Oklahoma Loses NCLB Waiver Over Common Core, Indiana Rebrand Rewarded

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Arne Duncan brings out the sticks and carrots.

Politico reported yesterday that Oklahoma lost its ESEA (NCLB) flexibility waiver as a result of repealing Common Core.  Indiana, however, received a one-year extension.

Both state repealed Common Core, but Indiana replaced theirs with a rebrand.  Oklahoma will be writing new standards and their process will be slower and more deliberate than the Hoosier effort that was rushed.

Caitlin Emma writes:

The move marks the latest battle between states and the Obama administration over what has been perceived to be heavy-handed federal education policy that will continue for the next few years.

Since some Oklahoma children have already started the school year, the Education Department will phase in some of the consequences of No Child Left Behind that Oklahoma had escaped under the waiver: The state must provide tutoring services and public school choice options no later than the 2015-16 school year. But schools that will need a total overhaul must begin that process this school year.

“It is outrageous that President [Barack] Obama and Washington bureaucrats are trying to dictate how Oklahoma schools spend education dollars,” Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said in a statement. “Because of overwhelming opposition from Oklahoma parents and voters to Common Core, Washington is now acting to punish us. This is one more example of an out-of-control presidency that places a politicized Washington agenda over the well-being of Oklahoma students.”

Perceived to be heavy-handed??? It is heavy-handed.  It is also no surprise.  Fallin should sue, even Mike Petrilli thinks she has a case

“While Bobby Jindal doesn’t have a case against Arne Duncan, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin sure as heck does,” he said. “I hope she sues. Nothing in ESEA gives the secretary of education the authority to push states around when it comes to their standards,” Petrilli said according to Politico.  I disagree with him with Jindal’s case.  Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal makes a strong case against federal involvement with Common Core and its assessments.

Secretary Duncan’s decision with Oklahoma just reinforces his argument.  Governor Fallin should join Jindal’s lawsuit.

Join the the Pre-Hoosier Kids #DeserveBetter Twitter Rally Conference Call

Women on the Wall will be live in Texas tomorrow morning before and during Governor Mike Pence’s workshop at the Defending the American Dream Summit.  They are going to host a conference call to benefit those us who are not able to be there.  They are going from 9:00a-12:00p (CST).  I’m focusing on 9:45a – 11:15a on the Twitter rally, but people can start earlier and go later if they like.

All of the information is in the graphic below.  Check here for sample tweets and suggestions.

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Let’s Get Gov. Mike Pence’s Attention Tomorrow via Twitter

Time for another Twitter rally.  Governor Mike Pence (R-IN) will be in Dallas, TX tomorrow (8/29/14) at the Defending the American Dream Summit hosted by Americans for Prosperity.  He is on the agenda tomorrow at 10:00a (Central Time) to be on a panel for a workshop entitled “Wastewatchers – Tightening the Belt on Government Spending.”

Please plan on starting about 9:45a and we can go all morning, but the workshop will probably be finished around 11:15a (Central Time).  So if we can blow up Twitter for an hour and a half that would be great.  If you are not able to do this live if you use Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Buffer or some other 3rd party Twitter app please schedule some Tweets during this time.

Our goal is to get his attention so he’ll be motivated to go back to Indiana and address the sloppy Common Core rebrand that was done there.

In all of your tweets if you would please make sure you are directing your tweet to him – @GovPenceIN and use two hashtags the first would be #DeserveBetter and then the conference hashtag is #Dream14.  If you have enough space please also include #StopCommonCore.  It’s more important to use his Twitter handle @GovPenceIN (otherwise his staff won’t see it) and #DeserveBetter though.

Here are some sample tweets.

  • .@GovPenceIN Hoosier kids #DeserveBetter standards than a Common Core rebrand. #Dream14 #StopCommonCore
  • .@GovPenceIN your Common Core rebrand & assessments are a budget buster.  Hoosiers #DeserveBetter.  #Dream14 #StopCommonCore
  • .@GovPenceIN your Common Core rebrand violates free market principles, your state #DeservesBetter #Dream14 #StopCommonCore
  • .@GovPenceIN private schools in your state #DeserveBetter than to have poor rebranded standards tied to vouchers. #Dream14 #StopCommonCore
  • .@GovPenceIN I didn’t think it was possible but Indiana now has worse math standards than Common Core. Hoosiers #DeserveBetter #Dream14
  • .@GovPenceIN check out @PioneerBoston’s smarter way to #StopCommonCore – http://bit.ly/1AYmrqZ Indiana #DeservesBetter #Dream14
  • .@GovPenceIN voters #DeserveBetter than to have a potential presidential candidate pull a bait & switch. #StopCommonCore for real. #Dream14
  • .@GovPenceIN Hoosier parents #DeserveBetter than junk standards thrown together instead of a real plan to #StopCommonCore #Dream14
  • .@GovPenceIN Hoosiers #DeserveBetter than to have “education czars” foist education policy on us (http://bit.ly/1AYo6wF) #Dream14

I hope you join in!  Please share your sample tweets in the comments.

Lee County Schools in Florida Votes to Opt-Out of State Mandated Testing

The Lee County School Board voted last night 3-2 to opt their students out of state-mandated testing.  Lee County is in SW Florida and includes the city of Fort Myers.  They are the first school district in Florida to push back against an out-of-control assessment culture in the state that includes means-testing kindergarteners.

A local NBC affiliate reports:

Hundreds of parents turned out for the board meeting Wednesday night – pushing for this result.

This vote came after Superintendent Nancy Graham and the school board’s attorney strongly advised against making the move.  The discussion lasted a couple of hours.  During that time, the attorney insisted – despite the pleas by parents – opting out was not a good idea.  Superintendent Graham claimed it would hurt the students.

The school board originally wanted to come up with a plan. But when that motion failed, they decided to opt out of standardized testing in Florida.

“They actually have just shut down common core,” said parent Lisa Cohen.

Parents were elated when the vote to opt out of Florida state testing requirements passed so quickly.
“We made history. We’re going to keep making history,” said Cohen.

School board members Thomas Scott, Don Armstrong and Mary Fischer had the final say – pulling the Lee County School District out from under statewide testing.

  However, school board members Kathleen Morgan and Jeanne Dozier were opposed to the move. Instead, they wanted to have a plan in place before making such a drastic decision.

  “We’re going to have children that actually leave with an education; children that can actually get involved in critical thinking. They can actually make their own decisions,” said Cohen.

“I believe that we elect the school board here in Lee County and that Lee County residents are very capable of making sure our students get a good education,” said parent David Stokes.

A school board that actually listens to the people who elected them, how refreshing, and one that doesn’t allow itself to be led by the nose by the district superintendent.

The superintendent Nancy Graham said teachers are “freaking out” and that they “will have no idea where to go.”  Is she saying her teachers don’t know how to teach without assessments?  What a sad commentary if that is the case.

Below are videos courtesy of Suzette Lopez.

Here is video of the school board meeting.  The vote begins at the 51:15 mark.

Below is video of the public comments during the meeting.

This is a testimony from a mom whose son is fighting a terminal disease and was in the hospital when the school district sent over a proctor to administer the FCAT. While he was in the hospital! This is INSANE.

Bobby Jindal Exercises Leadership in Common Core Lawsuit

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

I have to tip my hat to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.  Even though he encountered a setback in court in regards to his executive order pulling Louisiana out of PARCC he forged ahead in his opposition.  Jindal has done what frankly every Governor should do – file a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education challenging the constitutionality of their involvement with Common Core.

“The federal government has hijacked and destroyed the Common Core initiative. Common Core is the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C. in control of everything. What started out as an innovative idea to create a set of base-line standards that could be ‘voluntarily’ used by the states has turned into a scheme by the federal government to nationalize curriculum,” Jindal said in a released statement.

“The proponents of Common Core will tell you that it’s simply about one test and about standards, but that’s a ruse. Common Core is about controlling curriculum. Educators know that what’s tested is what’s taught.  Make no mistake – Common Core tests will drive curriculum. Common Core supporters should own up to this fact and finally admit they want to control curriculum. These are big government elitists that believe they know better than parents and local school boards,” Jindal stated.

“Through the federally funded consortia, PARCC, along with Race to the Top grants, the federal government has coerced states into giving up local control of education. The federal government’s actions are in violation of the Constitution and federal law and we will continue to fight to protect local control of education,” Jindal added.

I do have to give Governor Jindal a little pushback here… the Common Core Initiative was doomed to fail because the standards were poor.  They were awful.  Top down reform hardly, especially on a national scale, rarely works.  I dinged Gov. Mike Huckabee over similar remarks so it wouldn’t be fair to give Jindal a pass.

Unlike Huckabee, Jindal is ramping up for a fight not calling for it to stop.  He’s right in stating that the federal involvement is coercive.  We would not have seen 45 states join in if it had not been for Race to the Top and the ESEA waivers.  He is also correct, borrowing from the Pioneer Institute that their actions are in violation of federal law and the 10th Amendment.

Emmett McGroarty in a statement that American Principles Project released today said:

“In suing the federal government for its unauthorized efforts to propagate the Common Core system, Gov. Jindal is defending the liberties of citizens and the constitutional structure intended to protect those liberties,”American Principles Project’s Education Director Emmett McGroarty said. “His courageous leadership provides a beacon of hope to the moms, dads, teachers, and other citizens across the country who are fighting for high-quality education.”

“Private entities developed the Common Core through a private process and used the federal government to push it into the states through a series of end-runs around the constitutional structure.  Common Core’s defective development process resulted in a product that locks children into an inferior education,” McGroarty continued. “It does not prepare them for studies in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics; it does not prepare them for authentic college coursework in the humanities; and many of its standards are age-inappropriate.”

McGroarty concluded, “Teachers, parents and other citizens are increasingly becoming aware of Common Core’s defects, and the pushback against it is thus becoming even more powerful. This battle is far from over, but we will continue to work to defeat the faulty Common Core standards and fight the flawed process through which they were foisted upon the states.”

I agree.

PARCC’s CEO admitted that “quality assessments” are part of instruction and the Feds are paying for PARCC so Jindal can make a case here.

Governors if you want to see how opposition is done – look to Jindal, better yet, see if you can join his lawsuit.

With Huppenthal’s Loss in AZ School Chief Race That Makes Barbarians 3, Educrats 0

Diane Douglas beat pro-Common Core incumbent Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal in convincing fashion 57.78% to 41.50% winning over 66,000 more votes according to the Arizona Secretary of State’s office.

The barbarians at the gate crashed through evidently.

Huppenthal is the third incumbent state school chief to go down in flames over supporting the Common Core State Standards.

Indiana’s Tony Bennett was first losing his general election race to Glenda Ritz.  In Oklahoma incumbent school chief Janet Barressi came in third, completely trounced by Joy Hofmeister who won her primary on an anti-Common Core message.

Barbarians 3, Educrats 0.

PARCC CEO: Quality Assessments Part of Instruction

File this news under the “we told you so.”

PARCC issued a press release to announce they are going to reduce the number of passages and items on the ELA/Literacy section of their test.  This follows the initial review done by several of “PARCC state experts.”  The outline the changes, but the most interesting part of the press release is the statement made by their CEO Laura Slover.

“High quality assessments go hand-in-hand with high quality instruction based, on high quality standards,” said Laura Slover, the Chief Executive Officer of the PARCC nonprofit. “You cannot have one without the other. The PARCC states see quality assessments as a part of instruction, not a break from instruction.”

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s office, whose executive order to remove Louisiana from PARCC was recently blocked by a district court judge, released a statement of their own responding to this news.

“The proponents of Common Core and PARCC continue to insist that tests and standards are not about curriculum, but that’s a ruse. Teachers already know that what is tested at the end of the year is what is taught in classrooms throughout the year. PARCC may not mandate one textbook or one pacing guide, but the CEO of the federally funded PARCC has admitted one thing: PARCC controls instruction and instruction is curriculum,” his office stated.

Conservative Website Grades Companies on Common Core

2nd Vote launched to provide conservatives with a resource to know how companies spent their money on political causes.  They would look at corporate spending on issues like abortion, marriage, the 2nd Amendment, etc. and then give companies a score card based on their research.  Each company would be rated between 1 to 5.  Companies receiving a 1 or 2 means they gave to causes that held a liberal position on any given issue.

Today they launched Common Core and school choice as two more issues.  Like the other issues companies receiving a 1 or 2 would indicate support for the Common Core.  A 3 would be neutral.  4 or 5 rating would mean a company supports groups opposing Common Core.

From an email sent to supporters they write:

As you may know, companies like General Electric, AT&T, IBM, and even Taco Bell have financed the push for Common Core implementation across the country. By supporting groups such as the Center for American Progress and Achieve, Inc., these corporations are pushing a controversial system that represents a major expansion of the federal government’s control of education curriculum.

At 2nd Vote, we believe you should hold your dollars accountable and know exactly where your money goes. Our website and mobile app shows how corporations line up with your values, and we invest the resources to bring the research to you. We’ve added over 50 companies immediately, and we’re adding more daily.

Currently only companies with a 1 or 2 rating are listed.

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For instance with PepsiCo they give a 2.0 on Common Core.  They write:

PepsiCo. is listed as a 2013 corporate supporter of the Center for American Progress. In June 2014, the Center for American Progress issued a report in full support of the Common Core State Standards. According to the Center for American Progress, Common Core State Standards “are one of the most important reforms to American public education in decades.” PepsiCo. is a member of the Business Roundtable. The Business Roundtable supports “the state and local adoption of Common Core State Standards.” According to Business Roundtable President John Engler, “these standards should have the support of any American who wants to ensure our country and our children are ready to compete in the 21st century global marketplace.” (Center For American Progress Website, http://www.americanprogress.org/about/our-supporters/, Accessed 7/25/14) (Carmel Martin, Max Marchitello, and Melissa Lazarín, “Roadmap For A Successful Transition To The Common Core In States And Districts,” http://www.americanprogress.org, 6/25/14) (Business Roundtable Website,http://businessroundtable.org/about/members, Accessed 7/24/14) (John Engler, Op-Ed, “Common Core Can Make America Competitive,” http://businessroundtable.org, 7/22/13)

Unfortunately Coca Cola is not any better they also received a 2 rating.

Coca-Cola is listed as a 2013 corporate supporter of the Center for American Progress. In June 2014, the Center for American Progress issued a report in full support of the Common Core State Standards. According to the Center for American Progress, Common Core State Standards “are one of the most important reforms to American public education in decades.” Coca-Cola is a member of the Business Roundtable. The Business Roundtable supports “the state and local adoption of Common Core State Standards.” According to Business Roundtable President John Engler, “these standards should have the support of any American who wants to ensure our country and our children are ready to compete in the 21st century global marketplace.” Coca-Cola is listed as a supporter of the Bipartisan Policy Center. The Bipartisan Policy Center supports the adoption of the Common Core State Standards and is one Common Core’s leading sponsors. (Center For American Progress Website,http://www.americanprogress.org/about/our-supporters/, Accessed 7/25/14) (Carmel Martin, Max Marchitello, and Melissa Lazarín, “Roadmap For A Successful Transition To The Common Core In States And Districts,”http://www.americanprogress.org, 6/25/14) (Business Roundtable Website,http://businessroundtable.org/about/members, Accessed 7/24/14) (John Engler, Op-Ed, “Common Core Can Make America Competitive,” http://businessroundtable.org, 7/22/13) (Bipartisan Policy Center Annual Report 2013,http://bipartisanpolicy.org, 2013) (“Confronting The Myths: The Truth About Common Core,” http://bipartisanpolicy.org, 5/21/14) (Michelle Malkin, Op-Ed, “Get To Know The Common Core Marketing Overlords,” Human Events Online, 3/21/14)

2nd Vote does have a mobile app for iOS, Android and Kindle devices.  The website is free, but it does require an email sign-up to access the content initially.

An Iowan's Open Letter to Governor Mike Huckabee

Governor Mike Huckabee speaking at the FAMiLY Leadership Summit in Ames, IA.

Governor Mike Huckabee speaking at the FAMiLY Leadership Summit in Ames, IA.

Dear Governor Huckabee,

Last Friday you told the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference that conservatives should “stop the fight” over the Common Core State Standards.

It seems to me that, as you consider a run for President in 2016, you intend to straddle the fence on this issue.  This is a strategy that rarely, if ever, works.  As an observer of presidential politics in Iowa I’ve seen too many politicians trip up trying to play both sides.  You are not any different.

Governor, by calling the Common Core “toxic” and “radioactive” you apparently still believe that the only problem with Common Core is a branding problem. This, you have said in the past, is due to the Federal involvement in promoting the standards through Race to the Top and ESEA flexibility waivers.

Governor Huckabee, Common Core was toxic before the standards made it into the public eye.  Once again, the name of the standards is not the problem, the standards are.  We have a problem with this particular set of standards, and you are correct sir that we do not want to “dumb down” our schools.  This is exactly why we are fighting for quality standards.  The Federal involvement into Common Core is just one of several problems with the standards.  You also fail to acknowledge that it was Governors, through the National Governors Association’s report Benchmarking for Success, who encouraged federal involvement.

Governor Huckabee, if you want to fight for students you need to recognize that top-down education initiatives never work.  I challenge you to name one that has worked.  Fighting for students we recognize that our students are not “common” and our states are not either.  As Texas Governor Rick Perry would say, states are “laboratories of innovation,” and this top-down approach will kill innovation at the state level, and most certainly at the classroom level, once the accompanying assessments roll out.

If you do not want to listen to me then please listen to teachers who oppose the Common Core.  Support for the Common Core among teachers has plummeted because they have moved past the talking points to implementation.  There is research that you can read that addresses not only the problems with federal involvement, but the standards’ quality, consequences of the standards on college preparation, the cost to the states, and the potential loss of student privacy.  You can also listen to expert testimony on the subject as well.  It’s clear that you’ve listened to those who support the standards.  It’s time that you actually read and listen to what those who oppose the standards have to say.

It’s obvious to me that you’ve not really progressed beyond talking points.  You may not like the debate we are having, but it is one that should have occurred in 2010 before 45 states’ executive branches adopted these standards without giving “we the people” a voice through our elected representatives.  Education policy will be, like it or not, shaped in the political realm because we live in a constitutional republic.  Bureaucrats and Governors alone can not make these decisions for our nation’s children.

All the parents I know who are fighting Common Core are fighting for students, their students, and the fight has only begun.

Sincerely yours,

Shane Vander Hart

An Iowan who endorsed and supported you in 2008.

Update: Someone accused me of not doing my research, so here is the video.  His comments related to the Common Core came during the press Q&A.  Did he say some things I agree with?  As a former pastor I wholeheartedly agree with his comments about parents being the ones who are ultimately responsible for educating their kids.  I also agree (even though some of my friends in this fight would disagree) with his comments on school choice.  It is plain as you listen to the video that he defends the math and ELA standards.  I get what he is saying about other items that attached to Common Core.  I’ve written recently about that myself, but what he doesn’t seem to understand is that the math and ELA standards are bad, that the NGA invited federal involvement in the standards, and that federalism (It seems that he doesn’t believe in it anymore) does not support a top-down approach to education whether it is from the federal government or special interests.

Parents and Citizens Are Key to Eradicating Federal Overreach Into Education

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The Lyndon B. Johnson Building, HQ of the U.S. Dept. of Education, 2006
Photo credit: Cool Ceasar (Wikimedia Commons)(CC-By-SA 3.0)

Common Core has infiltrated all fifty states even though several governors initially rejected those federally promoted standards. Numerous governors who regret funding and supporting Common Core have promised to repeal the federally aligned standards. Time has shown that those governors have simply renamed the standards. Therefore, the solution to the problem rests with the citizens of each state.

State governors and legislators can refuse to fund any aspect of federal programs imposed upon their state. They can demand that the U.S. Department of Education be required to bring all policy issues to Congress before imposing them on the states, and they can demand that federal level legislators protect state autonomy in education. Governors and legislators have unfortunately bowed to federal pressure concerning Common Core. Citizens are in the best position to protect their children. Only citizens can prevent Common Core from being implemented in their local schools.

Texans rejected Common Core originally, yet Women on the Wall held a National Conference on Education in Austin, Texas, to address processes for eliminating Common Core from their schools. These federally aligned standards were introduced at the district level and wear a variety of new names including CSCOPE. Even though the governor rejected Common Core and refused to fund the program, their schools are infected with federally aligned standards and testing.

Many legislators from both parties have tried to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education, the source of most major initiatives which fail our children and undermine the quality of our educational system.

Fairness requires us to recognize the fact that legislators would dissolve the DoED if their constituents supported the effort. If the Common Core Standards and all future federal educational policies are to be stopped, citizens must provide financial and personal support to all legislators willing to neuter the DoED.

The process could begin by removing cabinet status from DoED and by requiring it to return to its original mission: accumulating statistics and being a source of information to the states.  No longer should the DoED be allowed to write policy and impose that policy on the states.

Legislators could demand that the federal government no longer be allowed to tax citizens for federal educational policymaking. The millions of tax dollars removed from the states to implement discretionary and mandatory spending on DoED policies should be returned to the states and the funding for the department should be cut.  Legislators could leave just enough funding to cover the cost of gathering data and disseminating that data to the states.

The basic principle of conservatism is to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution, the state constitutions, and state autonomy in education. When conservative legislators refuse to dissolve the U.S. Department of Education, they are ignoring a most basic principle of conservatism.

Conservatives must be willing to work with Democrats who also resent the overreach of the DoED. “Bad Ass Teachers Association” and “Dump Duncan” created by Professor Mark Naison advocate protesting high stakes testing which they claim attack teacher autonomy. They recognize that both political parties are responsible for causing this problem and should be responsible for solving the problem.

Additional support for reigning in the DoED could come from groups like The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. Their president believes the DoED is exercising unilateral executive authority as they attempt to federalize teacher-preparation programs. AACTE prefers that Congress be required to deliberate and act on issues of this importance. Limiting the power of the DoED is a goal of the AACTE. Getting along with those who share conservative views occasionally will advance conservatives as being solution driven.

Parents and citizens are the key to eradicating federal overreach. Conservative leaders who work with groups like BATS and AACTE would be able to gain support from a broad base of liberals and conservatives to curtail the DoED, to return autonomy to the states, to allow teachers to function as professionals, and to make it easier for parents to exercise local control of schools.