Florida Teacher Who Resigned: “Children Are Not Data Points”

Photo source: PureParents.org

The Orlando Sentinel reported about a teacher’s resignation letter that went viral after she shared it with friends over the summer. 

Leslie Postal writes:

Maren Hicks often jokes that she was “Leo the Late Bloomer,” coming to a teaching career six years out of college. But once in the classroom, she found her passion and fell hard for education’s “noble aims.”

In June, however, Hicks left her teaching job at an Orange County public school after penning a two-page resignation letter that warned “our village is on fire.”

In her letter, Hicks, 36, said she was one of many fed up Orange teachers and urged school district leaders to heed their concerns about standardized testing, burdensome record-keeping and policies that lose sight of the children in their care.

“Children are not data points. Teachers are not cattle herders,” wrote Hicks, who taught at Arbor Ridge K-8 School in east Orange. “Yet, the district maintains an incessant and desperate need to pigeon hole education and goat herd bewildered students through an algorithm of disappointment and forced uniformity.”

Read the rest

EU Spreading the “Gospel” of Workforce Development to South Africa

A missionary from the European Union traveled to South Africa to share the gospel, but not the Gospel that you might think.

Instead, he’s bringing the gospel of workforce development and a managed economy. South African students, he says, needs to focus on skills.

The South African news site, Business Day, reports:

A top EU official is very concerned about the mismatch between SA’s education system and the skills required for the job market.

Stefano Manservisi, director-general of the European Commission’s directorate for international co-operation and development, says the country must take steps to bridge the skills gap — the difference between the skills required and those employees have attained.

They continue:

According to the EU’s Directorate for International Co-operation and Development, the union’s bilateral co-operation with SA, which runs from 2014  to 2020, focuses on employment creation, education, training and innovation. The total EU allocation over this period is €268m. 

Key projects under the bilateral co-operation include the Primary Education Sector Policy Support Programme, which supports the government’s objective to expand the provision of early childhood development opportunities, to improve curriculum implementation in schools, and to strengthen the initial training of teachers in SA. This has led to an increase in the number of universities training teachers for early grades and the number of students enrolled in such programmes.

Not only are the spreading the message, but they are funding it as well.

The thing is, “gospel” means “good news” and this is anything but. If South Africa wants to ruin its primary and secondary education system then they will adapt this advice. If they want to preserve it then they should go see what has proven to work. 

Common Core, Workforce Development, and Assigning Blame

Photo Credit: Alpha Stock Images by Nick Youngson (CC-By-SA 3.0)

I read an article by David Cantor in The 74, about whether schools adequately prepare students for the “age of the automation.” I understand the concern about a  shift in our economy that is coming, and it will be disruptive. Those who beat this drum overlook the fundamental question – is preparing students for the workforce the role of K-12 education?

I submit no, workforce development is not the goal of education, a well-rounded education in math, literacy, science, civics, and the arts is the goal.

Kids are not human capital. 

That’s not to say I am against certification programs within K-12 schools. My daughter had the opportunity to become a certified nurse’s aide through our local school district. I also think to offer dual high school-college credit is a great idea and helps students avoid accumulating massive student debt. I support vocational education.

I am not opposed to those things if that is what the student and the family want. That isn’t what is going on. Kids are not receiving a well-rounded education as a result of this push for workforce development. They are being shortchanged.

Those of who are concerned about this get the blame apparently because the savior of workforce development, the Common Core State Standards, have been a failure. Why? Because we opposed them and so they were adopted unevenly. Also, the NAEP assessment questions may not line up to the standards (the ACT either).

Cantor writes:

Political resistance and bureaucratic obstacles resulted in uneven adoption of the standards among states. Researcher Tom Loveless at the Brookings Institution found small gains on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in states that more fully implemented the standards. He has also reported on the larger pattern of stagnation on the national exam.

Several factors, including questions of how well NAEP items lined up with the standards, made it impossible to conclude that they had a causal effect on outcomes, however.

In Arizona, where the state education chief led a successful effort to repeal the standards, local industry played a countervailing role, said Lisa Graham Keegan, chief executive of the state’s Chamber of Commerce foundation and a former state superintendent.

“The biggest contribution business makes is to encourage the jump” to better standards and tests, she said. “They’re saying, ‘We need to employ kids with these sets of skills, and you’re not helping them get them.’”

They can’t possibly admit there was no data that backed these standards up; they did not emulate success in states and countries doing well in math and literacy (to this day I’m still not sure what countries Common Core used as a benchmark). 

They can’t possibly look in the mirror and admit that their grand experiment, and that is what this was, an experiment, went bust and they are the ones to blame. 

Top down reforms never work. 

Science Lost the Reading Wars

I was emailed a story at American Public Media Reports entitled “Hard Words: Why aren’t kids being taught to read?” by Emily Hanford. 

The article discusses the battle between teaching kids phonics or whole language, and the article points out that the real loser of the “reading war” was science, in that kids are not being taught in a way that is proven to work for most children.

Read this excerpt discussing “balanced literacy” which is described as whole language repackaged with a dash of phonics on top.

“Balanced literacy was a way to defuse the wars over reading,” said Mark Seidenberg, a cognitive neuroscientist and author of the book “Language at the Speed of Sight.” “It succeeded in keeping the science at bay, and it allowed things to continue as before.” 

He says the reading wars are over, and science lost.

Seidenberg knows of a child who was struggling so much with reading that her mother paid for a private tutor. “The tutor taught her some of the basic skills that the child wasn’t getting in her whole language classroom,” he said. “At the end of the school year the teacher was proud that the child had made so much progress, and the parent said, ‘Well, why didn’t you teach phonics and other basic skills related to print in class?’ And the teacher said ‘Oh, I did. Your child was absent that day.'”
For scientists like Seidenberg, the problem with teaching just a little bit of phonics is that according to all the research, phonics is crucial when it comes to learning how to read. Surrounding kids with good books is a great idea, but it’s not the same as teaching children to read. 

Experts say that in a whole-language classroom, some kids will learn to read despite the lack of effective instruction. But without explicit and systematic phonics instruction, many children won’t ever learn to read very well.

Some kids will learn how to read in spite of the classroom instruction they’ve received. Wow, that’s a statement.

Read the rest.

Quebec Dominates in Math, Here Is Why Ed Reformers Should Pay Attention

The Canadian and Quebec Flags
Via Wikimedia Commons (CC-By-SA 4.0)

Paul Bennett had an interesting piece in Policy Options, a public forum run by the Institute for Research on Public Policy, a Canadian think tank located in Montreal, Quebec.

He notes that Quebec dominates the rest of Canada in math and have done so for many years. In spite of that, the other Canadian provinces don’t want to emulate Quebec’s success. 

He highlights a study conducted by British Columbia’s Ministry of Education into Quebec’s success. I wanted to highlight a couple of the findings that he writes about.

The first finding is that Quebec has a clearer philosophy and sequence. Bennett writes:

The scope and sequence of Quebec’s math curriculum is clearer, demonstrating an acceptance of the need for clarity in setting out a progression of content and skills focused on achieving higher levels of achievement. The 1980 Quebec Ministry of Education curriculum set the pattern. Much more emphasis in teacher education and in the classroom was placed upon building sound foundations before progressing to problem solving. Curriculum guidelines were much more explicit about making connections with previously learned material.

Quebec’s grade 4 curriculum made explicit reference to the ability to develop speed and accuracy in mental and written calculation and to multiply larger numbers as well as to perform reverse operations. By grade 11, students were required to summon “all their knowledge (algebra, geometry, statistics and the sciences) and all the means at their disposal…to solve problems.” “The way math is presented makes the difference,” says Genevieve Boulet,a professor of mathematics education at Mount St. Vincent University with prior experience preparing mathematics teachers at the Université de Sherbrooke.

Did you catch that? A clear scope and sequence was key, but not only that, an emphasis was placed on building sound foundations before tackling problem-solving. 

Now compare that to Common Core. We’ve noted Common Core’s Math Standards:

  • Delay development of some key concepts and skills.
  • Include significant mathematical sophistication written at a level beyond understanding of most parents, students, administrators, decision makers and many teachers.
  • Lack coherence and clarity to be consistently interpreted by students, parents, teachers, administrators, curriculum developers, textbook developers/publishers, and assessment developers.  Will this lead to consistent expectations and equity?
  • Have standards inappropriately placed, including delayed requirement for standard algorithms, which will hinder student success and waste valuable instructional time.

Bennett then notes Quebec uses stronger math curriculum:

Fewer topics tend to be covered at each grade level in Quebec, but they are covered in more depth than in BC and other Canadian provinces. In grade 4, students are generally introduced right away to multiplication, division and standard alogrithms, and the curriculum unit on measurement focuses on mastering three topics — length, area and volume — instead of six or seven. Concrete manipulations are more widely used to facilitate comprehension of more abstract math concepts. Much heavier emphasis is placed on numbers and operations as grade 4 students are expected to perform addition, subtraction and multiplication using fractions.

Fewer topics, they go in depth and students are introduced right away to standard algorithms. Common Core puts conceptual understanding before they master practical skills. Barry Garelick wrote about this in The Atlantic in 2012:

Under the Common Core Standards, students will not learn traditional methods of adding and subtracting double and triple digit numbers until fourth grade. (Currently, most schools teach these skills two years earlier.) The standard method for two and three digit multiplication is delayed until fifth grade; the standard method for long division until sixth. In the meantime, the students learn alternative strategies that are far less efficient, but that presumably help them “understand” the conceptual underpinnings.

Yet Quebec does not do this.

Canadian provinces are wise to emulate Quebec’s success in math, but we in the United States would be as well. 

We’re Doing This All Wrong

With Michelle Moore

We’re doing this all wrong.

Some day … somehow … education will discover a proper obsession.

Until then … children will suffer these testing-despots … and too many adults will make believe it’s all okay.

And it’s not.

Lots of things in life just can’t be measured … because they can’t even be defined.

Love. Creativity. Curiosity. Courage. Passion.

So, if you want a real thinker to blossom from childhood, don’t measure them at every turn. Indulge them in their own curiosities … and they’ll measure themselves and shine for all of ever.

American education is now controlled by self-imagined geniuses … short-stay aliens who parachute into classrooms … and then dash off.

Most share one important experience:

They have no experience.

Few have ever spent a morning on a kindergarten floor … or in a hot-hot circular discussion with lively seventh graders … or faced off against wing-spreading high schoolers who have suddenly come of age.

Because they’re not real-deal teachers.

Teachers see miracle moments all the time. They make them happen.

Real teachers don’t care about percentiles … or modules … or mean scores. Their craft … their genius … is all about kids. How to grow ’em … and keep ’em curious.

Then the rest tumbles into place. 

The important thing to remember about education is that it can never be measured very neatly … or really reduced to graphs or charts or tables.

And here’s why.

Education … real, real, real education … is all about people. And every learner is in the process of … of … of becoming.

Yeah …. becoming. 

That’s what education is all about … becoming.

And tidy assessments of “becoming” don’t cut it. Because they can’t cut it. Because these kids are people …  so they’re loaded with billions of those variables that make us all so different. Got it?

So … right from the start, these gurus have misunderstood what they’re measuring … so why should we ever take them seriously?

Instead of pushing bubble-sheets, why not ask them about the passions they don’t even know they have? And their talents they can’t even see?  Or the gift they have for this or that?

Maybe we just get out of their way for a change. Maybe just look and learn. Maybe stop bothering them so much. Maybe just nudge them now and again to … to become what’s inside those tiny bodies … and those gorgeous little minds.

What the heck is so hard to understand? 

Stop bothering them so much. 

Let ‘em be.

We should give every child lots of stuff. Like chances to run and sing and dance. And fall down. Chances to act their age … not as we tell them to act.  Let ’em sample lots of stuff  … and even walk away from things that just don’t do it for them.

Give ‘em chance to make choices … as much as possible … because life’s a stream of choices. The practice can’t hurt.

They need chances to work together … and to be left alone. Chances to drift into their own worlds … where they can imagine who they are … or might become.

They should have chances to feel safe … and to take risks. And to tell luscious-lovely tales … that we should all take very seriously … because that works both ways.

We should let them speak marvelous nonsense … and not interrupt … because they’re just exercising their imaginations. So we should listen … and shut up … and give them the floor for a change.

And, of course, we should teach them to speak and to count and to scribble. All of that will sprout … I promise … but never evenly enough to please those testing-tyrants … or the extra-serious beard-scratchers who just can’t leave childhood alone.

It always turns out messy when master-teachers are shoved aside because some know-it-all decides that teaching is a science … when it’s not.

Teaching is like conducting an orchestra … or directing a play … or sailing a ship. But most of all …. it’s about remembering. And becoming.

This is what happens when some of us grow too old and too forgetting of those teachers who swerved our lives … and helped us wriggle out of our cocoons.

Those fuzzy memory-people who polished some talent no one else saw. Or who just whispered us a perfect kindness at the perfect moment … when it was so badly needed. Or who just loved watching us become someone we never ever imagined we might become.

Someone like me. And you.

You get the point? 

We’re obsessed about the wrong stuff.

We’re doing this all wrong.


SEL Assessment Dialogue Avoids the Obvious Question

District Administration Magazine included an article on its website last week entitled “SEL Check-ups At School.” Education Dive also published a brief based on the article entitled “Schools explore the best ways to gauge SEL skills.” There is an ongoing conversation about how social-emotional learning (SEL) skills can be assessed.

There are three primary SEL assessment tools schools are using mentioned in the District Administration Magazine by Victoria Clayton that are summarized by Amelia Harper at Education Dive:

Three current options are the Devereux Students Strengths Assessment, which is emerging as a leader in SEL assessment; Panorama’s assessment, which offers more student voice in the process; and a free, open-source option called Social and Emotional Competency Assessments, which was created by the Washoe County School District in Nevada.

She later writes:

SEL assessments also offer valuable feedback to teachers that allow them to craft their own responses to students in better ways. Schools can use the information to determine what changes need to be made to SEL programs or the ways they are implemented. And parents are often interested in the information as well so they can support their children’s social-emotional development at home. 

Clayton in her article at District Administration Magazine points out the silent data that can be captured through SEL assessments:

The SEL assessments are often coupled with school climate surveys, which offer the children an opportunity to tell adults where there may be culture or safety issues at school. “Our SEL assessment became this great way for our schools to incorporate that piece—student voice—into the decision-making for a school,” says Korene Horibata, district educational specialist.

In Kansas, leaders at Olathe Public Schools (29,600 students) chose Panorama to align SEL with Kansas Can, a statewide education initiative that calls for students to express themselves. Results indicated that most Olathe students felt strong in social awareness but shaky about grit and perseverance.

This has changed the way teachers engage with students, Assistant Superintendent Jessica Dain says. During regular instruction, teachers now guide students on overcoming challenges or successfully completing assignments when they feel overwhelmed or uncertain.

“Most importantly, it provides what I call ‘silent data’—the information that would typically go unmeasured and unsupported in the classroom,” Dain says.

Both authors discuss how schools should assess SEL, why they should assess SEL, but nowhere in this discussion is any voice of caution over whether schools should. 

This is classic group think mentality and why most education reforms have failed. Everybody jumps on the “brand new thing,” advocates it, boxes out any dissent, and moves forward without any data backing it up.

No one is asking the question, is this really what schools should focus their time on when they are struggling to teach core subjects? Also, is there any concern about student privacy?

No one in mainstream education policy circles or journalists writing about education seems to ask these types of questions.

Technocratic Corporatocracy Hijacks Public Schools for Profit

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

Making People Transparent for Profit Through Nontransparent Algorithms

Imagine if everything about you was on a giant billboard and you could see who was buying information about you and making lists. That is exactly what is happening without your knowledge or consent each time you use the Internet. Everything a user does online is tracked and monetized — Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, apps — they all collect your data. A provider of computer-run education programs has admitted that they share the data they gather with 18 “partners.” Invisible analytics, profiling, sharing or selling of data collected without consent or knowledge makes every Internet user vulnerable to manipulation and control, ending personal privacy and sovereignty. 

The process works like this: new data are collected covertly through apps; the collected data is transferred to data brokers who access the new data and combine it with existing data about an individual using nontransparent algorithms. The algorithms create a very detailed profile of individual users; vendors are sold access to the profiles and target individuals based on profile analyses. Google is by far the most used third party analytics tracker and makes 90% of its revenue tracking user searches. In attached bibliography includes multiple examples of how the tech industry not only sells data, but sells data collection programs and devices to measure behaviors and infer emotions and thoughts. 

The documentary, The Creepy Line, explains how tech giants use algorithms to shape behavior and shape thoughts. Google used algorithms to influence voter behavior in the 2016 presidential election In a recently leaked video of a Google company meeting conducted shortly after that election, one employee asked if Google is willing to “invest in grassroots, hyper-local efforts to bring tools and services and understanding of Google products and knowledge so that people can “make informed decisions that are best for themselves.” Google CEO Sundar Pichai responded that Google will ensure its “educational products” reach “segments of the population [they] are not [currently] fully reaching.” Apparently, Google will ensure that Google Chromebooks and the Google manipulated search engine will be standard “education” materials in American schools so that students can make Google informed decisions.

Tracking and “Educating” Children

Schools funded with tax dollars allow the tech industry to collect billions of student data points about every aspect of every student using school issued personal devices by mandating students complete assignments using online tools and apps for classwork and homework on these devices. The data are used to build comprehensive profiles on each student. Every state has a database and students’ personal data can be shared with researchers and companies. Google launched a public relations campaign, Be Internet Awesome, that includes a curriculum and online game for Chromebooks, to promote itself as a “good” company; but a critical analysis of Be Internet Awesome concluded,

. . ., the program’s conceptualization of Internet safety omits key considerations. Specifically, it does not acknowledge the role of companies in keeping data and personal information secure. Instead, its focus on user-centered strategies obscures the degree to which users are often powerless when it comes to controlling how their personal data is used. [It] generally presents Google as impartial and trustworthy, 
which is especially problematic given that the target audience is impressionable youth. 

Transporting human beings without their consent for exploitation is human trafficking. Transporting human beings’ private data without their knowledge or consent is human data trafficking. Transporting children’s private data by collecting it in compulsory schools without parent knowledge or consent to exploit them in the data market is nothing less than institutional child data trafficking.

Failure of Government

Existing federal laws are inadequate for protecting student data privacy. FERPA generally does not apply to online data collection and FERPA was changed by executive rule in 2011, removing parental consent for data collection. FERPA now allows companies (such as Google) to be declared a “school official,” giving them access to student data on par with professionals who have a “need to know” to provide appropriate services to students. HIPPA does not apply to student records. COPPA does not generally apply to schools, and COPPA is rarely enforced even when complaints have been filed, and we know thousands of Android apps are improperly tracking children. There is no federal law regulating companies’ use of online student data.

The FBI recently issued a warning about privacy and security risks of educational technology and the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance that schools should not force parents to consent to third party terms of service. Yet, parents are told they cannot attend the school if they don’t allow their child to have a fill in the blank edtech app or program (e.g., Naviance, or NWEA, or Google Gsuite account). EdTech people say education is the most datamineable industry by far and we know now that students’ social-emotional data is the new goldmine despite the pseudo-science propping up social-emotional learning. The West Virginia teachers strike in Spring 2018 was in part sparked because, among other reasons, teachers were being forced to download Go365, a wellness and rewards app which would track their steps and other health data. Teachers were required to upload a variety of personal health information into the app and saw the program as an invasion of personal privacy

Google’s money wields an enormous amount of influence on U.S. education policy. Under the Obama Administration Google’s lobbyists had essentially unrestricted visits to the White House . A shocking number of White House officials now work for Google or vice versa. The U.S. Department of Education was heavily populated with former employees of organizations associated with Bill Gates, also advocating for computer-administered education. We know tech firms including Google have recently been lobbying the White House for a new federal privacy law on their own terms; Google even provided their own framework for a favorable privacy bill that does not include opt-in consent. It is time for Congress and states to kick the fox out of the henhouse — reject corporatocracy and restore our Constitutional democracy.

Responsibility of Government

U.S. citizens are protected from the government’s invasion of privacy and from property theft. They must also be protected from corporations’ invasion of privacy and theft of their electronically created property. Sovereign citizens cannot be coerced into giving their data or penalized/denied public education services for not consenting to sharing their data. Given that the infrastructure has already been built, Congress must adopt strong privacy laws at least as stringent as the European Union’s global data standards established in its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The FTC should be given rule-making authority and resources to investigate and directly prosecute violations; but by no means should Congress abdicate its responsibility to protect the general welfare of the Americans and allow Silicon Valley to dictate to Congress or the FTC.

ACT Math Score Drop Unsurprising Says Past NCTM President

ACT released its Condition of College and Career Readiness 2018 report where they report math scores are at a 20-year low nationally. 

They also noted that college readiness in math is trending downward among ACT-tested US high school graduates, falling to its lowest mark in 14 years. 

“The negative trend in math readiness is a red flag for our country, given the growing importance of math and science skills in the increasingly tech-driven US and global job market,” said ACT CEO Marten Roorda. “It is vital that we turn this trend around for the next generation and make sure students are learning the math skills they need for success in college and career.”

Education Week reported on the ACT report and they include a quote that is rather surprising. Catherine Gewertz wrote, “Matt Larson, the immediate past president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, said the math scores ‘are extremely disappointing, but not entirely unexpected.’”

Not surprising? Of course, I’m not surprised because we’ve seen this trend with ACT and we anticipated problems, but I have to admit I’m surprised to read a person whose organization shilled for Common Core.

They continue:

In a report released earlier this year, the NCTM called for major shifts in the way math is organized and taught in high school, including focusing more deeply on fewer essential concepts. Larson said that states have made solid progress adopting good math standards, but the ACT results suggest that schools need to focus on improving curriculum and instructional practice to bring those expectations fully to life.

“As a country, we’ve reached the limits of what we can get out of standards alone,” he said. “We need to pay more attention to what is taking place in the classroom.”

Oh, we’ve taken Common Core as far as we could? 

That was a short, disappointing ride. Nah, it’s not the standards, it’s everything else that is the problem… I couldn’t possibly be the standards! 

Common Core, The Great “Leveler”

Photo Credit: Stephen Mally/The Cedar Rapids Gazette

This is getting tiresome. Every new round of test scores, whether from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) or some other vehicle, shows either stagnation or decline in reading and math performance of American students. Every time this happens, we write about the now undeniable connection to the Common Core national standards, which began to be implemented in most states in 2010. The recently released and utterly predictable scores from ACT require yet another commentary on the decline of academic performance and college-readiness under Common Core. 

How many times must this cycle repeat before someone in power is shamed into doing something about it?

Let’s look first at ACT’s college-readiness. According to Education Week, ACT correlates scores with students’ likelihood of earning Bs or Cs in credit-bearing college coursework. This year, only 40 percent of test-takers met the benchmark in math – the lowest level since 2004, and down from 46 percent in 2012. Significantly, unlike today’s students, the higher-scoring 2012 students had had little if any exposure to the glorious reforms of Common Core. As for reading, only 60 percent of test-takers met the college-readiness benchmark – the lowest level ever in the 16-year history of the benchmark. 

As for the straight scores, Education Week breaks the news: “The average math score for the graduating class of 2018 was 20.5, marking a steady decline from 20.9 five years ago, and virtually no progress since 1998, when it was 20.6.” And reading? “[T]he scores in English didn’t offer much cause for celebration, either. The average score for the class of 2018 was 20.2, the same as five years ago, and down half a point from the English-score high in 2007.”

But the hits just keep on comin’. Average composite scores fell in all racial and ethnic groups except Asian-Americans. So Common Core has been a great leveler – just not in the way it was promised. 

ACT’s chief executive officer was in a gloomy mood. “We’re at a very dangerous point. And if we do nothing, it will keep on declining,” he predicted.

So what should we do? Anyone with no Gates funding and two brain cells to rub together would conclude that a good start would be ditching Common Core lock, stock, and barrel – every “informational text,” every “close reading,” every “deeper conceptual understanding,” every “Lexile” measure, every “alternative algorithm,” every “real-world problem-solving,” every “rigorous” standard, every delay in standard algorithms, every delay in algebra, every “collaboration,” every “consensus,” all of it. Surely this will happen now.

Or maybe not. The progressive-education reformers have a lot invested in this experiment, and they’re guarding their interests. The immediate past-president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, an organization that bears much blame for pushing the kind of ridiculous math enshrined in Common Core, isn’t giving up the national standards without a fight. As reported in Education Week, this educrat “said that states have made solid progress adopting the good math standards, but the ACT results suggest that schools need to focus on improving curriculum and instructional practice to bring those expectations fully to life.”

Ah yes, that’s the ticket – the standards are great, so if we only improve “curriculum and instructional practice,” our kids may once again learn to read and work math problems.  This is certainly Bill Gates’s position, and after all he’s very rich and so knows of what he speaks. And this is basically the position of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which recently released a report singing the praises of Common Core. Rarely does such a report get disproven in only a few months. Unfortunate timing for Fordham.

For those keeping score at home, here’s the evidence of the raging success of Common Core:

  • From the 2015 NAEP scores: for the first time in over 20 years, declines in math performance across the board, stagnation or declines in reading performance, and decline in college-readiness benchmarks in both areas.
  • From the 2017 NAEP scores: no improvement from the dismal 2015 scores.
  • From the 2017 NAEP scores: increased “achievement gap” between white/Asian students and other minority groups.
  • From the 2017 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) test: U.S. students tumble from 5th in the world to 13th.

The protective edifice that has been erected around Common Core – by the federal government, state education establishments, private foundations, corporations, education consultants, and individual megalomaniacs – has got to go. If these defenders refuse to acknowledge the truth staring them in the face, they are elevating their own interests over those of American children.