbers (i.e., a finite decimal multiplied by        an appropriate power of 10 is a whole number), to understand and        explain the procedures for multiplying and dividing decimals. Grade 7: In grade 4, students used equivalent fractions        to determine the decimal representations of fractions that they        could represent with terminating decimals. Students now use        division to express any fraction as a decimal, including        fractions that they must represent with infinite decimals. They        find this method useful when working with proportions,        especially those involving percents

(Curriculum Focal Points are available      from NCTM for a fee, however you can get them for free here)
Here is what the National Research Council had to say      about this issue in it’s Adding It Up influential book:

“Perhaps the deepest translation problem in pre-K to        grade 8 mathematics concerns the translation between fractional        and decimal representations of rational numbers.” (p. 101, Box        3-9)
“An important part of learning about rational numbers is        developing a clear sense of what they are. Children need to        learn that rational numbers are numbers in the same way that        whole numbers are numbers. For children to use rational numbers        to solve problems, they need to learn that the same rational        number may be represented in different ways, as a fraction, a        decimal, or a percent. Fraction concepts and representations        need to be related to those of division, measurement, and ratio.        Decimal and fractional representations need to be            connected and understood. Building these connections takes            extensive experience with rational numbers over a            substantial period of time.” (p. 415, emphasis        added)

(Adding It Up is here.      If you register you can download the book rather than read it      online)
And here is what the National Math Advisory Panel said on      this issue in its final report:

Table 2: Benchmarks for the Critical Foundations        (p. 20)          … Fluency With Fractions         1) By the end of Grade 4, students should be able to identify        and represent fractions and decimals, and compare them on a        number line or with other common representations of fractions        and decimals.         2) By the end of Grade 5, students should be proficient with        comparing fractions and decimals and common percent, and with        the addition and subtraction of fractions and decimals.

The NMAP final report can be found here.
All these important and widely acclaimed documents (by both sides)      are quite clear that conversion between fractional representation      is a critical component of mathematical fluency in K-8, that it      takes time to develop, and that developing it  should seriously      start by grade 4.

Arguing that a single grade 7 standard, which  only tangentially and partially addresses this critical fluency,  is sufficient as “coverage” is disingenuous, to put it mildly.
-Ze’ev Wurman

Thanks, Dixie.

Still wondering about a few basic questions that Judy Park says she will not answer. These are simple! Who will answer them?

1.Where’s the evidence that the standards are legitimized by empirical study– that they have helped, not hurt, kids who’ve been the guinea pigs on Common Core?
2.Where’s the study showing that lessening classic literature helps students?
3.Where’s the study showing that not teaching kids how to convert fractions to decimals helps students?
4.Upon what academic studies are we basing the claims that the common core standards are academically legitimate?
5.What parent or teacher in his/her right mind would approve giving away local control to have standards written in D.C. by the NGA/CCSSO?

–Am I being unreasonable here, or is Judy Park? These are our children. These are our tax dollars. Is it too much to ask to see a legitimate foundation for altering the standards so dramatically?

Christel,

I can’t answer any of your questions with research data — because I don’t have such data — but I can answer your questions as a teacher and administrator in the Public Education System for 26 years and a mother of 4 and a grandmother of 11 (some of which have been in public school and some in private school and some in home school) and a State School Board Member of 11 years.

1. There is no empirical study of the Common Core Standards — rather they have been vetted by college professors in our state and others, specialists at our State Office of Education and others throughout the nation, other specialists outside the educational community, and patrons, parents and teachers around our state who had a voice in the approval of the Core Standards and their recommendations before they were completely adopted by our State Board of Education some 2 1/2 years ago.

2. There is no study that shows we should lessen the study of classic literature, but there are endless recommendations from universities and the job creators of our nation that our students need to learn to read informational text, as well as classic literature. So my hope is that our students are getting a mix of both, but believe that we need to insure that students can read informational text and understand what it says.

3. There is no study that says that converting decimals to fractions and visa versa isn’t an important part of mathematical study. However, there is a great understanding in the educational field that if we don’t start teaching algebraic and geometric understanding early in public education and expect all students to understand these mathematical facts, as well as fractions and decimals, that we will have students who cannot make it through the mathematical courses necessary to graduate from high school and be ready to go to college. As a high school principal, I had 300 students move into Uintah High from 9th grade that had to take remedial mathematics classes, because they had not passed Pre-algebra. All students need to understand basic algebra and geometric calculations.

4. We have based our faith in the Core Standards, based upon the specialists that created them and support their validity in the educational programs for students. I believe after a couple of years of getting these standards to students, that we are seeing improvement in a deeper set of abilities to process information both in mathematics and English/Language Arts. (Of course my proof are my own grandchildren and what teachers share with me.)

5. Local Teachers and parents don’t know everything about what is quality education — and we did not give away the standards to the federal government or Washington, D.C. — we asked experts in the field, at both the national and states levels of instruction to help develop standards that would help all students be Career and College Ready. The world has changed since we were educated and our students need to know different skills to succeed in the new world of technology and world wide companies.

I am so sorry that you feel so strongly about this issue that you have created such turmoil in our state. We are truly trying to do what is best for our students and if you can pinpoint any Core Standard that you feel is problematic or doesn’t help our students be prepared for college or work, please let me know and I will take it to the experts to see what they think and if they agree we will change the standard.

However, I do not plan to throw out the Common Core, as long as I am a State School Board member, because I believe it is a step in the right direction. I will, however, help correct and update any Standard that we feel needs to be revised.

Dixie

How Fast Are We Losing Educational Liberty?   5 comments

How fast are our leaders negatively transforming U.S. Education and removing parents from the process since the election?

Ten days after the election, our Secretary of Education announced a new direction in which the US will partner with the UN and Common Core will be the vehicle for “International Education.”

Then, the Utah State Board of Education announced a $39 million contract with American Institutes for Research (AIR) an extremely liberal international organization with ties to one-world promoters Bill and Melinda Gates and socialist George Soros.  AIR collects data on school children and plays a very active role in projects dealing with Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) youth, Civil Rights, social and behavioral issues, and international health care.

How many parents know AIR  is the group writing their child’s new school tests?

Then, just this week, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch voted to bring a very dangerous UN Treaty to the floor of the Senate which Harry Reid will push into a vote.  It takes parental rights away in favor of a UN committee to decide what is best for the “rights of the child”.

Please call and write your representatives.

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