August 21, 2013
This article appeared in the August 6th edition of the Charlotte Sun. Part one of Mr. Eastwood's excellent series is available here. We thank him for his great work and for quoting Dr. Effrem.
Tea Parties have joined forces with many non-partisan grass roots organizations against the implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The Washington Post 5/30/13 quotes Lee Ann Buckholder of York, Pennsylvania: "This is an issue that could change things for the Tea Party movement. " At the local presentation recently by CCSS to the school board and superintendent a concerned parent was upset about sharing information about his child with others. Student records, test results and other confidential data would be available to researchers, education officials and even software developers. Indiana and Pennsylvania have put the program on hold. Michigan, despite lobbying by Rhee, Bush and the governor voted to not fund CCSS.
States were pressured by Obama's 2009 stimulus package that contained educational grants for The Race to The Top during a severe recession. That money is running out. States and counties are now faced with another huge unfunded mandate from the federal government. This is an expensive proposition for states and local school boards and they are being forced to cut other programs like physical education. President Obama is now pushing for Pre-K education with control remaining at the federal level. This idea comes from Center for American Progress funded by George Soros. In 2010 the Florida State Board of Education adopted CCSS. This program from Washington will be fully implemented in grades K-12 classrooms in the 2014-2015 school year. Governor Crist agreed to CCSS before the standards were written or even knowing what they were. The final cost of the program is unknown. Some are calling the program Obamacore. Developed by federally funded private groups, the standards are copyrighted and cannot be altered. Home schooling will be affected as the testing supplied by the state to home schoolers will be based on CCSS. Governor Scott has requested that private schools who receive vouchers from the state take CCSS tests.
Karen Effrem, M. D., President of Education Liberty Watch and a Co-Founder of The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition has replied to Dr. Whittaker's comments in my last week's column:
"Dr. Whitaker is correct that it is the duty of the school board to obey the laws of Florida and the federal government as well as following the Florida and U. S. Constitutions. However, he should be asked why they are implementing Common Core when it violates the 4th
amendments to the Constitution; the federal General Education Provisions Act, The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, The Department of Education Organization Act , as well as the newly signed Florida statutes SB 1076 that requires an implementation schedule based on adequate funding and field and baseline data, none of which are present, and HB 7099 which requires technology load testing and verification in all districts before the Common Core tests are given."
People locally and nationally are upset that CCSS has gotten so far into the school systems. Only now are they realizing that this federal program supported by President Obama and pushed into the 50 states may be very difficult to turn back. Opposition to CCSS is mainly volunteers. Arrayed against this opposition are major corporations and governmental agencies such as: General Electric; the United States Department of Education and its Secretary, Arne Duncan, whose last job was managing the Chicago City Schools that had a 50% high school graduation rate; The United States Army; National PTA; American Federation of Teachers , (NFT), a teacher's union; The United States Chamber of Commerce which uses Gates Foundation grants for such activities as making massive numbers of robocalls in support of CCSS.
Time is running out on this complex issue. Contact or view the following: a teacher; the local school board; the superintendent of schools; view www.yourcharlotteschools.net
; the county commissioners; your state and federal senate and house representatives; go to the internet and view the pros and cons of CCSS. If individuals are involved ask their opinion about CCSS. If someone doesn't know about CCSS ask why not? Implementation of CCSS in Charlotte County should be a parent's decision!
August 16, 2013
Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz recently wrote a letter to Education Commissioner Tony Bennett requesting a withdrawal from the PARCC assessment consortium. Though this is encouraging because they cited many of the same concerns we have discussed about Common Core, we cannot stop. Please see this Action Plan from our Coalition lobbyist and strategist Randy Osborne and help us continue the fight against Common Core!
As I engaged this battle several months ago to stop Common Core, our legislators were in complete support for this insidious federal takeover of our education system. With your help and the help of many organizations across Florida and nationally, the House and Senate leadership has asked Florida's Commissioner of Education, Tony Bennett to eliminate PARRC assessments from CCS for the very reasons that we have been communicating. (Click Here to read letter)
. This could be problematic for Commissioner Bennett because he is on the board of PARCC.
Your voice is being heard, however, we must not stop! Now is the time that we must be heard even louder! Our goal remains simple and clear. Our next plan for the next legislative session is to ultimately defeat Common Core Standards in the State of Florida.
The following is our "Action Plan":
Educate - We must continue educating the voters, parents, teachers, school board members, and our politicians. If you have a group or organization that is interested in someone speaking on Common Core, please let me know and we can schedule a speaker.
Ask for open Public Debates on CCS. The proponents cannot win these debates.
"Common Core Standards Policy Analysis", a 34 page report is currently being edited and will be available in copy later this week. We encourage you to deliver a copy of this analysis to all legislators, school board members, Superintendent of Schools and County Commissioners.
Engage - We must meet with our legislators and ask them to commit to support legislation that will repeal common core in Florida. You need to leave their offices with a "yes, no, or maybe" (Click here for "rules of Engagement"). Please let me know your results. We are working on writing legislation and sponsors to support it.
August 13, 2013
Here is an excellent response to the "charm offensive" waged by Common Core proponents designed to deceive Christians about the supposed merits of the Common Core system. Dr. Karen Gushta is a writer and researcher at Truth in Action Ministries and is author of The War on Children, and co-author of Ten Truths About Socialism. As a career educator, Dr. Gushta has taught at levels from kindergarten to graduate teacher education in both public and Christian schools in America and overseas.
Common Core Standards Are Hitting Roadblocks--With Good Cause
By Dr. Karen Gushta
According to a report by National Public Radio (npr.org
6/24/13) there is a growing backlash against the new Common Core Standards. The standards have been accepted by 46 states and the District of Colombia, most of which received some federal funds as an incentive for their acceptance.
Opposition seems to be gathering around three concerns. First, as Lindsey Burke, an education fellow at the Heritage Foundation, says, "This is an effort largely driven by national organizations and the federal government, and for many, the fear is that that will come at the expense of state and local control of education."
The second concern is that the new standards will drive the curriculum and assessments. Burke notes that textbooks are already advertising that they are "Common Core-aligned textbooks."
The third worry is a pragmatic one for those states that have already adopted the standards. How are they going to pay for the costs of implementing them? As the NPR article noted, "Everyone on both sides of the standards agrees that implementation of Common Core will cost money. There are tests and new textbooks, and teachers will need to be retrained." Supporters say the results will be worth the costs. Opponents, however, say there is not enough evidence to show that will actually be the case.
Among those who say that the standards have not been adequately field tested is former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, who in most cases is a vocal opponent of conservative positions on education reform, such as school vouchers and charter schools. Ravitch says she also mistrusts the fact that a number of large corporations support the standards--many of which will benefit financially through sale of curriculum materials, online learning venues, and tests once the standards are implemented.
Christian educators have been sitting on the sidelines of this debate, since at this point there is no move to impose these curriculum standards on Christian schools. That, however, may change in the future.
Another concern for graduates of Christian, private, and homeschools should be the fact that the College Board, which produces the SAT, has already begun putting out materials to demonstrate how closely their tests were aligned to the Common Core. Now that the man behind the development of these standards, David Coleman, is president the College Board, the alignment will no doubt be tightened.
Coleman recently reached out to Christian educators in an effort to broaden the base of support for the Common Core. As Karen Swallow Prior reported, "He invited a dozen Christian thinkers and scholars to join him for two days "to discuss the challenges and implications of the new literacy standards for people of faith."
Prior posted an opinion article, "The Good News of Common Core," on Christianity Today's
website on June 20, 2013. She urged evangelicals to get behind the Common Core Standards, primarily because of the standards for literacy. She wrote:
The vision behind the literacy standards boasts that the skills taught through Common Core--engagement with literary and informational texts, critical reading, cogent reasoning--will apply beyond the classroom and workplace. It's easy to see the parallels between these skills and the close reading and study of Scripture upheld by today's evangelicals.
At the end of her article Prior concluded,
Indeed, the kind of careful readers the Common Core literacy standards seek to develop are exactly the kind of readers that people of a Word-based faith seek to cultivate, too.... In short, the Common Core standards of reading promise to revitalize the fading art of reading well. For Christians, this is indeed good news.
As already noted, critics such as Ravitch are saying that what the Common Core "promises" and "seeks to develop" just hasn't been demonstrated yet. Therefore the rush to adopt them is premature and largely a gamble based on high hopes but little evidence.
In her article, Prior does not indicate that she reviewed the at standards herself, or that she even read them. Among those who have reviewed them, there is no agreement that these standards will "revitalize the fading art of reading," nor that they will develop the kind of "careful readers" that Prior hopes they will.
One of the major criticisms of the standards is that they lower the amount of literature students are exposed to from 80 percent to 50 percent. The other 50 percent of texts students will read are classified as "informational texts" which could include reading a computer manual or a Supreme Court decision.
One of the problems this raises is the fact that these are not the kinds of documents that English teachers are trained to teach, says Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who is Professor of Education Reform and holds the Chair in Teacher Quality at the University of Arkansas. Stotsky had the chance to look closely at the standards when she served on Common Core's Validation Committee from 2009-2010.
Dr. Stotsky says the Common Core's English Language Arts (ELA) standards "badly misinform reading and English teachers on a number of disciplinary matters." For example, she says, "Informational reading standards do not clearly distinguish the modes of organizing an expository text (e.g., order of time, cause and effect) from structural elements (e.g., purpose, introduction, body, and conclusion)."
Stotsky's extensive analysis of the other shortcomings of the literacy (ELA) standards is presented in a white paper put out in May 2012 by the Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project. The paper gives five major criticisms of the Common Core Standards drawing from the testimony and research of experts such as Stotsky and others:
the standards are of mediocre quality and rest on questionable philosophies
the Common Core Standards/Race to the Top effort violates three federal statutes and eliminates state autonomy
the Common Core Standards requires a governance system that will further impair state and parental rights
states and their taxpayers will incur substantial costs to implement the Common Core
the Common Core Standards system intrudes on student and family privacy.
Taken together, these concerns should indicate that before evangelicals put their shoulders behind the push for adoption of Common Core, they should take a long, hard look at the potential consequences of adoption.
There is much at stake in this debate, and just because the standards are for the present only being imposed on state funded schools does not mean that they will not be broadened to apply to private, parochial, and Christian schools, and even homeschooling, in the future.
The time to stop the long arm of government from reaching inside our homeschools and Christian classrooms is not when they are at the door, demanding entrance. If you are a Christian parent or grandparent, now is the time to educate yourself on this issue. Then, when you have the facts, join in the community discussions and participate in the forums that are being held all around the country on Common Core. Make your voice heard and stand for truth.
"The entirety of Your word is truth. And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever" (Psalm 119:160.)
Karen Swallow Prior's article can be found at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/june-web-only/good-news-of-common-core.html
More information on the perceived problems with the Common Core can be found at:
August 9, 2013
After Tony Bennett's resignation in disgrace, the education establishment is furiously trying to keep a happy face on the Common Core system. They are not succeeding. In two meetings in the Jacksonville area on August 6th, Rep. Janet Adkins, chairwoman of the House Education Committee, tried to paint a dismal picture of Florida student achievement trying to justify the supposed desperate need for Common Core. The Florida Times Union reported, "Adkins told the audience that the percentage of Florida students reading below grade level is at the low 40s and the number is in the high 40s for students below grade level in math.'It shows we still have a ways to go,' she said."
In so doing, she directly contradicted Governor Scott who frequently touts his education record by mentioning the accomplishments (Podcast starting at 3:40) of Florida students:
"Our fourth graders are now number two in the world in reading;"
"Our fourth and eighth graders have had the greatest student achievement gains of any large state in the country over the last few years;"
"According to Education Week, we're the 6th best state in the nation for education, K-12. We're on our way to number one."
"Our graduating high school class has the highest percentage seeking an AP exam; and"
"The National Council for Teacher Quality says we have the most effective teachers in the country"
Aside from the obvious fact that Rep. Adkins is making the governor look bad, these statistics beg the question: f all of these good things are happening without Common Core, why do we need to adopt his system of inferior national standards, national tests and invasive data mining?