Democrats and the National School Board

posted at 2:31 pm on June 15, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

Andrew Malcom brings us a useful topic of discussion for the weekend, coming in the form of Senator Lamar Alexander delivering the GOP’s weekly remarks. A portion of his remarks focus on the pending battle over student loan fees and the competing plans being put forth by Republicans and Democrats. But Alexander goes a step further and takes the discussion to the meta level. While the Democrats’ plan seeks continued and increased regulation of interest rates, the GOP is looking at a more market based solution, taking advantage of the continued low rates being offered in the market. This, however, is just a symptom of a larger philosophical difference, as the Senator points out, and it defines our collective approach to education in this country and how we pay for it and administrate it.

Between now and the end of the month, Senate Republicans will work hard with the President and with the House to produce an agreement that ensures all student borrowers benefit from today’s low interest rates. That would mean that 100 percent of all new student loans made this year would have a rate below five percent.

We may be in agreement on student loans, but we have a major disagreement about who should be in charge of our 100,000 public schools that educate 50 million American children.

To put it simply, Democrats want a national school board; Republicans favor local control.

Over the last decade, the United States Department of Education has become so congested with federal mandates that it has actually become, in effect, a national school board.

If you remember the childhood game, ‘Mother, May I?’ then you have a pretty good sense of how the process works—states must come to Washington for approval of their plans to educate their students.

These weekly remarks can often get swept under the rug, particularly in electoral off-years, but this one is worth a full read. Liberal opponents of conservative doctrine frequently deride the idea that smaller government is better, depicting conservatives as people who simply hate government (and taxes) as a matter of rote memorization. However, those who have paid attention in history class know that the nation’s track record has demonstrated over and over again how there are some things which the federal government is simply not good at. While the list of such things is too long to flesh out here, education would certainly rank up near the top spot.

A national solution to something as basic as transportation infrastructure is complicated enough, because the individual conditions vary wildly with geography. Education is far more complex, and what works well in one area may not be a good fit in another. Communities are far better equipped to define what their own needs are and the best ways to structure and pay for them. But it goes even deeper than that. Education is a subject which looms large on the question of who is best suited to be responsible for raising children and preparing them for the world awaiting them upon graduation. Some may feel that Washington should be in charge, but the real answer is found in the community and – far more to the point – the family. And families need as many options as possible, including private schools and home schooling in addition to public institutions. (We’ve covered plenty of those battles here before.)

Alexander seems to be on the same general train of thought.

Republicans voted to move in a different direction. We offered a two-hundred-and-twenty-page plan to help children in public schools learn what they need to know and be able to do by restoring responsibility to states and communities, and giving teachers and parents freedom, flexibility, and choice.

We call it, ‘Every Child Ready for College or Career.’

Our plan emphasizes state and local decision-making. It puts Washington out of the business of deciding whether local schools are succeeding or failing.

It rejects federal mandates that create a national school board, and prohibits the Education Secretary from prescribing standards or accountability systems for states. It continues the requirement that states have high standards and quality tests, but doesn’t prescribe those standards.

The Senator is on to something here, and you should be up to speed on this discussion. Democrats love talking about education as one of the critical debates in the national forum – and it is. But this is one which can be addressed with some common sense and proposals which a significant majority of the country should be able to grasp and get behind. Spread the word.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

All student loans controlled and directed by the Federal government.

What could go wrong?

KCsecurity1976 on June 15, 2013 at 2:35 PM

From Alexander’s address:

Together, they’ve imposed federal standards for what children must know in reading and math, they’ve coerced some states into adopting Common Core standards, and they’ve imposed federal definitions of how a state should measure school, teacher, and principal performance.

Jazz, you need to mention Common Core in writing about education.

The thing is that it’s not just some states, it’s almost every state that has adopted it. There has been a battle in many state legislatures this past winter/spring to get rid of it. States with Republican governors are merrily marching to the tune of the DOE.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 2:46 PM

No national curriculum and no federal school board.

Texas has rejected CORE.

workingclass artist on June 15, 2013 at 2:48 PM

This post has a pamphlet that gives an overview of Common Core:

An Overview of Common Core

INC on June 15, 2013 at 2:49 PM

El_Terrible on June 15, 2013 at 2:15 PM

Nice blog … all yours (havn’t read ‘about’ page yet)?

gh on June 15, 2013 at 2:53 PM

There are already three different Federal laws prohibiting nationalized education. You won’t be surprised to learn that Erne Duncan and the DOE have been busy doing an end run around them with Common Core.

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/uncategorized/states-fighting-back-map-update/

As you can see from this map in May, AK, TX, VA, NE and MN are listed as the only states who have not adopted Common Core, however, I believe MN has adopted the math standards, and I read the other week that they’re trying to bring CC in through the back door in AK.

BTW, Sarah Palin was the first governor to reject CC, and Rick Perry was the second. Again, no surprise there.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 2:54 PM

In other news…Achmedinnerjacket lost.

workingclass artist on June 15, 2013 at 2:55 PM

INC on June 15, 2013 at 2:49 PM

Argghh … did not proof read carefully above … nice high-school pic …

gh on June 15, 2013 at 2:57 PM

Centralized planning…Worked great every time it was tried, didn’t it? The government can’t even pay attention to two terrorists when the Russians warn us about them, so what makes these Congresscritters think they’ll get a national education board to work any better?

I’m tempted to start looking into moving to Canada.

Liam on June 15, 2013 at 2:58 PM

gh on June 15, 2013 at 2:57 PM

Thanks! Were you talking about my About page above?

INC on June 15, 2013 at 2:59 PM

Two big sites to watch and read for information and updates:

http://fightcommoncore.com/

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:00 PM

INC on June 15, 2013 at 2:59 PM

:-) … but I’m a little younger than you … my earliest memory, from just after I turned 5 was when my father said “the americans kill all their best presidents” … his politics are a little to my left.

gh on June 15, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Huge lists of sites—check to see if there is a group in your state:

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/about-us/network-participants/

The groups and individuals participating in the network include parent-founded education watchdogs, grassroots organizations interested in fiscal and curriculum issues, family organizations, free-market think-tanks, private school groups, and nationwide advocacy groups.

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/about-us/related-websites/

Truth in American Education (TAE) focuses on issues related to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), CCSS assessments, Race to the Top (RTTT), student privacy and state longitudinal data systems (SLDS), and the Elementary and Secondary Education ACT (ESEA)/No Child Left Behind (NCLB). This page links to websites or web pages dedicated to providing information about one or more of these topics to better inform the public about the issues involved.

Even if you don’t see a group where you are, because CC is an attempt to nationalize education, a lot of the information is applicable to everyone.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:03 PM

gh on June 15, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Same here. It’s been weird being more conservative than my parents (my dad’s now deceased).

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Even if you don’t see a group where you are, because CC is an attempt to nationalize education, a lot of the information is applicable to everyone.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:03 PM

I just got down to the map on your page about CC.

Attempt??? Looks like fait accompli. If a democrat wins the presidency in 2016, home-schooling will be banned. Count on it. Private schools will be left alone. That’s where the elite will send their kids.

gh on June 15, 2013 at 3:07 PM

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:05 PM

At 83, my father is in better physical shape than I am. I’ve been working on curing him (politically) but it’s hard to teach on old dog …

gh on June 15, 2013 at 3:10 PM

gh on June 15, 2013 at 3:07 PM

It does look bad, doesn’t it? You should know though that there have been fierce battles in individual states about it. IMO there’s a growing grassroots opposition. I don’t even specialize in it on my blog, but I get hits on old CC posts I wrote several months ago.

Also, CC is going to be a financial disaster. It along with Obamacare are going to explode. I think some governors and legislatures will have their heads handed to them.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:12 PM

gh on June 15, 2013 at 3:10 PM

I know. Watching Obama for the last few years, however, did kind of wake up my mom.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:13 PM

This is from another post I’ve written on CC, The Radical Fingerprints On Common Core:

Last September Stanley Kurtz published a column adapted from his book Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities.

The 2008 controversy over Obama’s years of education work with that famously unrepentant Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers has faded from view. For a moment, it seemed as though Ayers’ radical education legacy would carry forward into Obama’s presidency. That’s because Linda Darling-Hammond, Ayers’ favorite education expert and head of Obama’s education transition team, was on a fast track to appointment as secretary of education until her leftism alienated even many Democrats…

The core of the hard-left’s education agenda – a program shared by Obama, Ayers, and Darling-Hammond alike – has three parts: 1) a politicized curriculum that promotes leftist notions of “social justice,” 2) reducing “disparate outcomes” between students in different districts by undercutting standards, and 3) a redistribution of suburban education funding to less-well-off urban schools. Achieving these goals on a broad scale requires the federal government to usurp local control of K-12 schooling….

Far from having departing the scene, Obama’s former adviser, Linda Darling-Hammond, is at the center of this plan [for federal control of K–12 schooling]….

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:14 PM

Almost two years ago at Pajamas Media in Arne Duncan’s Brave New World: Dept. of Education Wants Your Kid’s Blood Type? Patrick Richardson wrote:

Indeed PJM has seen the datasets — and they might be accurately described as a brave new world. While not all of the information in these sets is mandatory at this time, the level of detail being asked for is unsettling.

The sets include such things as hair color, eye color, gestational age at birth (whether a child was premature or not), blood type, blood test results, birth marks, and even bus stop arrival time.

No Child Left Behind prohibited a national database, but Georgia’s Stop Common Core has highlighted federal and state collusion on databases in What Is the Relationship Between Common Core and Student Privacy/Data-Collection?, and last August in JR Wilson: Parents Need to Know About Student Data Privacy, Wilson raised a number of questions.

It appears the federal government is dancing around the issue of developing a nationwide database. While the federal government is not developing it, they are supporting, promoting, encouraging, and funding with tax dollars the development of state longitudinal data systems.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:16 PM

Heritage Foundation and Cato have both come out against CC.

This is from a few days ago by Neal McCluskey at Cato. He’s written a number of columns about CC.

Common Core Deceive-and-Denigrate Campaign Continues

http://www.cato.org/blog/tags/common-core

http://www.cato.org/blog/topics/education-and-child-policy

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:19 PM

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:05 PM

I went to public schools except for one year when I was 8. My children (both girls) have each had 9 years of Montessori followed by 5 years at a private Opus Dei high-school. Neither my wife nor I are Catholic but the school is very small and struggles with enrolment so it’s easy to get in.

I already knew the schools were bad but when my eldest was 2, I was sharing an office with a chinese post-doctoral student with a 5 year-old daughter who asked me for advice about getting her daughter into a “the good” grade 1 class at her local school — she had been told by her friends that only one of the 4 grade 1 teachers was worth having. My advice[*] worked for her but I decided at that point that I could not afford the time to do the same thing she had done every year.

[*] Told her to just ask the school to put the child in the desired class.

gh on June 15, 2013 at 3:20 PM

gh on June 15, 2013 at 3:20 PM

I’m glad the school was flexible for her. Some would not have done that.

I ended up homeschooling our kids for most of their education. During their high school years they also took some courses at the local community college and our son was in a homeschool co-op.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:25 PM

This is from a Georgia site:

http://stopcommoncore.com/commoncore/

What Is The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI)?

CCSSI is the effort that created and is attempting to impose on states a set of national K-12 standards (Common Core). Common Core was developed primarily by a nonprofit called Achieve, Inc., in Washington, D.C., under the auspices of the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The Standards cover mathematics and English language arts (although they also claim to cover “literacy” in other subjects such as science, history/social studies, and technical subjects). Currently, two consortia of states have accepted hundreds of millions in federal money to create national tests to align with the Standards.

There are excellent sites in MO and UT. I don’t live in any of these states, but I’ve learned a lot from their sites.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:26 PM

This Common Core thing is a mess. I hear respected people like Bill Bennett say it’s got good bench marks and than I hear the parents stating it is horrific. Is the truth somewhere in the middle? Who’s being fooled?

Cindy Munford on June 15, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Cindy Munford on June 15, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Bill Bennett is being fooled.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:32 PM

Cindy, there were committee members who refused to sign off on CC.

Give me a few minutes to get some of that info.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:33 PM

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:33 PM

I have heard callers from Texas on his show complaining about Common Core but it looks as if the state has rejected it….does that mean that localities within the state can sign on if they want?

Cindy Munford on June 15, 2013 at 3:36 PM

What Experts Realize About Common Core Standards: 2012 has quotes and opinions on its standards from educators and think tanks including two members of the Common Core validation committee.

Dr. James Milgram, Professor of Math at Stanford University, emeritus, had such serious reservations about the fuzzy math of Common Core (Obama’s educational movement) that Milgram refused to sign off on the standards’ adequacy– as an official member of the Common Core Validation Committee….

Dr. Sandra Stotsky [Endowed Chair in Teacher Quality at the University of Arkansas], another Validation Committee member, felt the same way about the Common Core English standards….

Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram not only refused to sign off on the standards, but have gone on to testify with a warning voice to state legislatures and school boards about the inadequacy of the standards.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:37 PM

Cindy Munford on June 15, 2013 at 3:36 PM

I’m not sure why they’ve called. Truth in American Education had a post about a Texas parent who found references to CC in a text. TAE posted something from the school board, and it seems it was a problem with the publisher—that’s another aspect to this.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:39 PM

The Senator is on to something here, and you should be up to speed on this discussion. Democrats love talking about education as one of the critical debates in the national forum – and it is. But this is one which can be addressed with some common sense and proposals which a significant majority of the country should be able to grasp and get behind. Spread the word.

If he thinks the Democrats/Progressives will ever give up control over the Nation’s education system, after having wrested it from state and local control, you are sadly mistaken.

Their adherence to the ideology of abortion pales to insignificance relative to their near monopoly here. This is the point of the spear for them and they will, literally, kill before they deli ghosh control over the minds and souls of the nation’s young.

Spread THAT word.

Cleombrotus on June 15, 2013 at 3:40 PM

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/common-core-makes-a-surprise-appearance-in-texas/

Update: Here’s a response from this particular school district. It does seem to be an issue with publishers.

Investigations is a resource we use to teach the Texas standards, not the common core standards. Investigations, does not have a book they individualize for each state, they develop their resource and sell it nation-wide, thus their choice to put common core on the front cover….

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:41 PM

deli gosh= relinguish. (Darned autocorrect)

Cleombrotus on June 15, 2013 at 3:42 PM

As I said above, if you want to know the latest info, these are the two big sites to watch and read for information and updates, as well as links to smaller sites and blogs run by state and parent groups:

http://fightcommoncore.com/

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/

This is a list of posts I’ve written, and again, I don’t even specialize in CC.

http://upstreampolitics.wordpress.com/family/children/education/common-core/

Let me pull a few things out about the educational standards and the costs.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Truth in American Education has pointed out that the DOE is essentially violating three federal laws.

With only minor exceptions, the General Education Provisions Act, the Department of Education Organization Act, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), ban the Department from directing, supervising, or controlling elementary and secondary school curriculum, programs of instruction, and instructional materials.

“The Department has designed a system of discretionary grants and conditional waivers that effectively herds states into accepting specific standards and assessments favored by the Department,” said Robert S. Eitel, who co-authored the report with Kent D. Talbert. [ See The Road to a National Curriculum: The Legal Aspects of the Common Core Standards, Race to the Top, and Conditional Waivers].

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Cleombrotus on June 15, 2013 at 3:42 PM

I think you meant “relinquish”.

gh on June 15, 2013 at 3:48 PM

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Isn’t DOE “energy” ?

gh on June 15, 2013 at 3:50 PM

On January 29, 2013 The Washington Post published A tough critique of Common Core on early childhood education by Valerie Strauss.

It appears that early childhood teachers and child development experts were excluded from the K-3 standards-writing process.

When the standards were first revealed in March 2010, many early childhood educators and researchers were shocked. “The people who wrote these standards do not appear to have any background in child development or early childhood education,” wrote Stephanie Feeney of the University of Hawaii, chair of the Advocacy Committee of the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators.

The promoters of the standards claim they are based in research. They are not….

a critically important statement opposing the K-3 standards, signed by more than 500 early childhood professionals. The Joint Statement of Early Childhood Health and Education Professionals on the Common Core Standards Initiative was signed by educators, pediatricians, developmental psychologists, and researchers, including many of the most prominent members of those fields.

Their statement reads in part:

We have grave concerns about the core standards for young children…. The proposed standards conflict with compelling new research in cognitive science, neuroscience, child development, and early childhood education about how young children learn, what they need to learn, and how best to teach them in kindergarten and the early grades….

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:50 PM

Isn’t DOE “energy” ?

gh on June 15, 2013 at 3:50 PM

Do I have that wrong? I meant Dept of Education.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:51 PM

A search brings up both Energy and Education. Most people probably think of Energy first because it gets discussed more often. I’ll just keep using DOE here because it’s fast than writing Dept.Ed.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:53 PM

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:51 PM

I don’t know if you are wrong. I was a (foreign) grad student in a DOE (energy) lab and I’ve occasionally seen DOE for “education” but I think officially DOE is energy. Acronyms get really fun if you have to deal with NASA or the US military.

gh on June 15, 2013 at 3:55 PM

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:51 PM

Useful to know …

gh on June 15, 2013 at 3:56 PM

Last November Barry Garelick wrote an article for The Atlantic, A New Kind of Problem: The Common Core Math Standards, subtitled “A set of guidelines adopted by 45 states this year may turn children into “little mathematicians” who don’t know how to do actual math.” These paragraphs caught my eye.

Let’s look first at the 97 pages of what are called “Content Standards.” Many of these standards require that students to be able to explain why a particular procedure works. It’s not enough for a student to be able to divide one fraction by another. He or she must also “use the relationship between multiplication and division to explain that (2/3) ÷ (3/4) = 8/9, because 3/4 of 8/9 is 2/3.”

It’s an odd pedagogical agenda, based on a belief that conceptual under- standing must come before practical skills can be mastered. As this thinking goes, students must be able to explain the “why” of a procedure. Otherwise, solving a math problem becomes a “mere calculation” and the student is viewed as not having true understanding.

This approach not only complicates the simplest of math problems; it also leads to delays. Under the Common Core Standards, students will not learn traditional methods of adding and subtracting double and triple digit numbers until fourth grade. (Currently, most schools teach these skills two years earlier.) The standard method for two and three digit multiplication is delayed until fifth grade; the standard method for long division until sixth. In the meantime, the students learn alternative strategies that are far less efficient, but that presumably help them “understand” the conceptual underpinnings.

You may have noticed that opposition against CC is not found only in the conservative camp. Parents and educators of different political philosophies oppose it.

Garelick quotes a parent’s e-mail:

They implemented Common Core this year in our school system in Tennessee. I have a third grader who loved math and got A’s in math until this year, where he struggles to get a C. He struggles with “explaining” how he got his answer after using “mental math.” In fact, I had no idea how to explain it! It’s math 2+2=4. I can’t explain it, it just is.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:57 PM

… may turn children into “little mathematicians” …
INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:57 PM

There’s no danger of that. I am one and I doubt very much that Barry Garelick is.

gh on June 15, 2013 at 4:00 PM

gh on June 15, 2013 at 3:55 PM

I’m not sure what to do with the acronym. Searching for DOE gives me energy.gov and ed.gov

When I’m commenting on CC, just assume I mean ed., unless I specifically mention energy.

I do think energy is discussed more here. Education gets short shrift although people do complain about the progressives being in charge of it.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:01 PM

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:01 PM

Ignore me on this … I am often wrong.

gh on June 15, 2013 at 4:02 PM

gh on June 15, 2013 at 4:00 PM

I don’t think he was claiming to be one. He was pointing out it out as a parent.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:02 PM

gh on June 15, 2013 at 4:02 PM

No, good point. I don’t want to be confusing.

***

Where’s the Math? is a Washington State group of parents, educators and citizens who list these CCSS math concerns.

The CCSS Mathematics Standards:

–Delay development of some key concepts and skills.

–Include significant mathematical sophistication written at a level beyond understanding of most parents, students, administrators, decision makers and many teachers.

Lack coherence and clarity to be consistently interpreted by students, parents, teachers, administrators, curriculum developers, textbook developers/publishers, and assessment developers. Will this lead to consistent expectations and equity?

–Have standards inappropriately placed, including delayed requirement for standard algorithms, which will hinder student success and waste valuable instructional time.

Treat important topics unevenly. This will result in inefficient use of instructional and practice time.

–Are not well organized at the high school level. Some important topics are insufficiently covered. The standards are not divided into defined courses.

–Place emphasis on Standards for Mathematical Practice which supports a constructivist approach. This approach is typical of “reform” math programs to which many parents across the country object.

–Publishers of reform programs are aligning them with the CCSS Standards for Mathematical Practice. The CCSS will not necessarily improve the math programs being used in many schools.

–Unusual and unproven approach to geometry.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:05 PM

Christopher H. Tienken, editor of AASA (American Association of School Administrators) Journal of Scholarship and Practice, unsparingly scorches Common Core in his commentary, Common Core State Standards: An Example of Data-less Decision Making.

The standards have not been validated empirically and no metric has been set to monitor the intended and unintended consequences they will have on the education system and children…

The vendors of the CCSS claim that the standards address critical skills necessary to compete in the 21st century. If so, why do they repackage 19th century ideas and skills? We only need to look at the mid 1800’s and the Lancasterian Method used in London and some of America’s cities and the Quincy, Massachusetts schools to see how the idea of standardization will play out. It did not work then and it will not work now. The language arts and mathematics curriculum sequences embedded in the standards are nothing more than rehashed versions of the recommendations from the Committee of Ten in 1893 and the Committee of 15 in 1895; hardly 21st Century innovations.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:07 PM

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:02 PM

I was just being extra rude. Obama and friends probably have this in mind.

The real problem is that the feminists are going after math because girls don’t do it. It is not that they can’t but that they won’t.

My eldest did engineering (just finished) only because there seemed to be no opportunities in architecture and she hates biology. Her real interest is writing but I pointed out to her what David Eddings had to go through (he wrote about it) and suggested she avoid the starving artist route.

gh on June 15, 2013 at 4:11 PM

Obamacore: The substitution of propaganda for great literature in our schools at Power Line in December.

Controversy is brewing over new Common Core State Standards in English that call on public schools to emphasize the reading of “information text” instead of fictional literature….

…The government has nothing much against literature, per se. Rather, this initiative is driven in large part by the desire to promote political propaganda in the classroom. The study of literature is being downgraded in the process, but for a good cause. Consider that one of the “informational texts” recommended as a replacement for, say, Great Expectations is “Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management.”…

Another Common Core’s non-fiction exemplar is an excerpt from a 2009 New Yorker essay by Atul Gawande on health care. This too is propaganda – an effort to show that Obamacare is wise policy.

In reality the government may have something against literature. Progressives have tried to take us down this road before as Stanley Kurtz notes in Obama and Your Child’s Mind:

There’s a history here. Early in the 20th century, progressive educators eager to transform society pushed to drastically reduce the place of classic literature in the curriculum and put in “socially useful” non-fiction readings instead. The movement culminated in the 1930s, when educators who believed that capitalism was on the way out succeeded in limiting the reading of classic literature and inserting a very left-leaning social studies curriculum in many schools. So while even literature can be taught in politically biased ways, those seeking to politicize the K–12 curriculum have long sought to pare back classic fiction and substitute non-fiction treating contemporary issues.

This is why the Founders kept control of the schools out of federal hands. No one party or force should be able to shape the entire nation’s school curriculum. There lies the way to tyranny….

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:14 PM

gh on June 15, 2013 at 4:11 PM

I was a math ed major. I have to tell you from my early days as a young teenager back in the 60′s because I enjoyed math I felt a push to go into it as well as take science. I should have majored elsewhere.

Perhaps your daughter can pick up writing and do it on the side.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:17 PM

Power Line cited a Washington Post column Common core sparks war over words.

The new standards, which are slowly rolling out now and will be in place by 2014, require that nonfiction texts represent 50 percent of reading assignments in elementary schools, and the requirement grows to 70 percent by grade 12.

Imagination and stories are an important part of a child’s life. Literature—good literature—touches the reality of what it means to be human and presents it to us in fiction. It entertains us and teaches us. Authors don’t write in a vacuum, and information and critical thinking can be learned wrapped up in the lives and foolish or wise acts of the characters. The Post quotes educators who take issue with the standards:

Sandra Stotsky, who wrote the outgoing Massachusetts’ pre-K-to-12 standards, which are regarded as among the best in the nation, said the Common Core’s emphasis on nonfiction is misguided. [I mentioned Stotsky above]

Tackling rich literature is the best way to prepare students for careers and college, said Stotsky, who blames mediocre national reading scores on weak young adult literature popular since the 1960s.

“There is no research base for the claim that informational reading will lead to college preparedness better than complex literary study,” said Stotsky, a professor at the University of Arkansas.

Of the recommended texts listed at the Post, the best, such as Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville are texts that should be taught and discussed in history and government and civics classes—not English. I think primary documents are vital, but I’m very skeptical about which excerpts from de Tocqueville will be used and how. I really don’t expect Common Core guidelines to let Democracy in America speak for itself.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:22 PM

Perhaps your daughter can pick up writing and do it on the side.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:17 PM

My daughter wrote a 100 page story when she was nine. She has not had time to write much since starting uni except in the summers. She has entered one local short story writing contest and that is the only thing of hers I have been allowed to read (she lets her friends critique it).

What she managed to pick up in uni was a lawyer (wedding is next January) …

gh on June 15, 2013 at 4:22 PM

gh on June 15, 2013 at 4:22 PM

Congratulations! Lawyers are among the most verbal of men so I’m not surprised at that. I’d bet she’s going to veer back into her writing.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:23 PM

The Post quoted high school English teacher, J. D. Wilson, as saying, “Reading for information makes you knowledgeable — you learn stuff, but reading literature makes you wise,” and described the creative way he handled the standards:

This fall, he has taught “Literature Is Not Data: Against Digital Humanities,” “Shakespeare, a Poet Who Is Still Making Our History” and “Who Killed the Liberal Arts?” They are all essays that emphasize the value of literature.

Homeschool families are notorious for their bookshelves. One reason is to provide good reading for their children. Many times I’ve seen libraries remove good literature from their shelves and replace them with the latest gore, scream or decadent fad. I’ve snapped them up at library used book sales. Reading opens up a world to a child and the kind of world the author invites you to experience matters.

I thought this rebuke from Nell Duke at the University of Michigan was amusingly ludicrous:

Historically, elementary schools haven’t given kids much opportunity to read that kind of text. For those kids, reading storybook after storybook about talking animals could be a bit of a turnoff.

Children are fascinated with stories about talking animals. Has Duke never heard of C. S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles or Charlotte’s Web or Stuart Little or My Father’s Dragon or the Redwall books? The Wind in the Willows? The Beatrix Potter books? Does he think these books became best-selling children’s classics because children found them boring?

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:24 PM

… math ed …
INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:17 PM

Not quite the same thing as math.

gh on June 15, 2013 at 4:24 PM

On the money:

Math is hard—especially for educational bureaucrats and politicians. Are you sitting down?

On February 22, 2012 (yes, this came out over a year ago) the National Costs of Aligning States and Localities to the Common Core Standards white paper was released by the Pioneer Institute, American Principles Project and Pacific Research Institute. From the Pioneer Institute:

“Very few of the states that adopted Common Core vetted the costs and benefits beforehand,” said Theodor Rebarber, lead contributor to the analysis, National Cost of Aligning States and Localities to the Common Core Standards. “While test-development costs will be covered by federal grants, these states are also likely to see their overall expenditures increase significantly.”

The study, which only calculates expenses directly associated with the transition, finds that states are likely to incur $10.5 billion in one-time costs….

The nearly $16 billion [over seven years] in additional costs is nearly four times the federal government’s Race to the Top grant awards,” said Pioneer Institute Executive Director Jim Stergios. “With state and local taxpayers footing 90 percent of the bill for K-12 public education, the federal government’s push to get states to adopt national standards and tests amounts to one big unfunded mandate.”

“In coercing states to adopt the Common Core State Standards program, the US DOE and various private trade groups have denied the American people and their elected state legislators any meaningful chance to study either its academic quality or cost implications,” said Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project….

“The cruel irony is that in their chase for elusive federal grant dollars states have largely ignored the cost of implementing the national education standards that the US DOE and DC special interests are foisting on them,” said Lance Izumi, Koret Senior Fellow in Education Studies at the Pacific Research Institute. “Especially in deficit-plagued states like California, it was simply fiscal madness to agree to the national-standards regime and its massive future costs.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:27 PM

Not quite the same thing as math.

gh on June 15, 2013 at 4:24 PM

??? I did take courses in the math dept. It was not merely educational coursework.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:29 PM

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:24 PM

I read C.S. Lewis as a child but I only had the first two books in the series and had to get the others from the library. My wife bought the entire series in paperback when she was doing her masters.

I started reading them to my daughter when she was 5 or 6 and after 6 months she started reading them herself.

gh on June 15, 2013 at 4:29 PM

Do I have that wrong? I meant Dept of Education.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 3:51 PM

DoEd

I think even the .gov uses that to distinguish it from Energy.

Solaratov on June 15, 2013 at 4:29 PM

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:29 PM

The problem is that real math doesn’t start until the 3rd undergraduate year. A proper curriculum would allow calculus to be introduced at the beginning of high school. The way math is treated in the Montessori system would allow this.

gh on June 15, 2013 at 4:34 PM

Sandra Stotsky testified in Indiana. She mentioned that five out of the twenty-five members of the Common Core Validation Committee did not sign off on it.

Sandra Stotsky – Testimony Before Indiana Senate Education Committee on Common Core

She calla the standards mediocre and goes on to say..

Common Core’s “college readiness”ELA/R standards were deliberately designed as empty skill sets to enable a large number of high school students to be declared “college ready” and to enroll in post-secondary institutions that will have no choice but to place them in credit-bearing courses. These institutions will then likely be under pressure from the USDE to retain these students in order to increase college graduation rates even if they are reading at only middle school level.

OK there she uses the the acronym USDE which I suppose stands for U.S. Dept. of Education.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:36 PM

No, no, no, no, no.

Do not go along with Lamar Alexander. He is no friend to local control or state sovereignty of education development/delivery. His 1989 speech to governors is the precursor to Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top. This is a Trojan Horse.

http://www.missourieducationwatchdog.com/2013/06/lamar-alexander-educational-plans-then.html

manateespirit on June 15, 2013 at 4:38 PM

gh on June 15, 2013 at 4:34 PM

I was once familiar with Montessori at the early childhood level, but I have no familiarity with it in high school years.

I did take calculus as a college freshman. I had some introduction to calculus as a high school senior.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:39 PM

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:39 PM

Montessori never got past age 12. She had a radical idea for high school but was never able to get it going. Several people have tried to implement her ideas for high-school with mixed success.

My experience with calculus is the same as yours. However, I moved to Canada when I was 9 and was always a little ahead of the class so most years I was allowed to sit at the back and work on my own.

gh on June 15, 2013 at 4:45 PM

See Lamar, this is you problem in a nutshell:

Republicans voted to move in a different direction. We offered a two-hundred-and-twenty-page plan to help children in public schools learn what they need to know and be able to do by restoring responsibility to states and communities, and giving teachers and parents freedom, flexibility, and choice.

We call it, ‘Every Child Ready for College or Career.’

Until you learn how to write 10,000 page bills and give them REALLY cool acronyms, you will stay a minority and pass no bills.

WryTrvllr on June 15, 2013 at 4:47 PM

In her Indiana testimony Stotsky went on to say:

After the Common Core Initiative was launched in early 2009, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers never explained to the public what the qualifications were for membership on the standards-writing committees or how it would justify the specific standards they created. Most important, they never explained why Common Core’s high school exit standards were equal to college admission requirements without qualification, even though this country’s wide-ranging post-secondary institutions use a variety of criteria for admission.

Eventually responding to the many charges of a lack of transparency, the names of the24 members of the “Standards Development Work Group” were revealed in a July 1,2009 news release. The vast majority, it appeared, work for testing companies. Not only did CCSSO and NGA give no rationale for the composition of this Work Group, it gave no rationale for the people it put on the two three-member teams in charge of writing the grade-level standards.

Another seemingly important committee, a Validation Committee, was set up with great fanfare on September 24, 2009. The 25 members of this group were described as a group of national and international experts who would ensure that Common Core’s standards were internationally benchmarked and supported by a body of research evidence. Even though several of us regularly asked to examine this supposed body of research evidence, it became clear why our requests were ignored. In December 2009, the Parent Teacher Association indicated the real role of this committee–more like that of a rubber stamp. The PTA predicted that: “both sets of standards will be approved simultaneously in February 2010 by members of the Validation Committee.” Why did it think so? The final version of these standards didn’t come out until June 2010.

After submitting many detailed critiques from October 2009 to May 2010 in a futile effort to remedy the basic deficiencies of Common Core’s English/reading standards, I along with four other members of the Validation Committee, declined to sign on the final version.

I believe Dr. James Milgram, who I mentioned above, was the only mathematician on the Validation Committee, and he was one of the five who refused to sign.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:50 PM

Lois Lerner is appropriately named to be in charge of re-education in Amerika.

pat on June 15, 2013 at 4:51 PM

In short, as with all the other Obama administration initiatives, Common Core has no empirical validation, will only make things worse, is a financial disaster, and is designed to place policy—in this case the indoctrination education of the future of our country—in the iron grip of the Federal government.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:57 PM

BTW, the RNC has rejected Common Core. From April:

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/rnc-passes-anti-common-core-resolution-at-their-spring-meeting/

RESOLUTION CONCERNING COMMON CORE EDUCATION STANDARDS

WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of academic standards, promoted and supported by two private membership organizations, the National Governor’s Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) as a method for conforming American students to uniform (“one size fits all”) achievement goals to make them more competitive in a global marketplace, (1.) and

WHEREAS, the NGA and the CCSSO, received tens of millions of dollars from private third parties to advocate for and develop the CCSS strategy, subsequently created the CCSS through a process that was not subject to any freedom of information acts or other sunshine laws, and never piloted the CCSS, and

WHEREAS, even though Federal Law prohibits the federalizing of curriculum (2.), the Obama Administration accepted the CCSS plan and used 2009 Stimulus Bill money to reward the states that were most committed to the president’s CCSS agenda; but, they failed to give states, their legislatures and their citizens time to evaluate the CCSS before having to commit to them, and

WHEREAS, the NGA and CCSSO in concert with the same corporations developing the CCSS ‘assessments’ have created new textbooks, digital media and other teaching materials aligned to the standards which must be purchased and adopted by local school districts in order that students may effectively compete on CCSS ‘assessments’, and

WHEREAS, the CCSS program includes federally funded testing and the collection and sharing of massive amounts of personal student and teacher data, and

WHEREAS, the CCSS effectively removes educational choice and competition since all schools and all districts must use Common Core ‘assessments’ based on the Common Core standards to allow all students to advance in the school system and to advance to higher education pursuits; therefore be it

RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee, as stated in the 2012 Republican Party Platform, “do not believe in a one size fits all approach to education and support providing broad education choices to parents and children at the State and local level,” (p35)(3.), which is best based on a free market approach to education for students to achieve individual excellence; and, be it further

RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee recognizes the CCSS for what it is– an inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children so they will conform to a preconceived “normal,” and, be it further

RESOLVED, That the Republican National Committee rejects the collection of personal student data for any non-educational purpose without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student’s parent and that it rejects the sharing of such personal data, without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student’s parent, with any person or entity other than schools or education agencies within the state, and be it finally

RESOLVED, the 2012 Republican Party Platform specifically states the need to repeal the numerous federal regulations which interfere with State and local control of public schools, (p36) (3.); and therefore, the Republican National Committee rejects this CCSS plan which creates and fits the country with a nationwide straitjacket on academic freedom and achievement.

As per usual the Republican politicians lag behind.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 5:09 PM

Did it (the GOP plan) include vouchers?
Until you convert the funding of the Dept. of Ed. into individual vouchers presented to each and every K-12 student in the land, you will not dismantle the National School Board, and you will certainly not effect an improvement in educational quality.

Another Drew on June 15, 2013 at 5:38 PM

Another Drew on June 15, 2013 at 5:38 PM

There is no official National School Board, but Obama and Duncan are working to create a de facto one. It’s the same way Obama has moved in other areas. Ignore laws and create regulations that become de facto laws.

The Dept. of Ed. needs to be abolished. It was created by Carter as payback to the NEA for supporting his candidacy.

INC on June 15, 2013 at 5:58 PM

The Post quoted high school English teacher, J. D. Wilson, as saying, “Reading for information makes you knowledgeable — you learn stuff, but reading literature makes you wise,” and described the creative way he handled the standards:

This fall, he has taught “Literature Is Not Data: Against Digital Humanities,” “Shakespeare, a Poet Who Is Still Making Our History” and “Who Killed the Liberal Arts?” They are all essays that emphasize the value of literature. INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:24 PM

Agreed.

All of the classic studies in the old school educational curriculum are important because they train the child to be a scholar for life.

I kept my kid in Catholic School until she transferred to a public high school Magnet in 10th grade. She was 2 years ahead in every academic subject compared to her public school peers.

One critical study that is not taught in public school is the fundamentals of philosophy…and in Catholic schools this is part of the curriculum starting in 6th grade.

What is my daughter doing now…She’s a playwright and has been accepted into a prestigious MFA program with a scholarship. The program is geared toward both artistic excellence and professional training. She’ll have three years to focus on her craft and sharpen her professional development, which is a blessing for artists. She works hard and she’s earned it.

It’s in NYC and she begins in September.

I think the world could use another thoughtful Catholic Playwright.

I’m getting her some new kickass cowboy boots to kick yankee ass.

: )

workingclass artist on June 15, 2013 at 8:12 PM

I thought this rebuke from Nell Duke at the University of Michigan was amusingly ludicrous:

Historically, elementary schools haven’t given kids much opportunity to read that kind of text. For those kids, reading storybook after storybook about talking animals could be a bit of a turnoff.

Children are fascinated with stories about talking animals. Has Duke never heard of C. S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles or Charlotte’s Web or Stuart Little or My Father’s Dragon or the Redwall books? The Wind in the Willows? The Beatrix Potter books? Does he think these books became best-selling children’s classics because children found them boring?

INC on June 15, 2013 at 4:24 PM

Yeah.

I became a reader listening to Mrs. Ward read aloud a child’s version of Greek Myths in 4th grade.

By the time I was in 7th grade I’d independently read The Iliad,The Odyssey and The Aeneid….Then I was set to begin the Norse Epic Tales…Onto the Arthurian Cycle.

By the time I was studying Art in college I was prepared to read the symbols in great works of Art because I’d already read the mythology,the theology and the history of the classic cultures of the West.

All visual Art contains symbols…and many of these date to specific visual alphabets that predate calligraphy.

Most Christian specifically Catholic and Traditional Jewish Art/Architecture retain this beautiful iconic symbology which is historical and has great depth of beauty and meaning. Modernism has tried to kill it…but iconoclasts are afraid of the power of the meaning of symbol and the hunger for the expression of it.

Whatever classic hook can engage the student is valuable.

workingclass artist on June 15, 2013 at 8:33 PM

I like it when an issue that cost Romney the election comes into focus!

In the Iowa Primary, Romney claimed he would abolish the Federal Department of Education. Two weeks before the election, Romney was busy explaining his new Federal education program goals. This is one of the reasons Romney was a failure as a cnadidate. No one had any idea what he stood for!

To me, the worst thing about education is the federal government. The Department of Education should be completely eliminated and ALL of the federal programs should be terminated. More than 30 years of FAILURE is ENOUGH!

Freddy on June 16, 2013 at 5:15 PM