The Impact Of Common Core On Education

By 2014, 45 states and the District of Columbia were using the Common Core standards as the basis for the public education of their children. So what has been the impact of Common Core?

U.S. News & World Report posted an article today with the headline, “Across the Board, Scores Drop in Math and Reading for U.S. Students.” So what is going on in our schools?

On October 26th, the website Lady Liberty 1885 posted an article that might give us a clue as to what has gone wrong.

The article included a form to allow teachers to make a “social, emotional and behavioral assessment” of each student.

This is the form:

No wonder to test scores are sinking–the teachers are too busy evaluating the emotional condition of students and filling out forms. Look at some of the items on this form–they are very subjective. If something about a student makes a teacher uneasy or vice versa, will the form be filled out objectively? Who gets to see this form? Does the form follow the student all the way through school? If a student has a bad year, does it follow him into the next year?

The article at Lady Liberty 1885 sums up the situation as follows:

Let’s Recap

So, for those keeping score:

    • A letter about the assessment dated Oct. 18 to parents went out to some students but not all at our schools. The letter did not name the assessment.
    • I got a copy of the letter from another parent at our school on Oct. 23 but had not received one for our child yet.
    • On Oct. 24, the day after I received the copy of the letter and started asking questions, a copy of the Oct. 18 letter magically was given out to my son’s class.
    • Only when I received the opt-out form did I learn the name of the assessment, which is the BIMAS-2.
    • So far, I am being denied my rights as a parent to inspect this tool.
    • No one at my child’s school can show me the tool because no one has access to this behavioral screening tool, not even the principal. This begs the question: how is this second period teacher even rating the kids?
    • According to the principal at my son’s school, only the district communications director, Tim Simmons, can discuss this tool with parents. I have emailed Mr. Simmons directly and have not received a reply yet.

None of what I just enumerated is remotely OK.

WCPSS’ tactic of using district-wide dragnet to pull all students into this experiment is not OK either.

If the district wants to make this tool available to families who may have an at-risk student, great, go ahead and do that, but make it OPT-IN.

This district, and in particular the WCPSS School Board, has a proven track record of running right over the top of parents and it has to stop. Parents have been an afterthought if we are even considered at all. We should be the first thought.

Children belong to their parents and what starts with parents changes everything.

The article at U.S. News & World Report notes:

Most concerning, she (Peggy Carr, associate commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics) said, was that compared to 2017, the scores of lower performing students declined in three of the four grade-subject combinations and those drops are what accounted for the overall drop in average scores.

“The distributions are pulling apart, with the bottom dropping faster,” Carr said. “It’s not clear what’s happening here, but it is clear and it’s consistent.”

“The fact that students who need to make the most academic progress are instead making no progress or are falling further behind is extremely troubling,” Tonya Matthews, vice chairwoman of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees NAEP, said in a statement. “We need to see all students make progress.”

Carr said the score drops cannot be traced to any one specific student subgroup, as almost all of them logged declines. For example, black, Hispanic, Native American and white students in fourth and eighth grades scored lower in reading in 2019 compared to 2017.

“They are generally all declining,” she said. “So we can’t say it’s due to changes and shifts in the populations.”

Carr said that she’d love to be able to more fully analyze all the subgroup data they collect, but her team is strapped for resources. She encouraged other researchers to dig deeper.

How about we go back to the teaching methods that worked in the past? We can get our  curriculum from Minnesota and Massachusetts who have traditionally ranked high in both mathematics and language. Common Core has been a failed experiment that has cheated our children out of the education they need. It has also been a way to force social programs on our children that are an invasion into the privacy of parents and have a detrimental impact on the family unit. It is time to go back to basics. It wasn’t broken–you shouldn’t have tried to fix it!

Ruining The College Board

David Coleman has been the President of the College Board since 2012. David Coleman was one of the people responsible for developing the Common Core standards. He has now brought his total misconceptions of what works in education to the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), long used as an indication of a student’s ability and possible clue to how well they would do in college.

Yesterday The New York Times posted an article that reported the following:

The College Board, the company that administers the SAT exam taken by about two million students a year, will for the first time assess students not just on their math and verbal skills, but also on their educational and socioeconomic backgrounds, entering a fraught battle over the fairness of high-stakes testing.

The company announced on Thursday that it will include a new rating, which is widely being referred to as an “adversity score,” of between 1 and 100 on students’ test results. An average score is 50, and higher numbers mean more disadvantage. The score will be calculated using 15 factors, including the relative quality of the student’s high school and the crime rate and poverty level of the student’s neighborhood.

The rating will not affect students’ test scores, and will be reported only to college admissions officials as part of a larger package of data on each test taker.

The new measurement brings the College Board squarely into the raging national debate over fairness and merit in college admissions, one fueled by enduring court clashes on affirmative action, a federal investigation into a sprawling admissions cheating ring and a booming college preparatory industry that promises results to those who can pay.

Below is a picture of what constitutes the adversity score:

The American Thinker quoted Tucker Carlson, who noted the following about the idea:

It’s kept a secret. “Trust us,” in effect, they say. There is no appeal possible. And as a black box whose inner workings are secret, it becomes an ideal vehicle for engineering the racial results admissions offices desire.

It is easily gamed – fake addresses, even possible income manipulation (by claiming a lot of depreciation, for instance, the way that Donald Trump reported negative income in the 1980s)

And it provides perverse incentives, rewarding victim status, not achievement. Parents who start out with no advantages and work hard to provide a better life for their kids will now be handicapping them if they have high incomes and live in nice neighborhoods with good schools.

Obviously if you are a middle class parent living with the father of your children in a respectable neighborhood, the answer would be to divorce your spouse and move to Detroit. That is obscene.

It might also be a good idea to consider the consequences of this new program–how will children who do not have good SAT scores but have great adversity scores do in college? What will be the drop out rate? Will they understand the classes they are taking? The way to achieve diversity in colleges is to change the culture in communities where the work ethic has been lost. There are many first-generation Chinese children living in New York City in poverty that are gaining admission to the top schools in the city because their parents have taught them to work hard in school. Rather than risk putting students in college that are academically unprepared for what they are going to face, shouldn’t we simply encourage a cultural change in poor communities that rewards hard work in school. It can make a difference–Ben Carson is a shining example of a child growing up poor with a single parent who lacked education that taught her children the value of education. Let’s lift people up instead of making excuses for them because of where they grew up.

Early Voting In North Carolina

Early voting in North Carolina begins this Thursday. I suspect that most voters have already made up their minds about the Presidential race, but there are some other offices on the ballot that are important. One of the often overlooked races on the ballot is the race for North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction. Currently that position is held by June Atkinson. There are five people running for that position, including Ms. Atkinson and Henry Pankey in the Democratic primary; and Mark Johnson, J. Wesley Sills, and Dr. Rosemary Stein in the Republican primary.

Superintendent Atkinson is a strong supporter of the Common Core standards. Henry Pankey’s website does not give a clear indication of whether he supports Common Core or not. Mark Johnson does not support Common Core, and J. Wesley Sills’ website is vague on the issue. Dr. Rosemary Stein is a strong opponent of Common Core.

The position of Superintendent of Public Instruction is important because it sets the tone for education in North Carolina. While the office does not totally control education in the state, the decisions made there impact all students across the state. Because I have seen the results of the decisions made by the current Superintendent (in the form of helping one of my granddaughters with her math homework), I am supporting a change. I am voting for Dr. Rosemary Stein for North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction.

In January of this year, Lady Liberty posted an interview she did with Dr. Stein. I am sharing a portion of that article below:

Finally we come to Dr. Rosemary Stein. Stein, who is a medical doctor and a Republican, has a pediatrics practice in Alamance county. Stein is the only other female in the contests and she’s also of Hispanic decent. Stein is a member of the Board of Trustee for Alamance Community College as well as Chair of curriculum there, is the Chair of the NC Republican National Hispanic assembly and is on the Board of the North Carolina Smart Start Foundation. Of note, she is also on the NC Superintendent’s Graduation Task Force.

…I sat down with Dr. Stein and talked to her about why she decided to run and what her biggest priorities are. When asked what the biggest factor that drove her decision to run for Superindent, Stein said that a small article in her local paper sent she and her husband on an investigative journey.

My husband and I started a pediatric clinic 16 years ago. Our clinic provides the best possible care to our patients regardless of the parents’ circumstance in life. Several years ago, we read the Sunday paper in which a list of the top 100 students in the area was printed. Not a single one of our patients was on that list.” said Stein. “This lead us to begin the process of determining why our kids were not succeeding in school.”

During our investigation of this problem, we realized that our children were not able to read at grade level, and in some cases not at all. To solve this problem and not misdiagnose ADD, we began to investigate better methods of teaching reading and math. It was clear that North Carolina was no longer using traditional phonics based reading methods and classical mathematics instruction.”

Today, our children are forced to learn using a curriculum based on Common Core. This method of instruction is developmentally inappropriate.” stated Stein. “It does not teach to the child’s brain development. In fact, because Common Core teaches things to the child at the wrong developmental period of their brain development, it is actually harming their brain development.”

This path is the primary factor in my decision to run for Superintendent of Public Instruction. It is my intention to return North Carolina to the Classical Education model that was used so successfully in America decades ago. It is proven to be developmentally correct for the brain development of the child.”

The different candidates all seem to have some topics that overlap in their platforms. Common Core seems to be a hot button, as is over-testing. I asked Dr. Stein what her top three issues or goals were and she began by telling me what wasn’t on the list.

“I am not running for Superintendent to be a better administrator of a failing education system.” Stein said. “I am running to change that system to Classical Education so that all North Carolina children can reap the benefits of an education system that is reserved only for the elite in our society. Only by doing this can we fix our education system.”

It is my goal to fix the English as a Second Language program and return it to an immersion program that was used when I was a Spanish speaking child.”

Stein addressed a critical, yet oft ignored, issue for the success of our schools – teacher preparation.

Stein stated, “I will also work with the North Carolina University system to return Child Development courses to the curriculum for aspiring teachers. Teachers must understand child development in order to understand how and why certain techniques work to help them teach their pupils.”

On the topic of the educational course that the Department of Public Instruction has taken, as well as the noted waste and administrative bloat under Dr. Atkinson’s tenure, Stein responded that waste can’t be reformed and that state and local control needs to be restored.

We cannot reform the waste in DPI.” stated Stein. “We must change the way that our children are taught. By accomplishing this task, the reasons for the waste will be eliminated.”

According to many North Carolina legislators, we receive about 10% of our education funding from the federal government. In return for this, we receive nearly 100% of the rules and regulations from them.” said Stein. “I would like to cut the ties to these federal funds and allow North Carolina children to get the instruction from those local educators who know them the best.”

Dr. Stein’s qualifications are impressive. She is a former teacher of Reading and English as a Second Language. She is an Adjunct Teaching Professor for three medical schools. She is a former Alamance County Community College Trustee, Chair of the Curriculum Committee. Those a just a few of her qualifications.

For further information on the reasons this lady should be our next North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction, please visit Dr. Stein’s website. If you care about the education of North Carolina’s children, please vote for Dr. Stein.

Some Thoughts On The North Carolina Superintendent Race

I have met Dr. Rosemary Stein on a few occasions. As a pediatrician, she truly cares for children. She is aware of their physical needs, their developmental needs, and their emotional needs. She has consistently opposed Common Core because it includes things that are harmful to our children. She is running for Superintendent of Public Instruction in North Carolina.

Lady Liberty posted an article today about the race for North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction. The article included the following statement from Dr. Stein:

My husband and I started a pediatric clinic 16 years ago. Our clinic provides the best possible care to our patients regardless of the parents’ circumstance in life. Several years ago, we read the Sunday paper in which a list of the top 100 students in the area was printed. Not a single one of our patients was on that list.” said Stein. “This lead us to begin the process of determining why our kids were not succeeding in school.”

During our investigation of this problem, we realized that our children were not able to read at grade level, and in some cases not at all. To solve this problem and not misdiagnose ADD, we began to investigate better methods of teaching reading and math. It was clear that North Carolina was no longer using traditional phonics based reading methods and classical mathematics instruction.”

Today, our children are forced to learn using a curriculum based on Common Core. This method of instruction is developmentally inappropriate.” stated Stein. “It does not teach to the child’s brain development. In fact, because Common Core teaches things to the child at the wrong developmental period of their brain development, it is actually harming their brain development.”

This path is the primary factor in my decision to run for Superintendent of Public Instruction. It is my intention to return North Carolina to the Classical Education model that was used so successfully in America decades ago. It is proven to be developmentally correct for the brain development of the child.”

This lady would be a wonderful gift to the parents and students of North Carolina. She deserves the vote of everyone who cares about our children’s education.

Numbers Don’t Lie

Last year in North Carolina the Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC) was charged with replacing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The North Carolina General Assembly voted to replace Common Core, and the ASRC was expected to come up with alternatives to Common Core. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Although the findings in the ASRC draft report of the commission (located  here) clearly indicated that the standards needed to be replaced– such issues as age-appropriate materials, lack of teaching materials, and excessive testing were mentioned–the ASRC simply ignored their own experts and did not replace CCSS. So what are the results of Common Core in North Carolina, and what are the alternatives? The results are awful, and there is one vetted and time-tested alternative.

The test data from the ACT tells the story of Common Core in North Carolina:

     Beginning in 2011, graduating seniors across the nation averaged a 20.6 in English, 21.1 in math, 21.3 in reading, 20.9 in science, and 21.1 composite. By comparison, North Carolina students averaged a 21.2 in English, 22.4 in math, 22.2 in reading, 21.4 in science, and 21.9 composite. Obviously, North Carolina scored well among the states and things were looking up.

     However, since 2011, things have gone downhill. 2015 graduating classes looked like this: (NC/National) 17.6/20.4 for English, 19.5/20.8 for math, 19.2/21.4 for reading, 19.0/20.9 for science, and 19.0/21.0 composite. Moreover, this is not just a dip in the scores. They have been steadily declining during the five-year period. Obviously, something is amiss or, at least, not what is being claimed. While National scores have remained fairly flat, North Carolina’s have tanked.

     Since the focus is on readiness for careers and college, other data is included in the ACT report for who is ready for what. Some of the key pieces of data in the report are the “benchmarks” which depict the level at which a student should perform in order to succeed at a specific career or a given college. The benchmarks are listed for each of the subject fields tested, i.e. English, math, reading, science, and composite. Benchmarks are useful for selecting a particular college, getting scholarships, determining career fields, etc.

     For the graduating classes of 2015, a full twenty-five percent of North Carolina students scored a benchmark in English of 0 to 12 (range of 1-36). Another seventeen percent scored 13 to 15, and twenty percent scored 16-19. This means that a total of sixty-two percent of our students in 2015 scored benchmarks that might, repeat might, get them into a community college. Only nine percent scored in the top two brackets, 28 to 32 and 33 to 36. For the math benchmark, the figure was sixty percent in the lower three brackets, reading was fifty-five percent, and science was fifty-four percent. In order to succeed at any of the major North Carolina Universities and colleges, current ACT benchmarks are NC State 24 to 29, UNC 21 to 26, Wake Forest 29 to 31, Campbell 17 to 27, East Carolina University 20 to 24, and UNC-Charlotte 20 to 25. If a student with an ACT of 19 were to apply to UNC-Charlotte, it is estimated that they have a fifty-five percent chance of success while the same score would only have a twenty-three percent chance at Campbell University.

     Along with the falling scores, there has been little to no progress in closing the learning and achievement gaps for minority students. Students of color are worse off with the CCSS standards, not better. Their parents ought to be outraged at the lack of appropriate content.

     As for “career ready” there is a “World of Work” map for careers that supposedly matches ACT scores with various occupations. Given the narrow aperture that the rest of the ACT/CRS process uses, one can only imagine how well the map works in determining a career for students not planning to attend college. What ever happened to guidance counselors working with parents to help choose a career?

     In conclusion, our public education system imposes a set of standards on its students and their parents, has designed a testing apparatus totally aligned with the standards and developed to supposedly reveal what career students should consider or what college to attend, and touts this as an improvement. However, data gathered and reported by its own testing shows the results to be dismal and failing. How can the Chamber of Commerce and other interested parties believe that they will be getting better employees for their members? How can colleges believe that their incoming classes of students will not require more remedial classes?

So why in the world are we stuck with Common Core? There is a lot of serious money behind Common Core. Bill Gates is one of the primary forces behind Common Core. As I have previously reported:  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.” It is becoming very obvious that it doesn’t work! 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 what is the alternative? The North Carolina Education Coalition has created the North Carolina Education Plan. It is based on two vetted and very successful standards in two different states–Mathematics based on the Minnesota Standards (which the draft resolution of the ASRC recommended) and English Language Arts (ELA) is based on the Massachusetts standards as developed by Sandra Stotsy, credited with developing one of the country’s strongest K-12 ELA programs in Massachusetts.

Common sense would dictate replacing something that has failed with something that has been successful. Unfortunately, in the North Carolina academic hierarchy, money has become more important than educating our children. Many of the people in charge of education in North Carolina have a vested monetary interest in Common Core. We will not get rid of Common Core unless parents stand up and demand that public education in this state be controlled by common sense rather than money. We also need to replace any people involved in education in North Carolina who will make a profit through the implementation of Common Core.

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.


Glenn A. Fink

Thank you, Glenn.

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.

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.


The Fight To End Common Core In North Carolina Continues

On Monday, some members of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA) attended the NC Academic Standards Review Commission’s First Meeting.

This is the report from the meeting from one of the attendees:

…the meeting room was very crowded.  It was also hot, and uncomfortable.  CCTA’s Common Core Committee with Kim Fink, our Chairman, was in attendance.

Unfortunately, it appeared to us that the review committee had been stacked with supporters of Common Core, although it was clear that some of the members definitely want the standards adopted to be North Carolina Standards.  Senator Jerry Tillman made an impassioned statement that the US Constitution left eduction to the people and the States by not directly allocating authority for education to the federal government.  He also said that the “bar must be raised” because NC’s children need to compete in national and world economies and that our top quarter of school graduates were not fairing well in competition with other states and the rest of the world.

Senator Tillman said the General Assembly would not stand for a re-hash of Common Core, but expected the review committee to do its job and develop North Carolina Education Standards which he said would drive curriculum, something proponents of Common Core deny.

It is up to parents and grandparents to get involved in this battle against Common Core. Common Core is not good for our children and needs to be stopped. The curriculum related to the standards is not the only problem–Common Core involves data mining of personal information on our children and grandchildren with no guarantee of the security of the data. It needs to be stopped.


Parents, Beware Of Misleading Statistics

The statistics and information in this article have been taken from the State of North Carolina Department of Public Instruction Website.

Since Common Core was introduced in North Carolina, people with a vested interest in its success have been reporting statistics to justify its existence. Some of these statistics look really good; but when you analyze the data, you find that things are not what they appear to be. In other words, the acceptable standard has been altered to make the results appear better than they actually are. (See chart below.)

aaaaDpiInfoaaaaDpiInfo2As you can see, Level 3 now includes what was previously the top half of Level 2. In October 2013, the State Board of Education adopted four academic achievement levels. In March of 2014, an additional achievement level was added, for a total of five levels. The current five levels are:

Level 1  Limited Command

Level 2  Partial Command

Level 3  Sufficient Command (State Proficiency Standard)

Level 4  Solid Command (College and Career Readiness)

Level 5 Superior Command (College and Career Readiness)

What was previously the top half of ‘partial command’ has been moved to ‘sufficient command.’

The new standards have not raised the educational achievement of North Carolina students. The reporting has not accurately reflected the impact Common Core has had on our students–they are not doing better–the method of reporting test scores has simply been altered to make it appear as if Common Core is providing a higher level of college and career readiness. As you can see from the charts above, that is not the case. The numbers have been changed to protect the politically connected.

Common Core In North Carolina

The Fayetteville Observer posted an article on Wednesday written by North Carolina Lt. Governor Dan Forest about the current status of Common Core in North Carolina. Lt. Governor Forest is an opponent of Common Core and has fought the program for the two years he has been in office. Common Core was brought into North Carolina schools before Lt. Governor Forest was elected.

Lt. Governor Forest explains the current situation:

Recently, a bill passed and was signed into law that removed Common Core from the general statutes. There is no longer a legal requirement for Common Core in our state schools. However, those of us against Common Core cannot yet claim victory. Though Common Core has been repealed, it is still the standard in use in our public schools.

But one thing is absolutely sure: The line of authority and responsibility is now clearly delineated with the State Board of Education.

The same bill repealing Common Core also set up an Academic Standards and Review Commission of 11 members, one appointed by the governor, two appointed by the State Board of Education, four appointed by the House, and four appointed by the Senate.

These individuals are tasked with going through the existing Common Core Standards line by line. They will make recommendations on which standards should be kept, which should be fixed, and which should be thrown out.

Is this a good thing? Yes.

Is it as far as it could have gone in repealing Common Core? No.

The bill that repealed Common Core also set up an Academic Standards and Review Commission of 11 members. The Commission will be going through the Common Core Standards line by line to determine which are worth keeping and which need to be thrown out.

The article outlines what parents and grandparents who are opposed to Common Core can do:

Get involved

It is important to know that every North Carolina resident is represented by six members of the State Board of Education (two elected officials, three at-large members and one district representative).

The members of the state school board are William Cobey, chairman and member at large; A.L. Collins, vice chairman, from the 5th Education District; Dan Forest, lieutenant governor; Janet Cowell, state treasurer; Rebecca Taylor, 1st Education District; Reginald Kenan, 2nd Education District; Kevin Howell, 3rd Education District; Dr. Olivia Holmes Oxendine, 4th Education District; John Tate, 6th Education District; Gregory Alcorn, 7th Education District; Wayne McDevitt, 8th Education District; Marcella Savage, member at large; Patricia Willoughby, member at large; and Dr. June Atkinson, state superintendent of public instruction, chief administrative officer and secretary.

All meetings of the Academic Standards and Review Commission are required by law to be public. Likewise, meetings of the State Board of Education are also open to the public.

I encourage those of you opposed to Common Core to communicate with the members of the review commission and the State Board of Education through email, phone calls or mail, or face-to-face. Express to them your desire that they exercise the authority given to them to repeal Common Core with the best standards in the world, made specifically for the children in North Carolina.

The battle is not over. In many ways, it is just beginning.

We all need to be aware of what our children are learning in school and whether or not the things they are being exposed to are age-appropriate.

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.

Common Core In North Carolina

The article below was written by the Chairman of the Common Core section of the Watchdog Committee of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers’ Association, Kim Fink:

The NC Legislative Study Committee on Common Core has recommended a repeal and replace piece of draft legislation that will be up for a vote in the short session of the General Assembly.

Obviously, this has the proponents of nationalized education digging in their heels with all sorts of dooms day scenarios that a repeal would cause.  The Big Business, Big Government and Chamber of Commerce advocates are spending allot of money on radio and TV advertising, trying to build public support to put pressure on legislators not to repeal Common Core.  Since this is an election year, money talks.  There are two sides to every issue, and the compliant, and complacent Media has made it difficult to get the opposition opinion out.  I pray that our legislators have done their own homework and will support the repeal of Common Core in NC.

Common Core is copyrighted, it cannot be altered by state or local school authorities.  The schools can Add 15% content, however, they will not be tested on that content.  Cursive writing is an example of what NC has “added” that is being used to demonstrate how “flexible” these standards are.  The combination of taxpayer-funded bribes, ( like Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind waivers), outright deception (like globally benchmarked standards that has yet to be seen, or proven) and rampant bullying by the Educrats leaving most teachers fearing retaliation for complaining, is truly alarming. 

Dr. Sandra Stotsky (member of the standards committee that wouldn’t “sign off” on them) has stated that the texts and analysis are used to guide students’ thinking toward a pre- determined outcome.   The new buzz word will be consensus, and building towards a global community. 

This is NOT the America I was educated in.

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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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When Citizens Speak Out

A lot of Americans don’t pay attention to exactly what their government is doing, but occasionally something comes along that wakes everyone up. Common Core is an example of that. The Common Core standards were developed to provide national standards for students as they progressed through school. Aside from the one-size-fits-all aspect of the program, there were serious questions as to the age-appropriateness of what was being taught and the political slant. As people, particularly parents, become more aware of what Common Core is, the opposition to the program is growing.

The Daily Caller reported yesterday that Indiana has passed Senate Bill 91, a law ordering public K-12 schools across the state to stop using Common Core standards. Some other states (Iowa, Florida and Arizona) have tried to get around the opposition by renaming the program–Indiana simply threw out the program.

The article reports the Governor’s statement on Common Core:

“I believe our students are best served when decisions about education are made at the state and local level,” Pence said in a statement.

“By signing this legislation, Indiana has taken an important step forward in developing academic standards that are written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers, and are uncommonly high, and I commend members of the General Assembly for their support,” the Republican governor added, according to the Star.

Massachusetts proved in the 1990’s that states can write their own standards and improve education in their individual states. It is a mistake to allow the federal government to control local education–parents and school boards should do that.

One aspect of Common Core that I think is often overlooked by its supporters is the amount of data collection on the students. I do not believe that this amount of data collection is necessary, nor am I sure that once the data is collected it will be kept sufficiently secure so as not to be a violation of the students’ and parents’ privacy. It is up to parents and grandparents of students to insure that American students get the best education possible. High standards are a good thing–federal standards dictated by Common Core are not.

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Exciting News For The Students Of Today

The Washington Post reported on December 7th that the new Common Core standards for Curriculum, which will be put in place in 46 states, will require that by graduation in 2014, 70 percent of all books studied have to be nonfiction.

The article reports:

Some suggested texts include “FedViews” by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the EPA’s “Recommended Levels of Insulation,” and “Invasive Plant Inventory” by California’s Invasive Plant Council.

Wow. Won’t that encourage our children to read.

The article further reports:

The people behind the core have sought to defend it, saying that this was not meant to supplant literature. This increased emphasis on nonfiction would not be a concern if the core worked the way it was supposed to, with teachers in other disciplines like math and science assigning the hard technical texts that went along with their subjects. But teachers worry that this will not happen. Principals seem to be having trouble comprehending the requirement themselves. Besides, the other teachers are too busy, well, teaching their subjects to inflict technical manuals on their students too, and  they may expect the English department to pick up the slack. And hence the great Purge of Literature.

What kind of children are we planning on raising? Anyone can order a government pamphlet and read it. There is no reason to waste time in high school reading how to insulate a house (unless you are training for construction). Reading literature helps students understand the challenges of those who have gone before them. It also (possibly) gives them an appreciation of the ease of the lives they live.

My favorite talk show host is Bill Bennett. I enjoy listening to him because he is the product of a Classical Catholic education. He talks as easily about Shakespeare as he does about recent events on Capitol Hill. His perspective is framed by his education in the classics of literature–not by what plants he can bring into California.

The Common Core Standards is one of the dumbest ideas to come along in  a long time. I hope teachers will reject it quickly so that the students can actually learn to appreciate literature.

NOTE: I posted a similar article on December 7th. I am posting this article because I think it contains more detail on what is actually planned.

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