You likely support Common Core even if you say you don’t

I feel like the critics of Common Core are like anxious children throwing a tantrum and won’t calm down long enough for mom to tell them that they are going to get whatever they are throwing a tantrum about.

A recent poll commissioned by the Center for American Progress and conducted by Public Policy Polling:

Shows overwhelming support for the underlying fundamentals and principles of the Common Core State Standards. Key takeaways from the survey include:

  • 90 percent of voters agree that we should raise our nation’s academic standards so that the United States can be more competitive with other countries, with 71 percent strongly agreeing with this statement
  • 82 percent of voters agree that the United States should develop academic standards with the input of teachers, school districts, and states, with 65 percent strongly agreeing with this statement
  • 79 percent of voters agree that we should create a set of high-quality academic standards or goals in English and math and let communities develop their own curricula and strategies, with 52 percent strongly agreeing with this statement
  • 78 percent of voters approve of annual tests in English and math to see if their schools are adequately serving their populations.

You can’t tell me you agree this these statements above, but are against Common Core. If the critics keep this opposition up we may never get the academic achievement our kids need and then they will starting complaining we’re not competitive enough globally….you really cannot have it both ways.

Stop The Lies Representing Warning Sign And Truth

Stop The Lies Representing Warning Sign And Truth

The poll continues to demonstrate that misinformation about Common Core is still taking over the conversation:

  • Although the Common Core State Standards were developed by educators in tandem with a bipartisan group of governors, the PPP poll shows that a majority of registered voters think that the U.S. Department of Education or U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote the standards.
  • Just 4 percent of voters know that teachers helped develop the Common Core, with only 14 percent of voters aware that state governors were involved in the development of the Common Core.
  • Nearly half of voters think that the Common Core prescribes a specific curriculum, and 22 percent are unsure.
  • 72 percent of voters believe that standardized tests take up more time than they actually do. A recent CAP report showed that students spend, on average, 1.6 percent of instructional time or less taking tests.

Opposition to Common Core is almost purely political tying it to the Democrats or tying it the teacher evaluations and student grade retention. Do your own research and don’t listen to the media. Make your own decisions about Common Core.

Other posts about Common Core:

You can follow Common Core AND let students direct their own learning

Good News: Common Core made the Rep. Debate; Bad News Education was discussed for only 2 minutes

New Common Core Math Explained

Slap a “Made in Jersey” label on it – Christie on Common Core

I trust candidates who stand up for what they believe in

Good News: Common Core made the Rep. Debate; Bad News Education was discussed for only 2 minutes.

Good News: Common Core made the Rep. Debate; Bad News Education was discussed for only 2 minutes.

I watched the Republican debate on Thursday night and noticed a couple of things: Education did make it into the discussion – but for only 2 minutes of a 2 hour debate. rubio & bush 8.6.15 debate

Also, the only candidate(s) who were asked questions about education, were arguably the one or two with the most to say about it. Would have loved to hear any of the other 8 candidates talk about education issues – any education issues.

Here is the two minute clip of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio discussing common core from Huffington Post. 

The moderator asked Jeb Bush if he thought a quote from Arne Duncan was correct, stating that the opposition to Common Core is from “fringe group.”

I wrote in May about how Jeb Bush was still supporting common core on the campaign trail. His answer to the questions posed didn’t exactly support common core – which didn’t help the movement, but as a highly watched Republican platform, I guess he chose a safer route that didn’t further erode his votes by tagging him as Pro Common Core.

He said he disagreed with the statement Arne Duncan made about fringe groups, and added “Federal government shouldn’t be involved in the creation of standards directly or indirectly, creation of curriculum or content is strictly a state responsibility.”

That’s great Jeb – except even you know Common core isn’t developed from the federal level. Thanks for making that clear! Even the fact checkers thought you were trying to connect Common Core with the feds:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush again defended his support of the Common Core education standards, which are deeply unpopular within the Republican Party.

“I don’t believe the federal government should be involved in the creation of standards directly or indirectly…that is clearly a state responsibility. I’m for higher standards, measured in an intellectually honest way with abundant school choice,” he said.

We still have a responsibility to educate everyone about Common Core, why it is important and where it really came from.

Instead of really digging deep on education issues, we have to spend time just trying to get correct information out.

And everyday, while we are trying to set the record straight, to make change for kids who need it…kids are losing learning opportunities they will never get back.

You can follow Common Core AND let students direct their own learning

You can follow Common Core AND let students direct their own learning

Children and education, young woman at work as educator reading book to boys and girls in park

Children and education, young woman at work as educator reading book to boys and girls in park

I’ve been trying to explain this concept for folks for some time but here is a great example. You don’t have to teach to the test. You just need to make sure that the overall concepts that will be covered in the testing is covered in class.

For example, what is going to be more effective in helping me to learn greater vocabulary to pass the GRE? Studying word flash cards or reading lots of literature? I would say reading the literature because I am learning the words in their natural environment, learning a definition, learning usage…all at the same time in a relatively stress free environment of reading. Studying flash cards is a rote memory task and I am not learning how the words are used and their meaning. And I’m quite likely to forget everything as soon as I don’t need to use it anymore for the test. That could basically describe my entire education.

If you are “Teaching to the test,” It’s because you don’t have the resources or creativity to create your own lessons that still reach the same end result as the rote memory tactics.

In this article, Susan Wolfe, an elementary school teacher in Boise, Idaho talks about how she uses student directed learning that still matches Common Core:

Increasingly, schools are making time for students to learn about whatever excites them, inspired by Google’s 20 percent time when employees get to tinker on passion projects unrelated to their jobs. Wolfe finds this model a natural fit with both Common Core standards and her interest in making sure students are individually connected and passionate about the topics they are discovering. …

Wolfe treats Genius Hour as a pass/fail class. Students are required to set a goal each week, blog about how they went about achieving that goal and what obstacles may have come in the way. This may sound scary to teachers concerned that they aren’t ticking off all the standards required by their districts and Wolfe understands this fear, but says the core skills of research, writing, communicating and collaborating, emphasized in all areas of the Common Core, become part of Genius Hour projects.

“If you can integrate skills into one really fantastic project, that’s half the battle,” Wolfe said. “You have to unpack those Common Core standards and build them into the units and project-based learning being designed.” She finds that teaching skills and concepts together as one unit saves a lot of time.

We need to give teachers autonomy to create creative lessons, but we also need teachers who can create creative lessons……

Slap a “Made in Jersey” label on it – Christie on Common Core

This is a video interview in 2013 where Chris Christie widely supporting Common Core in New Jersey. He talks about how Common Core is one area that he agrees with Obama on more than others. He talks about Republican and Democratic governors moving education forward with Common Core – because they have to go into their schools and look kids and parents in the face and do what’s best for them. He claims that legislators care more about their primary than they care about anything else.

Now, it’s 2015 and he’s preparing for a presidential bid – and has turned into one of “those” legislators who “only cares about their primary.”

Christie on Thursday declared at Burlington Community College that Common Core is “simply not working,” adding it “has brought only confusion and frustration to our parents. And has brought distance between our teachers and the communities where they work. Instead of solving problems in our classrooms, it is creating new ones. And when we aren’t getting the job done for our children, we need to do something different.”

Over the past year, the potential 2016 GOP hopeful has said he has growing concerns about Common Core, and last summer appointed a commission to study the impact of the program.

Why the flip flop? Polling says Republican primary voters are inaccurately associating Common Core with Obama and Democrats and are against it. Christie, who is more moderate of a Republican than most, needs to find ways to build Republican support among the base and here he is!

Darrell M. West, the vice president and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institutions — who has defended Common Core— went further, saying, “Candidates are flipping on this issue because the GOP base is outraged about the Common Core. Even though it was developed at the state level, they believe it is part of the federal takeover of education.” He added: “They inaccurately attribute it to the Obama administration and believe liberals are behind this move.”

Just how Christie’s latest turn on Common Core affects his likely presidential bid remains to be seen. Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University, said it “does have the potential of bringing him support among GOP primary voters and it also serves to distinguish himself from Jeb Bush,” his ideological competitor. On the other hand, said Harrison, “it could open himself up to criticism that he’s a flip-flopper.”

This editorial suggests that Christie is shaping state policy to influence his presidential bid. The writer suggests that by creating a committee to look into developing NJ standards, that the “new standards” will be much like the current ones, with a new name.

That’s all that matters to Christie these days, pleasing national conservatives. So he says Common Core isn’t working — without actually saying how or why — and that he wants to replace it with a new model that a group of parents and educators are supposed to put together over the summer. The emphasis, of course, is on state control over the process. The standards themselves are a secondary concern.

This is nothing more than a rebranding of Common Core as a New Jersey product. Christie said he expects “new” standards to be in place by the end of the year, which is far too little time for a responsible overhaul. The standards will undoubtedly look much the same as they do now because there simply won’t be time to do anything more.

But this sort of reckless approach will only create more problems and confusion. If Christie’s dissatisfaction with Common Core was a genuine desire for more effective standards that would earn more support from parents and educators, this would certainly be a longer process to evaluate and revamp the entire program. Instead, Christie just wants to bang out something quick and slap a “Made in Jersey” label on it.

This NJ blog notes that NJ already accepted Common Core, spent time and money integrating to it and the education department is running with it. After all the revamping of curriculum to match the standards, teacher training…etc he’s just going to start over? Not likely. The writer also suggests renaming them will do the trick:

Let’s think about this.  In 2010 the State Legislature adopted the Common Core State Standards. In 2011 New Jersey’s 590 school districts and 2,500 schools began the complex process of adapting course objectives to align with the Common Core. The task is complete.

If we take the Governor’s advice and abandon the Common Core, then N.J. would have one of two choices: either revert to inferior standards, which would require school administrators and teachers to dig out  discarded material and remap curricula, or convene some coven of Christie-ites to start the expensive and time-consuming process of reinventing course standards that, if done properly, would mirror the Common Core.

Here’s a suggestion.  Leave the Common Core alone and spare students, teachers, principals, school board members, superintendents, legislators, and taxpayers from this shell game. Rename the standards the NEW JERSEY Common Core State Standards. Or, heck, how about the Christie Core State Standards. Christie-Core! That way, Governor, you get a talking point if you garner enough polling points to earn a podium at the GOP debates and the eroding faith of New Jersey in the political process stays at sea level.

A school that isn’t teaching you what you need to know, or a college where you can’t do the work?

Prior posts:

This sounds like pontificating on your part…

You know what is on its last legs? Status quo education

Here is the next in my series of refuting this post of Anthony Cody’s:

He writes:

New and Improved Standards and Tests: Since 2010 we have heard that the answer to the terrible impact of No Child Left Behind was to create better tests, aligned with the new Common Core standards. Modern technology would allow the tests to be taken on computers, which would cleverly adjust themselves to students’ ability levels. These would be tests worth teaching to. Now the tests have arrived, and there are three huge problems. First, the tests themselves are confusing and unworkable, leading a growing number of states to reject them. Second, the tests require a huge investment in technology, since they must be taken online on computers. Third, when students take these tests, proficiency rates are plummeting, leading many to question their legitimacy. How can a test that labels upwards of 80% of students of color below proficient be considered a tool for advancing their civil rights? And when these tests are used to determine who receives a high school diploma, the results could be devastating. When a fourth grader can deliver a devastating statement like this, the Common Core tests cannot long survive.

If the tests and the class room material is mismatched then work on fixing it. Whats the alternative, no tests? I agree there is some sort of bizarre conspiracy among test makers and publishers but we need some kind of test. Why? Same reason we need some kind of standards. Because we are graduating students all over the country with varying levels of actual education. Case in point:

One of my coworkers in Massachusetts (yes I know the “education state”) said that where she grew up in MA, she was in the top of her class. But when she graduated and went to college, she couldn’t do the work and had to take remedial classes. Why would any student who was in the top of her class in high school expect to be in remedial classes in college? That would have to mean that the educational standards in her school district were awfully low. Is that what she deserves?

Maybe that’s why students don’t finish college, because perhaps they went to a school where they thought they were doing their best, where they thought they were getting the “American Dream” education and they did not. Worst of all, you won’t even notice that you are not getting a top quality education until it’s way past too late.

Huge investment in technology. I get that it is expensive and alot of smaller rural districts have trouble funding it. Even normal sized districts with the money still have to decide between big lease contracts or purchasing and software is expensive….but it has to be done and we just have to figure out how to do it. Students need access to computers and the internet to stay on par with the generational changes and to continue to engage students in ways that they expect to. School without computers is boring and kids know it.

Proficiency rates are plummeting because the tests are new and there may need to be some adjustments. But maybe, the kids WEREN’T learning as much as they should have the the tests are point that out. Blame the school district, the curriculum department for that problem. Classic defensive move to deflect from taking responsibility for poor educational standards – is to say that the tests are bad, our kids aren’t underperforming by that much! Maybe, they are. Best to get them on track NOW, ASAP. We’ve already wasted too much of their education.

He writes:

How can a test that labels upwards of 80% of students of color below proficient be considered a tool for advancing their civil rights?

Well, Anthony, I’m not going to speak for the folks whom you’ve taken this reference, but in my opinion, it demonstrates in concrete evidence that we are teaching those students curriculum that is NOT rigorous enough to expect them to compete with every other child. It proves we need to be doing more to properly educate those children. They have not been afforded their civil right to an excellent education.

And when these tests are used to determine who receives a high school diploma, the results could be devastating

This is true, but the heart of the argument doesn’t have anything to do with the tests themselves. It has to do with whether or not tests should be used to determine a diploma. However, if these students may not fare well in college because of their subpar education in their district, maybe one more year will help them achieve that. Or maybe not, maybe their best bet is to….I don’t even know – go back to a school that isn’t teaching you what you need to know, or a college where you can’t do the work? What would you choose?

That’s great that the child was brave enough to speak to the Board of Ed. More students should do it. But her case simply states that the curriculum and tests need to be better aligned, they don’t say anything about the basic use of tests in general.

It’s interesting Anthony, that you offer no solutions, simply hand picked situations that you think are going to sway some of your readers, who hopefully can do their own research after reading your work. However, you seem to strive to keep the “status quo” of course the educational establishment is doing just fine as it is.


New Common Core Math Explained

Back in 2009, I was a math tutor at a Newport RI elementary school. As I was working with the students, we were completing long division with a chart of boxes. Hmm, OK. I am smart enough to read the directions in the text book and figure out how to use this chart of boxes. We were successful enough, until the student asked me why the answer was what it was. I told him I had no idea. I was taught the old way where you memorized procedures and just did them. The only reason I knew the answer was correct was because I had learned it that way every time, and that’s just the way it is.

I haven’t had a chance to really delve into the new math much. I am sure we all saw this post about the father who wrote a note to his kid’s teacher about the math problem.

math problem photo

I was sure what to say exactly, until I saw this video.

Why is Math Different Now from raj shah on Vimeo.

He explains that the new math is the same as the old math, but introduces conversations and concepts about place value and math concepts that maybe I could have explained to my students in Newport, RI. But I couldn’t explain the math. Hopefully, our students will be able to explain and understand math that we never could. Isn’t that what we want for all children? A better education than we had?

Here is a response on Huffington Post about how it’s not always to fault of the standards but the textbook publishers for the design of the math problems.



Refuting Anthony Cody – Part 3

I am back to continue refuting the comments made in Valerie Strauss’  interview with Anthony Cody. Here are my previous posts on this article.

Cody denies progress to advance his agenda

Really? No Gains in NYC?

Anthony Cody, can you look a child in DC in the eyes and tell him that his progress is unrecognized

Refuting Anthony Cody Part 2

Refuting Anthony Cody Part 1

V.S.: There are a lot of foundations investing in education “reform.” Why write about Gates?

A.C.: There are certainly other books to be written about the roles other corporate foundations in education, but the Gates Foundation has become the elephant in our classrooms. Through their strategic investments in research, journalism and advocacy, the Gates Foundation has purchased a sort of consensus among the powerful in terms of what must be done to improve schools. Their agenda has become the agenda of the Department of Education, and many large school systems have embraced the direction they have set.

You want to know what the REAL elephant is in the room? School discipline. Classroom discipline. When teachers can’t teach, students aren’t learning and all our curriculum, innovations and testing can’t be properly measured. When student’s aren’t motivated to learn because they feel like cattle instead of real people in their schools (yes it feels like we are literally warehousing our students!) Nothing we try can be successful. I’d like to see NPE & Diane Ravitch and unions focus on efforts that respect students, create counseling based school discipline policies and support strategies that reduce the chaos in our classrooms. And not with an op-ed here or there, Why isn’t there a 70K petition for respectful school discipline policies?

Take a look at the major trends in education reform. We have the Common Core, paid for by the Gates Foundation. We have charter schools rapidly expanding, with very little regulation, actively promoted by the Gates Foundation. We have a dramatic rise in the number of tests and the consequences for those tests, for both students and teachers, again, a high priority for the Gates Foundation. We have billions being spent on educational devices, which is being called “personalization.” Gates and his foundation are not the only ones promoting these trends, but the Gates Foundation has been particularly strategic and systematic with its investments and placement of key leaders.

Common Core is going to help ensure that we have even standards across the country and that no student (like my friend in Springfield MA) gets straight A’s and has to succumb to remedial classes in college. Charter schools are not meant to be a permanent solution but an opportunity to try new strategies. The disconnect is when those successful strategies (while not all, there definitely are some!) are not integrated into traditional public schools to make them better. If we could do that, we’d have more successful public schools. Just as this blog attests, there are many successful ways to apply the results of testing. Unfortunately, with the chaos in most classrooms due to poor school discipline and poor classroom management, classroom material is no able to be fully covered and it’s even harder for a student to test. We need to reduce school chaos and help students complete curriculum before we decide testing is not working. I will again refute the “personalization” idea by saying that the future is in technology, and if we don’t keep kids current on technology, they won’t be prepared for the future. And they are going to be using it anyways, might as well make it productive for them in the classroom.

I also found it fascinating to focus on the words and thinking of Bill Gates. Here is one of the wealthiest people in the history of the world, and he has more influence on education policy than anyone — perhaps even than the president. Why has he decided that test scores can serve to overcome inequity? How does he see market forces working to improve schools? How can he reconcile what is happening to the economy with his stated goal of improving the lives of the poor? I explored what he has said and written and found a window into his thinking. His model has worked well for him in business — but what are its limitations when brought into the field of education?

Let me make this clear, again. The current state of education has not been working for underserved students for years. We have been pouring money into schools and the achievement gap is not closing. If the unions and the education establishment aren’t working to fix these problems, because they are more focused on protecting their jobs, pensions and tenure, then we are going to stay in this place of stagnation. Gates is simply trying to help pull us out of this mess.