Archive for the ‘David Coleman’ Tag

Truth is Truth, Whether People Believe it or Not: Video Confessions   4 comments

My husband often says, “Truth is truth, whether people believe it or not.”

Here’s the truth that even the Common Core’s lead architect, David Coleman, and its main funder, Bill Gates openly admitted in the videos below:

  1.  The Common Core was never state led.  If it had been, it would have been constitutionally legitimate.  It would have represented voters’ informed consent and desires.  It  would have a built-in a states’ amending process.  It would have represented and standardized something vetted, not this untested theory, this not parentally authorized, not teacher-authorized, not voter-authorized, experiment on, and tracking of, children.
  2.  The Common Core is greed-led.  It was not an educator but a businessman, David Coleman, who wrote his ideas on a napkin, and brought them to the second richest man on earth, Bill Gates. Gates saw the potential: using standardized data systems, educational standards and tests (and tax dollars) they’d forge what he called, in the video below, a “uniform base of customers” nationally.  While Coleman pitched the idea to a partial club of governors and a partial club of state superintendents ( who bought it, and claimed it, and copyrighted it after hiring Coleman’s company, Achieve Inc., to produce it). Gates paid anyone who would take his millions, to promote it.

To this day, the private trade groups NGA and CCSSO claim that they are the “state” originators of the Common Core.  That defies common sense and the structure of U.S. government. We have legislatures to represent voters; NGA and CCSSO are not legislative bodies.

I believe in capitalism and I cheer for entrepreneurs who make money legitimately; but Common Core is not legitimate business.  It took over political processes. It represents the takeover of voters’ rights.  It is collusion: between businessmen who have no authority to determine educational processes, and the federal government.  Think that’s just some wacky theory?

Look at this link  from the CCSSO’s website. It’s clear evidence of the collusion which went behind constitutional rights of states and which destroyed checks and balances, by  setting education policy centrally.  Only the feds, married to these nonlegislative and private organizations, call the shots here:

Common Education Data Standards (CEDS)

The Common Education Data Standards Initiative is a joint effort by CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United States Department of Education.

So the same superintendents’ club (CCSSO) that partnered with the partial governors’ club (NGA) to copyright a Common Core for math and English, also partnered with the feds to standardize a common data mining program with CEDS standards, nationally.

 

 

Video One:  Bill Gates

Bill Gates telling legislators to “unleash” the forces of a “uniform customer base” by using Common Core

Video Two:  David Coleman

Businessman David Coleman explaining that he personally persuaded governors to sign on to Common Core, a business idea he plotted on a napkin

 

 

Despite the fact that the #StopFedEd / Stop Common Core movement has become politically huge, and that many people know the truth about Common Core, many people still believe that it’s a harmless initiative, and that the Common Core was “state-led”.

Who could blame them for believing so? The promoted “talking points” said so.  These were marketed by power-wielders: Bill Gates, the U.S. Dept. of Education, the paid-off National P.T.A., and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce –and were passed along by state boards of education and local boards of education to teachers and parents who trusted those lines.  Few fact-checked. The lie got passed along and believed.

 

Common Core is not primarily an academic argument; it’s a takeover of local authority.

A good friend recently asked, “What’s so bad about the federal government controlling local education?”

If you know socialist/communist countries’ educational malpractices and propaganda machines; their lack of creativity,  lack of joy,  condemnation of faith, and lack of truth, you will not ask this question.

If you know that there is zero constitutional authority for the federal government to make decisions about education for American schools, you will not ask this question.

But if you don’t know or believe that, just think about your own desires for your children and grandchildren.

If you desire to have an ongoing voice of authority in your child’s education, his/her testing, and his/her data privacy, you cannot support federal education nor Common Core.

The Common Core allows nobody but its copyrighters to amend it.  Its tests are held secret, even after the tests are over.  The SLDS databases collect data on your child according to federal designs, and it is only a matter of time before this aggregated data will be legalized in disaggregated form. These are questions of personal power and personal conscience.  Over time, it is ultimately a question of religious liberty, because the freedoms of conscience and of action are freedom of religion.

Who has God-given authority over what goes into your child’s open mind?  Business sectors and federal government? –Or parents, with the consented-to assistance of teachers and perhaps a local school board?

If programs (such as Common Core and Common Educational Data Standards) do not allow for user amendability,  for personal conscience to input change, then they are on day one, already corrupt.  They are, or will be, tyrannical.

Remember the founders’ words: “consent by the governed“.

Because businesses and federal agencies have centralized education power, local and state input has been rendered increasingly powerless.  Where was consent?  I can’t even opt out my own child out of the CEDS/ SLDS child-inventorying machine, my state tells me.

herbert

This is why the chairman of the National Governors’ Association (NGA), Utah Governor Gary Herbert, failed to secure the nomination in last week’s state GOP convention.  This is why that same governor was so loudly booed at the Utah County GOP convention by most of the 1,500 delegates in the audience, every time he said that Utah had control of education standards locally.  They knew the truth.

The governor/NGA chair either didn’t know it, or didn’t believe it.

Suggestion:  Don’t call Common Core “state-led” anymore, because millions of Americans realize that –even though well-meaning people were duped and then promoted it in good faith– Common Core has always been a solely greed-led collusion between the business sector and the federal government.


WHAT COMMON CORE REALLY DOES TO EDUCATION

Let me share my recent experience with you.

While I teach 10th grade English, part time, at a non-common core, classical, traditional, private school called Freedom Project Academy (FPA) I also tutor, for free, neighbors and friends.

The comparison between my private, not-common core school, and the local public school, in English Language Arts, is stunning.

Background:  FPA is an online school that recognizes no governmentally-set educational standards.  It recognizes  time-tested books as standards: the Bible, the classic works of literature, and the classic works of math, etc.  It does not promote “informational text” articles, as Common Core does.   FPA tenth graders read the following works of literature cover to cover, and wrote about them this year:  The Old Man and the Sea; Romeo and Juliet; Murder on the Orient Express; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn;  The Scarlet Letter.  Fantastic!

Meanwhile, local public school teenagers who have come for help with their essays let me know that they were assigned “mostly articles” and very few books.  Their essay assignments were based on articles about “gender-based toys” and “green cars of the future” –clearly, these young people were being fed the progressive agenda under the banner of “English Language Arts”.

I told them that they are being robbed of real education, and that they should get some real books, especially classics, on their own, and read all that they can.

How can students who are being made to read “informational articles” ever gain the depth of perspective, the insight and humanity found in the rich characters and stories of Hawthorne and Shakespeare and Hemingway?

Common Core apologists are quick to point out that there’s no prohibition against Hawthorne, Shakespeare and Hemingway in Common Core.  But Common Core businessmen have made curriculum that is sold and bought nationwide, which is “informational article” heavy, not classics-heavy.  The businesses are thus driving what goes on in the classroom, as imagined by noneducator David Coleman, who openly mocks the teaching of traditional, narrative writing.  This is not representative governing of education policy!

Talk to your local public high school students.  Ask to see what they are being asked to read and write about.  I would love to know if my town is an isolated case of losing classic literature.

Video Three:   Here’s Coleman, mocking traditional narrative writing, in an effort to  promote his notion of reading and writing mostly informational text in English classrooms.


Lastly–  NATIONAL COMPREHENSIVE SEXUALITY STANDARDS – aka “Amorality for All”

The centralization/nationalization  is not just about English and Math.  It is clear in the push for national science standards (Next-Generation Science Standards) which Utah has tragically now accepted.  It is clear in the common alignment of tests and data mining to the illegitimate Common Core and CEDS– whether tests are the Utah SAGE, other states’ PARCC, the College Board’s SAT and AP, or other tests.

Centralization of power away from localities is clear, and most dangerous, in the push for national sexality (amoral) standards, CSE, Comprehensive Sexuality Standards  (which Utah considered and rejected for now).  The video below explains why it is not true that Comprehensive Sexuality Standards are simply about “medically accurate information” but are instead teaching children amorality, which is so important to the progressives’ anti-family, anti-God agenda.

Don’t watch it with children in the room.

 

Video Four:  The War on Children–  The Comprehensive Sexuality National Standards:

 

 

We are not a communist country. Why are we acting like one, in centralizing so many matters of children’s education?  There is nothing secretive about what’s going on; no conspiracy theory here, but conspiracy fact:  progressives proclaim that government, not family, owns the children and defines for children what is true, good, moral, healthy, or allowed.

 

Video Five:  Progressives’ announcement that government, not parents, own children:

 

 

We need the fire of Patrick Henry to wake America.

Give me liberty or give me death!”Patrick Henry  spoke those words, as if to us.

Many today seem to fear taking a stand for parental control, state control, local school board control.  Do not fear the pretentious monster! It has no constitutional, no authoritative, legitimacy. Our rights, given by God and protected by the Constitution, are legitimate.   Your authority over your own children is legitimate.  Own it.  Act like it.  It is only when each person stands in his or her place, firmly, against encroachment, that a free country remains free.

Patrick Henry’s words  apply today to the takeover of authority, which is Common Core and Common Data Mining, which is in the process of stealing our God-ordained duty to determine what our children will be taught:

“[W]e are not weak, if we make a proper use of the means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.

…There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.  The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election [choice]. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat, but in submission and slavery.”

 

 

 

 

Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s June 2015 Testimony at Bridgewater State University – Public Hearing   16 comments

Stotsky_small

Before I post Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s most recent testimony, I will tell you why I am a devoted fan of Dr. Stotsky and why I’m a tomato-thrower at the Common Core version of English Language Arts.

Despite its charming claims, Common Core deforms –not reforms– the English classroom.

Common Core stifles the joy of learning by limiting students’ exposure to imaginative literature, limiting students’ practice of imaginative writing, and pushing students toward utilitarian readings and informational writings.

It also closes what used to be a wide door to the treasure trove of the classics– now the trove is shut, to only a crack.  By their senior year in virtually every high school across this land, American students are only allowed to have 30% of their readings be imaginative or classical readings; 70% is “informational text” under Common Core.  It’s frankly stupid.  But why?

Why the change in focus?

Here’s a clue. Common Core standards were drawn up primarily by a businessman, David Coleman, at Achieve Incorporated.  This workforce and business-eye’s-view explains why Common Core standards focus on language as business, not as heritage. It may explain why Common Core’s centerpiece is imagination-less,  with a focus on teaching impersonal, non-narrative, (aka boring) writing skills.  It may explain why tests aligned to Coleman’s standards invite students to write only from narrow selections of pre-cut opinion samples.

Of course, getting a job is one facet of education; but the Common Core’s dogged focus on that alone, on making individuals into state-inventoried human capital whose purpose is to get skills and get to work, comes at high cost.  One of the costs is literature.

Common Core’s ravishing of proper English education, and its focus on utilitarian, workforce-centric skills above actual literary knowledge, has been amply expressed in white papers, scholarly articles, interviews, books and more, by top literature professors across the United States.  (Please study these professors’ wise words.  I won’t take the space now.)  Dr. Stotsky’s friend, Dr. Anthony Esolen, nutshelled it this way:

“It is rotten because its whole approach to education is wrong; it is based upon a wrong understanding of the human person.  That is why it has no real place for the humanities, reducing them to occasions for scrambling up “skills,” rather than for opportunities to grow wise, to learn how to behold and cherish what is beautiful, and to build up the intellectual / moral virtues…” 

Cheer as Dr. Stotsky stands in the ring, gloves off, representing me, you, and countless teachers and professors, whose dedicated scholarship and love are sunshine and water to sprouting, thriving student minds!  Know that Dr. Stotsky is not someone that America can easily ignore or dismiss: she served on the original validation committee for Common Core ELA standards– and after studying them, she refused to sign them off as being adequate or valid standards; for years thereafter, she has spoken and published on this subject, fighting for the free exercise of academic thought, access to good and proper English education, and meaningful, reasonable school tests.  

As a lifelong author of and professor of curricular standards, as editor of a premier research journal on English teaching, as one who truly understands why legitimate English education is a treasure worth defending, she can right the toppled applecart –if enough people hear what she’s saying.

Please share.  

apple books

————————————————————————————————————–

                        

   Why Massachusetts Should Abandon the PARCC tests and

      the 2011 Coleman et al English Language Arts Standards

                               on which the MCAS Tests are Based

             Sandra Stotsky

              June 10, 2015

                                                                 

 

Acknowledgments:  I want to thank Chairman Paul Sagan of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for his invitation to testify at the public hearing at Bridgewater State University on whether the Board should abandon the MCAS tests and adopt the PARCC tests. 

Overview of my Testimony:  I first describe my qualifications, as well as the lack of relevant qualifications in Common Core’s standards writers and in most of the members of Common Core’s Validation Committee, on which I served in 2009-2010.  I then detail some of the many problems in the 2011 Massachusetts English language arts (ELA) standards, written by David Coleman, Susan Pimentel, James Patterson, and Susan Wheltle (so the document indicates), in the tests based on Common Core’s standards (PARCC), and in the two external reports—one issued in February 2015, the other yet to be completed—comparing the PARCC tests with MCAS tests. I offer several recommendations for parents who want civically sound and academically rigorous standards and tests written and reviewed by English teachers and who want a form of accountability that doesn’t penalize their children’s teachers for results of tests based on either the Coleman et al standards or Common Core’s standards.

I.  My Qualifications: I am professor emerita at the University of Arkansas, where I held the 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality until retiring in 2012. I was Senior Associate Commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) from 1999-2003, in charge of developing or revising the state’s K-12 standards, teacher licensure tests, and teacher and administrator licensure regulations. I served on the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) from 2006-2010, on the National Mathematics Advisory Panel from 2006-2008, and on the Common Core Validation Committee from 2009-2010. I was one of the five members of the Validation Committee who did not sign off on the standards as being rigorous, internationally competitive, or research-based.

I was also editor of the premier research journal, Research in the Teaching of English, published by the National Council of Teachers of English, from 1991 to 1997. I have published extensively in professional journals and written several books. In recent years, I have testified before many state legislative committees and boards on the flaws in Common Core’s standards.

II. Lack of Relevant Qualifications in Common Core’s Standards Writers

The absence of relevant professional credentials in the two standards-writing teams helps to explain the flaws in Common Core’s standards. The two “lead” writers for the ELA standards, David Coleman and Susan Pimentel, have never taught reading or English in K-12 or at the college level. Neither has a doctorate in English or reading. Neither has ever published serious work on K-12 curriculum and instruction. Neither has a reputation for literary scholarship or research in education. At the time they were appointed, they were virtually unknown to English and reading educators and the public at large. They now earn large fees for Student Achievement Partners (their business) consulting to school systems trying to implement their ELA standards.

The three lead standards writers in mathematics were as unknown to K-12 educators as were the lead ELA standards writers. None of the three mathematics standards writers (Phil Daro, William McCallum, and Jason Zimba) had ever developed K-12 mathematics standards that had been used—or used effectively.  The only member of this three-person standards-writing team with K-12 teaching experience had majored in English as an undergraduate (although Phil Daro had taught mathematics at the middle school level for two years).

Who recommended these people as standards writers and why, we still do not know.  No one in the media commented on their lack of credentials for the task they had been assigned.  Indeed, no one in the media showed the slightest interest in their qualifications for standards writing. 

III. Lack of Academic Qualifications in Most Members of the Validation Committee

The federal government did not fund an independent group of experts to evaluate the rigor of the standards, even though it expected the states to adopt them. Instead, the private organizations in charge of the project created their own Validation Committee (VC) in 2009. The VC contained almost no academic experts in any area; most were education professors or associated with testing companies, from here and abroad. There was only one mathematician on the VC—R. James Milgram—although there were many people with graduate degrees in mathematics education or with appointments in an education school, and/or who worked chiefly in teacher education. I was the only nationally recognized expert on English language arts standards by virtue of my work in Massachusetts and for Achieve, Inc.’s American Diploma Project.

Professor Milgram and I did not sign off on the standards because they were not internationally competitive, rigorous, or research-based.  Despite our repeated requests, we did not get the names of high-achieving countries whose standards could be compared with Common Core’s standards. (We received no “cross-walks.”) Nor did the standards writers themselves offer any research evidence or rationale to defend their omission of the high school mathematics standards needed for STEM careers, their emphasis on writing not reading, their experimental approach to teaching Euclidean geometry, their deferral of the completion of Algebra I to grade 9 or 10, or their claim that informational reading instruction in the English class leads to college readiness. They also did not offer evidence that Common Core’s standards meet entrance requirements for most colleges and universities in this country or elsewhere.

IV.  Flaws in the 2011 Massachusetts ELA Standards (the document lists David Coleman, Susan Pimentel, James Patterson, and Susan Wheltle as the four lead writers)

 A. Most Coleman et al standards are content-free skills, not “content” standards. They do not address specific literary knowledge, specific literary history, or specific reading levels, i.e., they omit significant literary/historical content. E.g., there is no standard on the history of the English language, on British authors or texts, or on authors or texts from the ancient or classical world.

Examples of Coleman et al literature standards in grades 11/12:

  1. Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
  1. Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.

Examples of authentic ELA literature standards

*In California’s pre-2010 standards for 11/12:

3.7  Analyze recognized works of world literature from a variety of authors:

a.  Contrast the major literary forms, techniques, and characteristics of the major

literary periods (e.g., Homeric Greece, medieval, romantic, neoclassic, modern).

b.  Relate literary works and authors to the major themes and issues of their eras.

*In Massaschusetts’ pre-2010 standards for grades 9/10:

16.11:  Analyze the characters, structure, and themes of classical Greek drama and

epic poetry.

 

B. The 2011 Coleman et al standards expect English teachers to spend at least half of their reading instructional time at every grade level on informational texts. They contain 10 reading standards for informational texts and 9 for literary texts at every grade level, reducing literary study in the English class to about 50%. Pre-2011 Massachusetts English classes spent about 20% of reading instructional time on nonfiction (which included informational material). No research studies support increasing the study of nonfiction in English classes to improve college readiness.

C. The 2011 Coleman et al standards reduce opportunities for students to develop analytical thinking. Analytical thinking is developed when teachers teach students how to read between the lines of complex works. As noted in a 2006 ACT report titled Reading Between the Lines: “complexity is laden with literary features.”  According to ACT, it involves “literary devices,” “tone,” “ambiguity,” “elaborate” structure, “intricate language,” and unclear intentions. Thus, reducing complex literary study in the English class in order to increase informational reading, in effect, retards college readiness.

D. The 2011 Coleman et al standards discourage “critical” thinking. Critical thinking is based on independent thinking. Independent thinking comes from a range of observations, experiences, and undirected reading. The Coleman et al document contains no standards for writing a research paper like those spelled out in the pre-2011 Massachusetts ELA standards.

 

V. Why the MBAE and Fordham Studies Cannot Tell Us Much

As noted by the Commissioner of Education in his announcement of the five public hearings on MCAS vs. PARCC, the Board would review studies conducted by “outside organizations.”

The first outside study, commissioned by the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE), was released in February 2015.  It recommended abandoning MCAS, yet it did not indicate that current MCAS tests are based on the Coleman et al standards, while the PARCC tests are based on Common Core’s. Do the contents of the test items differ?  We don’t know. Nor do we know what test items were examined in this study.  Nor does the study give us a single clue to the contents of the test items in either set of tests at any grade level.

A second outside study is being undertaken by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The MBAE study had earlier indicated that “the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Human Resources Research Organization will conduct a full-scale evaluation of how well aligned PARCC, MCAS, and other national assessments are to the Common Core State Standards and the extent to which they meet the criteria for high-quality assessments established by the Council of Chief State School Officers.” It is not clear why CCSSO is qualified to establish criteria for high-quality assessments. All we know at present is that the Fordham Institute decided to use a portion of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funds it regularly receives to compare MCAS and PARCC test items and to let BESE know what it would recommend as an organization dedicated to the Common Core project. Its report will be issued in time for BESE’s official vote to adopt PARCC in fall, 2015.

Nevertheless, we face the same problems in learning anything from the Fordham report that we face with the MBAE report. The test items for both the 2015 MCAS ELA tests and the 2015 PARCC ELA tests are test-secure and can’t be discussed in a public report. I have twice asked directors of both assessments for permission to examine under secure conditions all their ELA test items for 2015 but have not been given permission to do so. I have also asked DESE for a copy of all proposals or requests to DESE for permission to examine non-released MCAS test items, but DESE has not sent me a copy of this public information.

The public CAN examine “sample” and “practice” test items that PARCC has made available online (which I have done).  The public CAN examine all released test items for all MCAS tests from 1998 to 2007 (which I have done—see Appendix A for URLs to these test items). And parents and teachers CAN testify about what students say about the test items they have responded to on their computers or in their test booklets. But researchers cannot present either an evaluation of the grade appropriateness of PARCC test items or a comparison of the contents of MCAS and PARCC test items, two of the sub-topics that testifiers were asked to address at the Bridgewater hearing, because they are not allowed to say anything about the actual contents of the test items if indeed they examined them.

Until all the test items used by PARCC and MCAS in ELA in 2015 are available to BESE and all parents, legislators, and other citizens for inspection under secure conditions, BESE has no legitimate information on which to base an official decision. In fact, the entire process leading to a decision on which set of tests to use appears to be a sham, beginning with the fact that the Commissioner of Education chairs the Governing Board of PARCC, yet is to make the final recommendation to BESE, and ending with the fact that all local superintendents were told in 2014 that the decision had already been made (according to a letter from Superintendent William Lupini to the Brookline School Committee in June 2014, in Appendix B). The public, including the media, have been abused by a fake process.  Only a post hoc, pro forma vote for PARCC remains to be taken.

Yet there are significant differences between PARCC and MCAS for ELA tests that can be brought to public attention.  These differences have their source in the criteria established by English teachers in Massachusetts in 1997, as explained above, and in other sources.

VI. Problems with PARCC in 2014-15, based on the examples/test items given

* The overall reading level of PARCC sample test items in most grades seems to be lower than the overall reading level of test items in MCAS ELA tests based on the pre-Coleman et al standards—sometimes by more than one reading grade level. E.g., an excerpt from The Red Badge of Courage is an example in the 2015 grades 10 and 11 PARCC. But an excerpt from this novel was assessed in a pre-2011 grade 8 MCAS.  E.g., an excerpt from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is an example in the 2015 grade 11 PARCC but appears in a 2010 grade 10 MCAS.

* PARCC doesn’t tell us who determines the cut (pass/fail) score, where it will be, and who changes it, and when. Cut scores on MCAS tests are set by Massachusetts citizens.

* PARCC test specifications do not indicate from what authors or kinds of text the literary passages are to be drawn, and how they are to be balanced. English teachers in Massachusetts have had higher expectations for MCAS than do test-developers at PARCC, it seems.

* PARCC 2015 grade 11 test samples are not aligned with Common Core’s standards; there are no passages from founding political documents.

* PARCC offers too many tests at each grade and across grades.

* PARCC requires extensive keyboarding skills and too much time for test preparation.

* PARCC plans to provide only a few released test items for teachers to use, it seems.

* The change to a grade 11 PARCC for fulfilling the requirement for a high school diploma hurts low-achieving students, who often need two years for remediation and retests before graduation.

* The PARCC tests are very long (see the chart in Superintendent Lupini’s June 2014 letter to the Brookline School Committee), even though they have been recently shortened.

* The writing prompts in PARCC in 2015 do not elicit “deeper thinking” because students are not given a provocative question about a reading assignment and encouraged to make and justify their own interpretation of an author’s ideas based on a range of sources, some self-chosen. They are almost always given the sources to use, beginning in grade 3: e.g., “Write an essay comparing and contrasting the key details presented in the two articles about how endangered animals can be helped. Use specific details and examples from both articles to support your ideas.”

* The two-part multiple-choice format in PARCC (and in SBAC) often requires students to engage in a textual scavenger hunt for the specific words, phrases, or sentences that led to their own thinking when answering the previous question. This two-part multiple-choice format is especially taxing and problematic in the early grades. E.g., in grade 3: “Part B: Which sentence from the story supports the answer to Part A?” “Which detail supports the answer to Part A?” “Which detail from X shows another example of the answer to Part A?” “Which detail from paragraph 14 best supports the answer to Part A?” “What phrase from paragraph 14 helps the reader to understand the meaning of thriving?” “Which section in X introduces how the scientists made wolves feel comfortable in the park?”  In sum, the questions are poorly worded, confusing, tedious, unfriendly to children, and cumbersome. 

 

VII. Criteria for MCAS ELA Selections Developed in 1997 by the State’s English Teachers

  1. About 60% of the selections should be literary.
  1. At least half of the literary selections should come from authors in a list of suggested authors or works reflecting our common literary and cultural heritage
  1. About half of the literary selections could come from authors in a second list of suggested contemporary authors from the United States, as well as past and present authors from other countries and cultures.

These criteria were enforced in two ways for MCAS ELA tests: by the Guiding Principle on literary study in the introduction to the ELA standards and by the use of texts by authors in the two lists. The Guiding Principle itself (“An effective English language arts curriculum draws on literature from many genres, time periods, and cultures, featuring works that reflect our common literary heritage.”) indicated that a “comprehensive literature curriculum contains works from both [lists].”  The two lists of recommended authors served as guides to choosing MCAS passages at all grades. MCAS ELA tests from 1998 on were dominated by literary selections because of these criteria, the Guiding Principle on literary study, and the two lists.

BESE voted to add the Guiding Principles and the two lists in the 2001 Massachusetts ELA curriculum framework to the Common Core standards adopted in 2011. But DESE altered the wording of the Guiding Principle on literary study to read An effective English language arts and literacy curriculum draws on literature in order to develop students’ understanding of their literary heritage” so that it no longer expected the school curriculum or literary passages on MCAS to feature works reflecting “our common literary heritage.”

 VIII. Recommendations for Massachusetts:

  1. Fewer grades tested (just 4, 8, and 10), as in the 1993 MERA and 1994 authorization of ESEA
  2. Paper and pencil tests; no computer-based tests
  3. All or most test items released every year, as MERA requires
  4. Retention of grade 10 competency determination for a high school diploma, required in MERA, for the benefit of low-achieving students
  5. Tests requiring less time for preparing for and teaching to the tests
  6. Test passages and questions chosen and reviewed by Massachusetts English teachers
  7. A Massachusetts-determined cut score

Appendix A.  URLs for locating all MCAS ELA test items from 1998 to 2007, plus some URLs for later items

http://www.edbenchmarks.org/schoolimprovement/stuach.htm  On MEAP 1992-1999

https://archive.org/details/massachusettscompr00mass (1998)

https://archive.org/details/masscomprehensiv00mass (1999)

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/TeachingLearning/MathResourcesK-8/MCAs-Questions/MCAS-2000.pdf

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/TeachingLearning/MathResourcesK-8/MCAs-Questions/MCAS_2001.pdf

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/TeachingLearning/MathResourcesK-8/MCAs-Questions/MCAS-2002.pdf

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/TeachingLearning/MathResourcesK-8/MCAs-Questions/MCAS-2003.pdf

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/TeachingLearning/MathResourcesK-8/MCAs-Questions/MCAS-2004.pdf   (Grade 10 ELA includes an excerpt from Tartuffe)

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/TeachingLearning/MathResourcesK-8/MCAs-Questions/MCAS-2005.pdf (grade 10 ELA includes excerpts from Macbeth and Pride and Prejudice; and Theodore Roethke poem)

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/TeachingLearning/MathResourcesK-8/MCAs-Questions/MCAS-2006.pdf

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/DistrictDepartments/Assessment/mcas_2007.pdf

misterambrose.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/2009_Spring_MCAS.1244029.pdf (grade 10 ELA includes excerpt from Oliver Twist)

http://www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/2010/release/g10ela.pdf (grade 10 ELA includes excerpts from Heart of Darkness and Love in a Time of Cholera; Shakespeare’s Sonnet #73)

http://www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/testitems.html?yr=14  (Selected items from 2010 to 2014 available here.)

 

 

Appendix B:  Letter from Superintendent William Lupini to the Brookline School Committee in June 2014

 

THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF BROOKLINE

333 WASHINGTON STREET BROOKLINE, MASSACHUSETTS 02445

TEL: 617-730-2401

FAX: 617-730-2601

Office of the Superintendent of Schools

William H. Lupini, Ed.D.

June 3, 2014

 

To: Members of the Brookline School Committee

From: William H. Lupini, Ed. D. Superintendent of Schools

Re: State Assessment for 2015

 

 

On May 22, 2014, I recommended that the Public Schools of Brookline administer the PARCC Assessment for grades 3-9 and 11 for the 2014-2015 school year. This recommendation was based on the following considerations:

• Our experience with the recent PARCC field test allowed our team to gain a deep understanding of all that is required to administer this assessment to support students’ success. Our learning was detailed in my presentation to the School Committee at our last meeting.

• The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will “hold harmless” the accountability status of Districts choosing to administer PARCC in 2015. Specifically, a school’s level will either stay the same or improve but cannot decline due to PARCC test results.

• MCAS will be phased out in favor of either PARCC or another new “next generation” assessment after the 2015 test administration.

• Administering PARCC in 2015 will allow all students tested the opportunity to get comfortable with the new expectations and testing environment, and will give us the opportunity to fine-tune its administration, which may reduce the risk of disruption in future years.

• The high school did not participate in the 2014 pilot. Administering PARCC in grades 9 and 11 in 2015 offers BHS a year to pilot the new assessment. Also, a score of 4 or 5 on the PARCC Assessment would allow an 11th grader to skip remedial courses at Massachusetts state colleges. MCAS will still be administered to all 10th grade students through the class of 2018 for competency determinations.

• In addition to being “held harmless,” DESE has mitigated other risks for districts that choose to administer PARCC in 2015, including:

-Pencil and paper tests will be an option for a number of years in order to allow districts to adequately prepare their technology to meet the needs of the online test; and,

-Student Growth Percentiles (SGP) will be calculated continuously; therefore, there will be no interruption in utilizing SGP in the educator evaluation system.

The purpose of this Memorandum is to provide you with additional information about PARCC testing, our revised recommendation for your consideration during the June 5th Public Hearing and your June 19th vote, and the reasoning for these revisions to our thinking. Additional Information One of the main areas of discussion during our May 22nd presentation involved the number of PARCC testing sessions at each grade level.

Following is a chart detailing the grade-by-grade and subject area testing sessions for both PARCC and MCAS (grades 3-8):

Grade Level                PARCC & Science                   MCAS                 Difference

 

3rd                                         9                                         5                               +4

(5 ELA; 4 Math)             (3 ELA; 2 Math)

4th                                          9                                        7                                 +2

(5 ELA; 4 Math)              (5 ELA; 2 Math)

5th                                         11                                        7                                 +4

(5 ELA; 4 Math)              (3 ELA; 2 Math)

(2 MCAS Science)           (2 MCAS Science)

 

6th                                          9                                           5                                 +4

(5 ELA; 4 Math)            (3 ELA; 2 Math)

7th                                           9                                         7                                   +2

(5 ELA; 4 Math)             (5 ELA; 2 Math)

8th                                          11                                        7                                   +4

(5 ELA; 4 Math)             (3 ELA; 2 Math)

(2 MCAS Science)          (2 MCAS Science)

 

These differences are somewhat governed by the addition of end-of- year (EOY) testing in PARCC, along with the inclusion of a writing composition component for grades beyond the fourth and seventh grade currently tested in MCAS.

The amount of time to be spent in testing is a much more complicated analysis. Students are permitted 50% additional time beyond what is recommended in PARCC, while MCAS is an untimed assessment. Below is a comparison of the “expected” times for both grade 3-8 scenarios described above:

Grade Level                            PARCC & Science                           MCAS                                     Difference

3rd                                      490 minutes (8.2 hours)      270 minutes (4.5 hours)             +220 minutes (+3.7 hours)

4th                                       530 minutes (8.8 hours)      360 minutes (6.0 hours)            +210 minutes (+3.5 hours)

5th                                       620 minutes (10.3 hours)    360 minutes (6.0 hours)            +260 minutes (+4.3 hours)

6th                                       570 minutes (9.5 hours)       270 minutes (4.5 hours)            +300 minutes (+5.0 hours)

7th                                       570 minutes (9.5 hours)        370 minutes (6.2 hours)            +300 minutes (+5.0 hours)

8th                                       660 minutes (11.0 hours)      370 minutes (6.2 hours)           +290 minutes (+4.8 hours)

These numbers are somewhat misleading in that the PARCC timing is probably much closer to actual for most students, given the “timed” nature of the assessment. Furthermore, given that factor, it would be possible to schedule multiple testing sessions in one day with PARCC, while this is not possible in our current MCAS assessment configuration.

The high school analysis is even more difficult, given the following factors:

• As noted earlier, current MCAS assessment occurs only in 9th grade with a Science test, 10th grade with the English Language Arts and Mathematics exams, and again beyond 10th grade for those students who did not initially meet the competency determination standards.

• The PARCC assessment system is designed to provide 11th grade students who score of 4 or 5 on the PARCC Assessment to skip remedial courses at Massachusetts state colleges.

• MCAS will still be administered to all 10th grade students through the class of 2018 for competency determinations.

• PARCC high school math assessments are based on courses aligned to the Common Core State Standards, not grade levels.

Assessments are available for Algebra I, Geometry, Mathematics I, Mathematics II, Algebra II and Mathematics III.

Given these factors, it is more difficult to provide a comparison of numbers of testing sessions and total time devoted to assessment for PARCC v. MCAS. However, it is very safe to conclude that students would experience a greater volume of testing under the PARCC plan than is currently the case.

Revised Recommendation

After considering input from the Headmaster and her administrative team, as well as issues raised by School Committee members at our May 22nd meeting, we are now recommending that the Public Schools of Brookline participate in the PARCC operational test for grades 3-8 only during the 2014- 2015 school year.

High School testing would be limited to those MCAS tests required for the competency determination in 9th and 10th grades.

Reasoning

We do not come to any of these recommendations lightly. This new assessment will consume more valuable teaching time than the current program. The timed nature of the assessment for students who do not have an IEP is not in the best interest of any of our students and represents a significant change in beliefs for the Commonwealth. The PARCC assessment is still in development and, as such, will continue to represent a learning opportunity for all of us, even while students are receiving scores for their performance on the exams. Finally, we are not at present prepared to move to an on-line testing environment as a school system, meaning that some of our students will participate in a paper and pencil assessment and, therefore, we will have students being tested on somewhat different competencies and skills across our schools.

However, much of our rationale for this recommendation is, in our view, compelling and remains the same as discussed in May. We cannot recommend staying with MCAS for another year if this assessment is to be phased out in favor of either PARCC or another new “next generation” assessment. We believe that students should be given the opportunity to experience “next generation” expectations and testing environments, and that we need the chance to work with the administration of these assessments. Finally, we need to take advantage of having school accountability status held “harmless” while we work to support student, teacher and school success within this new testing situation.

While this same logic exists with respect to high school testing, we simply do not believe that it outweighs the issues for our students. As was discussed on May 22nd, eleventh grade students would be taking a PARCC assessment after most of them had already met the competency determination in their sophomore year, without the benefit of knowing up front that this was to be the case. Ninth grade students would be participating in a “next generation” pilot program, only to revert to MCAS as a competency determination exam. Therefore, we do not believe that the benefits of PARCC testing outweigh these concerns for our high school students in 2014-2015.

I am looking forward to continuing our discussion of this recommendation with you at our meeting on Thursday, June 5, 2014.

Please Show Up to Push Back on Science Standards at Statewide USOE Meetings Starting TOMORROW   4 comments

creation_hands_xlarge

 

The Utah State School Board —despite last year’s pushback, despite serious concerns of some of the state school board members–  is now moving to adopt national, common standards for science.  Watch this video to see the documented false promises by the USOE to legislators and local school board members, that Utah would never adopt nationalized science standards; this string of broken promises needs to be exposed and those breaking the promises need to be held accountable by our legislature and governor.

 

 

 

You are invited to the USOE’s public meetings on the subject, to be held statewide for a few weeks, starting TOMORROW.

Be forewarned: the USOE won’t admit that Utah is adopting NGSS.   To know this bit of information, you have to be in touch with those parents who served on the science study committee.  Utah indeed is (out of sight of the public) pushing for adoption of NGSS but the USOE claims that it’s only revising its old standards, and that the revision is limited to middle school science standards for now, so it’s not whole NGSS adoption, they say.  But do your research.  They’ve been caught fibbing more than once.  And they are fibbing now.

So, what are the “Next Generation Science Standards” (NGSS)  and why should we take time fight them?

NGSS are common Science Standards created by businessmen and politicians at Achieve, Inc., aimed to make all students use (and be tested on) the same set of science-related standards nationwide.  Achieve, Inc., is the same group that pushed Common Core math and English into being.  (So if you didn’t love Common Core, heads up.)

As with Common Core math and English standards, states lose control when they adopt NGSS.  Achieve Inc., is private, so it’s not subject to sunshine laws– no transparency.  So right or wrong, good or bad, we’ll have no way to even know which scientific theories are being accepted or rejected, or what kind of lobbying monies are determining priorities for learning.  We will not be able to affect in any appeal to local boards, what our children will be taught or tested.  That power will have gone to the standards copyright holders and corporate test creators.  We have no method of un-electing those controllers, no way for our scientists to affect any amendments made in the ever-changing and politically charged future of science.

It is also tragically true that Fordham Institute rated NGSS as inferior to many states’ science standards.  Still, many states, including Utah, are adopting NGSS anyway– a sad reminder of recent history, when certain states with prior standards higher than Common Core dropped their standards  to be in Common Core.  It’s also a sad proof that the claim that “the standards are higher and better for all” was nothing more than a marketing lie, then for English and math, and now for science.

There are important reasons  that South Carolina officially rejected NGSS.

And so did Wyoming.

Kansas parents sued the state school board over it.

West Virginia is fighting about it.

It’s a hot topic in many other  states.

But do Utahns even know it’s going on here?  (How would they know unless they were personal friends of the parent review committee?)  The USOE won’t even admit that Utah is aiming to adopt NGSS!  To do Utah-specific homework on this, read this article.  And this one. 

Then come to the meeting.  The USOE is calling the new standards “a revision” rather than a wholesale adoption of NGSS standards, in what appears to be an attempt to deceive the people. Parent committee members opposed to the change, including scientist Vincent Newberger, have pointed out that one word– one– was altered from NGSS standards in Utah’s “revision of its own standards” and some NGSS standards were only renumbered, so that the proponents could feel truthful about calling these standards a “revision” of Utah’s prior science standards rather than an adoption of national standards.  The USOE’s open meetings are not, supposedly, to promote NGSS but are to promote what USOE calls a “revision of middle school science standards” only.

Parents need to take control of this conversation.

Ask yourself:  1)  Is this revision actually an adoption of NGSS?  2)  Do I want national science standards in Utah?

Answer one:  If you read what parent committee members are testifying, you will conclude that this revision IS an adoption of NGSS.

Answer two:  As with Common Core, we must push back against national science standards for two reasons:  control of standards (liberty) and content of standards (academics).

CONTROL

Although parent committee members on Utah’s “revision” team testify that the content is global warming-centric, and electricity-dismissive, and testify that the standards present as facts, controversial theories only accepted by certain groups; to me, the enduring issue is control, local power.

If we adopt standards written by an unrepresentative, nonelected, central committee– standards that don’t come with an amendment process for future alterations as scientific theories and studies grow– we give away our personal power.

Even if these standards were unbiased and excellent, we should never, even for one second, consider adopting national/federally promoted standards– because science is ever-changing and ever politically charged.  We are foolish to hand away our right to judge, to debate, to control, what we will be teaching our children, and to let unelected, unknown others decide which science topics will be marginalized while others are highlighted in the centrally controlled standards.   Would we allow a nontransparent, unelected, distant group to rewrite the U.S. Constitution?  Never.  Then, why is representation and power concerning laws and policies affecting our children’s knowledge, beliefs and skills any less important?

Representation is nonexistent in NGSS standards adoption, despite the token cherrypicked teacher or professor who gets to contribute ideas to the new standards.  Unless there is a written constitution for altering our standards so that we retain true control of what is taught, no federal or national standards should ever, ever be accepted.  Adopting centralized standards is giving away the key to the local castle.

Are these just harmless, minimal standards without any teeth or enforcer?  Hardly; the enforcement of the science standards is embedded in the nationally aligned tests, tests which carry such intense pressure for schools and students (school grading/shutdown; teacher evaluation/firing) that they have become the bullies of the educational system.

CONTENT

Know this:  NGSS are neither neutral nor objective.   This explains why pushback against NGSS is so strong in some states, even to the point of lawsuits against state school boards over NGSS.  NGSS standards are slanted.

It may come as a surprise that religious freedom is a key complaint against these standards.  This was pointed out by plaintiffs in the Kansas lawsuit, which alleged that implementation “will cause the state to infringe on the religious rights of parents, students and taxpayers under the Establishment, Free Exercise, Speech and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution.”

The legal complaint stated that “the principal tool of indoctrination is the concealed use of an Orthodoxy known as methodological naturalism or scientific materialism. It holds that explanations of the cause and nature of natural phenomena may only use natural, material or mechanistic causes, and must assume that supernatural and teleological or design conceptions of nature are invalid. The Orthodoxy is an atheistic faith-based doctrine that has been candidly explained by Richard Lewontin, a prominent geneticist and evolutionary biologist, as follows:

“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, thatwe are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” [Richard Lewontin, Billions and Billions of Demons, 44 N.Y. Rev. of Books 31 (Jan. 9, 1997) (emphasis added)]

 

So, under NGSS, you can’t teach, as some scientists do, that evolution can exist alongside creationism.  Under scientific materialism/methodological naturalism, any “design conception” is invalid.

Other complaints against NGSS science standards are that they pit environmental activism against activists who want freedom to use natural local resources;  that they ask students to see themselves as either global warming believers or global warming deniers, to the exclusion of scientific inquiry; that they pit advocates of scientific open debate against advocates for scientific and political consensus-seeking; that they push the orthodox religion of atheism rather than allowing students to decide for themselves whether or not to include Creation in their personal scientific study.

Below is a list of the upcoming science meetings in Utah, where any citizen may come and ask questions and make comments.

Friends, we need to show up and bring neighbors.  If too few Utahns find out and push back, the NGSS standards will slide right in like Common Core for math and English did.  Please cancel your other plans.  Bring your video cameras if you come.  It’s an open, public meeting so recording seems proper and fair.  Recording USOE official replies to questions from parents can only encourage accountability from the USOE to the citizens.  If you can’t attend one of the meetings in the next weeks, please comment (and ask others to comment) on the USOE’s  90 day public comment survey link.

Before I list the meeting times and dates and cities, I want to share portions of an email sent out from a Washington County, Utah citizen to other citizens of Washington county.  I don’t know who wrote this email:

 

————————————-

Washington County Email:

“Washington County was settled by wise men and women who worked hard to make our red desert bloom.  They have passed down a wonderful heritage of hard work and love for the land to all who have followed them.  We are now reaping the fruits of the careful planning and preservation that has become a way of life to all who make Washington County their home.  We desire to pass this heritage along to our children so that the generations to come will continue to be wise stewards of this land that we love.

 

It is hard to understand why anyone from Washington County would allow their children to be taught a science curriculum that does not align with our value system.  Imagine how powerful it would be to teach our children the science behind why our soil is red, how ancient volcanos came to pepper our back yards with basalt rock, what made our sand dunes petrify, why dinosaur footprints can be found in farm land and what makes our sunsets so spectacular.  As our children learn the unique science of the environment around them, they will have greater knowledge and appreciation of the diverse environments around the world.  They will also come to appreciate the importance of being wise stewards wherever their paths may lead them.

 

We now have an opportunity to protect our right to teach our children.   The Federal Government has incentivized groups to develop the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and those groups have worked tirelessly to get them implemented in Utah, and all states.  Please come and learn more about the NGSS from Vincent Newmeyer, a member of the NGSS review committee.  We will be meeting on Thursday, April 23rd at 6:00 P.M. at the St. George Downtown Library (88 W. 100 S. St. George).  Mr. Newmeyer is one of the review committee members who have great concerns about the NGSS.  These members are generously giving their time to visit communities to warn them about these new federal standards.

 

Directly following the meeting with Mr. Newmeyer, there will be a public meeting with the State and Local School Boards to discuss these federal standards tied to high-stakes testing onThursday, April 23rd at 7:00 P.M. at the Washington School District Office Board Room at 121 Tabernacle Street in St. George.”  

 ————————————-

 

USOE Public Feedback Meetings

All Meetings are 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Thursday, April 23
Washington School District Office
Location: Board Room
121 Tabernacle Street
St George, Utah 84770
Note: The main doors will be locked.  Access through the front side doors.

Tuesday, April 28
Uintah School District Office
Location: Board Room (Upstairs)
635 West 200 South
Vernal, Utah 84078

Wednesday, May 6
Provo School District Office
Location: Professional Development Center
280 West 940 North
Provo, Utah 84604

Wednesday, May 13
Cache County School District Office
Location: Professional Development Center
2063 North 1200 East
North Logan, Utah 84341

Tuesday, May 19
Salt Lake Center for Science Education (SLCSE)
Location: The Media Center
1400 Goodwin Avenue
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116

 

 

Education Commander David Coleman’s New Essay   9 comments

dv

Mark Twain said that it’s easier to fool people than it is to convince them that they have been fooled.

Having tried and failed for (going on three) years to persuade Governor Herbert and the State School Board of Utah to withdraw from the Common Core Initiative and its snake oil data mining programs, I agree with Twain.

And I’ve stopped trying to figure out whether people who promote or go along with Common Core are witting villains or not, remembering my dad’s saying, that it doesn’t matter much if someone is a pawn or a knave; the results of their actions or inactions are the same.

Actual villains don’t have claws and fangs to tip us off, like characters in a Disney movie; they don’t even know they’re on team villain, in most cases. Out of ignorance and arrogance, most villains sincerely believe in their paths.

disney villian

 

Consider the case of David Coleman, who wrote the Common Core English Language Arts Standards and then snagged the gig of president of the College Board (the group that creates college entrance exams and writes the A.P. standards and tests).

Coleman’s villainy, in my opinion, really boils down to his own blinding pride.  As Homeschool Defense Association President Michael Farris smartly said: “I told Mr. Coleman… Just because you have a good idea (homeschooling in my case, Common Core in his case), it doesn’t mean that it is appropriate to force everyone in the country to follow your idea. And that is my central problem with the Common Core and all forms of centralized educational planning.”

It’s strange that Coleman, a non-teacher, a businessman, believed that he held the only vision for what was best for every American child’s education, and also sincerely believed that it was a veddy, veddy good idea to impose it, by unconstitutional means if necessary, on the entire nation.

Just watch the first minute of this video.

He admitted on this film that he went around talking governors into his vision. (It wasn’t the governors who thought of Common Core; it was Coleman.  Coleman didn’t realize that governors don’t have constitutional authority to represent voters in creating a national education system.)

But Coleman was so convinced of the superiority of his ideas that he successfully directed their imposition on K-12 schools throughout America, and then successfully altered college entrance exams to match his Common Core.  That’s a lot of power in one guy.

That’s a lot of nerve in one guy, too.  Where did he get the nerve to defy millions of teachers, years of time-tested tradition, simple logic and all due process?   I don’t know.

There have been excellent rebuttals to the David Coleman version of education– don’t know if anyone’s read them:  Dr. Thomas Newkirk, of University of New Hampshire, has written “Speaking Back to the Common Core,” one of my favorites.   Dr. Terrence Moore’s “The Storykillers” is another.

But recently, in response to Coleman’s completely mis-titled essay, “Cultivating Wonder” two additional educators have spoken up eloquently:  Professor Nick Tampio of Fordham University and teacher Peter Greene of Pennsylvania.

The purpose of my post today is to share what they have said.

Tampio’s and Greene’s reviews clarify what’s wrong with Coleman’s Common Core vision: 1) Faulty, narrow assumptions in the actual standards  2) The restrictiveness; in other words, even if the standards weren’t faulty, they are one person’s vision: we’re all stuck with his One True Vision.  Nobody else gets a voice.

Professor Nick Tampio writes that Coleman’s Common Core:

1.  Places “tight restrictions on what may be thought — or at least what may be expressed to earn teacher approval, high grades and good test scores.”

2. “Expects students to answer questions by merely stringing together key words in the text before them. This does not teach philosophy or thinking; it teaches the practice of rote procedures, conformity and obedience.”

3. Minimally discusses historical context or outside sources that may make material come alive.  “For instance, he suggests that teachers ask students, “What word does Lincoln use most often in the address?” rather than, say, discuss the Civil War.”

4. “Discourages students from making connections between ideas, texts or events in the world — in a word, from thinking. Students are not encouraged to construct knowledge and understanding; they must simply be adept at repeating it.”

5.  Imposes Coleman’s philosophy of education across all subjects. [Coleman] observes, “ ‘Similar work could be done for texts … in other areas such as social studies, history, science and technical subjects.’ Like a chef’s signature flavor, Coleman’s philosophy of education permeates the myriad programs that the College Board runs.”

6. Copies China’s test-centric system.  “U.S. schools have educated many successful intellectuals, artists and inventors. By contrast, the Chinese model of education emphasizes rigorous standards and high-stakes tests, pre-eminently the gaokao college entrance exam. Chinese policymakers rue, however, how this education culture stifles creativity, curiosity and entrepreneurship. The Common Core will lead us to the same trap. Educators should not discard what has made the U.S. a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship.”

7.  Disrespects student individuality.  “In perhaps his most famous public statement, Coleman told a room of educators not to teach students to write personal narratives, because “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.” This statement expresses, albeit more crassly, the same sentiment as his essay on cultivating wonder. He demands that students do what they are told and not offer their own perspectives on things.”

Pennsylvania teacher Peter Greene is likewise more than slightly annoyed at David Coleman.

Greene notes that Coleman is a “man who has singlehandedly tried to redefine what it means to be an educated human being.”

Greene writes, “Some reformsters may pay lip service to the accumulated wisdom of the vast army of professional educators; Coleman never does.”   Coleman “is not here to share some ideas and techniques teacher to teacher, but is here to give his superior insights to the nation full old lesser beings who are hopelessly lost and failing.”

In sum:

“Coleman repeatedly fails to distinguish between his own experience of the text and Universal Truth. This leads him to believe apparently that if he just figured something out about Bernardo, he must be the first person ever to see it, that his own reaction to a line is the universal one, that his path into the text is the only one, and that things that do not matter to him should not matter to anybody. Of all the reformsters, he is the one least likely to ever acknowledge contributions of any other living human being. For someone who famously said that nobody gives a shot about your thoughts and feelings, Coleman is enormously fascinated by and has great fait on his own thoughts and feelings.”

“…Coleman thinks a standardized test is really a great model of life, where there’s always just one correct answer, one correct path, one correct reading, and life is about showing that you have it (or telling other people to have it)…  what David Coleman doesn’t know about literature is what David Coleman doesn’t know about being human in the world. Life is not a bubble test. There is a richness and variety in human experience that Coleman simply does not recognize nor allow for.

His view of knowledge, learning, understanding, and experience is cramped and tiny. It’s unfortunate that circumstances have allowed him such unfettered power over the very idea of what an educated person should be.  It’s like making a person who sees only black and white the High Minister of National Art.”

—————————–

Thank you, Nick Tampio and Peter Greene.

Video: Utah Teacher Speaks Out in Detail About Problematic Common Core   Leave a comment

This Utah teacher is the dedicated, experienced and compassionate kind we all want for our children. She has a genuine passion for teaching and a sincere interest in the growth of each unique student.  What makes her even more special is her willingness to voice concerns about current education reforms –in spite of the negative consequences she has already and will continue to face as a result. She is not willing to say things are perfect or working well when she can see they are not.

The specifics she shares in this video, about how her teaching has been affected and particularly about the professional development, offer insights I hadn’t heard before.

Agree or disagree, can any policy be so perfect to be above discussion or dissent?

Let’s help her voice be heard. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vq2uNDxHoMA

 

Paul Ryan: Renewing the American Idea   1 comment

ryan

Paul Ryan did not mention Common Core at last month’s Independence Day address at Hillsdale college.  But the Wisconsin Congressman’s speech, called “Renewing the American Idea,”   had everything to do with what this blog stands for.  When Ryan spoke about discerning between” measures that conform to the American Idea and those that weaken or conflict with the American Idea” he warned, “The American Idea imposes a duty to oppose programs that subvert popular government and impose bureaucratic rule.”

That duty and distinction is why Common Core stands opposed in America today.

Ryan defined the American Idea as, “self-government under the rule of law” that declares “human beings are created equal with unalienable rights that come from God.” He noted that many political measures conflict with the American Idea and undermine self-government, being “composed of boards and commissions with uncertain responsibilities and unaccountable decision-making”.  As I read that sentence, I was thinking of the CCSSO, the  NGA, the NDCM, and the College Board.  Ryan explained that “the way they operate creates relationships between government and money that encourage cronyism and breed political corruption… they are incompatible with the American Idea, and they must be rejected.”

Nodding in agreement, I thought of Gates’ countless millions given to the CCSSO, NGA, PTA, Education First, Jeb Bush, and even granted to the Department of Education directly, that helped ensure that  Common Core’s rule became not only the business success of  Microsoft’s and Pearson, but also became government policy.

Ryan said, “these programs and their administrative forms…cannot be reformed and restructured, but must be ended, or, if we choose, replaced by something completely different and consistent with popular consent and self-government… No reform is worth pursuing that does not turn against this rule and take us on a path of renewal.”

Ryan talked about the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) but I was applying his words to the No Child Left Behind Waiver, as he wrote:

“Nobody understands it, and it makes everyone anxious… maybe you can get a delay or a waiver or an exemption.  How do you get these things?  Nobody knows.  The administration makes decisions on the fly, so the law changes every day… bureaucrats are calling the shots and running the show… protect[ing] the big guys– the biggest, most powerful [education sales] institutions in the country.  The result is predictable: Big [education sales companies] get bigger and small [education sales companies] get fewer… [it’s] the difference between fair play and playing favorites.”

I was thinking about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Utah Chamber of Commerce, which has been drooling all over Common Core and pushing, pushing its promotion.  Ryan wrote, “Big business is a willing accomplice because regulation keeps the competition out.  Many times, large corporations don’t oppose new regulations; indeed, they help write them.  The point is, crony capitalism isn’t a side effect– it’s a direct result of big government… big businessmen spend less and less time hustling in the marketplace and more and more time lining the halls of government.”

(At this point, I was thinking about truths recently articulated by Ze’ev Wurman in a Breitbart article about Gates and his crony capitalism:  “…Bill Gates’ goal is ‘to leverage private money’ in a way that ‘redirects’ how tax dollars are spent inside public education…  Gates is using his personal philanthropy to direct government policy, to channel taxpayers’ funds to pay for the national curriculum he personally wants… paying for Common Core, Common Core ‘validation studies,’ curricular units development, and through paying for Education First to promote textbooks and pedagogical approaches he supports. Yet consider that the computer technology and infrastructure needed to support just the annual testing by Common Core’s newfangled assessments is estimated at $50 per tested student every year. Since over half of students are tested annually, we are talking about public education spending an additional one and a half billion dollars annually on technology for testing – 30 million students times 50! …Microsoft will capture at least half of that market, and assuming just 40% gross margin, Bill Gates is expected to reel in every year in extra profit (not revenue) as much as all he spent on supporting Common Core throughout the years. I’m not arguing Bill Gates wants necessarily to harm education for his personal profit. But isn’t it nice when you can convince yourself that what’s good for Microsoft is good for America, even when studies show it’s not necessarily so?”)

Ryan then explained how the difference between the U.S. Founders’ vision and the Progressive vision is the difference between freedom and the end of it.  He wrote that the founders “limited government… Progressives believed in a much larger and more active central government that reaches further and further into our lives…[O]ver the course of the 20th century, the Progressive view came to dominate the modern Democratic Party– and to cloud Republican thinking as well.  This is the core problem we face today.  The American Idea has not been rejected.  Far from it:  The Progressive counter-vision has never commanded a settled majority… [Americans] have never consented to have their lives micromanaged by bureaucrats.”

Ryan nailed the Progressive (and Common Core) agenda when he explained that in Progressive ideology, self-government gives way to “professional bureaucrats governing according to centralized plans.”

Centralized plans that are uninfluenced by those who are governed by them =  Common Core.

  • Common Core:  where those governed by the rules don’t get any voice in what those rules will be.
  • Common Core:  where big corporations marry big government, using taxpayer dollars to pay for the wedding and the couple’s future living expenses –and make sure not to invite taxpayers to the wedding lest any stand up and oppose the union.
  • Common Core:  where corporate+federally aligned tests drive local curriculum and standards.
  • Common Core:  where student absorption of common standards is tracked by corporate+government longitudinal database systems –without parental knowledge or consent.
  • Common Core: where the unelected, such as David Coleman (a noneducator-businessman, now president of the College Board and leader of English standards) get to run Common Core’s promotion company, Achieve, Inc., as well as alter the A.P. and the ACT, thus conforming all student tests to unelected and unaccountable whims
  • Common Core: where the unelected CCSSO and NGA get to hold copyright over Common Core –and also set common data standards, which enables the robbing of student privacy and  ends local autonomy in testing.

It’s hard to find a more perfect fit for Paul Ryan’s definition of “measures that undermine the American Idea” than Common Core.  Yet, despite the monstrousness of the problem we face, I believe in the same hopeful note of  Paul Ryan’s closing paragraph:

“Nothing in history is inevitable.  If we are to get through our current trial, as we have done in the past, it will be by the use of our wits and through tremendous effort … Let us remain committed to the American Idea.” 

 

 

 

 

Here is the video of Paul Ryan’s speech.

 

 

 Thank you, Paul Ryan.

The SAT “Upgrade” Is A Big Mistake: By Peter Wood   3 comments

This article was originally posted at MindingTheCampus.Com.  It is reposted with permission.    The author is president of the National Association of Scholars.

 

peter wood

The SAT “Upgrade” Is A Big Mistake

Guest post by Peter Wood

 

The College Board is reformulating the SAT.  Again.

The new changes, like others that have been instituted since the mid 1990s, are driven by politics. David Coleman, head of the College Board, is also the chief architect of the Common Core K-12 State Standards, which are now mired in controversy across the country.  Coleman’s initiative in revising the SAT should be seen first of all as a rescue mission.  As the Common Core flounders, he is throwing it an SAT life preserver. I’ll explain, but first let’s get the essentials of how the SAT is about to change.

Changes

The essay is now optional, ending a decade-long experiment in awarding points for sloppy writing graded by mindless formulae.

The parts of the test that explored the range and richness of a student’s vocabulary have been etiolated. The test now will look for evidence that students are familiar with academic buzzwords and jargon.  The College Board calls this “Relevant Words in Context.”  Test-takers won’t have to “memorize obscure words” but instead “will be asked to interpret the meaning of words based on the context of the passage in which they appear.”

The deductions for guessing wrong are gone.  Literally, there will be no harm in guessing.

Math will narrow to linear equations, functions, and proportions.

The scale on which scores are recorded will revert to the old 800 each on two sections, from the current 2,400 on three sections.  (Goodbye essay points.)

The old verbal section will be replaced by “evidence-based reading and writing.”

All the tests will include snippets from America’s Founding Documents.

What They Mean

The College Board’s announcement of these changes came under the headline “Delivering Opportunity: Redesigning the SAT Is Just One Step.”  The “delivering opportunity” theme is divided into three parts:

Ensure that students are propelled forward.

Provide free test preparation for the world.

Promote excellent classroom work and support students who are behind.

There is a thicket of explanation behind each of these headings, some of it beyond silly.  We learn, for example, that the College Board, “cannot stand by while students’ futures remain unclaimed.”  Unclaimed?  Like lottery prizes?  Like coats left in a checkroom?

If you work your way through this folderol, it appears that the College Board is launching a whole battery of new diversity programs.   “Access to Opportunity (“A2O”) pushes (“propels”) low-income, first-generation, underrepresented students to college.  The “All In Campaign” aims “to ensure to ensure that every African American, Latino, and Native American student who is ready for rigorous work takes an AP course or another advanced course.”  Another program offers college application fee waivers.

Those initiatives bear on the redesigned SAT mainly as evidence of the College Board’s preoccupation with its ideas about social justice.  The announcement of the changes in the SAT itself is succinct–and friendly, with helpful icons to get across ideas like “documents”–

The redesigned SAT will focus on the knowledge and skills that current research shows are most essential for college and career readiness and success. The exam will reflect the best of classroom work:

  • Relevant words in context
  • Command of evidence
  • Essay analyzing a source
  • Math focused on three key areas
  • Problems grounded in real-world contexts
  • Analysis in science and social studies
  • Founding documents and great global conversation
  • No penalty for wrong answers

The student who comes across the College Board’s explanation–and maybe even the journalist who reads it–might miss the full weight of that key phrase “college and career readiness.”  That’s the smoking gun that what is really happening in the College Board’s revision of the SAT is that the test is being wrenched into alignment with the Common Core.  That phrase, “college and career readiness,” is the Common Core mantra.  The Common Core was vigorously promoted to the states and to the public as something that would “raise standards” in the schools by creating a nationwide framework that would lead students to “college readiness.”

But alas, as the Common Core Standards emerged, it became apparent that they set a ceiling on the academic preparation of most students.  Students who go through schools that follow the Common Core Standards will be ill-prepared for the rigors of college.  That is, unless something can be done on the other end to ensure that colleges lower their standards. Then everything will be well.

The Bind

None of this might matter if the Common Core were just a baseline and students and schools could easily move above it if they wished to.  The trouble is that the Common Core has been designed to be a sticky baseline. It is hard for schools to rise above it.  There are two reasons for that.

First, it uses up most of the time in a K-12 curriculum, leaving little room for anything else.

Second, the states that were leveraged into it via Obama’s “Race to the Top” agreed that students who graduate from high school with a Common Core education and are admitted to public colleges and universities will automatically be entered into “credit-bearing courses.”  This is tricky.  Essentially what it means is that public colleges will have to adjust their curricula down to the level of knowledge and skill that the Common Core mandates.  And that in turn means that most schools will have little reason to offer anything beyond the Common Core, even if they can.

In this way, the Common Core floor becomes very much a ceiling too.  The changes in the SAT are meant to expedite this transition.

The Common Core Connection

The life-preserver that the College Board is throwing to the Common Core is a redefinition of what it means to be “college ready.” The SAT after all is a test aimed at determining who is ready for college. An SAT refurbished to match what the Common Core actually teaches instead of what colleges expect freshmen to know will go far to quiet worries that the Common Core is selling students short.  If the SAT says a student is “college ready,” who is to say that he is not?

The new changes in the SAT are meant first to skate around the looming problem that students educated within the framework of the Common Core would almost certainly see their performance on the old SAT plummet compared to students educated in pre-Common Core curricula.

The subject can get complicated, so it is best to consider an example.

Pre-pre-calculus

Perhaps the most vivid example of how the Common Core lowers standards and creates a situation which invites mischief with the SATs is the decision of the Common Core architects to defer teaching algebra to 9thgrade.  That move, along with several other pieces of the Common Core’s Mathematics Standards, generally means that students in high school will not reach the level of “pre-calculus.”  And that in turn means that as college freshmen, they will be at least a year behind where college freshmen used to be.  Instead of starting in with a freshman calculus course, they will have to start with complex numbers, trigonometric functions, conic sections, parametric equations, and the like.

Of course, lots of students who go to college today never take a calculus course and are in no way hindered if their high school math preparation stopped with binomial equations.  The trouble comes with students who wish to pursue science, technology, or engineering–the “STEM” fields. College curricula generally assume that students who set out to study these fields have already reached the level of calculus.

One might think that students who have aptitudes and interests in these areas could simply leapfrog the Common Core by taking accelerated math courses in high school.  Some indeed will be able to do just that.  They will be students who attend prosperous schools that have the resources to work around the Common Core.  Or they will be students whose parents pay for tutors or courses outside school.

We can be confident that Americans will be ingenious in finding ways to circumnavigate this new roadblock. And we can count on the emergence of entrepreneurs who will serve the market for extra-curricular math instruction.  There is no reason to think that MIT and Caltech will go begging for suitably prepared students.

But there is reason to worry that a large percentage of bright and capable students in ordinary American schools are going to be shortchanged in math.

And while I have chosen math as the example, the Common Core is up to similar mischief in English, and the SAT is being similarly altered to match the diminished K-12 curriculum there too. Those who have followed the debate on the Common Core will have some idea of how this works out.  The Common Core prizes “informational texts” above literature, and it prizes teaching students how to treat documents as “evidence” above teaching students how to search out the deeper meaning in what they read.  The Common Core approaches reading and writing in a utilitarian spirit. Clearly this has some power. It fosters certain kinds of analytic skills–those that might be called forensic.  But it scants the cultivation of other aspects of reading and writing, especially those that depend on analogy, implication, and aesthetic sense.

That’s why the Common Core has such limited use for imaginative literature and why it so readily turns to out-of-context excerpts and uprooted fragments.  Information is information; it does not much depend on a sense of the whole; nor does it depend on gathering in the unsaid background.  The now infamous example of the Common Core’s deracinated approach to writing is a reading of the Gettysburg Address shorn of any explanation that it was a speech commemorating a battlefield, let alone the battlefield of the decisive battle in the Civil War.

Presumably the Common Core folks will repair this particular mistake, but it is telling that it happened in the first place.  And it is telling that the College Board has adopted all the same conceptual devices in the new SAT:  relevant words in context, command of evidence, analyzing sources, and using fragments and excerpts of historical documents.  None of these by itself should raise concern.  Each is a legitimate line for testing.  But note that they come unaccompanied by anything that would balance the focus on “evidence-based” inquiry with examination of other skills.

A Puzzle

Why should a grandly announced effort to raise school standards end up lowering them instead?  The answer lies in the convergence of several political forces.  Politicians see a can’t-lose proposition in the conceit that everyone should have the opportunity to go to college.  School standards that really separated the wheat from the chaff would be unpopular.  Americans today like the pretense that the only thing that holds us back is external circumstance, not natural limitation.  And the academic “achievement gap” between Asians and whites on one hand and blacks and Hispanics on the other has made forthright discussion of standards extremely difficult.

For all these reasons, we Americans were in the market for a new brand of educational snake oil and the Common Core provided it.  Politicians on both sides of the aisle lined up to buy franchises: Obama on the left, Jeb Bush on the right, and many more.

Now that the charm has worn off, the politicians have become hotly defensive about their support for Common Core. This isn’t the place to delve into their excuses and recriminations, but it is important to remember that that rancor is the backdrop to the College Board’s decision to change the SAT. Again.

test

SAT Down

My account of what lies behind the changes differs quite a bit from whatThe New York Times reported. The Times story emphasized Coleman’s heroic decision to take on the test preparation industry, which profits by exploiting the anxieties of students over how they will perform on the SAT.  Test preparation can be expensive and thus wealthier families have an edge. According to the Times, Coleman declared, “It is time for the College Board to say in a clearer voice that the culture and practice of costly test preparation that has arisen around admissions exams drives the perception of inequality and injustice in our country.”

How exactly the changes in the SAT will combat that “culture and practice” is unclear.  The test preparation industry itself seemed to shrug at Coleman’s oration.  The Timesquotes a vice president for Kaplan Test Prep saying that “Test changes always spur demand.”

Coleman is far from the first to rejigger the SAT to advance a notion of equality and justice.  The SAT was invented in 1926 to open the doors to college for students who were natively smart but came from unpromising backgrounds.  Over the decades it became a primary tool for college admissions officers to match potential students with the level off rigor embodied in a college’s curriculum. The goal was to find students who in all likelihood would succeed.

That began to change with the push for racial preferences in college admissions in the 1970s and 1980s. As colleges and universities more and more foregrounded the goal of “diversity” in admissions, the SAT began to look like an embarrassing artifact of an earlier time.  It stood for established standards and evidence of intellectual reach at a time when it had become much more useful to emphasize “evolving” definitions of excellence and achievement.  The new approaches emphasized cultural variety in how people think and what they think about, and the greater relevance to college work of “personal perspective” and viewpoint over mere knowledge.  Likewise “experience” began to seem as valuable in a college applicant as intellectual skill.

The first real fruit of these new concerns was the “recentering” of the SAT’s scoring system in the 1990s, which ballooned the scores of mediocre students and erased the differences among students at the higher end of the scale.  Then, among other changes, came the elimination in 2002 of the verbal analogies portion of the tests, which jettisoned a section for the explicit reason that black students on average performed less well on it than they did on other sections.  That same year the College Board removed the “asterisk” that indicated that a student had taken the test with special accommodations such as extra time.

So the attempt to use the SAT as an instrument to advance “social justice” is, in a sense, more of the same.  We can expect most colleges and universities to welcome Coleman’s changes in that spirit. But there are always costs, and sooner or later we will pay them.  We are embarking on a great expansion of the left’s long-term project of trading off our best chances to foster individual excellence for broadly-distributed access to mediocre education.

—————————————–

Thank you, Peter Wood.

—————————————–

 

Stop Common Core Rally Report   6 comments

A REPORT ON THIS WEEK’S  STOP COMMON CORE  RALLIES

This week, and especially Tuesday night, the Common Core Initiative took some tough hits.  All on the same night,  Florida had a newsmaking Common Core protest while Missouri had its Stop Common Core event,  while here in Utah about 600 people gathered at the Capitol; on Wednesday, South Carolina was up to bat.   More and more, people are taking a stand for local control:  for the end of any involvement with Common Core.

Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune reporters attended the Utah rally; read their reports here  and here.

Here’s my shorter version of the events: photos first.

siri

Siri Davidson, a Utah mother who began to home school her children because of  Common Core math

a rallyVolunteers explained to attendees how to opt out of Common Core tests.

a rally lots of people cc slc

Attendance was strong at Salt Lake City’s rally to Stop Common Core on Tuesday night

rally feb 2014 with me judge and pytt

Judge Norman Jackson, who gave the prayer, in this photo is on the front row, left.

brian g

After a prayer and a song, the rally began with Representative Brian Greene speaking about fairness and transparency in state school board elections.  His new bill –if it gets a chance to be heard– creates it: House Bill 228.   He asked Utahns to please write to the representatives and ask them to help push that bill out of committee so legislators may vote on it.

Dana

Representative Dana Layton spoke about her bill to restore local control of education, House Bill 342.    She quoted Diane Ravitch’s words about Common Core from the speech/article “Everything You Need To Know About Common Core.”

margaret dayton

State Senator Margaret Dayton spoke about the need for informed citizens and for a return to local control and away from Common Core.

joan landes two

Psychotherapist Joan Landes spoke about the psychological devastation that the age-inappropriate Common Core and its experimental testing wreaks on students.

brian halladay

Three essay winners read their essays and won boxes of Mrs. Cavanaugh’s chocolates:  Brian Halladay, a member of the Alpine School Board; Amy Mullins, a teacher; and Cami Isle, a teacher.  All the essays that were entered into the contest will be posted at Utahns Against Common Core.

I got to introduce these three writers, and got to explain why we held the essay contest.  In the spirit of restoring legitimate learning and the joy of reading and writing, Utahns Against Common Core aimed to model the practice of written human conversation and critical thought –which happens in personal essays.

Common Core doesn’t encourage personal writing.  It prefers technical writing and info-texts.  In fact, David Coleman, lead architect of Common Core, explained why he ditched personal writing:  ““As you grow up in this world you realize that people really don’t give a !% #*^ 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.’ ”    Coleman mocks personal writing and slashed it, as he also slashed the allowable amounts of classic literature, starting in elementary grades at just 50%  but cutting more and more– until, as high school seniors, students must devote 70% of their readings to informational texts, allowing only 30% to be fictional stories, the stuff that makes us love reading in the first place.  (Excuse me while I pull out my hair and scream.)  So.  Since Coleman mocks the personal essay and  works to incrementally delete classical literature,  we must work to restore them.

This is why we held the essay contest.

sinhue

After the essay readings, teacher and author Sinhue Noriega spoke about Common Core being much more than just standards, and also being –despite proponents’ claims to the contrary– a curriculum; and he spoke about the unconstitutionality of the Common Core.

ed flint

Attorney Ed Flint spoke about the Common Core-related law suit in which he is involved.  Details here.  

rod a

Radio host Rod Arquette spoke passionately, telling the story of how the Seattle Seahawks won the Superbowl this year in part because of the athlete who often asked the team, as his father had often asked him, “Why not you?  Why not us?”  Arquette turned the question to the audience.  Why can’t we change the course of the Common Core?  Why not us?

Representatives from the Left-Right Alliance, Libertas Institute, Utahns Against Common Core, FreedomWorks, and several other organizations spoke for just one minute apiece.

oak

Dad Oak Norton and Mom Alisa Ellis closed the meeting with calls to action.

The words that stayed in my mind more than anything else from the evening were the words of retired Judge Norman Jackson’s opening prayer. These deserve to be remembered and pondered.

Judge Jackson prayed:

Dear God and Father of us all,

We express our Gratitude for the time, means and opportunity to gather this day at the seat of our Government. We acknowledge our firm reliance on Thy Divine protection and guidance in all the affairs of life. And ask Thy forgiveness of our trespasses as we forgive those of others.  Enable us to live with charity for all.

We thank Thee for the endowment of unalienable rights – including life, liberty and the education of our children.  May our land, schools and homes be places of light, liberty and learning.  Bless us and all citizens with the desire to be governed by correct principles. Bless those who govern with that same desire.

Protect parents, children and teachers from the designs of conspiring men and women. And from the pretensions of those who occupy high places. Preserve the sanctity of our homes from the decay of individual responsibility and religion. Stay the hands of those who would harm and offend our children. Grant us and all citizens the strength to be eternally vigilant in this great cause.

Bless the proceedings and participants of this gathering with Thy guiding influence and sustaining care.  Bless us and our children with Thy holy light – we humbly pray in the name of Thy Son Jesus Christ.  Amen.”

Amen.

Utah Unhappily Bound by Common Core Standards   Leave a comment

menlove

SUPERINTENDENT MENLOVE

martell.menlove@schools.utah.gov

I like Superintendent Martell Menlove.  He’s approachable, pleasant, polite; has a warm smile and even responds to emails.
But there is a problem.  Dr. Menlove is not just any Utahn; he’s the State Superintendent.  He supports Common Core and he’s a member of the Council of Chief State School Officers,  which created and copyrighted Common Core (with the NGA).
ccsso
CCSSO is an organization that aims to destroy (“disaggregate”) student privacy and thus, student liberty.
Dr. Menlove is also on the Board of Directors of WestEd, an organization with a key role in the creation of the Common Core tests.  I don’t know why he remains a member of these groups.  Maybe he thinks he can influence them for good instead of having them drag him (and our state) down. Maybe.  But Dr. Menlove told me once that the reason he supports Common Core is that the ACT and SAT do.  He thinks that our students have to align with whatever ACT/SAT do because of college entrance traditions.  (I suggested to Dr. Menlove that now that David Coleman has corrupted the college entrance exams  (here and here)  down to Common Core standards, we should flee ACT/SAT and find alternative testing for Utah students.)  He did not agree.
oak
Yesterday, my friend Oak Norton wrote a letter to Dr. Menlove.  He asked him to publically clarify whether Utah Core Standards are the same thing as Common Core Standards because some people are of the false belief that Utah has independent math and English standards.   Dr. Menlove wrote back and clarified.  Utah does Common Core standards.  He wrote: “The Utah State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards as Utah Core Standards in Math and English/Language Arts.  I do not believe I have said anything contrary to this.  If I have, I apologize.”  (See?  He is nice.)
But there’s still a problem.   It’s never been made clear by him nor other leaders  that because we do Common Core, we cannot control our own standards anymore.  Whether our leaders don’t understand this, or choose not to understand this, or don’t want the people to understand this, is no matter.  What matters is that people are confused.
menlove 2
Let’s not be confused.  We can fact-check our leaders who say,  “Utah isn’t obligated to Common Core and we can easily alter “our” standards while still belonging to the Common Core Initiative”.  It’s wishful thinking at best; lies at worst.   Here’s why:
Look at 7 basic facts:
1.   The Department of Education’s official website explains the conditions of getting ARRA money. It says:
“As part of its application for initial funding, the state must assure that it will take actions to: (a) increase teacher effectiveness and address inequities in the distribution of highly qualified teachers; (b) establish and use pre-K-through-college and career data systems to track progress and foster continuous improvement; (c) make progress toward rigorous college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments; and (d) support targeted, intensive support and effective interventions to turn around schools identified for corrective action and restructuring.”
F.Y.I. – “College and Career Ready Standards and high-quality assessments” means only ONE thing to the federal government:  COMMON CORE.  Read their definitions page.
Yes, we traded our educational freedom for federal ARRA money.   Sad choice, Governor Huntsman.  That’s where it all started: there were four assurances in that signup (which included common standards and assessments and data collection) that Governor Huntsman signed us up for in that State Fiscal Stabilization Fund; the standards were one of the conditions.  Data collection and testing were also included.
Maybe Dr. Menlove doesn’t know this.  He really should.
2.   BUT THERE IS MORE:  the MOU  (Memorandum of Understanding) that the school board signed got us started further down the path of Common Core –this MOU, which was used in other federal funding applications, proved we were on the Common Core commitment train.
3.  BUT THERE IS MORE:  the NCLB temporary waiver application (see page 18) binds Utah to COMMON STANDARDS.
4. BUT THERE IS  MORE:  the Common Core copyright page itself binds users to precisely what’s written and offers no amendment process for states governed by the standards;
5.  BUT THERE IS MORE:  there is a  15% clause in the Achieve implementation manuals (see page 23) and in the NCLB waiver and elsewhere, that is a “ceiling rule”, stifling what Utah can add to the Utah Core, and ensuring that anything Utah adds to the Common standards, including or beyond that 15%, won’t be tested or recognized by the national testers nor written into the “acceptable” Common Core aligned curriculums
6.  BUT THERE IS MORE.  The lack of any amendment process for the states to alter the common standards should be a red flag to our leaders– whose duty is to protect us from the tyranny of corporate copyrights as well as to protect us from the tyranny of the federal Department of Education.
7.  BUT THERE IS MORE.   Even if we stand firm and reject the coming science and social studies standards, which Dr. Menlove told us he would do, we are still standing without control over what our students will learn about history and science!  We’ve been duped by David Coleman, lead Common Core creator and now College Board President.
jakell
This duping is clearly explained in a letter from another friend of mine, Jakell Sullivan, on the subject:
———————————
Dear Legislators,
Oak Norton published Superintendent Menlove’s reply to his email where Dr. Menlove admits that we have indeed adopted Common Core; however, he does not make any effort to address the places where Utah is bound to the federal mandates—this is, in my opinion, a consistent effort by him and Board members to never address the actual reality of the situation.  Please see Dr. Menlove’s response, and please keep in mind that the Common Core Standards creators were clever in their approach to telling states they were only adopting Math and English. The actual cover of the English Language Arts standards reads:
“English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects
This was a sleight of hand by the Standards creators, and why parents around the country are beginning to see such wordy math problems. All subjects will be enmeshed under Common Core standards, providing an easier framework to slip ideas and beliefs into all subjects.
Here is video of CC architect, David Coleman, talking about how he threatened to resign from writing the standards unless “teachers in history and social studies, and tech subjects bear the responsibility of bringing their kids to literacy.”
But, it is not about bringing English into all subjects, it is about bringing all subjects together so that states, who would never accept the anti-American history standards, would be getting those standards through the back door through the recommended curricula.
Watch from about the 6 min.-7.5 min. point.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLba9mBFmbY#t=471
I hope legislators will find a way to vet what has actually occurred.
JaKell
make your voice heard
Please make your voice heard.  Call or write to your local and state leaders.  Let them know that this loss of local control is NOT OKAY with you.  Speak up or you will lose your window of opportunity to defend freedom and your children’s rights.  Silence is acquiescence.
Here’s contact information:

GOVERNOR HERBERT:  constituentservices@utah.gov

 SUPERINTENDENT MENLOVE: 

martell.menlove@schools.utah.gov

STATE SCHOOL BOARD:   board@schools.utah.gov

EDUCATION COMMITTEE: (SENATE)

Stuart Reid screid@le.utah.gov

Patricia W. Jones pjones@le.utah.gov

Mark B. Madsen mmadsen@le.utah.gov

wniederhauser@le.utah.gov

Aaron Osmond aosmond@le.utah.gov

Howard Stephenson hstephenson@le.utah.gov

Jerry W. Stevenson  jwstevenson@le.utah.gov

Stephen H. Urquhart  surquhart@le.utah.gov

EDUCATION COMMITTEE: (HOUSE)

fgibson@le.utah.gov

vlsnow@le.utah.gov

parent@le.utah.gov

rcunningham@le.utah.gov

seliason@le.utah.gov

greghughes@le.utah.gov

blast@le..utah.gov

dlifferth@le.utah.gov

dmccay@le.utah.gov

csmoss@le.utah.gov

jimnielson@le.utah.gov

vpeterson@le.utah.gov

mariepoulson@le.utah.gov

kraigpowell@le.utah.gov

dsanpei@le.utah.gov

kstratton@le.utah.gov

UTAH CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(It promotes Common Core via “Prosperity 2020”):

revans@slchamber.com

MANY OTHER UTAH CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE:

info@westjordanchamber.com

info@sslchamber.com

sandychamber@sandychamber.com

chamber@tooelechamber.com

russ@stgeorgechamber.com

semile@cachechamber.net

 

Faltering Coleman and Turnabout Huckabee: Is the Stop Common Core Movement Succeeding?   11 comments

The Stop Common Core movement is gaining tremendous momentum and the proponents of Common Core seem to be slowing down. Some of the leading characters have been so slowed that they have been stopped in their tracks.

A recent broadcast by proponent Mike Huckabee said he’s suddenly turned around and is now NOT not a proponent of Common Core.

A recent public letter from David Coleman said he’s decided he must delay the Common Core version of the SAT until 2016.

—David Coleman! The noneducator-businessman-leading architect of the Common Core, the one who dismissed the value of narrative writing and espoused letting informational text edge out classic literature in English classrooms— THIS David Coleman who is now president of the College Board, who is aligning college entrance exams to his Common Core– this is the man who is admitting he cannot push his Common Core agenda up the hill fast anymore, because of so much pushback.

But that’s not all. Look at what is happening all over the nation!

We’ve seen handfuls of states drop out of the SBAC and PARCC Common Core testing consortia.

We’ve seen the Manchester, NH school district outright reject Common Core.

We’ve seen New York superintendent Joseph Rella hold a district-wide rally in a football stadium to create awareness about the damages of Common Core

We’ve read the testimonies of the official members of the Common Core validation committee who refused to sign off on the standards.

We’ve read parents’ own executive order against Common Core.

We’ve seen lawsuits and demonstrations.

We’ve even seen teenagers speaking out to legislatures in Arkansas and Tennessee, pleading with them to stop Common Core.

Top leaders in both the Democratic and the Republican parties are standing up and speaking out against Common Core.

There are countless grassroots groups in almost every state that are fighting Common Core, each going strong with thousands of Facebook and Twitter shares.

Every day we see more and more major news articles and radio programs and even debates and op-eds about the Stop Common Core movement.

There’s now a much-shared movie trailer for a Common Core documentary that comes out in February 2014. (It was posted on YouTube four days ago.)

We’ve seen anti-Common Core statements by many outstanding university professors; also, a letter from 132 Catholic scholars to Catholic Bishops, opposing Common Core.

There have been Stop Common Core resolutions passed in Bergen County, NJ; at Tammany Parish, Louisiana; at the Utah GOP convention, at the Alabama Republican Women’s Convention, and the national GOP convention, and elsewhere.

Many governors and other legislators are writing anti-Common Core documents and executive orders.

These happenings are simply amazing.

But listening to David Coleman and Mike Huckabee it becomes clear that the proponents have no intention of veering from their end goal: to hold complete local control in D.C. using the partnershipping of corporations and federal entities (neither of which have any authority over constitutionally state-held educational decisions).

Huckabee said, “Common Core is dead, but common sense shouldn’t be.”

Say what?

What part of stealing local control away from those who have a constitutional right to it, makes sense to Huckabee? What part of constitutionally, locally-set education standards aligns with the top-down “let’s raise standards nationwide” movement that pretends to serve while it robs? Huckabee even said that it was once a state-led movement that was hijacked by others. Really? Show me the convention at which my state representative helped write Common Core. I’ve talked to Sen. Lee and Sen. Chaffetz and they were not invited. Neither did anyone from my state school board come to such an event. There was none. It was businessmen and elite D.C. clubs that pushed this thing from day one, with the full support of the Obama Administration.

Sadly, it is clear that Huckabee in no way has abandoned the Common Core philosophy; he just wants to rebrand it.

Isn’t it AMAZING though, that Common Core has become an offensive word to many –even to Huckabee?

Isn’t it amazing that Huckabee wants to get away from the word, and that the U.S. Secretary of Education never uses it (instead using the term “college and career ready standards”. This could be seen as evidence that honest people with persistent voices can succeed against the mainstream, evidence that heaven has helped us.

But Common Core, by any other name, is still the unconstitutional partnershipping of corporations and federal entities to steal power from us.

Don’t be fooled. Obama’s Blueprint for Education is still with us although it never uses the term “Common Core,” either. But it’s all there: the federally-pushed standards, the standardization of student data, the teacher controls, etc. etc. etc. A rose by any other name…

Huffington Post Audits the Gates-Led –not State-led– Common Core   3 comments

Yesterday the Huffington Post published “A Brief Audit of Bill Gates’ Common Core Spending.” I learned from this article.

I already knew that Bill Gates spends billions implementing his personal version of education reforms –without any approval from American voters, without any authority other than his cash.

I already knew that Gates had singlehandedly paid for the development, creation and marketing of Common Core, which the Post noted, “demonstrates (sadly so) that when one has enough money, one can purchase fundamentally democratic institutions.” (The only part of Common Core that the federal government funds is common testing and interoperable longitudinal database set-up.)

I already knew that those promoting CCSS are deliberately misleading the public to believe that Common Core is ‘state-led’ when it is in fact “Gates-led.”

I already knew that with the help of Gates’ funding and connections, “strong state-federal partnerships” were colluding to accomplish the actually illegal goal of creating national education standards.

But I didn’t know, before reading the article, the extent to which Gates was involved in Common Core’s twin sister, the personal student data collection racket.

The article pointed out:

Gates gave $47.1 million to CCSSO …with the largest amount focused on data “access” and “data driven decisions“:

… Gates funded CCSSO an additional $31.9 million, with the largest grants earmarked for CSSS implementation and assessment, and data acquisition and control:

… [Gates’ stated] Purpose: to support the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in helping States’ to build their data inoperability capability

… Purpose: to partner with federal, state, public, and private interests to develop common, open, longitudinal data standards Amount: $3,185,750 …” (The list, when you read the whole article, is much longer.)

Also, I did not previously know that the company that Common Core lead creator David Coleman (a noneducator) started in 2007, Student Achievement Partners, has no work other than CCSS. They live and breathe to push Common Core on all of us.

David Coleman first created the SAP company. Then he led the creation of the Common Core standards, on which his company depends to survive. Then, when Coleman moved over to the radically influential position of College Board president, he aligned college entrance exams to his creation, Common Core. He benefits from the whole deal at the expense of legitimate education and local control, as does Bill Gates, who has now partnered with the word’s largest education sales company, Pearson, to create more money-making curriculum for all of us who are trapped under the Common Core.

I am not against people making tons of money. That’s not the issue; American capitalism and entrepreneurship are wonderful inventions.

What I oppose are these unrepresentative, public-private partnerships (often called P3’s). All Americans ought to oppose the circumvention of the American voter by any “philanthropy” that creates new governance structures over previously representative educational systems.

Who is Gates’ constituency? Who elected him? Nobody. And nobody can vote him out –except by not cowering to his grantmaking wand.

As the author of yesterday’s Huffington Post article put it:

“So much Gates cash, and so many hands willing to accept it. Bill Gates likes Common Core. So, he is purchasing it. In doing so, Gates demonstrates (sadly so) that when one has enough money, one can purchase fundamentally democratic institutions… Can Bill Gates buy a foundational democratic institution? Will America allow it? The fate of CCSS will provide crucial answers to those looming questions.”

Read the whole article here.

Intimidated? Stand Strong Against the Bully of Common Core   8 comments

I’ve spoken with one of the highest-ranking education leaders in Utah about Common Core. His primary reason for wanting Utah to remain tied to Common Core was to make Utah’s children ready for the altered college testing; ACT and SAT are now aligning to Common Core. I pointed out to this man that lemming-like adherence to Common Core, regardless of the fact that these standards are LOWERING high school graduation requirements for most states, and are ending local control of education, might be unwise. But he wanted to be a lemming. (Not his exact words.) If ACT/SAT was aligning, Utah would align. Hmmm.

Do you think it’s never going to become household knowledge that these standards are unpiloted, untested, and that they dumb down high school graduates? Do you really think that the ACT, SAT, and other tests will maintain their former levels of respect and authority once people realize that they’ve lowered themselves into the academic murk of Common Core math and its diminishment of classical English standards that used to lead out with classic literature?

Already, the truth is seeping into the general consciousness. The ACT and SAT are going to lose credibility with thousands if not millions, of Americans.

Proponents of Common Core are running scared. We are onto their racket. So, evidence that damns Common Core and its appendages is disappearing, lately. Did you notice that the video where the current College Board President David Coleman, (lead architect on Common Core English standards) curses and demeans student narrative writing– is gone? The video where MSNBC spokesperson Melissa Harris-Perry promotes collectivism/socialism, saying that “we have to break away from the notion that children belong to their parents–” is gone! Even our local Utah State Office of Education broke the link to the portion of their “Utah Core Standards” that said that Utah only modified our local standards after getting permission from the unelected D.C. group called CCSSO. Gone!

But proponents can’t cover up everything. The evidence trail is so wide and so damning. Dozens and dozens of links to documents, videos and government reports are still online and openly available. Please read them. Share them.

What I really think about the whole now-college-consuming monopoly of Common Core, via David Coleman making sure that every formerly respected college-related test in America now aligns with his Frankenstein (Common Core): it’s just a puffed up bully tactic, an intimidation technique. Without long-term muscle.

When I see articles describing how the ACT/SAT/GED/AP/textbooks/K-12 testing are ALL ALIGNING to this new monopoly on thought: Common Core? I think it’s no scarier than any other schoolyard bully intimidation game.

Why? Because we can choose not to fall for it, no matter how many big name companies and institutions Bill Gates’ dollar bills have persuaded to “endorse” Common Core alignment.

We can choose to opt out of the now experimentally-aligned tests, and we can still get our kids into good colleges. We can stand strong and have higher expectations for colleges and schools, and work to make sure alternatives materialize.

Liberty– and legitimate, time-tested education: That’s where I’m placing my bets.

Because what do the proponents of Common Core really have? Nothing real, just marketing and money. They don’t own our children’s futures.

They just want us to think they do.

President of College Board: I Convinced the Governors   2 comments

In the video posted here, David Coleman speaks. (Coleman is current president of the College Board, a non-educator, who was the chief architect of Common Core English Language Arts standards.)

Coleman says in this 2013 video: “When I was involved in convincing governors and others around this country to adopt these standards, it was not ‘Obama likes them.’ Do you think that would have gone well with the Republican crowd?

Special interests, meaning money-hungry businessmen like David Coleman and Bill Gates, led Common Core. I hope this video clip helps put to rest the oft-repeated mantra that Common Core was in any way “state-led” or that it in any way represented the actual will of the American voters, teachers, principals, parents or students.

Watch the video.

More detailed commentary is available at the Missouri Education Watchdog about this David Coleman video, too. See it here.

Dr. Stotsky Sets the Record Straight on English Language Arts 70/30% @ USOE   9 comments

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?
Please.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-K4URgulWhk
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

Christel,
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:
Hello—
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.
The evidence of this can be found in the  Utah Core Standards , which you can read here: http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/langartsec/Language-Arts-Secondary-Home/LangArts-CE-web.aspx
I’d like to guide you to a few specific places for evidence relative to your concerns about literature and instruction in English Language Arts (ELA) and how the Utah Core Standards are focused on creating a culture of literacy in schools.
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.

Hogwash Alert: “National Review” on Common Core   54 comments

I’m calling for a hogwash alert on today’s National Review article about Common Core.

The ironically titled  The Truth About Common Core article cannot be taken seriously.  It’s written without any links or references for its Common Core-promoting claims, and it’s written by two authors whose employers are largely funded by the main funder of all things Common Core.

Can anyone take seriously those who praise Common Core while being paid to do so?

The article makes “truth” claims that include the notion that Common Core is “more rigorous,” (where’s the proof?) and that the standards allow policymaking to happen locally.  How can that be? The standards are written behind closed doors in D.C.  The standards are  copyrighted and are unamendable by locals.  There is a 15% cap on adding to them, written into the ESEA  Flexibility Waiver Request.  And there is no amendment process; thus, no local control.

For anyone who has been living under an education reform rock, know this:   Gates is the single biggest promoter and funder of Common Core, bar none.) So, Fordham’s and Manhattan Institute’s writers should not be expected to be objective about Common Core.

If it seems like practically everyone supports Common Core, Gates’ money is why. Bill Gates has said he’s spent $5 BILLION  pushing (his version of) education reform.  He’s bribed the national PTA to advocate for Common Core to parents; he’s paid the CCSSO to develop Common Core; and he owns opinion maker Education Week magazine.  There’s a near-endless list of Gates’ attempts   (very successful, I might add)  to foist his vision of education without voter input.  In 2004, Gates signeda 26 page agreement with UNESCO  to develop a master curriculum for global teacher training.  Robert Muller, the former assistant secretary general of the U.N. is the grandfather of the world core curriculumthe goal being to bring all schools in all nations under one common core curriculum.

The National Review writes that it is a “right-of-center” organization, as if that claim is a “trust-me” pass.   This is meaningless in Common Core land because, as Emmett McGroarty  of the American Principles Project, has said,  “Opposition to Common Core cuts across the left-right spectrum.  It gets back to who should control our children’s education — people in Indiana or people in Washington?”

But we should clarify that oodles of Democrats and Republicans sell or benefit from Common Core implementation.  That is the top reason for the gold rush anxiety to promote the national standards.  A secondary reason is lemminghood (misplaced and unproven trust).

Republican Jeb Bush is behind the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a nongovernmental group which pushes Common Core and is, of course, funded by Gates.   Republican Rupert Murdoch owns not only Fox News, but also the common core implementation company Wireless Generation that’s creating common core testing technology.   Democrat Bob Corcoran, President of GE Foundation (author of cap and trade and carbon footprint taxes to profit GE on green tech) and 49% owner of NBC also bribed the PTA to promote Common Core, and gave an additional $18 million to the states to push common core implementation. Corcoran was seen recently hobnobbing with Utah’s Republican Lt. Governor Greg Bell, business leaders in the Chamber of Commerce, and has testified in the education committee that the opponents of Common Core in Utah “are liars”.  Meanwhile, Republican Todd Huston of Indiana got his largest campaign donation from David Coleman, common core ELA architect;  then, after Huston was elected as an Indiana State Representative and placed on Indiana’s education committee, Coleman hired Huston to be on the College Board.  They are both profiting from the alignment of  and AP courses and alignment of the SAT to the Common Core.  And of course, Huston’s listed on Jeb Bush’s controversial Foundation for Excellence in Education. Even my own Republican Governor Herbert of Utah serves on the elite executive committee of NGA, the Common Core founding group.  He doesn’t make money this way, but he does make lots of corporations happy.

I could go on and on about the Common Core gold-and-glory rush.  I have barely touched the countless Democrats who promote Common Core for gain.  But I don’t want to be up all night.

So, on to the liberals and/or not-right wing radicals who oppose Common Core:

California Democrat/author Rosa Koire  and respected educator like Diane Ravitch  oppose Common Core as an untested academic and political experiment that increases the high-stakes of standardized testing.  They see that Common Core is promoting unrepresentative formations of public-private-partnerships, and promotes teacher-micromanagement.   Chicago history teacher Paul Horton says Common Core turns teacher-artisans into teacher-widgets; he also sees it as a Pearson anti-trust issue.  Teacher Kris Nielsen has written  “Children of the Core” and  teacher Paul Bogush  calls teaching Common Core sleeping with the enemy.  Math teacher Stephanie Sawyer  predicts that with Common Core, there will be an increase in remedial math instruction and an increase in the clientele of tutoring centers.  Writing teacher Laura Gibbs calls the writing standards an inspid brew of gobbledygook.  Anonymously, many teachers have published other concerns in a survey produced by Utahns Against Common Core.

Still, political funders of the standards and corporations selling its implementation try to get away with marginalizing the opposition.  But it can’t be done honestly.  Because it’s not a fight between left and right.

This battle is between the collusion of corporate greed and political muscle versus the  individual voter.

It’s a battle between the individual student, teacher, or parent– versus huge public/private partnerships.  That’s the David and Goliath here.

The Common Core movement is not about what’s best for children.  It’s about greed and political control.   A simple test:  if Common Core was about helping students achieve legitimate classical education, wouldn’t the Common Core experiment have been based on empirical study and solid educator backing?

Did the authors of the Hogwash article really not know that Common Core wasn’t based on anything like empirical data but simply fluffed up on empty promises and rhetoric, from the beginning.

Where’s the basis for what proponents call  “rigorous,” “internationally competitive,”  and “research-based?”  Why won’t the proponents point to proof of “increased rigor” the way the opponents point to proof of increased dumbing downWe know they are fibbing because we know there is no empirical evidence for imposing this experiment on students  in America.  The emperor of Common Core  is wearing no clothes.

Many educators are crying out –even  testifying to legislatures— that Common Core is an academic disaster.  I’m thinking of  Professors Christopher Tienken, Sandra StotskyThomas Newkirk, Ze’ev Wurman, James Milgram, William Mathis, Susan Ohanian, Charlotte Iserbyt, Alan Manning, and others.

The National Review authors insist that Common Core is not a stealth “leftist indoctrination” plot by the Obama administration.  But that’s what it looks like when you study the reformers and what they create.

First, let’s look at the Common Core textbooks.  Virtually every textbook company in America is aligning now with Common Core.  (So even the states who rejected Common Core, and even private schools and home schools are in trouble; how will they find new textbooks that reflect Massachusetts-high standards?)

Pearson’s latest textbooks show extreme environmentalism and a global citizen creating agenda that marginalizes national constitutions and individual rights in favor of global collectivism. The biggest education sales company of all the Common Core textbook and technology sales monsters on the planet is Pearson, which is led by  mad “Deliverology” globalist  Sir Michael Barber.   Watch his speeches.

He doesn’t just lead Pearson, the company that is so huge it’s becoming an anti-trust issue.  Sir Michael Barber also speaks glowingly of public private partnerships, of political “revolution,” “global citizenship” and a need for having global data collection and one set of educational standards for the entire planet.  He’s a political machine.  Under his global common core, diversity, freedom and local control of education need not apply.

Along with some of the gold-rushing colluders chasing Common Core-alignment  product sales, there are political individuals calling educational shots, and these are without exception on the far, far left.  And of these, the National Review is correct in saying that their goal to nationalize U.S. education has been happening   since long before Obama came to power.

But they are wrong in saying that Common Core isn’t a road map to indoctrinating students into far left philosophy.  Power players like Linda Darling-Hammond and Congressman Chaka Fattah  ram socialism and redistribution down America’s throat in education policy, while Pearson pushes it in the curriculum.

It’s safe to say that Linda Darling-Hammond has as much say as anyone in this country when it comes to education policy.  She focuses on “equity” and “social justice” –that is, redistribution of wealth using schools.  Reread that last sentence.

Darling-Hammond has worked for CCSSO (Common Core developer) since long before the standards were even written.  She served on the standards validation committee.  She now works for SBAC (the Common Core test writer); she also consults with AIR (Utah’s Common Core test producer) and advises Obama’s administration;  she promotes the secretive CSCOPE curriculum and more.

Study her further here to learn the groups she works for, what’s in the books she writes, how many times she quoted herself in her report for the U.S. equity commission, and what she said in last summer’s speech to UNESCO about the need to take swimming pools  away from students.

So yes, there is an undeniable socialism push in Common Core textbooks and in the Department of Education.

Next.

The National Review’s authors claim Common Core won’t “eliminate American children’s core knowledge base in English, language arts and history.”  By cutting classic literature by 70% for high school seniors, they are absolutely doing exactly that.  The article says that Common Core doesn’t mandate the slashing of literature.  Maybe not.  But the tests sure will.

What teacher, constricted by the knowledge that her job is on the line, will risk lowering the high stakes student scores by teaching beyond what is recommended in the model curriculum  of the national test writers?

And that’s the tragic part for me as an English teacher.

Classic literature is sacred.  Its removal from American schools is an affront to our humanity.

Common Core doesn’t mandate which books to cut; the National Review is correct on that point; but it does pressure English teachers to cut out large selections of great literature, somewhere.  And not just a little bit.  Tons.

Informational text belongs in other classes, not in English.  To read boring, non-literary articles even if they are not all required to be Executive Orders, insulation manuals, or environmental studies (as the major portion of the English language curriculum) is to kill the love of reading.

What will the slashing do to the students’ appreciation for the beauty of the language, to the acquisition of rich vocabulary, to the appreciation for the battle between good and evil?

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.

Classic stories create a love for books that cannot be acquired in any other way.  Dickens, Shakespeare, Hugo, Orwell, Dostoevsky, Rand, Marquez, Cisneros, Faulkner, Fitzgerald– where would we be without the gifts of these great writers and their writings?  Which ones will English teachers cut away first to make room for informational text?

The sly and subtle change will have the same effect on our children as if Common Core had mandated the destruction of  a certain percentage of all classic literature.

How does it differ from book burning in its ultimate effects?

Cutting out basic math skills, such as being able to convert fractions to decimals, is criminal.  Proponents call this learning “fewer but deeper” concepts.  I call it a sin. Common Core also delays the age  at which students should be able to work with certain algorithms, putting students years behind our mathematical competitors in Asia.

For specific curricular reviews of Common Core standards, read Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s and Dr. Ze’ev Wurman’s math and literature reviews in the appendix  of the white paper by Pioneer Institute. (See exhibit A and exhibit B, page 24.)

Next.

The National Review claims that the standards “simply delineate what children should know at each grade level and describe the skills that they must acquire to stay on course toward college or career readiness” and claim they are not a ceiling but a floor.  This is a lie. The standards are bound by a 15% rule; there’s no adding to them beyond 15%.  That’s not a ceiling?

The article claims that “college and career readiness” doesn’t necessarily mean Common Core.  Well, it does, actually.  The phrase has been defined on the ed. gov website as meaning sameness of standards to a significant number of states.  I would give you a link but this week, so oddly, the Department of Education has removed most of its previous pages.  You can see it reposted here:

The article insists that Common Core is not a curriculum; it’s up to school districts to choose curricula that comply with the standards.  Sure.  But as previously noted: 1) all the big textbook companies have aligned to Common Core.  Where are the options?   2) Common core tests and the new accountability measures put on teachers who will lose their jobs if students don’t score well on Common Core tests will ensure that teachers will only teach Common Core standards.  3) Test writers are making model curriculum and it’s going to be for sale, for sure.

The article falsely claims that “curriculum experts began to devise” the standards.  Not so: the architect of Common Core ELA standards (and current College Board president) is not, nor ever has been, an educator.  In fact, that architect made the list of Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform.   A top curriculum professor has pointed out that the developers of Common Core never consulted with top curricular universities at all.

The article claims that states who have adopted Common Core could opt out, “and they shouldn’t lose a dime if they do” –but Title I monies have been threatened, and the No Child Left Behind waiver is temporary on conditions of following Common Core, and for those states who did get Race to the Top money (not my state, thank goodness) the money would have to be returned.  Additionally, every state got ARRA stimulus money to build a federally interoperable State Longitudinal Database System.  Do we want to give back millions and millions to ensure that we aren’t part of the de facto national database of children’s longitudinal school-collected, personally identifiable information?

The article states that the goal is to have children read challenging texts that will build their vocabulary and background knowledge.  So then why not read more –not less– actual literature?

The article also leaves out any analysis of the illegality of Common Core. The arrangement appears to be  illegal. Under the Constitution and under the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA) the federal government is restricted from even supervising education.

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…”

And for those still believing the federal government isn’t “exercising direction, supervision or control” of the school system, look at two things.

1.  The federal technical review of tests being mandated by the Department of Education.

2.  The federal mandate that testing consoria must synchronize “across consortia,” that status updates and phone conferences must be made  available to the Dept. of Education regularly, and that data collected must be shared with the federal government “on an ongoing basis”

3.  The recent federal alteration of privacy laws that have taken away parental consent over student data collection.

Finally:  the “most annoying manipulation tactic” award for the National Review Article is a tie between the last two sentences of the National Review article, which, combined, say, “Conservatives used to be in favor of holding students to high standards… aren’t they still?”  Please.

Let’s rephrase it:

Americans used to be in favor of legitimate, nonexperimental standards for children that were unattached to corporate greed and that were constitutionally legal…  Aren’t we still?

Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform: # 9 – David Coleman   69 comments

David Coleman:  Bye Bye, Classics

Countdown # 9

This is the second in a countdown series of introductions, a list of the top ten scariest people leading American education reform.  (#10 on the list is posted here.)

David Coleman, lead “architect” for the English Language Arts (ELA) portion of the Common Core, is not an educator, but a businessman.  Recently promoted to president of the College Board, he has promised to align the SAT with the Common Core that he built.  He plotted education for K-12 students, and now he’s plotting it for postsecondary students, too.

How can a one-size-fits-all alignment make sense for all students –whether bound for a minimum wage job, a two-year college or the top university in the world– prepare each using a one-size-fits-all Common Core program?  Either the lower-level students are to be pushed beyond reasonable expectations, or the higher level students are to be dumbed down.  Or both.

Coleman is an outspoken antagonist to narrative writing and is no fan of classic literature, so he singlehandedly slashed most of it from the education most children in America will know, either already –or soon.  Ask your kids, but remember, Common Core testing begins in 2014, so the intense pressure for teachers to conform to Common Core is yet to be fully felt.

What did Coleman do to Language Arts? He mandated that dreary informational text, not beautiful, classic literature, is to be the main emphasis in English classes, incrementally worsening as students get older.

What it looks like:  little children in an ELA classroom may read no more than 50% classic literature. High school seniors may only read 30% classic literature. The other 70% must be informational text, which means everything from historical documents (um– why not read those in history classes?)  to insulation installation manuals,  presidential executive orders, environmental programming, and federal reserve documents.  These are actually on the recommended reading  list.

Another weird twist to Coleman’s Common Core is that he says students must “stay within the four corners of the text” as if that were possible.  Context is not to be part of a discussion?  Outside experience is not to be compared to the informational text?  For a thorough, and eloquent, explanation of what has happened to English Language Arts because of Coleman’s influence, please read “Speaking Back to the Common Core” by Professor Thomas Newkirk of the University of New Hampshire.

What Coleman does not understand (–hmmm, maybe actual English teachers should have been invited to those closed-door meetings–) is that narrative is so much more than a style of writing.

Narrative isn’t just using the “I” word.  It’s more than “What I Did Last Summer.”

Narrative is a pattern woven (often unconsciously) into every style of memorable writing, whether argumentative, persuasive, expository, etc.  The best informational texts are narratively satisfying.

Coleman’s knocking down of narrative writing and slashing of it from academic standards is both ignorant and, to English teachers and astute kids, really confusing. For a funny, punchy review of the muddly ELA writing standards, read Professor Laura Gibbs’ “Inspid Brew of Gobbledygook”.

David Coleman is largely ignorant in the field of writing language arts standards.  One member of the official Common Core validation committee, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, pointed this out and refused to sign off on the validity of the Common Core standards.

And David Coleman is not even nice, as you’ll see from the video linked here, where he mocks student narrative and uses the “sh–” word in a professional development seminar for teachers.

Lastly, Coleman’s large financial contribution to the campaign of  Education Committee Senator Todd Huston (Indiana) whom Coleman hired for the College Board after his election, forms another branch of reasons that I can not trust this man to make wise decisions affecting children.

Truth in American Education vs. “A Complete Resource Guide for Utah’s Core Standards”   1 comment

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/debunking-misconceptions-the-common-core-is-state-led/

Of all the things that the Truth in American Education site has posted, my favorite thing is that title.

Truth in American Education.  The title itself teaches a fact most Americans still don’t realize: that there are loads of lies parading as education reform improvements that need exposure via verifiable, well researched facts.  It does not matter if good people with good intentions, merely parroting information received from other organizations, tell those lies in all sincerity.  Sincerity does not trump truth.  Facts are still facts and the consequences for all of us are huge for aligning our school systems with such lies.

Our children’s futures are at stake, yet few parents stand up.  Why?  For those of us who are naturally nonconfrontational and trusting, the title, Truth in American Education, is a wakeup call that we should ask questions, verify claims and demand references for promises being spoken by authority figures in education reform today.  We should know our educational rights under the Constitution and know our rights as parents.  Don’t take unreferenced promises as answers.

Speaking of which: today I became aware of a 204-page document put out by the Utah State Office of Misinformation Education.

It’s called “A Complete Resource Guide  On Utah’s Core Standards.”

You can access the 204-pager here:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B745qngYVLvVWXRFeU9MRUIzRTQ/edit?usp=sharing

http://www.schools.utah.gov/core/Utah-Core-Standards/CommonCoreResourceGuide.aspx

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, an education scholar and whistleblower, one who is often quoted at the Truth in American Education website, happens to have read the 204-page Utah document, “A Complete Resource Guide  On Utah’s Core Standards.”

Stotsky previously served on the official Common Core Validation Committee and was among those who refused to sign off that the Common Core standards were, in fact, adequate.

Of “A Complete Resource Guide  On Utah’s Core Standards,” Stotsky states, “lies and unsupported claims” abound in the document.

She also writes:

“the writers didn’t even get the committee I was on right.  I was appointed to the Validation Committee, not the Standards Development Committee, and along with the one mathematician on the Validation Committee (and 3 others) declined to sign off on the final version of Common Core’s standards.

The writers keep repeating ad nauseam that Common Core was a state-led effort.  Everyone knows most of the effort was financed by the Gates Foundation and that Gates chose the standards writers who had no qualifications for writing K-12 standards in either ELA or math (David Coleman and Jason Zimba).

… I frankly can’t spend time on people who can’t document with citations their claims.   What country was used for international benchmarking?  Where’s the evidence?
The document simply repeats the false claims made by CCSSO from the beginning.”
— —– —
Despite not being willing to spend time rebutting a resource guide that fails to document its claims with citations, Dr. Stotsky took the time to bust 5 myths that the document contains:

1. Myth (Lie): Common Core was a state-led initiative.

Truth: Common Core was funded and directed behind-the-scenes by the Gates Foundation at every step. Gates funded NGA and CCSSO to serve as the front organizations, selected key people to be on the standards development committees (mostly from testing agencies), and funded many organizations, including the Fordham Institute and the PTA, to promote its adoption. Fordham was funded in particular to ensure that Common Core’s math and ELA standards (no matter what their condition) were given a high grade in a comparison review so that most states would accept the lie that CC’s standards were fewer, clearer, and more in-depth than whatever they had. Most states were willing to accept this lie because the USDE dangled RttT funds before their eyes. Gates and the USDE worked together on the incentives to states. Gates also funded the writing of many states’ applications for RttT funds by hiring consultants to write the applications for them.

2. Myth (Lie): Common Core’s standards were developed by the states—or by experts.

Truth: CC’s standards were written by people chosen by the Gates Foundation to write the standards: David Coleman and Jason Zimba, in particular. Coleman had no credentials for writing ELA standards, had never taught at any grade level, and was not a literary scholar. (Nor had his associate—Susan Pimentel. She had taught only in Head Start and had no degree in English.) Zimba, too, had never taught in K-12 mathematics, and had no experience in developing or writing math standards.

3. Myth (Lie): Common Core’s standards are internationally benchmarked.

Truth: Common Core’s standards were never internationally benchmarked because they couldn’t be. They are about two grades lower than what most other countries accept as “college readiness”. No countries have ever been mentioned by CCSSO as “benchmarking” countries.

4. Myth (Lie): Common Core’s standards prepare students for college or university.

Truth: Jason Zimba told the Massachusetts Board of Education in March 2010 that college readiness in mathematics means readiness for admission to a non-selective community college. (This is recorded in the minutes of the meeting.)

5. Myth (Lie): Common Core’s ELA standards promote literary study.

Truth: Coleman’s 50/50 mandate requires English teachers to teach to 10 informational reading standards and 9 literary standards each year. His mandate reduces literary study because English teachers must add informational texts to their curriculum. There is no research base showing that an increase in informational reading in the English class leads to greater college readiness. Just the contrary. The evidence, historical and empirical, shows that a focus on reading and discussing complex literature in high school leads to college readiness.

——————
What more can I possibly add to Dr. Stotsky’s clear corrections to the Utah State Office of Education?
–Maybe an acronym translator:
ELA – English Language Arts
NGA – National Governors’ Association (the group that with CCSSO created Common Core)
CCSSO – Council of Chief State School Officers (the group that with NGA created Common Core)
USDE (U.S. Department of Education)
RTTT – Race To The Top (a competitive grant opportunity that the federal government used to incentivize Common Core adoption to the states)
PTA (Parent-Teacher Association, a national group that promoted Common Core because Bill Gates paid them to)

Weber County Republican Women’s Meeting Speech on Common Core   4 comments

Stop Common Core

Talk given by Christel Swasey at the Weber County Republican Women’s Meeting Jan.7, 2013

A few months ago, a University of Utah exhibit displayed original documents, newspapers, books and letters written by Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin and many others. The exhibit did not only show the freedom fighters’ side of the argument, but also displayed articulate, meaningful debate from the other side. The heated 1700s argument boiled down to either standing for local freedom or standing for America remaining a managed colony under England’s non-representative government.

In retrospect, how obvious it is to us which side was correct; America should be free. But at the time it was not so clear to all. Both sides had strong arguments that made some sense.

There is a similar, heated battle going on in America over education now. Will we retain local freedom or will we be a managed colony under the Department of Education’s rule, with no say over testing, education standards and innovation? Unconstitutional though it is, this is the battle we face today– a battle for control of American classrooms. Most parents, students, teachers, governors and even State School Board Members seem unaware that it is going on at all.

It’s a battle for constitutional education with local decision making, versus nationalized education without representation. It’s a battle between states retaining the freedom to soar, versus having mediocre sameness of education across states. It’s a battle between teaching the traditional academics versus teaching the extreme political agendas of the Obama Administration; it’s a battle for who gets to decide what is to be planted in the mind of the child.

One of America’s strengths has long been its educated people. The world flocks to our universities. We have had one of the most intellectually diverse public education systems in the world.

But this is changing dramatically.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) leads the changes. The vast majority of states have already replaced previous education standards with Common Core. These national standards standardize– McDonaldize– a dreary and mediocre education plan for the country that lies far below the previous standards of top-ranking states, such as Massachusetts. Although many respected organizations have pledged support for the Common Core, evidence is painfully lacking to support Common Core’s claims. The common core proponents are quick to make sweet-sounding claims, but their claims are not referenced and are, in fact, false.

Many independent reviews suggest supporters of Common Core are sorely misguided. Dr. Michael Kirst of Stanford University pointed out that the standards define college readiness as being the same for 4-year, 2-year, and vocational colleges, essentially dumbing down expectations for university students.

Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University pointed out that the standards are meant to save us from what is a myth– the idea that American students are lagging behind international peers; Tienken writes: “When school administrators implement programs and policies built on faulty arguments, they commit education malpractice.”

Despite claims to the contrary, Common Core Standards do not meaningfully increase academic rigor, are not internationally benchmarked, do not adequately prepare students for 4-year universities, were never assessed by top curriculum research universities, were never voted upon by teachers nor the public, do not allow a voice for the individual; have no amendment process, and do rob states of control of education and students of privacy.

The Common Core is an untested, federally promoted, unfunded experiment.

The standards creators (NGA/CCSSO) have not set up a monitoring plan to test this national experiment, to see what unintended consequences the Core will have on children. The standards slash the vast majority of classic literature, especially from high school English classes; minimize narrative writing skills acquisition, and push student-investigative, rather than instructive, math at all levels.

COMMON CORE HISTORY:

The Constitution and 10th amendment have long made it clear that only states –not any federal agency– have the right to direct education. Americans seem to have forgotten that we do not live in a top down kingdom but in a Constitutional republic. Many believe the federal government has power to rule over the state governments. This is false. States alone hold the right to educate.

Our Constitution was set up with a vital balance of powers between states and federal powers, and each maintains separate roles and authorities. Nowhere is any authority given to the federal government to direct education.

In addition to the Constitution’s and the tenth amendment’s giving states sole authority to direct education, another law called the General Educational Provisions 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…”

So the Common Core standards are a set of national education standards which the federal government are forbidden, by law, to control or supervise. Yet the standards were foisted upon the states by the federal government with the repeated assertion that they were state-led standards.
    The Dept. of Education paid others to do what they were forbidden to do. The common standards were not written by the federal government, but they were financially incentivized by the federal government and then were promoted by private interests. Bill Gates, for example, spent $100M and plans to spend $150M more to push Common Core.

He gave the national PTA $@ million to promote it in schools. Common Core represents an ongoing cash cow for many groups, which explains why the media does not cover this issue. Many media outlets, even Fox News via Wireless Generation, are entangled in the massive money-making factory that is Common Core implementation. Microsoft and Pearson and others are seeing what a huge opportunity it presents them, as they benefit financially from the newly created false need: millions of new textbooks, teacher development programs, and new testing technologies are called for under the common core and its nationalized tests.

The standards were solely developed –and copyrighted– by nonacademic groups– the National Governors’ Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Neither state education agencies nor major curriculum research universities were asked for meaningful input.

We were told that the Common Core was voluntary and “state led,” but it was a case of arm-twisting and financial bribery on the part of the Dept. of Education. States did not come together to write and share great ideas. (If that had been the case, we would likely have adopted high standards, instead, like those previously had in Massachusetts.)
The first time states were introduced to these national standards was when the federal government bribed states with a shot at a huge grant (our own tax money) in 2009. It was called Race to the Top, a grant for states. The Department of Education made a state’s promise to adopt common standards –sight unseen– a prerequisite to getting points in the grant contest called “Race to the Top”. There were 500 points possible. Adopting Common Core and its tests gave us some 70 points. Making the federal tracking database on students, the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) gave us 47 additional points.

Not by any authority of Congress, but by the lure of money –the Stimulus Bill– was Obama’s Race to the Top funded. States were given only two months to apply.

States competed for this money like a taxpayers’ lottery with a points system. There were 500 points possible. By adopting Common Core tests and standards, a state could earn 70 points. By implementing the SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System that serves as surveillance on citizens) a state could earn 47 points. Even though Utah didn’t win any money at all, we took the Race to the Top bait. Then we were stuck with Common Core standards as well as the SLDS database which would track and control citizens.

We were repeatedly assured, “states can get out of Common Core any time they like” but, like the story of Gulliver, tied down by many strings, we are in fact bound– unless we realize our rights and privileges and assert them firmly to free ourselves while we still may, to shake off the ties that bind us down.

Gulliver’s First String: No cost analysis

One of the strings that ties us down is the financial obligation of Common Core. No cost analysis has been done by Utah to date. It’s like a family agreeing to build a house without knowing what it will cost beforehand. It’s absurd. Virginia and Texas rejected Common Core, citing on both educational and financial reasons.

While textbook companies without exception are on a marketing spree with “Common Core Alignment,” it is taxpayers who will carry the burden for the unwanted texts, tests, the professional development, testing technology, data centers, administration and more.
If corporations were getting wealthy at taxpayer expense yet we had agreed to it, by a vote after thorough public vetting, that would be acceptable.

But Common Core never had pre-adoption teacher or parent or media attention, had no public vetting, no vote, and now we see that some of the corporations providing implementation of the common core standards have alarming political agendas that will harm our children. One example is Pearson, headed by Sir Michael Barber, with whom the Utah State Office of Education has multiple contracts.

   Gulliver’s Second String:

    The myth: that Common Core solves educational problems

The second string tying states down, Gulliver-like, is the problem-solving myth, the myth that our many educational problems, such as low expectations or college remediation, are to be solved by Common Core. Without a doubt, Common Core will worsen our educational problems.

   

Professor Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram, English and Math professors who refused to sign off on the adequacy of the common standards when they served on the official Common Core validation committee, have written and have testified before legislatures that the standards are not sufficiently rigorous at all.
Students in our schools and universities are required to provide references for their reports. Yet the information provided by official Common Core sites, as well as by our state office of education, is unreferenced and contains half truths and false claims about Common Core.

I asked the Utah State Office of Education to provide me, a Utah teacher, with references to verify the “facts” about Common Core, but the office refused to do so. Why?

The myth that Common Core solves educational problems is far-reaching and is far from being harmless.

There’s a questionnaire that must be answered by any person wishing to be a candidate for Utah’s state school board. The first question on it is: Do you support the Common Core State Standards?

So anyone who for any reason opposes Common Core may not even stand in the candidates’ pool to run for this vital, elected position as a member of the state school board.

The emperor of Common Core is wearing no clothes. Yet, the myth that Common Core solves educational problems is so widespread that most teachers and principals fear raising concerns.

We are experiencing a huge Spiral of Silence. The Spiral of Silence is a well-known communications theory by Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann. The Spiral of Silence phenomenon happens when people fear separation or isolation from those around them, and, believing they are in the minority, they keep their concerns to themselves.

The Spiral theory arose as an explanation for why many Germans remained silent while their Jewish neighbors were being persecuted in the 1940s. This silence extends to parents and legislators who do not know enough about the common standards to feel comfortable arguing that we should be free of them. Truly, this movement has slid under the public radar.

Gulliver’s Third String: One Size Forever, For All

The third string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is the fact that we will never have a vote or a voice in the one-size-fits-all-standards.

Common Core’s copyright, placed on the standards by the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, takes away educational flexibility. There is no way a local voice or voices can alter the standards when we discover the system doesn’t fit our needs. There is no amendment process.

Additionally, the NGA/CCSSO has zero transparency. Though the Council of Chief State School Officers holds over one hundred meetings per year, CCSSO meetings are closed to teachers, taxpayers, and the general public.

I asked a lawyer at the Utah State Office of Education what the process would be to amend the standards. She told me, “Why would there need to be [an amendment process]? The whole point is to be common.”

Her response illustrates the tragic fact that many of our state education leaders do not appreciate local, constitutional control over education for our state.

There is a 15% cap placed on the NGA/CCSSO’s copyrighted standards, a cap placed on top of the copyright by the Department of Education. We may delete nothing. We may add no more than 15% to any standard.

So when we run into a disaster –such as the rule that 12th grade reading material in an English class can contain no more than 30 percent classic literature, and must be 70% informational text, we are stuck. When we run into another disaster –such as the rule that Algebra I be introduced in 9th grade, when it used to be an 8th grade topic, we are stuck. We are literally voiceless and bound by the 15% rule plus the copyright it is based upon. But it gets worse:

Gulliver’s Fourth String: Problems with national testing

The fourth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is nationalized, federally-supervised, compulsory testing. It commits our dollars without our input. And the content of the tests will be dictated by the NGA/CCSSO to test writers.

There isn’t even the tiny bit of 15% wiggle room on tests. I wrote to a test writer how they would incorporate the 15% variation in state standards and they told me that it is “in each state’s best interest” not to have “two sets of standards.” Why? Because the test won’t be incorporating anything in addition to the national standards.

Why is this bad? What we are valuing and testing is extremely narrow and cannot be altered by any state, but only by the NGA/CCSSO. It opens the door for a one-track, politicized agenda to be taught and tested.

Our local leaders continue to refer to “The Utah Core” as if it were not the exact same core as all the other states. This is misleading.

Teachers and principals will be evaluated and compared using these national tests’ results, so what would motivate them to teach anything beyond or different than what will be tested? The motivation to be an innovative educator is gone with the high stakes national tests. Right now Utah has only adopted math and English standards, but soon the NGA/CCSSO will be releasing social studies and science standards. One can only imagine how these subjects will be framed by the “progressive” groups who write the tests and shape the curriculum. And the test writers will be providing model curriculum for states to follow to prepare students for the tests.

Gulliver’s Fifth String: Common Core English:

David Coleman’s version of what is appropriate for the rest of the nation

The fifth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, was wrought almost singlehandedly by one wrongheaded man with too much power, named David Coleman.

Coleman was the main architect of the English standards for Common Core, despite never having been a teacher himself, and is now president of the College board. He is now aligning the national college entrance exams with Common Core standards. He holds a dreary, utilitarian vision of the language, without appreciation for classic literature or narrative writing. He has deleted much of it, and has deleted all cursive for students.

It was Coleman’s idea to make all children read 50% informational texts and 50% fiction in English classes, and then gradually to get rid of more and more fiction and classic literature, so that when a student is in 12th grade, he or she is reading 70% informational text and very little classic literature.

Does this differ from actual book burning?

It is as if Coleman mandated that all English teachers must put 70% of their classic textbooks outside the classroom door to be picked up for burning. Would the teachers put Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare, Melville, or O’Connor on the pile? Which classic books would you remove from a high school English classroom? And what informational texts are being recommended by Common Core proponents to replace the classics? Among the suggestions: Executive Order 13423. Writings by the Federal Reserve Bank. And more. (See: http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_B.pdf )

David Coleman explained why he decided that narrative writing should not be taught:
“As you grow up in this world you realize that people really don’t give a sh__ 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.’”
If 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, or its history as the symbol of eternal romance, would not matter. Just so long as the darn rock can drill. 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.
• Very little classic literature, to make room for mostly informational text.
• Informational texts to include Executive Order 13423, in the English classroom.

Gulliver’s Sixth String: Weakening Math

The sixth string tying us down, Gulliver-style, down is weak math. While the Common Core math standards may be an improvement over previous standards in some states, they are deficient for most, including for Utah.
Scholars have written extensively about these standards in reports published by Pioneer Institute and others. They say:
– Common Core replaces the traditional foundations of Euclidean geometry with an experimental approach. This approach has never been successfully used but Common Core imposes this experiment on the country.
– Common Core excludes certain Algebra II and Geometry content that is currently a prerequisite at almost every four-year state college. This effectively redefines “college-readiness” to mean readiness for a nonselective community college, as a member of the Common Core writing team acknowledged in his testimony before the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
– Common Core fails to teach prime factorization and consequently does not include teaching about least common denominators or greatest common factors.
– Common Core fails to include conversions among fractions, decimals, and percents, identified as a key skill by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
– Common Core de-emphasizes algebraic manipulation, which is a prerequisite for advanced mathematics, and instead effectively redefines algebra as “functional algebra”, which does not prepare students for STEM careers.
– Common Core does not require proficiency with addition and subtraction until grade 4, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
– Common Core does not require proficiency with multiplication using the standard algorithm (step-by-step procedure for calculations) until grade 5, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
– Common Core does not require proficiency with division using the standard algorithm until grade 6, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
– Common Core starts teaching decimals only in grade 4, about two years behind the more rigorous state standards, and fails to use money as a natural introduction to this concept.
– Common Core fails to teach in K-8 about key geometrical concepts such as the area of a triangle, sum of angles in a triangle, isosceles and equilateral triangles, or constructions with a straightedge and compass that good state standards include.
There is already evidence that book publishers’ revisions to texts that align with the standards are highly likely to be “inquiry-based”. Discovery and group learning approaches to math have had poor results when they have been used in classrooms across the country.


Gulliver’s Seventh String:

Neither Local Education Leaders Nor Federal Educational Leaders Value American Rights

• A current Utah State School Board member said to me, “I have always understood it is the principle of “equality” not “freedom” that was the guiding principle of our constitution… I have always understood the theme to be equality… you continue to reference freedom over equality.”
• The Dept. of Education has created regions for all America. These regions are to be answerable to the Department of Education. The creation of regional identities ignores the existence of states and consequently, of states’ rights, under the Constitution. This is a dangerous affront to our rights as states.
• Predestining kids: Secretary Arne Duncan says the government needs to control education and teachers via data-driven decisions. The data will be collected: “… so that every child knows on every step of their educational trajectory what they’re going to do.” He says, “You should know in fifth and sixth and seventh and eighth grade what your strengths are, what you weaknesses are.” He’s talking about a managed society, not a free society, where children are to be compliant tools for the government’s purposes, not the other way around.
• The Utah Data Alliance, SLDS system, and the federal Department of Education each seek data at all costs, even without parental consent. Sec. Duncan often says, ”We have to be transparent about our data.” (What Duncan really means is, states have to be transparent about their data to be supervised by the federal government– which is not Constitutional by any stretch of the imagination.)

Duncan’s data transparency statement explains much: why Duncan aims to triangulate data Common Core tests which will be collected and compared under his (unconstitutionally) watchful eye; why Duncan rewrote FERPA regulations without authority or Congressional oversight, why the Department of Education paid states to create SLDS systems to track citizens; why federally, states are pushed to have P-20 tracking councils, and more.
Duncan’s desire to grab private data is further illustrated by the changes Duncan has led in redefining key terms.
For example, you may notice that federal education leaders seldom refer to this movement as the Common Core. They use a code phrase (you can verify this on the definitions page at ed.gov) which is “college and career readiness”. But that code phrase is a deception. College and Career Readiness does not mean what you think it means; there is a new mediocrity to the standards which has made the same standards appropriate for 4 year universities, 2 year colleges, and technical colleges. It has essentially dumbed down the expectations for 4 year universities. So college readiness actually means nothing other than common and mediocre standards. By this definition, states can’t be preparing students for college unless standards are the same as every other state’s and country’s standards. It’s like the old Ford Advertisement: You can Have Any Color As Long as it’s Black.” Secretary Duncan’s version is– “You can have any standards as long as they are the exact same as all other states’ standards.”
Another phrase you’ll hear a lot is “world class education” which doesn’t mean “excellent education.” It means “non-competitive education.” Yikes. Some other phrases that have been officially redefined by the Dept. of Education in federal regulations are: “authorized representative” “education program” and “directory information”
What is the effect of these re-definings?
According to a group that has sued the Dept. of Education, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, this redefining has removed legal duties for state and local educational facilities that used to be in place to protect private student data.
The redefinings open up what used to be tightly protected. But why?
Because the Dept. of Education is using the testing consortia to triangulate the tests and to oversee the data collection. They want access to the data. Words give them access. This brings me to Gulliver’s string, and it’s a whopper.


Gulliver’s Eighth String: Invading Citizen Privacy

The eighth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is a set of horrific privacy violations. It begins with the fact that Utah built a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) system, as required by the federal government in exchange for money. The SLDS was supposed to be a benefit to Utahns. The argument was that the more data they collect, the smarter decisions could be made about education. It sounded logical at first.

But the SLDS tracks children from preschool through workforce. It interacts with six other Utah state governmental agencies, beyond the K-12 system. It essentially guides and monitors citizens.

When I found out about this, I wanted to opt out for my children. I asked 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 all being closely tracked. Schools are the starting point.

Unknown to most parents, children’s data is being shared beyond the school district with six agencies inside the Utah Data Alliance and with UTREX, according to Utah Technology Director John Brandt. The student data is further to be “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 Utah’s 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, as we noted earlier, 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)

In America, a law is a representative thing. Laws are made by people who either directly vote for that law, or who vote for a representative who votes for a law. Then the people must obey the law, or be forcibly punished.
But watch out for rules and regulations, which are not laws, and which come from unelected boards with appointed members who cannot be repealed by us. Rules and regulations are a form of nonrepresentation, and can be dangerous. Common Core is quickly becoming a snare because of its rules and regulations. FERPA regulatory changes are a prime example. Congress never changed the privacy law that FERPA was written originally to be. But the Department of Education made un-approved regulatory changes to FERPA that are being treated as if they were law today.

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 as are some notable Utahns, such as Utah Technology Director John Brandt and even some BYU Education professors, notably David Wiley. I have heard these men speak and they are passionate about getting data at all costs, even at the cost of not pausing for students’ parental consent.

What it means: Courses taken, grades earned, every demographic piece of information, including family names, attitudes and income, can now legally be known by the government via schools.

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, even those 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. The databases are to share data with anybody they define as “authorized.”

The now-authorized groups who will access student data will most likely include the A-list “philanthropists” like Bill Gates, as well as corporate educational sales groups (Microsoft, Pearson, Wireless Generation, and K-12 Inc., Achieve, Inc., SBAC, PARCC, NGA, CCSSO, for example) 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 (such as student 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 )

Verify these facts on the government’s public sites, such as:

http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html
http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/stateanalysis/states/UT/
http://www.utahdataalliance.org/links.shtml
http://nces.ed.gov/forum/datamodel/edview/edview.aspx?class=StudentTracking

In Closing:

Our country is a miracle in the history of the earth. No other country has ever had such a Constitution that limits and spreads out the power of the government to ensure the maximum liberty of each individual, balancing the need for limited government to prevent anarchy. It is important to understand the document. “The powers not delegated to the United States Government are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Nothing could be more clear. It is unconstitutional for the federal government to exercise any power over education.

Our Department of Education is aware of this. Recent speeches by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan include the fact that the Department is “limited” in this country. Yes, very limited. Like, not allowed at all.

We may not be able to take back all the ground we have lost by allowing the federal government to dictate regulations to us in return for our own tax money. But we must not allow them any further ground.

The states (except for the handful of states that rejected Common Core) are otherwise like the neighbor who does not know where his rights are and can never know when they are taken and is thus unable to defend them. This neighbor believes he owns a piece of ground which his neighbor also claims, but he doesn’t know its boundaries. The other neighbor continues to encroach further and further onto land which the first neighbor suspects is his, but since he is never certain where the boundary is, he cannot stop the encroachment.

Until we take a firm position and say: “no further,” there is no line. Unless we remember our rights, we have none. My hope is that as a state, we will say “no further,” and hold onto our own right to educate our own children without interference.

Common Core does not improve college readiness. The educational value of the standards is low. And even if they were to be significantly improved, remember that educational standards are meaningless without political freedom.

There is no amendment process for Common Core. The standards have no checks and balances. Common Core was never voted upon. Common Core administrators cannot be recalled by a vote. Common Core represents an assumption of power never delegated by the voice of the people. The Common Core Initiative has transferred sovereignty from states to a collective controlled by the National Governors’ Association and by the Council of Chief State School Officers. It also transferred educational sovereignty from states to testing groups to be overseen by the Department of Education.

We must realize the strength of our position as states under the U.S. Constitution, and must hold up the Constitution, thus holding the Dept. of Education away from monitoring and directing states’ education.


Senator Mike Fair of South Carolina stated: In adopting Common Core, states have sold their birthright without even getting the mess of pottage. He is right.
Currently, thousands of people have signed the petition at Utahns Against Common Core. Websites and organizations are forming all over the country to fight Common Core. At least six U.S. Governors staunchly oppose Common Core. The majority of Utah legislators have said they oppose it.   Americans deserve high quality education without federal interference and this will not happen without first dropping all ties to the Common Core Initiative.

Please let state leaders and school boards know we expect them to be valiant in that effort.
Thank you.

—–  —–  —–

Contact information: Utah Governor Herbert  801-538-1000 Utah State School Board. Board@schools.utah.gov

State Technology Director / leader of Utah Data Alliance: john.brandt@schools.utah.gov

Utah State Superintendent: martell.menlove@schools.utah.gov

Assistant Superintendent: judy.park@schools.utah.gov

Utah State Office of Education: Brenda.Hales@schools.utah.gov

Senate Education Committee members – (801) 538-1035

Stuart C.  Reid screid@le.utah.gov

Patricia W. Jones pjones@le.utah.gov

Mark B. Madsen  mmadsen@le.utah.gov

Wayne L. Niederhauser wniederhauser@le.utah.gov

Aaron Osmond – aosmond@le.utah.gov

Howard A. Stephenson hstephenson@le.utah.gov

Jerry W. Stevenson – :jwstevenson@le.utah.gov

Stephen H. Urquhart – surquhart@le.utah.gov

“Insipid Brew of Gobbledy-Gook” – Professor Laura Gibbs on Common Core Writing Standards   8 comments

University of Oklahoma professor Laura Gibbs has given her permission to post her pointed observations

 about the Common Core writing standards here:

COMMON CORE WRITING STANDARDS = BLAH BLAH BLAH

by Laura Gibbs

In light of the brouhaha about David Coleman, Common Core and informational reading, I thought I would see what I could find out.

I went to the language arts standards and, as always, I found the usual blah blah blah – http://www.corestandards.org/the-standards/english-language-arts-standards – but there is nothing that gives any clue about balance; if there is a hidden agenda to drive out fiction in favor of non-fiction, that is not clear from the standards. However, what is clear from the standards, in my opinion, is that they offer NOTHING of substance to really change how writing is being taught in this country.

As someone who teaches writing, esp. narrative writing, I find nothing here that makes me feel like students who go through this Common Core system will be any better prepared than the students I have now.

ADDENDUM: I did post about what I personally would prefer to see here: https://plus.google.com/111474406259561102151/posts/RfejMC8wH5A

Worse, reading through the standards makes it really hard for me to understand how and why people take this kind of thing seriously.

I’m a practical, problem-solving kind of person. I don’t see how these standards do anything practical here to help us in the problems that students face in their writing skills. Note the conscious use of the word SKILLS here –

I believe very much in the teaching of skills, but the blah-blah-blah of these standards does not give me a vocabulary of skills I can use to develop a curriculum and inspire my students to see themselves as skilled writers. Instead, I see here an insipid brew of gobbledy-gook that MASQUERADES as being a sequence of standards, but really – what is happening here between Grades 6 and 12, during six years of students’ lives as writers? I would really like to hear from any teachers out there who find the way these standards are written to be helpful in any way, shape or form in guiding a writing curriculum:

Here is the Grade 6 standard for narrative writing:
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.
Grade 7: verbatim identical to Grade 6
Grade 8: verbatim identical to Grade 6
Grades 9-10: Now it says “well-chosen details” instead of “relevant descriptive details”… huh? Were they just embarrassed to keep copying and pasting from one grade to the next?
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
Grades 11-12: verbatim identical to Grades 9-10

It’s too tedious to really do this for all the substandards, but here’s just one example of a narrative writing sub-standard:

Grade 6:
Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events.
Grade 7: Oh look, now the conclusion “reflects on” the narration, instead of just following from it:
Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on the narrated experiences or events.
Grade 8: Verbatim identical to Grade 7.
Grades 9-10: Oh look, now they have decided that we are going to study not “narrated experiences or events” but “what is experienced, observed, or resolved over the course of the narrative” – in other words, we will change one blah-blah-blah for another blah-blah-blah.
Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on what is experienced, observed, or resolved over the course of the narrative.
Grades 11-12: Verbatim identical to Grades 9-10.

Just to prove I am not being a Momus here, let’s take one more substandard:
Grade 6:
Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to convey experiences and events.
Grade 7: verbatim identical to Grade 6
Grade 8: Oh look, now we will “capture the action” (I guess we were not capturing action before now):
Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events.
Grades 9-10: Oh look, now instead of “relevant descriptive details” we have “telling details” (???), and now instead of “capture the action and convey experiences and events” we will “convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters.” That is worse than no change at all – just one kind of blah-blah-blah replacing another kind of blah-blah-blah.
Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters.
Grades 11-12: verbatim identical to Grades 9-10.

Now, I personally find this kind of puffery to be a waste of time, but if we are going to engage in such puffery at least it should accomplish something, right?

But what this tells me is that teachers are going to be doing the same thing as they teach writing between Grades 6 and 12. Which is probably a good reason just to abolish the factory-based model of putting students in grades anyway, ha ha… but I suspect it is instead just a way for the textbook publishers to publish separate, expensive textbooks for every grade – even though the SO-CALLED “standards for narrative writing” in Grades 6-12 are not changing in any meaningful way from grade to grade.

Laura Gibbs (Ph.D., UC Berkeley) teaches mythology and folklore at the University of Oklahoma.

David Coleman: Dropping All Things Beautiful From American Schools   1 comment

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.

No way.

Home School Association Denounces Common Core   Leave a comment

I’m reposting this article from the Home School Legal Defense Association:  http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/2012/201212170.asp

It’s important for homeschooling families to realize that Common Core is a movement that is transforming education for every one who ever wants to go to a college or university.  It’s deleting freedom and innovation for everyone, not just public school attendees.

December 17, 2012

Common Core State Standards Initiative: Too Close to a National Curriculum

William A. Estrada, Esq. Director of Federal Relations
 Will Estrada has been leading our efforts to defend homeschooling on Capitol Hill since 2006. As the oldest of eight kids, and a homeschool graduate who married a homeschool graduate, he has a passion for protecting homeschool freedom. Read more >>

Background

In 2010, the National Governors Association published their “Common Core State Standards” (CCSS). These were meant as voluntary math and English guidelines which individual states could adopt.

HSLDA and numerous other organizations grew concerned about this push to standardize what public school students are taught. HSLDA wrote two articles outlining our concerns, one in March of 2010, and one in June of 2010. We explained that states were being enticed by the federal government—through the Race to the Top program—to align their state curriculum with the CCSS, resulting in de facto national standards. We were concerned that this would lead to a national curriculum and national test, and that the pressure would grow for homeschool and private school students to be taught using this national curriculum.

During President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union speech, the president stated, “We’ve convinced nearly every state in the country to raise their standards.” How were the states convinced to adopt the CCSS? The simple answer—federal dollars. President Obama added adopting the CCSS as a criterion for states to gain points in the Race to the Top education federal grant program, regardless of whether the state already had comparable or superior educational standards. States with the highest points are more likely to win the competitive Race to the Top federal grants.

Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the CCSS since 2010. Only Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia have not.

Are the Common Core State Standards a Good Idea for Public Schools?

Recently, there has been a growing controversy over whether the CCSS are even beneficial. Many states have spent years adopting their own state standards, only to throw them away in favor of the CCSS. Some commentators have said that the CCSS will weaken English learning and reduce analytical thinking. Others point to a weakening of math teaching. Still others point out that the CCSS will cost billions of dollars to implement—which could be deal-breaker for states struggling to implement the standards.

The CCSS by themselves are not necessarily controversial. They’re similar in certain respects to other state curriculum content standards for public schools. However, HSLDA believes that children—whether homeschooled, private schooled, or public schooled—do best when parents are fully engaged. And parents are most engaged when they know that they are in charge of their child’s education. Top-down, centralized education policy does not encourage parents to be engaged. The CCSS removes education standards from the purview of state and local control to being controlled by unaccountable education policy experts sitting in a board room far removed from the parents, students, and teachers who are most critical to a child’s educational success.

Will the CCSS Affect Homeschools?

The CCSS specifically do not apply to private or homeschools, unless they receive government dollars (online charter school programs have no such protection). However, HSLDA has serious concerns with the rush to adopt the CCSS. HSLDA has fought national education standards for the past two decades. Why? National standards lead to national curriculum and national tests, and subsequent pressure on homeschool students to be taught from the same curricula.

The College Board—the entity that created the PSAT and SAT—has already indicated that its signature college entrance exam will be aligned with the CCSS. And many homeschoolers worry that colleges and universities may look askance at homeschool graduates who apply for admission if their highschool transcripts are not aligned with the CCSS.

HSLDA believes that a one-size-fits-all approach to education crowds out other educational options, including the freedom of parents to choose homeschools and private schools. A common curriculum and tests based off common standards could be very harmful to homeschoolers if their college of choice refuses to accept a student’s high school transcript if it is not based on the CCSS. Homeschoolers could also have trouble on the SAT if the test is fundamentally altered to reflect only one specific curriculum. And our greatest worry is that if the CCSS is fully adopted by all states, policy makers down the road will attempt to change state legislation to require all students—including homeschool and private school students—to be taught and tested according to the CCSS. Common Core State Standards spreading

The National Governors Association first focused the CCSS on the general subject areas of math and English. However, there is now movement to create CCSS in numerous other subject areas. The National Governors Association is also urging states to align early education programs for young children.

This is also encouraged by the federal government’s Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, a program which causes grave concerns to HSLDA.

Due to laws prohibiting the creation of national tests, curriculum, and teacher certification, governors and state legislatures are the only policy makers who can actually decide whether or not to adopt the CCSS. While the federal government has encouraged the states to adopt the CCSS through federal incentives, the states are completely free to reject the CCSS.

Further Action

  • To find out whether your state has adopted the Common Core State Standards, you can visit this website’s useful map. (Please note that this is the website for the common core state standards initiative.)
  • Contact your state legislators, including the governor, to discuss this issue with them. Ask them about their position on the issue. Find your governor’s current information here.
  • If you have a governor’s election coming up in your state, we encourage you to raise this issue with the candidates. Even if a state has already adopted the national education standards, a new governor will be faced with the costs of implementing these new standards and new accountability to the federal government.
  • Numerous states that have already adopted the CCSS are considering rejecting the CCSS. Now is the time to help raise awareness of this issue and educate yourself about the CCSS.
  • Because this affects all parents, and will not currently affect homeschool freedom, it is not necessary to identify yourself as a homeschooler.

http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/2012/201212170.asp

Other Resources

Math and Science Common Core State Standards

Eagle Forum: “Obama Core is Another Power Grab”

Indiana Superintendent: “Obama Administration Nationalized Common Core Standards Common Core Math Standards Fail to Add Up”

Eagle Forum: “Common Core Standards Aren’t Cheap”

Eagle Forum: “Common Core Standards Dumbing Down the SAT”

“Common Core Supporter: Maybe Opposition Not Paranoia”

http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/2012/201212170.asp

Common Core: “Obtuse Mumbo Jumbo”   2 comments

http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/common-core-caught-in-its-own-tangled-web/

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.”

Full Text: HARRISON BERGERON by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.   1 comment

Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” was in the literature text we taught at Colton High School in Colton, California where I taught in 1995-2000.  My students read this  profound story, which has become ironic today, because public education is being transformed, via COMMON CORE, into the very nightmare Vonnegut envisioned. 

Our country has agreed  (with the exception of Texas and Virginia) that everyone ‘s educational experience must be the very same.

If you are gifted or educationally advanced, you really have been punished with an educational handicap.  Everyone must be common in Common Core.  

  Now, when I read this, I picture Common Core Architect David Coleman as the United States Handicapper General, and picture Secretary Arne Duncan as the television announcer.

HARRISON BERGERON

by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.


THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

Some things about living still weren’t quite right, though. April for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime. And it was in that clammy month that the H-G men took George and Hazel Bergeron’s fourteen-year-old son, Harrison, away.

It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn’t think about it very hard. Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn’t think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.

George and Hazel were watching television. There were tears on Hazel’s cheeks, but she’d forgotten for the moment what they were about.

On the television screen were ballerinas.

A buzzer sounded in George’s head. His thoughts fled in panic, like bandits from a burglar alarm.

“That was a real pretty dance, that dance they just did,” said Hazel.

“Huh” said George.

“That dance-it was nice,” said Hazel.

“Yup,” said George. He tried to think a little about the ballerinas. They weren’t really very good-no better than anybody else would have been, anyway. They were burdened with sashweights and bags of birdshot, and their faces were masked, so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in. George was toying with the vague notion that maybe dancers shouldn’t be handicapped. But he didn’t get very far with it before another noise in his ear radio scattered his thoughts.

George winced. So did two out of the eight ballerinas.

Hazel saw him wince. Having no mental handicap herself, she had to ask George what the latest sound had been.

“Sounded like somebody hitting a milk bottle with a ball peen hammer,” said George.

“I’d think it would be real interesting, hearing all the different sounds,” said Hazel a little envious. “All the things they think up.”

“Um,” said George.

“Only, if I was Handicapper General, you know what I would do?” said Hazel. Hazel, as a matter of fact, bore a strong resemblance to the Handicapper General, a woman named Diana Moon Glampers. “If I was Diana Moon Glampers,” said Hazel, “I’d have chimes on Sunday-just chimes. Kind of in honor of religion.”

“I could think, if it was just chimes,” said George.

“Well-maybe make ’em real loud,” said Hazel. “I think I’d make a good Handicapper General.”

“Good as anybody else,” said George.

“Who knows better than I do what normal is?” said Hazel.

“Right,” said George. He began to think glimmeringly about his abnormal son who was now in jail, about Harrison, but a twenty-one-gun salute in his head stopped that.

“Boy!” said Hazel, “that was a doozy, wasn’t it?”

It was such a doozy that George was white and trembling, and tears stood on the rims of his red eyes. Two of of the eight ballerinas had collapsed to the studio floor, were holding their temples.

“All of a sudden you look so tired,” said Hazel. “Why don’t you stretch out on the sofa, so’s you can rest your handicap bag on the pillows, honeybunch.” She was referring to the forty-seven pounds of birdshot in a canvas bag, which was padlocked around George’s neck. “Go on and rest the bag for a little while,” she said. “I don’t care if you’re not equal to me for a while.”

George weighed the bag with his hands. “I don’t mind it,” he said. “I don’t notice it any more. It’s just a part of me.”

“You been so tired lately-kind of wore out,” said Hazel. “If there was just some way we could make a little hole in the bottom of the bag, and just take out a few of them lead balls. Just a few.”

“Two years in prison and two thousand dollars fine for every ball I took out,” said George. “I don’t call that a bargain.”

“If you could just take a few out when you came home from work,” said Hazel. “I mean-you don’t compete with anybody around here. You just sit around.”

“If I tried to get away with it,” said George, “then other people’d get away with it-and pretty soon we’d be right back to the dark ages again, with everybody competing against everybody else. You wouldn’t like that, would you?”

“I’d hate it,” said Hazel.

“There you are,” said George. The minute people start cheating on laws, what do you think happens to society?”

If Hazel hadn’t been able to come up with an answer to this question, George couldn’t have supplied one. A siren was going off in his head.

“Reckon it’d fall all apart,” said Hazel.

“What would?” said George blankly.

“Society,” said Hazel uncertainly. “Wasn’t that what you just said?

“Who knows?” said George.

The television program was suddenly interrupted for a news bulletin. It wasn’t clear at first as to what the bulletin was about, since the announcer, like all announcers, had a serious speech impediment. For about half a minute, and in a state of high excitement, the announcer tried to say, “Ladies and Gentlemen.”

He finally gave up, handed the bulletin to a ballerina to read.

“That’s all right-” Hazel said of the announcer, “he tried. That’s the big thing. He tried to do the best he could with what God gave him. He should get a nice raise for trying so hard.”

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” said the ballerina, reading the bulletin. She must have been extraordinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous. And it was easy to see that she was the strongest and most graceful of all the dancers, for her handicap bags were as big as those worn by two-hundred pound men.

And she had to apologize at once for her voice, which was a very unfair voice for a woman to use. Her voice was a warm, luminous, timeless melody. “Excuse me-” she said, and she began again, making her voice absolutely uncompetitive.

“Harrison Bergeron, age fourteen,” she said in a grackle squawk, “has just escaped from jail, where he was held on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government. He is a genius and an athlete, is under-handicapped, and should be regarded as extremely dangerous.”

A police photograph of Harrison Bergeron was flashed on the screen-upside down, then sideways, upside down again, then right side up. The picture showed the full length of Harrison against a background calibrated in feet and inches. He was exactly seven feet tall.

The rest of Harrison’s appearance was Halloween and hardware. Nobody had ever born heavier handicaps. He had outgrown hindrances faster than the H-G men could think them up. Instead of a little ear radio for a mental handicap, he wore a tremendous pair of earphones, and spectacles with thick wavy lenses. The spectacles were intended to make him not only half blind, but to give him whanging headaches besides.

Scrap metal was hung all over him. Ordinarily, there was a certain symmetry, a military neatness to the handicaps issued to strong people, but Harrison looked like a walking junkyard. In the race of life, Harrison carried three hundred pounds.

And to offset his good looks, the H-G men required that he wear at all times a red rubber ball for a nose, keep his eyebrows shaved off, and cover his even white teeth with black caps at snaggle-tooth random.

“If you see this boy,” said the ballerina, “do not – I repeat, do not – try to reason with him.”

There was the shriek of a door being torn from its hinges.

Screams and barking cries of consternation came from the television set. The photograph of Harrison Bergeron on the screen jumped again and again, as though dancing to the tune of an earthquake.

George Bergeron correctly identified the earthquake, and well he might have – for many was the time his own home had danced to the same crashing tune. “My God-” said George, “that must be Harrison!”

The realization was blasted from his mind instantly by the sound of an automobile collision in his head.

When George could open his eyes again, the photograph of Harrison was gone. A living, breathing Harrison filled the screen.

Clanking, clownish, and huge, Harrison stood – in the center of the studio. The knob of the uprooted studio door was still in his hand. Ballerinas, technicians, musicians, and announcers cowered on their knees before him, expecting to die.

“I am the Emperor!” cried Harrison. “Do you hear? I am the Emperor! Everybody must do what I say at once!” He stamped his foot and the studio shook.

“Even as I stand here” he bellowed, “crippled, hobbled, sickened – I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become!”

Harrison tore the straps of his handicap harness like wet tissue paper, tore straps guaranteed to support five thousand pounds.

Harrison’s scrap-iron handicaps crashed to the floor.

Harrison thrust his thumbs under the bar of the padlock that secured his head harness. The bar snapped like celery. Harrison smashed his headphones and spectacles against the wall.

He flung away his rubber-ball nose, revealed a man that would have awed Thor, the god of thunder.

“I shall now select my Empress!” he said, looking down on the cowering people. “Let the first woman who dares rise to her feet claim her mate and her throne!”

A moment passed, and then a ballerina arose, swaying like a willow.

Harrison plucked the mental handicap from her ear, snapped off her physical handicaps with marvelous delicacy. Last of all he removed her mask.

She was blindingly beautiful.

“Now-” said Harrison, taking her hand, “shall we show the people the meaning of the word dance? Music!” he commanded.

The musicians scrambled back into their chairs, and Harrison stripped them of their handicaps, too. “Play your best,” he told them, “and I’ll make you barons and dukes and earls.”

The music began. It was normal at first-cheap, silly, false. But Harrison snatched two musicians from their chairs, waved them like batons as he sang the music as he wanted it played. He slammed them back into their chairs.

The music began again and was much improved.

Harrison and his Empress merely listened to the music for a while-listened gravely, as though synchronizing their heartbeats with it.

They shifted their weights to their toes.

Harrison placed his big hands on the girls tiny waist, letting her sense the weightlessness that would soon be hers.

And then, in an explosion of joy and grace, into the air they sprang!

Not only were the laws of the land abandoned, but the law of gravity and the laws of motion as well.

They reeled, whirled, swiveled, flounced, capered, gamboled, and spun.

They leaped like deer on the moon.

The studio ceiling was thirty feet high, but each leap brought the dancers nearer to it.

It became their obvious intention to kiss the ceiling. They kissed it.

And then, neutraling gravity with love and pure will, they remained suspended in air inches below the ceiling, and they kissed each other for a long, long time.

It was then that Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, came into the studio with a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun. She fired twice, and the Emperor and the Empress were dead before they hit the floor.

Diana Moon Glampers loaded the gun again. She aimed it at the musicians and told them they had ten seconds to get their handicaps back on.

It was then that the Bergerons’ television tube burned out.

Hazel turned to comment about the blackout to George. But George had gone out into the kitchen for a can of beer.

George came back in with the beer, paused while a handicap signal shook him up. And then he sat down again. “You been crying” he said to Hazel.

“Yup,” she said.

“What about?” he said.

“I forget,” she said. “Something real sad on television.”

“What was it?” he said.

“It’s all kind of mixed up in my mind,” said Hazel.

“Forget sad things,” said George.

“I always do,” said Hazel.

“That’s my girl,” said George. He winced. There was the sound of a rivetting gun in his head.

“Gee – I could tell that one was a doozy,” said Hazel.

“You can say that again,” said George.

“Gee-” said Hazel, “I could tell that one was a doozy.”


“Harrison Bergeron” is copyrighted by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., 1961.

%d bloggers like this: