Sunday, April 6, 2014

Missouri Needs an Elected Board of Education #tlot #tcot #Liberty #Freedom

Back in July of 2009, I posted THIS about the adoption of Common Core in Missouri.  I was in the process of discovering that our governance structure regarding education in Missouri was incredibly top-down.  Missouri citizens and their representatives in the legislature were not even aware of Common Core, let alone the strangle hold it would place on the daily functions of our local schools and the lives of our students and their families. 

Changing the governance structure in Missouri's educational system is of utmost importance to ensure that any "initiative" like Common Core is publicly scrutinized and vetted by our education leaders, our legislators, and Missouri citizens.   

This is why I strongly support HJR 74 which would allow Missouri voters to decide on the November ballot if they would like to see their State Board of Education members ELECTED, with one coming from each of OUR congressional districts.  I think it's a FABULOUS idea!! 

If you agree, you can show your support for HJR 74 here:

Since the hearing was schedule for TOMORROW NIGHT (AT 9PM!!) when few citizens can attend, it is very important to have as many witness forms completed in support of HJR as possible to present to the committee.

Fight the Good Fight!!
Lisa Jones

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Witness Form in Support of MO SB514 and SB798

Lisa Jones – Testimony in Support of SB 514 and SB 798 (March 26, 2014)

I wish that I could be present to speak in person in support of SB 514.  Perhaps a future hearing might be held in the evening, or on a Saturday, when teachers could attend and not neglect our duties to students and taxpayers.

I am very blessed to teach high school mathematics in an outstanding Missouri school district.  My colleagues and I work very hard to continually improve educational opportunities for our students.  Through the use of content specific Professional Learning Communities, we have identified strategic learning goals to prepare students for their future endeavors, we use classroom data to assess student progress in reaching those goals, and we have built collegial relationships to foster the identification and sharing of “best practices” in reaching those goals. 

We review the curriculum of each course approximately every seven years.  Each school’s course-related PLC is represented on our district-wide curriculum committees.  Those representatives bring drafts back to their respective schools for review and feedback.  In this way, every teacher in the district is involved in the process and has an opportunity to provide input on their course curriculums.  We work as a team with the goals of continuous improvement in student achievement and increasing opportunities for students at the forefront.  We take particular care to ensure that all of our math courses prepare students for the next level in their individual pursuits.  There are no “dead end” math courses in our district.

When the Governor, State Board of Education and Commissioner signed onto Common Core, we began reviewing the Common Core Math Standards in our PLCs.  We have always used the state standards as a baseline for our programs, although our math curriculum has surpassed Missouri’s state standards during the 23 years that I have served the district.  Missouri standards have never before had a maximum amount of content that local districts could add to them, as do the copy-written Common Core Standards.  In my opinion, many of our high-performing district have added more than 15% to our previous state mathematics standards to better prepare their students. 

I teach Algebra 2 and Calculus.  I have serious concerns about the impact of the Common Core State Standards to prepare students for my courses. CCMS have diminished the content of Algebra II, which is the gateway high school course to many higher level math and science courses.  In my opinion, it will be very difficult for even the most talented teacher of mathematically curious and gifted students to overcome Common Core’s weak content in preparing for success in many STEM fields. 

I have taught math courses from Algebra 1 to Calculus over the course of my career.  Developing a seamless progression of hierarchical content designed by active classroom teachers, fostering ample opportunities for student progress and success, is extremely important work and must be on-going in every LOCAL district.  With the stroke of a pen, in signing onto Common Core, Missouri has been side-tracked.  We have allowed a stealth initiative to consume the time of our teaching professionals and valuable resources of districts.

If a local school district deems certain standards to be beneficial for their students, then they should incorporate them into their ongoing improvement plans.  However, the Governor, State Board of Education, and other appointed staff should not have the authority to commit our state to initiatives which undermine the work of local school districts and our citizens’ elected school boards on any issues relating to education.

Some will argue that local districts can still go beyond the content of Common Core, but the mechanism for enforcing strict adherence has already been put into place.  It will come in the form of experimental assessments and the scoring of MSIP 5 which is tied to those assessments.  It’s appalling that taxpayers are expected to fund these assessments, especially since their representatives were undermined, and perhaps even misled, about the Common Core Standards Initiative.

DESE should be held to state statutes while implementing and administering only those programs which pass through Missouri’s legislative process.  Legislators receive valuable input from their constituents which should be included in all matters pertaining to our state, most importantly the education of our children.  It’s unfortunate that some of our state’s leaders, who were entrusted to seek the best possible educational opportunities for our children, used their positions of authority to undermine our citizens and their representatives.  Please consider taking legislative action to safe-guard our children and our schools from this sort of overreach in the future. 
Thank you for your service to Missouri! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Legislation on Education in Missouri

Please take a few short minutes to look up your legislator’s email

and drop them a note with your opinions on the following:



Establishes the Joint Committee on the Tenth Amendment


Prohibits the State Board of Education, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and school districts from implementing the Common Core State Standards


Prohibits the State Board of Education from adopting and implementing the standards for public schools developed by the Common Core Standards Initiative



HB 1139 Cookson

167.227. 5.  A school district shall require a student who scores less than proficient on a statewide assessment to attend the summer school term immediately following the school term in which the student was assessed.

Monday, January 6, 2014

DESE “Thumbing Its Nose” at #MOLEG

Happy New Year Everyone!!

HB 2   Appropriates money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of the State Board of Education and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education                                                                             Effective Date: 8/28/2013

Section 2.050.  To the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

2  For the purpose of receiving and expending grants, donations, contracts,

3  and payments from private, federal, and other governmental

4  agencies which may become available between sessions of the

5  General Assembly provided that the General Assembly shall be

6  notified of the source of any new funds and the purpose for which

7  they shall be expended, in writing, prior to the use of said funds,

8  and further provided that no funds shall be used to implement the

9  Common Core Standards
From Federal and Other Funds………………….........$10,000,000


I wonder if DESE disseminated any information to districts on HB2’s restriction on Common Core implementation?  Are local school boards aware that their current practices may be in conflict with this legislation.


All of DESE’s math and science discretionary grants involve implementation of Common Core Standards and were not revised after passage of HB2.  The deadline for these was September 18, 2013.

Page 6 of the K-6 Math Initiative (which is the same for the K-6 Science excepts it reads "National Educational Standards for Science" rather than Common Core, the ELL reads "Common Core")

C.  Use of Funds

(3) Provide follow-up training throughout the year to the academy mathematics science teachers that shall:  (a) Directly relate to the mathematics curriculum, and focus secondarily on pedagogy;  (b) Enhance the ability of the teacher to understand and use the Missouri Mathematics Grade-Level Expectations and the Common Core State standards for mathematics to develop and/or revise appropriate curricula;  (c) Train teachers to use curricula that are based on scientific research, aligned with the Missouri Mathematics Grade-Level Expectations and Common Core State Standards for mathematics, and are active learning-oriented, inquiry-based, differentiated to meet diverse student needs, and concept/content-based; 

I was also interested in this part of HB2 because high quality PD, focused on content, really is essential to professional growth in teaching. 

Section 2.115.  To the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

2  For the Instructional Improvement Grants Program pursuant to Title II

3  Improving Teacher Quality

From Federal Funds……………………...........................$59,348,890


So I googled:

and I found the second document had been revised in Aug 2013.  (The same month that HB2 had passed)  I find no mention of Common Core with respect to Professional Development at all in the revised document, however ALL of the high school math PD currently taking place in my district is on Common Core. 

This (again) leads me to believe that local school boards are not aware of the legislation.  

And then of course, we have the real kicker!!  DESE’s October 3, 2013 News Release announced the *New* Missouri Learning Standards website:  

Any confusion that may be caused by their re-labeling Common Core as Missouri Learning Standards can quickly be dispelled by following the content supports for teachers here: which lead straight back to CCSS.



Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Professor Milgram's Nov 4, 2013 Statement on Common Core Math Standards

Many parents across the country are currently expressing concerns over the content of their childrens' math lessons, many of which are said to be "common core" aligned.  The statement below is published with permission of Professor Milgram.  It may provide a little insight on math education issues brought to light recently due to the common core initiative. 

I believe that although the elementary math standards are an improvement over those of many states, unfortunately the focus on the "Standards for Mathematical Practice" - rather than math content - creates an avenue for unproductive folly. (yes, that's my opinion) The secondary content standards are too weak, a point that I've made many times before.

Best wishes to all parents, grandparents and teachers as they seek the truth on the best way forward in improving education for children.  Lisa Jones   

Statement of Jim Milgram, November 4, 2013
I don't endorse a blanket condemnation of the Common Core Math Standards since there are definite positives in the lower grade content standards.  They really are significantly better than the standards that were written by 90% of the states IN GRADES K-6 or K-7. But the problems with the overall math standards are huge, or even more than huge.

First, while some of the Mathematical Practices standards are ok, they provide a forum for the fuzzy math cranks and a path to re-approve most of the horrible math texts we found 15 or so years back and mostly got rid of then. They also provide a poor perspective on "what mathematics is" and should never have been at the beginning of the document where they give the superficial reader the impression that this is what mathematics is all about.  It isn't.

Second, the objectives of the 8 - 12 material are not what one might think they should be. The real intent appears to be a total focus on the "efficiency" aspect of Ed School dogma. Since most students will never "use" higher level math, it is mostly suppressed, except for the part that I more or less forced them to add covering Algebra II. But that material is horribly incomplete and only provides a pathway for most students that leads nowhere and prepares them for nothing but truly dead end jobs.

Third, the standards were put together too fast by McCallum and Zimba, with the obstructive tactics of Daro only designed to minimize content as far as I can tell. All three of them were amateurs at standards writing, and appear to have had little to no idea of what actually goes on in the curricula of the high achieving countries. As a result, there are too many errors and inconsistencies in the standards and exemplars themselves.

So, all in all, I judge that we would be better off if the standards would just go away.


In his first point, I believe that Professor Milgram is referring to the Open Letter to  U.S. Secretary of Education, Richard Riley, from 1999.  Check It Out Here

Thursday, October 31, 2013

An Interesting Common Core Exchange

From Fordham


Question: Garrett Fryer American Youth Policy Forum

Was there ever a discussion, when you all were designing it, to implement it on a kindergarten level and letting it grow with the students as they aged on through each grade, as oppossed to implementing it with the entire school system nation wide?

Answer: Jason Zimba

This is something that states have each approached differently.  Some states have done something more like that, some states have done something less like that.  I seem to remember at one point I saw a MA plan where the grade level wasn’t the key parameter, but they had a Venn diagram, what we do now the Common Core doesn’t do, what the Common Core does that we don’t, and then what sort of overlap, where we want to do it better. In year one, we’re gonna focus on the overlap and do it better. In year two, we’ll drop things… and then in year three, we’ll add…  I got the details of that wrong, but…  my only point is that different states all approached it differently, and we may find out that some states were much wiser than others in this way.

Singapore has a long standing, high functioning system in which they not only revise their syllabus ever so often, but they do it actually on the basis of how kids do, so think about that, a performance-based loop, a feedback loop. Which is something we are taking halting steps toward, but can only image.  And so roughly every six years or so, they’ll put out tweaks to the thing.  This year I noticed that they’ve rolled out a new thing in kindergarten.

I wonder... How in the world can one "image" OR take "halting steps toward" creating a "high functioning system" based on a "performance-based feedback loop" when we are STARTING with a top-down DESIGN by the name of Common Core?


A problem with Common Core Math Standards at the High School Level

I've explained my concern about the weak high school math in Common Core many times before, but here it goes again as I’ve had many questions lately.

In the Common Core Math Standards, Algebra I is not completed in 8th. That creates a problem for students interested in stem fields, and also for students that may have latent abilities in mathematics which may not develop in high school as a result.

CC high school math (years 1 to 3) is an amalgam similar to Alg1, Geo, Alg2(light) in my opinion.

There are currently 4 years in high school. Common Core lays out 3 years but did not provide a stem alternative for acceleration during those 3 years, so this is what we have to work with:

1- CC hs math year 1
2- CC hs math year 2
3- CC hs math year 3 – doesn’t complete Alg 2 imo and would not prepare
students to take PreCalc/Trig at my school currently.
4 - Students have the following options for math during their senior year. None of these include AP Calculus. Remember, the College Board found that Common Core high school math does not “reconcile” with AP Calculus (and I agree!)

The students’ choices at this point are limited to three options:
A) AP Statistics B) PreCalc/Trig or C) try to complete both simultaneously

Option A) If they chose the AP Stats class senior year, to try to get some college credit while in high school, then they would really be two years behind in stem math progression on entry to college, and would have also had a entire school year between Algebra 2 (light) and PreCalc/CollegeAlg/Trig - (definitely not an ideal situation...)

BTW – This option is what a College Board Senior Vice President recommended to school superintendents! “If you’re worried about AP Calculus and fidelity to the Common Core, we recommend AP Statistics and AP Computer Science”

Option B) They could take precalc/trig during senior year, but as some of you know, the ACT determines scholarship money for many, many students. Efforts on that test and applications for colleges and scholarship start late junior year and finish early senior year for most students. (Ask one!)

Option C) is not viable in my opinion. The slow pace of Common Core math from 7th though 11th grades leaves students woefully underprepared for trigonometry in particular and will create an unnecessarily steep learning curve if they choose this “option” during senior year.