Our Top Ten Most Read Articles and Referrers

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To close out 2014 I thought it would be fun to share a couple top 10 lists from the year based off our website’s stats.

The top ten most read articles in 2014.

  1. Common Core Math Problems (March 26, 2013)
  2. What States Have Pulled Out of Their Assessment Consortia (January 23, 2014)
  3. CCSS Parent Opt-Out Form (March 9, 2013)
  4. 2014 Common Core Legislation Round-Up (last updated March 27, 2014)
  5. Classic Response from a Parent Over Common Core Worksheet (March 21, 2014)
  6. Texas Bans Common Core (June 17, 2013)
  7. Opt-Out of Common Core Now for the 2014-2015 School Year (April 23, 2014)
  8. Math U See Touts Common Core (March 1, 2013)
  9. Local School Board in Central Illinois Passes Anti-Common Core Resolution (August 20, 2014)
  10. Common Core Math Anxiety Personified in a 2nd Grader (September 10, 2014)

Top 10 Referrers

This does not include traffic from search engines or social media which are the biggest drivers of traffic to TAE.  Below are the websites who have sent the most traffic to TAE.

  1. Say No to Common Core
  2. MichelleMalkin.com
  3. Ohioans Against Common Core
  4. The Christian Post
  5. Christel Swasey’s blog
  6. Utahns Against Common Core
  7. Breitbart News
  8. Curmudgucation
  9. Heartlander Magazine
  10. Parents and Educators Against Common Core

Thank you to our readers who bookmark this site, share it on social media, email it to your friends, subscribe to our RSS feed and link to us.  Without you we would not have the readership that we do.  Thank you for helping us get the word out about the Common Core.

NPR Attempts to Shifts Narrative on Common Core in Zimba Profile

Jason Zimbia Photo source: Bennington College

Jason Zimba
Photo source: Bennington College

NPR ran a profile on Jason Zimba that appears to be an attempt to change the narrative about Common Core.  Here the writers of Common Core appear to be turned into victims, and curriculum companies and teachers are to blame for the poor roll out.

Sarah Garland writes:

Every Saturday morning at 10 a.m., Jason Zimba begins a math tutoring session for his two young daughters with the same ritual. Claire, 4, draws on a worksheet while Abigail, 7, pulls addition problems written on strips of paper out of an old Kleenex box decorated like a piggy bank.

If she gets the answer “lickety-split,” as her dad says, she can check it off. If she doesn’t, the problem goes back in the box, to try the following week.

“I would be sleeping in if I weren’t frustrated,” Zimba says of his Saturday-morning lessons, which he teaches in his pajamas. He feels the math instruction at Abigail’s public elementary school in Manhattan is subpar — even after the school switched to the Common Core State Standards.

But Zimba, a mathematician by training, is not just any disgruntled parent. He’s one of the guys who wrote the Common Core.

And four years after signing off on the final draft of the standards, he spends his weekends trying to make up for what he considers the lackluster curriculum at his daughter’s school, and his weekdays battling the lackluster curriculum and teaching at schools around the country that are struggling to shift to the Common Core.

Zimba and the other writers of the Common Core knew the transition would be tough, but they never imagined conflicts over bad homework would fuel political battles and threaten the very existence of their dream to remodel American education.

Lest we forget, let’s remember that Jason Zimba himself said that if a student wants to take calculus as a freshman in college he or she will need more math than what the Common Core is required.  He also said to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that the standards are “not only not for STEM, they are also not for selective colleges.”

You can watch that exchange below:

So let’s remember that there are problems with the standards themselves, but frankly when all of the Common Core-aligned math textbooks pretty much look the same it’s hard to say that they don’t accurately reflect how the standards are to be taught.

If curriculum publishers and teachers are getting it wrong, then there is a definite issue with a lack of clarity within the standards themselves as well.

Either way we circle back to the standards.  This new narrative needs to be rejected.

Virginia’s Math Standards Align to Common Core by 95%

Virginia-FlagThe News Leader reports that Virginia’s math standards align to the Common Core by 95% and Virginia parents are frustrated.

You may remember that Virginia pulled out of the Common Core State Standards when former Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) was elected.  I noted in my essay in the book Common Ground on Common Core, Virginia in its approved No Child Left Behind flexibility waiver request noted its involvement with the American Diploma Project (the precursor of Common Core).  They also included an alignment study of its standards indicating strong parallels to the Common Core.  McDonnell even held conversations with U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan regarding his state’s standards.

So this really shouldn’t come as a surprise, and it is no wonder Virginia parents are frustrated.

The stunning admission in this news is that students in Virginia (and other states that adopt Common Core) don’t learn traditional algorithms until middle school.

The News Leader reports:

So students spend elementary school exploring math, coming up with their own methods of solving problems, which are generally more word-based than just straight problems on a worksheet. And in middle school they learn the prescribed algorithm that is the “traditional” way of solving the problem.

Yeah, that will prepare them for STEM.  Oh brother.

Mary Byrne: We Need a Return to Local Control

Dr. Mary Byrne speaking in Stockton, CA. Photo credit: Amber Barba

Dr. Mary Byrne speaking in Stockton, CA.
Photo credit: Amber Barba

Dr. Mary Byrne, co-founder of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core, responds to the idea that Dr. Sandra Stotsky put forth in an earlier post.

We Need a Return to Local Control

By Dr. Mary Byrne

To Sandra Stotsky: Point of clarification: are you recommending that CC can be accommodated and made less damaging to education by restoring the vocational/academic tracks that were implemented in American schools prior to NCLB using CC standards at the elementary and middle school levels?

If I understand your idea correctly, a couple of problems come to my mind.

If the standards and their plan of implementation were only promoted as a model that states could modify as they see fit, you would be making a case for Hirsh’s Core rather than Coleman’s Core.

First, common core proponents will never buy it, because the rationale of the overall “common” standards is social justice, and elimination of the vocational-academic tracking system.  Remember, social justice refers to equal outcomes, not equal respect for diverse outcomes. Second, don’t forget, Coleman has an agenda to increase market share for tests internationally. The common core structure is not negotiable — the content must be similar to what other countries are doing so foreign students can take his test and qualify for American college classrooms.

Third, the statewide longitudinal data system is the reason for the standards being what they are, where they are, and social justice demands that education standardize society, rather than a just society demanding high standards for leaders of government (the original purpose of publicly funded schools)

Fourth, accommodating existing common core standards doesn’t solve the problem of the privately held copyright which can be sold to interests unaccountable to the taxpaying consumers — in fact, the taxpayers will no longer be consumers, only human capital resource for the dominant consumer — the workforce planners. (I wish I were making this up, but, I have the diagrams of the data warehouses maintained by states for employers – see references below).

Finally, negotiating the grade levels in which to implement the CCSSI would not solve the wrongful paradigm the planners used to shape 21st Century learning. Think about what a shoddy job they’ve done of selecting content “experts” and shoving computer-based instruction, constructivist math, and informational text into our classrooms in this go-round. Accommodating their scheme by any means just allows the planners to continue more and costly financial and emotional damage and close off the laboratories of innovation the 50 separate systems

A national set of standards controlled by a national private-public system that usurps local control and parent rights, even if they were exemplary, builds the infrastructure for undermining our U.S. constitutions, states rights, and locally-determined curricular values.

If we could just get back to local control and stop all this central planning nonsense, we would naturally return to the voc ed./academic system we had before the 1970’s. I think you’ve got the correct goal of a basic education as preparation for citizenship in a republic of republics, but, a common set of national standards controlled from Washington, even for a limited number of grades, will not address the layers of problems with a centralized common core.

Additional References:

  1. D3M Checklist for a Longitudinal Data System. On p. 14, the national standards incorporated into the data repository appears in the lower right quadrant of the graphic. On p. 15, the U.S. DoE access to student data and linkages of the various levels of repositories is illustrated.
  2. Next Steps in SLDS (See slides 5 & 6)
  3. McKinsey Education to Employment (see pg. 22)

 

Did Jeopardy Take a Jab at Common Core?

Did Jeopardy take a jab at Common Core with its introduction of a “non-Common Core math” category during a kids week episode?

It sure looks that way.  In Tyler’s defense he probably hit the button too quickly and was under an usual amount of pressure.  On the flip side with the way Common Core-aligned textbooks teach kids to do math they would not have time in the show to do a “Common Core Math” category.  You can watch below or here.

Sandra Stotsky: How to Make Common Core Useful?

Sandra Stotsky testifying before the West Virginia Legislative Joint Standing Committee on Education

Sandra Stotsky testifying before the West Virginia Legislative Joint Standing Committee on Education

Dr. Sandra Stotksy offered the following idea, not as an apologetic for the actual Common Core State Standards themselves, but the idea of common standards.  She says such an idea makes sense more for K-8 than high school.  Mary Byrne will address concerns she has with this approach in another post.

How to Make Common Core Useful?

By Sandra Stotsky

What could be done to make the idea of a common core across 50 states make sense in this country?

I finally have come up with what could be the solution that Governor Huckabee simply missed.  We need to relabel them high school-ready standards and give the so-called “college readiness” tests based on them in grade 8, which is where they belong with respect to content and cut scores. The contents and pass scores for the current Common Core-based tests are a better indication of whether students can do authentic high school-level work in grade 9 than of college-level work.

A common core can make sense at the right grade levels. We need to compress most of the standards in both English language arts and mathematics from K-12 so that they can serve to make most students ready for high school by the end of grade 8. That is what we really need a common core of standards for, not for preparing all students for college when large numbers of young adolescents don’t want to go to college or can’t do college coursework and would prefer other options.  Then, educators could work out alternative high school curricula and give young adolescents a choice of the kind of high school curriculum they are willing to commit themselves to. Our aim would be to try to make sure that all students complete a basic education through grade 8.  We could then provide them with upper secondary options that make sense to them (as do most countries, including Finland).

Video: West Virginia Legislative Hearing on Common Core

Members of the West Virginia Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Education held a public hearing on Common Core standards and West Virginia’s Next Generation standards on December 16th. It included testimony from those who support and those who oppose Common Core.  Speakers opposed to the Common Core included Sandra Stotsky and Ted Rebarber.

You can watch the entire hearing below.

Common Core Fight Coming to Arkansas Legislature

arkansas flagThe Arkansas News Bureau reports that a fight is brewing in Little Rock over the Common Core State Standards.  Last year there was a resolution introduced State Representative Randy Alexander (R-Fayettevile) in the Arkansas House – HR 1007 along with a companion piece of legislation introduced in the Arkansas Senate State Senator Gary Stubblefield (R-Branch) –  SR 4.

The legislation was meant to authorize the introduction of a nonapropriation bill (needed according to House and Senate rules at that point of the legislative session) concerning delaying the implementation of the Common Core; and to declare an emergency.  Basically it was attempt to defund Common Core, and both bills died in committee.

John Lyon for the Arkansas News Bureau writes that Common Core opponents, unfazed, are retooling for the 2015 legislative session.

Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch, told the Arkansas News Bureau he is considering filing a bill to repeal Common Core.

“This one size fits all, I just don’t buy that, because there’s just too much difference in different school districts in different states,” Stubblefield said. “I just think there’s a better way to do it.”

Stubblefield said some teachers in his district think Common Core is all right, but “some of them hate it.”

“They think it’s a waste of time. They spend more time trying to learn how to give a test than they actually do teaching,” he said…

…Likely supporting repeal would be the group Arkansas Against Common Core. The group did not respond to requests Thursday and Friday for an interview, but its website states that Common Core has “effectively eliminated the ability of parents and local school boards to influence content standards to suit local needs.”

The Arkansas Department of Education continues with the same, old, tired propaganda.

That claim is “absolutely false,” said Debbie Jones, assistant commissioner of learning services with the state Department of Education.

“They’re standards only,” Jones said. “They do not tell a teacher how to teach. They do not tell teachers which books to teach.”

Eye roll, that argument would be more convincing if Arkansas was implementing PARCC (one of the few states that hasn’t bailed) an assessment aligned to the Common Core.  Also textbook publishers are aligning to Common Core.  So saying that a school can still choose its own curriculum rings hollow when you have mandated standards and an assessment that drives curriculum and classroom instruction.

My colleague, Jane Robbins, also testified in Little Rock last week.

Another common complaint is that PARCC will collect and share extensive personal information about students and their families. Jane Robbins, senior fellow with the Washington, D.C.-based American Principles Project, made that argument in a presentation to the state House and Senate education committees on Wednesday.

“PARCC has a cooperative agreement with the federal government that allows the federal government to have access to any student-level data that it collects from the testing,” Robbins told the Arkansas News Bureau.

“We don’t know yet what data PARCC is going to require,” she said. “They’ll probably start out with something very unobjectionable, but as time goes on they’ll say, ‘You should also collect this, and you should collect this.’”

Robbins said the ultimate goal is more power for the federal government.

“It fits in with the progressive theory of education and the economy,” she said. “If you’re going to run a managed economy that is planned by experts at the top, very smart people in Washington who will tell the rest of us what to do, they have to have data.”

Then there was this response from Jones of the Arkansas Department of Education.

Jones said the state Department of Education collects “minimal” information on students and never shares with the federal government or anyone else information that could identify individual students.

“Many of the statements that (Robbins) made that could be possible in her opinion, collecting private information on kids, is not what Arkansas does,” Jones said. “For example, she mentioned collecting students’ baptismal certificates. We don’t do that, nor would we ever do that. That would serve no purpose whatsoever.”

The state of Arkansas may not (yet), but that doesn’t mean PARCC won’t. We also don’t know what kind of data PARCC will require because they haven’t released that information.  The agreements that PARCC has with states and then with the U.S. Department of Education are tangible, concrete pieces of evidence.  My question to education officials and legislators is why is there agreement to share student-level data with the U.S. Department of Education if student-level data is not going to be collected?  You then have the data-sharing agreements between the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Education – why?

One Democratic, pro-Common Core, legislator – State Senator Joyce Elliot (D-Little Rock) tried to say that Jane was putting forth a conspiracy theory.  She’s not.  She’s just pointing out warning signs that legislators need to be wary of.

We may not know what data will be collected, but we can however see the tone of the debate and the talking points that are used.  There is an assessment and data collection that accompany the Common Core State Standards.  Concerned citizens and parents in Arkansas should expect that there will be a reasonable, respectful debate among their elected officials and that their concerns will be heard.

New Wyoming Bill to Undo Next Generation Science Standards Ban

Wyoming State Capitol Building Photo credit: Alan Levine (CC-By-2.0)

Wyoming State Capitol Building
Photo credit: Alan Levine (CC-By-2.0)

I mentioned on Wednesday that we’ll be highlighting (Common Core, local control, data privacy, etc.) bills that we hear about in different states.  This story showed up a few times in my Google alerts.  Usually we laud different bills or, at the very least, see most as a positive step forward.  There is a bill in Wyoming that is nothing but a big step backwards.  A lawmaker wants to undo a positive measure that was passed last year that prevented the Wyoming State Board of Education from adopting the Next Generation Science Standards.

Wyoming Public Media reports:

Representative John Patton of Sheridan says he will sponsor a bill that would eliminate a budget footnote that barred the State Board of Education from spending money on reviewing or adopting the Next Generation Science Standards.

The controversial standards were blocked by lawmakers in March. They took issue with how the role of humans in global climate change was presented in the science standards for K-12 education. Patton says education standards are the responsibility of the State Board, not lawmakers.

“It’s not the role of the Legislature to sit and second guess everything that every department does,” says Patton. “That’s all the footnote does is says, ‘Let the process work.’ That process is more important.”

Read more.

So the Wyoming State Legislature is supposed to let the State Board of Education to do whatever the hell it wants?  Where is the accountability?  Where is the oversight?  The legislature controls the budget.  This was a constitutionally sound measure they passed last March and they should keep it in place.  As bad as the Common Core is, the Next Generation Science Standards are even worse.