Education vs Common Core

Common Core is bad

I spent about 70-75 hours researching this article on Common Core. Then I thought, what the heck, I can’t say it any better than the ones who wrote the original articles. So I am presenting the link to the article and then some quotes from it and then the next link and then quotes, etc. I urge you to click on the links and read the entire article.

http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/publications/notes/why-common-core-bad-america

Why the Common Core is Bad for America

Jonathan Butcher, Emmett McGroarty and Liv Finne

Key Findings

  1. The Common Core is the basis for a national curriculum and national test.

Federal law prohibits the U.S. Department of Education from “exercis[ing] any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction” or selection of “instruction[al] materials.” However, the Department circumvented these prohibitions by making Race to the Top funding and No Child Left Behind waivers contingent on a state’s adoption of the Common Core and the aligned assessments. Because curriculum must be aligned with standards and assessments, the Department would thus be able to exercise direction and control over curricula, programs of instruction, instructional materials.

  1. Three hundred prominent policymakers and education experts warn the Common Core will close the door on innovation.

Local control of public school curriculum and instruction has historically driven innovation and reform in education. A one-size-fits-all, centrally controlled curriculum for every K–12 subject threatens to close the door on educational innovation, freezing in place an unacceptable status quo and hindering efforts to develop academically rigorous curricula, assessments, and standards that meet the challenges that lie ahead. State and local leaders cannot change Common Core content or the assessments. There is no evidence that national standards alone lead to higher academic results.

There is no “best design” for curriculum sequences in any subject. Requiring a single set of curriculum guidelines at the high school level is questionable, given the diversity of adolescents’ interests, talents, and pedagogical (relating to or befitting a teacher) needs. American schools should not be constrained in the diversity of the curricula they offer to students. We should encourage — not discourage — multiple models.

  1. The Common Core standards are of insufficient quality.

Common Core’s standards are of insufficient quality to warrant being this country’s national standards.

The Common Core math standards fail to meet the content targets recommended by the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, the standards of leading states, and our international competitors. They exclude certain Algebra 2 and Geometry content that is currently a prerequisite at almost every four-year state college, essentially re-defining “college readiness” to mean readiness for a non-selective community college. They abandon the expectation that students take Algebra 1 in eighth grade. (This expectation is based upon what high-performing countries expect of their students, and has pushed about half of America’s students to take Algebra 1 by eighth grade). The Common Core math standards also require that geometry be taught by an experimental method that had never been used successfully anywhere in the world. The Common Core math standards do not teach least common denominators; delay until sixth grade fluency in division; eliminate conversions between fractions, decimals and percents; adopt a new definition of algebra as “functional algebra” that de-emphasizes algebraic manipulation.

In English Language Arts, Common Core standards are inadequate. The Common Core “college readiness” ELA standards can best be described as skill sets, not fully developed standards. As such, they cannot point to readiness for a high school diploma or four-year college coursework. Skill sets in themselves do not provide an intellectual framework for a coherent and demanding English curriculum. The Common Core document expects English teachers to spend over 50% of their reading instructional time on informational texts in a variety of subject areas, something English or reading teachers are not trained to teach. This requirement alone makes it impossible for English teachers to construct a coherent literature curriculum in grades 6–12. The ELA Common Core Standards will impair the preparation of students for competing in a global economy.

  1. The cost of the Common Core is considerable, yet unknown.

States and their taxpayers face significant increased costs in four areas: textbooks and instructional materials, professional development, assessments; and technology and infrastructure. One peer-reviewed study estimates this at $16 billion. The assessment costs will further increase if the consortia are unable to sufficiently refine technologies to score open-ended questions (such as short answer questions) for use in large-scale high-stakes testing. Few states have evaluated these issues.

rotting_ccc

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/national-standards/the-problems-with-the-common-c.html

 

The national standards are meant to replace the individual state standards now in place, some of which are said by educators to be essentially useless to guide instruction because they are too vague, poorly written and/or incomplete.

Many educators and parents oppose national standards, fearing that this will lead to a national curriculum and national assessment test that would take away local control of education as well affect how teachers operate in the classroom.

But even assuming that you don’t share those views and believe that national standards make sense, there are legitimate concerns about this Common Core effort and the notion that it is reasonable to ask every kid in every grade to know certain things.

The fact that it took well less than a year to write these very important standards doesn’t necessarily mean they are inadequate, but it makes me wonder.

The fact that few if any classroom teachers were involved in the drafting of the standards–(none were asked to help draft the No Child Left Behind law)–doesn’t necessarily make them inadequate, but it makes me wonder.

The fact that much of the drafting process was done in secrecy doesn’t necessarily make them inadequate, but it makes me wonder.

 

 

Achieve Inc is think tank located in Washington DC

http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/what-is-achieve-inc-and-why-should-you-care/ set up by several teachers.

A very informative blog : http://bradleycountynews.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/common-core-30-years-of-progressive-education-reform-being-led-by-bill-ayers/   shows how   The Coalition of Essential Schools (CES), a progressive education reform model, the CES schools received heavy funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Soros’ Open Society Institute, and the Carnegie Corporation. Ayers appointed Obama as board chairman. CES (likely under the advice of experienced community organizers lead by Barack Obama and Bill Ayers) recruited ACORN workers to manipulate and elbow their way onto local school councils and scream for reform. Chicago ACORN was paid to identify and train community members to become teachers in CES schools.

http://michellemalkin.com/2013/03/01/rotten-to-the-core-part-iii-lessons-from-texas-and-the-growing-grassroots-revolt/

How on earth have left-wing educators in public classrooms been allowed to instruct Lone Star students to dress in Islamic garb, call the 9/11 jihadists “freedom fighters” and treat the Boston Tea Party participants as “terrorists”?

Here’s the dirty little secret: Despite the best efforts of vigilant parents, teachers and administrators committed to academic excellence, progressive activists reign supreme in government schools.

That’s because curriculum is king. The liberal monopoly on the modern textbook/curricular market remains unchallenged after a half-century. He who controls the textbooks, teaching guides and tests controls the academic agenda.

common-core-booklet8

http://michellemalkin.com/2013/01/25/rotten-to-the-core-part-2-readin-writin-and-deconstructionism/

The Common Core English/language arts criteria call for students to spend only half of their class time studying literature, and only 30 percent of their class time by their junior and senior years in high school.

Under Common Core, classics such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” are of no more academic value than the pages of the Federal Register or the Federal Reserve archives — or a pro-Obamacare opinion essay in The New Yorker. Audio and video transcripts, along with “alternative literacies” that are more “relevant” to today’s students (pop song lyrics, for example), are on par with Shakespeare.

English professor Mary Grabar describes Common Core training exercises that tell teachers “to read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address without emotion and without providing any historical context. Common Core reduces all ‘texts’ to one level: the Gettysburg Address to the EPA’s Recommended Levels of Insulation.” Indeed, in my own research, I found one Common Core “exemplar” on teaching the Gettysburg Address that instructs educators to “refrain from giving background context or substantial instructional guidance at the outset.”

http://michellemalkin.com/2013/01/23/rotten-to-the-core-obamas-war-on-academic-standards-part-1/

Ze’ev Wurman, a prominent software architect, electrical engineer and longtime math advisory expert in California and Washington, D.C., points out that Common Core delays proficiency with addition and subtraction until 4th grade and proficiency with basic multiplication until 5th grade, and skimps on logarithms, mathematical induction, parametric equations and trigonometry at the high school level.

I cannot sum up the stakes any more clearly than Wurman did in his critique of this mess and the vested interests behind it:

“I believe the Common Core marks the cessation of educational standards improvement in the United States. No state has any reason left to aspire for first-rate standards, as all states will be judged by the same mediocre national benchmark enforced by the federal government. Moreover, there are organizations that have reasons to work for lower and less-demanding standards, specifically teachers unions and professional teacher organizations. While they may not admit it, they have a vested interest in lowering the accountability bar for their members. …This will be done in the name of ‘critical thinking’ and ’21st-century’ skills, and in faraway Washington, D.C., well beyond the reach of parents and most states and employers.”

 

http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/28_02/28_02_karp.shtml

Who Created the Common Core?

Because federal law prohibits the federal government from creating national standards and tests, the Common Core project was ostensibly designed as a state effort led by the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve, a private consulting firm. The Gates Foundation provided more than $160 million in funding, without which Common Core would not exist.

The standards were drafted largely behind closed doors by academics and assessment “experts,” many with ties to testing companies. Education Week blogger and science teacher Anthony Cody found that, of the 25 individuals in the work groups charged with drafting the standards, six were associated with the test makers from the College Board, five with the test publishers at ACT, and four with Achieve. Zero teachers were in the work groups. The feedback groups had 35 participants, almost all of whom were university professors. Cody found one classroom teacher involved in the entire process. According to teacher educator Nancy Carlsson-Paige: “In all, there were 135 people on the review panels for the Common Core. Not a single one of them was a K–3 classroom teacher or early childhood professional.” Parents were entirely missing. K–12 educators were mostly brought in after the fact to tweak and endorse the standards—and lend legitimacy to the results.

 

http://michellemalkin.com/2013/08/14/stop-common-core-video-of-the-day-3-x-4-11/ A 22 minute video about how it is alright to get the wrong answer. (Don’t think we’ll be landing anybody else on the moon in my life time).

 

http://michellemalkin.com/2007/11/28/fuzzy-math-a-nationwide-epidemic/

Everyday Math.” Sounds harmless enough, right? It’s cleverly marketed as a “University of Chicago” program. (Anytime I hear the name Chicago- dirty politics is my first thought.) Impressive! Right? But then you start to sense something’s not adding up when your kid starts second grade and comes home with the same kindergarten-level addition and subtraction problems — for the second year in a row.

And then your child keeps telling you that the teacher isn’t really teaching anything, just handing out useless worksheets — some of which make no sense to parents with business degrees, medical degrees and Ph.D.s specializing in econometric analysis. And then you notice that it’s the University of Chicago education department, not the mathematics department, that is behind this nonsense.

 

And then you Bing (Google if you must) “Everyday Math” and discover that countless moms and dads just like you — and a few brave teachers with their heads screwed on straight — have had similarly horrifying experiences. Like the Illinois mom who found these “math” problems in the fifth-grade “Everyday Math” textbook:

 

  1. If math were a color, it would be –, because –. B. If it were a food, it would be –, because –. C. If it were weather, it would be –, because –.

And then you realize your child has become a victim of “Fuzzy Math,” the “New New Math,” the dumbed-down, politically correct, euphemism-filled edu-folly corrupting both public and private schools nationwide.

counting_up

And this for simple multiplying:

multiplication_method

http://michellemalkin.com/2013/10/08/more-parents-stand-up-to-educrats-face-no-trespass-and-gag-orders/

The Common Core and edtech juggernauts have spread across the country with little resistance. The Gates mob has bought off the PTA. Privacy and cost concerns have been dismissed by condescending GOP elites such as Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee, even as reports from across the country expose the perils pitfalls, and profligacy of Common Core databases/devices/alignment.

 

http://pioneerinstitute.org/featured/new-research-on-common-core-damaging-statelocal-school-autonomy/

“Common Core fundamentally alters the relationship between the federal government and the states,” says former Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott, the author of A Republic of Republics: How Common Core Undermines State and Local Autonomy over K-12 Education. “States are sacrificing their ability to inform what their students learn.”

Three federal laws explicitly prohibit the federal government from directing, supervising, funding, or controlling any nationalized standards, testing, or curriculum. Yet Race to the Top (RttT), a competitive $4.35 billion federal grant program, gave preference to states that adopted or indicated their intention to adopt Common Core and participated in one of two federally funded consortia developing assessments linked to Common Core.

http://michellemalkin.com/2013/03/08/rotten-to-the-core-the-feds-invasive-student-tracking-database/

Rotten to the Core: The Feds’ Invasive Student Tracking Database by Michelle Malkin Creators Syndicate Copyright 2012

(This is the fourth installment of a continuing series on nationalized academic standards known as the “Common Core.”)

 

While many Americans worry about government drones in the sky spying on our private lives, Washington meddlers are already on the ground and in our schools gathering intimate data on children and families.

 

Say goodbye to your children’s privacy. Say hello to an unprecedented nationwide student tracking system, whose data will apparently be sold by government officials to the highest bidders. It’s yet another encroachment of centralized education bureaucrats on local control and parental rights under the banner of “Common Core.”

 

As the American Principles Project, a conservative education think tank, reported last year, Common Core’s technological project is “merely one part of a much broader plan by the federal government to track individuals from birth through their participation in the workforce.” The 2009 porkulus package included a “State Fiscal Stabilization Fund” to bribe states into constructing “longitudinal data systems (LDS) to collect data on public-school students.”

 

These systems will aggregate massive amounts of personal data — health-care histories, income information, religious affiliations, voting status and even blood types and homework completion. The data will be available to a wide variety of public agencies. And despite federal student-privacy protections guaranteed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the Obama administration is paving the way for private entities to buy their way into the data boondoggle. Even more alarming, the U.S. Department of Education is encouraging a radical push from aggregate-level data-gathering to invasive individual student-level data collection.

 

The National Education Data Model, available online at http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentElementarySecondary , lists hundreds of data points considered indispensable to the nationalized student tracking racket. These include:

–”Bus Stop Arrival Time” and “Bus Stop Description.”

–”Dwelling arrangement.”

–”Diseases, Illnesses and Other Health Conditions.”

–”Religious Affiliation.”

–”Telephone Number Type” and “Telephone Status.”

 

Home-schoolers and religious families that reject traditional government education would be tracked. Original NEDM data points included hair color, eye color, weight, blood types and even dental status.

How exactly does amassing and selling such personal data improve educational outcomes? It doesn’t. This, at its core, is the central fraud of Washington’s top-down nationalized curricular scheme. The Bill Gates-endorsed Common Core “standards” are a phony pretext for big-government expansion. The dazzling allure of “21st-century technology” masks the privacy-undermining agenda of nosy bureaucratic drones allergic to transparency, accountability and parental autonomy.

Education vs Common Core

How to survive it!

reason-for-common-core

Some of my readers are complaining that their biology teachers (at both the local high school and junior college) are promising them a much harder time this year than they gave the religious students last year after my article: https://larryemarshall.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/how-to-pass-high-school-biology/ was passed around. So the cry for more help to circumvent the idiocy of teacher’s who want to teach evolution as a religion instead of as a theory with others such as Intelligent Design: (check out https://larryemarshall.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/evolution-and-intelligent-design/ and https://larryemarshall.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/the-theology-of-atheism/ for some further information).

The students often feel a bit like David vs Goliath. Goliath occupies the podium at the front of the class, and holds the power of pass or fail over the students, and they appears to have the authority of the scientific community on their side.

Goliath uses the false logic of “ad hominem” by stating teaching biology without evolution would be like teaching chemistry without molecules, or physics without mass and energy. While the chemistry and physics examples may be true that does not make the biology example true. Instead of students’ growing more comfortable with the dissension and tension growing between evolution and religion, the opposite seems to have happened as the various Goliath’s are forcing the David’s to accept beliefs that they know to be false.

To keep things civil, let’s identify Goliath not with the teacher themselves, but with the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution. Neo-Darwinism, attacks religious faith on three fronts:

  1. There’s no evidence for intelligent design in biology, because random variation and natural selection — an entirely mechanical, undirected process — can do the designing. Thus, there are no evidential grounds for believing in a creator of life or biological complexity.
  2. There’s nothing special about you or any other human being. You’re an animal like every other animal. Deal with it.
  3. There’s no solving the problem of natural evil. The more we know of evolution, the more unavoidable is the conclusion that living things, including human beings, are produced by a natural, very amoral process, with no indication of a benevolent, controlling creator.

Now, it has been a while since I was a college student studying biology but the teacher’s confidence and knowledge seemed intimidating and infallible and I am sure it is as bad today as it was then.

I had no mentors, I was supposed to believe what they told me. When I became discouraged, when it just didn’t seem to make sense, I took the tests and passed them and kept it in my mind that I needed to find “the truth” some day. I realized if I worked hard to understand the arguments against my own position inevitably, I would find the weaknesses in their arguments.

So, I offer the following suggestions to any students dealing with their own academic Goliaths.

First, no aggression-don’t talk back to the teacher or question their beliefs. David slaying Goliath is a justly famous account of bravery, but that was a literal battlefield. Your task is to persuade, not harm. Your sling and stones should be the real evidence — or its conspicuous absence. So with the righteousness of God’s truth, let us see what facts we can apply to discredit the three main points listed above.

Point 1) There’s no evidence for intelligent design in biology, because random variation and natural selection — an entirely mechanical, undirected process — can do the designing.

Okay — if this claim is true, we should be able to find in the scientific literature the detailed explanations for the origin of complex structures and behaviors, rendered strictly in terms of random variation plus natural selection.

Guess what? Those explanations are not there; they do not exist. If anyone doubts this, he should try looking for himself. Choose any complex structure or behavior, and look in the biological literature for the step-by-step causal account where the origin of that structure (that is, it’s coming-to-be where it did not exist before) is explained via random variation and natural selection.

You’ll be looking a long time. The explanations just aren’t there, and this fact is well known to evolutionary biologists who have become disenchanted with perceived neo-Darwinian theory. When proponents of the perceived theory, such as Richard Dawkins, face the task of making random variation and natural selection work, they resort to fictional entities or flawed analogies such as the “methinks it is like a weasel” search algorithm scenario (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weasel_program) . No one would have to employ these fairy tales and stories, of course, if evidence were available showing the efficacy of random variation and a perchance to select construct novel complexity.

“Research on selection and adaptation,” notes Mary Jane West-Eberhard, a disenchanted evolutionary theorist, “may tell us why a trait persisted and spread, but it will not tell us where a trait came from….This transformational aspect of evolutionary change has been oddly neglected in modern evolutionary biology” (Developmental Plasticity and Evolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2003, p. 197). Typically, when a disappointed biologist such as West-Eberhard departs in search of a better theory of evolution, her point of leaving is dismay at the explanatory poverty of what neo-Darwinism has delivered over the past several decades. The theory promised big, great, wonderful possibilities and ‘truths’, instead it delivered very little of anything.

According to Jerry Coyne (Why Evolution Is True. New York: Viking 2009, p. 138), however, showing the details is not the job of evolutionary biologists:

In such cases the onus is not on evolutionary biologists to sketch out a precise step-by-step scenario documenting exactly how a complex character evolved. That would require knowing everything about what happened when we were not around — an impossibility for most traits and for nearly all biochemical pathways.

If that’s so, then how do we know that random variation and natural selection were actually sufficient? “Feasibility,” answers Coyne, and by that generous standard, “we know of no adaptations whose origin could not have involved natural selection”. After all, writes Coyne a few pages earlier (p. 136), “we know of no other natural process that can build a complex adaptation.”

Feasibility can be manufactured by yourself at any time. All you need is a smidgen of storytelling ability. Once one gets the hang of it, inventing the variations one needs and some sort of selective pressure to increase the frequency of (and fix) those variations in unobserved populations becomes a speculative exercise with no connection to biological reality. And saying that natural selection is the only game in town, particularly when one has excluded intelligent design a priori, does not allow us to credit selection with genuinely explaining the origin of complexity. The devil is in the details.

Random variation and natural selection aren’t the only game in town, of course, as the growth of the ID community over the past twenty years has demonstrated. If their claims about the sufficiency of neo-Darwinian theory fail, then the assertions about “indistinguishable” humanity and our bleakly amoral origins will tumble as well. Once the big guy — the Goliath theory — goes down, the lesser claims follow.

Point 2) There’s nothing special about you or any other human being. You’re an animal like every other animal. Deal with it.

Moreover, no literally supernatural trait has ever been found in Homo sapiens; we are perfectly good animals, natural as can be and indistinguishable from the rest of the living world at the level of structure as well as physiological mechanism.

I would be remiss not to point out that this belief by teachers and scientists also engages in profound reductionism by denigrating the unique moral value of humans beings.

Human exceptionalism doesn’t rely on provable “extra natural traits.” However, we alone are creative. In the 3.5 billion years of life on this planet, according to them, no other species has created a sonnet, no animal has created philosophy, and no animal comprehends right and wrong, good and evil, no animals fashion moral codes.

These are distinctions with a huge moral difference regardless of whether we evolved into these natural human capacities through random means, design, or creation.

Point 3) There’s no solving the problem of natural evil. The more we know of evolution, the more unavoidable is the conclusion that living things, including human beings, are produced by a natural, totally amoral process, with no indication of a benevolent, controlling creator. Although the natural world can be marvelous, it is also filled with ethical horrors: predation, parasitism, fratricide, infanticide, disease, pain, old age and death — and that suffering (like joy) is built into the nature of things.

But these aren’t ethical horrors at all in the natural world. Indeed, without death and its many causes, natural selection could not operate.

“Ethics” only come into play when the actions or consequences involve human action. Indeed, why is it only humans take such offense at these issues? Why do only we make moral judgments about any of this?

Because we are exceptional. And what other species works so empathetically to mitigate suffering? Perhaps that’s a spark of something indefinable that the teacher could explain to you.

No matter. I always get a chuckle out of ideologues, who so smugly claim the mantle of defender of objective science to push their anti-human exceptionalism (and anti-religious) views: Invariably, they invoke the same aspects of our intrinsic uniqueness that they huff and puff to deny.

Teachers consider themselves free to attack the worldviews of their students. Fair enough: do the students have the freedom to raise questions about the teacher’s favorite theory? Science is as science does: a strong theory, well supported by evidence, needs to fear no questions. A weak theory supported by half-truths and B.S., on the other hand — that theory should worry about a stone coming hard from a fast-whirling sling.

The Science of it All

Giant red leech

Natural Selection September 27

red_bue_worm

Giant Red Leech – This creature is so new to science that it does not yet have a taxonomic name. It is known to the tribes of Mount Kinabalu as the ‘Giant Red Leech.’ It was filmed for the first time by BBC filmmakers for the new series ‘Wonders of the Monsoon.’ “They have grown so big that they no longer simply suck blood but now actively hunt giant blue worms and suck them down like spaghetti. The worm it is eating is a whopping 78cm” Source: http://tinyurl.com/mzsfdk6 Video: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p026glh9