New Orleans School Ratings Drop for Third Straight Year

Schools in New Orleans have experienced a three-year drop in their state ratings The Lens reported. The city has experimented with charter schools post-Hurricane Katrina, and naturally, charter schools get the blame for the decline.

Scores at some schools tumbled. Mahalia Jackson Elementary School dropped almost 30 points to a score of 50 on the state’s 150-point scale. That’s a D.

Sylvanie Williams College Prep fell about 22 points to 32.4, an F. It was the second-lowest elementary school score; the one with the lowest score, McDonogh 42, has been turned over to another charter operator.

Charter networks KIPP New Orleans Schools, New Beginnings Schools Foundation, ReNEW Schools and Algiers Charter operate a combined 23 schools. Only one of them improved its School Performance Score from 2016 to 2017.

Overall, New Orleans schools slid 14.2 points, from a B to a C.

The three-year drop appears to confirm education leaders’ fears about what would happen when tests aligned with tougher standards were introduced in 2015. Those tests are the primary factor in elementary School Performance Scores.

Some school leaders say those standards have caught up with the city’s schools, which have generally have gotten better since the state took over, closed and doled out schools to charter management organizations after Hurricane Katrina.

Others think charters were slower than traditional school districts to adopt curriculum aligned with the more rigorous standards. District-wide School Performance Scores dropped for 34 percent of traditional school districts in the state from 2014 to 2017, compared to 65 percent of New Orleans schools.

This year, 34 of the city’s 84 schools with School Performance Scores (not all schools have grades that take state tests) were rated a D or an F. Eighteen of them, including three alternative high schools, have had a D or an F three years in a row.

I’m not a fanboy of charter schools, and I think educrats have seen them as a silver bullet answer to what woes public education. There are some excellent charter schools, and there are bad ones.

I will say this, requiring charter schools to adopt Common Core hamstrings the flexibility that is supposed their greatest strength.

Also, here again, we see a refusal to admit that perhaps the standards and aligned-curriculum are to blame. Maybe they are to blame not due to being tougher, but because they are poor. Being surrounded by scapegoats must be nice.

Betsy DeVos Now Criticized for Giving Too Much Flexibility to States

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos can’t make anyone happy. I’ve highlighted how the U.S. Department of Education was criticized (rightly) for being nitpicky toward state accountability plans.

Now the Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), accused her of approving plans that flaunt federal law.

Education Week reports:

Addressing Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the committee chairman, Murray said, “If the department is today ignoring the agreement we made in the law and just choosing to implement whatever it feels like—which I believe they are in their approval of state plans so far—then this committee needs to hear from the secretary directly about how she intends to follow the laws that Congress agrees to.”

This isn’t a brand-new criticism from Murray, but rather a somewhat fleshed-out version of a previous complaint.

In a confirmation hearing for several Education Department nominees earlier this month, Murray made a general allusion to this concern. On Tuesday, Murray was a little more specific in her concerns about ESSA plans and how the law handles school improvement. But she didn’t single out the state or states she was worried about.

First, these remarks by Murray demonstrate that ESSA never gave true local control back to states. How stringently the law is enforced will depend on the administration. It is clear Murray expected there to be clear boundaries for states to stay within. Again, I say, that’s not local control

Secondly, if Murray has a concern, she should spell it out. Name names. It’s difficult to address or refute a challenge that is hopelessly vague. If she is going to make comments like these, she needs to bring up specifics – specific plans and the particular text in the law that plan violates.

Third, the only way for Congress to avoid political games like these is to repeal ESSA and genuinely devolve control of education policymaking back to the states. While states have to continue to ask “Mother, may I?” with the U.S. Department of Education they do not have control.

FEPA Gives Bureaucrats, Private Parties, Hackers A Data Gold Mine

Consider the data housed in the U.S. Department of Education (USED) by virtue of FAFSA.

The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (FEPA – S 2046), passed by the House as HR 4174, encourages all federal agencies to share the data they maintain on American citizens and to make that data available for “research” by outside interests. All this would be done according to rules set by each agency and without the knowledge or consent of the citizens whose data would be disclosed and scrutinized.

In most cases, citizens give data to a particular federal agency for a particular purpose. They don’t expect that data to be “re-purposed” without their knowledge – even to achieve a goal the government thinks is worthwhile. In a free society, the government is subordinate to the citizen. If it wants to use his data for something he didn’t agree to, it should first obtain his consent. FEPA operates according to the contrary principle – that government is entitled to do whatever it wants with a citizen’s data and shouldn’t be hindered by his objection.

It’s critical to understand exactly what kinds of data reside in various agencies and ponder the possible consequences of sharing that data as contemplated by FEPA. Consider the data housed in the U.S. Department of Education (USED) by virtue of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Take a deep breath:

1. Student’s Last Name:
2. Student’s First Name:
3. Student’s Middle Initial:
4. Student’s Permanent Mailing Address:
5. Student’s Permanent City:
6. Student’s Permanent State:
7. Student’s Permanent ZIP Code:
8. Student’s Social Security Number:
9. Student’s Date of Birth:
10. Student’s Telephone Number:
11. Student’s Driver’s License Number:
12. Student’s Driver’s License State:
13. Student’s E-mail Address:
14. Student’s Citizenship Status:
15. Student’s Alien Registration Number:
16. Student’s Marital Status:
17. Student’s Marital Status Date:
18. Student’s State of Legal Residence:
19. Was Student a Legal Resident Before January 1, 2012?
20. Student’s Legal Residence Date:
21. Is the Student Male or Female?
22. Register Student With Selective Service System?
23. Drug Conviction Affecting Eligibility?
24. Parent 1 Educational Level:
25. Parent 2 Educational Level:
26. High School or Equivalent Completed?
27a. Student’s High School Name:
27b. Student’s High School City:
27c. Student’s High School State:
28. First Bachelor’s Degree before 2017-2018 School Year?
29. Student’s Grade Level in College in 2017-2018:
30. Type of Degree/Certificate:
31. Interested in Work-study?
32. Student Filed 2015 Income Tax Return?
33. Student’s Type of 2015 Tax Form Used:
34. Student’s 2015 Tax Return Filing Status:
35. Student Eligible to File a 1040A or 1040EZ?
36. Student’s 2015 Adjusted Gross Income:
37. Student’s 2015 U.S. Income Tax Paid:
38. Student’s 2015 Exemptions Claimed:
39. Student’s 2015 Income Earned from Work:
40. Spouse’s 2015 Income Earned from Work:
41. Student’s Total of Cash, Savings, and Checking Accounts:
42. Student’s Net Worth of Current Investments:
43. Student’s Net Worth of Businesses/Investment Farms:
44a. Student’s Education Credits:
44b. Student’s Child Support Paid:
44c. Student’s Taxable Earnings from Need-Based Employment Programs:
44d. Student’s College Grant and Scholarship Aid Reported in AGI:
44e. Student’s Taxable Combat Pay Reported in AGI:
44f. Student’s Cooperative Education Earnings:
45a. Student’s Payments to Tax-Deferred Pensions & Retirement Savings:
45b. Student’s Deductible Payments to IRA/Keogh/Other:
45c. Student’s Child Support Received:
45d. Student’s Tax Exempt Interest Income:
45e. Student’s Untaxed Portions of IRA Distributions:
45f. Student’s Untaxed Portions of Pensions:
45g. Student’s Housing, Food, & Living Allowances:
45h. Student’s Veterans Noneducation Benefits:
45i. Student’s Other Untaxed Income or Benefits:
45j. Money Received or Paid on Student’s Behalf:
46. Student Born Before January 1, 1994?
47. Is Student Married?
48. Working on Master’s or Doctorate in 2017-2018?
49. Is Student on Active Duty in U.S. Armed Forces?
50. Is Student a Veteran?
51. Does Student Have Children He/She Supports?
52. Does Student Have Dependents Other than Children/Spouse?
53. Parents Deceased?/Student Ward of Court?/In Foster Care?
54. Is or Was Student an Emancipated Minor?
55. Is or Was Student in Legal Guardianship?
56. Is Student an Unaccompanied Homeless Youth as Determined by High School/Homeless Liaison?
57. Is Student an Unaccompanied Homeless Youth as Determined by HUD?
58. Is Student an Unaccompanied Homeless Youth as Determined by Director of Homeless Youth Center?
59. Parents’ Marital Status:
60. Parents’ Marital Status Date:
61. Parent 1 (Father’s/Mother’s/Stepparent’s) Social Security Number:
62. Parent 1 (Father’s/Mother’s/Stepparent’s) Last Name:
63. Parent 1 (Father’s/Mother’s/Stepparent’s) First Name Initial:
64. Parent 1 (Father’s/Mother’s/Stepparent’s) Date of Birth:
65. Parent 2 (Father’s/Mother’s/Stepparent’s) Social Security Number:
66. Parent 2 (Father’s/Mother’s/Stepparent’s) Last Name:
67. Parent 2 (Father’s/Mother’s/Stepparent’s) First Name Initial:
68. Parent 2 (Father’s/Mother’s/Stepparent’s) Date of Birth:
69. Parents’ E-mail Address:
70. Parents’ State of Legal Residence:
71. Were Parents Legal Residents Before January 1, 2012?
72. Parents’ Legal Residence Date:
73. Parents’ Number of Family Members in 2017-2018:
74. Parents’ Number in College in 2017-2018 (Parents Excluded):
75. Parents Received Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income?
76. Parents Received SNAP?
77. Parents Received Free/Reduced Price Lunch?
78. Parents Received TANF?
79. Parents Received WIC?
80. Parents Filed 2015 Income Tax Return?
81. Parents’ Type of 2015 Tax Form Used:
82. Parents’ 2015 Tax Return Filing Status:
83. Parents Eligible to File a 1040A or 1040EZ?
84. Is Parent a Dislocated Worker?
85. Parents’ 2015 Adjusted Gross Income:
86. Parents’ 2015 U.S. Income Tax Paid:
87. Parents’ 2015 Exemptions Claimed:
88. Parent 1 (Father’s/Mother’s/Stepparent’s) 2015 Income Earned from Work:
89. Parent 2 (Father’s/Mother’s/Stepparent’s) 2015 Income Earned from Work:
90. Parents’ Total of Cash, Savings, and Checking Accounts:
91. Parents’ Net Worth of Current Investments:
92. Parents’ Net Worth of Businesses/Investment Farms:
93a. Parents’ Education Credits:
93b. Parents’ Child Support Paid:
93c. Parents’ Taxable Earnings from Need-Based Employment Programs:
93d. Parents’ College Grant and Scholarship Aid Reported in AGI:
93e. Parents’ Taxable Combat Pay Reported in AGI:
93f. Parents’ Cooperative Education Earnings:
94a. Parents’ Payments to Tax-Deferred Pensions & Retirement Savings:
94b. Parents’ Deductible Payments to IRA/Keogh/Other:
94c. Parents’ Child Support Received:
94d. Parents’ Tax Exempt Interest Income:
94e. Parents’ Untaxed Portions of IRA Distributions:
94f. Parents’ Untaxed Portions of Pensions:
94g. Parents’ Housing, Food, & Living Allowances:
94h. Parents’ Veterans Noneducation Benefits:
94i. Parents’ Other Untaxed Income or Benefits:
95. Student’s Number of Family Members in 2017-2018:
96. Student’s Number in College in 2017-2018:
97. Student Received Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income?
98. Student Received SNAP?
99. Student Received Free/Reduced Price Lunch?
100. Student Received TANF?
101. Student Received WIC?
102. Is Student or Spouse a Dislocated Worker?
103a. First Federal School Code:
103b. First Housing Plans:
103c. Second Federal School Code:
103d. Second Housing Plans:
103e. Third Federal School Code:
103f. Third Housing Plans:
103g. Fourth Federal School Code:
103h. Fourth Housing Plans:
103i. Fifth Federal School Code:
103j. Fifth Housing Plans:
103k. Sixth Federal School Code:
103l. Sixth Housing Plans:
103m. Seventh Federal School Code:
103n. Seventh Housing Plans:
103o. Eighth Federal School Code:
103p. Eighth Housing Plans:
103q. Ninth Federal School Code:
103r. Ninth Housing Plans:
103s. Tenth Federal School Code:
103t. Tenth Housing Plans:
104. Date Completed:
105. Signed By:
106. Preparer’s Social Security Number:
107. Preparer’s Employer Identification Number (EIN):
108. Preparer’s Signature:

According to USED, nearly 20 million students filled out this form in the 2015/2016 application cycle. USED manages the portfolios of over 40 million loan applicants and recipients.

In 2015 hearings, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee uncovered the appalling lack of security with which this data is held. On cue, a huge FAFSA data breach was discovered in early 2017, exposing over 100,000 citizens to fraud based on their stolen records. Data-security hawk KrebsOnSecurity reported that the Internal Revenue Service disabled an automated tool on its website that was used to help students apply for financial aid in light of evidence that identity thieves were using the tool to steal the data and use it for tax-refund fraud. As Krebs warns, the only thing malefactors need to unlock a student’s entire life is name, birthdate, and social security number. FAFSA opens up the candy store.

Given the extraordinary breadth of the FAFSA data and its value to criminals, the government should be holding it in the cyber equivalent of Fort Knox. But FEPA heads in the other direction. It makes the data available to multiple other federal agencies and to outside interests under rules and security arrangements finalized by the agencies themselves. Propaganda claiming that FEPA adds additional protections for data is just that – propaganda. FEPA adds nothing to the “protections” already contained in the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act, which have manifestly failed so far.

And USED isn’t the only federal agency that has allowed major data breaches. The hacking of the Office of Personnel Management affected information on 21.5 million Americans. Data-security inadequacies were also found in the IRS tool used to calculate Obamacare subsidies, and President Obama himself refused to use the healthcare.gov website in order to keep his own data secure. Even if data is kept in the agency that collected it, FEPA still creates a de facto national database, that provides an even bigger target for hackers. The reassurance by FEPA proponents that there is “no central repository of data” is a meaningless distinction without a difference.

Senators, do you want your children’s and your families’ highly sensitive data shared across the federal government without your knowledge and consent, for purposes you never agreed to? Do you want private researchers or private corporations to have access to it? If not, stop FEPA.

South Dakota In Middle of Tweaking Education Standards

The Daily Republic in Mitchell, SD, reports that the South Dakota Board of Education is in the middle of the hearing process for proposed education standards.

On Monday, they held their second of four required public hearings.

State government’s Board of Education Standards must hold two more hearings next year before members decide whether to further change what South Dakota teachers are presenting to students, its departing leader said Monday.

Board president Don Kirkegaard, of Sturgis, made the remarks after the board conducted the second public hearing in Sioux Falls. Board members are considering proposed revisions to state standards for 10 sets of subjects, including math, English and the history and culture of Lakota, Dakota and Nakota tribal peoples.

The Legislature passed a state law in 2012 requiring the board to hold at least one public hearing in each of Aberdeen, Pierre, Rapid City and Sioux Falls. The board first considered the changes at a Sept. 18 meeting in Aberdeen at Northern State University.

State government’s Department of Education plans to present the proposals for public comments at board meetings Jan. 26 in Rapid City and March 19 in Pierre. Kirkegaard said Monday board members could decide immediately after the Pierre hearing whether to accept changes yet that day or wait until May 8 in Vermillion.

“We’d be done with our four hearings,” he said.

Kirkegaard is in his final weeks as superintendent for the Meade School District. He starts Jan. 1 as state education secretary, replacing Melody Schopp. Kirkegaard served eleven years on the state board, including the last six as president.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced Oct. 13 that Schopp would retire Dec. 15 after seven years in the department’s top post.

You can find the current and proposed standards here, as well as, links for public comments.

The next two public hearings are on January 26 in Rapid City and in March 19 in Pierre. Times and locations. Frankly, I’m not optimistic any comment or testimony at a public hearing will make much of a difference as the incoming Secretary of Education indicated they could decide right after the last hearing. So it seems like they are just checking off the minimum boxes required by state law to pass the standards they want.

I have not yet looked at the proposed ELA and math standards so I don’t know how different they are from Common Core. If other states can be used as an indicator I’m not optimistic it won’t be just another rebrand.

Tracking FEPA in the U.S. Senate

The Foundations of Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (FEPA) (H.R. 4174) passed in the U.S. House of Representatives after the rules were suspended and a voice vote taken. The Senate companion bill (S.2046) was introduced by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) who is the ranking member of the Senate HELP Committee.

The Senate bill has been read twice and was referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Here is the list of the committee members along with their Twitter handles and office phone numbers.

The primary issue with FEPA is that it would create a “unified evidence-building plan” for the entire federal government – in essence, a national database containing data from every federal agency on every citizen.

What could possibly go wrong there?

Please read and share this one-pager on the bill about why student privacy advocates have grave concerns about this bill.

FEPA Passes U.S. House By Voice Vote

Photo credit: UpstateNYer (CC-By-SA 3.0)

The Foundations of Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (FEPA) (H.R. 4174) passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a voice vote on Wednesday afternoon after House rules were suspended in order to pass the bill. The bill was sponsored by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

This is typically done when a bill is considered “non-controversial.”

That isn’t the case with this bill. Two-thirds of the members present must vote in favor. The debate is limited to 40 minutes, and no amendments can be added.

Since it was a voice vote there was no roll call and we don’t know how each Representative voted.

No one spoke in opposition to the bill. You can listen to the “debate” below, as audio was captured by Cheri Kiesecker:

There is a companion bill in the Senate (S. 2046) sponsored by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).

Emmett McGroarty, a senior fellow with American Principles Project, made the following statement before the bill’s passage in the House.

Pressured by powerful lobbyists in Washington, Congress is about to take the first steps toward allowing massive data-mining by ‘researchers’ in the name of ‘transparency’ and ‘evidence.’ This will inevitably result in intrusive dossiers on citizens that will vastly expand the power of the already unaccountable administrative state. Citizens have the right to know that the personal data they turn over to the federal government stays with the agency to which it was submitted, and is not shared with other agencies for other purposes. Trampling on individual rights in this manner is bad enough; doing so without even fair hearing and debate is simply unconscionable. Congress must defeat this bill and protect individual freedom. If Congress refuses to do so, President Trump should veto this bill.

See and share this one-pager on the bill about why student privacy advocates have grave concerns about this bill and don’t find it “non-controversial” in the least.

Stop The Congressional Assault on Student Privacy and Parental Rights

Photo credit: Rob Crawley (CC-By-2.0)

Via American Principles Project:

Urgent action needed to stop Congress from passing what can only be described as an unprecedented assault on student privacy and parental rights. This assault comes in the form of three bills floating around Congress, one of which – H.R. 4174 The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (FEPA)—could be voted on as early as this Wednesday.

  • The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (FEPA) (H.R. 4174, S. 2046), which would create a “unified evidence-building plan” for the entire federal government – in essence, a national database containing data from every federal agency on every citizen; and
  • The College Transparency Act (CTA) (H.R. 2434, S. 1121), which would overturn the Higher Education Act’s ban on a federal student unit-record system and establish a system of lifelong tracking of individuals by the federal government; and
  • The Student Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 3157), which would amend the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 USC § 1232g, without restoring the FERPA privacy protections that were gutted by regulatory fiat in 2012.

Special interests that want increased access to highly personal student data for their own benefit have mounted a massive lobbying campaign to achieve their goals with respect to each of these bills. The bottom line is that bureaucrats in the Administrative State, as well as researchers, want a vast trove of data they can access to examine freeborn American citizens as lab rats – without their consent or even their knowledge.

Please read the one-pagers copied below which briefly address the most serious problems associated with each of these bills. Applicable to all three discussions are two other fundamental problems. The first is that the federal government has demonstrated its utter incompetence at protecting the security of individual data (see here, here, here, and here). Expanding the pool of data that will be so enticing to hackers is more than unwise – it’s madness.

But the more fundamental problem is this: Even if the data could be maintained with 100% security, and even if students could somehow benefit from collection and sharing of their own confidential data, there are certain lines a free society should not cross. Increasing the government repository of highly personal data further entrenches the Administrative State – the Swamp, if you will – which will inevitably use that data to increase its own power. The mere presence of such data with the government has an intimidating effect on the citizen, whose freedom of action is necessarily limited by his awareness of government surveillance. This is a feature of totalitarian governments; it should be anathema in free societies.

For the sake of American students and parents, we are counting on you to flood Congress with calls starting Monday morning and tell them to vote “NO” on H.R. 4174, H.R. 2434, and H.R. 3157. The number for Congress is 202.224.3121. Make your voice heard!

Silicon Valley’s Plans for the Classroom

Photo Credit: Lexie Flickinger (CC-By-2.0)

Many of you have probably already read this article, but I wanted to highlight an article from last week in The New York Times titled “How Silicon Valley Plans to Conquer the Classroom.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Silicon Valley is going all out to own America’s school computer-and-software market, projected to reach $21 billion in sales by 2020. An industry has grown up around courting public-school decision makers, and tech companies are using a sophisticated playbook to reach them, The New York Times has found in a review of thousands of pages of Baltimore County school documents and in interviews with dozens of school officials, researchers, teachers, tech executives and parents.

School leaders have become so central to sales that a few private firms will now, for fees that can climb into the tens of thousands of dollars, arrange meetings for vendors with school officials, on some occasions paying superintendents as consultants. Tech-backed organizations have also flown superintendents to conferences at resorts. And school leaders have evangelized company products to other districts.

These marketing approaches are legal. But there is little rigorous evidence so far to indicate that using computers in class improves educational results. Even so, schools nationwide are convinced enough to have adopted them in hopes of preparing students for the new economy.

In some significant ways, the industry’s efforts to push laptops and apps in schools resemble influence techniques pioneered by drug makers. The pharmaceutical industry has long cultivated physicians as experts and financed organizations, like patient advocacy groups, to promote its products.

Studies have found that strategies like these work, and even a free $20 mealfrom a drug maker can influence a doctor’s prescribing practices. That is one reason the government today maintains a database of drug maker payments, including meals, to many physicians.

Tech companies have not gone as far as drug companies, which have regularly paid doctors to give speeches. But industry practices, like flying school officials to speak at events and taking school leaders to steak and sushi restaurants, merit examination, some experts say.

Read the rest. It’s pretty disconcerting.

Republicans Resist Requiring Illinois Schools to Teach Cursive

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner

One of the criticisms of the Common Core English language arts standards is how it did not include standards for teaching cursive. Illinois lawmakers want to require schools in their state to teach cursive, and Republicans have fought against that. Governor Bruce Rauner, a Republican, even vetoed a bill that was passed, but the Illinois Legislature is poised to override that video.

The Chicago Tribune reports:

Among the losses state lawmakers dealt Gov. Bruce Rauner Wednesday was one over a signature issue: Whether the state should require schools to teach cursive writing.

Rauner vetoed a bill to enact such a requirement, and the Illinois Housevoted to override him on Wednesday. The Senate would have to follow suit when it returns next month for the proposal to become law.

In pushing for one mandatory cursive unit in elementary schools, Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch said children need to be able to read documents the Founding Fathers wrote, as well as notes from grandma. And there was a political angle to making sure kids could sign their names too.

“Can sign your driver’s license. Can sign your passport,” the Hillside Democrat said. “Can sign a petition to run for office.”

Some Republican lawmakers contended requiring the teaching of at least one unit of cursive amounts to another Illinois mandate on local schools that doesn’t come with any state money to pay for it.

Rep. Sue Scherer said during debate that it was so clear that kids should be taught cursive that there shouldn’t even be a debate.

“It’s unbelievable we’re even having this discussion,” said the Decatur Democrat.

Considering that some Republicans, including Governor Rauner, have done next to nothing about repealing the standards, it is mindboggling to me that this is even up for debate.

They are worried about cost? How much did the state spend to implement Common Core and PARCC? Compared to that implementing a unit of cursive is peanuts.

This doesn’t make any sense at all. Kids should know how to write and, more importantly, read cursive. Writing cursive is beneficial for the development of their fine motor skills. This should be a no-brainer, but it probably does not fit into the workforce development scheme that it seems many Republicans, especially Chamber Republicans, have bought into.

Why teach them cursive when they’ll be working on computers and tablets at work? They won’t need cursive for the 21st Century Economy!

Kudos to Illinois Democrats for pushing this bill, now if we can only get them to repeal Common Core and replace them with quality standards.

Add This To The ‘This Is Not Common Core’ File

I read a piece this week from PJ Media that contributes to muddying our opposition to Common Core. The article by Megan Fox was titled “Common Core Rape-Themed Assignment for Biology Confuses Parents.”

Here’s an excerpt:

A 9th-grade assignment at a Mississippi high school is causing concern and disgust among parents. A mother recently posted her student’s assignment to Facebook in a special group that was created for the growing discontent parents feel toward public school education — “Inappropriate Common Core Lessons.” This particular assignment asked 14-year-old students to determine the identity of a fictional rapist based on sperm DNA….

Not surprisingly, parents were not amused. The mother who posted the assignment reported that the teacher did not require the students to complete it — and parents were grateful for that — but she was still disturbed by the content in the “teaching” material. Common Core has long been hated by parents and teachers alike, not only for its inappropriate content but for the convoluted math techniques that serve only to frustrate students and parents.

Here is a picture of the assignment:

I really, really, really hate to defend Common Core. There is nothing about this assignment that screams “Common Core.”

  1. It is biology lesson – The Common Core State Standards are standards for math and ELA. There are literacy standards for science, but those would not impact lessons like these.
  2. You can’t even blame this on the Next Generation Science Standards since Mississippi has not adopted them.
  3. Neither set of standards mandate an assignment like this.

Stories like this make for good click-bait, but they promote misinformation. It is vitally important that we communicate the truth. We call out Common Core advocates all of the time for false information and disingenuous talking points. We need to call out misinformation on our side as well. Stories like these will stir up anger, but they end up being used as ammunition against us when we seek change from policymakers. These stories are used to paint Common Core opponents as ignorant.

It needs to stop. Be forceful in your opposition, but speak the truth. This story is utterly false and irresponsible.