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Why our Schools are Failing — Part II

This is part two in a series of articles on the complex issues surrounding the national debate over the controversial Common Core.

To read Part I click here.

Our faulty, Common Core Standards

HOW THE STANDARDS WERE WRITTEN

Diane Ravich, education historian, wrote an excellent article in the Washington Post on her top reason for rejecting the Common Core standards.

“They were written in a manner that violates the nationally and international recognized process for writing standards. The process by which they were created was so fundamentally flawed that these “standards” should have no legitimacy.”

“…the process of setting standards must be transparent, must involve all interested parties, must not be dominated by a single interest, and must include a process for appeal and revision.

The Common Core standards were not developed in a transparent manner. The standard-setting and writing of the standards included a significant number of people from the testing industry, but did not include a significant number of experienced teachers, subject-matter experts, and other educators from the outset, nor did it engage other informed and concerned interests, such as early childhood educators and educators of children with disabilities. There was no consensus process.

The standards were written in 2009 and adopted in 2010 by 45 states and the District of Columbia as a condition of eligibility to compete for $4.3 billion in Race to the Top funding.

The process was dominated from start to finish by the Gates Foundation, which funded the standard-setting process. There was no process for appeal or revision, and there is still no process for appeal or revision.

WHO VALIDATED THE STANDARDS?

At the end of the process, standards experts such as Dr. Sandra Stotsky the creator of the Massachusetts Miracle ELA Standards, and Stanford Professor, James Milgram, the creator of the highly successful California math standards, were brought in to “validate” the standards and found them so wanting, that they refused to validate them.

Rather than addressing their concerns, the experts found their names redacted from the list. Letters and calls to the leader of the project, David Coleman, were unanswered, and their warnings ignored.

WHAT DO CHILD DEVELOPMENT AND MEDICAL EXPERTS SAY?

Common Core destroys the love of learning.

We hear now a continuing refrain that testing and teaching to the test result in reduced enthusiasm for school. Many parents are heard describing aberrant behavior. They claim their children used to love school, but now experience depression and even physical symptoms such as headaches, throwing up, and angry outbursts. This article explains how the standards themselves produce this result: http://www.educationviews.org/child-clinical-psychologist-common-core-harmful-to-children-dr-megan-koschnick-compiled-by-donna-garner-9-19-13/

This video of testimony by Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Megan Koschnick explains:

  • They will lead to inappropriate standardized testing. Current state standards for young children have led to the heavy use of standardized tests in kindergarten and the lower grades,despite their unreliability for assessing children under age eight. The proposed core standards will intensify inappropriate testing in place of broader observational assessments that better serve young children’s needs.
  • Didactic instruction and testing will crowd out other important areas of learning. Young children’s learning must go beyond literacy and math. They need to learn about families and communities, to take on challenges, and to develop social, emotional, problem-solving, self-regulation, and perspective-taking skills. Overuse of didactic instruction and testing cuts off children’s initiative, curiosity, and imagination, limiting their later engagement in school and the workplace, not to mention responsible citizenship. And it interferes with the growth of healthy bodies and essential sensory and motor skills—all best developed through playful and active hands-on learning.
  • There is little evidence that such standards for young children lead to later success. While an
    introduction to books in early childhood is vital, research on the links between the intensive teaching of discrete reading skills in kindergarten and later success is inconclusive at best. Many of the countries with top-performing high-school students do not begin formal schooling until age six or seven. We must test these ideas more thoroughly before establishing nationwide policies and practices.

We therefore call on the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to suspend their current drafting of standards for children in kindergarten through grade three.”

CAN WE CHANGE THE STANDARDS?

Advocates claim they are “voluntary.”

Using the philosophy of the White House, “we should never let a crisis go to waste!” The collapse of the economy in 2008-2009 caused just such an opportunity to coerce states to adopt national education standards. The Race to the Top competition money came, but with strings attached. It required that states sign on to the Common Core Standards before Common Core Standards were available for review. They had to buy a “pig in a poke” which was described as “internationally benchmarked” and “rigorous” though neither of these claims proved true.

Worse yet, those standards were copyrighted by two unaccountable lobbying groups, and could not be changed. Yes, the contract said the states could add up to 15% more standards, but those additional standards would not be tested.

AND WHAT IF THEY CAUSE DAMAGE?

Who is responsible?

“NGA (National Governor’s Association) Center/CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers) shall be acknowledged as the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards, and no claims to the contrary shall be made.”

Representations, Warranties and Disclaimer:

THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS ARE PROVIDED AS-IS AND WITH ALL FAULTS, AND NGA CENTER/CCSSO MAKE NO REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS, IMPLIED, STATUTORY OR OTHERWISE, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, WARRANTIES OF TITLE, MERCHANTIBILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, NONINFRINGEMENT, ACCURACY, OR THE PRESENCE OR ABSENCE OF ERRORS, WHETHER OR NOT DISCOVERABLE.

Limitation on Liability:

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHALL NGA CENTER OR CCSSO, INDIVIDUALLY OR JOINTLY, BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, CONSEQUENTIAL, OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY LEGAL THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER FOR CONTRACT, TORT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR A COMBINATION THEREOF (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH RISK AND POTENTIAL DAMAGE. WITHOUT LIMITING THE FOREGOING, LICENSEE WAIVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK LEGAL REDRESS AGAINST, AND RELEASES FROM ALL LIABILITY AND COVENANTS NOT TO SUE, NGA CENTER AND CCSSO.

There was so much concern when problems with the standards arose, you often heard educators and proponents say, “the roll-out was flawed,” or the “implementation was bad.” Grassroots activists demanded reform, and some states pretended to give it to them, including Florida, where the name was changed to the “Florida Standards” when less than 1% was added to the standards and would still not be part of the testing. Books labeled Common Core were still being used, and High Stakes Tests still were designed to Common Core Standards.

When Oklahoma finally passed legislation to end Common Core Standards in their state, the Obama Administration sued them and denied federal funds: . http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2014/08/28/obama-administration-punishes-oklahoma-for-repealing-common-core-standards/

So much for being “voluntary,” or “state-led.”

Oklahoma won this battle and funding was restored.

ARE COMMON CORE STANDARDS EVEN LEGAL?

So if Common Core standards were not voluntary or state-led, what legal authority does the Federal Government have in any aspect of education? After all, the United States Constitution reserves this authority to the “States and to the People.”

Additionally, there are three specific laws that prevent federal involvement:

“the General Education Provisions Act, the Department of Education Organization Act, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), ban the Department from directing, supervising, or controlling elementary and secondary school curriculum, programs of instruction, and instructional materials.”

SO WHAT CAN WE DO TO REGAIN LOCAL CONTROL?

Oklahoma legislators stood strong against threats and coercion of the Federal bullies. They defeated their illegal intrusion. Activist, Jenny White, who was one of the leaders of the movement, wrote this letter about the methods and experience.

She demonstrated that moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, and concerned citizens can win.

Nullification is a means by which unconstitutional laws can be removed. The logic is that the Constitution is the foundation of our laws. When governments write laws that conflict with the Constitution, they are null and void, but it is the responsibility of courts to determine this.

The Cato Institute agrees that states can nullify illegal Federal Laws, but only if the courts agree that, indeed, the federal law is unconstitutional, as it did in the case of Oklahoma.

Now that we have a precedent, let’s get going and find local leaders, school boards and legislators who will stand with our children and our future and reject the Unconstitutional, illegal, unworkable, and unaffordable Common Core.

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