Archive for the ‘rigor’ Tag

Rigor –or Rigor Mortis?   Leave a comment

At a blog called Books Are Enough, another teacher-blogger makes a request, which I second: “Can we stop saying “rigor” please?”  Here’s the teacher’s reasoning– and here’s the link to that blog. http://booksareenough.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/can-we-stop-saying-rigor-please/

 

He/she writes:

“Can we stop saying “rigor” please?  The term “rigor” is a word some folks are using (again) to imply there is some crisis in education. A lot of folks are making money off of this term and its evil twin “college ready.” Here are several definitions of ”rigor” from a dictionary…

A. harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgment: the quality of being unyielding or inflexible

B. an act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty

C. rigidness or torpor of organs or tissue that prevents response to stimuli

D. a condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable; especially : extremity of cold

Making students see reading- poetry, fiction, non-fiction or any other genre as simply a task to be completed is immoral. This is why test driven Common Core should be stopped. We had enough under NCLB.

Our goal should be to foster book-loving citizens.

Rigor? Ha!”

http://booksareenough.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/can-we-stop-saying-rigor-please/

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Why this observation is so important:  first, the proponents of Common Core use the term “rigor” ad nauseum, and always as if rigor meant “academic excellence” when it more closely aligns with the term “academic rigor mortis”

In the upper grades Common Core dumbs down both math and English literature, killing love of reading and killing the development of mathematical habits of mind, by asking students to reinvent every mathematical wheel;  but in kindergarten, Common Coore pushes little ones too fast and makes no room for the joyfulness that should characterize kindergarten.  See also:

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/playtime_over_kindergartners_ItkfEkiosY3UOa8KpXwj8K

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/29/a-tough-critique-of-common-core-on-early-childhood-education/

http://www.newstimes.com/opinion/article/Sarina-Gersten-Kindergarten-has-become-too-3593119.php

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Fiction vs. Nonfiction Smackdown: Washington Post   Leave a comment

For those who still believe Common Core is “rigorous” and good for kids, here is a must-read from Jay Mathews and the Washington Post. 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/fiction-vs-nonfiction-smackdown/2012/10/17/cbb333d0-16f0-11e2-a55c-39408fbe6a4b_print.html

Fiction vs. nonfiction smackdown

By , Published: October 17

There is no more troubling fact about U.S. education than this: The reading scores of 17-year-olds have shown no significant improvement since 1980.

The new Common Core State Standards in 46 states and the District are designed to solve that problem. Among other things, students are being asked to read more nonfiction, considered by many experts to be the key to success in college or the workplace.

The Common Core standards are one of our hottest trends. Virginia declined to participate but was ignored in the rush of good feeling about the new reform. Now, the period of happy news conferences is over, and teachers have to make big changes. That never goes well. Expect battles, particularly in this educationally hypersensitive region.

Teaching more nonfiction will be a key issue. Many English teachers don’t think it will do any good. Even if it were a good idea, they say, those who have to make the change have not had enough training to succeed — an old story in school reform.

The clash of views is well described by two prominent scholars for the Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based public policy group, in a new paper. Sandra Stotsky of the University of Arkansas and Mark Bauerlein of Emory University say the reformers who wrote the Common Core standards have no data to support their argument that kids have been hurt by reading too much fiction. They say analyzing great literature would give students all the critical thinking skills they need. The problem, they say, is not the lack of nonfiction but the dumbed-down fiction that has been assigned in recent decades.

“Problems in college readiness stem from an incoherent, less-challenging literature curriculum from the 1960s onward,” Bauerlein and Stotsky say. “Until that time, a literature-heavy English curriculum was understood as precisely the kind of pre-college training students needed.”

The standards were inspired, in part, by a movement to improve children’s reading abilities by replacing standard elementary school pabulum with a rich diet of history, geography, science and the arts. University of Virginia scholar E.D. Hirsch Jr. has written several books on this. He established the Core Knowledge Foundation in Charlottesville to support schools that want their third-graders studying ancient Rome and their fourth-graders listening to Handel.

Robert Pondiscio, a former fifth-grade teacher who is vice president of the foundation, quotes a key part of the Common Core standards making this case:

“By reading texts in history/social studies, science, and other disciplines, students build a foundation of knowledge in these fields that will also give them the background to be better readers in all content areas. Students can only gain this foundation when the curriculum is intentionally and coherently structured to develop rich content knowledge within and across grades.”

The Common Core guidelines recommend fourth-graders get an equal amount of fiction and nonfiction. Eighth-grade reading should be about 55 percent nonfiction, going to a recommended 70 percent by 12th grade.

Bauerlein and Stotsky say that could hurt college readiness. The new standards and associated tests, they say, will make “English teachers responsible for informational reading instruction, something they have not been trained for, and will not be trained for unless the entire undergraduate English major as well as preparatory programs in English education in education schools are changed.”

Pondiscio says he admires Bauerlein and Stotsky and doesn’t see why English classes have to carry the nonfiction weight. Social studies and science courses can do that. The real battle, he says, will be in the elementary schools, where lesson plans have failed to provide the vocabulary, background knowledge and context that make good readers.

Those who want the new standards say learning to read is more than just acquiring a skill, like bike riding. It is absorbing an entire world. That is what the fight in your local district will be about.

Federal Education Reforms and Why People of Faith Must Get Involved to Stop Them   1 comment

FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND RELIGIOUS SPEECH

How does freedom of religion apply to new changes in education, such as the COMMON CORE and FERPA (Family Educational Rights Privacy Act) regulations?  Do these “educational reforms” not take away parental control of children’s data, and does not full implementation of Common Core nationalized education come with a federally perusable individual-child data collection plan?  Doesn’t the government ascend above parents in authority thereby?

Bring on the LDS “Proclamation on the Family.”  http://www.lds.org/family/proclamation

Education reforms of late have brought out the mother bear in me.  I become angry when I see forces who have no respect for student privacy, for parental authority, and for educational freedom (but they do respect federal rule over education, federal rule over children, and federal rule over privacy).   I also become angry that more parents don’t care, won’t study it, and blindly believe without verifying, what the Dept of Education and the USOE is saying.

Rather than attack with angry words, I try to educate with peaceable boldness and truth.

   In this book, H. Verlan Andersen, a general authority of the Church (LDS) and a close friend of President Ezra Taft Benson, wrote:

“Of course we should avoid contention both in the Church and without. Many scriptures affirm this and declare that the penalty therefore is exclusion from the Kingdom of God. Where the Lord dwells there is harmony… but do we become one by keeping our differences to ourselves? Can we achieve unity by remaining silent? Obviously we cannot. To become of one heart and one mind demands a free exchange of ideas and views in an atmosphere of love and harmony.”

It is vitally important to be courageous enough to get involved with political and educational issues.  While the Church officially takes a politically neutral stand, the church also counsels members not to!  It counsels members to be active politically.

The First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”  — So the prohibition is against the government pushing its own ideas or religions on us (for example, the ‘religion’ of extreme environmentalism that they push in schools is not permissable).  The prohibition is not against individuals or private organizations being involved in politics.  In fact, the First Amendment guarantees that right.

And the church calls political involvement a responsibility as well as a right.

THE RESPONSIBILITY TO BE POLITICALLY INVOLVED AGAINST SOCIALISM AND FOR FREEDOM

President David O. McKay said, “We wish all our citizens throughout the land were participating in some type of organized self-education in order that they could better appreciate what is happening and know what they can do about it… various organizations that are attempting to awaken the people through educational means is a policy we warmly endorse

    So, how can the church be politically neutral yet stand up for Constitutional laws and freedom of religion, speech and press?  Because political stands refer to candidates and voting, not to eternal principles like free agency and wise limitations on human governments.

President McKay said, “We have no intention of trying to interfere with the fullest and freest exercise of the political franchise of our members under and within our Constitution, which the Lord declared he established ‘by the hands of wise men whom [he] raised up for this very purpose’ (D&C 101:80) and which…Joseph Smith, dedicating the Kirtland Temple, prayed should be ‘established forever’ (D&C 109:54). The Church does not yield any of its devotion to or convictions about safeguarding the American principles… The position of this Church on the subject of Communism has never changed. We consider it the greatest satanical threat to peace, prosperity, and the spread of God’s work among men that exists on the face of the earth.”

    President Ezra Taft Benson wrote that the “enhancement of political power at the expense of individual rights, so often disguised as ‘democracy’ or ‘freedom’ or ‘civil rights’ is socialism, no matter what name tag it bears.”  He also said that “We must keep the people informed that collectivism, another word for socialism, is a part of the communist strategy. Communism is essentially socialism.” (This Nation Shall Endure, p. 90)

Is it too much to suggest that Common Core, the commonizing of education, is a move toward socialism and communism?  Well, we have to share all things in common with all other states (not like the Lord’s law of consecration, where you choose to share; this is the “must” version, where you have to share or you get financially and in other ways, punished).

President Ezra Taft Benson wrote, “God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and how to combat false educational, political, religious and philosophical concepts of our time.” (Ensign, Jan. 1988)

The Jaredites in the Book of Mormon corrupted their laws and political power and were destroyed.

The Nephites in the Book of Mormon corrupted their laws, too.  Part of the reason was that the righteous people were deceived into allowing the law to become corrupt.  Are we repeating their mistakes?  Yes.

Verlan Anderson wrote, “The only place the great majority of us use force to affect the freedom of others is through the agency of government, and so our political [and educational] decisions are, in reality, decisions about human freedom.”

It’s important to distinguish between laws and regulations that are constitutional and those which are not; the penalties for failing to obey the Lord’s political commandments are severe.

       President David O. McKay said, “A fundamental principle of the Gospel is free agency, and references in the scriptures show that this principle is 1) essential to man’s salvation and 2) may become a measuring rod by which the actions of men, of organizations, of nations may be judged.”

    So, free agency is a measuring rod to judge Common Core by.  Does Common Core support or take away from the principle of free agency?

1.  It cannot be amended by us.  It is under copyright by the NGA/CCSSO.  We are not free to change it.

2. It requires states to “address barriers in state law” that would stand in the way of its full implementation, making us more subject to national, rather than local, decision-making.  We are not free to maintain such state laws as FERPA which stand in the way of the desire of Common Core to get easy governmental and research agency-access to our children’s personally identifiable information without parental consent.

3. It requires teachers and students to spend much time on a testing system they had no say in building and cannot amend (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium). These tests are given to state and federal agencies, dis-aggregated, and will be used to “guide” and control citizens.

4. Common Core requires teachers and students to follow CCSS standards, which will not allow many good things any longer.  CCSS won’t allow Calculus to be taught in high schools any more, and will severely limit the amount of classic literature that is permissable in the English classroom, in favor of info-texts.

It makes many other requirements for educational standards which may be more rigorous, or may be less so, but the point is that we MUST obey these standards; we are not free to change them and as time goes by, we will be less and less able to withdraw from the system, being financially interwoven with it.

5. The document written by Arne Duncan of the Federal Department of Education, entitled “Cooperative Agreement between the U.S. Dept of Education and the SBAC” (and Utah’s bound by it) –uses words like “comply,” compliance,” “requirements,” “enforce,” “enforcement” and “must” –repeatedly– which are words which do not support the idea of voluntarism or free agency. http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf

How far have we come from Constitutional freedom of education?  The tenth article of the Communist Manifesto cites “free education for all children” and “combination of education with industrial production” as its goals.  The Common Core does combine education with industrial production, as Utah’s new P-20 workforce (Preschool to age 20 and workforce) councils strive to do.  The idea is to track and guide students into the workforce that the government determines fits that student best because kids are seen as “human capital” belonging to the state.

So many people in Utah today have been deceived into giving up important freedoms over education and privacy, by the pretty promises of Common Core.  The Common Core push was able to succeed in this deception because of legitimate, troubling problems of low educational outcomes in our state.  We have so many people taking remedial classes at the college level.  We have literacy problems and we need to improve education.

But commonizing and nationalizing education via the Common Core should never have been chosen as the answer to these serious problems.  In choosing Common Core, we voted against our own freedom.

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