Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Common Core Opposition Growing

A just released survey on school standards by the LSU Public Policy Research Lab confirms the result of an earlier survey of Louisiana voters that public opinion is turning solidly against Common Core. The LSU survey points out that Louisiana voters are generally not opposed to common standards, but they are increasingly against the Common Core standards. This most recent poll finds that approximately 51% of all voters now oppose Common Core with a significant number of persons still undecided. But that leaves only 39% of voters favoring the Common Core standards. This is certainly not good news for those groups that have spent so many millions trying to sell the Common Core to educators and the general public. The problem is that most of that selling was pure Madison Avenue and not really based on the actual application of the CCSS.

Compare the above results with a completely different survey conducted two weeks ago by Marble Port Polling.  As this blog reported in a March 17th post,  this survey found that 54% of voters opposed Common Core.  That survey only found only 17% of voters favoring Common Core. I believe the difference in the two polls can easily be explained by the way the questions were put to the respondents. The LSU poll produced more varied results because they presented the idea of standards in a more nuanced fashion.

These two surveys, even though they approach the standards subject in different ways still generally agree, that the voting public has turned rather dramatically against Common Core. Only a year ago, most Louisiana voters had no idea what the Common Core was all about and most voters were undecided on the issue.  Support for the CCSS has eroded greatly now that parents have had a chance to see how the standards actually affect children when they are applied in the classroom.  My opinion is that if the standards were truly effective and educationally sound, public opinion would have turned in favor as everyone got a chance to see how well they worked. I can assure my readers of this political reality: The opponents of Common Core in Louisiana are much more dedicated to their cause and will fight much harder to remove CCSS than those who support it. There is much more money on the Support CCSS side but eventually politicians listen more to the voters that are truly passionate in their stand because those are the folks that can un-elect you! 

The LSU survey finds that Republicans (62%) are more opposed to Common Core than Democrats.  57% of Democrats still support Common Core, but even that support is also eroding as parents learn more about the actual application of the standards.  For example, New York state is two years ahead of Louisiana in testing the standards.  New York is using a higher passing score than Louisiana by setting the minimum passing score at the proficient level, which is at level 4 on a 5 point rating scale. Louisiana, according to John White will start by setting he passing score at the basic level (a score of 3 out of 5) and gradually raise the expected score to the proficient level over a period of 10 years.

70% of all students in New York failed the test in the first year and about 67% failed in the second year. Supporters had predicted that scores would go up as teachers and students learned how to apply the standards better. But now it turns out that the slight improvement in scores in the second year was due to removal of a few of the most difficult and confusing questions. It looks like there was no real gain in performance, only a corresponding watering down of the test. My readers will remember that Louisiana test score results are routinely manipulated also. (John White hails from New York)

Here is another interesting revelation of the New York testing. High poverty students, English as a Second Language students and all at-risk students did significantly worse on the new Common Core aligned tests. Remember when David Coleman and other Common Core supporters claimed that the miracle CCSS would reduce the achievement gap? It is clear that the CCSS has greatly increased the achievement gap instead!

All of these developments predict further erosion of support for the CCSS as the public learns more and more about how they actually work in real schools. This once again demonstrates that we should not be using our children as guinea pigs to test the wacky theories of the so called education reformers.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

White, the Beneficiary of Extremist Politics now Opposes Such

State Superintendent John White prides himself in using smart sound bites, talking points and misleading rhetoric as a way of selling his views in the education reform battles. In a press conference Monday, White referred to efforts to derail the Common Core State Standards in Louisiana as an "extremist" plan. In this slick quotable quote, White was obviously referring to the growing wave of parental opposition to the incomprehensible CCSS standards and the accompanying imitation PARCC testing. I believe that characterizing concerned and frustrated parents as "extremists" is a tactical mistake this time. It is very similar to the recent statement by U. S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan claiming that some "white suburban moms" were worried that the new testing may reveal that their children were not so brilliant after all. Duncan was forced to backtrack on those statements, and you can be sure that White's attack on concerned parents will only increase their determination to remove Common Core and probably White along with it!

This is not the first time that White has been tripped up by his own fancy New York rhetoric. During the time White was involved in confirmation hearings before the Senate, one of his emails revealed that he was "muddying up the rhetoric" about his failure to properly investigate some of the shaky voucher schools, that were enrolling students even though they had no teachers and inadequate facilities. Later White was found to be covering up some of the glaring flaws in the teacher evaluation system by signing on to the "Seabaugh solution".  Another semantic trick used by White was referring to the loss of teacher tenure, seniority rights, step raises  and the imposition of a sloppy merit pay system as a way of "empowering" teachers. More recently, White wanted to "empower" principals by requiring that they get fewer highly effective evaluations. Educators have learned the hard way that when White uses the term "empower" in reference to educators they had better brace themselves for a not so pleasant assault on their rights and benefits.

White has gotten pretty much gotten his way so far, but the welcome mat for the New York, Bloomberg,  protege is steadily being pulled out from under his feet. Remember that White who now complains about extremist politics gained his appointment despite a lack of actual education qualifications because of political donations to BESE candidates from the wealthy media executives who stand to gain from the adoption of the CCSS.