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Common Core is Creeping into Everything

Common Core is spreading like a plague.  It’s entering pre-school, college, downloaded lesson plans, and even vacation Bible school.  And it’s disguised in the Orwellian Every Child Achieves Act, which is now in committee.

Toddler Common Core

In Connecticut, preschools have adopted Common Core for children ages 3 to 5.  According to the Bristol Press, the curriculum used by the Bristol Early Childhood Center has changed to meet the expectations of the new Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards.  The new curriculum ostensibly covers pre-academic skills, which according to the course description, will “foster development of social, emotional, physical, language, [and] cognitive areas and integrate key areas of content including literacy, mathematics, science, technology, creative expression and the arts, health and safety, and social studies.”  That sounds more “academic” than “pre” to me.  (But for our Department of Education no function is beyond its purview, including teaching parents how to “’bridge the word gap’” for newborns.  Now 24/7 government boarding schools have been put on the table by Arne Duncan.)

Studying the Bible the Common Core Way

When I heard about vacation Bible schools making their Bible story readings Common Core compliant I thought that maybe some ill-informed and well-intentioned teachers thought they could keep students up on their schoolwork.  But the Courier Journal reports that Jefferson County Public Schools have been offering Common Core training to “interested Vacation Bible School providers.” This, however, came after “enlisting the religious groups to help combat the ‘summer slide’” (emphasis added).  The teachers have imbibed the public school lessons: Olivia Hanley of Midwest Church of Christ, oddly, approved of the Common Core method of “critical thinking” for Bible study.  More than 30 Louisville-area church officials attended training this year, more than had attended last year.  No doubt, efforts to expand reach are underway.  My question is: how much of the public school funds went into recruiting and training Bible school teachers?  And why are public school employees going to churches as part of their official duty?  What gives them the authority?  Surely, there must be someone out there who otherwise would scream “separation of church and state!” (say, for putting a Christmas tree in a school auditorium) who might be interested in this matter.

Common Core in Downloaded Curriculum Material

Common Core, even without such outreach efforts, is creeping into schools in non-Common Core states, as Education Week reports. They estimate that 1 in 12 of the teachers downloading Common Core-compliant curriculum materials are in states that do not have Common Core in place.  That means that at least some Common Core teaching is going on in non-Common Core states.  Of course, when most states adopt Common Core it stands to reason that most of the curricula produced (including textbooks) will be Common Core-compliant.

Common Core College

As I wrote last fall, Common Core is in college.  According to the 2013 National Center for Postsecondary Research working paper, The Common Core State Standards: Implications for Community Colleges and Student Preparedness for College, over 900 public and private colleges and universities have committed to using Common Core tests for placement. Therefore, they have committed to changing their standards to Common Core.  This year, three higher education groups issued a joint statement asserting their “Commitment to College- and Career-Ready Standards and Assessments.”  They pledged not only to support Common Core in K-12, but to “change practices in our higher education institutions. . . . includ[ing] adapting our placement policies.”  They will also prepare new teachers and assist veteran teachers “in the delivery of high-quality instruction supporting these higher standards.”  They pledge, in other words, to allow the U.S. Department of Education to give professors directives on how to teach.  Even better, they pledge to train the professors for the Department.

Common Core Hiding in the Every Child Achieves Act

All kinds of creepy Common Core things are embedded in the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), which is really a “rewrite” of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), according to Dr. Karen R. Effrem of Education Liberty Watch. The ESEA is more commonly known as Title I, the program under which low-income school districts receive federal funds.  It is loved by state bureaucrats because it means more money for their districts, as one of them revealed at a meeting I went to in 2014.

But while Common Core is popular enough to make its way into vacation Bible schools, politicians know it’s toxic.  So they disguise it.  American Principles in Action calls the Act “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” and offers 21 reasons to oppose the 792-page bill (122 pages longer than the NCLB bill).

Even though new language seems to restrict the Department of Education from “for example, coercing states into adopting the Common Core national standards,” the “protection” is meaningless.  The language replicates existing protections, both of which have no enforcement mechanism for the states.  And, “ECAA negates the protections anyway” because states must be aligned to the “college-and-career-ready” standards – “code” for Common Core.

Such “college-and-career-ready” standards that override state and college standards for placement in credit-bearing courses also put downward pressure on states to keep Common Core, or similar standards, in place.

ECAA mandates that 95 percent of students take the state assessments and therefore interferes with parental “opt-out” rights for testing.  These state assessments, in addition to NCLB’s requirement that states produce “individual student interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports,” require assessments on “behavioral/skills-based standards.”  It does not protect against the plans to probe students’ “‘mindsets,’ ‘grit,’ or other psychological traits.”  In fact, it offers incentives to states to do that.  The I-TECH provision offers “free” money to states that agree to use “personalized learning” — or Brave New World technology that collects personal and psychological data on students as they use it.

Jane Robbins, Senior Fellow at the American Principles Project, says, “The main problem, to me, is that the bill claims to be diminishing federal authority when in fact its structure is highly prescriptive and tells states exactly what they must do in terms of standards, assessments, and accountability systems. So it’s not just bad policy, it’s active deceit.”

An analysis of amendments and votes is available at Education Liberty Watch.  To see how you can fight this bill visit American Principles in Action here.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research website.

Arizona: Criticize Common Core and Dept. of Ed. Official Might Call You a “F***tard”

In September 2013, the Arizona Daily Star noted that then-Governor Jan Brewer “ordered state agencies to stop using the term ‘Common Core’ when referring to the new education standards, in response to hostility from critics over what they see as a federal intrusion.”

The Daily Star article continues:

In an executive order, the governor said she was “reaffirming Arizona’s right to set education policy.” Her order spells out “no standards or curriculum shall be imposed on Arizona by the federal government.”

But it concedes the standards adopted by the state Board of Education in 2010 already are being implemented. And Brewer herself referred to them as Common Core in her State of the State speech and her budget request to the Legislature.

Press aide Andrew Wilder said the order changes nothing except the name, which going forward will be “Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards.’’

Brewer’s decision was arguably a sleight-o-name intended to fool the Arizona public into accepting Common Core.

Still, there were critics in Arizona, vocal critics like teacher Brad McQueen.

If anyone insists that Common Core is not politically loaded, send that person this June 2014 story out of Arizona:

By Brad McQueen

Ever wonder why more public classroom teachers don’t speak out against the Common Core and their Superintendents of Instruction and Governors who support it?

I am a Tucson teacher who wrote my first anti-Common Core op-ed this past February in the Arizona Daily Independent and it was subsequently reprinted by other online news sources. I followed up the publication of the op-ed with an interview on a local radio station. This was the reaction of the Arizona Department of Education bureaucrats in emails recently obtained by the Arizona Daily Independent:

_____________________________________

EMAIL #1:

From: Hrabluk, Kathy (Associate Superintendent)
Sent: Friday, February 28, 2014 2:37 PM
Subject: AZCCRS (Common Core) criticism

Fyi regarding a teacher named Brad McQueen. He is on a roll criticizing AZCCRS (Common Core)… he also has an article in the Capitol Times (2-27- 14) stating many misconceptions that has been floating around. Just thought you might want to check your list of teacher teams (from which teachers are selected to work on tests at the Dept of Education). He is one unhappy camper.

_____________________________________

EMAIL #2

From: Hunting, Irene (Deputy Associate Superintendent Assessments)
Subject: RE: AZCCRS (Common Core) criticism

Thank you. We have made a note in his record.

Irene Hunting

________________________________________

Irene Hunting, Deputy Associate Superintendent of Assessments, instantly “notes” my file to make sure I am never called again to work on tests at the AZ Department of Education. I have worked on our state’s standardized test, the AIMS test, and other assessments for the last five years for several weeks over each summer break. Not only do I enjoy the challenging work and I enjoy contributing toward creating our students’ tests, but the summer work has always supplemented my teacher salary. But when you speak out against the cult of Common Core, they are punitive. Sarah Gardner, AZ Director of PARCC Assessments, joins the conversation and also makes sure that I will never work on tests again at the AZ Department of Education or anywhere else for that matter.

________________________________________

EMAIL #3

From: Gardner, Sarah <Sarah.Gardner@azed.gov
Sent: Monday, March 03, 2014 1:46 PM
To: Stephanie Snyder (PARCC,Inc.)
Subject: RE: question

Given that Brad McQueen gave a negative statement to the press about Common Core and assessment, you may want to remove him from the invitation list…

This was such a surprise for Arizona as Brad has been on many committees, both for our state assessment as well as involved with Common Core and formative assessment based on CC (Common Core) for our state

Let’s make sure he is not going to Denver later this month. Please remove Brad McQueen from the list.

Sarah Gardner, MAEd-C/T
Director of PARCC and Innovative Assessments
ADE – Assessment Section (602) 542-7856________________________________________

Angela Escobar then sends the following email, on taxpayer-paid time, after discovering that I had gone public with my anti-Common Core views during a radio interview:

________________________________________

EMAIL #4
From: Escobar, Angela (AZ Dept of Education)
Sent: Friday, February 28, 2014 2:44 PM
Subject:Brad McQueen is on the radio

What a f*cktard.

Angela

Lovely. and that as coming from a department of education official.

Notice that the education officials still refer to the supposed “Arizona” standards as what they really are: Common Core. And Common Core can have no criticism because that makes CC marketing more complicated.

For the rest of Brad’s story, click here.

In March 2015, the Associated Press (AP) reported that legislation concerning the repeal of Common Core was defeated in the Arizona Senate 16-13 after making it through the Arizona House.

Arizona still has Common Core, and at least the 2015 legislation was willing to call it by its true name.

According to the AP, current Arizona Governor Doug Ducey doesn’t think repeal is “necessary” because he has asked the board of education for a standards review.

If Arizona’s standards review entails altering Common Core, then it is arguably no longer Common Core.

If.

I wonder if Escobar will be available to encourage those participating in Arizona’s Common Core standards review to keep CC exactly as is under threat of being called f***tards. Perhaps not. In July 2014, Escobar had her hand slapped for her slurring McQueen.

Common Core lesson learned?

Shaking my head….

Thomas More Law Center Continues To Fight Against Common Core

TMLC Logo(1)Continuing its national battle against the federal government’s attempted takeover of public education, the Thomas More Law Center, last week, filed a friend of the court brief in the Missouri Court of Appeals supporting a lower court decision that held the State’s participation and membership in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (“SBAC”) is illegal and SBAC itself is an “unlawful interstate compact … whose existence and operation violate[s] the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”

The lower court ruling which stopped Missouri from paying over $4 million in membership fees to SBAC, is being appealed by Missouri state officials, including Governor Jay Nixon.

The original lawsuit was filed by D. John Sauer of the St. Louis, Missouri, firm Clark & Sauer, LLC in September 2014 on behalf of concerned Missouri residents and taxpayers.

The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, joined with Mr. Sauer in filing a similar lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of SBAC in North Dakota. A North Dakota District Judge will hear arguments next week on whether he should stop North Dakota from participating in SBAC.

The TMLC first became involved in the fight to stop Common Core in response to concerns of parents and teachers over the federal government’s control of curriculum nationwide and the standards themselves. As a result, the TMLC previously developed a Test Refusal and Student Privacy Protection Form and a Common Core Resource Page as a general reference and guide for concerned parents and individuals.

Both SBAC and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (“PARCC”) were created in response to a federal Department of Education grant program designed to create academic assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The assessments leave local schools little choice but to align their curriculum to the standards and assessment, allowing the federal Department of Education to effectively control public education.

SBAC’s state membership agreements, executed by officials in Missouri, North Dakota, and several other states, have raised concerns that state officials are handing over local educational decisions to SBAC, and by extension the federal government which violates federal statutes prohibiting the federal government—and, in particular, the federal Department of Education—from controlling educational policy, including curriculum decisions and educational-assessment programs in elementary and secondary education.

The new wave of testing ushered in by SBAC and PARCC sparked a national opt-out movement as students, teachers and administrators grapple with the heavy burden created by these assessments. The looming threat from the Department of Education of the loss of federal funding helped drive the controversy between parents and school administrators over parental opt-outs and test refusal. As a result of these parental opt outs, students across the country were  formally disciplines and subjected to “sit-and-stare” policies; refused admittance to the classroom; lost honors, class trips, and athletic participation; and were even suspended.

 Click here to read the Law Center’s friend of the Court Brief

New York Algebra Teacher Writes Parents about the “Serious Disservice” of Common Core Tests

The following text is from an email that New York parent Scott Strong received from his twins’ eighth-grade teacher. It concerns the Pearson-crafted, allegedly Common-Core-aligned algebra exam administered in New York in 2015.

(New York continues to be listed as a “PARCC state,” but New York has not yet administered the Pearson-PARCC exams.)

In the text, the teacher refers to the New York Board of Regents conversion of raw scores to scaled scores. That conversion can be found here: Regents 2015 Algebra Exam Scoring Chart. The test itself had a possible raw score of 86 points, which Regents “curved” to a 100-point scale. But the Regents curve has problems– and it is only one issue that makes this algebra test educational nonsense.

Read on.

Dear Algebra Parents, 

The results from this year’s Common Core Algebra exam are now available and have been posted on the high school gymnasium doors. They are listed by student ID number and have no names attached to them. The list includes all students who took the exam, whether they were middle school students or high school students.  

I’ve been teaching math for 13 years now. Every one of those years I have taught some version of Algebra, whether it was “Math A”, “Integrated Algebra”, “Common Core Algebra”, or whatever other form it has shown up in. After grading this exam, speaking to colleagues who teach math in other school districts, and reflecting upon the exam itself, I have come to the conclusion that this was the toughest Algebra exam I have ever seen.

With that in mind, please know that all 31 middle school students who took the exam received a passing score. No matter what grade your son or daughter received, every student should be congratulated on the effort they put into the class this year. 

Although everyone passed, many of you will not be happy with the grade that your son or daughter received on the exam (and neither will they). While I usually try to keep the politics of this job out of my communications, I cannot, in good conscience, ignore the two-fold tragedy that unfolded on this exam. As a parent, you deserve to know the truth.

I mentioned how challenging this exam was, but I want you to hear why I feel this way.

Let’s start with question #24, which was a multiple choice problem. 30/31 of my students missed this problem. Why? Because it was a compound inequality question, which is neither in our curriculum nor is it found anywhere in the modules. As a matter of fact, this is a topic that was previously taught in Trigonometry.

Or how about #28, the open response question that required students to subtract two trinomials, then multiply by a fractional monomial? While that may sound like Greek to some of you, what it means is that there were several steps involved, and any slight miscalculation on any step would result in a one-point deduction on a problem that was only worth two points in total. 

Additionally, the only 6-point problem on the test was a graph that used an equation so ridiculous that it didn’t even fit well on a graphing calculator. The list of examples like this goes on and on.

Additionally, students were met with the toughest curve I’ve ever seen on a Regents exam as well. Typically you think of a curve as something that will add a few points onto every student’s exam to account for the difficulty level of that exam. All Regents exams have some version of a curve or another, and while this curve did help the lower-performing students, it also HURT the highest-performing students. For example, a student that knew 94% of the exam received a grade of 93. A student that knew 86% of the exam received an 84. When you look at the class as a whole, only two students met the “85 or above” that they were striving for all year long.

As if that isn’t alarming enough, let’s look at the difference between a grade of a 70 and a grade of a 75. You may look at those two and think that they are just five points apart, right? Well the way the scale works, a student who knew just 47% of the material got a grade of a 70, while a student who knew 71% of the material got a 75. Therefore, a student who got the 75 may have actually gotten almost 25% more of the exam correct than the student who got the 70! This creates one of the worst bell curves I have ever seen. 

Now let’s put that into perspective. The old-style (Integrated) Algebra exam was also given this year to a small subgroup of students. None of the middle school students were eligible to take this exam. However, were I to apply the curve that was assigned to that exam (which was a MUCH easier exam), a student who knew 78% of the exam would be given a grade of an 85. All in all, over half of the class would have gotten an 85 or above had that scale been used instead!

Let me sum up what the last three paragraphs really say: the exam did a serious disservice to your child and will be reflected in their grade. It’s not a fair representation of what students knew, what they did all year, or what they were capable of. There is nothing that your son or daughter could have done to have been better prepared for this exam. Words cannot describe what an injustice this truly is to your child.

So instead of just sitting back and accepting it for what it is, I’d like to offer you the best that I have. I’m willing, I’m ready, and I will be running review sessions free of charge this summer prior to the August administration of the Common Core Algebra Regents. This will be open to any student who wishes to retake the exam. We will take a look at every question that students missed on their individual test and talk about why they missed them, in addition to reviewing topics from the school year. We will also take a look at some of the wording that showed up on the exam for the first time that likely threw off many students. It’s the least I can do for students that worked so hard during the year. They should not be penalized for the state’s ridiculous examination.

I know that this has been an extremely long email, but I hope you understand the importance of what I had to say and that you can be proud of your son or daughter no matter what grade they received. Although I had promised that this would be my last email to you, expect one more with information about tutoring and the date of the August administration of the Regents. Thank you for listening.

Sincerely, 

NMS Math Teacher

Somehow, all of this is supposed to guarantee that America win a contrived “global competitiveness” contest.

My heart goes out to you, New York teachers, parents, and students.

2+2=5

FLORIDA: Luz Gonzalez New State Coordinator for Parents Against Common Core

Miami-Dade, FL – Today Florida Parents Against Common Core announced Luz de los Angeles Gonzalez as the new State Coordinator for the largest anti-Common Core parent group in Florida. The group began three years ago with four moms and became an explosive statewide anti-Common Core movement encompasses activists in all 67 counties in the state. Ms. Gonzalez has been working as Florida Parents Against Common Core – Southeast Coordinator since October of 2014.

Ms. Gonzalez says her first mission as State Coordinator will be to ignite forces with other anti-Common Core leaders and groups from across the state in hopes of rallying activists, in collaboration with Florida Parents, prior to the 2016 presidential primary. She says, “The group’s continued focus will keep sight on implementing effective education reform that sets policy for state and local control of education by assuring Washington D.C.’s long distance government coercive and grinding bureaucracy is out of Florida’s classrooms.” Acknowledging that education expenditures in Florida are approximately one-fifth of the state budget, Florida Parents Against Common Core is looking forward to the ongoing and needed conversation on education. Ms. Gonzalez is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University with a BA in Political Science. She is currently a resident of Miami, FL, where she continues her love of education by tutoring students from middle-school to freshman in college in the subject matters of English Language Arts, Civics, and History. She additionally devotes much of her time to increasing school choice opportunities, and has in the past served as Miami Dade County (with the 4th largest school district in the country) National School Choice Week Representative. Consistent with Ms. Gonzalez’s philosophy of putting students, parents, teachers, and families first, she has challenged and will continue to vehemently oppose the State of Florida’s implementation of Common Core State Standards.

Original founding member and outgoing State Coordinator Laura Zorc says “The decision to step down was not easy but with Luz’s background in education and political science, her experience proved to be a dynamic addition to the group while serving as our South East Coordinator and this is an exciting next step.” “Luz has a gift of connecting with parents and with her zeal, passion, and commitment, I am very comfortable with my decision and without a doubt I know she will hit the ground running in her new leadership role”.

Ms. Zorc, the mother of four from Vero Beach, continues by saying “Over the last three years I have been traveling the state and country educating parents, groups, and legislatures about the ills of Common Core.” “With three elementary school age children it’s time to bring my traveling down a notch.” In closing Zorc says, “I intend on remaining involved with education on a state and local level and will not be going away but rather shifting my focus towards efforts closer to home.”

Lawsuit Challenges the Constitutionality of Common Core in North Dakota

Responding to the concerns of parents and teachers over the Common Core State Standards and the Federal government’s control of curriculum nationwide, the Thomas More Law Center announced today that it has joined in filing a lawsuit against North Dakota’s governor, state superintendent and other state officials.  The lawsuit claims that North Dakota’s participation in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (“SBAC”) and its implementation of Common Core is unconstitutional and violates several federal laws that prohibit federal control of our public schools and their curriculum.

Lawsuit by the Thomas More Law Center Challenges the Constitutionality of Common Core in North Dakota

The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, teamed-up with attorney D. John Sauer of the St Louis, MO firm, Clark & Sauer, to file the lawsuit. This lawsuit follows Sauer’s success in stopping Missouri’s membership in SBAC on similar grounds.  Bismarck, ND Attorney, Arnold Fleck, has agreed to assist in the lawsuit as local counsel.

Plaintiffs in the case, who are all North Dakota residents and state taxpayers, include: Steve Cates, Catherine Cartier, Charles Cartier, and Robert Skarphol, who is also an elected member of the North Dakota House of Representatives.

The Compact Clause of the United States Constitution provides that “[n]o state shall, without the consent of Congress . . . enter into any agreement or compact with another state.” As the Smarter Balanced Consortium is an interstate compact which Congress did not authorize, its existence is a violation of the Constitution. Accordingly, North Dakota’s membership in the Consortium and membership fee payments of over a half million dollars per year, equate to participation in and funding of an illegal entity.

 In addition to violations of the Compact Clause, SBAC also violates laws enacted by Congress.  For nearly fifty years, federal statutes have prohibited the Federal Government—and, in particular, the federal Department of Education—from controlling educational policy, including curriculum decisions and educational-assessment programs in elementary and secondary education.

Although an increasing number of governors and state legislatures have expressed reservations about Common Core, a majority of states still belong to either SBAC or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (“PARCC”), both directed by the Federal Government.

North Dakota’s agreement to participate in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium leaves North Dakota schools little choice but to align their curriculum to meet the imposed national standards and assessments, allowing the federal Department of Education to effectively control public education in North Dakota.

Click here to read the full complaint

Moreover, mounting criticism by parents, teachers, and a growing number of political leaders, has prompted SBAC, PARCC and the federal Department of Education to make it difficult to withdraw from participation in a testing Consortium and statewide testing by threatening increased restrictions and loss of federal funding. The threat of loss of federal funding helped drive a growing controversy between parents and school administrators over parental opt-outs and test refusal.

Across the country, many parents, after often drawn-out battles, still saw their children subjected to “sit-and-stare” policies; suspensions; loss of honors, class trips, and athletic participation; or refused admittance to the classroom as a result of the opt-out. “Sit-and-stare” is a practice of certain school districts forbidding students who opt-out of testing from working on any schoolwork during testing hours and requiring that the students do nothing and possess no materials.  The students must sit in total silence and do nothing while the testing takes place.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, commented on the federalized control of public education: “States have surrendered their sovereignty over public education in exchange for federal dollars.  Membership in SBAC requires the adoption of Common Core; and as the standards are Common Core and the exams are Common Core, so the local curriculum must also be Common Core.”

The testing associated with Common Core and created by SBAC, and its companion consortium PARCC, remains one of the most contentious issues between parents and educators. The tests have been heavily criticized for issues ranging from their lack of validity and transparency to appropriateness and data collection, as well as the amount of stress they inflict upon students and teachers.

 The new wave of testing ushered in by SBAC and PARCC has sparked a national opt-out movement as students, teachers and administrators grapple with the heavy burden created by these assessments. As schools and teachers are evaluated based on these exams, the exam is increasingly becoming the only curriculum.

As a result, the Thomas More Law Center previously developed a Test Refusal and Student Privacy Protection Form and a Common Core Resource Page as a general reference and guide for concerned parents and individuals.

In a nutshell, SBAC’s existence, purpose, function, activities, governance, and manner of operation violates the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution, and federal statutes guaranteeing state and local control of curriculum, programs of instruction, and related matters in public schools.

Transforming Education Beyond Common Core: Crony Capitalists Promote Gaming in the Classroom

It is true: the technology can offer promising results in many applications, for example in medicine or flight simulation. But the overall thrust was that games provide advantages in “cultivating dispositions” – games for “social change,” as the name of the group and festival indicates. As for such subjects as history, one wonders: can we really go back in history, or just the history that the game designer decides to create for us?

The Games for Learning Summit, part of the four-day Games for Change Festival, began with opening remarks by Richard Culatta, director of the Office of Education Technology at the U.S. Department of Education, and then by industry representatives.

This event came two weeks after the annual ASU+GSV Summit (Arizona State University and GSV capital investment firm) in Arizona.  Arne Duncan himself addressed the 2,000-strong meeting of investors and technology start-up companies.

In New York City, the Games for Learning keynote speaker, Michael Gallagher, President and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the trade association representing U.S. computer and video game publishers, acknowledged the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation, and the sponsorship of Glass Labs (Games, Learning, and Assessment Lab, which ESA co-founded).  According to the company bio, since Gallagher joined the organization in 2007, “ESA has heightened awareness and appreciation of the value of video games as next-generation teaching tools.”

The site also reveals the intricate connections between profit and nonprofit organizations and government.  ESA’s spin-off, Glass Labs, boasts “a ground-breaking collaboration among ESA, Institute of Play, Electronic Arts, Educational Testing Service [producers of AP and SAT tests], Pearson’s [the multi-billion dollar international textbook publisher], Center for Digital Data, Analytics & Adaptive Learning as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation – to research and develop game-based learning and assessment tools.”

Gallagher heralded the industry’s progress, as evidenced by 5,000 teachers using “[Common] Core curriculum-compliant games,” in over 10 million learning sessions.  The technology will create the “workforce of tomorrow,” as kids, naturally drawn to video games, will be even more so as they learn about the $100,000 wages.  The eight-billion-dollar textbook industry is sure to grow, as books are adapted to the game format.

After his speech, Gallagher took questions with Rafranz Davis, an “instructional technologist and educator.”  Davis attested to the wonders of gaming, and to those who might feel threatened said it is “our responsibility to change how we teach.”  Teachers are “saying” that games are a better assessment tool than multiple choice questions.  She suggested letting students be “advocates” to overcome parental resistance.

A question about the lack of evidence for claims of educational attainment was met by Davis’s testimony about learning about football by playing the game Madden with her 15-year-old son.  Gallagher disputed the negative claim, although he did not go into any detail.

When a concern was expressed about supporting students of color, Gallagher replied that the industry-aligned ESA foundation awards 30 scholarships a year for young women and minorities, supports making games for “social purposes,” and gives challenge grants to teachers doing “pioneering things.”

Another keynote speaker, Jesse Schell, CEO of Schell Games and professor of entertainment technology at Carnegie Mellon University, then looked to the future, 2025, which is “coming at us faster and faster.”  Although the marketplace for educational games is terrible, game sales for preschool and SAT preparation are “vibrant,” as parents seek to ensure children’s readiness for school and college.  He suggested developing teacher networks in the manner of music social networks to provide a way for teachers to buy games.  Gaming’s advantages include immediate feedback on homework and better assessments as teachers become empowered as “dungeon masters,” able to see which student is falling behind.

On Day Two, Gallagher continued his pitch, even though the official collaboration with the Department of Education was over.  He noted that ESA represents 146,000 employees of an industry that has been growing at four times the rate of the U.S. economy.  Located in Washington, D.C., ESA has access to policy leaders and opinion makers, such as Debbie Wasserman-Schulz.  He encouraged audience members to apply for grants for “social impact” from ESA’s non-profit.

This invitation for grant applications came on the heels of the first day’s to apply to the Small Business Innovation Program at www.tech.ed.gov-developers.  For such things as demonstration prototypes, attendees were directed to www.edprizes.com, a Department of Education site that offers a sign-up form for announcements about competitions for prizes for helping students compete in the “global economy.”

One of the reasons for the widespread opposition to Common Core has been the cost of buying new Common Core-aligned textbooks.  But the speakers enthused about replacing textbooks with games, and not only to teach such subjects as science, but also history and civics.  Games would “transform” education, taking the idea of “flipped classrooms,” where students watch videos at home and do homework in class, to a whole new level.  Virtual reality and augmented reality would produce amazing results.

It is true: the technology can offer promising results in many applications, for example in medicine or flight simulation.  But the overall thrust was that games provide advantages in “cultivating dispositions” – games for “social change,” as the name of the group and festival indicates.  As for such subjects as history, one wonders: can we really go back in history, or just the history that the game designer decides to create for us?  As proponents discuss taking “textbook educational content media” to the next level of “interdependent simulation,” one wonders about students’ reading skills and abilities to contemplate and think independently.  Proponents, insist on the value of such technology-based learning even though the one controlled study by Kaplan showed that videos were less effective than text-based problems.

But there is money to be made in developing games for “social change.”  The kinds of lessons to be imparted through this interactive learning are scarier than the biased textbooks and teacher harangues we’ve become used to seeing in the news.  These lessons will be described in the next installment.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research website.

Transforming Education beyond Common Core: Getting the Word Out About “Gaming for Social Change”

The dangers of indoctrination become clearer when one considers the fact that the games being supported by the Department of Education focus on “social change.” Most of the presentations at the four-day Games for Change event involved lessons about tolerance of the Muslim “other,” global warming, sustainability, bullying, Native American culture, nuclear disarmament, and sexuality.

As recounted in my previous article, gaming, or the use of video games for classroom instruction, aligns with the goals of the current Department of Education and the Common Core initiative.  Gaming helps to overcome the “achievement gap” by enabling students to proceed at their own pace.  Poor readers have less need to improve their reading skills as they are given access to curricular materials through images and sound.

Abstract thought is replaced by presumed “real-world problems,” and proponents tout gaming as a way to give students experience in solving such problems.  Realistically, the problems are pretend problems, and students give pretend solutions.  There can hardly be an objective evaluation for a fourth-grader’s proposal for solving world hunger or global warming (the stuff of lessons these days).  Instead of measuring a student’s knowledge of the subject matter, points are given for such things as “creativity” and “critical thinking.”  Such subjective criteria give teachers greater leeway in evaluating students and closing the achievement gap.

But through constant auditory and visual stimulation, gaming stymies independent thought.  The constant noise and moving images make it impossible to reflect in the way one can with books.  Thus, gaming allows even greater opportunities for indoctrination.

The dangers of indoctrination become clearer when one considers the fact that the games being supported by the Department focus on “social change.”

Such common sense observations are supported by the facts: the research does not show that gaming has a positive effect on learning.  The lack of credible research, of course, has had no bearing on the Department of Education’s push for the increased use of “digital learning.”  For years now the Department has been doling out grants to game developers to teach everything from math and science, to social and emotional intelligence, to ethics, and history.

This year it took the step of co-sponsoring the “Games for Change” festival in New York.  This first-day session, attended by Department of Education representatives, was called “Games for Learning.”  The theme of gaming in the classroom continued, though, into the following days, when government employees continued to participate.  At the event, developers were invited to apply for grants from non-profit arms of technology companies and associations, as well as from the U.S. government.

The Department of Education also used its resources to promote the event.  An announcement was made by Chad Sansing, who “teaches technology and project-based learning at the BETA Academy in Staunton, Virginia,” and Antero Garcia, a “Teaching Ambassador Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education” and Assistant Professor at Colorado State University, at medium.com, where Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had promoted the event himself.  Sansing and Garcia announced that The U.S. Department of Education and Games for Change, “with support from the Entertainment Software Association,” would be hosting “the Games for Learning Summit April 21 at the 2015 Games for Change (G4C) Festival.” Expected participants (over 250) included “nationally recognized educators, the designers of some of today’s most popular video games, and members of the U.S. Department of Education.”

Sansing and Garcia recalled participating in the White House “Game Jam” with teams of game designers and some “amazing teachers” at the beginning of the school year.  Sansing’s game-design project, they claimed, demonstrated the benefits of game-based learning: “media literacy, soft skills like collaboration, and technical skills like managing an online repository of A/V assets, to say nothing of the logic, math, reading, and writing skills . . . in navigating tutorials, communicating online, and building . . .  games.”  They added excitedly, “Students even discussed gender norms in character design and traditional gaming narratives.”  They listed the same benefits of gaming as commonly ascribed to Common Core: “critical thinking, persistence, and problem-solving to master, critique, play, and make.”

Who participated in the event?  What kinds of skills were promoted?  Industry spokespeople, government officials, and game designers came together to discuss “partnering” with each other as they uncritically promoted the benefits of gaming. The partnering is much like the “partnering” that has been revealed in the production of Common Core curricula and assessment, the crony alliance between the U.S. Department of Education, technology companies, and their non-profit arms (that serve to advance sales of the for-profit companies).

In spite of Sansing and Garcia’s claim that games would teach “logic, math, reading, and writing skills” most of the presentations at the four-day event involved lessons about tolerance of the Muslim “other,” global warming, sustainability, bullying, Native American culture, nuclear disarmament, and sexuality.

The cronyism and disturbing indoctrination lessons will be discussed in following installments.

The Slow Death of Common Core

Think about the major policy undertakings of the Obama administration over the past six and a half years. It began with a “stimulus” that wasted trillions in the quest of generating jobs, but did little to nothing in achieving that goal. That was followed by ObamaCare which most agree has been a disaster for the nation’s healthcare sector and, finally, Common Core, a one-size-fits-all testing program intended, we were told, to improve learning standards in the nation’s schools. The only thing it has achieved is the opposition of parents, teachers unions, and entire states.

Heartland  - School Reform News (1)In the April edition of The Heartland Institute’s School Reform News, one could find headlines that included “Arizona House Votes to Repeal and Replace Common Core”, “Arizona House Votes to Repeal Common Core”, ”West Virginia House Passes Common Core Repeal Bill”, and “Ohio Bill Would Protect Students Opting Out of Common Core Tests.” In March, some 19 states had introduced legislation to either halt or replace Common Core. Do you see a trend here?

One trend of significance was noted in a commentary by Jason L. Riley in the May 6 edition of The Wall Street Journal. “The Soccer Mom Revolt Against Common Core” cited a national poll released by Fairleigh Dickinson University earlier this year that put “approval for the new standards at 17%, against 40% who disapproved and other 42% who were undecided. A breakdown by gender had Common Core support 22% for men and only 12% for women.”

Perhaps the greatest surprise among these numbers is that the nation’s largest teachers union, the National Educational Association, as Rob Bluey of the Heritage Foundation noted in February “is no longer a cheerleader for Common Core national education standards.” In a letter to the union’s three million members, its president, Dennis Van Roekel, took Common Core to task for its failure to even provide information for implementing it in their classrooms. The American Federation of Teachers had raised similar concerns nearly a year earlier!

Writing on September 2014, Joy Pullman, a Heartland Institute research fellow whose expertise is education held forth on the “Top Ten Things Parents Hate About Common Core.” Among them was “The senseless, infuriating math.” “If Common Core hadn’t deformed even the most elementary of our math abilities so that simple addition now takes dots, dashes, boxes, hashmarks, and foam cubes, plus an inordinate amount of time”, you are not going to get the right answer.

Parents in growing numbers have discovered, as Pullman notes, that “when they do go to their local school boards, often all they get are disgusted looks and a bored thumb-twiddling during their two-minute public comment allowance.” Pullman says, “The bottom line is, parents have no choice whether their kids will learn Common Core, no matter what school they put them in.” That, obviously, is changing as state after state pulls out of the Common Core program.

Cover - Crimes of the EducatorsIn a new book by Samuel Blumenfeld and Alex Newman, “Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children”, Blumenfeld points to “Growing levels of illiteracy, plunging international rankings, the decline of critical-thinking skills, mushrooming decadence, mass shootings, and companies that can’t find the skilled workers they need—these have become some of the atrocious hallmarks of U.S. public schools.”

“Common Core schemers are engaged in what can only be described as consumer fraud with monumental implications for education and the future of America.” The bottom line is that “the scheme was never field-tested before being foisted on America.”

There is no part of student’s education that Common Core does not impede or corrupt. In the area of science, Blumenfeld says “Instead of teaching children about science—real science—the standards will offer students a steady stream of controversial propaganda presented as unchallenged fact.” Regarding climate change “students will be required to learn that human activities are mostly to blame, even though this notion is disputed by countless scientists and a vast, growing body of actual scientific observational evidence.”

Closest to home are Common Core’s “National Sexuality Education Standards” aimed to begin the “sexualization of children in kindergarten” says Blumenfeld. “Is learning about ‘homosexual marriage’ before first grade in government schools really ‘age appropriate’ or necessary?” But it gets more radical “with graphic lessons promoting everything from masturbation and fornication to transgenderism and homosexuality.”

We shouldn’t be surprised at the backlash Common Core has received from both parents and teachers unions among others. Like the “stimulus” and ObamaCare, Common Core demonstrates a thorough lack of understanding of the values of individuality that have underwritten our nation’s free market economy, helped create a respected healthcare system, and which parents have expected the educational system to pass on to new generations.

Instead Common Core teaches collectivism—socialism—and degrades various elements of education from math to English to science.

It cannot be removed from our nation’s schools soon enough.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

The Logic of Testing  – Common Sense, NOT Common Core

Our Florida State and Federal legislators claim we must hold schools accountable for results so that they, the government, can cost justify the expense of education to the taxpayers.  Since 1985, they have increased their emphasis on testing, culminating in No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and Common Core.

Well, let’s see how that is working, exactly.  We have over 40 years of information shown on the CATO Institute chart showing the dramatic escalation of costs, while test scores have actually declined:

federal spending per student since 1970

Most logical people would conclude that increased spending on federal government programs has not been an effective tool to increase the effectiveness of our schools.  Logic is not all that common in government, however, and government programs don’t shut down just because they aren’t working.

This is especially evident in Florida, where testing now absorbs nearly 40% of class time available for learning, and billions of dollars are being spent on Florida State Assessments and Common Core.  These assessments are proprietary, however, and do not provide any comparison to other states; so much for accountability.

When actual, nationally normed tests are used to compare Florida’s students, year over year, to other states, we find the troubling truth.  The ACT is such a test and this how Florida’s students measure up over the last 20 years.  We are now a dismal 47th in the U.S.:

florida act scores

I attended our Lee County School Board meeting  where members were barraged with community complaints and tried to weigh options for the onerous burdens of the new bill, HB7069, recently signed into law by Governor Scott.   Similar discussions are being held at all school boards throughout the state.

The State bullies ignored the declining results reported by nationally normed ACT tests since 1998 and doubled down to erode accountability, reduce class time for learning, cede control to the state, dramatically increase cost, and endanger our children’s privacy rights.  They kept Common Core Curriculum and High Stakes Testing in place.

Let’s lay out the facts:

1.)    We don’t have the money to pay for schools to house our kids and yet the State wants us to build, maintain and update elaborate and expensive computer testing facilities.

2.)    The state wants us to pay about $34 per test for required state tests.

3.)    The tests are not validated and scores won’t be available until the middle of the next school year, yet the state wants them to be 30% of the student scores on end of course tests.  This means no report cards could be issued or decisions reached about student progress plans this year.

4.)    The FSA tests have disgracefully and repeatedly crashed, causing delays and confusion all over the state.  Starts and restarts themselves invalidate results.  Crashes were caused by the vendor, AIR, which was paid $220 Million to create and deliver this product.  No information has been presented from the state about recouping the millions of dollars schools lost in the crashes.

5.)    The tests will take about 9 days of student time if there was no conflict with sharing of computers.  Under current computer availability management, students are losing up to 40% of their class time to testing and delays.

6.)    We don’t see the test questions to see if they are appropriate or accurate and can’t use them to inform students.

7.)    Students taking tests on computers are being unfairly and inaccurately measured through the prism of their keyboarding skills, not their actual knowledge.

8.)    We know our children’s information is being data mined when they take tests on computers.

9.)    We have not been given any reason why tests must be given on computer.

10.)Pencil and paper tests are available to measure our students’ progress.

  1. They are MUCH less expensive
  2. They never crash
  3. It is difficult or impossible for the corporate cronies to data mine paper tests.
  4. Students can take them at their own desks without delays and confusion.
  5. Pencil and paper tests fairly represent the student’s knowledge, not their computer skills.
  6. Tests can be reviewed for accuracy and validity, and shared with teachers to inform instruction.

Given these facts it is clear.  Parents, teachers and local districts do not need the federal or state government to tell us how to educate our kids.  Our teachers are certified and the schools are accredited.  The STATE is NOT.  We need to restore local control by following this simple, “Common Sense, not Common Core” plan.

  1. Select from the best “off the shelf”standards which are available for free and not copyrighted
  2. Restore portfolio grading and eliminate high stakes tests
  3. Test on paper to reduce expense, eliminate data mining, and add back as much as 40% class time for learning

It’s a simple plan that will reduce bureaucracy, complexity, costs and inefficiency.  Tools to implement this are immediately available and are not copyrighted.  Our students will thrive in this environment and educational freedom will result in excellence.

Share this with your local school board now.

Transforming Education Beyond Common Core: Arne Duncan’s “Classroom of the Future”

Last month, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan described his “vision for the classroom of the future” in what he hoped would be the first of many posts on the site called Bright (at medium.com), which is funded by the New Venture Fund, a non-profit that supports public interest projects in education, global issues, public health, and other issues.

The classroom of the future, wrote Duncan, would involve the “digital revolution,” as he presented reasons quasi-syllogistically: “In the United States, education is meant to be the great equalizer.  Technology has the potential to bridge gaps for those who have the least.  Simply put, technology can be a powerful tool for equality as well.”

Of course, many would differ with him about the major premise: that education is meant to be the great equalizer, at least in the way that Duncan and this administration think of it – as ending the achievement gap, with that duty falling to the federal government.  Other departmental missives have promoted the same goals.  Duncan has put pressure on states for “equitable funding” of school districts to overcome racial disparities, and has called for increased federal funding through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to overcome disparities of the “tax base” in communities.

Similarly, the Department recently cast the opting-out of Common Core tests as a lack of concern about “underserved populations,” recalling the comment made by Duncan in 2013 about Common Core opponents being “white suburban moms.”

The Department has been redefining education, emphasizing behavior and attitudes over academics, and even casting awareness about racial and ethnic identity as overlooked evidence of intelligence.  Education is no longer about teachers imparting knowledge to their students.  Linda Darling-Hammond, leader of Obama’s education transition team and developer of one of the two Common Core national assessments, has repeatedly disparaged traditional assessments that objectively test students’ knowledge as skill and drill.  In this she follows progressive and radical educators who see their roles as developing agents of social change, agents who do not learn in the traditional Eurocentric linear and logical way, but emotively and tactilely.

Replacing our traditional ways of learning, through reading, writing, and study—contemplative and solitary activities—are the communal and hands-on activities promoted in Common Core and now digital learning.  Both Common Core and digital learning serve to obscure a large part of the reason for the achievement gap: reading ability.  Students who are poor readers lag in other subjects.  To cover up this inability, Common Core emphasizes “speaking and listening skills,” (with points given for behavior and attitudes, such as the ability to work with “diverse” groups) and group work, where lagging students are coached along by others as they do “close readings” of short passages.  This ensures that all students have mastered the same (minimal) level of knowledge. Similarly, games offer an opportunity to hide differences in ability.  Information is delivered through images and sound, not words on a page, and at a pace that the student directs.  Duncan writes that technology is “helping teachers to use their time and talents more effectively to personalize learning for students — tailoring the pace, approach, and context of the learning experience to students’ individual needs and interests.”

Additionally, technology alters the relationship between teachers and students, leveling the relationship even further than the currently fashionable one of teacher as “facilitator.”  The student presumably gains the information on his own and applies that knowledge to “real-world” problems.  Duncan writes:

Until recently, the main function of public education has been to convey knowledge in one direction, from teachers to students. But with the growth of the Internet and mobile technology, our relationship to knowledge has fundamentally changed. To succeed in today’s world, our students need to be adept at not only recalling information, but using their knowledge to conceive, create, and employ solutions to real-world problems.

Duncan then employs the much-used strategy of reductively stereotyping traditional education, as he writes, “Students aren’t vessels to be filled with facts. And educators aren’t simply transmitters of information.”

In this schema, little attention is paid to “recalling information”—or the acquirement of knowledge. Emphasis is placed on the ability to – through the wonders of technology – find information.  (Of course with little concern about the ability to discern among the sources of information.)

In Duncan’s estimation, technology is the great liberator, unleashing children’s creativity and natural ability to solve problems.  It’s the ultimate instantiation of the progressive idea that students simply “discover” knowledge through their own creativity and curiosity – a theory which has time and again been disproven by the data, as Jeanne Chall and her student Sandra Stotsky have shown.

Aside from the logical impossibility of doing “real-world” problem-solving outside the real world, i.e., in a classroom and with children, such a focus away from objective measurements to hypothetical problems and solutions is another way to ensure equality of outcomes.

For those teachers who agree to promote such pedagogies, the Department of Education has many awards and ambassadorships to bestow.

EDITORS NOTE: The next installment will discuss the latest effort by the Department to promote digital learning, as described enthusiastically by a teacher and a U.S. Department of Education “Teaching Ambassador Fellow.”

#Take Back Our Kids

Our nineteen fifty something station-wagon was loaded with Mom, Dad, big fat Aunt Nee (300 lbs ), myself and four younger siblings. Aunt Nee raised my Dad; his surrogate Mom. Our family was excited about spending a hot summer day at Carr’s Beach, Maryland. I had no idea at that time that it was the only Maryland beach open to blacks.

Before hitting the road to the beach, the ritual included riding from our black suburban community into Baltimore city to pick up Aunt Nee and stopping down “Jew Town” to purchase corned-beef and a bread that the adults loved. I did not get a sense that my parents calling it Jew Town was meant in a derogatory way. It was simply an area of Baltimore filled with Jewish businesses that sold great food.

As a matter of fact, most of the corner stores in black neighborhoods were owned by Jews. Blacks purchased items without cash, put on their account. Store owners would log items in their book; no bulletproof wall and turn-style between the Jewish store owners and their black customers.

We always had a wonderful time at the beach and rode home exhausted. Dad’s car was not air conditioned. Looking back, I wonder how on earth did we endure; three adults, five kids, food and beach supplies stuffed in a hot station-wagon. And yet, all my memories of family days at the beach bring a warm smile to my face.

Mom was a great cook. Two of mom’s weekday dinner menus stick out as favorites. One was mom’s hot homemade biscuits with butter and King Syrup. The other was collard greens with cornbread dumplings. We kids were clueless about the economic component surrounding these meals. We simply enjoyed them, never feeling deprived.

Wednesday nights were prayer service at the storefront church in Baltimore city where dad was assistant pastor. On the way home, there was a corner bakery right before we crossed over the Hanover Street bridge. Whenever dad unexpectedly pulled over to purchase a dozen donuts, it was an exciting family treat.

As the eldest, I remember my parent’s lean years more than my siblings. One Christmas, I was extremely excited receiving a secondhand bicycle. Years later, Santa delivered new bikes for my younger brothers and sister.

Dad was among Baltimore City’s first black firefighters and mom worked part-time as a custodian at a high school and a domestic for white folks.

My point is we did not have what kids have today. And yet, we enjoyed the little things. We did not feel deprived. Mom and dad always found a way to get us whatever we needed. I remember wearing my new suit for 6th grade graduation looking at my friend Martin wearing a suit a few sizes too small. My three brothers, sister and I were happy.

The Bible says “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). While my siblings and I had our individual periods of rebellion, like the prodigal son, we defaulted back to our home training; our parent’s principles and values.

Today, the Left is aggressively usurping authority over your kids, ripping parenting out of your hands.

Decades of allowing liberal indoctrination to go unchallenged has produced a generation of youths who believe in the name of “fairness” that no one should have more than anyone else (income inequality). Needs and desires are now declared to be rights (government entitlements). In our quest to prove our tolerance as conservatives, we allowed the Left to steal our kid’s minds.

Youths are idealistic. Once liberalized guilt-ridden youths are led down the road of trying to make life fair, the consequences are far reaching. For example: Pressure from students is forcing colleges to make all campus restrooms “all gender”. An Oregon High School created gender-neutral restrooms for transgender students.

In case you have not noticed, the Left has zero tolerance for anyone daring to disagree with their far left radical liberal agenda. They punish and even seek to criminalize opposing points of view. How long will it be before our kids are reporting their parents to authorities after overhearing them express an opinion out-of-step with that of the Left, government and the mainstream media?

Folks, it is time that we take back our kids from Leftist’s indoctrination.

Though “#Bring Back Our Girls” won rave reviews from liberals, sadly, it did nothing to free the 200 girls kidnapped and made sex slaves by Islamic extremists. A year later, the girls have not been returned.

I wish to implement, #Take Back Our Kids. I am calling all parents to closely monitor their local school administrators and school boards, confronting them when necessary. Home schooling is a great option. We can no longer sit back and passively allow the Left to totally control the thinking and beliefs of our kids. We must #Take Back Our Kids.

Hillary Takes The Family Out of Education

Incredibly, Hillary Clinton, while talking about education this week, stated that education is a “non-family enterprise.”

Education is a non-family enterprise? How completely out of touch can a person be to make such a bizarre statement and then expect to lead the country? Here are a couple of questions for Hillary Clinton:

  1. Has Hillary Clinton ever sat down to do a science project with her daughter as most of us have with our sons and daughters?
  2. Has Hillary Clinton ever volunteered countless hours to put together a school spelling-bee like my wife just did?
  3. Has Hillary Clinton ever spent late nights studying with her daughter for a tough math test as we have with our sons and daughters?
  4. Has Hillary Clinton ever spoken at a Career Day at her daughter’s school as many of us have for our sons and daughters?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, only Hillary does, but I find it deeply troubling that we are looking at yet another Democrat presidential candidate who openly discusses education and the economy using far-left lingo which conflicts directly with the principles that made America that shining city on the hill. It’s our families, our sense of entrepreneurialism, our local communities, our neighbors caring for one another, our allegiance to human rights and human dignity granted to all of us by The Lord, and the fact that we did “build that,” that has made us great. It’s not the “collective;” the government, the bureaucracy, or any other government official, or their bizarre sense of entitlement to our kids and our money that has made us prosperous.

It’s not the “collective;” the government, the bureaucracy, or any other government official, or their bizarre sense of entitlement to our kids and our money that has made us prosperous.

Make no mistake, the party of JFK and Truman is dying. A Hillary Clinton presidency will be an Obama third term with more government, higher taxes, more bureaucratic healthcare, more Common Core, a degradation of the family, and buckets of new regulations. Every presidential candidate running for the Republican nomination needs to highlight statements such as this from Hillary Clinton to make the case to voters that WE are the party that supports educational excellence for EVERY American, regardless of their zip code. It’s disappointing to watch the far-left stand in the way of school choice for parents and children and if there’s one issue that should have crossed the partisan Maginot Line decades ago, it should have been education.   But, tragically, that was not, and is not, the case.

I read a piece by Jason Riley in the Wall Street Journal years ago which included a statistic that, once seen, is hard to forget. Riley states that, “Just 2,000 of the nation’s 20,000 high schools produce almost half of all high-school dropouts. But nearly half of all black high-school students wind up in one of these ‘dropout factories.’ The prospects for black males who don’t graduate are not good, quite aside from lower lifetime earnings.”

One can’t un-see this tragic, heartbreaking statistic and I personally do not care an iota about how the school choice issue polls. Regardless of the polls, it is up to liberty-loving, patriotic Americans to fight for the future of every American child if you are going to represent the Republican brand in this upcoming presidential election in 2016, and school choice had better be at the top of your list.

Hillary Clinton and the organized far left will fight us tooth and nail on the school choice issue because like the economy and healthcare, it is not about education to Hillary Clinton, it’s about control. The far left views parents as an unnecessary third-party in their one-way social contract with American school children and Hillary Clinton’s “education is a non-family enterprise” is not a verbal gaffe, it’s the ideological bedrock upon which she built her political house.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the Conservative Review. The featured image is courtesy of CR. Source: Charles Neibergall/AP.

VIDEO: Hillary Clinton Supports Common Core

On April 14, 2015, I wrote a post about 2016 presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s support for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

I maintain that Clinton is a CCSS supporter, period.

CSPAN has a 4 1/2- minute video clip of Clinton addressing CCSS in response to a question from a student, Diane, at Kirkwood College in Monticello, Iowa, during Clinton’s 2016 campaign kickoff.

I tried to embed the video but ran into difficulties. Therefore, I videoed the video and posted to Youtube so that I might embed. Though the quality of the resulting Youtube video is affected by the double-videoing, Clinton’s words– and tone– and body language– make her support for CCSS quite clear.

Original link to CSPAN excerpt: http://www.c-span.org/video/standalone/?c4534445

And here is the transcribed text of the video:

DIANE: I think we are very blessed to live where we do, where education starting very young through high school, community college…. We have all these opportunities, and we so are fortunate here.  And I worry that not all of America gets to experience this treasure we have. And I think the Common Core is a wonderful step in the right direction of improving American education, and it’s painful to see that attacked. [Hillary (nodding): Right.]  And I’m just wondering what you can do to bring that heart back to education in the United States, you know, where, what can, what can we do so that parents and communities and businesses believe in American education, and that teachers are respected, and our schools are respected, and our colleges are respected, and we offer a quality education to all Americans, you know, throughout the United States?

HILLARY CLINTON: Wow. That is a really powerful, touching comment that I embrace. You know, what I think about the really unfortunate argument that has been going on around Common Core, it’s very painful because the Common Core started off as a bipartisan effort. It was actually nonpartisan. It wasn’t politicized. It was to try to come up with a core of learning that we might expect students to achieve across our country no matter what kind of school district they were in, no matter how poor their family was, that there wouldn’t be two tiers of education. Everybody would be looking at what was to be learned and doing their best to try to achieve that.

Now, I think that part of the reason why Iowa may be more understanding of this is you’ve had the Iowa Core for four years. You’ve had a system plus the Iowa assessment test. I think I’m right saying that I took them when I was in elementary school, right? The Iowa, you know, tests. So that Iowa has had a testing system based on a core curriculum for a really long time, and you see the value of it. You understand why that helps you organize your whole education system. And a lot of states, unfortunately, haven’t had that. And so, don’t understand the value of a core in that sense, a common core. Then yes, of course, you can figure out the best way in your community to, uh, try to reach.

But your question is, really, a larger one: How do we end up at a point where we are so, ah, negative about the most important non-family enterprise in the raising of the next generation, which is how our kids are educated? There are a lot of explanations, and, there are a lot of explanations for that, I, I suppose, but whatever they are, we need to try to get back into a, Um, broad conversation where people will actually listen to each other again and try to come up with, uh, the solutions for problems because the problems here in Monticello are not the same problems you’ll find in the inner city of our biggest, you know, urban areas. That’s a given. We have to do things differently, but it should all be driven by the same commitment to try to make sure we do educate every child. That’s why, you know, I was a senator and voted for, you know, leave no child behind because I thought every child should matter, and shouldn’t be, “You are poor,” or, “You’ve got disabilities so we’re going to sweep you to the back. Don’t show up on test day because we don’t want to mess up our scores. No. Every child should have the same opportunity. And so, I think we’ve got to get back to basics, and we have to look to teachers to lead the way.

There you have it: Clinton’s words, tone, and body language.

For CCSS, and offering no apologies for No Child Left Behind, at that.

For more on Clinton’s Iowa visit, see this informative CNN take.

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Hillary Clinton Thinks Common Core “A Good Idea”

Hillary Clinton was in Iowa today, campaigning.

According to The Guardian’s live blog coverage by Tom McCarthy, Hillary Clinton is sympathetic towards “the plight of Common Core.”McCarthy reports::

Clinton bemoaned the plight of Common Core educational standards, a good idea she said had been taken hostage by the political debate.

Implicit in Clinton’s message is that Common Core would have been just fine except that it became entangled in politics.

Get a clue, Hillary: Common Core was birthed in politics.

But I think you know that.

The National Governors Association (NGA) is one of two organizations that holds the Common Core copyright. That right there is a problem for a so-called “state led” education initiative.

Then there is U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan using federal money to pay for two Common-Core-associated testing consortia– and announcing as much in 2009, before there even was a Common Core.

Never mind that the other Common Core copyright owner, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), has a CEO, Gene Wilhoit, who thought it would be a good idea to ask billionaire Bill Gates in 2008 to bankroll Common Core.

Politically-connected edupreneur David Coleman– who did business in 2002 (the early days of No Child Left Behind) with Arne Duncan during Duncan’s time as CEO of Chicago Public Schools– was with Wilhoit when he asked Gates for his money.

Then, a few years later, Wilhoit moved on from CCSSO and was replaced by former Pearson associate, Chris Minnich.

Following his CCSSO retirement, Wilhoit conveniently joined Coleman’s Common-Core-centered for-profit-gone-nonprofit, Student Achievement Partners.

And Coleman moved on to become the president of an assessment company, College Board.

So, you see, Hillary, Common Core was never “not political.”

On June 12, 2015, my book on the history, development, and promotion of Common Core, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, will be released.

Clinton should read it.

But back to Iowa.

At least Hillary publicly admitted her sympathy for Common Core.

This puts her on the same side as another 2016 presidential hopeful: Republican Jeb Bush.

However, according to McCarthy’s report of Clinton’s campaign kickoff in Iowa, Clinton plans to dodge directly addressing education in her campaign:

Clinton laid out four campaign planks: 1) revitalizing economy 2) supporting families 3) getting dirty $$ out of politics 4) defending against threats seen and unseen

Surely she knows that she will be asked again and again– and again– about Common Core and its lead-balloon, federally-funded consortium tests.

Clinton will have numerous occasions to “bemoan its plight.”

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