Hear Two Wyoming Moms on “Speak Your Piece” Discuss Common Core

BigHornNetwork

On January 10th, two mothers from Wyoming discussed the Common Core State Standards during the “Speak Your Piece” program on the Big Horn Radio Network.    I am grateful to warrior moms that are willing to make this a priority and do something that is out of their comfort zone!  Way to go Kelly and Erin!  Thank you for speaking out and voicing the opinions and concerns of many other mother’s across this state and country!

Please listen and share –>HERE!

Next Generation Science Standards Concerns

NGSS_LOGO

Below is an excellent breakdown of the problems with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) created by members of  WyomingCitizensOpposingCommonCore.com.  They have also created a brochure to print and hand out with similar information ==>HERE.

I am posting this information to give  parents  talking points for their local school boards about their concerns.  Please consider passing this information on to your local Conservation District chapters and any other organizations you think may be willing to get involved.
The State Board of Education is supposed to vote on the NGSS at their upcoming board meeting in Cheyenne on January 23, 24- so time is of the essence. 

Concerns with the Next Generation Science Standards

Lack of Quality

  • there is so little advanced content that it would be impossible to derive a high school physics or chemistry course
  • misses several opportunities to build important links between grade- appropriate math and required science content

Opposes Some Wyoming Values

  •  Wyoming’s economy revolves around mining and agriculture, the NGSS have a heavy negative slant at the use of such resources
  • Are regulations, international treaties and alternative energy sources Wyoming’s ideal for solutions to the “negative impacts of human activity?”
  • Does Wyoming value one-sided, unsupported viewpoints as fact?

Non-Objective

  • Religiously non-neutral which would lead to indoctrination, not education
  • Fail to distinguish for students the various definitions of evolution, leading them to assume that the word always denotes the same thing
  • Unconstitutional according to the Wyoming Constitution

Pending Court Case

  • A non-profit in Kansas has filed a complaint against the Kansas Department of Education regarding the Next Generation Science Standards
  • Kansas and Wyoming are both under the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Therefore, if a ruling is made at that level, it will apply to Wyoming as well
  • Wyoming should delay the consideration of the NGSS until this case is resolved

 

Lack of Quality

Nine scientists and mathematicians reviewed NGSS for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Fordham gave the standards an overall grade of “C,” (the NAEP and TIMSS standards received the grade of A- from the Fordham Institute).

Overview:  “The NGSS fall short of excellence in several ways, including:

  • overemphasis on practices over essential context
  • omission of much essential content
  • failure to integrate mathematics content that is essential to science learning
  • use of assessment boundaries that put arbitrary ceilings on the content that will be assessed and therefore taught at each grade”

Clarity and Specificity: The presentation of the NGSS is cumbersome and difficult to navigate.  In addition, too many individual performance expectations are vague and poorly worded, with broad references to concepts that lack specific guidance about what, precisely, students should know and be able to do.”

http://www.edexcellencemedia.net/publications/2013/20130820-NGSS-Appendix-Review-and-State-Comparisons/NGSS-comparison-table-wyoming.pdf

Another problem Fordham reviewers found is NGSS focuses on students “performing” at the expense of “memorizing.”   They indicate that in this case “content takes a backseat to practices.” The Fordham report suggests that science education should “build knowledge first so that students will have the storehouse of information and understanding that they need to engage in scientific reasoning and higher level thinking.”

http://www.eagleforum.org/publications/educate/july13/next-generation-science-standards-common-core-incognito.html

 In regards to Physical Science Fordham states:

“NGSS physical science coverage is mediocre throughout grades K–5 and declines rapidly in middle school, and still further at the high school level. Overall, the physical science standards fail to lay the foundation for advanced study in high school and beyond, and there is so little advanced content that it would be impossible to derive a high school physics or chemistry course from the content included in the NGSS.”

“Much of the NGSS document was not written with mathematics in mind.”

“(NGSS) misses several opportunities to build important links between grade- appropriate math and required science content.”

“Given the critical overlap between science and math, as well as the NGSS authors’ intention to align their science expectations with the Common Core math standards, these shortcomings signal a need for caution on the part of states that are serious about implementing the CCSS but that are also considering adopting the NGSS.”

http://www.edexcellence.net/sites/default/files/publication/pdfs/20130612-NGSS-Final-Review_7.pdf

Wyoming Values

 Does Wyoming believe that all/most human actions lead to negative consequences for the earth?

Agriculture and mining are essential to Wyoming.  There are responsible Wyomingites out there who are involved with agriculture and/or mining that make a living responsibly, efficiently and without destroying the earth.  This perspective is not mentioned in the NGSS.  On the contrary, the unproven negative effects of such practices are taught.  The following example is taken from the NGSS:

Disciplinary Core Idea: ESS3.C: HUMAN IMPACTS ON EARTH SYSTEMS

“How do humans change the planet? Recorded history. . . indicates that human activities in agriculture, industry, and everyday life have had major impacts on the land, rivers, ocean, and air. Humans affect the quality, availability, and distribution of Earth’s water through the modification of streams, lakes, and groundwater. Large areas of land, including such delicate ecosystems as wetlands, forests, and grasslands, are being transformed by human agriculture, mining, and the expansion of settlements and roads. Human activities now cause land erosion and soil movement annually that exceed all natural processes. Air and water pollution caused by human activities affect the condition of the atmosphere and of rivers and lakes, with damaging effects on other species and on human health. The activities of humans have significantly altered the biosphere, changing or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of many living species. These changes also affect the viability of agriculture or fisheries to support human populations.

The activities and advanced technologies that have built and maintained human civilizations clearly have large consequences for the sustainability of these civilizations and the ecosystems with which they interact.”

Performance Expectation: HS – Human Sustainability (Grade 9-12)

HS-ESS3-4.
Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.

HS-ESS3-3.
Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.

HS-ESS3-6.
Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.

 

  • Does Wyoming value freedom and enterprise, or federal/international regulation?

The following is taken from the Framework behind the NGSS: “Some negative effects of human activities are reversible…Regulations regarding water and air pollution have greatly reduced acid rain and stream pollution, and international treaties on the use of certain refrigerant gases have halted the growth of the annual ozone hole…”

http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=13165&page=195

  • Does Wyoming value objective or unsupportive, non-objective education?

Non-Objective

  • The standards fail to present controversial issues objectively (such as climate change, renewable energy and sustainability.)
  • The standards are one-sided in that they disproportionately focus on negative effects of human interaction with the environment

Example:  ESS3.D: Global Climate Change

Performance Expectation: MS-ESS3 Earth and Human Activity (Grades 6-8) MS-ESS3-5.

Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century. [Clarification Statement: Examples of factors include human activities (such as fossil fuel combustion . . . and agricultural activity) . . . Emphasis is on the major role that human activities play in causing the rise in global temperatures.]

Disciplinary Core Idea: ESS3.D: Global Climate Change

Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming).

  • Teaches evolution as a fact, starting in elementary grades (current WY standards teach evolution as a theory, and not until 8th grade)

Example:  “By the end of grade 2. Some kinds of plants and animals that once lived on Earth (e.g., dinosaurs) are no
longer found anywhere, although others now living (e.g., lizards) resemble them in some ways.”
(Grade Band Endpoints for LS4.A)

  • The standards address ultimate  religious questions and then use a doctrine or “Rule” that permits only   materialistic or functionally atheistic answers
  • The standards require a materialistic explanation for any phenomenon addressed by science
  • The standards are neither educationally objective nor religiously neutral, because an atheistic or materialistic worldview is consistently affirmed throughout.
  • The Standards fail to present legitimate scientific critiques of materialistic theories regarding the origins of the universe, of life and its diversity

Examples:  Core Idea LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

LS4.A: Evidence of Common Ancestry and Diversity
LS4.B: Natural Selection
LS4.C: Adaptation
LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans

Descriptions of these Core Ideas to follow:

The Framework for the NGSS describes the reasoning behind the Core Ideas:

  • There is diversity within species as well as between species. Yet what is learned about the function of a gene or a cell or a process in one organism is relevant to other organisms because of their ecological interactions and evolutionary relatedness. (Framework, page 139, emphasis added)
  • “Finally, the core ideas in the life sciences culminate with the principle that evolution can explain how the diversity that is observed within species has led to the diversity of life across species through a process of descent with adaptive modification. Evolution also accounts for the remarkable similarity of the fundamental characteristics of all species. (Framework, page 140, emphasis added)
  • Evolution and its underlying genetic mechanisms of inheritance and variability are key to understanding both the unity and the diversity of life on Earth. (Framework, page 141)
  • Evolution thus explains both the similarities of genetic material across all species and the multitude of species existing in diverse conditions on Earth—its biodiversity—which humans depend on for natural resources and other benefits to sustain themselves. (Framework, page 161)
  • Biological evolution, the process by which all living things have evolved over many generations from shared ancestors, explains both the unity and the diversity of species.(Framework, page 162,emphasis added)

Bullets source: http://www.copeinc.org/docs/NGSS_PressRelease_final.pdf

Standards  source: http://edu.wyoming.gov/sf-docs/default-document-library/science_standards_draft_09-20-13_sbe_10-7-13.pdf2

Framework Source: http://www.nextgenscience.org/framework-k%E2%80%9312-science-education

The NGSS Are Unconstitutional In Wyoming

The Wyoming Constitution states in Article 7, Section 12 titled “Sectarianism prohibited.”

“No sectarian instruction, qualifications or tests shall be imparted, exacted, applied or in any manner tolerated in the schools of any grade or character controlled by the state, nor shall attendance be required at any religious service therein, nor shall any sectarian tenets or doctrines be taught or favored in any public school or institution that may be established under this constitution.”

The word “sect” is defined as “a group adhering to a distinctive doctrine.”  And doctrine is defined as “a set of ideas or beliefs that are taught or believed to be true.”

The adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards would seem to be a violation of the state constitution.

Pending Court Case

  • The Framework for K-12 Science Education and Next Generation Science Standards is the subject of a lawsuit filed in a Federal District Court in Kansas in September.
  • Kansas case is relevant to Wyoming because any appeal that goes to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals establishes the federal law, which will be applicable to Wyoming as well.
  • The lawsuit claims that the program seeks to establish an atheistic worldview in our children. Let me read you the first paragraph of the complaint:

“The Plaintiffs, consisting of students, parents and Kansas resident taxpayers, and a representative organization, complain that the adoption by the Defendant State Board of Education on June 11, 2013 of Next Generation Science Standards will have the effect of causing Kansas public schools to establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview (the “Worldview”) in violation of the Establishment, Free Exercise, and Speech Clauses of the First Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment.”

Created by WyomingCitizensOpposingCommonCore.com  Please visit their site for more information regarding Common Core!

Common Core and STEM Not a Good Fit Op-Ed by Dr. Sandra Stotsky

Should American High Schools Prepare any Students for STEM?  

Common Core Doesn’t Think So

by 

Sandra Stotsky

When states adopted Common Core’s mathematics standards, they were told (among other things) that these standards would make all high school students “college- and career-ready” and strengthen the critical pipeline for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

However, with the exception of a few standards in trigonometry, the math standards end after Algebra II, as James Milgram, professor of mathematics emeritus at StanfordUniversity observed in “Lowering the Bar: How Common Core Math Fails to Prepare High School Students for STEM,” a September 2013 report that we co-authored for the Pioneer Institute.

Who was responsible for telling Wisconsin’s Commissioner of Education when he decided to adopt these standards in 2010 that Common Core includes no standards for precalculus OR for getting to precalculus?  Who should be telling Governor Walker and Wisconsin business executives today that high school graduates taught only to Common Core’s mathematics standards won’t be able to pursue a four-year degree in STEM?  Why isn’t the Wisconsin  Department of Public Instruction telling local superintendents to make sure that an accelerated mathematics sequence is available from grade 6 on so that mathematically able kids in Wisconsin’s public schools can be prepared to enroll in and complete a full Algebra I course in grade 8 and have a chance to consider a STEM career when they plan their mathematics and science coursework in high school?

Superintendents, local school committees, and most parents don’t know that under Common Core their students won’t be able to pursue a STEM career.  In fact, they think that Common Core’s mathematics standards are rigorous.  They are not complicit in this clever act of educational sabotage, but those who wrote these standards are.  And their friends in Departments of Education or Public Instruction are.

U.S. government data show that only one out of every 50 prospective STEM majors who begin their undergraduate math coursework at the precalculus level or lower will earn bachelor’s degrees in a STEM area. Moreover, students whose last high school mathematics course was Algebra II or lower have less than a 40 percent chance of earning any kind of four-year college degree.

It’s not as if Common Core’s lead mathematics standards writers themselves didn’t tell the public how low Common Core’s high school mathematics standards were. At a March 2010 meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Jason Zimba, a lead writer, told the board that the standards are “not only not for STEM, they are also not for selective colleges.”   In January 2010, William McCallum, another lead mathematics standards writer, told a group of mathematicians: “The overall standards would not be too high, certainly not in comparison [to] other nations, including East Asia, where math education excels.”

There are other consequences to having a college readiness test in mathematics with low expectations. The U.S. Department of Education’s competitive grant program, Race to the Top, requires states to place students who have been admitted by their public colleges and universities into credit-bearing (non-remedial) mathematics (and English) courses if they have passed a Common Core–based “college readiness” test. Selective public colleges, engineering schools, and universities in Wisconsin will likely have to lower the level of their introductory math courses to avoid unacceptably high failure rates.

Both Professor Milgram and I were members of Common Core’s Validation Committee, which was charged with reviewing each successive draft of the standards. We both refused to sign off on the academic quality of the national standards, but we made public our explanation and criticism of the final version of Common Core’s standards.

It is still astonishing that Wisconsin’s Commissioner of Education adopted Common Core’s standards without asking the engineering, science, and mathematics faculty at his own higher education institutions (and the mathematics teachers in the state’s own high schools) to do an analysis of Common Core’s definition of college readiness and to make public their recommendations. After all, who could be better judges of what students need for a STEM major?

Wisconsin clearly needs to revise Common Core’s mathematics standards as soon as possible so that its public schools are able to offer the coursework beginning in grade 5 or 6 that will enable mathematically able students to aim for a STEM major in college.  Unless, of course, the governor, the legislature, and the commissioner of education aren’t interested in having American-born and educated engineers, doctors, or scientists.   If that is the case, then keep the Common Core status quo.

Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D, is professor of education reform emerita at the University of Arkansas. She was on Common Core’s Validation Committee from 2009-2010.  Her writings are available at: http://www.uaedreform.org/sandra-stotsky/

Musical Notes on Common Core

Clarinet

I am thrilled to see a unique perspective from a music teacher on common core. As I reflected on my personal experience learning to play an instrument, I find the issue addressed in this article very concerning. First of all, I am not blessed with the natural ability of musicianship. I had to work very hard to be successful in playing the clarinet. I was not blessed with piano lessons as a young child and I had to practice daily to achieve what I have as a musician. Had I encountered the struggles and lack of math skills as a student, as described by this music teacher, I would never had continued as a musician. It was because of a partial music scholarships I was able continue my higher education until I obtained my degree and teaching credentials.  I wonder, what will the future hold, if only those learning to play instruments, are those that it comes naturally too.

As a public school teacher and a mother of children that were in public school (up until this year) I too have seen these changes in math curriculum. Especially in schools, such as our school district,  that use “fuzzy” math such as EveryDay Mathmatics. Here are problems she has seen affect her student’s ability to learn a musical instrument. Read the full article here.

1) An inability to conceptualize multiplication
2) An inability to deal with numbers in relationship to each other
3) An inability to conceptualize fractions or even understand what fractional terms represent
4) Difficulty in applying basic arithmetic to simple concepts within music
5) Physical handwriting skills/Motor Skills
6) Using information made up out of thin air emotionally based when writing essays on composers

The mathematical concerns (1-4)have been part of the Common Core debate.  The dumbing-down of our children’s mathematical abilities is described by Dr. James Milgram and this math teacher .  Looking at concern #5, there are valid arguments that common core’s removal of cursive handwriting and the continued focus on using computers and ipads, rather than physical writing, will continue to affect fine motor skills.  The last concern has been showing up in Common Core aligned curriculum.  Here is an example that is approved for use in Utah school’s, called ” Voices”, for teaching Literature and Writing.  You will see that as early as 1st grade, students are being taught to use emotions, rather than facts and figures to persuade and convince.

I agree with this teacher’s assessment of public education:

…I am completely alarmed on every level possible. I love my students, and I want nothing more than for them to become educated and positive members of our society as adults one day.  If we allow Common Core to become the foundation of our children’s education, the future of America will most certainly change for the worse.   Yes, our schools have slipped in the last two decades and need improvement.  But the Common Core mandate will only bring us further into the depths of producing a completely ill-educated society.