“We Are Not Victims, But Overcomers”

Photo Credit: Sarah Page (CC-By-2.0)

One of the best things to come out of the Common Core State Standards and all of the related “reforms” it is tied to is that it reminds us who is responsible for our children’s education.

We are. Not them. Us.

Only when you embrace this truth can you realize that your child is never stuck receiving a sub par education. Regardless of what education reform is foisted, regardless of how little our elected officials listen to us, and no matter where we live. We are not stuck. We are not victims. There is always hope.

I finished Joy Pullmann’s book Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids this weekend. After reading that book, and just what we’ve experienced over the last seven years with Common Core infiltrating our schools, over testing, rebranding efforts, data grabs, and a faulty piece of federal legislation that our elected officials pat themselves on the back over it is easy to become cynical. It would be easy to give up.

I appreciate how Joy reminds us there is always hope and as parents, we are NEVER without options. She writes:

We are not victims, but overcomers.

We can pick up our pens and keyboards to demand political redress and promote cultural remedies. We can refuse to let our kids take tests that perpetuate a failed system of education. We can show up at public meetings to voice our dissent for the record, and to support and inform our neighbors. We can even create better schools than those our government provides.

Common Core maintains its hold on our children only if we let it. No politician or bureaucrat can stop you from taking a part-time job to cover private tuition, or quitting a job to homeschool, or sitting every night with your children or grandchildren to read some classic books together, or starting a charter school like the parents who created Ridgeview, or whatever other solution you can think up to make a good life for your family.

My wife and I, fortunately, decided long before Common Core that we would home educate our children. Our youngest of three kids will be a senior this year, and we do not regret the sacrifice. I know many of you have made sacrifices as well and feel the same.

Joy is right. We are not victims. We are overcomers. We will take charge of our kids’ education and we do not have to wait for change to happen at the state or federal level to do that.

Trying to Separate Skills From Knowledge

I’m reading Joy Pullmann’s new book Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids. I highly encourage you to pick up a copy. I interviewed Joy for Caffeinated Thoughts Radio this week (airs tomorrow), and I told her she does an incredible job describing the history of how Common Core came to be. I’ve written an essay on that very topic for Common Ground on Common Core, and I learned things I didn’t know. She also discusses what she saw in several classrooms she was able to visit and how the Common Core impacted what was taught. That is something very few of us who have opposed Common Core have had the ability to do.

In chapter 2 that discusses “The Common Core Classroom,” Joy writes about how the Common Core tries to divorce content from skills.

She writes:

Common Core doesn’t merely remain open-ended on content. It actually undermines the teaching of specific core knowledge by promoting classroom methods that emphasize academic skills or practices instead, supposedly to help eliminate the environmental advantage that better-off children bring with them. That’s why “close reading” calls for answers drawn strictly from the text at hand, not from the wider store of knowledge that children may have amassed. It’s an attempt to level the playing field.

Trying to separate skills from knowledge in this way is a fool’s errand, according to Robert Pondiscio, a former teacher turned pundit. To illustrate the point: you can’t learn how to build a house without knowing about materials or the use of tools; and conversely, using the tools and materials deepen your knowledge of them. Reading about baseball or the phases of the moon or the Oregon Trail increases your knowledge of those subjects, and the acquired knowledge then improves your ability to read about related topics, in a kind of feedback. When you read the daily news, you will comprehend it more thoroughly if you start from a solid base of civic and cultural literacy – something that too many citizens do not have.

A survey in 2011 found that only half of Americans could name the three branches of government, and just one in five could identify the origin of the phrase “a wall of separation” between church and state from among for options. The remedy for this problem does not lie in the content-light standards of Common Core, with all its emphasis on “informational text” but no coherent principles for selecting and organizing it. If children read only a haphazard list of materials their teachers happen to like, compiled with no thought to building a focused and delineated core of cultural literacy, their knowledge level will be laughable and their reading fluency will be underdeveloped, too.

Spot on. I highly commend her book and am looking forward to finishing it.

A Debate over the Meaning and Perfection of Education in America

Bill Gates, the funder-in-chief of all things Common Core.
Photo credit: World Economic Forum (CC-By-SA 2.0)

One of candidate Donald Trump’s biggest applause lines when campaigning was his promise to end the Common Core national K through 12 standards. For the first time in any presidential campaign, an education issue claimed a place of importance with grassroots citizens. What was it about Common Core that so excited the passions of ordinary Americans that they demanded answers in a national campaign? And what are the implications for American education?

Joy Pullmann addresses those questions in her new book, The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids. A managing editor at The Federalist and an education research fellow at the Heartland Institute, Pullmann brings her impressive journalistic skills to analyzing the history, philosophy, and quality of the standards. Her book provides a meticulously documented 360-degree view of the Common Core scheme—why it became “toxic” (in Mike Huckabee’s description) and what can be done about it.

In the early days of Common Core, almost no one outside the federal and state education bureaucracies or the insular world of “education reform” had ever heard of it—even though the standards would ignite the largest education-related grassroots movement in American history. Common Core was adopted by state executive branch officials in response to “incentives” from federal executive branch officials, with (in almost every case) no consent from or even notice to elected state legislators.

The stealth introduction of Common Core was intentional. As Pullmann documents, the standards sprang not from elected officials but from the agendas of largely private, unaccountable players. An obscure education consultant named David Coleman and the president of a D.C. trade association called the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) persuaded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to bankroll these new standards to “transform” American education into a giant workforce-development system. Fueled by the Gates multimillions, Common Core was on track. Now every public school would teach the same thing in the same way. And the centralized control would rest, as Progressives always think it should, with a small group of “experts.”

One former state education official explained why this scheme would especially appeal to Bill Gates. I paraphrase: “Think of how he made his money. His operating system is used by almost everyone on the planet, and it’s very efficient. Why can’t education be handled that way? Why can’t we have an education operating system, designed by experts, that’s imposed on every child in every school? Wouldn’t that be more efficient?” It’s the computer-geek view of the world, with an eye toward producing not educated citizens but widgets for the workforce.

The bottom line, according to Pullmann: “So it was mostly unelected officials who locked states into an overhaul of education policy, with little to inform the public of what they were doing. But the real work of crafting the policy had been done by private organizations.” And Gates proceeded to supply not only much of the funding for the Common Core initiative but also key personnel for the U.S. Department of Education to implement this transformational plan.

But what did the feds have to do with Common Core? Wasn’t this a “state-led” initiative, as its proponents repeat as a mantra? Pullmann shatters that myth. She outlines how, from the outset, the Department of Education was viewed as a critical player in imposing Common Core nationwide, for without federal bribery in the form of “Race to the Top” grants for states that would adopt the scheme, it would never take flight. And when 46 states eventually signed on, former Gates staffers went to Washington to work for the Education Department as what Pullmann calls a “shadow bureaucracy” to ensure there was no daylight between the Gates agenda and the federal government’s.

Pullmann uses her investigative skills to document the federal cash flow beyond “Race to the Top”: Among other expenditures, millions of dollars poured into the two trade associations (CCSSO and the National Governors Association) that own and copyrighted the standards, and much more was granted to two testing consortia to develop Common Core-aligned assessments.

The assessment component of the Common Core initiative has always been key to achieving maximum centralization in education. Tying states to the same test ties them to the same standards and essentially the same curriculum. And, as Pullmann reports, the assessment angle was yet another channel for federal control. In exchange for $330 million in federal money, the two consortia (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) “submitted to . . . to oversight by a specially appointed federal board that had access to and power over every aspect of the tests, down to the specific questions.”

This may not meet most people’s definition of “state-led.”

Pullmann highlights another aspect of the national testing that Common Core proponents downplay: data-collection. She writes:

The national Common Core testing organizations are not just collecting the kind of anonymous, aggregate student information that states have historically submitted to the federal government, but also “student-level data” that goes into national databases. There, the federal government and any person or organization it designates will have “timely and complete access to any and all data collected at the State level,” according to the testing organizations’ contracts with the federal government.

So Common Core encompassed much more than just a set of standards. And even those standards, created by this tiny cadre of supposed experts, turned out wretchedly. The English Language Arts (ELA) standards are essentially content-free. Instead of requiring particular content (say, 19th-century American literature) by a certain grade, they dictate focusing not on content but on “skills” (for example, identifying the “evidence” used for a “claim”). The standards’ lack of content prompted ELA standards expert Dr. Sandra Stotsky to observe, “You can do this with Moby Dick, or with The Three Little Pigs.” Common Core is indifferent to which book is chosen. And in fact, Common Core discourages reading fiction at all, requiring English teachers to replace at least half of the classic literature they formerly taught with non-fiction “informational text.”

The Common Core math standards are dreadful in their own way. They reintroduce the “fuzzy math” that had been tried in the 1960s and 1990s, with disastrous results. Common Core math delays teaching the standard algorithm—the method of solving a problem that works first time, every time—instead teaching “conceptual understanding” to kids who are too young to grasp what they’re being forced to do. The result is rich fodder for stand-up comedians but agony for children and their parents, who struggle to help them make sense of nonsense.

As a journalist, Pullmann excels in using storytelling to present the voluminous information her research uncovered. The ineffectiveness and, well, idiocy of the standards are illustrated by visits to actual classrooms and discussions with actual teachers, some of whom began the Common Core experiment with high hopes until reality crashed in. She relates the stories of actual parents who watched with growing dismay as their children’s lessons deteriorated with Common Core.

When those parents began to network and push back, they generated an earthquake that rocked American public education. The level of opposition also caught the Common Core centralizers flat-footed. They had assumed their plan—secretively developing the standards, avoiding elected legislatures, tying the adoption to federal money—would result in quick and quiet implementation of the standards. Before parents and state or local officials fully understood what was happening, the standards would be installed and academic achievement would be at least improving, if not soaring. Any anti-democratic flaws in the plan would be forgiven in light of obvious success.

As Pullmann outlines, parents (primarily moms) across the nation switched into research mode when they saw the changes occurring in their children’s classrooms. After identifying the infectious agent as something called “Common Core,” they spent midnight hours at their computers, tracking down the information that had been deliberately withheld from them: the identities of the players, the nature of the funding mechanisms, the legal agreements their states had signed to adopt the standards in exchange for the federal bribe.

Armed with this research, the “march of the moms,” as Pullmann puts it, approached state governments to seek relief from this scheme. But relief was hard to come by. Although some legislators stepped up to help, more hesitated to buck the supposedly objective “experts” at the state education departments. Others were cowed by empty but effective threats from Education Secretary Arne Duncan that states might jeopardize federal funding by exercising their education autonomy.

Nevertheless, Pullmann reports, as the backlash against Common Core mounted, even the scheme’s most adamant protectors realized something had to be done to mollify the grassroots. A watershed moment occurred in Indiana, when national Common Core pitchman Tony Bennett lost his bid for re-election as the state’s superintendent of schools.

The best way to get the attention of the politicians is to defeat one at the polls. So the number of Common Core-repeal bills introduced in state legislatures exploded, from 117 in 2012 to 427 in 2014. And the opposition was bipartisan. From Tea Partiers on the Right to Diane Ravitch and many unionized teachers on the Left, the national standards provoked outrage.

But if the opposition was bipartisan, so too was the protectorate. Moms soon discovered that even in red states such as Indiana, Republicans were as likely as Democrats to dismiss their concerns because they weren’t “experts.” When the moms persisted, Gates and his private foundation buddies ramped up the marketing, spending hundreds of millions not only on direct propaganda but on buying other powerful organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to recruit them for the defense.

The education establishment in some states decided to quell the uprising by deception—“rebranding” the Common Core standards to fool the rubes and get them to go home. The grassroots weren’t deceived, of course, but enough legislators and governors (such as Mike Pence, then Governor of Indiana) latched onto the maneuver to enable the standards to be preserved in all but name.

So Common Core drones on. Teachers become more disillusioned with the enforced mediocrity in their classrooms. National Assessment of Educational Progress scores flatline or decline. The federally funded testing consortia slowly collapse as states withdraw to escape escalating costs and operational dysfunction.

But Pullmann ends on a hopeful note, highlighting parent-propelled alternatives that are emerging across the country. Homeschooling is booming. Classical schools are enjoying a renaissance, perhaps because the genuine education they offer is diametrically opposed to the drab utilitarianism of Common Core. School choice is gaining adherents (although parents must resist efforts to impose government regulations on private schools that participate in such programs).

Pullmann sees a renewed determination by parents to do whatever it takes to ensure a real education for their children. If this is the result, Common Core could turn out to have been a boon to American education—just not in the way it was planned.

Cross-posted from Library of Law and Liberty

Act Now to Help Congress Protect the Hearts and Minds of Our Children

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The federal fiscal year ends on September 30th.  As Congress wrangles on the federal budget or at least for a temporary extension (continuing resolution) until sometime after the November election, we have a golden opportunity to support the US House in protecting the hearts and minds of our children. 

The US House Appropriations Committee took some very commendable action in the Labor/Health and Human Services/Education bill with regard to the education budget in general and some important specifics. The most important one for parents concerned about privacy is the Institute for Education Sciences (IES). IES houses the federal education data-gathering, psychological-profiling and social emotional learning (SEL – otherwise known as indoctrination) apparatus of the federal government (see details below). The Senate Appropriations Committee has also passed its bill. Although the committee deserves credit and thanks for making some cuts to the FedEd apparatus (relevant details mentioned below), its cuts were generally much smaller than the House’s. It is definitely the House position that should be supported.

Here is the great news first:

Decreased Overall Education Budget (p.3) – The committee deserves praise for significantly decreasing the overall education budget by more than $1.5 billion compared to what was actually enacted and is being spent for 2016,  and by nearly $2.6 billion compared to the Obama administration request.  For those of us who want to “#EndFedEd,” this is a great step in the right direction! The Senate cut only $220 million over what was enacted for FY 2016 and $1.6 billion compared to the Obama/King request; therefore, it is the House position that should be supported.

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Cuts to IES Will Slow Data Mining, Mindset Profiling, and SEL Standards – The House bill cuts nearly $82 million from IES over what was spent last year, which is a real budget cut and a whopping $158 million less than the Obama administration requested. (The Senate’s cuts are much smaller, so the House position should be supported.) Fewer funds for this Big Brother agency will stop or slow down:

  1. Invasive Research – The federal  government wants to psychologically profile our children by doing “social emotional research” on them  via IES and the federal Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA). This research results in many invasive, expensive, ineffective, and unconstitutional federal education programs.
  2. Indoctrinating Standards – Less money to the IES may help slow or stop groups like CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) that receives IES funding  vague, subjective SEL standards with assessments and data that will follow children for life. Kudos to Tennessee legislators and activists for standing up to this CASEL effort, but they should not have to fight the federal government as well.
  3. Profiling Assessment – IES also puts out the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), which is a stable long-term test, but which is now planning to illegally and unconstitutionally psychologically profile children by assessing subjective mindsets and school climate. The House budget specifically cuts NAEP funding.

Other welcome and important cuts in this budget include:

Fewer Funds for Mandated State Assessments (p. 120) – Perhaps if states receive fewer funds for mandated assessments, they will be more flexible in allowing districts to test their students as teachers, elected local boards, and parents see fit. Or this could just be that they are finished with the national PARCC/SBAC boondoggle and are transitioning to the constant and technology-based testing of competency-based education. The House committee bill authorizes $300 million dollars on assessments at the federal level, which is $78 million less than enacted in 2016 and $103 million less than requested in the 2017 Obama budget.

No Funds to Enforce Federal Title IX Bathroom/Locker Room Interference (p. 147) – The House bill stops federal bureaucratic enforcement of the unconstitutional and harmful transgender edict until the lawsuit filed by 23 states can be resolved in court. This is a great step in the right direction. “The Committee includes language prohibiting funds from being used to withhold Federal financial assistance to public education institutions subject to the May 13, 2016 Dear Colleague Letter published by the Departments of Education and Justice until an appropriate court determines violations have occurred.”

As with the GOP platform on education, while containing some great news, this budget bill also features very concerning and frustrating items.

Increased Nanny State Pre-K  (p. 4 and p. 95) – Apparently, neither appropriations committee has been reading the more than two dozen studies and other articles demonstrating that federal and state early-childhood programs show one or more of four different outcomes, all of them bad:  1) little or no benefit; 2) fade-out of beneficial effect; 3) academic harm; 4) emotional harm. Even center and center-left think tanks are starting to admit this. There is also much excellent similar analysis from Joy Pullmann, a Heartland Institute education research fellow, and Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project. Sadly, the committee parroted the Marc Tucker/Hillary Clinton/Jeb Bush philosophy that “high-quality preschool improves school readiness and long-term academic success of children by supporting their academic and social-emotional skills.” The committee ignored all of that research and added $432 million in early-childhood funding, including the completely unnecessary $250 million for Preschool Development Grants in ESSA. In this case, the Senate actually did much better than the House, only increasing Head start by $35 million, but overall it still increased early-childhood spending by $310 million. Parents – hide your babies! Tell Congress you want real cuts in these pre-K programs!

School Improvement Programs – The House committee is now labeling some of the subjective, SEL and other educational experiments “School Improvement Programs” instead of “School Improvement Grants.” The House committee funded these Orwellian programs $366 million more than enacted last year and $241 million more than the utopian Obama administration requested. This is a case where the Senate did much better by actually cutting $256 million over what was spent last year and a great $623 million over the Obama request. Therefore, the Senate position should be supported.  Within this new designation of unconstitutional programs appear the following scary items:

  1. 21st Century Community Learning Centers – CNSNews.com reporter Barbara Hollingsworth described these programs as “Parent Replacement Centers” with the correct idea that they will turn into hubs for social engineering, while parents are reduced to  mere “breeders and feeders.” These schools have been lauded by both Senate Education Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander and former Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
  2. Student Support and Enrichment Grants (SSAE) – This is the new name and program home for all of the SEL (and social engineering) grants that were located in smaller, more individualized grants that were easier to monitor and have been around since No Child Left Behind passed in 2001. The House committee emphasized that “programs designed to support non-cognitive factors such as critical thinking skills, social skills, work ethic, problem solving, and community responsibility are an eligible use of funds under SSAE grants supporting a well-rounded education.” (Emphasis added). As Robert Holland of the Heartland Institute pointed out: “In plain language, this means the government will assess children every single step (or crawl) of the way, from cradle to career, to be certain they acquire all the attitudes, beliefs, and dispositions the omniscient, omnipotent government deems they must have. SEL, baby, SEL.”

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Please contact the following:

  • Speaker Paul Ryan at 202-225-0600
  • Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at 202-224-2541
  • House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers at 202-225-4601
  • Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran at 202-224-5054
  • Your own U.S. House member or use the House Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121
  • Your two US senators or use the Senate Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121

Thank them for being willing to decrease the education budget overall and for their great work to protect privacy by cutting the IES budget. Tell them that you support the House position on these items.

  1. Send them this compilation of major research studies showing the failure of government preschool programs and this compilation of quotes showing the subjectivity and dangers of SEL. Respectfully tell them that with $19 trillion in debt, we should not be spending $430 million more on failed preschool programs. Nor should the federal government be spending any of our hard-earned tax dollars to mold and monitor the thoughts and emotions of our children. Tell them that you want to see real and significant cuts in early childhood spending and that you support the Senate cuts for School Improvement Programs that teach and assess SEL.
  2. Be encouraged that all of our work together is making some progress.

The hearts and minds of our children belong in our hands as family, not the hands of some government bureaucrat. If we are to raise the next generation to understand and preserve our heritage of freedom, we must continue and not give up on this fight. Thank you!

U.S. Senate Passes the Every Child Achieves Act 81-17

Photo credit: FEMA/Bill Koplitz (Public Domain)

Photo credit: FEMA/Bill Koplitz (Public Domain)

The U.S. Senate passed S.1177, the Every Child Achieves Act, on a 81 to 17 vote on Thursday afternoon spending seven days debating the bill.

The concerns addressed by American Principles in Action and others were largely not remedied by the amendment process.  On Wednesday an amendment offered by U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) fixed an omission of a key privacy and parental rights protection. Specifically, ECAA had omitted the requirement that the federally dictated statewide standardized tests “do not evaluate or assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes, or publicly disclose personally identifiable information.”

Emmett McGroarty, director of education for American Principles in Action said in a released statement on Thursday prior to the final vote, “This is a good start. However, this addresses only one of the severe privacy and data collection problems with ECAA. Much more needs to be done to protect children.”

The U.S. Senate also voted down amendments by U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) that would have affirmed a parent’s right to opt their students out from assessments, and an amendment from U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) that would have gutted the federal testing mandate.  Amendments proposed by U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Steve Daines (R-MT) that would have restored more local and state control also failed.

Several education policy experts are not pleased with the bill.

“This proposal does little if anything to restore state and local control of education. Moreover, it sets the stage for increased federal spending in the near future. The amendment included from Sen. Burr to change the funding formula for Title I does so once funding for the Title increases to $17 billion – nearly $3 billion over where it currently stands – likely creating momentum to increase spending in the near-term in order to achieve the funding change,” Lindsey Burke, the Will Skillman Fellow in Education, at the Heritage Foundation told Truth in American Education.

“The proposal still dictates testing schedules to states, maintains a labyrinth of federal programs, and perpetuates the notion that education dollars are best earmarked for school districts instead of students. It was, and remains, a huge missed opportunity for conservatives to restore dollars and decision-making to those closer situated to students,” Burke added.

“It is unfortunate that civil rights groups seem to think that billions of dollars for the education of low-income children will be useful, when in 50 years, the needle hasn’t moved in reading.  And the needle won’t move, so long as re-authorizations of ESEA allow the bulk of Title I money to be spent on the costs associated with hiring academically underqualified Reading teachers and aides.  Why civil rights groups think that is a quid pro quo, they need to explain to those of us who think low-income children would benefit from academically qualified teachers,” retired University of Arkansas professor of education reform Sandra Stotsky said in a statement made to Truth in American Education.

“I think two things are clear from the bill’s passage. First, it’s clear that politicians don’t feel safe rolling back the federal role in education. Some of them tell us they believe in this, but most of them don’t actually do it. So voters need to start holding them accountable, with all the usual means: Asking cranky questions in townhalls, calling their offices when votes like this come up, and primarying them if they don’t respond,” Joy Pullmann, education research fellow at the Heartland Institute, told Truth in American Education.

“Second, I also think it’s clear that politicians feel safe ignoring their constituents’ desires on education. Look, both the left and the right want testing reduced and real data privacy protections enacted. These are bipartisan issues. But our bipartisan leaders aren’t listening. They should pay for that. If they don’t, well, it’s clear they’re right: That voters don’t really care about education, so we’re going to let the kleptocracy continue to run everything from Washington,” Pullmann added.

The roll call of the vote:

YEAs —81
Alexander (R-TN)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Baldwin (D-WI)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennet (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Boozman (R-AR)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Burr (R-NC)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Capito (R-WV)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Cassidy (R-LA)
Coats (R-IN)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Coons (D-DE)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Cotton (R-AR)
Donnelly (D-IN)
Durbin (D-IL)
Enzi (R-WY)
Ernst (R-IA)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Fischer (R-NE)
Franken (D-MN)
Gardner (R-CO)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Heinrich (D-NM)
Heitkamp (D-ND)
Heller (R-NV)
Hirono (D-HI)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johnson (R-WI)
Kaine (D-VA)
King (I-ME)
Kirk (R-IL)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Lankford (R-OK)
Leahy (D-VT)
Manchin (D-WV)
Markey (D-MA)
McCain (R-AZ)
McCaskill (D-MO)
McConnell (R-KY)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murray (D-WA)
Perdue (R-GA)
Peters (D-MI)
Portman (R-OH)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rounds (R-SD)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schatz (D-HI)
Schumer (D-NY)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Sullivan (R-AK)
Tester (D-MT)
Thune (R-SD)
Tillis (R-NC)
Toomey (R-PA)
Udall (D-NM)
Warner (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wicker (R-MS)
Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs —17
Blunt (R-MO)
Booker (D-NJ)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Daines (R-MT)
Flake (R-AZ)
Lee (R-UT)
Moran (R-KS)
Murphy (D-CT)
Paul (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Rubio (R-FL)
Sasse (R-NE)
Scott (R-SC)
Shelby (R-AL)
Vitter (R-LA)
Warren (D-MA)
Not Voting – 2
Graham (R-SC) Nelson (D-FL)

Joy Pullmann: Common Core and Representative Self Government

Joy Pullmann, managing editor of The Federalist, says that the Common Core is representative of how representative self government has been flipped on its head.  She states that Common Core takes away decisions from moms, and puts child development in the hands of bureaucrats.  Watch the video here or below.

Be sure to catch other videos and updates, as well as, sign the petition at Parents Against the Common Core.

Common Core Symposium in Ottawa, IL This Friday

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Joy Pullmann

Debra Wenger shared this information with me via Facebook so I wanted to highlight it for our Illinois readers.

A Common Core Symposium, expounding the hazards and truth about Common Core, with Joy Pullmann from The Heartland Institute, along with an Open House for Ottawa Christian Academy, will be held at Heritage Christian Center 900 Hitt St. (Rt. 71) in Ottawa, IL. on Friday June 6th, 2014.

An open house and spaghetti supper is from 4-6pm with the Common Core Symposium beginning at 6:30pm.

For more information contact: Heritage Christian Center/Ottawa Christian Academy at 815-434-0507; email: heritagechristiancenter@yahoo.com or visit their website at www.heritagechristiancenter.net

Cogs in the Machine: Big Data, Common Core, and National Testing

imagePioneer Institute released another White Paper by Emmett McGroarty (Director of APP Education, American Principles Project), Joy Pullmann (managing editor of School Reform News and Research Fellow, Heartland Institute), and Jane Robbins (Senior Fellow, American Principles Project).

Their synopsis: New technology allows advocates for education as workforce development to accomplish what has long been out of their reach: the collection of data on every child, beginning with preschool or even earlier, and using that data to track the child throughout his/her academic career and his/her progression through the workforce. This paper explores the many initiatives that the federal government has worked with private entities to design and encourage states to participate in, in order to increase the collection and sharing of student data, while relaxing privacy protections. The authors offer recommendations to protect student privacy, including urging parents to ask what kinds of information are being collected on digital-learning platforms and whether the software will record data about their children’s behaviors and attitudes rather than just academic knowledge. If parents object to such data-collection, they should opt out. The authors also urge state lawmakers to pass student privacy laws, and they recommend that Congress correct the 2013 relaxation of FERPA.

You can read it below or download it here.

Over 30,000 Students Refuse New York Common Core Assessments

c62a06a85840441e9c0ab966a102752cAs of 12:05 (EDT) on April 3rd 30,458 students have opted out of the Common Core-Aligned assessments being administered this week.  You can see the spreadsheet here.

Wow.

There is a network of volunteers who are tracking parents reports that they had opted their children out of the assessment.  According to Joy Pullmann there are 31 10 parents who are working to keep tabs on the number of opt-outs on the group spreadsheet I referred to above.

Looking through the spreadsheet it doesn’t appear that New York City Schools is included in that number so I don’t believe they are done counting.  Expect that number to go higher.

Pullmann also pointed out that according to NY1, the number of kids opting-out in New York City was 320 in 2013.  So just a *few* more this year.

Update: Heard back from one of the Stop Common Core leaders in New York, Yvonne Gasperino, she said they are still trying to secure New York City numbers.  So far, as of 1:15p (EDT), there were 30,793 opt-outs for 423 school districts.

2nd Update: There are 10 volunteers editing the spreadsheet, not 31.  Below is a statement from Yvonne Gasperino about the process.

The numbers are a collaboration between several grassroots groups throughout New York State. This is all social media driven by parents.  There was a call out among parents to start reporting on the confirmed number of test refusals across the state.  Loy Gross from the Western New York area created the spreadsheet and worked with several parents from other groups on accumulating the confirmed test refusals from parents on the ground.  Figures were then aggregated through ten parents who have direct editing access to the spreadsheet and input the numbers as they were being reported from parents across the school districts.

As of 4/4/14 at 3:28p they have 30,899 recorded.

Here is an interesting story from Western New York:

What had been a small but growing parent protest movement against state standardized tests a year ago appeared to considerably expand in pockets across Western New York on Tuesday as elementary and middle school students began the first day of the state’s three-day English Language Arts exam.

In West Seneca, 27 percent of the district’s 3,087 children in third through eighth grades had parents who opted out of the reading tests, according to administrators.

In Frontier, parents of about 5 percent of the roughly 2,300 potential test-takers had notified the district as of Monday that they planned to have their children refuse to take the exams.

Frontier interim Superintendent Paul G. Hashem expected the total number to be higher after the district had a final tally later this week.

Photo credit: Cybrarian77

Schools’ Bad Behavior Toward Parents Seeking Assessment Opt-Out

assessment-opt-outIt seems that some schools are not handling parents seeking to opt their students out of assessments, in particular Common Core-aligned assessments, very well.

I reported on Friday at Caffeinated Thoughts that a California mom, Katherine Duran,  was literally “suspended” from her school for 14 days after a brief conversation with her son’s principal.  She tried to reclaim assessment packets her 12-year-old son gave out that were deemed “inappropriate” by the principal and confiscated.  The principal, Rosario Guillen, claimed Duran was physically aggressive.  Duran denies that ever occurred.

After the “suspension” Duran claims her son continued to be harassed when he brought more packets to school.

“In the school’s repeated attempts to block the information from being disseminated to the kids on campus, my son has been abused, his right to distribute leaflets on campus violated, his opt out forms confiscated. When he returned each day with more, the kids who had previously had their forms and letters confiscated received replacements, only to have them confiscated, yet again. My son was removed from class, double-teamed and harassed by the principal and another teacher, his lunch pail searched, his friends made to fear taking the forms and another kid forced to open his backpack in search of this ‘offensive, inappropriate material,’” Duran shared.

Duran alleges that her son was denied classroom instruction several times throughout the ordeal this week and last, once when he was pulled out for 90 minutes (on Tuesday 3/26/14),  while he was interrogated and intimidated, the principal double-teaming him with another teacher trying to get him to hand over his stack of forms.

Read the rest.

Joy Pullmann writes at School Reform News that an Ohio mom claims her kids were targeted by their School Superintendent over her opting her children out from Common Core-aligned assessments.

Last week, Sarah Lewis sent Celina City Schools Superintendent Jesse Steiner a letter asking to opt her children out of Common Core tests.

Wednesday morning, Steiner emailed Lewis a letter refusing to excuse her children from anything at school, then visited her kids’ school, demanding to have them weighed and measured because their principal had allowed them to opt out from an earlier body-mass index screening.

“[O]n the recommendation of legal counsel, I am rejecting your request for your child to ‘Opt Out’ of any and all testing,” he wrote. “Your child will be expected to follow the same educational procedures as the rest of the student body.”

This meant pulling the Lewis kids out in front of the class Wednesday and taking their weight and height, days after all the other kids had done so and after Principal Dan Pohlman had told Lewis they could be excused. No one notified Lewis of the reversal until the kids came home Wednesday, upset.

“They were singled out and weighed and measured,” Lewis said. “They were humiliated.”

Read the rest.

If you have a story of a similar incident email info@truthinamericaneducation.com or share in the comments below.