Wednesday, December 28, 2011

National Standards=>=>National Student Database

Under regulations the Obama Department of Education released this month...the DoE has taken a giant step toward creating a de facto national student database that will track students by their personal information from preschool through career.
Although current federal law prohibits this, the department decided to ignore Congress and, in effect, rewrite the law. Student privacy and parental authority will suffer.
But on Dec. 2, the Department of Education rejected almost all the criticisms and released the regulations. As of Jan. 3, 2012, interstate and intergovernmental access to your child’s personal information will be practically unlimited. The federal government will have a de facto nationwide database of supposedly confidential student information.

Unless Congress steps in and reclaims its authority, student privacy and parental control over education will be relics of the past.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Class Warfare

If you achieve, you're gonna be punished!
Where did this attitude come from? Does it refer to academic achievement, monetary success, or both?
The philosophy of the classroom today will be the philosophy of government tomorrow.
Abraham Lincoln
As Harry Reid professes "there are no millionaire job creators" I'm wondering what has happened in our society to create an environment where some people may actually believe him?
As conservative candidates continue to focus on the economy, debating everything except educational freedom, state sovereignty and the threat to these under Common Core Standards and RttT, I keep wondering how we have come to this place where we find it desirable to be COMMON...
Our schools have been scientifically designed to prevent over-education from happening. The average American [should be] content with their humble role in life, because they're not tempted to think about any other role.
– William T. Harris, U.S. Commissioner of Education, 1889

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Education Task Force Approves Anti-Common Core Model Legislation

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) met last week in Scottsdale, AZ. They are an organization whose mission is “to advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty, through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector, the federal government, and general public.” They have several task forces, one of which is education.

This group is important as model legislation is often developed and discussed and then taken home to the state capitals and placed on legislative agendas. Though the group’s mission is to advance Jeffersonian principles, in particular federalism, pro-common core state standards advocates like Achieve, Jeb Bush, and The Gates Foundation have gained ground with its members.

The education task force heard argument from Closing the Door to Innovation, a statement that has been signed by 350 prominent education policymakers, researchers, teachers and parents. As a result the education taskforce approved model legislation (sponsored by American Principles Project, The Goldwater Institute, and the Washington Policy Center) opposing the common core state standards. The model legislation below will hopefully be introduced in a state legislature near you:

Comprehensive Legislative Package Opposing the Common Core State Standards Initiative:

WHEREAS, high student performance and closing the achievement gap is fundamentally linked to an overall reform of our public education system through a strong system of accountability and transparency built on state standards; and

WHEREAS, the responsibility for the education of each child of this nation primarily lies with parents, supported by locally elected school boards and state governments; and

WHEREAS, in 2009 and 2010, the State was offered the chance to compete for education funding through the “Race to the Top” program created by the U.S. Department of Education (“ED”); and

WHEREAS, the only way to achieve a score in the competition sufficient to qualify for funding was to agree to “participation in a consortium of States that… (i)s working toward jointly developing and adopting a common set of K-12 standards…”, and

WHEREAS, the only such “common set of K-12 standards” existent at that time, or since, is known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative (“CCSSI”) and was developed without a grant of authority from any state; and

WHEREAS, local election officials, school leaders, teachers, and parents were not included in the discussion, evaluation and preparation of the CCSSI standards that would affect students in the state; and

WHEREAS, citizens had no opportunity to review and comment on the final version of CCSSI standards, and states were not offered an option to modify those standards before their adoption; and

WHEREAS, no empirical evidence indicates that centralized education standards result in higher student achievement; and

WHEREAS, adoption of the CCSSI standards would force several states to lower the rigor and quality of their standards; and

WHEREAS, the National Assessment of Educational Progress national test already exists and allows comparisons of academic achievement to be made across the states, without the necessity of imposing national standards, curricula, or assessments; and

WHEREAS, imposing a set of national standards is likely to lead to the imposition of a national curriculum and national assessment upon the various states, in violation of the General Education Provisions Act, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; and the Department of Education Organization Act and

WHEREAS, claims from the Common Core Initiative that the CCSSI standards will not dictate what teachers teach in the classroom are refuted by language in the standards as written; and

WHEREAS, common standards will lesson the ability for local stakeholders to innovate and continue to make improvement over time; and

WHEREAS, when no less than 22 states face budget shortfalls and Race to the Top funding for states is limited, $350 million for consortia to develop new assessments aligned with the CCSSI standards will not cover the entire cost of overhauling state accountability systems, which includes implementation of standards and testing and associated professional development and curriculum restructuring; and

WHEREAS, special interest groups can manipulate the vulnerability of the centralized decision making that governs common standards and lower the standards’ rigor and quality of over time to suite their priorities;

Option A (Resolution):

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the (legislative body) of the state of (name of state) rejects any policies and procedures that would be incumbent on the state based on Common Core State Standards Initiative.

Option B (Statute):

The State Board of Education may not adopt, and the State Department of Education may not implement, the Common Core State Standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Any actions taken to adopt or implement the Common Core State Standards as the effective date of this section are void ab initio. Neither this nor any other statewide education standards may be adopted or implemented without the approval of the Legislature.

Originally posted at Caffeinated Thoughts

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Important Rebuttal on Common Core Math Promotion

When I read Rick Hess' interview with Professor Wu on Straight Up, I was very disheartened because many will use this interview in support of the federal overreach into public education.  IMO the standards are extremely WEAK at the secondary level and DO NOT prepare students for success in college algebra or beyond.
Ze'ev Wurman brilliantly provided rebuttal links (copied below) for several of the professor's statement in the comments section.
Thanks Ze'ev!!
Wu is unreliable when it comes to many of his descriptions of the Common Core. His claim that the Common Core's abandonment of algebra in grade 8 is consistent with NMAP's findings should be compared with actual NMAPs recommendation #6 ( ) and page 3-47 in that chapter 3 he mentioned ( ).
His sweeping statement that asking for reasoning when solving equations is somehow "new" to the Common Core should be compared with standards 7MR4.1 or A1.5 of the 1997 Calif. standards ( ).
His praise of the experimental geometry the Common Core imposes – without any prior successful experience -- on America stands in stark contrast with that of Stanford's Prof. Milgram (appendix B at ) or of a colleague of Kolmogorov, the mathematician who dreamt up this approach more than 30 years ago (p. 34-35 at ).
Wu's praise for CCSMS "neutrality" with high school courses is a nifty attempt to turn CC failure to deliver into a positive "feature." He seems uninformed about Finland (see and ), and when he discusses the absence of teaching quadratic equation in China or Japan in 8th grade as an excuse for not teaching algebra in grade 8, he conveniently forgets to tell us that these countries do teach most of algebra 1 in that grade *except* quadratics, and that they additionally teach large sections of proof-based geometry in grade 8.

When I asked Wu last year to reconcile his current anti grade-8 algebra stance with his recent push *for* it when he served on the NMAP, his answer was simple: American elementary and middle school teachers are incompetent to teach algebra or prepare for it, and he came to conclusion that pushing it to high school is the best America can do. Perhaps true, but giving up on America's students is a far cry from waxing lyrical about the "pedagogical sensibility" or "mathematical soundness" of the Common Core.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Where To Start?

We've all heard some variation of this argument over the last two years...

[A response to Jay P. Greene's blog post Rick Hess Nails National Standards on Their Stealth Strategy]

"Without ‘national standards’ the USA will continue to fail as if they were 50 different nations. Some in the north east will do well but the ones that must improve refuse to admit they have a problem.

The illiterate states must be told you have ten years to get your population to the Massachusetts level of reading and math. Your standards must be at that level grade by grade.

Is this one powerful nation or 50 little backwater countries?"

If he's trying to say that we could have challenged our sovereign states to improve achievement up to the level of Massachusetts within the next ten years, then I would say "EXACTLY - I DEFINITELY AGREE!"

On the other hand, if he's trying to imply that Common Core Standards are as good as Massachusetts standards (were prior to CC) then he's wrong.  Both the Math and Language Arts Common Core standards are WEAK!! (you can find a plethora of info on that from MA's own Pioneer Institute)

The 50 sovereign United States are not in any way, shape or form "backwater countries"



This might be a good time to read a little more about that...

Closing the Door on Innovation:  Why One National Curriculum is Bad for America

Education to Raise Technology Consumers Instead of Technology Creators

Rick Hess


Bill Evers


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Tuesday, August 9, 2011


By now you must have figured out that I am NOT A FAN

of Common Core Math Standards!


As a result, it's no surprise to find reputable criticism of

the newly released science standards.

Please read Ze'ev Wurman's honest account

as well as

Greg Forster's informative post at Jay P. Green's Blog



(via these weak national standards)


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Saturday, July 30, 2011

It's the weekend!

Time for some Saturday morning reading!

A great post from the Missouri Education Watchdog links to a quiz from the Center for American Progress.  Find out (according to them) where your views fall within the spectrum of  "progressive" or "conservative". 

My score was a 98/400 which they consider as "extremely conservative" - a badge of courage IMHO!

I just found another site, American Principle in Action, which I will reference here for the timely and important article written by Jim Stergios and Lindsey Burke last week regarding the federal overreach in education. 

It's a definitely MUST READ! 

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Our Government MUST STOP FINANCING Arithmetic and Algebra Avoidance

President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

July 15, 2011, Public Comment by Jerome Dancis

U.S.Government Should Stop Financing Arithmetic and Algebra Avoidance
Jerome Dancis, Associate Professor Emeritus, Math Dept., Univ. of MD
Math Education Website:\~jnd    

Jerome_Dancis.doc Download this file

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Call To Action!!

Common Education Data Standards Public Comment Period Begins Today



Here is YOUR chance as a taxpayer, student and/or parent to comment on the implementation of common core standards. YOU are the one paying for educational services, YOU are THE MOST important stakeholder. This invitation should be shared in all school districts to ALL taxpayers. Let your opinion be recorded. After all, it's your money and your child. YOU should have some decision making power in how your tax dollars are being spent.


Comments and Suggestions must be submitted by Aug 15, 2011


Remember, the common core standard initiative will allow intrusive personal data to be gathered on families and students when and if the FERPA regulations are amended. It truly is a cradle to grave program facilitated by the Federal Government. Make your opinion known the role of government is NOT to track citizens. We are against common core standards and would hope you would make your comments against the takeover of state education rights and unfunded mandates. You can read about Common Core standards at this non partisan site devoted to standards issues, Race to the Top mandates and longitudinal data system information:

Thanks to Missouri Education Watchdog!!

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Saturday, July 16, 2011


What better time could there be for Congress to cut the funding for Common Core Standards/Race to the Top than right now while they are looking for places to cut the budget?  With no funding, CCS/RTTT would be “dead in the water” and good riddance!




[In budget talks] Obama rules out his federal takeover and indoctrination of the public schools through Common Core Standards and Race to the Top (CCS/RTTT) which have already cost us taxpayers $100 Billion (ARRA Stimulus), $350 Million (development of national assessments), and $4.35 Billion (Race to the Top 2010).

In his 2011 budget, Obama expects Congress to approve $1.35 Billion for CCS/RTTT. If Congress wants to protect our public school children, they should cut all funding for CCS/RTTT right now before this monstrosity is implemented into all the public schools in the 46 states that have fallen for Obama’s “carrot and stick” approach.

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Misleading the Public with "Education"

Neal McCluskey has great insight on America's Educational System!

No Child Left Behind likely had much of the public thinking we already had national standards, and it’s little wonder that the Common Core was able to worm its way into so many states.

Read "Standards Garbage in, Standards Garbage Out" here!

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Monday, July 4, 2011


Last year, on the 4th of July, I was listening

to a radio show and heard this.

I know it happened for a reason.

We simply can't let others define for us

what we believe and know to be true. 

May God Bless America!


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Friday, June 24, 2011

House Education and Workforce Committee is Asking the Right Questions!!!

Count Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House education committee, among the folks who want to know exactly what Secretary of Education Arne Duncan means when he says he's going to consider giving states waivers from parts of the No Child Left Behind law if Congress doesn't act soon on a rewrite.

Kline and Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who heads the subcommittee overseeing K-12 policy, sent a letter today to Duncan asking him to please explain a) where he gets the authority to do these waivers, and b) what exactly these waivers will entail.  (IT'S A MUST READ!!)

Kline is especially uneasy with Duncan's assertion that the flexibility would be given in exchange for states' willingness to embrace a package of reforms dreamed up by the department.

The two congressmen want to see a detailed explanation of the proposal from Duncan by July 1. They also want to know when the plan will be finalized, how the department plans to seek review and public comments, and a timeline explaining just when the waivers would become effective.

Kline said he has been working on the legislation with Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the committee, and he said he has "fairly high hopes" that it could be bipartisan. He plans to introduce the legislation in July.

Kline said the committee is currently asking itself "accountability for what and to whom?" (a line he said that Miller has also used.) He's not sure the secretary of education is the right person for schools to be accountable to; school boards, parents, communities and others should be in the mix.

Posted via email from concernedabouteducation's posterous

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Threat to by-pass Congress to avoid "train wreck"


(should have been the title of this Bloomberg article)

“Given the bipartisan commitment in Congress to fixing No Child Left Behind, it seems premature at this point to take steps outside the legislative process that would address NCLB’s problems in a temporary and piecemeal way,” Harkin said in his statement.

The administration’s first priority is working with Congress to change and reauthorize the law, Duncan said. If lawmakers don’t act, the administration would use its power to grant waivers to states that agree to make changes, Duncan said.

Rather than a “one-off” approach, Duncan said he would favor giving states a regulatory-relief package in exchange for what he described as “a set of reforms.” The administration may ease provisions for states that show they will measure how much students learn in a given year, rather than meeting absolute proficiency standards, Duncan said.

Duncan, when asked by reporters about the types of“reforms” he was referring to, cited the administration’s $5 billion Race to the Top grants that have rewarded states that incorporate student achievement into teacher evaluations and adopted common academic standards developed by U.S. governors and schools chiefs.


Common Core State Standards and Race to the Top: An Introduction to Marxism 101

Check$ and Balance$ in Education?

Please READ & SHARE Common Core $tate $tandards:

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Rare Earth Elements: The Secret Ingredients of Everything

National Geographic, June 2011

Rare Earth Elements:  The Secret Ingredients of Everything

"They're all around you," says Karl Gschneidner, a senior metallurgist with the Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, who has studied rare earth elements for more than 50 years. "The phosphors in your TV—the red color comes from an element called europium. The catalytic converter on your exhaust system contains cerium and lanthanum. They're hidden unless you know about them, so most people never worried about them as long as they could keep buying them."

Now a lot of people are worried.

[but there's good news!]

Molycorp intends to produce 3,000 to 5,000 tons of rare earths from stockpiled ore at its Mountain Pass mine this year and has big expansion plans. "The current U.S. demand is somewhere between 15,000 and 18,000 tons per year," says Smith. "In principle, Mountain Pass could eventually make the United States independent in rare earths."

previous post on Rare Earth Elements

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ignorance or Apathy?

I don't know...but I do care!

“No people will tamely surrender their liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and virtue is preserved. On the contrary, when people are universally ignorant and debauched in their manners, they will sink under their own weight without the aid of foreign invaders.” ~ Samuel Adams

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

FIND TRUTH in American Education!

Welcome Truth in American Education!

If you have questions about Common Core Standards, Race to the Top, and the federal overrun of education, then this is the place to go!


Truth in American Education (TAE) shines a beacon of light directly on the government’s behind-the-scenes efforts to drastically alter American education. As taxpayers, parents and concerned citizens, we believe that proper respect for the American people requires that major educational changes be subject to an open and public discussion prior to approval and implementation, not the other way around.

Truth in American Education provides information to parents, taxpayers, school board members, educators and legislators who are concerned about these issues. At the heart of it, the disposition of these issues will determine whether the federal government and elite, special interest groups have the right to form the hearts and minds of children and whether we will reject, or affirm, the concepts laid down by our founding principles.


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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Good Question... Better Answer!

Should We Be Worried? (YES)

Core Standards Are Very Different
The new standards are supposed to be internationally benchmarked. Yet Common Core’s eighth-grade math standards don’t match Finland (0.21), Japan (0.17) or Singapore (0.13), primarily because these countries stress performing procedures. On language arts and reading, alignment ranges from 0.09 with Finland to 0.37 with New Zealand.

Should we be worried? Common Core Standards represent “a change for the better” when it comes to “higher order cognitive demand,” Porter concludes, but the “answer is less clear” when it comes to the topics that are covered.

Personally, I would say the "answer" is perfectly clear!

How Big a Change are the Common Core Standards?

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Reauthorization of ESEA


Just like President Obama’s “blueprint” for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act — better known as No Child Left Behind — Fordham’s ESEA “Briefing Book” proposes (see page 11) that states either adopt the Common Core or have some other federally sanctioned body certify a state’s standards as just as good in order to get federal money. So there would be an ”option” for states, but it would be six of one, half-dozen of the other, and the Feds would definitely link taxpayer dough to adoption of Common Core standards and tests.

The problem is that most people don’t know what has actually been proposed — who outside of education-wonk circles has time to follow all of this?

— which is what national-standards advocates are almost

certainly counting on.

That is exactly why they will push to get reauthorization this summer, while families are on vacation, teachers may be out of the policy loop, and state legislators think it can "wait 'til the fall.

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Friday, June 3, 2011

A 'Common' education disaster

Great Politico Opinion Piece!

Douglas Holtz-Eakin served as a director of the Congressional Budget Office. He is now president of the American Action Forum. Annie Hsiao is the director of education policy at American Action Forum.


The federalization of the Common Core Standards has provoked an outcry from a bipartisan group of leading education reformers. They released a letter reminding the nation that there is no constitutional authority for a national curriculum. In addition, there is no evidence demonstrating that national standards improve educational outcomes, or a track record showing that the Common Core Standards are rigorous and first-rate.

The latter point brings the debate full circle. Yes, standards are a good idea. But critics of the Common Core Standards include five dissenters of the Common Core Validation Committee, some of the most internationally reputable standards experts.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Restoring Sanity

"a movement to at long last restore sanity to

the federal government amid a fiscal crisis"

Mike Brownfield, The Foundry

The federal government is borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it spends. The accumulated national debt stands at nearly 70 percent of the country’s annual economic output, set to climb to 100 percent by the end of this decade. And according to some comparisons, the U.S. economy is already in worse shape than the stumbling economies of most European nations. But never fear: The President is holding a meeting with congressional Republicans today to “hear and listen to their ideas, their concerns.”

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Common Core $tate $tandards

Common Core $tate $tandards

What Parents, Taxpayers, and School Boards Should Know...

and perhaps they aren't being told

Citizens United for Responsible Education of Washington State, Missouri Education Watchdog, Mathematically Sound Foundations, The Underground Parent, and the U.S. Coalition for World Class Math independently object to the adoption and implementation of the CCSS.

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National Education Standards

Monday, May 23, 2011



You know - the people who actually know and use math!


A Summary Report from the Conference “Moving Forward Together: Curriculum & Assessment and the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics

Pentagon City, Arlington, VA

April 29-May 1, 2011

Organized by: Sol Garfunkel (Chair), Chris Hirsch, Barbara Reys,

Jim Fey, Eric Robinson, and June Mark


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Just say "NO" to National Standards and Streamline U.S. DoE

Education Department Violates Law, and States Say “No” to National Standards

The Foundry, Heritage Foundation

Ceding greater power over what children are learning to D.C. bureaucrats is not the path to improving education in the United States. Rather, the federal government should give states more flexibility to implement policies that they deem best fit the needs of their students. States also must work to raise academic standards and heighten the transparency—and thus accountability—of school performance to those to whom it rightfully belongs: parents and communities.

Education and the Workforce Committee Moves

to Streamline Department of Education

Clearly, the problem isn’t how much money we spend on education, but how we’re spending it—and right now, far too many taxpayer dollars are dedicated to ineffective, redundant K–12 programs. Rep. Hunter’s legislation will reduce the federal role in education and help set the stage for increased flexibility on the state and local level.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Common Core - Closing the Door on Innovation!

Breakin' the Law!  Breakin' the Law!  (And we say NO!)

Read and sign the Manifesto!  Created by a coalition of educational and other leaders which opposes the stealth campaign to impose a single curriculum and a single test on the nation’s schools. Here's an except:

 First, there is no constitutional or statutory basis for national standards, national assessments, or national curricula. The two testing consortia funded by the U.S. Department of Education have already expanded their activities beyond assessment, and are currently developing national curriculum guidelines, models, and frameworks in accordance with their proposals to the Department of Education (see the Appendix). Department of Education officials have so far not explained the constitutional basis for their procedures or forthcoming products. The U.S. Constitution seeks a healthy balance of power between states and the federal government, and wisely leaves the question of academic standards, curriculum, and instruction up to the states.3 In fact, action by the U.S. Department of Education to create national standards and curricula is explicitly proscribed by federal law, reflecting the judgment of Congress and the public on this issue.4

Even if the development of national curriculum models, frameworks or guidelines were judged lawful, we do not believe Congress or the public supports having them developed by a self-selected group behind closed doors and with no public accountability. Whether curriculum developers are selected by the Shanker Institute or the U.S. Department of Education’s testing consortia, they are working on a federally funded project to dramatically transform schools nationwide. They therefore ought to be transparent and accountable to Congress and the public.

Critical Common Core Concerns (To be addressed by YOUR Representatives!)

Texas Considers State Sovereignty (Has YOUR state?) 


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Saturday, May 14, 2011

High Quality Education is America's Best Defense!

U.S. Dept. of Ed. is Breaking the Law, Jay P. Greene

The 1979 law by which the U.S. Department of Education is authorized in its current form clearly prohibits these activities. It states (in section 103b): “No provision of a program administered by the Secretary or by any other officer of the Department shall be construed to authorize the Secretary or any such officer to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, over any accrediting agency or association, or over the selection or content of library resources, textbooks, or other instructional materials by any educational institution or school system, except to the extent authorized by law.”

Public Discourse:  Ethics, Law and The Common Good, Greg Forster

Historically, national control of education has come up as an issue about once every ten to fifteen years. In the past, it has usually produced a lot of fireworks but burned out pretty quickly. This year is very different. The nationalizers have learned from their past mistakes; they understand now that the American people don’t want the federal government to control schools. So they’ve adopted clever tactics to disguise what they’re doing and misdirect public attention, and as a result, they are already dangerously close to getting everything they want.

The Department of Education is forbidden by law from developing a national curriculum. This reflects the clear judgment of the people and their congressional representatives, expressed forcefully on all the previous occasions when this issue has come up, against handing over control of education to a single national body.

A coalition of educational and other leaders released “Closing the Door on Innovation,” which opposes this stealth campaign to impose a single curriculum and a single test on the nation’s schools. The over 100 signatories include numerous leaders in the education world, as well as such nationally known figures as Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom, Shelby Steele, Richard Epstein, and Edwin Meese.

You can read it and add your signature at

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Voice of the People - Unraveling Common Core

Legislation Moves to Unravel Common Core Standards


[p25] The commissioner is prohibited from adopting common core in the subject and school year listed in the revision cycle in paragraphs (a) to (f)

New Hampshire

(b) The “common core state standards” developed jointly by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers shall not be adopted by rule pursuant to RSA 541-A, or included or implemented in any way in the New Hampshire curriculum frameworks, or used as a measure of an adequate public education, without prior approval of the general court.

South Carolina

The State Board may not adopt and the State Department may not implement the Common Core State Standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Any actions taken to adopt or implement the Common Core State Standards as of the effective date of this section are void ab initio."


A district may not meet this requirement through the use of national curriculum standards.  (c-2) The State Board of Education may not adopt national curriculum standards to comply with its duties under Chapter 28.  For purposes of this section and any other section of this code, national curriculum standards include any curriculum standards endorsed, approved, sanctioned, or promoted by the United States Department of Education, the National Governors Association, or the Council of Chief State School Officers.

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Hugely Important Matter!

Stotsky Testifies Before Texas Legislature on Education Standards Bill

May, 2011

University of Arkansas professor Sandra Stotsky testified last month before the Texas Legislature in favor of a proposed law that revisits the centuries-old issue of states' rights.  The bill was drafted in response to the Common Core standards.


"This is a hugely important bill and a hugely important matter," said Stotsky, who holds the Twenty-First Century Chair in Teacher Quality in the College of Education and Health Professions. "It has implications for the entire country. The high school curriculum and assessments in mathematics and English language arts based on Common Core standards will lower educational attainment in the United States."



Stotsky served as senior associate commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education from 1999 to 2003. During that time, she led the development or revision of all of the Massachusetts K-12 standards. She reviewed all states' English language arts and reading standards for the Fordham Institute in 1997, 2000 and 2005. She co-authored Achieve's American Diploma Project high school exit test standards for English in 2004 and the 2008 Texas English language arts and reading standards. She served on Common Core's Validation Committee from 2009 to 2010.


"Texas has the best English language arts and reading standards in the country, now that the first-rate standards that Massachusetts, California and Indiana once had have been dumped and these states have adopted Common Core's. Texas is also developing the best K-12 math standards in the country," Stotsky said. "The Common Core standards in English language arts and reading do not aim for a level of achievement that signifies readiness for authentic college-level work."



Stotsky was one of five members of Common Core's Validation Committee who voted against accepting the final version of the standards.


Link to Stotsky and Milgram's Testimony in the article.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lecture-Style Presentations Lead to Higher Achievement in Math and Science

Harvard Study Shows that Lecture-Style Presentations Lead to Higher Student Achievement

Widely-used problem-solving pedagogy as implemented in practice is

not as effective for raising achievement levels

Cambridge, MA – A new study finds that 8th grade students in the U.S. score higher on standardized tests in math and science when their teachers allocate greater amounts of class time to lecture-style presentations than to group problem-solving activities. For both math and science, the study finds that a shift of 10 percentage points of time from problem solving to lecture-style presentations (for example, increasing the share of time spent lecturing from 60 to 70 percent) is associated with a rise in student test scores of 4 percent of a standard deviation for the students who had the exact same peers in both their math and science classes – or between one and two months’ worth of learning in a typical school year.

These estimates are based on the actual implementation of teaching practices that the researchers observe in practice. Thus, while problem-solving activities may be very effective if implemented in the correct way, simply inducing the average teacher employed today to shift time in class from lecture style presentations to problem solving, without concern for how this is implemented, contains little potential to increase student achievement. On the contrary, the study’s results indicate that there might even be adverse effects on student learning.

Guido Schwerdt, a postdoctoral fellow in Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance, and Amelie C. Wuppermann, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Mainz, Germany, conducted the study. A research article, “Sage on the Stage,” presenting the study’s findings will appear in the Summer 2011 issue of Education Next.

The researchers used data from the 2003 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Their sample includes 6,310 students in 205 U.S. schools with 639 teachers (303 math teachers and 355 science teachers, of which 19 teacher both subjects). In addition to test scores in math and science, the TIMSS data include information on teacher characteristics, qualifications, and classroom practices. Most important for the analysis, teachers were asked what proportion of time in a typical week students spent on each of eight activities, and the authors’ methodology focused on three of these activities — listening to lecture-style presentations, working on problems with the teacher’s guidance, and working on problems without guidance — as a “good proxy for the time in class in which students are taught new material.” They divide the amount of time spent listening to lecture-style presentations by the total amount of time spent on each of these three activities to generate a single measure of how much time the teacher devoted to lecturing relative to how much time was devoted to problem-solving activities.

Schwerdt and Wuppermann observe that in recent years, a consensus has emerged among researchers that teacher quality “matters enormously for student performance,” but that relatively few rigorous studies have looked inside the classroom to see what kinds of teaching styles are the most effective. Their study of teaching styles finds that “teaching style matters for student achievement, but in the opposite direction than anticipated by conventional wisdom: an emphasis on lecture-style presentations (rather than problem-solving activities) is associated with an increase — not a decrease — in student achievement.” They report that prominent organizations such as the National Research Council and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, for at least the last three decades, have “called for teachers to engage students in constructing their own new knowledge through more hands-on learning and group work.” The emphasis on group problem-solving instructional methods has been incorporated into most U.S. teacher preparation programs, and the authors found that teachers in the study’s sample allocated, on average, twice as much time to problem-solving activities as to lecturing, or “direct instruction.”

The researchers recognize that a key challenge in studying the effects of teaching practices is that “teachers may adjust their methods in response to the ability or behavior of their students,” perhaps relying more on lectures when assigned more capable or attentive students. To address these concerns, they “exploit the fact that the TIMSS study tested each student in both mathematics and science,” which allowed them to compare the math and science test scores of individual students whose teacher in one subject tended to emphasize a different teaching style than their teacher in the other subject. They found that in both math and science, the positive relationship between lecture-style methods and test score gains was maintained. The estimated .04 standard deviation impact of a greater emphasis on lecturing is based on students who had the same peers in both classes, because that minimizes the chances that teaching styles — and their consequences — might differ depending on the composition of the class.

About the Authors
Guido Schwerdt is a postdoctoral fellow at the Program on Education Policy and Governance (PEPG) at Harvard University and a research at the Ifo Institute for Economic Research in Munich, Germany. Amelie C. Wuppermann is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Mainz, Germany.

About Education Next
Education Next
is a scholarly journal published by the Hoover Institution that is committed to looking at hard facts about school reform. Other sponsoring institutions are the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance, part of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

TX Sovereignty ~ Common Core Standards

Core Standards only cover Algebra I, much but not all of the expected contents of Geometry, and about half of the expectations in Algebra II.


Texas House of Representatives - Committee on State Sovereignty

Meeting: 04/14/11



Written Testimony of R James Milgram, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University, member of the Common Core Standards Validation Committee


I would like to testify in support of the bill Rep. Huberty filed, HB 2923, to prevent the so called Core Standards, and the related curricula and tests from being adopted in Texas.


My Qualifications. I was one of the national reviewers of both the first and second drafts of the new TX math standards. I was also one of the 25 members of the CCSSO/NGA Validation Committee, and the only content expert in mathematics.


The Validation Committee oversaw the development of the new National Core Standards, and as a result, I had considerable influence on the mathematics standards in the document. However, as is often the case, there was input from many other sources – including State Departments of Education – that had to be incorporated into the standards.


A number of these sources were mainly focused on things like making the standards as non-challenging as possible. Others were focused on making sure their favorite topics were present, and handled in the way they liked.


As a result, there are a number of extremely serious failings in Core Standards that make it premature for any state with serious hopes for improving the quality of the mathematical education of their children to adopt them. This remains true in spite of the fact that more than 35 states have already adopted them.


For example, by the end of fifth grade the material being covered in arithmetic and algebra in Core Standards is more than a year behind the early grade expectations in most high achieving countries. By the end of seventh grade Core Standards are roughly two years behind.


Typically, in those countries, much of the material in Algebra I and the first semester of Geometry is covered in grades 6, 7, or 8, and by the end of ninth grade, students will have finished all of our Algebra I, almost all of our Algebra II content, and our Geometry expectations, including proofs, all at a more sophisticated level than we expect.  Consequently, in many of the high achieving countries, students are either expected to complete a standard Calculus course, or are required to finish such a course to graduate from High School (and over 90% of the populations typically are high school graduates).


Besides the issue mentioned above, Core Standards in Mathematics have very low expectations. When we compare the expectations in Core Standards with international expectations at the high school level we find, besides the slow pacing, that Core Standards only cover Algebra I, much but not all of the expected contents of Geometry, and about half of the expectations in Algebra II. Also, there is no discussion at all of topics more advanced than these.


Problems with the actual mathematics in Core Math Standards As a result of all the political pressure to make Core Standards acceptable to the special interest groups involved, there are a number of extremely problematic mathematical decisions that were made in writing them. Chief among them are:


1. The Core Mathematics Standards are written to reflect very low expectations. More exactly, the explicitly stated objective is to prepare students not to have to take remedial mathematics courses at a typical community college. They do not even cover all the topics that are required for admission to any of the state universities around the country, except possibly those in Arizona, since the minimal expectations at these schools are three years of mathematics including at least two years of algebra and one of geometry.  Currently, about 40% of entering college freshmen have to take remedial mathematics.  For such students there is less than a 2% chance they will ever successfully take a college calculus course.


Calculus is required to major in essentially all of the most critical areas: engineering, economics, medicine, computer science, the sciences, to name just a few.


2. An extremely unusual approach to geometry from grade 7 on, focusing on rigid transformations.  It was argued by members of the writing committee that this approach is rigorous (true), and is, in fact, the most complete and accurate development of the foundations of geometry that is possible at the high school level (also probably true).  But it focuses on sophisticated structures teachers have not studied or even seen before.  As a result, maybe one in several hundred teachers will be capable of teaching the new material as intended.


However, there is an easier thing that teachers can do – focus on student play with rigid transformations, and the typical curriculum that results would be a very superficial discussion of geometry, and one where there are no proofs at all.


Realistically, the most likely outcome of the Core Mathematics geometry standards is the complete suppression of the key topics in Euclidean geometry including proofs and deductive reasoning.


The new Texas Mathematics Standards


As I am sure you are aware, Texas has spent the past year constructing new draft mathematics standards, and I was one of the national reviewers of both the first and second drafts. The original draft did a better job of pacing than Core Standards, being about one year ahead of them by the end of eighth grade, so not nearly as far behind international expectations. Additionally, they contained a reasonable set of standards for a pre-calculus course, and overall a much more reasonable set of high school standards.


There were a large number of problems as well – normal for a first draft. However, the second draft had fixed almost all of these issues, and the majority of my comments on the second draft were to suggest fixes for imprecise language and some clarifications of what the differences are between the previous approaches to the lower grade material in this country and the approaches in the high achieving countries.


It is also worth noting that the new Texas lower grade standards are closer to international approaches to the subject than those of any other state.


I think it is safe to say that the new Texas Math Standards that are finally approved by the Texas Board of Education will be among the best, if not the best, in the country. (I cannot say this with complete certainty until I have seen the final draft. But since I am, again, one of the national reviewers, this should be very soon.)


So it seems to me that you have a clear choice between


Core Standards – in large measure a political document that, in spite of a number of real strengths, is written at a very low level and does not adequately reflect our current understanding of why the math programs in the high achieving countries give dramatically better results;


The new Texas Standards that show every indication of being among the best, if not the best, state standards in the country. They are written to prepare students to both enter the workforce after graduation, and to take calculus in college if not earlier. They also reflect very well, the approaches to mathematics education that underlie the results in the high achieving countries.


For me, at least, this would not be a difficult choice. So for these many reasons I strongly support HR 2923, and hope the distinguished members of this committee will support it as well.


Respectfully, R. James Milgram

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Price of "Innovation"

Some interesting reading...

Nationalized Education Nonsense

by Ze'ev Wurman over at Jay P. Greene's Blog

and then, a little something for any "pie in the skiers"

who might happen to visit here:

The Innovation Mismatch: "Smart Capital" and Education Innovation

over at the Harvard Business Review.

Hey, Jay P. Greene - They used "SMART" Hmmmm....

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Grades vs. Learning

Beware of "good grades" and investigate the math content taught in our schools! 

Teaching Math to the Talented

In short, the percentages of high-achieving students in the United States—and in most of its individual states—are shockingly below those of many of the world’s leading industrialized nations. Results for many states are at a level equal to those of third-world countries.

U. S. Math Performance in World Perspective

Overall results. The percentage of students in the U.S. Class of 2009 who were highly accomplished is well below that of most countries with which the United States generally compares itself. While just 6 percent of U.S. students earned at least 617.1 points on the PISA 2006 exam, 28 percent of Taiwanese students did.


Unfortunately, the United States trails other industrialized countries in bringing a large proportion of its students up to the highest levels of accomplishment. This is not a story of some states doing well but being dragged down by states that perform poorly. Nor is it a story of immigrant or disadvantaged or minority students hiding the strong performance of better-prepared students. Comparatively small percentages of white students are high achievers. Only a small proportion of the children of our college-educated population is equipped to compete with students in a majority of OECD countries.

Major policy initiatives within the United States have in recent years focused on the educational needs of low-performing students. Such efforts deserve commendation, but they can leave the impression that there is no similar need to enhance the education of those students the STEM coalition has called “the best and brightest.”

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Important Information!

I don't believe that Algebra II should be required for high school graduation, but it is extremely important that parents and students know the implications for future success. 

Let's be open and honest and inform the public!


 Requiring Algebra II in High School Gains Momentum Nationwide

Washington Post

One [study] conducted by U.S. Department of Education researcher Clifford Adelman found that students who took Algebra II and at least one more math course attained “momentum” toward receiving a bachelor’s degree.

Side Note:  This "one study" was an extremely detailed analysis of about 13,000 students from highschool through degree completion or work placement.  You can find it here:


Answers in the Tool Box: Academic Intensity, Attendance Patterns, and Bachelor's Degree Attainment 

by Clifford Adelman
Senior Research Analyst, U.S. Department of Education

Under Selected Findings:  Of ALL pre-college curricula, the highest level of mathematics one studies in secondary school has the strongest continuing influence on bachelor's degree completion. Finishing a course beyond the level of Algebra 2 (for example, trigonometry or pre-calculus) more than doubles the odds that a student who enters postsecondary education will complete a bachelor's degree. [pp. 16-18]


Here's a 2002 report from Carnevale and Desrochers, but it may not be the one referred to in the Washington Post article above.

Standards for What?  The Economic Roots of K-12 Reform

Anthony P. Carnevale and Donna M. Desrochers

[p. 55]  Workers in the Best-Paying Jobs Have Typically Completed Algebra II


[p. 56] In the current education curriculum, these higher-level courses are the means by which people learn higher-level reasoning skills. Throwing out the current curriculum without a superior alternative in place would be like throwing out the baby with the bath water.

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