Friday, February 21, 2014

Report on Common Core Forum

I attended the anti Common Core forum in Baton Rouge last night. The forum sponsored by Parents Concerned About Common Core drew a packed audience at the Crossfire Auditorium. There were parents from the metropolitan Baton Rouge area with others coming from as far as Lafayette, Mandeville and New Orleans. This is definitely a purely parent led movement. The supporters of CCSS cannot blame the teacher unions for this one.

Several of the forum presenters had impressive credentials and did a good job of pointing out glaring flaws in the Common Core State Standards. The presenters explained that the standards were developed by a self appointed group of academic elitists and testing company representatives and did not include any significant involvement of regular classroom teachers.

My opinion as an educator, is that the lack of field testing of the standards, the inappropriateness of many of the standards for the lower grades, and the poor and obscure wording of many of the standards will cause major problems in Louisiana if we continue with the present plan for implementation. For example, in New York, the standards so far, have resulted in a huge failure rate, a widening of the achievement gap between affluent and non-affluent students, and a demoralization of the teaching profession. This is the opposite of what it has been advertised to do.

One of the presenters pointed out how the wording of many of the standards ended up being needlessly obscure and jargon ridden. The second grade standard for range of reading is stated as follows: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL 2.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories and poetry, in the grades 2-3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range. The presenter translated the edu-jargon by restating the standard as follows: “By the end of the second grade students will read and understand second grade level literature with extra help by the teacher for the more difficult material.” I have to admit that even with my extensive experience in education I had not yet figured out what that “scaffolding” terminology meant. The presenter pointed out that the standards are obscured by pretentious, nonsensical wording and often include a complex mix of skills instead of discrete skills.

Parents attending the forum were understandably concerned about the misuse of the extensive data being collected and sent to the USDOE in conjunction with the CCSS. Parents do not want their child's data shared with potential future employers and others who may want to profit from selling educational services. The FERPA privacy laws were changed recently to allow sharing of student data with numerous groups without permission of the parents. Generally parents do not want “big government” taking over the decision making about the education of their children. They want to retain most of the decision making with their elected school board members. Parents are particularly wary of political or social philosophy being infused into the curriculum by unelected bureaucrats and testing companies.

I also believe that many of the big companies like Exon-Mobil and the Chamber of Commerce have no idea what is in the standards. They simply have been assured by the Gates Foundation and the testing and educational services conglomerates who stand to make billions from this revision, that this will better prepare young American workers to meet the human capitol needs of industry. Unfortunately there is no evidence that any of this will happen. This is just one giant experiment with our nation's children.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Important Common Core Forum

What? An Important Forum on Common Core

When? Thursday, Feb. 20, at 6:00 P.M.

Where? Crossfire Auditorium, 8919 World Ministry Ave., Baton Rouge, LA. Off of Bluebonnet Blvd.

Sponsored by: Parents, teachers, and citizens concerned about The Common Core Initiative

Featured Speakers: Dr James Milgram, Stanford University, Member of the CCSS Validation Commottee

Dr Sandra Stotsky, University of Arkansas, Member of the CCSS Validation Committee.

Get all the information you need and your ticket at: http://www.LOUISIANACORE.ORG