Green Room

The Most Important Public Education Issue No One Talks About

posted at 12:58 pm on September 5, 2013 by

The Wall Street Journal reported this morning on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest figures on the national fertility rate. The headline is that it has started to stabilize after years of decline. That’s a glass half-full perspective. The half-empty perspective is that the fertility rate remained at a record low.

The WSJ article focuses on how the economy affects decisions about whether to have children, but it doesn’t mention how a falling fertility rate affects the future of the public education system. And I don’t expect to see  much about it in the education press because those effects are always about six years away.

As the Millennials worked their way through the public schools, it sparked a teacher hiring boom that lasted well into the beginnings of the latest recession. The drop-off in enrollment was abrupt, though predictable, adding to the severity of layoffs over the past three years. With birth rates at historic lows among a cohort that is already smaller than the previous generation, there is little chance of an enrollment and staffing rebound to early-2000s levels. This suggests that in the short term we’re likely to see more layoffs and more school closures, even as the economy improves.

Education employees make up more than one-third of all public sector employees. That is to say, the number of teachers and education support workers is a large contributing factor to the size of government overall.

There is one wild card in these calculations: immigration. Children from other countries can fill the gaps left by the low U.S. birth rate, but immigration numbers are a product not just of economic and family decisions, but political ones as well. It’s highly problematic to predict tomorrow’s immigration policies, never mind what they’ll be five or six years from now.

It’s trendy to bat around the relative merits and faults of Common Core, but the demographics of the next decade’s worth of students will have much greater consequences on the public school system.

Recently in the Green Room:

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

but the demographics of the next decade’s worth of students will have much greater consequences on the public school system.

White kids under 5 are minorities. Minorities vote democrat. Figure it out people.

Conservatism is running on fumes. Maybe the South will rise again and save us AGAIN!

Longtime Listener on September 5, 2013 at 1:36 PM

First time caller?

Fallon on September 5, 2013 at 1:41 PM

Don’t count on it. Not only are teachers a major political constituency, but so are builders. While the LAUSD school system has seen a dramatic decline in enrollment, it has also been on a building binge. In one case, a new school was put up a block away from a school that wasn’t even full of students. Billions of dollars have been spent to build new facilities that aren’t needed.

One problem out here in California is the referendum system. If you put a “it’s for the children!” referendum on the ballot, people will mindlessly vote for it. So, year after year, more money is borrowed/allocated for building schools we don’t need. Those schools get staffed, and once they’re staffed, it’s hard to let go of unionized teachers.

HakerA on September 5, 2013 at 3:00 PM

It’s trendy to bat around the relative merits and faults of Common Core

What? Trendy?

If you think this, then you are uninformed about what Common Core is, and you really, really need to do some research on it.

INC on September 5, 2013 at 4:00 PM

The Common Core State Standards Initiative (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).

Last August Deborah Lambert wrote, “Nearly 80 percent of voters know “nothing” or “not much” about Common Core State Standards. Another 14 percent said they knew “some,” and just 7 percent claimed to know “a lot.”” How did the DOE get this far under the radar with Common Core, aka ObamaCore? In Honey, When Did the Feds Take over the Kids’ School? Neal McCluskey (Cato) points out the Obama administration began hitting us with so many policies we didn’t realize what Arne Duncan and the Department of Education were doing.

INC on September 5, 2013 at 4:04 PM

In September 2012 Mary Grabar (the Dissident Prof) wrote Terrorist Professor Bill Ayers and Obama’s Federal School Curriculum. She opens by saying:

Three years after the Department of Education announced a contest called Race-to-the-Top for $4.35 billion in stimulus funds, some parents, teachers, governors, and citizen and public policy groups are coming to an awful realization about the likely outcomes:

–A national curriculum called Common Core
–Regionalism, or the replacement of local governments by federally appointed bureaucrats
–A leveling of all schools to one, low national standard, and a redistribution of education funds among school districts
–An effective federal tracking of all students
–The loss of the option of avoiding the national curriculum and tests through private school and home school

Working behind the scenes, implementing these policies and writing the standards are associates from President Obama’s community organizing days. In de facto control of the education component is Linda Darling-Hammond, a radical left-wing educator and close colleague of William “Bill” Ayers, the former leader of the communist terrorist Weather Underground who became a professor of education and friend of Obama’s.

This is an important article to read in its entirety because Grabar takes you through an extensive look at the movers behind Common Core—who they are, what they think, and what they are doing.

INC on September 5, 2013 at 4:06 PM

Common Core’s curriculum has encountered devastating criticism. Dr. James Milgram, the only mathematician on the Validation Committee did not sign off on it. Dr. Sandra Stotsky is another member of the Common Core Validation Committee who did not sign off on the standards. In her testimony about the Common Core ELA Standards before the Indiana Senate Education Committee, she states that a total of five committee members did not sign off on the final CCSS.

INC on September 5, 2013 at 4:15 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.

It seems so many bad educational ideas have their roots in the 1800′s! I don’t agree with everything that Tienken writes, but he adamantly makes his point that there is no empirical research justifying the development of a nationalized curriculum, in fact, just the opposite.

Wang, Haertel, and Walberg (1993) found that curriculum has the greatest influence on student achievement when it is a proximal variable in the education process. They found that the closer to the student that the curriculum is designed, deliberated, and created, the greater influence it has on learning. This means curriculum should be largely a local endeavor.

We have three federal laws prohibiting a nationalized curriculum, but true to form the Obama administration has been skillfully and surreptitiously corralling choices tied to funding and propaganda to skirt those laws.

INC on September 5, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Early childhood educators and specialists haven’t minced words either. 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….

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.

INC on September 5, 2013 at 4:22 PM

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 September 5, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Then there’s also Common Core Standards’ Devastating Impact on Literary Study and Analytical Thinking by Sandra Stotsky December 11, 2012.

INC on September 5, 2013 at 4:29 PM

There’s nothing ‘trendy’ about opposing a shoddy curriculum aimed to indoctrinate rather than educate.

Jenn Jones, Jaime Munns, and Darlene Eulie of As A Mom have written an excellent overview, Common Core: Something Rotten in Education (eight-page PDF pamphlet).

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/ is an excellent clearing house on information and legislative battles.

INC on September 5, 2013 at 4:35 PM

Getting back to the radical roots of 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.

What if President Obama’s most ambitious attempt to transform American society was also his quietest plan? You wouldn’t vote against the president on account of a program you’d never heard about, of course. That, I’d wager, is why President Obama has told the American public next-to-nothing about his plans to undercut the political and financial independence of America’s suburban school districts.

Obama is quietly busy making an end-run around our constitutional system, which forbids federal control of what your children learn in school. Step one, already well under way, is a dumbed-down national curriculum designed to artificially suppress achievement gaps between urban and suburban students. The right way to help poorly performing students is not to gut standards but to raise achievement, yet Obama is committed to defining performance down. That’s why the president’s ultimate goal is to erase the differences between local school districts with a massive redistribution of suburban education spending to 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.

When Arne Duncan, who ostensibly backs demanding standards and tests, became education secretary instead, it looked as though Obama had tacked center. He hadn’t, and appearances to the contrary, neither had Darling-Hammond left the scene.

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.

Obama is half-way there.

How did he do it? Instead of submitting his controversial education proposals to Congress and kicking off a vigorous national debate, Obama quietly marked $4.35 billion of federal stimulus spending for his Race to the Top education initiative. Since the stimulus bill was rushed through Congress with barely any debate on economic policy, much less education, Obama never had to go public with his plans.

By coordinating with outside groups not accountable to the voters, like the deep-pocketed Gates Foundation, the White House then orchestrated the creation of a national Common Core of education standards, with an accompanying curriculum and tests….

Far from having departing the scene, Obama’s former adviser, Linda Darling-Hammond, is at the center of this plan. She works with the Smarter-Balanced Assessment Consortium, selected by the administration to create the testing system for the new Common Core….

INC on September 5, 2013 at 4:42 PM

Stanley Kurtz, Michelle Malking, Neal McCluskey, and Phyllis Schlafly have all written about Common Core. So have numerous parents and educators. If you’re trying to keep up with the latest news on Common Core, Truth in American Education (TAE) stays on top of what is going on across the U.S.

INC on September 5, 2013 at 4:47 PM

White papers include:

The Road to a National Curriculum: The Legal Aspects of the Common Core Standards, Race to the Top and Conditional Waivers February 2012
by Robert S. Eitel and Kent D. Talbert with contributions from Williamson M. Evers: A Pioneer Institute, the Federalist Society, American Principles Project and the Pacific Research Institute White Paper

National Costs of Aligning States and Localities to the Common Core Standards February 2012
Theodor Rebarber, lead contributor. A Pioneer Institute, American Principles Project and Pacific Research Institute White Paper

Controlling Education From the Top: Why Common Core Is Bad For America May 2012
by Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins: A Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project White paper

INC on September 5, 2013 at 4:51 PM

and:

How Much Data Is Enough Data? –
What happens to privacy when bureaucracies exceed their scope

October 2012
by Jenni White, Lynn Habluetzel, Danna Foreman and Julia Seay for Restore Oklahoma Public Education

INC on September 5, 2013 at 4:52 PM

McCluskey has written extensively on Common Core. Links to his work at Cato:

http://www.cato.org/people/neal-mccluskey

INC on September 5, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Stanley Kurtz
Obamacore: The White House Takes the Schools December 2, 2012
Obama and Your Child’s Mind December 5, 2012

You can, of course, find Michelle’s work at her site.

And Phyllis Schlafly has always been the watchdog on American education.

http://blog.eagleforum.org/search/label/Common%20Core%20Standards

INC on September 5, 2013 at 4:57 PM

Thank you INC!

Murphy9 on September 5, 2013 at 5:01 PM

The American Principles Project has been on the leading edge in researching and opposing Common Core.

http://americanprinciplesproject.org/category/preserve-innocence/

http://www.americanprinciplesinaction.org/

I’ve been simply stunned at the gaping hole at Hot Air in understanding educational issues. The Left is working to keep a stranglehold on the future. Isn’t that worth some effort in research, reading and writing?

INC on September 5, 2013 at 5:03 PM

Murphy9 on September 5, 2013 at 5:01 PM

You’re very welcome!

It’s very encouraging to know that someone is reading my long string of comments!

Again, for a clearinghouse of information on what is going on in your state and many links to groups and research go to TAE.

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/

INC on September 5, 2013 at 5:05 PM

INC, your sources and links are amazing. Great CC information, as usual! Anyone wanting to fight CC in their state should cut, paste and save INC’s information for quick reference.

Fallon on September 5, 2013 at 5:11 PM

Fallon on September 5, 2013 at 5:11 PM

Thanks, Fallon! Education has been a stealth issue. Obama has done so many outrageous things affecting the present that have taken center stage, that many haven’t been aware that he was also busy locking down the schools.

Also, Jeb is forever linked to CC as one of its advocates. This is one reason why I think he’s never going to get anywhere in the primaries.

INC on September 5, 2013 at 5:25 PM

Good to see you INC. Fallon let us know you were in here raising Cain. Still have to read much of the thread, just wanted to let you know that the Fox News homepage has a min-collection of items on Common Core above the fold, including this one on the reaction of home schooling families:
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/09/05/parents-who-home-school-question-common-core-reach/
Rock on, Red.

wolfsDad on September 5, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Good to see you INC.

Hi, wolfsDad! Thanks!

Fallon let us know you were in here raising Cain.

Ha ha! That’s me!

Thanks for the link to FOX. For anyone else reading, you must know that the Hunt Institute, quoted in that column and which also supports CCSS, is lying through their teeth about the development of CC, its quality, and the freedom of implementation.

Rock on, Red.

wolfsDad on September 5, 2013 at 5:46 PM

:)

INC on September 5, 2013 at 6:02 PM

This thread, with INC’s copious reference links, went into my “must read” file. I’ll also forward this thread link to folks who might be interested in this topic.

ExpressoBold on September 5, 2013 at 8:58 PM

GET THEM INC…!!!!
.
.
.
.
…(now!…I’ll go back…and read everything…and the links!)
…thanks Fallon…wolfsDad!
G E T
T H E M
INC!

KOOLAID2 on September 5, 2013 at 10:12 PM

A person has to be clinically insane to send their kids to public schools.

Our education system is so corrupt, it’s criminal.

thejackal on September 5, 2013 at 11:38 PM

“Common Core”…the only thing HotAir hates more than electric cars.

tlynch001 on September 6, 2013 at 1:19 AM

Common Core is nothing more than old ideas rehashed & repackaged.
Some are good, many are bad, but together, they are a program for more Federal Control over public schools that should be run by states & local communities.
In reality, after teaching in a rural area for 12 years now, I believe some people should not waste their time advancing beyond the 8th grade.
It’s a waste of time, money, & resources.
And college should only be for serious minded people.
But instead, we force this idea that EVERYBODY NEEDS to finish HS AND go to college.
It’s total BS.
Education IS valuable. But only if you’re going to take advantage of it. And most humans are content to remain sluggish minded drones. This is genetic. As human as it is animal.
Doing the least amount of work possible to survive. As animals, humans are not motivated to do work that has no immediate benefit. Look at the animal kingdom for more evidence.
This is why programs such as the ‘War on Poverty’ & other Progressive/Communist garbage will never work. Poverty comes mostly from the individual’s mindset. No matter the circumstance, a motivated person can become ‘rich’ if they wish. Even in the dark annals of communist countries’ history people who were entrepreneurial did better than others.
Like the cow in a herd who roams far from the safety of the herd to find choice nutritious grasses & will even jump the fence if the grass gets short, while the others mill around & starve. Like domesticated cattle that have had such instincts bred out of them (bcs I send the fence jumpers to the sale barn), humans that have been cared for like caged animals no longer have the instinct to care or do for themselves & will readily die like flies instead of being clever enough to survive without assistance.
And even the disabled can survive situations.
So no amount of education is going to change the ignorance & stupidity of humanity.
If there is a tangible reward for being entrepreneurial, there will be people who will be so. But even then, it is few vs many (sheep).
So forcibly educating people through public schools who have parents that do not value education will only keep down those who want to be there.
Education should be in levels & to advance to the next level you must pass a set of exams. And if you don’t pass, you don’t advance. I don’t care if you’re 20yo & still in primary grade level education.
This notion that you’re 6yo so you must be in the 1st grade is ridiculous. Or that you’re 17yo so you should be a Sr in HS.
I’ve got a 9th grade student that cannot read better than a 3rd grader.
WTF is this kid in my class?! He should have been FAILED, repeatedly, if necessary. And so then I’m a bad guy bcs physical science is ‘too hard’ for these kids.
I want to shake the crap out of the teachers, society, parents etc. who are passing these kids along to me.
I cannot, nor do not have the time nor ability, to teach a kid to read when he’s 14yo.
Not when I have 23 kids who can.

Badger40 on September 6, 2013 at 7:24 AM

…I believe some people should not waste their time advancing beyond the 8th grade.

It’s a waste of time, money, & resources.

And college should only be for serious minded people.

But instead, we force this idea that EVERYBODY NEEDS to finish HS AND go to college.

It’s total BS.

Education IS valuable. But only if you’re going to take advantage of it…

Badger40 on September 6, 2013 at 7:24 AM

Brava! Well said. Meanwhile, every tradesman I’ve hired in the past couple of months has been Eastern European or Mexican. Even the contractor was from Australia. It’s a shame but quite an opportunity for new immigrants.

Fallon on September 6, 2013 at 10:16 AM

This suggests that in the short term we’re likely to see more layoffs and more school closures, even as if the economy improves.

FIFY

DRayRaven on September 6, 2013 at 10:19 AM

ExpressoBold on September 5, 2013 at 8:58 PM

I’m glad it was helpful. I’m just want to spread the word.

KOOLAID2 on September 5, 2013 at 10:12 PM

Thanks. :)

tlynch001 on September 6, 2013 at 1:19 AM

No, the problem is that too few know about it.

Badger40 on September 6, 2013 at 7:24 AM

I think my grandparents all finished their schooling at 8th grade, although that level was probably at least as good if not better as today’s high school. I’m guessing for them stopping at that point was a matter of background and economics. That would have been some time in the 1920′s. Everyone has different talents and skills.

If you’ve ever read the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, you know the impressive content that was taught then in schools compared with the little that many children learn now.

INC on September 6, 2013 at 1:10 PM