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who in continuing to attack those who oppose Common Core

told a group of state schools superintendents Friday that he found it “fascinating” that some of the opposition to the Common Core State Standards has come from “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.”
(the above quoted from this post at Valerie Strauss's Answer Sheet Blog)

The following appeared on the Facebook page of Gretchen Moran Laskas, whose son attends school in Fairfax County VA, and is crossposted here with her permission:

I want to share a little bit why I'm so angry at Secretary of Education's Arne Duncan's comment about "white suburban Mom's" being against Common Core because it might show us that our children aren't brilliant. It's a personal story, and I tell it because sometimes it's true that the personal really is political.

I've talked a bit about my son Brennan, and his struggles in school. This was a child he was what they call a "late bloomer. By the standards of the curriculum in place now, throughout most of his life, he was often considered a "failure" (let alone brilliant) by many people in the school system. I had a speech pathologist tell me that he would never learn to speak clearly because I hadn't enrolled him in early intervention speech before kindergarten. I had a case worker tell me to my face that I "need to accept that he isn't college material." I had a school counselor as late as eighth grade try and tell me that she was "legally barred" from putting him in honors classes. (That was a flat out lie and let's just say that was a HUGE mistake on her part.)

Now here's the thing. Brennan has every advantage you can think of. He's white. He's upper-middle class. He has hyper-involved parents. He is in one of the best school districts in the country. And most importantly, for every idiot who told me something like I mention above, he had TEN teachers, administrators, case workers, counselors and people in his life who worked 150% for him. And for that, I will be forever grateful.

But the tighter we make the noose, the more children like Brennan, who do NOT have those advantages will fall through the cracks. I don't fight the Common Core because I think my child is brilliant, but because I'm tired of these one size fits all educational solutions. We've done that all through Brennan's educational life, and I'm just not willing to take the chance that we're going to do a better job through Katja's just because it's being proposed through a Democratic President rather than a Republican one. This goes beyond politics -- this is about my kids.

So yes, I'm opposed. Not because I don't understand it. Not because I think it will make my children look bad. But because I know that children already look bad -- and by the time they might get it together and look good the way Brennan could, it might be too late.

Because Brennan is just fine, thank you. The kid who would never speak clearly just finished his role in the fall play. The kid who wasn't college material is very much going to college. And the kid who was legally barred from taking honors classes just got a 4.1 GPA this quarter while taking four IB classes. Maybe Arne Duncan should have a talk with him.

Originally posted to teacherken on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 06:25 PM PST.

Also republished by Teachers Lounge.

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  •  Tip Jar (164+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, leu2500, Sorta Randle, serendipityisabitch, dle2GA, ramara, JeffW, Jim P, psnyder, eru, CentralMass, musicsleuth, wintergreen8694, Azazello, FlyingToaster, miracle11, LakeGirl, Betty Pinson, tardis10, sturunner, TracieLynn, jeff bryant, nuclear winter solstice, tofumagoo, Kentucky DeanDemocrat, Jollie Ollie Orange, dufffbeer, Jarrayy, indubitably, Wolf10, 3goldens, cfk, science nerd, bobtmn, hwy70scientist, Orinoco, Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees, Klick2con10ue, Heart of the Rockies, Chaddiwicker, fixxit, ladybug53, JayC, Mr Robert, begone, lurkyloo, happymisanthropy, bakeneko, dotsright, Chi, winglion, worldlotus, Mostel26, Burned, cruz, coppercelt, wa ma, rustypatina, ban48, yoduuuh do or do not, LaFeminista, Tool, rapala, dannyboy1, Pat K California, Mongo1967, democracy inaction, maryabein, Matt Z, Susan S, Miniaussiefan, angelajean, koosah, triv33, Bluebirder, ChemBob, Friend of the court, Raggedy Ann, ER Doc, Captain Pants, Loudoun County Dem, wader, afisher, badscience, Temmoku, pioneer111, Sylv, Dragon5616, ord avg guy, texasmom, Hayate Yagami, gustynpip, tommymet, markdd, dRefractor, camlbacker, pixxer, thomask, rudy23, NYC Sophia, milkbone, SneakySnu, elwior, quill, grimjc, leonard145b, Cassandra Waites, lcrp, AllanTBG, Jackson L Haveck, Calamity Jean, Superskepticalman, CTDemoFarmer, roses, Danno11, Bluesee, johanus, Fonsia, anodnhajo, BeerNotWar, gulfgal98, sfarkash, kiwiheart, weck, Marko the Werelynx, white blitz, avsp, belinda ridgewood, journeyman, Tunk, Black Max, Joe Bob, vahana, Penny GC, JosephK74, Ian Reifowitz, jcrit, TiaRachel, Laurel in CA, Wisdumb, m00finsan, KJG52, WisVoter, Arahahex, slowbutsure, SteveLCo, peacestpete, cocinero, not this time, Indiana Bob, joanbrooker, LilPeach, JML9999, Laughing Vergil, Marihilda, Byron from Denver, P Carey, sillycarrot, The Sheeping of America, FloridaSNMOM, cpresley, left turn, CA Nana, Sprinkles

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 06:25:36 PM PST

  •  Thanks for the diary, Ken. (20+ / 0-)

    I saw something about his comment today and was trying to figure out who he was and why I should care what he says.


    Republicans: if they only had a heart.

    by leu2500 on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 06:34:43 PM PST

  •  Thanks Ken (8+ / 0-)

    I keep getting a petition from one of the petition sites asking that I show support for Common Core in Arizona.

    While our schools need lots of fixing, I never like the fixes proposed, even when opposed by our Governor Brewer and the congress of crazies.

    Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

    by ramara on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 06:44:22 PM PST

    •  But, you can support Common Core (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk, coral

      without supporting privatization of education.  Common Core are just standards -- and they are not bad.

      It is most of the rest of the policy that stinks.

      •  The problem is that, if I understand correctly, (10+ / 0-)

        Common Core isn't just standards; it explicitly includes the rest of the policy, which is inherently destructive.
             Standards would be fine as guidelines, but when achievement of the standards as measured by standardized testing becomes the driving force dominating everything done in the classroom, too much is lost.

        -7.25, -6.26

        We are men of action; lies do not become us.

        by ER Doc on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 06:19:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  actually there are parts that are bad (20+ / 0-)

        first, the very notion of a rigid set of material to be learned at a certain age is flawed in itself

        second, much of what is in standards is age inappropriate

        third, in the English Language Arts standards there is a bias in favor of "informative" text that distorts the traditional purpose of such classes, which should include a thorough knowledge of literature

        and that's just for starters, before we even get to the problems with the exams

        in fact, proper analysis of the data demonstrated there was no need for such standards on a national basis, that the problem was some states (MS for example) that badly shortchanged public education

        it is a poison pill approach, with a clear intent to shift public money into for profit enterprises

        "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

        by teacherken on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 07:48:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I couldn't agree with you more. (8+ / 0-)

          I have learned by way of contrast: we live in Italy and my children attend public schools. I have been so impressed with the level of elementary school teaching, precisely because of the amount of choice allowed individual teachers. There are national standards or markers that students must meet each year, but how the teacher decides to arrive at them is her or his choice. For example, children are still required to know cursive (and handwriting is a big deal here, seen as a part of cognitive development) by the second grade.  My older son's teacher decided to start teaching them cursive last year while he was in 1st grade, since many of them were already at a good point with writing. Children are however allowed to take their time and learn concepts thoroughly.  (I should note that the elementary school system is very different in a structural way here: children have the same teacher and classmates from 1st to 5th grade.)

          They are introduced to literature and history at a very early age, and English (a second language) is mandatory.  They also have art, music and theater courses.

          While the public school system is seen as left-leaning in approach, there are no popular protests against the method of teaching and subjects being taught.  I feel that my children are very lucky to have this early learning environment.

          •  although the "markers" might be different, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            historys mysteries

            Common Core is the same as what you are describing.  Individual teachers still can decide how to teach to those markers / standards.  At least in districts that actually give teachers the opportunity to do that.

            However, CYA mentality means that many districts dictate pacing guides and implementation of scripted curriculum.  That is killing public education more than the common core standards.

        •  I disagree. (0+ / 0-)

          1.  Your first argument about a "rigid set of material" is fine -- but it is an argument against any standards, not just Common Core.  I think standards (in general) are helpful as guidelines as to what is appropriate.

          2.  Age inappropriate -- not so sure about that -- I won't consider myself an expert in Common Core learning progressions, but I read these as challenging, but not inappropriate.  I bet we can find strong arguments on both sides of this one.

          3.  ELA doesn't eliminate fiction (and the classics), but it does increase the amount of non-fiction that students are exposed to.  Personally, I am happy to see that my children are reading more non-fiction in school.  As a university professor, I also see the value of helping kids learn how to "read to learn."  Reading comprehension is an incredibly valuable skill that needs to be developed across the curriculum (not just in ELA) -- and the Common Core ELA standards recognize that.

          •  Responding to your 3rd point (7+ / 0-)

            I'm also a college prof and what I'm finding in the overly pragmatic approach that emphasizes non-fiction, learning "facts" and information (as opposed to narrative) is that my students have an incredibly poor grasp on grammar and a limited vocabulary.  We can't blame everything on text messages and twitter.

            I teach art history and when I have students do presentations in class, it is hard to get them to understand the difference between offering a bullet list of facts and describing certain historical and artistic processes in a narrative.  That's where the use of logic is most in play. If the students haven't been exposed to literature, as well as commenting on literature in their own writing, then they have a hard time processing new concepts.

            •  Absolutely -- but what you are seeing in your (0+ / 0-)

              current students isn't due to Common Core.  Your current students are all pre-Common Core implementation.  However, they are a product of No Child Left Behind.  This year's Freshman class is the first that experienced nothing besides NCLB.  The drive for "facts" is a result of standardized testing, not Common Core.

              In a good implementation of CC ELA, students should be doing what you ask -- reading and evaluating literature. Writing with a variety of styles -- including argumentative writing.  Common Core ELA does try to get beyond just facts and expects students to dig deeper into what they are reading -- and what they are writing about.  It does ask that students do this both for fiction and non-fiction.  I think students can learn a ton about writing, processing information, and narrative through good non-fiction too (and not by excluding fiction).


            •  I think something that has happened inadvertently (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Laurel in CA, m00finsan, mightymouse

              in schools is that by trying to use lots of homework to accelerate all kids, that free reading time has suffered.

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:34:12 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  I support Common Core but not Duncan (7+ / 0-)

        Why do ed reformers continually bash parents, teachers, and students?

        You can't insult your way to success, although that's what ed reformers seem to be determined to do.

        Skepticism of all the elite institutions, not trust, is what required for successful leadership in this era. Digby

        by coral on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 08:58:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Race to the Top/Common Core (36+ / 0-)

    what a drag.

    In NY State we are knee deep in this stuff.

    It has parallels with Obamacare - it's not a progressive solution, and it's pushed by our Democratic administration. And Arne Duncan is much more obnoxious than Sibelius.

    In the words of Randi Weingartern, head of American Federation of Teachers, "You think the Obamacare implementation is bad? The implementation of the Common Core is far worse."

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

    What a clueless jackass. All we want is a good education for our kids, brilliant or not.

    An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

    by mightymouse on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 06:50:32 PM PST

    •  unfortunately both unions accepted Common Core (22+ / 0-)

      in principle

      at least one of the unions accepted the idea of evaluating teachers by student scores on test - in principle, although while arguing that the current tests are not good enough for that purpose

      the pushback will come from elsewhere

      -  new coalitions

      -  parents

      - superintendents

      - school boards

      -  principals

      even students

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 06:58:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  thanks for the diary Ken (0+ / 0-)

        is there a good site where one can find a good basic history of this stuff?


        An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

        by mightymouse on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 08:02:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  ESPECIALLY (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mightymouse, FloridaSNMOM


      •  And, if you understand the teacher evaluation (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk, mightymouse

        systems being used, you probably wouldn't be all that outraged by them.  It is NOT evaluating teachers on s single standardized test score.

        In general, a good teacher effectiveness model for teacher evaluation looks like this:

        50%   --  Models / Practices of Effective Teaching
        Teachers provide evidence of exhibiting traits of effective teaching (e.g. planning good instruction, building a positive classroom environment, implementing instruction, being a professional, etc.)  These are measured through supervisor observation AND a portfolio.

        50% -- Measures of Student Growth
        This includes MULTIPLE "objective" measures.  These measures often include the state adopted standardized test, district adopted assessments, school-wide factors (e.g. drop-out rates, school-wide literacy scores), and student learning goals (a set of goals set by the individual teacher and approved by the principle).  The key thing is that it is not based on a single measure AND that it focuses on a growth model -- (e.g. pre- and post- tests).

        In most cases, a similar model is also being developed for evaluating principals and other administrators.

        This model is superior to what many districts were previously doing. In many cases, a principal used whatever criteria (if any) they wanted. If anyone doubts that the evaluation system was broken, just look at Chicago -- in some years, 97% of teachers were rated in the highest category for performance.  I'm sure there are a lot of good teachers in Chicago, but 97% are exceptional?  That is an embarrassment to the profession.

        •  In practice (13+ / 0-)

          Making 50% be based on a standardized test result means that it overwhelms the rest of the rubric. The problem is that most of the variation is in that 50%.

          It's also:
          1. not the case that we're giving pre- and post- tests on the same material (in California). And if we were, there are very serious and honest questions about the effect of giving kids a pre-test on material they've never covered - it's more like a Schrödinger's Cat situation than like measuring a factory part with a ruler - the measurement changes and perhaps even damages the student.

          2. Bubble tests for kindergarten and art, as some states are now giving so that they can Measure All Teh Teacherzz! are (a) stupid and (b) not given for the benefit of the students.

          3. Judging the "quality" of the 11th grade science teacher by school-wide literacy scores is probably not valid.

          Bruce Baker at School Finance 101 writes on this extensively, with a lot of modeling and real data sets.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 07:54:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Why??? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Penny GC, mightymouse

        We get the NEA magazine, and reading it, you would think that they are the biggest booster of CC, with articles proclaiming that (based on a dubious interpretation of a dubious poll) most teachers are thrilled and excited to start teaching to the CC! You get the impression that anyone opposed to CC is either a misinformed fool and/or a grumpy old contrarian.

        I'd like to understand why the NEA leadership is so gung ho about CC. Were they somehow co-opted by the Ed Dept and reform putsch (and if so, then how are their members benefiting?)? Or are they so cowed by the pressure and bullying by reformists that they have lost their ability to criticize CC?

        "Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb

        by quill on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 08:59:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'd go the bullying route. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Teacher unions have no friends in politics right now.  As soon as they criticize, they get labeled as maintaining the status quo and protecting bad teachers.

          •  yes I agree, and that is a deliberate strategy (0+ / 0-)

            Teachers unions are one of the few remaining unions with any remaining positive power to influence the public, and I think that there has been a deliberate strategy by anti-union groups, for a number of years now, to demonize teachers and their unions so as to weaken the traditional support of public school backers, who are mostly parents of school age kids. Meanwhile from DC to your local city, even Democratic politicians and administrators have become dismissive and disparaging of teachers' voices.

            "Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb

            by quill on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 05:25:43 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  The way the standards are being interpreted (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse, left turn

      in NY seems especially ... problematic.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 07:24:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Misogynistic and classist (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      What a jerk.

  •  one size fits all (19+ / 0-)

    Ahem. Kids don't come into this world 'one size fits all' -- doesn't matter if they have all the advantages or none in their environments.

    Most teachers I know appreciate that, but their hands are tied to a certain extent by external requirements. This is a problem. Use common core or we stop spending money on your kids.

    Measuring outcomes are one thing, but one standardized approach to improvement will only help a subset of people at best. We don't even know how well this 'standardized' approach works in public schools -- and as I recall, charter and private schools are exempt!

    Stay-at-home-Moms: Hard working unless they're on welfare, then they're lazy. Just ask any Republican.

    by musicsleuth on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 07:20:02 PM PST

  •  There is that sneer again (54+ / 0-)

    That dismissive rhetorical sneer or wave-away with annoyance that told me to never, ever trust Michelle Rhee. Ever.

    Or to take anything that comes out of Ed Rendell's mouth on entitlements without a huge grain of salt for a chaser.

    Or why I don't ever want Andrew Cuomo in the White House. Or Larry Summers keeping the books or gatekeeping economic policy. Or Joe Lieberman as Secretary of Defense. Or Lanny Davis as DNC chair.

    There is something about people who deal with being challenged in good faith by sneering or arrogantly waving the annoyance away like a fly that is one of the biggest red flags when it comes to politics and public policy.

    I am a Loco-Foco. I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

    by LeftHandedMan on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 07:31:20 PM PST

    •  I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired (30+ / 0-)

      If I'm the Secretary of Education I want to know why people don't support this, I don't ever want to assume it is pique-driven at its heart.

      Maybe we need the best public school teacher in America to be the Secretary of Education, I'm betting American education would get a lot better public policy out of that experiment. Of course, since there is no failing upward involved, just rewarding being the best at what you do with a key position in overseeing the system from the top, no chance it would happen.

      God help this country if being a teacher is a McJob because people who want it to be end up determining what is possible in American education. Some things you do in this world because, even though they aren't profitable, they make the world a better place.

      Kids are not stamped out of a factory. One size doesn't fit all. The kids who get left behind are really, really expensive teens and then adults and cannot be wished away if bean counting is your main passion in life.

      I am a Loco-Foco. I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

      by LeftHandedMan on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 07:37:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I keep trying to stay hopeful, I do (16+ / 0-)

        There is a kind of strange self-loathingly suicidal streak to the Democratic Party that never ceases to amaze me. Like the Democratic brand can be undermined, or bargained away, but, no worries, because we will always have the most credibility on certain issues by default of being Democrats. Like magic. Just because. "Everybody know that..."

        Who are we listening to, as a party, when it comes to education "reform"? I see a lot of profit-driven people I would probably check to see if my wallet was still there when I left the room after meeting them to talk.

        We take the council of people who don't care if a Democrat ever wins another election ever again or ever holds a majority anywhere ever again as if they are acting in good faith way too easily. I see a sea of marching red flags behind the so-called "education reform" industrial complex.  

        If you want to undermine or abandon the foundations of what makes the Democratic Party worth a tinker's damn, you sure can go far and rise high in establishment Democratic esteem.

        'It's okay, support it, you can trust everything will be fine because it's a Democrat behind it/doing it'.

        If public education is destroyed, or undermined, even the most cynical and jaded soul we will probably be shocked at how quickly corporations take over and start making 'what kid is a profitable investment?' the baseline for privatized public policy.

        And then, later, sometimes in just a few years, or sometimes in a decade, or two or three, we have new huge national headaches and worse problems that people warned would come up, but were ignored or dismissed at the time.

        Privatized profits and socialized risks.

        We will be paying for the kids for don't make the portfolio look good. In spades.

        It's not like Movement Conservatives, or Corporatists, are going to help fix these fixes gone sideways later on. The fixes going sideways seems to be a part getting the whole system to shit the bed so they can move on in and take the taxpayers money directly from the state kitty to theirs like the greatest direct deposit check in history.

        Their answer is going to be obvious: if they break the flawed and struggling system with bad fixes total privatization is the next move and the "pro-reform" funding corporations moving on in and running what used to be public education in America directly.

        Unprofitable kids will be identified and sent packing.

        Shareholders are more important than anything else.

        I am a Loco-Foco. I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

        by LeftHandedMan on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 08:04:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  no, we need "the best public school teacher in (0+ / 0-)

        America", to be in a classroom.  Everyone in education, except  the teachers and students, should be there to support the teachers and students. That's where the education will happen, if allowed.

    •  Yeah,a smug & dismissive comment (21+ / 0-)

      dripping with sexism is definitely a turnoff.

      "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

      by tardis10 on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 07:51:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Something especially for Ms. Rhee (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And Rhee Shall Have No Dominion

      And Rhee shall have no dominion.
      Educated naked they shall be one
      With the test in the wind and the trailer room;
      When desks are picked clean and the clean desks gone,
      They shall have books at elbow and foot;
      Though they teach gladly they shall be fully trained,
      Though charter schools scream, they shall teach again;
      Though reformers be lost, teachers' passions shall not;
      And Rhee shall have no dominion.

      And Rhee shall have no dominion.
      Under TFA's cadaver, rotting and free,
      She, lying oft, shall die speedily;
      Twisting on racks when her lies give way,
      Strapped to a truth, yet she shall not take;
      Students in her hands shall snap in two,
      And the truths of her own scandals run her through;
      Split all ends up the true teachers shan’t crack;
      And Rhee shall have no dominion.

      And Rhee shall have no dominion.
      No more may failed children cry at her ears
      Or promises break loud on failed policy;
      Where played, a student may play not, no more;
      Nor take a test to a held-back score,
      Though reformers be mad and send students to jail,
      Heads of the teachers to hammer through nails;
      Break every child till the system breaks down,
      And Rhee shall have no dominion.

      My sincere and heartfelt apologies to Dylan Thomas.

  •  Arne's gonna have a lot of splaining to do. (21+ / 0-)

    Perhaps finally instead of covering Tea People's conspiracies about "government education" as they call it, they'll actually explore how CC$$ is just a front to make money for Pearson at the expense of students and teachers.  How CC$$ is completely developmentally inappropriate for children. And all that good stuff woo. ^0^

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 07:38:23 PM PST

    •  You mean corporate public ed. "suckers" do not (12+ / 0-)

      know that kindergartners filling in circles on multiple choice tests is NOT the best way to determine what a kindergartener knows?!?  Imagine that!  

      Multiple choice tests are, however, VERY much maximize-profit "vehicles" since they can be machine-scored or completed with a computer.  I have high school students who score failing grades on objective and writing exams, yet they earn almost 90% when offered the chance to verbally explain what they have learned during a unit.

      I will be retiring in a few years; I am saddened and sickened by the destruction of public education from both inside and outside forces.  So many factors work against effective teacher-push back; the first "salvo" in the fight for a return to sanity in public education must come from parents and the general public.  

      Robber Baron "ReTHUGisms": John D. Rockefeller -"The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets"; Jay Gould -"I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."

      by ranton on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 09:06:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's tough out there (31+ / 0-)

    I don't have kids, but I do work in the education industry (admissions IT, so don't talk to me about the Common Application!), and I have a close relationship with many admissions counselors.

    Also, I am a product of the education system myself, and while the years since I was enrolled are many, the memories are quite fresh, I can assure you.

    Our education system is broken, simply because there is too much money to be made from it, so all the vultures swirl around it like the carcass of some felled beast, but the prey are our the children of this country.

    I think rating teachers by test score outcomes is as horrific an idea as World War Z. It means that the really good teachers will fight to teach only the "good" students, and the rest will have to fend for themselves for what they can.

    It means that kids who do not do well testing will rarely get the experience of an excellent learning environment -- because, as the case with me, the performance segregation of students will always keep them in the cattle pen they're in until they reboot themselves and the fire is kindled that makes them "bloom" educationally.

    Equally horrific is "private" education. We really need to do whatever we can to keep public education healthy, public, and free. Not that I have anything against pre-college private educational institutions, but because it represents a classification of people based on educational opportunities.  It also siphons money away from public schools, and it allows for the circumvention of important social goals. And, it offers an opportunity (for those who can afford it) for parents, teachers, and students, to wash their hands of any problems with public education.

    I was one of the kids constantly beat up on in school, and had my hands full just trying to survive, let a lone learn. Until 10th grade when a teacher flunked me in first semester English and it was the wake up call that I needed, if I was going to go to college. Her dedication to me, and that of my Chemistry teacher changed my life.

    All kids deserve that dedication, skill in teaching, and opportunity. Now instead of worrying whether I was college material, I work at one.

    What separates us, divides us, and diminishes the human spirit.

    by equern on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 07:40:23 PM PST

    •  no. (0+ / 0-)

      "I think rating teachers by test score outcomes is as horrific an idea as World War Z. It means that the really good teachers will fight to teach only the "good" students, and the rest will have to fend for themselves for what they can."

      This is the simplistic "union" pushback against changing teacher evaluation.

      States are moving towards a "teacher effectiveness model" which include MULTIPLE measures - some of which are test scores (that use a growth / pre- post- model).

      So many teachers have bought this - you are judging me on our state standardized test score.  Now that the system is being implemented, they are starting to realize that it is much more sophisticated than that.

      Of course, now the second issue -- pay is tied to evaluation results, not just seniority.

      •  sorry, but you are not completely accurate (13+ / 0-)

        in too many models if you fail the test score portion you fail the evaluation.  That is the reality.

        What Linda Darling-Hammond has tried to do might be better, but so far, as much as I admire her, it has not been field tested to the satisfaction of many.  And then there is the fact that it is dependent upon Pearson - which is a British company, btw, and which is heavily involved also in testing and in curricular materials - for its operation.

        I see huge problems with this.

        I am far from alone.

        And your comments about unions are more than simplistic, because the top leadership of the unions has bought into far more than most of their members accept.

        "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

        by teacherken on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 07:52:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  hmm... (0+ / 0-)

          Wisconsin uses the teacher effectiveness model that I described.  So does New Jersey, New York (using the Danielson model), Indiana, Kentucky...

          I stopped looking at this point.  These states are using the Measurement of Effective Teaching study & the Danielson Framework for effective practices.

          None of these models use a simple "pass / fail" for the standardized test part.  They all include a grid that places teachers based on how they score on both measures (practice vs student outcomes).  If there are imbalances between the two scores, it should spark discussion to determine what is going on.

          In general, schools are not going to get rid of good teachers...unless the administrators are really bad.

          -- As for Pearson, I hear you loud and clear.  However, I'm not sure about the connection that you are making in regards to Teacher Effectiveness.  For example, Wisconsin uses the Danielson Model (or equivalent / district choice) and does not mandate a specific software package for tracking this.  (But, they likely will go with Smarter Balance, facilitated by Pearson).

          Or, are you referring to the EdTPA for initial licensure?  That is a different story!  It started at Stanford, got legs in California, and is now spreading across the country as a "standardized" test during student teaching prior to certification.  EdTPA is managed by Pearson.  I'm not a fan.

          •  In some instances, I believe the rubric (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Laurel in CA, FloridaSNMOM

            plus whatever laws concerning it come into play, can inadvertently force administrators to remove good teachers.

            (I believe it can also inadvertently force them to retain bad teachers.)

            Administrators can sometimes game it by reassigning students to a teacher one way or another... and that right there tells you how un-objective said scores are.

            We have seen these rubrics cause the mass firing of staff at schools where the school as a whole was above average but some subgroups were labeled "failing."

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:40:22 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  APPR is a horror show in NY (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            While 20% of the rating is state assessment scores, 20% scores on local tests and the rest classroom performance and observation- the 20% state test scores is actually 100%!
            If that 20% test score rating is below proficiency, the teacher MUST be rated ineffective no matter if he/she has a perfect rating in other areas. APPR also means constant pre and post testing in all other subjects including PE and arts to ascertain teacher local scores. Where state test scores not available in a teacher's area, ELA test scores are used for all disciplines. Thus you can have a 7th grade spanish teacher rated with ELA state scores, or a 2nd grade art teacher rated by 3rd grade ELA state scores.

        •  yes, my union comments are simplistic. (0+ / 0-)

          But, it was the message that went out clearly in Wisconsin -- that the "teacher effectiveness model" only focuses on WKCE test scores.  I still hear teachers that are surprised when they find out that isn't the case.

          The reality is, that WKCE scores (Wisconsin's standardized tests) can't be used in the evaluation of many teachers because it is only done annually for math & literacy.  Even for teachers where it can count, it only counts for a maximum of 20% of the evaluation.

          The teacher evaluation system was clearly broken.  Unfortunately, Union leaders turned a blind eye to it and didn't lead the development of an alternative model.  As a result, politicians did.

          •  I still disagree. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FloridaSNMOM, elfling, dicentra, denise b

            I fail to see the point in rating teachers by test scores, except on a minimal, long-term track record sort of way.

            How can you hold a teacher accountable for an outcome over which he or she has so VERY LITTLE control?

            The practice makes a number of assumptions that are all OBVIOUSLY erroneous:

            1) The student will always do their best on the test
            2) The parents of the students are doing what they can to support every student's outcome
            3) All students intellectual capacity is equivalent and/or capable of the material

            To me, it all just seems to be a product of our cultural obsessions with numeric rubrics. An easy way for administrators and parents to wash their hands of any responsibility for poor outcomes of the institutions and/or children. But it's the teachers and students who suffer.


            The craziest part is the attempt to quantify the unquantifiable. How do you measure love? How do you measure learning?

            It might be useful to consider that the Common Application, the organization that manages the system most 4-year higher educational institutions mandates that any institution that uses its product must perform "holistic" evaluations on applications and not solely use numeric rubrics for that purpose.

            Saying my opinion is the "party line of unions" is a cheep, and unwarranted, shot. I have no affiliation with any union or any real affiliation with the teaching profession.

            Just an honest and careful evaluation of the situation by an objective observer.

            I can see making a car mechanic responsible for the outcome of a car repair job. It baffles me how a teacher can be held immediately responsible for what happens between a child's ears!

            What separates us, divides us, and diminishes the human spirit.

            by equern on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 11:35:20 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  I got a great public education (5+ / 0-)

    despite having uninvolved parents. I had teachers in a suburban Atlanta school district in the 70's and 80's who cared and actually taught me. But it was almost in opposition to the standards and budgets of the time. Biology didn't dare mention evolution. Physics and chemistry had no budget to let us do even the most basic experiments described in our texts. So I look at Common Core and see rigorous standards without interference from certain elements of society. I don't favor charter schools or privatization but I strongly support rigorous standards.

    We should certainly support kids who struggle to keep up but we shouldn't compromise those standards just because some kids struggle.

  •  Common Core (11+ / 0-)

    I'm a teacher and I'm wondering what your concerns are with Common Core- specifically.  Common Core is NOT a one-sized fits all approach.  They are common standards, but there is no prescribed curriculum.  It gives teachers like me, finally, the ability to teach DEEPER!  Instead of rushing through content at a speed that ensures students will never remember, Common Core allows us to focus on the skills students need to succeed and focus on less more deeply.  It doesn't prescribe in any way how we teach those skills and allows us much more flexibility to serve diverse learners.  Will there be new assessments?  Yes, but they push students to think critically and not just regurgitate.  Is it going to be tougher to do well on these tests at first?  Yes. I didn't become a teacher to teach to a test.  But if I have to teach to one, I'd MUCH rather teach to these standards than the standards of the past.  

    "The truth is, the power to change this country is in your hands, not mine." - Gov. Howard Dean M.D.

    by scottforamerica on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 07:47:33 PM PST

    •  For one, states are cutting education budgets (4+ / 0-)

      that were already too low. When you mandate that those states take a hefty chunk of those budgets to perform more and more standardized testing, that means the money is being taken away from somewhere else. We are investing in testing teaching rather than teaching itself. That's a little backwards.

      •  But, that isn't Common Core Standards- (0+ / 0-)

        The standards are just standards.  Common Core just happens to be better than what many states (not all) had previously.

        Your gripe is with the policy that more testing is better.  Let's fight that.   The testing mania will continue with or without Common Core.

        With that said, the two tests developed for Common Core (Smarter Balance and PARC) are also superior to almost any other standardized test available.  They actually include performance assessments and can be used in a diagnostic manner.  So, a flawed policy is marginally better if we use Common Core & associated tests.

        •  sorry, not going to agree with your blanket (14+ / 0-)


          they are not just standards or guidelines, and far too much is age-inappropriate

          and it still bespeaks a mindset of a lockstep cohort approach, which is what has been an underlying problem with American education, in part due to the influence of Frederick Taylor, and bespeaks a mindset of structuring our schools for the convenience and efficiency of adults rather than of the learning needs of the students.

          The entire notion of Common Core locked to grade levels is precisely the notion about which Gretchen Moran Laskas is complaining, because it would not address the learning needs of her son, who as it turns out can be a very productive student, but who would have been lost in a more rigid lockstep approach.

          "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

          by teacherken on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 07:59:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  My concerns are with who writes the lessons. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra Waites, quill, FloridaSNMOM

      I would more whole-heartedly endorse Common Core if part of the push was for every lesson to be created by working public school classroom teachers.  Not by RW for-profit 'education' companies who push their own social and economic agendas on kids through problems supposedly designed to teach the actual core concepts.

      I'm all for common standard minimums as listed on the CC website.  I just want real teachers providing the curricula.

  •  Common Core Standards... (8+ / 0-)

    are less of a worry to me than the testing schemes that end up in place as part of "accountability".

    Standards in and of themselves are not bad.  The focus on process and  deep understanding of fewer standards each year (instead of glossing over lots) is a very positive part of the Common Core, particularly for mathematics.

    I know Virginia (where you taught for many years) has not adopted them.  Having taught in both Virginia and Kentucky, I can tell you that they are helping Kentucky students learn and making Kentucky teachers focus their instruction in some awesome ways.

    Because the assessment piece varies from state to state, YMMV...

    ...I am no fan of Race to the Top, though-- you will get no argument from me on that! :-)

    Our country can survive war, disease, and poverty... what it cannot do without is justice.

    by mommyof3 on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 08:05:59 PM PST

  •  Common core (22+ / 0-)

    There's nothing intrinsically bad about the Common Core idea and what the new standards include is probably an improvement. It's the implementation that's the problem - imagine: changing the entire curriculum and then giving high stakes exams in the very first year. This is either foolish or part of the plan to destroy public education by setting it up to fail. Or both. Notice the apparent glee with which Duncan responds to concerns of parents and teachers - we're gonna stick it to 'em now! listen to 'em howl!

    The comment about the white suburban moms was highly impolitic. He's said stupid things like that before - he doesn't seem like a very smart man, just a professional administrator in the vise grip of the Dunning-Kruger effect. There is a bit of truth in what he says though - everyone, including suburban moms, and school administrators, are obsessed with success and have little patience for the idea that some things are hard and take time to learn.  Like reading and math.

    Students need to be challenged and if parents and administrators demand success all the time, that is what they will get, to the detriment of learning. I saw how my daughter in "advanced math" was taught math, with routine worksheets and horrible textbooks from which rote problems were assigned. Her middle school was once short of teachers and they brought back a retired teacher who gave them a tough quiz, with problems they hadn't precisely prepared for. "Great!" I thought, finally some challenging material. The principal intervened and made the teacher apologize to the class - the parents must have gotten to him. And that was the last time she saw anything challenging. This is how we teach math - and then everyone is shocked that the students are not prepared for college level work.

    Bold at inappropriate times.

    by steep rain on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 08:30:20 PM PST

  •  wow, that is obviously not who he is talking (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


  •  I wish this very ugly comment from Duncan (15+ / 0-)

    would cause Duncan to long to spend more time with his family, but I am not optimistic.

    The idea of a common core standard is not itself bad (or good) and I know many teachers who are excited about them as the new standards.

    The testing and other stuff associated with it is separate.

    The fact... and it is a fact... that the motivation for common standards is more for the convenience of textbook publishers than for the benefit of students is troubling.

    That Arne Duncan thinks that Common Core is the MOST FREAKING IMPORTANT THING WE CAN DO TO IMPROVE EDUCATION AND WE'D BETTER DO IT RIGHT NOW in states like California that already have strong standards is just goofy. Transitioning like this costs time, and money; it's hard on students and it will necessarily damage their education somewhat as we change how we teach. One hopes it will be worth it. In an environment where we've been laying off teachers, though, it is stupid to make this transition a priority.

    The idea of a common curriculum, meant to benefit students in the long run, does not require that everyone change immediately or at once. Indeed, one might ideally pilot it in a few small states and roll it out slowly as a test. If one actually cared foremost about doing good for students, that is.

    In California, Duncan has insisted that we change to Common Core immediately... so the governor and legislature said, fine, we'll have all our students pilot the new tests that are supposed to be aligned to the new curriculum. (The new tests will not have enough data to report any scores to anyone.) Now he's having a cow about that... we won't know that schools are failing if we don't keep giving the old tests, he says.

    Nonsense. Pretend the scores are the same as they were last year and you'll pretty much nail it.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 09:36:50 PM PST

    •  I have some issues with the way Common Core is (5+ / 0-)

      being used to redefine graduation requirements.  CC is very heavily language-based and if you have any sort of English or language "deficits" in general, you will not fare well with CC in any subject, not even Math or Science.

      CC isn't a bad idea...we just need to be mindful of how we assess those standards and what we do with the data.  

      I'm writing from your neighboring state to the north, BTW.  One of the advantages smaller states like Oregon can see in CC is the power we will now gain in the textbook and curriculum markets. The 47 states switching to CC will NO LONGER be at the mercy of what the Texas Board of "Education" tells that industry to produce.    

      "Profit is a filthy word. Wherever there is profit, there is also deficit." Russell Brand

      by koosah on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 05:22:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That actually is a good point. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        koosah, AllanTBG, Cassandra Waites

        The textbook market opening up would be a good thing.  What we need to do is create a fund to pay actual classroom teachers to take the time to create and certify 'common core' lessons that teach what needs taught without pushing ideologies or social agendas like the Texas BoE has in the past.

        •  What they are really going to do (6+ / 0-)

          is to try to get us all on digital textbooks and materials, so that rather than buying them once outright, we have to pay them rent for every student every year, and pay for upgrades when they want us to pay for upgrades.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 07:23:06 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes. A lot of this. Which will be *fabulous* if (5+ / 0-)

            you live in a rural district with limited internet access and bandwidth. (snark)  We have pockets here in Oregon where people with kids are living, but no (and I mean ZERO) internet providers can reach them, even via satellite.  I'm guessing Northern California is pretty unconnected in spots as well.      

            "Profit is a filthy word. Wherever there is profit, there is also deficit." Russell Brand

            by koosah on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 07:38:30 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Indeed so (5+ / 0-)

              Our district just won an e-rate grant and we now have the best bandwidth to a school in the county... AT&T was thrilled to get that contract so that e-rate would pay for a bigger data connection to their cell tower... while they simultaneously blocked another provider from getting a USDA rural broadband grant that might have served actual homes.

              Only a small percentage of residences in our area have internet, and only a handful have what anyone would call broadband.

              Our main school district area can be reached by satellite, but we cover several households that get no cell service and are in a deep east-west valley such that satellite is not possible.

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 08:00:00 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  you mean like Deasy and the Ipads in LA? (3+ / 0-)

            while there is a valid notion for electronic materials, quite frankly there is no need for textbooks.  In fact, there is so much in the public domain and enough teachers producing their own lessons that it would be possible to use an electronic delivery system like a notebook device without having to pay ridiculous prices for electronic versions of textbooks that contain tons of stuff for which most of us have no use, cost way too much, etc.

            "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

            by teacherken on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 08:02:56 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  There is no doubt that (6+ / 0-)

              the usual suspects will try to sell us electronic textbooks.

              As to teachers assembling their own lessons: I agree it's possible but

              1. During what time in the day, exactly (for example, see this sad essay about teacher burnout:

              2. There is a lot of pressure to have all classrooms in a district using the same materials, which is harder to coordinate.

              3. The notebook devices themselves cost as much or more than textbooks over their lifespan. You have to consider not just the purchase price but annual battery replacement, breakage, IT support, etc.

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 08:07:34 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  I'll agree with you on this one- (0+ / 0-)

              I didn't use a textbook when in the classroom (HS science) and don't use one in higher ed.

              However, taking this to scale would require a huge investment in TIME for classroom teachers to design their courses.

  •  Duncan and Michelle Rhee (8+ / 0-)

    Ought to be forced to teach in a classroom in DC for five years.

    No wait, that wouldn't be fair to the kids.

    Pay the teachers better. That's one of the things we ought to be doing.

  •  George Packer "The Unraveling" (13+ / 0-)

    from NYT review of the book

    The Unwinding” begins like a horror novel, which in some regards it is. “No one can say when the unwinding began,” Mr. Packer writes, “when the coil that held Americans together in its secure and sometimes stifling grip first gave way.”

    If you were born after 1960, Mr. Packer suggests, you have spent much of your life watching structures long in place collapsing — things like farms, factories, subdivisions and public schools on the one hand, and “ways and means in Washington caucus rooms, taboos on New York trading desks” and “manners and morals everywhere” on the other.

    What has replaced them, he says, is organized money, as well as a society in which “winners win bigger than ever, floating away like bloated dirigibles, and losers have a long way to fall before they hit bottom, and sometimes they never do.”

    I added the bold.

    Collapse of institutions including schools.

    A different, innovative twist to tell the story of what has happened in the last 30 years in the USA.

    Here is the NYT book review

    His book has been nominated for a National Book award for non fiction this year. CSPAN rebroadcast an hour presentation by Packer which is excellent. Recommend it if you have the time or can put it on in the background when doing other things.


  •  "Get Out of the Way, Bitches" (5+ / 0-)

    Mr. Duncan is expressing frustration here. The mainstream is starting to resist the steamroller toward public-school privatization. An enormous amount of big money has been spent on making this happen and he won't be foiled by a bunch of mothers now.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 03:56:30 AM PST

    •  Suburban mothers who are key swing voters? (0+ / 0-)

      Education plays a big part in the way white suburban moms vote. Statistically, white suburban fathers, not so much. However, as we all know, those white suburban fathers aren't, as a group, voting Dem anyway. So why the fuck are we knocking the women who happen to hold the key votes?

  •  Anything that has to be defended (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, Back In Blue, quill

    with racial demagoguery is probably not worth defending.

  •  So now Common Core is going to make (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    icemilkcoffee, denise b

    more teachers insensitive and biased against kids that have special learning needs?  I don't get it.

    The mom and her son had to deal with a bunch of crappy teachers and counselors and also had some great teachers that were supportive of her son.  Her experiences involved a school system with a curriculum guided by "pre-Common Core."  Her experiences have nothing to do with Common Core and her comment doesn't present an argument against Common Core.

    I think Arne Duncan is a piss poor secretary of education.  I think Race to the Top is a boondoggle.  U.S. education policy from both parties isn't about fixing schools - it is about policy makers looking "tough."

    However, I don't buy most of the arguments about Common Core either.  1.) Historically, the U.S. math curriculum has been incoherent - introducing concepts to kids well before they have understood pre-requisite concepts (no sense of a learning progression).  2.) the U.S. attempts to cover many more concepts per year than any OECD country.  Our students don't learn anything in depth because we don't spend time to truly develop concepts.  Common Core Math isn't perfect, but is is better than standards in many states.

    The state for English Language Arts is similar --  Common Core ELA strongly emphasizes literacy skills (e.g. reading comprehension).  It doesn't outlaw the reading of classics, but it does ask for a balance between different genres - Students should read both fiction and nonfiction.  They should also do creative writing alongside argumentative and other styles of writing.

    Although they are common standards, they do not dictate how things are taught in the classroom -- For example, I am currently working with 5 school districts (related to science and math).  They all use Common Core Math, but there are 3 different math curricula / programs in use, with a variety of additional resources for interventions (students that need extra help).  Each district has a unique math program, but also the benefit of being able to talk across districts because they are teaching similar content (in different ways) at the same grade level.

    I am seeing positive changes happening in these school districts, driven by effective professional development related to Common Core Math & ELA.

    •  I think you have trouble reading (6+ / 0-)

      Laskas praises the teachers who helped her son not only get through but find his way and thrive

      but had he been forced in any way to be responsive to rigid standards at certain grade levels, he would not have.

      And that is unfortunately what Common Core does.  In a sense it is a doubling down of the approach by E D Hirsch and his approach of what your child should know by grade X.  Hirsch chose not to personally profit from it - his materials are owned by IIRC the Core Knowledge Foundation or something like that.

      You seem on this thread to have a bias against teachers and teachers unions, or anyone who does not agree with you on Common Core.   I think you might be more persuasive if you (a) read more accurately, and (b) dialed back the bile a bit.

      There are arguments that can be made for some degree of commonality.  However, you have not offered them, nor do they seem to be part of the brief offered by advocates/developers of Common Core, who too often rely upon misinterpretations of data on international comparisons.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 08:07:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I did read it. (0+ / 0-)

        I read it a couple of times. That's why I wrote this--

        "The mom and her son had to deal with a bunch of crappy teachers and counselors and also had some great teachers that were supportive of her son. "

        She pointed out both -- teachers that were non-supportive and teachers that were supportive.  I just don't get how she is making an argument against Common Core.

        I agree -- my comments did come off as anti union  (I honestly am not -- I was on the rotunda floor in Madison leading chants during Act 10).  Part of this is the frustration that I had that the Unions were not pro-active early enough regarding teacher evaluation.  That put unions in a place that was hard to defend.

        Don't ever think that I am anti-teacher.  The vast majority of teachers that I know are hard working and compassionate.  My professional life is focused on supporting teachers and the work that they do.  Although I am not in the K-12 classroom anymore, I identify myself as a teacher.

        However, I am frustrated by some of the backlash against Common Core.  I don't think the standards are perfect, but I also don't think they are bad.  Same thing with "teacher effectiveness" models for teacher evaluation.  However, I try very hard to separate those pieces from the prevailing policy of rampant testing & privatization -- I'll fight against those.

        If I came off as having too much bile it is because I am frustrated -- the anti-Common Core movement in Wisconsin (which is completely Tea Party driven) is not just getting in the way of progress, but is also derailing many positive things that were happening over the past 12-18 months in WI.  It has driven horrible morale in K-12 (and higher ed) even lower.

        ...and, that Tea Party movement was birthed by Arne Duncan's inclusion of Common Core in the Race to the Top application.

      •  I'll add this about policy and international (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:


        One -- when I get in a heated policy discussion with my right leaning neighbors (on all sides...), I ask them to point out a failing school in a suburban ares.  They can't.  There are none. Perhaps it will eventually sink in that the policy isn't addressing the issues.  There are a lot of good teachers in urban (and rural) schools -- many of the best.  But, issues related to poverty are not fixed by more testing.  We all agree on that.

        Two -- A quote from Darling Hammond's book (A flat world) -- sticks with me & enters into many of my arguments.  We love to compare ourselves to other countries, but only on outcomes -- we never want to look at the culture and systems that create those outcomes. The biggest piece --   We want our teachers to work miracles, differentiate for every kid, hone their craft, continually participate in professional development, master every new initiative that ASCD can publish, etc.  However, (per Darling-Hammond) the average "face time" with students in OECD countries is around 850 hours per year.  In the U.S. it is over 1100.  Teachers in the U.S. do not have a work schedule that provides the time they need to work the miracles that we want from them.

        •  The most obvious way to improve our outcomes (0+ / 0-)

          is to ensure all our schools have demographics with less than 10% of kids below the poverty line.

          The problem for us is that 25% of our kids are below the poverty line.

          Raising the minimum wage and ensuring everyone had paid leave would probably do more to improve school outcomes than any of the 'education reforms' proposed. ACA may be very helpful also.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 01:47:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Is the issue with common core really? (0+ / 0-)

    The challenge with standards as that they fail to capture all of the unique an interesting things that fall outside the 99.5% "confidence interval."

    Does that make them bad?

    Standards have allowed us to accomplish many worthy objectives, and I have seen them here advocated for many - a - progressive agenda (e.g. minimum standards on health care insurance policies).

    Standards will not accomplish everything we hope to achieve from our education system. But would we be better off without them. I am highly dubious.

    •  good point - I'm glad we have standards for (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN

      food quality and buildings!

      Building code standards sure haven't led to a "one-size-fits-all" housing market.  Food preparation standards haven't led to the elimination of pizza.

    •  on standards (6+ / 0-)

      This commenter at the WaPo article on this topic said it all:

      "11/16/2013 7:44 PM EST
      And for the record, I don't give a rat's backside if my children are "globally competitive." I want them to grow up to be complete, well-rounded, well-adjusted people who are able to make enough money to live on (and then some, if possible) and contribute to society in positive ways. I want them to be happy. And I think the odds are pretty good that they can do those things without unrealistic standards written by people who aren't even teachers, and funded primarily by private interests who do NOT have my children's best interests first and foremost. I think they would stand an even better chance with an actual EDUCATOR in the position Arne Duncan now occupies."

      •  I think that's contradictory. (0+ / 0-)
        And for the record, I don't give a rat's backside if my children are "globally competitive." I want them to grow up to be complete, well-rounded, well-adjusted people who are able to make enough money to live on
        I'm pretty sure 'globally competitive' means 'able to make enough money to live on'.
        •  actually, no it does not (7+ / 0-)

          properly deconstructed it means greater profits for corporate interests owned by certain Americans.

          "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

          by teacherken on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 08:08:43 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, sure, that's what the capitalists want, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            but I'd certainly like to be able to earn enough to live on.

            That's why I got as much education as I have.  It doesn't seem to be working though.  Education != employment.

            If I want to start earning, I might have to go global and leave America behind.

          •  actually, I want my students to have an (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            denise b

            education that keeps doors open for them to pursue their interests.  Unfortunately, that isn't happening with NCLB (pre- Common Core).  

            My kids (elementary school age) already hate math.  If they avoid it as a result, doors are closed to LOTS of rewarding careers.

            My kids have almost no exposure to science, research shows that if they are not thinking about a science related career by grade 5, they may never think about it.  That scares me.  (For what it is worth, they actually get more art and music than science -- simply because art and music are "specials" that have specific scheduled time.  Science and Social Studies are often the subjects that get cut when time runs short.)

            Standards like Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards  won't solve this problem, but they do outline a robust and balanced curriculum.

    •  Classic branding strategy (14+ / 0-)

      By calling it "common core" and pretending that learning is a "standard" commodity, a narrative is constructed which suggests that children can be educated by simply applying a pedagogical system from on high.

      I don't have a problem with the stated aims of Common Core, but as a parent of grade school kids I can see that Common Core is being used as cover for attaining political aims that have nothing to do with learning. Most destructive is the push for earlier and earlier standardized testing, with Kindergartners in some localities famously being required to spend an hour filling in circles, in advance of their known developmental abilities. I hate that my older daughter's education boils down to how she performed on tests in the 4th and 7th grade.

      Arne Duncan clearly did not receive the sensitivity training required to fulfill his job function. Sniping at parents who are relying on him to do his best for their kids is preposterously immature.

  •  No Child Failed for Profit! (4+ / 0-)

    I am an educator who loves his job and the children I interact with and help. The simple fact of the matter is that the basic idea of common core is great, but the true purpose is another nail the profiteers are trying to shove into the heart of public education.

    The rallying cry for all supporters of public education should be is: No Child Failed for Profit! lets use their language against them.

    The test companies are owned by companies that also own media companies too. Hence why not too many parents and voters know that the testing companies make money not just on the tests, but on the test preps and the review materials too. This is not just crazy, it is wrong.

    My solution is to have esteemed educators and supporters of public education get together and create their own standardized test that is free to deliver and test so to remove the monied interests out of education. Then use their own language against them. " Why is your governor spending your tax money on tests that can be given for free?" "Why are test companies making money by failing your children?"

    We could also get famous people who support education but did poorly in school produce ads that show their support. " Hi my name is x, I consider myself very successful, but I wasnt always. In highschool I did poorly on tests and exams. If I was a student today, the Y test would have shown me to be a failure and I do not think I would be as successful as I am today if that were the case. However, Mrs. W saw my potential and pushed me to succeed in other areas. I am X, Tests are just a tool as such just say no to Children failed for profit!

  •  I wonder if Duncan realizes that the majority (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, m00finsan

    of the pushback is simply because of him and his policy decision.

    Attacks on Common Core were not in the mainstream a year ago.  Mostly, folks on the left were against it.  Almost everyone else that new it existed was for it or ambivalent.

    Apparently, Duncan didn't realize that anything that Obama supports becomes a rallying point for Tea Partiers.  In a not-so-brilliant move, Duncan included Common Core in the Race to the Top application...instead of preserving state rights by stating, "College and Career Ready" standards.  Since 46 states had already adopted Common Core, there was NO REASON to do this.  But, he did.

    Of course, that led to attacks from Glen Beck, followed quickly by Tea Party rallies against ObamaCore.  It now is an unholy Federal intrusion on state rights...even though the effort was led by Governors and top school officials from the States...not the Feds.

    Duncan brought the backlash by being politically stupid.

    •  but it's not just the teabaggers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Many states signed on to common core, but it is just now being implemented and that's the reason for the current backlash, which has nothing to do with tea partiers.

      These problems started with Bush's NCLB and were compounded by Arne Duncan/Obama's Race to the Top.   Education isn't a race and in the words of one of the respondents to the article in the WaPo on this topic: "(This white suburban mom doesn't) give a rat's backside if my children are "globally competitive." I want them to grow up to be complete, well-rounded, well-adjusted people who are able to make enough money to live on (and then some, if possible) and contribute to society in positive ways."  

      It's not the baggers, but all moms and dads who have kids in public schools who are getting sick and tired of these policies.

      •  no. Almost no one was talking about Common Core. (0+ / 0-)

        When the Tea Partiers started fighting it, the media grabbed on to the story that "both sides are against it."  It is rolling from that.

        •  That is completely backwards. The left took (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          marina, dicentra, m00finsan

          issue with it from the get go; tea partiers followed later. Diane Ravich has been a vocal opponent far before the tea partiers.

          •  But it had no traction. look at where criticism (0+ / 0-)

            is having an impact.  It is in states with republican / tea party state legislatures.  Politicians on both sides of the aisle were fine with Common Core until Tea Partiers labeled it Obamacore.

            I fully realize that there were criticisms coming from the left as soon as they were released.  But, those criticisms were continually ignored by legislators and the general public.  It would have stayed that way -- the "liberal fringe protecting the status quo," "Unions blocking progress, etc."

            •  That was my point (0+ / 0-)

              It had no traction until now because it's only now being implemented and people on both sides of the aisle are getting a full taste of it, and they don't like it.  The people who always hated it, on both sides of the aisle, always hated it.  It has nothing to do with baggers and media attention.

              •  I don't think we disagree- (0+ / 0-)

                I know that there were folks on both sides that always hated it (probably not as many on the right) and lots that didn't care.

                But it didn't get traction at the political level until the Tea Baggers got involved.  Tea Baggers got involved because of Duncan's decision to include it in the criteria for RttT.

                •  This is where we disagree (0+ / 0-)

                  "But it didn't get traction at the political level until the Tea Baggers got involved.  Tea Baggers got involved because of Duncan's decision to include it in the criteria for RttT."

                  I don't think the baggers had any influence at this point more than anyone else against it.   If anything, I think it got traction at the political level more recently when it went into effect.  This is what Duncan's "white suburban moms" tirade is all about.

    •  I have to agree that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TiaRachel, m00finsan, sillycarrot

      Duncan has been so tone-deaf and dogmatic that he's made a lot of unnecessary enemies and created a lot of anger among educators and parents.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 08:02:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  How Our Public Schools Became a "Communist Threat" (4+ / 0-)

    How Our Public Schools Became a "Communist Threat"

    The "starve the beast" mentality allows the privatizers to claim that our "Soviet-style" schools don't work, and that a business approach must be used instead. Philanthropists like Bill Gates and Eli Broad and Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch and the Walton family, who have little educational experience among them, and who have little accountability to the public, are promoting "education reform" with lots of standardized testing.

    But according to the National Research Council, "The tests that are typically used to measure performance in education fall short of providing a complete measure of desired educational outcomes in many ways." Diane Ravitch notes that the test-based Common Core standards were developed by a Gates-funded organization with almost no public input. Desperate states had to adopt the standards to get funding.

  •  red herring (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Temmoku, icemilkcoffee, bruns

    i don't mean to belittle Laskas' story or her son's hardships at all, but nothing in her facebook post has anything to do with common core.

    at all.

    all of the problems she describes are past problems, dealing with her school district before it began to implement common core. i'm not here as a defender of common core necessarily, but i think it's a distraction and a detraction to the debate over common core.

    my kids go to public school in maryland in one of the schools that arne duncan broadly paints as not as well performing as many of my neighbors think. since i work from home, i get a lot of opportunities to be involved in my kids' classrooms, which also means i get to interact a lot with their classmates' parents.

    who are these parents? yes, they are upper middle class white (and asian) moms who are up in arms about common core. they see it as taking away from the schools' history of accelerated instruction and testing regimens that kept the school district's rankings high. but those accelerated programs, it turned out, were effective for high scores on standardized tests but not so much for actual learning as basics were skipped.

    many of these parents didn't pay attention to their kids' actual school work or progress, to the point that out-of-school activities were sometimes taking precedence. it's a big issue right now in montgomery county, maryland, where they are looking at pushing back high school start times ("bell times" in the education argot), but are getting considerable resistance from parents who don't care if their kids are sleeping through chemistry or english, so long as school gets out at 2 or 2.30pm so their kids can play lacrosse, learn music, or have after-school tutoring.

    in other words, arne duncan is right about his white suburban moms, who outnumber Laskas at least ten to one.

    i know i've had my share of fights with school districts and their occasionally irrational policies. my oldest child was placed in ESL because i mistakenly indicated that he spoke a second language at home in addition to english, which got him stuck with a mandatory english test that he "failed" because he was shy. i knew exactly why the school, which had a sizable hispanic population, wanted him in ESL - he would easily "pass" and boost their ESL-to-english transition score. it took a few months, with lots of meetings with administrators, to get him back into his regular class.  

    i'm sure my son's school would have done this today, with common core, just as easily as they did it then. and i'm pretty sure that Laskas' son's schools could just as easily have tried the same things today, under common core, that they did back then.

    but let's not equate common core with the boogeyman, and link it with all of the many past and present failings of public education.

    freedom isn't free, but it isn't dumb either.

    by astro on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 06:39:32 AM PST

    •  Common Core suffers from the same problems (0+ / 0-)

      all the other "miracle" ideas suffer from.

      Somehow a new "name" or "method" is going to change things.

      If that is all it took then shit would be candy.

      Teachers will still teach and students will still learn and schools will still socially promote and parents will still expect miracles.

      Learning begins at home and children will learn what they want and when they want....calling a curriculum "Common Core" in an effort to make sure everyone learns the same thing at the same time is not going to work any better than any other program has done. Let's face it, children and people learn and remember what they want. If they want to believe that the President was born in Kenya, that is what they will remember. If they want to believe that Intelligent Design is fundamental, they will whether it is taught in school or not.

      And Arne is an ass for making money for education off student loans...but that is a different story.

      Character is what you are in the dark. Emilio Lizardo in Buckaroo Bonzai

      by Temmoku on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 06:58:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think you miss the thrust of her piece (6+ / 0-)

      the underlying flaw in American education is the insistence upon a cohort approach to education.  That is convenient for adults, but ill serves kids who are different, who are outliers in many ways.

      Common Core is the worst kind of doubling down on the cohort approach, and would take away from teachers the flexibility they had to meet the needs of her son.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 08:11:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  how would it take away that flexibility? (0+ / 0-)

        that's the question. Laskas doesn't say. if her comments are to contribute to the debate over common core, she needs to specify what will be taken away.

        otherwise, she's criticizing a new education policy strictly by reference to the failings of the prior policy. it's like criticizing the constitution by pointing to the flaws in the articles of confederation.

        freedom isn't free, but it isn't dumb either.

        by astro on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 02:46:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Probably, but now we're jumping through hoops (0+ / 0-)

      for a new "solution" with anecdotal success in some places.

      The priest said, "Today's sermon is called 'Liars', but first I have a question. How many of you have read Chapter 66 in Matthew?" Nearly every hand went up. "You're just the group I need to speak to," the priest said. "There's no such chapter."

      by Back In Blue on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 10:41:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What sort of parents (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, Laurel in CA

    does he expect to criticize Common Core? And why is it so difficult to brook criticism? Engaged parents who have the economic freedom to apply their focus to how the schools they rely on work are the potential solution, and should never be regarded as somehow part of the problem. It's quite shocking that he would invoke race in this way. Certainly had he made a comment about the supposed propensities of non-white parents we would be reading about his resignation about now.

  •  From assessing to judging children (12+ / 0-)

    Adults need to be very very careful when they choose to tell a child, through testing way above minimum standards, or explicitly as Duncan has here, that they aren't "brilliant." This is dripping with so much contempt for children, White or otherwise , that it sort of makes me sick. I'm a Black suburban Mom and my Kindergartner has been subjected to standardized testing that included reading comprehension, probability and statistics, and algebra. And he had been in school all of 2 months. Why in the world would these people think that we should just sit back while they set our kids up for personal and collective failure.  And when we call for reevaluation, we are told that we're just scared that our kids are stupid?  I am in agreement with early learning experts that Developmentally Appropriate goals come first.  First they trashed cursive writing be because they were too busy, and now I suspect they are trashing penmanship altogether, not understanding where motor skills come into play because you certainly can't test motor skills on a scan tron.

  •  It's another intervention (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, SneakySnu, Indiana Bob sabotage the image of public schools and justify taking away additional money from them and justify closing them and diverting that money to private operators through private charter schools, or indirectly to private operators through public charter scheols that must lease facilities from private operators, or through harebrained internet education ideas.

    There is the need for a common core of cotent just like the common core of the common schools that were promoted a century and a half ago.   But Common Core is not that vision.

    Arne Duncan is just wrong and his comments just amount to another version of his buddy Rahm Emanuel's slur against critics as being "retarded".

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 07:29:55 AM PST

  •  What an elitist prick... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Indiana Bob

    some sensibility for dealing with education for children. No wonder rollout of Common Core is such a mess...just like the rollout of ACA. Does anyone in that administration have a clue?

  •  "Tighten the noose", that's exactly (4+ / 0-)

    Right!  What made the difference for Brennan?  Not higher standards, but a team of teachers, staff, and parents committed to helping him achieve everything he is capable of.
    What happens when you choose a one-size-fits-all standard and demand that ALL students, regardless of ability or circumstance, meet that standard?  More kids fall through the cracks.  More kids are regarded as hopeless.  More kids learn that school means a daily cruel demand that they reach goals that they are simply not equipped to reach, whether by lack of resources, lack of help, or lack of ability. More kids learn to see themselves as inadequate, inferior.  MORE KIDS LEARN TO HATE SCHOOL.
    Nobody is asking that the bar be lowered, or anyone be held back because others need more help, or time.  We're asking that resources be devoted to engaging and supporting each student to reach THEIR highest potential, not someone else's.
    If you "normalize" higher standards for all students, you will be "normalizing" failure for more students.
    Common core is just another demand that Teachers and Students do more with less.

  •  Arne's war on women & children (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Back In Blue, TiaRachel, Indiana Bob

    Has anyone noticed that Arne, Chris Christie & his friends in the global investor class have a problem with women? Arne's education initiatives (of which both political parties embrace) have had a disproportionate effect on a profession that employs 3/4 more women than men. It's Arne's War on Women. Jersey Jazzman started calculating the numbers last year here when Christie openly bullied women teachers.

    Here's an example of Christie (the MSM's 'republican moderate') bullying a female teacher

    Diane Ravitch had is exactly correct when she included Arne in the Billionaire Boy's Club. This Boy's Club just doesn't get that when OUR children are being harmed, women are the first to protest and will not tolerate being dismissed by the boy's club.

  •  Well he has a point. "First they came for the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    inner city, but I did not live in the inner city.  Then they came for the rural counties, but I did not live in the sticks.  And then they came for me, and no on cared..."

    But she has the better point. Common core is awful.  You have 3rd grade students freaking out over test taking.  People pushing this program believe students all learn in the same one size fits all box.  But that isn't true.  America is losing its creativity - no music, no art, less history and reading - more drills.  This is what happens when you have an elite, homogenic few dictating standards to everyone else.  

    It seems like the main goal of common core is to save money, which shows how much Americans really care about their kids educations (at least those in charge...).  

    •  That wasn't Arne's point. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      But you're right, that is what is happening and it's always about money.

      The priest said, "Today's sermon is called 'Liars', but first I have a question. How many of you have read Chapter 66 in Matthew?" Nearly every hand went up. "You're just the group I need to speak to," the priest said. "There's no such chapter."

      by Back In Blue on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 10:46:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A bit of gold, this: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jarrayy, m00finsan, sillycarrot
    being proposed through a Democratic President rather than a Republican one
    And there you have it.  The same policies don't have different outcomes because of a partisan label.

    Arne Duncan, you say?  Why, he's an appointment of a Democratic President, correct?  

    No Child Left Behind (R) has been re-branded Race To The Top (D).  The policy of attacking the educational system, its teachers, and pushing for continued privatization for the benefit of the Predator 1% continues.

    Waking Up Yet?  Had Enough?

    The 1% are Purists: They only support Candidates that Deliver Results They Can Bank On. Don't they know they should compromise? /sarcasm

    by Johnathan Ivan on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:35:13 AM PST

    •  Some call him Margaret Spelling in drag (0+ / 0-)

      Not that there is anything wrong with dressing in drag, of course.

      To the NSA douchebag who is reading this: "Those who give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

      by Indiana Bob on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 12:17:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Common core is fine (0+ / 0-)

    As long as we support teacher development, support students including those with other learning styles, explain to parents, get rid of "teach to the test", and minimize bureaucratic interference. And make it a floor, not a ceiling, or (to mix metaphors) a straitjacket.

    It more or less boils down to--at least by intention--"Let's identify what was good about the way we used to do things, and what's good about the way things have changed, and then make sure that's most of what gets done."

    •  so a non-democratic process (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Back In Blue, m00finsan, Indiana Bob

      that produces something to be imposed from the top, quite possibly illegally by use of federal dollars in a time of financial stress in states and local governments is fine?

      Sorry, but I start with how the Common Core was produced.

      Allow me to violate Godwin somewhat.  Would you have trouble using science developed by NAZI doctors in the camps?

      No, it is not equivalent, I am not saying that.

      But I start with this -  schools in a democracy should be governed by a democratic process, and the production of Common Core was about as non-democratic a process as you can imagine.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 10:25:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is where you are wrong. (0+ / 0-)

        Common Core was not a "non-democtratic process."  

        The Common Core State Standards was an initiative by Governors at the state level and adopted by individual states through their standards adoption process.  It wasn't until AFTER states adopted that that DOE jumped on board by adding it as one criteria for Race to the Top.  States could have screamed bloody murder at this point, but most didn't because they had already adopted Common Core.

        •  no, it was not an initiative by the Governors (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          they signed on to it, but it was not something that was brainstormed by governors, but was offered to them as an idea.

          It actually came from the council of chief state school officers, with a lot of push from Gates and from some other organizations, who dominated the writing and funded the process.  

          As for adoption, all that was necessary was two signatures -  Governor and chief state school officer.   At least from the standpoint of the Common Core itself.

          Some states the governors chose to use a more extensive process, but it was not required.

          And since no Governor had run on a platform of adopting the Common Core, it remains undemocratic - it is something that was not debated before the public nor was the public given any chance to input.

          Oh, and since the real push was Race to the Top which required a commitment to Common Core, signed by Governor and chief education officer, which then meant the state had legally committed in return for the federal funds, we have the further fact that the provisions of Race to the Top were never vetted even through the relevant Congressional committees -  it was done through loose authority granted under the ARRA (stimulus), and there was strong objection from the Congress.

          When in an attempt to fund keeping schools open by offsetting the cost with a portion of the unspent funds from Race to the Top was put into appropriations by David Obey, then chairing House Appropriations, and that provision was supported by the entire Democratic leadership of the House and most of the Democratic members of the House Committee, Duncan recommended the President threaten to veto the entire bill if any money was removed from RttT

          I'm sorry, but nothing about either the design or the adoption of Common Core was democratic.

          "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

          by teacherken on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 02:00:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Has there been any trial run for Common Core? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    icemilkcoffee, Indiana Bob, elfling

    I see no evidence there has been.  Just another round of standards written by people who aren't teaching (if they ever did) that involves far more people who have profit motives and political motives than anything else.

    Yet, we are plowing ahead with another untested mandate.  This is folly and a huge waste of money for the school districts.

    And this could all be predicted without even evaluating the merits of the standards.

    The priest said, "Today's sermon is called 'Liars', but first I have a question. How many of you have read Chapter 66 in Matthew?" Nearly every hand went up. "You're just the group I need to speak to," the priest said. "There's no such chapter."

    by Back In Blue on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 10:52:28 AM PST

    •  there has not (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Back In Blue

      and the tests in NY, on material that in many cases had not yet been taught, is a further example of how things have not been properly piloted

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 01:53:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks. (0+ / 0-)

        The priest said, "Today's sermon is called 'Liars', but first I have a question. How many of you have read Chapter 66 in Matthew?" Nearly every hand went up. "You're just the group I need to speak to," the priest said. "There's no such chapter."

        by Back In Blue on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 02:17:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  “fascinating” “fascinating”! (0+ / 0-)

    Arrogant smug schmuck........

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 11:50:15 AM PST

  •  Standardized testing drives the whole mess. (0+ / 0-)

    The massive slow-motion educational disaster we are experiencing has followed from one appalling decision: putting standardized testing at the heart of educational policy. This began innocently enough, with the proposition that we all want every child to have access to a first-rate education. Then the accountability advocates, aided and abetted by the for-profit testing industry, made standardized testing at fixed grade levels the primary metric for whether schools are delivering as promised. This decision led to a cascade of predictably bad policy mandates at all levels (federal, state, school district, school, and classroom). To meet the standardized testing mandate:

    1. You need a standardized curriculum at each grade level. Schools and teachers can’t slow it down, speed it up, or change the order without risking their funding or jobs.

    2. The standards have to focus on testable elements. You can’t include untestable elements like critical thinking, breadth of reading, engagement in the local community, cursive writing, learning to sing together, writing a poem, or finding alternative ways to do a math problem.

    3. A modified Gresham’s law takes over: testable material proliferates and drives out untestable but vital material. The curriculum degenerates into modules and worksheets.

    4. Teachers are forced to adapt or leave. The lucky ones with tenure, in districts that can afford to care about children and real learning, still have to watch out for the Test Police and prepare their kids for evaluation.

    5. Parents who care about learning face ever-more-daunting obstacles - now including snide remarks from Arne Duncan - to helping their children survive in Worksheet World and go beyond it. Not everyone has the time or skills to compensate for what has happened to the schools.

    6. And the children who do well at the annual testing mistake this for being educated, while those who do poorly are marked as problems, threats to the teacher and the school.

    Arne Duncan is dangerously ignorant about teaching, teachers, children, and, it would seem, parents. Surely we can nominate someone better to replace him? Names, people??

  •  Another amazing letter from a LI WSM... (0+ / 0-)

    Sharing this amazing letter from Ali Gordon- white suburban mom and Comsewogue BOE member, Port Jefferson Station, LI, NY.
    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 of 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%- 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.

    Ali Gordon

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