Monday, April 29, 2013

To The Obama Administration, EVERYTHING Is A "Civil Rights Issue Of Our Generation"

First, it was broadband connections.

From the FCC website:

"Closing the digital divide isn’t just an economic issue, it’s one of the great civil rights challenges of our time. Broadband can be the great equalizer."

NAACP even said,
"The thought of civil rights often brings to mind images of historic marches and boycotts. A generation ago, such undertakings brought attention to unequal treatment, encouraging action among those who could work to promote equality.
In the age of information, inequality doesn’t look the same as it did in the 20th century. Today’s civil rights challenges include digital inequality."

Then we heard from Arne Duncan that EDUCATION was the great "civil rights issue of our generation."

"Improving education is not just a moral obligation of society, it is not just an economic imperative. It's the
Today, it's amnesty    immigration reform.
Eric Holder spoke last week to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and said,
“Creating a pathway to earned citizenship is a critical element of any comprehensive immigration reform plan....Establishing legal status for the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants is a matter of civil and human rights."

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bill Gates Donated $250k To Help Arizona Write Their RTTT Grant In 2009

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which handpicked 15 states for $250,000 each in funding to help them prepare their Race to the Top Fund applications, is going to offer assistance to the remaining 35 states—if they meet eight education reform criteria.

The memo sent by Vicki Phillips outlining the criteria for the funds was sent to the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

These were the same two groups that Jan Brewer and former State Superintendent Tom Horne were participants.  The two groups who the Obama Administration and Arne Duncan NEEDED to make the Common Core push appear to be "state-led."

The foundation's initial Chosen 15 were: Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas.

However, Texas never applied.

The Gates Foundation stated that "these states will be targets for further foundation investment provided they continue to follow through on these commitments."

These commitments include:

1. Has your state signed the MOA regarding the Common Core Standards currently being developed by NGA/CCSSO? [Answer must be “yes”]

2. Does your state plan to adopt the common core standards by June 2010 (as currently referenced in the draft RTT guidance)? [Answer must be “yes”]

3. Demonstrate how your state plans to adopt/prioritize the common core standards currently being developed by NGA/CCSSO? [Answers will be scrutinized to assess commitment and viability]

4. Does your state offer an alternative route(s) to teacher certification? [Answer must be “yes”]

5. Does your state grant teacher tenure in fewer than three years? [Answer must be “no” or the state should be able to demonstrate a plan to set a higher bar for tenure]

6. Does your state have policies or grant programs (e.g., TIF grant) in place that encourage the placement of the most effective teachers in schools with most disadvantaged kids ( campuses undergoing state/fed accountability intervention) [Answer must be “yes” or state must demonstrate commitment and/or plans to put policies in place]

7. Does state have at least six of the DQC’s 10 essential data elements? (Required six: unique student identifier, teacher-student link, student level enrollment data, graduation and dropout data.)

8. Does your state have policies that prohibit the linkage and/or usage of student achievement data in teacher evaluations?

You really CAN buy anything in this world with money.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Sample Of What "Informational Text" Students Will Use With Common Core

We found a youtube channel for an organization called the Teaching Channel.  It is a "non profit" that has put out videos to help market the new Common Core curriculum.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have donated over $11M to the Teaching Channel since 2011.

Let's take a look at a few of the sample subjects such as the 10th grade topic of European Imperialism in Africa.  Sample text for the project came from an "eye witness book on Africa," an essay by 16th century social reformer (anti-imperialist) Bartolome de las Casas, and excerpts from a novel called "Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe (another anti-colonialist) all of which are recommended as standard text in the Common Core appendix.

Sound a little one-sided? 

As we know, the Common Core Standards will now include about 70% of "informational text" in the curriculum.  By "informational text" we mean one-sided text which will be presented as "fact."  Then, students can participate in panels such as this one with their new-found knowledge of evils of imperialism and colonialism:

Teaching Consultant, Jennifer Apodaca critiqued the teacher's performance and said,

"I think the facts were there, but I think it could have been much more specific.....Maybe you want to say, 'Use these sources.' So, maybe you have to specify like 'You MUST use information from the following documents....' "

Well, now that doesn't sound like it encourages critical thinking.

Another video explains that "What you have to be able to do is show that you can argue based on evidence and show that you can convey complex information clearly."

As you watch the videos, try not to focus too much on the number of misspelled words on the student's papers. Spelling isn't important because kids will always have spell check as a crutch....

The teacher in the above video poses a question to the students about the informational text they read, "How do you know what he is saying is real or not?"

Because.  The informational text is from the New York Times.

This information will certainly prepare students for college and career readiness.

As the teacher said, "There are various sources.  Some are reliable and some are not.  They need to be able to independently determine that."

Of course, the sources that the CCSS recommends will be reliable.

Teachers are encouraged to incorporate the ELA CCSS into other classes such as Social Studies, History, Science and Technical Subjects.  In the following video, the English teacher collaborated with a science teacher who selected articles and text for the students who were to write a persuasive essay on natural disasters.  And by an essay on natural disasters we really mean, whether or not the United States should provide foreign aid to countries that have experienced a disaster.

Enjoy these other snippets of Common Core lessons put together by the Bill Gates funded Teaching Channel...

Like this English class lesson on child marriage in Afghanistan and learning to feel badly that their median income is $800/year while it is over $40k in the United States without pointing out the reasons why.

Or the fact that there is global warming    climate change...

and more climate change.....

Well, at least these 4th graders are learning the three "R"s......

Ok.  Not Reading, Writing and 'Rithmatic but "Revolution" "Reaction" and "Reform."

THAT'S going to make them college and career ready for sure.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

So You Think You Will Be Able To "Opt Out" Of The Common Core Assessments?

Think again.

According to the State Director of the Arizona Board of Education, Vince Yanez, by 2017 the PARCC assessment grade will be incorporated into the students final grade.  Parents will not be able to opt their child out of the assessment without it affecting up to half of their final grade which essentially means, the child will fail the course.


The plan:

And for a little comic relief, here's Ms. Stacey Morley again from the Policy Development & Government Affairs Office at the Arizona Department of Education testifying before the Education Committee about how the tests will be graded...

Ms. Morley joked that when she was in law school, her professor

"was like, 'You don't want me to grade more than five blue books a day.' "

Monday, April 1, 2013

Even Experts Don't Agree With The CCSS

Ze'ev Wurman is a former official in the U.S. Department of Education who is one of several experts who have admitted their concerns about the "rigorous" Common Core Standards.

He said,

The enrollment requirements of four-year state colleges overwhelmingly consist of at least three years of high school mathematics including algebra 1, algebra 2, and geometry, or beyond. Yet Common Core’s “college readiness” definition omits content typically considered part of algebra 2…they do not expect algebra to be taught in grade 8 and instead defer it to high school, reversing the most significant change in mathematics education in America in the last decade, supported by the 2008 recommendations of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, and contrary to the practice of our international competitors.

Another review of the CCSS came from the Dean of the University of Pennsylvaina's Graduate School of Education, Andrew Porter and his colleagues who concluded:

Those who hope that the Common Core standards represent greater focus for U.S. education will be disappointed by our answers. Only one of our criteria for measuring focus found that the Common Core standards are more focused than current state standards…Some state standards are much more focused and some much less focused than is the Common Core, and this is true for both subjects.
We also used international benchmarking to judge the quality of the Common Core standards, and the results are surprising both for mathematics and for [ELA].… High-performing countries’ emphasis on “perform procedures” runs counter to the widespread call in the United States for a greater emphasis on higher-order cognitive demand.

What about Stanford Professor R. James Milgram, the only professional mathematician on the Common Core Validation Committee who refused to sign off on the CCSS?  He wrote the following about the Standards,

This is where the problem with these standards is most marked. While the difference between these standards and those of the top states at the end of eighth grade is perhaps somewhat more than one year, the difference is more like two years when compared to the expectations of the high achieving countries—particularly most of the nations of East Asia.

And here is what a non-American member of the Validation Committee wrote to the Council of Chief State School Officers when declining to validate the standards:
I cannot in all conscience, endorse statements 2 and 3 [(2) Appropriate in terms of their level of clarity and specificity; (3) Comparable to the expectations of other leading nations] The standards are, in my view, much more detailed, and, as Jim Milgram has pointed out, are in important respects less demanding, than the standards of the leading nations.

Another analysis by University of Southern California professor Morgan Polikoff, found the Common Core mathematics standards,

...similarly repetitive, and hence as unfocused across elementary grades as the state content standards they attempt to replace, with only somewhat less redundancy in the middle grades.

Then there is Professor William McCallum from the University of Arizona.  We mentioned him before as one of the writers for the Common Core Math Standards.

He even said while speaking at the annual conference of mathematics societies in 2010,

While acknowledging the concerns about front-loading demands in early grades, [McCallum] said that the overall standards would not be too high, certainly not in comparison [with] other nations, including East Asia, where math education excels.

Mr. Wurman concluded:

 I believe the Common Core marks the cessation of educational standards improvement in the United States. No state has any reason left to aspire for first-rate standards, as all states will be judged by the same mediocre national benchmark enforced by the federal government. Moreover, there are organizations that have reasons to work for lower and less-demanding standards, specifically teachers unions and professional teacher organizations. While they may not admit it, they have a vested interest in lowering the accountability bar for their members. With Common Core, they have a single target to aim for, rather than 50 distributed ones. So give it some time and, as sunset follows sunrise, we will see even those mediocre standards being made less demanding. This will be done in the name of “critical thinking” and “21st-century” skills, and in faraway Washington D.C., well beyond the reach of parents and most states and employers.