Archive for the ‘Opinion Editorial’ Tag

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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Op Ed: Professor Colorio of Massachusetts on Common Core   Leave a comment

Shine light on Common Core

By Donna Colorio
Massachusetts Educator

As I see it, our country is going through a major educational transformation and I ask myself, “Where are the parents?”

In 2010, a D.C.-based nonprofit called Achieve, under the guidance of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, created what is now known as the “Common Core” standards. It appears that the goal is to create standardized learning throughout our country.

I hope this makes you ask yourself, “What is the Common Core?”

In my opinion, the lack of transparency is disturbing. In May 2008, The Gates Foundation started funding the promotion of the Common Core standards. In December 2008, the National Governors Association, Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve released their report “Benchmarking for Success.”

The first draft of the Common Core grade level standards was released to states in November 2009. The first public draft followed, on March 10, 2010. By that time, 40 states had already applied for Race to the Top phase-one grant funding.

If the new and largely untested Common Core standards were not adopted by a state by Aug. 1, 2010, the state would lose crucial points in Round 2.

Massachusetts applied for Race to the Top funds by the Jan. 19, 2010, round one deadline. Our Department of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the Common Core state standards that July, with a goal to be fully implemented in 2013-14.

Just like that, essentially brand new curricular standards had re-oriented 17 years of curricular development and MCAS alignment, which had evolved in Massachusetts since passage of the Education Reform Act of 1993.

Now is it clear: Parents, elected representatives, school committee members and teachers appear to have been largely bypassed in the initial process of adopting the Common Core state standards.

Educational policy is too important to be decided this way. It ignores the very heart of the democratic process, and the value of thoughtful, deliberative, inclusive planning. As parents, we should be very concerned.

As a parent and School Committee member, I believe many questions still need to be answered:

How much local control of education do we lose to a nationalized-educational curriculum? Have the Common Core standards been piloted to show they work? Are the present Massachusetts educational standards (using the MCAS as a benchmark) better or at least equal to the Common Core? How much will this new standard cost the Massachusetts taxpayers (estimates are over $15 billion)? What kind of tests will be required as a result of the implementation of the Common Core? How are our disadvantaged or higher achieving students affected by this change in standards? What will the impact be on our teachers?

There is a secondary impact of the Race to the Top money. In 2012, there was a change in federal educational privacy law. According to the Massachusetts Department of Education website ( http://www.doe.mass.edu) a significant share of the Race to the Top money awarded to Massachusetts mandate enhanced data collection activities about our students. As parents, we should ask ourselves, “What type of questions are our students being asked? How much of this student data will be shared with the federal or state government? Do we want this data collected or shared?”

I have long believed that education is a state and local responsibility. As a member of the Worcester School Committee, I believe it is my job to ensure that our students are being taught to the highest academic standards and that curriculum is developed or chosen by our state and/or local authority.

Parents have the right to know what is happening with their child’s education. It seems that Common Core is yet another reform being pushed through too quickly with too many potential costs and lifelong learning consequences (remember Whole Language?).

Neither parents nor educators had a truly effective opportunity to study the standards, to enable them to exercise an informed and persuasive voice in the process or decision, prior to their adoption. Some Catholic and other private schools are also implementing the Common Core. As parents, we need to understand what we gain or lose with this decision.

A forum titled “Can Common Core Standards Make Massachusetts Students Competitive?” will take place at the Worcester Public Library, 3 Salem St., in Worcester from 6:30 to 9 p.m. next Tuesday, May 28. It is free and open to the public. The forum features English Language Arts curriculum author Sandra Stotsky and cost and accountability expert Ted Rebarber.

I encourage Massachusetts’ parents, members of school committees, state representatives and teachers to attend this one-time forum. Don’t be left in the dark.

Donna Colorio is an educator at Quinsigamond Community College and serves on the Worcester School Committee. She can be reached at dcolorio@gmail.com.

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This op ed was published at Telegram.com and is republished with permission from Donna Colorio. http://www.telegram.com/article/20130522/NEWS/105229940/0/SEARCH&Template=printart

The forum mentioned in the article was filmed and viewable online.

Deseret News Op-Ed: USOE Officials Provide No Operational Assurances of Student Data Privacy   Leave a comment

In today’s Deseret News opinion piece, Matt Sanders makes the observation that similar, disturbing trends make the National Security Administration’s actions and the Department of Education’s actions snooping mirror images of each other. These trends are First Amendment violations, government overreach, and cradle to grave data tracking. The article also makes the point that on the local level, the Utah State Office of Education has provided no legal or operational assurances of student data privacy, although the USOE is quick to offer verbal assurances and to “soothe fears of ever more federalism by labeling opponents as detractors and alarmists.”

Sanders also writes:

“…[A]nother problematic revelation has roiled Washington, D.C. This time it goes beyond snooping around journalists looking for a scoop. It involves the National Security Administration collecting phone data on of Verizon customers.

This is a problem. A real problem. The U.S. federal government derives its power through the consent of the governed through a system of duly elected representatives acting as agents for their local populations. Additionally, the Constitution goes to great lengths to curb the tendency of government to overreach its bounds, and therefore set up a system of checks and balances.

… In light of the federal agency’s incursions, parents and lawmakers should likewise revisit the data privacy standards in Common Core testing approach… While Utah State Office of Education (USOE) officials verbally assured community members that they should not be concerned, they’ve provided no such assurance legally or operationally.”

Read the whole article: http://reframingthedebate.blogs.deseretnews.com/2013/06/06/3-reasons-why-nsa-snooping-worries-parents-and-lawmakers/

Opinion Editorial #2: The Common Core Initiative: What’s Hidden Between the Lines? (not yet published)   Leave a comment

The Common Core Initiative:  What’s hidden between the lines?

by Christel Swasey

Ever since I saw Alisa Ellis and Renee Braddy’s “2 Moms Against Common Core,” I’ve barely slept.  My laundry is backed up.  I’m losing weight. All I do is research the Common Core Initiative (CCI).

I talk to teachers.  I read think tanks and pester the U.S.O.E.  I compare the Education Secretary’s public letters to his dense grants and legal agreements.

On Wednesday I joined Alisa and Renee to petition the Governor to study Utah’s loss of control of education under CCI.

We noted that all academic elements of Common Core are in public domain; if we like them, we can keep them.  But CCI membership comes with federal intrusion that robs Utah of sovereign rights, commits Utah to foot the bill, and silences educational freedom.  A collection of evidence is posted at whatiscommoncore.blogspot.com.

How did Utah’s educational freedom get hijacked without a peep out of Utah?  How did CCI slide under the radar of legislators and taxpayers?  Can we turn around this loss of state control over education?  YES–  if people view CCI as more than an academic change. It’s up to us to act.

The State Superintendent won’t act. He sits as board member of three pro-Common Core groups. Two promoted and developed CCI’s federal standards; the other is the test maker.

The State School Board won’t act. That board is so collectively pro-CCI that they’ve devised a way to make sure nobody can get elected who isn’t pro-CCI: a survey for candidates for School Board asks, (first question): “Are You For Common Core?”

The Governor might act.  His lawyers are studying statements from Arne Duncan versus compliance rules written by Duncan  which do conflict.

The burden of proving CCI is an asset rather than a liability to Utah, rests on Utah leaders and lawyers who refuse public debate, dodge phone calls and won’t answer questions such as:

1. Why haven’t teachers been told that everything about CC  was already available under public domain law?  CCI membership doesn’t give us anything but does dilute freedom.

2. Why has no cost analysis or legal analysis been done? A think-tank estimates CCI will cost each state hundreds of millions over the first seven years and will make states’ unique standards irrelevant. CCI violates laws against federal intrusion on states’ educational sovereignty. Why allow it?

3. If CCI is state-led and voluntary as it claims, why did Secretary Duncan rage when South Carolina withdrew? Why has Duncan required that testing arms must coordinate reporting to him and “across consortia”? Why can’t a state withdraw from SBAC without federal permission?

3. Why was no public or legislative input taken? Utah didn’t seek out CCI;  we joined as an afterthought, as a condition for candidacy to win a grant which we didn’t win.

4. Why did Utah agree to standards and assessments that hadn’t even been written in 2009 when we joined?

5. Why stay in? We have wiggle room now to get out; it’s the beginning of implementation.  Later, we’ll be too financially and technologically invested.

6. Why are there two different sets of standards?  The Utah Common Core (UCC) is being taught, while the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will be the basis for the SBAC tests in 2014.

7.  Why did Utah take the CCI’s word for the idea that the standards were high enough?  CCSS won’t ready students for average colleges like University of California, said Mathematician Ze’ev Wurman. Stanford Professor Michael Kirst and Validation Committee Member Professor Sandra Stotsky called CCSS standards low.

8. Why did Utah join, when free-thinking states like and Texas and Virginia refused? CCI was cost prohibitive,  lowered some standards, and deleted sovereignty, they said.

9. Why did the National PTA accept a two million dollar “donation” to one-sidedly promote CCI?

10. Why is there no amendment process for the federal  standards upon which kids will be tested? 

11. Why has no one noticed that the SBAC test is as much a nationalized personal data collection vehicle as it is an academic test? 

12. Why is there no transparency? Educators are in a spiral of silence that prevents them from voicing concerns.

Who will stand up and respond with real evidence to these questions?

The lawyer at the Utah State Office of Education asked me to not engage in public debate. She deflected questions rather than answering them.  Isn’t it my right and responsibility to ask questions?  As a lawyer for the Utah State Office of Education, doesn’t she have a duty to answer?

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