"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

SB210 Is Laid Aside

Today politics prevailed. The interests of the people were laid aside with SB210 allowing a state department to continue ducking the public's questions and the legislature's authority. Our countdown clock continues and will remain at the top of our page awaiting DESE's response to at least some of the questions the public has about Common Core.

We may never get answers to the conflicting comments we have heard about common core.

The National Governor's Association and common core proponents in general site a main reason for having common standards is so that children moving from state-to-state, district-to-district will not experience an interruption in their education. There will be no subject matter holes because everyone is being taught the same thing. Yet when pressed, DESE insisted in front of a House Committee that Missouri owns the standards and can change them at any time. In fact, all states can, and have, changed the standards. That, by definition, would mean that the standards are no longer "common" among the states and a child would once again experience an interruption in his/her education should he/she move. This would also make the state’s standards out of line with the assessments. So which is it: alignment state-to-state or autonomy to set one's own standards?

DESE staff stated that some schools have been implementing Common Core for 3 years and have shown "tremendous results." How are they calculating these tremendous results? This statement is impossible to make as no common core assessments have been approved or administered. If the results are found in the existing MAP assessment scores, how is that possible? Those tests are not aligned with common core. What is actually being measured? If we are seeing improvement in an existing test, why do we need SBAC tests?  The indication from states who were early adopters of CC like Kentucky, is that following curriculum aligned with CC produced a 30% drop in student scores on existing state standardized tests. How are we not seeing a decline, but in fact an improvement?

DESE has stated that they do not share data with the federal government, that it stays in state. But the MOU’s signed by the state with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia (SBAC) in May 2010 states the consortia will provide “Reliable , valid and fair scores for students and groups that can be used to evaluate student achievement and year-to-year growth; determine school/district/state effectiveness for Title I ESEA…10) Professional development focused on curriculum and lesson development as well as scoring and examination of student work…. 14) A consolidated data reporting system that enhance parents, students, teacher, principal district and state understanding of student progress toward college and career readiness.” SBAC is housed in Washington state.


This means that individual student data will be retained by SBAC who in turn has an agreement with the US Dept of Ed that says it will “Comply with, and where applicable coordinate with the ED staff to fulfill, the program requirements established in the RTTA Notice Inviting Applications and the conditions on the grant awarded, as well as to this agreement, including, but not limited to working with the Department to develop a strategy to make student level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis for research, including for prospective linking, validity and program improvement studies; subject to applicable privacy laws.” The reality is that once the data leaves the state we no longer have control of where it goes and who has access to it. Changes to FERPA (the laws they are referring to) means there is little appreciable protection of that data.


Additionally, DESE promised in the Race To The Top application (p.15) that they would “Provide a database accessible to researchers throughout the nation that is the first-ever link between student performance, teaching practices, and leadership decisions.”


Commissioner Nicastro has said that it is not costing the state any new money to implement common core. She further testified that the reason the RTTT costs were so high was because that application was for a Cadillac program that we were not fully implementing, because we did not get the grant. However, in that grant (p. 40) she wrote “Implementation of the reform plan described in this proposal will not stop if the State does not win Race to the Top funding. Missouri has a long tradition of fostering innovative improvements in education, and this will not change. Race to the Top funds will allow the State to move forward aggressively and comprehensively in adopting these reforms. In the absence of Race to the Top funding, the State and its partners would continue moving forward but will do so over a longer time-period and, in some areas, will have to adopt a more incremental approach."


There are so many more questions which, if answered, would at least provide some clarity as to our direction. Unfortunately, DESE does not seem to believe it is worth their time to provide those points of clarification. They miss the opportunity to have the public on their side and the legislature providing cover for them from the feds. Keep your eye on the answer clock. It looks like it will be here for a long time.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Tying Socio-Economic Status to Test Scores

In speaking to groups about common core and the data collection that is occurring because of it and simultaneously to it, we often get the question, "What is the government's plan for all that data? What are they going to do with it."

USA Today reported on a a new white paper released, the U.S. Department of Education which may partially answer that question. The paper (Improving the Measurement of Socio-Economic Status  for the NAEP)  "proposes classifying students by more than just their parents’ income or education levels. It explains the federal government should be able to tie test scores to a host of indicators, including: whether parents own or rent their home, how many times a family has moved in the past year and whether anyone in their household gets medical assistance."

And what will they do with the  socio-economic classification? "It would allow us to target resources better," Sean Reardon of the Stanford Graduate School of Education.

The paper calls for better ways of collecting data on students and discusses how the NAEP currently collects this information, through a 13-question survey that eighth-grade students fill out at the end of the test. It asks them how  much school their parents completed. It can also include questions such as: "Does your family get a newspaper at least four times a week?" and "About how many books are there in your home?" For fourth-graders, it has asked whether they have Internet access, a dishwasher or a "clothes dryer just for your family."  The only good news here is that people recognize what poor reporters our kids are of this kind of information, making it only a slight indicator of SES.

However, that doesn't stop them from trying to use the kids as data collectors. The report suggests "Cognitive laboratory studies should be conducted on various question types for collecting student reports on parental occupation." So rather than ask mom and dad what they do for a living, let's ask better questions to get the kids to tell on them.

The report also acknowledges that data collection will likely require sharing with data collected by other government departments. "In addition, the development of a new SES measure is likely to incur both anticipated and unanticipated side effects, including the requirement to coordinate with other federal programs within and outside NCES, and consequences such as attention given to equity and educational resource distribution."

For those that want a deeper understanding of the data collection landscape, both with Common Core and with the P-20 Council, we have posted a great page on MO Against Common Core under the Topics tab called Data Collection. This is a great resource to learn more about government data collection on students.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Common Core Worksheet from Missouri and a First Grade Social Justice Text from Utah

A Missouri parent sent this in from her 3rd grader's workbook.  Time for Kids is a Common Core aligned curriculum provider:

TIME For Kids is committed to helping teachers meet Common Core State Standards, National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies and National Science Education Standards. Click here to learn more about TIME For Kids and national learning standards.

Regardless of what the Science/Social NATIONAL standards are, Time for Kids will support them and are committed to help teachers meet those standards via Time for Kids common core aligned curriculum.  A private company doesn't really know what these standards are, but gee golly, Time for Kids will be there to align the curriculum to meet those standards.  See how this works?

More time in school will be taken up in test taking (think "NCLB on Steroids").  "Hannah" thinks "it's good that kinds in many other states will take the same tests".  Why do you think Time for Kids would portray being common as a good thing?  Since welcoming/accepting the idea that students should learn from common standards is paramount for CCSS proponents, the students have a lesson from Time for Kids instilling that message.  Yay!  Common Core!

Notice the math problem?  The "old" way of answering is multiple choice which is dependent on the student knowing his/her math facts.  The common core way is language dependent and has less to do with math facts than it does with explaining how you came to the answer.  Remember, this is 3rd grade.  Note that this student prefers multiple choice because he/she can "think" about the possible answers. 

Keep those worksheets coming into Missouri Education Watchdog.

In the meantime, watch this video from Utah with material from a common core aligned textbook for 1st graders teaching them how to be social justice activists:

Just a question: Does having the "Common Core Aligned" stamp on the cover gives these publishers, whose vision is social engineering, a pathway into the schools?  Just who is writing the curriculum? Is Common Core the vehicle for not only data collection but also for political theories?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Watching the DESE Countdown Clock. Citizens Still Waiting for Answers to Questions from the May 2 Hearings.

Time elapsed since DESE Common Core May 2 meetings:

We've installed a DESE clock to determine how long citizens have to wait for the answers to questions DESE promised to answer from its May 2 Common Core standards statewide meetings.  Citizens were told questions/answers would be listed within a week on the DESE website.  In fact, the commissioner referred legislators many times to use the DESE website for their various questions in the House Education Committee hearing on May 13, rather than answer their questions at the hearing.  But what happens when the answers to your questions aren't listed because DESE refuses to even entertain the question?

Here's what you find when you link to DESE's site looking for answers to questions from the Common Core statewide meetings:

Common Core Statewide Meetings
On May 2, 2013, meetings were held across the state to answer questions related to the State Board of Education’s decision in 2010 to adopt new standards in English language arts and mathematics, more commonly known as the Common Core State Standards.

When is Coming soon?  It's been more than a week.  The Commissioner did not welcome a citizen's question after the SB210 hearing in the House Education Committee, so taxpayers still don't have answers to their various questions and concerns. 

When DESE publishes the questions and answers from the May 2 meeting, we can stop the clock.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

DESE Commissioner Doesn't Like Citizen's Question on Data Gathering

Dottie Bailey covered the hearing on SB210 House Education Committee yesterday.  She caught up with Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro after her testimony, wanting to ask her about the state's move from collecting aggregate student data collection to a student level data collection system.  A question that has not been satisfactorily answered in any of the May 2 DESE hearings is if individual student data is being gathered by DESE and if so, where that individual data is being sent.  Dottie attempted to ask the commissioner that question and this is what happened:


From Notes and phone slapped down by Chris Nicastro…for asking a question:

On Monday May 13th, 2013 I made my way down to Missouri’s Capitol, Jefferson City.  I wanted to attend the SB210 House Education Hearing Committee meeting regarding Common Core.  SB210 is not massive legislation, it is just asking for DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) to have meetings in each of the 8 Congressional Districts in Missouri.

Just doing my duty as a citizen journalist, I got a statement from the bill’s sponsor Representative Kurt Bahr and a few other Representatives on the committee.

Not shocked but disappointed there was not one other journalist in the entire Capitol from what I could tell. I thought the place would and should be covered with them regarding this major news story and the general public’s interest.  But who was I kidding, crickets made louder noises.  

Additionally, this Friday, May 17th is the end of this legislative session.  I peeked in on the gallery floor from the second floor and it looked like little ants with laptops running amock.  The only one with any poise or maybe it was the gavel, but the Speaker seemed to have everything under control and was directing traffic with ease.

Another reason I went to Jefferson City that Monday is that I wanted to try and get a statement, you know since I’m in the neighborhood.  A statement from someone in DESE regarding the recent audit that showed an unaccounted for amount of $130 million dollars.  Easy enough or so I thought, silly citizen journalist…

During earlier discussions of SB210, it was found that DESE has not followed the foundation formula used to distribute the $130 million dollars to the districts. One of the amendments was to have an interim committee look into this situation. (See my previous blog) However before the hearing on Monday I found out that amendment had been taken out.  O.K., no problem, I can still ask the question that no one is asking.

Many people in Missouri and around the country are concerned about Common Core and it’s data collection aspirations.  This is one of the items the people want more clarification on from DESE.  They want to ask their own questions, just not be spoken to like third graders. Up to this point DESE delivers their talking points and says how great the Common Core Standards are going to be……enter the love music..ugh.

I had in my possession, a screen shot from DESE’s own website regarding the sharing of information to the Federal government.  You can go to their website and see it for yourself here.  The whole overview but particularly the last paragraph states that instead of data being collected as aggregate now will transition into being collected on an individual level.

Half way through the hearing, the Commissioner of Education, Chris Nicastro was speaking.  She went on and on about the wonders of Common Core.  One of the Representatives asked about the cost of broadband needed for the assessments to take place.  Commissioner Nicastro said, “I believe that broadband should be a Civil Right.” No I am not kidding.  The room erupted in laughter trying to hide their disgust.  Hey John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, you guys forgot something in the Constitution…Life, Liberty and unlimited access to 24/7 Broadband.  Truly the Founders did a couple back flips in their graves.

Near the end of her time given to speak she was asked about the sharing of individual student’s data being shared with the government.  She assured everyone that only aggregate information would be shared.  The little hairs stood up on the back of my neck as I had the screen shot from DESE’s website laying in hands.  She started to get up, I grabbed my phone and the stranger next to me and said “let’s go”.  I turned on the camera on the phone and we followed her.  I asked her very kindly if I could ask her some questions.  She barked at me and said she didn’t have time.  Again I very kindly said, no problem I would walk her out.  She asked who I was and who I’m with….she rolled her eyes.  I persisted and asked her to explain her comments before and the contradictory screen shot I was holding in my hand.  She mumbled something and then slapped the paper out of my hand.  Then turned to the girl holding my camera phone and slapped the phone too.  But the camera girl caught the phone before it hit the ground.  She walked quickly away and I said “Thank you”…didn’t really know what to say…..

I was shocked and a little startled that she retaliated in that way.  I really thought with her position and caliber of being a professional educator she would conduct herself in a manner of integrity and grace.  Boy, was I wrong….it was Slapfest–Hissyfit 2013 in the basement of the Capitol building.  But what should I expect from someone telling untruths and then being confronted on them.  If she was telling the truth wouldn’t she have just told me I was incorrect and to check again.

They bummer part is my battery on my phone died and we only got half of the quick walk to the garage.  My camera girl and I are the witnesses to the slap fit Ms. Nicastro had but it reminds me that people trying to hide something usually act out like children.

Needless to say I didn’t get a statement regarding the unaccounted for $130 million dollars.  But I will be following up on that story.

So what are your thoughts?  Do you think it was a reasonable or ridiculous behavior by an appointed government official?

Senate Bill 210 Voted Unanimously Out of House Education Committee

May 13, 2013 The House Education Committee held their hearing on senate bill 210 (Lamping-R). Representative Kurt Bahr led the bill in front of the committee and addressed questions for almost 20 minutes. Bill supporters were given approximately 25 minutes to testify including testimony from Anne Gassel, Gretchen Logue and Jerry Briehan.  In addition, over 900 witness statements in support of SB210 were delivered to the committee. When called, there was no official opposition to the bill. However, Commissioner Nicastro and other representatives from DESE were allowed to give informational testimony for another 35 minutes including time for questions from the committee. Some additional informational testimony was provided by those supporting the bill.

DESE's testimony did not address the bill which requires 2 subject reports, 8 congressional district meetings (with Commissioner Nicastro in attendance) completed by December 31, 2013 and a final report to the Senate and House by January 31, 2014. Instead, their testimony covered the usual talking points about common core - how they were fewer, clearer and more rigorous, and would produce career and college ready students.

Barbara Reys testified once again about the high quality of the common core math standards, noting that Fordham Institute had graded all the states' standards and had given Missouri's math standards a D. She did not testify that she  
-->was the co-chair of a standards development committee which authored Missouri K-12 Mathematics Learning Goals, the very ones she testified were only graded a D. That would have allowed a committee member to question whether she was the best "expert" for MO to send to sit on the CC review committee.

DESE general counsel Mark Van Zandt testified that the agency would never collect or share any data illegally, noting that laws were in place to protect the privacy of student data. He neglected to mention that the laws he was referring to, the Family Rights and Privacy Act has been changed to allow the open sharing of individual student data, meaning that the law no longer protects student privacy. The Electronic Policy Information Center (EPIC) comments to the regualtory notice of the US Department of Education's proposed rulemaking on changing the FERPA definitions say, "The ED's proposals expand a number of FERPA's exemptions, reinterpreting the statutory terms "authorized representative," "education program," and "directory information." These proposals remove affirmative legal duties for state and local educational facilities to protect private student data." (emphasis added) EPIC has since filed a lawsuit against the USDoEd for overstepping their statutory authority with regard to a congressional act.

The bill, which had been stripped of the Senate amendments and returned to its original senate substitute language focusing only on Common Core costs and data was voted out of committee late Monday night by a 17:0 vote. It now goes to the House Rules Committee who is expected to turn it around quickly. It will go for a third reading on the House floor and, if voted out, go back to the Senate to be truly agreed and finally passed.  We are in the home stretch and still in the race. The Senate could take it up Thursday or Friday, which is the last day of the 2013 session.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Hazelwood Report on Delphi DESE Meeting May 2

The Hazelwood Patch had an article from a taxpayer who attended the May 2 DESE meeting on Common Core standards.  The writer's narrative is not much different than the other meetings DESE held via the Delphi technique.

From Elizabeth O'Fallon in Is Common Core a Bad Apple?:

At the meeting, a presentation on Common Core was given by Dr. Tim Ricker, the Area Supervisor of DESE for the St. Louis Region. The information that was provided was labeled by the presenter as a “non-specific,” as it was just an overview on Common Core. We were also told that a “script” for the meeting must be followed in order that the same information would be presented at all eight of the DESE meetings across the state. 

The thing that disturbed me during this meeting was the inability of the public to ask questions openly. I have attended a gamut of public meetings and this is the first where the public was not allowed a real forum to speak on the matter at hand. During the presentation, I tried to ask one question to obtain some clarification on a point, but was completely ignored by the presenter. Instead of being allowed to ask questions, we were told we would be broken up into groups later for smaller, more intimate discussions.

Once divided into tables, each table had a Common Core “facilitator.” This facilitator helped to “steer” the small group discussion around that of Common Core. Our table facilitator repeatedly said that she was not “an expert” and therefore couldn’t answer our specific questions, only jot them down.

When we were broken down into groups we were asked to do two things: 1. We were supposed to write down one thing we liked about the Common Core State Standards, and 2. We were also supposed to write down any questions we had regarding CCSS. The clincher however, was that as a group we had to come to complete “consensus” regarding our questions and statements before they could be written down.

A friend of mine wanted to know more about students having to take remedial classes in college, but was told by our facilitator that that question didn’t related directly to Common Core. After the group discussion was concluded, the facilitator would read our concerns and comments aloud. We were told that our questions would not be answered that evening but instead would be submitted to DESE and addressed online. As of this writing, no questions have been answered on their website, www.dese.mo.gov.

I am no longer a public school parent, as we now homeschool. However, had I been a parent at this meeting with their child still attending a local public school, I’d have been much more upset about how this meeting was handled. The lack transparency and of meaningful public involvement was mind-blowing.

Desptie the room being full of administrators, school board members, teachers, and district employees, and for a district that has already begun implementing Common Core, I didn’t believe that there was no one present who was not “qualified enough” to answer questions on Common Core.
 Read more here.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Teacher Tells Missouri What Common Core Really Means. The Post-Dispatch Didn't Cover These Points.

Peg with Pen, the Colorado teacher who implored teachers and parents to oppose Common Core and whose blog we reposted this morning, followed up with an extraordinary article responding to the St. Louis Post Dispatch's article this morning on Common Core.

Little did I know when I resposted her original blog, she was a native Missourian and has special interest in educating citizens of what Common Core really is vs what DESE tells us it is...or doesn't tell us.

Many, many thanks to her for her insights.  If you are coming to the Capitol tomorrow, maybe you can give copies of her latest blog to the members of the House Education Committee as they decide on their votes.  You can still submit an online witness form which is found at the end of the article.

From Peggy Robertson and For the Show Me State of Missouri: What They Didn't Show You:


This is in response to an article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

This article is missing some key information. First and foremost, we must look at the money trail. The common core standards are a cash cow for the corporations who plan to implement new testing, new curriculum, new professional development, and more, in order to adhere to the requirements under Race to the Top, Obama’s education policy. Now, Missouri was not awarded RTTT funding, however, Missouri took a NCLB waiver, which in essence, required Missouri to adhere to all of the requirements of Race to the Top – without the cash to do so.

As a teacher, an education activist, a graduate of Jefferson City High School, I have some stake in what is going on in Missouri. I no longer live there, but I was raised in Missouri and the mantra “show me” is anchored deep in my heart. So, as a former Missourian, it is important that we show everyone what is really going on here, and this article is greatly lacking. What needs to be understood is that this is not a democrat or republican issue. This is a corporate issue, and both sides have bought into it – there is big money to be made via public education.  Race to the Top policies include mandates which allow for corporations to cash in – using our public tax dollars and our children.
One of these mandates includes adopting common standards. Missouri adopted these standards, and because Missouri asked for a NCLB waiver (http://dese.mo.gov/qs/esea-waiver.html), MO now has to adhere to the rules of RTTT.
One of the mandates requires linking common core standards to tests. A second mandate includes linking teacher evaluation to these tests..which are linked to the common core. A third requirement includes having a longitudinal data system which allows all of the student data accessible to “stakeholders.” A fourth mandate includes using the turnaround model for schools, which means using several strategies – a few being - including firing teachers, handing a school over to a charter operator – when school test scores are low. Missouri did receive a grant to implement the turnaround model which is a sure fire way to quickly privatize your public schools.
Now, back to the common core standards, which when examined as simply “standards” might not be such a terrible thing. However, they are simply not standards. They are standards that come with a lot of baggage attached to them – if they aren’t taught and tested with resulting high scores, a teacher could be fired, a child might not be promoted (this is here in CO already where I live..not sure if MO has this yet), a school could get shut down – all very HIGH stakes.
So, I, as a teacher, would be hard pressed not to teach to the test knowing the stakes are so high – for myself and for my students. That’s problem number one.
Second problem – because the stakes are so high, we have created an opportunity for the publishing industry – such as Pearson – to come in and SAVE the day so that we can figure out how to teach to these standards and create curriculum and professional development, along with Bill Gates funding wherever you turn - http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/04/27/30pearson.h30.html .  Our public schools will now purchase these materials – with YOUR tax dollars – in order to be certain they are adhering to the common core state standards in order to succeed on the high stakes tests. It’s a vicious cycle where the winners are not our students, our teachers, our schools, or our community – the winners are the corporations profiting off of our public schools.
Problem number three – teacher autonomy GONE. If the common core state standards were simply a set of standards, I, as a teacher, could work around this – whether I liked them or not – I could pick, choose and tailor the standards to the needs of my school, students, and the culture of my community. However, they are not simply a set of standards – they are a set of standards that will be implemented with lockstep curriculum in order to be certain we succeed on the new tests rolling out across the country via PARCC and SBAC (testing consortias that our federal government gave $$ to – in the millions – to create these common core assessments).
The common core standards will take away teacher autonomy. In Finland they have national standards –and it works – one reason it works is because they are not extensive (common core standards are hundreds of pages long) and there are no high stakes tests attached to these standards.
Please understand, I am not opposed to a standardized test – I may not personally like standardized tests and I may not find them very valuable – but I can live with it – but NOT when high stakes are attached to it.  Finland gives one standardized test when students graduate from high school, the rest of the testing is creating by teachers. Here in the U.S., mainstream media is bound and determined to make the general public believe that teachers are not capable of assessing our students – there is truly mass amnesia around the concept of teachers being capable of assessing their students - this is because there is a lot of money to be made via corporate testing. The money is key to everything that is currently going in public education in the United States today. Testing will increase under RTTT – some teachers now share that they test or test prep every day. Some schools state that 5 ½ months of the year is spent testing – some say more.
Fourth problem: There are indeed problems with the common core standards. They aren’t developmentally appropriate http://www.allianceforchildhood.org/standards . There are more problems related to the standards which I won’t go in to here, but suffice to day, I receive examples of common core homework given to students daily – I am shocked by what I see. Not only is it developmentally inappropriate, it is mind-numbing and lacking in creative and critical thinking. But enough on that – that is a subject that I could discuss all day long – but do know that children are not suddenly going to be overwhelmed with opportunities for creative, critical and conceptual thinking – it will be the exact opposite.
Fifth problem: History shows us quite clearly that countries who attempt to force standards upon schools by attaching high stakes to them, create learners who are good at one thing – test taking. They do not think independently, they cannot problem solve and they cannot think out of the box – no creative thinking. Simply read more about China to learn more. China, by the way, is attempting to move away from the teach to the test mentality and they are in shock that we are so foolishly headed in this direction.  Check out Yong Zhao’s blog here:  http://zhaolearning.com/2013/01/02/five-questions-to-ask-about-the-common-core/
Sixth problem: Implementing the common core standards will cost a ton of money, which thrills the publishing companies as they drool over your public tax dollars. While your districts begin to prepare for the new assessments which are attached to high stakes, they will be determining how to afford the new curriculum, the new tests, the computers and the technology needed to make this happen. It will be necessary to spend money on all of this because of the high stakes attached to it – as a result, you are sure to see cuts in the arts, physical education, teachers, libraries and more. Also, consider this – where is the money necessary to support the children in your communities who are living in poverty – currently 23% of our children live in poverty – I wonder how these students will do on these tests? And I wonder how these poorer districts will manage to compete with equal footing when they don’t have the money found in Ladue or Clayton?  My guess is that these schools will end up in turn around status and will find themselves subjected to the vultures circling overhead as they (profiteers) discuss with glee how they might cash in on these districts that cannot fend for themselves. One need only look to Detroit, Philadelphia or Chicago to see how this will play out.
Seventh problem: Yes, you will lose local control. These standards are high stakes – they are COMMON. Do you want common children? I thought this was the Show Me state? Are all the children now going to being showing us the same thing as they learn? Regarding the standards, each state is allowed a little wiggle room to tweak the standards to meet their needs, but that won’t cut it. And teachers will be asked to write common core curriculum to save money in your districts, they will be asked to do multiple things necessary to succeed in this high stakes world while having less time to attend to the individual needs of students and their school communities. The ability to focus on what is needed locally – for your children, your schools and your communities will be hampered greatly by the necessities surrounding succeeding on high stakes tests. And these standards were not created by hundreds of teachers – that’s a lie – http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2009/07/national_standards_process_ign.html .
Eight problem: Is this a federal takeover? Well, in my opinion the politicians and the corporations are one and the same. I call it a corporate takeover because everything children will learn in school will be created by the corporations in order to profit the corporations.  The teachers will have no decision-making power and the children will simply regurgitate what the corporations want them to know in order to fulfill the low level entry jobs the corporations will provide for them. The politicians are merely puppets who gain status and money along the way using our public tax dollars and our children to advance their individual needs. Romney and Obama’s education policies differed on one count – Romney supported vouchers and Obama did not – just food for thought.
Ninth problem: The common core standards have never been field tested. Our children are being used as lab rats in an experiment. Something to consider – do the private schools, such as the school Obama’s children attend and the school Bill Gates’ children attend adhere to the “common” core standards? Of course not, you see, these standards are for OUR children – not there children. Everyone who is demanding we adhere to these policies send their children to private schools where high stakes testing and lockstep curriculum does not exist. Final thought – when anyone does research in a public school parents are asked to sign a research agreement stating that accept the conditions of the research study which will occur in their child’s classroom. Did any of you get such an agreement to sign for your child’s class, when MO signed on to the common core?
Tenth problem: Yes, your child’s data will eventually be placed in a data system that corporations have access too – thanks to the FERPA laws that were rewritten under the Obama administration.  It is already happening here in Colorado. The data from the Jefferson County public schools in CO is being funneled into inBloom which will allow for profit corporations access to the data in order to determine what new educational products via the common core they can create to meet the needs of our children…cha ching cha ching. https://sites.google.com/site/schoolbelongstothechildren/ Of course the goal is to have this in every state, which is why RTTT required everyone to have a database set up and ready to go! By the way, currently parents cannot opt out of this because the FERPA laws were changed to allow it.  The data they will collect on your child is much more than test data I can assure you. Dig a bit to find out more about inBloom. I guarantee you won’t like what you see.
I took time to write this today on Mother’s Day because I love Missouri, I love my hometown of Jefferson City and I wish no harm to come your way. If I can be of assistance to anyone please let me know. I am currently a public school teacher in Colorado in my sixteenth year of teaching. I am also an education activist and I am one of the founders of United Opt Out National.  My email is writepeg@juno.com
For what it’s worth, I strongly encourage you to fight the common core – refuse it – refuse the curriculum, the tests – refuse the corporate takeover of your public schools. Your children deserve more.
Also –this article failed to mention this rather important hearing tomorrow in JC http://legiscan.com/MO/text/SB210 . If you can’t attend you can send in this witness form http://www.libertytools.org/LibertyTools/witness/witness2.php?template=28 .
Peggy Robertson

What is happening in Colorado will happen in Missouri because this is all "common".  Is this what you want for Missouri students?

Teacher Implores Other Teachers (and Parents) to Oppose Common Core

Teachers are becoming increasingly concerned about Common Core.  Here's another teacher speaking out against the federal stimulus funded initiative. 
The admissions of error, the requests for moratoriums, the recognition that perhaps testing has gone too far, are running like wildfire in the last few weeks.

We have Randi calling for a moratorium.

Bill Gates admitting that maybe testing tied to teacher evaluation is out of control. 

Arne wants us to recognize testing mistakes as learning opportunities. 

And they attempt to appease the public by finding testing companies who can do it better.

They continue to push messages that keep the public from remembering that teachers know how to assess – teachers assessing is NOT an option in this brave new world.  Our knowledge must become obsolete in order to profit off of public education. Our knowledge of teaching and learning – our knowledge of how to support learners in becoming more than a test score – must be erased - they do not want students who are more than a test score - this defeats their goal in the global economy where we will serve them. 

We need to be clear that any concessions, any admissions of error, any offer to give us time away from those horrid high stakes tests at this moment are simply a ploy to encourage us to sleep away the next few months while they prepare to launch the PARCC and SBAC for our children and anchor the common core into the heart of public education, there by destroying it, along with our teaching profession, our children's privacy and our democracy. Be very awake.

It is May 2013. PARCC and SBAC testing will be rolled out in the upcoming school year, 2013-2014. Our window of opportunity to stop this train from starting is short and must be aggressive and fearless.

The goal right now is to appease us so that we believe we are making headway and believe that they hear our voices and care.  They do not care. 

What is most frightening at this very critical time is the mass of educators who have been swayed to believe they do care. They have been swayed to believe that the intentions with common core are well meaning. I believe we have made some headway in educating the public about the harms of high stakes testing, but we have not made it clear that the common core standards, curriculum and assessments that come with them will destroy our public school system, our profession, our children’s future and our democracy.

Those of us who work in public schools today find ourselves in  a dark cave - NCLB has stripped away all windows, all light, all sparks that ignite the fire in a child’s soul.  RTTT has come forward to take what is left – the shell of learning and teaching – and recreate it into a form or being that I do not recognize as human or alive - it is death. What we have been left with in the public schools has no heart beat, no warmth, no breath of life.

Those of us who are in the public schools and know what they are trying to force upon us are desperately blowing on the spark, rubbing together the sticks, and attempting to keep learning alive. Because there are many of us in our schools doing this, we are momentarily able to survive and protect the children as best we can under these harsh conditions. 

But not for long.

The PARCC and SBAC come next fall. I am frightened for the children - the onslaught of common core lock step scripted curriculum will step forward to embrace the PARCC and SBAC; the slow death of public education will speed forward quickly. The attempt to silence teachers next year will be greater, more intimidating and more punishing than we have ever seen. 

The attempt to force us to accept our fate under the guidance of the common core, the mission of the World Bank, the billionaire boys’ club, and RTTT policies will be rolled out in various ways.  They will stifle us with mandates, but then will allow us up for air as they admit mistakes on this exciting journey of learning where we find our way - together. They will send us babbling into arguments about the pros and cons of poorly written test questions, better tests, refined tests, creative online tests, better common core curriculum created by teachers and better technology for testing. They will engage us in discussions as they admit their “bumps” along the way on our new found path; they will try to take our hand and walk with us as collaborators. They will grant us the grace and time to become more as we embrace the common core standards - during which, we will be contending with teacher evaluation, new legislation and new tasks surrounding creation of common core curriculum in our individual districts. They will keep all of us very busy putting out fires.

There will be more petitions, moratoriums, proclamations, opportunities to offer feedback - and it will all be pointless. Do not engage in this. We must each look at our individual source of energy and use it wisely and in a manner that creates action to dismantle their system.

While all of this is going on, our children will be sitting in classrooms unaware that they are being treated as lab rats. They will look at their teachers with trust in their eyes. The teachers who understand what is happening - who know common core has not been field tested, is developmentally inappropriate and is the cash cow to seal the deal on the privatization of public schools and destruction of the teaching profession -  will do all that they can to treat their students in this experiment with compassion and kindness, attempting to keep them from harm; however, it will not be enough. The teachers who know not what they do, will subject children to great harm, as is already occurring.

The time is now to prepare. As those of us teaching finish up the year, please know that this summer requires serious planning. Parents please know that educating our communities must be the absolute focus of our work this summer. We must launch the 2013-2014 school year with plans to educate, act, and halt the harm done to our children – and we must focus our work with intent - do not be swayed by any form of action that does not end in concrete results that you can see – these results must disrupt or halt their work. They will attempt to exhaust us by creating false opportunities to act – do not engage in any of these – I cannot stress this enough – we have already wasted precious time doing this.

United Opt Out National is in the process of creating an opt out guide tailored to the specific needs of each state, as well as a guide for early childhood education, and special/exceptional education. However, a guide is worthless unless it is acted upon – we must act. Refusing what they offer us is the quickest way to halt their progress.  
We must refuse the assessments and the common core in all shapes and forms.
Parents – you are essential in this fight. Teachers will refuse as best they can, but the parents can lead the way.

They know we are making progress and they are planning strategies to halt our progress now. They will cash in on public education at all costs –  including our children – they do not care about our children. Their children are fine, and they (corp.ed.reformers) have no ability to see, hear or feel what we know – they are not in our schools, and quite honestly, if they do come to our schools, they will not be able to see what we see - they view the world using a business model.  Our work as educators involves heart. It involves soul. We help shape the lives of children, today and tomorrow. It is messy, it is unpredictable and it is impossible to place in a standardized box.

They protect each other and their world. Their heart is simply incapable of understanding our heart. Call it evil. Call it fact. Call it ignorance. Make sense of it however you must, but know that attempting to get those who profit off this madness to understand is futile during these urgent times. Do not waste your time. Look to those who do understand and act. There is very little time left. There is no time to hope for a change of heart.

Their goal is to educate our children so that they are ready for their low level entry jobs – they will save the higher positions for their children. They plan to privatize public education so that what is left is the basics (simply read, write, regurgitate their information), with public tax dollars funneled to profit them while making the public believe that “innovation” is occurring via online learning and assessments that claim to assess higher level thinking.

Those of us who know what is going on will find more constraints placed on us wherever we turn. They will attempt to accuse us of wrong-doings (specifically teachers involved in activism), humiliate us and force us into submission. They will try to make us go away. Be prepared to discover that there are some whom you may have trusted, who will begin to walk a careful line between their world and our world, or simply turn their backs on us.

Be wide awake. And be prepared for the greatest fight of our lives.


If you are concerned about Common Core, have questions that have not been answered by DESE, sign this witness form to be presented at the House Hearing on SB210 tomorrow, Monday, May 13.

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