Archive for the ‘Stephanie Zimmerman’ 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

Idaho Parent Stephanie Zimmerman Takes on Goliath of Idaho State School Board   Leave a comment

Before you read the article from Idaho Reporter—

Idaho mother-of-eight, Stephanie Zimmerman, reported that prior to her five minute testimony, those gathered had to watch a 50-min. infomercial about the wonders of Common Core.  Then, after Zimmerman was allotted five minutes, there was additional time given for rebuttals.

“Something seems out of balance here,” Stephanie Zimmerman wrote.


Here’s the link to the report, which I’ve reposted below as well:

This will do to education in Idaho, what Obamacare is doing to health care in Idaho,” believes Boise resident Stephanie Zimmerman concerning a national education program, the Common Core Standards Initiative.

A mother of eight children, Zimmerman was offering testimony before the House Education Committee Thursday during an informational hearing about common core, which the state Department of Education supports.

At issue is the idea of Idaho becoming compliant with the program. The goal is to have K-12 curriculum standards of all 50 states. Begun in June of 2009, the initiative is supported by both the National Governors Association, and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna is the immediate past president of the schools’ group.

“Shouldn’t we all come together, to improve the educational opportunities of students nationwide?” asked Luci Willits, of the Idaho Department of Education. Willits was promoting Idaho’s compliance with the nationwide initiative, but called it a “state-led initiative.” According to her, Idaho is already compliant with the nationwide standards in the areas of English, Language Arts and Mathematics.

The common core agenda is being adopted in states as diverse as Vermont and Oklahoma. In 2010, state officials in neighboring Utah adopted the common core standards in both the disciplines of mathematics and language arts. But, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, controversy erupted there once evidence of standardization emerged in classrooms.

Zimmerman, who is affiliated with the nonprofit Pioneer Institute in Massachusetts (a group that opposes the common core initiative), told members of the committee that her son is a freshman in high school and is already studying calculus. “Calculus isn’t supposed to happen during the freshman year (under common core), but he’s advanced,” Zimmerman told the committee, and noted that in her view, her younger children will be held back from advancing beyond their grade level as the common core initiatives are more fully implemented.

Rep. Steven Harris, R-Meridian, asked Dr. Carissa Miller of the Idaho Department of Education, who was present at the hearing, to respond to Zimmerman’s concerns. Miller denied that the initiatives hold students back, or interfere with their advancement.

“Right out of the gate, I shared some of her concerns,” Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, told after the committee hearing about Zimmerman’s apprehension. “I don’t want to see us adopt a national curriculum, but I don’t think this (common core) is a national curriculum. I believe this truly is a state-driven effort.” Horman has served on the Bonneville School Board for 11 years, and said she wanted to know more about Zimmerman’s concerns.

“I voted for the common core standards, but I agree that we have to watch these things very carefully,” said Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, in the committee hearing. “More innovation comes from a de-centralized system, rather than a centralized system. Let’s watch this very carefully, and not move towards a national curriculum.”

“Candidly, there have been efforts by the U.S. Department of Education to co-opt this state-led initiative,” noted education committee chairman Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle. “I’ve spoken about this with Superintendent Luna, and he’s spoken about it with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Superintendent Luna assures me that if this moves towards a nationalized curriculum, Idaho will back out of the initiative.”

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