Archive for the ‘Op-Ed’ Tag

George F. Will on Common Core   3 comments

george will

Many newspapers, including the Deseret News, carried an op-ed this week by George Will about Common Core. (George F. Will is one of the most widely recognized writers in the world who works with more than 450 newspapers, has a biweekly Newsweek column, and makes frequent political television commentary appearances.)

He wrote:

“Viewed from Washington, which often is the last to learn about important developments, opposition to the Common Core State Standards Initiative still seems as small as the biblical cloud that ariseth out of the sea, no larger than a man’s hand. Soon, however, this education policy will fill a significant portion of the political sky.

The Common Core represents the ideas of several national organizations (of governors and school officials) about what and how children should learn. It is the thin end of an enormous wedge…

… it is more likely there will be half a dozen innovative governors than one creative federal education bureaucracy. And the mistakes made by top-down federal reforms are continental mistakes.

The Obama administration has purchased states’ obedience by partially conditioning waivers from onerous federal regulations (from No Child Left Behind) and receipt of federal largess ($4.35 billion in Race to the Top money from the 2009 stimulus) on the states’ embrace of the Common Core. Although 45 states and the District of Columbia have struck this bargain, most with little debate, some are reconsidering and more will do so as opposition mounts…

… Opposition to the Common Core is surging because Washington, hoping to mollify opponents, is saying, in effect: “If you like your local control of education, you can keep it. Period.” To which a burgeoning movement is responding: “No. Period.”

Click here to read the rest.

Your Children: Free Thinkers or Socialist-Owned Cogs?   2 comments

An opinion editorial by Glenn Jacobs in today’s Daily Caller says that the Common Core should be renamed the “Lowest Common Denominator.” He suggests that American schools have been scientifically designed to prevent over-education, thus “ensuring workers who will never be tempted to better their stations in life.”

What do you think of that?

Considering the fact that common core creator Jason Zimba admitted that Common Core only prepares graduates for 2-year nonselective colleges or vocational careers, and considering the fact that top common core validation committee members refused to sign off on the standards; and considering the fact that career-orientation is one of the primary reasons that the younger children must now face common core tests, I really agree.

Glenn Jacobs also writes:

Common Core is designed to churn out young people who will be educated enough to work, consume, and pay taxes, but who are not encouraged to be creative, or to use critical thinking, or to develop anything remotely characteristic of those who possess superior minds and the ability to achieve great things…. it should be students, not bureaucrats, who determine what path their lives take: be it as workers, scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers, architects, artists, or whatever.”

Of course. It should be up to the student, not up to a force-fed common test, and up to the government’s latest “need” list.

But nowadays, superior minds and the ability to truly achieve are damnable qualities in education reformer circles where collective, business-and-governmentally shared, top down control, are valued. Equity and equality and redistribution are the trendy words in education, far above concepts like individual superior achievement or individual worth. But what made America so great? Liberty. People showing off. People magnifying their gifts, not slowing down to fit into a common denominator.

Truly great achievements won’t happen in the educational future without freedom. Yet our Utah leaders fail to guard against these losses of freedom in education. The reformers want equity and equality so desperately that they are willing to sacrifice liberty and innovation– or maybe, they don’t realize that they have sacrificed it. But think it through: equity as defined by new U.S. Dept. of Education reports, now means forced, mandated redistribution of all things, including teachers, principals, standards, tests and money.

This sameness, the one-size-for-all that claims to ensure that no one can fail only ensures that no one can soar. This is their terrible plan.

It is, unapologetically, communism.

Jacobs explains:

“…Common Core sets a very low bar for students. Its language arts component is so lacking that Dr. Sandra Stotsky, a professor emerita at the University of Arkansas and a member of the Common Core Validation Committee, refused to approve the program. Common Core’s mathematical component is no better. The Validation Committee’s Dr. James Milgram, a professor emeritus at Stanford University, also refused to sign off on Common Core, saying that the math standards are “as non-challenging as possible. … The Core Mathematics Standards are written to reflect very low expectations.”

However, many Americans are falling for the outright lie— the line that Obama’s “college and career readiness” catch phrase means raising, rather than lowering, the educational bar for high school graduates. They don’t fact-check. They don’t ask for empirical evidence. And they are fooled —or bribed into pretending to be fooled.

Even the Chamber of Commerce, the national PTA, and Harvard— are fooled by the words “rigorous” and “benchmarked” (or paid by Bill Gates) to assume that Common Core is an improvement –and most have not fact-checked claims of Common Core.

How dare I say that the special interest groups who copyrighted the Common Core, or my own governor, my President, my Utah Chamber of Commerce, my State School Board, and some of my favorite teachers, are all working toward a goal that will ultimately numb and dumb the population? (I realize that most of these people don’t realize what they are doing. Still, the effect happens, whether the intentions were good or not.)

The answer is that those who feel they are experts feel entitled to control the freedoms of the general population. They don’t care that we don’t want to be leashed. They are imposing a parental role over free adults. And weak people allow it.

Some believe that the economic stability of the state is ensured by the educational leashing and tracking of young citizens. But, after studying the promises used by proponents about Common Core, comparing them to government-produced reports and source documents, one can NOT reconcile common core claims with the truth. It becomes clear that proponents are either looking at a very narrow piece of the sky, or they are lying, or they are paid by others to pretend to believe the talking points.

Please read the many source documents with your own eyes, and plead with everyone you know to study these for themselves. Only by educating ourselves can we escape this disaster.

And it is a disaster. It is, truly, communism. Proof?

Multiple U.S. Department of Education reports show that the forcible redistribution of Americans’ earned wealth, and of teachers and principals, is a key goal of Common Core education reforms.

Redistribution of teachers, principals and wealth are tentacles of education reforms that most educators don’t see yet. Study “For Each and Every Child” — a Dept. of Education report. Study the videos of Linda Darling-Hammond, SBAC staff member and Obama advisor. Study the Executive Summary of Race to the Top. Do word searches for “equity” and “equality” and “redistribution.”

Those who do see, know that Common Core and its accompanying reforms are sobering and dangerous to personal liberty, to clusters of good schools, to ownership of locally-controlled education, and to innovative and independent thought.

Our children deserve not to have their teachers redistributed to worse (or better) schools by the government’s reforms. They deserve to learn more than a government-designed worker bee’s lowest common denominator version of learning. They deserve to be free to choose and change their life paths.

But Common Core tests and SLDS tracking systems coerce students into predetermined career paths, and U.S. Dept. of Ed documents push the forced redistribution of teachers, principles, and money.

Is this what we want, America?

Glenn Jacobs’ thoughts echo those of Daniel Coupland of Hillsdale College, who said:

“When a nation expands workforce training so that it crowds out other things that rightly belong in education, we end up turning out neither good workers nor good citizens… Yes, man is made for work, but he’s also made for so much more… Education should be about the highest things. We should study these things of the stars, plant cells, Mozart’s requium… not simply because they’ll get us into the right college or into the right line of work. Rather, we should study these noble things because they can tell us who we are, why we’re here… If education has become –as Common Core openly declares– preparation for work in a global economy, then this situation is far worse than Common Core critics ever anticipated. And the concerns about cost, and quality, and yes, even the constitutionality of Common Core, pale in comparison to the concerns for the hearts, minds, and souls of American children.”

The late, great C.S. Lewis couldn’t agree more. He wrote:

“Vocational training … aims at making not a good man but a good banker, a good electrician, a good scavenger, or a good surgeon. You see at once that education is essentially for freemen and vocational training for slaves. – C.S. Lewis

So when you hear the Utah Chamber of Commerce endorsing Common Core, when you see your local PTA endorsing Common Core, when you hear the Governor’s radio ads pushing Prosperity 2020, an appendage of Common Core, remember the thoughts of Jacobs, Coupland, and Lewis.

Free people are lifelong, joyful learners, and are not just technically-educated, government-ordered, cogs in the state machine.

Today: Dr. Sandra Stotsky on Utah’s Radio and Newspaper   Leave a comment

Dr. Sandra Stotsky published an opinion editorial in today’s Deseret News, and has also been interviewed by Rod Arquette on his radio show at KNRS today, for this afternoon’s program.

Sandra Stotsky is a lump of gold in a pile of pyrite. She’s one of the strongest voices in America, saying that we must study what we’ve signed up for, do our own fact-checking about Common Core, and wake up before it is too late to change course.

Dr. Stotsky served on the official validation committee for the Common Core standards, and she, along with Dr. James Milgram, a Stanford University mathematician, refused to sign off that the standards were legitimate or that they represented an upgrade for American schools.

Here are a few highlights from today’s op-ed. Read the whole article here.

Dr. Stotsky writes:

“The notion that Common Core’s college and career readiness standards are “rigorous” needs to be publicly put to bed by Arne Duncan, his friends at the Fordham Institute and the media. Two of Common Core’s own mathematics standards writers have publicly stated how weak Common Core’s college readiness mathematics standards are. At a public meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in March 2010, physics professor Jason Zimba said, “The concept of college readiness is minimal and focuses on non-selective colleges.”

“Common Core supporters still can’t figure out how to deal with legitimate criticisms of its English language arts (ELA) standards. So they just keep parroting the line that Common Core’s ELA skills are actually standards, are rigorous and prioritize literary study, when it’s quite obvious to any English teacher that they are none of the above.”

“Common Core was/is not about high-quality national education standards. It was/is not about getting low-income, high-achieving students into advanced math and science courses in high school and then into college. CCSSI was and is about how to lower the academic level of what states require for high school diplomas and for admission to public colleges.”

“Of course, Common Core proponents can’t say that lowering academic standards is their goal. Instead, they claim that its standards will reduce the seemingly terrible problems we have with interstate mobility (actually less than 2 percent nationally) or enable Massachusetts teachers to know how Mississippi students compare to theirs (something they never said they were eager to learn), or facilitate nationally the sale of high-tech products to the public schools (something the P-21 skills folks were eager for). They have looked desperately for motivating issues and these are the best cards in their deck, as poor as they are.”

“Their major selling point is how poor our K-12 public education system is in too many states. But it needs to be strengthened, not weakened. We continue to need capable doctors and engineers who build bridges and tunnels that won’t collapse.”

“Are we as a society really ready to agree to Common Core’s low-expectations for college readiness (as professors Zimba and McCallum indicate)? Are we willing to lower the bar as a way of closing the achievement gap?”

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Sandra Stotsky is a professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas.

Deseret News Op-Ed: We’re Not Misinformed; We Know What Common Core Is And We Reject It.   4 comments

Hooray, Hooray! Today, the Deseret News published my op-ed. Here’s the link and the text:

Utah state delegates officially disapproved Common Core when they passed the anti-common core resolution this year by a 65 percent vote.

Was that not enough for our state school board and governor?

Gov. Gary Herbert continues to promote the Common Core-dependent Prosperity 2020 initiative. And the state school board continues to label teachers and others who long to reclaim local control and who want legitimate, non-experimental education standards, “the misinformed.”

The fact is, we are not misinformed; we know what Common Core is, and we reject it.

The board won’t even respond to requests for specifics about what we’re so misinformed about.

Now, despite the Utah anti-common core resolution passing; despite the examples of Michigan, Indiana and other states passing time-out bills against Common Core implementation; despite Obama’s recent announcement that he plans to tax Americans to pay for Common Core technologies in his ConnectEd Initiative; still, Utah’s school board has not softened its rigorous-praise-of-Common-Core talking points and is moving it forward as if nothing is wrong.

In fact, the board markets Common Core as being beyond debate; it’s so minimalistic, so consensually adopted, so protective of privacy rights and so academically legitimate (none of which is true) that it is too big to fail and is beyond any future need for amendments (which is indeed fortunate for them, since there is no Common Core amendment process).

Something is truly amiss when experienced Utah teachers with credentials, like me, are perpetually rejected for requests to the state school board to discuss the pros and cons of Common Core. The board doesn’t want a two-sided discussion.

The board is silent on these simple questions:

Where is a shred of evidence to support the claim that Common Core improves education?

Where are any studies showing that the reduction of literary study improves college readiness?

Where is some evidence that slowing the age at which students learn math algorithms improves college readiness?

Where is any amendment process for Utah’s math and English standards, under the copyrighted Common Core?

How can one opt out of the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) tracking and the Common Core tests?

Where is the legal — constitutional — authority for people outside our state to set our local standards and to create and monitor our tests?

Why does Utah stand by while Obama announces that he will redesign schools and tax all Americans to pay for it, without Utah putting up a fight?

Why is there a spiral of silence culture now, that demands everyone pretend to agree; where is freedom of expression and freedom of speech in the common agenda, now that teachers and principals don’t speak out for fear of losing their jobs?

How on earth can anyone call Common Core “state-led” when unelected boards that operate behind closed doors, that are not accountable to the public, developed and copyrighted the standards, bypassing voters and the vast majority of teachers and legislators?

Where is the line-item cost analysis of taxpayers’ money being spent on Common Core technologies, teacher training and texts?

When will state leadership address Common Core’s specific damages with the people who elected these leaders to serve us, rather than bowing to every federal whim?

Will the board and governor ever stand up to the Department of Education’s tsunami of assaults on liberties?

Will they continue to fight against local teachers and citizens who rightfully demand local liberty and who rightfully ask for proven, non-experimental, amendable standards — following the example set by the national and world-leading education system in Massachusetts, prior to Common Core?
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Truth in American Education also published the article. This one’s actually a later draft, and is a bit better, with links to references. http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/were-not-misinformed-we-know-what-common-core-is-and-we-reject-it/

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