Jindal Blasts Common Core at Republican Leadership Conference

Bobby_Jindal_CPAC_2013 (1)

Somebody looks like they want to run for President.  Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal took another swipe at the Common Core during his remarks at the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference being held this weekend in New Orleans.

From KRDO:

“I’m against the Common Core, and I don’t want Louisiana to be in the Common Core,” he said to booming applause at the Republican Leadership Conference — the annual conservative confab, held this year in New Orleans.

Jindal is term-limited as Louisiana governor and is considering launching a bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016. He’s was the first in a series of conservative White House hopefuls to speak at the conference.

Jindal was once for Common Core but recently has said he wants Louisiana, which adopted the standards in 2010, not to participate.

“We’ve taken a lot of criticism in this state from folks that have criticized me for being against it,” Jindal said Thursday.

“Let me be very clear, I’m for standards and I’m for our kids learning and our kids being able to compete but it seems to me that there is something fundamentally wrong when the bureaucrats, when the federal government especially, thinks they know best and they don’t need to listen to parents.”

Ok, now let’s see this translated into action for the parents of Louisiana.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

New Mexico Judge’s Ruling Slows PARCC Implementation Process

The PARCC contract with Pearson is on hold until New Mexico reviews the bid process New Mexico District Court Judge Sarah Singleton ruled yesterday.

The Albuquerque Journal reports:

Earlier this month, PARCC awarded the contract to Pearson, an international education company, to administer the new exam, which will be taken online, and to create new test questions in future years. The consortium had previously tapped Pearson to help develop the test.

The Washington D.C.-based American Institute for Research protested, saying the bid process unfairly benefited Pearson because of its prior work with PARCC.

District Court Judge Sarah Singleton this week ordered the state to review the institute’s protest. New Mexico officials had argued the protest was filed incorrectly, but Singleton disagreed.

Now, the contract is on hold until the review is complete.

The matter was argued in Santa Fe because New Mexico officials accepted and reviewed the bids, even though all the states in the consortium helped write a request for the proposal.

“We’re pleased the judge sent (the protest) back to the (state’s purchasing agent) to be reviewed on its merits,” said Jon Cohen, executive vice president of the American Institute for Research.

This is an interesting development.  I doubt it will keep the assessment from being implemented in the few states left in PARCC, but we’ll see what happens as a result of this process.

Gates-Funded Duo Pitches Common Core Misinformation


Curt Clawson

Below is a guest article written submitted by Judi Caler.  Her post complements the one I wrote on Wednesday.

Doing What They’re Paid To Do: Gates-funded Duo Pitches Common Core Misinformation

By Judi Caler

It is no surprise that the latest attempt by pro-Common Core advocates to keep Republican candidates from speaking out against Common Core has come from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s damage-control team, Michael Brickman and Michael Petrilli. In a recent article posted on Townhall.com entitled “Opposing Common Core: A Losing Issue, Even in GOP Primaries,” they claim that election results nationwide largely prove that “Republican candidates cannot win over conservative voters by bashing Common Core.”

Tell that to vocal Common Core opponent and political outsider Curt Clawson who handily won the Republican nomination in Florida’s 19th Congressional District against Lizbeth Benacquisto, the choice of GOP establishment and Common Core proponent Jeb Bush! And tell that to Christopher Judy and Curt Nisly who made their rivals’ refusal to end Common Core in Indiana a central issue and won the Republican nominations for Indiana House seats after trouncing entrenched incumbents.

And in Ohio, Brickman and Petrilli got their facts wrong in labeling defeated contender Kelly Kohls as a candidate from “Ohioans against Common Core” (OACC); she was not. They couldn’t even spell Kelly’s first or last name correctly. In fact, according to OACC founder Heidi Huber, “Common Core opponents achieved a huge victory for Tom Brinkman in the 27th Ohio House District against incumbent Peter Stautberg where Common Core was the number one issue. The tipping point in Brinkman’s winning the Republic nomination was the use of hundreds of “GO Brinkman –STOP Common Core” signs throughout the district. That stuck with voters; it was the first time in 18 years that a Republican incumbent had been defeated in a primary. At least three other Ohio House Republican candidates in Districts #54, #79 and #85 won their primaries with a heavy focus on and commitment to repealing Common Core.”

The Brickman and Petrilli article, just like the recent McLaughlin poll, wasn’t about information—it was about trying to silence candidates so they won’t create even more doubts about Common Core in voters’ minds than they already have. McLaughlin’s poll featured questions worded to generate responses in agreement with the positions of paid sponsors (among them the Gates Foundation) and selective reporting of poll results.

Brickman and Petrilli repeat the big lie that Common Core is “state-led,” repeat the misleading findings of the McLaughlin poll, and claim that more conservative Republican primary voters would vote for a candidate who supports Common Core over a candidate who fights against it.

Since Brickman and Petrilli are likely doing what they are being paid to do, it is incumbent upon the media to ferret out truth from propaganda, especially when they find a Gates Foundation-supported organization advising Republicans to be silent on Common Core in order to win elections!

Judi Caler is a member of Common Core Concerns of Nevada County, CA and holds a California teaching credential.

Problems with Brickman & Petrilli’s Analysis of Common Core as an Election Issue

polling-booth_thumb.jpgMichael Brickman and Michael Petrilli of the Fordham Institute wrote an article at Townhall.com asserting that those who advocate for the Common Core have an advantage over those who oppose the Common Core in Republican primaries.

There are some problems with this article.  First it is poorly sourced.  Go figure.  We *never* expect that from Common Core advocates.

Second,  it is a logical fallacy to state that incumbents won re-election based on their advocacy for the Common Core while at the same time stating that Common Core opponents in Indiana who knocked off incumbents didn’t do so on their Common Core opposition alone.  They need to be consistent.  When I addressed the Indiana races I did recognize that it wasn’t the only issue.  I certainly didn’t deny that social issues were at play.  At least I provided an honest analysis; we can’t say the same about Brickman and Petrilli.

Third, they made some false statements regarding the Ohio Republican primary.

Heidi Huber from Ohioans Against Common Core shared with me in an email:

The Ohio Citizens PAC candidate losses are a broad brush being used to marginalize the role that Common Core played in our primary. It is also important to point out the blatant error that Kelly Kohls was an Ohioans Against Common Core candidate. We are not a PAC, thus we are prohibited from endorsing candidates. Nor did OACC distribute campaign materials on her behalf. We put our focus and resources to a viable and critical challenge to incumbent Stautberg, based on the principle that his support of Common Core violated basic Party tenet. Nonetheless, he was heavily protected and funded by the Ohio Republican Party. We beat the ORP hacks the old fashioned way, knocking on every door of primary super-voters in the district, precinct by precinct, distributing anti-Common Core literature. The materials included a handout with the RNC Resolution rejecting Common Core contrasted alongside Stautberg’s Candidacy Petition, where he declares he will support and abide by the Party platform. The tipping point was the use of non-traditional candidate signs. We placed hundreds of “GO Brinkman – STOP Common Core” signs throughout the district. That stuck with voters and we enjoyed a decisive win. It was the first time in 18 years that a Republican incumbent has been defeated in a primary. Four other OH House Republican candidates, running to replace termed out members, took their District with a heavy focus and commitment to repealing Common Core.

The Ohio Senate President, Keith Faber, addressed a pre-primary poll that showed Common Core was the number one issue with Republican voters, 65% desiring repeal. He warned his caucus to be careful to message an “I’m for local control” stance or it may costs them their election. Governor Kasich joined the choir the day before the primary, stating on WTAM 1100 radio that Common Core was “written by local school districts”.

The real story is that “we” were not OACC grassroots, but rather Hamilton County Republican Central Committee members. We supported the Republican candidate who stood true to Party principle and we succeeded in a quintessential “truth to power” victory. The Jeb Bush crowd can’t afford for that detail to get out. Hamilton County is known as “the county, in the state” and we affect national election outcomes. Did someone say, 2016?

Fourth there was at least one Congressional primary where Common Core was an issue, and the Common Core opponent won.  Why did they neglect to mention that?

Fifth, Brickman and Petrilli only list incumbents who won primary challenges.  They don’t seem to understand how hard it is to knock off incumbents who typically have better organization, more funding, party backing, earned media attention, etc.  This makes sense since they are educrats and not political/grassroots activists.  So perhaps they should stick to what is in their wheelhouse.  It takes more than being opposed to the Common Core to win a primary election.  Common Core opponents need to field quality candidates in order to beat incumbents and primary voters rarely are one-issue voters.

Sixth, there are plenty of states that haven’t had their primary yet so we’ll likely see some Common Core opponents win while others won’t and those wins and losses won’t entirely hinge on one issue.

Update: Karen Effrem pointed out to me two more instances where Common Core opposition has traction in Republican primary races in Florida.

2nd Update: Jane Robbins, a senior fellow with American Principles in Action who lives in Georgia, emailed me this afternoon the following observation about the Georgia races that Brickman and Petrilli mention:

In Georgia, the primary outcomes said little or nothing about Common Core. In the first place, dislodging an incumbent here is practically impossible. Beyond that, Common Core wasn’t a big issue in the governor’s race since the challenger, who had no money vs. Nathan Deal’s millions, didn’t emphasize it as he should – he ran almost exclusively on economic issues. Of course, the words “Common Core” never passed Deal’s lips. Re the primary to unseat House Education Committee Chairman Brooks Coleman, Petrilli is correct that Coleman has been a staunch supporter of Common Core. But, Coleman spent his entire well-funded campaign denying that he ever supported CC and accusing his opponent of lying when he said otherwise. Even so, the percentage of votes he got this year dropped to 56% — compared with 70.4% in 2012. http://ballotpedia.org/Brooks_Coleman,_Jr..

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin Must Sign HB3399 Before June 2nd

Governor fallin please signWe reported on Friday that the Oklahoma Legislature overwhelmingly passed HB3399 Oklahoma’s Common Core Repeal bill.  Restore Oklahoma Public Education, in a press release sent over the weekend, shared what this bill will accomplish if Governor Mary Fallin signs the bill.

  • Repeals Common Core from state law, creating a framework for standards to be written by Oklahomans over a two year time period.
  • Directs a return to the state’s previous standards and tests during the interim.
  • Requires the “mastery of the “standard algorithms in math” – the “most logical, efficient way of solving a problem that consistently works”, in attempt to curb the concept of ‘fuzzy math’.
  • Requires Oklahoma’s new standards be compared against the Common Core State Standards to ensure they are NOT in alignment.
  • Provides legislative review and approval of finalized standards as created through the State Board of Education.
  • Prohibits the state Board of Education from entering into any agreements that would in any way cede control or authority of Oklahoma standards or tests.
  • Directs standards and tests to be developmentally appropriate.
  • Creates a paper and pencil test option in the event online testing creates issues for students.

If Governor Fallin does not sign the bill by June 2nd she could exercise a pocket veto.  Restore Oklahoma Public Education in a blog post encourages in-and-out-of-state emails to be sent to Governor Fallin this week.

Here’s what we would like for you to do:

  1. Copy and paste the letter of your choice (you can modify them or write your own as well) into an email.
  2. CC it to this address pleasesignHB3399@mail.com so that we can keep track of the number of emails sent
  3. If you live in Oklahoma, please also CC your state Representative and Senator so there is a record of the correspondence
  4. If you live outside the state, please identify your state in your correspondence

Please pass this information on.  The more letters we can get to her, the better off we’ll be. Also, please send your emails prior to WED. MAY 28th if possible, so we have time to print them out and give them to her if need be.
If you have any trouble with the email listed, you can also contact Governor Fallin through the Contact page on the state website.  There is a place into which you can copy and paste your email.
Thank you so very much for helping us with this mission!  We truly must prevail!

*If you have trouble copying and pasting from this blog, try this page on our website.

Dear Governor Fallin,

No matter how disparate their circumstances or ideologies, parents across the state of Oklahoma come into agreement over the desire for their children to receive an excellent education.  A truly excellent education must include high standards and expectations, as these factors allow students to develop knowledge and habits to carry them into their adult lives possessing an ability to do anything – be anything – they want to be.

Study after study has shown a truly excellent education to be that provided at the most local level to the student.  Beyond a child’s parent, no one knows their educational strengths and weaknesses better than their teacher and no one is more equipped to provide a child the tools they need to succeed than their classroom educator working in tandem with parents.

December of last year, you restated your desire for all Oklahoma children to have just that kind of excellent education through Executive Order 2013-40.  As Governor of our great state, you recognize the ingenuity, wisdom and resourcefulness Oklahomans possess, as these traits are the pistons in one of the strongest economic engines in the nation.  Clearly, Oklahomans have the aptitude for creating educational standards and tests to mirror our great economic success.

Unfortunately, Oklahoma succumbed to federal overreach of our standards and tests once we chose to accept a No Child Left Behind waiver and with it, standards and tests created outside the state, promoted by the Department of Education.

May 23rd, HB3399 passed the House and Senate with wide majorities.  This bill echoes your desire for all Oklahoma students to have an education utilizing high educational standards and tests developed here in Oklahoma.  HB3399 recognizes that without developmentally appropriate standards utilizing the best, most widely recognized educational methods, Oklahoma’s students cannot succeed.  Beyond returning control of educational standards and testing to the local level, HB3399 also places the review and approval of new state-derived standards in the hands of the legislature and as such, back into the hands of the people of Oklahoma who know best how to serve and guide Oklahoma’s public education system.

Please sign HB3399.  Please allow Oklahoma the opportunity to lead the nation in development of the best, most comprehensive set of educational standards; standards by which we can educate Oklahoma students at the highest level in the country.

Thank you for your time and immediate attention to this matter.


Dear Governor Fallin,

Oklahoma has the opportunity to set a national precedent – that of breaking the hold over local education exhibited by the Common Core State Standards Initiative.  Please do so by signing HB3399.

Since the federal Department of Education began promoting the Common Core via State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and Race to the Top grants, as well as the No Child Left Behind waivers, it has been virtually impossible for individual states who accepted any of these programs to retain local control over their educational standards and tests.  This has translated into, not only parental confusion and frustration over testing and assignments, but isolation from their ability to control and direct the education of their child.

While nearly all parents desire and expect educational excellence for their children, this cannot come without parental input and parent/teacher interaction.  When teachers spend more time on testing than classroom instruction, students flounder and the bond between teacher, student and parent becomes fragile.  Learning is not imparted via testing, but teaching.  The desire for their children to exhibit critical thinking is also nearly universal among parents, yet critical thinking skills are not mastered during protracted periods at a computer that better judges how well a child has mastered the use of electronics than has been educated by their own local teacher inside their local classroom.

Though my family does not reside in Oklahoma, like Oklahoma, our state adopted the Common Core State Standards.   As many Oklahoma families, our family has experienced the frustration of isolation from our children’s educational process set into motion by implementation of the Common Core.

With your signature on HB3399, you not only allow Oklahoma to create those standards and tests best suited for Oklahoma parents and children, but you set a precedent for our state to follow in creating and adopting our own local standards; those best for our state.   By signing HB3399 you not only become a hero to Oklahoma parents and educators, but you provide hope for those in my state as well.

Please sign HB3399.  Put public education back into the hands of those whom best it serves – parents and students.


South Carolina Legislature Passes Common Core Replacement Bill

The South Carolina Legislature passed H.3893 that would review and replace the Common Core State Standards, to Governor Nikki Haley’s desk.  On May 1st the South Carolina Senate passed the bill on a 42-0 vote.  The South Carolina House voted on Monday in favor of the bill on an 80 to 26 vote.

The bill does not immediate repeal the Common Core however.

The bill requires that South Carolina’s standards be reviewed and revised by the 2015-2016 school year.  There is concern that South Carolina still could end up with little change and/or a Common Core rebrand since the new assessment that will replace Smarter Balanced has to be implemented for the 2014-2015 school year which will be aligned to the Common Core.

South Carolina could adopt the ACT Aspire assessment for the transition year which would allow them time to develop their own assessment aligned to the new standards.

School Reform News reported on the bill’s passage:

The South Carolina House Tuesday passed a bill that would create a committee to review and replace national Common Core standards in the state before the 2015-16 school year.

Gov. Nikki Haley’s spokesperson said the governor intends to sign the bill. State Sen. Wes Hayes (R-Rock Hill), chairman of the Senate Education Committee also said Haley is likely to sign the bill and may do so as soon as Friday.

Common Core sets forth what K-12 math and English curriculum and tests must cover, and was heavily promoted by the Obama administrations. Critics say its offers mediocre academics, while proponents say it’s better than what most states had previously.

The bill sparked a debate earlier this spring when the State Department of Education decided to withdraw from national Common Core tests in anticipation of legislative action. The State Board of Education voted down that proposal, but the current state superintendent, Mick Zais, reinstated the department’s decision to drop the tests.

The bill, once signed into law, should clear any confusion caused by the conflicting orders. The bill prohibits South Carolina from using the federally funded national tests.

“A special assessment panel will be convened immediately upon passage of the bill to provide input for a new assessments system, and must seek public input,” Hayes said.

Oklahoma Legislature Sends Common Core Repeal Bill to Governor Fallin

The Oklahoma Legislature today overwhelmingly passed the conference report for HB 3399, the Common Core repeal bill, and it will now go to Governor Mary Fallin’s desk.

The Oklahoma House passed the bill 71 to 17.  They also voted 68 to 19 in favor of an emergency clause which means the law would go into effect as soon as the bill is signed.  The Oklahoma Senate voted in favor of the bill 31 to 10 with the emergency clause.

Restore Oklahoma Public Education wrote on its Facebook page “Okay Governor Fallin, it’s on you, the people have spoken.”

Cogs in the Machine: Big Data, Common Core, and National Testing

imagePioneer Institute released another White Paper by Emmett McGroarty (Director of APP Education, American Principles Project), Joy Pullmann (managing editor of School Reform News and Research Fellow, Heartland Institute), and Jane Robbins (Senior Fellow, American Principles Project).

Their synopsis: New technology allows advocates for education as workforce development to accomplish what has long been out of their reach: the collection of data on every child, beginning with preschool or even earlier, and using that data to track the child throughout his/her academic career and his/her progression through the workforce. This paper explores the many initiatives that the federal government has worked with private entities to design and encourage states to participate in, in order to increase the collection and sharing of student data, while relaxing privacy protections. The authors offer recommendations to protect student privacy, including urging parents to ask what kinds of information are being collected on digital-learning platforms and whether the software will record data about their children’s behaviors and attitudes rather than just academic knowledge. If parents object to such data-collection, they should opt out. The authors also urge state lawmakers to pass student privacy laws, and they recommend that Congress correct the 2013 relaxation of FERPA.

You can read it below or download it here.

Oklahoma Common Core Repeal Bill Out of Conference Committee

HB 3399, Oklahoma’s Common Core Repeal bill, passed out of the conference committee and the Oklahoma House and Senate will now have the chance to vote on the conference report.

Here is an update from Jenni White, president of Restore Oklahoma Public Education, that was sent to supporters last night.

This morning, the Conference Committee signed out HB3399 with the repeal of the Common Core State Standards. Tomorrow the bill needs to go to BOTH houses for a vote. Our group will be there at 1pm trying to rally legislators to get the bill heard and passed.

We are using the slogan “8 are great” to describe the 8 big reasons we need to get this bill across the finish line. If we can (a veto from our veto-happy governor not withstanding) this will be the best bill in the country for stopping  Common Core:

Here are the 8:

1. Repeals Common Core from state law
2. State must use PASS (our previous Oklahoma standards) during the two year interim while new standards are being written and the tests must be aligned to those standards
3. No more ‘fuzzy’ math! The new standards require the mastery of the ‘standard algorithms in math’ – “the most logical, efficient way of solving a problem that consistently works”
4. Oklahoma’s new standards must be compared with the old standards to ensure they are NOT aligned with Common Core
5. Oklahoma’s new standards must be reviewed and approved by the legislature returning control to the people
6. The state board cannot enter into any agreements that would cede control or authority of our standards and tests
7. Standards and assessments must be developmentally appropriate
8. The state may use paper and pencil tests if online testing creates problems for students

Beware the Robo-Grader

A friend drew my attention to an op/ed in the Boston Globe about something Pearson was developing in order to grade the essay section of the PARCC exam – a robo-reader. If you think this idea is a disaster in the making the author of the op/ed, Les Perelman, who was the director of Writing Across Curriculum at MIT would agree with you.

An excerpt:

PARCC, the consortium of states including Massachusetts that is developing assessments for the Common Core Curriculum, has contracted with Pearson Education, the same company that graded the notorious SAT essay, to grade the essay portions of the Common Core tests. Some students throughout Massachusetts just took the pilot test, which wasted precious school time on an exercise that will provide no feedback to students or to their schools.

It was, however, not wasted time for Pearson. The company is using these student essays to train its robo-grader to replace one of the two human readers grading the essay, although there are no published data on their effectiveness in correcting human readers.

Robo-graders do not score by understanding meaning but almost solely by use of gross measures, especially length and the presence of pretentious language. The fallacy underlying this approach is confusing association with causation. A person makes the observation that many smart college professors wear tweed jackets and then believes that if she wears a tweed jacket, she will be a smart college professor.

Robo-graders rely on the same twisted logic. Papers written under time pressure often have a significant correlation between length and score. Robo-graders are able to match human scores simply by over-valuing length compared to human readers. A much publicized study claimed that machines could match human readers. However, the machines accomplished this feat primarily by simply counting words.

Read the rest.