Speakers Kelly Simone, Alisa Ellis, Amy Edmonds, and myself spoke in Jackson Hole last week. We each had 30 mintues to present a portion of our research on education reform and the Common Core State Standards. The presentation was filmed and will be uploaded to Youtube as soon as it’s available. I’ll be sure and post it for those interested. This evening apparently brought on a firestorm that might just melt the snow from those gorgeous Tetons!
The Jackson Hole News & Guide published two articles covering the event that was sponsered by the Concerned Women’s Group of Jackson Hole. The first article here, speaks of dozens coming out to hear the speakers. In reality there were over 100 people in attendence.
The article by Brielle Schaeffer is titled, Speakers Oppose New Common Core Standards. Here are a few quotes from the article:
Speaker Christy Hooley said, “It’s not just about standards” but about the intrusion of the federal government and corporations into local control of education. She said Common Core standards will limit the ability to teach to the individual child.
The speakers, including former Sweetwater County teacher Hooley, talked about the history of education policy, the creation of the standards and their concerns about a state data collection system.
The standards are being pushed on the state by the federal government, former state lawmaker Amy Edmonds said.
“I get the question all the time from people, ‘How did this happen?’ ‘How did we get here?’ ” she said. “I want them to understand these things didn’t drop out of the sky. These are all things that are happening through the federal government. … No educator in Wyoming was involved in writing these standards.”
“Everything the state has been doing is taking cues from the federal government,” Edmonds said.
Alisa Ellis of Utahns Against Common Core said the standards are unconstitutional and violate education laws.
“The constitution says any responsibility not given to the government is for the states,” she said.
And, she added, “if that isn’t bad enough, the Common Core isn’t field tested.
“The U.S. has never had national standards before and then they decided to roll out untested standards across the nation.”
Kelly Simone of Wyoming Citizens Opposing the Common Core worried about collecting student data and sharing it among agencies. She urged the audience to petition their school boards and representatives about educational standards and data collection.
The first article did not do justice for the amount of research and information that was shared by mother and Physician’s Assistant Kelly Simone. Read her recent editorial here. The Cody Enterprise covered the information she shared with her local school board on Jan. 21 about the Wyoming P-20 Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) . I encourage you to read the full article here.
The second article also by Brielle Shaeffer can be found here, and is titled Common Core Finds Support. Here are a few quotes from the article.
“The [Wyoming] Department of Education says that Common Core are not curriculum but the sad reality is [that] tests drive curriculum,” speaker and former Sweetwater County teacher Christy Hooley said. “To say otherwise is ludicrous.”
In addition to curriculum, Hooley and other speakers delineated other worries about the loss of schooling on literature, workforce training, equity and the collection of student data. The critical view is not embraced by the establishment.
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” said Kathy Scheurman, professional issues director of the Wyoming Education Association. “It’s kind of frightening what information is out there.”
I’d like to know what “misinformation” Scheurman is referring to. Everything presented was researched and fact checked with primary sources and government documents. These can easily be found when putting forth effort to understand where the concerns are arising from.
The ‘what’ is decided locally
“Curriculum is without any question a district responsibility,” Teske said. “People want to blend all the issues.”
There’s a lot of confusion between what a standard is and what curriculum is, Teton County schools Superintendent Pam Shea said.
“Standards are a framework,” she said. “They provide guideposts along the way.”
The blending and confusing she refers to is actually happening on her end. As a teacher, I see very clearly the difference between standards (what students are expected to know) and curriculum (what is used to teach that standard). Superintendent Shea is correct, it is a “framework”. Just like the framework of any building will drive what the building looks like.
Just like the bones to my body ultimately drive the shape of my body. So it is with the standards and the materials teachers will use to teach. Many teachers and parents see the problems with “Fuzzy Math”, such as Every Day Mathematics, which is used here in Sweetwater County School District No. 2. The problem is that these types of programs (curriculum) are what is being aligned to Common Core. This is VERY clear.
The new English language and math standards still allow educators to use their expertise to teach their students, she said.
“Everybody needs a framework,” Shea said. “Education needs frameworks so there are not gaps and so you can plan for rigor and high expectation.”
Teachers choose what is the age-appropriate tool for the child to employ to reach the standard, she said.
“It’s the curriculum, the materials, it’s the ‘what’ that we still have local control over,” Shea said.
Districts are now limited by the curriculum that is stamped “Common Core Aligned or Approved”. Yes, the district can now pick from this limited and aligned material. Regulate and limit our choices… Most teachers are accustomed to these regulations and do their best with what limits the government now places on us. However, to make it sound like teachers are free to teach and do what they know best is misleading.
Critic Hooley also was upset about the lack of emphasis on literature in the standards. The standards outline a 50-50 split between literature and nonfiction for younger grade levels. In high school years there is a 70 percent emphasis on nonfiction.
“Math teachers aren’t taught how to teach reading,” Hooley said. “It’s pretty concerning.”
“I think that sometimes, in … trying to make everybody the same, we’re losing freedom to such a great extent that it cannot be regained,” Alisa Ellis of Utahns Against Common Core said.
Speakers at the forum critical of Common Core also opposed the idea of the system promoting college and career readiness. Educating the mind doesn’t include workforce training, critic Hooley said.
“Is that the government’s job, to determine and make sure your kid has a job or is it the parent’s opportunity to give that freedom of choice to their child?” she asked.
I was grateful to see that the data privacy and collection concerns were addressed in the article:
Student data collection was another topic that worried Kelly Simone of Wyoming Citizens Opposing the Common Core. She fears that student data is to be shared with non-educational state agencies.
But Common Core doesn’t change data collection processes, Principal Miller said: “Student confidential information is a legitimate concern but … there are safeguards in place,” he said.
Still, Sen. Christensen thinks student privacy issues will be examined during the legislative session that begins Monday.
“Most of us were of the understanding that these were just raw numbers to help track trends and general progress, but as Simone reported that night it’s actually names, dates of birth and files that are reported early on. It was different than what I expected.”
However the most concerning portion of this article included a Fact vs. Fiction section:
Dan Brophy has given permission for me to post this repsonse. It was also forwareded to Teton County School Board and the Wyoming Department of Eduation.
RE: “Common Core Finds Support” (February 5, Jackson Hole Daily)
Education bureaucrats and politicians say dismissively, again and again, “there’s so much misinformation out there, opponents are misinformed.” Opposition to the Common Core agenda is growing because opponents have done more homework than the bureaucrats.
FICTION: School districts maintain control over curriculum. FALSE, they do not. The US Dept of Education spent $330 million in grants to design SBAC and PARCC, the two national Common Core tests. Extensive research (and common sense) proves that teachers, who are evaluated and compensated on their students’ test scores, “teach to the test.” There will be only one correct answer on the test, which the teacher must drill into the student. Night follows day: national standardized tests require national standardized curriculum. Bill Gates, whose Foundation has spent over $400 million to fund Common Core development and dissemination efforts, bluntly stated: “When the [standardized] tests are aligned to the common [Common Core] standards, the curriculum will line up as well.” Wyoming bureaucrats are not telling the truth. National standards inevitably are national curriculum; local control disappears, stolen by bureaucrats from Wyoming citizens.
FICTION: The Federal government had no role in CC development. FALSE. The DoE cleverly disguised its involvement (see above), but the subterfuge is exposed by minimal research into DoE documents. Former Education Secretary Califano states: “The DoE has simply paid others to do that which it is forbidden [by statute] to do.”
FICTION: There will be no new, intrusive, invasive data collection on students. FALSE. The Governor’s education assistant assured me that the Wyoming education bureaucracy will “enforce all aspects of” FERPA. Conveniently, FERPA was amended in January, 2012, to “allow for greater disclosures of personal and directory student identifying information … [A]n institution may, under certain circumstances, designate and disclose student… unique personal identifiers…. The regulations also provide that a parent or student may not opt out of the disclosure of such directory information…[and also] allow for disclosure of [personally identifying information] without student or parent consent, where institutions have contracted with organizations to conduct studies…” (National Law Review). Look in your mirror and ask whether the same Federal government that has admitted (only under pressure) to spying on your email can be trusted with your child’s private, individual data, and can collect and share it without your consent? And, by the way, as a parent the law now says you may do nothing to prevent this?
FICTION: Common Core standards are superior to existing standards. FALSE. Bill Gates mused in September, 2013, “It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.” Gates’ Microsoft would never roll out a new operating system without millions of hours of beta testing. By his own admission, Common Core is an experiment, but Governor Mead and the Wyoming education bureaucracy tell us they know best and we must accept this monumental, experimental change. And if we don’t, we are “misinformed.”
Common Core’s adoption cedes all local control over Wyoming’s curriculum to a rigid, copyrighted, “one-size-fits-all” national educational colossus. It forecloses any current or future opportunity to use in-state or other Wyoming-chosen resources to design or participate in innovative, easily modified, and nationally and internationally superior curriculum. Wyoming students will now march with the crowd into uniformity, rigidity, conformity, and in the end, mediocrity (at best).
Parents in this state would never agree to this stunning loss of control, but despite claims of the bureaucracy, they have simply not been told. In one example I researched, the Wyoming Department of Education gave parents 22 days in 2010 to comment on nearly 700 pages of Common Core standards. This is just one of many similar occurrences during WDE’s supposed 3-year communication effort.
WDE owes citizens something better than a self-serving forum on February 13. Why not defend its views in a debate with informed opponents of Common Core, in front of the entire community. Three renowned Common Core experts are in Cheyenne through February 12. Bring them to Jackson for a real debate, and our local parents can decide for themselves just who is “misinformed.”
Well done Mr. Brophy! Well done!