"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, June 29, 2013

Vacation Liberty School Still Teaching Founding Principles

Today's post is dedicated to one of the other hats I wear, that of Co-Director of the St. Louis Vacation Liberty School. This summer program for 5th-8th graders teaches kids our country's founding principles of liberty, both personal and economic, through classroom time, presentations and games. We teach about the constitution; where the ideas in it came from, where it places our country on the spectrum between tyranny and anarchy, and why it is unique among all the government documents in the world.

This year we ran the week long half day program at the Family Vision Library in St. Peters. The close to thirty children attending came from all over the greater St. Louis area. Each year, the children bring a different perspective and dynamic which keeps us on our toes in trying to make the program meaningful for them.

The week starts with the children entering the world of 18th century England, complete with staff in period costumes and a tyrannical King George. They then move to the new American colonies and experience freedom there that the British subjects did not have in England.  The program explores the role that faith played in our country's founding, focusing on John Adams' quote, "Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

The children also play games that demonstrate how a free market works, how that market is distorted by government intrusion and how helping the poor participate in the market benefits everyone. They don't know why they are playing these games at first. They just think they are fun. After the post-game discussions, they have a deeper personal understanding of the principles at play because they participated in these games. It is always fascinating to see how quickly some of them are willing to take risks in the market to get gain more, and how almost non-existent jealously of their winnings is among the other children who were not willing to take the risk.

Can you tell which lump on the floor is really a kid in a gilly suit?
This year we were blessed to have two special speakers come in and talk to our students. One was Paul Curtman who was there in his capacity as an ex-marine, not as a state Representative of the 109th district. He had the children's undivided attention as he talked to them about what it was like to serve his country in the Marines, why he did it, and how important it is for us to support those who give their all for this country who are back home now and injured or disabled. The child who got to wear Sargent Curtman's gilly suit will not soon forget his foray into camouflage. Paul was a fantastic speaker who was able to paint a clear picture for his audience of necessity of defending freedom and the sacrifice that goes along with doing so. The kids then created thank you cards for the vets and their families to go along with the items they had collected to donate to the VA Fisher House in St. Louis.

Our other guest speaker was former state Senator Jim Lembke who showed the commonality and distinctions between our US Constitution and the Missouri Constitution. He helped the children understand the role of a legislator as a protector of our freedoms, not just someone who passes laws, and understand why it is so important to elect people who truly understand that role. We hope our graduates are not the low information voters of the future.

The week ends with the children experiencing anarchy when they play the Game With No Rules. Initially it sounds like every child's dream world. They quickly discover, however, that a world with no rules is no fun and leaves you feeling very insecure. People take your stuff. The stronger or more aggressive have an advantage. Your chances of getting hurt increase dramatically. They also see how natural it is for humans to develop rules (or laws) to give them some sense of security. This games helps the children place the Constitution (fulcrum in the photo to the left) in the proper place along the scale of Tyranny and Anarchy.

Being outside the public school system allows us to talk about things like: the role of faith in our country's founding, why getting the poor working is better both for them and for society than permanent handouts and entitlement programs, how individual Americans are are the most generous people in the world when it comes to charitable contributions, and why less government (closer to the anarchy side of the spectrum) is better for everyone. It's too bad such lessons have to come from the private sector, but we are grateful that, at least for now, we can still teach them.

If you would like to see more photos from St. Louis Vacation Liberty School, you can visit our website.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Missouri Legislators Rolling with DC on Early Childhood Education?

Reported in the Missouri Times:

The National Forum on Education Policy wrapped up its final day Thursday with keynote speakers Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, and Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The topic of both speeches was President Barack Obama’s proposal for expanding early learning, or early childhood education, nationwide through the Preschool for All program.

“Unlike what you might have heard, this is not some entitlement program,” Duncan said to the hundreds of teachers, commissioners and legislators gathered in the Renaissance Hotel ballroom...
"The vast majority of kids who aren’t getting in [early learning programs] are starting school a year to 14 months behind,” Duncan said to reporters after his speech. “That’s the reality, and that, to me, is unsettling.”

Interesting that Duncan would point out the President's comments on early childhood education in the state of the union since there were plenty of people who pointed out after the President's speech that the largest early childhood education program, Head Start, with 40 years of data showed no advantage to putting kids in early education in the long run.

That makes Senator Pearce's comment regarding the requirement for states to match federal dollars by 10%, “A 10-to-one return sounds pretty good,” even more confusing. There is no demonstrable long term pay off in investing in early childhood education. If he is referring to the low state commitment compared to the federal dollars, he should read more about what Virginia and New York found when they looked at the cost of compliance with federal programs compared to the federal dollars taken in. Their conclusion was that it was too expensive for the state to take the federal dollars. The long term commitment to the program ended up costing almost 4 times as much as they received from DC. Being beholden to a federal program's mandates and reporting requirements does not seem worth the 10% investment.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Transcript of Arne Duncan's Common Core Speech to the American Society of News Editors

Will the American Society of News Editors do a "reality check" on Arne Duncan's speech?

 Duncan Pushes Back on Attacks on Common Core Standards

Arne Duncan Remarks at the American Society of News Editors Annual Convention, Capital Hilton, Washington, D.C.

Press Office, (202) 401-1576, press@ed.gov

Thank you, Clark. The work you are doing to help the next generation become more sophisticated in understanding the news is absolutely vital. To have full power over their lives, young people must understand the world they live in. They have to read, they have to follow the news, and they have to vote. All that is such an important part of what it means to be educated. So, thank you.

Traditionally, this event has been an opportunity for federal leaders to talk about touchy subjects. For example, you asked President Kennedy to talk about the Bay of Pigs. So, thanks for having me here to talk about the Common Core State Standards. 

Academic standards used to be just a subject for after-school department meetings and late-night state board sessions. But now, they're a topic for dueling newspaper editorials. Why? That's because a new set of standards—rigorous, high-quality learning standards, developed and led by a group of governors and state education chiefs—are under attack as a federal takeover of the schools. And your role in sorting out truth from nonsense is really important.

So I'd like to explain how we arrived at this place. I'll talk about information and misinformation, and ask you to help Americans draw a bright line between the two. 

I'd like to make the case that these standards have the capacity to change education in the best of ways—setting loose the creativity and innovation of educators at the local level, raising the bar for students, strengthening our economy and building a clearer path to the middle class. But for these new standards to succeed, Americans will need to be clear on what's true and what's false. 

News Literacy and our Common Worry: Ensuring a Generation Critical Thinkers

You and I wake up every day to similar worries and similar hopes. We just attach different labels to them. 

You wonder whether there's a market for serious news. You wonder whether a generation that grew up on text messages and Twitter will read about interest rates and Iran. 

I worry about the one in four young Americans who don't graduate from high school—and the three out of four young people who are ineligible to serve in the military. I worry about the 90 million American adults with below-basic or basic reading skills.

If you don't worry about these things yet—you will. Because they put your future at risk—and ours.
For America to prosper—and for journalism to survive—we need a generation that reads, writes and thinks. 

Where the Common Core Came From: A Crisis of Low Standards
You may have heard President Obama say that America used to be number one in the world in college completion just one generation ago. Sadly, today, we have dropped to number 12 among young adults. That's reality and that's unacceptable. 

We're not going to pave a path to the middle class with the cheapest labor. We're not going to reverse the polarization of wealth in this country through unskilled jobs. The only way that we can promise all of our young people a genuine opportunity is through a world-class education. 

What our young people need, and deserve, is an education that leaves them not just college-ready but innovation-ready. As Tom Friedman has written, they need an education that prepares them for the reality of today's flat world—a world where you invent your own job, change careers, and constantly acquire new skills. The real world demands readers, writers, and critical thinkers—people who can work with others and communicate skillfully. It's the same thing you demand.

The problem is a lot of children, in a lot of places in America, have not been getting a world-class education. But rather than recognize that, for far too long, our school systems lied to kids, to families, and to communities. They said the kids were all right—that they were on track to being successful—when in reality they were not even close.

What made those soothing lies possible were low standards for learning. Low standards are the equivalent of setting up for a track-and-field event with hurdles only one foot tall. That's what happened in education in a lot of places, and everyone came out looking good—educators, administrators and especially politicians.

The truth—the brutal truth—was that we had thousands of schools where as few as 10 percent of students were reading or doing math at grade level, and where less than half were graduating.
The truth was that in a school with 100 low-income kindergartners, only 29 could expect to enroll in college, and nine—only nine—could expect to graduate.

For those few who made it to college, remediation rates were high. Our competitiveness was in danger.

The Power of the Common Core
Fortunately, in 2007, a group of governors and state education chiefs decided they were unwilling to perpetuate this cycle of deception, dysfunction, and low expectations. They set out to develop a new set of learning standards aligned to the demands of the real world—to the kind of deep learning that your children and my children will need to thrive in a globally competitive economy.

What happened was far beyond anyone's expectations: 45 states and D.C. voluntarily adopted these new standards. Nobody foresaw that development in 2009. It's a testament to the courage of these state leaders and the power of a good idea whose time had come.

It was powerful for two reasons: because these standards were rigorous enough to prepare students for the real world, and because they would be shared among a number of states. Here's what that means:

Today, I believe, literally for the first time in American history, a child in Mississippi will face the same expectations as a child in Massachusetts. 

Today a fourth grade teacher in New Mexico can develop a lesson plan at night and, the very next day, a fourth grade teacher in New York can use it and share it with others if she wants to.

Today, the child of a Marine officer, who is transferred from Camp Pendleton in California to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, will be able to make that academic transition without a hitch, instead of having to start over in a widely different place academically. 

When these standards are fully implemented, a student who graduates from a high school in any one of these states—who is performing at standard—will be ready to attend and succeed in his or her state university without remedial education. Historically, in far too many communities, more than half of those who actually graduated from high school needed remedial help in college. 

We are no longer lying to kids about whether they are ready. Finally, we are telling them the truth, telling their parents the truth, and telling their future employers the truth. Finally, we are holding ourselves accountable to giving our children a true college and career-ready education.

The New York Times has called the Common Core "a once-in-a-generation opportunity" to bring our public schools up to levels of our high-performing international competitors.

I believe the Common Core State Standards may prove to be the single greatest thing to happen to public education in America since Brown versus Board of Education—and the federal government had nothing to do with creating them.

The federal government didn't write them, didn't approve them, and doesn't mandate them. And we never will. Anyone who says otherwise is either misinformed or willfully misleading. 

Let me say that one more time—the federal government didn't write them, didn't approve them, and doesn't mandate them. Anyone who says otherwise is either misinformed or willfully misleading.

Now, I will tell you what we did do, and then you can do your job by confirming it and by questioning anyone who says otherwise—because all kinds of people are saying all kinds of things that are simply not true.

The Common Core: Not a Federal Project
When the Obama administration came into office in 2009, the Common Core standards were in development, and gaining momentum. We set out to support states and districts in changing the conditions that were limiting educational opportunity, and raising standards was a vital part of that.

With governors and state leaders making major progress on standards, we gave them all the support we could, within the bounds of what's appropriate for the limited federal role in education.

Our big competitive reform fund, Race to the Top, awarded points—40 points out of 500—to states that were collaborating to create common college- and career-ready standards. 

It was voluntary—we didn't mandate it—but we absolutely encouraged this state-led work because it is good for kids and good for the country.

And at the time, no one knew how many groups of states would come together to create their own set of common standards. It turned out to be one big group of 46—but it could have been several, or even many, groups of states uniting around different sets of standards. So this notion of our pushing for one set of standards was never correct. In fact, we were totally agnostic on the number of state consortia. We just didn't want 50 states to continue to work in complete isolation from each other.

Moreover, there's a huge difference between creating an incentive—which was absolutely the right thing to do—and mandating particular standards—which is never the right thing to do, and we never will do. The states choose their standards; they have been free, and always will be free, to opt for different ones.

Did the points, and the dollars, matter to the states? Absolutely. But it's not the only reason or even the most important reason why states adopted the Common Core. To be clear, total Race to the Top dollars were less than one percent of what we spent on K-12 education every single year.

States signed on to the Common Core because it was the right thing to do. They knew that their children were being cheated and they refused to continue to be a part of it—and for that they deserve our deepest praise and gratitude. In fact, dozens of states that didn't get a nickel of Race to the Top money are committed to those higher standards—and American education will be better because of it.
These standards are under attack now.

Why Strong Standards Change Everything

Where Standards Used to Be
It's important to remember where this all started. Before 2009, No Child Left Behind created pressure for schools and districts to meet standards and hit cut scores—and in response, 19 states actually dummied down their standards to make more of their students appear more proficient.

Here's how low the bar was. You've heard about the NAEP test—the one we refer to as the nation's report card. Fourth-grade reading standards in 35 states—75 percent of the country—were set below what NAEP considers the bare minimum or "basic."

In 2007, Tennessee was one of only two states to receive an "F" for its academic standards, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Ninety percent of students there scored "proficient" on state reading and math tests, yet only 26 percent were proficient according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—90 percent versus 26 percent. Same students, different tests, and wildly different results—all because Tennessee had pathetically low standards.

Like we saw in too many states, the proficiency cut scores on Tennessee's assessments were intellectually dishonest. They actually corresponded to a student GPA of a D-minus, and concealed huge achievement gaps, especially for disadvantaged students.

Then, two Tennessee governors—one Democrat and one Republican—Phil Bredesen and Bill Haslam—decided to challenge the status quo and change everything. They started telling the truth about student learning by raising standards. Measured against these higher standards, test scores looked much lower and achievement gaps looked much wider. Proficiency rates dropped by more than half. Achievement gaps that were already large, more than doubled. 

Yet Tennessee showed real courage and stuck by the higher standards—and, last year, Tennessee's students made the biggest single-year jump in achievement ever recorded in the state. High standards and high expectations are the first step toward higher performance. 

What These Standards Do
In that effort, the Common Core standards mark a sea-change in education. Not only do they set the bar high, they give teachers the space and opportunity to go deep, emphasizing problem-solving, analysis, and critical thinking, as well as creativity and teamwork. They give teachers room to innovate.

And, all across the country, teachers have responded. Three out of four say the Common Core standards will help them teach better. 

A few weeks ago, I had a group of local teachers to dinner, and I asked them about the Common Core:
  • One fourth-grade teacher from Maryland said: "I think most teachers love and embrace the idea ... that we're not just teaching them to spit back formulas to us ..."
  • A middle-school teacher said: "It's giving us a lot more time to get kids into really engaged discussions and deeper thought. ... These standards open up all kinds of new directions."
One teacher—a county teacher of the year—even brought in a quote from one of her fifth-graders. Here's what the student said:
"Sometimes in the past, we knew what the steps were to solve a problem but we could not process it in a way to make sense of the big mathematical idea. Now we start with the big idea and we discover the math within it."
That's what an 11-year-old fifth-grader said!

The Controversy over the Core
The Common Core is Under Attack through Misinformation

Unfortunately, not everyone shares that 11-year-old's enthusiasm. The Common Core has become a rallying cry for fringe groups that claim it is a scheme for the federal government to usurp state and local control of what students learn. An op-ed in the New York Times called the Common Core "a radical curriculum." It is neither radical nor a curriculum.

We need to be very clear about definitions here.
  • Standards—learning standards, academic standards—are the goals, typically set by states, for what students should know by a certain age.
  • Curriculum—on the other hand—is what teachers teach to help students meet those standards. Curriculum is generally chosen at the district or even the school level—and in many cases individual teachers actually decide on the curriculum and classroom content.
When the critics can't persuade you that the Common Core is a curriculum, they make even more outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won't. And let's not even get into the really wacky stuff: mind control, robots, and biometric brain mapping. This work is interesting, but frankly, not that interesting.

The Washington Post laid out the facts in an editorial I will quote:
"Lost in the hysteria being whipped up about Common Core standards is that the movement to infuse new rigor in schools started at the state level... This sensible and badly needed reform should not be derailed by misguided and misinformed opposition."

Now, I don't think the Common Core is going to get derailed. But this misguided, misinformed opposition is making life more difficult in several states, where various forms of anti-Common Core legislation have been introduced. A lot of that legislation is based on false information.

Some of the hostility to Common Core also comes from critics who conflate standards with curriculum, assessments and accountability. They oppose mandated testing and they oppose using student achievement growth and gain as one of multiple measures to evaluate principals and teachers. They also oppose intervention in chronically low-performing schools. Some seem to feel that poverty is destiny.

It's convenient for opponents to simply write it all off as federal over-reach—but these are separate and distinct issues—and they should be publicly debated openly and honestly with a common understanding about the facts.

That's where you come in. 

The Role of Journalists: Telling Truth from Fiction

As you know, good journalism is more than just claim and counter-claim. It's investigating what's true and false, what's a responsible statement and what's not. Many of you have done fine work on that front.

You understand the truth about the role of the federal government with respect to common core standards: We didn't write them, we don't mandate them and we don't regulate them.

That's why leaders on the left and the right—Randi Weingarten and Mitch Daniels; Dennis van Roekel; and Jeb Bush—and so many others—support the Common Core standards, even if they disagree on many other issues.

You also understand that the federal government has nothing to do with curriculum. In fact, we're prohibited by law from creating or mandating curricula. 

So do the reporting. Ask the Common Core critics: Please identify a single lesson plan that the federal government created, or requires of any school, teacher, or district.

Ask if they can identify any textbook that the federal government created, endorsed, or required for any school, teacher, or district in their state.

Ask them to identify any element, phrase, or a single word of the Common Core standards that was developed or required by the federal government. 

If they tell you that any of these things are happening—challenge them to name names. Challenge them to produce evidence—because they won't find it. It simply doesn't exist.

Responsible Conservative Voices

Many thoughtful, strong conservatives are already speaking the truth and showing real courage. Governor Mike Huckabee recently wrote: "I've heard the argument these standards 'threaten local control' of what's being taught in Oklahoma classrooms. Speaking from one conservative to another, let me assure you this simply is not true... They're not something to be afraid of; indeed they are something to embrace."

Columnist Michael Gerson—President Bush's former speechwriter—wrote recently that if the Common Core "is a conspiracy against limited government, it has somehow managed to recruit governors Mitch Daniels and Jeb Bush, current governors Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce." Gerson concluded, "A plot this vast is either diabolical or imaginary."
Imaginary is the right word.

In this change, the state chiefs are in the driver's seat. I have talked with virtually every governor in America—and visited almost every state. I've spent time with every state chief—because I know that when it comes to improving public education—the buck does not stop here in Washington. It stops in Albany, in Lansing, in Tallahassee and in Sacramento. In public education, the buck stops with the states.


That's why you have seen this administration devote so much energy to helping our states succeed—at the same time that we continue to try to work with a dysfunctional Congress. I have great, great respect for the men and women serving in Congress today, but the institution is fundamentally broken.

Congress has let six years go by without fixing No Child Left Behind—and the unintended consequences have been devastating for children and for public education.

Fortunately, through the waiver process, we found a way to minimize the damage, while supporting bold and courageous work in states all across America.

We've set a high bar for states on issues like closing achievement gaps, evaluating principals and teachers, and turning around low-performing schools—but we've given them lots of flexibility in how they get there.

Tight on goals, but loose on means—that's our theory of change. It's the exact opposite of how No Child Left Behind was structured. 

But I look forward to a day when we don't have to rely on our waivers to support states in their efforts to improve education. I'm pleased to see that Congress has finally begun the reauthorization process—though I worry that the current effort is plagued by the traditional partisan politics that stymies both innovation and creative solutions.

I would urge and beg members of Congress who care about this issue to spend more time talking with governors and state chiefs on both sides of the aisle about the kind of support they want from Washington—and then work together to develop a bipartisan bill to fix NCLB. That's how we will get to the reality of better educational opportunities at every stage of the education journey—from cradle to career.

We're seeing terrific ideas originating from the states as we work with them on flexibility. To name just a couple of examples:
  • Kentucky is making moves to focus accountability for high schools on a basket of indicators of college and career readiness, ranging from the ACT to preparedness for military service to industry certificates. No longer are they forced to focus on a single test score.
  • Similarly, Nevada is looking to multiple measures in a rating system that includes not just achievement and graduation rates, but measures like college remediation rates, advanced diploma rates, and participation and performance in college entrance exams.
Let's not pretend that we have all the answers here in Washington when the blueprint for improving schools is already being implemented all across America by hard-working, committed educators and leaders from across the political spectrum.


That's why I am still hopeful. Because as I travel outside of Washington, I see every day what happens when educators get to do their best work—when they are free to create and innovate.

There's still so much more work to do. Raising standards is only one part of the job. We need to support great teaching. We need to make college affordable. And we need to make high-quality preschool available to every child. 

And as this works moves forward, we need guardians of the truth to separate fact from fiction.

Whatever your views about public education, it is indefensible to lower learning standards. It hurts everyone, and children from disadvantaged communities most of all. There is simply too much at stake—for the country—for our future—and for your industry.

If your state lowers standards, you lose a high bar for reading, for critical thinking, for writing, and for taking ideas seriously. You lose one of the cornerstones of democracy. Because the power of democracy depends upon an informed electorate—and a free press.

America's children will live in a very different world from their parents. Our obligation is to prepare them for it. We all share that responsibility.

Thank you.

Dear readers, we'd love to have your comments on Secretary Duncan's speech.  I will get it started with the highlighted sentence above:

Because the power of democracy depends upon an informed electorate—and a free press.

The electorate was TOTALLY left out of this CCSS adoption/implementation (it was never brought up for a vote), as well as state legislatures.  Yes, the power of a democracy (or republic but we don't talk about being a republic anymore) does depend on an informed electorate.  Secretary Duncan (and governors, CCSSI and special interests) were hoping you would NOT become informed on CCSS.
Why has CCSSO, NGA, Duncan and special interest groups only began to address Common Core when they finally started getting pushback from parents, teachers and taxpayers?  If Common Core was so great, transformational, and the educational plan we've been waiting for, why were our legislators and the electorate largely kept in the dark for the last 3-4 years?

Instead of the news editors accepting Duncan's talking points as truth and factual, maybe they should investigate why the electorate and legislators who have to pay for Duncan's blueprint have just discovered what it entails and who planned their kids' lives for their school districts and states.  Let's see just how free the press is (or motivated) to report the FACTS (not theories) about Common Core.  Will the newspaper editors do enough research to determine that much of what Duncan said is theory based, not research based?

Have fun dissecting Duncan's claims and try to find the research on which he bases his comments.  If the newspaper editors won't do the fact finding about Duncan's statements, it's up to the electorate to inform the editors and citizens. 

Would Arne Duncan Call this PBS Blog Contributor "Fringe" Because of an Anti-Common Core Stance?

Economist Robert Lerman questions Common Core.  Arne Duncan would consider him "fringe".

Oh, we've had a lot of fun on Facebook threads about our posting yesterday of Arne Duncan calling those who question Common Core "fringe".  We commiserated with others who find themselves on the outside of the elitists who have designed a program for the "rest of us".  Does that "fringe group" include those who post on the PBS blog?

From Diane Ravitch and PBS Blog: Common Core Has Fatal Flaw: 

On the PBS blog, economist Robert Lerman of the Urban Institute and American University expresses skepticism about the one-size-fits-all academic nature of the Common Core.

Lerman strongly supports youth apprenticeship programs.

Lerman is skeptical of Common Core for two reasons: One is that it lacks any evidence. In other words, as I have written repeatedly, Common Core has never been field-tested and we have no idea how it works in real classrooms, and how it will affect the students who are currently struggling.

The other is the dubious assumption that college and career skills are the same.

As he writes:

“…Two issues concern me about the debate. One is the lack of solid evidence about the effects of the curriculum on students. Education research, long a backwater of social science, has become more rigorous in recent years, backed in part by the federal government’sInstitute of Educational Sciences and its funding for rigorous experimental methods to test educational interventions. Yet, here is the same federal government encouraging a massive educational initiative without solid evidence documenting gains for student academic or career outcomes.

The second concern is justifying the Common Core on the highly dubious notion that college and career skills are the same. On its face, the idea is absurd. After all, do chefs, policemen, welders, hotel managers, professional baseball players and health technicians all require college skills for their careers? Do college students all require learning occupational skills in a wide array of careers? In making the “same skills” claim, proponents are really saying that college skills are necessary for all careers and not that large numbers of career skills are necessary for college.”

Lerman smartly traces back the origins of this astounding claim.

It is true, he says, that most employers identify certain skills they seek: “Nearly every study of employer needs over the past 20 years comes up with the same answers. Successful workers communicate effectively orally and in writing and have social and behavioral skills that make them responsible and good at teamwork. They are creative and techno-savvy, have a good command of fractions and basic statistics, and can apply relatively simple math to real-world problems like financial or health literacy.

But, he says, the Common Core misinterprets this consensus to mean that all students need the same level of academic preparation. He writes: “Employers never mention polynomial factoring. But what about the higher level math required by the Common Core? Consider algebra II, the study of logarithms, polynomial functions and quadratic equations. Many states want to make algebra II a requirement for graduating high school. Yet, a stunning finding produced by Northeastern University sociologist Michael Handel(cited in a recent Atlantic blog) indicates that only 9 percent of the work force ever use this knowledge, and less than 20 percent of managerial, professional, or technical workers report using any algebra II material.”

Trying to squeeze all students, regardless of their interest or wishes, into a common mold, he concludes, is a bad idea.

Question: does Lerman's questioning of Common Core sound like "fringe" to you?  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

If you Question Common Core, you are Now Officially Considered "Fringe" by Arne Duncan

you are considered "fringe" for saying no to his ideas

Do we have a free press?  Do we have a press that asks questions?  Do we have media that researches claims made by the government or does the media accept talking points and report it as fact?

Arne Duncan certainly hopes the media prints the Common Core State School Initiative's talking points.  He told The American Society of Newspaper Editors for these new standards to succeed, Americans will need to be clear on what’s true and what’s false.  Duncan proceeded to tell these editors why Common Core is essential to American education success and why dissenters' claims are nonsense.  Duncan told the organization and asked for its help to disseminate HIS vision of education reform.  He will inform them what is true and what is false:

I’ll talk about information and misinformation, and ask you to help Americans draw a bright line between the two. I’d like to make the case that these standards have the capacity to change education in the best ways – setting loose the creativity and innovation of educators, raising the bar for students, strengthening our economy and building a clearer path to the middle class. But for these new standards to succeed, Americans will need to be clear on what’s true and what’s false.

He calls American citizens (taxpayers/parents who don't represent special interests) questioning such issues as the legislative runaround of CCSS, the amount of stimulus money funding CCSS, the privatization of education....as being part of fringe groups.  Come to think of it, he might be right.  The fringe groups are composed primarily of the taxpayers, parents, teachers, legislators, etc...those folks who were never asked their opinion on how their schools should be structured, how/what their children should learn or how their taxes should be spent in the development/delivery of public education.  We ARE on the fringe of the elites and private businesses who love the public/private partnership of public education and have imposed Common Core on citizens without a legislative or taxpayer vote.

From The Washington Post and  Arne Duncan tells newspaper editors how to report on Common Core:

It seems that a big part of Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s job now is giving impassioned defenses of the Common Core State Standards, which he did Tuesday to a convention of American news editors (some of whom may not have even known it needed defending).

A few months ago, Duncan told Chamber of Commerce leaders that they had to be more supportive of the Common Core because it was coming under withering attack from the left and right, and some states were reconsidering implementing the standards. On Tuesday, he gave another defense to the editors as well as some tips on how to report the story:
So do the reporting. Ask the Common Core critics: Please identify a single lesson plan that the federal government created, or requires of any school, teacher or district.
Ask if they can identify any textbook that the federal government created, endorsed, or required for any school, teacher, or district in their state.

Ask them to identify any element, phrase, or a single word of the Common Core standards that was developed or required by the federal government.

If they tell you that any of these things are happening –– challenge them to name names. Challenge them to produce evidence – because they won’t find it. It doesn’t exist.
And he went after Core critics, saying that they were at best misinformed and at worst laboring under paranoid delusions.
The Common Core has become a rallying cry for fringe groups that claim it is a scheme for the federal government to usurp state and local control of what students learn. An op-ed in the New York Times called the Common Core “a radical curriculum.” It is neither radical nor a curriculum. … When the critics can’t persuade you that the Common Core is a curriculum, they make even more outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, it doesn’t, we’re not allowed to, and we won’t. And let’s not even get into the really wacky stuff: mind control, robots, and biometric brain mapping.
If the news editors take Duncan up on his call for them to look deeply into the Common Core, they will find that Duncan didn’t tell the full story.

There is some irony in the fact that Arne Duncan keeps saying that the Core is not the work of the federal government while he, the federal secretary of education, goes around attacking its critics. In fact, he just bowed to those critics, agreeing to give states an extra year to comply with federal mandates on using Core-aligned standardized tests to evaluate teachers.

He is certainly right to say that there are outlandish claims being made about the Common Core, which is a set of common standards adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia designed to raise student achievement. Glen Beck, shouting that the Core is essentially an effort by the federal government to rip children out of the control of their parents, said recently:
You as a parent are going to be completely pushed out of the loop. The state is completely pushed out of the loop. They now have control of your children.
That’s ridiculous stuff, for sure, but not all of the criticism is.

The Core initiative was started in 2007 by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, a bipartisan effort to come up with a common set of K-12 standards in English language arts and math across states that would better prepare students for colleges and careers than in the past.

The standards were written by school reformer and entrepreneur David Coleman, who now heads the College Board, and Susan Pimental of Achieve Inc., an organization created to advance “standards-based” education.  Starting in 2009, the Obama administration, in its main education initiative, required states that wanted to compete for Race to the Top reform dollars to adopt the standards. It also gave some $360 million to two consortia of states developing standardized tests aligned to the Core, exams whose results would be used to evaluate teachers, another controversial part of the Obama reform agenda.

For some time there has been concern about the Core. Educators and researchers questioned the way the standards were written (whether, for example, there was any or enough input from working teachers) and some criticized the content of the standards (while others praised it). Some critics don’t believe in standards-based education, and others felt it usurped local authority. More recently, tea party members and even the Republican National Committee jumped onto the anti-Core bandwagon, accusing the administration of a federal takeover of public education, extreme right-wing rhetoric that clouded a real discussion about the Core.

This year some states led by Republican governors began to pull away from the standards. Protests by educators, parents, students and others began to grow as it became clear that the Core implementation was being rushed, and some students were being given tests said to be Core-aligned even though teachers hadn’t had enough time to create material around the standards. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a speech that a survey of the members of the country’s second-largest teachers union found that 75 percent supported the Core but “a similarly overwhelming majority said they haven’t had enough time to understand the standards, put them into practice or share strategies with colleagues.” And she called for a moratorium on the high-stakes use of the test scores to evaluate teachers.

Last week, Duncan bowed to that reality, announcing that he was giving the 37 states plus the District of Columbia, which had won federal waivers from the most egregious mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act, an extra year to implement teacher evaluations linked to new assessments that are supposed to be aligned to the new Common Core State Standards. This means the states have until 2016.

Duncan, in his speech to the newspaper editors, said the federal government didn’t start or write the standards, and that is true. He said that it wasn’t mandated either, though critics argue that it was coerced. He was also right when he said the Core is not a curriculum (even though the Core authors released a book of criteria to education publishers about what should be in Core curriculum).

But he didn’t mention the rushed implementation, nor the hundreds of millions of dollars the federal government has plowed into the testing creation effort. He has said for years that the Core-aligned tests would be “game changers” and be able to assess students much more broadly,  but he didn’t say Tuesday that that isn’t true. It turns out there wasn’t enough time or money to create those kinds of tests.

On Tuesday, Duncan said he doesn’t think the Common Core State Standards initiative is “going to be derailed.” But the thrust of his speech shows that he is plenty worried.

Even More School Data Sharing Requested by the Office of Civil Rights. Send in Your Comments on this Proposal by August 20, 2013.

Will this data become individualized and shared? This is an important question to ask the Office of Civil Rights in your comments on its proposal for increased educational data.

The US Department's Office of Civil Rights has proposed in the Federal Register that it wants to gather more data on social behaviors to determine if students' civil rights are being violated in educational settings. According to EdWeek, this proposal states that the questions will be aggregate in nature:

The 2009-10 version zeroed in on school discipline issues, including asking districts how students were disciplined, including whether by suspension, expulsion, or by corporal punishment. Schools had to report how the punishment was meted out and break those figures down by students' race, gender, and disability. All of the information became public last year.

But some civil rights and education groups wanted more details about those data points. They could get it, if these proposed changes to the so-called civil rights data collection are adopted. Some of the new questions the department wants to ask—generally disaggregated by race, sex, disability status, and English-proficiency status:  (include discipline, athletics, early childhood education, college and career readiness, personnel)

Could some civil rights and education groups want more detail on individual student data? Do you think this information will not be noted in individual data sets?  The proposal does not state that the information will not include the mining of individual student information. The P20 Longitudinal Data Systems have been set up to capture individual student data, academic and personal.  Arne Duncan rewrote FERPA to allow individual data to be gathered and shared with various federal agencies and private firms, so color me skeptical that this information will be kept in aggregate form in some data sets.

If the Office of Civil Rights is granted access to this information from schools, the proposal should include that student information will never be data mined nor available to any federal agency, school, district or private research firm from an individual data set.  If no individual information is to be gathered, then there wouldn't be any reason for FERPA to be changed.  It doesn't make sense that this information would indeed stay in aggregate form.

Comments are asked for in the Federal Register and are due on or before August 20, 2013. Send your comments on individual data mining (or other comments on increased data gathering on social issues) to the Department of Civil Rights on or before August 20, 2013.  Comments may sent to:

http://www.regulations.gov by selecting Docket ID Number ED-2013-ICCD-0079 

or read the Federal Register (below) for alternative ways to send your comments.

From EdWeek and Next Massive Federal Data Drive Could Dig Further Into Discipline:

The next federal collection of data about every U.S. school district could probe districts further on how students are disciplined, how many pre-K kids are spanked, and whether bullies harassed classmates because of their religion or because they thought their peer was lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

The U.S. Department's office for civil rights last week asked for public comment on these and other questions it hopes to ask of every district in the country during the 2013-14 and 2015-16 school years. (MEW note: The above link is the link to the Federal Register)

About every two years since 1968, the civil rights office has collected data from a selection of districts to monitor and enforce civil rights laws. (Check out some of the EdWeek reporting on the data.) The 2009-10 version captured information about 85 percent of public school students in the country and the 2011-12 iteration, which just wrapped up, took on all districts and schools nationwide. (A quarter of those districts have just one school, a federal education department spokesman said.)

The 2009-10 version zeroed in on school discipline issues, including asking districts how students were disciplined, including whether by suspension, expulsion, or by corporal punishment. Schools had to report how the punishment was meted out and break those figures down by students' race, gender, and disability. All of the information became public last year.

But some civil rights and education groups wanted more details about those data points. They could get it, if these proposed changes to the so-called civil rights data collection are adopted. Some of the new questions the department wants to ask—generally disaggregated by race, sex, disability status, and English-proficiency status:

  • How many allegations of harassment or bullying of K-12 students were on the basis of perceptions about sexual orientation or religion? (The department spokesman told me that this doesn't give schools the right to ask about a victim's LGBT status or their religion. "This is focusing on the likely motive of the alleged harasser not the actual status of victim," he said.)

  • How many students without disabilities, and how many with 504 plans, were removed from school for disciplinary reasons and sent to another school or an alternative school?

  • How many students ages 3-5 in preschool received corporal punishment?

  • How many times were students in preschool through 12th grade corporally punished? (So this goes beyond collecting information about how many students were spanked and captures students who were repeatedly disciplined this way.)

  • How many school days did students miss, collectively, because they were suspended out of school?

  • How many of the following incidents would trigger disciplinary action, including referrals to law enforcement and arrests: robbery with a weapon, with a firearm or explosive device, or without a weapon; physical attack or fight with a weapon, without a weapon, or with a firearm or explosive; rape or attempted rape; incidents of sexual battery other than rape; possession of a firearm or explosive; whether students, faculty, or staff died as a result of a murder at school; whether there was an incident at the school that involved a shooting.

  • Did any students participate in single-sex athletics?
Early Childhood Education

  • Does the district offer full- or part-day kindergarten because of state law and is there any cost for parents?
College and Career Readiness

  • Are students taking distance-education courses, and if so how many do?

  • Are students taking dual-enrollment or dual-credit courses, and if so, how many do?

  • Do any students participate in credit recovery programs?

  • How many students were absent 15 or more days?

  • How many students took an AP exam of any kind, including in a foreign language?

  • How many 7th grade students took Algebra 1? How many passed?

  • How many school psychologists, social workers, security guards, school resource officers, and sworn law enforcement officers are on staff?
Some of the 2009-10 data weren't very accurate. But an Education Department spokesman said the 2011-12 collection built in additional steps to ensure better quality data, including giving districts time to adjust information provided after a federal review, and those efforts would be enhanced in the 2013-14 and 2015-16 collections.

Many districts found the entire process to be a pain in the neck, and they are likely to weigh in with those concerns considering the proposed data collections would be even bigger.

The 2015-16 version could also be done as a representative sample of the country instead, the department spokesman said.

The proposed changes have to get through a 60-day public comment period, revisions, another 30-day comment period, and the Office of Management & Budget before becoming final.

Follow Rules for Engagement on Twitter @Rulz4Engagement and Education Week Staff Writer Nirvi Shah on Twitter @NirviShah.

This  paragraph from the article contains ambiguous language from the Department of Education and needs to be clarified by the USDOEd:

Some of the 2009-10 data weren't very accurate. But an Education Department spokesman said the 2011-12 collection built in additional steps to ensure better quality data, including giving districts time to adjust information provided after a federal review, and those efforts would be enhanced in the 2013-14 and 2015-16 collections.

  • What are the additional steps?
  • What is better quality data? (Is it that it is individualized for better tracking?)
  • What does "adjust information" mean?  Provide more individualized information to ensure additional information?
The details need to be provided on exactly what efforts are "enhanced" in the 2013-14 and 2015-16 collections.

Last question:
  • Is it a civil right to not be identified in a massive data sweep in educational settings?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

More Voices Against Common Core/Standardized/Corporate Education: From the Left.

This is a group not from the right.  The Common Core State Standards proponents are hearing discontent from both sides of the aisle.  Are our legislators/schools/state boards listening? 

Recently Barnard College hosted a conference, "Reclaiming the Conversation", about the current educational reform which includes nationalized standards, increased assessments/tests and the privatization of public education.

There are comments about the educational reform currently being implemented from parents, educational researchers, professors, and teachers in the video below.  Here is the description of the video:

A gathering of teachers, parents, students and scholars to build coalitions and support resistance against corporate education "reforms" that are privatizing public education and reducing the measure of teaching and learning to test scores.

Date: May 4th, 2013
Venue: Barnard College, Columbia University, New York City

This event was made possible by:

The Barnard Education Program
An anonymous donor
the North Star Fund
The Shirley Chisholm Project

Be sure to listen at about the 4:10 mark.  Note the conversation in which the speaker discusses putting children into groups and building a curriculum for them.  She talks about having two different types of curriculum for two different groups.  Haven't the CCSS proponents been telling us common core doesn't dictate curriculum?

It is becoming increasingly clear the talking points from CCSSO don't align with the experience of the teachers or the facts of educational reform history.  

For more information on this group fighting educational reform:

For individual interview clips and information: http://education4.org
Like us on Facebook:
Twitter: @EdReclaim

Monday, June 24, 2013

Scathing Letter Against Common Core from Former County State Committeewoman

Bravo!  The former Marion County (FL) state committeewoman takes on Common Core proponents.  From Florida Stop Common Core Coalition and Political Dangers of Common Core:

June 23, 2013
The following email was forwarded to us. It was written by former Marion County state committeewoman Marguerite Cavanaugh.  Though lengthy, it perfectly encapsulates the growing divide within the Republican Party between the corporate-backed, elitist political establishment that back Common Core and the conservative, grassroots members that make up the heart of the GOP base.  Former governor Jeb Bush and his foundations are specifically called out, for badgering other states questioning Common Core and Florida Republican units that dare to pass resolutions against the standards, but politicians in other states are doing the same thing. The Georgia GOP is experiencing a similar phenomenon, but they voted unanimously to urge their elected officials to withdraw from Common Core .   And the GOP is not alone.  Union members are increasingly questioning their own leadership and the Democrat party as teachers are being turned into glorified babysitters.

Dear Republican Party Leaders of Florida:

Many of you have given me the honor and pleasure of serving with you for almost 10 years as State Committeewoman. You know I have a sense of humor, but am very serious when it comes to the future of the Sunshine State, our Nation and the Republican Party, so this is for all of you and the ones I haven't been able to work with or know.   

It has come to my attention that the Common Core standards came up as a topic, without discussion, during the conference call last week on Wednesday, and it was stated that those who oppose or have concerns about the standards, their accompanying tests and data-mining system, were "whackos" or "crazies" who need to be handled with special information from the party hierarchy or the Department of Education.  Without going into the detail involving the many issues raising concerns from parents, teachers, business leaders, organizations, as well as academic, legal, and privacy experts, let me give a few reasons why, politically, that is not a wise or winning strategy for our state party, the Republican Party of Florida:
  1. The Republican National Committee unanimously adopted a resolution opposing the Common Core Standards in April, 2013, including the RPOF's highly respected members.  Do we really think it wise to refer to the entire RNC and our Florida members as "whackos"?  Also, I don't think we should rile or disrespect the largest political organization of women in the nation; The National Federation of Republican Woman came out with their own resolution against the Common Core Standards.
  3. The duly elected legislature of Indiana, which consists of wide majorities of Republicans voted for legislation pausing implementation of the standards and tests pending further review and public hearings;  Republican governor Mike Pence signed the legislation.  Are you calling elected Republicans including a sitting governor crazy?  What about the Michigan legislature? Are they whackos for voting to defund the Common Core system pending further review? Or, what about Republican governor Nathan Deal of Georgia or even Democratic governor Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, who both took executive action to pause the implementation until there could be more public input?
  5. Do we really want the RPOF entertaining the attitude that the leaders and researchers of some of the most important and esteemed think tanks and policy organizations in the nation are mentally unsound because they raise questions about such a transformational education model?   We are talking about Heritage, Cato, Eagle Forum, the American Principles Project, and Freedom Works, to name just a few.  We need to realize that assigning those labels also applies to the members and supporters of those organizations, people who make up the heart of the Republican base.  That base did not turn out in adequate numbers in the last election.  Displaying such a condescending attitude to them again, will only worsen our chances of winning future elections.
  7. While, as with any issue, there may be some so-called fringe elements that oppose Common Core, please remember, many of the supporters of this top-down initiative are some of the most radical leftists and would-be tyrants in our nation's history.  Does the RPOF really want to align themselves with the progressive agenda of President Barak Obama, Arne Duncan, Bill Ayers, and Linda Darling-Hammond by promoting the enlistment of our education system, and using our children as guinea pigs?  Should the Republican Party of Florida, of which you are a part, continue to choose to support the intrusive Common Core data-mining collection system, as does the Obama administration, to be used on our children (And teachers) from "cradle to career?" This data will be made available to various federal government agencies, corporations, and outside researchers, soon making the NSA scandal look like a walk in the park.
  9. Finally, please understand that the largest part of the growing tsunami of opposition to the Common Core system is composed of suburban moms who are learning what this is doing or will do to their children.  This important block of swing voters is not amused and they will take out their 'mama bear' fury on those politicians of either party they see as trying to impose this boondoggle on their children.  Instead of trying to portray them as nut jobs, it would behoove elected officials and the Republican Party, along with all of their appointees, to respect and address their grievances.
It has also come to my attention that the foundations started by Governor Jeb Bush, are involved in contacting, even pressuring, Republican Executive Committee (REC) chairmen to oppose/squash/suppress any anti-Common Core resolutions brought to the RECs from their membership.  This is unfortunate and quite disturbing for all of the reasons I have afore mentioned, plus the following four reasons:
  1. If the governor, as a Republican, believes in constitutionally limited government and local control, and the materials put out by his foundation say, "State leaders, accountable to their constituents, can withdraw their states from the standards at any time," why are he and his organizations continuing to badger and interfere with the decisions of our Republican Executive Committees and our legislators, who wish to express their opposition to such a life-altering, astronomically costly, untested educational system?
  3. Governor Bush had the full support of this county and mine as our governor, and I believe he is not a whacko or crazy for supporting this liberal agenda just misled, in my humble opinion. The Common Core talking points are full of holes and misstatements. His efforts have been unsuccessful in the afore mentioned states.  The people have spoken to their elected leaders and they are sending an entirely different message than that of the governor.
  5. Some of the governor's efforts in this area must be viewed at least somewhat skeptically, given the very large donations that his foundations received from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, whose Microsoft Corporation stands to reap billions from Common Core related testing, plus mandated educational and data-mining software.  In fact, 26 of the 32 groups that opposed the Indiana legislation to pause Common Core, as well as the Bush foundations, received contributions from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Haven't I heard many of you say, "Follow the money?"
  7. Judging from the curriculum driven by Common Core Standards, (Which replaces the Sunshine State Standards) it could change the political view of Florida and the nation to a conditioned hard-left agenda, over the course of just one or two short generations.  We will have produced a populace of voters who will probably have a hard time voting for Republicans or any conservatives.
The Florida State Board of Education (FLSBOE) signed the Common Core State Standards Initiative contract and took the stimulus money on behalf of the state of Florida, in 2010, for this vast, untested program. The appointed FLSBOE acted on our behalf with no public input, no discussion and no legislation. Our Florida legislators, however, are able to oust Common Core during the upcoming session with encouragement, facts and support. 

Common Core is a potent issue, which, down the road, the Republican Party may very well regret having been responsible for its promotion and allowing its implementation. For the good of the Sunshine State and for the good of the Republican Party, please urge the allowance of our constitutional right of "Redress of grievance." Please encourage the reconsideration of the tone and approach being portrayed by the party, elected Republican officials and both their appointees against its well informed voting members, constituents and citizens at large.
Thank you for your consideration.

Best Wishes,

Marguerite Cavanaugh
Former Marion County State Committeewoman

Organization Takes Strong Stance Against Common Core

Here is a press release from The Frederick Douglass Foundation on Common Core.  From TFDF Condemns Installation of Common Core:

The Frederick Douglass Foundation
“The Largest Christ-Centered, Multi-Ethnic, and Republican Ministry in America, Today”
 June 14, 2013
Contact Person: Timothy F. Johnson. Ph.D.
Washington, DC
Contact: 828-279-9669
Email: tfjohnson@tfdf.org
Louisiana Republican State Senator Elbert Guillory and National FDF President Timothy Johnson
Louisiana Republican State Senator
Elbert Guillory and National FDF
President Timothy Johnson

The Frederick Douglass Foundation Condemns Installation of Common Core

While much of America’s attention has been focused on an awful economy, the nationalization of healthcare and the Obama administration’s use of government regulatory agencies to persecute its political opponents and spy on all Americans, too few are even aware of President Obama’s attempt to nationalize the public educational system.  In preparation for the national implementation of a program called Common Core, using bribery in the form of federal funds for state governments and even private schools that adopt the plan, they’ve been testing this insidious indoctrination scheme in the state of Texas.  There it is called C-Scope- but only by those who even know of its existence.  As many as 80% of the schools in that state have already been turned into ineffective “educational” asylums for the creation of young adults who will be completely detached from their own nation’s great history and culture.  Furthermore, their skills in math and science will be purposely hindered through teaching mandates that change, alter and remake the method of study in these subjects, as well as the purpose for studying them in the first place.

The reason to go after Texas first is that Texas is the largest consistently Republican-voting state in the nation.  If Obama can change the voting trends in Texas by changing the educational curriculum, President Obama will be fully successful in fundamentally transforming America into a one-party nation.  The Republicans will never win a national election again.

As David Barton said, one of the problems with our educational system is that, in the 1920s, the government began to change the way it educated students. Barton fought the implementation of C-Scope in Texas as a member of the curriculum board.  Before the 1920s, American children were taught to think critically and to interpret the present with knowledge of the past.  As well, Christianity, the philosophical foundation of our nation’s founders, was interwoven into the educational curriculum and into our every thought.

With the guidance of famous atheist John Dewey- the progressive education and psychology saint of the Democrat Party- the educational system was slowly transformed.  They introduced multiple-choice questions and began to educate children by mandating that they simply repeat what they were taught.  Children were no longer required to utilize their religious foundation or their critical thinking processes to understand the reasons that things are the way they are.  Instead, they were taught that this is the way it is, and here are the subjective reasons for it, devoid of any Christian context.  The reasons were instead determined by the curriculum architects.  Today, this is what we have to an even greater extent, but with fewer voices of religion or of conservatism even allowed to have input.  However, Islamic voices are indeed welcome.  While much of the curriculum in Texas is considered “anti-American,” even by the state legislators who recently voted to ban this curriculum due to the massive disapproval of the state’s citizens, Islamic voices are allowed to make sure that the curriculum is and remains very pro-Islamic.  While this vote to ban C-Scope is a recent development, C-Scope is still the curriculum by reality of the situation.  School systems can’t change curriculums on a whim.  It takes funding, much discussion, research and many votes to do so.

With the implementation of C-Scope, teachers in Texas were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, making it impossible for them to speak about the curriculum, even with parents who might ask why their children are being taught that known communist party members are heroes.  These teachers, by order of the non-disclosure agreement and out of fear of losing their jobs and being sued, are required to tell parents that they cannot talk about it.  Furthermore, these teachers are required to read from C-Scope scripts on the same day as every other school.  The school administrators are required to send observers with clipboards through classrooms to verify that teachers are indeed reading from the scripts.  They must proceed with this cookie-cutter progressive interpretation of all subjects, even when children are left behind because some children aren’t able to keep up with the other children.  Without room or time to double back and make adjustments to the curriculum, some students will be forced to lag.

In addition, there are a lot of nationally administered tests.  Testing isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but what if the tests serve only the purpose of forcing the students to regurgitate back the nonsense that these teachers are forced to teach, even when they know it is wrong?

Here are some of the things that are wrong with this curriculum that the President is in the process of implementing nationwide.  Information on this is very limited because the state refuses to allow parents to view the curriculum.  However, David Barton and Glenn Beck have been covering this educational monstrosity more carefully than anyone.  Much of my information comes from their coverage.

The goal of this system is to teach children to be members of a “global society.”  They want to remove the language of “values” so they can teach the children to love the government.  They’ve removed study of “Federalism and majority rule” and taken out patriotic symbols.  History teaching now begins in 1565, after the time of Columbus, whom they say came here to be an environmentalist and not to find freedom of religion.  They’ve removed the history of the military and replaced it with the history of America as an evil imperialist nation that seeks to oppress others.  The study of Columbus Day, Christmas and Chanukah have been removed and replaced with the study of the pagan holiday of Diwali.  While McCarthyism is painted as another example of why America is evil, all teachings on American Exceptionalism have been removed.

The historical heroes, whom children in first to third grades study about, are all liberals, foreigners and outright communists, except for three.  They mention President Theodore Roosevelt, who, after leaving the Republican Party, began the progressive movement.  They mention Kay Bailey Hutchinson, the former pro-abortion liberal Republican Senator from Texas.  And they mention Ross Perot, a Texas businessman who ran against President George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton in 1992.  He stole enough of President Bush’s votes to enable the rise of the perjuring philanderer Bill Clinton with less than 50% of the vote.  While these three supposed Republicans might be heroes to liberals, they are not at all heroes to those of us who love America.  And please don’t pull that “liberals love America too” nonsense.  If they did, they wouldn’t constantly be hoping to change America.

Nevertheless, teaching children why they should love their country isn’t the goal of this nationalization of education.  The goal is to get children prepared for global government and to feel comfortable renouncing their US citizenship in favor of global recognition.  The curriculum seeks to replace the past with the present.  They don’t even teach the reasons that our Founding Fathers put the Bill of Rights in the Constitution.  The goal is not to teach these children that they have rights in the Constitution that protect them from the tyranny of man corrupted by power.  As well, these children are all taught about scarcity, to the point that they grow up worried that there might not be enough food to feed them or that there might not be enough energy to power their homes.  There is nothing about the actual abundance of resources that we have the ability to get with new methods of procurement that have been developed with the ingenuity of man who isn’t hindered by the constraints of government mandates.  The only reasons we can’t get access to these resources are the liberals with law degrees and the regulations preventing us from turning our country back into the envied economic powerhouse of the world.
Instead, we handicap ourselves because the liberals in charge of developing this curriculum want children to despise America as much as they do.  The idea of scarcity will also serve to help future leaders develop the ability to rationalize the mass genocides and forced famines that will be necessary to keep the socialist system from complete bankruptcy.  When man becomes a liability of the socialist state, sometimes, for the good of the state, the state needs those liabilities to be out of sight, out of mind and out of life.  Proof that they have this in mind resides in the implementation of “death panels” for Obamacare, the government funding of abortion through Obamacare and the fact that it will be the IRS agents in control of managing the fund collection for the government-run healthcare system.  Funding for life-saving surgery will depend upon the approval of government bureaucrats, and sometimes cutting costs of a program necessitates the cutting of demand- dead Americans no longer demand healthcare services.  But that’s not a part of the Common Core curriculum of course.  That’s just what the people who know history are saying, and the Obamites have already erased that part of history.  If it’s not in the curriculum, it might as well not have happened.

The majority of teachers who’ve been forced to use this curriculum consider it mediocre, but again, they’ll lose their jobs, as some already have, if the go off script or talk about it publicly.  So the tests, which make sure students are able to spit back nonsense, really accomplish very little other than to allow the educational overlords to verify that the teachers are doing their “jobs.”  It is also a way for the government to mine the students for data.  With the nationalization of healthcare and then of education, these databases will eventually allow the government to determine who gets what according the criteria they draw up.  In other words, children who refuse to play ball because their Christian parents are showing them the lies their government teacher is forcing them to believe, will be hindered in the procurement of status, class, wealth and upward financial mobility- just like it is in other socialist nations.  He, who plays ball, even if it means renouncing his faith in God, gets the cushy government-jackboot job of oppressing and punishing those who don’t.

George Orwell wisely wrote: “He who controls the present, controls the past.  He who controls the past, controls the future.”  We’ve all heard that line over and over, but it has never been more poignant than it is now in America.  That’s what this is about.  If the liberal progressives can change the history that is taught to children, they can control the future.

Consider this.  Instead of teaching literature to children and using the study of history to put that literature into historical context, this program mandates that government-supplied “non-fiction” will be read instead.  History is already limited and taught without the Christian context informing the students how to interpret it.  As a result, literature becomes even harder to understand.  How can a child appreciate The Grapes of Wrath without understanding the Great Depression or without understanding that much of Steinbeck’s preachy communism comes from the fact that he, like many during the Great Depression, considered communism the be answer to the nation’s problems?  Don’t get me wrong.  I love Steinbeck, but he has to be read in context to fully appreciate his greatness as a writer.  And how can a child read Dickens without understanding the changes to society in Europe caused by the Industrial Revolution?  How can a child read literature and then appreciate how lucky he or she is to live in this land and time of plenty?  A generation of children unappreciative of how good they have it will instead be taught to resent and despise their country.  They will of course then be more likely to vote Democrat, and President Obama knows it.

So instead of reading literature that, when read in historical context will make them appreciate the great historical Americans on whose shoulders they stand, children will be reading “non-fiction” papers on the impacts of global warming.  Or they’ll read psychological diatribes on how homosexuality is the preferred lifestyle because it doesn’t produce so many children with carbon footprints that kill the planet.  In other words, history and literature will become subjective indoctrination.  For fiction, instead of reading the classics in literature, they’ll be reading modern stories about happy children growing up in homosexual homes with more than two parents of all kinds of genders.
There will be no one to present the other side and allow the children to use critical analysis to figure out the truth.  The truth will be what the radicals in charge of the curriculum say is the truth.

Likewise, math and science are being perverted.  Math is the language of science and of God.  It’s universal, and it’s the same in every country on the planet and in every part of the universe.  Without it, science is meaningless.  The methods of teaching math are now so convoluted that parents can’t even understand the methods that their children are supposed to use.  This puts the parents on the sideline, and it purposely creates, in the child’s mind, the notion that their parents might not be so smart, thus making it less likely that they will later consider their parents’ wisdom useful in other subjects.
As well, the scientific method is being replaced with consensus.  The government buys off a large percentage of scientists with grants to manipulate data to come to the government’s predefined conclusions.  Then they smear all those scientists, whose science isn’t funded with government money, as funded by private sector dollars.  In other words, according to big-government sycophants, privately funded science isn’t as reliable because it doesn’t get government money, but they neglect the mention the fact that the government doesn’t give money to those who won’t produce the required results.  But try to figure that out once going through a government curriculum that refuses to teach one to think critically.  If the answer to a problem doesn’t have a letter before it, it will rarely even be considered.

So children are supposed to believe government science, whose foundation is “consensus,” rather than actual science, where conclusions and theories are arrived at only after the scientific method is used to discover the truth.  When relying upon preconceived conclusions, falsely solidified with “consensus,” why in the world do we even need scientific inquiry?  If the government already knows all that it needs to know, why does it bother funding further scientific inquiry?  Why are taxpayers further burdened with government debt so that the government can come up with more useless scientific data from scientists who’ve sacrificed scientific integrity in favor of the free flow of government grants?  Why force children to study science at all, if the integrity of science is so thoroughly destroyed by the government-grant givers’ unwillingness to fund any scientific inquiry that may come up with non-consensus mandated conclusions?
Of course, all government science is used as an excuse to grow government by increasing costs.  The myth of Global Warming is used as an excuse to increase tax revenues on higher energy prices by keeping the supply of energy low with regulation.  The Arab governments, rich in oil, actually fund the environmentalist movement in the west so that they can keep non-Arab oil supplies low and oil prices high- but again, that won’t be a part of the curriculum.  With high energy prices, the government gets money, and the children grow up afraid of economic growth, capitalism and Republicans.  The myth that we evolved from monkeys (arrived at for the racist reason of dehumanizing the black man as less evolved from monkeys than the white man), despite the lack of fossil record to prove it, is used to keep children convinced that they’re just souped-up animals who weren’t created in the image of God with free will.  Children who think they’re animals, act like animals.  Children, who act like animals, often don’t make it very far in adulthood, require welfare, end up living on the government system and too often vote Democrat.  Those who mandate the teaching of evolution exclusively know this.  They’re not interested in trying to earn the votes of people who believe they were made in the image of God.  They’d rather take for granted the votes of those who grew up thinking they evolved from monkeys.

Let’s remember that President Obama’s long-time friend and Chicago neighbor Bill Ayers, the former communist radical and now professor of educational curriculum, is part of the driving force behind this national curriculum.  This is a man that bombed the Pentagon and later helped launch President Obama’s political career.

This is also a part of a plan put into place even before Bill Ayers was on the scene by the Critical Theorists.  These were a slew of communist radicals expelled from Nazi Germany- these socialists were even too radical for the National Socialists.  They set up the Frankfurt School at Columbia University, where President Obama studied.  In short, their goal was to use the process of “deconstruction” to tear apart the history of Western Civilization and erase the ability of Christianity to serve as immunity to the implementation of global socialism.  Incidentally, Columbia University is also the location of the famous Columbia Journalism School, whose graduates dominate the liberal media.  So don’t expect the liberal media to expose this takeover of the public educational system.  They’re on board with the scheme.

The future of America depends upon our prevention of this purposeful quest to spoil the American mind and American ingenuity.  We already know what happens in countries where Christianity is replaced with mandatory reverence for the government.  Objective truth becomes replaced with subjective lies.  When man must renounce his innate notion of right and wrong, so as not to be punished by a maniacal governmental force, he is not free.  His mind, body and soul become property of the governing force that controls his thoughts and deeds.

In chapter VI of Frederick Douglass’ first autobiography Narrative of the Life, Douglass describes the moment that his slave master Mr. Auld had discovered that his wife had been teaching young Frederick how to spell words.  In chastising his wife, Mr. Auld said: “If you teach that nigger (speaking of [young Frederick]) how to read, there would be no keeping him.  It would forever unfit him to be a slave.  He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master.”

We conservatives have made no secret whatsoever that we view the socialist government system as a government Plantation run by the Democrat Party.  It has persistently sought to borrow more money and to increase taxation of the working man, all the while encouraging many people not to work but instead to live off the system and to vote for the party that funds the system with their unchristian voting habits.

Understanding history inside its Christian context compels conservatives to draw comparisons to history so as not to allow the atrocities of history to repeat themselves.  The government debt under this president has grown immensely, as, along with it, has grown the need for working Americans to give more of their earnings to the government that continues to govern against their will.  Whether we like it or not, taxation and regulation are forms of slavery, and the American worker is indeed becoming a debt slave to this evermore tyrannical government whose tax collectors are just now being investigated for punishing those organizations that argue for less government and for lower taxes, simply because of their Christian beliefs and conservative political views.

This Common Core curriculum seeks to teach children to despise Americans who possess the knowledge of their Christian Heritage and of their God-given rights guaranteed to them in the Constitution.  It also seeks to prevent them from obtaining the ability to interpret history in its proper context so that whole generations will remain forever ignorant of the freedoms that we Americans are guaranteed and of the greatness that the concept of America inspires.  In other words, the government is turning the whole country into one big plantation under the purview of the unelected Globalist dictator wannabes.  And they’re doing it by controlling what and how our children learn.
This insidious plan to destroy the greatness of America must be stopped and understood for what it is.  We, as Americans, need to unite and go on strike against our government’s plans for us.  This is no longer a government of the people, by the people and for the people.  It’s a government against the people.  We need to yank our children out of government schools and homeschool them.  We need to establish more homeschool coops, where students in families with two working parents can have their children inexpensively educated in the true American way.  Curriculum needs to be controlled locally and by those who care about the children the most.  Barack Obama’s voracious lust for mass abortion of babies, even the ones who survive late-term abortions, does not indicate he cares much at all about our children.

Literature, without the context of history, is meaningless, and history, without the context of Christianity, is incomprehensible.  Common Core seeks to get rid of literature, history and Christianity, so as to create a population completely detached from its own culture.  A population without a culture of its own will be more willing to democratically eschew its freedom and to adopt the globalist takeover of the world.  Don’t think it will happen here? – Never forget that even Hitler was elected democratically and that history repeats itself, especially when the people decide they don’t need to learn their history simply by allowing their government to pass laws to “protect them from their history.”

So again, we at the Frederick Douglass Foundation wholeheartedly condemn the implementation of Common Core and all politicians who eschew their responsibility as citizens to do whatever is in their power to kill this legislation.  Once the plan is in place and the educational system is addicted to the federal funding, there will be nothing left to prevent the bureaucrats from making the curriculum even more radical, more anti-American and more anti-Christian.  Stop it now.

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