Fund Your Utopia Without Me.™

25 September 2013

Rotten To The Common Corporate Core

Under the Common Core curriculum, 3 x 4 can equal 11.   eL3vEnTy!!!111iiiIII

As The Daily Caller demonstrated in 'a pretty amazing YouTube video, Amanda August, a curriculum coordinator in a suburb of Chicago called Grayslake, explains that getting the right answer in math just doesn’t matter as long as kids can explain the necessarily faulty reasoning they used to get to that wrong answer.

'Even if they said, ’3 x 4 was 11,’ if they were able to explain their reasoning and explain how they came up with their answer really in, umm, words and oral explanation, and they showed it in the picture but they just got the final number wrong, we’re really more focused on the how,' August says in the video.

When someone in the audience (presumably a parent, but it’s not certain) asks if teachers will be, you know, correcting students who don’t know rudimentary arithmetic instantly, August makes another meandering, longwinded statement:

'We want our students to compute correctly but the emphasis is really moving more towards the explanation, and the how, and the why, and ‘can I really talk through the procedures that I went through to get this answer.  And not just knowing that it’s 12, but why is it 12? How do I know that?'

Teaching analytics for the sake of analytics is asinine if all of the analysis in the world under the system results in an incorrect answer.  3 X 4 will NEVER equal 11.  If might get your kid a analytic participation trophy, but Common Core will not prepare him or her for a successful any way.  Well, perhaps, I am being a bit hasty there.  Math and reasoning are not requirements for Gender and Race Studies.

According to Arnold Ahlert, Common Core was created – and copyrighted — by lobbying organisations in Washington. The two lobbying firms, allegedly, 'received input from the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices  and the Council of Chief State School Officers, which are DC-based trade associations.  Most of the creative work was implemented by ACHIEVE, Inc, a progressive non-profit group largely underwritten by uber leftist Bill Gates, via the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.'  The educational standards were gathered and written without any input - or even knowledge - of state legislatures, state education boards, teachers, local school boards, parent-teacher organisations or parents, themselves.  

As with much of what happened with the Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Stimulus Act of 2009, the Federal government promised individual states lots of stimulus money to enroll and enticed them even further with a dangling waiver from the tough requirements contained in No Child Left Behind, which one should remember was the brainchild of one Senator Ted Kennedy.  States that resisted were threatened with the withholding of education funding, which would certainly be considered unconstitutional in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's decision on the expansion of Medicaid in the Obamacare ruling. 

Common Core is a partnership between the Federal Department of Education, some teachers' unions, too many Governors and state school boards, and BIG BUSINESS.  If you think that this is a joint effort to prepare children to meet the employment needs of corporations, you might be correct, but I think this is a form of corporatism.  And, one need only look to the past to get some idea of what is occurring.  Benito Mussolini wrote about it in his books The Doctrine of Fascism, The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism,  My Autobiography: With 'The Political And Social Doctrine of Fascism.'  If Fascism is too much of a reach for you, then please read a GOD of the American Progressive Movement, John Dewey.  While he was a prolific writer, you can read My Pedagogic Creed, The School and Society, The Child and the Curriculum, Democracy and Education, and/or Experience and Education to understand where the seeds for Common Core were originally planted by men, who absorbed the ideology of The Frankfurt School and melded it with their Chicago School of Psychology and Sociology.  It should surprise exactly no one that Dewey and Alinsky would one day find common cause nor that Progressives like Cass Sunstein would study both, along with Richard Ely, Edward Bernays, and various behavioural sociologists and psychologists in order to 'nudge' peons to make the choices that their 'betters' believe they should.

A common thread that runs through the musings of all is the ability to enlist - or, coerce, if necessary - Big Business to act as a partner in order to achieve the desired result.  An example of this would be Michelle Obama's food police and either getting restaurants and Big Food to voluntarily cut portion sizes, sugars, and fats or using the Fourth Branch of Government - the Administrative State - to force compliance via advertising rules, etc.

Currently, it is unknown what personal data Common Core tests will collect because those examinations have yet be crafted and released.  Nevertheless, we cannot assume their banality, traditional format, and harmlessness when taken together with what we already know.  The information mother-lode must come from somewhere and, since the testing materials are written by Federally-funded, private organisations, who are not subject to FOIA requests.

The government wants to collect information on children, including information of a highly-personal nature...and, it wants to do so without even asking for parental permission and with a refusal to even notify parents, especially those of minors who constitute the overwhelming majority of children.  According to the February Department of Education report, officials 'believe federal agencies should invest in programmatic portfolios of research so as to monitor and influence student attitudes through schools.'

The Federal government wants to use schools to catalogue 'attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes and intrapersonal resources – independent of intellectual ability,' according to the February DOE report, all under the guise of education.

There are many dangers hidden within the innocuous-sounding Common Core.  For one, Obama's Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Stimulus Act of 2009 included a 'State Fiscal Stabilisation Fund' to 'provide states incentives to construct 'State Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) to collect data on public-school students.'  While the Federal government is barred from creating its own national database of student information, the national government can obtain all of the information it seeks through existing SLDS via a 'reinterpretation' of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which we will discuss more fully later.   According to the American Principles Project, an educational think-tank, 'this data mining is nothing less than one part of a much broader plan by the federal government to track individuals from birth through their participation in the workforce.'

Pursuant to the Department of Education reinterpretation of FERPA, (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) in 2011, any local, state or Federal agency has the authority to designate any organisation or individual as an 'educational representative' (ER).  The ER can access any and all data as long as the agency says this access is necessary to study or evaluate a programme. These can include school volunteers and private companies. A lawsuit against the regulations is pending given the fact that the identity of the child and his family is known and their data is being studied or evaluated without notice or a warrant.

Under earlier FERPA interpretations, data collectors were required to identify students by the use of random numbers only and used to protect highly personal psychological and biological information, including items mentioned above and, according to the DOE, 'fingerprints; retina and iris patterns; voiceprints; DNA sequence; facial characteristics; and handwriting.'  Unfortunately, a plethora of agreements signed by the Department of Education with the two bodies charged with crafting the national Common Core tests demand that the information on testing be collected at the 'student level.'  In other words, there would no longer be anonymous record-keeping; rather, data would be tied to specific children with anonymity being cast upon the ash heap of Progressive history.  

In fact, some children have already had biometric, eye scans conducted at school without the permission or even knowledge of their parents although the school administrators have pronounced 'devices that measure EEG and skin conductance may not be practical for use in the classroom,' but would be most welcomed if the hiccups could be worked out to the agreement of everyone...well, except children and parents. Even more 1984/Gallatica-sounding is the revelation in the February report that 'indicates that the Common Core data-mining system could one day implement monitoring techniques like 'Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging' (scanning one’s brain function), as well as 'using cameras to judge facial expressions, an electronic seat that judges [a child's] posture, a pressure-sensitive computer mouse and a biometric wrap on kids’ wrists.' (See DOE's February, 2013, report).

In 2012, 24 states and territories agreed to a deal where they would turn over data mining information of even the most sensitive subject matter in exchange for grants (I hope that they understand that stimulus grants do not last forever).  Furthermore, unlike in the past where children received anonymous 'serial numbers,' this deal will result in 'Personally Identifiable Information' from each student every year and more so, if circumstances so warrant it.  Included in this data will be the parents' full names (including maiden and divorced names), current address and addresses where the family have resided in the last 10 year period, the Social Security Numbers of all family members and those living within the household or those that have left the homestead within the past 10 years, the dates of birth of all household members, and the dates and places of birth for all members of the family, household residents, and those that have vacated the home within the last decade. 
Now, permission that once had to be granted by parents through FERPA to release students’ data has been changed with a January 2012 regulation mandating that all information collected by schools since 2009 can be shared among Federal agencies without consent.
And, if that's not bad enough, SLDS would be created to gather personal information on children, including, but without limitation, the health of the extended family and various diseases or afflictions suffered by its members; the family's income; disciplinary record; family voting status; religious affiliation; sexual orientation of parents, siblings, and others; drug usage, including prescription medication, by any household member; alcohol consumption; types of foods eaten; sexual activity of family members including age of first sexual encounter; use of contraception, abortion, any STD; the type of electronics used in the home; and the number of televisions, DVRs, telephones/cellphones, bedrooms, bathrooms, cars, etc.  Don't believe me or think such is a preposterous notion that deserves to win a tinfoil hat award?  

BEHOLD, the November 2010 report released by the Institute of Education Sciences as guidance for the aforementioned State Longitudinal Database Systems revealed that 'Sensitive Information' will also be acquired from children. It is listed in the report as follows:
1. Political affiliations or beliefs of the student or parent;

2. Mental and psychological problems of the student or the student’s family;

3. Sex behaviour or attitudes;

4. Illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, and demeaning behaviour;

5. Critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships;

6. Legally-recognised privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers;

7. Religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent; or

8. Income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a programme or for receiving financial assistance under such programme).

The US Department of Education released a report in February 2013.  While the entire report was hugely problematic, including the introduction of equity grading and regionalism, page 44 displayed photographs of 'four parallel streams of affective sensors.' As Alhert wrote, 'Once the program is fully implemented, those sensors will be used to 'provide constant, parallel streams of data…used with data mining techniques and self-report measures to examine frustration, motivation/flow, confidence, boredom, and fatigue' of children. In short, they will become de facto lab rats.'  

Sadly, the evisceration of the right to privacy is only the beginning of the testing that will be conducted on our nation's greatest gift and its self-fulfilling prophecy.  There are different prophesies about the future of the United States and Common Core is not exactly reassuring.

American Progressives claim to loathe Big Business and, to tell the truth, I used to believe that most meant it.  After years of studying Pietism, Progressivism, Liberalism, Socialism, Fascism, Communism, etc, I determined that I was quite incorrect.  Most definitely, there are true believers in one or more of the 'isms, but, more often than not, the are the Useful Idiots.  Whether it was Robespierre, Galton, Marx, Engels, Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Idi Amin, The NorKodashians of Kim Jong Il, Kim Il Sung, and Kim Jong Un, ALL wanted power, money, and adulation, not Workers' Paradises.  So, when I look at American Progressivism, I see much of the same lust for power, bluster for control, and an undying need to be adored.  When it comes to education and famous Progressive thought, no one sums it up better than:

'We want one class of persons to have a liberal education and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class of necessity in every society, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.'

-  Woodrow Wilson, then president of Princeton University, delivering an address to the New York City High School Teachers Association, 1909

Common Core may, just in fact, be putting Wilson's beliefs into action.  Soon, Rachel Jeantel will hardly be alone in possessing the inability to write/read cursive.  You see, cursive is old skewl and will no longer be taught.  'Old-Fashioned' Euclidian geometry, which places a premium on logic, is to be replaced with Old Russian Lobachevskian Geometry, which even the Soviets said, 'никогда больше, ничего больше!' 50 years ago!  While the uselessness of Lobachevskian has been embraced by Common Core, rote memorisation of things like the alphabet and the multiplication tables will be dramatically cut from the curriculum.  

'What appalls me the most about the Common Core Standards is the cavalier contempt for great works of human art, thought and literary form ... We are not programming machines; we are teaching children.  We are not producing functionaries, factory-like.  We are to be forming the hearts of men and women.  Frankly, I do not wish to be governed by people whose minds and hearts have been stunted by a strictly utilitarian mis-education.'

- Anthony Esolen, Professor of Renaissance English Literature, Providence College, Rhode Island

As for Classic Literature like The Iliad, A Tale of Two Cities, The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, Uncle Tom's Cabin, All's Quiet on the Western Front, Dickens, Brontë, Shakespeare, Byron, etc, forget it.  The language of life, love, misery, and growth is to be replaced by technical manuals that buttress the computer-centric method of teaching favoured by Common Core.

Jamie Gass and Jim Stergios, for The Weekly Standard Blog wrote this about Common Core: 

'Common Core emphasizes experiential, skills-based learning while reducing the amount of classic literature, poetry, and drama taught in English classes. Its more vocational bent includes far greater emphasis on jargon-laden 'informational text' extracts, and it supports analyzing texts short of historical context and background knowledge.'

Now for some good news after all of this Dumbing Down of America on Steroids, you'll be thrilled to know that the entire curriculum will an integral part of the Progressive Agenda. Moreover, an integral part of the progressive agenda with be served along side with Common Core.  Along with EnviroNazism and redistributionist economic theories - that have consistency of being consistently wrong, justice, excuse me, SOCIAL JUSTICE will be stressed in every form of the curriculum, activities, and daily schedules.

The Department of Education has recommended that schools begin tracking and teaching kids not just boring, old knowledge, but also '21st Century Competencies.'  What are some of the examples of the DOE's '21st Century Competencies'?

1.  'Recognising bias in sources' (betcha this will be taught using a one-way street); and,

2.   'Flexibility'; and,

3.  'Appreciation for Diversity'; and,

4.  'Collaboration, teamwork, and cooperation'; and,

5.  'Cultural awareness and competence'; and,

6.  'Empathy'; and,

7.  'Perspective taking, trust, service orientation'; and,

8.  'Social influence with others.'

As some said, 'I'm really looking forward to seeing how psychologists profiling children for government reports interpret each of these characteristics.'  But, wait, isn't profiling baaaaad?

Progressive activists in both parties have worked on nationalized standards, tests and curriculum for decades under previous names: outcome-based education, national school-to-work, Goals 2000 and No Child Left Behind, for example. Obama administration bribery through “Race To The Top” greased the wheels for adoption of the Common Core program by cash-strapped states, many of which had more rigorous standards than the fed-imposed system

Common Core cheerleaders falsely claimed that untested standards were “internationally benchmarked.” Math and English standards have been dumbed down. And a plethora of data-mining firms stand to gain billions from student information gathered under the Common Core assessments umbrella. The Obama administration’s sabotage of federal educational privacy protections will help supply that data to the highest crony bidders.



The most jarring and worrisome aspect of the Common Core programme is the unprecedented acquisition of a level of personal information on children and families heretofore seen in Scy-Fy movies and totalitarian states like East Germany.  As noted above, the Department of Education 'reinterpreted' FERPA so as to permit the Federal government to disseminate - for profit - the most personal data on any student to nearly anyone without written parental consent or even prior parental notification.  The reinterpretation of FERPA and a loophole in the Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Stimulus Act of 2009 permits the Federal government to sell any information that it has collected to interested third parties be they Google, GE, textbook publishers, drug companies, or anyone.

But, why would Big Business voluntarily agree to not only partner in Common Core, but pay to do so, in many cases?  What's in it for them?

Follow the money.

Under the Common Core curriculum, far more than ABCs will be taught, measured, and tested.  The types of foods kids will eat; the kinds of school supplies they buy; do they have electronics and, if so, what kind and when did they first get them; behavioural issues that might require medication; weight and other health matters, etc, will be accumulated - along with grades - from the first day that children enter into school.  A value cannot be put on this type and amount of data for companies like Google and Microsoft.  They can determine which products should be discontinued; those that should be expanded; and even needs and/or wants that they can satisfy. 

Common Core, itself, can be viewed as Big Brother working in tandem with Big Business to chart your child's life from the beginning of kindergarten through a doctrinal programme and beyond.   One of the more disconcerting aspects of this this top-down, centrally-planned programme is that all of this sensitive and highly-personal information collected by educators is mined - almost in real time - by unelected, unaccountable government apparatchiks in Washington through Common Core's tracking system.  all without a warrant or any probable cause whatsoever.  For all the Left likes to complain about Big Prison, it is strangely silent on Common Core.  If the Fourth Amendment squirrels were not enough, you'd think that they would be protesting over the fact that the government intends to SELL this personal data to outside corporate interests, like General 'No Tax' Electric, FOR A HANDSOME PROFIT.  They scream that capitalism and commercialisation have ruined the economy, the middle class, the poor, and the environment, but commercialising children's data and profiting from it produces a collective 'Meh.'

Most of the learning will be done on computers with e-books. Tests will be given on computers including the bigassessment test coming in 2014. How easy students can be programmed and reprogrammed. Teachers will essentially become facilitators.

Special interests and billions of dollars are driving the push to Common Core by people like Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Computers, donated $500 million and stands to make billions with the use of his computers with Common Core curriculum and testing in schools.  The Pearson Foundation, the biggest publishers of e-books, also will see a magnificent windfall. The e-learning market in the U.S. is expected to grow to $6.8 billion by 2015, up from $2.9 billion from 2010. Most of the learning will be done on computers with e-books.  'Tests will be given on computers including the big assessment test coming in 2014. How easy students can be programmed and reprogrammed.. Teachers will he learning will be done on computers with e-books. Tests will be given on computers including the big assessment test coming in 2014. How easy students can be programmed essentially become facilitators,' as opined Orlean Koehle,  an author and former teacher, in Common Core - A Trojan Horse for Education Reform.

Aside from President Obama, whose administration has been a steady supporter of Common Core standards, other leaders and advocates of the system include Bob Corcoran of General 'No Tax' Electric, which donated over $33 million to Common Core in 2012 plus another $18 million to the states to push Common Core, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose Foundation for Educational Excellence has also been the beneficiary of the largesse of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Common Core Paying Off Republican Politicians?   News Corp. is likewise involved in Common Core in more than one way. Its education division, Amplify, received a $12.5 million grant 'to develop a digital library of formative assessment professional learning tools for educators.'  There are quite a few more millionaire and billionaire 'philanthropists' that have made 'generous gifts' to a programme that, while it may not spread the wealth around, it will spread the ignorance throughout the education system.  

Common Core Teaches the ‘Three Es’ of Agenda 21/Sustainable Development

The Three Es: Equity, Economy and Environment - all integrated and

should be taught in every subject – even math.

The Real Meaning of the Three Es:

Equity = Social equity or social justice -not equal justice.  ‘Common Good’ - not individual  rights.

Economy = redistribution of wealth, global trade, and Public / Private Partnerships (PPPs.)

Environment = animals have equal rights or even more rights than humans.   

Nature or the environment is the central organising principle for our economy and society.’

-  Michael Shaw

How the Three Es Are Being Implemented:

Phil Caro, co-lead author of the CC math standards said: 

‘The reason we have standards is for the social justice agenda - to make sure that all kids get enough math to have a decent opportunity.’

Math textbooks are teaching such environmental pseudo-science as global warming.

Obama has an ‘Equity and Excellence Commission’

It is charged with finding ‘ways to restructure school finance systems to achieve equity in the distribution of educational resources and further student achievement and attainment.’

Obama’s ’Three Es’ Agenda of Common Core

Stanley Kurtz, author of Spreading the Wealth, CC has three Objectives:

1) a politicized curriculum that promotes leftist notions of ‘social justice,] [and the other two Es of economy and environment]

2) reducing ‘disparate outcomes’ between students in different districts by undercutting standards

3) a redistribution of suburban education funding to less-well-off urban schools.

Common Core will End the American Dream

• If Obama’s education plan goes through, it will shut of the American vision of ‘self-government and personal liberty.’

• It will end the American dream of most young couples to educate their children as they see fit, to work hard and save so they can move to a home in the suburbs with just the sort of schools they want. 

Don't worry, everyone may know all of your intimate details, but you do  get a sort of QALY formulae as a consolation prize...

Sir Barber Teaches ‘Citizens of the World’ and ‘Earth-Oneness’

Barber teaches ‘every child is a citizen of the world,’ and the following formula:


(Knowledge + Thinking +Leadership) multiplied by ‘Ethical Underpinnings.’

What are ‘Ethical Underpinnings?’

Ethics is ‘shared understanding’ of earth and ‘sustainability’ that every child in every school around the world will learn.'

- Barber

‘Ethics, to Barber, have nothing to do with the supreme sanctity of human life, the idea of God, of individual liberty or the Golden Rule. Nope, it’s about the collective, the earth-oneness.’

- Christel Lane Swasey of ‘Three Moms Against Common Core’

‘Whole System Revolution’ - Collectivist, Globally Controlled Ed Sir Barber’s Blue Print Book His Formula for Revolution

Sir Barber spoke at a British education summit in August, 2012, and showed the following chart that reveals his mindset: 

Systemic innovation + sameness of standards + structure + human capital 
= ‘whole system revolution.’

Public/Private Partnerships – What the Gates and Pearson Foundations are all About: Cornering the Market in Common Core Standards

• In May of 2011, the Gates and Pearson Foundations formed a partnership to produce on-line curriculum for the Common Core standards. They also are providing the training for the teachers to go along with the curriculum.

Pearson and Gates ‘invest’ in schools by Forming a PPP

• They buy cheap schools in developing countries in partnership with governments and then run the schools using Pearson’s e-book, Gates computers and government funding.

• They are doing the same with charter schools in the USA.

High School History Textbook Changes The Constitution To Take Away Individuals Rights To Bear Arms…

Schools and teachers will receive financial rewards to help them achieve the Common Core standards, which encompass far more than the typical educational fare taught at American schools.  Those that comply, adhere precisely to the teaching plans, which parents are not allowed to see, may inure financial remuneration from the Federal government, the state and/or various corporate-funded endowed organisations.

Above is just one example on the Constitution, the Second Amendment, and how Common Core has perverted it beyond recognition.

This definition of the Second Amendment is incorrect in terms of history and the law.  I wrote at great length explaining why here, should you be so inclined.

If an instructor teaches the Second Amendment so that pupils are left with the belief that 'The people have the right to keep and bear arms in a state militia,'  then the teacher has properly taught the course plan.  If a student regurgitates the same ignorance on a test, he's actually more correct than the student that proclaims 3 * 4 = 11 because the former is considered to be the 'right' answer whilst the latter isn't really accurate, but a good reason for having achieved that result still gets credit.

You can imagine what happens to a teacher that teaches the ACTUAL Second Amendment, along with the writings of the Framers and caselaw, and/or a student gives the 100% correct, but 'wrong' answer.

Not to damn all teachers, but many wouldn't even be able to point out the inaccuracy.  In other words, they are putting in the hands of the Elite, who want, for example, to destroy America's 'gun culture.'

Teachers, whose children score high on the Common Core tests, are financially rewarded.  In fact, teachers' salaries depend on how well the students do on the tests through a policy called 'High-Stakes Testing.'  There is an even more onerous burden put on educators.  The very future of the school is dependent on how well students do on the COMMON CORE tests. If a school has three, consecutive bad years, the school is taken over by a private corporation and becomes a charter school.   I'd have no problem with such a scenario if an actual, liberal in the classic sense education was being taught.  Bad teachers should be terminated.  Bad schools should be closed.  But, indoctrination of a particular ideology is not the an education.

There have been a few teachers that have demonstrated that their principles and work effort cannot be purchased.  Here's one heroine:

Ellie Rubenstein resigns from teaching job in YouTube video

Watch entire video.

'The emphasis in education has shifted from fostering academic and personal growth in both students and teachers to demanding uniformity and conformity. Raising student's test scores on standardized testing is now the only goal and in order to achieve it, the creativity, flexibility and spontaneity that create authentic learning environments have been eliminated.  I'm leaving my post and I too am backing down with a sad and heavy heart.'

- Ellen Rubinstein, Former Fourth Grade teacher at Lincoln School, Chicago

Teachers are being told they can no longer use any of their old files or their 'tried and true' materials and methods or their jobs are in jeopardy. According to Diane Ravitch, Professor of Education at NYU, the reaction of teachers has been:

'A maelstrom of pent-up resentment over being forced to do what's wrong for kids, and being afraid of losing gainful employment by speaking out.'

Teacher Writes Legislator after Retiring Due to Common Core


4 May 2013

Senator Aaron Osmond

South Jordan, Utah 84095

Dear Aaron,

… On March 21, 2013, I was asked to return to the elementary school from which I retired last June, to give a presentation at their Literacy Night.  Some of the parents and students I taught in the past came down to the room where I was to say hello. In the course of the conversation, a mother of one of the smartest and most conscientious students I have ever had, said that her daughter was struggling in math.

I was surprised, but told her mother that teachers are required to teach to a rigid schedule and must move on to the next unit of study, even if the students don’t understand it.

Sticking to the schedule is more important than spending the time making sure everyone understands.

I knew as a teacher what I didn’t like about Common Core, as well as what had taken place leading up to it, but I didn’t have any concrete facts; therefore, I couldn’t give the parents any verifiable information other than my own story. I have spent the last five weeks researching and learning about Common Core. There are so many facets to Common Core, and I still don’t know everything, but I know much more than I did five weeks ago and enough to know that even without my own experience, I could not support it.

This morning I saw the e-mail from Diana Suddreth, the STEM Coordinator at the USOE, asking the Curriculum Director in each school district in Utah to solicit “success stories” from teachers using Common Core standards. She has further stated in her e-mail that she has seen marvelous and exciting things happening in classrooms since the implementation of Common Core. She stated that these “success stories” are needed to counteract the “vicious attacks” by those opposed to Common Core.

Aaron, are you aware that you and Senator Weiler are named by Diana Suddreth as the only two legislators to contact with the Common Core “success stories”? Am I to understand that you and Senator Weiler are therefore supportive of the Common Core Standards for the State of Utah?  If you are, I find this confusing since you have spoken so often of the important principle of local and State control of education. Common Core takes away local and State control, and puts the control into the hands of the Federal Government. 

My response to Diana Suddreth is:

1.  Utah has always had standards which teachers were required to follow.  

2.  It is not a matter of “voila” Common Core is here and at long last, wonderful things are happening in classrooms!  Exciting and wonderful things happen in classrooms because of the teacher’s own hard work and creativity along with the freedom to decide how to best teach the standards that make for success in the classroom, NOT because a list of Federally mandated Common Core standards. 

 3. Tax payers asking legitimate questions of elected officials and those employed at the USOE, and having the expectation of them to have studied the issues more carefully than the people asking the questions “is not too much to ask”.  Asking questions is not a “vicious attack”.  This is the future of our children’s education at stake as well as millions of taxpayer dollars.

Here is my unsolicited “success” story about Common Core:

Please note that I am speaking only to what is happening in the Canyons School District and at the elementary level. And I am speaking out because I am retired. Those teachers in the school system are afraid of losing their jobs if they speak out against Common Core and against the policies of the District.

The teachers have been given a rigid schedule which MUST be followed. In the morning, there is to be three hours of reading and language arts followed in the afternoon by two hours of math. P.E. and computer time has been shortened from 45 minutes to 30 minutes once a week.  That leaves 15 minutes of time each day for one of the following: music, art, science and social studies.

The teachers are monitored regularly by the principal, reading specialist and district personnel to make sure they are following the schedule.

Last year, when I was still teaching, the math portion of Common Core was put into place with the District’s purchase of the Pearson-Scott Foresman math series. As of last year, the “curriculum map” or math schedule did not match the organization of the book.  So every night, I had to hunt, using many sources, for what I was to teach the next day in order to follow the curriculum map. This is still the case as of this year.

We were to teach certain concepts during specified blocks of time and sometimes these concepts had no relationship to each other. After the specified blocks of time are completed, the students are tested in the computer lab, mainly so that the district can make sure the teachers are following the schedule. Even if the students do not understand the concepts being taught, the teacher must move on to the next block in order to follow the mandated schedule.

This removes the teacher’s ability to teach according to the needs of her/his particular class. One of the basic tenants of teaching is: monitor and then adjust to the needs of your students. The schedule as required by the District makes this very difficult to do.

We skim over the surface of many concepts. If you have seen any of the ridiculous examples of teaching two-digit multiplication and addition that people have posted on Facebook, yes, I have taught this because it is on the test.

I was in the classroom through the time leading up to the implementation of Common Core, as math was being “dumbed down” and during the time when we were told not to teach multiplication facts, two and three digit multiplication and long division to fourth graders. How could any respectable teacher not teach this?  This is not the case at the present time (times tables and long division and two and three digit multiplication are again being taught); however, the time allotted to teach these concepts is not long enough for many kids to grasp the idea.

My ability to be an effective math teacher was GREATLY diminished by having to follow the Common Core standards.

For this current school year, Canyons District purchased the Pearson reading series, “Reading Street” to match up with Common Core. (A perfectly good reading series which was not worn out was discarded. Why couldn’t this discarded series just have been supplemented with additional materials instead of wasting taxpayer money on new books?)

Reading and language arts, as in math, requires strict adherence to the schedule with regular monitoring by the principal, reading specialist and district personnel.

The students have 8 math and 6 reading computerized tests as well as three oral reading tests administered by the district. The upper grades have an additional test called MAZE. This does not count the end of the year testing in the computer lab. After the results are back the teacher is called into the principal’s office, along with the reading specialist, to account for the scores.

These tests are in addition to the regular weekly spelling, reading and math tests from the book publisher and teacher for the report card grades.

Speaking of report cards, we were told last year that the District was going to have workshops for parents so that they could understand the new report card which was going to be aligned with the Common Core standards. Wouldn’t the necessity of needing a workshop to teach parents how to interpret an elementary school report card, tell the District that this was a bad idea?

The lower performing students have just plain given up with this constant testing and will not even try any more. Teachers report that some of their students’ scores are actually getting worse. And again, teachers are called into the principal’s office to be grilled about what the teacher is going to do to bring up the scores, so that EVERY student is meeting the required benchmarks, when they are already doing everything they can to teach the material. Apparently, a child’s developmental readiness or ability is not taken in to consideration.

Is the child’s or teacher’s value only a test score?

The pressure on the teachers from the administration is INTENSE and many teachers say all they can do is teach to the test.

A second grade teacher recounted that she didn’t even dare have her class color a shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day because of the constant micromanaging by the administration and coloring a shamrock is not on the schedule.

Many teachers are saying they just can’t do this anymore. The joy and creativity of teaching in elementary school has been taken away by Common Core and the excessive testing. Kids and teachers both are burning out. Is this really what we want for our children?

Because of Common Core our freedom is being lost even down to the lowest level: the classroom.

There are MANY reasons to oppose Common Core. Here are just a few:

1. Data and assessment driven.  

2. Adopted by the State School Board by accepting stimulus money and agreeing to the Common core standards before they had even been written.  

3. Family rights to privacy, as spelled out in FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), have been essentially amended making computer testing a major tool in gathering information about students that should remain private. This is known as Data Mining.   

4. Adopting these standards takes decision making out of State and local school boards and districts, but, even more importantly, out of the hands of teachers and parents. 

5. The State Legislature was bypassed by not being included in the decision of whether or not to adopt Common Core.

There are so many layers to Common Core. There is much more involved here, than just a list of standards. My experience is just one part, but an important part. Frankly, it seems to me that if all the facts were known, it would be more than obvious that the legislature would make the move to abandon Common Core.

I am not against Common Core because I have been around for SO long that I don’t want change, but because I can see the harm it is doing to my profession and to students. The freedom of the parents, teachers, school districts and states to choose what is best for them has been taken away and will be controlled by the Federal government.

May I recommend to you a video presentation explaining Common Core that has been posted on You Tube. It is one of the best presentations I have seen. If you type in Google “You Tube Subversive Threat to Education”, you should be able to find it. It is a current talk given to a group in Tennessee.

Thank you again for all the hours of service you give to our community and State.


Margaret Wilkin, recently retired teacher in Utah

And, Another Quits...

Mr. Casey Barduhn, Superintendent
Westhill Central School District
400 Walberta Park Road
Syracuse, New York 13219

Dear Mr. Barduhn and Board of Education Members:

It is with the deepest regret that I must retire at the close of this school year, ending my more than twenty-seven years of service at Westhill on June 30, under the provisions of the 2012-15 contract. I assume that I will be eligible for any local or state incentives that may be offered prior to my date of actual retirement and I trust that I may return to the high school at some point as a substitute teacher.

As with Lincoln and Springfield, I have grown from a young to an old man here; my brother died while we were both employed here; my daughter was educated here, and I have been touched by and hope that I have touched hundreds of lives in my time here. I know that I have been fortunate to work with a small core of some of the finest students and educators on the planet.

I came to teaching forty years ago this month and have been lucky enough to work at a small liberal arts college, a major university and this superior secondary school. To me, history has been so very much more than a mere job, it has truly been my life, always driving my travel, guiding all of my reading and even dictating my television and movie viewing. Rarely have I engaged in any of these activities without an eye to my classroom and what I might employ in a lesson, a lecture or a presentation. With regard to my profession, I have truly attempted to live John Dewey’s famous quotation (now likely cliché with me, I’ve used it so very often) that  “Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” This type of total immersion is what I have always referred to as teaching “heavy,” working hard, spending time, researching, attending to details and never feeling satisfied that I knew enough on any topic. I now find that this approach to my profession is not only devalued, but denigrated and perhaps, in some quarters despised. STEM rules the day and “data driven” education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core, along with a lockstep of oversimplified so-called Essential Learnings. Creativity, academic freedom, teacher autonomy, experimentation and innovation are being stifled in a misguided effort to fix what is not broken in our system of public education and particularly not at Westhill.

A long train of failures has brought us to this unfortunate pass. In their pursuit of Federal tax dollars, our legislators have failed us by selling children out to private industries such as Pearson Education. The New York State United Teachers union has let down its membership by failing to mount a much more effective and vigorous campaign against this same costly and dangerous debacle. Finally, it is with sad reluctance that I say our own administration has been both uncommunicative and unresponsive to the concerns and needs of our staff and students by establishing testing and evaluation systems that are Byzantine at best and at worst, draconian. This situation has been exacerbated by other actions of the administration, in either refusing to call open forum meetings to discuss these pressing issues, or by so constraining the time limits of such meetings that little more than a conveying of information could take place. This lack of leadership at every level has only served to produce confusion, a loss of confidence and a dramatic and rapid decaying of morale. The repercussions of these ill-conceived policies will be telling and shall resound to the detriment of education for years to come. The analogy that this process is like building the airplane while we are flying would strike terror in the heart of anyone should it be applied to an actual airplane flight, a medical procedure, or even a home repair. Why should it be acceptable in our careers and in the education of our children?

My profession is being demeaned by a pervasive atmosphere of distrust, dictating that teachers cannot be permitted to develop and administer their own quizzes and tests (now titled as generic “assessments”) or grade their own students’ examinations. The development of plans, choice of lessons and the materials to be employed are increasingly expected to be common to all teachers in a given subject. This approach not only strangles creativity, it smothers the development of critical thinking in our students and assumes a one-size-fits-all mentality more appropriate to the assembly line than to the classroom. Teacher planning time has also now been so greatly eroded by a constant need to “prove up” our worth to the tyranny of APPR (through the submission of plans, materials and “artifacts” from our teaching) that there is little time for us to carefully critique student work, engage in informal intellectual discussions with our students and colleagues, or conduct research and seek personal improvement through independent study. We have become increasingly evaluation and not knowledge driven. Process has become our most important product, to twist a phrase from corporate America, which seems doubly appropriate to this case.

After writing all of this I realize that I am not leaving my profession, in truth, it has left me. It no longer exists. I feel as though I have played some game halfway through its fourth quarter, a timeout has been called, my teammates’ hands have all been tied, the goal posts moved, all previously scored points and honors expunged and all of the rules altered.

For the last decade or so, I have had two signs hanging above the blackboard at the front of my classroom, they read, “Words Matter” and “Ideas Matter”. While I still believe these simple statements to be true, I don’t feel that those currently driving public education have any inkling of what they mean.

Sincerely and with regret,

Gerald J. Conti
Social Studies Department Leader

Cc: Doreen Bronchetti, Lee Roscoe
My little Zu.



CurtZHP said...

What is 2+2, Winston?

Julia said...

5. 2 + 2 has always been 5.

River said...

So I think of my lessons in the geometry of the great Lobachevsky and I get an idea -- aha! Every chapter I stole from somewhere else! (Index I copied from old Vladivostok telephone directory.) But Pravda -- well, Pravda says "But Gospodin McCainsky, why are you sending this piece to us and not to the other Pravda?" But you see, I could explain the how -- ai! Nikolai Ivanovitch Lobachevsky is his name!