"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, August 3, 2013

Economics Assignment Questions Educational Local Control and Radical Far Right Wingers

What are your college students learning?  This is from an Economics Assignment at Lansing (MI) Community College :

What do you think the aim of these questions are?  Will these questions lead to true critical thinking or are they disguised as indoctrination?  Who are the present day radical far right wingers who are trying to transform countries into fascism?  In America, did those radical far right wingers cause the bankruptcy in Detroit, the failure of public/private partnerships using stimulus money (Solyndra and Fiskar), and the phony scandals of:
  • Benghazi
  • Data mining on select political groups from the IRS
Look at question 3.  Some would argue that control over education policy should be heavily controlled by local governing bodies, such as school districts.  Imagine that.  I don't know how Michigan law is written, but that's how school control is theoretically granted in the Missouri Constitution:

School board may adopt rules and regulations.
171.011. The school board of each school district in the state may make all needful rules and regulations for the organization, grading and government in the school district. The rules shall take effect when a copy of the rules, duly signed by order of the board, is deposited with the district clerk. The district clerk shall transmit forthwith a copy of the rules to the teachers employed in the schools. The rules may be amended or repealed in like manner.

Does the instructor believe local control is a "belief" rather than a granted power?   Does he/she agree with the current educational reform of the Federal government setting up educational public/private partnerships and rendering local school boards powerless?

Is the only job left for school districts to perform is that of paying for the mandates this partnership has dictated?  This is similar to the Common Core structure CCSSO and the NGA are imposing on state legislators.  The elites will take care of those pesky fascist right wingers (and any other groups) and dictate educational policy/development for your local school district and state.  It seems to me the fascists are the private trade organizations and the Federal government funding their organizations.

How would you answer the questions on this test?

We are in the process of determining whether this is teacher generated or from a book. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Rise of the False Premise

So much of the justification for common core requires us to accept the false premises offered. In most cases the premise is that we currently do not do the things that common core does. Then, using a combination of impressive sounding words, vague promises and, in some cases outright lies, the proponents of common core have been able to bamboozle a lot of people into believing that these standards are the answer to our "educational crisis."

Take the promise of common core to promote "critical thinking." The phrase has always had a positive connotation. Critical thinkers do not blindly accept anecdotes as facts and/or regurgitate unproven facts to support their conclusions. They do not jump to conclusions. The promoters of common core claim that critical thinking is an advanced skill that will be needed by all future employers.

Of course the false premise is that, to date, our public education system has not had an emphasis on, or valued, critical thinking. The implication is that we have taught blind adherence to facts presented on a page thus making our children little automatons who regurgitate back on the test exactly what they have been taught. Worse yet is the inference that critical thinking is a separate skill that can be taught and measured.

So if we haven't been teaching critical thinking and have only required our students to repeat back on a test what they have been taught, then what does the better teaching model look like? What does "critical thinking" mean in common core?

An examination of the standards provides a clue.  From the math standards we read,
"Mathematically proficient students try to communicate precisely to others. They try to use clear definitions in discussion with others and in their own reasoning. They state the meaning of the symbols they choose, including using the equal sign consistently and appropriately. They are careful about specifying units of measure, and labeling axes to clarify the correspondence with quantities in a problem. They calculate accurately and efficiently, express numerical answers with a degree of precision appropriate for the problem context. In the elementary grades, students give carefully formulated explanations to each other. By the time they reach high school they have learned to examine claims and make explicit use of definitions."
The only sentence in that paragraph that relates to a math skill is the fifth one which says, "They calculate accurately and efficiently, express numerical answers with a degree of precision appropriate for the problem context."  The rest of the standard refers to communication about math. I guess the first step in critical thinking is to learn how to think about math in a way defined by someone else. Critical math thinkers can "examine claims" about math rather than proving an equation true or false using universally accepted math formulas. Apparently Pythagoras was only making a claim about right-angled triangles.

The only time the word formula enters this math standard is in elementary education where students will be expected to give "carefully formulated explanations to each other" because under common core, as soon as you master a new math concept you must jump to the role of teacher and teach your peers at a level equal with that of the man or woman in the front of your classroom. Your explanation  cannot be the simple one of 6 year old, it must be carefully formulated. That is the rigorous standard to which first graders will be held when they first get into school. I'm sure that won't turn any of them off to school when they are just beginning.

One additional point on this math standard; how do those  who claim the standards don't tell teachers how to teach, reconcile math standards that require students to focus on behaviors relating to solving math problems, with that claim? Teaching behavior would not be the first thing to come to my mind if I were teaching math.

On the English side, "critical thinking" results in "reflection" papers students have had to write about their personal growth. One teacher shared with me, "I can't tell you how many graduate student lesson plans (from teachers who have been fed the praises of CC for two years) with formative assessments in which classroom assessments are designed for students to discuss their 'feelings' about what they've learned." Critical thinking is beginning to sound like the kind of stuff you do on the psychiatrist's couch (apologies to any psychiatrists out there for the gross stereotype.) This teacher has a better grasp of what to expect from students, "I throw a wrench in the system by writing commentaries that formative assessments are supposed to be assessments of progress toward a goal derived from an academic standard -- not an emotional response by adolescents with fluctuating hormones."

What do common core writers think they are getting with their focus on critical thinking? For them, critical thinking will lead to greater creativity than wrote memorization of content. They believe the building blocks of facts will be "discovered" or will "hamper the development" of a new level of understanding. They disregard the fact that a foundation of knowledge and skills is what enables one to create novel combinations and generate new ideas. It is content knowledge develops critical thinking.

Think of it this way. Let's say you want to develop a solution for a cleaner fuel. Proponents of common core, and many educators today, say that the access students have to the information on the internet means that they won't have to memorize facts about energy, atoms, chemistry or physics that might help solve this problem because they can just look those up. Without that basic content knowledge, what do they type into the search bar? How much longer will it take them to stumble upon a possible solution? There is no critical thinking without knowledge, yet all of education insists you can have the former while pillorying the latter as "mere facts" and "rote memorization."

One definition of critical thinking is "to consider something from different points of view." The developers of common core seem to have latched onto this definition, asking students to think critically about things they read and to look for bias. The other point of view they want students to consider is theirs and the bias is an opinion that differs from theirs. In one school district Macmillan designs all the lesson plans and provides a database of additional books that students may read: all published by Macmillan. As a result, only one point of view matters for a student's grade: Macmillan's.

Common Core inadvertently pushes textbook companies into a perverse marketing strategy. Since everyone is producing text books aimed at covering the exact same standards, they will all have the "Aligned With Common Core"  imprimatur on their covers. One of the few differentiating factors textbook suppliers have left to make their books stand out in an increasingly homogenous market is their viewpoint or ideological bent. School districts will face offerings that introduce all manor of "open mindedness" and "critical thinking" about things we have heretofore accepted as fact. If your goal is to teach "critical thinking" as defined by being from another viewpoint, there will be tremendous pressure to choose these alternative viewpoint books. Why, to not do so implies that the deciding committee lacks critical thinking skills. See how this works?

The standards further help promote these alternative viewpoints by including all that "non-fiction" reading in the ELA section. Schools will have two choices: 1) have the non-fiction materials read in other content classes where those teachers will need a fair amount of new professional development in order to be able to teach a LA standard or; 2) have ELA teachers assign these texts which they are not used to covering and may not have the expertise in. One Alabama school system has chosen option two and is now using Howard Zinn’s "A People's History of the United States" this way.  The English teachers probably don’t know anything about Zinn but they will be teaching a book that never could have made it through the SS textbook committee in 11th grade. 

In general, monopolies hinder critical thinking and a monopoly is what has been granted to CCSSI. Their very establishment begins a trail to stopping that which they supposedly prize. When "they" say they want children to be critical thinkers, they are actually saying they want children to think critically about the established beliefs they acquired outside of school, at home. The Texas GOP inserted this paragraph in their platform and got some national attention for it.
“We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”
The false premise is that what mom and dad are teaching at home is wrong and needs to be corrected. The false premise is that experts who know better than us wrote standards that are good for our children and good for the education system. The false premise is that they are well intentioned and everyone else is not.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Common Core: The Ultimate "Nudging" in Education. This "Nudging" Extends to other Federal Agencies.

Do you want to take this Common Core trip?  Unfortunately, this isn't a comedy that you can walk away from.

The Missouri Commissioner of Education in her Race to the Top 2009 application was either
  • a visionary
  • a follower of a governmental blueprint
  • a travel agent booking an exotic trip 
Why am I so concerned about Common Core standards and want others to know what is in store for their children and local school districts?  I read Missouri's first Race to the Top proposal in which our commissioner praised Cass Sunstein's book "Nudge".  She highlighted its importance in her educational vision for Missouri schools.  Her vision created fear and dread that has stayed with me the last 3 1/2 years.  From Remember Missouri's Education Commissioner's Love for Cass Sunstein?:

Who could forget Commissioner Chris Nicastro's admiration of Cass Sunstein as noted in Missouri's first Race to the Top application?  From ed.gov and the Missouri application (pg 9):

Core Student Learning and Outcomes Goals
The Race to the Top has provided an unprecedented opportunity for Missouri to bring its citizens together, to identify common goals and to develop a plan for a decade of educational reform designed to give Missouri’s children a competitive edge in tomorrow’s international competition. Our vision for reform embraces the notion advanced in the book, Nudge, where Thaler and Sunstein outline the need for "choice architects" to subtly steer choices toward positive results while leaving people, districts and schools "free to choose".  We know that if Missouri’s public schools are to be the best choice for our citizens, they must produce the best results. This Race to the Top competition has provided the "nudge" Missouri needed to pick up the pace.
Missouri Education Chris Nicastro based her proposal to Race to the Top on this theory; perhaps she is employing the current theory present throughout all the government entities; schools, the EPA, the Department of Education and the State Department. Here's an excerpt from the book's review:

Every day, we make decisions on topics ranging from personal investments to schools for our children to the meals we eat to the causes we champion. Unfortunately, we often choose poorly. The reason, the authors explain, is that, being human, we all are susceptible to various biases that can lead us to blunder. Our mistakes make us poorer and less healthy; we often make bad decisions involving education, personal finance, health care, mortgages and credit cards, the family, and even the planet itself.

Thaler and Sunstein invite us to enter an alternative world, one that takes our humanness as a given. They show that by knowing how people think, we can design choice environments that make it easier for people to choose what is best for themselves, their families, and their society. Using colorful examples from the most important aspects of life, Thaler and Sunstein demonstrate how thoughtful “choice architecture” can be established to nudge us in beneficial directions without restricting freedom of choice. 
From Nicastro's own words in the application process: her vision of reform is based on  the theories in Nudge (rather than the Constitution).  Missouri didn't win RTTT money but we sure got stuck with its mandates (such as Common Core State (sic) Standards) when Nicastro signed on to the ESEA waiver. 

Why would parents, taxpayers, legislators, teachers and principals accept such "nudging" and "choice architects" nonsense from an appointed bureaucrat?  "Free to choose"?  What kind of psychobabble is this?  Free to choose WHAT?  Schools can't choose their assessments nor modify standards.  Nicastro will tell you schools can choose their own curriculum, but since the curriculum must be aligned to the standards, that's a hollow "choice".

Since when did Americans have to be nudged (by a private/public partnership) to make decisions on how to live their lives and run their schools?  I thought that's why the revolutionaries fought to relieve themselves of monarchy rule.  This accepted belief of elitist thinking and policy from the highest educational office in Missouri should cause everyone to look closely at our state educational agency and reject this line of thought.  (Legislators, please take note).

It has now been confirmed in writing by a White House senior advisor that Americans require "choice architects" to live their lives.  This "nudging" is to occur in most federal agencies.  From Gov't Knows Best? White House creates 'nudge squad' to shape behavior:

The federal government is hiring what it calls a "Behavioral Insights Team" that will look for ways to subtly influence people's behavior, according to a document describing the program obtained by FoxNews.com. Critics warn there could be unintended consequences to such policies, while supporters say the team could make government and society more efficient.

While the program is still in its early stages, the document shows the White House is already working on such projects with almost a dozen federal departments and agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture. 

"Behavioral sciences can be used to help design public policies that work better, cost less, and help people to achieve their goals," reads the government document describing the program, which goes on to call for applicants to apply for positions on the team.

The document was emailed by Maya Shankar, a White House senior adviser on social and behavioral sciences, to a university professor with the request that it be distributed to people interested in joining the team. The idea is that the team would "experiment" with various techniques, with the goal of tweaking behavior so people do everything from saving more for retirement to saving more in energy costs.

The government document can be found here.  What "nudging" is needed in education by the Department of Education?  

  • Increasing college enrollment and retention: Providing streamlined personal assistance on the FAFSA form (e.g., pre-populating forms using tax return data and following up with a personal call) to low or moderate income individuals resulted in a 29% greater likelihood of their attending college for two consecutive years.
  •  Improving academic performance: Students taught to view their intelligence as a “muscle” that can grow with hard work and perseverance (as compared to a “fixed trait”, such as eye-color) experienced academic boosts of ½ a letter grade, with the largest effects often seen for low-performing students, students of color, or females in STEM-related courses.
The USDOEd needs to nudge people to go to college and view intelligence as a "muscle".  In essence:
  • the government is nudging people to probably borrow money from the Federal Government to attend college to obtain some sort of degree....with no available jobs since the private sector is tapped out having to pay for governmental regulations
  • the government is encouraging students to study harder (your brain is a muscle and innate intelligence is unimportant) and their grades are improved a  1/2 letter which will apparently make them more successful for STEM-related courses (which, by the way, there is a shortage of jobs and an excess of qualified job seekers)
When will the government leave us alone and let us fail or succeed as we see fit?  Are we such victims in this country that we are incapable of making our own decisions without government intrusion?   When did we become the serfs and the Federal government became our overlord?

Richard Thaler (co-writer on "Nudge") loves the nanny involvement but others understand the dependence fostered by "nudging" and loss of free will and freedom:

Richard Thaler told FoxNews.com that the new program sounds good.

"I don't know who those people are who would not want such a program, but they must either be misinformed or misguided," he said.

"The goal is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government by using scientifically collected evidence to inform policy designs. What is the alternative? The only alternatives I know are hunches, tradition, and ideology (either left or right.)"

But some economists urge caution.

"I am very skeptical of a team promoting nudge policies," Michael Thomas, an economist at Utah State University, told FoxNews.com.

"Ultimately, nudging ... assumes a small group of people in government know better about choices than the individuals making them."

This last sentence is the explanation of Common Core standards.  What Mr. Thaler assumes and takes as a constitutional power is that the Federal government's role is to set policy for education. This is an erroneous assumption and he can count me among the many citizens who indeed are not "misinformed" or "misguided" on the increasing and unconstitutional "nudging" by the Department of Education.  

Commissioner Nicastro believes "nudging" is the road to travel and Missouri schools should happily implement the educational reform of Arne Duncan, Jeb Bush, David Coleman.  Maybe she should apply for a job as a chief "nudger" or travel agent to steer others toward her vision of education:

It is likely that selected individuals will serve on a temporary detail under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act before returning to their home organization, which can be a university, non-profit, or state and local government.

The trip she has planned for Missouri children is a trip that has never been tried before (not based on best educational practice/field testing), the itinerary was never reviewed by the travelers (the taxpayers, students, teachers and legislators), the cost is unknown and the destination is theoretical.  This a trip I would give 0 stars on tripadvisor.com.  

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

David Coleman - A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing

David Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) had a conversation recently with Common Core architect David Coleman and supplied HSDLA members with a review of that conversation. He said that in the end they agreed to disagree, but he praised Coleman for being polite, professional and helpful. He believed Coleman was honest in his statements and was acting in good faith in promoting common core standards.

Many in the battle against centralized control of education through common standards and assessments have thrown up the red flag on this conversation. CC Proponents, feigning an interest in working cooperatively, in being well intentioned and willing to compromise, pay lip service to anti-common core points. From the Farris piece,
To his credit, Mr. Coleman noted that he was not acting in a vacuum. There are centralized mandates for education in play virtually everywhere. And many of them have very marginal educational utility. I agreed with his assessment of many current centralized standards.
But a closer examination of this conversation compared with other known facts about, and speeches by, Coleman proves once again that the opposition will say anything they think will make them look good and make common core opponents feel foolish for questioning them.

A 'revelation' from that conversation was the Coleman supposedly does not support the data collection associated with Common Core.
"I indicated that one of my chief concerns was the creation of the database that would track students throughout their educational career.
His (Coleman's) answer surprised me. He didn’t like the database all that well. It was not originally part of the Common Core, but other people have seized the opportunity to make a centralized data collection effort through the implementation of the Common Core."
A closer inspection of this statement and previous statements on the subject by Coleman reveal that he in fact embraces data collection and usage. This video of Coleman shows him positively gushing about the value of data collection.

Just last month, MEW wrote about Coleman and his complete openness to gathering and using data for educational purposes. He salivated over the work of many in the field of data collection and analysis whose work "represents an untapped national resource, that holds the promise of breaking longstanding stalemates in the education policy debate."

In a speech to data analysts in Boston he called out and praised some of the most noted names in data collection and analysis including the Strategic Data Project (supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) which "partners with school districts, charter school networks, and state education agencies to bring high quality research methods and data analysis to bear on strategic management and policy decisions."

What is most intriguing in Coleman's conversation with Farris is his claim that data collection was not originally part of the plan for Common Core.  Coleman admitted that CCSS was repurposed to be the vehicle for data collection. We'll have to take his word for the fact that it was not part of the original intent. Considering the contradictions in his words we may not want to trust that claim either. That notwithstanding, this comment is worthy of note because proponents of common core have tried to place the tinfoil hat on opponents by claiming that our linkage of the standards and data collection is completely false.

DESE, who repeatedly chastises common core opponents for linking data collection to common core, should read how CCSS's own developer knows that they are linked.

Given the players in the original plan for common core, it is hard to imagine that data collection was not a part, if not the driver, of the plan for common standards and assessments. The P-20 data system stems from a national data quality campaign that calls for specific fields, coded consistently across states. The ultimate goal is to be able to combine databases and compare student A with student N across states. If they are not being taught the same thing and assessed exactly the same way it is almost impossible to provided a valid comparison. The desire for data, for whatever purpose, necessitated common standards and assessments.

The lesson in all this for homeschoolers is, be careful not to confuse polite tone or professional demeanor with honesty. From Matt Gerwit's blog talking about practicing appeasement,
During the early days of Hitler’s campaign of domination most of Europe refused to take a stand against him because they were war weary. They chose to believe that appeasement would bring “peace in our time” as Neville Chamberlain so eloquently stated. They did not view Hitler as an enemy, he was merely an inconvenience that threatened to disrupt the peace once again.
Similarly, the conservative leadership in America does not view its progressive and liberal counterparts as the enemy. Instead, progressives and liberals are viewed as a mere inconvenience preventing us from winning a couple political victories here and there....  The reason progressivism and liberalism is flourishing in America with very little resistance is because we conservatives refuse to treat our enemies as enemies. Instead we prefer to treat them as simply misguided individuals who have good intentions. That’s not good enough.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Common Core Standards Opponents Unite from the Left and the Right

Citizens from all political sides want to reclaim educational freedom

The Left-Right Alliance for Education has issued a statement on its objection to Common Core State standards.  The group's mission:

“The Left-Right Alliance for Education” was formed to bring together education reform advocates from across the political spectrum, and across the nation, to determine if it is possible to form a multi-partisan alliance for countering the current federal/corporate alliance driving education reform policy. The members of the Left/Right Alliance for Education understood on a basic level that to be successful in countering the CCSSI we needed to, 1) set aside those points of opposition that are highly partisan, 2) create a clear and succinct message of mutual opposition to Common Core, 3) make it clear that these points of opposition are shared by people from all over the political spectrum, and 4) appeal to the universal desire that all parents have for their children’s education, which is not just to be “career-ready”, but more importantly to become mature thinkers who are highly-motivated, self-disciplined, hard-working, creative, ambitious, happy individuals who know their own minds and who are prepared to thrive in any life path they choose.
The full statement can be found here.

I was invited to contribute to this effort and am proud to support this group in its mission to unite those from the left and the right against Common Core standards.  The CCSS proponents can no longer authentically state that it's "teapartiers", "crazy rightwingers", "rightwing nutjobs" or whatever disparaging label they wish to slap on those who question why/how Common Core was adopted/implemented.   Here is a graph from the contributors on their political alignment to this joint effort:

Political Alignment:

Participants in group effort were from a well-balanced a broad political spectrum. Contributors were asked to classify their politics and the graph below was the result: 

How will the reformers counter the alliance's core beliefs?  How will they attempt to marginalize citizens across all political alignments?

  • We oppose the philosophy of standardization built into all federal education initiatives, including the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
  • We oppose high-stakes testing.
  • We oppose a national student data system.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Common Core Standards Creation: "I'm Just No Good at Kindergarten": Part II

Maybe this is progress you don't want for your kindergartner. Is this what Common Core represents? 

Do you remember Claire Wapole's article about her daughter testing in kindergarten with computers and her daughter's tearful statement about her performance?  From  I'm just no good at kindergarten, just no good at all:

Clickclickclickclickclickclickclick.  It took a half dozen or so clicks before the window closed and the little test taker with the big bow in her hair was back to her assessment. This was played out again, and again and again, throughout the duration of the test. In a perfect world, where all the computers worked, testing conditions would be less frustrating. But it's the real world, and a five year old could click on the wrong thing, and accidentally leave the test. Even when they do click on the button they want, the computers don't always respond to their commands. I know it's a computer or mouse glitch, but I can't help but wonder how many of these kids think it's their fault. I heard "I can't do this" frequently. "Yes you can". I said. "You are doing great. It's the computer, not you." The preferences or options screens were accidentally opened quite often. Other computer issues complicated the situation too. Some kids had to leave one computer and find another one, or switch out mouses. Computers fail, it’s a fact, but a lot of these little people felt the fault was theirs.
In the midst of all of this, I walked past my daughter.  She looked up at me, her face red from crying, I could see that tears had been collecting at her collar "I just can't do this," she sobbed.  The ill fitting headsets, the hard to hear instructions, the uncooperative mouse, the screen going to command modes, not being able to get clarification when she asked for it… her little psyche had reached it’s breaking point. It took just two days of standardized testing for her to doubt herself, quickly trading a love of learning for the shame of incompetence.  Later on when I picked her up after her long seven-hour day, she whispered into my shoulder "I'm just not smart mom. Not like everyone else. I'm just no good at kindergarten, just no good at all.”

This is heartbreaking, isn't it?  Early childhood experts stated three years ago that Common Core standards were developmentally inappropriate for this age group.  This inappropriateness includes the mandate to use computerized assessments.  You can read the article above for more examples of teary children and frustration by kindergartners.

Here is a story from a former kindergarten teacher, Christine Gerzon (who quit because of Common Core), whose observations support what Claire Wampole observed in her daughter's kindergarten class.  From boston.com and Pressure-cooker kindergarten:

Pressure? This is kindergarten, the happy land of building blocks and singalongs. But increasingly in schools across Massachusetts and the United States, little children are being asked to perform academic tasks, including test taking, that early childhood researchers agree are developmentally inappropriate, even potentially damaging. If children don’t meet certain requirements, they are deemed “not proficient.” Frequently, children are screened for “kindergarten readiness” even before school begins, and some are labeled inadequate before they walk through the door.

This is a troubling trend to an experienced educator like Gerzon, who knows how much a child can soak up in the right environment. After years of study and practice, she’ll tell you that 5-year-olds don’t learn by listening to a rote lesson, their bottoms on their chairs. They learn through experience. They learn through play. Yet there is a growing disconnect between what the research says is best for children -- a classroom free of pressure -- and what’s actually going on in schools.

Take the example of a girl who was barely 5 when she entered Gerzon’s classroom. She didn’t know her ABCs, but one day in class she made up a song and taught it to the other children. But because of new requirements, “I had to send a letter to her parents saying that [she] is not proficient,” says Gerzon. “You tell me that [she] is not proficient in language skills!” The Concord resident, who usually exudes a gentle presence, bristles. “It’s destructive, even abusive. That’s a pretty strong word, but what do you call it when you take a group of children and you force them to do something that they are not developmentally ready to do? What do you call that? It’s abusive.”
Psychologist and early childhood expert David Elkind, author of The Hurried Child and The Power of Play, echoes Gerzon. When children are required to do academics too early, he says, they get the message that they are failures. “We are sending too many children to school to learn that they are dumb,” says Elkind, a professor emeritus at Tufts University. “They are not dumb. They are just not there developmentally.”

Read more here.   Other educators are quoted and they fear for kindergartners, especially those not ready to read/write, antsy boys who can't stay in their seats or students whose first language is not English.  Do the standards predict disaster for these 5 year olds?  Five years old seems awfully young to think of yourself as a failure but that is the message these educators are predicting these children will take with them from their kindergarten experience.  Forget the idea kindergarten will make children "college ready".  Kindergarten will make children emotional wrecks.

Send these stories to your school board members, superintendents, state legislators and ask them why they still support Common Core standards.  We are setting up our youngest children up for failure and strict adherence to the standards which do not allow creativity.  I guess those standards ARE rigorous as rigor is associated with death, strictness and uncomfortableness.  From merriam-webster.com:

Definition of RIGOR

a (1) : harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgment : severity (2) : the quality of being unyielding or inflexible : strictness (3) : severity of life : austerity
b : an act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty
: a tremor caused by a chill
: a condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable; especially : extremity of cold
: strict precision : exactness rigor
a obsolete : rigidity, stiffness
b : rigidness or torpor of organs or tissue that prevents response to stimuli
c : rigor mortis

Are the Common Core masters creating death of the spirit?  Parents, do you want to send your 5 year old to public kindergarten under the "rigorous" Common Core standards? 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Common Core Facts: Listen to Sandra Stotsky, Joy Pullman, Jamie Gass on Recorded Webinar Call

Sandra Stotsky, Joy Pullman and Jamie Gass were on a webinar call sponsored by Stop Common Core in NY State this past week.

You can listen to it here.

Thanks to Stop Common Core in NY State for providing this to other activists so they can fight common core in their states.

Alabama Home Schooled and Private Schooled Students Don't Want to Live in This Village of Government Regulations

The State Board tried to seal the fate of home and private school students to be under public regulations. 

We had a major alert for Alabama home schooled and private schooled students a few days ago.  The state commissioner of education decided to create new departments and regulations for those students outside the public education system.  These regulations included having to use state certified teachers, the same state curriculum (which is now aligned to Common Core standards)  and register with the state.  Failure to register  do so would prohibit students from attending a 2 or 4 year university.

We have an update reporting the halting of this proposed educational direction in Alabama.  It would have taken the rights of citizens/private institutions to educate students as they see fit.  Thanks to our readers who supplied these comments and alerted us to recent developments:

ALSDE has issued a response here. 36review has a link to the letter in its post "ALSDE Update: Changes on Hold"


Basically, they've put the new regs on "hold" but have "concluded that not only do the regulations need revision, there is also a need for a thorough review of the current statute governing this matter."

In other words, Superintendent Bice will try to find another way to stick it to private schools.


Home School parents came out in force in Alabama this past week and have won a temporary victory over “state-led” regulations and licensing. Governor Bentley put his foot down and “he and the superintendent of education, Dr. Tommy Bice” came to terms.

This power grab by Dr. Bice should be a warning to Home Schoolers in other states. The same may happen to them. There is documentation that this is not just “state-led” but the USDOE salivating to get hold of Home School / Private School period.


To learn more go to

Sharon Sewell
Alabamians United for Excellence in Education

The commenters understand this is a temporary victory.  We all must watch what our state boards of education are trying to implement and the ramifications on our liberty to educate our children.  We have seen this power grab tried in Florida and Missouri.  Let us know if your legislature/Board of Education is trying to take control of private educational development/delivery.

Follow the36review.com for up to date information and kudos to the home schooling groups for mobilizing and understanding their freedom to educate children was in serious jeopardy in Alabama.  As Hillary Clinton said, "It takes a village".

It certainly takes a village of like-minded people and groups to make sure their liberties and freedoms as parents are not gobbled up by the State, whether it be on the local or federal level.  I wonder if she knew about the villages that don't want the government living in their midst.   Whether or not you agreed with Bob Dole's politics, he had a valid point in response to Clinton's statement:

The theme of the book, at least as perceived from its title, aroused immediate opposition within the United States. The most famous instance of this occurred during the 1996 presidential election: during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, nominee Bob Dole said: "... with all due respect, I am here to tell you, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child."[4]

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