Next Generation Science Standards Go All In With Climate Change

I’ve already written about the problems inherent with the Next Generation Science Standards based on a couple of review that had been published.  The Los Angeles Times published a story confirming that the Next Generation Science Standards which have just been released will “delve more deeply” into climate change.

For the first time, the proposed education standards identify climate change as a core concept for science classes with a focus on the relationship between that change and human activity. According to the Oakland-based National Center for Science Education, two-thirds of U.S. students in a 2011 survey said they are not learning much about the topic.

Among high school students, 86% take biology, and more than 50% take chemistry but fewer than 20% take earth sciences — the course that would cover climate change, said Frank Niepold, a climate education coordinator with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“The current state of climate change education is poor at best,” said Mark McCaffrey, the Oakland center’s program and policy director.

In California, climate and weather are covered in earth science standards. But the proposed new standards will more explicitly direct students to examine the scientific evidence for how and why the climate is changing and its impact.

Perhaps it hasn’t been covered because it has been highly politicized and (contrary to what progressives will say) there is not consensus on this topic.

The Heartland Institute, based in Chicago, IL released a statement from James Taylor, their senior fellow for Enviromental Policy, who expressed his concern.  “The Next Generation Science Standards convey an anti-human message regarding human activities, population growth, and environmental impacts that is not scientifically justified. They certainly convey an environmental activist bias,”  Taylor said.  “These final Standards are an improvement over earlier draft versions, and are not as environmentally radical as many other proposed curricula and standards I have seen. Nevertheless, being somewhat better than environmentally radical propaganda is not the same as being objective, balanced, and scientifically accurate.”

The Heartland Institute has produced two volumes – Climate Change Reconsidered, and Climate Change Reconsidered: 2011 Interim Report – containing more than 1,000 pages of peer-reviewed studies questioning the “consensus” that a man-made climate change crisis is a plausible scenario.

Joy Pullmann, research fellow and managing editor of School Reform News at The Heartland Institute, also expressed concern.  She said, “Although the final draft of the Common Core science standards is much improved over the previous two drafts, it is still objectionable for two main reasons. The first is that it pushes scientific activities on students while stripping much of the knowledge base essential for science and scientific literacy, which research has shown is a failed teaching method. Children need both core knowledge and practical experience in every subject.”

Pullmann continued, “The second failure is that the standards impose alarmist global warming ideas on children from kindergarten forward, and assume people are a net negative for the Earth while ignoring the truth that humans have both positive and negative effects on the environment. This manifests itself in standards attempting to tell children that overpopulation is a grave danger, a 1970s false alarm that has been thoroughly debunked.”

Common Core Study Bill Filed in North Carolina

North-Carolina-State-CapitolH733 was filed in the North Carolina House of Representatives.  The bill’s purpose is to establish a committee of 20 members to study the Common Core State Standards and their impact in North Carolina.  State Representatives Larry Pittman (R-Concord), Hugh Blackwell (R-Valdese), Rob Bryan (R-Charlotte) and Michael Speciale (R-New Bern) are the primary sponsors.  If this bill passes the committee will study items such as:

(1)        The estimated cost of implementing the CCSS in K‑12 Mathematics and K‑12 English Language Arts since approval by the State Board of Education in June 2010, including costs associated with at least all of the following:

a.         The purchase of instructional materials that are aligned with the CCSS.

b.         Professional development and training provided to school personnel.

c.         The changes to schools’ and local administrative units’ technological infrastructure (including computer hardware, software, bandwidth, security, etc.) necessitated by adoption of CCSS and assessments.

d.         Outreach and personnel expenses committed by the Department of Public Instruction for CCSS‑related activities.

(2)        Projected cost of fully implementing common core assessments in English and Mathematics upon adoption of common assessments and all related assessment instruments.

(3)        A detailed summary of the federal funds used to assist North Carolina’s adoption of the CCSS and common assessments.

(4)        Research that determines whether CCSS’s definition of “college readiness” is consistent with the requirements needed to enter four‑year constituent institutions of The University of North Carolina system.

(5)        Studies that demonstrate that CCSS uses appropriate, research‑based curriculum sequences in Mathematics and English Language Arts.

(6)        The details of North Carolina’s participation in the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

(7)        Time line for the adoption of CCSS assessments.

(8)        Programs and support services created or adapted to assist schools in implementing CCSS.

(9)        Practices employed to assist at‑risk students, including children with disabilities, low‑income students, and English language learners.

(10)      Changes to instructional methods and teaching philosophies stimulated by CCSS adoption.

(11)      Perspectives of classroom teachers and school‑based administrators that assess the transition from State standards to the CCSS.

(12)      Perspectives of classroom teachers and school‑based administrators that detail the ongoing process of teaching CCSS, including impacts on working conditions and classroom instruction and prospects for its success.

(13)      Perspectives of public school students, parents, and members of the community regarding the impact of the CCSS.

(14)      CCSS‑related correspondence between the Department of Public Instruction and any elected member of the General Assembly between January 2009 and June 2010.

(15)      Correspondence between the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Public Instruction related to CCSS between June 2010 and the date of inquiry.

(16)      Operation of the Common Core Certification Program in North Carolina.

(17)      Plans and prospects for adopting common standards in other subjects, including all of the following:

a.         Arts Education.

b.         English as a Second Language.

c.         Healthful Living.

d.         Information and Technology Skills.

e.         World Languages.

f.          Science.

g.         Social Studies.

h.         Career and Technical Education.

(18)      Public school student data collection, dissemination, and access policies and practices employed in North Carolina since adoption of the CCSS.

(19)      CCSS preparation and training provided by teacher education programs and schools of education in North Carolina.

(20)      Impact of CCSS adoption on charter schools, alternative schools, specialty and regional schools, online schools, early college programs, and other nontraditional public school settings.

(21)      Impact of CCSS adoption on International Baccalaureate programs, Advanced Placement courses, the Occupational Course of Study, and other alternative courses of study.

(22)      Comparisons of CCSS adoption and performance disaggregated by student groups (e.g. sex, ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, grade), school types and sizes, community types, percentage of economically disadvantaged students, and other commonly accepted categories.

(23)      CCSS adoption in North Carolina compared to other states and jurisdictions.

(24)      Evidence that the use of a common or national curriculum in other countries directly leads to high academic achievement.

(25)      Fiscal, educational, and legal consequences of State withdrawal from CCSS and/or the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium.

The bill does not slow or stop the implementation, but will provide a through report on the actual cost and impact of the Standards.  The committee would submit an interim report in 2014 with recommendations for action, they will do that again in 2015 and their final report would be in 2016.  I suspect as they study this further we could see a bill to halt implementation in their next session.  This may be a model for states that are not quite ready to halt the implementation of the Standards.

We encourage North Carolina residents to contact their State Representativ
e about this bill
.

Dr. Terry Stoops of the John Locke Foundation wrote a primer for North Carolina residents on the Common Core.

Spotlight 435 – 35 Questions About Common Core: Answers for North Carolinians

Photo Credit: Jimmy Emerson via Flickr (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

RNC Draft Resolution on the Common Core

The Republican National Committee Spring Meeting starts today in Los Angeles.  One of the items that will be discussed and voted on is a draft resolution on the Common Core State Standards which you can see below:

RESOLUTION CONCERNING COMMON CORE EDUCATION STANDARDS

WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of academic standards, promoted and supported by two private membership organizations, the National Governor’s Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) as a method for conforming American students to uniform (“one size fits all”) achievement goals to make them more competitive in a global marketplace, (1.) and

WHEREAS, the NGA and the CCSSO, received tens of millions of dollars from private third parties to advocate for and develop the CCSS strategy, subsequently created the CCSS through a process that was not subject to any freedom of information acts or other sunshine laws, and never piloted the CCSS, and

WHEREAS, even though Federal Law prohibits the federalizing of curriculum (2.), the Obama Administration accepted the CCSS plan and used 2009 Stimulus Bill money to reward the states that were most committed to the president’s CCSS agenda; but, they failed to give states, their legislatures and their citizens time to evaluate the CCSS before having to commit to them, and

WHEREAS, the NGA and CCSSO in concert with the same corporations developing the CCSS ‘assessments’ have created new textbooks, digital media and other teaching materials aligned to the standards which must be purchased and adopted by local school districts in order that students may effectively compete on CCSS ‘assessments’, and

WHEREAS, the CCSS program includes federally funded testing and the collection and sharing of massive amounts of personal student and teacher data, and

WHEREAS, the CCSS effectively removes educational choice and competition since all schools and all districts must use Common Core ‘assessments’ based on the Common Core standards to allow all students to advance in the school system and to advance to higher education pursuits; therefore be it

RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee, as stated in the 2012 Republican Party Platform, “do not believe in a one size fits all approach to education and support providing broad education choices to parents and children at the State and local level,” (p35)(3.), which is best based on a free market approach to education for students to achieve individual excellence; and, be it further

RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee recognizes the CCSS for what it is– an inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children so they will conform to a preconceived “normal,” and, be it further

RESOLVED, That the Republican National Committee rejects the collection of personal student data for any non-educational purpose without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student’s parent and that it rejects the sharing of such personal data, without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student’s parent, with any person or entity other than schools or education agencies within the state, and be it finally

RESOLVED, the 2012 Republican Party Platform specifically states the need to repeal the numerous federal regulations which interfere with State and local control of public schools, (p36) (3.); and therefore, the Republican National Committee rejects this CCSS plan which creates and fits the country with a nationwide straitjacket on academic freedom and achievement.

References:

1. www.corestandards.org

2.  Federal Law 20 USC 1232a-Sec. 1232a. and The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Pub.L. 89-10, 79 Stat. 27, 20 US.C. ch. 70.

http://us-code.vlex.com/vid/prohibition-against-federal-control-19195093

3.  http://www.gop.com/rnc_counsel/

You can find out who the RNC members for your state are here (warning – no contact info provided).

Why Conservatives Object to the Common Core

Common Core State Standards

Kathleen Porter-Magee & Sol Stern ask in the subheading of their National Review article defending the Common Core State Standards ask “why are prominent conservatives criticizing a set of rigorous educational standards?”

There are others who have provided direct rebuttals.  I want to answer their primary question.  While I’m not a “prominent conservative,”  I am a conservative who has written extensively about the Common Core.

There are six primary reasons really…

  1. There is nothing conservative about centralizing education around a set of common standards.
  2. Conservatives object to the process in which they were adopted which allowed for little to no public debate, cut out the legislative process, and was introduced via the backdoor which cut out “We the People.”
  3. While perhaps the intent was not to have hyper-federal involvement, but the fact remains it does which violates the constitution and Federal law.
  4. Conservatives typically don’t approve of student privacy being violated by data mining which will be fostered through the assessment consortiums.
  5. They simply are not rigorous, they are mediocre and the embrace of the Common Core represents a collective race to the middle.
  6. They are costly and states adopted the Common Core and entered into assessment consortium without having a handle on the costs.  Is this good fiscal discipline?

Read the rest at Caffeinated Thoughts.

Pioneer Institute Study Suggests Remedies for Common Core’s Literature Deficit

240px-Old_book_bindingsBOSTON, MA – State and local education policy makers in the 46 states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards should emphasize the literary-historical content that already exists in the standards and add an additional literature-based standard to address Common Core’s lack of literary content, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

How Common Core’s ELA Standards Place College Readiness at Risk was written by Emory University English Professor Mark Bauerlein and University of Arkansas Professor Sandra Stotsky, a former member of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“We could find no research to support the assertion that substituting informational texts for literature will improve students’ college readiness,” said Professor Bauerlein.  “In fact, experience suggests that exactly the opposite is likely to happen.”

In 2009, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers sponsored the Common Core State Standards Initiative and, with encouragement from the United States Department of Education (USED) and support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to develop common mathematics and English language arts standards that states could voluntarily adopt.

The vast majority of states, including Massachusetts, adopted Common Core after USED included adoption of the standards among the criteria for states vying to win federal “Race to the Top” education grant funding.  The Bay State was subsequently awarded a $250 million grant.

“Massachusetts is testament to the value of literature,” said Professor Stotsky.  “Its literature-rich standards include a recommended list of classic authors broken down by the educational level for which they’re most appropriate.  As a result, the commonwealth’s students have consistently scored at the top on national reading tests and college readiness measures for nearly a decade.”

Common Core reduces the amount of literature students will study by more than half compared to the former Massachusetts standards.   The literary content is being replaced by non-fiction reading material.

Among the items missing from Common Core are a list of recommended authors and titles, British literature apart from Shakespeare, and any study of the history of the English language.

State policy makers can either attempt to remedy the literature deficit by using the 15 percent leeway granted through Race to the Top to customize the national standards to meet local needs or they can withdraw from Common Core.

The authors fear that absent intervention, the very problems Common Core was designed to remedy will worsen.  High-achieving students in academically oriented private and suburban schools will continue to get the rich literary-historical content that promotes critical and analytical thinking, while others will get little more than watered-down training in reading comprehension.

In 2009 and 2010, Pioneer Institute analyzed the quality of the Common Core.  Starting mid-2010, the Institute has led the campaign to oppose adoption of the Common Core national education standards, publishing a series of reports on their legality, cost, and further work on their mediocre academic quality. Pioneer, along with the American Principles Project, and the Pacific Research Institute of California, commissioned a cost estimate of nearly $16 billion to implement Common Core, outlined in this report, National Cost of Aligning States and Localities to the Common Core Standards.

Along with the Federalist Society, the American Principles Project, and the Pacific Research Institute, Pioneer released a research paper, The Road to a National Curriculum: The Legal Aspects of the Common Core Standards, Race to the Top, and Conditional Waivers, co-authored by former United States Department of Education counsels general counsel, Robert S. Eitel and Kent D. Talbert, questioning the legality of the use of the Race to the Top Fund, the Race to the Top Assessment Program, and the NCLB conditional waiver program to push states to adopt the Common Core. Their study cited three federal laws barring federal departments or agencies from directing, supervising or controlling K-12 curricula and instruction.

In 2010, Pioneer published comparisons of the federal and state education standards documents, concluding that the federal version contains weaker content in both ELA and math. These reports were authored by curriculum experts R. James Milgram, emeritus professor of mathematics at Stanford University, Dr. Stotsky, and Ze’ev Wurman, a Silicon Valley executive who helped develop California’s education standards and assessments. Recent reports include:

· Common Core’s Standards Still Don’t Make the Grade: Why Massachusetts and California Must Retain Control Over Their Academic Destinies

· The Emperor’s New Clothes: National Assessments Based on Weak College and Career Readiness Standards

· Fair to Middling: A National Standards Progress Report

· Why Race to the Middle: First-Class State Standards Are Better than Third Class National Standards

Delay Tactics on Anti-Common Core Resolution is Troubling

alec-logo-smI’m not surprised, but disappointed by the American Legislative Exchange Council executive board decision yesterday to delay their vote on a anti-common core resolution proposed by the American Principles Project, Goldwater Institute, and Washington Policy Center last summer.

American Principles Project sent out a press release on the vote:

Washington, DC – Today, the board of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), after considering anti-Common Core legislation introduced by the American Principles Project (APP), Goldwater Institute and the Washington Policy Center last summer, delayed a decision on whether to endorse the legislation until their next meeting.

“ALEC’s delay in endorsing the resolution is troubling and plays into the strategy of the multi-billion dollar private entities that are pushing the Common Core,” said APP’s Emmett McGroarty.  ”This issue has been before ALEC for almost a year.  The resolution was approved by the ALEC Education Task Force overwhelmingly last December, and ALEC has discussed it at three of its national meetings.  The well-financed private entities and the federal government are moving forward with their implementation of the Common Core, and Americans have been cut out of the process.”

Dr. Tony Bennett, the Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, presented the pro-Common Core case to the board of ALEC.   Dr. Bennett is also on the Board of Directors of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), one of the two trade associations managing the Common Core Standards (along with the National Governors Association).  Additionally, he is the Chairman of Chiefs for Change, an initiative of Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education.  The Foundation for Excellence in Education and CCSSO have received $1,000,000 and $70,000,000, respectively, from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the primary force financing and pushing the Common Core.

Robert Scott, Texas Commissioner of Education, presented the case for the resolution to the board, which then deliberated behind closed doors.  State Rep. Dave Frizzell of Indiana, ALEC’s National Chairman, reported that the board found that there was much to like about the legislation but decided to send it back to the Education Task Force due to concerns about some of the language.  He stated that the board would forward the details of those concerns to the task force.

This week, APP and Pioneer Institute released a white paper that makes the case against state adoption of the national Common Core State Standards.  Co-sponsored by Pacific Research Institute and the Washington Policy Center, Controlling Education From the Top: Why Common Core Is Bad for America argues in favor of a Common Core withdrawal resolution.

The white paper can be seen here:

http://americanprinciplesproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Controlling-Education-From-the-Top.pdf

The Resolution can be seen here:

http://americanprinciplesproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Comprehensive-Legislative-Package-Opposing-the-Common-Core-State.pdf

Regarding the pro-common core model legislation does it really matter what the language says if the process is bad?  I don’t think so.  It’s amazing to me that a group whose tagline is “limited government, free markets and federalism” would even consider passing model legislation supporting the common core state standards as they have been an affront to limited government and federalism.

Originally posted at Caffeinated Thoughts

Action Needed on Iowa Education Reform Bill

Below is an action alert from one of our partners –  Iowa Association of Christian Schools:

Both legislative chambers have passed their own version of Senate File 2284, the education reform bill. The bill has been sent to a conference committee to work out a final bill which will be voted on with no amendments.

Many provisions affect non-public schools because they are accredited by the state. IACS supports the following provisions which we believe will help education in Iowa, including:

  • No expansion of the core curriculum
  • Retain religious liberty language related to the core curriculum
  • Retain alternative licensure provisions for teachers
  • Retain Competency-based instruction language

Please contact the following five key legislators via email (provided below) and let them know you want them to support these four things in the final version of the bill.  Feel free to copy and paste the following sample email and please personalize it with your thoughts and a “thank you” for working hard on education reform legislation this session.  Each of these legislators (two Republicans and two Democrats) have been helpful to IACS on different aspect of this year’s ed reform bill(s).  They all deserve a thank you and an appeal to keep working to make the bill a good one for public AND private schools in Iowa:

“Please support these provisions in Senate File 2284, the education reform bill:

  • No expansion of the core curriculum
  • Retain religious liberty language related to the core curriculum
  • Retain alternative licensure provisions for teachers
  • Retain competency-based instruction language

Thank you for your work on education issues in the state.”

We are hopeful that the House and Senate will compromise on a bill that includes the four-five areas of agreement while avoiding any of the other controversial provisions that put IACS schools at risk.

Apparently Schools Are No Longer Capable of Determining Their Start Date

Back to schoolLocal control in education is under attack again in Iowa.  This time in the form of House Study Bill 671 that is currently being considered by the Iowa House Ways and Means Committee.  The bill in essence says that the first day of school can be no earlier than September 1.  If a school district wants to start earlier than this they must receive a waiver from the Iowa Department of Education if they have a pilot program for an “innovative school year.”  Schools that are running on trimesters are exempt, and schools that want to seek the waiver must pay a $100 waiver fee to the department.

There are two primary issues that is driving this bill – the Iowa State Fair and increased energy costs for running air conditioning units in August.

The Iowa Association of Christian Schools in their legislative update pointed out in regards to the energy costs that that those concerns are unwarranted… “public schools are using the penny sales tax to increase building efficiency and IACS schools are not pulling down State dollars for utility costs.”

Before the Iowa House decides to trample all over the ability of school districts and non-public schools with the input from parents to determine their own calendar.  IACS brings up the following points why schools would want to start earlier than September 1:

  • To avoid spending a week in January refreshing students’ memories, effectively adding days of instruction.
  • To avoid taking exams immediately after Christmas break.
  • To allow those students graduating at semester to attend college starting in January.
  • To avoid the impact of made-up snow days extending well in to June.
  • To facilitate dual credit courses for high school students with post-secondary institutions by having the calendars better aligned.
  • Student athletes are on campus already August 11 for the State (IHSAA and IGHSAU) mandated start of Fall sports practices (football, volleyball, and Cross-country) with first contests starting the week of August 20.  It makes no sense to have football and volleyball games and not yet be in school.
  • To prep students for the finals testing regimen they will likely face in college, and allow them to enjoy winter break with no finals hanging over their heads.
  • To give some buffer between the end of the school year and the opportunity for teachers to begin summer coursework in June.

It just doesn’t make sense for the Legislature to be making these types of decisions for schools, and it cedes more power over to the Iowa Department of Education.  Certainly something they don’t need.  Not only should the Ways and Means Committee kill this bill, but they should also strike the current language in the code as well.  Let schools, not the state, determine their start date.

Bonus: Here are the members of the Iowa House Ways and Means Committee along with their email addresses.

Originally posted at Caffeinated Thoughts