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.

I trust candidates who stand up for what they believe in

I trust candidates who stand up for what they believe in

Stop The Lies Representing Warning Sign And Truth

Stop The Lies Representing Warning Sign And Truth

There are about 20 or so Republican announced or rumored candidates and while I am not planning to vote for a Republican it is interesting to watch their stances on education. I admire Jeb Bush for being one of the only candidates, and the only Republican right now that is still in support for Common Core. I am more likely to trust a candidate who doesn’t give in to what polling says or what the perception is about a topic. Whether or not he wins the nomination or the election, I’d much rather run on issues I care about that I know work than run on a bunch of lies. CNN reports:

Bush — unlike other 2016ers — is not backing away from his endorsement of Common Core as an effective method of measuring student learning. His brother, after all, pushed and ultimately signed No Child Left Behind in early 2002, which imposed test score standards on schools with lower-income students that received federal funding.

As for Common Core, Jeb Bush has expressed frustration with how the standards have been prone to misinformation that have in part helped turn the issue into a political football.

“Because people have a different view of what Common Core is, am I supposed to back away from something that I know works?” he asked at the same event in Bedford.

As two-term governor of Florida from 1999-2007, Bush focused heavily on education reform, which included implementing higher standards as well as a school voucher program. After he left office, he launched a nonprofit called the Foundation for Excellence in Education that ultimately became a leading proponent of Common Core.

One major problem with supporting Common Core today is that it has been tainted as a federal program (of course supported by Obama) and no one gets the message that theses standards were developed collaboratively across states. The federal government simply offered funding to states who adopted higher standards to help with implementation.

Contrary to what some believe, Common Core standards were not developed by the federal government but by the National Governors Association along with help from state education leaders, parents and teachers. The standards dictate what students in elementary school and high school should know by the end of each grade, and it’s up to the states to come up with testing and curriculum that align with those measurements.

The federal government got involved when it gave states financial incentives to adopt higher standards. Those standards didn’t have to be Common Core, but since the standards were available, 46 states have adopted them since 2010, though some have since changed or eliminated them.

At least as Jeb Bush campaigns he’s spreading the message that Common Core works and the truth about the program. We can only hope that will encourage others to question the other candidates as to exactly why they oppose common core, because it’s more than likely that its just a campaign ploy. Common Core is already tagged as a national program, and Republicans are anti-federal oversight, so this is seemingly low hanging fruit for Republicans to further their campaign agenda.

For his part, Bush has politely tried to correct some misunderstandings about Common Core on the trail, without trying to get to deep in the weeds. At an event in Manchester, a retired math teacher told Bush that he got frustrated with spending more time testing than teaching.

Bush explained that tests are only administered on the state and local level — not by the federal government — and proposed that states should mandate that school districts tell parents why they are giving so many tests. That would better facilitate a conversation between parents and educators on how to strike a balance.

“And that’s the way it should be. You can do that in New Hampshire,” he said, urging the man, John Potucek, who’s also a state representative, to push back on the state about his complaints. “But please make sure you have accountability around students, ’cause the net result is you’re going to have a decline.”

After the event Potucek told CNN he was surprised by Bush’s answer, and while he didn’t agree with everything Bush said, he said his Common Core stance wouldn’t be a deal-breaker.

“He explained it in a way that I wasn’t expecting, and I have to kind of chew on it a little bit,” he said.

It doesn’t always go well, though. At a town hall in Dubuque, Iowa, a retired local school board member named Les Feldman grilled Bush about his support for Common Core. After a tense back-and-forth that lasted several minutes, a somewhat exasperated Bush ultimately concluded with, “I’m just for higher standards, man.”

Keep speaking the truth Jeb, and maybe you’ll make a supporter out of me!

The bottom line, Bush has argued, is that students need better accountability and there are a variety of ways to make that happen with higher standards.

“There’s got to be a better way,” Bush said at an event in Manchester, New Hampshire earlier this month, saying only half of high school graduates are college or career-ready. “We can’t just keep fooling ourselves and just say ‘oh it’s because … kids in poverty can’t learn’.”

“That’s crap,” a man in the audience interjected.

“Thank you, brother,” Bush said forcefully. “That is crap.”

New Tests? Old Tests? What you need to know

This is a great graphic from StanSFC-Academic-infographic-FINAL_0d for Children about how to tell what a good test looks like. I agree with everything they state below, especially that every student needs to be held to the same standard nationwide so we can ensure they are receiving a great education.

I wrote previously about a colleague of mine who thought she was getting a great education at the top of her class, only to find out she had to complete remedial courses.

To all those who are upset that their students aren’t doing well on the “new” tests – I say get to work improving your standards. No one wants to admit that what they have been doing, or teaching or knowing that their kids have been receiving a subpar education. The obvious response is to blame the test. But in reality, their education wasn’t up to par. They should be grateful that their kids are going to be getting a better education because of these tests.

I appreciate that the tests are going to be more critically engaging and less hunt and peck for one answer. The tests should also be designed to assist teachers in their ability to assess student weaknesses and provide appropriate support. Parents should have a clear idea of what the results mean for their child.

Go to these pages to see more of these infographics:

Parents! How to identify a “good test”.

What does a good test look like? Decide for yourself: