What is Common Core


       PA. Common Core from an Educational Consumer Perspective


How many consumers would ever consider purchasing a car without seeing it, or test driving it?  For smart consumers that would never be an option, but that is exactly what was done with the implementation of the Common Core Academic Standard’s framework within Pennsylvania and other states. The states jumped on board and committed to the standards sight unseen in order to receive federal dollars. What kind of educational consumer does that make a state like Pennsylvania? The Common Core movement clearly places money and control before a quality education for each of our students. This national academic initiative is a massive experiment with students across Pennsylvania, and the country being the guinea pigs.


Common Core is not a state initiative. A real state initiative would have involved the use of the existing state standards, which had a track record in the classrooms across this country. The states could have shared this information with each other and learned from

what the other states were doing.  That did not happen, and instead they agreed to a set of Common Core Standards that have no track record, or research to back them up.  Pennsylvania hired the University of Pittsburgh to do an alignment and integration of the National Common Core framework with our previous state academic standards. 85% of our standards were required to be in alignment to Common Core. In order to say the states had some say in this movement, the states were given 15% flexibility in the standard changes. This is more about semantics and marketing than what good state standards really should look like.  Besides a flawed process that gives us PA Common Core Standards (states have changed the name of the standards in order to sell them to the public), the real question should be are these standards best for all students?


Pennsylvania had existing educational standards, and when looking at the record of those previous standards they were deemed rigorous by the state.  Now we are being told they were not. Meanwhile we now are being told we have rigorous academic standards due to the integration of the Common Core framework. Thousands of students were educated under those old standards with many students being successful while clearly some students were not as successful. This begs the question does the state know what real rigorous standards look like given they use that term for marketing purposes every time they want to make a change, and are standard changes the answer for students struggling in school?


One of the selling points used by the National Common Core supporters, and our own Pennsylvania Department of Education is these standards are now supposed to be internationally benchmarked. What country are we benchmarked to?  Germany and China use a national school to work model where students are channeled very early towards specific jobs. Canada and Australia have provincial systems similar to what we had when states controlled their own academic standards. Finland gives the teachers a generic outline of expectations allowing them the flexibility to teach to the individual needs in their classroom with very few state or national assessments. Clearly countries vary with what they do in their schools, so internationally benchmarked is nothing more than Common Core supporters using words that sound good in order to sell their agenda.



One of the major flaws in Common Core stems from the lack of consideration for how young children learn, and also the needs of students with learning issues.  No early learning experts were part of the writing of the National Common Core Standards. All early learning specialists refer to the developmentally appropriate practices based on the cognitive development of young children (K to 3rd grade). In simple terms, young children’s brains are developing. Certain educational concepts can, or can’t be processed and mastered by the average early learner at varying times based on that development. There is also research that indicates boys’ brain development happens at a slower rate than girls. Even a boy’s senses respond differently. Technology, such as the MRI, gives us a better understanding of a child’s development, which impacts their ability to learn. That is why many early learning educators across the nation and state have expressed deep concerns with these standards. The architects of the Common Core framework, which PA used to align their standards, were not teachers, curriculum, or standard experts. The standard and testing changes drive curriculum no matter what the supporters of Common Core/Pa Common Core say.


There are also people stepping forward expressing the same concerns with these standards and children with learning issues. More is happening than just the standards.  The process by which subjects like math are being taught is also changing, and then there are the assessments, which are being aligned to the standards. During the summer of 2012, the Pennsylvania Department of Education submitted to the US Department of Education a transition report showing the rollout schedule of the changes to the PSSA, the Keystone Exams, and the embedding of the standard changes into the tests. In the beginning of the report, Pennsylvania is asking the federal government for permission to make these changes. Children with special needs must have the flexibility to learn the best way they can, which does not mean they need a rigid bureaucratic system designed by people who know nothing of their needs. As these standard changes are showing up in our schools, more and more people involved with children with special learning needs are expressing concerns. Students with school anxiety do not need further stress placed on them by these poorly implemented and poorly researched standards.


 One of the selling points to the business community is the standard changes are college and workforce ready. There is no research to indicate that a set of standards can be both college and workforce ready at the same time. Common sense will tell us the requirements to be accepted by the College of Engineering at Penn State are not the same as the requirements for a community college. The job requirements to be an electrical engineer are not the same as the requirement to be a technician working for the cable company. This does not mean both jobs are not important, but they both require a different type of post-secondary training and workforce skills. The Common Core/ PA.Common Core Standards are not being sold as minimal acceptable standards. They impact every student no matter what their abilities, or future interests.

While attending an Allegheny Intermediate Unit presentation, their staff tried to explain the standards as they relate to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Teaching less levels of math, as they indicated in their presentation, is not going to produce more physicists or medical researchers. They also agreed with the proposal by David Coleman (one of the architects of Common Core and the head of the College Boards) to eliminate the AP Calculus test, since Calculus is not part of the Common Core math sequence. This decision does not help to produce more engineers or scientists either.

At the annual meeting of the Pennsylvania mayors last summer, it became clear that these standard changes are not going to correct many of the problems businesses are having in their communities. Consider some of their expressed concerns, and how that relates to standards.

  • How will these standard changes teach a student that showing up to work on time is critical?
  • How will this correct the problem of people not being able to pass drug testing?
  • How will these changes advance vocational training when public schools are promoting college as the best choice for almost everyone?
  • How will these standards teach students what it means to dress for success, or how to speak correctly in an interview?
  • How will these standards help children already struggling in poorly performing and unsafe schools in the Commonwealth?
  • Are the current changes promoted by people like Bill Gates a business move given education is a billion dollar a year industry?
  • Do we want the German or Chinese model of education, school to work, where students are tracked into career paths by bureaucrats, which is known to stifle

creativity, allows for fewer personal choices, and does not promote innovation?

  • Should education be about the agenda of adults, or the needs of students to reach their highest potential?


Lastly, there is the issue of funding.  Education spending is a major part of Pennsylvania’s budget. As we continue to spend more in education, we are getting less for our tax dollars. The legislators did not vote on these standard and testing changes, yet they will be expected to appropriate education funds to help subsidize these changes.  Meanwhile, many of the legislators continue to be clueless about the ramifications of these standards.

These changes are called Chapter 4 regulations, and went through a regulatory process. The PA Independent Regulatory Review Commission submitted questions after their review, and noted the cost to implement these changes are not cost neutral as indicated by the Department of Education and State Board of Education. The initial costs for implementation and ongoing execution of the standards and assessment will be prohibitive, resulting in massive unfunded mandates at a time when our Commonwealth is facing severe budgetary problems, including an unresolved pension problem. Some of these costs will involve the hiring of countless additional staff, extensive training of both  new hires and current teachers, purchasing new instructional materials and additional technology., developing and aligning curriculum to these changes, providing remediation and project-based assessments for struggling students, and administering and grading the innumerable mandated tests. Many of these costs will become the responsibility of the already cash strapped school districts.

The Senate Education Committee asked the PA. Secretary of Education about the costs to implement the PA Common Core and related assessment changes during two hearings. Not once did the committee receive a precise answer. Why is it that changes like this can come through the Department of Education/State Board of Education without a comprehensive cost analysis for their own department and the 29 Intermediate Units, including an additional cost impact study on the school districts?

Before making such a massive shift in the direction of education in this country, should there not have been a more transparent debate about these standards and the direction they are taking our students? This conversation should have happened both nationally and within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania prior to any changes being made. Does anyone wonder what Bill Gates ( he has spent $200 million to promote Common Core nationally with some of his grants coming into PA.) would say if we defined the direction of education for his three children, and we used our money to influence that direction?


Talk to your schools and find out how they are handling these changes?  Talk to your school board members, and legislators!  Contact the Governor’s office!  Contact the State School Board Association and express your concerns! Contact your US Congressman and Senators! Become better informed, and help to educate your friends and neighbors!  You have every right to ask questions, and to expect good answers! You have every right to express your thoughts and concerns! Remember these are our children, our schools, and our tax dollars!

Nationally Mandated Education Standards: Common Core in Pennsylvania

On March 14, 2013 the PA State Board of Education (with Governor Corbett’s approval) voted to put into place Common Core Standards (CCS) in English and math. It sets into motion nationally mandated common course standards for all K – 12 students so that education will be standardized across the country. This effectively eliminated the ability of parents and local school boards to influence content standards to suit local needs.

Why is Common Core wrong for Pennsylvania?
•    National control of school standards
•    $645 million required to implement in PA
•    CCS math standards will put PA’s students two years behind their peers in high-performing countries
•    Parents and school boards will have no recourse to influence content or standards
•    Undermines the US Constitution’s 10th Amendment authority of states over education
•    Massive federal student tracking initiative instituted

Common Core is the culmination of many years of the expansion of national controls over what should be local educational issues. In the 1990’s proponents of national standards put forth a proposal that was so revisionist and politically correct that the US Senate voted 99 -1 for a bill (SR 66) that prevented its implementation. The proponents learned that in order for them to get new standards imposed they would need to impose the standards quickly and quietly and to start with less controversial subjects.

The current standards are limited to English and Math, but will expand to include all subjects in coming years.

The origins of Common Core can be traced to the 2009 Stimulus bill which gave $4.35 billion to the federal Department of Education which then created the “Race to the Top” competition between states. In order to qualify for funding, the states needed to adopt Common Core sight unseen. An added incentive to adoption of CCS was that participating states would be exempted from many of the more onerous provisions of George Bush’s “No child left behind” program.

The recommendation by the PA Board of Education to adopt the standards is an end run around the legislature. This was completed with no public hearings and has been unknown to most of our legislators. This end run was enabled by a determination by the Board of Education that no additional funds would be required for implementation. However, the Regulatory Analysis Form Regulation 2976 saying:  “the State Board documents did not adequately address the fiscal impact.” A detailed analysis completed by the Pioneer Institute projects that full implementation will cost $645 million.

These Common Core standards have been very quietly accepted by 45 states, but exposure of the consequences of this intrusion into local and state control of education has caused a groundswell of opposition to adoption of the bill. The opposition has created an unusual alliance of school boards, school choice proponents, teachers’ unions and grass roots freedom groups. Opposition to Common Core is developing in many of the states already planning to implement CCS including Utah, California, Indiana, and Missouri to name a few.
There is no evidence to justify a single standard for all students, given the diversity of interests, talents and needs among students. A one size-fits-all model assumes that we already know the best standard for all students; it assumes that one best way for all students exists.

Curiously, Governor Corbett is actually proud to implement Common Core. His Secretary of Education stated “Governor Corbett believes these changes will ensure that Pennsylvania’s students are prepared to succeed in higher education as well as the increasing rigorous requirements of our workforce”.

To find out who to contact and what to do please go to our Take Action page.


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The Final Nail in the Coffin: The Death of Freedom in Our Schools

By John W. Whitehead - Rutherford.org
August 26, 2014

“Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grandchildren are once more slaves.”―D.H. Lawrence

No matter what your perspective on the showdown between locals and law enforcement in Ferguson, Missouri, there can be no disputing the fact that “local” police should not be looking or acting like branches of the military.

Unfortunately, in the police state that is America today, we’re going to find ourselves revisiting Ferguson over and over again. Every time an unarmed citizen gets shot by a police officer who is armed to the hilt, or inclined to shoot first and ask questions later, or so concerned about their own safety, to the exclusion of all else, that everything becomes a potential threat, we’ll find ourselves back in Ferguson territory again.

Here’s the thing, though: whether or not it ever gets reported, whether it incites any protests or marches or showdowns of epic proportions, whether it elicits any outrage on the part of the citizenry, Ferguson is already happening over and over again, all around us.

It’s happening in small towns and big cities alike every time a citizen gets stopped and frisked for no better reason than they “look” suspicious. It’s happening on the nation’s highways and byways, where corporate greed disguised as road safety is making a hefty profit off of drivers who have the misfortune of passing a red light camera or a speed camera or a license plate reader. It’s happening in the privately run jails, which are teeming with prisoners doing time for nonviolent crimes that should have landed them with a slap on the wrist and a fine instead of hard time and forced labor.

It’s happening in our airports and train stations and shopping malls, where menacing squads of black-garbed, jack-booted, up-armored soldiers disguised as law enforcement officials are subjecting Americans to roving security checkpoints, allegedly in the pursuit of terrorists. And it’s happening in the schools, where the school-to-prison pipeline is fully operational and busy churning out newly minted citizens of the American police state who have been taught the hard way what it means to comply and march in lockstep with the government’s dictates.

Young Alex Stone didn’t even make it past the first week of school before he became a victim of the police state. Directed by his teacher to do a creative writing assignment involving a series of fictional Facebook statuses, Stone wrote, “I killed my neighbor's pet dinosaur. I bought the gun to take care of the business.” Despite the fact that dinosaurs are extinct, the status fabricated, and the South Carolina student was merely following orders, his teacher reported him to school administrators, who in turn called the police.

What followed is par for the course in schools today: students were locked down in their classrooms while armed police searched the 16-year-old’s locker and bookbag, handcuffed him, charged him with disorderly conduct disturbing the school, arrested him, detained him, and then he was suspended from school. Stone’s mother was never alerted to the school’s concerns about her son’s creative writing assignment or his subsequent interrogation and arrest.

Keshana Wilson, a 14-year-old student at a Pennsylvania high school, was tasered in the groin by a police officer working as a school resource officer, allegedly because she resisted arrest for cursing, inciting a crowd of students, and walking on the highway. One might be hard pressed to find a teenager not guilty of one or the other at any given time. Nevertheless, the tasering came after the officer grabbed the teenager from behind and pushed her up against a car, without identifying himself as a police officer. “The teenager had to be taken to hospital to have the taser probes removed before she was arrested and charged with aggravated assault on the officer, simple assault, riot, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, failure to disperse and walking on the highway,” noted one reporter.

Rounding out the lesson in compliance, police officers who patrol schools in Compton, Calif., are now authorized to buy semi-automatic AR-15 rifles and carry them in their patrol car trunks while on duty—a practice that is becoming increasingly common, according to Joe Grubbs, president of the California Association of School Resource Officers. A few states away, in Missouri, a new state law actually requires that all school districts participate in live-action school shooting drills, including realistic gunfire, students covered in fake blood, and bodies strewn throughout the hallways.

Now these incidents may seem light years away from the all-too-grim reality of the events that took place in Ferguson, Missouri, but they are, in fact, mere stops along the way to the American police state, and parents with kids returning to school would do well to consider these incidents fair warning, because today’s public schools have become microcosms of the world beyond the schoolhouse gates, and increasingly, it’s a world hostile to freedom.

As I show in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, within America’s public schools can be found almost every aspect of the American police state that plagues those of us on the “outside”: metal detectors, surveillance cameras, militarized police, drug-sniffing dogs, tasers, cyber-surveillance, random searches, senseless arrests, jail time, the list goes on.

Whether it takes the form of draconian zero tolerance policies, overreaching anti-bullying statutes, police officers charged with tasering and arresting so-called unruly children, standardized testing with its emphasis on rote answers, political correctness, or the extensive surveillance systems cropping up in schools all over the country, young people in America are first in line to be indoctrinated into compliant citizens of the new American police state.

Zero tolerance policies, which punish all offenses severely, no matter how minor, condition young people to steer clear of doing anything that might be considered out of line, whether it’s pointing their fingers like a gun, drawing on their desks, or chewing their gum too loudly.

Surveillance technologies, used by school officials, police, NSA agents, and corporate entities to track the everyday activities of students, accustom young people to life in an electronic concentration camp, with all of their movements monitored, their interactions assessed, and their activities recorded and archived. For example, the Department of Education (DOE) has created a system to track, archive and disseminate data on every single part of a child’s educational career with colleges and state agencies such as the Department of Labor and the offices of Technology and Children and Family Services.

Metal detectors at school entrances and police patrolling school hallways acclimatize young people to being viewed as suspects. Funded in part by federal grants, school districts across the country have “paid local police agencies to provide armed ‘school resource officers’ for high schools, middle schools and sometimes even elementary schools.” As the New York Times reports, “Hundreds of additional districts, including those in Houston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, have created police forces of their own, employing thousands of sworn officers.” The problem, of course, is that the very presence of these police officers in the schools results in greater numbers of students being arrested or charged with crimes for nonviolent, childish behavior. In Texas, for example, school police officers write more than 100,000 misdemeanor tickets a year, each ticket amounting to hundreds of dollars in court fines—a convenient financial windfall for the states. All too often, these incidents remain on students’ permanent records, impacting college and job applications.

Weapons of compliance, such as tasers which deliver electrical shocks lethal enough to kill, not only teach young people to fear the police, the face of our militarized government, but teach them that torture is an accepted means of controlling the population. It’s a problem that has grown exponentially as the schools have increasingly clamored for—and hired on—their own police forces. One high school student in Texas suffered severe brain damage and nearly died after being tasered. A 15-year-old disabled North Carolina student was tasered three times, resulting in punctured lungs. A New York student was similarly tasered for lying on the floor and crying.

Standardized testing and Common Core programs, which discourage students from thinking for themselves while rewarding them for regurgitating whatever the government, through its so-called educational standards, dictates they should be taught, will not only create a generation of test-takers capable of little else, but it will also constitute massive data collection on virtually every aspect of our children’s lives which will be accessed by government agents and their corporate allies.

Overt censorship, monitoring and political correctness, which manifest themselves in a variety of ways, from Internet filters on school computers to sexual harassment policies, habituate young people to a world in which nonconformist, divergent, politically incorrect ideas and speech are treated as unacceptable or dangerous. In such an environment, a science teacher criticizing evolution can get fired for insubordination, a 9-year-old boy remarking that his teacher is “cute” can be suspended for sexual harassment, students detected using their smart phones during class time can be reported for not paying attention in class, and those accused of engaging in “bullying, cyber-bullying, hate and shaming activities, depression, harm and self harm, self hate and suicide, crime, vandalism, substance abuse and truancy” on social media such as Twitter or Facebook, will have their posts and comments analyzed by an outside government contractor.

As problematic as all of these programs are, however, what’s really unnerving are the similarities between the American system of public education and that of totalitarian regimes such as Nazi Germany, with their overt campaigns of educational indoctrination. And while those who run America’s schools may not be deliberately attempting to raise up a generation of Hitler Youth, they are teaching young people to march in lockstep with the all-powerful government—which may be just as dangerous in the end.

You don’t have to take my word for it. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum provides some valuable insight into education in the Nazi state, which was responsible for winning “millions of German young people … over to Nazism in the classroom and through extracurricular activities.” The similarities are startling, ranging from the dismissal of teachers deemed to be “politically unreliable” to the introduction of classroom textbooks that taught students obedience to state authority and militarism. “Board games and toys for children served as another way to spread racial and political propaganda to German youth. Toys were also used as propaganda vehicles to indoctrinate children into militarism.” And then there was the Hitler Youth, a paramilitary youth group intended to train young people for future service in the armed forces and government.

Hitler himself recognized the value of indoctrinating young people. As he noted, “When an opponent declares, ‘I will not come over to your side, and you will not get me on your side,’ I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to me already. A people lives forever. What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants however now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.’”

In the face of such a mechanized, bureaucratic school system that demands conformity, indoctrinating and enslaving their minds while punishing anyone who dares step out of line, American school children are indeed powerless. And they will remain helpless, powerless and in bondage to the police state unless “we the people” take the steps to set them free.

Is Common Core losing the public perception test?

Posted Aug. 26, 2014, 01:38 p.m.

The education standards called Common Core have been adopted in more than 40 states, but according to a Phi Delta Kappa (PDK)/Gallup pollreleased Wednesday, the majority of Americans oppose them.

By the end of 2012, all but a handful of states had adopted Common Core. But the 2013 PDK/Gallup poll showed 62 percent of Americans had never heard of the standards already in place.

Public awareness has grown since then, and so has public concern. Eighty-one percent of poll participants this year had “heard at least a little” about Common Core, and 60 percent said they don’t want it in their classrooms.

“What people are concerned about is their loss of control,” said Emmett McGroarty from American Principles Project, a conservative organization working to fight Common Core.

In April 2009, the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers, two private organizations, began developing the Common Core standards. Slightly more than a year later, in June 2010, they released the final draft. States quickly adopted the standards, some doing so before the final draft was even out, motivated, many say, to meet “college- and career-ready standards” requirements for federal Race to the Top grants. States did not have time to thoroughly examine the Common Core and “certainly didn’t have time to take it to the people,” McGroarty said.

Another recent poll by Education Next shows rising concern over Common Core. It found only 26 percent of the public in opposition, but that number doubled from 13 percent last year.

The large discrepancy between the two polls could come from the wording of the questions, according toNPR. The PDK/Gallup question simply asks, “Do you favor or oppose having the teachers in your community use the Common Core State Standards to guide what they teach?”

The Education Nextquestion is much longer, explaining “states have been deciding whether or not to use the Common Core, which are standards for reading and math” that “will be used to hold public schools accountable for their performance.” When worded this way, the public appears less opposed to the idea.

Opposition to Common Core might stem from public misunderstanding, Education Next suggests. But Common Core opponents insist they’re not confused.

Common Core advocates say the standards are state-led and voluntarily adopted. But according to apaper from the Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project, the federal Department of Education “used legally suspect means—the Race to the Topcompetition and the promise of waivers from No Child Left Behind—to impose the standards on the states.”

The largest worry among PDK/Gallup poll respondents opposed to Common Core was that the standards would limit teachers’ flexibility and freedom. Common Core supporters note the standards are not curriculum and teachers can still teach as they choose. Opponents say while that is factually true, teachers must align curriculum to the standards or their students will fail standards-based assessments.

Another point of concern about Common Core is how the government will use assessment information. “The means of assessing students and the data that result from those assessments are up to the discretion of each state and are separate and unique from the Common Core,” according to the standards’ website.

But states are aligning assessments to Common Core, and according to the U.S. Department of Educationwebsite, the Recovery Act competition gives states grants to develop “longitudinal data systems to capture, analyze, and use student data from preschool to high school, college, and the workforce.” Not only are citizens concerned about personal privacy, this “encompasses a worldview of the proper role of government that is greatly at odds with American founding principles,” the Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project argue.

According to the polls, Common Core is increasingly at odds with the American people as well.

Emily Scheie
Emily Scheie
Emily is a World Journalism Institute intern.

Arizona election results: Arizona education official John Huppenthal loses re-election bid

Arizona election results: Arizona education official John Huppenthal loses re-election bid


Associated Press

8:30 PM, Aug 26, 2014

2 hours ago


Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal lost his bid for a second term Tuesday, falling in the Republican primary after he admitted making offensive anonymous comments on the Internet while serving as the state's chief education official.

Diane Douglas won the race after focusing almost all of her campaign on repealing the Obama administration-supported Common Core education standards.

Huppenthal downplayed the role his anonymous blog posts played in the race, attributing the loss to the Common Core issue.

"We feel fine," he said. "We understand that the Common Core issue was a raging forest fire."

In the November election, Douglas will face David Garcia, an Arizona State University professor who defeated high school English teacher Sharon Thomas in the Democratic primary.

The GOP contest normally would have received little attention but was transformed when it was revealed that Huppenthal made anonymous rants on the Internet.

He called welfare recipients "lazy pigs" who mooch off the government despite having flat-screen TVs in their living rooms, while comparing the Planned Parenthood founder to Nazis. He bashed Spanish-language media and said, "This is America, speak English."

Huppenthal broke down in tears at a June news conference as he apologized for his actions and said that anonymous discourse has long been a cornerstone of Democracy, citing examples of Founding Fathers who wrote under pseudoynms during the 18th century.

The race focused heavily on Common Core. Douglas fiercely opposes the program, calling it "top-down government control of our education system."

Huppenthal has been forced into an awkward position on the issue. He has long backed Common Core, but said during a debate with Douglas that he "never supported the standards."

The standards have been adopted by most states and were approved by the state Board of Education with little opposition in 2010. But they have become a popular talking point in Republican primaries around the nation as GOP candidates court voters on the right.

Douglas said she would represent Arizona residents, and not Washington D.C. or corporations.

"It's going to take the same as we did in the primary: Appeal to the moms and dads of Arizona," Douglas said in an interview after she was declared the winner. "They want control back over their children's education."

Garcia called Douglas a single issue candidate without the necessary background in education for the post. He said he would work to get more funding and support for teachers.

"We need to get away from standardized testing and measure what matters," Garcia said.

The superintendent has a large role in determining state education policy along with the governor, the Legislature and the state Board of Education. The superintendent is a Board of Education member and oversees the state Department of Education, an agency whose main job is to funnel funding to school districts and charter schools.


Louisiana Gov. Jindal to reportedly sue federal government over Common Core



Louisiana's Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal.AP

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal reportedly will file a lawsuit against the Obama administration in federal court Wednesday, claiming that the Department of Education has illegally manipulated grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the controversial Common Core standards.

A draft copy of the lawsuit was provided to The Associated Press by the governor's office. Jindal planned to file it Wednesday in the federal court based in Baton Rouge.

In the suit, Jindal argues that the Education Department's $4.3 billion grant program "effectively forces states down a path toward a national curriculum" in violation of the state sovereignty clause in the Constitution and federal laws that prohibit national control of education content. The suit will ask a judge to declare the department's actions unconstitutional and to keep it from disqualifying states from receiving Race to the Top funds based on a refusal to use Common Core or to participate in one of two state testing consortia tied to the department's grant program.

The legal challenge puts Jindal, who is considering a 2016 presidential bid, at the forefront of a dispute between conservatives and President Barack Obama, bolstering the governor's profile on the issue as he's trying to court conservative voters nationwide.

"The federal government has hijacked and destroyed the Common Core initiative," Jindal said in a statement. "Common Core is the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C., in control of everything."

The Common Core standards are math and English benchmarks describing what students should know after completing each grade. They were developed by states to allow comparison of students' performance. More than 40 states, including Louisiana, have adopted them.

When the state education board adopted the standards in 2010, Jindal supported them, saying they would help students to better prepare for college and careers. He reversed course earlier this year, however, and now says he opposes the standards because they are an effort by the Obama administration to meddle in state education policy.

The governor's change of heart is not shared by lawmakers, the state education board and his hand-picked education superintendent, all of whom refuse to jettison Common Core from Louisiana's classrooms. Jindal tried to derail use of the standards by suspending testing contracts, but a state judge lifted that suspension, calling the governor's actions harmful to parents, teachers and students.

Turning to federal court represents a new tactic in Jindal's efforts to undermine Louisiana's use of the standards.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has criticized the governor's opposition to Common Core as politically driven. In a June interview with "CBS This Morning," the secretary said of Jindal's switched position: "It's about politics, it's not about education."

The Obama administration embraced the standards and encouraged states to adopt them as part of the application process for the Race to the Top grant program. Two state testing consortia -- the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium -- received $330 million from the grant program to develop standardized testing material tied to Common Core.

"Louisiana now finds itself trapped in a federal scheme to nationalize curriculum," the lawsuit says. "What started as good state intentions has materialized into the federalization of education policy through federal economic incentives and duress."

Louisiana received more than $17 million from Race to the Top and joined the PARCC consortium. It also received a waiver from certain federal education requirements under a program enacted by the Obama administration in 2011 that Jindal's lawsuit says was designed to coerce states to use Common Core or risk the loss of billions in federal education funding.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From Education Week - Michael Barber's grand plan with data 'Ocean' of Digital Data to Reshape Education, Pearson Report Predicts

By Benjamin Herold on March 19, 2014 11:24 AM

A compelling vision of the data-driven future of K-12 schooling? Or a chilling description of a brave new educational world in which even students' smallest actions are converted to digital data and used to build permanent "learner profiles"?

A new report from London- and New York City-based educational publishing powerhouse Pearson is likely to generate both reactions, depending on whom you ask.

Released this week, "Impacts of the Digital Ocean on Education" is intended as "an aspirational vision of what success might look like" in the rapidly changing world of "big" educational data and personalized learning.

Report authors Kristen DiCerbo and John Behrens of Pearson's Center for Digital Data, Analytics, and Adaptive Learning sketch out a vision in which end-of-year, summative tests of narrowly defined skills and content knowledge are replaced by a constant stream of digital data generated by "in vivo naturalistic tasks" that thoroughly blur the line between assessment and instruction.

Such data—generated from a variety of sources and activities, and focusing on students' social connections and interactions, rather than just their isolated individual experiences—would be constantly tracked and used to update profiles that follow each student across classrooms, grades, and schools, helping facilitate more customized learning experiences for each.

"The devices and digital environments with which we interact are designed to record and store experiences, thereby creating a slowly rising ocean of digital data," DiCerbo and Behrens write in the report. "We believe the ability to capture data from everyday formal and informal learning activity should fundamentally change how we think about education."

Just as big data and analytics have transformed finance, insurance, retail, and professional sports, the report says, they will change education. Until recently, the authors write, data collection and storage was expensive, limited, and isolated, and students' educational records were not portable, easy to share, or able to be quickly analyzed.

But the digital revolution has changed that reality, DiCerbo and Behrens contend. They argue that the abundance of increasingly fine-grained data available to educators "can help pinpoint the moments when learning occurs or a learner's approach to a problem changes" and then be used to help tailor suggestions or recommendations to help each student's learning continue.

What does that look like in practice?

Every keystroke, mouse-click, and move of the cursor that a student makes would flow into the "digital ocean," alongside a stream of contextual information generated by sensors built into the devices and software the students are using. E-books, for example, might track not only how many pages a student reads, but how much time he or she spends on each page, which word definitions are looked up, what text is highlighted, the difficulty of the reading material in a given text, where the book is being read, and with whom the student is electronically discussing it.

"Rather than thinking of a multitude of individual, isolated items, the digital ocean encourages us to think about integrated activity." DiCerbo and Behrens write.

DiCerbo has been at the forefront of early efforts to use data to personalize learning via her involvement in GlassLab, which recently released SimCityEDU, a learning and assessment game that makes use of the "digital ocean" and data-mining principles she and Behrens describe.

The authors acknowledge "potential sandbars" in this ocean. Privacy and ownership of data is a big concern, they say. Data security—which they define as the ability to keep students' information hidden, and not just the abstract right to do so—might be an even bigger challenge.

Some are likely to take a much closer look at those issues. Concern among parents, advocates, educators, and policymakers about lax protection of students' sensitive information is growing, fueled in part by revelations of both data breaches and data-mining practices of large online-educational-service providers like Google.

Nevertheless, "we are in the midst of a great social shift," the authors conclude.

"For those of us who have emerged from the digital desert, the challenge is to move beyond the understanding of new technology as a means to acquire previous ends, and to reinvent our conceptualizations to take advantage of a digital-first-, data-first world

Don’t Turn Kindergarteners Into Test-Taking Minions

WFTV 9 in central Florida reports that Florida plans to implement means-testing of Kindergarteners.

Yes you read that right.

An excerpt:

Channel 9′s Lori Brown found out that the state is requiring districts to develop tests for every subject taught in kindergarten.

The state law requires Orange County to develop 15 different tests for kindergarteners.

The subjects 5-year-olds will be tested on will range from physical education to art.

Most kindergarteners will be required to take seven of the tests.

“Turning a child into a test taking minion at the age of 6 or 7 is not good for a child,” said parent Kathleen Oropeza.

That is absolutely horrifying.  State Legislators who think that is a good idea should first have their head examined, and then drummed out of office when they are up for reelection.

On a similar note, there are schools in Iowa, starting this school year will start teaching kindergarteners how to code.  I kid you not.

All of this on top of standards that are developmentally inappropriate.

This is not the Kindergarten of my childhood, and it is no wonder that child psychologists, child development experts and social workers have shown concern about the developmental appropriateness of the standards.  They are causing stress as New York teachers have seen.   It will happen in your state ass well.


KEENE: Editing out an enlightened history of America

In the early days of the American Republic, Thomas Jefferson was perhaps the staunchest advocate of public education. Jefferson authored a plan for public primary and secondary schools and is father of the University of Virginia. He would be appalled at the state of public education today.

Jefferson loved reading and knowledge for its own sake, of course, but believed the success of the American experiment depended on an educational system that would instill a knowledge of history and values in the citizenry. He was not alone among the Founders in this belief, but few expressed themselves better. Jefferson was eloquent on the study of history as especially important because, as he put it, "apprising [students] of the past will enable them to judge of the future."

Enemies of free government have always recognized this simple truth and have tried to recast history to lead the next generations to believe as they do. Kings and emperors, Soviets and Nazis of the past, and extremist Muslims today employ court historians, forever mingling history and politics. They know they can shape the policies of today and tomorrow by creating a past of their own.

Howard Zinn, perhaps this country's most successful radical or progressive historian, put it best when he said he wrote history "to change the world." He understood history as indoctrination and felt it vital that the next generation be indoctrinated, or educated by learning his version of history. Like Jefferson, Zinn knew that the values passed on to future generations through the educational system shape the future by dictating political choices. There the similarities end — Jefferson and his contemporaries were products of the Enlightenment, assuming education to be a search for truth rather than a means of dictating the future. Zinn intended — and today's liberal progressives seek — to replace the traditional view of American history with a dark view of a nation built on aggressive racist imperialism, theft and genocide. They would drive those who do not agree from the public square, or at least from the classroom.

David Horowitz and others have sounded the alarm about our college campuses for decades, but the bubbling controversy is now focused on the College Board. Headed by David Coleman, who most consider the architect of Common Core, the College Board is a private, nonprofit that for more than a century has set standards for college admissions. It essentially dictates what high schools need to teach their best students in disciplines from math to history to English in preparing them for college. Teachers who used to teach from a five-page framework, now receive a 98-page, detailed set of instructions on what history should be taught.

Zinn might have written the framework. Gone are most of the Founders and their ideas, as is their vision of a country dedicated to freedom. Major historical figures such as James Madison and Benjamin Franklin are ignored. As James Robbins and Larry Krieger of the American Principles Project put it, the framework distorts history and advances a consistently negative view of America.

They claim with justification that the College Board in advancing an ideological framework is operating as a "de facto legislature for the nation's public and private high schools" with the power to essentially dictate what will be taught to students studying American history. Mr. Robbins and Mr. Krieger call it a "coup." The National Association of Scholars essentially agrees with them, calling the framework a "dispiriting document."

The Association study points out that while defenders of the new framework argue that high schools can go beyond the framework and teach students about Madison and others or expose them to different perspectives on the nation's history, few will. They will "teach to the test" to make sure their students do well on college admissions tests without realizing that in the process, they will be indoctrinating generations of college-bound students.

Local control of primary and secondary education has been steadily wrested from the hands of parents and local authorities in the name of standards and quality by a federal government susceptible to pressure from ideological special interests. Those same interests dominate supposedly private groups more focused on indoctrination than educational excellence.

The Founders' grand experiment is being put at risk by liberal progressive educational ideologues intent upon creating a citizenry ignorant of its real history, but indoctrinated to hate its country, its history and those who founded it.

David A. Keene is opinion editor of The Washington Times.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.


Anti-Common Core fervor reaches the silver screen

July 14, 2014 by Alisha Kirby

(Texas) The momentum behind the anti-Common Core State Standards movement is coming to a theater near you later this month in the form of an interactive experience hosted by conservative author and radio personality Glenn Beck.

Audiences of We Will Not Conform can actively engage with Beck and other speakers on July 22 via social media to “develop tangible strategies in the pursuit of enacting real change in our schools” and “form a comprehensive plan to fight back against Common Core crafted in real time,” according to the event page.

“Parents in states where Common Core has been implemented are seeing the results firsthand,” Beck co-wrote with fellow conservative Kyle Olson in his book Conform: Exposing the truth about Common Core and Public Education.  “All of the backlash we’re starting to hear about isn’t a result of the Tea Party enraging people; it’s because parents ultimately aren’t dumb. Unlike their kids, they actually can put two and two together, and they see that things aren’t adding up.”

The event follows the already mounting opposition to the Common Core including New York, Indiana, South Carolina, Maryland, Oklahoma, Georgia and Tennessee, which have all introduced or passed legislation to delay, modify or completely drop out of the adoption of the standards.

Though the U.S. Department of Education didn’t require that states adopt the Common Core, financial incentives were offered through the federal Race to the Top competition and the Obama administration also provided over $350 million to two state consortia – Smarter Balanced and PARCC – to develop new assessments aligned to the standards.

Still, complaints have risen on both sides of the isle.

Union leaders, for instance, have claimed a lack of curricula and time for proper training for teachers. In some cases, the lack of financial resources for implementing the standards is a key issue as well.

Conservatives have been more concerned with federal intrusion into education, which, historically, has been a state matter.

Yet despite the apparent shift in attitude toward the standards, Michael Brickman, the national policy director at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington, a think tank which backs the standards, told Education Week that most of the energy behind the movement comes from "a small group, on the left and the right, of very passionate people" who rarely address what constitutes good or bad standards.

"The facts have not always aligned with some of the things you're seeing out there in social media and elsewhere," Brickman said.

Examples of more extreme statements can be found in media reports across the country. Florida Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights, said at an education conference in March that the new testing would “attract every one of your children to become as homosexual as they possibly can.”

Alabama Tea Party leader Terry Bratton, during a state Senate Education Committee hearing earlier this year, claimed the tests promoted "acceptance of homosexuality, alternate lifestyles, radical feminism, abortion, illegal immigration and the redistribution of wealth."

Yet Beck, who hosts the Glenn Beck Radio Program, a nationally syndicated talk-radio show, has concerns often directed toward what he considers control and manipulation of the states by the federal government, and test publishers making money off children.

As a media personality Beck has also hosted his own television show - Glenn Beck – which aired on HLN and Fox News Channel, and has authored six New York Times–bestselling books, including Conform.

However, the book has received criticism even from those who also critique Common Core.

“This is crazy stuff, and it makes it difficult if not impossible to have a reasonable discussion about the pros and cons of the Common Core,” Diane Ravitch, a professor, historian and author, wrote on a blog for the Huffington Post.

Others such as Hilary Tone, Education Program Director at Media Matters, say the book is full of “bizarre” assertions; like that Common Core helps progressives create a wedge between parents and their children. Tone quotes two paragraphs from the book in her review:

“Since most parents don't understand the Common Core techniques, students are becoming more dependent on their schools and teachers for their education, and less on help from their parents. This is like a dream come true for progressives who hope to continue to minimize the role of parents in the lives of their children.” [Conform, pg. 93]

“Do these really sound like "rigorous" changes to you? Or does it sound more like a systematic approach to dumb down our kids and further remove parents from the process so that students will be easier to indoctrinate and control?” [Conform, pg. 95]

Despite the criticism he’s received, Beck says the event will make Common Core history.

According to the event page, this is “a rare opportunity to make a real difference in America’s education system.”

“You are going to have to come with a basic understanding of Common Core,” Beck said on his radio program in May. “But what we are going to do is give you not just the, ‘what is Common Core, how does that all work.’ We are actually going to take you through a live creation of a plan.”

According to Beck, activists, teachers and legislators have been meeting at his Texas studios to “hammer out” what is effective in the fight against Common Core for over a year and are ready to share what they have found that will help each individual’s voice be heard.

Tickets are available at Fathom Events.



Both Republican and Democratic governors need to know that minority parents with children in the public schools express similar concerns to those of non-minority parents. They, too, don’t understand why Common Core seems to assume that all children will benefit from the low academic expectations embodied in Common Core’s college-readiness standards.

A panel at the National Principals Leadership Institute (NPLI) meeting in Manhattan last Sunday was asked to focus on Common Core. As a member of the panel, I had the opportunity to explain how Common Core’s standards had failed the real equity test.

An audience filled with African American and Hispanic educators got it right away. No one had told them that Common Core’s standards don’t prepare American kids for some of the best jobs in the 21st century—STEM-related jobs. Nor had they been told that the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) leave out high school chemistry and the lab-based physics course on the grounds that they constitute “advanced work in the sciences," and that "students wishing to move into STEM fields should be encouraged to follow their interest with additional coursework" (page 5 of 11 in second section of NGSS "Front Matter").

When the panel discussion ended, one African American elementary principal rushed right up to me to talk about her bright young daughter who is a good reader. Why was her daughter, however, assumed to be unable to handle advanced mathematics and science in high school?

She and the other African American and Hispanic administrators in the audience want their children in the public schools to have the same opportunity to get into a selective college as kids whose parents can afford to hire math and science tutors to make up for the deficits in their public school curriculum—or to send them to a private school that will teach their kids what Bill Gates’ kids learn in the private school they attend in Seattle.

In a recent Washington Post interview, Gates admitted that the primary goal of the Common Core was to socially engineer the “huge problem that low-income kids get less good education than suburban kids get.” However, in attempting to make it possible for low-income and minority children to be declared “college-ready,” black and Hispanic parents see that the low-quality Common Core standards do a disservice to their academically strong and ambitious children wanting to aim for a STEM career.

These parents wonder why the writers of Common Core’s standards assume that all African American and Hispanic kids can’t get beyond community college and can’t be expected to aim for a STEM career. That is the only reason they can come up with for the absence of mathematics standards in Common Core that would prepare high school kids for the third “pathway” (the one to calculus).

Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D. is Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas.


When Will We Ever Learn?

Dr. Bertin:   What did you see as potential benefits of establishing the CCSS when you first became involved?

Dr. Moats:  I saw the confusing inconsistencies among states’ standards, the lowering of standards overall, and the poor results for our high school kids in international comparisons. I also believed that the solid consensus in reading intervention research could be reflected in standards and that we could use the CCSS to promote better instruction for kids at risk.

Dr. Bertin:  What has actually happened in its implementation?

Dr. Moats:  I never imagined when we were drafting standards in 2010 that major financial support would be funneled immediately into the development of standards-related tests. How naïve I was. The CCSS represent lofty aspirational goals for students aiming for four year, highly selective colleges. Realistically, at least half, if not the majority, of students are not going to meet those standards as written, although the students deserve to be well prepared for career and work through meaningful and rigorous education.

Our lofty standards are appropriate for the most academically able, but what are we going to do for the huge numbers of kids that are going to “fail” the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) test?  We need to create a wide range of educational choices and pathways to high school graduation, employment, and citizenship. The Europeans got this right a long time ago.

If I could take all the money going to the testing companies and reinvest it, I’d focus on the teaching profession – recruitment, pay, work conditions, rigorous and on-going training. Many of our teachers are not qualified or prepared to teach the standards we have written. It doesn’t make sense to ask kids to achieve standards that their teachers have not achieved!

Dr. Bertin:   What differences might there be for younger students versus older students encountering it for the first time?

Dr. Moats:   What is good for older students (e.g., the emphasis on text complexity, comprehension of difficult text, written composition, use of internet resources) is not necessarily good for younger students who need to acquire the basic skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Novice readers (typically through grade 3) need a stronger emphasis on the foundational skills of reading, language, and writing than on the “higher level” academic activities that depend on those foundations, until they are fluent readers.

Our CCSS guidelines, conferences, publishers’ materials, and books have turned away from critical, research-based methodologies on how to develop the basic underlying skills of literacy. Systematic, cumulative skill development and code-emphasis instruction is getting short shrift all around, even though we have consensus reports from the 1920’s onward that show it is more effective than comprehension-focused instruction.

I’m listening, but I don’t hear the words “research based” as often as I did a decade ago – and when CCSS proponents use the words, they’re usually referring to the research showing that high school kids who can’t read complex text don’t do as well in college. Basic findings of reading and literacy research, information about individual differences in reading and language ability, and explicit teaching procedures are really being lost in this shuffle.

Dr. Bertin:  What benefits have you seen or heard about so far as the CCSS has been put in place, and what difficulties?

Dr. Moats:   The standards may drive the adoption or use of more challenging and complex texts for kids to read and a wider sampling of genres. If handled right, there could be a resurgence of meaty curriculum of the “core knowledge” variety. There may be more emphasis on purposeful, teacher-directed writing. But we were making great inroads into beginning reading assessment and instruction practices between 2000-2008 that now are being cast aside in favor of “reading aloud from complex – which is not the same as teaching kids how to read on their own, accurately and fluently.

Dr.  Bertin:  What has the impact been on classroom teachers?

Dr. Moats:  Classroom teachers are confused, lacking in training and skills to implement the standards, overstressed, and the victims of misinformed directives from administrators who are not well grounded in reading research.  I’m beginning to get messages from very frustrated educators who threw out what was working in favor of a new “CCSS aligned” program, and now find that they don’t have the tools to teach kids how to read and write. Teachers are told to use “grade level” texts, for example; if half the kids are below grade level by definition, what does the teacher do? She has to decide whether to teach “the standard” or teach the kids.

Dr. Bertin:  You’ve raised concerns elsewhere that CCSS represents a compromise that does not emphasize educational research.  How do the CCSS reflect, or fail to reflect, research in reading instruction?

Dr.  Moats:   The standards obscure the critical causal relationships among components, chiefly the foundational skills and the higher level skills of comprehension that depend on fluent, accurate reading.  Foundations should be first!  The categories of the standards obscure the interdependence of decoding, spelling, and knowledge of language. The standards contain no explicit information about foundational writing skills, which are hidden in sections other than “writing”, but which are critical for competence in composition.

The standards treat the foundational language, reading, and writing skills as if they should take minimal time to teach and as if they are relatively easy to teach and to learn. They are not. The standards call for raising the difficulty of text, but many students cannot read at or above grade level, and therefore may not receive enough practice at levels that will build their fluency gradually over time.

Dr. Bertin:  How about recommendations for writing?

Dr. Moats:   We need a foundational writing skills section in the CCSS, with a much more detailed progression. We should not be requiring 3rd graders to compose on the computer. Writing in response to reading is a valuable activity, but teachers need a lot of assistance knowing what to assign, how to support writing, and how to give corrective feedback that is constructive.  Very few know how to teach kids to write a sentence, for example.

Dr. Bertin:   In an article for the International Dyslexia Association, you wrote “raising standards and expectations, without sufficient attention to known cause and remedies for reading and academic failure, and without a substantial influx of new resources to educate and support teachers, is not likely to benefit students with mild, moderate, or severe learning difficulties.”   You also mention that 34% of the population as a whole is behind academically in fourth grade, and in high poverty areas 70-80% of students are at risk for reading failure.

How does the CCSS impact children who turn out to need additional academic supports for learning disabilities, ADHD or other educational concerns?

Dr. Moats:   I have not yet seen a well-informed policy directive that addresses the needs of these populations. There are absurd directives about “universal design for learning” and endless accommodations, like reading a test aloud, to kids with learning disabilities. Why would we want to do that? The test itself is inappropriate for many kids.

Dr. Bertin:   How does it relate to concerns you have about teacher training in general?

Dr. Moats:   What little time there is for professional development is being taken up by poorly designed workshops on teaching comprehension of difficult text or getting kids to compose arguments and essays. This will not be good for the kids who need a systematic, explicit form of instruction to reach basic levels of academic competence.

I’ve been around a long time, and this feels like 1987 all over again, with different words attached to the same problems. When will we ever learn?

*             *             *

In addition to the LETRS professional development series, Dr. Moats’ books include Speech to Print: Language Essentials for Teachers (Brookes Publishing); Spelling: Development, Disability, and Instruction (Pro-Ed); Straight Talk About Reading (with Susan Hall, Contemporary Books), and Basic Facts about Dyslexia.  Dr. Moats’ awards include the prestigious Samuel T. and June L. Orton award, in 2013, from the International Dyslexia Association, for outstanding contributions to the field.



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