Tuesday, July 22, 2014

#CommonCore and #Sovereignty

Let's start with a couple of recent quotes - (discovered here)

“I can’t think of anything that has had this much controversy,” said Linda Johnson, who served on Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education from 1999-2011.

“This is the first time there has been anything like this,” said Leslie Jacobs, another former Louisiana BESE member, who played a major role in creating Louisiana’s public school accountability system.


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When [Diane Ravitch] testified to the Michigan legislative committee debating Common Core in Aug. of 2013, she told them to "listen to their teachers and be prepared to revise the standards to make them better"

When asked if states were "allowed" to change the standards, Ravitch responded, "Why not? Michigan is a sovereign state. If they rewrite the standards to fit the needs of their students, who can stop them? The federal government says it doesn't 'own' the standards. The federal government is forbidden by law from interfering with curriculum and instruction"

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By now, you must be wondering "What's your point?"  It's strange that relatively few people, throughout the political spectrum, have been very concerned about the sovereignty of states, or that of individuals and communities, throughout the FedLed Common Core Standards *Initiative* process. 

If there is a silver lining, it is that growing numbers of citizens are becoming concerned and engaged in education issues.  The "sleeping giant" has awaken just in time, in my opinion, "little dictators" and "social engineers" have infiltrated every political party. 

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In March of this year, Ravitch explained...

The reason to oppose the Common Core is not because of their content, some of which is good, some of which is problematic, some of which needs revision (but there is no process for appeal or revision).

The reason to oppose the Common Core standards is because they violate the well-established and internationally recognized process for setting standards in a way that is transparent, that recognizes the expertise of those who must implement them, that builds on the consensus of concerned parties, and that permits appeal and revision.

The reason that there is so much controversy and pushback now is that the Gates Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education were in a hurry and decided to ignore the nationally and internationally recognized rules for setting standards, and in doing so, sowed suspicion and distrust. Process matters.

The Common Core lacks most of the qualities [of the ANSI core principles for setting standards] — especially due process, consensus among interested groups, and the right of appeal — and so cannot be considered authoritative, nor should they be considered standards.  (emphasis added by me)
 
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Another fabulous recent article on this issue can be found here.





Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Tension - Passion and Logic

The Tension. . . (from July 5, 2010)
I was listening to a financial show yesterday, while waiting in the car...
One of the guys talking said something that I think may be a common misperception. 
He said,
 
Democrats are a party of PASSION
and
the Republicans are a party of LOGIC
 
It was such a revelation for me, I had to write it down because I didn't want to forget exactly what he said and the visceral reaction I felt at the time.

It's apropos that it happened on Independence day, too! 

It explains exactly why I haven't been able to identify with either party (and their misperceptions) exclusively, and why I consider myself independent. 
 
I reject this overgeneralization as an idea used to disparage individuals and minimize their opinions and concerns.  Passion and logic are not mutually exclusive in my life - politics included.  Any good decision that I have been able to make along the way has been a confluence of both logic and passion, rarely in equal parts.
 
I believe each of us has our own synergism of passion and logic.  Our unique way of interpreting and utilizing the information gathered from the world around us. 

See people as individuals... address issues as issues we all face...
Don't lazily relay on partisan rhetoric...

These are reminders to self.   
 
 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Princeton Study Concludes that American is Basically an Oligarchy

Princeton Concludes What Kind of Government America Really Has, and It's Not a Democracy   
April 16, 2014

A new scientific study from Princeton researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page has finally put some science behind the recently popular argument that the United States isn't a democracy any more. And they've found that in fact, America is basically an oligarchy.

This is a familiar topic to those of us who oppose the Common Core Standards Initiative.  I've been scratching my head, literally for years, trying to understand how Common Core took hold, quietly and quickly, in America's representative Republic.  In Missouri, it became clear to me that the "initiative" capitalized fully on the top-down governance structure in our education policies and their implementation.  I believe that Missouri state statutes were violated in the adoption process, but unfortunately, there was no oversight mechanism in place to stop Common Core from the onset.

After researching the opposition to the Common Core Standards Initiative throughout the country for a number of years, there is no doubt in my mind that our American oligarchs were well aware that state legislatures were not equipped to investigate and address adoption of Common Core Standards in 2009-2010. 

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:
http://www.libertytools.org/LibertyTools/witness/witness2.php?template=48

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:

 

(I SUPPORT THESE)

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

 

(I OPPOSE THIS)

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:  http://www.missourilearningstandards.com/  

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: http://www.missourilearningstandards.com/teachers/ which lead straight back to CCSS.