It’s Time to Unite to Save our Children
Our children are falling behind the world in education, our state is spending more money and getting less results, and no politician to date, has stood up to stop these attacks on our children. Who will stand to help if we do not? We must unite and be the fire wall between the government and our children. We must say no to Common Core and yes to the 1993 Massachusetts Education law that made that state number one in all educational testing. Now that’s a future our children can live with.
The federal government’s intrusion into our children’s education such as: Outcome Based Education, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Common Core, and now the Every Student Succeeds Act; has produced lower quality, poor performance, confused teachers, and upset students. It’s time for the political answers to stop and common sense not common core to fill our classrooms again. If you don’t believe the damage being cause to our children ask them.
Teachers are threatened if they go against this, parents are threatened if they opt out of testing and our children are singled out in school if they speak out. What county is this? It is time to take control back. Look at Smarter Balanced Testing; it is not about academic achievement it is a measure of how frustrated children become and when they will move on to the next answer. Our schools are no longer producing educated children they have become labs that treat our children like test mice to produce compliant corporate drones.
Federal funding is over for Common Core but the testing and text books remain. We will now have to pick up the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. Our children will have to read politically motivated text books not books based on sound science, history, English and mathematics. Common Core is copywrited and we must pay fees for their use and cannot change even the things that are wrong.
Did you know the government is collecting over 400 data points on your child and private industry and all government agencies can review it? Did you know it stays in your child’s record for their entire life? Did you know that teachers are being asked to evaluate your child’s behavior and put that in the data points? One mistake and your child does not have a change for the best schools or jobs.
In January 2015 a forum was held at UD concerning Common Core. The event was organized by the Mid-Atlantic Education Alliance. Delaware education officials and groups were invited to speak on behalf of Common Core, but all of them either declined to participate or pulled out at the last minute. Could it be that someone was afraid of the truth?
Our legislators can fix this problem- but only if you demand that they initiate and pass legislation that will immediately rescind the Common Core Standards, curricula and Smarter Balanced Assessment testing. Our Governor can help fix this problem by appointing an ad hoc committee of experienced, "hands-on" educators, administrators, parents and concerned citizens be formed to examine and modify (if necessary) the education standards of the "Massachusetts 1993 Education Law" for adoption in Delaware. And lastly we need to demand that legislation be initiated and passed that will establish "Empowerment Scholarship Accounts" which will allow each parent to send their child to the school of their choosing.
Now is the time to rally at Legislative Hall. We will do that in April. Please go to our contact us site and sign up, saying I will participate in the rally for our children. Give us your name and contact information and we will advise you of the date. It is time to unite to save our children and their future.
More common sense and no common core.
And The Winner Is by peg Luksik
Both PARCC and Smarter Balanced received taxpayer funding to develop and administer their tests. Both used that funding to hire outside contractors to complete that task. The lion’s share of the contracts were awarded to Pearson, a British for-profit company.
The development of a new product or service usually follows the same general phases. The first is the actual creation of the product. Then there is in-house testing. Then the product is tested in the actual conditions in which it will eventually be used – or “in the field”. At each phase, the product is evaluated and changes are made to it based on the evaluation results. The phases may be repeated multiple times until the evaluation results meet the desired product specifications.
The product testing phases are conducted either by employees of the company, or by sub-contractors paid by the company. This is important since the product tests must be as identical as possible, even in field conditions, so the company can make informed decisions about the results. If the product testing requires human subjects, the company recruits them, either asking people to volunteer or offering payment of some kind for the time and inconvenience.
But that is not what happened with Pearson, or any of the other companies who received a contract for any of the spring 2015 field tests.
First, parents were not told that field tests are, by definition, experimental. Both PARCC’s and Smarter Balanced’s own internal memorandums on test validity discuss that fact that AFTER the administration of the Spring 2015 test, they will begin to determine if the results are actually valid. So the test given to the children this year may or may not give accurate results.
That means that the children were test subjects.But they were not given...
the opportunity to decide if they wanted to volunteer, and they certainly were not compensated for their lost instructional time.In fact, in some states parents were told that if they attempted to remove their child from the experiment, the child could face official sanctions such as suspension.
Even more disturbing, the children were forced to volunteer as test subjects for for-profit companies such as Pearson. Those for-profit companies were spared the R&D expense of legitimate field testing, while the children received lost instructional time and the stress of participating in an experimental test.
In other words, the children were “compulsory volunteers”. There is another word for a compulsory volunteer, describing a situation that this nation fought a war to abolish. Apparently, the prohibition does not extend to our children.
The tests themselves were conducted by teachers, who were not compensated by Pearson or the other contractors for conducting their field tests for them.Instead, the same taxpayers who paid for the contract that paid Pearson to develop the tests paid again for the test administrators. And since the teachers were not employees of Pearson or the others, there was no mechanism to ensure that every teacher in every classroom where a PARCC or Smarter Balanced test was given administered that test in the same way.
Which means that the experimental field test was invalidly administered, rendering its results meaningless. Pearson and its counterparts incur no penalty for that situation.
In the Spring 2015 administration of the PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessment field tests, there actually were winners and losers.
The winners were companies like Pearson who got the taxpayers to fund the development of the tests by contract AND to underwrite the cost of the test development that they had already paid for by providing them with a labor force and test subjects at no charge.
The losers were the children of America.
Why would anyone dare to defend this?
Cross Purposes by Peg Luksik
Is Common Core compatible with Catholic education? Are the concerns being expressed by parents across America just the unfounded worries of the uninformed, or are there real problems with the implementation of Common Core in our Catholic schools?
To answer that question, it is necessary to look beyond the particulars of the Common Core and examine its basic mission.
According to government documents and all marketing materials, the foundational mission of Common Core is to produce students who are college and career ready. The most complete definition of that term can be found in the May 2013 publication of the National Center for Education and the Economy(NCEE), called What Does it Really Mean to be College and Work Ready? (http://www.ncee.org/college-and-work-ready/)
According to NCEE, college and work ready means having the knowledge base that is necessary to enter a community college and take the general education courses without needing remediation. The level of math that is recommended is middle school material, with the recommendation that students should aim to complete Algebra I by the end of their sophomore year. The rationale is that since the highest level of math required by most community colleges is Algebra I, there is no need for any student to master Algebra II in high school in order to learn Algebra I in college.
The document includes a discussion of the “fact” the only 5% of careers require any mathematical knowledge beyond this, so teaching it to high school students is an expensive waste of financial and time resources. If the knowledge is not needed for a career, it is unnecessary.
A similar discussion is conducted in the area of language arts, with the conclusion being that most students do not need to learn literature in order to maintain employment. So our high schools should focus more on informational reading and writing so students will enter community college ready for career education.
This philosophy is echoed by representatives of State Departments of Education who have testified before House and Senate education committees about the need to standardize the products of our public education system. Indeed, in August 2013, at a hearing conducted by the PA House Education Committee, Pennsylvania Department of Education representatives explained the need and purpose of Common Core by telling the Committee members that just as McDonald’s hamburgers are the same whether they are purchased in Erie or Philadelphia, the products of our schools should be the same no matter where the school actually is located.
The products being spoken about were the children of Pennsylvania.
So in Common Core, the children are the products, not the clients, of the educational system, and the purpose of education is to produce children who have the skills they need to do a job. If the skill does not directly relate to a job, it is unnecessary, and does not need to be taught. Schools are to produce workers.
Is that compatible with Catholic education?
Is the mission of Catholic education to produce workers?
The Catholic catechism speaks about educating children in Section 2221 through 2229. The language begins by stressing that parents have both a right and a duty to direct the education of their children, and states that the foundational purpose of education is to enable our children to discover their vocations as children of God.
Achieving that purpose requires a Catholic educational program to offer our children every opportunity to learn about their Creator so that they can best decide how to respond to His loving call for their lives.
Common Core does not offer those opportunities. For example, a high school math program that does not reach past Algebra I is not just limiting mathematics. It is removing sciences like Chemistry and Physics from our children’s curriculum because both require students to have at least the skills of Algebra II. For some children, this elimination will directly affect their ability to discover their vocation since it is impossible to decide to become a physicist or a chemist if one has never encountered Physics or Chemistry. But the loss will affect all children, because every one of them benefits from learning that God’s universe is a place of order and structure permeated by His presence and His love.
The same situation exists in the area of Language Arts.
The proponents of Common Core want to severely limit the use of literature, or stories, in the education of our children, replacing them with “informational text”. But informational text does not reach beyond our minds to touch our hearts or inspire our souls. Literature does.
Again, let’s use an example. Many of our children have been exposed to the Lifeboat Exercise, in which they are given the demographic information for 10 people and then told that those people are in a lifeboat that only can hold 9 of them. The children are instructed to use the demographic information to decide who is tossed out of the boat. The process is clinical and analytic – informational.
Now let’s look at the movie, A Night to Remember, which tells the story of the sinking of the Titanic. The characters in the movie are the actual passengers on the ocean liner. It IS the life boat exercise, but it is anything but clinical. When we see a man disguising himself as a woman to sneak onto a life boat, we don’t think about his demographic profile – we recognize his cowardice. When we see the elderly English lady give up her seat to stay with her husband of half a century, and offer that seat to a young mother with a little one, we don’t evaluate her decision on a cost/benefit basis – we respond to her courage and her compassion.
Our children may learn to follow instructions and interpret a graph from informational texts, but to truly realize their vocations as children of God, they need an education that dares them to hope and inspires them to love. They need to meet fictional heroes like Atticus Finch and actual heroes like St. Maximilian Kolbe. It is not an accident that the Greatest Story ever told is, in fact, a story; or that Christ Himself used stories to teach some of the deepest truths of our faith.
The proponents of Common Core speak about the fact that they are aiming at the floor – making sure that the minimum standards are met. But Catholic education has worked to aim our children at the ceiling, challenging them to reach beyond that minimum to find the fullness of their potential. For many of our children, that challenge changed their lives forever.
The Catholic educational system has been anything but common because it was based on the understanding that there is no such thing as a common child. It would be beyond tragic to see that system now embrace the very philosophy that it was designed to oppose.
This column first appeared in Crisis magazine.