How To Educate Our Children

A website called Your News Wire posted an article five months ago about the success of a charter school in Florida that ditched the Common Core curriculum and decided to focus on the principles of classical education to teach its students. I am not familiar with the site, so I went to the school’s website and starting reading. The information in the article at Your News Wire article was also posted at The Freedom Project in June.

The Mason Classical Academy website states:

The Hillsdale College Barney Charter School Initiative has deliberately taken a classical approach to education. By “classical,” we mean a form of education that could be called classical, civic, and liberal but in the school reform movement these days most often goes by the designation “classical.” Some might call it “conservative,” but we prefer the term “traditional.” That is, we adhere to an ancient view of learning and traditional teaching methods. Such a choice might at first seem paradoxical or even out- of-touch with reality. Why, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, in the age of the internet, in a country that has long been addicted to the revolutionary and the novel, when almost everyone in the world of K-12 education is singing the chorus of “critical thinking skills for a twenty-first-century global economy,” should cutting-edge schools root themselves so deeply in the past? Is not newer always better? What could today’s young people learn from old books? We must answer these questions clearly from the outset.

Classical education has a history of over 2500 years in the West. It began in ancient Greece, was adopted wholesale by the Romans, faltered after the fall of Rome, made a slow but steady recovery during the Middle Ages, and was again brought to perfection in the Italian Renaissance. The classical inheritance passed to England, and from the mother country to America through colonial settlement. At the time of this nation’s founding classical education was still thriving. Jefferson heartily recommended Greek and Latin as the languages of study for early adolescence. One of the Founding Fathers’ favorite books was Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans. Eighteenth- century Americans venerated and trusted George Washington in large part because he reminded them of the Roman patriot Cincinnatus. So important has classical education been in the history of the West that it would only be a slight exaggeration to say that the march of civilization has paralleled the vibrancy of classical schools. Unlike the old classical schools, today’s classical schools do not make the medium of instruction Latin and Greek (though to be classical they must require the study of Latin at some point).

Nonetheless, the Hillsdale-sponsored charter schools will remain classical by upholding the same standards of teaching, of curriculum, and of discipline found in the schools of old. Indeed, in these schools English will be taught using methods derived from centuries of teaching and learning the classical languages. Hillsdale thus takes stock in the tried and true rather than in the latest fads frothing forth from the schools of education.

So how has this approach worked? The article at Your News Wire reports:

What does the classical approach embraced by the Academy entail? According to their website, language-focused learning based on written and spoken words makes the brain work harder to convert words into concepts, while image-based approaches encourage passivity. The time-tested approach of phonics is very likely the reason you are able to read this article in the first place, and it’s hard to imagine why anyone would consider it inadequate.

Thanks to the classical approach of phonics, an impressive 90 percent of the third-grade students at Mason Classical Academy were proficient in English Language Arts, compared to just 58 percent in the county overall, most of whom rely on Common Core. In fact, the MCA third-graders were in Florida’s top two percent, while fifth graders from the academy ranked in the state’s top one percent.

These students look even better when you compare them to California, where the state average is just 43 percent proficiency among third graders. Even worse, six public schools in Baltimore do not have a single student who is proficient in either English Language Arts or math. It’s almost like students are being set up to fail.

 Of course, not everyone is happy about this school’s success. Common Core proponents are panicking because these results expose the system for the fraud that it is. The school has been on the receiving end of criticism from everyone from the district’s superintendent to the local news outlet Naples Daily News, according to The Freedom Project.

So what can we learn from this? It really does not pay to try to reinvent the wheel. Classical education works–Common Core does not. We have been sold a bill of goods in regard to Common Core. Common Core puts our children in boxes they may not belong in and collects data that no one has any business collecting. The one thing it does not do is teach our children critical thinking skills and prepare them to live in the real world. The test results of Mason Classical Academy clearly illustrate what works in education. Now we need to pay attention to the facts and begin actually educating our children.

 

 

 

When You Don’t Do It Right, You Have To Do It Over

A.P. Dillon at American Lens is reporting today that a bill has been proposed in the North Carolina House of Representatives to accept the findings of the Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC) and get rid of Common Core.

I attended most of the ASRC meetings. I was at the meeting where the findings of the Mathematics and English Language Arts Committees gave their results. What I witnessed was the total perversion of the purpose of the Commission. On December 30, 2015, I posted a letter from a member of the Commission who did not agree with the final actions of the Commission. I have also posted other information and letters about the Commission. You can access those by using the search engine on this website at the top of the page and putting in “ASRC”. It became obvious in the final ASRC meeting that the Commission was set up to maintain the status quo of Common Core.

The article explains:

Representative Larry Pittman has introduced a bill to get rid of Common Core and has aptly named it, “Actually Get Rid of Common Core.” The Primary sponsors joining Pittman are Representatives SpecialeFord and Boswell.

House Bill 417 seeks to replace Common Core with the recommendations that the ASRC had originally proposed and then killed in their last meeting.

…The Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC), which was created by a bill whose title said the ASRC was being created to REPEAL AND REPLACE COMMON CORE, was actually stacked against fulfilling that purpose. Common Core was not repealed and replaced. It was merely renamed and slightly tweaked.

This bill would correct that by requiring that the proposed math standards offered by the Math Work Group of the ASRC actually be adopted, and that the English Language Arts standards offered by Dr. Sandra Stotsky to the State, free of charge, be adopted.

…The bill passed its first reading on March 22nd and has been referred to the Committee on Education – K-12.

The idea of explaining mathematical principles to students at the elementary level (as Common Core did) is valid, but to demand cumbersome solutions to simple addition problems took all the joy out of learning mathematics for these children. It will be wonderful to see that corrected. This bill is definitely a step in the right direction.

I Don’t Understand How This Is Legal

The Common Core Diva posted an article today about the money being spent on the data mining of our students under Common Core. The article includes the following:

commoncoreushouse-appropriationsI guess I just don’t understand how this works–how is it legal to use Medicaid funds for education.

The article explains what is going on:

If you’re not sure how the Library and Museum Grants are going to be used against us and help shift our community culture to an aligned ‘one for all’ compliant group:
https://commoncorediva.wordpress.com/2016/07/03/hitting-the-books-part-2/

Related and  a bit dated (2015), I exposed how Medicaid would be used to help align our students via loans, education, and all kinds of other federal overreach (for example: American Apprenticeships). At the crux? Sen. Lamar Alexander! See:
https://commoncorediva.wordpress.com/2015/09/27/weekend-news-tracking-the-ccsscteworkforce-aligned-society/

So, what else is this Report hiding? Below is a short list of hidden federal overreaches in education.
a) Continued use of taxpayer money  without our consent. Congress covered its backside with this excerpt: “Within the funds provided, the Committee has focused increases on priority areas and reduced funding for programs that are no longer authorized, are of limited scope or effectiveness, or do not have a clear Federal role.”

b) Topping the priorities: biomedical research. Biggest ‘winner’? NIH (National Institutes of Health) I first wrote about the educational overreach via the NIH back in 2014. It has not only continued since then, but has increased its overreach, thanks to Congress. What is becoming more obvious is that the Affordable Health Care is being embedded in not only education, but every aspect of our lives.
See: https://commoncorediva.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/sic-em-saturday-more-fed-budget-watch/

c) The Brain Initiative is among the top priorities. It’s yet another White House led plan of overreach. Learn more: https://www.braininitiative.nih.gov/?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1
Knowing how ESSA and its mandates include using students, teachers, and families as research subjects, this is a very big area of concern!

d) CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) also get boosts of taxpayer money. Thanks to ESSA and its abuse of Title One funding in addition to the RTIs (Responses to Intervention) and Behavior Intervention and Management, as well as the data mining/tracking, our schools are absolutely in harm’s way of more federal overreach in education. How? ESSA plainly states that anything and everything..as long as its in the name of ‘student success’ is permissible; thereby open to being funded..with OUR money!

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. The government overreach into our children’s minds is frightening. Parents need to wake up and see what is happening to our schools. Our children are not being educated–they are being indoctrinated and physiologically manipulated into becoming compliant citizens. Please carefully check your candidates to see where they stand on Common Core and the government takeover of education.

Common Core In Massachusetts

Below is a press release from End Common Core Massachusetts:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday, March 24, 2015
CONTACT:  Donna Colorio, 508-450-0104 and dcolorio2014@gmail.com
END COMMON CORE MA
End Common Core MA’s message to the big money special interests: #RKidsRnot4Sale

End Common Core Massachusetts has a very simple message to the big money special interest groups organizing resistance to the popular End Common Core ballot measure: Our kids are not for sale (#RKidsRnot4Sale).

“Last month, a poll proved that a huge majority of voters support the end of Common Core.  It clearly verifies hard-working Massachusetts voters reject giving control of our public education system to the wealthy special interests.  They are desperately trying to defeat this measure by pouring in millions to fund phony lawsuits and more phony front groups for Pearson Education and the Gates Foundation.  They will soon find out that Our Kids Are Not for Sale and the voters will reject their efforts”, said End Common Core Chairperson Donna Colorio.

Sandra Stotsky, former Senior Associate Commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) notes that “the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Maura Healey in January claiming she didn’t know what she was doing when she approved the language of the ballot question. It looks like they are desperate to stop the voters from voting on this critical issue.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is on record donating a lot of money to the MBAE in 2014 to pay for studies that support the continued use of Common Core.  The Gates Foundation has also poured millions of dollars to fund grants for DESE and other Massachusetts special interest groups who support Common Core. Pearson Education is the corporation contracted to create standardized tests like PARCC and MCAS designed to test in English Language Arts and Mathematics.  Pearson also publishes textbooks and educational materials aligned to the Common Core Standards, and keeping the standards will mean billions of dollars in profits.

“Right now, the special interests are lining up millions of dollars to fund a campaign where every word, study, report, and so-called statistic is made up and paid for by groups funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  In contrast, End Common Core MA is a grassroot effort led by concerned citizens giving their time and hard earned money to speak truth to power. The super wealthy special interests are using our kids to make billions of dollars every year in testing fees, textbooks, and other classroom materials.  The special interests have a lot of money on their side and their goal is to destroy our public education system. But the hard working citizens of Massachusetts will have the truth on their side,” said Colorio.

End Common Core MA is a ballot question committee of citizen activists, teachers, parents, concerned citizens, and elected officials opposed to Common Core’s standards.  Go to EndCommonCoreMA.com for more information.

It’s Not About The Children–It’s About The Money

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you are probably aware that I am strongly opposed to Common Core. There are many reasons for this, and I need to review a few before I get to the current article regarding Common Core.

Reported here in November 2015:

Bill Gates himself has stated, “It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.” 

Reported here in July 2014:

On the Microsoft Web site, a webpage dated April 22, 2014 entitled “Tech Essentials for Testing Success” describes in considerable detail how schools using computer-based, Common Core-aligned tests will now need to spend a bunch of money — on Microsoft products.

…Microsoft additionally advises schools to upgrade “all units” “to a minimum of 1 GB of internal memory” and to make sure their screens and processors are up to snuff. (Wouldn’t you know it: in some cases, “Power Macs are not supported.”) Schools might also need to outlay tax dollars on Internet connections and hardware such as headphones.

The primary purpose of Common Core is not to educate our children–it’s to force schools to buy Microsoft technology. There are billions of dollars at stake here, which brings me to my current story. When schools originally began buying computer products, most schools bought (or were given) Apple products. The students trained on Apple products went on to buy Apple products as adult consumers. That lesson was not lost on Bill Gates at Microsoft.

On February 12, 2016, the New Boston Post reported:

A lawsuit that aims to prevent Massachusetts voters from weighing in on the controversial Common Core educational standards has backing from people connected to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a major sponsor of Common Core.

Since 2010, the year the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to implement Common Core, through last year, the Gates Foundation donated $776,431 to the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education. The Alliance, a strong supporter of Common Core, is currently coordinating the lawsuit, filed last month, to block a citizen initiative that would allow Massachusetts voters in November to decide whether the state continues to use the federally approved Common Core standards or revert to its own pre-Common Core standards.

In 2007, prior to the implementation of Common Core, Massachusetts was the highest-achieving state in the country.  Opponents of Common Core, an unusually bi-partisan group of parents, teachers, education specialists, conservative activists, and anti-testing activists, say that after the state adopted the federally backed standards in 2010, Massachusetts achievement levels started to decline.

End Common Core Massachusetts, the citizens group behind the ballot question, earlier this year garnered enough signatures to advance the measure.  But on Jan. 22, ten plaintiffs sued to stop the question from reaching the voters. Plaintiffs include William Walczak who is a director of the Alliance, and Jack Dill, who is on its advisory council.

If Common Core was about improving education, why have the achievement levels in Massachusetts schools started to decline since Common Core was implemented? Common Core is a scam put over on parents and teachers that does nothing to improve the education of our children. I does, however, improve the bottom line profits of Microsoft Corporation. Parents need to begin to work to remove it. I am hoping Massachusetts will be successful with its ballot question, but in other places, school boards need to be pressured to take action against something that is detrimental to our children’s education. If it really was about the children, would any school administrators be supporting something that lowers achievement rather than raises it?

Who Is Responsible For Your Child’s Education?

America has some problems with its public schools. I have done numerous articles about Common Core and Advanced Placement U.S. History. (If you are interested in reading those articles, use the search engine at the top of this blog.) Those two programs are equally guilty of not educating or miseducating our children. Many parents have decided to send their children to private schools or to home school them instead of exposing them to the indoctrination that our public schools now practice. Home-schooled children generally do better on their College Board exams than public school students and generally score better on all standardized tests. The problem with home-schooled students is that they illustrate the fact that our public schools are not doing a very good job of educating our children. Home-schooled children are a threat to the public-school establishment run by unions and big government types. Therefore, home schooling is frequently discouraged or disparaged by the educational establishment. That is the reason for the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).

Yesterday World Net Daily posted an article about two homeschooling families that are under attack in Ohio.

The article reports:

Authorities in Ohio have filed criminal charges against homeschool parents in two families, with trials  later this month that could result in fines and jail time if convicted.

For missing paperwork deadlines.

The parents, whose identities are not being publicized at this time, are facing accusations of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” for not having their paperwork filed appropriately – or on time.

…“Both families were somewhat new to homeschooling in Ohio. One family filed a notice of intent when they began homeschooling last year, but did not know they had to file another notice for this school year. The other family filed their annual notice of intent, but did not submit an educational assessment with their notice because they had not yet completed it, and had been told by their school district that there was no deadline for submitting the assessment.”

The article further reports:

He (Peter K. Kamakawiwoole Jr., a staff attorney for the HSLDA) continued, “The tragedy is that these prosecutions are entirely avoidable. Ohio’s compulsory attendance statute has specific provisions which are supposed to apply when a school district believes that a child is truant, and those provisions require – among other things – that parents be provided notice when a district believes a child is truant, and affords parents multiple opportunities to correct the behavior of the child (or, in this case, to correct clerical errors). The compulsory attendance statute recognizes that parents can ultimately be prosecuted – but only as a last resort, after intermediary measures have been taken to correct the problem, and have failed.”

He said in the current cases, school officials have blown off those procedures.

Instead, he reported, officials allowed the students “to accumulate weeks’ worth of ‘absences’ before the parents were ever contacted, and then prosecuting them even though the families have documentation showing that their homeschools are in compliance with state law.”

It’s an unsettling situation, he explained, one for which the HSLDA is marshaling its members and resources to address.

“The fact that these families are even facing prosecution is disturbing, and the fact that they could face significant fines or jail time if convicted is disproportionate and draconian. It is our hope that by defending these families and drawing attention to their plight, that we can prevent this issue from recurring in the future.”

This looks like at attempt to intimidate parents who want to home school their children. This is another illustration of the fact that our government (at all levels) has become too powerful and too intrusive. Our freedom is in danger.

Keeping Your Child’s Data Safe

One of the problems with Common Core is the data mining. There are some very intrusive questions asked of young children about their families (does anyone in your house own a gun? what religion are your parents?). This data is collected (along with data predicting the success of your child in future years). The law allows videos of your child to be taken and stored in ‘the cloud.’ The proponents of Common Core have always gone out of their way to assure parents that this data is secure and cannot be accessed by anyone not entitled to access it. They also have overlooked the fact that the data will follow the child from kindergarten through five years into the workplace.

Lady Liberty posted an article today about the security of the data involving your child. The article quotes WRAL News in Raleigh, North Carolina:

CARY, N.C. — A Panther Creek High School student was arrested Wednesday in connection with a hack of the school’s computer system last fall, police said.2

Saivamsi Hanumanthu, 17, of Pilot Hill Drive in Morrisville, was charged with felony accessing government computers, felony breaking and entering and misdemeanor accessing government computers. He was released on a unsecured $15,000 bond to the custody of his parents.

Cary police began investigating unauthorized access to Panther Creek High’s computers on Oct. 13 and later determined that the system had been hacked into several times and that student grades had been changed.

Wake County school officials discovered that an email sent from one Panther Creek High teacher to another a few days before the initial hacking contained keystroke-tracking malware, according to a search warrant in the case.

We either need dumber high school students or smarter computers.

Lady Liberty concludes her article by stating:

I’ve noted a lot of issues with Powerschool since it was implemented both here and in other states. I’ve also noted issues with other Pearson products. Everything from the system going down to wiping out entire gradebooks, and from delayed report cards to DDOS attacks.

Now we have a high school student getting into it multiple times to change his grades.

But your child’s data is safe, they said…

Small wonder Pearson sold Powerschool last year to Vista Equities. NC went with the very pricey Powerschool because of the established relationship with Pearson, now they’ve sold it off.

As a point of interest, as an elementary parent, three years after Powerschool went live I still don’t have access to it, which is arguably a FERPA violation.

Another reason to get rid of Common Core.

What Are We Doing To Our Children?

This is the latest undercover video from Project Veritas posted on YouTube. It deals with Common Core.

The highlights below come from Breitbart.com:

“The dead white guys did not create this country,” Koerber says. “They [presumably conservatives] want to talk about those dead white guys.”

Koerber continues that Common Core is necessary because “it needs to be come cohesion between the states.” She expresses frustration, however, that “Texas keeps screwing it up over and over again.”

“People who say they want to teach the Constitution, only want to teach the part of the Constitution that they like,” she tells the journalist, who then asks her about the Second Amendment.

“But yet they don’t want to teach all of it,” she replies. “Damn the Second Amendment.

…Kim Koerber (KK): People that are not educated, Fox TV viewers think that Common Core comes from the educated liberal groups and that’s why they are against it. They don’t know anything about it. They think it’s liberal so they’re against it. That’s what I think it is. It’s a knee jerk reaction. My mother, oh my God, she’s a Fox person. If I could remove Fox from my television set, I would…

I did a big presentation yesterday for AP US History and the AP US History agenda was set, until Texas got upset about it and they wanted to have their founders – they wanted founders in it. And it’s like – come on. The dead white guys did not create this country. It was a whole bunch of different kinds of people. And yes there were women, and yes there were people of color, and yes…you need to talk about them too. But they want to talk about those dead white guys.

Note the tolerance for opposing ideas–“If I could remove Fox from my television set, I would…”

Note the hostility to ‘dead white guys’ who wrote the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

Republicans want to get in there and talk about stuff and change things about school stuff because they want to, they want to influence what is being taught. Common core doesn’t put up with that.

Common Core is copyrighted–there is no room for local school boards to make changes.

PV: I am really glad I’m here in California, whatever religious affiliation you want to take is fine, but in Texas they want to push the Christianity.

KK: Because they think it’s the only one.

PV: They do, and I see that.

KK: That’s why it’s so offensive to have these prayers in the school board.

PV: Christianity is totally out of the common core?

KK: Yes it is. Totally. It’s not a core concept at all.

PV: But then there is a mention of other religions like Islam.

Christianity played a part in the founding of this nation–the churches of America played a role both in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. The settlers at Jamestown and Plymouth Rock both declared America to be a Christian nation–even before it was America. Christianity is an important part of our history. To say that Christianity is not an important part of the America’s history is to leave out a good portion of the story.

The article at Breitbart.com concludes:

“It doesn’t matter if it’s corporate cronyism or liberal ideology, if you are slipping your agenda into our education system, we are going to expose you, one by one, until the whole rotten system is revealed,” O’Keefe tells Breitbart News about his project on Common Core and education. “Corporate cronyism and underhanded political deals have contributed to Common Core’s massive disruption and the unraveling of America’s educational fabric.”

Shared On Facebook

NEW YORK – I’m a photographer. This is my daughter…and this is the first photo of her that I have ever hated.

Common Core tears

You may have already seen this image today. I posted it this morning on my business page and after returning from a session out in Syracuse, it has been shared over 400 times. I want to take a moment to explain this image so as those who do not know me, can understand how this image came to be.

I am a photographer, a hobby farmer, a child advocate and a mother of 3 elementary-aged children. This is my middle child in the photo … she is 7 and is in 2nd grade. My kindergartner and my 4th grader were already finished with their homework and had left the table. I had brought my camera in to work on my white balance skills while shooting in low light as I had a session the next morning to prep for.

After checking her work, I had found 2 math problems were incorrect. I tried to help her understand where she went wrong through her process but I don’t understand it myself and was not much help.

I told her to forget about it and we’d try again tomorrow but she became very upset that she could not get the answer and kept trying and trying to fix it. She is hard on herself as she very much wants to excel in school and not be pulled for extra help all of the time. I was talking to her and clicking my camera as I changed settings … it’s something that is very common in our household … and that is when I caught this image.

My daughter is incredibly strong.  My daughter is a 4-year cancer survivor.  She is a fighter with a resilient spirit.  It crushes me to see her cry; to see her struggle.  My daughter deserves a happy childhood.

Please know that 5 minutes later I had convinced her to leave the homework behind and go snuggle with her dad on the couch and watch some Olympics coverage. She is not neglected. She was not abused or left alone to cry. And this photo was not staged.

A Dissenting Opinion From The Co-Chairman Of The North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission

CO-CHAIR OF THE NC STANDARDS COMMISSION DISSENTS ON FINAL MATH RECOMMENDATIONS

Wilmington, NC, December 30, 2015 – In an open letter to her fellow commission members, Tammy Covil expressed dissatisfaction with the commission’s final vote on recommendations she states will result in nothing more than a rebrand of Common Core.

Ms. Covil serves as co-chair of the North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission. The commission was formed by the General Assembly in 2014 to review and recommend replacement for the state’s K-12 math and English language arts standards, formerly known as Common Core. Their final report is due to be released today.

“Having spent so much time and energy on such an important endeavor, I felt it necessary to recount the events that transpired over the past 15 months. Sadly, much of what occurred behind the scenes undermined our final recommendations,” Mrs. Covil stated. “Although I am disappointed that we were unable to complete our charge to the degree that the legislature had intended, I am proud of the work that went into vetting the standards. There is more than enough evidence in our findings to warrant replacement of the math standards.”

The following is the text of Mrs. Covil’s dissenting opinion:

Commission Members,

As co-chair of the North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission, I wish to inform you that I will not endorse this commission’s final recommendations.

Although one would have expected the overwhelming evidence of Common Core’s shortcomings to have convinced even the most biased individual toward the obvious conclusion of replacement, it became clear to me long before the final vote that many of the appointees had no intention of producing substantive changes to North Carolina’s academic standards.

The General Assembly appointed us to act in good faith on their legislative mandate to repeal and replace Common Core. To say that many of you disregarded your duty as an appointed member is an understatement. Some of you not only snubbed this obligation, you appeared to be actively working against it.

Over the past fifteen months, this commission entertained testimony from a multitude of education stakeholders, most notably two highly regarded experts in the field of standards development and a child brain development specialist. These experts offered compelling evidence that exposed the developmental inappropriateness and academic inefficiencies of Common Core. They provided detailed examples and cited comprehensive research to support their claims. Most of this testimony confirmed the North Carolina commission’s findings. Sentiments expressed by classroom teachers through multiple feedback opportunities and survey data further cemented the need for standards replacement.

In contrast, the education non-profits and lobby groups that were insistent upon coming before the commission to extoll the virtues of Common Core offered little more than vague platitudes, regurgitated talking points, and skewed data. Many of them failed to grasp the difference between standards and curriculum. Nor did they understand that rigor is delivered through instruction, not a standard.

What was evident in their testimony, however, was the extreme desire to protect Common Core at all costs. As was quickly determined, this was all being driven by the expectation of financial gain; one that only a nationalized curriculum could generate. Unfortunately in education, money tends to cloud sound policy decisions.

Nonetheless, their agendas and biases were exposed, yet summarily ignored.

Perhaps the most revealing aspect of this entire exercise was exhibited in the unwarranted and vicious attack on Dr. Scheick and his math group, most of whom possess more individual teaching experience than those who wrote the Common Core math standards combined. The fact that certain commission members waited until the final meeting to reveal their true colors is evidence of their intent to undermine this commission’s work from the beginning.

Even the media was stunned by this duplicitous about-face.

As you are well aware, Dr. Scheick and his team labored tirelessly for months to vet the math standards. They took to the task of ensuring that the state’s standards would meet the criteria mandated in Senate Bill 812. They did so in a very short period of time and under less than supportive circumstances. Not only were North Carolina’s math standards carefully scrutinized, they were compared to other states’ standards (both pre and post Common Core adoption), as well as other countries in order to balance global competitiveness.

How were they rewarded for their efforts? They were treated to a dog and pony show orchestrated by certain members who rarely participated during the monthly meetings, refused to offer any assistance during the math review process, and who failed to attend any of the teacher focus group meetings, despite the fact that they insisted upon them in the first place.

Impugning the character and teaching credentials of Dr. Scheick’s math team and holding the validity of their recommendations to a higher burden of proof than your own State Superintendent is the height of hypocrisy.

Interestingly enough, none of the commissioner members disputed the findings, which are quite damning, to say the least. Had anyone harbored doubt or disapproval of the findings, it was never expressed. Those of us committed to the task at hand noted this lack of cooperation and apathy.

Unlike Common Core, the Minnesota math standards have a proven track record of success. According to the math team, the Minnesota math most closely aligned with the criteria outlined by the legislature. Since it was determined in the findings that the Common Core math standards are fundamentally flawed, tweaking them would actually require more work than adopting a new set of standards and building upward. Why this was considered an unreasonable recommendation is beyond me.

Likewise, and despite the fact that 60% of high school math teachers expressed a strong desire to return to the traditional math sequence of Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II, the commission inexplicably chose to abandon this recommendation. There was virtually no professional development prior to implementation of Integrated Math, nor were there textbooks or an appropriate curriculum available to teach it. As a result, most teachers were forced to haphazardly piece together a curriculum in the hopes that it would meet course expectations. For all the talk about ensuring teacher flexibility, you could not even agree to make a recommendation that would allow teachers the option of the teaching the material in the format that they are most comfortable – So much for teacher advocacy.

Ultimately, the majority decided to punt their responsibility for offering a solution to this quagmire back to the very same department that created it. Abdicating your responsibility in this way not only implies an aversion to leadership; it indicates contempt for the educational well-being of North Carolina’s 1.5 million students and the 95,000 teachers shackled by these standards.

Rather than side with the most important stakeholders in education – teachers, parents and students – many of you predictably and shamefully cow-towed to education elitists, corporate interests and big government.

For those who so emphatically feigned concern for the costs involved in replacing Common Core with a more appropriate set of academic standards, you have failed to consider the lost funding that will result due to frustrated parents pulling their children out of the state’s public school system in protest over your decision to maintain the status quo.

Maybe that is the answer, as nothing else seems to break through the bureaucratic inertia within public education like the threat of funding cuts.

Tammy J. Covil

 

Our Representatives Have Forgotten Who They Are Working For

America is a Representative Republic. We send people to Congress to represent us. Some do a good job, and some simply forget who elected them. A website called The Pulse 2016 posted an article yesterday about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that just passed Congress. The article includes a number of quotes from Arne Duncan, current Education Secretary.

Here are some of the quotes from the article:

“[I]f you look at the substance of what is there . . . embedded in the law are the values that we’ve promoted and proposed forever. The core of our agenda from Day One, that’s all in there – early childhood, high standards [i.e., Common Core], not turning a blind eye when things are bad. For the first time in our nation’s history, that’s the letter of the law.”

…We had many, many conversations behind the scenes . . . . And I said for us to support it, they’d have to shed their far, far right [i.e., constituents who support the Constitution and oppose Common Core] . . . . I honestly didn’t know if they’d have the political courage to do that. But they both said they would and they did. I give them tremendous credit for that.

…About a month before [final Senate passage of the bill], I ran into Speaker [Paul] Ryan and we just talked briefly. I asked if he was going to back this, whether he’s willing to take on the far right. I just asked him straight up. And he said, “Absolutely. We’re going to back this.” And, he did. That’s when I thought it had a real shot.

…We were intentionally quiet on the bill – they asked us specifically not to praise it – and to let it get through. And so we went into radio silence and then talked about it after the fact. . . . Our goal was to get this bill passed – intentionally silent on the many, many good aspects of the bill . . . [W]e were very strategically quiet on good stuff . . . .

…The final thing is we have every ability to implement, to regulate the law . . . it’s just a Washington typical storyline. . . .  And candidly, our lawyers are much smarter than many of the folks who were working on this bill. There are some face-saving things you give up, some talking points you give up, which we always do because we’re focused on substance.  And we have every ability to implement.  That’s all I’ve ever wanted.

I am reminded of the words of Ben Franklin when leaving the Constitutional Convention of 1787 when asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?” Ben Franklin replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Unless more Americans begin to pay attention, we will lose it.

What Really Happened In Raleigh On Friday

As I have stated in previous articles, I attended the final meeting of the Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC) in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Friday. The ASRC was formed to make changes in North Carolina academic standards to improve the education of children in the state. Test scores have gone down under Common Core, and it is becoming obvious that some on the material included in Common Core is not age-appropriate or helpful to students.

Lady Liberty 1885 also attended the meeting. She interviewed Jeannie Metcalf, a member of the Commission, who walked out during the final part of the meeting and did not return.

When Lady Liberty asked Mrs. Metcalf if her leaving was due to what happened to Dr. Scheik during the math recommendations portion of the meeting, she replied:

Yes that is right.
First if all I was embarrassed and ashamed for the way Dr. Scheik was being treated. That group had 6 months to “vet” his recommendations.

Secondly my fears that I’d had from the beginning, that we were set up to fail, were quickly being realized. I was furious and wasn’t going to participate any longer in that sham. And McCroy, Tillis and Berger are entirely to blame. NO ONE on this committee should have had any ties to DPI. (June Atkinson signs the paycheck for 5 of the members and she’s the president of the group that gave us common core.)

Andre was the plant for the chamber and the business community who loves common core, plus his wife works for SAS which handles all the testing in NC.

The committee should have been filled with retired educators, parents, public officials who vocally and publicly opposed common core so that from the getgo we’d have been looking for replacements instead of renaming.

The failing fall on those mentioned above. I would have liked to have replaced the ELA standards with Sandra Stoskys and the math standards with James Milgrams. Quick, easy and we’d have had the highest best standards of any state. What a squandered opportunity. And again, this was the intended result FROM THE BEGINNING.

The children of North Carolina will pay the price for the political gamesmanship involved in selecting this committee. This is not the end of the fight for the education of North Carolina’s children; however, parents and teachers need to speak up to defend our children and grandchildren. We are in danger of raising a group of children who are stressed out by overtesting, mathematics made more confusing than necessary, and English reading assignments that are not only inappropriate for their age group, but contradict the values they are being taught at home.

How To Waste $350,000 And A Lot Of Time And Energy

Today I attended the North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission meeting in Raleigh. This is the Commission that was set up to evaluate Common Core in North Carolina.  It was the final meeting of the Commission and their assignment was to finalize their report of findings and recommendations to the North Carolina State Board of Education by December 31, 2015.

Senate Bill 812 gave the Commission its assignment:

SECTION 2.(c) The Commission shall:

(1)    Conduct a comprehensive review of all English Language Arts and Mathematics standards that were adopted by the State Board of Education under G.S. 115C-12(9c) and propose modifications to ensure that those standards meet all of the following criteria:

  1. Increase students’ level of academic achievement.
  2. Meet and reflect North Carolina’s priorities.
  3. Are age-level and developmentally appropriate.
  4. Are understandable to parents and teachers.
  5. Are among the highest standards in the nation.

Initially the Commission was not funded, but midway through their investigation they received funding.  The Commission formed two Subcommittees–one for English Language Arts and one for Mathematics. They listened to a number of experts speaking both for and against Common Core. Somewhere between the listening and the writing the recommendations, the Commission forgot what they had heard.

The draft of the report includes the following comments about the English curriculum:

  1. Efforts to implement the CCSS have resulted in a poorly sustained ELA curriculum. A clear example is demonstrated in the lack of time available for systematic K-12 writing instruction.
  1. English Language Arts teachers are primarily responsible for the informational text standards. Several teachers suggested that all teachers, regardless of content, share the responsibility for teaching informational text.
  1. The desire of many high school teachers is that ELA standardsreturn to a strong emphasis on rich, historical literature

The draft includes the following comments about the Mathematics curriculum:

  1. North Carolina’s K-8 mathematics standards are unclear and include numerous typos, errors, and mathematical mistakes.
  1. The North Carolina K-8 mathematics standards specify that teachers frequently use models. However, as evidenced by numerous published examples and parent complaints, some teachers make computations with models into monstrously complex exercises that parents and students cannot understand. In addition, these teachers require students to master these computations in contradiction to the NCDPI policy of letting students use any method they know.

The working draft of the Commission includes a realistic detailed account of many of the problems with Common Core. Assuming that draft stays available to the public, parents can read it to confirm their own observations.

The Commission report included recommendations for improvement in both English and Mathematics. The recommendations concerning changes to the English curriculum were rather vague and wouldn’t seriously impact Common Core. There was nothing in those standards about getting rid of Common Core. Those standards were quickly adopted by the Commission. It was also suggested that similar recommendations be applied to the Mathematics curriculum. They were quickly adopted. That’s when the meeting got interesting. The subcommittee that evaluated Common Core Mathematics made two strong suggestions:

In order to have world-class standards, all of the topics recommended by the National Mathematics Advisory Panel (NMAP) for the high school mathematics sequence should be included in the North Carolina standards. In addition, the following recommendations are offered for grades K-8 and high school mathematics.

Grades K-8

  1. Adopt the Minnesota standards, which may require some editing to fit North Carolina’s needs while meeting the NMAP benchmarks. The revision process should include experts in childhood learning and development, a few university faculty, and a significant number of experienced North Carolina teachers with reputable success teaching K-8 mathematics. The State Board of Education, instead of NCDPI, should choose this committee because some members of NCDPI have extensive connections with the national common core group.

Note the last sentence: The State Board of Education, instead of NCDPI, should choose this committee because some members of NCDPI have extensive connections with the national common core group.

The mathematics subcommittee was blindsided as both of these recommendations were voted down by the Commission. It became clear that the serious efforts put forth by Dr. John T. Scheik and his subcommittee were intentionally being ignored. The original mathematics subcommittee recommendations were gone and only the watered-down, toothless recommendations previously designated for the English standards were left. The money and connections behind Common Core have temporarily won the day, and the school children of North Carolina have lost (at least temporarily).

If you are a parent or grandparent of a child in North Carolina schools, please note the following: If you do not get involved in the movement to end Common Core in North Carolina, your child or grandchild will not get the quality of education that you should be able to expect. It is now up to parents and grandparents to become involved. Your children’s future depends on it.

About That Transparency Thing…

As anyone who regularly reads this blog is aware, I am involved in the fight against Common Core in North Carolina. There is a better plan, the North Carolina Education Plan, that would better suit the students of North Carolina–it will encourage critical thinking and improve both their reading and mathematics skills. Common Core is a one-size-fits-all group of standards that is heavily funded by the Bill Gates Foundation and supported by the political class in Washington, D.C. Bill Gates himself has stated, “It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.”  The father of Common Core is the “No Child Left Behind” Law which moved a large part of education in America under the control of the federal government. Just for the record, the federal government does not have the Constitutional right to control local education. Well, No Child Left Behind has morphed into the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, now before Congress.

On Thursday, Truth In American Education posted an article about the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

The article stated:

Because the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind) will be the largest piece of federal education legislation Congress will pass in over a decade, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) should allow the bill to be made publicly available for at least 60 days before the House considers it.

The bill is not scheduled to be made publicly available until November 30th. Thus, a vote should not be scheduled until late January. Currently, it is scheduled for December 2; two days is clearly not sufficient. House members will be forced to vote on a bill they haven’t read.

The American people expected a new style of leadership under Speaker Ryan, not more of the same. If he allows a bill of this magnitude to become law without adequately vetting its merits and faults, it will affirm that the same ills that plagued Congress under Speaker Boehner remain fully intact.

Transparency is obviously an issue here, but there are other issues.

The article further states:

What we have heard, but can’t confirm:

The new bill is hundreds of pages longer than either prior version.

It contains new programs that weren’t in either prior version.

There is a new competitive grant for pre-schools- think Race to the Top for Tots

Very complex language that is unclear. This means the US Depart of Education will have tremendous leeway to interpret it to the advantage of the federal government. Because it has discretion over how to administer the law, unclear language makes it easier for the US Department of Education to justify and make decisions to place requirements on the states through its rule-making authority.

Education needs to be under local control. Admittedly, every student in America needs to learn basic English and Mathematics, but different areas of the country have different educational needs beyond that. Americans are individuals, we need to have an education system that educates individuals. One size does not fit all.

One thing that could really help the federal budget would be to get rid of the Department of Education on the federal level. In 1953, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare became a cabinet-level agency of the U.S. government. In 1979, Jimmy Carter created the cabinet-level Department of Education. In 1979, the Office of Education had 3,000 employees and an annual budget of $12 billion. When the Department of Education was created, it had an annual budget of $14.2 billion and 17,000 employees. According to the government Budget Office, the U. S. Department of Education currently administers a budget of $67.1 billion in discretionary appropriations. I truly think it is time for them to go away.

I also think it is time for Speaker Paul Ryan to live up to his promises about transparency.

Today’s Academic Standards Review Commission Meeting

Today I attended the meeting of the Academic Standards Review Commission in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Commission was established by Senate Bill 812 which went into effect on July 1, 2014. The short title of the bill is, “Replace Common Core To Meet NC‘s Needs.” During the meeting, Representative Larry G. Pittman, District 82, Cabarrus, read a letter he had written to the commission.

This is the text of the letter:

The report from the ASRC should include a copy of the bill, SB 812, that created the ASRC.

Next, there should be a summary of the process followed by the Commission.

There should be a summary of the input from all parties who presented to the Commission.

There should be a summary of all the alternatives to Common Core that were examined by the Commission.

The report should conclude with the recommendations of the Commission for replacing Common Core. In the title of the bill, it plainly says that the purpose of the Commission is to replace Common Core. This means removing Common Core and replacing it with something else. It does not mean rebranding, “tweaking,” or rewriting Common Core. It means getting rid of it. So that is what the recommendations from the ASRC should be.

The meeting included a discussion of the reports of the progress students have made in mathematics and English since Common Core was implemented. Some scores show some improvement, and in many cases, the scores have gone down. The ‘experts’ had many excuses for this. but the fact is that Common Core has not been the magic bullet the education establishment claimed it would be. The main success of Common Core has been to set up a data collection system on our children that makes the NSA look like pikers. Common Core has also put technical platform requirements on our schools that will amount to large amounts of unfunded liabilities in future years.

On September 27, 2013, The Washington Post reported the following statement by Bill Gates, the force behind Common Core, “It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.” I

I have a question for parents in all parts of America. Are you willing to turn your children over to an education system that invades your and your children’s privacy, is totally unproven, and tells them that their parents don’t know how to do things? If not, it is time for you to get involved. Begin at your local school board. If that doesn’t work, go to your state legislator. If that doesn’t work, write a letter to the editor of the newspaper. If you want your child to grow up to be a knowledgeable, contributing member of society, I strongly suggest that you begin to speak out against Common Core.

There were less than 20 people observing the meeting today. Common Core will not go away unless more parents make noise and get involved. Find out what your state is doing about Common Core and fight for your child’s future.

Reinventing The Wheel

On Monday, I attended the monthly meeting of the Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC).

The Academic Standards Review Commission was established by General Assembly of North Carolina Session 2013 Session Law 2014-78 Senate Bill 812.

SECTION 2.(c) The Commission shall:

(1)    Conduct a comprehensive review of all English Language Arts and Mathematics standards that were adopted by the State Board of Education under G.S. 115C-12(9c) and propose modifications to ensure that those standards meet all of the following criteria:

  1. Increase students’ level of academic achievement.
  2. Meet and reflect North Carolina’s priorities.
  3. Are age-level and developmentally appropriate.
  4. Are understandable to parents and teachers.
  5. Are among the highest standards in the nation.

(2)   As soon as practicable upon convening, and at any time prior to termination, recommend changes and modifications to these academic standards to the State Board of Education.

(3)   Recommend to the State Board of Education assessments aligned to proposed changes and modifications that would also reduce the number of high-stakes assessments administered to public schools.

(4)   Consider the impact on educators, including the need for professional development, when making any of the recommendations required in this section.

The Commission shall assemble content experts to assist it in evaluating the rigor ofacademic standards. The Commission shall also involve interested stakeholders in this processand otherwise ensure that the process is transparent.

 

The Commission has worked hard, but unfortunately, the Commission has been trying to re-invent the wheel rather than draw on what has already been successful in North Carolina and other states. A group of educators has put together the North Carolina Education Plan, which is based on standards that were successful in other places. Minnesota (pre-Common Core) math standards have proven to be successful and Massachusetts (pre-Common Core) English standards have proven to be successful. The North Carolina Education Plan builds on these successes. Parents have expressed their dissatisfaction with Common Core–the excessive testing have created unnecessary stress in young children and children who loved going to school now dread going. There is also the issue of data mining, privacy violations and unfunded mandates in terms of electronic equipment in future years.

Common Core is a horrible program backed by some people with very large sums of money. It is time for parents to get together and make their voices heard.

Lady Liberty also attended the ASRC meeting. These are a few of her comments:

An initial draft of the ASRC’s recommendations for both ELA and Math was presented. There were 8 ELA and 11 math draft recommendations.

Of note in the draft ELA recommendations was recognition that the Common Core as it stands is not age/developmentally appropriate, “ELA standards need to be revised or rewritten to be developmentally appropriate for the students“.

Of note in the Math recommendations had several items of note, with quite a few centering on the Common Core’s inability to provide a decent math experience for high schoolers:

“A return to the sequence of studying Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II is strongly recommended.”

“High school math standards in their current form appear to be not only repetitive but also give no clear set of standards or curriculum for each of the three courses.”

Overall, the consensus has been that the integrated math under Common core is not only confusing but insufficient for students wishing to advance to a four year school.

For the K-8, the recommendation is to totally chuck Common Core.

“For K-8 Math, it is recommended that the Minnesota standards be adopted. These standards meet the benchmarks of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel whose findings were released in 2008; Common Core does not meet these benchmarks, nor does any other state’s standards. NMAP was specifically created to study how mathematics instruction in the U.S. could be made world competitive again.”

The ASRC would do well to take a good look at the North Carolina Education Plan. It would save the state a lot of money and the parents in the state a lot of aggravation.

 

One Way To End Common Core In North Carolina

I have been to most of the Academic Standard Review Commission (ASRC) meetings in the past year. I have listened as the committee went over the same territory multiple times and unsuccessfully attempted to reinvent the wheel. It is a shame that they are wasting so much effort when the wheel has already been invented and is pretty much free for the asking. The North Carolina Education Coalition has created the North Carolina Education Plan  (NCEP) based on successful standards used in other states. The standards in the North Carolina Education Plan have been endorsed by Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram, two people who worked on the Common Core standards but were so unhappy with the final product that they refused to endorse it. While the ASRC is reinventing the wheel in Raleigh, other states are examining the NCEP with a view toward implementing the plan. The NCEP is based on standards with proven results. We won’t truly know the results of Common Core for another ten years; and frankly, the initial test results are not encouraging.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, the head of the Department of Public Instruction is an elected position. That position is currently held by Dr. June Atkinson, a very nice southern lady who strongly supports Common Core. It is assumed that Dr. Atkinson will run for another four-year term. However, there is another, very interesting candidate in the race.

Yesterday The Daily Haymaker reported:

To extend her stay in Raleigh, ol’ June (Atkinson) will have to slip past Dr. Rosemary Stein of Burlington.   Stein, a Republican, has been a vocal opponent of Common Core AND ObamaCare.     (She starred in a national advertisement critical of ObamaCare.)   Her issue positions include support for phonics education, for increased parental involvement, and for classical education.

Her position  on English as a Second Language courses (ESL) will surely play into the current debate about immigration and amnesty.  She traveled as a child to Canada to enroll in a French-only school.  She mastered the language via immersion, and believes this is a much better route than the current policy of yanking kids out of regular classrooms for special ESL sessions.

Dr. Stein comes from a long line of teachers and school administrators, and is a trustee at Alamance Community College.  She and her husband run a pediatric practice in Burlington.

Dr. Stein is what we need to ensure that the children of North Carolina get a good education. As a pediatrician, she is involved with children and parents on a regular basis. This gives her a clear understanding of the issues in our schools. It also allows her to understand some of the problems in Common Core related to age-appropriateness of the material.

If you live in North Carolina and are concerned about your children’s education, Dr. Stein is a good choice to bring a new vision into the Department of Public Instruction.

 

Why Local Elections Matter

It is a given that parents care about the education of their children. Currently, North Carolina has an Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC) which is looking at the Common Core standards to see if they are appropriate for North Carolina. The ASRC has heard testimony from people who support Common Core and from people who oppose it. I have attended a number of the ASRC meetings, and have listened to both sides of the story. I have learned that even the teachers who like Common Core talk about the difficulties in implementing it. I have also learned that two of the people involved in the creation of Common Core have refused to sign off on the program because it did not do what it was supposedly intended to do. I have also learned that there is some information gathering included in Common Core that makes the NSA look like amateurs. Common Core is a copyrighted program, making it difficult to alter, that includes millions of dollars in unfunded liabilities because of the software licensing and computers needed to meet the testing requirements of the program. These are just a few of the issues. On September 21, 2013, (according to The Washington Post), Bill Gates stated, “It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.” Just for the record, The Daily Caller reported in March 2014 that the children of Bill Gates attend a private school that does not use Common Core standards. Common Core for thee, but not for me.

So where am I going with this? I am looking at the way local school boards are not looking out for the students in their districts. On September 19, 2015, The New Bern Sun Journal posted a story about the Craven County Board of Education. The state has recently released the test scores for area schools for last year. Common Core has been in North Carolina since the 2012-2-13 school year, so these scores reflect the success (or failure) of Common Core.

The article mentioned that across North Carolina, 72.2 percent of traditional public schools received grades of C or better. The article also notes that in 2014-2015, the period covered by the grades, there is a 15-point scale used in the grading process. That means that a C is from a 55 to a 69. Meanwhile, the students are on a different grade scale–a scale which would consider those numbers as failing grades. What we have here is a different standard for the school than for the students. How convenient. Note that this shows that more than one fourth of the schools scored below a 55. Wow.

There is a very viable option to Common Core–it is called the North Carolina Education Plan, and is based on a successful program previously used in Greensboro. This is the website.

If you are a parent, there are a number of things you can do to protect your child’s education. You can begin attending Board of Education Meetings and speaking out when those in charge try to tell you that a failing grade is not a failing grade. You can also seek out people to run for the local Board of Education who will look out for your child’s education and not simply go along with what the state bureaucracy tells them. You have a voice in your child’s education. You have the option of speaking out or remaining silent and paying the consequences.

There Is A Good Alternative To Common Core

Common Core has come under fire for many reasons. It is an untested academic standards program the involves data mining activities that make the NSA look like amateurs. The program claims it is not curricula, but a close examinations shows that it controls curricula by controlling a test program that has put undue stress on our schoolchildren. There are also a number of child development specialists who have stated that much of the material included in Common Core is inappropriate for the age groups receiving the instruction.

There is a better way to educate our children than Common Core. The North Carolina Education Plan has been developed in North Carolina as an alternative to Common Core. The developers of the North Carolina Education Plan (NCEP) recently met with Classroom Teachers Association of North Carolina President, Judy Kidd and Steve Oreskovic in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The goal of the meeting was to form an alliance to move the NCEP forward in North Carolina. One of the major items on the agenda in moving NCEP forward is to end the Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA). This aspect of Common Core forces schools to collect information on children, including photographs and biometric data. It is the first link in the K through work force chain that is envisioned for this and future generations.

These are some of the problems with the KEA: 1) Teachers must evaluate, profile students and being an electronic portfolio on each five year old entering the system. This profile contains clinical areas such as Emotional & Social Development. These areas are not only clinical in nature, but are very subjective. 2) Data collection cannot be secured. Using a “unique identifier” (UID) does not guarantee the child’s name cannot be hacked. If pictures and videos are used to determine performance level, identification of any child is easily obtainable. The data collection goes outside of the schoolhouse and follows the child for five years into the workforce. 3) Where is the data going to be stored? What data will be part of the Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) and Common Education Data Analysis & Reporting System (CEDARS)? Where does the data go? Raleigh, Washington? It is national in scope. 4) Do parents know this data is being collected for the child until adulthood?

There are other issues with Common Core, such as unfunded mandates in the form of Microsoft computer update and software licensing requirements [understandable when you consider that Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft) is one of the major financial backers of Common Core]. Common Core is expensive compared to the NCEP.  Despite its claims, Common Core does not embrace the concept of Critical Thinking in its curricula. It is also untested.

The North Carolina Education Plan has been presented to the North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission. They are in the process of studying the NCEP and other options as they prepare to make their recommendations to the state. Hopefully North Carolina will be the first state to adopt its own home-grown program for providing a quality education for the students in the state.

Common Core In North Carolina

Yesterday the Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC) met in Raleigh. Jerry Egolf presented the North Carolina Plan (an alternative to Common Core which is less expensive than Common Core and has its origins in the Greensboro Plan). The North Carolina Plan would bring our schools up to some of the highest standards in the nation–it includes parts of the Greensboro Plan, Massachusetts (before Common Core), Minnesota’s math programs, and California (before Common Core). It would be a wonderful alternative to Common Core.

Lady Liberty posted the following on her blog about the meeting:

Yesterday was the June meeting of the Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC), which is tasked at reviewing the Common Core standards in order to give replacement recommendations to the State Board of Education at the end of this year.

Local media was on hand for yesterday’s event, as it included public comment from parents. Well, it was supposed to be parents. Near the end, the NC PTA President, Donald Dunn, jumped in.

Dunn’s comments were a series of pro-Core talking points; one in particular on Military families “needing the Common Core” has been thoroughly debunked. Time Warner Cable news covered the introduction of the NC Plan, which is a full set of free standards based on the best of the best state and international standards available. Time Warner Cable new also interviewed NC parent, Amy Wilmoth:

“Amy Wilmoth attended with her son Reeves.

She made the decision in February to pull her 9-year-old son from Mangum Elementary School in favor of a home school online curriculum with Liberty University; however, they remain conflicted.

“We wanna send him back to the public school system. My husband and I both are products of the public school system. But it was a very different environment then. We were able to learn and teachers had the ability to teach the children as they saw fit to teach then, and I see that missing in our school system,” said Wilmoth.”

I attended the event and also spoke as a parent of a Wake county student. Around 15 parents spoke; only three spoke in support of the standards. I’ll have more on this testimony from the supporters once I compile my notes and finish some research on some of the attendees.

I live-tweeted the event, which can be read on Storify.

The Intolerance Of Those Who Call For Tolerance

On Thursday the Daily Haymaker posted an article about some recent events in North Carolina that are an affront to the concept of freedom of speech. Recently New Hanover County school board member Tammy Covil posted an opinion on a closed Facebook page.

This is her post and one of the replies after it was screen captured and sent to the Democrat party:

covil

She posted this on a Facebook page that was supposed to be for a closed group. It is her personal opinion. Obviously it does not agree with the person who replied at Equality NC, but are they both not entitled to their opinions?

The article concludes and suggests a course of action:

The left sees Covil as a big problem.  She is serving on the state’s Common Core study commission. My New Hanover sources tell me she is a possibility for superintendent of the school district there.

Covil has spoken out against the teaching of nonsense like “gender fluidity.”  (I’ve heard about that in some amphibians and reptiles, but not in humans.)

The lynch mob has already set up a Facebook page aimed at shutting Covil down.

If you live in New Hanover County, do what you can to help this woman out.  If you don’t live there, talk to any of your friends who do.  Donate money to her campaign. Leaders like Tammy Covil — who dare to stand firm on their principles — are our only hope for saving our society, our culture, and our country.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of gay marriage, there is no reason to shut down free speech on the issue. Ms. Covil is a conscientious person who is doing a good job in her role as a New Hanover County School Committee member and as a member of the Common Core study commission. What she said, essentially, is that she holds a Biblical view of marriage. She is as entitled to her belief as those who oppose her are to theirs. The difference is that she is not trying to shut down their right of free speech.

The Anti-Common Core Rally In Raleigh, North Carolina, on May 16th

This article is composed of information taken from a slightly longer article written by the Common Core Diva. Please follow the link to the article to read the Twitter posts. Here are the highlights of the article:

For the anti CCSS warriors out there, this “Riddle Me This” article’s query will be super easy to solve!! What do you get when you take a room full of concerned citizens, add a dash of sassiness, throw in lots of facts, AND create a spark of inspiration??? The answer is: the North Carolina Academic Freedom Alliance’s “Rally in Raleigh”!

I was honored to be among the featured speakers there for the event. In attendance were citizens from all over the state of NC. Thanks to social media, anti CCSS warriors across the globe were able to keep updated, as well. Some pretty big news was shared that can be vital to our movement.

I’m providing a recap of the information shared via Twitter yesterday  in the event you haven’t been able to access the social media outlet. It’s also helpful to have all your information in one article.

The Morning was Off to a Great Start:

The Rally opened with a great thinking question for those in attendance that went something like this..“Why bother fighting CCSS? We know those behind it are bigger than us.” Several vocal responses were given, but by far and away the best one was “Because it’s the right thing to do.”

Presentations:

Up first for the day was Andrea Dillon (aka ‘LadyLiberty1885′) as she gave us the NC CCSS Facts NOT from the media, but from her own research and digging through NC’s legislation and hearings. We learned things the big media sources missed! She also shared with us just how and when she got involved in the CCSS fight.

Tireless Teachers:

Also presenting to us during the Rally were 2 retired-from-full -time-teaching-but-active-in- either-substituting-in-classrooms-or-tutoring NC teachers. Their devotion to fighting CCSS is epic, their work invaluable, and their faith in the positive prospect the NC Plan (the completed set of standards that blows the doors off CCSS) is truly exciting.

The Good Doctor:

While there was a tremendous amount of great information, the MOST inspiring bit of news we all received was that Dr. Rosemary Stein officially announced her plans to run for NC State Superintendent of NC Public Schools!! Dr. Stein presented a brilliant presentation on the horrid developmental damage given to our young students, thanks to CCSS. Her expertise (along with her husband’s; he’s also in the medical profession) in not only children, but their learning gave us much insight. Her passion against Common Core was refreshing. When she said she could handle the awesome job of head of DPI, we certainly were thrilled! (During Andrea’s presentation, it was shared that the huge conflict of interest with the current head, Dr. Atkinson {she’s both head of NC DPI AND the President of CCSSO} is certainly investigation worthy.)

The Final Author of the NC Plan:

Jerry Egolf, the last of the 3 NC Plan authors also presented much information during the Rally. Like everyone who presented, his entire portion will be available on You Tube in about 1 week.

Closing:

While there is SO much more I could go on and on about, I am anxious to get this news to you! If you can’t wait for the Rally’s You Tube video debut in about 1 week (has to be edited), you can always email the North Carolina Academic Freedom Alliance main contact person, Don Watson and request them via email. They will be returned to you as files you can download, I believe. To email Don, dwatson83@att.net

One other HUGE bit of anti CCSS Warrior news is that there are currently 3 states which are also wanting to use the NC Plan!! TN, WI, and FL. Wouldn’t that be wonderful: 4 states so embedded with CCSS that they actually face an alternative superior to CCSS?!

Oh, as far as what I shared..I think you can guess some of it! There will be some surprises on the video for you from others, as well as myself.

Unfortunately Money Can Buy Things It Shouldn’t

On Monday, Wicked Local Scituate posted a story about teachers in Massachusetts fighting the adoption of Common Core in their state. Scituate is a beautiful town on the Massachusetts coast about 25 miles from Boston. The median income in the town between 2000 and 2011 was slightly over $100,000. In February 2015, the average price of a house in Scituate was $545,000. I mention this just to give you an idea of the town that publishes the paper involved. I should also mention that in Massachusetts the word ‘wicked’ is frequently used as an adjective. Please follow the link above to read the entire article.

The article states a few facts about the pre-Common Core successes of education in Massachusetts and reminds us of the actions of two courageous members of the validation committee who refused to sign off on Common Core:

According to many of its critics, early childhood experts, teachers, parents, and local school committees were barely consulted during the inception of the Common Core and were inadequately represented on its validation committee. The only two educators on the panel, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, perhaps the nation’s preeminent ELA (English Language Arts) specialist (and a former senior associate commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education) and Dr. James Milgram, a mathematics professor from Stanford University, refused to sign off on the Common Core validation statement because they did not support the Common Core’s standards or the program itself, on the basis that the Common Core standards were not research-based, rigorous or internationally benchmarked.

The writer of the article gathered his information about Common Core from a friend who is an early childhood expert of 20 years, a private school teacher, and mother of a third-grader, and who was lobbying against Common Core in Massachusetts.

The article reports:

So why did Massachusetts, which in 2007 was nationally ranked in the 90th percentile for student achievement in standardized testing, adopt a curriculum that had little transparency or accountability and choose to rate teachers not by how well they taught their content area, but instead on students’ scores on a test of dubious value? Why did the Commonwealth replace its top-notch English and math standards with the weaker national standards of the Common Core? As far as my friend is concerned, the answer is “Cha-ching!”

In 2010, the Massachusetts education commissioner relied on reports from Achieve Inc., the Thomas Fordham Institute, and the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education to support and justify a recommendation to adopt the Common Core. These private organizations had one common thread—the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which invested more than $200 million dollars in promoting the Common Core curriculum.

The article goes on to explain some of the other financial dealings related to Common Core.

The article concludes:

There is no regard for individual and collective aptitudes and motivations within a particular classroom, or for the presentation of developmentally appropriate content. Teachers cannot celebrate or assess the different learning styles of their students, because all students must learn and test the same way. We have gone from educator-created content and teaching methods to a state of test takers and test teachers, who are forced to adhere to a one-size fits all model of standardization.

My friend and her allies in the education community are seeking to convince the state’s political leaders to reinstitute the education standards and testing regime, which prevailed prior to the adoption of the Common Core. Time will tell whether those efforts are successful, but their voice is growing louder, and I can’t see them giving up without a fight.

These are the same objections we are hearing from teachers and parents around the country. It is time to fight the moneyed interests that are promoting Common Core and do what is best for our children.

 

Common Core In North Carolina

Yesterday I attended the Academic Standards Review Commission in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The Academic Standards Review Commission was established by General Assembly of North Carolina Session 2013 Session Law 2014-78 Senate Bill 812.

Section 2(c) of the Bill states:

SECTION 2.(c) The Commission shall:

(1)    Conduct a comprehensive review of all English Language Arts and Mathematics standards that were adopted by the State Board of Education under G.S. 115C-12(9c) and propose modifications to ensure that those standards meet all of the following criteria:

  1. Increase students’ level of academic achievement.
  2. Meet and reflect North Carolina’s priorities.
  3. Are age-level and developmentally appropriate.
  4. Are understandable to parents and teachers.
  5. Are among the highest standards in the nation.

(2)   As soon as practicable upon convening, and at any time prior to termination, recommend changes and modifications to these academic standards to the State Board of Education.

(3)   Recommend to the State Board of Education assessments aligned to proposed changes and modifications that would also reduce the number of high-stakes assessments administered to public schools.

(4)   Consider the impact on educators, including the need for professional development, when making any of the recommendations required in this section.

The Commission shall assemble content experts to assist it in evaluating the rigor ofacademic standards. The Commission shall also involve interested stakeholders in this processand otherwise ensure that the process is transparent.

The Commission is continuing its work, looking at Math and English standards in states such as Massachusetts (before Common Core), Texas, Minnesota, and others. As the Commission does its research, it is becoming obvious that Common Core is not the best way to improve the education of our students in this state. It was also noted by a member of the Commission that despite its claims to the contrary, Common Core does not make students either college or career ready.

It was interesting to me to hear the discussions relating to helping high school students prepare for both careers and college. It was noted that a student may work for a year or two before deciding to attend college, and that student needs to be prepared for college if he decides to attend. Not every high school student goes to college immediately after graduation, but many students do attend later.

I was impressed by the concern of the Commission for the teachers to have a chance to become familiar with any standards that might be adopted. At one point a Commission member noted that ‘we need to determine what is best for North Carolina–not rush into something as was done with Common Core.’

There will be another meeting next month as they continue their investigation.