Belittling Parents and Ignoring Evidence Won’t Work

The Collaborative for Student Success (CSS) recently posted a particularly snarky piece blasting the moms who have been fighting back against the miseducation to which their children are being subjected under Common Core (CC). CSS is a propaganda outfit created by Common Core proponents such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and ExxonMobil to push the national standards. The anti-mom piece (along with a new article repeating the false talking point that the new fed-ed law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), does away with CC) sheds no new light on the debate. In fact, it could have been written five years ago, as it ignores mountains of information that refutes its claims – but it does suggest that the moms’ success on social media is getting under the centralizers’ collective skin.

The CSS article contains so many flat-out deceptions that the most efficient way to address them is in bullet-point form. Here goes:

  • CSS repeats the discredited claim that Patriot Journalist Network (PJNET) is a “bot” that manufactures anti-Common Core tweets. Nope. Every tweet issued via PJNET comes from a human, not a bot. It must really annoy Mr. Gates that the moms are using technology to outsmart him and his well-paid troops.
  • CSS claims CC is merely a set of academic standards that some states have “chosen to adopt.” In fact, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) pushed the standards onto the states by tying their adoption to billions of dollars in federal Race to the Top money, during a time of deep recession when states were desperate for cash.
  • CSS denies CC is a “data mining scheme,” but CC is, in fact, a large part of exactly such a scheme. In their rush to qualify for Race to the Top grants, states had to agree not only to adopt the standards but also to build out invasive student-data systems. CC also ushers in “digital learning,” through which corporations and the government collect the millions of data points students emit merely by using a sophisticated interactive software. This data can be used to build personal algorithms that have the potential to map a child’s brain and even dictate his future. When the government first standardizes education through CC and then joins with corporate Big Data to tag and collect every data point from children throughout their K-12 careers, the scheme is much larger and much more nefarious than CSS’s anodyne description of just “English and math standards.”
  • CSS claims federal and state laws “ensure that only parents or a legal guardian can access their (sic) child’s academic records.” This one is a whopper. Even the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) as traditionally interpreted wasn’t this protective, and since the Obama administration rewrote FERPA by regulation, the government may disclose personally identifiable student data to literally anyone in the world as long as it uses the right language to justify the disclosure. Parents need not even be informed this is happening. And parents have no idea that the interactive software promoted by CC is collecting billions of data points on their children’s performance and even on their personalities.
  • CSS describes CC as “higher standards.” Wrong again. Among many other critics, the top two standards-content experts in the country (Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram) refused to sign off on the standards because they were so deficient. The standards dumb down English language arts (ELA) by diminishing classic literature and replacing it with less-demanding nonfiction “informational text” that teachers aren’t trained to teach. They dumb down math by, among other things, 1) requiring failed “fuzzy math” pedagogies, 2) delaying the teaching of Algebra I until 9th grade, thus making it impossible for most students to reach calculus in high school, and 3) stopping with only a partial Algebra II course, thus admittedly preparing students only for a non-selective community college.
  • CSS claims “there’s not much President Trump can do about Common Core,” saying “nobody wants” him to issue a federal mandate that states ditch the standards. But “nobody” is saying he can or should do that. There are many actions his USED could take to relieve the federal pressure points that operate to lock states into CC. And because ESSA contains many of those pressure points, he can work to change or better yet repeal ESSA.
  • CSS claims that students with CC training are making “significant improvements” in ELA and math on state tests. This claim is misleading. In the first place, in many states, such as Kentucky, the state-test scores are mixed, with slight improvement in some areas but decline in others. And as former USED official Ze’ev Wurman points out, even the modest improvements on the CC-aligned state tests may be attributable to students’ and teachers’ becoming more familiar with these relatively new tests. Second, the reality is that Common Core incorporated many of the discredited, progressive fads that many states already had embedded in their standards.  Rather than adopting excellent, proven standards like those of Massachusetts, many states simply continued down the path of low-level standards by adopting Common Core.
  • It’s obvious why CSS focuses on data from state tests rather than from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a test that hasn’t yet been corrupted by aligning it to CC training. Math scores on NAEP have actually declined for the first time in 25 years. In fact, of the 26 states and D.C. that CSS praises for improvement on the state tests, fully 17 showed declines on NAEP scores for 4th-grade math. Only one of the CSS-cited states showed improvement on NAEP in this category. And the NAEP scores get worse the longer students are exposed to CC training. By senior year of high school, students in 2015 (compared with 2013) scored lower in math, about the same in reading, and lower in college-preparedness in both subjects.

An honest observer would at least acknowledge this negative trend, if only to try to explain it away. Could it be that CSS isn’t an honest observer?

  • CSS scoffs at the correct statement that CC requires 50 percent of reading in elementary school, and 70 percent in high school, to consist of nonfiction “informational text.” CSS trumpets that the 70 percent figure refers to reading across all subject areas, rather than only in English class. It’s not clear what CSS is objecting to here, since the tweet CSS complains of is completely true. But CSS fails to note that CC requires at least 50 percent of reading in high-school English class to consist of nonfiction rather than classic literature. It’s beyond dispute that CC diminishes the study of the world’s finest literature and requires teachers to focus instead on newspaper articles, government regulations, etc.
  • CSS bemoans the “completely false narrative” that CC “pushes learning at the expense of fun and playing” in K-2. Our youngest students, CSS implies, will thrive under CC’s workforce-development training. Tell that to the more than 500 early-childhood-development professionals who published an extraordinary statement decrying the developmental inappropriateness of the standards. Could this developmental mismatch be because the identified drafters of CC included not one K-2 teacher or specialist in early-childhood development? And CSS’s claim would come as a surprise to kindergarten teachers across the country, who are forced to push academic drills on little ones who are still learning to tie their shoes. Gotta get the kiddies ready for their entry-level jobs.
  • Defending the indefensible, CSS lauds CC math for “encourag[ing] multiple approaches so that kids can how (sic) to find the answer, not just what the answer is using methods they don’t fully understand.” CSS claims “kids are definitely still learning math the way their parents did” but are privileged to learn other methods as well. World-renowned mathematicians Dr. James Milgrim and Dr. Marina Ratner disagree, pointing out that CC teaches the standard algorithms (the techniques that work first time, every time) at least two years later than they’re taught in the highest-achieving countries. Until then, children are forced to grapple with cumbersome “made up” math strategies that do nothing but confuse them and drive their parents to distraction. By the way, this is exactly the type of progressive math that was tried, and that failed miserably, in California during the 1990’s (after which Dr. Milgram was brought in to clean up the mess). To understand the scientific evidence about why this type of math “teaching” doesn’t work, read Daisy Christodoulou’s Seven Myths about Education.

CSS finds it appropriate to make fun of parents who want the best for their children’s education and who are struggling every day to wrest it from the talons of the Common Core centralizers – “experts” who just know this will all work if parents will only shut up and stop interfering. But belittling parents and ignoring the wealth of well-founded research that supports their arguments is a pretty poor method of persuasion. We’re not sure Mr. Gates is getting his money’s worth from CSS.

In the meantime, moms will keep using technology to outsmart the technocrats’ well-funded mouthpieces. Cosmic justice.

Three Problems With CPRE’s Twitter Bot Claims

Even by the bottom-dwelling standards of Common Core propagandists, this is a bit rich. Huffington Post and a new Gates Foundation-funded outfit called The 74 both report gleefully (see here and here) on a study by the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE), purporting to show that much opposition to Common Core was built by “fake news” generated by manipulation of Twitter feeds. Financed partly by – guess who? – the Gates Foundation, this study is a remarkably shoddy piece of work in a field, education research, known for shoddy work.

First, the CPRE study. The researchers’ first odd decision was to analyze the Common Core debate through the lens of Twitter traffic at all. Although the numbers are unquantifiable, it’s safe to say the vast majority of parents and other citizens who have worked against Common Core for years don’t use Twitter and are serenely unaware of what today’s tweets are saying. So the idea that Common Core opposition depended to any significant extent on Twitter traffic is bogus from the get-go.

The second questionable decision was to begin the examination of Twitter traffic with September 2013. This was long after academic and other serious critiques of Common Core were published by experts such as Dr. James Milgram and Dr. Sandra Stotsky. Dr. Stotsky spoke to Alabama legislators against it in 2011.  By skipping the several years before September 2013, the researchers were able to avoid chronicling Twitter traffic that publicized weighty reports the researchers couldn’t dismiss as “fake news.”  Dr. Milgram correctly warned Alabamians in 2015 of the disaster awaiting them.  Alabama math scores on NAEP dropped from 25th pre common core to dead last that same year.

And speaking of fake news, the researchers seem strangely oblivious to the legitimate and serious debate that has been swirling around Common Core since 2010. Instead, as Truth in American Education co-founder James Wilson noted, they accept pro-Common Core marketing at face value and dismiss any contrary information as myth. But there is massive evidence that the Common Core standards carry low academic expectations; that their creation and implementation violated principles of federalism and self-government; that their implementation was a debacle that harmed both children and teachers; and that they’re part of a larger scheme to impose broad and intrusive data-collection and tracking – evidence which has never been successfully refuted.

The researchers’ idea of “fake news” is revealed by their labeling Investors’ Business Daily a “shady online ‘news’ organization.” This ludicrous characterization (wonder what they think of the Wall Street Journal?) discredits everything else they say.

A third problem with the study is its mischaracterization of PJNET, which helped with some anti-Common Core Twitter rallies, as a “bot.” That description connotes fake tweets, generated by technology, to create the perception of more tweeters than actually exist. But according to Teri Sasseville, a Georgia activist who worked with PJNET on several Common Core campaigns, “PJNET is not a bot. Every tweet than goes out from PJNET is an effective tweet, originally sent by a human tweeter, that is harvested from Twitter by PJNET and loaded into their Featured Tweets. The tweets are subsequently dispatched and retweeted by humans in agreement with the sentiment of the tweets. . . . In the case of our #StopCommonCore rallies, #StopHR5 rallies, #EndFedEd rallies, [and] #KeepYourPromise rallies, the tweeters are mostly Moms and Dads. Not bots.”

The researchers’ general worldview about education and who should control it is revealed in their snarky observation that more than 75% of the most active tweeters came from “outside of education.” Lead researcher Jonathan Supovitz was quoted as saying, “The surprise for me was that the big-name players in education advocacy were not dominating the space.” The insinuation is that no one without a “big name” or an education degree – and that would include most parents – knows enough to comment on education policy and really should just shut up. Why parents should ignore their own instincts and research and defer to credentialed bureaucrats who have accomplished little but destruction over the last 50 years is not made clear.

But Supovitz concluded triumphantly that “Common Core won the policy war,” because “few, if any, states had the capacity to fundamentally re-engineer defensibly different ways of organizing the sequence of topics that children should receive to develop their mathematical and) literacy skills.” So this is how he understands the objection to Common Core – that the standards wrongly “organize the sequence of topics”? Does he have no better grasp than this of the substantive critiques of the standards – the philosophy, the marginalization of literature, the idiotic math pedagogy, the egregious creation and implementation process? “Scholars” who are so shockingly ignorant of the topic they’re researching should find another line of work.

And any soldier in the Common Core wars could tell Dr. Supovitz that the reason states haven’t replaced the standards isn’t the lack of a better alternative. The easiest fix a state could make to the Common Core mess would be to replace the national standards with undeniably superior pre-Common Core standards, such as those from Massachusetts, and in fact there have been legislative attempts in several states to do just that.  But the education and political establishments in those states have resisted. Common Core didn’t win because it was so great – it won (so far) because of the political and economic power behind it.

So the CPRE study is essentially meaningless as an analysis of Common Core opposition. But of course the leftist (Huffington Post) and Gates-funded (The 74) lap it up. Common Core opponents have complained for years that on this issue, some reporters “generally act as stenographers rather than journalists, dutifully repeating what’s contained in press releases for the national standards rather than actually investigating the claims. This is certainly true of the CPRE study coverage.

Rebecca Klein of HuffPo, particularly, accepted the premises and conclusions of the study without question. If Klein tried to contact anyone targeted by the study (other than an unsuccessful attempt to reach PJNET’s Mark Prasek less than 30 minutes before she published her story), her article doesn’t show it. She incorrectly described PJNET as affiliated with a “for-profit church” (By His Grace Ministries, to which she apparently referred, is not and does not claim to be a church). And she used all the common scare words to indicate her agreement with the study’s conclusions about the nefariousness of the anti-Common Core movement (“fringe,” “myths,” “army of online bots,” “fabrications and misinformation,” “disturbing,” “easily discredited misinformation,” “hyperbolic or false claims”).

One especially offensive aspect of Klein’s article (and to be fair, this may not have been her doing) was the reproduction of one of Sasseville’s tweets in the midst of several paragraphs fretting about “misinformation.” The tweet in question showed a picture of a little girl in tears, working on something with paper and pencil. The clear implication was that this tweet was an example of such a fabrication.

Fabrication? Hardly. Explains Sasseville: “The little girl in my tweet is Maddie, a cancer survivor who was a 2nd-grader stressing over her Common Core homework at the time of this photo [taken by her mother, a professional photographer]. I got permission from her [mother] to use the picture as the header for the Stop Early Childhood Common Core Facebook group. Maddie is not a bot. This photo is not hyperbole.”

Before publishing studies, researchers would have at least made minimal effort to educate themselves on what they’re writing about. Before promoting these studies, the bloggers funded by Gates should get in the habit of asking a few questions. But all the laudatory claims about Common Core have been fake so far – why should anything change now?

Eunie Smith is the President of Eagle Forum.

Deborah Love is the Executive Director Eagle Forum of Alabama.

Drilling through the Core

white Book cover isolated on plain background

The Pioneer Institute this fall released a new book entitled Drilling through the Core: Why Common Core is Bad for America. It was edited by Peter W. Wood who also writes an introduction, and includes contributions by some of the country’s top education scholars, includingSandra Stotsky, R. James Milgram, Williamson Evers, Ze’ev Wurman, and more.

They describe the book this way:

Drilling through the Core analyzes Common Core from the standpoint of its deleterious effects on curriculum-language arts, mathematics, history, and more-as well as its questionable legality, its roots in the aggressive spending of a few wealthy donors, its often-underestimated costs, and the untold damage it will wreak on American higher education.

At a time when more and more people are questioning the wisdom of federally-mandated one-size-fits-all solutions, Drilling through the Core offers well-considered arguments for stopping Common Core in its tracks.

CSPAN recently covered Drill through the Core on Book TV you can watch the discussion here.  Watch the discussion and be sure to buy this excellent resource.

New Math: Another Example of Modern Education Stupidity

Dr. Raj Shah, founder of Math Plus Academy, released a video last week entitled, “Why Math is Different” in order to defend the new math utilized by Common Core-aligned curriculum.  In the video he sought to “clear up parents’ misconceptions” about the new math.

Truth in American Education asked two math experts to offer a critique of Dr. Shah’s video.

Dr. James Milgram, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Stanford University and member of the Common Core Math Validation Committee, wasn’t impressed.  He said Dr. Shah is being naive.

The first word that come to mind are “naive,” to put it mildly.  Yes, it is very helpful to make sure that students understand why the standard algorithms work, which demands that they (and their teachers) understand the base ten place value system and the difference between the usual compressed notation and the expanded form.  But this should occur in the classroom provided only that the teachers, themselves, understand this material.  All too often they don’t.  As a result, they put forward all sorts of alternative methods that they probably don’t understand either, and end up horribly confusing everyone.

Ze’ev Wurman is visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution. Between 2007 and 2009 he served as a senior policy adviser with the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Education. Wurman served as a commissioner on the California Academic Content Standards Commission that in 2010 evaluated the Common Core’s suitability for California adoption.  He told Truth in American Education that the insistence on using the expanded form of algorithm is another example of “modern education stupidity.”

Teaching the expanded form during the initial explanation of the standard algorithms is an age-old practice that every competent teacher has been doing for decades if not centuries. Insisting on the expanded — and cumbersome — form as the routine way for students to calculate is simply another example of modern education stupidity. As is the false argument that in the past the “traditional” way of teaching — including the routine and fluent use of the compressed standard notation — reached only a minority of students. Almost every parent in this country knows those “incomprehensible” standard algorithms — decades after they have been learned. Close to 100% of children in the high achieving countries seem to have no trouble with memorizing those supposedly “mindless” standard algorithms. Yet our American educators argue that American children cannot comprehend them … it gives a new meaning to American Exceptionalism.

Resounding Books Releases Common Ground on Common Core

Kirsten Lombard

Kirsten Lombard

(Madison, WI) Resounding Books officially announced publication of Common Ground on Common Core: Voices from across the Political Spectrum Expose the Realities of the Common Core State Standards.  The 18-essay volume uniquely gathers twenty top education experts and activists.  The authors hold widely varied political and ideological viewpoints, yet they stand firmly united against the Common Core.  Standards expert Sandra Stotsky and prominent mathematician R. James Milgram are among the book’s authors.  Both served on the national Common Core validation committee but refused to sign off on the standards.  Former U.S. Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul contributed to the foreword.

Edited to ensure that readers of any political stripe could inform and empower themselves and others in the growing fight to push back against the controversial education initiative, Common Ground on Common Core enables understanding and appreciation not just of the basics but also crucial anti-Common Core arguments and insights they might not otherwise encounter, because those concerns have been raised principally on only one side of the political continuum.

Common Ground on Common Core takes the fight against Common Core to new levels by encouraging open dialogue and alliances across political lines,” asserts Resounding Books’ Founder and Editor, Kirsten Lombard.  “Interacting with Common Ground’s many authors – who self-identify as everything from radical leftists to social conservatives to libertarians – has made it clear to me that we have a lot more in common than we’d previously been led to believe.”

The book stands out in yet another way.  All of the authors agreed to forego royalties so that Resounding Books, established in early 2013 as a Super PAC, could dedicate a significant percentage of the book’s proceeds to funding anti-Common Core activism at the state and local levels.  “Resounding Books is strongly committed to encouraging and funding citizen activism around the subjects on which we publish,” Lombard asserts. “We look forward to realizing that goal.”

In addition to Stotsky and Milgram, other contributors to Common Ground on Common Core who will be more familiar to readers include Ze’ev Wurman who helped to review the standards for the State of California, education researcher Christopher H. Tienken (author, The School Reform Landscape: Fraud, Myth and Lies) as well as activists Kris L. Nielsen (author, Children of the Core), Jane Robbins (American Principles Project), Ceresta Smith (United Opt Out National), William A. Estrada (HSLDA) and Shane Vander Hart (Truth in American Education).  There will also be plenty of new and valuable discoveries for readers among the essayists.

The essay collection has already begun to receive nods from key individuals in various political corners.  In addition to Ron Paul, New York State Senator George Latimer (D-Rye) describes the book as “a thoughtful presentation of why we must have a slow, deliberate government that always asks who will benefit when we implement any new programs, but especially in education.”

Dr. Gary Thompson, a Utah psychologist who has become known for his opposition to the experimental nature of Common Core assessments calls the book a “brilliant, diverse compilation… which forever will put to rest the notion that Common Core critics emanate exclusively from the Right Wing.”

Common Ground on Common Core is currently available in print ($25.00, 436 pages, 5.5” x 8.5”, perfect-bound quality paperback, ISBN 978-0-9908809), with two digital formats planned.  It is available for purchase on the Resounding Books website,

Math Society Presidents, Not Societies Themselves Endorsed Common Core

Sandra Stotsky wrote a blog post on Pioneer Institute’s blog that deserves attention.  You’ll get the gist in the opening paragraph:

Stanford University mathematics professor R. James Milgram included an informative e-mail in his packet of information for state legislators when he testified at a hearing on Common Core in Milledgeville, Georgia on September 24, 2014. The e-mail explains why presidents of many of the major mathematical organizations in the country endorsed Common Core’s standards in July 2013. The author of the e-mail seems to believe that the societies themselves would be unlikely to endorse Common Core’s standards, but that readers (i.e., the public) might be misled into thinking they had if they saw that the presidents had endorsed the standards. Consequently, the e-mail wants just the presidents’ signatures because they would “likely” be just as “effective.” The underlying assumption is that the members of these organizations would not be apt to learn what their presidents had done, much less know anything about the contents of Common Core’s mathematics standards.

Read the rest.

People need to realize that these president’s signatures were personal endorsements, not endorsements from the organizations themselves.

How Common Core and The New SAT Lower College Standards in the U.S.

imagePioneer Institute released this week another white paper.  The paper entitled “The Revenge of K-12: How Common Core and the New SAT Lower College Standards in the U.S.” was authored by Richard Phelps and James Milgram.

Pioneer’s description of the paper:

This white paper presents evidence that Common Core math standards’ (CCMS) weak Algebra II course will result in fewer high school students able to study higher-level math and science courses and an increase in credit-bearing college courses that are at the level of seventh and eighth grade material in high-achieving countries. However, the greatest harm to higher education may accrue from the alignment of the SAT to Common Core’s high school standards, converting the SAT from an adaptable test predictive of college work to an inflexible retrospective test aligned to and locking in a low level of mathematics. This means that future SAT scores will be less informative to college admission counselors than they now are, and that the SAT will lose its role in locating students with high STEM potential in high schools with weak mathematics and science instruction.

Here are the bios for the authors:

Richard P. Phelps is editor or author of four books—Correcting Fallacies about Educational and Psychological Testing (APA, 2008/2009);Standardized Testing Primer (Peter Lang, 2007); Defending Standardized Testing (Psychology Press, 2005); and Kill the Messenger (Transaction, 2003, 2005)—and founder of the Nonpartisan Education Review (

R. James Milgram is professor of mathematics emeritus, Stanford University. He was a member of Common Core’s Validation Committee 2009–2010. Aside from writing and editing a large number of graduate level books on research level mathematics, he has also served on the NASA Advisory Board – the only mathematician to have ever served on this board, and has held a number of the most prestigious professorships in the world, including the Gauss Professorship in Germany.

You can download the paper here or read it below.

James Milgram Discusses Common Core Math Standards on Fox Business

Stanford University Mathematician and former Common Core validation committee member Dr. James Milgram discusses his concerns with the Common Core Math Standards on the Fox Business Network yesterday.

You can watch below: the latest video at 


James Milgram Discusses Indiana Common Core Rebrand

During last week’s Twitter rally targeting Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Women on the Wall held a conference call that featured a number of guests including former member of the Common Core Math Standards validation committee Dr. James Milgram of Stanford University.

I wanted to highlight that section of the call as Women on the Wall made it available in a podcast.  You can listen below.

#CaniSEE The Solution: Countering Common Core

CANiSEE.the.event.01 - hi res

The Heritage Foundation, Women on the Wall, Eagle Forum, and Voices Empower are co-sponsoring a conference in Austin, TX on June 20-21 called #CaniSee The Solution.  It is meant to be a counter-event to the PTA national convention being held in Austin on June 19th-22nd who has invited U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to keynote.

The #CaniSee The Solution conference will feature some of the most prominent voices who have come together to end the federal takeover of K-12 public education:


  • Dr. Sandra Stotsky – Professor Emeritus, University of Arkansas
  • Dr. James Milgram — Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Stanford University
  • Jane Robbins – Attorney and senior fellow with American Principles Project
  • Dr. Peg Luksik – Founded on Truth

Workshop Leaders:

  • Alice Linahan – Moderator, Women on the Wall
  • MerryLynn Gerstenschlager – Texas Eagle Forum
  • Mary Bowen – Current Texas classroom teacher
  • Jeanine MacGregor – Writer, researcher, cognitive learning expert
  • Nakonia (Niki) Hayes – “The Story of John Saxon” – Saxon Math
  • Henry W. Burke — Contributor
  • Jenni White – ROPE – Oklahoma
  • Anita Moncrief – True the Vote
  • Lisa Benson — National Security Radio
  • Karen Schroeder – President of Advocates for Academic Freedom
  • Glyn Wright – Executive Director of Eagle Forum

This conference is part of the #CaniSee campaign launced by Women on the Wall that calls on parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and concerned citizens to give the gift of American Exceptionalism to the next generation by going into their child’s classroom to ask these three questions.

  • #CanISee™© WHAT you are teaching my child?
  • #CanISee™© HOW you are teaching my child?
  • #CanISee™© WHO is benefiting financially from the curriculum on which my child’s teacher is being evaluated?

You can register for the conference here.