Lawsuit Against Common Core Filed in Utah

The Libertas Institute announced a lawsuit filed against the Utah State Board of Education over the Common Core State Standards.  The lawsuit filed today in Utah’s Third Judicial District Court has six plantiffs, a couple of them who are well known by Truth in American Education readers.

They are:

  • Patti Bateman, who was an elementary school teacher at the time of Common Core’s adoption
  • David Cox, an elementary school teacher
  • Timothy Osborn, who was a member of the Alpine School Board at the time of Common Core’s adoption
  • Christel Swasey, a parent of school aged children and licensed educator
  • Dr. Gary Thompson, a parent of school aged children
  • Steve Whitehouse, a board member of the Maeser Prep Charter School

“Two weeks ago, Governor Herbert announced he had asked the Attorney General to investigate legal issues surrounding Common Core,” said Libertas Institute president Connor Boyack. “We have been conducting our own investigation since January and have identified several violations of the law.”

“Most Utahns believe that local control of education is important,” said Boyack. “We agree, but it’s important to note that local control is not merely about having Utahns managing federal or multi-state programs. The idea behind local control is that the people who are most intimately affected by the product of public education should be involved and able to give input. This did not happen with the adoption of Common Core—and it should have.”

Their six page brief petitions the judge for an petitions the judge for an “order enjoining the Board from further implementing Common Core in Utah’s public schools, from requiring Utah’s public schools to further adopt or abide by Common Core, and from enforcing Common Core in Utah’s public schools.”

The Common Core Needs Unicorns and Rainbows

I had to shake my head reading a piece by Stephanie Simon at Politico entitled “Moms winning the Common Core war.”  The first statement that jumped out at me.

But in a series of strategy sessions in recent months, top promoters of the standards have concluded they’re losing the broader public debate — and need to devise better PR.

Hello Bill Gates, Fordham Institute, David Coleman, Jeb Bush, et al… your problem isn’t your PR.  Your problem is subpar standards.

How tone deaf can one be?

So how to tackle the problem?  More Gates money!!!!!

So, backed with fresh funding from philanthropic supporters, including a $10.3 million grant awarded in May from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, supporters are gearing up for a major reboot of the Common Core campaign.

“We’ve been fighting emotion with talking points, and it doesn’t work,” said Mike Petrilli, executive vice president of the Fordham Institute, a leading supporter of the standards. “There’s got to be a way to get more emotional with our arguments if we want to win this thing. That means we have a lot more work to do.”

I’m trying to picture how being more emotional will work for them.  Maybe they can have rallies with businessmen from the Chamber of Commerce holding signs saying “Test Our Children,” “We Need More Rigor,” “I Need My Employees to be College and Career Ready,” or “High Stakes Testing is the Answer.”

I’m sure that’ll work.

Maybe Bill Gates can shed some tears during his next interview.

Perhaps they can resort to the argument “it’s for the children” and have video of kids in different states of intellectual atrophy pleading for “more rigorous standards.”

They better set up a 1-800 line for all of the calls that are sure to pour in.

But I digress, Simon shares the steps.

Step 1 – “Get Americans angry about the current state of public education.”

News flash we already are, and we don’t see Common Core as the answer.

Step 2 – “Get voters excited about the prospects of change.”

Share teacher testimonies… have students share about how the Common Core has changed their life.

Good luck finding those students.

Advocates answer to this “war” is not better standards, but better propaganda.

Then social media… advocates are jealous – “why can’t we have our own trending hashtag on Twitter?”

And in lockstep with Petrilli another advocate says they need a heart message.

“The Common Core message so far has been a head message. We’ve done a good job talking about facts and figures. But we need to move 18 inches south and start talking about a heart message,” said Wes Farno, executive director of the Higher State Standards Partnership, a coalition supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable.

What facts and figures?  That is one of the primary problems with the Common Core is that it lacks data and evidence!

They just need better talking points!

Indeed, some of the talking points crafted to win over Republican lawmakers seemed likely to backfire with moms and dads, such as when Billy Canary, president of the Business Council of Alabama, referred to children as “the product created by our education system” and said businesses need schools to start turning out better product.

They need better websites!

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is working on an animated website that will pay homage to the playful spirit of children and link the Common Core to that kind of creativity. Vice President Cheryl Oldham boasts that there won’t be a single data point on the site; it’s designed to prompt a visceral, not an intellectual, response.

They need better star power!

The pro-Common Core side lacks the star power of the opposition, which has been boosted not just by Beck and Malkin but by comedians like Stephen Colbert and Louis C.K. Former NBA star Isiah Thomas wrote an op-ed supporting the standards, and foundations set up by the actress Eva Longoria and singer John Legend helped fund a pro-Common Core TV ad that ran on Fox News this spring, but none of the three has taken on a highly visible role.

I know what they really need are pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows.  Put that on a website and then promote it with the hashtag #UnicornsLoveCommonCore.  Perhaps have the Care Bears do a PSA that’ll turn this thing around.  I’m sure of it, I mean you have millions of Gates money poured into this.  How could it possibly fail?

New Common Core Replacement Bill Introduced in Ohio House

The Columbus Dispatch reported yesterday that Ohio House Republicans introduced a new bill that would replace the Common Core State Standards.

The goal is to pass the bill one week after the November election, when the House reconvenes after breaking in early June, Huffman said.

“Speaker (William G.) Batchelder wanted to make clear … and I want to make clear the leadership in the House supports the repeal of these Common Core standards with the substitution of high standards and getting the federal government out of the business of education,” (State Representative Matt) Huffman said.

Rep. Andrew Thompson, R-Marietta, who has led the push to repeal Common Core in Ohio, said they are looking at other states with “proven standards” such as Massachusetts.

“We want to look at standards that are tested, proven and effective,” he said, calling it “ creepy” the way Common Core came to Ohio.

Ohioans Against Common Core recapped the process laid out by State Representative Huffman.

  • Introduction of new repeal legislation that builds upon Sub HB237 and incorporates solutions to address the complexities of repeal experienced by other states
  • Assignment of the legislation to the Rules and Reference Committee under the direction of Chairman Huffman
  • Sponsor and first round of supporting testimony planned for August 12th
  • Supporting testimony continues the week of August 18th
  • An expeditious path to bring the legislation to the House Floor for a vote

Heidi Huber of Ohioans Against Common Core released a statement that was read during a press conference held.

As leader of Ohioans Against Common Core, I welcome the path outlined today by Speaker Pro Tempore, Matt Huffman, to prioritize legislation he has jointly sponsored with Representative Andy Thompson that will advance Ohio’s Common Core repeal effort.

Ohio parents, concerned teachers and citizens have worked tirelessly since early 2013 educating friends, neighbors and communities about the dire consequences of Common Core – chief among these, the destruction of local control. The process detailed today for Ohio’s new repeal legislation is clear validation of the intensifying concerns surrounding Common Core and acknowledges the efforts of Ohio citizens to protect their parental authority in public education.

Representative Thompson’s new bill will thoroughly address the complexities involved with an effective, comprehensive repeal of Common Core. This new legislation will build upon Sub HB237 and address issues such as:

  • The immediate replacement of Ohio’s New Learning Standards for core subjects including English Language Arts, Math, Science and History with high performing, proven standards that are under the control of Ohioans
  • The immediate move to interim standards testing which contains proven measurability without sacrificing valuable instruction time
  • Language to safeguard student and family data
  • An efficient process for review, incorporation and implementation of interim and new standards
  • A return to meaningful local control that recognizes parental authority

Ohioans Against Common Core wishes to recognize both Rep. Andy Thompson’s unwavering efforts to fight the battle against Common Core, and Rep. John Adams’ draft and circulation of the Discharge Petition. Their efforts have advanced our cause to protect Ohio’s children, parents and education system from the imminent centralization and nationalization of public education that is the Common Core State Standards initiative.

We look forward to partnering with our Representatives and House leadership to bring this new bill to a vote on the House floor, giving every Ohioan the ability to help restore the educational autonomy of their state.

Update: Governor John Kasich is on the record about the bill.  The Columbus Dispatch reports “I share the concern about loss of local control.  That’s why we took actions in the MBR to address some of those.  If there are more things that need to be done and we’re seeing an erosion of local control, then we’d have to address it. Their concern is who’s in control of the schools? And I’m always concerned about that.”

He was also asked if he was reconsidering his support of Common Core and he replied, “no I’m not saying that at all.”

He then stated, “let them have their hearings and we’ll see what all of this is.”

How generous of him.  It’s going to be an uphill climb in Ohio.

Recognizing an American Hero: John Saxon

John Saxon

John Saxon

Seeking recognition for a hero in mathematics education may be a waste of time since so many Americans’ eyes glaze over at the mere mention of the word “math.” Too many claim they don’t like math, can’t do math, or don’t want even to think about math. (This phenomenon is found only in America. Interestingly, such attitudes are not heard in Third World countries that produce strong math students.)

So what’s the point in looking at an American math hero now? Maybe recognizing a math teacher-turned-millionaire-author-and-publisher who took a beating for 15 years from the powerful math education establishment will help refuel the parents and citizens—those special “Davids”—who are stepping up to fight the unified Goliaths of Common Core.

His enemies, who are among today’s Goliaths, will sneer upon hearing his name: John Saxon. They still refuse to accept the results of his “common sense genius” in teaching K-12 mathematics.

Saxon literally popped onto the national math education scene unexpectedly and uninvited in 1981 after self-publishing his first algebra textbook. Reformist authors, who quickly became his opponents, were claiming that making math more fun and “relevant” to girls and minorities was the answer to getting higher scores on international tests. He said his proven book was user-friendly and historically-based and was the answer for all students. They said his ideas worked only for white males and Asians because American girls and minorities couldn’t think analytically or with deductive reasoning. He called them racist and sexist. War was declared on Saxon with all the might of federal, state, and local resources of the math education leadership.

He had no idea that he, in turn, would ultimately choose to be a catalyst for the “math wars” that erupted among parents, school districts, and state textbook committees in the 1990s, and that the results of his promoting parent empowerment for a decade might help set up the battles by parents against Common Core.

Saxon was simply a retired U.S. Air Force officer who had begun teaching algebra to students in night classes at Oscar Rose Junior College in Oklahoma in 1970. Having taught engineering at the U.S. Air Force Academy, he discovered woeful deficiencies in his community college students’ basic math skills. Determining they were capable of learning but that they had not been taught those basic skills, he began creating specially-designed worksheets of problems for his students over the next five years, with step-by-step procedures and a use of creative repetition for continuous practice. By 1975, he had a manuscript that the junior college print shop mimeographed and collated for the students.

Then in 1980, after a year-long pilot study in 20 Oklahoma public schools with amazing results (monitored by the Oklahoma chapter of the American Federation of Teachers), Saxon was ready to publish his book in hardback for any school that taught a first year algebra course. He was rebuffed by six publishers in New York City because he wasn’t “a member of a math education committee.” One other publisher did suggest, however, that he publish the book himself. Borrowing $80,000, Saxon did just that. When he died in 1996, Saxon Publishers in Norman, Oklahoma, had sales of $27 million. When his company was sold in 2004, the reported selling price was $100 million.

For those 15 years as a teacher, author, and publisher, Saxon found himself on the defensive against not only government bureaucrats, but the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), a powerful special interest group with political ties to the U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The followers of NCTM were receiving large federal grants to write reform math materials that promoted equity over excellence as the new American goal in mathematics. They did not want to share their bounty and prestige with an outsider who wasn’t even “trained” as a teacher. Worse, he disagreed with their equity ideology as the new function of math education.

They attacked his traditional content with no pictures as boring and “drill and kill.” He had refused to put color photos in his books, saying that such space and costs should be used for showing examples on how to work the problems rather than promoting social justice. He insisted on incremental development with one lesson per day, his unique creative repetition, and no separate chapters which he called “hunk learning”—i.e., students trying to consume a major concept and moving on to the next hunk even if they hadn’t digested the previous one. He required a test after every five lessons so reteaching, if needed, could be planned immediately. And, unbelievably, students were not allowed to use calculators for daily work or tests until the eighth grade. (That’s still true today with Saxon Math.)

Saxon scoffed when reformists insisted that historically-proven mathematics, which had been developed over 2,000 years by diverse cultures from around the world, was effective only with “white males” in America—and “Asians.” Then, he would explode with anger over what he called disastrous teaching materials and methods being purchased without proof of their results.

The biggest surprise to the leaders was when Saxon bought full-page advertisements in mathematics journals, magazines and major newspapers to respond to the charges laid against him and his work. As a World War II veteran, West Point graduate, Korean War combat pilot awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and a Vietnam veteran, Saxon was a fully trained and experienced warrior who was now fighting “a good war” for children in American mathematics education. Later described as the “George Patton of math education,” Saxon saw no purpose in losing any battle and was not averse to launching a frontal assault. He often got bloodied, but so did they.

As a man with three degrees in engineering, he also knew about the use of mathematics in the real world, including flying airplanes in life and death situations. He ridiculed the elitists’ feigned “real world” problems in textbooks. Saxon wasn’t about to back down from those he thought were promoting their ideology in textbooks and not proving their programs’ results before launching them into schools. “Results matter,” he kept saying, and he had reams of results to show that his textbooks were working.

He constantly called on parents to step forward and fight the new “fuzzy math” programs. Some parents finally did come out swinging in California and in 1994 led a major change in that state’s curriculum standards. That parental action is being repeated now across America regarding Common Core.

Some of his opponents literally cheered when he died. They still hate him today, 18 years after his death. Schools of education that train teachers dismiss his work even though many of his warnings about their programs have come true:

  • Use of calculators too early ruins students’ acquisition of basic skills, many of which must be learned by memorization, such as multiplication facts and mental math.
  • Not understanding the importance of algebra—true algebra—at the eighth grade level as the gateway subject for later entry into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) would prevent many students from entering those fields and leave America short-handed for individuals who could help provide growth and development of the country.
  • Turning teacher-facilitated, rather than teacher-led, classrooms into discovery fun fests with lots of conversation, written explanations of problem-solving, and a focus on non-competitive, differentiated learning found math classrooms that included the weakest to the gifted student. “White males,” gifted children, and Asians were effectively ignored. Process, not the results, was to be enjoyed. Saxon warned this would cause both girls and boys of all races to be in remedial math classes in college, which would negate many of their career choices. Seventy to ninety percent of community college students are indeed enrolled in remedial math today. Up to forty percent must take it in four-year colleges. Common Core proponents claim they will change that statistic—with their weakened math program that even their leaders admit won’t prepare students for STEM careers.

John Saxon’s Story, a genius of common sense in math education, is the biography of a man who fought for his country in three wars and then, in an unexpected second career, for American children in mathematics education. He became, and still is, a real hero to millions of children:

A class of eighth graders in a Spokane, WA, Catholic school put his algebra book on the church’s altar at Thanksgiving in 1985 because of their appreciation for its impact on their learning. The Window Rock High School Navajo students in Fort Defiance, AZ, chose him as their graduation speaker over the state’s governor in 1992. His materials are used by one million homeschooled students today and his textbooks are found in Arizona’s successful BASIS charter schools, as well as in private schools and smaller public schools across the country.

The biography is filled with facts and stories of his successes, as well as an honest portrayal of a colorful, eccentric man “cursed with clarity” who proved to be a born teacher as well as a born warrior. All proceeds from the biography go to West Point’s Department of Mathematical Sciences in honor of LTC (Ret.) John Harold Saxon, Jr. More can be learned about John Saxon and the book at http://saxonmathwarrior.com. (A free 16-page booklet can also be downloaded.)

Common Core-Free Day

Bringing Common Core State Standards out from the shadows and exposing its ills to busy parents and sidelined lawmakers has become my night and day concern to the point of a religious calling. I mean no disrespect it’s just that it is the second reason I get out of bed every morning. The first reason is my children. But Common Core State Standards has taken such a chunk out of my daily life that I have to verbally promise my daughters, “Today is a Common Core-free day” and then act on that promise. Last Thursday was a Common Core-free day. We hopped in the car and sang country songs for the two hour drive to a small desert town in Arizona, visited used book stores, and ate at a favorite diner. It was a good day and I kept my promise.

On Monday July 21, 2014 Truth in American Education published a guest post by Laurie Rogers, The Myth of the Helpless Parent, which shined a bright light on the government’s stealth maneuvering of parents out of the decision making in the educational arena of our own children.

In an opinion piece entitled All your Children Belong to Us, published earlier this month in a local Las Vegas paper, writer, Glenn Cook, covered bigger government and the continued and more frequent interference in our personal lives. Cook shared that Scotland is a blink away from every child being appointed a state sponsored guardian and isn’t it just a matter of time before our Nanny state here in America takes over parenting for us as well.

Not that I’m counting but these issues represent two more bricks in an ever growing big fat government wall that stands between us and our children.

Let’s recap, ever so briefly, why we’re told we need Common Core State Standards – The United States of America has been a huge failure for 238 years and Common Core is here now to save us at the eleventh hour by ending our college remediation needs, creating 21st century workers that will allow us to compete in the global marketplace of a predicted financial future and all of this will be accomplished through national, homogenized educational ELA and math standards for K-12 students. Oh yeah – I can see that.

Humorous? Okay. What is not funny is the truth in Laurie’s comments. Opt-out. If you don’t want to opt-out then opt-in! Get in your child’s classroom. Get in your local board meetings. Ask questions – it’s both our right and obligation – for our children. The longer we remain “helpless” the more we feed into the Nanny state argument that the government needs to take control. Parents are being marginalized at every turn and we certainly don’t need to be active participants in that process. There are plenty of people out there who feel our children would benefit from federal intrusion as Cook noted in his follow up on July 20, 2014.

I have yet to meet a parent who has said they became parents for the sole purpose of turning over the up-bringing and decision making for their child to the federal government. As Laurie said, “We are not helpless.” We are the stakeholders and these are our children. Every child deserves singing-down-the-highway-Common Core-free days. Forever.

Opposition to Common Core in New York Is Widespread

49% of New Yorkers want Common Core implementation stopped in a Siena College poll taken on July 13-16th of 774 likely New York voters. Only 39% want to see the standards implemented. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.

60% of Republicans want to see the Common Core implementation stopped compared to 25% who support the Common Core. 47% of Democrats want to see the Common Core continued, but 40% do not. (Again this demonstrates Common Core opposition is not partisan.). 53% of independents want to see Common Core implementation stopped, while only 39% want to see it continued.

More moderates, conservatives, union households, non-union households, men, women, suburbanites, upstaters, whites, Catholics, and members of all age groups want to see the Common Core implementation stopped.

African Americans are the only group that overwhelmingly favor implementation of the Common Core by a 60% to 25% margin. Hispanics, and Protestants are divided. Liberals and Jewish voters both support the implementation of the Common Core by a seven and six point margin. Those who live in New York City support it by a 52% to 34% margin.

Those who make $50,000 or more a year oppose the implementation of the Common Core. Those who make less are split 45% to 45%.

The Myth of the Helpless Parent

Common-Core-Sign_thumb.jpg“I Can” statements are all the rage in our public schools. Students are to say “I can” and then positively reaffirm something they feel capable of doing.

I’m offering suggestions for “We can” statements. If your school district obeys the law, tells the truth, spends money wisely, and properly educates children, then you probably don’t need these. Sadly, most citizens don’t have a school district like that, and this article is directed to them.

Parents have been trained for decades to trust in America’s K-12 government schools. This trust now serves the districts but not the students within them. Most districts aren’t being held accountable for violations of the law; failures to properly educate children; improper spending of tax dollars; or long-term refusals to tell citizens the truth.

Many districts seem increasingly dictatorial, deceitful, expensive and intrusive. We trust them with our children, and in return, they lie to us, miseducate our children and blame us for their failures. When we question them, some even attack us, using government/media/corporate allies to help pile on. They retain power in the way schoolyard bullies do, by ensuring that parents remain cowed, isolated and uninformed. It’s ironic. In reality, parents have all of the power.

Most parents don’t know that. Schools have purposefully fostered a sense of helplessness in parents (and in students and teachers), training us to believe that we must do as we’re told. Schools couldn’t eliminate parents altogether, but they could create parents who agree to eliminate themselves.

Schools thus trained successive generations to work in a group, defer to the group, think as a group, achieve consensus with the group, be assessed with the group, and defend group decisions. Punishments and rewards have been used to mold thinking and behavior and to direct energies. Parents are encouraged to be involved in the schools, as long as our involvement brings in money, furthers the agenda and doesn’t question the authority. Obeying = Rewards. Dissenting = Punishments.

Nowadays, when schools praise “critical thinking,” they usually mean non-critical thinking or groupthink. When they talk about community “input,” they tend to receive it via the Delphi Technique, a way of manipulating groups to agree on predetermined conclusions. When they ask for parent “help,” they mean any help that doesn’t question the authority, not even to help a child.

Meanwhile, parents have long been shut out of the education of our own children. Books are eliminated, homework isn’t sent home, traditional methods are derided as “old school,” and our wishes are undermined or ignored. Parent preferences are openly criticized and dismissed, and in conferences, we’re told: “Don’t teach that at home. Don’t help. You’ll just confuse your child.” Schools now use technology to hide the curriculum – on tablets and laptops and in private email accounts for children.

This operant conditioning – skillfully done, I’ll give them that – has produced a population that generally feels helpless. Worse, it accepts feeling helpless. This population doesn’t need to be shut down; it shuts down itself. “Oh, no, I couldn’t. It will be OK. They must have a good reason. They must know what they’re doing.” Such apathy suits authoritarian, intrusive governments. It’s easier to implement an agenda with weak and politically aligned sheep than with individualistic and critical thinkers. Most of us do find now that it’s easier, safer and infinitely more profitable to be sheep.

And yet, dissent is critical to helping our children, to serving our honor, and to maintaining a free country. We’re helpless only in our mind. The government cannot make our child take a test. It cannot force us into its failed bureaucratic, narcissistic, adult-centered system. Not unless we allow it.

We can say no to this government. We can refuse to allow it to eliminate our ideas and preferences, or to miseducate, misuse and misguide our children.

Few “leaders” are likely to help us. Most now are part of the government network. Think of the vast array of government and elected officials, their associations and throngs of legal teams – now “partnering” with influential people and non-accountable, non-transparent corporations, organizations and foundations – to implement policies that suit them. Instead of partnering with parents for a better education system, they partner with each other to implement policy, gather data on us and our children, sell their products and services, and implement a political and social agenda. It’s a symbiotic relationship for them, but it’s largely parasitic toward us and our children.

They help each other. They sit on boards, hand out grants and contracts, campaign, advertise, lobby, buy and sell. They socialize together, travel together, praise each other, help friends and family members gain preferred positions, and allow each other to get away with things.

These “partnerships” might be fascist in nature (the government controlling the corporations), or corporatist (the corporations controlling public policy), but in any case, they’re neither democratic nor representative of a Republic. America is being fundamentally transformed to a totalitarian state in which government and corporate cartels work together to do what neither is allowed to do by itself. It pays well now to be a government or corporate crony; it does not pay, and in some cases, it has become dangerous, to dissent from this government/corporate network.

The Network won’t spend our tax dollars wisely, won’t return control of our children’s education to us, and won’t stop its intrusive data collecting. It has no incentive to tell the truth or obey the law. Many media outlets – which are supposed to have our back –appear to be part of the Network.

Suddenly we find that – although our schools lack solid academic programs – there are laptops, iPads and SMART Boards in front of every child’s face. There are new curricula every few years, new calculators even in kindergarten, and cool electronic toys that don’t foster real learning. De facto national standards and tests are being pushed on all of us from cradle through career. When we ask who is doing that pushing, the feds point to the states and to non-accountable associations; the states point to districts; the districts point to legislators; the legislators claim ignorance.

Suddenly, some of us find that there are handguns in the hands of school employees. There are cameras and video recorders on the wall to track visitors, and new machines to scan our driver’s license, track our children, scan their irises, record their fingerprints, or track their biometric information.

Look around you – the K-12 education system in America has become freaking scary.

Citizens MUST be the dissenters. Our children’s future – this country’s future – is on the line.

Clearly, the American government no longer knows how to educate a child. That’s been proved in 10,000 ways. It has ceased to hold itself accountable, and it now works collaboratively to skirt laws and protect itself. This isn’t a left/right issue. This simply is “in” or “out” of the government/corporate Network. If you’re “in,” you’re taken care of. If you’re out, well, good luck with that.

But we aren’t stuck in this machine. We’re helpless only when we agree to it. My first “We can” statement is this: “We can say no to the K-12 government education system.” Here are some more:

  • Opt out of programs: We can opt out of failed academic programs, and out of excessively mature sex education classes and materials. We can find solid math and English curricula online, buy them, and start teaching them to our children.
  • Leave the system: When a school mistreats, abuses, blames, mocks, neglects or refuses to educate our children, we can walk out of that school and never look back.
  • Opt out of testing: We can opt out of state and federal testing that sucks up class time; tells us nothing of value; collects intrusive and flawed data on us; is manipulated to show success where none exists; and forces our children to either take math tests online or be labeled as special education.
  • Say no to technology: We can say no to excessive and intrusive technology and data collection.
  • Question the money: We can question the barrels of state and federal money allotted for special education programs that never seem to go to special education students. We can vote no to the next levy and bond for school districts that misspend taxpayer money; use taxpayer money against taxpayers; and lie to us about budgets, expenditures and outcomes.
  • Inform others: We can inform other parents, run for the school board, or help other citizens run. We can recall corrupt or obstructive board directors and push to replace superintendents and administrators.
  • Reject Common Core: We can push our legislatures to reject the de facto nationalization and radicalization of the American public school system, epitomized by the questionable, authoritarian and unproved Common Core initiatives.
  • Reject pretend “choice”: We can refuse to support charter schools that clearly are under the thumb of local school districts.

We can say no. We can make a good system happen. We can help our children, fix the problems, rebuild an accountable government and put responsible individuals in power. We can homeschool, find private schools, hire tutors, or ask family members or friends to teach our children what the schools will not. We can step away from the entire madness of public education. Believe me, folks, it’s a mess. It’s much worse in 2014 than it was in 2007, even as our avenues of dissent have narrowed dramatically.

The government/corporate Network depends on us thinking we’re helpless, that we can’t say no, that we don’t know any better, that they mean well, that they really do care about our children, and that they will eventually do what’s right.

Don’t believe it. We are not helpless, we can say no, and we do know better. The Network doesn’t mean well, it doesn’t care about our children more than it cares about itself, and if the Network was ever going to use its considerable power to do what’s right for our children, it would have done it by now.

Scott Walker Calls on Wisconsin State Legislature to Repeal Common Core

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Photo by Gage Skidmore

(CaffeinatedThoughts.com) Yesterday Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) out of the blue issued a press release calling for Wisconsin to repeal the Common Core.

He said in a prepared statement, “Today, I call on the members of the State Legislature to pass a bill in early January to repeal Common Core and replace it with standards set by people in Wisconsin.”

Governor Walker has been relatively quiet on the standards.  He told reporters last fall that he’d like Wisconsin to have its own unique standards that were higher than what was already established.  “I’d like us to be in the position where we can identify our own unique standards that I think in many ways will be higher and more aggressive than the ones they’re talking about,” Walker said.

The Governor’s spokesperson said that his statement was to clarify his position  after the  the Cedarburg School Board voting 5-0 to ask the state to delay implementing the Smarter Balanced Assessments, the Common Core assessment consortia Wisconsin belongs to, by two years.  The Germantown School District last December voted to move away from the Common Core and develop its own standards instead.

Walker did not mention Common Core during this year’s state of the state address instead focusing on his school to work initiative.  At the state education conference he did mention Common Core.

“Like every other parent across the state, I want our education system to help our kids excel and reach their full potential,” Walker said. “Federal standards in education may be raising the bar in some states, but in Wisconsin, we can do better.  The education leaders here in our state are most qualified to assess the best way to take the standards we set for students to the next level.”

Walker worked with members of the Legislature in both chambers crafting legislation that would have created a process that would develop Wisconsin-based model academic standards.  Specifically this legislation would have created a commission to review the the Common Core, and Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Evers would have chaired it.  Evers, a Democrat, threatened a lawsuit if the Common Core is rejected by the Legislature and Walker.

That legislation sponsored by State Senator Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa), SB 619, failed to pass.  The Wisconsin Assembly had formed a select committee on the Common Core State Standards that issued a report of its activities that included public hearings held throughout the state prior to the legislative session.  The lack of action by the Legislation prompted an open letter signed by leaders of 45 grassroots organizations in the state saying that they now “owned” the Common Core.

“It’s campaign season in Wisconsin and around the country and, not surprisingly, politics trumps sound policy,” Evers said in a released statement.  “The notion that Wisconsin could simply repeal our standards or take a two year time out on our assessments not only runs counter to both state and federal law, it jeopardizes important reforms like educator effectiveness and school and district accountability.  But most importantly it brings chaos to our children and our classrooms.”

“The idea that they’d just be able to replace the standards at the beginning of the legislative session is absurd,” said Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake), the chair of the Assembly’s Education Committee told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We’re in an election season. People desperate to be re-elected will say anything.”

Kestell announced in April that he would not be running for reelection.  Reelection may have been a hard sell after activists in the Wisconsin Republican Party’s 2nd, 4th and 6th Congressional District caucuses passes a resolution of no-confidence and no support for Kestell, as well as, his counterpart in the Wisconsin Senate – Senate Education Committee Chair Luther Olson (R-Ripon).  Kestell represented parts of Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District.

Walker’s Democratic challenger, Mary Burke, is a member of the Madison School Board.  Burke is a supporter of the Common Core State Standards and her campaign criticized Walker’s statement.  “This is a desperate election year move by a career politician to shore up his extreme right-wing base,” said a statement from Burke spokesman Joe Zepecki.

Common Core opposition according to recent polls is not partisan however.

Walker is in a tight race with Burke.  The last poll conducted by Marquette University has Walker up by 3 points.

Walker’s announcement comes shortly after returning from the National Governor’s Association meeting last weekend.  Common Core was a topic avoided on the agenda.  This week Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) signed legislation that would review and replace the Common Core in his state.  North Carolina Governor Pat McCroary (R) said that he would sign a repeal and replace bill his state’s legislature passed this week.  Utah Governor Gary Hebert (R) announced he wants the Common Core reexamined.  He said he was going to ask his state’s Attorney General see what, if any, federal entanglements the Common Core has brought to the state.  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) signed an executive order that will create a commission to review the Common Core.  Common Core opponents in Christie’s state believe the executive order is meaningless.  Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (R) called the Common Core “radioactive” when talking to reporters at the NGA meeting.  Caffeinated Thoughts reported earlier this week, that the Iowa Department of Education still has not acted on the executive order Branstad issued last fall.

Zephyr Teachout, Democratic Challenger to NY Gov. Cuomo, Blasts Common Core

_zephyr_teachout_cc_imgZephyr Teachout, who teaches law at Fordham University, is challenging Governor Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic Primary.  She outlines her concerns about the Common Core in a recent op/ed published last night:

The idea of a shared, high standard sounds appealing. But in practice what Common Core means is that students and teachers are subject to a grueling regime of tests that the citizens and families of our state never really had the chance to discuss. In the words of education historian Diane Ravitch, the imposition of Bill Gates’ Common Core has been “the closest thing to an educational coup in the history of the United States.”

Common Core forces teachers to adhere to a narrow set of standards, rather than address the personal needs of students or foster their creativity. That’s because states that have adopted the standards issue mandatory tests whose results are improperly used to grade a teacher’s skill and even to determine if he or she keeps their job. These tests have created enormous and undue stress on students, and eroded real teaching and real learning. What’s more, there’s sound reason to question whether these standards even measure the right things or raise student achievement. No doubt, many teachers have found parts of the standards useful in their teaching, but there is a big difference between optional standards offered as support, and standards foisted on teachers regardless of students’ needs.

Read the rest.

The Democratic primary will be held on December 9, and the winner will go up against Republican county executive Rob Astorino in the general election.  Astorino is also working to appear on a Stop Common Core ballot line.

Utah Governor Wants Common Core Reexamined

flying-utah-flag-state-capitolIs Utah Governor Gary Herbert having a change of heart?  One can only hope.

From The Salt Lake Tribune:

Gov. Gary Herbert will ask the attorney general to look into what, if any, federal entanglements have been involved in Utah’s adoption of Common Core State Standards in math and language arts. He’s also convening a group of Utah experts to review the standards from a higher education perspective.

And his office has created a webpage to solicit comments about specific standards from the public.

Herbert said Thursday morning he’s heard positive and negative feedback about the standards — which outline what students should learn in each grade.

But he said it seems both sides are “talking past one another using different terms to describe shared frustrations” and it’s time to try to do something about it.

He said Utah parents, educators and school board members are the ones who “should determine what is taught and how it is taught.”

“I state unequivocally today that we will not cede that responsibility to anyone else,” Herbert said. “We as a state need to resolve these contentious matters.”

Ok Utahns here is another chance to weigh in.