We Need More Letters Like This

Lady Liberty is a North Carolina blogger who also attended the Academic Standards Review Commission meeting yesterday. She posted the following letter from another person who was there. This is the letter:

ASRC Commissioners,

I was one of several attendees at the ASRC Event today.  The pro Common Core member of this commission who was the architect of what took place today was brilliant.

First, the order of the meeting to pass all the ELA Sub Committee’s recommendations with unanimous votes.  Of course there was nothing contentious in these recommendations, since the best I can tell, it merely restated the S812 bill expectations of this committee.  The committee met for 15 months to simply send back to the General Assembly a restatement of their assignment?  The General Assembly will no doubt be impressed!  But what happened next was the genius part.  Making what appeared to be a friendly recommendation to improve on the Math Sub Committee’s recommendations in the “Draft” document.  It was even stated, this can only reinforce the Math Sub Committee’s recommendations.  All this took place before the documented recommendations for the math were even allowed to be discussed.  Then witnessing the aggressive attack on Dr. Scheik, whose sub-team did more real work on evaluating standards than the original authors of CCSS, that resulted in failure of all those recommendations to pass the committee vote.  This is when it became crystal clear to me why there was such a push to copy the ELA recommendations to the Math recommendations!  Since none of the math recommendations passed during the voting process, the commission would have had NO math recommendations in their final report.  Absolutely brilliant!

I referenced this as an event in lieu of a meeting, since it was so well orchestrated.  I was impressed by the leadership exhibited in the meeting today by Dr. Scheik, who held to his principals to the bitter end against all odds.  It is disgraceful that this commission would work for 15 months on an assignment to make recommendations and have other members who took no part in the work team, ambush them in this manner.  Real leaders would have done the hard work through the process to develop recommendations of substance, that were acceptable to the majority.  Instead, they just hung around and waited for the opportunity to snipe the work.  With this level of leadership (that includes two State School Board members), it is no surprise to see their steadfast resolve to stay the course on a failed process.

I feel really bad for those commissioners who worked their heart and soul to positively impact the education of our great state of North Carolina, only to have it erased in such a circus event.  I know this was a huge personal sacrifice for those people.

This is far from over since the future of our children is worth fighting for.

Sincerely,

Glenn A. Fink

Thank you, Glenn.

What The People Who Designed It Say About Common Core

Yesterday Breitbart.com posted a story about Common Core. It seems that despite the talk about the need for rigorous academic standards that Common Core supposedly will provide, Common Core is not really about academic standards.

The article states:

In an interview with the Washington Post that summarizes how Bill Gates pulled off the very “swift Common Core revolution,” the Microsoft founder stated, “The country as a whole has a huge problem that low-income kids get less good education than suburban kids get… and that is a huge challenge.”

Gates’s statement underscores further the notion that the Common Core standards initiative is a social engineering project that places education standards ahead of parental and family influences as the major cause of poor student performance in low-income and minority communities.

Regardless of the push by various Gates-funded organizations to boast the Common Core standards’ “rigor,” the real motivation to correct what is viewed as societal injustices was underscored even by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan who said last November that it was “fascinating” that some of the opposition to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is coming from “white suburban moms who – all of a sudden – their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”

Anyone who has worked in public education knows that two major reasons for poor student achievement are parental involvement and culture. If a student belongs to an ethnic group where academic achievement is frowned upon, that student is not going to achieve. If the parents of a student do not value education, the student will not value education. If the peer group of the student does not value education, the student will not value education. Common Core does not either take either one of those factors into consideration.

The article further explains:

Despite the lack of validity of the Common Core standards, the Post reports that after Gene Wilhoit, director of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and a former Kentucky education commissioner, and Common Core “architect” David Coleman met with Gates about funding the development of the standards, Gates’s foundation gave over $5 million to the University of North Carolina-affiliated Hunt Institute, led by former Gov. Jim Hunt (D). The Hunt Institute then coordinated more than a dozen organizations, including the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, National Council of La Raza, Achieve, Inc., the two national teachers’ unions, and the two groups that are the copyright owners of the Common Core standards – CCSSO and the National Governors Association (NGA).

Talking points about the standards were then developed by GMMB, a communications firm owned by Jim Margolis, a top Democrat strategist and veteran of both of Obama’s presidential campaigns.

Public relations firms, big corporations, and unions are not the answer to America‘s education problems. One of the differences in education in the past fifty years is the change in parental attitudes. Back in the age of dinosaurs when I was in school, if you got in trouble (or got bad grades) in school, you were also in trouble at home. Somehow in the past fifty years the equation has changed in many families–if you are in trouble at school, it’s the teacher’s fault. Teachers are afraid not to send children on to the next grade due to pressure from parents and often, pressure from school administrators.

The problem in our schools is not in the curriculum or standards–it is in requiring students to meet a standard.

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More Information On Common Core

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is a set of national standards for kindergarten through grade 12 developed primarily by a nonprofit group called Achieve, Inc., in Washington, D.C. The standard was developed under the auspices of the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School OFficers (CCSSO). Common Core was developed without state legislative authority–it was developed on a federal level.

According to the U.S. Constitution, education is a matter left to the states–not the federal government. The incentive for the states to buy into Common Core was No Child Left Behind waivers and Race-to-theTop grants. The idea was to institute Common Core before anyone really understood what it was.

Part of Common Core is extensive and invasive data collection on students and their families. To quote U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan (from a June 8, 2009, speech), “Hopefully some day, we can track children from preschool to high school and from high school to college and college to career.” Do you really want to subject your child to government tracking from the moment they enter preschool until they die?

Another part of Common Core rarely mentioned is the unfunded mandates. Unfunded mandates are the things that will eventually bankrupt most cities and states. They include such things as employee retirement funding that does not set aside money in current budgets. Medical insurance for retirees that again is not funded in current budgets is also an unfunded liability. Common Core works in a similar way–new textbooks, instructional materials, data-tracking systems, and professional development costs are not included in the supposed cost. A recent study estimates that implementation will cost $16 billion or more nationwide–90 percent will be paid by states and local districts. We don’t need this extra expense in our state or local governments.

These are some of the problems with Common Core. There are others that parents need to be concerned with–age-inappropriate lessons, lower high school reading standards, and politically charged history lessons. It’s time to let our states and local school boards set standards and chose curricula for our students. If you feel that your local school board is not doing a good job, you have the ballot box. The state of your children’s schools is your responsibility.

Oklahoma Moves To Ditch Common Core

Yesterday National Review Online posted an article announcing that Oklahoma is preparing to withdraw the state from the Common Core standards.

The article reports:

The bill to get the Sooner State (out) was hugely popular in both houses. House Bill 3399 was approved by the state house in a 78 to 12 vote before being sent to the state senate for amendments. On Tuesday, the state senate voted 37 to 10 in favor of the bill. The bill will now go to the House for another vote before being sent to the governor’s desk.

Oklahoma was one of the first states to adopt the Common Core standards in June of 2010, after a vote by the state board of education. However, the Sooner State later dropped out of the Common Core’s standardized testing consortium in the summer of 2013. Fallin then issued an executive order in December directing the Secretary of Education to make sure the federal government “does not intrude in Oklahoma’s development of academic curricula and teaching strategies.”

Evidently Governor Fallin took a closer look at the curricula and teaching strategies.

The problem with Common Core is not the idea of setting standards–we all want high educational standards for our children and grandchildren. The problem with Common Core is the curricula and teaching strategies–the method used to teach math to elementary children is so complex that people with advanced degrees struggle with it. Some of the reading material recommended in the curricula is not age-appropriate for any age. One textbook recommended to be used with Common Core for high school history describes America as the aggressor in World War II. Again, the problem is not the standards–it’s the curricula and teaching strategies.

I hope that more states will follow the example of Indiana (which has already opted out of Common Core) and Oklahoma.

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Learning From Indiana

In most states, Common Core is coming to a school near you. I have been involved in movements trying to stop Common Core in two states. I believe the program is not good for America–it doesn’t allow individual communities, schools, and teachers the flexibility to teach the children in the communities effectively. I strongly object to the idea of curriculum and testing being controlled by Washington rather than individual communities.

The Heritage Foundation posted an article on what is happening with Common Core in Indiana. The article states:

Common Core began as a broad reform, dreamed up by the bipartisan National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, to provide a high-quality base of academic standards that any state in the country could choose to use. In 2010, Indiana became one of the first states to adopt the standards. By June 2012, 45 states, plus the District of Columbia, also began the implementation process.

Common Core already is woven into the fabric of American education. And where the words “Common Core” appear, protests are not far behind.

The article quotes one parent’s response to Common Core. This response totally sums up the problem:

“When parents still weren’t buying what [the publisher’s representative] was selling, our principal in frustration threw up his hands and said, ‘Look, I know parents don’t like this type of math because none of us were taught this way, but we have to teach it this way because this is how it’s going to be on the new [standardized] assessment. And that was the moment when I realized control of what was being taught in my child’s classroom  —  in a parochial Catholic school  —  had not only left the building, it had left the state of Indiana. And to me, that was a frightening thought.”

The complexity of the way mathematics is taught to first, second and third graders is unnecessary and confusing to many of the students. Problems that parents can easily do in two or three steps now take as many as fifty steps.

The article at Heritage reports that Indiana has put Common Core on hold until further investigation is completed:

“By pausing implementation, Indiana wanted to assess the cost to taxpayers and the quality of the standards – something every state that adopted the standards should have done prior to adoption,” says Lindsey M. Burke, The Heritage Foundation’s Will Skillman fellow in education. “While it’s still unclear exactly what the long-term outcome will be in Indiana, the Hoosier State provided a blueprint for other states that are interested in putting implementation on hold.”

The article reports some of the efforts to stop Common Core:

Angela Davidson Weinzinger founded the Facebook group Parents and Educators Against Common Core Standards in early 2013 and saw membership jump to thousands by that summer. She was taken by surprise by the Common Core standards in California, where she is a school board member in the Travis Unified District.

“When people first join the [Facebook] group, it’s usually because they’ve noticed the homework coming home with their kids,” Weinzinger says. She encourages new members to read information shared on the Facebook page, then contact their local representatives. “Common Core can’t be fought on a national level at this point. It has to be done in your states,” she tells people.

There will be a hearing in Raleigh on March 20 on Common Core. If you have children in school in North Carolina, you need to be there to fight for your children’s education.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. When you know what is in Common Core, you will want to stop it.

 

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Who Do Your Children Belong To?

The Heritage Foundation posted an article today pointing out that because parents are become more aware of what the program is, many states are renaming the Common Core program in order to sneak it past the parents. The curriculum is unacceptable to parents for a variety of reasons.

The article reports:

The Common Core State Standards Initiative, as it is officially known, began in earnest in early 2009. The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers drafted the standards, but the effort quickly became a Washington-centric one. To induce states to adopt the standards, the federal government:

  • Offered more than $4.35 billion in Race to the Top grants.
  • Directly financed the two national testing consortia developing the assessments to test whether students learn according to the standards.
  • Have offered waivers to states from the onerous provisions of No Child Left Behind in exchange for common standards adoption.
  • Have created a technical review panel for the tests housed at the U.S. Department of Education.

Parents recognize that Common Core national standards and tests will require them to relinquish one of their most powerful tools to effect school improvement: control of academic content, standards, and testing through their state and local policymakers. Parents recognize that Common Core takes their seats at the table, further removing them from the decision-making process in favor of decisions being centrally made by national organizations and Washington bureaucrats.

The last thing this country needs is Washington bureaucrats messing up children’s education.

The article quotes a very troubling statement:

“The children belong to all of us,” former Massachusetts Education Secretary Paul Reville recently stated. Likewise, according to MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, “We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.” Wrong.

Part of the problem with the education our children are currently receiving is that  the involvement of parents in our schools has decreased greatly because of the need for two wage earners in families. Common Core will totally freeze parents out of all decision processes concerning educational standards for their children–these will now be standards set by the federal government that have no room for individuality.

Common Core needs to be replaced by a plan that allows states and communities to set educational standards that fit their communities. In education, one size does not fit all.

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