Archive for the ‘educational malpractice’ Tag

40 Questions for Common Core Debaters   8 comments

state school board picture photo utah

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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.

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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

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Without Authority: The Federal Access of Private Data Using Common Core   6 comments

Data Baby


On Wednesday, I gave this talk at the Governor Hill Mansion in Augusta, Maine. I spoke alongside Erin Tuttle, Indiana mother against Common Core; Jamie Gass, of Pioneer Institute; Heidi Sampson, board member of the Maine State School Board, and Erika Russell, Maine mother against Common Core. I hope to publish the other speakers’ speeches here soon.

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Speaking with legislators in Utah, I’ve learned that the number one concern that Utah constituents repeatedly bring up to representatives is the Common Core and its related data mining.

Utah has not yet followed the lead of Indiana, Michigan and other states in pausing and/or defunding the Common Core, but I believe Utah legislators will soon take a stand. They have to; the state school board and governor won’t, even though the Utah GOP voted on and passed an anti-common core resolution this year, and even though thousands of Utahns are persistently bringing up documented facts to their leaders showing that Common Core damages local liberties and damages the legitimate, classical education tradition that Utahns have treasured.

My talk today will explain how federal data mining is taking place with the assistance of the Common Core initiative.

………………………

The Declaration of Independence states that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed”.

So, I ask: Have voters given consent to be governed in matters of education, by the federal government? Nope.

Does the federal government hold any authority to set educational standards and tests, or to collect private student data?

Absolutely not.

The Constitution reserves all educational authority to the states; the General Educational Provisions Act expressly prohibits the federal government from controlling, supervising or directing school systems; and the Fourth Amendment claims “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”.

Clearly, the federal government lacks authority to search private data, to produce common tests, or to promote common standards, yet using private institutions, secretive regulatory changes to privacy laws, long-winded grantmaking contracts, and a well-intentioned governors’ club and superintedents’ club as smokescreens, it is overstepping its bounds and is falsely assuming these powers.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is fully aware of these limitations placed upon his agency.

This summer Duncan made another speech, saying critics of Common Core were making outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t.”</strong>

I need to get that quote cross-stitched and framed.

For years, Duncan has been saying that, “Traditionally, the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy… The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more…”

Translation: Duncan and Obama won’t let pesky laws nor the U.S. Constitution stop them from their control grab even though they’re fully aware of the laws of the land.

Are they really collecting student data without parental knowledge or consent?

How are the Common Core standards and tests involved?
There are at least six answers.

The U.S. Department of Education is:

1. STUNTING STANDARDS WITH A PRIVATE COPYRIGHT AND A 15% CAP FOR THE PURPOSE OF TRACKING STUDENTS:

Why would the federal government want to stunt education? Why would they say to any state, “Don’t add more than 15% to these common standards.” ? Simple: they can’t track and control the people without a one-size-measures-all measuring stick. It is irrelevant to them that many students will be dumbed down by this policy; they just want that measure to match so they can track and compare their “human capital.”

The federal Department of Education works intimately with the Superintendents’ club known as the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). After the CCSSO wrote and copyrighted the Common Core standards –in partnership with the governors’ club (NGA)– the federal government put a cap over that copyright, saying that all states who adopted Common Core must adhere to it exactly, not adding any more than 15% to those standards, regardless of the needs, goals or abilities of local students. This stunting is embarrassing and most state boards of education try to deny it. But it’s published in many places, both federal and private: That 15% cap is reiterated in the federal Race to the Top Grant, the federal NCLB Waiver, the federal Race to the top for Assessments grant, the SBAC testing consortia criteria, the PARCC eligibility requirement, the Achieve, Inc rules (Achieve Inc. is the contractor who was paid by CCSSO/NGA/Bill Gates to write the standards).

2. CREATING MULTIPLE NATIONAL DATA COLLECTION MECHANISMS

a) Cooperative Agreement with Common Core Testers

In its Cooperative Agreement with the testing group known as Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) the federal government mandated that tests “Comply with… requirements… including, but not limited to working with the Department to develop a strategy to make student-level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis… subject to applicable privacy laws.” Making student-level data available means that personally identifiable student information, such as name, academic scores, contact information, parental information, behavioral information, or any information gathered by common core tests, will be available to the federal government when common core tests begin.

b) Edfacts Data Exchange

Another federal data collection mechanism is the federal EDFACTS data exchange, where state databases submit information about students and teachers so that the federal government can “centralize performance data” and “provide data for planning, policy and management at the federal, state and local levels”. Now, they state that this is just aggregated data, such as grouped data by race, ethnicity or by special population subgroups; not personally identifiable student information. But the federal agency asks states to share the intimate, personally identifiable information at the NCES National Data Collection Model

c) National Data Collection Model

It asks for hundreds and hundreds of data points, including:

your child’s name
nickname
religious affiliation
birthdate
ability grouping
GPA
physical characteristics
IEP
attendance
telephone number
bus stop times
allergies
diseases
languages and dialects spoken
number of attempts at a given assignment
delinquent status
referral date
nonschool activity involvement
meal type
screen name
maternal last name
voting status
martial status
– and even cause of death.

People may say that this is not mandatory federal data collection. True; yet it’s a federal data model and many are following it.

d) CCSSO and EIMAC’s DATA QUALITY CAMPAIGN and Common Educational Data Statistics

The Dept. of Education is partnered with the national superintendents’ club, the CCSSO in a common data collection push: common data standards are asked for at the website called Common Education Data Standards, which is “a joint effort by the CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United States Department of Education.

Also at the same CCSSO site (remember, this is a private Common Core-creators’ website, and not a voter-accountable group) CCSSO we learn that the CCSSO runs a program called the Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) with this purpose: “improve the overall quality of the data collected at the NATIONAL level.” – See more at: http://www.ccsso.org/What_We_Do/Education_Data_and_Information_Systems.html#sthash.L2t0sFCm.dpuf

The CCSSO’s Data Quality Campaign has said that
“as states build and enhance K12 longitudinal data systems they continue building linkages to exchange and use information across early childhood, postsecondary and the workforce and with other critical agencies such as health, social services and criminal justice systems.”

Let that sink in: linking data from schools, medical clinics, and criminal justice systems is the goal of the USDOE-CCSSO partnership.

And it’s already begun.

There are state data alliances that connect data in state agencies, and there are federal data alliances, too. In Utah, the Utah Data Alliance uses the state database to link six agencies that enables examination of citizens from preschool through the workforce. On the federal level, the Department of Defense has partnered with the Department of Education.

3. PROMOTING CORPORATE DATA COLLECTION

Data-mashing across federal agencies and is not the only way in which data is becoming accessible by greater numbers of eyes. It’s also across corporate entities that data sharing is becoming more and more of a push.

At a recent White House event called “Datapalooza,” the CEO of Escholar stated that Common Core is the “glue that actually ties everything together.” Without the aligned common standards, corporate-aligned curriculum, and federally-structured common tests, there would be no common measurement to compare and control children and adults.

4. BUILDING A CONCEALED NATIONAL DATABASE BY FUNDING 50 STATE DATABASES THAT ARE INTEROPERABLE

Every state now has a state longitudinal database system (SLDS) that was paid for by the federal government. Although it might appear not to be a national database, I ask myself why one of the conditions of getting the ARRA funds for the SLDS database was that states had to build their SLDS to be interoperable from school to district to state to inter-state systems. I ask myself why the federal government was so intent upon making sure every state had this same, interoperable system. I ask myself why the grant competition that was offered to states (Race to the Top) gave out more points to those states who had adopted Common Core AND who had built an SLDS. It appears that we have a national database parading as fifty individual SLDS systems.

5. SHREDDING FEDERAL PRIVACY LAW AND CRUSHED PARENTAL CONSENT REQUIREMENT

There was, up until recently, an old, good federal law called FERPA: Family Educational Rights Privacy Act. It stated, among other things, that no one could view private student data without getting written parental consent.

That was then. This is now.

Without getting permission from Congress to alter the privacy law, the Department of Education made so many regulatory changes to FERPA that it’s virtually meaningless now. The Department of Ed loosened terms and redefined words such as “educational agency,” “authorized representative,” and “personally identifiable information.” They even reduced “parental consent” from a requirement to a “best practice.”

The Department of Ed formally defined the term “biometric” on a list of ways a student would be personally identified: “Biometric record,” as used in the definition of “personally identifiable information,” means a record of one or
more measurable biological or behavioral characteristics that can be
used for automated recognition of an individual. Examples include
fingerprints; retina and iris patterns; voiceprints; DNA sequence; facial characteristics; and handwriting.

For all of this, the Department has been sued.

6. RELEASING A REPORT PROMOTING BIOLOGICAL AND BEHAVIORAL DATAMINING TECHNIQUES

In his speech to the American Society of News Editors this year, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that there is no federal collection of student data, and then he said, “Let’s not even get into the really wacky stuff: mind control, robots, and biometric brain mapping. This work is interesting, but frankly, not that interesting.”

This was another attempt to mock those who are doing their homework, and to further deceive the American people. Because biometric data mining (biometric is defined by the Dept. of Ed as biological and behavioral characteristics of students –see above–) is exactly what Duncan is advocating. In the 2013 Department of Education report entitled “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance” the federal government recommends the use of data-mining techniques that use physical responses from biofeedback devices to measure mood, blood volume, pulses and galvanic skin responses, to examine student frustration and to gather “smile intensity scores.” Using posture analysis seats, a pressure mouse, wireless skin conductors, schools are encouraged to learn which students might lack “grit, tenacity and perserverance” in engaging with, or in believing, what is being taught.

Grit sensors

We can call the bluff on the Department of Education and on the Council of Chief State School Officers. They have no authority to gather private student data without parental knowledge or consent. We can help state leaders understand and fight against what is going on, and help them to say no to what the CCSSO terms their “coordinated data ask.” Strong legislation can be written and SLDS systems can be reworked to end privacy threatening interoperability frameworks.

Here’s a To-Do list for state representatives:

— We can stop the 50 states’ SLDS interoperability.

— We can make it possible for parents and students to opt out of the Common Core tests without penalizing the student academically.

— We can make it possible for parents and students to opt out of the SLDS tracking and surveillance databases.

— We can stop the educational and data mining malpractice that is clearly happening under the Common Core Initiative, remembering what Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University said: “When school administrators implement programs and policies built on faulty arguments, they commit education malpractice.”

We, the People, have to call them on it.

Upon This Lack of Evidence We Base Our Children’s Futures   4 comments

Where is the evidence to support the rhetoric surrounding the CCSS? This is not data-driven decision making. This is a decision grasping for data…  Yet this nation will base the future of its entire public education system, and its children, upon this lack of evidence. – Dr. Christopher Tienken, Seton Hall University, NJ

In the Education Administration Journal, the  AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice (Winter 2011 / Volume 7, No. 4) there’s an article by Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University that clearly explains the ridiculousness of Common Core.  The full article, “Common Core: An Example of Data-less Decision Making,” is available online, and  following are some highlights:

Although a majority of U.S. states and territories have “made the CCSS the legal law of their land in terms of the mathematics and language arts curricula,” and although “over 170 organizations, education-related and corporations alike, have pledged their support,” still “the evidence presented by its developers, the National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), seems lacking,” and research on the topic suggests “the CCSS and those who support them are misguided,” writes Dr. Tienken.

Why?

“The standards have not been validated empirically and no metric has been set to monitor the intended and unintended consequences they will have on the education system and children,” he writes.

Tienken and  many other academics have said  that Common Core adoption begs this question: “Surely there must be quality data available publically to support the use of the CCSS to transform, standardize, centralize and essentially de-localize America‘s public education system,” and surely there must be more compelling and methodologically strong evidence available not yet shared with the general public or education researchers to support the standardization of one of the most intellectually diverse public education systems in the world. Or, maybe there is not?”

Tienken calls incorrect the notion that American education is lagging behind international competitors and does not believe the myth that academic tests can predict future economic competitiveness.

Unfortunately for proponents of this empirically vapid argument it is well established that a rank on an international test of academic skills and knowledge does not have the power to predict future economic competitiveness and is otherwise meaningless for a host of reasons.”

He observes: “Tax, trade, health, labor, finance, monetary, housing, and natural resource policies, to name a few, drive our economy, not how students rank on the Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS)” or other tests.

Most interestingly, Tienken observes that the U.S. has had a highly  internationally competitive system up until now.  “The U.S. already has one of the highest percentages of people with high school diplomas and college degrees compared to any other country and we had the greatest number of 15 year-old students in the world score at the highest levels on the 2006 PISA science test (OECD, 2008; OECD, 2009; United Nations, 2010). We produce more researchers and scientists and qualified engineers than our economy can employ, have even more in the pipeline, and we are one of the most economically competitive nations on the globe (Gereffi & Wadhwa, 2005; Lowell, et al., 2009; Council on Competitiveness, 2007; World Economic Forum, 2010).

Tienken calls Common Core “a decision in search of data” ultimately amounting to “nothing more than snake oil.”  He is correct.  The burden of proof is on the proponents to show that this system is a good one.

He writes: “Where is the evidence to support the rhetoric surrounding the CCSS? This is not data-driven decision making. This is a decision grasping for data…  Yet this nation will base the future of its entire public education system, and its children, upon this lack of evidence. Many of America‘s education associations already pledged support for the idea and have made the CCSS major parts of their national conferences and the programs they sell to schools.

This seems like the ultimate in anti-intellectual behavior coming from what claim to be intellectual organizations now acting like charlatans by vending products to their members based on an untested idea and parroting false claims of standards efficacy.”

Further, Dr. Tienken reasons:

“Where is the evidence that national curriculum standards will cause American students to score at the top of international tests or make them more competitive? Some point to the fact that many of the countries that outrank the U.S. have national, standardized curricula. My reply is there are also nations like Canada, Australia, Germany, and Switzerland that have very strong economies, rank higher than the U.S. on international tests of mathematics and science consistently, and do not have a mandated, standardized set of national curriculum standards.”

Lastly, Dr. Tienken asks us to look at countries who have nationalized and standardized education, such as China and Singapore:  “China, another behemoth of centralization, is trying desperately to crawl out from under the rock of standardization in terms of curriculum and testing (Zhao, 2009) and the effects of those practices on its workforce. Chinese officials recognize the negative impacts a standardized education system has had on intellectual creativity. Less than 10% of Chinese workers are able to function in multi-national corporations (Zhao, 2009).

I do not know of many Chinese winners of Nobel Prizes in the sciences or in other the intellectual fields. China does not hold many scientific patents and the patents they do hold are of dubious quality (Cyranoski, 2010).

The same holds true for Singapore. Authorities there have tried several times to move the system away from standardization toward creativity. Standardization and testing are so entrenched in Singapore that every attempt to diversify the system has failed, leaving Singapore a country that has high test scores but no creativity. The problem is so widespread that Singapore must import creative talent from other countries”.

According to Dr. Tienken, Common Core is a case of oversimplification.  It is naiive to believe that all children would benefit from mastering the same set of skills, or that it would benefit the country in the long run, to mandate sameness.  He observes that Common Core is “an Orwellian policy position that lacks a basic understanding of diversity and developmental psychology. It is a position that eschews science and at its core, believes it is appropriate to force children to fit the system instead of the system adjusting to the needs of the child.”

Oh, how I agree.

Since when do we trust bureaucracies more than we trust individuals to make correct decisions inside a classroom or a school district?  Since when do we agree force children to fit a predetermined system, instead of having a locally controlled, flexible system that can adjust to the needs of a child?

What madness (or money?) has persuaded even our most American-as-apple-pie organizations — even the national PTA, the U.S. Army, the SAT, most textbook companies and many governors– to advocate for Common Core, when there never was a real shred of valid evidence upon which to base this country-changing decision?