Archive for the ‘Debate’ Tag

Is Idaho’s Battle Over– Or Just Starting?   2 comments

In November 2013,  and again in June 2014,  Idaho Superintendent Tom Luna rejected offers to participate in moderated, formal debates concerning the pros and cons of Common Core.  He did participate in one panel debate, to a packed house.   But Luna’s unwillingness to participate in further open debate is remarkable because, beginning in 2011, Luna was president, top dog at the organization that co-created and co-copyrighted the Common Core:  Council of Chief State School Officers.  Nobody should have felt more vested.  This article, a response to a recent Idaho Statesman interview  with Luna, comes by request.  Thank you, Stephanie Zimmerman.

 

Is Idaho’s Common Core Battle Over– Or Just Starting?

 

By Stephanie Zimmerman, Idaho mom/writer at Idahoans For Local Education

 

In the Nov. 30th Statesman interview granted by Tom Luna, I was not surprised to read Luna’s responses to the following questions:

Is the battle over Idaho Core Standards over?  “It is definitely over in the education arena. And my experience has been so far that it is primarily over with the vast majority of parents, but it is not over politically.”

How big were the Idaho Legislature education committee hearings on Common Core standards?  “I think it was an eye-opener to a lot of legislators and even people around the state who tuned in and listened because I think you heard a lot of the concerns that were raised – that were then shown to be not true: whether it’s the data we collect, who developed the standards, who has control of the standards. I have yet to have one person who says they oppose the standards tell me which standard it is that they oppose … If we do nothing else in education over the next three or four years, but continue to teach every kid to these higher standards, then measure students with this better assessment, then that is going to have more impact on improving student achievement than anything that we can do.”

Where to begin…
Common Core is just now (in the past three months) being fully implemented in Idaho’s schools.  How can Mr. Luna possibly say the battle is over –when it hasn’t even had a chance to begin??  Nowhere in the country was Common Core fully, fairly or publicly vetted or debated in legislatures, with parents, or with educators before it was quietly imposed upon us.  Most educators and parents are still learning the full implications of the Common Core .   More and more teachers are stepping forward with their concerns about the way children are being treated. Meg Norris, Kathleen Jasper, David Cox, Savannah Kucerak Mercedes Schneider  and Kris Nielson  are just a few who have made waves nationally by speaking out against Common Core.  Polls show  that the more parents know about it the less they like it.
four pillars of ed takeover
As more parents, educators, and legislators take even just a few minutes to educate themselves by reading source documents (instead of simply believing the talking points we’ve all heard) about the data being collected, who developed the standards, and who has control of the standards, an ever-increasing number of Idahoans will become concerned about the loss of our local control over our kids’ education.
Common Core is about far more than simply singling out which standard we do or don’t like.  It’s the reform package as a whole that’s the problem; the standards, assessments, data collection, tiered licensure (yes, that’s Common Core, too), and the star ratings system (which make our schools sound like a motel chain).
I wouldn’t care if these are the best standards in the world; I still wouldn’t want them in Idaho because of the federal strings and mandates that come with them.
Tom Luna is a man who was essentially defeated by Common Core.  His extreme political unpopularity began with his 2011 push to pass Students Come First, a set of educational reforms for Idaho that weren’t even his or his department’s original idea but that came straight out of the national Common Core playbook , and that only got worse as more and more people realized the role this former president of the CCSSO played in selling out our children’s future.
So, this particular battle may be over for Mr. Luna – we all know he’s moved on to bigger, better things.  But for those of us in the trenches, we know this is far from over.  We will continue to fight for local control of our children’s education.
Unfortunately for Tom Luna, his legacy will ultimately end up as the man who sold Idaho’s children’s birthright for a mess of pottage.
————————————-
Stephanie Zimmerman, author of this post, stands second from the right in the photo below. 
Mom meme

Report on Jenni White’s Utah Speech   4 comments


jenni

Jenni  White of Oklahoma’s Restore Oklahoma Public Education spoke  last night in Midvale, Utah, to a clapping, cheering, energized crowd that included two  legislators from the Utah House of Representatives, Kay Christofferson and LaVar Christiansen, both of whom stood and spoke after Jenni’s speech to voice their support.

Feisty, hilarious, sassy and smart, Jenni White’s presentation explained that she and her group have been working for many, many years (longer than the majority of us have in Utah) to stop Common Core.  The bills that were written there never got heard, or only made it through one committee hearing, year after year.  It took hard work and dogged persistence to work the miracle that Oklahoma finally saw this year.  Her speech was filmed and will be posted soon.  Here are highlights:

What Oklahoma moms did:

1.  They didn’t just work with one or two legislators.  They emailed all the legislators, every week, with short, vital pieces of information to help educate them about just what the Common Core Initiative has done to schools, to student privacy, to teacher autonomy, to the voice of parents, to the power of local control of education.

2.  They showed up by the hundreds during the legislative session, wearing the green Stop Common Core t-shirts, and made it impossible during rallies for legislators to walk down the halls without swerving around green t-shirted parents and teachers and students.  They would not be ignored or dismissed.

3.  They sent legislative baseball cards, stop common core cookie bouquets, postcards, notes, legislator memos, tweets, emails.

4.  They held a “Hear the Bills!” rally to persuade legislators to at least listen, to at least let this issue have a fair hearing.

5. They did photo ops with Governor Fallin, wearing the green t-shirts, even before she had decided to stand against Common Core.

6. They had meetings statewide, educating the public, asking the public to call their legislators and tell them they wanted Common Core to be repealed and replaced with better standards like Massachusetts had prior to the Common Core-ing of America.

7. They stuck together, not allowing infighting or small disagreements to break apart their coalition of parents, teachers and citizens who wanted Common Core to go away.

Since the Oklahoma miracle, some pro-Core advocates such as Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrelli, (a financial beneficiary of Bill Gates, of course) have tried to spin the Oklahoma miracle of repealing Common Core as a disaster, saying that Oklahoma teachers have no idea what to teach right now.

The indomitable Jenni White, rather than shrink under his arrogance and criticism, happily invited Petrelli to Oklahoma for an open debate and discussion on this subject.

Petrelli has accepted, according to his Twitter feed.

Thank you, Oklahoma!  We love you!

green

 

 

Deseret News to Live Stream Common Core Debate Tonight   5 comments

images

Tonight’s much-anticipated Common Core debate, featuring Alpine school board member Wendy Hart and mother Alyson Williams arguing against Common Core, versus two state school board members, Dave Thomas and Tami Pyfer arguing for Common Core, will be live-streamed by the Deseret News.

Additionally, it will be featured on http://www.deseretnews.com later today and on http://watchit.deseretnews.com.

If you want to attend the event in person, here is the time and address.

(Note: a Logan newspaper mistakenly wrote the start time to be 7:00. It is actually 6:00.)

Where: Mount Logan Middle School at 875 N. 200 E. Logan, Utah.
When: January 6th, 2014, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Who: The public, legislators and press will be there. Moderator: radio personality Jason Williams of KVNU’s “For the People.”

The public is invited to submit questions for the debaters to: jasonthe@gmail.com or kvnuftp@gmail.com.

Please come and bring friends.

Live Stream/ Youtube link:

40 Questions for Common Core Debaters   8 comments

state school board picture photo utah

untitled

Utah radio personality Jason Williams of KVNU’s “For the People” has asked the public to submit questions for next week’s Common Core debate, which will take place at Mount Logan Middle School on January 6th, 2014, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in Logan, Utah, at 875 N. 200 E.

Submit questions to: jasonthe@gmail.com or kvnuftp@gmail.com.

Legislators have already committed to attend the debate. I hope thousands of teachers, parents, grandparents, students and reporters show up.

The debaters will be Alpine School Board member Wendy Hart and mother Alyson Williams (against Common Core) versus state school board members Dave Thomas and Tami Pyfer (for Common Core). The event will be moderated by radio personality Jason Williams.

I sat down to write a few questions and ended up with 40. Some are borrowed from Professors Yong Zhao, Professor Christopher Tienken, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Dr. Daniel Coupland and others. I hope Mr. Williams has time to ask them all.

40 COMMON CORE DEBATE QUESTIONS

1. Is Common Core constitutional? Why or why not?

2. How important is the defense of local autonomy and local control of schools, to you personally –and does Common Core affect local control in any way? Yes or no?

3. The Common Core itself calls itself a “living work” and it admits that the document will change. Does the Utah State School Board have authority over the copyrighted Common Core “document” to change the document itself? ( To clarify: this is not a question of adding 15% as the Common Core governance allows a state to add in-state, but we are asking about changing the national standards themselves.) Yes or No?

4. Can Utah voters remove from positions of power the people who hold copyright over Utah’s Common Core standards (Board of Directors of CCSSO/NGA) if we do not approve of the direction of Common Core? Yes or No?

5. Are those who hold copyright over Common Core subject to transparency (“sunshine” laws) –so that the Utah State School Board can supervise the decisions which affect and govern Utahns? Yes or No?

6. Where can I read for myself how the states-led (inter-state) amendment process will work when we want to change something in the Common Core standards, if a process exists?

7. Where can I see for myself the evidence that Common Core standards have been field tested prior to implementation, so they were proven to be of superior academic quality, if testing evidence exists?

8. Professor Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University has called Common Core “educational malpractice.” Regardless of how you feel about Common Core, how would you recognize educational malpractice if you saw it; what would be its hallmarks?

9. Would widespread mandating of experimental, untested standards constitute educational malpractice?

10. Where can I see for myself the specific countries and specific standards to which the Common Core standards are “internationally benchmarked” if such benchmarking exists?

11. Where is the American process of representation of individuals in the Common Core education and assessments system, if it exists?

12. Where can I see for myself empirical, researched evidence (not opinion) that Common Core’s increasing informational text and decreasing classic literature will benefit children, if it exists?

13. Where can I see for myself empirical, researched evidence that Common Core’s move away from traditional math toward constructivist math will benefit our children, if it exists?

14. Many mathematicians and math experts, even including Common Core architect and advocate Jason Zimba, have pointed out that students who want to take Calculus in college will need to take more math than Common Core math courses in high school. What should the Utah State School Board do to make sure Utah students are truly prepared for STEM careers despite Common Core’s low math standards?

15. A mathematician is one who has an advanced degree in advanced mathematics; a math educator is one who has an advanced degree in educating students on any level of math. How do you feel about the fact that there was only one actual mathematician on the Common Core validation committee, Dr. James Milgram, and that he refused to sign off because he said the standards were not legitimate math for college preparation?

16. Several official documents show that there is a 15% cap on a state adding to the Core; we also from Common Core architect Jason Zimba and validation committee member James Milgram that Common Core math does not prepare students for STEM math careers; then how are Utahns to prepare for STEM careers?

17. If local Utahns break through the common core academic ceiling and add more than the allowable 15% to their local standards, how will that 15% be taught using common core aligned math and English tests and texts?

18. Although we have been told that Common Core was state-led, no citizen in this state received an invitation to discuss this, before math and English standards were decided. To make sure this does not happen again, please explain the vetting process for Utah teachers and parents, before we add upcoming national science, national social studies, and national sex ed standards.

19. Which element played a larger role in Utah’s decision to adopt Common Core: the chance to win Race to the Top grant money, or a thorough review of the Common Core academically? Please give evidence for your answer.

20. Where can I read our state’s cost analysis for implementing Common Core standards, tests and professional development costs?

21. Does the Common Core essentially discriminate against talents and interests that are not consistent with their prescribed knowledge and skills?

22. What roles does the Utah State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS)play in reporting to the federal Edfacts Exchange and to the national E.I.M.A.C./CCSSO data collection machines?

23. How do you respond to the question asked by Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University? He said:
“This is not data-driven decision making… Yet this nation will base the future of its entire public education system, and its children, upon this lack of evidence. Where is the evidence to support the rhetoric surrounding the Common Core standards?”
24. Do you see Common Core’s emphasis on testing as potentially harming American creativity and entrepreneurial fields in which U.S. graduate have historically led the world– or do you see this emphasis on standardization and testing as simply creating more individuals who are very good at taking tests– like students in some Asian countries– without any harm being done to creativity or love of learning?

25. The Constitution assigns education to the states, not to the federal government. Also, the federal General Educational Provisons Act (GEPA) states: “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system …“ In light of this, please explain why our state has partnered with those who agree to micromanagement by the federal department of education such as the CCSSO.

26. Which portions of local autonomy have been traded for federally-lauded Common Core standards and tests?
27. What types of legal protections does student data have in writing that can protect us from the federal government and vendors and researchers– in light of recent changes to FERPA privacy regulations, and in light of the federally funded and federally-reporting State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) that is partnered with the CCSSO (and PESC) under Utah’s SLDS grant agreement?

28. Why has the Utah State School Board not stood up against federally-partnered and SBAC-partnered Common Core tests to defend local control?

29. For students in the United States to be globally competitive, they must offer something different, that is, something that cannot be obtained at a lower cost in developing countries. High test scores in a few subjects can be achieved in most developing countries, so how could Common Core increase global competitiveness for U.S. students?

30. How can any test predict global competiveness or economic growth?

31. What empirical evidence do you have that high Common Core test scores could result in higher levels of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship?

32. If countries like Estonia, Hungary, Slovenia, Vietnam, Latvia, and Poland routinely outscore the U.S. on standardized tests such as PISA, why isn’t their per capita gross domestic product or other personal economic indicators equal to those in the U.S. (World Bank, 2013)? In other words, what evidence do we have that pressuring students to focus on standardized testing will improve the U.S. economy?

33. Are you aware, that when you disaggregate the data by percentages of poverty in a school, the U.S. scores at the top of all the international PISA tests? (see Riddle, 2009) In other words, why are we pushing Common Core when our previous system of local control and freedom worked better academically than other countries’ governmentally standardized systems?

34. Companies like Boeing and GE are allowed to give their technology, utility patents, and know-how to the Chinese in return for being able to sell their products in China (Prestowitz, 2012). Can U.S. emphasis on standardized test scores create global competitiveness, really, or is it more likely that we should change the policy of allowing U.S. multinationals to give away our technological advantages, to increase our global competitiveness?

35. Are you aware that 81% of U.S. engineers are qualified to work in multinational corporations – the highest percentage in the world (Kiwana, 2012) while only 10% of Chinese engineering graduates and 25% of Indian engineers are prepared to work in multinational corporations or corporations outside of China or India (Gereffi, et al., 2006; Kiwana, 2012)?

36. Are you aware that the U.S. produces the largest numbers of utility patents (innovation patents) per year and has produced over 100,000 a year for at least the last 45 years? No other country comes close (USPTO, 2012).

37. Are you aware that adults in the U.S. rank at the top of the world in creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship –and that those adults were educated during a time of NO state or national standards (Tienken, 2013)?

38. To what extent do you agree with this statement? “Common Core is a standardized education philosophy that transmits prescribed content via nationally aligned standards, aligned tests and aligned texts; the previous system was less organized, more loosely monitored, less unified, but spent more time on creativity, individual exploration and innovation.”

39. How do you feel about the funding of the Common Core: one unelected businessman– Bill Gates— funded the Common Core initiative, paid the PTA and the pro-Common Core think tanks (Fordham Institute, Manhattan Institute, Foundation for Educational Excellence) that advocate for it, he partnered with Pearson, the largest educational text sales company in the world to market it, that he publically calls American schools his “uniform customer base”, and that he has said that his goal is for Common Core tests, curriculum and standards to align? See Gates’ public speech here.

40. How do you feel about Secretary Arne Duncan’s stated goals for national Common Core Educational Standards and Common Data Standards? To summarize, a few of Duncan’s stated goals are:

–1) to have the federal government take more control over American schools than ever before,
–2) to make schools (not families) be the community centers, open 6-7 days a week, 12 months a year, 14 hours per day; and
–3) to partner the federal department of education with the copyrighters of the Common Core (CCSSO) for both education standards AND for data collection standards.

———————-

THE CONTINUAL WEARYING a.k.a. THE SQUEAKY WHEEL

(More thoughts on the ongoing Common Core debate:)

If you aren’t going to attend the debate, please use these questions or your own to create more strong pushback from the Common Core disaster.

This is America! We are the people with the power to make things right when we see that they are wrong. This is not a land of centralized power, dictatorship, socialism. This is a land of liberty, where the local people self-govern. We have to wake people up to see that freedom matters– and that Common Core surely takes it away from our children.

We can use the beautiful American processes of debate, of real representation, and of constitutional balances of powers that are supposed to defend freedom and local autonomy.

If everyone who cared deeply about the damages of Common Core were to weary the school boards and governors with questions —repeatedly, weekly, persistently, patiently, unceasinglyCommon Core could not stand.

Common Core has no legs –except expensive marketing legs and lies– to stand on.

It has no academic pilot testing, no written amendment process for states to retain local control, no privacy protections for its tests’ data collection processes, no wisdom, no international benchmarking, no chance of improving “global competitiveness,” no heart, no state-led history, no commitment to local control; no hope to develop any real love of learning; no common sense.

What it does have is millions upon millions of dollars gambled on this takeover of American schools as a “uniform customer base” and many more millions spent on marketing its unsupportable talking points.

But it lacks the important stuff.

Parents (and teachers) can win back local control. We care more deeply about our children and about legitimate education than the proponents care about our children or Common Core.

We just have to be the squeaky wheel.

unrighteous judge parable

Remember the parable of Jesus from Luke 18:

“There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”

Weary them, weary them.

We can write or call newspapers and t.v. stations.

We can politely and persistently pester our governor: 801-538-1000 or 800-705-2464 (Utah’s Governor Herbert’s number).

We can politely and persistently pester the principal and others in the school districts and especially make sure to pester state and local school board members, who are supposed to REPRESENT US, not Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, or Sir Michael Barber.

Here is the Utah State School Board’s address: board@schools.utah.gov

Here is the state superintendent’s address: martell.menlove@schools.utah.gov

Here is the governor’s education counselor’s address: ckearl@utah.gov

If you want to get 2 minutes to testify about these things at the monthly state school board meeting, contact secretary Lorraine at: Lorrain.Austin@schools.utah.gov

Lively Radio Debates: Colorado Grassroots Radio Hosts Dr. Terrence Moore, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Anthony Cody, Michael Brickman, Jane Robbins, Laura Boggs   2 comments

Terrence Moore jpg
DR. TERRENCE MOORE

This week “Grassroots Radio Colorado” hosted two lively, informative Common Core debates. The podcasts are available by clicking here.

Hour one features History Professor Terrence Moore of Hillsdale College (opposed to Common Core) versus former school board member Laura Boggs (pro Common Core).

Highlights from hour one:

At minute 10:45 Laura Moore gives a 7-minute pro-Common Core intro. She explains why she thinks that it is good to have national education standards, comparing educational standards to car wheels. She speaks about the “states coming together” as if they did so.

She says that she is opposed to the federal government having much say in education, which really confuses me. I don’t comprehend how she can sit on that fence, but she apparently believes that Colorado’s Common Core was created largely by Colorado teachers, rather than the CCSSO and NGA. This, even though the CCSSO/NGA declares, right on the copyright page, that it is the sole developer of the standards, and even though the CCSSO declares, on its official website, that it is partnered with the federal Department of Education.

Anyway.

At minute 17:50 Dr. Terrence Moore gives a 7-minute anti-Common Core intro.

He talks about the reduction of literary texts, and discusses the lexile framework of the Common Core creators that makes huge errors, such as placing Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” on a 3rd grade reading level; he discusses the Appendix B recommendations of Common Core that crowds out classics and religious writers and Ben Franklin, with the Common Core’s preference for modern authors and informational text.

Here’s a great moment: at minute 36:00 the question is asked: “Are Common Core standards actually field tested?”

Laura Boggs says that they are “absolutely tested.” (She does not say where or how or by whom they were supposedly tested.)

Dr. Terrence Moore answers the same question: he says that the Common Core standards were absolutely not field tested.

At minute 42:00 Dr. Terrence Moore explains why we should reject Common Core outright. He also mentions learning more about this in his book, “Storykillers.”

He asks when the last time was, that we heard Secretary Arne Duncan or a school board member quote Shakespeare. He makes the point that one of the biggest problems we have in education is that “the people who are in charge do not love education.”

Laura_Boggs-thumb-120x168
LAURA BOGGS (FORMER SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER)

Anthony Cody teacher
TEACHER ANTHONY CODY

Hour two features California teacher Anthony Cody (opposed to Common Core) versus Fordham Institute member Michael Brickman (pro Common Core).

Hour two also includes Common Core validation committee member Dr. Sandra Stotsky and The American Principles Project’s Jane Robbins.

stotsky
DR. SANDRA STOTSKY

DEBATE in Logan Jan. 6th   3 comments

This should be very interesting.

Mount Logan Middle School is providing the facility for a Common Core issues debate on January 6th, 2014, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at 875 N. 200 E. Logan, Utah.

Alpine school board member Wendy Hart and mother Alyson Williams will debate two state school board members: Dave Thomas and Tami Pyfer.

The event is open to the public and will be moderated by radio personality Jason Williams of KVNU’s “For the People.”

Please come and bring friends.

The public is invited to submit questions for the debaters to: jasonthe@gmail.com or kvnuftp@gmail.com.

This informative video, “Utah Bites Into Common Core” features Wendy Hart, one of the debaters, who is both an elected member of the Alpine School Board, and an active member of Utahns Against Common Core.

Fighting With the Utah State Office of Education   4 comments

https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/common-core-movie-building-the-machine-trailer/

I am impressed by the new Common Core movie trailer (that I shared yesterday) and I do hope it gets a million views.

So, today I sent out an email link to the new Common Core documentary movie to many people I thought would be interested in it, both friends and foes: The state and local school boards, the Governor’s office, my representatives, newspapers, friends, relatives, etc.

One of these email link recipients was Sydnee Dickson, a Utah State Office of Education curriculum bureaucrat. (To see more about her, click on this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1VnpQuJQsY or see this older post or read this to see her earlier attacks on me.)

syd

I think you might find Sydnee Dickson’s response to the trailer today, revealing:

SYDNEE DICKSON: I watched the trailer and noted at the end that it is directed and funded by Michael J. Smith, President of the Home School Legal Defense Association and Michael P. Farris, attorney at parentalrights.org. The message in the trailer focuses on the false assumptions of federal takeover, dumbing down of education, lack of parental control, etc.

ME: False assumptions? I’d like to see evidence that they are false. I think they are true.

SYDNEE DICKSON: I am sure that you do and I respect your perspective… I just don’t share it. I appreciate you keeping us in the loop, however, as things are produced supporting your claims. It helps us know what people are concerned about.
Syd

ME: I would like to know what evidence you are basing your perspective upon. Since you used the term “false assumptions” I want to know how you arrive at that term and perspective. This is, after all, an intellectual, academic debate and evidence is important in order to establish truth. If you are willing, I and many others would be very happy to see it. Thank you.

SYDNEE DICKSON: We have provided plenty of evidence and have exhausted this debate with you. I am not interested in trying to change your mind; but am most interested in supporting students, teachers, and parents in ensuring their students are ready for their future. I know you believe this is important as well. I am happy to talk about how the Utah Core Standards play a part in this.
Syd

ME: Syd, your office has never provided evidence (beyond repeating opinions from Gates-funded organizations) that Common Core can ever help Utah children to succeed –because such evidence does not exist.

Common Core is an experimental, unpiloted program pushed for financial gain alone, at the expense of true college readiness, and you and I both know it.

The way to support students, teachers and parents would have been to build Utah’s future on time-tested standards, not Common Core. The way to support them would be to defend their (our) rights to locally controlled education, curriculum and testing, which the Common Core system is not. You know this as well as I do.

Even the term “Utah Core Standards” is deceptive; you know as well as I do that English and math standards in Utah ARE Common Core standards. I resent the deception.

You say that you simply “disagree” as if there were two equally viable and equally valid sides to the argument. The fact is, either you or I are alarmingly, frighteningly wrong.

We both cannot be correct. I say Common Core will do horrible, uncalculable damage to our future as Utahns; you say it’s nothing but a blessing. We cannot both be right! Is there no truth?

Proponents of Common Core should at least try to prove their system is academically legitimate and in harmony with the Constitution of the United States (separation of powers, decentralization, checks and balances). If not, why be a proponent? For money only?

If you are not even willing to discuss it, dismissing me as simply someone who “sees things differently” than you do, then you imply that the long-term effects do not matter, either.

I would venture to guess that I care a lot more about this than you do. I don’t get paid as you do, to fight about Common Core. The least you can do is stand up for your side of the argument if it is to be believed or discussed honorably.

(Waiting to hear back from her. I have a feeling I will never get any real answer.)

———————

Update: Two more exchanges:

———————

On Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 2:36 PM, Dickson, Sydnee wrote:

Christel,

Our evidence has included letters and public testimonies from those who directed the writing of the standards and actually wrote the standards. You have called my statements from face to face meetings with the architects “not credible” on websites and you have indicated in the past that their testimony isn’t credible because they were funded in part, by the Gates Foundation. We have sent you and posted various documents which you and your peers reject as evidence. I spend most of my time working with teachers, principals, and district leaders on issues of high quality instruction and educator evaluation. I serve on panels, present at meetings, etc. on behalf of people interested in the CORE and am happy to continue to do so. It isn’t worth my time to continue to restate what we have already addressed. I merely included you on the email to the Board as you are the one who initiated the film trailer.

I would like to reiterate a point regarding the naming of the Utah Core. Utah has had CORE standards since 1984. I was a teacher at the time, using the standards. Our standards are continually reviewed and revised. We have never tried to hide the fact that we adopted the Common Core ELA and mathematics standards. We have been very up front about that. However, when they were adopted, they replaced our ELA and mathematics standards and are now Board adopted Utah Core Standards. You will find across the country that states have named them various things, based on the process of review in their particular state. They might be called ___________(state) College and Career Ready Standards, __________(state) Common Core Standards, or ___________(state) Core Standards. It varies. I am linking you to a aggregated website that shows all of the state websites addressing the CCSS https://sites.google.com/site/commoncoreinthecloud/the-other-49. This was developed by a state office employee in North Dakota.

I have never stated that the CCSS is “nothing but a blessing”. I do believe they are a key piece of reform that will help our students be better prepared to meet the demands of today’s economy. The irony is that for the first time in history, states have done exactly what the federal government thinks we can’t do. We’ve come together to create a set of standards to enable us to share resources, help military families be mobile without penalty to their children in schools, create a common set of standards that are more comparable on NAEP and other national reports, and allows for higher levels of collaboration among educators as we speak the same language. We are already getting great data out of a couple of our early adopting districts and exciting things are happening in classrooms all across Utah. We definitely still have work to do but, the potential for our children to achieve higher standards is exciting. I wish nothing but the best for you and your family, Christel, and hope that you have a wonderful holiday season.

Syd

Sydnee,

Letters and opinions supporting Common Core are only as credible as the scientific data behind them. The architects of Common Core were businessmen, not content experts, and they had zero data driving their decision-making. This is common knowledge. They never even meant for Common Core to prepare kids for legitimate university (4 year) study nor for STEM careers. If you click on that link you will see the Common Core creator state that the standards were “not only not for STEM, they are also not for selective colleges.”

They just want everything standardized.

Their being funded by Gates does create a conflict of interest, absolutely. But even without the monetary motivation, these testimonies are not credible because they are not based on empirical evidence. Empirical evidence means testing the theories upon which Common Core rests: like, actually testing (for many years, on many many students) the theory that diminishing narrative writing and reading in favor of increasing technical writing and informational reading is legitimately better in the long run. (The same goes for the theories of Common Core’s weak math theories.) These dramatic transformations ARE UNTESTED.

It doesn’t matter who thinks they’re a good idea or who doesn’t– you cannot testify with validity to what has never been tried, any more than you can come back from a location to which you have never been.

This is why people who are actually experts in curricular content such as Dr. Christopher Tienken, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, and Dr. James Milgram, should be heeded. Dr. Tienken calls this Common Core “educational malpractice” because it’s based on nothing but marketing. Nothing. Else.

But even if the standards were academically legitimate, time-tested, proven, and in actual fact, better than what we had, I would still be opposed to them on Constitutional grounds. Liberty matters to me!

It is not an accurate statement to say that “states have come together to create a set of standards.” There was nobody from Utah who was sent to serve on that Common Core creation board. Brenda Hales who works with you said this in a Heber meeting. Nobody from Utah helped because the creators “didn’t want it to become a Constitutional convention.” And indeed it was not.

The states did not create these standards and that will always be a lie no matter how many times proponents repeat it.

The standards were funded by Gates, and were created by two unelected clubs, CCSSO and NGA, who have no voter accountability whatsoever. CCSSO and NGA are totally un-transparent, private D.C. clubs. Clubs! NGA and CCSSO are not Constitutionally recognized entities that are valid spearheads to speak for and decide for the actual people of Utah, any more than Miss Teen Utah is a politically valid representative for the citizens of our state.

These two clubs have copyrighted OUR standards. Where is the representation for you and me? Where is our voice? Where is Utah’s identity in all of this? Beyond being permitted, like house pets, to add 15% to the D.C.-created standards, there is no voice for Utah anymore.

The state school board gave away our authority– their authority! They had no right to do this. The board did, under the Utah Constitution, have the right to set Utah’s education standards, but they had no right to hand their assigned role over to the clubs of D.C. as they have done, or to delegate that authority out.

We didn’t need Common Core to “enable us to share resources.” We didn’t need Common Core to “help mobile families.” Less than 1% of American students move from state to state. Empirical fact. We didn’t need Common Core to create a one-language standardized system in order to collaborate. America is too diverse to be shacked to one language or one system. And those who control this new “language” do not have our local best interests at heart. The goals of those D.C. clubs and their funders will always be served before the goals of Heber City under the Common Core.

I have no personal reason to fight with you. The reason I fight is that these principles MATTER to me. Freedom and local control matter to me more than any of these talking points of the proponents of the core matter to me. I see them as the foundation for all that is good and right.

I do not agree with the president of the NCEE, Mark Tucker, who in promoting Common Core says that the “United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control.”

Maybe you agree with him.

I do appreciate your well wishing and your good holiday cheer and wish you the same happy season as well. If I lived on your street, I’d be baking you cookies and my kids would come caroling to your door. But I predict that your office and the USSB office will receive a lot more grief before this is over, as more and more people wake up to what has happened.

Thanks for the discussion.

Christel

Utah Mom Alyson Williams: The Common Core Standards That We Aren’t Talking About   15 comments

apple books

Utah Mom Alyson Williams’ razor-sharp wit and use of unarguable facts makes the speech she gave at a Common Core debate (with State School Board member Dixie Allen and two professors) a powerful tool in the national Stop Common Core arsenal. Below are her prepared remarks. The event was filmed and will be posted soon.

6 few smashing highlights from the speech –words I’d like to slap up on websites and billboards and bumpers all over the country:

1 “There is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors… Allowing rules for education to be set by those with no authority to do so is not a high enough standard for me or my children.”

2 “The Department of Ed … set rules for education, in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States themselves under the 10th Amendment.”

3 “The Utah Constitution … does not say that [the board] can outsource a role we entrusted to them to a non-governmental trade organization who outsourced it to another group of hand-picked experts. This is called “delegation” and it has been established in legal precedent to be unconstitutional.”

4 “Unelected officials gutting laws that were established by Congress to protect my family’s privacy is not a high enough standard for me and my children.”

5 “No meaningful public input on changes that affect all of our community schools is not a high enough standard for me and my children.”

6 “We can set high standards for math and English without circumventing, stretching, or ignoring the high standards for self government that have made our nation unique in all the history of the world.”

—————


THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS THAT WE AREN’T TALKING ABOUT

Guest post by Alyson Williams, Utah mom

We’ve heard that with Common Core we’re just setting higher standards for learning, right? Why would a mom who wants the very best for her children be against that?

We are a community with high standards for all kinds of things, not just education. Standards can be examples, expectations, models, patterns, or precedents to follow or measure oneself against.

Keeping those synonyms in mind I’d like to talk about the standards we’ve set for our children in the course of adopting the Common Core. You may be surprised to learn that we have set new standards not only for math and english, but also for how public education is governed.

At the beginning of Obama’s first term our Congress passed the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, also known as “the Stimulus” which included $100 Billion dollars for education. At the time major newspapers buzzed about the unprecedented power of assigning this much money to the discretion of the Education Secretary with virtually no congressional oversight. From the Stimulus came the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and the Race to the Top grant programs that enabled the Department of Ed to set rules for education, in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States themselves under the 10th Ammendment.

This 36 page document, “The Road to a National Curriculum” was written by two former top lawyers for the US Department of Education. In it they offer an analysis of how these reforms violate three Federal laws. They conclude, “The Department has simply paid others to do that which it is forbidden to do.” (p.18)

Using taxpayer money from the stimulus to implement reforms that weaken the State’s autonomy over education is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

Proponents of these reforms like to point out that adopting these reforms was a legitimate exercise of state’s rights because the development of the standards was led by the Governors at the National Governors Association. The problem is, the Utah State Constitution does not grant authority over education to our Governor. Furthermore, there is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors. Comparing best practices is one thing, but Governors working together to jointly address issues and create rules that affect the whole nation is not a legitimate alternative to Congress, our national representative body. The organizations that introduced Common Core to our nation, state-by-state, had no constitutional commission to do what they did.

Allowing rules for education to be set by those with no authority to do so is not a high enough standard for me or my children.

The Governor didn’t decide on his own that Utah would adopt these reforms. The agreements were also signed by the State Superintendent acting in behalf of the State School Board. The Utah Constitution does give authority to the State School Board to set academic standards. It does not say that they can outsource a role we entrusted to them to a non-governmental trade organization who outsourced it to another group of hand-picked experts. This is called “delegation” and it has been established in legal precedent to be unconstitutional.

Elected officials delegating a job we entrusted to them to a body outside the jurisdiction of state oversight is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

The official USOE pamphlet on the Common Core adoption says that the State School Board “monitored this process.” But Dane Linn who was the education director for the NGA at the time the standards were being written stated, “All of the standards writing and discussions were sealed by confidentiality agreements, and held in private.” http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2013/06/07/five-people-wrote-state-led-common-core

There were no meeting minutes, no public records, no obligation by the lead writers to even respond to the input of anyone who submitted it, including any input from our school board. As a parent and a taxpayer, this process cuts me out completely.

As citizens of a self-governing Republic, this non-representative process is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

While this process was different than the way standards have been vetted in the past, the State School Board insists their involvement and review was adequate and that there was time for public input. The USOE published this timeline for adoption of the standards. Here it says that the summer of 2010 was the public comment period. However, the final draft was not available until June 2, and the Board took their first of two votes to adopt them two days later on June 4. The second and final vote was made a month later, but the first formally announced public comment period I could find was in April of 2012 – 22 months after the Board officially adopted the standards.

No meaningful public input on changes that affect all of our community schools is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

When the Department of Education ran out of grant money to get states to implement their reforms, they offered the states waivers from unpopular requirements of No Child Left Behind that many Utah schools were not anticipated to meet. While the No Child Left Behind law did grant limited authority to the Department of Education to waive certain conditions, it did not grant them authority to require new conditions in exchange.

apple poison

This increasingly common habit of the executive branch to waive laws and replace them with their own rules, as if they held the lawmaking authority assigned to Congress, is not an acceptable standard for me and my children.

This is not the only example of the Department of Education overstepping their authority. In order for States to collect the individual student data required by these reforms, the US Department of Ed altered the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) weakening the protection of parental control over sharing student data. Both the Electronic Privacy Information Center and Fordham University’s Center for Law and Information Policy have written briefs charging that the Education Department acted illegally.

Unelected officials gutting laws that were established by Congress to protect my family’s privacy is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

Ever since we started down the road of adopting Common Core, in fact, I’ve noticed a much greater influence over education by unelected special interests. In an article published in the Washington Post in May (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/12/gates-gives-150-million-in-grants-for-common-core-standards/), for example, it was estimated that the Gates Foundation has spent at least $150 million dollars to fund and promote Common Core.

A July 2010 BusinessWeek Coverstory on Bill Gates quotes Jack Jennings, director of the Center on Education Policy saying, “As a private entity that doesn’t answer to voters, Gates can back initiatives that are politically dicey for the Obama Administration, such as uniform standards … In the past, states’ rights advocates have blocked federal efforts for a national curriculum. Gates ‘was able to do something the federal government couldn’t do.” http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_30/b4188058281758.htm#p4

When one very rich man has a greater influence over the direction of public education than parents, teachers and local communities that sets an unacceptable standard for “we the people,” for me, and for my children.

What is the justification for pushing these reforms through, bypassing the checks and balances of our established legal framework? We have to do it we are told so that our children will be “career and college ready.”

The Govenor, on his webpage for education, says we need to implement these reforms to “align educational training to meet the workforce demands of the marketplace.” http://www.utah.gov/governor/priorities/education.html

To me, all of these workforce goals seem to imply that the highest aim of education is work. Historically, the purpose of American education was to nurture the development of self-governing citizens, with work being incidental to that development. This nation has uniquely thrived according to the principle that a free market with good people pursuing their own dreams works better than attempts at centrally regulated markets with efficiently trained workers.

Being an efficient employee in a job that matches a data profile collected by the state from cradle to career is not a high enough standard for education, not for my children.

Thomas Jefferson was an early proponent of publicly funded education. He saw literate citizens educated in history and principles of good government as a necessary condition of maintaining liberty. He said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

How tragically ironic if, in the very name of public education, we end up eroding those very safeguards of liberty that he championed.

My opposition to the way we’ve adopted Common Core (and the rest of the education reforms introduced in the Stimulus) is not just about the education of my children, it is about the type of government I hope my children will inherit when they have children of their own. I believe we can set high standards for math and English without circumventing, stretching, or ignoring the high standards for self government that have made our nation unique in all the history of the world. This is the Constitution of the United States of America. These standards ARE high enough for me, and my children.

—————————

Brilliant. Thank you, Alyson Williams.

Yong Zhao: On Educational Freedom   3 comments

Yong Zhao

It’s always fun to watch smart people debate an important topic, but it’s especially satisfying when the person whose side you are on wins the day.  That is Yong Zhao, who seems to me not only smart but also wise.

Many are following the Marc Tucker/ Yong Zhao interchange about Common Core with great interest.  http://zhaolearning.com/2013/01/17/more-questions-about-the-common-core-response-to-marc-tucker/

Marc Tucker

Marc Tucker is an old pal and co-conspirator with Hillary Clinton, and their written “Let’s Take Over American Education” exchange has long been archived in the Congressional Record, partially because of its conspiratorial nature.  I’ve posted about it before: https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/anti-liberty-plot-for-american-education-full-text-of-the-letter-from-marc-tucker-to-hillary-clinton-2/

So, Tucker is no friend to educational freedom;  Zhao is.

Here is almost the whole of the latest brilliant response to Tucker by Yong Zhao.  Full text here: http://zhaolearning.com/2013/01/17/more-questions-about-the-common-core-response-to-marc-tucker/

More Questions about the Common Core: Response to Marc Tucker

17 January 2013

…It is impossible, unnecessary, and harmful for a small group of individuals to predetermine and impose upon all students the same set of knowledge and skills and expect all students progress at the same pace (if the students don’t, it is the teachers’ and schools’ fault).

I am not against standards per se for good standards can serve as a useful guide. What I am against is Common and Core, that is, the same standards for all students and a few subjects (currently math and English language arts) as the core of all children’s education diet. I might even love the Common Core if they were not common or core.

Tucker disagrees. He argues it is both possible and necessary to predetermine and impose upon all students the same knowledge and skills and America is immune to the damages of such efforts that have been experienced in China and other similar East Asian countries.

Now response to Tucker’s arguments point by point.

Tucker: It is now more important than ever to figure out what all young people need to know and be able to do.

Zhao: First, it is not true that “it is now more important than ever to figure out what all young people need to know and be able to do.” Over a hundred and fifty years ago, the British philosopher Herbert Spencer thought it was so important to decide what children should learn that he wrote the essay What Knowledge is of Most Worth and came up with the answer “science” and his criteria was the utilitarian value of knowledge. He did not think Latin, Greek, and the classics were of much value for a person to live in a society being transformed by industrialization and history , to Spencer was “mere tissue of names and dates and dead unmeaning events…it has not the remotest bearings on any our actions.”

In 1892, the National Education Association (NEA) thought it was so important that it appointed the Committee of Ten, chaired by Harvard president Charles Elliot, to figure out what schools should teach.

In early 1900s, The NEA had another commission to rethink the curriculum and came up with The Cardinal Principals of Secondary Education

Activities intended to determine what all students should know and be able to do never actually stopped. In recent years, the 1994 Goals 2000 Act under President Clinton provided funds to develop standards that “identify what all students should know and be able to do to live and work in the 21st century.” Under NCLB, states were mandated to develop both content and academic achievement standards in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science.

There has never been a lack of attempts to figure out what all young people should know and be able to do, consequently there is no shortage of standards around. The fact that there have been so many attempts suggests the difficulty of the task. People simply cannot seem to agree what all children should know and learn in general. People cannot even agree what to teach in math, the supposedly the most straightforward, and have fought many math wars over the last century. It is actually a good thing, in my mind, that people cannot come to agreement and the American federal government was not given the authority to impose its own version upon all children. But despite the lack of a consistently implemented nationalized curriculum and standards, America did just fine as a nation.

The Common Core initiative seems to suggest that either there are no standards in America or the existing standards are not good enough. But what evidence is there to show the Common Core is better than previous ones, including those from all 50 states? Granted that things change and what students learn should reflect the changes, but how frequently should that happen? The state standards developed under NCLB are merely a decade old. If we have to make massive changes every five or 10 years, does not it mean it is nearly impossible to come up with content that is valid long enough for the nation’s over 100,000 schools to implement before it becomes outdated? If so, would it be much more likely that individual schools and teachers have a better chance to make the adjustment faster than large bureaucracies?

An anecdote: For hundreds of years it was possible for the adults in my little village in China to figure out what all children should know and be able to do: handling the water buffalo was one for the boys and sewing for the girls. My village was small and isolated, with around 200 people. But that predication became invalid when China opened up to the outside world in the 1980s. The common standards in my village proved to be wrong later in at least two cases. First it did not work for me. I was pretty bad at what my village’s Common Core prescribed (handling the water buffalo) so I had to do something else (coming to America to debate with Marc Tucker, for example). Second, it did not work for the rest of the children in the village either, because working as a migrant worker in the city is different from handling a water buffalo.

Tucker: Truly creative people know a lot and they have worked hard at learning it. They typically know a lot about unrelated things and their creativity comes from putting those unrelated things together in unusual ways. Learning almost anything really well depends on mastering the conceptual structure of the underlying disciplines, because, without that scaffolding, we are not able to put new information and skills to work.

Zhao: Very true, truly creative people know a lot and they have worked hard at learning it, but do they know a lot about what they are passionate about, or what the government wants them to know? Do they work hard at learning something that is personally meaningful, or do they work hard at learning something prescribed by others?

Also true that learning anything really well depends on mastering the conceptual structure of the underlying disciplines, but what disciplines: math, science, the arts, music, languages, or politics? I am embarrassed to admit as a Chinese, I had horrible math scores in school, which is why I chose to study English, but somehow I am good at computer programming and developed large-scale software. I am also good at understanding statistics and empirical evidence.

Tucker: Zhao says that we will not be competitive simply by producing a nation of good test takers. That is, of course, true. Leading Asian educators are very much afraid that they have succeeded in producing good test takers who are not going to be very good at inventing the future. But that does not absolve us of the responsibility for figuring out what all students will need to know to be competitive in a highly competitive global labor market, nor does it absolve us of the responsibility to figure out how to assess the skills we think are most important.

Zhao: Is it responsibility or arrogance? Almost all totalitarian governments and dictators claim that they have the responsibility to engineer a society so their people can live happily and that their people are not capable of knowing what is good for them and top-level design is necessary. For example, they claim that their people cannot defend themselves against bad information, thus the leaders have to impose censorship. The leaders should decide what their people should view, listen to, and read. This self-assigned responsibility comes from the assumption that the authority knows best. By the way, we adults (parents and teachers) often committee the same error of arrogance: we automatically assume we know better than our children.

Tucker: It is true that the future will be full of jobs that do not exist now and challenges we cannot even imagine yet, never mind anticipate accurately. But, whatever those challenges turn out to be, I can guarantee you that they will not be met by people without strong quantitative skills, people who cannot construct a sound argument, people who know little of history or geography or economics, people who cannot write well.

Zhao: Almost true but strong quantitative skills are not the same as the skills to mark the right choice on a multiple choice exam, constructing a sound argument is different from repeating the “correct way” of arguing, and writing well certainly does not mean scoring high against a writing rubric. More importantly, as far as I can tell, the Common Core does not include what Tucker wants: history, geography, or economics. Where do the children learn these and other “unrelated things” when they are pushed aside by the Common Core?

Tucker: Zhao grew up in a country in which the aim was not learning but success on the test. There was wide agreement that the tests were deeply flawed, emphasizing what Mao called “stuffing the duck”— shoving facts and procedures into students—in lieu of analysis, synthesis and creativity. But few wanted to change the system, because the tests were one of the few incorruptible parts of a deeply corrupt system.

Zhao: Very good observation but I cannot help but pointing out that Tucker just published a book entitled Surpassing Shanghai: An Agenda for American Education Built on the World’s Leading Systems. If it is such a bad system, why does Tucker consider it one of the world’s leading systems and want to build American education on it? If it is so bad, what is it in Shanghai, a city of China, he wants America to surpass?
And by the way, it is not true that “few wanted to change the system, because the tests were one of the few incorruptible parts of a deeply corrupt system.” Many, perhaps, most people in China, want the system changed. The Ministry of Education and provincial governments have been making changes over the past few decades (for details read my books Catching Up or Leading the Way and World Class Learners)

Tucker: So Zhao is very much aware of the consequences of a rigid system set to outdated standards. But that is not the problem in the United States. We don’t suffer from ancient standards wildly out of tune with the times, enforced by tests that are no better. We suffer from lack of agreement on any standards that could define what all students must know and be able to do before they go their separate ways. We suffer in a great many schools from implicit standards that translate into abysmally low expectations for far too many students.

Zhao: I am very appreciative of Tucker’s understanding of my background but I am not convinced that the U.S. is immune to the same problems China has suffered from testing. Is it not the goal of the Common Core to instill a rigid system? Isn’t the Common Core to be enforced by tests? If not, why do we have the Common Assessment? Why are we connecting teacher evaluation to test scores? Moreover, haven’t we seen plenty of cases of cheating on standardized testing in our schools under NCLB? Isn’t there enough evidence of states manipulating data and cut scores? For more evidence, read Collateral Damage: How High-stakes Testing Corrupts America’s Schools by Sharon Nichols and David Berliner.

Another by the way: When I described the teacher evaluation efforts mandated by the Race to the Top to a group of science teachers from Beijing to study American science education this week, they were appalled and commented: Isn’t that a violation of human dignity?

Tucker: Without broad agreement on a well designed and internationally benchmarked system of standards, we have no hope of producing a nation of students who have the kind of skills, knowledge and creative capacities the nation so desperately needs. There is no substitute for spelling out what we think students everywhere should know and be able to do. Spelling it out is no guarantee that it will happen, but failing to spell it out is a guarantee that we will not get a nation of young people capable of meeting the challenges ahead.

Zhao: This I will have to respectfully disagree with. The U.S. has had a decentralized education system forever (until Bush and Obama) and it has become one of the most prosperous, innovative, and democratic nations on earth. The lack of a common prescription of content imposed on all children by the government has not been a vice, but a virtue. As Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz wrote in their book The Race between Education and Technology: “We must shed our collective amnesia. America was once the world’s education leader. The rest of the world imported its institutions and its egalitarian ideals spread widely. That alone is a great achievement and one calls for an encore.”

Tucker: Zhao apparently believes that standards mean standardization and standardization would inevitably lead to an inability to produce creative solutions to the problems the workforce will face in the years ahead. That could certainly happen. But it need not happen.

Zhao: Yes, it does not need to, but it does happen, has happened, and is unavoidable. When standards are enforced with high stakes testing, when teachers and principals are evaluated based on students’ test scores, when students’ fate are decided by test scores, the teaching and learning must become standardized and constrained. One does not have to go to China to see this. Just take a look at what happened under NCLB. It did not ask schools to narrow the curriculum, to reduce time for music and the arts, for social studies and science, or for lunch and recess, but it all happened. For the impact of NCLB on instructional time and curriculum, check out these reports (1 and 2)from the Center on Education Policy.

Tucker: It is simply not true that our inability to predict the jobs people will have to do in the future and the demand of creative, entrepreneurial young people relieves us of the obligation to figure out what skills and knowledge all young people need to have before they go their separate ways, or the obligation to translate that list of skills and knowledge into standards and assessments that can drive instruction in our schools.

Zhao: It is simply not true that the Common Core will prepare our children for the future. To conclude, I quote a comment left on my Facebook page by one of my personal heros, former president of America Educational Research Association (AERA) and widely respected educational researcher Gene Glass: “Common Core Standards are idiots’ solution to a misunderstood problem. The problem is an archaic, useless curriculum that will prepare no child for life in 2040 and beyond.”

– – – – – – – – –

Romney on Education   Leave a comment

There was a debate last night between Obama’s education advisor, Jon Schnur, and  Romney’s education advisor, Phil Handy. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2012/10/_in_a_substantive_one-hour.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CampaignK-12+%28Education+Week+Blog%3A+Politics+K-12%29

Education Week covered it.  In brief, what  was said:

“On the issue his campaign has been most silent on — the fate of the waivers the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Arne Duncan have granted so far from NCLB—Handy didn’t outright say Romney would get rid of them. But he broadly hinted at it.”

The waivers are “not about flexibility. They’re very prescriptive. We think they have led to a very unfortunate result: … many of these states are setting different accountability standards for different constituencies of children,” said Handy, a former chairman of the Florida State Board of Education. “I think it’s wrong.” What he’s referring to—different school performance standards for different groups of kids—is becoming a big policy issue in many states, and a messaging problem for the Obama administration.

…Another area that Handy shed light on was Romney’s plan to send Title I and special education dollars directly to parents as vouchers so they can use them at the school of their choice. Handy acknowledged that, since the federal government only pays an average of about 10 percent of a child’s K-12 education, Romney’s voucher plan would have to start small. States would be encouraged to match those dollars, and seven to eight would probably do so right away, he said.

“The federal government’s role should be to get this choice started,” Handy said.

…Handy’s points on school choice illustrated his overarching themes of the night: that the federal role in education should be limited to providing choice and transparent data on the quality of schools. And, it became clear, the role is also to not add to the deficit under a Romney presidency.

Handy reiterated a surprising pledge Romney made in the first presidential debate—that he wouldn’t cut education funding. Handy said the crux of the funding crisis is over entitlement programs such as Social Security. “You can easily hold public education harmless without impacting the creation of more deficits,” he said.

But Romney won’t invest more in education either, Handy said. That includes in areas such as common assessments to match the common core, or in early education. “You just can’t keep adding to the deficit,” Handy said.

Agreed!

%d bloggers like this: