Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Revelations And The Unraveling Of Common Core

 


Does Tennessee Value Its Children’s Education More Than Alabama?

On Tuesday, April 21 in a bipartisan vote, the Tennessee House of Representatives voted unanimously (97:0) to repeal Common Core. Today, the Tennessee State Senate followed with a (27:1) vote in favor of repeal. The Truth in Medium Team, an online news site (benswan.com) was the first of many media outlets to report this breaking news. “This legislation is a template for all states to begin a much needed journey of separation from federally generated standards and an invitation to embrace each states’ own constitutionally delegated authority to serve its citizens at its own will,” said HB1035 chief sponsor Rep. Billy Spivey (R-Lewisburg).” HB1035 reads, in part, “WHEREAS, these new Tennessee academic standards shall be adopted and fully implemented in Tennessee public schools in the 2017–2018 school year, at which time the previously adopted set of standards shall be rescinded.”

The nationally initiated and developed “Common Core State Standards” (a misnomer itself) were released in 2010. They have undergone scrutiny and criticism by parents, educators, politicians and students. Like Tennessee, several states have opted out. Despite the myths and false assertions to the contrary, from its rollout (2008 and 2009) this initiative “nationalizes” education for states and local school districts. Alabama’s State Superintendent of Education, Tommy Bice bought into and promoted this boondoggle of a non- piloted program. Billions of dollars were funneled through the U. S. Department of Education to private corporations. The Gates Foundation (Bill and Melinda Gates) backed this initiative with a contribution of $178 million to several private education curriculum and material corporations. The U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, stated that the CCSS were “our” standards. David Axelrod, Senior Advisor to President Obama, said the CCSS “were initiative of the Obama Administration”.

Steady Improvement Interrupted

Before the implementation of the CCSS Alabama’s public schools were making unprecedented academic progress. A few of the most notable achievements Alabama students were clearly trending. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reported that Alabama schools led the nation in increased reading scores over an eight-year period (2003 – 2011). NAEP also revealed that Alabama was one of only nine states to show significant improvement in 4th grade math scores, second only to Arizona. The Fordham Foundation gave Alabama’s English Language Arts Course of Study and “A” ranking and the Math Course of Study a “B+” rating. The College Board praised Alabama as #1 in Advanced Placement Progress (AP). The AP exam participation increased by 16% in 2011. In 2013 Alabama was number one in math scores on the AP for the past 5 years.

Truth and Consequences

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas was invited as an expert to be a member of the Common Core Validation Committee in 2009 – 2010. In a presentation made at a conference at the University of Notre Dame on September 9, 2013 she made the remarks below which are excerpts from a longer presentation entitled “Common Core’s Invalid Validation Committee”.

“The lack of an authentic validation of Common Core’s so-called college-ready standards before state board of education voted to adopt these standards suggests their votes had no legal basis. The ELA (English Language Arts) work group who drafted the CCSS included no English professors or high school English teachers! The two lead writers were David Coleman and Susan Pimentel neither of whom had experience in teaching English at any level!”

Stanford University mathematician R. James Milgram, the only member of the 29-member Validation Committee with a doctorate in mathematics, said that Common Core is two years behind the math standards in the highest-performing countries. Milgram wrote that Common Core fails to prepare students for careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. He was one of five (along with Dr. Stotsky) who resigned in protest from the Committee.

Perhaps the biggest blow to the credibility of CCSS and CCRS is a recent reliable research study. The Brookings Institute devoted to independent research in Washington D.C. released an in-depth, national scientific research study’s findings in an article, “A Progress Report on the Common Core”, March 18, 2014 by Tom Loveless. Below is an excerpt from this study:

It is doubtful that even the most ardent Common Core supporter will be satisfied if the best CCSS can offer—after all of the debate, the costs in tax revenue, and blood, sweat, and tears going into implementation—is a three point NAEP gain. The 2012 Brown Center Report predicted, based on empirical analysis of the effects of state standards that the CCSS will have little to no impact on student achievement. Supporters of the Common Core argue that strong, effective implementation of the standards will sweep away such skepticism by producing lasting, significant gains in student learning. So far, at least—and it is admittedly the early innings of a long ballgame—there are no signs of such an impressive accomplishment.

Follow the Money

Soon a critical decision as to whether the bill to repeal CCSS will be brought to the Senate floor. Senate Leader, Dell Marsh, has consistently supported CCSS despite reliable information of its lack of efficacy. Common Core is not in the best interest of Alabama’s children. To use a familiar term, “follow the money”, the Business Council of Alabama (through its Progress PAC) contributed more in October, 2014 to Dell Marsh ($25,000) than to any other Republican candidate. The Business Council of Alabama contributed approximately $200,000 to Republican candidates in October for the 2014 election. It is time to make the right decision to provide the best education for Alabama’s children.

David Nichols, Ed. D., is a seasoned leader in education. He has served as a teacher and/or administrator at every level of education to include K – 12 and higher education. As a city and county board of education member Nichols achieved the Master Board Member level. He has served as a consultant for at-risk schools, a presenter to professional associations and author of a variety of state and national publications. He continues to research current issues and publishes research findings.

 

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