Rotten to the Common Core?: On the Subject of Education Standards, Arne Duncan, “White Suburban Moms”…and Bad*ss Teachers

ArneDuncanSubmitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

My attention turned toward public schools once again this week when I read reports about Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s apologizing for using “clumsy phrasing” when he made comments about some critics of the Common Core Standards—which he has championed. (Note: Common Core—a set of educational standards developed for public school students in kindergarten through twelfth grade—has been adopted by most of our states.) Duncan was speaking to a group of superintendents recently and just couldn’t help himself—it appears—when he said the following:

“It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary. You’ve bet your house and where you live and everything on, ‘My child’s going to be prepared.’ That can be a punch in the gut.”

A punch in the gut, you say? Here’s one right back at ya, Arne. Lots of people aren’t ecstatic about the “common core” effort to standardize curricula across this country and to institutionalize a “one-size-fits-all” cookie cutter approach to educating our children. It isn’t just “white suburban moms” who aren’t happy with the Common Core standards.  There are myriad others who are also concerned about the them—including other parents who don’t belong to the cohort of “white suburban moms,” school administrators, teachers, other education experts, child development experts—as well as a number of liberals AND conservatives.

As DSWright (Firedoglake) wrote, Duncan exhibited “the kind of condescending attitude one expects from education privatizers. But when confronted with such an amazingly arrogant statement Secretary Duncan only apologized for the ‘clumsy’ phrasing, not the sentiment.”

In August, Mitoko Rich wrote an article for the New York Times about the Common Core standards, which have “been ardently supported by the Obama administration”—as well as by “many business leaders and state legislatures.” Rich said that there has been “growing opposition from both the right and the left” to the standards.

Philip Elliott (Associated Press) provided some of the reasons why people have been critical of the Common Core standards:

Some opponents of the standards say they are a one-size-fits-all approach that isn’t appropriate. Other critics say the standards put too much emphasis on high-stakes testing and punish teachers for students’ stumbles. Some oppose the standards because the Obama administration used them as a requirement for states to receive money from the economic stimulus bill.

Common Core Critics

Steven Elbow of The Capital Times wrote earlier this fall about the Tea Party’s organized attack on Common Core being well-funded, while the attack from the left had “been kicked to the sidelines.” Still, Elbow contends that “there’s a strong progressive push-back to the standards as well.” Mark Naison, a professor at Fordham University, told the Miami Herald why some liberals were critical of the new educational standards. Naison said they see Common Core as “a huge, profit-making enterprise that costs school districts a tremendous amount of money, and pushes out the things kids love about school, like art and music.”

Elbow reported that Naison is a co-founder of the Badass Teachers Association—an organization that was “formed to combat…a trend toward corporate-driven standardized testing.” Naison has said that creation of the association was “a reaction to high-stakes testing, backed by Democrats and Republicans alike, used to evaluate schools and teachers.”

According to Kathleen McGrory of the Herald/Times (Tallahassee Bureau), the Badass Teachers—or BATs—“are pushing back against the national standards with Twitter strikes, town hall meetings and snarky Internet memes. They have no qualms with the theory behind the new benchmarks, but they fear the larger movement places too much emphasis on testing and will stifle creativity in the classroom.”

Bonnie Cunard, a Fort Myers teacher who manages the Facebook page for the 1,200 Florida BATs, said, “It’s not just the Tea Party that’s skeptical of the Common Core. We on the left, like the folks on the right, are saying we want local control.”

McGrory wrote that the “BATs represent a new wave of liberal opposition to the Common Core standards, which includes some union leaders, progressive activists and Democratic lawmakers.” She said that they “are joining forces with Tea Party groups and libertarians, who want states like Florida to slow down efforts to adopt the new benchmarks and corresponding tests.”

Last December, I read a Huffington Post article titled Common Core Nonfiction Reading Standards Mark The End Of Literature, English Teachers Say. According to the article, there was growing concern among teachers and parents that literary classics would “go the way of the dinosaurs…” Evidently, there was good reason for their concern because the Common Core benchmarks “call for 12th grade reading to be 70 percent nonfiction, or ‘informational texts’ — gradually stepping up from the 50 percent nonfiction reading required of elementary school students.” “English-lovers and English teachers” were worried that excellent literary works such as The Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye could be replaced “with Common Core-suggested “exemplars,” like the Environmental Protection Agency’s Recommended Levels of Insulation and the California Invasive Plant Council’s Invasive Plant Inventory.” I have also read criticism of the Common Core math standards, which don’t introduce algebra to students until ninth grade.

Recently, opponents of Common Core spoke out about their concerns regarding the new standards at the Statehouse in Ohio. Bill Evers, former US Assistant Secretary of Education for policy from 2007-09 and a member of California State Academic Standards Commission in the late 1990s and in 2010 as the Common Core was under consideration, “called the math standards ‘sloppy and inadequate.’ His biggest concern was that the Common Core does not start algebra until ninth grade, when most high-performing countries start it in eighth grade.”

Last February, education expert Diane Ravitch explained why she could not support the Common Core standards on her blog:

I have come to the conclusion that the Common Core standards effort is fundamentally flawed by the process with which they have been foisted upon the nation.

The Common Core standards have been adopted in 46 states and the District of Columbia without any field test. They are being imposed on the children of this nation despite the fact that no one has any idea how they will affect students, teachers, or schools. We are a nation of guinea pigs, almost all trying an unknown new program at the same time.

Maybe the standards will be great. Maybe they will be a disaster. Maybe they will improve achievement. Maybe they will widen the achievement gaps between haves and have-nots. Maybe they will cause the children who now struggle to give up altogether. Would the Federal Drug Administration approve the use of a drug with no trials, no concern for possible harm or unintended consequences?

President Obama and Secretary Duncan often say that the Common Core standards were developed by the states and voluntarily adopted by them. This is not true.

They were developed by an organization called Achieve and the National Governors Association, both of which were generously funded by the Gates Foundation. There was minimal public engagement in the development of the Common Core. Their creation was neither grassroots nor did it emanate from the states.

​In fact, it was well understood by states that they would not be eligible for Race to the Top funding ($4.35 billion) unless they adopted the Common Core standards. Federal law prohibits the U.S. Department of Education from prescribing any curriculum, but in this case the Department figured out a clever way to evade the letter of the law. Forty-six states and the District of Columbia signed on, not because the Common Core standards were better than their own, but because they wanted a share of the federal cash. In some cases, the Common Core standards really were better than the state standards, but in Massachusetts, for example, the state standards were superior and well tested but were ditched anyway and replaced with the Common Core. The former Texas State Commissioner of Education, Robert Scott, has stated for the record that he was urged to adopt the Common Core standards before they were written.

In 2012, Anthony Cody interviewed scholar and author Alfie Kohn about Common Core for Education Week. Here is an excerpt from that interview titled Will the Common Core Benefit Children?:

Question 1. Where do you think the drive for Common Core standards is coming from?

Alfie Kohn: I don’t think we have to speculate; the answer is pretty clear: While some educational theorists have long favored national standards — and got nowhere with the idea in the ’90s — the current successful push has come principally from corporate executives, politicians, and testing companies. This time they managed to foster the illusion that because the federal government, per se, isn’t mandating it, they’re not really “national” but just “core” standards, even though all but four states have signed on. It’s rather like the effort to reframe vouchers as “choice.” They’ve also been very shrewd this time about co-opting the education organizations by soliciting their counsel. These groups are so desperate for a “seat at the table” of power that they’ve agreed to confine the discussion to the content of the standards rather than asking whether the whole idea makes sense for children.

If your question is read more broadly — not just “Who are the players?” but “What’s the ideological underpinning?” — then all you have to do is look at the rhetoric on the Core Standards website, read the defenses published elsewhere, listen to the speeches: This move toward even greater top-down control and uniformity is almost always justified in terms of “competing in the global economy.” It’s not about doing well, but about beating others. And it’s not about intellectual depth and passion for learning, but about dollars and cents.

Question 2: Supporters believe these new standards will move us away from the narrow focus on reading and math tests that has been the downfall of NCLB. What do you think?

Alfie Kohn: Clearly it will encompass more than reading and math, but the question is whether that leads to the narrowing of other disciplines as well, particularly since these new standards will be yoked to some sort of one-size-fits-all test. That’s been the dilemma of the whole corporate-styled, test-driven approach to “accountability” and school “reform” for some time now: If you teach English-language learners or kids with special needs, or if you’re concerned about social studies, science, or the arts, you’re tempted to say, “Test us, too, so we won’t be neglected!” But it’s like a dysfunctional family, where the main alternative to neglect is abuse. To impose overly specific, prescriptive standards — enforced with standardized tests — is to lower the quality of any field or the education of any population of students.

Question 3. What’s wrong with making our curriculum more rigorous?

Alfie Kohn: My dictionary defines “rigorous” as harsh, burdensome, rigid. How is that beneficial? In most educational contexts, the word is basically equated with difficulty: A more rigorous school, classroom, text, or test, is merely one that’s harder — that is, one in which more students will not succeed. As I’ve argued elsewhere, it’s not just that something can be too hard as surely as it can be too easy, although that’s surely true (and not always acknowledged). The more important point is that difficulty level shouldn’t be our primary basis for evaluating something. I’ve visited classrooms where the assignments weren’t particularly hard but were incredibly rich, engaging, and valuable. And I’ve been to classrooms that were rigorous-with-a-capital-R that I wouldn’t send my dog to.

Common Core and Early Childhood Education

John T. Spencer, a book author and sixth-grade ELL teacher in an urban, Title One School, listed what he believed were some of the pros and cons of the Common Core Reading standards. One con that jumped out at me was the following:

The adoption process bothers me. They were forced through politically as a bailout of the unrealistic No Child Left Behind. And, while the standards tend to be good, they relied more on “experts” and wealthy business people rather than asking for input from educators.

Edward Miller, a writer and teacher who lives in Wellfleet (MA), and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, professor emerita of early childhood education at Lesley University in Cambridge, wrote an article for the Washington Post earlier this year titled A tough critique of Common Core on early childhood education. They said that much of the criticism of the “process for creating the new K-12 standards involved too little research, public dialogue, or input from educators.” They continued, “Nowhere was this more startlingly true than in the case of the early childhood standards—those imposed on kindergarten through grade 3. We reviewed the makeup of the committees that wrote and reviewed the Common Core Standards. In all, there were 135 people on those panels. Not a single one of them was a K-3 classroom teacher or early childhood professional.” They added, “It appears that early childhood teachers and child development experts were excluded from the K-3 standards-writing process.”

That is indeed troubling. Why would early childhood teachers and child development experts not have a seat at the table when the education standards for young children were being written? Who knows what is most appropriate both educationally and developmentally for children in kindergarten through the third grade?

Stephanie Feeney—as well as many other early childhood educators and researchers—were “shocked” when the standards were first released in March 2010. Feeney of the University of Hawaii, who is chair of the Advocacy Committee of the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators, said, “The people who wrote these standards do not appear to have any background in child development or early childhood education.”

Marion Brady—a veteran teacher, administrator, curriculum designer and author—said the standards development process was “done with insufficient public dialogue or feedback from experienced educators, no research, no pilot or experimental programs — no evidence at all that a floor-length list created by unnamed people attempting to standardize what’s taught is a good idea.” Add to that another criticism from Miller and Carlsson-Paige that the Common Core standards “do not provide for ongoing research or review of the outcomes of their adoption—a bedrock principle of any truly research-based endeavor.”

Alliance for Childhood Statement

The following statement was issued by the Alliance for Childhood in March 2010:

Joint Statement of Early Childhood Health and Education Professionals on the Common Core Standards Initiative

WE HAVE GRAVE CONCERNS about the core standards for young children now being written by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The draft standards made public in January conflict with compelling new research in cognitive science, neuroscience, child development, and early childhood education about how young children learn, what they need to learn, and how best to teach them in kindergarten and the early grades. We have no doubt that promoting language and mathematics is crucial to closing the achievement gap. As written, however, the proposed standards raise the following concerns:

Such standards will lead to long hours of instruction in literacy and math. Young children learn best in active, hands-on ways and in the context of meaningful real-life experiences. New research shows that didactic instruction of discrete reading and math skills has already pushed play-based learning out of many kindergartens. But the current proposal goes well beyond most existing state standards in requiring, for example, that every kindergartner be able to write “all upper- and lowercase letters” and “read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.”

They will lead to inappropriate standardized testing. Current state standards for young children have led to the heavy use of standardized tests in kindergarten and the lower grades, despite their unreliability for assessing children under age eight. The proposed core standards will intensify inappropriate testing in place of broader observational assessments that better serve young children’s needs.

Didactic instruction and testing will crowd out other important areas of learning. Young children’s learning must go beyond literacy and math. They needto learn about families and communities, to take on challenges, and to develop social, emotional, problem-solving, self-regulation, and perspective-taking skills. Overuse ofdidactic instruction and testing cuts off children’s initiative, curiosity, and imagination, limiting their later engagement in school and the workplace, not to mention responsible citizenship. And it interferes with the growth of healthy bodies and essential sensory and motor skills—all best developed through playful and active hands-on learning.

There is little evidence that such standards for young children lead to later success. While an introduction to books in early childhood is vital, research on the links between the intensive teaching of discrete reading skills in kindergarten and later success is inconclusive at best. Many of the countries with top-performing high-school students do not begin formal schooling until age six or seven. We must test these ideas more thoroughly before establishing nationwide policies and practices. We therefore call on the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to suspend their current drafting of standards for children in kindergarten through grade three. We further call for the creation of a consortium of early childhood researchers, developmental psychologists, pediatricians, cognitive scientists, master teachers, and school leaders to develop comprehensive guidelines for effective early care and teaching that recognize the right of every child to a healthy start in life and a developmentally appropriate education.

You can check out the names of the five hundred signatories to the above statement here.

*****

“Part of the problem is that the enterprise of raising standards in practice means little more than raising the scores on standardized tests, many of which are norm-referenced, multiple-choice, and otherwise flawed. The more schools commit themselves to improving performance on these tests, the more that meaningful opportunities to learn are sacrificed. Thus, high scores are often a sign of lowered standards–a paradox rarely appreciated by those who make, or report on, education policy.”

~ Alfie Kohn (Education Week—September 15, 1999)

SOURCES

White Suburban Moms Unite! A Letter to Arne Duncan (Huffington Post)

How Common Core is Slowly Changing My Child (Mrs. Mom Blog)

Arne Duncan: ‘White suburban moms’ upset that Common Core shows their kids aren’t ‘brilliant’ (Washington Post)

The biggest weakness of the Common Core Standards (Washington Post)

Arne Duncan reflects on ‘white suburban moms’ comment (MSNBC)

A white suburban mom fires back at Arne Duncan. ‘Common Core is a one size fits all approach.’ (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

A parent’s response to Arne Duncan (Daily Kos)

A Parent’s Letter to Arne Duncan (Diane Ravitch)

Arne Duncan Doubles Down On “White Suburban Moms” Comment, Promotes Economic Ignorance (FDL/Firedoglake)

Arne Duncan is clueless, if he thinks Rhode Island School Board made right decision (Daily Kos)

Arne Duncan is Just Plain Clueless. . . (The Tempered Radical)

Clueless in Seattle (Schools Matter)

Education Secretary Duncan’s Failure to Connect (Education Frontlines)

Arne Duncan Sics His Flying Monkeys on Diane Ravitch (NYC Educator)

Chicago Tribune says ‘Renaissance 2010’ has failed (Substance News)

What big drop in new standardized test scores really means (Washington Post)

A tough critique of Common Core on early childhood education (Washington Post)

Buying Support for the Common Core (Huffington Post)

Battle Lines Solidify Over Common Core (The Catholic World Report)

Arizonans Against Common Core

Ohio’s Common Core opponents vent their concerns with the new education standards (The Plain Dealer)

Debunking the Case for National Standards: One-Size-Fits-All Mandates and Their Dangers (Alfie Kohn/Education Week)

Confusing Harder With Better (Alfie Kohn/Education Week)

Alfie Kohn Interview: Will the Common Core Benefit Children? (Education Week)

What Arne Duncan Can Learn From Texas Moms (Huffington Post)

Common Core standards criticized (The Buffalo News)

School Standards’ Debut Is Rocky, and Critics Pounce (New York Times)

Common Core standards also under attack from the left (The Capital Times)

Why I Cannot Support the Common Core Standards (Diane Ravitch)

Is the Common Core an Attack on Progressive Education? (Huffington Post)

Children of the Core: American Students at Risk (The Innovative Educator)

Critics speak out about new Common Core standards (WKRN-TV)

Education chief says he regrets ‘white suburban moms’ comment about Common Core critics (StarTribune)

Common Core Nonfiction Reading Standards Mark The End Of Literature, English Teachers Say (Huffington Post)

A critical analysis of Common Core math standards (Washington Post)

Math professor: Common Core “will set our children back one to two years.” Governor in retreat. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

For Common Core, a new challenge — from the left (Miami Herald)

Eight problems with Common Core Standards (Washington Post)

61 thoughts on “Rotten to the Common Core?: On the Subject of Education Standards, Arne Duncan, “White Suburban Moms”…and Bad*ss Teachers”

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  4. Keep Fox News out of the classroom! Rupert Murdoch, Common Core and the dangerous rise of for-profit public education
    Rupert Murdoch and other moguls smell mega-riches in Common Core Standards. They can’t be allowed to wreck schools
    ERIN OSBORNE
    12/16/13
    http://www.salon.com/2013/12/16/keep_fox_news_out_of_the_classroom_rupert_murdoch_common_core_and_the_dangerous_rise_of_for_profit_public_education/

    Excerpt:
    The Pearson Foundation has agreed to pay $7.7 million to settle allegations that the nonprofit broke New York state law while attempting to profit from Common Core-aligned products. An investigation by New York state Attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman revealed the charitable side of Pearson spent years wooing the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in hopes the two would partner in creating Common Core courses. The Pearson Foundation and Gates Foundation joined together in 2011, creating 24 online courses that were then sold to the for-profit side of Pearson for $15.1 million.

    As for the $7.7 million settlement, the Pearson Foundation has announced it will donate the money to 100kin10, a company that focuses on developing science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. Interestingly, the Gates Foundation has also pledged $7 million to 100kin10 over the next six years along with several other partners Pearson works with. Clearly, the new standards mean big business and big profits.

    America’s most recent education reform, the Common Core State Standards, has divided teachers and parents across the United States. Whether or not the standards mark a step in the right direction for the education system, one thing is for sure. For the first time in American history, businesses are able to freely tap into the K-12 market on a large scale, and they aren’t waiting.

    The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers began writing the standards in 2009 with the financial help of private donors, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Pearson Publishing Co. A few months later the United States Department of Education announced a $4.35 billion contest called Race to the Top in which every state could compete for federal grant money. The applications for funding were judged on a point system of fulfilled criteria, one of which was adopting the new Common Core State Standards. Many states agreed to adopt the new standards before they had even been finished, proving that the decision was largely a financial one. The grant money in RttT was a powerful vehicle in spreading the standards quickly across the United States…

    From a business point of view, why go to them when you can make them come to you? Many of the people who financially aided the creation of Common Core have investments in place in companies that would do quite well with the standards implementation. By using financial clout and political connections, billionaires, not teachers, were able to influence the landscape of our education system. If states wanted a chunk of the RttT money, they had to adopt Common Core. If they adopt Common Core, they have to pay for the assessments and proprietary materials that come with it. Products that are “Common Core Aligned” have flung the door to K-12 wide open. Still not convinced Common Core is more about money than education? Check out the American Girl back-to-school accessory set children can buy, complete with a mini Common Core-aligned Pearson textbook.

  5. After actually reading the Common Core Standards and listening to the oppositions arguments that they can educate their local students better it makes me wonder why they are concerned about standardized testing. A well educated student should have no problem passing tests based on the Common Core Stamdards. Shouldn’t us parents educators and all citizens come together to improve and support these standards. What is wrong with the entire country rallying behind and improving upon a set of standards that would help American students compete in the global economy.

  6. Education Department To Renew Sallie Mae Contract, Despite Allegations Of Wrongdoing
    Posted: 11/29/2013
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/29/education-department-sallie-mae_n_4351509.html

    Excerpt:

    Student loan giant Sallie Mae is currently under fire from lawmakers, federal regulators, consumer groups and student advocates for allegedly violating numerous consumer protection laws. The company is facing accusations that it cheats soldiers on active duty, engages in discriminatory lending, pushes borrowers into delinquency by improperly processing their monthly payments, and doesn’t provide enough aid to borrowers in distress.

    But to the Department of Education, Sallie Mae remains a trusted partner. In a previously unreported Oct. 25 letter, the contents of which were described to The Huffington Post and confirmed by the Education Department and by Sallie Mae, the agency said that it is moving to renew the student loan servicer’s federal contract, which is currently set to expire in June.

    The new contract, which would run through June 2019, is potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Last year, Sallie Mae recorded $84 million in revenue from its Education Department contracts. But the company wants more.

    In its latest annual report, released in February, Sallie Mae told investors that in the 2013 fiscal year, the Education Department was projected to originate more than $121 billion in new loans and dole out more than $1 billion in servicing and other fees — a large slice of which Sallie Mae hoped to capture.

    “The opportunity to significantly and profitably expand the services we can provide … directly to [the Education Department] or otherwise, remains an important component of our business services growth strategy,” the report said…

    News of the Education Department’s intent to renew its contract with Sallie Mae came as a surprise to consumer advocates. Deanne Loonin, director of the National Consumer Law Center’s student loan borrower assistance project, said her group has “very big concerns” with the decision.

    It is problematic, she said, “because of ongoing investigations like those against Sallie Mae, but also because we continue to see huge problems with the way servicers are working with our clients and others like them.”

    Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest company in terms of student loans owned and serviced, is facing criticism from at least three federal agencies and powerful lawmakers in Washington for a variety of alleged misdeeds. The company says the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has already told it to expect to be publicly sanctioned for alleged wrongdoing. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Justice are also probing Sallie Mae over allegations it violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which is intended to ease financial pressures on active-duty members of the military, and broke other laws.

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  8. University president: Can anyone differ with Arne Duncan ‘without being dismissed as silly’?
    BY VALERIE STRAUSS
    November 21, 2013
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/11/21/university-president-can-anyone-differ-with-arne-duncan-without-being-dismissed-as-silly/

    Excerpt:
    U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has been in the news lately for his fervent defense of the Common Core State Standards and simultaneous criticism of those who oppose it and some of his other education initiatives, including a proposal for the Education Department to create a collegiate rating system. Here is a look at Duncan’s approach to critics and school reform from Trinity Washington University president Patricia McGuire, who has led the school since 1989 and who writes and speaks widely about higher education. This first appeared on The Huffington Post.

    By Patricia McGuire

    “Silly” is a dismissive word, an adjective that calls to mind clown wigs and red bulbous noses.

    Secretary of Education Arne Duncan must hold a big stake in a clown wig factory. He uses the word “silly” a lot these days to describe people who have points of view that differ from his on the topic of education reform, both K-12 as well as higher education.

    In late September, Secretary Duncan said that criticism of the Common Core standards amounted to “political silliness.” In that same week, Secretary Duncan also said that criticism of the proposals for new regulations for higher education was “more than a little silly.”

    Can anybody have a serious difference of opinion with the secretary without being dismissed as silly? Not at all silly is the fact that the same education leader has now dismissed “white suburban moms” as the source of concern for the Common Core. I wonder where that leaves a rather large group of Catholic scholars who have expressed concerns as well, or significant numbers of principals and school leaders who have also concerns.

    And, in higher education, it’s certainly not silly that plenty of people who actually do know what they’re talking about have raised numerous legitimate issues about the ability of this government to implement a collegiate rating system based on some pretty dubious data. (We do have a hard time ignoring the plain fact that this government that wants to remake higher education with “Datapalooza” is the same government that’s trying to figure out how to create a working website for healthcare over at HHS.)

    This arrogant view that most critics are silly has led the U.S. Department of Education to devalue any challenging input on the higher education proposals.
    On very short notice, the Department announced that it would hold just four one-day hearings at public university campuses around the country where people who wanted to make comments would get five minutes to do so. This is a cynical way to block thoughtful participation in the regulatory process. The proposals are serious and complicated, requiring far more than a cursory five minutes of analysis. This administration has a huge credibility problem these days; saying it wants input but then providing only the most superficial input method adds to the perception that there’s no real interest in sincere dialogue and exploration of any ideas other than those the administration already proposes. Consider just these several issues with the White House higher ed proposal:

    *The proposal claims that its purpose is to make higher education “affordable.” That’s a word that the current administration really likes (see: Affordable Care Act). The mechanism is a rating system that USDE will create through a lot of number crunching using data in the federal government’s higher ed data system (IPEDS, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System). But a lot of the data is flawed and it was never collected for this purpose. Most important, it’s not at all clear how a rating system will make college “affordable.” More likely, the additional staffing and computer software required to implement the new regulations will force colleges to spend more money, driving up costs, making college, actually, less affordable.

    *The proposal promotes more access for low income students. That’s a great goal, but access for very needy low income students is not compatible with controlling costs for the Middle Class, which is the headline on the White House Fact Sheet about the proposed regulations. Educating low income students who have largely attended marginal K-12 schools often means more money must go into support for developmental education, tutoring, academic support and other services needed to ensure success for low income students. These are all worthy and important goals, but it’s misleading to state that the access goal is going to cost less.

  9. Why so many parents hate Common Core
    By Diane Ravitch
    11/25/13
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/25/opinion/ravitch-common-core-standards/

    Excerpt:
    (CNN) — The U.S. Department of Education is legally prohibited from having any control over curriculum or instruction in the nation’s public schools, but nonetheless Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is a zealous advocate of the new Common Core standards for students’ proficiency in English and math.

    First, he said their critics were members of extremist groups, and he recently assailed the parents who criticize them as “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”
    His remarks were prompted by the nearly unanimous outrage expressed by parents — moms and dads — at public forums in suburban districts in New York, following the release of the abysmal results of the new Common Core tests.

    The parents weren’t angry because they found out their child wasn’t brilliant, but because most were told by the state that their children were failures. Only 31% of the state’s students in grades third through eighth passed or exceeded the new tests. Among students who are English-language learners, only 3% passed the English standards; among students with disabilities, only 5% passed them; among black and Hispanic students, fewer than 20% passed. The numbers for math were better, but not by much.

    The high failure rate did not happen because the students are dumb, but because the state chose to set an unrealistic passing mark. The state commissioner knew before any student had taken the test that only 30% or so would pass; that is where the state commissioner set the passing mark.

    Duncan likes to boast that the Common Core standards were adopted by 45 states, but neglects to mention that the states were required to adopt “college-and-career-ready standards” to be eligible for $4.35 billion in the education secretary’s signature program called Race to the Top.

    Some states adopted them without seeing a finished draft. The standards, unfortunately, were never field-tested. No one knew in advance whether they would improve achievement or depress it, whether they would widen or narrow the achievement gap among children of different races. It is hard to imagine a major corporation releasing a new product nationwide without first testing it among consumers to see if it is successful. But that is what happened with the Common Core standards.

    No one yet has estimated the costs of shifting from state standards to national standards. Duncan awarded $350 million to develop new tests for the new standards, but all of the testing will be done online.
    Experts in early childhood education say the standards for young children are developmentally inappropriate. Teachers say that they have not had the training or resources to teach the new standards. Field-testing would have ironed out many of the bugs, but promoters of the standards insisted on fast implementation.

    Los Angeles intends to spend $1 billion on iPads for the Common Core Techology Project, designed to help prepare for the standards. If that is the cost to only one district, how many billions will schools across the nation pay for software and hardware and bandwidth for Common Core testing? This will be a bonanza for the technology industry, but will put a strain on public school budgets in a time of austerity.

  10. Introducing David Coleman, Lead Architect of CCSS
    Stop Common Core In Wisconsin
    http://stopcommoncoreinwisconsin.com/introducing-david-coleman-lead-architect-of-ccss/

    David Coleman, is the “lead architect” of Common Core State Standards. Coleman also founded the non-profit Student Achievement Partners and developed the site AchieveTheCore to “guide” publishers in ways to shift their materials to meet the new standards. Coleman also took on the position as the head of the College Board, which runs the SAT college entrance tests. So we have the same person spearheading up standards, curriculum, and test. With an $18 Million grant from GE Foundation, Coleman is well-funded and ready to transform our educational system to create workers for a global economy.

    Learn who David Coleman is and you’ll understand a lot about the Common Core.

    Coleman said in 2011, “[A]s you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think.”

    Pardon the language. These words guide the Common Core which places a greater emphasis on “informational texts” for utilitarian purposes rather than fiction or writing personal narratives for that matter.

    In his words, “It is rare in a working environment that someone says, “Johnson, I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.”

    The Atlantic profiled Coleman in 2012,

    “David Coleman’s ideas are not just another wonkish trend. They have been adopted by almost every state, and over the next few years, they will substantively change what goes on in many American classrooms. Soon, as Coleman steps into his new position as the head of the College Board, they may also affect who applies to college and how applicants are evaluated. David Coleman’s ideas, for better or worse, are transforming American education as we know it.

    With little debate, the “Gates-led” Common Core Standards have been adopted by over 45 states. Coleman was right there writing those standards. (Did you know the standards are copyrighted by a private group, the National Governors Association and the Chief Council of State School Officers)

    New assessments (See Smarter Balanced and PARCC) are currently being written to the standards and scheduled to be implemented in 2014/15 school year. Coleman is right there making sure the tests match the standard. He said,

    “If you put something on an assessment in my view you are ethically obligated to take responsibility that kids will practice it 100 times.”

    Next up, is the national Curriculum written to the standards so that children can “practice it 100 times” before they take the test. (Look to Pearson for that.)

    What is tested is what is taught. What is taught, is what is thought. Why parents and publishers are blindly giving up so much to one man’s philosophy of education is mind boggling. Just mind boggling.

    Education policy expert, Diana Ravitch has spoken against the Common Core and asks the question that should be on the mind of every parent in America, “Is there not something unseemly about placing the fate and the future of American education in the hands of one man?”

  11. Common Core Copyright
    By Paul Bogush
    http://blogush.edublogs.org/2012/09/11/common-core-copyright/

    Excerpt:
    If the United States Department of Education had created the next set of standards that the country would follow everyone would own the “copyright” to the standards. States could pick and choose, use it as a reference, make their own prep material.

    “ANY USE OF THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS OTHER THAN AS AUTHORIZED UNDER THIS LICENSE OR COPYRIGHT LAW IS PROHIBITED.”

    Because the Common Core Standards were written by private groups they own the copyright and determine how they are to be used. For example, if your state agrees to use the standards you may not eliminate even one, but you may add up to 15%.

    “ANY PERSON WHO EXERCISES ANY RIGHTS TO THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS THEREBY ACCEPTS AND AGREES TO BE BOUND BY THE TERMS OF THIS LICENSE. THE RIGHTS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE GRANTED IN CONSIDERATION OF ACCEPTANCE OF SUCH TERMS AND CONDITIONS.”

    The NGA Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) was kind enough to let states use them after they created them. I mean geez, a few people spent an entire year on them, it was nice of them to share without any strings attached. I must say they are great, because I think it is against their copyright to say anything bad about them.

    “The NGA Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) hereby grant a limited, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to copy, publish, distribute, and display the Common Core State Standards for purposes that support the Common Core State Standards Initiative.”

    It does strike me as odd that someone “owns” the standards that all kids will get drilled in. I guess that means they could sell the rights to them at anytime. I am wondering if every kid and teacher could put up $1 and maybe make an offer, buy them, and then decide to do something else that doesn’t mean weeks of standardized testing.

    “NGA Center/CCSSO shall be acknowledged as the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards, and no claims to the contrary shall be made.”

  12. A white suburban mom fires back at Arne Duncan. ‘Common Core is a one size fits all approach.”
    11/20/13
    http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2013/nov/20/white-suburban-mom-fires-back-arne-duncan-common-c/

    Dear Secretary Duncan,

    I am a white suburban mom, and I’m reaching out to you in an effort to explain what seems to be very confusing to you. Your statement on Friday that some of the foes of the Common Core are “white suburban mothers who find out all of a sudden their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were” leads me to believe that you’ve been spending too much time in DC. Perhaps you would like to come to Long Island and meet with some of us, and our friends who are not white, living in suburbs, cities, and in rural areas. It might do you some good, and help you to reframe your thoughts on those of us who have been advocating for our children.

    I don’t like to be lumped into any one group. I’m actually a pretty complicated individual. Initially you tried to convince people that the only people who oppose the Common Core are Tea Partiers. Let me assure you, I’m about as far from a Tea Party member as you could imagine. I am a Progressive, bleeding heart liberal. I not only voted for President Obama twice, but I donated to his campaign and volunteered to knock on doors. My husband and I brought our family to both Obama Inaugurations.

    Just so you’re clear that I’m not a bored housewife, I work full time. I am also an elected Board of Education Trustee for the Comsewogue School District, and my local public library. I’m a Uterine Cancer survivor; this month marks one year cancer free for me after two years of very difficult treatments. I’ve been a very active member of my community for many years.

    I’m a mom to four kids. My oldest daughter is in her sophomore year at Simmons College in Boston majoring in Economics (she was ‘College Ready’ before the Common Core). My second daughter is a senior in High School, and a member of many Honor Societies. We are in the midst of her college application process now. My only son is in 7th grade, and he is very creative, but struggles academically. After advocating for him for many years, I was able to get him an IEP and the services he needs. My youngest daughter is in 5th grade, and also has an IEP. In addition to her academic struggles, she has epilepsy.

    Now that you know a little more about me, let me explain to you very clearly how I feel about the Common Core implementation. I am not completely opposed to the idea of common set of standards throughout the country — although I believe any state that adopts such a measure should do so on its merits, not because they were offered money in exchange for its adoption. I think another word for that is extortion. I’m also not opposed to high standards. I love the idea of making all children strive to be the best they can be, challenging them to imagine more for themselves, and encouraging them to work towards goals- as long as we realize that they will not all reach the same level of proficiency.

    I am, however, opposed to standards, and more specifically curriculum, that are developmentally inappropriate. I am strongly opposed to the number of standardized tests students are subjected to, which have no bearing whatsoever on their education. I believe the money schools are forced to spend on the administration, and scoring of all the testing could be put to much better use, and the same goes for the amount of time spent on testing. I’m also opposed to the 1 percent — Bill Gates, et al imposing business model mentality on public schools.

    It’s certainly not, as you implied, that I have some unrealistic idea of my kids abilities. I don’t. I’m very aware of their strengths and weaknesses. I know that each of my children have different learning styles, and I recognize that what worked very well for my oldest daughter will absolutely not work well for my youngest. I am confident that my kids’ teachers know that as well. They have the education, experience, and expertise to differentiate instruction for varying abilities and learning styles. The Common Core is a one size fits all approach to millions of different minds… it cannot benefit every child — especially those with learning disabilities. It also completely ignores the effect of poverty on achievement. No silver bullet education program will have the kind of success you are looking for nationally unless you address child poverty.

    By the way, you might want to have a chat with New York Education Commissioner John King, because he is certainly not doing you any favors with regards to getting the suburban moms on board with the Common Core. He and his department have botched the implementation of CC here at every turn.

    They created a curriculum, EngageNY, that is rife with errors, intentionally confusing, and very poorly written. He’s had several public forums around the state that have not gone well. He’s listened to parents, teachers and administrators speak about how our children hate school, are feeling defeated, are being forced to read and interpret reading passages that are developmentally inappropriate, and on and on, but he ends every meeting with the same refrain. “We stand united in our effort to move forward with the implementation of the Common Core. Now is not the time for delay.” Honestly, the time for delay was years ago, when states adopted the standards before they were even completely written.

    The rest of the country is watching what we “suburban moms” do now, so thanks for the shout out. One more thing you should know about me- I’m incredibly stubborn. I assure you, I won’t back down. I will not stop advocating for my children. I will not let you, or Commissioner King experiment with my child’s education because Bill Gates has lots of money to throw away. He said himself it would take a decade to see if his “education stuff” works. My kids don’t have a decade to waste on your hunches or his money.

    Again, I would encourage you to visit some of us suburban moms before you dismiss us. I would be happy to host you in my suburban home at any time that is convenient to you. I’m no Bill Gates, but I make a mean chocolate chip cookie.

    Sincerely,

    Ali Gordon

  13. Kraaken i think you’re missing the point. that ccss is designed not to teach our children the basics this is a math problem for homework given my 4th grader..

    which words are contractions? a hadn’t b should’ve c. you’re.
    percentage of contractions are what words ?

    Thanksgiving cooks,, my favorite holiday, mom cooks pye? november month is.

    round out to nearest 10000th (154x 19) + 8 x(3)-200=

    and all 3 are math equations my daughter has a speech and language disability so she is in a mixed class.

    they feel our kids dont need to know how to read but so much. them knowing how to read and have understanding of what they are reading and what they know. gives them the understanding they are not slaves to the elites. they were born free and this is supposed to be a democracy where they count.

    they dont want doctors, artists, philanthropists etc coming out of our schools those positions are reserved for their kids. these plans are not just coming out of no where.. its been in the making for centuries. and they are at the end of their plans there are a few steps left and their plans for enslavement of the people will be done. they dont want our kids or their kids to know and understand how they can be broken. that they are flesh and blood just as we are.

    thats exactly why the pretense of being a government is no more. the fact that the u.s.a has always been a corporation is now out in the open. they feel there is nothing we can do to stop them. and if you look at how things are going they are almost right.

    everyone keeps saying recall the po-lie-ticians and we can take our country and government back. but imo its the not the polieticians they know they have no choice. they are bought,or blackmailed before getting into office.. what the people will have to do is break the corporations. and obviously they arent willing to do that. no one is willing to give up their toys(technology) not understanding or in a lot of cases accepting the fact that the technology is what is enslaving them. but thats a discovery they have to make just as millions have already made it. especially those being crucified in the lame stream media and blamed for things they are NOT doing and arent even capable of doing…

  14. Off Topic:

    School superintendent, others indicted in Steubenville rape case
    November 25, 2013
    CNN Wire
    http://wtvr.com/2013/11/25/steubenville-rape-developments/

    Excerpt:
    A grand jury investigating the 2012 rape of a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio, has indicted four more people in the case, including the school superintendent, two other educators and an assistant football coach, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Monday.

    This brings to six the number of people the grand jury has indicted after two students were convicted in March of rape, DeWine said.

    Superintendent Michael McVey was the only one of the four to be charged Monday with felonies: a count of tampering with evidence and two counts of obstructing justice. He also is charged with two misdemeanors: making a false statement and obstructing official business.

  15. What Common Core Means for Publishers
    By Karen Springen |
    Jul 18, 2012
    http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/53002-what-common-core-means-for-publishers.html

    Excerpt:
    Typically, Core authors want students to think more critically about what they’re reading, rather than just summarizing text; to compare multiple sources in different formats; and to give more sourced evidence, and less personal opinion, in their writing. And, as noted in the standard’s criteria for publishers, scientific and historical texts should receive the “same time and weight as literary text.” By the 2014–2015 academic year, the initiative calls for 50% informational text (including textbooks, essays, speeches, newspaper articles, and nonfiction trade books) in elementary school and 70% in high school—on average, across all curricula. “The 50–50 split is not for English class,” says David Coleman, a lead writer of the Core’s English language arts plan and the incoming president of the College Board (which administers the SAT and AP exams). “The celebration of nonfiction’s role is not meant to be at the expense of fiction.” The nonfiction-to-fiction ratio currently being taught in schools nationwide is unknown, but Coleman says the new split is based on the ratio found in the National Assessment of Educational Progress test. Critics say no studies show that those percentages are best or that the NAEP exam creators wanted them to be those used in school. The exam creators did not intend to be “dictating what should be taught in a classroom,” says Sandra Stotsky, a professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas who sat on the NAEP committee. She remains skeptical of the Common Core State Standards. “David Coleman has never taught English. He’s never been in k–12,” Stotsky says, and Susan Pimentel, the other lead writer of the language arts standards, only briefly taught Head Start, not English. “[And] there’s no research that shows informational reading will make kids ready for college.”

    What’s more, critics say, no one has tested the initiative to see whether it works. “My problem with the Common Core standards is they have never been implemented anywhere,” says Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System and a research professor at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. “If you haven’t ever tried them anywhere, how do you know they’re good?” Perhaps, she adds, Core advocates didn’t want the feedback from a test. “They wanted to get this thing moving so far down the track that it couldn’t be stopped.”…

    One Core section that’s been a magnet for criticism is its Appendix B, which provides what it calls “exemplars” of language arts texts. It’s not perfect: “With so many great, timely nonfiction books available, it’s disappointing that a dated 1992 book on Mars makes the list,” says Kathleen Odean, a former Newbery committee chair, former elementary school librarian, and author of Great Books About Things Kids Love. “What could they have been thinking?” As for other titles on Appendix B, she likes Philip Isaacson’s 1993 A Short Walk Through the Pyramids and Through the World of Art, but notes that it’s out of print, and Patricia Lauber’s 1996 Hurricanes—though it, too, is not current. And, she says, “side by side” with Mary Ebeltoft Reid’s out-of-print 1997 book Let’s Find Out About Ice Cream is Russell Freedman’s “outstanding” The Freedom Walkers, about the Montgomery bus boycott.

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