"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

Search This Blog

Saturday, August 24, 2013

No Federal Role In Education? Really?

Government officials like to promise the voters everything because it looks good on paper and sounds good around election time. But are these guys ever going to think about the logistics of how these promises would have to be handled to come true? If you listen to what Charlie Rangle and President Obama said this week regarding education I think the answer must be a solid no.

On Martin Bashir's show on MSNBC Representative Rangle actually said he didn't think anyone should have to pay for college. The President had recently laid out a proposal for institutions and students who accept federal financial aid assistance to follow certain guidelines.  Rangle thought his proposal didn't go far enough. “There is no reason why a young person should have to pay for college education, because who does it benefit except a nation?" There apparently is no personal benefit to a college education.

Even more critical in Rep Rangle's statements was this line, "I think it’s exciting, and certainly it’s going to bring in accountability." There folks is the crux of the matter. The federal government WANTS everyone to be accountable to them, and giving out your tax dollars is how they plan to make that happen.

The President's views on education are even more disturbing if you factor in what he said about law degrees this week. "I believe that law schools would be wise to think about being two years instead of three years." Any time this administration says it thinks people would be wise to listen to them, I can't help but think a little of Don Corleone. These ideas tend not to be suggestions.

Where does Washington think it got the power to dictate degree requirements? If you listen closely you will hear the answer. "If we give you money then you are accountable to us and we have the authority to decide anything for education."

Hillsdale college is looking better and better these days.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Story Hour In Rockwood

Last night I attended a district sponsored meeting about Common Core. They announced it in advance to the high school parents and planned it for the hour before the Open House began, thus ensuring that the meeting had a limited time frame. Parents were treated to about 40 minutes of a lovely fable about where Common Core standards came from and what they would do for our children. It went something like this.

Somewhere in a distant land not too far or too different from here, a group of teachers (like us) and parents (like you) and researchers (who are undefined but obviously brilliant) sat around a table and thought about what we should be teaching our children. It is a good thing they did this too, because this had never been done before. To reinforce that point they showed a short video about two peole getting stuck on a stalled escalator who could not think of an alternative way to get to the top of the stairs. This was meant to show what education had formerly done. It taught students one set of facts. When presented with a different problem, they were incapable of applying their knowledge to find a solution.  We parents could all laugh at the characters on the stairs and recognize them as the requisit simpletons in many folktales. In doing so, we were expected to accept the premise of education before common core.

This description of students obviously does not explain how we got to the moon, a place we had never been before under conditions that were in many ways theoretical. It does not explain the invention of the cell phone, or this child's invention of a new test for pancreatic cancer at age 15 but, hey, this was a fable.

Then we were introduced to a new character, the Modern Learner. The Modern Learner can solve "real world problems." Again, an example was shown of a very young child who needed to recharge a vacuum. Not knowing where the vacuum's charge cord was, she stuck a cell phone charger into the motor vents of the vacuum. This is how the Modern Learner works. They use accumulated bits of knowledge to form new solutions. In Common Core the Modern Learner does not have to have the right solution to the problem, just a creative one.

Did the child safety industry psychically predict the existence of the Modern Learner when they developed all those devices decades ago to protect children from their experimentations with their limited knowledge that things can go in an outlet and toilet seats can go up to reveal a great water filled play area where things can magically disappear if you push the shiny handle?

The Modern Learner is not at all like their predecessor who I think must have been paleolithic learner.
An older learner, when asked how they tell time, would have drawn a clock. The Modern Learner would draw a cell phone (a real example from the story.) In this fable, our long education history has not produced children able to figure out how the lesson on division in class could be used to divide up  the bag of candy they bought amongst their friends. Students have never had to supply documentation to support a research paper. And they certainly haven't ever had to work with other children on like, say, a team to achieve a shared goal. Thank goodness that team of kindly people got together to give us common core.

The story was filled with magic and things that are not what they clearly appear to be. The standards are just standards. The district will maintain complete control of the curriculum. We will not be teaching to the test. The magical 4 C's (Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity) are all your child is going to need to succeed.

The standards are just guidelines except where they dictate how we will score children in our new standards based grading system. Then they pretty much change the way our teachers do their jobs. We will teach "academic vocabulary" which was later explained to mean teaching students how to read a test question and know how to answer it. Now we magically are not teaching to the test. We are using our focus on the test structure and parameters to guide our curriculum so, don't worry we are still in control here, not the test developers.

The district personnel talked about scary monsters like informational text and standardized testing.
Without mentioning that the requirement in common core is for 70% of high school literature to be informational text, they showed that they can slay that monster by having children read their science and math books. See? Not so scary now. And standardized testing is no big thing. The discussion leader listed off the numerous EOC's and other standardized tests our children are required to take. The SBAC test for Common Core would be just one more. They didn't mention a word about the tests being computerized and requiring 8-10 hours to complete so I think that monster may still be a little scary.

I give the district staff credit for keeping it together during all of story hour (and question time.) They were only expecting 5-6 people, not the 60 who showed up. They expected some of the questions, but not all of those asked by the fairly well informed crowd. There were many there who knew that the fictional assembly of kind hearted souls who developed common core was just that, a fiction created to passify the public. They saw that the standards really weren't an improvement for education in our district. They asked good questions like, "With all this standardized testing, do you even have time to teach any more?"

But alas, story time ran up against a hard break and had to end without knowing what happens to the Modern Learner. Will he or she get to college? Will our children succeed?  Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Children Are Invited to Create "Affordable" Health Care Videos by HHS and Young Invincibles

Does this organization and The Department of Health and Human Services want to use taxpayer money for their invincibility? 

Is the Affordable Health Care Act really about affordability and healthcare or is it about controlling the lives of people and the insurance industry?  These questions would be a start for a student research paper and a good critical thinking exercise, don't you think?  Wouldn't this type of question fit into a Common Core standard somewhere?  Shouldn't students should be encouraged to study both sides of an issue and make a conclusion?

Health and Human Services isn't asking for a debate on the health care act.  It is inviting students (and others) from age 13 to provide videos and songs aimed at the target population who would benefit from this coverage.  The government needs the buy in from the younger generation to fund the act and videos are needed depicting how wonderful "free" health care really is. 
From the Federal Register:

In an effort to enroll the maximum number of uninsured young Americans into individual health plans in the upcoming open enrollment period, multiple mediums and methods of reaching the uninsured population are necessary. HHS and Young Invincibles are co-sponsoring the “Healthy Young America” Video Contest with two primary goals: First, directly reaching the uninsured population through video views and votes; and second, the production of high-quality videos that can be further promoted to the target population.
 The statutory authority for this challenge competition is Section 105 of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (Pub. L. 111-358).
Subject of Challenge Competition: This Fall, many young Americans will have more health insurance options available to them than ever before. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will help more individuals enroll in private health insurance plans. Young Invincibles and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services have created a competition that will tap into the creativity and energy of young Americans while raising awareness about the new law and encouraging young people to take advantage of the benefits of health insurance.

First Contest: Invincibility Theme

The first contest will focus around the theme of the invincibility myth and young people. It will be focused on demonstrating why all young people need health insurance and how it's useful for active and healthy people. The two primary hooks for launch videos will be sports and pranks gone wrong.

Second Contest: Music & Culture Theme

The second contest will focus on the benefits of health insurance broadly. Video submissions will be focused around music. They can be original songs, autotuned videos, covers of popular songs, music videos, or other such similar styles. Primary hook videos will be around similar themes.

Third Contest: Animation

The third contest will be educational-styled videos focused on using motion graphics, infographics, and Active Type to make heavily stylized videos about facts related to the Affordable Care Act and open enrollment.
The Contest is open from 10 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (“EDT”) on August 19, 2013 through 11:59 p.m. EDT on September 23, 2013.

Video Requirements

The purpose of this Contest is to raise awareness of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, specifically as it relates to Americans aged 18 through 34. Videos should promote that general purpose, as well as be consistent with the criteria of the category in which they are submitted.

The judging panel will make selections based upon the following criteria:
You Are Not Invincible (30-60 seconds)
Videos in this category should convey the need for young people (ages 18-35) to have health insurance and must feature or touch upon the idea that young people are not invincible. Evaluated on creativity, originality, production value, and use of humor.
Perform a Song (30-90 seconds)
Express the necessity for young people to have health insurance in a fun and memorable way through music. Evaluated on creativity in addressing the benefits of health insurance, originality, production value, use of humor, and memorability.
Animation (not over three minutes)
  • Include motion graphics, infographics, and/or Active Type
  • Include at least four of the following facts:
○ You can stay on your parents' plan until age 26
○ Insurers cannot drop you if you get sick or deny you coverage if you have a pre-existing condition
○ As of October 1st 2013, insurers will compete for your business on new online health insurance marketplaces (located at healthcare.gov) like airlines do on travel Web sites
○ Discounts will be provided to help purchase health insurance for individuals who earn roughly $46,000 or less
○ You could even be eligible for free health insurance through Medicaid if you earn roughly $15,000 or less
○ Starting in 2014, almost everyone will be required to have insurance
  • Include at least 3 of the following facts:
○ There will be a variety of plans and benefits to choose from
○ Preventive care is covered at no additional cost to the you
○ Women cannot be charged more than men based on their gender
○ There are no annual or lifetime limits on coverage
○ Insurance companies have to spend at least 80% of the premium dollars you pay on health services, rather than advertising or profits
○ Plans must cover FDA-approved contraceptive methods for women at no extra cost to you
  • Include at least 2 of these facts:
○ Over Nearly 20 million young adults (ages 18-35) across the country lack basic health insurance coverage
○ 3 million previously uninsured young adults have joined their parents' health insurance plan.
○ Three-quarters of Americans (ages 19-29) will be eligible for free or discounted health insurance
○ Young people have the highest rate of injury-related emergency department visits among all age groups
Videos in this category may present the facts using different wording and/or in a different order. Evaluated on creativity employing the required facts, originality, production value, and visual engagement.


Read the entire notice here.

Children are invited to push the government's message (and get paid by the government) the Affordable Health Care Act is a good law, instead of informing the target population (18-34) that it is not affordable and will plunge them further into massive debt even before they are employed.  Children are to inform the public that health care choices will be greater, even as this is proving to be a false statement. 

Parents, it is your job to teach your children sound economic theory as it is clear HHS is not informing children they will face a bleak economic future from a government that is trillions of dollars in debt.  You need to inform them that nothing is "free" and that everything comes with a cost.  Children need to learn that they are now required to buy a product (even if they don't want to) because it is necessary for the "collective good".  Parents need to teach their children about the alliance between government and community organizing groups profiting from government funding to push government programs.
Maybe MEW should sponsor a video contest for students age 13 and up showing the tremendous burden of debt the Affordable Health Care Act (or Common Core) will produce for their generation.  Maybe your child could then show it in their school since Common Core produces and applauds creativity, right?  Parents, would your student be interested in producing a video on the FACTS of the "Affordable" Health Care Act or community group funding and connections with the government?

This would be a great opportunity for your student to learn and use the definition of the word "misnomer" or "propaganda" in a video or song.  If you are interested in submitting a project, contact us at commoncoredump@mewmail.com.  Maybe we can find corporate sponsors like Young Invincibles and provide a hefty prize.

Here's an idea to get your child started.  Young Invincibles was started by Ari Matusiak and Aaron Smith and other organizations. Here is a link with information on Mr. Smith and his partners.  It might be interesting for your student to learn to "follow the money".

Young Invincibles is not really a grassroots organization.  More information on this group can be found from calwatchdog.com:

It is more of a well-oiled organization to fund other politically left social justice groups.  Co-founder Ari Matusiak works for the Obama Administration as Special Assistant to the President and Director of Private Sector Engagement.
According to the Young Invincibles website,  Co-Founders Ari Matusiak and Aaron Smith, and a few law school friends created Young Invincibles “motivated by the recognition that young people’s voices were not being heard in the debate over health care reform.”
Only Ari Matusiak isn’t just your average entrepreneur — Matusiak works for the Obama Administration as Special Assistant to the President and Director of Private Sector Engagement.
Matusiak also served as a fellow on Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee.
- See more at: http://calwatchdog.com/2013/08/02/the-tip-of-the-obamacare-iceberg/#sthash.6KAnKXA3.dpuf

According to the Young Invincibles website,  Co-Founders Ari Matusiak and Aaron Smith, and a few law school friends created Young Invincibles “motivated by the recognition that young people’s voices were not being heard in the debate over health care reform.”
Only Ari Matusiak isn’t just your average entrepreneur — Matusiak works for the Obama Administration as Special Assistant to the President and Director of Private Sector Engagement.
Matusiak also served as a fellow on Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee.
- See more at: file:///C:/Users/Logue/Documents/The%20tip%20of%20the%20Obamacare%20iceberg%20_%20CalWatchDog.htm#sthash.n5FdYBkC.dpuf

According to the Young Invincibles website,  Co-Founders Ari Matusiak and Aaron Smith, and a few law school friends created Young Invincibles “motivated by the recognition that young people’s voices were not being heard in the debate over health care reform.”
Only Ari Matusiak isn’t just your average entrepreneur — Matusiak works for the Obama Administration as Special Assistant to the President and Director of Private Sector Engagement.
Matusiak also served as a fellow on Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee.
- See more at: http://calwatchdog.com/2013/08/02/the-tip-of-the-obamacare-iceberg/#sthash.6KAnKXA3.dpuf

According to the Young Invincibles website,  Co-Founders Ari Matusiak and Aaron Smith, and a few law school friends created Young Invincibles “motivated by the recognition that young people’s voices were not being heard in the debate over health care reform.”
Only Ari Matusiak isn’t just your average entrepreneur — Matusiak works for the Obama Administration as Special Assistant to the President and Director of Private Sector Engagement.
Matusiak also served as a fellow on Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee.
- See more at: http://calwatchdog.com/2013/08/02/the-tip-of-the-obamacare-iceberg/#sthash.6KAnKXA3.dpuf

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

MO Legislators - Here's The Follow Up You Need to Ask

The following email was sent to all Missouri legislators from DESE. Will any of them ask the follow up questions that need to be asked?

Dear Legislator,

You may have heard about Missouri’s state assessments for English language arts and literacy and mathematics changing in 2014-15 to reflect school districts moving to the Common Core State Standards. We wanted to tell you more about these assessments, and how they will help schools better assess program effectiveness and improve student achievement.

The new assessments are computer-based meaning the computer adjusts the difficulty of questions throughout the assessment in response to student performance. For example, a student who answers a question correctly will receive a more challenging item, while an incorrect answer generates an easier question. By adapting to the student as the assessment is taking place, these assessments present an individually tailored set of questions to each student and can quickly identify which skills students have mastered. This approach represents a significant improvement over traditional paper-and-pencil assessments used in many states today, providing more accurate scores for all students across the full range of the achievement continuum.

Better information for teachers: Optional computer adaptive interim assessments will provide a more detailed picture of where students excel or need additional support, helping teachers to differentiate instruction. The interim assessments will be reported on the same scale as the summative assessment, and schools will have the flexibility to assess small elements of content or the full breadth of the Common Core State Standards at locally-determined times throughout the year. 
More efficient and more secure: Computer adaptive tests are typically shorter than paper-and-pencil assessments because fewer questions are required to accurately determine each student’s achievement level. The assessments draw from a large bank of questions, and since students receive different questions based on their responses, test items are more secure and can be used for a longer period of time. 
More accurate: Computer adaptive tests offer teachers and schools a more accurate way to evaluate student achievement, readiness for college and careers, and to measure growth over time.

Computerized assessments allow teachers, principals, and parents to receive results in weeks, not months. Faster results mean that teachers can use the information from optional interim assessments throughout the school year to differentiate instruction and better meet the unique needs of their students.

If you want to experience the new assessments for yourself, try the practice test here: http://sbac.portal.airast.org/practice-test/

Thank You.

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Communications | 573.751.34

The questions that need to be asked in response to this email.

Dear DESE,

1. Better information for teachers? This statement is true only if the district decides to use these "optional" formative assessments. Nothing is free, so what can districts expect to pay for these "optional" assessments?  Currently, teachers provide their own formative assessments and districts are investing in curricula that include formative assessments. Where is the need/justification for additional testing?

2. More efficient and more secure? How does having more questions in the databank make those questions more secure? If you are claiming they are secure from cheating by teachers viewing the questions in advance, please provide evidence that this is a widespread systematic problem in Missouri that warrants the investment in this expensive mode of testing. What is the benefit to the student, taxpayer or teacher of "secure" questions?

To be able to claim that a question accurately assesses a student's achievement against a standard requires a significant amount of data on that particular question.  In an adaptive model, the sheer volume of questions means that any single question will have less students responding to it generating data. How then can you state that these tests, which have yet to be given, will be efficient and accurate measures of student achievement? Where is the data? This looks like an attempt to use an emotionally charged word, "secure," to describe something that has no real value.

3. More accurate?  More accurate than what? Where is the study that shows computers are better than other methods? Are we expected to take your word for it?

4. Faster results promised - Granted, the turn around time on student scores may be a little faster than scantron, but we give the summative assessment in April when the end of the school year is mere weeks away. There are months between when the kids take these tests and the next school year so speed of reporting is not really an issue. That data is only useful (marginally so) to the teacher who has those kids the following year since there is a retention loss in those intervening months and a totally new curricula and set of standards. Even if results were quick, the teacher would only have a few weeks to alter her teaching plan to affect the kids taking the test this school year. This is not terribly helpful.  The only way this speed is useful is if the schools uses the "optional" tests you refer to, but again we must ask at what cost? Most teachers grade their formative assessments in a matter of hours to days already. Please demonstrate the savings.

DESE has a tendency to promote new programs, touting their benefits without ever accounting for their costs. Many of these programs start with federal seed money, but the expectation is that the state will take up the lifetime cost of running the program. The SBAConsortium that you have gotten us into appears to be exactly the same. The U.S. Dept. of Education is supplying 100% of the funding now, but that funding will run out in September 2014. You have yet to tell the legislature how much our state's continued participation in the consortia is going to cost us. Your email does not list any of the costs for these assessments, formative or summative, and you do not indicate who is expected to pay for them. We cannot afford education "at any cost" here in Missouri. We need you to lay out the costs and identify the responsible parties for these "wonderful" assessments so we can determine if we can afford them.

Thank you. Missouri Legislator

Common Core Aligned Math in Your Student's Backpack: Here's Proof it's Really Not About the Wright Answer.

Disclaimer: I know the word "wright" in the above title is misspelled and that's the point of talking about the Common Core aligned math homework coming home in your student's backpack.  You got the gist of my meaning and that's the most important emphasis of the message, right?

There have been many articles the last few days about the teacher who was filmed on video stating the correct answer (4 x 3 = 11) is not that important in math answers:


Supporters of Common Core aligned math insisted this wasn't about Common Core since Common Core are STANDARDS, not curriculum. (We'll respond to this fallacious argument at the end of the article).  They complained that the original clip published on many outlets did not show the trainer also saying the correct answer was important, too.  But read what she says the real intent of math is in the full clip:

“We want our students to compute correctly but the emphasis is really moving more towards the explanation, and the how, and the why, and ‘can I really talk through the procedures that I went through to get this answer,’” August details. “And not just knowing that it’s 12, but why is it 12? How do I know that?”

We now have proof that this is how math is being taught in Common Core aligned curriculum.  A North Carolina mother is concerned about the Common Core aligned math curriculum taught in her 5th grader's class.  She wrote her school board the following letter explaining how Common Core aligned math is presented:

Dear members of the Wake County School Board:

I have a fifth grader at Holly Grove Elementary School on track 4. She’s been in fifth grade for all of two weeks. Her first week of math homework was general review: multiplication and division. Then yesterday she brought home Common Core homework.

"Explain how one division expression can have many different answers. Use a specific division expression to support your answer."

Do you think a fifth grader can answer this question? This isn’t math, this is an English essay in abstract thinking. I have a college degree, and it confused me. Have you spoken to any fifth grade teachers to ask them how they will present this type of material so 10-11 year olds can articulate an answer? If you allow them to answer honestly, I think you will hear a common answer to Common Core: “it is going to set elementary math skills back by several years.”

Here is another math homework problem: 

“32 divided by 5. Use the division expression to create 6 different word problems that match the answers below. Write the word problem in the appropriate box provided below. 1) the answer is 6; 2) the answer is r2; 3) the answer is 7; 4) the answer is 6 2/5; 5) the answer is 6 or 7; 6) the answer is 6.4.” 
Do you see a serious problem with this type of math homework? I foresee huge problems as kids have to re-learn real math, the kind that has one answer; one right answer, not a bunch of guesses that they have to explain. They don’t have to know the right answer, as long as they can explain how to do it? Please tell me how this will raise the standards of education if even adults don’t understand it.

This kind of abstract math foisted on children who barely have a grasp of basic math is going to accomplish a few goals, none of them being ‘raising the standards of education.’ Let me tell you what I’m already observing in my daughter’s classroom: 1) frustration, 2) tears, 3) vacant expressions that clearly indicate ‘I’m lost,’ and as my daughter now puts it: 4) ”I hate math.” This is only the second week of school.

I’ve done a lot of research on CCSS and have spoken to several elementary school teachers who are attempting to present the curriculum. This quote is from a good friend who teachers 5th grade in NY state, where 70% of students failed the CCSS tests in April: “It is VERY abstract and our 5th graders had extreme difficulty. You can't tell me that 75% of NY children should have an IEP. We are being told that the kids learn the concepts by doing the application. I still have not figured out how you can apply something you know nothing about!”

Are you aware that no educators or child development specialists were consulted in creating this curriculum? Are you aware that NC agreed to accept CCSS for RTTT funding without even seeing the curriculum? In fact, it hadn’t even been created when Gov. Perdue said “yes.” I feel that our kids are now expected to be guinea pigs for this untested, data mining, twice as many standardized tests, extremely liberal-thinking education program. The long arm of the DOE has taken parents, teachers, and local school boards out of the decision-making process. It’s not right, and this is one parent who isn’t going to let a bureaucrat in Washington say, “I know what’s best for your child.”

NC needs to reject CCSS, and Wake County should lead the way. Even if you are not convinced how this will be detrimental to our children, please consider how much this federally-mandated snuck-in-the-backdoor curriculum is going to cost NC. Taxes will have to be raised to pay for its implementation. The RTTT funds don’t cover the full program, and the only people who stand to profit from this new misery are private corporations like Gates and Pearson. Our children deserve better!

My high school teens start school in a few weeks. You can expect to hear from me again when I review their textbooks – my tenth grader’s Civics textbook was a big red flag last year – such a biased presentation of the political process! I am already aware that fewer AP classes are being offered in order to bring the high schools into compliance with CCSS. So, the way I see it, my IEP child will be completely lost and my accelerated learning teens will be bored because I see the real goal of Common Core is to lump kids into one mold and expect them to learn at the same pace, as in “one size fits all.” Those of you who are/were educators must realize that this is a prescription for failure on a national scale.

I encourage you to lead the way for NC by rejecting Common Core. Please allow the parents, teachers, and local school administrators to make decisions about school curriculum.

Sincerely, Rachel L. Walker Holly Springs 

Another school board member responded, insisting that it was only a set of 'standards,' not a curriculum. Obviously none of these people even glanced at CCSS before signing off on it. I know I need to take this fight to the state school board. I emailed the governor, but he's still on board with it, even though the lieutenant governor has done research and wants it blocked. Bureaucrats will be the death of us -- literally.

My response, written on the worksheet: "This abstract concept is well beyond my child's comprehension. (Actually this Common Core 'many answers' math is probably too confusing for any 5th grader.)" 

Since I've already written "this is impossible for any 5th grader" on worksheets, the teacher has already requested a conference.  My 11th grader couldn't articulate a response to this question, and he's a math genius.


Thank you, Rachel, for sharing your letter with other parents concerned about CCSS aligned curriculum and teaching practices.   Parents can go to the Smarter Balanced Assessment site and see for themselves what math problems are being taught to students:

Many parents have written these tests make no sense to students, causing frustration and a budding hatred of math.   Is that the goal?

Here's your talking point of the day when CCSS supporters insist CCSS are "only standards". The curriculum has to be CCSS aligned so this video and homework coming home indeed is connected to Common Core standards.  Start referring to curriculum as Common Core "aligned" curriculum.  This an argument CCSS supporters cannot refute.

    Tuesday, August 20, 2013

    Common Core Graphic Seen in School. Unattainable Goals and Free Stuff.

    I've heard from many parents who are horrified at what they have seen and heard on the first day of school.  This was seen on the first day of school somewhere in the United States (the teacher's face was cropped to protect her identity):

    Sounds like utopia.  Let's examine this teacher's graphic:

    • All students will be college ready: this claim is for a 2 year college according to Jason Zimba so forget about your plans to attend a prestigious 4 year university
    • !00% of anything is a high goal of attainment and didn't work so well on making 100% of students NCLB proficient.  Why is this goal any more attainable? 
    • Does this teacher know something the taxpayer doesn't know yet?  Are we offering not only free preschool for all but free college as well?
    • It might be a good idea to let students know that even if they are college ready and attend college, they may very well be setting them up for massive debt (if it's not free yet) for jobs that don't exist.
    The 100% figure is a lofty goal.  I hope for this teacher her students reach near that 100% mark.  If her students are not proficient on the copyrighted assessments she must use, her evaluation will show her alleged ineffectiveness and she will be in danger of losing her job.  It's her accountability to the assessments that determine if she will continue teaching to those assessments or have to find other lines of employment.

    I have no idea where the teacher got the idea that students might have the option for attending college for free.  But then again, why not toss it in there?  It might be a reality since if "everyone doesn't get to attend college", it's not fair and equitable and the US Department of Education just can't tolerate any inequity in outcomes.  Let's throw in free everything for everybody!

    I wonder if this teacher will teach economic theory to her students.  Will she also teach the history of education and how it has evolved into a centralized system controlled by private corporations?

    A parent shared this observation about this "back to school" saying on the school wall:

    Prussian Reform Movement - a transformation which replaced cabinet rule (by appointees of the national leader) with rule by permanent civil servants and permanent government bureaus. Ask yourself which form of governance responds better to public opinion and you will realize what a radical chapter in European affairs was opened.

    The familiar three-tier system of education emerged in the Napoleonic era, one private tier, two government ones. At the top, one-half of 1 percent of the students attended Akadamiensschulen,1 where, as future policy makers, they learned to think strategically, contextually, in wholes; they learned complex processes, and useful knowledge, studied history, wrote copiously, argued often, read deeply, and mastered tasks of command.

    The next level, Realsschulen, was intended mostly as a manufactory for the professional proletariat of engineers, architects, doctors, lawyers, career civil servants, and such other assistants as policy thinkers at times would require. From 5 to 7.5 percent of all students attended these "real schools," learning in a superficial fashion how to think in context, but mostly learning how to manage materials, men, and situations—to be problem solvers. This group would also staff the various policing functions of the state, bringing order to the domain.

    Finally, at the bottom of the pile, a group between 92 and 94 percent of the population attended "people’s schools" (Volksschulen) where they learned obedience, cooperation and correct attitudes, along with rudiments of literacy and official state myths of history.

    This universal system of compulsion schooling was up and running by 1819, and soon became the eighth wonder of the world, promising for a brief time—in spite of its exclusionary layered structure—liberal education for all. But this early dream was soon abandoned. This particular utopia had a different target than human equality; it aimed instead for frictionless efficiency.

    From its inception Volksschulen, the people’s place, heavily discounted reading; reading produced dissatisfaction, it was thought. The Bell-school remedy was called for: a standard of virtual illiteracy formally taught under state church auspices. Reading offered too many windows onto better lives, too much familiarity with better ways of thinking. It was a gift unwise to share with those permanently consigned to low station.

    Heinrich Pestalozzi, an odd2 Swiss-German school reformer, was producing at this time a non-literary, experience-based pedagogy, strong in music and industrial arts, which was attracting much favorable attention in Prussia. Here seemed a way to keep the poor happy without arousing in them hopes of dramatically changing the social order. Pestalozzi claimed ability to mold the poor "to accept all the efforts peculiar to their class." He offered them love in place of ambition.By employing psychological means in the training of the young, class warfare might be avoided.

    From John Taylor Gatto's The Underground History of American Education

    Monday, August 19, 2013

    My Common Core Conversation with KHQA in Quincy, Illinois

    Maggie's Notebook published an article about an interview I did in Quincy, Illinois where Anne and I appeared at a Common Core presentation.  Maggie did an excellent job with the transcription and we want to thank her for spreading the word about CCSS.

    From  Common Core: Mandated Not Law, Not Funded, Not Evidence-Based, Not Field-Tested, No Pilot Program: 


    Common Core Initiative Standards (CCIS) is not an act of Congress. Venture Capitalists are behind program development. Some of the materials refer to your children as “human capital.” That’s for starters. Gretchen Logue at Missouri Education Watchdog has been tracking CCIS for over two years. She is the go-to expert online in Missouri. About 45 states have adopted this disaster. In the video below (transcript also), Gretchen is speaking in Quincy, Illinois. What you’ll read is the nuts and bolts of Common Core. At the end she tells you how to combat this in your own state, and how to approach your school board and legislature. Please pass the information on to your family and friends, especially those with children and grandchildren.  (Note that I refer to Common Core or CCIS below as “CC” for expediency)

    Begin Transcript (all emphasis is mine):
    Moderator: What is the concern about Common Core?
     Logue: With Common Core there are three basic concerns: Cost, Control and the Data Collection…

     The cost, at least in Missouri…the Pioneer Institute has determined that it will cost just the State of Missouri $350 Million. We don’t know how much it’s going to cost each individual school district.
     CC requires computer assessment, teacher professional development training and it’s different from what they had been trained before, and the computer infrastructure. Just to do one school in Missouri in a district, was a Million dollars. These are costs the districts have not budgeted and they don’t know how much it is going to cost.
    The State has not gone to the legislators yet to ask for an additional $350 Million or however much it is.

    The control: it bypassed state legislators and it bypassed the voters. Unlike No Child Left Behind, which was a Congressional Act, these are mandates that are Stimulus-dollar-funded, so when the Stimulus ends in September 2014, all that money runs out.
    You have two private trade organizations, that’s the Chief Council of State School Officers and the National Governors Association. They are not governmental organizations. They have been funded by the federal government to DIRECT the curriculum, the assessments and teacher evaluations.

    The third part of it is the data. It is unprecedented that now information will be gathered on individual students, teachers and principals. The students will have data sets. The teachers and principals will be evaluated on how the children do on the assessments. The teachers, it’s up to 50%. So, if the student doesn’t do well, or the class doesn’t do well, that teacher is graded down regardless of what kind of class make-up he or she has that year.

    The school district also…the standards assessments are copyrighted by the two private organizations, so a school district cannot change the standards, nor can they change the assessments, so you have to teach to the assessments…to the tests, and using the specific curriculum that aligned to Common Core Standards.


    Read more here.

    Clarification on the comment about the curriculum:  If the curriculum has to be aligned to the CCSS, then the curriculum is being directed defacto.  The standards do not state the curriculum is to be directed (in fact, districts legally control the curriculum and a talking point from the proponents is that schools still have this control), but if the curriculum is not aligned to CCSS, it won't be used as it won't align to the standards and assessments.  

    Ask your school district curriculum director if the district will be using non-CCSS aligned curricula this year.   If not, ask the reason why.  If your curriculum director states it must align with the standards and assessments, the control of the curricula is being directed by CCSS.

    The state agencies are beginning to use the talking point that standards can indeed be modified.  If this is true, then the standards are no longer common and valid comparisons are not possible between state achievement levels.  How can standards and assessments be different, yet be rolled out as being common so students moving from state to state won't notice any difference? 

    For the Scott Joftus reference in the interview, read here.


    Sunday, August 18, 2013

    My Common Core Conversation with Phyllis Schlafly

    I was invited to speak with Phyllis Schlafly on her radio show yesterday and we had a great conversation.  Many thanks to Phyllis for her invitation to talk about Common Core.  Thanks to the listeners for their call in questions, particularly the teacher who questioned the need for standards for music instruction!  He believes music is a creative process and I agree.

    I hope you enjoy the interview and listen for Anne's interview with Phyllis scheduled for September 7.

    You can listen here.
    Site Meter