Tag Archives: Common core

Some Fundamental Problems With Common Core

Common Core State Standards for education were advanced as a holistic reform intended to raise academic performance based on standardized achievement results. When reading the standards themselves, and the stated objectives, it’s inconceivable that anyone would take exception to them. Indeed, the education reform language sounds as idealistic and pertinent as any could. They were superbly crafted. Regrettably, in application, much is lost in translation, and Common Core is quickly becoming a significant detriment to our public educational system.

55319Achieve Inc. (a Bill Gates-funded educational consulting firm) created the standards, for the National Governor’s Association (NGA). And in 2010 when they were rolled out, adoption of the standards by the respective states was tied to the Race To the Top grants, funded by the massive Stimulus package of 2009. The granting of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers augmented inducement for states adopting the standards. The irony of the latter is that we’ve learned over the past ten years of NCLB that accountability and subsequent punishment of districts, schools, and teachers does not substantively improve the quality of education. Yet it’s a significant characteristic of CC.

Achieve, Inc. called upon 135 academicians and assessment experts, most with ties to testing companies, to draft CC. The standards had, prior to their rollout, never been fully implemented or tested in actual schools. This represented a sharp break from educational reform traditions of basing reforms on empirical data and calculable results. Very few of the 135-member team were either classroom teachers or current administrators. The other most conspicuous absence from the development team was parents. After the standards were drafted, K-12 educators were reportedly brought in to “tweak and endorse the standards” to “lend legitimacy to the results, according to the editors of RethinkingSchools.org.

race-to-the-top-common-coreBy contrast, when I served on the Excellence In Public Education Commission for Idaho in the 80s, almost all of the commission members were educators, administrators, and/or parents. All of the major stakeholders in public education were represented. Such stakeholder involvement was conspicuously, and suspiciously, absent when CC was drawn up.

Perhaps none have explained the problems with CC as eloquently and precisely as Carol Burris from New York. In 2010 she was named the New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association, and in 2013 she was named the New York State High School Principal of the Year. She has identified five key reasons CC is disastrous for education. She was extremely supportive of the objectives of CC, yet after thoroughly examining the program, realized the damage it would do to education. The following are some of her findings:

“Despite the claims of supporters, the standards are not built on sound research. They have never been field-tested nor proven to raise student achievement. The truth of the matter is research shows the rigor of state standards is not related to student achievement. In addition, a study of the state standards most like the Common Core by the Brookings Institution concluded that it is likely that the Common Core will have minimal effect on student learning. There is no research that supports the untested standards and practices of the Common Core.

Common-Core-question-21“The Common Core standards contradict what we know about the way young children learn. Louisa Moats, one of the few early childhood experts on the team that wrote the early literacy standards, is now an outspoken critic. Why? Because the K to 3 Common Core standards disregard decades of research on early reading development. Shortly after the standards were published, 500 early-childhood experts — pediatricians, researchers and psychologists — found the early-childhood Common Core standards to be so developmentally inappropriate that they called for their suspension in grades K to 3.

“The Common Core standards for English Language Arts promote the use of questionable strategies and over-emphasize informational text. One of New Jersey’s leading literacy experts is Russ Walsh of Rider University. Walsh, as well as other literacy experts, has become uncomfortable with the beliefs that guide the Common Core ELA standards, specifically that background knowledge does not matter for reading, “close reading” should dominate literacy instruction, and that students should be reading only grade-level texts. There is also worry that informational texts are crowding out literature in English Language Arts classes.

images“The Common Core tests are unreasonably difficult and will result in unfair consequences for students. Even as New Jersey begins the PARCC exams, some states have begun giving their own Common Core tests. New York’s students have taken Common Core tests twice. Proficiency rates dramatically dropped to the low 30s, with minimal improvement in year two. Results have been especially devastating for special-education students, English language learners, and students of color and poverty — with proficiency rates in single digits for students with disabilities who are poor.

“Low test scores have consequences for kids. Students are put into remedial classes. Test scores are used to decide who gets into gifted programs and into competitive schools. In a pro-Common Core report titled “Opportunity by Design,” The Carnegie Corporation estimated that due to the Common Core, the national six-year dropout rate will double from 15 percent to 30 percent, and the four-year graduation rate will drop from 75 percent to 53 percent.

“New York students took the Common Core algebra test, which is a graduation requirement, last June. Only 22 percent met the Common Core score that is being phased in as the new passing standard for graduation. Are these fair and reasonable standards? I think not.”

common-core-math-problemThis kind of top-down regulation of education is entirely the opposite of what is needed in education, and none can offer a better assessment of what works and what doesn’t than those with “boots on the ground;” the teachers, with parental input. The establishment of standards by bureaucrats and corporate sponsors, as CC was devised, is the wrong approach entirely.

Senator Mike Crapo’s (R-ID) Local Leadership in Education Act, Senate Bill 144, needs to be passed. This Act will “prohibit the Federal Government from mandating, incentivizing, or making financial support conditional upon a State, local educational agency, or school’s adoption of specific instructional content, academic standards, or curriculum, or on the administration of assessments or tests, and for other purposes.”

All efforts to roll back and rescind CC are advisable at this juncture, at the state and local level, as well. This is not a partisan issue. Something as crucial as our children’s education transcends politics, and bears substantive implications for the future of America, as a nation and as a people.

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].

Stand Up to the Obama Administration and Fight Common Core

COLUMBIA, SC, May 30, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — Republican Lieutenant Governor candidate Ray Moore’s first radio ad urges primary voters to send a message to a Republican Party Establishment that he says often “sees conservatives and Christians as a bigger enemy than Democrats.”
“Our culture is decaying and our nation is crumbling. But too often the Republican Party Establishment sees conservatives and Christians as a bigger enemy than Democrats. It’s time to send them a message,” Moore says, opening the ad.
Pointing to one of Moore’s signature issues, education, Moore speaks out on the concerns parents have about Common Core.
“Our public schools have become vehicles of left-wing indoctrination and Common Core threatens to make it worse,” Moore said. “As Lieutenant Governor, I will stand up to the Obama Administration and fight Common Core.”
An announcer makes the case for Moore arguing that a conservative state like South Carolina needs conservative leaders who will fight for conservative values and “stand up for what we believe.”
The sixty-second ad notes Moore’s background as Citadel Graduate, Army Reserve Chaplin, Retired Lieutenant Colonel and Bronze Star Recipient. “Ray Moore stands for Sound Money, Sound Values and a state government that puts taxpayers first,” a nod to Moore’s support for legislation that would allow people to use gold or silver as currency to pay debts.
“Defending our values. Fighting for what is right. Standing up for what we believe,” the announcer closes the ad saying.
Moore is running in the June 10th Republican Primary. The runoff, if necessary, is June 24th. His website is www.voteraymoore.com

To Whom Do You Want To Entrust Your Well-being?

By Michael Lewinski 02/05/14

I believe it was Sam Adams who said in essence at the close of the 18th century that the American war was over, but the revolution was just beginning and was in its earliest phase. At the beginning of the 21st century, we find ourselves at a juncture in history where the final act in the American Revolution could finally be playing out in the struggle between those who believe individuals should control their destiny and those who believe it should be determined by the state.

During the Revolutionary War it is estimated that one third of the population supported the revolution, one third supported the crown, and one third was disengaged. Americans have always been divided on important issues. It is no different today, with Conservative patriots representing the revolutionary spirit and Progressives promoting the Tory Statists perspective, while large numbers of Americans are disengaged regarding the struggle for America’s soul.

President Obama, when first elected, promised to fundamentally transform America. In pursuit of his Progressive vision for America, we are learning that the autonomy of the individual and the role of civil society are being diminished while the authority and control of the State grows evermore intrusive into the lives of is citizens.

An example of this was provided by Presidential adviser, John Podesta. In a discussion of the Common Core standards he asked, “Why should some towns and cities and states have no standards or low standards and others have extremely high standards when the children belong to all of us and would move [to different states in their educational lives]?”

Have you got that? Our children don’t belong to themselves or their parents. They are available to serve the interests of the collective. This is the whole thrust of the Progressive Tories’ vision for America.

Which America are you striving to leave for the benefit of your children? With whom do you stand? Which is your cup of tea? The Tories, the Patriots, or one of the many who can’t look beyond today and could care less?

“Evangelical” Group Joins GOP Establishment In Support Of Common Core

In the summer of 2013, Mike Huckabee came out in support of the cookie cutter curriculum, Common Core, urging states to back the curriculum. In December, he started backpedaling that support. Just four days ago, he suggested to the creators of Common Core that they just need to “rebrand, not retreat” from the curriculum!

Jeb Bush has defended Common Core, praising Common Core for, in his words, “defin(ing) what students need to know.”  He’s criticized Common Core critics as being “purely political” and  “comfortable with mediocrity”   But, if you follow the money, it becomes clear that “Jeb Bush is putting big money and powerful interests ahead of children”.

With Common Core, parents have no choice in their children are taught. Parents who question Common Core have been arrested. One teacher has come out saying Common Core is nothing but “child abuse”, while in one district, teachers who do not support the curriculum are having their jobs threatened.

One proponent of Common Core spoke quite confidently, saying “the children belong to all of us.” The truth is, these people want to raise up “compliant, non-thinking citizens.”

Today, a “progressive Evangelical” group came out in support of Common Core, claiming it’s good for  ‘biblical justice and equity’. Their statement says they are “joining Christians and Conservatives” for the “one-size fits all” curriculum. The truth is, real Conservatives know that Common Core is a threat to education! Here is their news release:

Governor Jeb Bush, Governor Mike Huckabee, Dr. Nicole Baker Fulgham, Dr. Karen Swallow Prior, Catholic Educators, encouraged by NHCLC support

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 5, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference(NHCLC), regarded as the leading voice for the 16-million-strong Hispanic American Evangelical Christian community, today joins Christian and conservatives in their support of  the Common Core State Standards. The NHCLC, called “America’s Largest Hispanic Christian Organization” by TIME magazine, is rallying its 40,000 member churches and Hispanic Evangelicals behind Common Core as a matter of biblical justice and equity. The organization is launching a national education initiative to educate members about the benefits of the Common Core State Standards for Hispanics and low-income students and to mobilize church leaders to support implementation of the standards in local schools.

The Common Core State Standards are a prioritized, clearly stated list of skills a student must master in each grade level in order to be on track to succeed at college level work. The standards, adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, are the logical next step in the nation’s efforts to improve public education for all students. The Common Core standards were found to be higher than existing standards in 37 states in English and 39 in math, as well as on par with the standards of top scoring international countries. With higher, more focused standards across states, expectations for math and literacy skills are equally high for all students regardless of zip code. (http://www.corestandards.org/the-standards)

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the NHCLC, notes that although the Hispanic population in the U.S. is expanding more quickly than any other ethnic group, children born to Hispanic mothers are the most likely to be raised in poverty. “For years many states have set expectations too low for all our students, but particularly those from low-income schools, where many Hispanic children are educated. Rigorous standards must be available to all children, especially those in poverty who need clear signals of what skills they need to succeed in college or a career,” Rodriguez explains. “Offering high educational standards to all students is an issue of biblical justice, because all children are made in the image of God as described in Genesis 1:27. Common Core offers schools the opportunity to positively impact the future of Hispanic children and all children who live in poverty.”

Hispanic high school students are graduating at a rate over 10 percent lower than their white peers.[i] Those who do graduate high school find their diploma an empty promise. As far too many students were told they were on track, only to fail in college level work. Fifty-eight percent of Hispanics who make it to college do not graduate.[ii] So, it should not be surprising that 72 percent of Hispanics are placed in remedial classes at community colleges, where over half of Hispanics access higher education.[iii]

“Hispanic adults are less educated than any other ethnic group and the numbers of jobs that need a college degree are only increasing. Without question, our children, especially minority and immigrant students, must participate in an educational system that equips them with the necessary acumen and skills to compete. In order to honor the image of God shared by all children, we are committed to empowering all students with the foundational tools for success by holding all children to high educational standards. This is why I wholeheartedly endorse and support the Common Core State Standards,” Rev. Rodriguez attests.

Numerous conservative and Christian leaders welcome the support of the NHCLC as they work together to achieve educational equality for all American students, including:

–Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush:
“The key to reigniting social mobility and maintaining American competitiveness lies in giving every child access to the best education on the planet. Unfortunately, right now, just 25 percent of American high school graduates are prepared to succeed in college or the workforce. One of the greatest mistakes we make in education is underestimating the capacity of our children to learn. Raising expectations in our schools is critical for ensuring every child has the opportunity to realize his or her full God-given potential. Thankfully, states across the nation are heeding this call to action and raising academic standards. I applaud Reverend Rodriguez and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference for their leadership in championing the state-driven Common Core initiative and their commitment to achieving a high quality education for all students.”

–Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee:
“The Common Core State Standards were initiated as Governors and state leaders were talking about what we could do together to raise standards–not a Washington solution, but a voluntary effort on the part of the leaders of the states . . . .the original intent was to empower states and local school board to make all decisions as to curriculum.  Many states are now taking back ownership of the standards. No one wants federal control, federal curriculum content, or data collection of individual students, but having consistent standards is not something to be afraid of; indeed it is something to embrace.”

–Lorraine A. Ozar, Ph.D., Director, Center for Catholic School Effectiveness, School of Education, Loyola University Chicago, Member of Executive Committee for Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative:
“Christians care about rigorous educational standards within both public and private schools. As a matter of social justice, we owe every one of our students an education based on rigorous standards that equip them with college and career- ready skills for the 21st century.  We agree with the NHCLC’s support for CCSS as a strong vehicle to achieving increased rigor, and we invite other people of faith to join us in creating schools that are both academically excellent and integrated with faith-based values.”

–Dr. Nicole Baker Fulgham, former teacher and founder of The Expectations Project:
“As a parent and a person of faith, I welcome the voice of the NHCLC as we work together to support high educational expectations for every public school, including those in low-income communities. The Common Core Standards are an important step in this direction, particularly when they are coupled with meaningful steps to ensure that all students who are significantly far behind have the support systems required to meet them and teachers are trained to effectively implement them.”

–Dr. Karen Swallow Prior, Professor of English, Liberty University, Author of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me:
“From the carving of God’s commandments on stone tablets to the narratives and letters circulated within the early church, from the painstaking preservation of the scriptures at the hands of medieval scribes to the Protestant Reformation’s birthing of the printing press and the invention of the modern university, ours has been a faith centered on the Word—and words. The kind of careful readers the Common Core literacy standards seek to develop are exactly the kind of readers that people of a Word-based faith seek to cultivate, too: readers encouraged to develop command of textual knowledge, to ask reverent questions of the text, to rely on textual evidence making judgments and drawing conclusions, and to demonstrate these skills by producing their own skillful texts. In short, the Common Core standards of reading promise to revitalize the fading art of reading well. For Christians, this is indeed good news.”

–Patricia Weitzel-O’Neill, Ph.D. Executive Director of the Barbara and Patrick Roche Center for Catholic Education, Boston College, Member of Board of Directors for Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative:
“The Common Core State Standards are a valuable tool for all who work to prepare students for life in the 21st century, especially within Christian education systems. The Common Core affords faith-based schools the opportunity to clearly articulate our own missions while integrating faith traditions and values across standards-based curriculum of our own choosing. We should welcome the opportunity to align our goals with a common set of rigorous academic standards, since administrators and educators remain free to determine the content of the curriculum and coursework of our schools.”

The Real-Time Evolution of ‘Soft Despotism’

Today, many who consider themselves “visionaries” are sounding the alarm about the size and scope of government. From Obamacare to the Right to Bear Arms they decry government over-reach and the bureaucratization of our government. But those who truly understand the agenda of the Progressive Movement in the United States have been sounding this warning for years, explaining that for the Progressive’s agenda to be achieved a strong and authoritative centralized government must exist, unfettered by the interference that a free people, armed with Natural Law rights, would inject. Sadly, even those who brag about understanding these points, do very little about it, choosing to complain while failing to support the foot soldiers fighting the battle.

The frustration among those who are moved to action; who are moved to sacrifice time, treasure and station, is palpable. Further, as Progressives use the many-tiered bureaucracies – at all levels of government – to advance their agenda (and make no mistake, they are advancing), those American citizens moved to defend the freedoms bequeathed to them not only stand alone in their fight, they are often penalized and ostracized in the pursuit of defending their rights.

To wit, the BaltimoreSun.com reports:

The Howard County father whose arrest became a viral web video and a cause célèbre of conservative talk radio won’t be prosecuted for disrupting a meeting on state education standards.

The Baltimore County state’s attorney’s office dropped assault charges Monday against Robert Small, who had been led out of the Thursday night meeting in Towson by an off-duty police officer. Small interrupted education officials, complaining that new standards were aimed at sending children to community colleges…

After a lengthy presentation by [US Department of Education] officials, members of the public were asked to submit their questions in writing. Baltimore County School Superintendent Dallas Dance then selectively scanned the pile of questions and picked out ones to be read aloud…

The Ellicott City father of two wasn’t satisfied that his question would be answered so he stood and interrupted Dance. He said he believed the new standards would lower expectations for students and that teaching would be aimed at “getting students to community colleges rather than Harvard.”

Mr. Smalls was then arrested…silenced…denied his First Amendment Free Speech Rights and his right to redress his government.

Whether or not you agree with the Common Core initiative is irrelevant to the point I am trying to make here, although it should be noted that Common Core, in the form in which it is being implemented, is a dramatic over-reach of federal authority and a mere shadow of what the National Governor’s Association intended for it to be. Textbooks are being geared toward the suggested curriculum standards and Progressives are taking the opportunity to advance their agenda (read here and here) through these textbooks and curricula.

The larger point I am making here is that our government – in the form of those elected to serve the citizenry – has not only gotten too large and too dependent on bureaucrats and the bureaucratic process, but arrogantly totalitarian as well; totalitarian to the point of usurping the rights guaranteed in the US Constitution.

It cannot be denied that Baltimore County School Superintendent Dallas Dance picked non-inflammatory and Common Core sympathetic questions to feature from the pile of questions submitted. Only an intellectual midget would suggest otherwise. And while this is disingenuous at best, it pales in comparison to the panel’s use of force to silence a parent…a taxpayer…the very person who pays the salaries of each and every authoritarian who sits on the panel that silenced him.

Redress of government is a constitutional right, at every level. When a parent – a taxpaying parent and an engaged and educated parent – is denied his or her constitutional right to redress government at the most base level; when a concerned and informed parent is silenced from questioning the implementation of a program he or she feels denies their children a basic education, tyranny reigns. In the Baltimore County School System, tyranny reigns, supported by the oppression only afforded by an oligarchical and corrupt system.

Democrat strategist Pat Caddell opined on this issue saying,

“What we saw here is much bigger than just this. It is the idea that the people work for the…that people are the slaves to the officeholders. Superintendents of schools who won’t take questions…We see this sort of thing with security…We see it when the EPA goes to Alaska and raids with armed people and four agencies going in with guns on gold-mining operations in some little town. The things the government does now to oppress people, the laws we have now…the NSA spying on them…the fear…and imposing of a ‘soft despotism,’ which is, ‘if you get out of line will come get you’…”

Mr. Caddell’s frustration and – dare I say fear-based concern – was palpable, and rightly so.

Make no mistake, as government grows this “soft despotism” with expand, morphing into full-blown oppression: Free speech will be a concept recalled with longing as “hate speech” laws expand; Redress of government will become non-existent, those courageous enough to defend liberty and freedom sequestered for “threatening the government” and/or publicly ostracized to the point of demagoguery. We have witnessed the latter in the despotic treatment of the TEA Party by the mainstream media and Progressive Movement, conciliatory and vulnerable establishment Republicans in tow.

Mr. Smalls not only deserves better, he should bring legal action, not against the Baltimore Police Department, but directly against those who violated his constitutional rights.

The people of Baltimore County deserve better and they should demand that they receive better. But that can only be achieved through action; at the expense of time, treasure and station. The concerned citizens of Baltimore County should stage a recall of their Progressive school board members and then run for those positions themselves. Once elected, they can provide constitutionally conscious oversight of the day-to-day operations of the country school system, including curriculum and textbooks.

And finally, the people of the United States deserve better than the elitist, oligarchical, career-conscious, gaggle of political opportunists currently elected to office. A perfect litmus test for divining the opportunistic among this class is to juxtapose their campaign promises with their chamber votes. If someone ran on defunding, repealing and replacing Obamacare, but now provides politically opportune and cowardly excuses for not doing so, identify him or her as the elitist, political opportunist that he or she is and act accordingly.

Additionally, hold your no- and low-information family, friends and neighbors accountable for their abdication of responsibility to the community; their abdication of responsibility to be informed and engaged. Truth be told, if you are a citizen and you are not informed and engaged, then you are an intellectually lazy and societally narcissistic, willing to benefit from the diligence and hard work of someone else; expecting someone else to provide the oversight to government so sorely needed today. If you are a citizen and you are not informed and engaged then you are societally selfish and deserve neither the Natural Law rights bequeathed to you, nor the protections they afford. If you are a citizen and you are not informed and engaged then you are the problem.

Personally, I will not exist as a slave to an oligarchical government because 41.8% of the US voting population thinks that it’s not worth their time or that they are too good to do the hard work of keeping an eye on their government’s actions, size and willingness to oppress.

I stand with Mr. Smalls. I will not sit like “cattle” as elitist oligarchs destroy our country. How about you?