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Bill Gates and Localizing Common Core and Standardized Testing by Paul DiPerna

“Innovations that are guided by smallholder farmers, adapted to local circumstances, and sustainable for the economy and environment will be necessary to ensure food security in the future.” – Bill Gates

The Andrew Carnegie of our time—and as a native of Pittsburgh, I say that respectfully—may want to consider how that same approach can augment education reform. In 2014, the “de facto organizer” of the contentious Common Core State Standards Initiative is now a witness with the rest of us to the mounting challenges to that grand framework—and they’re emerging from local sources.

Indeed, in recent months, outcries have inspired Indiana, Arizona, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Louisiana to depart (to varying degrees) from the Common Core, committing to “homegrown” state-based standards and/or tests. As the Hechinger Report and Education Week reported, of the original 45 states that signed up for one of the two big assessment regimes tied to Common Core, 36 states as of now are still participating.

Is that 20 percent drop in state participation the start of a larger reactionary theme to standards, testing, and accountability in education?

To find out, we asked a nationally representative sample of the general population (“American Adults”)—in the latest installment of the Friedman Foundation’s “Schooling in America Survey”—their attitudes and opinions about:

  • developing and implementing academic standards;
  • Common Core (with and without context);
  • standardized testing;
  • who (respondents believe) are accountable to tests; and who (respondents say) should be accountable to tests.

Just as Bill Gates has recognized in agriculture, our findings indicate that local ownership—exemplified by parental input/action and teachers’ roles —also matters enormously in education:

When it comes to developing and implementing academic standards, Americans believe teachers and school district officials should take the lead. Respondents suggest it may be preferable for parents to play a larger role in development rather than implementation. Government officials at the state and federal levels should take a backseat in both.



Interviews suggest a mixed message about the Common Core State Standards. 
Without any context, Americans say they oppose Common Core. However, when providing some context, support increases substantially while the opposition remains about the same.

  • Certain demographic groups set themselves apart either in their support of or opposition to Common Core. Groups most inclined to be supportive with the highest positive margins are: Midwest region (56 percent favor | +21 points), urbanites (60 percent favor | +26 points), Democrats (58 percent favor | +26 points), and African Americans (57 percent favor | +22 points).
  • The views on Common Core are more negative among school parents (44 percent favor | -5 points) and middle-income earners (43 percent favor | -5 points).

There is no mixed message about the most intense reactions to the Common Core items in the survey. Respondents who hold hardened views on Common Core are mostly likely to be negative rather than positive—with or without context.

  • The intensity (defined as the difference between “strongly favor” and “strongly oppose” responses) is negative against Common Core. Without any context and on first impression, 24 percent say they “strongly oppose” versus 11 percent who say they “strongly favor” (-13 points). Even with context, 25 percent say they “strongly oppose” versus 16 percent who say they “strongly favor” (-9 points). The intensity improves with further information but it still is considerably negative.
  • Intensities are more heavily negative than positive for most groups. Just four observed demographics have a positive intensity (and it is relatively mild): urbanites (+6 points), Democrats (+4 points), African Americans (+6 points), and Latinos (+3 points).
  • Intensity against Common Core is strongest among school parents (-21 points), small-town residents (-16 points), rural residents (-18 points), Republicans (-17 points), and middle-income earners (-17 points).

A plurality of Americans (36 percent) said the amount of time spent on standardized testing is “too high,” compared with 24 percent who said “too low.”
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  • Nearly half of high-income earners believe there is too much testing in America’s schools (49 percent too high vs. 15 percent too low). This group registers the highest level of resistance among observed demographics.
  • The groups inclined to say there is not enough standardized testing are low-income earners (24 percent too high vs. 31 percent too low), African Americans (21 percent too high vs. 34 percent too low), and Latinos (28 percent too high vs. 35 percent too low).
  • The most ambivalent groups on standardized testing are westerners (31 percent too high vs. 28 percent too low), urbanites (31 percent too high vs. 28 percent too low), and young adults (31 percent too high vs. 29 percent too low).

More than two out of five Americans (42 percent) believed students spend at least 16 days or more of the school year—roughly 10 percent of the year—on standardized testing activities.

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  • This response—16 or more school days—is even higher among school parents (51 percent), middle-age Americans (50 percent), and high-income earners (53 percent).


The average American believes teachers are being held most accountable to test results today, more so than other school officials, and far surpassing the proportion who believe students are held accountable to tests.

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Americans appear to support some degree of test-based accountability and believe the focus should be on teachers, students, and school district officials.

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Common Core and standardized testing will remain flashpoints for policy debates in K-12 education. For now, when weighing the most adamant views on testing and Common Core, Americans are resistant and likely to be negative. Interestingly, the parents of school-age children appear to be the most negative toward Common Core and resistant to the current level of standardized testing.

Politicians, especially local ones, tend to respond to the most vocal constituents and grassroots groups. The implications of our polling suggest that Common Core—and standardized testing to a lesser degree—will continue to face loud local and state-level opposition for months to come.

We’ll find out this November and in early 2015, once legislatures convene, whether such upheavals threaten the future of standards-based reform.

It seems Bill Gates and his foundation are taking it seriously, as evidenced by their suggested moratorium on “high-stakes decisions based on tests aligned with the new (Common Core) standards.” Perhaps that signals Gates’ belief in the power and influence of local forces isn’t limited to farming. Regardless, our survey can provide some additional food for thought.

For more on what Americans think about other education-related topics, including how Common Core would affect their electoral considerations, read the full “2014 Schooling in America Survey: Perspectives on School Choice, Common Core, and Standardized Testing.”

ABOUT PAUL DIPERNA

Paul DiPerna is Research Director for the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. He joined the Foundation in September 2006. Paul’s research interests include surveys and polling on K-12 education and school choice policies. He has developed and issued more than 20 state polls and other survey projects over the last four years. His other responsibilities include directing and managing all research projects commissioned by the foundation.

Oklahoma Could Be First to Really Dump Common Core

On May 23, 2014, both the Oklahoma House (71-18) and Senate (31-10) voted to dump the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

All that is left is for Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to sign the legislation, HB 3399, into law. (Fallin was not governor when Oklahoma signed on for CCSS as part of Race to the Top {RTTT} in 2010.)

In December 2013, Fallin issued an executive order that included absorbing the term Common Core into the broader term, Oklahoma Academic Standards.

Fallin also noted that the Oklahoma legislature aligned its education legislation with CCSS and even included the language to align Oklahoma’s English Language Arts (ELA) and math standards “with the K-12 Common Core State Standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative.”

The Oklahoma legislature might have approved CCSS effective August 1, 2010, but it has apparently reversed its decision on May 23, 2014.

This is no “rebrand,” folks. HB 3399 appears to be a genuine rejection of CCSS.

Here is some of the language from the bill:

Section 11-103.6a B.1. …To be considered college- and career-ready, the standards shall be evaluated by the State Department of Education, the State Regents for Higher Education, the State Board of Career and Technology Education and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce and be determined to be such that the standards will address the goals of reducing the need for remedial coursework at the postsecondary level and increasing successful completion of postsecondary education. The subject matter standards and corresponding student assessments for English Language Arts and Mathematics shall be solely approved and controlled by the state through the State Board of Education.

2. Upon the effective date of this act, the State Board of Education shall begin the process of adopting the English Language Arts and Mathematics standards and shall provide reasonable opportunity, consistent with best practices, for public comment on the revision of the standards, including but not limited to comments from students, parents, educators, organizations representing students with disabilities and English language learners, higher education representatives, career technology education representatives, subject matter experts, community-based organizations, Native American tribal representatives and businesscommunity representatives.

3. Until the statewide student assessments for English Language 
Arts and Mathematics are implemented… the State Board of Education shallimplement the subject matter standards for English Language Arts andMathematics which were in place prior to the revisions adopted by the Board in June 2010.  [Emphasis added.]

In short, until the new Oklahoma standards and associated assessments are ready (“on or before the 2017-18 school year”), Oklahoma will return to the math and English Language Arts (ELA) standards in place prior to CCSS completion in June 2010.

(An aside: Oklahoma’s appendices for its Phase 1 RTTT application shows impressive effort to establish its case for both national and international benchmarking of the College and Career Readiness Standards {CCRS} in math– the “anchor” math standards that were never finalized and just disappeared.  Oklahoma also tried to show that CCRS math fit in with CCSS precursor, the American Diploma Project. Furthermore, RTTT Phase 1 reviewer comments indicate that Oklahoma submitted a CCSS MOU though I could not find it in the 900-page RTTT appendices and that Oklahoma “has initiated procedures for adoption of Common Core Standards well before August, 2010.” Oklahoma’s Phase 2 appendices clearly states the intention of CCSS adoption later effected by Oklahoma 2010 SB 2033.)

On May 23, 2014, the Oklahoma legislature clarifies that there are to be no more memoranda of understanding (MOUs) between Oklahoma and federal government, indicating that the Oklahoma legislature intends to be the legal authority over Oklahoma public education:

D. 1. The State Board of Education shall not enter into any 
agreement, memorandum of understanding or contract with any federal agency or private entity which in any way cedes or limits state discretion or control over the process of development, adoption or revision of subject matter standards and corresponding student assessments in the public school system, including, but not limited to, agreements, memoranda of understanding and contracts in exchange for funding for public schools and programs. If the State Board ofEducation is a party to such an agreement, memorandum of understanding or contract on the effective date of this act, the State Board of Education shall initiate necessary efforts to amend the agreement, memorandum of understanding or contract to comply with the requirements of this subsection. [Emphasis added.]

For all of its efforts to meet federal, RTTT criteria (and it did try– reading the RTTT docs shows OK’s willingness to bend), Oklahoma did not receive RTTT funding.

However, it seems that in drafting the CCSS-exit legislation, 2014 Oklahoma lawmakers are taking no chances.

The newly-approved bill continues with stating that the state board of education can still seek waivers (presumably from No Child Left Behind {NCLB}) provided such waivers do not limit state authority over education standards or assessments. Furthermore, the bill does not prohibit benchmarking Oklahoma standards with other states or nations, but it does require the Oklahoma State Board of Education to “maintain independence” and not “relinquish authority.”

HB 3399 states that Oklahoma school districts will “exclusively determine… instruction… and curriculum.”

Also, the Oklahoma State Board of Education may participate in a testing consortium “but shall not bind the state, contractually or otherwise, to the authority of any other state, organization or entity which may supersede the authority of the Board….” In other words, Oklahoma must be free to exit any testing consortium if it wishes.

Another interesting component of HB 3399 concerns both academic standard content and related standardized testing content, thereby guarding against testing companies such as Pearson sneaking questions that have nothing to do with a given subject area into its subject-area tests. To such shady practices, Oklahoma lawmakers say “no”:

H.1. All subject matter standards and corresponding statewide student assessments adopted by the State Board of Education shall be carefully circumscribed to reflect direct application to subject matter proficiency and shall not include standards or assessment questions that are designed to collect or measure noncognitive, emotional or psychological characteristics, attributes or skills of students.

As for the creation of a new set of Oklahoma standards for math and ELA, HB 3399 includes the following stipulations:

Section 11-103.6 A.6. The subject matter standards for English Language Arts shall give Classic Literature and nonfiction literature equal consideration to other literature. In addition, emphasis shall be given to the study of complete works of literature.

7. At a minimum, the subject matter standards for mathematics shall require mastery of the standard algorithms in mathematics, which is the most logical, efficient way of solving a problem that consistently works, and for students to attain fluency in Euclidian geometry. [Emphasis added.]

At the end of two years, the new Oklahoma standards are to be compared to the “previous” CCSS across numerous criteria, including subject matter content, sequencing, developmental appropriateness, measurability, and development of critical thinking.

If this were merely an effort at “rebranding,” the turn-around would certainly be faster than three years and three months, and there would be no return to previous, state standards in the interim.

Now Oklahoma only needs a signature from its governor– a governor willing in December 2013 to try for a CCSS “rebrand.”

Fallin has until June 2, 2014– fifteen days following the may 23, 2014, adjournment of the Oklahoma legislative session– to sign the bill. Otherwise, her not signing is know as a pocket veto– the decision to take no action. The bill would die unless the Oklahoma legislature calls a special session.

This will certainly be one to watch.

RELATED ARTICLELeft and Right Wing Call for Congressional Hearing on Common Core

George Will Demolishes Arguments for Common Core in Under Two Minutes

“Conservative pundit George Will delivered a fierce attack on Common Core, characterizing the educational standards as a way for progressives to further promote their political views,” notes Katrina Trinko from The Foundry.

“This is a thin end of an enormous wedge of federal power that will be wielded for the constant progressive purpose of concentrating power in Washington so that it can impose continental solutions to problems nationwide,” Will said on Fox News’ “Special Report.” He also warned Americans that the federal standards posed a significant threat to local autonomy.

“The advocates of the Common Core say, if you like local control of your schools, you can keep it, period. If you like your local curriculum you can keep it, period, and people don’t believe them for very good reasons,” Will remarked.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/fmgadgKNz0I[/youtube]

Florida: Education the Defining Issue in the 2014 Governor Race?

On Tuesday, November 4th Floridians will go to the polls to select their governor. Currently there are thirty-two active candidates running. The gubernatorial race is the only statewide race in Florida. So what will make one of these candidates standout from the crowded field? If a recent election is any indicator, the defining issue will be – education – specifically Common Core State Standards (CCSS). People are rising up in Florida and across the country to stop Common Core. As George Will wrote, “Viewed from Washington, opposition to the Common Core State Standards Initiative still seems as small as the biblical cloud that ariseth out of the sea, no larger than a man’s hand. Soon, however, this education policy will fill a significant portion of the political sky.”

Chris Quackenbush in her column Common Core: The Chain of Betrayal notes, “Political battles are now being won and lost on the education issue as in the Florida Congressional District 19, where an ‘outsider’ Curt Clawson, beat sitting State Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benaquisto by 12 points largely because of her duplicity on Common Core.  Her conservative base was not fooled by her superficial conversion after sponsoring a bill in 2013 to implement Common Core as she is allied with Jeb Bush.  His tentacles reach far in Florida where he is a major donor and supporter of many State Legislators including Governor Scott.”

Quackenbush states, “Common Core is the final nail in the coffin of American Exceptionalism.” That’s how heated the debate has become in Florida.

Associated Press reporter Thomas Beaumont wrote, “Raising U.S. educational expectations through national goals was a priority for Republican President George W. Bush. But many of his would-be successors in the GOP are calling for just the opposite of government-set rules, and it’s splitting the party as the GOP class of 2016 presidential hopefuls takes shape.” Common Core is splitting the party between those who support Jeb Bush and those who support parents, teachers, administrators, academics and citizens who favor keeping local control of education.

While Florida Democrats want to focus on income equality, the minimum wage, legalizing marijuana and abortion rights, and the Republican Party of Florida focused on the economy, jobs and tax reform, the defining issue remains public education.

Will the Florida race for governor in 2014 be a harbinger for the 2016 race for president? Those interested in a winning formula will, by all indications, be keeping a close eye on Florida on November 4th.

Candidates for Florida Governor

Candidate Status Primary General
GibsonKyle Chaderwick (NPA) Active
AdeshinaYinka Abosede (REP) Active
AllenJoe  (NPA) Active
AndersonRubin Lewis (NPA) Active
AngiolilloVincent Dominic (REP) Active
CristCharlie  (DEM) Active
Cuevas-NeunderElizabeth  (REP) Active
DevineTimothy Michael (REP) Active
FraleighJames Edward (INT) Active
GazetasVassilia  (NPA) Active
GigerHerman Lee (NPA) Active
GriffisMark D. (NPA) Active
HorwathJefferson L. (NPA) Active
KhavariFarid A (NPA) Active
LeeMonroe  (DEM) Active
LipnerRyan Adam (DEM) Active
MartellyMarcelle  (DEM) Active
McCoyRoland  (DEM) Active
MurrayPaul  (WRI) Active
ReedC. C. (NPA) Active
RichNan H. (DEM) Active
RolleLeonard  (NPA) Active
SamuelBerthram B. (REP) Active
ScottRichard L. (REP)  *Incumbent Active
SmithDr. Joe  (REP) Active
SmithJohn Wayne (LPF) Active
StewartJessica Lana (DEM) Active
TolbertCharles Frederick (NPA) Active
TrujilloLesther  (NPA) Active
WyllieAdrian  (LPF) Active
YarrowAtlee David (SPF) Active
ZapataRandy  (DEM) Active

Active candidate list courtesy of the Sarasota Supervisor of Elections.

RELATED STORIES:

The Dying of the Light: How Common Core Damages Poetry – by Esolen, Highfill, Stotsky
AP: Common Core a Defining Issue for GOP 2016 Hopefuls
Revolt: Common Core gets gored

Common Core: The Bullying of Parents and Public School Children

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth,” said Vladimir Lenin who led the revolution that imposed Communism on Russia.

When he wrote, Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler said “whoever has the youth has the future.” In his vision for the Nazi Party, education would be the key that ensured that he had ‘the youth’ of Germany fully indoctrinated.

All dictators and authoritarian regimes know that what is taught in their schools offers the greatest opportunity to maintain control over their societies.

That is what has been occurring since the introduction of the Common Core standards that the Obama regime has imposed on our national education system and the good news is that protests against it from concerned parents and others are beginning to increase and gain momentum.

Teachers will tell you that “one size fits all” does not apply in the classroom and never has. Children learn at a different pace with some doing so rapidly while others need extra help and attention. Learning that is entirely dependent on ceaseless testing puts stress on every child and that is the most common complaint about Common Core.

Education in America has been in decline since the 1960s when the teachers unions gained control over the process, putting themselves between the local boards of education and parents. Would it surprise anyone to learn that the Department of Education was established by President Jimmy Carter who signed it into law in 1979? It began operation on May 4, 1980. You will find no reference, no mention of education in the U.S. Constitution and it should not be a function of the federal government.

In a recent commentary by Joy Pullmann in The Daily Caller, she said, “The latest scheme is the field testing of Common Core assessments. This spring more than four million kids will be required to spend hours on tests that have little connection to what they learned in class this year and will provide their teachers and schools no information about what the kids know.”

“Parents who object to this scheme,” said Pullman, “face bullying and harassment from public officials. From New York to Denver to California, some schools are responding by forcing kids who opt out to sit at their desks and do nothing during the several-hour tests. Normal people call that a ‘time out’ and it is a punishment.”

Wyoming has become the first State to block a new set of national science standards that address climate change. In Michigan last year a group of protesters stopped the State from adopting the science standards.

Here are some excerpts of what the science standards teach as “The Essential Principles of Climate Science.”

  • “The impacts of climate change may affect the security of nations. Reduced availability of water, food, and land can lead to competition and conflict among humans, potentially resulting in large groups of climate refugees.”
  • “Humans may be able to mitigate climate change or lessens its severity by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations through processes that move carbon out of the atmosphere or reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
  • “The most immediate strategy is conservation of oil, gas, and coal, which we rely on as fuels for most of our transportation, heating, cooling, agriculture, and electricity. Short-term strategies involve switching from carbon-intensive to renewable energy sources, which also requires building new infrastructure for alternative energy sources.”

From “A Framework for K-12 Science Education” children are to be taught that “If Earth’s global mean temperature continues to rise, the lives of humans and other organisms will be affected in many different ways.” Only the Earth’s mean temperature is not rising! The planet is in a natural cooling cycle that is now seventeen years old, meaning that none of the students in today’s schools have ever experienced a single day of “global warming.”

By the end of grade 8, the Framework teaches that “Human activities have significantly altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of many other species.” This, too, is untrue. The U.S. Endangered Species Act, despite listing thousands of species, has not officially “saved” more than a handful at best and this assertion is questionable.

By the end of grade 12, students are expected to believe that “Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate.” While it is true that there has been an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide this is a good thing because it is an essential factor in the increase of all vegetation that includes food crops and healthier forests. Moreover, this increase does not play any role in the Earth’s climate.

The central theme of these “science standards” is to teach that we should be reducing our use of fossil fuels, the primary energy sources our nation and the world requires. What these standards do in reality is repeat and reinforce federal government laws and regulations to justify its CO2 emissions regulations based on the current method of computing the Social Cost of Carbon, but these “costs” are pure fiction.

None of the computer models that have predicted global warming over the past four decades have been accurate. None are capable of representing the state of the Earth’s vastly complex climate.

The sooner Common Core is removed from the nation’s education system, the better.

Editor’s Note: To learn more or follow the debate on Common Core, visit The Heartland Institute’s “Education Weekly” newsletter that provides data via Common Core Watch.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

RELATED STORY: Common Core’s Validation: A Weak Foundation for a Crooked House

Fordham Institute: Selling Common Core in States with Better Standards

This post is about the for-profit “reform”-promoting think tank, the Fordham Institute.

The Fordham Institute likes to grade.

Mind you, Fordham doesn’t bother to grade itself. But it does promote the grading of teacher training programs via an entity it birthed in 2001, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), and it also promotes the grading of teachers using student test scores (see the final statement of this Fordham post for the clear endorsement for grading teachers using student test scores).

And, perhaps that for which Fordham is best known: It loves grading state standards andeven giving some states higher marks than the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)– and still promoting CCSS in statehouses across the country.

In promoting CCSS, Fordham is only doing what Bill Gates has paid it to do: “track state progress towards implementation of standards….”

Fordham takes its CCSS “tracking” seriously– to the point of manipulating states with standards that it graded as “superior” to CCSS into clinging to CCSS.

Recall that 2010 Fordham report in which Fordham graded all state standards as well as CCSS and compared all state standards to CCSS.

CCSS did not receive the highest marks, yet it is continuously pushed by Fordham in statehouses around the country (see here and here and here and here for examples).

Consider Indiana, which has been in the March and April 2014 news for its considering dropping CCSS– and subsequently “forming” “new” standards that just happen to closely resemble CCSS.

In 2010, Fordham graded Indiana’s English Language Arts (ELA) and math standards as superior to CCSS.

In January 2013, Fordham Institute Executive Vice President Mike Petrilli, who bills himself as “one of the nation’s most trusted education analysts.”

(His self-titling reminds me of “Dr.” Steve Perry, who bills himself as “America’s most trusted educator.” Read here to see why Perry lacks my trust.)

Petrilli might consider himself “trusted”; however, he uses such trust to exploit– his undeniable goal being to manipulate states into keeping CCSS– even if his own think tank graded a state’s standards as being better than CCSS.

Let’s “watch” Petrilli in action:

In January 2013, Petrilli testified in Indiana and offered these points to talk Indiana out of any return to their CCSS-superior standards and into retaining CCSS:

1. First, you have already invested time and money into implementing the new standards. They have momentum. Calling for a do-over would waste the millions of man hours already invested—and potentially cost the state of Indiana more money than proceeding with the Common Core. [Emphasis added.]

A great suggestion: Keep the deficient CCSS since you have spent money on it already.Never mind that Fordham did not advise Indiana not to sign onto CCSS in the first place since it rated Indiana’s standards as superior. There was no Petrilli plane trip to testify on that front.

2. Second, it’s not clear that returning to your old standards would put Indiana on a path toward higher student achievement. For while you had some of the best standards in the country for over a decade, you also had one of the worst student achievement records on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Indiana was a classic case of good standards not actually having an impact in the classroom. You need a different way forward.

What a crock this point is. “A different way forward”?? Is “forward” higher test scores? Petrilli assures Indiana’s Senate education committee that “forward” is the direction CCSS will take them– even though Indiana’s “superior” standards did not take Indiana there. It is not clear that putting any state on the CCSS path will improve achievement– yet here we are, a nation on the unproven CCSS path… and Petrilli doing his best to sound knowledgeable as he talks unresearched, unanchored nonsense.

In its 2010 grading of standards, Fordham ignored comparing state scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) with its state standards ratings. The result was no logical connection whatsoever between NAEP scores and Fordham’s ratings of state standards. Indeed, some states with standards that Fordham rated poorly actually had high scores on NAEP.

In Indiana’s case, the NAEP scores were not among the highest in the nation (see here for Indiana’s 2009 and 2011 NAEP scores)– but Petrilli advises no return to Indiana’s previous standards because somehow, the lesser-rated CCSS could manifest in “higher student achievement.”

Come again??

This is the same Fordham Institute that believes in grading teachers using student test scores. However, I have yet to read the article on Petrilli’s testimony that it is possible for teachers to be “superior” yet their students’ test scores to not manifest the reality of “best teachers.”

He will defend standards as being “some of the best in the country” despite low test scores, but he has yet to extend such faith-based logic to teachers– and this despite the well-documented problems associated with using test scores to grade teachers, known as value-added modeling (VAM).

On to Petrilli’s third point of scoring the Indiana sale on behalf of CCSS:

3. Third, if you decide to opt out of the Common Core, you will be opting Indiana’s teachers and students out of an opportunity to participate in the incredible wave of innovation that these standards are unleashing. It’s as if the whole world is moving to smart phones and tablets while you’re sticking with a rotary. [Emphasis added.]

What “wave of innovation”?? The “opportunity for “CCSS-infused tests and teacher evaluations” that Fordham’s Chester Finn alludes to here in referring to California (with standards also rated as superior to CCSS)?

Implementation is a boring topic but here (as with most bold reforms of complex, sluggish institutions) it’s crucial. The past quarter century offers sad examples of states with praiseworthy standards and lousy academic results, with California being the woeful poster child. This breakdown is due to the plain fact that the state never infused its own standards into tests, requirements for promotion and graduation, teacher certification and evaluations, school ratings, college admissions, or much else. [Emphasis added.]

So, the question becomes, what is next in the CCSS push to “ensure CCSS infusion”?

I broach the topic in this post on the push for a centralized agency to control “CCSS-approved” curriculum. It’s logical to assume that if CCSS is being billed as The Answer for All States, its Gates-funded proponents would do all that is necessary to make CCSS “succeed”– including micromanage curriculum in states across the nation.

As for Petrilli’s appeal for a CCSS-bound Indiana, his oiled reasoning offers no assurance that CCSS will deliver on what the CCSS website promotes as the CCSS “guarantee”:

The Common Core is a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA). These learning goals outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. The standards were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live. [Emphasis added.]

CCSS will ensure skills and knowledge– got it?

However…

…if CCSS doesn’t deliver– according to the CCSS license– the CCSS owners, the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)– cannot legally be held responsible.

In other words, NGA and CCSSO have effectively blocked themselves from the brunt of any lawsuits should CCSS not deliver according to the glowing promises made on the CCSS website or promoted by the CCSS talking points.

What will Petrilli do then?

I guess we’ll have to see what Bill Gates pays Fordham to do next in order to know for sure. Rest assured, however: No matter what Fordham does, it will package it as “excellence.”

Arne Duncan Plays the Common Core Distancing Game

On April 2, 2014, Louisiana has witnessed the lame demonstration of “Common Core distancing” from the governor (Bobby Jindal) who signed the state onto “the standards” (CCSS) in 2009– before they were written.

In 2010, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan accepted Louisiana’s CCSS MOU (memorandum of understanding) despite the majority of Louisiana school districts rejecting the idea.

Like Jindal, Duncan has begun playing the CCSS Distancing Game. He first did so when when Indiana appeared to be the first state to drop CCSS, in March 2014.

On March 15, 2014, Duncan publicly stated that “states are free to completely discard Common Core.”

This is the same Duncan who told newspaper editors in June 2013 how to favorably report on CCSS.

This is the same Duncan who insulted “White suburban mothers” and blamed them for CCSS resistance in November 2013, then offered no apology.

Now, on April 8, 2014, Duncan has told the House Appropriations Subcommittee that he “just likes high standards”:

“I’m just a big proponent of high standards. Whether they’re common or not is secondary,” he told members of the House appropriations subcommittee that works on health, education, and other related issues. [Emphasis added.]

And at this point, Duncan falls back on the “or other common standards” clause included in the Race to the Top (RTTT) application. You see, the House Appropriations Committee questioned Duncan on the apparent requirement that states agree to CCSS in order to compete for RTTT money.

Duncan states that “zero” federal grant money is contingent upon CCSS since states could have chosen to form their own “common standards.”

Duncan is drawing on a clause in the 2010 Blueprint for Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization:

States may either choose to upgrade their existing standards, working with their 4-year public university system to certify that mastery of the standards ensures that a student will not need to take remedial coursework upon admission to a postsecondary institution in the system, or work with other states to create state-developed common standards that build toward college- and career-readiness. 

Never mind that the federal government would still be controlling state standards by ultimately deciding if the evidence offered is “good enough” for state receipt of federal money.

The author of the April 8, 2014, EdWeek article, Michele McNeil, isn’t convinced of Duncan’s “zero” response:

But when it comes to competitive grants, the answer is more complicated than “zero.”The administration’s original $4 billion Race to the Top program awarded 40 points to states for developing and adopting common standards. All 12 of those winners have adopted the standards, and have not backed off. What’s more, a separate, $360 million Race to the Top contest to fund common tests was based on the premise that states needed help developing such assessments based on the common standards. But technically, aligning to the common core wasn’t required (you just probably weren’t going to win without it).

Duncan’s testimony, which didn’t contain such nuances, illustrates the fine line the department continues to walk between supporting states as they implement the common core, and not giving critics ammunition to cry “federal overreach.” [Emphasis added.]

Duncan (and Obama) will be crossing that “fine line” should they make CCSS a definitive component of the FY2015 ESEA reauthorization blueprint, a direction that the Cato Institute believes the Obama administration plans to follow.

Proponents of CCSS are fond of saying that “federal overreach” is an unsubstantiated complaint.

Not so, according to ESEA Subpart Two,Section 9527(c)(1):

(c) PROHIBITION ON REQUIRING FEDERAL APPROVAL OR CERTIFICATION OF STANDARDS-

(1) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal law, no State shall be required to have academic content or student academic achievement standards approved or certified by the Federal Government, in order to receive assistance under this Act. [Emphasis added.]

However, given the Obama/Duncan love of education privatization, I don’t think the ultimate goal is federal control of American “common,” public education.

I think the ultimate Obama/Duncan goal is for-profit education company control of American education– but no longer public.

For-profit control of American education can only lead to the end game of not educating all American children– just the “common” ones who might be exploited for profit.

The children of privilege– Obama’s children and Duncan’s children– will be exempt from “common” privatization betrayal.

Public School Textbooks for Six-Year Olds: Pure Social Justice Activism

This video courtesy of Utahns Against Common Core shows a series of ELA books by Zaner-Bloser with a core theme that is neither literature nor writing. It is social justice activism for ages 6 and up.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/FSHoxWaVeto[/youtube]

 

RELATED STORY: Sixth Graders’ Common Core Homework: Remove Two Rights from Bill of Rights | CNS News

COMMON CORE ACTION ALERT: Making Phone Calls Does “Make a Difference”!

I can tell you first hand that making these calls makes a huge difference as I just spent a good 15 minutes on the phone speaking to Robert Schulte (Assistant to Kim McDougal – Governor Rick Scott’s Education Policy Coordinator).

Call the Governor’s office at: (850) 717-9376 and you can speak directly to Robert, like I just did.

Robert Schulte was as professional, helpful and congenial as anyone could ask for. I picked his brain. I told him what I have done to fight Common Core these past 10 months; asked him some very pertinent questions about Common Core – with the most important one being: “Do phone calls like the one I am making to you, really matter and are they being recorded?” Robert answered my question by telling me: “Willy, every single call that we get in this office is tracked. We make notes as to what the call was about; what the topic was; and if it was a negative or positive call – in terms of an issue…such as Common Core”.

In case of phone calls about Common Core – which is the most talked about issue in Tallahassee right now – Robert told me that every single comment from callers are tracked and forwarded to Kim McDougal then, compiled and forwarded to the governor, himself. So, every call that we make, matters. Especially when they are “Calls Complaining about Common Core” – the “4 C’s. Those calls are tracked, counted and accounted for. So, PLEASE MAKE THESE PHONE CALLS!!! The more “negative” calls that the governor’s office receives about Common Core – the more of a chance we have in “reversing the Curse“. That is one reason why Governor Scott threw PARCC out of Florida several months ago. If we can put enough pressure on Governor Scott – he may just throw out Common Core once and for all…and he’s got a good throwing arm.

The most important topic that Robert and I spoke about was the “Elections in November”, as we all know that Governor Scott needs every single vote that he can muster. And, cutting to the chase, I asked Robert a simple question: “How important is Governor Scott’s decision to either implement Common Core in the state of Florida or to drop Common Core, altogether in regards to him being re-elected?” Knowing that we constituents hold Governor’s Scott’s votes, Robert told me that this controversy of Common Core weighs very heavy on whether Rick Scott will be re-elected. Friends: I know for a fact that this Common Core issue will either make or break Governor Scott and will be the determining factor of whether he gets another term as our governor of Florida.

So, please make these phone calls because they count…just like every one of our votes.

ACTION ITEM: HOW MUCH WILL COMMON CORE COST YOU?

Posted by Vic Cirillo

There has never been a fiscal study of how much it will cost to implement Common Core. No one really knows how much it will cost your local school district to implement CC. A few years ago the feds bribed Florida with “Race to the Top” money to get our politicians to agree to implement Common Core, but guess what? The Race to the Top money is almost gone so Common Core costs will have to be covered with new money. Is Tallahassee going to start giving more money to the schools? Maybe, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. Most likely new expenses will be unfunded mandates that your local school district will have to cover and they probably don’t have the money to do so. That means they will have to cut something else or get more taxes from you, all to implement an education curriculum whose merits have been shrouded in secrecy. Good public policy is done in the sunlight, not in secrecy. Florida has been conned, we need to tell our elected officials to back out of Common Core. The mood in Tallahassee is that many of our legislators are on the fence and they need to know that we the citizens don’t want liberal, ham-fisted, D.C. central planner’s data mining our kids and gaming the lesson plans to teach them to be good little servants of the state. These are OUR schools, the schools WE pay for, the schools WE elect school board members to govern, the schools WE and our neighbors send our children to, the FLORIDA schools, not the federal schools.

Legislative Subterfuge

Common Core Opponents just returning from Tallahassee report that after meetings with members of the House and Senate Education Committees on the issue of Common Core those legislators and their staff were all working off the same talking points to sidetrack and confuse those opposing Common Core, including the Governor’s office. The Florida Department of Education recently made minor adjustments to Common Core and Rep. Janet Adkins and the K-12 Subcommittee passed a bill (PCB TKS 14-01) , that removes references to Common Core and changes the name to the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards or Florida Standards. Remember that last year our Florida legislators redefined the term Next Generation Sunshine State Standards to include Common Core. This is just a change in semantics with no change in implementation. After just a couple of meetings, it would have been laughable if weren’t so sad that they actually think we will be fooled by their subterfuge. Despite minor changes to the standards and a new name, Common Core Standards are still moving forward in Florida.

SB 864 and HB 921 are end around bills designed to make the public believe they oppose Federal intrusion and Common Core standards (see below). If all the textbooks we have to choose from are aligned to Common Core, and the students’ tests will be based on Common Core, and schools and teachers will be graded on their students’ tests, there is still no choice for school districts but Common Core aligned curriculum, most of which is produced by Pearson PLC and the College Board.

Senate President Don Gaetz and Speaker Will Weatherford told us in person that these are the bills they support and they will not allow SB 1316 and HB 25 to be heard in Committee: Why Not? Because, Debby Mayfield’s bill HB 25, is the only bill that actually will stop Common Core, and they know it.

HB 25 is Representative Debbie Mayfield’s Stop Common Core bill. Its first committee stop is the House Education Appropriations Subcommittee chaired by Representative Eric Fresen. So far he is refusing to schedule the bill for a committee hearing. Call him at 850-717-5114 and demand that he schedule the bill for a hearing.

Representative Marlene O’Toole is Chair of the House Education committee. Call her at 850-717-5033 and tell her you support HB25 and want it heard in her committee.

SB1316 by Senator Evers is the Senate companion bill to HB25. Senator John Legg is the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee. Call Senator Legg at 850-487-5017 and tell him you support SB1316 and want it scheduled for a hearing in his committee.

Finally, call the Governor’s Education Policy Coordinator, Kim McDougal at 850-717-9376. You will get her assistant, Robert Schulte. Tell him you want to speak to Kim McDougal. He will want to take a message for her. Tell him to tell his boss, that her boss, the Governor, will pay a high price at the polls in November if he continues with the implementation of Common Core.

We must not go quietly! We must not go down without a fight! CALL TODAY!

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of Holger.Ellgaard. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported2.5 Generic2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

Common Core opponents under attack by big business

Recently we reported about Common Core and shared this enlightening video regarding the government’s attempt to mandate education standards.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/PprP5TCZBRI[/youtube]

Common Core has run into very strong grassroots opposition and has become a focal issue for the conservative grassroots Tea Party. However, Common Core supporters, backed by big business special interests, aren’t going down without a fight. And they’ll fight in the manner they know best — with big money.

According to Politico, a coalition including the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will launch a national advertising blitz Sunday targeted at Republicans skeptical about the standards. Spots promoting the Common Core will air on Fox News and other conservative outlets.

The campaign — a major ad buy that could last months — aims to undercut dire tea party warnings that the standards amount to a federal power grab, akin to Obamacare. The TV spots and online ads will project a positive tone, featuring teachers praising the Common Core.

I spent a year teaching American and world history as well as honors government in high school after my retirement from the Army. I can attest that what is happening in our schools is not teaching but rather instructing on test-taking strategies. We are not preparing young people to be productive participants in our communities, developing their critical thinking skills or making education relevant.

It’s all because bureaucrats and those who profit from them are developing standards — national standards — that seem to forget one integral aspect of education: it is local. We have school boards for a reason and that’s to set standards and guidelines that educate children in coordination with the local community.

For example, you might think that since South Florida is home to maritime heavy industry, education would focus on preparing our children here for that industry. And why wouldn’t the Business Roundtable and Chamber of Commerce support more private sector involvement in practical application of education to support the theory taught? Evaluations should be based on skill set development, not nebulous and arbitrary standards developed by folks just peddling their wares, textbooks and such.

The bottom line is that big business has been recruited by Common Core proponents to destroy the grassroots, everyday Americans. And they intend to use their financial might to meet that end.

Dane Linn, vice president of the Business Roundtable and one of the architects of the Common Core says “State leaders, and the general public, need to understand why employers care about the Common Core.” The Business Roundtable, he said, is urging members to work their connections with “governors, committee chairs, House speakers, presidents of Senates” to stop any bills that could undercut the standards.

Mr. Linn needs to understand why parents care about Common Core.

And so it begins folks, the fight between big business and the grassroots. As I’ve said before, progressivism has nothing to do with party affiliation. It’s all about a philosophy of governance and the relation between government and the individual.

It is not the purview of the federal government to nationalize education standards. Nor is it proper for the federal government to blackmail states into accepting their terms of education. And it’s certainly not proper for big business to seek to financially crush the voices of concerned parents and teachers.

Neither I, nor my wife, Dr. Angela Graham-West, PhD, support common core. And I offer a word of advice to Republican candidates: listen to the people, and resist the temptation to betray them over the 30 pieces of silver these special interest groups promise. You will lose. I for one am more than willing and ready to stand up to Big Business as a champion for the American people.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on AllenBWest.com. The featured photo is of The United States Chamber of Commerce headquarters at 1615 H Street, NW in Washington, D.C. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Attribution: AgnosticPreachersKid at en.wikipedia.

Bill Gates Tries to Rally Teacher Support for His Beloved Common Core

One would think that if teachers supported the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), then teachers would take the initiative to rally around said CCSS.

Not so. It seems that we need Bill Gates to tell us that we need CCSS. He did so today (Friday, March 14, 2014), in Washington, DC:

Bill Gates is rallying teachers to support an embattled cause, the Common Core State Standards.

Got that? Teachers support CCSS to such a degree that they need Bill to tell them to do so.

It seems that Gates has once again bought himself an audience; he offered his CCSS-indulging speech to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) at its Teaching and Learning conference.

Why is Gates, a non-teacher, offering his non-expertise to an audience of nationally-certified teachers?

Consolation prize for millions donated.

Gates has paid NBPTS $5 million in the form of two grants, one in 2010, and one in 2013:

Date: May 2010 
Purpose: to score Measures of Effective Teaching videos, enhance the Take One materials and processes and design, and assess the efficacy of those materials as a whole-school approach to improving teacher effectiveness 
Amount: $1,195,639 

Date: July 2013 
Purpose: to support revision of the National Board certification process 
Amount: $3,743,337  

Gates is not a teacher and has never been a teacher, yet he feels he is qualified to make untested judgments about a set of inflexible, corporate- and federal-endorsed “standards” that currently have legislative bodies nationwide in upheaval.

The sadder indictment comes against NBPTS, who allowed Gates this opportunity to showcase his ignorance.

My sincere thanks to education organizations that have not taken Gates money. Thank you for not selling your conference speaking opportunities to well-funded emptiness.

Gates is a billionaire, so he can buy this NBPTS platform in order to push the CCSS that he has spent the last several years purchasing.

And why do we need CCSS, according to Gates?

As Joy Resmovits of Huffington Post  writes,

[Gates] charged that the controversy around the Core “comes from people who want to stop the standards, which would send us back to what we had before.“ [Emphasis added.]

Where “were we before,” Bill?

I’ll tell you where I was– you know, since I’m a teacher and you are not. I was allowed to use standards as flexible guidelines, to adjust them to serve my students– based upon my professional judgment.

That’s where I “was,” Bill. And that is where I must now defend remaining.

Standards are secondary to students. Students (and teachers) should not be forced to fit the mold of inflexible standards.

Forcing students and teachers to contort themselves to suit a set of rigid standards is not “academic rigor.” It is academic abuse.

Going back “to what I had” is a welcome idea, for what I “had” did not preclude my individual expertise as a professional capable of making sound judgments in regard to my own students.

But Bill has his own ideas.

Keep in mind that this is the same very rich guy who has been playing with American education for years as though its his own personal toy and who, without thought for the thousands of lives he has disturbed, is able to casually toss out in a September 2013 Harvard University interview,

“It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.”

According to Resmovits, Gates continues his March 14 speech:

Gates argued that America’s education system currently does not prepare students adequately for college, because it’s not asking enough of them. So the transition to the new standards is hard because it has to be, he said, and asked teachers to explain the standards to local families.

First off, “not preparing students for college” presumes that the school exerts overriding control over students and should guarantee that all are processed for the Gates-determined “college ideal.”

Certainly preparation “for college” presumes college completion.

After all, isn’t “college completion” the ultimate mark of “a system’s adequately preparing students for college”?

I find it an incredible irony that Gates himself is a college dropout, and that some spreadsheet could include his name on a list of “failure to complete.”

In his narrow logic, Gates insists that the “problem” is to “ask more of students,” and that this can be accomplished via CCSS.

In Gates’ skewed estimation, CCSS is magic. It will solve the Gates-perceived education problems– unless it doesn’t– and this we “probably won’t know for a decade.”

But we “know” now because Gates says so:

Consistency of the Common Core across states, Gates argued, is a key ingredient in its potential success. Under older standards, he said, a student from Kentucky didn’t have to know the quadratic formula, but a neighbor in Tennessee did. 

I love the reference to “old standards.” Even the pro-privatizing Fordham Institute did not rate CCSS as better than many states’ “old standards.” However, like Gates, Fordham pushes CCSS.

If “consistency” were necessary for educational success, then every elite private school would conform to CCSS. However, these schools are above being asked. No one expects the elite to bow to CCSS. On the contrary, CCSS is for the masses.

Mass production of pseudo-education.

Sci-fi “sameness.”

The bottom line is that no proponent of CCSS has any solid proof of its efficacy, Gates and his billions included. Yet despite having no “consistent” (rigid) educational standards across its 50 states, the United States somehow became a world power and has managed to produce scores of inventions now taken for granted and often considered indispensable to everyday functioning.

Bill, I realize that CCSS is your current “educational cause” and that you are used to having your way via your purchasing power. However, you’re going to lose this one.

The pushback from bottom-up defies both your billions and the weight of your overpriced will.

Perhaps you ought to take up reforming the so-called reformers. Hold them accountable to document the successes they so loudly declare. Hold them accountable for the damage their capricious decisions cause.

Now there’s an arena ripe for some standards.

RELATED STORIES: 

Bill Gates loves Common Core for your kids, BUT NOT HIS

Gates is Funding U.S. Department of Education Directly

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of Kees de Vos. This photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

196 Pro-Common Core Groups paid for by Gates Foundation

Recent news articles have focused on groups testifying and rallying FOR Common Core, specifically a veteran group, “Mission: Readiness.”  After research, this turns out to be a front group, paid by the Gates Foundation and the same Cabal that supports Common Core for obvious financial gain.

Mission: Readiness is one of “Five missions with One Voice” as the web site states:

http://www.councilfora strongamerica.org/members-in-action

It wouldn’t look good for Microsoft/the Gates Foundation to be defending itself when the benefit of Common Core so clearly inure to them.  This is pay for play if there ever was…Crony capitalism at its worst. Creating front groups to obfuscate who really promotes Common Core is just one tactic used to slip this abomination of Common Core under the radar.

Directly paying off organization which should have safeguarded the kids and public is another.  Over$300 million in payments were made to the National PTA, Fordham Foundation, Jeb Bush’s Foundations, US Chamber of Commerce, Michigan State University, Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education, ConnectEDU, Inc., NEA Foundation for the Improvement of Education (to support Common Core implementation in Kentucky), Center for American Progress (Soros front group), Alliance for Excellent Education, Inc., National Congress of Parents and Teachers, Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), Kentucky Department of Education, Committee for Economic Development are all named as recipients of money from the Gates Foundation with the stated purposes listed as supporting Common Core, the gravy train for tech companies and Pearson, PLC.  This is from the Gates Foundation web site:  http://www.gatesfoundation.org/search

Just type in grants Common Core which yielded 196 results. These are all Common Core grants:

American Federation of Teachers Educational Foundation
Benchmark Education Company
Council for a Strong America- (five front groups above mentioned)
New Venture Fund
Americas Promise-The Alliance for Youth
Louisiana Department of Education
DePaul University
George Washington University
Aspen Institute
Scholastic Inc.
Battelle For Kids
The Achievement Network
University of Florida
University of Michigan
Education Commission of the States
The College-Ready Promise
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Inc.
Arkansas Public School Resource Center, Inc.
Regents University of CA Los Angeles
BetterLesson, Inc.
Center for Applied Linguistics
Forsyth County Schools
School District of Philadelphia
Albuquerque Public Schools
Pennsylvania Dept. of Ed.
Council of the Great City Schools
Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education
Council of Chief State School Officers
Georgia Department of Education
Student Achievement Partners, Inc.
University of the State of New York
James B. Hunt Jr.  Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy Foundation, Inc.
Education Commission of the States
Foundation for Excellence in Education
NEA Foundation for the Improvement of Education
The Fund for Transforming  Education in Kentucky, Inc.
Council of State Governments
Summit Public Schools
National Association of State Boards of Education
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
Fund for Public Schools, Inc.
National Catholic Education Association
Motion Math, Inc.
NYU
Stanford University
And so many more …

Legislators involved in charter schools who stand to gain from their ties with Jeb Bush through the Foundation for Florida’s Future include Senator John Legg, Senate President Don Gaetz, Speaker Will Weatherford, Rep Erik Fresen, Rep Seth McKeel, and Senator Anitere Flores.  These legislators have a serious conflict of interest and should recuse themselves and allow the will of the people to supersede their personal gain.  They are now standing in the way of SB 1316 and HB25 being heard in the State Legislature.

The Republican Party of Florida issued a united strongly worded resolution opposing Common Core:

image005

For a larger view click on the image.

Yet Governor Scott and leadership legislators have looked the other way with the promise of money and support from the Jeb Bush/ Microsoft team.  March 13, there is an award banquet and fundraiser for Jeb Bush’s Foundation for in Tallahassee to poke a stick in the eye of Floridians.

My personal projection is that Governor Scott will be defeated unless he complies with the wishes of his base.  Rejection of his base will be his demise.  He must be reminded that this is NOT just an ISSUE for us, it is our children and our future.  We will NEVER sell out our kids.  There is NO greater issue than the future of our children.  Rip them from the bosom’s of their mothers at your peril!

RELATED STORIES:

Gates is Funding U.S. Department of Education Directly

Common Core-frustrated teacher’s resignation letter: ‘My profession … no longer exists’

Common Core Could Impact Special GOP Congressional Race In Florida

The one issue that conservative grassroots activists around the country seem to come together and rally against is Common Core, or socialized education.

This  issue  could very well sink any Republican congressional candidate’s campaign, if they were to support the federal education standards.

National conservatives like Senator Marco Rubio, Allen West, as well as author and Fox News Contributor, Michelle Malkin, have all railed against Common Core education standards, further fueling the existing and growing nationwide groundswell of support to block Common Core.

Read Marco Rubio Opposes Common Core Education Standards

Common Core education standards are being embraced by state legislator around the country, including the folks up in Tallahassee, Florida. In 2013, Florida state representative Debbie Mayfield (R) filed a bill to stop Common Core in Florida. Florida Governor Rick Scott, who was a big supporter of the standards, took a baby step back on the matter, and withdrew Florida from federal Common Core testing.

Senate Majority leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, who is currently a candidate for the U.S. Congress in the upcoming Republican special primary election to replace Trey Radel in FL-CD19, co-sponsored SB 1076, a state Senate education bill that was signed into law last year.

Lizbeth_Benacquisto_R-27th-89x130 (1)

Lizbeth Benacquisto

During the recent forum which included Benacquisto and the three other Republican candidates in the race, Benacquisto stated that she adamantly opposed Common Core education standards.

I’ll be darned if I am going to let the President decide what my child should learn. There is no benefit to a once size fits all curriculum for every state, in every neighborhood. What Common Core does is remove the sense of individuality and creativity, and purposefulness of the learning experience. It is a failed policy that we will repeal if we are in Congress. With a daughter that is in the school system, it is a fight that is personal to me. – Lizbeth Benacquisto

But in reading the education bill Benacquisto co-sponsored in the Senate, the bill provides “requirements” for the “transition to common core assessments.”

Is Benacquisto completely against Common Core?

Here is how page 3 of the bill reads:

“… requirements for a statewide, standardized assessment program aligned to core curricular content in the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards; providing requirements for end-of-course assessments; providing requirements for instruction for students with disabilities; providing for transition to common core assessments in English Language Arts and mathematics; providing requirements for assessment scores…” – SB 1076

In response to our inquiring on Benacquisto’s co-sponsored education bill, her campaigned outlined that “The Career and Professional Education Act (1076) was a bill that required expanded career education in Florida, added resources to increase the high school graduation rates,directed Florida’s public colleges to develop bachelor’s degree programs that cost $10,000 or less, and added dollars to reward teachers who demonstrate exceptional results in the classroom,” adding that “it was a comprehensive bill that gives more control to communities.”

In addition, Benacquisto’s campaigned pointed out that 1076 “was OPPOSED in the state senate by 7 of Florida’s most liberal Democrats.”

To her credit, Benacquisto has sponsored several pieces of legislation that allow families to choose where their children attend school, as well as giving “low-income” students, through scholarships, the same school choice opportunities. To add to her pro-education position, Benacquisto has just co-sponsored SB 1316, which is an education bill that mirrors the House bill Representative Debbie Mayfield Common Core-blocking legislation.

Activist Cindy Kucharski of North Fort Myers penned a letter to Benacquisto, questioning why Benaquisto was “supportive of this agenda in the past” and her co-sponsoring of the “Common Core implementation in Florida schools.”

If you are not instrumental in actually stopping Common Core by submitting a senate bill to do so by tomorrow, I cannot in good faith vote for you in June if you should be the candidate. – Cindy Kucharski

During the forum, Paige Kreegel outlined what Common Core really was, and stated that he would “not vote for it,” and would do everything he could to try to stop it,” if he was in the Congress.

While Michael Dreikorn echoed what Kreegel said, Dreikorn enlightened attendees of the fact that Common Core already passed in Florida, and warned about the intrusive data mining that will occur under Common Core

Businessman Curt Clawson implied that both the Department of Education and Common Core needed to be gutted.

“We can take care of Common Core and the Department of Education all in one swoop” – Curt Clawson

This bill, which was passed by the conservative Republican-led Florida legislature, and signed into law by Governor Scott, seems to a pretty good bill that addresses many of state’s education needs, but does open the door for Common Core education standards.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image and this column originally appeared on The Shark Tank.

Sarasota County, FL School Board loves Common Core

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sarasota County School Board members. Front row: Caroline Zucker, Shirley Brown. Back row: Dr. Carole Todd, Jane Goodwin and Frank Kovach. For a larger view click on the photo.

The School Board of Sarasota County is pushing for the extension of a 1 mill tax on all county property holders on March 25th. They are using school funds to lobby in favor of and promote the 1 mill tax. Has anyone asked if this is legal?

According to their official Report on the Uses of Referendum Funds since 2002, “This vote allows the District to maintain existing programs, provide additional programs and continue the District’s commitment to quality education.” But is the District really committed to a “quality education”?

Scott Ferguson, Communications Specialist Sarasota County Schools, states in an email:

The Sarasota County School District has been implementing the Common Core Standards per Florida Department of Education requirements and timetable. We are in full implementation in grades K-2. The current 2013-14 school year is a “blended year” for grades 3-12 (a combination of Common Core and the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards). Full implementation is scheduled for all grades for the 2014-15 school year. Again, this is all according to the state schedule and requirements.

As you may be aware, the Florida Board of Education is considering adopting some changes to the Common Core Standards, including changes in handwriting and math standards. If adopted, the proposed revised standards will likely be referred to as the Florida Standards, since they will depart from the Common Core Standards in these and other areas.

What Ferguson does not say is that the District can opt-out of Common Core, as did thirty school districts in New York. Parents, teachers, educators and concerned citizens see Common Core as anything but a “quality education.”

Terrence O. Moore, an assistant professor of history at Hillsdale College, states, “The Common Core Standards control the testing and curriculum of public schools and a large number of private schools in over forty states in the nation. Sold to the public as a needed reform, the Common Core nationalizes absurdity, superficiality, and political bias in the American classroom. As a result, the great stories of a great nation are at risk, along with the minds and souls of our children.”

Brenda Pastoric in an op-ed titled “The Price of Human Capital” states:

The new business relationship our leaders of Sarasota schools are now promoting CRADLE TO CAREER sounds very promising for the uninformed public and unsuspecting parents, especially in today’s stagnant workforce climate. While we can agree that not every child is college bound, students will lead productive lives either through our excellent vocational education, ROTC, the Military Academy, Booker’s Visual Arts programs and others omitted here. But when “focus groups” such as the Chamber of Commerce and public-private partnerships are created and the “right people” like the CEO of Sun Hydraulics’ speaks of a “formula” and all are “collaborating” with our school officials who state they cannot “do it alone” and looking at “talent” in the fifth grade through data mining, we should be alarmed.

This early, progressive and socialistic labeling from all fronts is not a new phenomenon. History teaches us that mining for human capital by governments or government-corporate partnerships have been a hallmark for some of the most repressive societies. With unfunded mandates to states, during President Bill Clinton’s 1994 School-To-Work act, federal controls and performance-based education were implemented in local schools at the earliest possible age for every American worker to choose careers by Workforce Development Boards, formed to study which labor skills were needed in each state to determine “human resources” training requirements. Then we saw President Bush with “No Child Left Behind” and his 2001 Executive Order “21st Century Workforce Initiative”.

It’s time to wake up as the 1% surtax referendum draws near, and elected officials and parents call for more $, we may be subsidizing the human capital for government and corporations with our children.

Early voting on the 1 mill referendum began on March 10th. Perhaps voters should consider if they want their tax dollars supporting the implementation of Common Core in Sarasota County public Schools.

RELATED COLUMNS:

Why Common Core is Wrong For Our Kids – Period! 

Common Core nationalizes absurdity, superficiality, and political bias

Comprehensive list of States that have pulled out of Common Core

Allen West: If Governor Scott does not “renounce Common Core” he will lose in November

The Politics of Common Core: FL State Board of Education Poised to approve Common Core 2/18/14 at Orlando Board meeting

With breathtaking hubris, Governor Scott’s Education Commissioner, Pam Stewart, has ignored experts and citizens loud cries to stop the giant experiment called Common Core, which could damage a generation of children.  But this is not just a move born of benign ignorance, it is a political calculation.

The stakes in their games are enormous.  The Governorship and the Presidency could hang in the balance.  Early speculation comes from past experience.  Just what is happening behind the scenes?  It certainly doesn’t take a mental giant to see that Governor Scott is leaning on support from his predecessor, Jeb Bush and his new friends, who promised and delivered support and influence to win the last election.

The growing rift between the Republican Party groups and the Republican Party of Florida was nowhere more apparent than the recent annual state meeting.  County Executive Committees voted to oppose Common Core and were overruled in the end by the Executive Committee, Jeb Bush’s cabal, squeezing the grassroots out of the party in Florida.  They assert that we must blindly go along with Governor Scott’s adamant support of Common Core because we certainly don’t want a major rift in support to allow “Charlie Hippochrist” to steal the election.

Newsflash!  Charlie Christ is ahead of Scott in the polls and gaining.  Continuing his path of isolated decision making on this and other issues is not bolstering Scott’s campaign.  So WHY is he supporting this unpopular, anti-conservative position on Common Core?  Two words….Jeb Bush, and the promise his new support team will carry Scott over the finish line a winner.

You see, Jeb Bush is playing his own game here for yet a larger prize, the presidency, and this political calculation has worked for Jeb Bush before.  This interesting article from the St. Pete Times shows how Jeb Bush uses foundations to gather money and power to unleash a successful campaign.

When he narrowly lost his bid to be Governor, he needed a way to stay in the mix and build strength.  His foundation provided a way to collect money and support and it worked.  Flash forward, the conservative “education governor” of Florida embraces Common Core before the standards are even developed and his foundation gets $501,000 as a first installment.  He joins with Bill Gates Foundation, GE, Eli Broad Foundation, Pearson Education and many more multi-billion dollar groups who can provide as much money and power as he could ever need and a nationwide platform of education reform.

Just one problem, Common Core is a Trojan horse delivering poisonous messages to our children, not a “reform” at all.  His “team” includes unpopular multi-nationalist billionaires who stand to gain more money and power by “Transforming” America through the hearts and minds of the children.  The book recently written by Dr. Terrence Moore called “The Story-Killers” shows just how this is done.

Florida is ground zero for this high stakes game.  If Common Core collapses, his “money tree” coalition likely will suffer a similar fate.

This is all coming to a head as Anti-Common Core groups mobilize against this assault on their families and their future.  “Healthcare, concerns me.  But when they are contaminating the hearts and minds of our children, this is where we draw the line!”  Kathy Doan, co-founder of Stop Common Core FL,  said.

And she is joined by leaders from over 50 groups within Florida who are not fooled by the bait and switch maneuvers by this administration.  On the 18thof February, the State Board of Education plans to vote on changing the name of Common Core and adopting it in spite of huge opposition from parents, teachers, administrators and children.

A rally is planned for Feb 18th by these groups to demonstrate their disgust with the Department of Education, its Board, Governor Scott who appointed them, and Jeb Bush for promoting this campaign for his political gain.  For information, call Chris Quackenbush, 239-823-2980

We are also advertising on radio against Common Core and sharing our ads with others across the country to grow opposition everywhere. Tax deductible contributions may be made to www.ivbe.org to increase our ad coverage.