Jeb Bush on Common Core: “I don’t think it’s coercive”

EdWeek published an interview with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush at the Republican National Convention.  Here are the lowlights.

1. He praises Race to the Top

Bush cited Obama’s “efforts to challenge his own party on education reform.” And he said that [Race the the Top] helped “change behavior in places that people didn’t expect it would be changed.” He also gave the thumbs-up to Obama’s pick for an education secretary. “Arne Duncan was a great choice. … It could have been a lot worse.”

2. His view of the Common Core.

“I don’t believe that common core is a federal initiative,” Bush said. “A majority of the Republican governors support this. And we’ll see how the implementation goes. Romney’s view is that standards need to be benchmarked to the world. … Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have signed on to this. … I don’t think it’s coercive.”

He doesn’t think conditional NCLB and dangling RTTT funds to cash-strapped states is being coercive?  He and I obviously have a different opinion of what that word means.

One highlight though.  He doesn’t foresee himself being picked as the Secretary of Education.  We can only hope!  But I would be shocked if he were not picked should Romney win.  He wrote the forward to Romney’s education white paper and his fingerprints are obvious throughout.  As of right now when it comes to education under a Romney administration I see it as a “here’s the new boss, same as the old boss” proposition.

Update: The Christian Science Monitor finds five points of daylight between Mitt Romney and President Obama on education.  Yes there are differences, but none that will halt or even wind back federal involvement in education.

Common Core Propaganda: Who Created the Standards Exactly?

Propaganda has accompanied the Common Core State Standards, but now they are being implemented expect it to come out even more.  I wanted to point out an example that was emailed to me yesterday.  From a piece written by Cammy Harbison at Voxxi.com.  She writes about the benefits of the common core state standards, and right in her overview of the standards we see a glaring untruth.

These standards were developed by classroom teachers, school administrators and experts, in order to provide a consistent framework of instruction across the United States so that our children will be prepared for college and the workforce.

Wrong.  These standards were never developed by classroom teachers or school administrators.  The architect of the Common Core is David Coleman.  Coleman has never been a teacher.  One of the chief criticisms of the Common Core, by teachers no less, is that they were not involved in the development of the Common Core.  She is right that “experts” were involved, but that is a pretty subjective term.  I find it fascinating how somebody could be deemed “an expert” on how and what teachers should teach every child across the country.

Then there’s the fact these standards have never been field tested anywhere.

But parents, don’t worry, these standards rolling out this year (if you happen to be so “lucky” to be in one of the 45 states who are implementing them) will be *beneficial.*  Trust the educrats, it’ll be ok.

Update: Robert Pondiscio left an insightful comment on Facebook and gave me permission to post it here.

The issue with CCSS is not who created them and under what circumstances, but implementation. To be clear the standards do not “provide a consistent framework of instruction.” They are statements of what students should be able to do, not what they should know. But if we knew what it took to get students to that level we’d be doing it already.

Very true, another piece of propaganda exposed.

“Supplement, Not Supplant” Requirement Leaves States in a Bind

Unintended consequences, they always exist with well-meaning, but poorly thought out plans.  The NCLB waivers and the Race to the Top funds are no different.  It’s something we have warned about.  These new policies that states put in place in order to satisfy the requirements to apply for either the waiver or the funds will place an additional fiscal burden upon the states.  In essence, a brand spanking new unfunded Federal mandate!  Isn’t that exciting taxpayer?!?!

Rick Hess points out the problem is with the “supplement, not supplant” requirement that accompanies federal money:

One of the most pervasive of these is the “supplement not supplant” requirement, which has generally been interpreted as requiring that federal dollars be spent “on top of” whatever states, districts, and schools were already going to spend when serving the kids in question. It’s generally been presumed that, if states have committed to doing something as a matter of policy or statute, then it’d be a violation to use federal funds to pay for it (since they’ve already committed to doing it, even in the absence of federal money. Get it?)….

…This created huge consternation over the past few weeks, as “waiver” states realized that they were not going to be allowed to use Title I funds to provide the supports and interventions they had promised to provide in their waiver applications (as part of the price for getting out from under SES and public choice requirements). Last week, ED managed to stamp out that fire, by announcing that a state law or policy enacted in order to implement ESEA Flex is presumed to be supplemental. The administration explained, “Because the State legal requirement is tied to the State’s flexibility request, we would not consider the use of Title I funds to meet the requirement as presumptively violating the supplement not supplant requirement.”

However, this doesn’t resolve the main problem. It’s only a stopgap. The much bigger and more interesting challenge, to which few states have yet given any thought, is how all this will play out with efforts to implement teacher evaluation and the Common Core. Why? Because ED’s announcement also cautioned that its decision only applied to remedies for Title I schools and students–not to policies with more general implications. ED specifically explained that principles 1 and 3 of ESEA flex (Common Core and teacher evaluation) “raise issues regarding the allowable use of Title I, Part A funds because they pertain, respectively, to all students or all teachers and principals.” Therefore, because those activities benefit all students in the state, Title I generally cannot be used to implement those systems.

Of course, most states have been planning to rely heavily on federal aid for both Common Core and teacher evaluation, but RTT and “waiver” states that have adopted these policies now face legal jeopardy if they use those funds in that fashion. Savvy education consultant Krvaric, who works with a slew of states and districts, explains, “They’re putting themselves at risk. But no one is really focused on this yet. But they will be soon.”

Oops.

Common Sense on the Common Core in Montana

I love this guest op/ed in The Helena Independent Record written by Barbara Rush, a retired teacher from the Helena Public Schools.

An excerpt:

According to the Montana Common Core Standards Document, issued by the Office of Public Instruction, the standards were written to “fulfill the charge issued by the states.” Where did this “charge” come from? The work was “led by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association (NGA).” My question is this: When did Montana begin to be represented by associations and councils rather than our elected representatives in the legislature? Denise Juneau, our state superintendent, went to the Montana Board of Public Education, an appointed body of seven, to gain approval to mandate Common Core in all our schools. The Pioneer Institute published an in-depth financial analysis of Common Core and determined that it would cost the state of Montana about $40 million to implement. Where will that money come from, and why wasn’t the legislature the body to decide if this was the right path for Montana schools?

If she would have stopped there it would have still been fantastic.  Ms. Rush asks the million dollar question when considering the Common Core.  “When did (fill in your state) begin to be represented by associations and councils rather than our elected representatives?”

Exactly!

Be sure to read the whole thing, it’s worth the time.

2012 Republican Platform on Education

The Republican Party released its final draft of this year’s platform.  The delegates assembling in Tampa, FL this week for the Republican National Convention will vote on it.  I wanted to read what they had to say about education.

Some excerpts:

First you see an overall summary of where they’re headed a push for local control and school choice.

Today’s education reform movement calls for accountability at every stage of schooling. It affirms higher expectations for all students and rejects the crippling bigotry of low expectations. It recognizes the wisdom of State and local control of our schools, and it wisely sees consumer rights in education—choice—as the most important driving force for renewing our schools, (pg. 35).

They affirm education as a state issue again later on pg. 35.

We support the innovations in education reform occurring at the State level based upon proven results. Republican Governors have led in the effort to reform our country’s underperforming education system, and we applaud these advancements.

You also see this in a list of reforms they prefer in respect to the word advocate and addressing educational leadership at the local level.

We advocate the policies and methods that have proven effective: building on the basics, especially STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math) and phonics; ending social promotions; merit pay for good teachers; classroom discipline; parental involvement; and strong leadership by principals, superintendents, and locally elected school boards. Because technology has become an essential tool of learning, proper implementation of technology is a key factor in providing every child equal access and opportunity, (pg. 35-36).

The language I was looking for, but had hoped they would have called out No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top by name:

We support its concept of block grants and the repeal of numerous federal regulations which interfere with State and local control of public schools, (pg. 36).

They get their school choice position straight from the Romney education agenda:

The bulk of the federal money through Title I for low-income children and through IDEA for disabled youngsters should follow the students to whatever school they choose so that eligible pupils, through open enrollment, can bring their share of the funding with them. The Republican-founded D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program should be expanded as a model for the rest of the country. We deplore the efforts by Congressional Democrats and the current President to kill this successful program for disadvantaged students in order to placate the leaders of the teachers’ unions. We support putting the needs of students before the special interests of unions when approaching elementary and secondary education reform, (pg. 36).

I had hoped that they would have repudiated the Common Core State Standards by name, but the call for education policy to go back to the states and local communities is a start.

Battling the Common Core at the State Level

An article in the Indianapolis Star today demonstrates the impact that can be made in battling the Common Core State Standards.  Tony Bennett, the Indiana State Superintendent of Education who is an elected official, has found that his challenge for re-election has been on the right, not on the left with teacher’s unions.  He wants to talk about his reform efforts and school choice, but people who attend Tea Party groups want to know about the Common Core.

Republican incumbent Tony Bennett is officially running against Democrat Glenda Ritz, a teacher at Crooked Creek Elementary School in Indianapolis, for state superintendent of public instruction. Yet he also seems to be running against critics of the national Common Core standards.

Critics see the Common Core as part of a federal effort to command a larger role in education, which historically has been the responsibility of state and local government. They also argue that previous Indiana standards were excellent and should not have been tossed aside.

They cite studies by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research to make their case.

“Common Core would deprive students of the intangible benefits of studying classic literature,” says a Pioneer white paper. “A student who learns to love great books learns to understand great principles that endure throughout human history.”

Bennett has attended tea party forums to remind voters of his impressive reform record, but he winds up answering a lot of questions about the Common Core, including at a recent meeting in Hamilton County.

Groups in Indiana like the American Family Association of IndianaC3 of Wabash County, Greenfield Area TEA Party, Indiana Eagle Forum, Indiana Policy Review, Owen County Tea Party, The Tea Party Coalition of Central Indiana and Hoosier Moms Say No to Common Core.  They are not alone.

We saw a victory in Utah when the State Board of Education there voted to pull out of the SBAC thanks largely to Oak Norton and his group Utahns Against the Common Core.  We also have other groups who are trying to make a difference in their state.  Two new groups have formed.  The first in Georgia called Stop Common Core in Georgia and I launched last night Iowans for Local Control.  You can check out a list of our participants to see if there is somebody in your area.  If not, perhaps you can launch a group!

What’s going on in your state?

Florida Governor Addresses Trinity Christian Academy’s EOC Assessment Problem

400px-Rick_Scott_official_portraitDr. Dennis Robinson, the Headmaster of Trinity Christian Academy in Deltona, FL and President of the Florida League of Christian Schools, emailed me this afternoon to let me know his guidance counselor received a response about the end-of-course assessment debacle from Florida Governor Rick Scott via the Florida Department of Education:

Dear Ms. Hellender:

Governor Rick Scott asked our office to respond to your email regarding your request for clarification on Florida public school transfer of high school credit requirements. On behalf of the Governor, we are pleased to provide you with the following information.

The provisions adopted by the State Board of Education on March 2, 2012, related to Rule 6A-1.09941, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.), State Uniform Transfer of High School Credits, became effective on July 1, 2012, as stated in the opening paragraph of the rule. This rule establishes uniform procedures relating to the acceptance of transfer work and credit for students entering Florida’s public schools. The purpose of this rule revision is to reflect changes from the 2010 Legislative Session. Section 1008.22(9)(b), Florida Statutes (F.S.), was revised to add that if a student transfers into a high school, the school principal shall determine whether the student must take an end-of-course (EOC) assessment in a course for which the student has credit that was earned from the previous school.

If a student transfers into a Florida high school from out of country, out of state, a private school, or a home school, and that student’s transcript shows credit received in Algebra 1 or an equivalent course, the decision as to whether the student must take Florida’s EOC assessment shall be made by the school principal as follows:

· A transfer student with high school credit in Algebra 1 will not take Florida’s Algebra 1 EOC Assessment if the student passed a statewide, standardized EOC assessment in that course, if administered by the transferring school; or if the student achieves an equivalent score on another assessment as identified pursuant to s. 1008.22(11), F.S.

·A transfer student will take Florida’s EOC assessments in Algebra 1 under all other circumstances and must pass the EOC assessment to earn credit in the course.

Florida private school students do not participate in the statewide assessments because these assessments exist to meet federal and state assessment accountability requirements for Florida public schools; however, public school students attending private schools through the use of a school choice scholarship, such as the McKay Scholarship, may take the EOC assessments.

Currently the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) has not approved another assessment that would be an alternative to the Algebra 1 EOC Assessment. Although there is a provision in s. 1008.22(11), F.S., for the Commissioner to analyze the content and equivalent data sets for nationally recognized high school achievement tests and industry certification tests to assess if equivalent scores for EOC assessment scores can be determined, a timeline has not been established.

Thank you for sharing your views and contacting the FDOE. Please direct questions related to this response to Ms. Helen Lancashire, School Counseling Consultant, at Helen.Lancashire@fldoe.org or (850) 245-7851.

Sincerely,

Teresa Sweet, Chief

Bureau of Curriculum and Instruction

The only guidance that this provides is that principals can determine what to do with incoming transfers so this perhaps gives Dr. Robinson some latitude with which to deal with incoming students who have taken Algebra I, but failed the EOC assessment.  Since private schools don’t participate he could probably grant the credit.  Currently there is no way any of his or other private school’s students transferring out can receive credit for Algebra I and Biology unless they take the state’s EOC assessment.  Theoretically, the only way for a student to be prepared to take that assessment is for that private school to adopt the same standards as the public schools (read Common Core State Standards) at the moment.  As Sweet mentioned, there is a provision in the Florida Statutes for the Commissioner of Education to approve an alternative exam, but the current Education Commissioner, Gerard Robinson, has resigned effective August 31st.  So who knows when or if that’ll happen.

Cross-posted from Caffeinated Thoughts.

Voucher Programs Need to Be Cut Off From the Common Core

I’m a school choice advocate, and full disclosure – my wife and I (mostly my wife) homeschool our three children.  That said I’m concerned by how current voucher programs are structured with more and more strings attached.  A friend of ours, Melissa Smith wrote a letter-to-the-editor that was published in the Ft. Wayne News-Sentinel that speaks to this matter succinctly so I wanted to share it here for our readers:

Indiana needs to opt out of Common Core

The Aug. 1 article about Dick Morris’ appearance in Fort Wayne failed to mention one of the most interesting moments in the evening. It occurred when a member of the audience asked him about the Common Core, and he admitted he really didn’t know much about it and was going to look into it.

Morris and other organizations, such as Americans for Prosperity, who are actively promoting vouchers, have a responsibility to take the time to investigate the Common Core. What they will find is that the Common Core state standards and the federally funded assessments that accompany it, are the antitheses of the promises made by the school choice movement.

Here in Indiana, voucher or no voucher, the “choices” parents have will soon be narrowed down to only one — the Common Core. Anyone wondering why Indiana’s adoption of Common Core’s “one-size-fits all” system of national standards, curriculum and testing flies in the face of school choice need only Google the document “Closing the Door on Innovation,” which was signed by The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice’s president, Robert Enlow, among others.

Legislators in Indiana should follow states like Texas, Virginia and Alaska, and pass Sen. Scott Schneider’s legislation to opt Indiana out of the Common Core initiative. If they don’t, the Common Core will certainly be the attached strings that sink the voucher movement, private and parochial school and ultimately even home-schooling as well.

Melissa R. Smith (links added by me)

Polling the Common Core State Standards

Phi Delta Kappa International teamed up with Gallup to poll the public attitudes toward public schools.   They polled 1,002 Americans who are 18-years of age and older.  This year they asked specific questions about the Common Core State Standards.  They introduce this section of the polling data:

Attempts to create national education standards in the U.S. has stalled until the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers undertook an effort to created voluntary standards with control vested at the state rather than federal level.  Educators, policy makers and philanthropists have embraced the Common Core State Standards that currently are constructed only for mathematics and English language arts.  Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted them.  We decided to measure public support for these standards.

My first thought is how were these questions introduced to those being polled?  Perhaps they weren’t.  If they were based on the description above there is a definite slant.  As far as saying “policy makers” have embraced these standards – what state legislature has voted on these?  Um, none.  So how can you say policy makers have embraced these?  Also how can you say that control has been vested at the state rather than federal level with Race to the Top and these standards being a condition for No Child Left Behind waivers?  That’s a stretch!

Then I have to wonder how many people surveyed really know anything about the standards.  Have they read them?  Likely not.

The first question they asked was, “Do you believe common core standards would help make education in the United States more competitive globally, less competitive globally, or have no effect?

  National Totals % GOP % Dem % Ind %
More competitive 53 44 65 50
Less competitive 7 5 5 9
Have no effect 37 43 29 39
Don’t know/refused 4 8 2 2

We keep hearing that we’re in the middle of the pack so this result isn’t surprising.  The Republicans surveyed are definitely more split.  Contrast this response to the third question asked about whether it will improve education.  I find it interesting to see some disparity.  Those who believe it will make us more competitive internationally aren’t as sure that it will improve the quality of education in our communities, especially among independents.

The second question they asked was, “Some educators believe that common core standards would provide more consistency in the quality of education between school districts and between states.  Do you believe that having common core standards would provide more consistency in the quality of education between school districts and states?

  National Totals % GOP % Dem % Ind. %
Yes 75 73 82 70
No 23 25 16 28
Don’t Know/Refused 2 2 2 2

Of course people are going to say yes.  I’d probably answer yes to this question.  They are uniform standards, but I also believe they would make education nationwide consistently mediocre to bad.

The third question on the common core: “Do you believe common core standards would improve the quality of education in your community, decrease the quality of education in your community, or have no effect.

  National Totals % GOP % Dem % Ind. %
Improve the quality of education 50 46 60 43
Decrease the quality of education 8 6 5 12
Have no effect 40 44 33 43
Don’t know/refused 2 3 2 2

The majority (55%) of independents believe that CCSS will either decrease the quality of education or have no effect.  Republicans also have an majority 50% to 46% The national total demonstrates a divide than what the graph above shows – 50 to 48.  That’s hardly a ringing endorsement.

Also as I mentioned before how much does the general public know about these standards and how were they described?  That would certainly impact polling on this subject.  How could the general public really know whether they are going to be effective since they haven’t been field tested.  I feel like these standards are being approached much the same way that health care reform was.  Just imagine those who are pushing these standards saying something similar to what Nancy Pelosi said about health care reform, “we won’t know what are in the standards and how effective they’ll be until we implement them.”

How reassuring.