Two springs ago, Hefferman did an op-ed piece in the Delaware Voice citing educator Louisa Moats as proof we needed to pass SB51….  I completely destructed his argument back then.

However just like Diane Ravitch who was once pro-Common Core in its inception and now is one of the biggest alarmists to how much damage it has and will do, I was surprised to read in the Washington Post that the educator into whose basket Hefferman completely put all his eggs, has now defected to our side, (the good side, the side calling for the elimination of Common Core and a return to common sense.)

Common Core is ineffective and dangerous to children… Here are some of the new claims…

A) The “Language” standards pertain almost exclusively to written, not oral, language. The language standards at each grade level presume oral language competence and mastery of foundational reading and writing skills. There is no category for “Writing Foundations” to parallel “Reading Foundations” and thus the foundational skills of writing, including handwriting, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar, usage, and sentence composition, are either overlooked, underestimated in importance, or awkwardly forced into other categories with no explicit link to composition.  (This is true.  It is like David Coleman had a brain fart and completely forgot about writing…  )

B)  The CCSS document reflects the influence of widely ranging opinions from all collaborators who submitted critiques and comments, The CCSS was purported to be consistent with research on learning to read, write, and do math, but actually reflected “current and popular ideas” (and misunderstandings) about learning that were acceptable to a wide range of non-educator stakeholders in 2010…

C)  The CCSS, unfortunately, embodies assumptions  and old wive’s tales that have not been validated through research or that may even contradict the findings of research.  The requirement that first-graders read as much informational text as narrative does not make sense for students learning to decode, who need to take baby steps through our complex phonics system.

D)  In the area of written composition, the act of dictating or illustrating as allowed by the CCSS in kindergarten, is not writing. Writing requires mastery of written symbol production (handwriting, spelling, punctuation) – which requires systematic instruction and practice before written composition is possible.

E)  Of most concern for students who struggle with language, reading, or writing, the CCSS states that all students should read text at grade level or above. This aspirational goal, while admirable, may lead to destructive consequences for that 40% who will fail simply because they are below grade level and who will be deemed “at risk” for reading failure.

F)   Of relevance to the community concerned with dyslexia and other learning disorders, the standards provide no guidance and no links to research on individual variation and avoid recommending any interventions for students who are functioning below grade level.  The implication that these students will magically learn to read better if they are simply handed more complex and difficult texts, and if asked to function like students who learn to read easily, is wishful – and harmful – thinking. (Did I just hear echoes of Patty Schwinn??)

G)  The lofty goals of the CCSS versus the realities of student learning, cannot easily be reconciled.  Students with dyslexia comprise at least 30% of the population. 34% of the population as a whole is “below basic” on the National Assessment of Academic Progress in fourth grade.  70–80% of students in high poverty areas enter school at risk for reading failure due to a bare minimum vocabulary. Mixed in as “poor readers” are all those who simply have not been taught how to read or who do not speak English. Yet, as if disabilities were an after-thought, Common Core expects these to perform equal to a normal child of affluence.

H) Raising standards and expectations without sufficient attention to the known causes and remedies for reading and academic failure, and without a substantial influx of new resources to educate and support teachers, is not likely to benefit students with mild, moderate, or severe learning difficulties which at minimum is over one third of the American student population.

I) Instead of being college and career ready, the stage is set for those disadvantaged students to suffer adverse consequences, such as forced grade repetitions, denial of promotion or diplomas, and irrelevant requirements that do not, in fact, enable students to be more ready for college or career.  In fact, Common Core will make them become less so.

J) Common Core Standards were formed devoid of any input from psychologists or medical professionals having experience in teaching those with disabilities on how to learn…. What we do know of teaching those with disabilities and of teaching Common Core are exact opposites, seeming to preclude an entire third of our population to become dysfunctional solely because of Common Core implementation.   Check out what we know so far on reading disabilities.

=====1) Reducing reading failure includes systematic instruction in phoneme awareness, phonics (with spelling), passage reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

=====2) Students must spend time reading – not simply being read to – from text of the appropriate level of difficulty.

=====3) if we do not catch students early (by second grade at the latest), improvement in their relative standing is much less likely and costs much more. Although many reading disabilities can be remediated or ameliorated by the end of first grade with systematic, explicit, phonics-emphasis instruction intensive effort on the part of teachers and students is required to achieve modest gains once students are beyond kindergarten and first grade.

=====4)  Aspects of reading instruction promoted by the CCSS (reading of harder, complex texts; reading aloud; reading in the content areas; writing arguments) may be appropriate for older students who already know how to read and write, but may serve only to frustrate less-skilled students if the text is impossible for them to read independently and if insufficient attention is devoted to building the requisite language skills that enable improvement.

K) Curriculum and instructional design is in the hands of publishers, professional interpreters, and state department officials. Not highly trained special ed teachers. The door is wide open for interpretations that are not optimal for students with learning difficulties. If early efforts to implement the CCSS are any indication, research-based instruction appropriate for poorer readers is getting short shrift.

L) The widely used Common Core Curriculum Maps (www.commoncore.org), for example, offer holistic, theme-oriented lessons organized around the reading of high quality texts, not around the systematic instruction of reading and writing skills.

M) Common Core [standards] often results in a checklist of discrete skills and in a fostering of skill-and-drill instruction that can fragment and isolate student learning in such a way that conceptual understanding, higher order thinking, cohesion, and synergy are made more difficult.

N) “Holistic, integrated learning” is said to be the goal of standards-based instruction. No exception is made for the novice or unskilled learner, no reference is made to the changing nature of reading over time, and no research base is invoked to explain the presumed dangers of a component-skills approach. It is to be taken as a matter of faith or philosophy that instruction in the component skills of literacy detracts from the real business of reading.

O)   No single series of model lessons and no single curriculum guide can describe the variations in content and methodology necessary to reach all students.

P)  With the CCSS’s emphasis on informational text, complex text, reading aloud, and inquiry-based learning, more of the nation’s attention is currently focused on higher-level comprehension, leaving almost no room for discussion of beginning reading and the needs of students with reading difficulties.  Air is being sucked from the room.

Q)  The teacher-directed, systematic, sequential, explicit approaches that work best are receiving much less discussion than they deserve. The risk, of course, is that even larger numbers of students will soon fail to become independent readers and writers.

R)  From the Common Core standards document, a reader cannot learn that speech sound blending supports word recognition, that spelling supports vocabulary, that understanding of morphology speeds word recognition, or that oral language capacities are the underpinning for written language. One would not realize that handwriting, spelling, and sentence composition support higher level composition. They do. They are how one learns, and they are all absent from Common Core.

S) In pilot Common Core programs, students with poor reading and writing skills, including those with dyslexia, were more likely to be subjected to instruction that was inappropriate in pacing, emphasis, and design. These unrealistic and Idealistic visions of student potential, coupled with unattainable standards, a “one size fits all” approach, and a purposefully complete disregard for decades of research on reading acquisition and individual differences, can only exacerbate student failure and suffering in our accountability-driven systems.

T) Current interpretations of the CCSS standards and curriculum create more obstacles for students than already exist. Advocates for students with dyslexia and related difficulties are encouraged to be vocal supporters of meaningful, research-based education that safeguards students’ self-esteem and enables optimal progress. The CCSS may play some role in guiding that process, but should not be the overriding or dominant influence on the content or methods of education for students with reading difficulties…

=========

As this makes quite clear, all students with disabilities need to be shielded from Common Core, not embraced by it. At this point, all must remember that Common Core was not created by educational experts, but was guided by businessmen. Common Core puts out a product that only a businessman could approve…. Businessmen don’t have time or the inclination required to deal with anomalies like real children,  who through no fault of their own, suffer from a disability.

What is more important, is that with Common Core, the overall ability of our average children to read and do math is going to deteriorate as this program goes forward.  There may be some redeeming factors to redeem the money invested, but as for now, they are buried deep beneath all the problems Common Core has wrought upon us….

In essence Common Core was specifically designed to teach geniuses, those children who upon entering a grade, are already proficient… It fails to recognize that not everyone comes into life with the same opportunities and therefore needs different approaches.

And, by its catastrophic failure,Common Core has opened one’s eyes that in order to actually close the achievement gaps in our high poverty areas, we need to teach those students as we do those with special disabilities.  They are disabled, just not physically.  They are disabled by circumstance. Therefore as we do with special education, we will need more man power, more individual instruction, more resources, then proceed on a trial and error method with each student until we can find what works best individually for each one…

It can be done, but it must be done through the public system (no charters) and it must be done without Common Core.

And to think… education used to be about teaching kids… Where did we go so wrong?

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4) – There’s no school for Standley Lake High School or Conifer High School on Friday.

Many teachers at both schools called in sick overnight, so school officials decided to cancel classes.

This follows debate at Thursday night’s JeffCo School Board meeting over two controversial issues, including the creation of a review board to look at how American history is taught and changes to how teachers are compensated….

In recent weeks, conflict has centered around a new teacher compensation model the board adopted earlier this month that bases teacher raises on their evaluation ratings, as well as around a proposed new committee to review curriculum on criteria such as whether it promotes patriotism…..

When teacher’s feel compelled to take action of perceived wrongs, the administration has the perfect manipulation at their disposal.  Immediately, Dan McMinimee, Jeffco’s superintendent began to use the classic manipulation technique that has been popularized by abusive spouses for generations...

“While I respect the opportunity for free speech and expression, I think there are other ways to work through these differences without putting kids in the middle,” said Dan McMinimee, Jeffco’s superintendent, at a press conference today.

No.  No there isn’t… At least as far as Common Core goes.  Refresh time.

  • Delaware signed onto Common Core through the signature of the Governor and Secretary of Education with zero input from parents, teachers, legislators, lawyers, or experts.
  • Common Core policy change was rammed through Delaware’s Senate in a 5-0 committee hearing and a 21-0 in under one minute; no discussion encouraged or allowed. It was not on the agenda, but offered as a surprise.
  • Common Core was rushed on the next legislative day to be put up in the House, and had 4 out of 41 in opposition.  That low number corresponded to 4 who had been alerted over the weekend as to the damage that Common Core was capable of fostering.
  • Common Core was signed days later by the Governor before any controversy could be stirred up against it…
  • The Charter School changes made policy in HB 165 (EARL JACQUES) were created in a top secret, private meeting of hand picked proponents of Charter School takeover,  No public awareness was ever given, and the Attorney General’s Office upon review, said the entire arrangement was ILLEGAL under Delaware State Law. The judgment was passed, long after the bill had been rushed through and become law…  But with more vocal opposition this time.
  • When the Smarter Balanced Assessment was defeated, Delaware legislator Republican Greg Lavelle from the Senate 4th District in the Brandywine Hundred, sold out all children when he switched his vote for the chance to be on Chuck Todd’s weekly broadcast featured as a “rising Republican STAR”
  • The DSEA, the teachers’ own union, has been in bed with the current administration and sold out all teachers supposedly for a place at the governor’s table..  Teachers cannot even turn to their union anymore.  It is corrupt.
  • The News Journal turns a blind eye to the damage this program will do, ignoring by now, thousands of teachers’ letters, choosing  only to publish what the Governor’s office tells it that it must say.

=====

So what does a teacher do, with full support of every parent in their district, when they can no longer trust their administrator… they can no longer trust their union…. they can no longer trust their legislator…. they can no longer trust their state-wide elected officials…. they can no longer trust their local press….

What avenue is left for a teacher to follow when they see children being manipulated, bullied, mutilated, abused, punished for poverty, and smashed against hard stupidity???

They do what every human being SHOULD do…. They protect the children….  by the only way they have left…. They get sick and the children are saved.

While a ‘sick out’ is illegal for teachers, such actions are very difficult to prove.  It’s hard to demonstrate which teachers were actually taking an approved sick day, and those that were not.  Such measures are therefore a very peaceful way of taking a stand, and involve a very low risk factor.

Gone is the promised inflatable hammer of Lillian sidekick Dan Cruz.  Replaced by a gym-shoe-throwing Coach who’s not above the same bullying behavior of the accused Tamika Louis (Del State BBall Coach.)

I just love it. :)

To achieve the interactiveness, go here….

This charts over time the gradual tightening of the graduation rates for America’s students… Once can travel from 2006 to 2012 and across those six years, watch the world change before their eyes…

All which will be reversed from 2013 onward, as Common Core becomes entrenched and student face the gauntlet of guessing and hoping for a great future.

This is important because it shows that the educational reformers claims that education to be failing our students is simply a combination of  mis-truth,  lies, or unreliable marketing statements.

For without charters, for without curriculum changes, for without component 5, for without secret star chamber changing legislative acts, …. our children were improving. We were making great gains until we decided to mess things up; until we decided to destroy what is working and replace it with something so new, no one knows if it will work or not.

Today’s American children are being educated better than ever in our American history…  (By today, I meant  UP  TO  when Common Core began its advent… Since there is a 2 year delay on figures getting to the public, that may not be true anymore).

So take a few moments, slide the cursor over the years and watch with your own eyes how education has improved without the reformers, but was accomplished through the public system and bureaucratic inertia.  And pray there is still time to to revert, if everyone opts out this year and the program falls flat from lack of public support….

2006

graduation rates 2006

2012

graduation rates 2012

“Colonial School Superintendent Dr. Dusty Blakey says 33 other students live less than a mile from school and walk to school even inclement weather.”

Who here has ever walked a mile?

A mile…  Is a walk that normally takes 20 minutes.  It is halfway around Glasgow Park.  It is a tour the full length down and back in Battery Park.  It is like walking from Grotto’s Pizza on Newark’s Main Street to the STAR campus construction entrance. It is like walking from Christiana Hospital to Delaware Park, In Dover it is like walking from the Capitol up to Silver Lake.  In Rehoboth, it is like walking from Dolles to Dewey Beach….

And we make children have to walk that distance, every day? Really? We do that?

Oh, I know there are always that minority who will huff and brag their grand-pappies walked 7 miles to go to school…(without nary a clue as to how many days they decided to not go- no one minded so much back then).

But in today’s crowded world, walking a mile is mathematically damning a child to at least one dangerous moment; quite possibly two across the span of their education.)

I could see a limit on a block, maybe 2… But to have a mile as the minimum for bus transport?  And force children to walk it?  And say there is nothing you can do?

I know bus drivers who individually know they drive right past a house and will stop to let the child get off and run up the grass instead of having to walk back the 6 blocks they just drove down.  Why then cannot this be done from the top?

Especially when the student has spinal bifida?

Send the  damn bus…. What’s wrong with people!

Several astute observers recently noticed things had gotten better for Delaware’s kids.  Surprisingly better.  Poverty rates across the board had dropped on all schools data.. Schools that were over 96% low income last year, were in the seventies this year… Amazing right?  Too good to be true?  Despite that such results did not correlate with what we see with our own eyes?

Kilroy pointed it out here and noticed there were two corresponding sets of data.  The low on the outside page, but on the page breaking down all the details, was a higher number often in line with that high one of the previous year…..

An astute reader noticed upon clicking the link “Info”, this message:

Other Student Characteristics
School Year 2013 – 2014 and beyond: Low income is determined by students who receive any one of the following benefits: TANF, SNAP (Direct Certification).

2011 – 2013: Low income is determined by students who receive any one of the following benefits: TANF, SNAP, Medicaid or free or reduced lunch.

Prior to the 2011 School Year Low income was determined by students who received a free or reduced lunch.

So it appears the rules have changed…  In numbers it translates to this.  The designation is now dropping from 185% of poverty in the years previous, a level under which a student can qualify for reduced lunch, down to 130% which is on par with the level one needs to acquire TANF and SNAP benefits….  The past years and the detail for this past school year, still show the levels set at 185%.  The front copy switches, and shows the levels at 130%…..

Here is the difference listed by the Federal Government for 2014-2015..

poverty change up Click for larger view

Last year those listed as low income in a family of 4, could be counted as low income if their parents earned under $44,000 per year. This school year (past), low income for a family of 4 now starts below $31,000….. a difference of $13,000….

This is a change  only in classification and nomenclature… It should be always remembered as these numbers get thrown about, that no incomes for these people changed. No one rose above where they were before. They are still poor as ever and those not listed as low income, will still be getting reduced lunch, if not free.

The only thing that changed, is that when the Delaware Department of Education lists their schools, it will list a lower percentage under low income than itdid before…. Just like Common Core, nothing changes:  except the line over which one must pass or fail, is drawn at a different level….

====

In terms of numbers it breaks down like this….

WARNER

Percentage under $31,005 130% poverty;  85%   Percent between 130% and 185%:  8.4%.  Total under 185%:  93.4% or leaving just 6.6% above $44,123 for family of 4.

HIGHLANDS ELEMENTARY

Percentage under $31,005, 130% poverty;  68%   Percent between 130% and 185%:  18.4%.  Total under 185%: 86.4% or leaving just 13.6% above $44,123 for family of 4.

SHORTLIDGE ELEMENTARY

Percentage under $31,005, 130% poverty; 85%   Percent between 130% and 185%:  8.3%.  Total under 185%: 93.3% or leaving just 6.7% above $44,123 for family of 4.

BANCROFT

Percentage under $31,005, 130% poverty; 79%   Percent between 130% and 185%:  7.6%.  Total under 185%: 86.6% or leaving just 13.4% above $44,123 for family of 4.

STUBBS

Percentage under $31,005, 130% poverty; 89%   Percent between 130% and 185%:  7.6%.  Total under 185%: 96.6% or leaving just 3.4% above $44,123 for family of 4.

BAYARD MIDDLE

Percentage under $31,005, 130% poverty; 79%   Percent between 130% and 185%:  16.0%.  Total under 185%: 95.0% or leaving just 5.0% above $44,123 for family of 4.

====

Compared to other low income schools…

East $ide Charter $chool.

Percentage under $31,005, 130% poverty; 84.1%   Percent between 130% and 185%:  6.5%.  Total under 185%: 90.6% or leaving 9.4% above $44,123 for family of 4.

Kuumba

Percentage under $31,005, 130% poverty; 63.1%   Percent between 130% and 185%:  22.1%.  Total under 185%: 85.2% or leaving 14.8% above $44,123 for family of 4.

Moyer

Percentage under $31,005, 130% poverty; 78.4%   Percent between 130% and 185%:  11.9%.  Total under 185%: 90.3% or leaving 9.7% above $44,123 for family of 4.

Reach

Percentage under $31,005, 130% poverty; 59.0%   Percent between 130% and 185%:  25.4%.  Total under 185%: 84.4% or leaving 15.6% above $44,123 for family of 4.

Newark Charter $chool

Percentage under $31,005, 130% poverty; 8.4%   Percent between 130% and 185%:  9.3%.  Total under 185%: 17.7% or leaving 82.3% above $44,123 for family of 4.

Wilmington Charter $chool

Percentage under $31,005, 130% poverty; 2.4%   Percent between 130% and 185%:  3.3%.  Total under 185%: 5.7% or leaving 94.3% above $44,123 for family of 4.

=====

Obviously what is missing is the most critical data.  The number of students in each layer of income in each school…  If every family of four in a school was making $31,000 they would still be listed as low income, but no one would expect their Smarter Balance scores to match the lower levels a school having families under $10,000 per year yet also listing them as low income.

And this is the data we really need for comparison.   How many of these public school students come from families with incomes below $10,000; with incomes below $15,000; with incomes below $20,000; with incomes below $25,000?  All know that the ability to learn is a direct correspondence to one’s poverty level.  So if most of these kids are at the low end, expecting results someone gets at the high end, is unrealistic. It goes against simple math.

From this data alone it is quite obvious that Markell’s and Murphy’s charter takeover of public schools will not change the educational future of those students.  Studied results in other cities that have tried “charterization”, all show such to deflate over-all test scores far more than maintaining the current status quo….

Now if the similar effort was made to charter out families and put these children into new households with higher incomes (over $44,000 per family of 4) , then perhaps THAT money spent would not be wasted as will this measly $250,000 per year which each of the 6 schools is expected to get…..

The six schools are scheduled to become charters once the dance has been played. 2 members of the state charter board have confirmed it. Without parental and teacher involvement, it will happen. The only way these schools can remain outstanding public schools, is for parents to be willing to back up their school boards in this fight.

Parents must threaten to opt out of all standardized testing if this MOU priority school debacle is not dropped completely. One, not only will it send a proper signal, that public schools rule, charters drool, but it will also be psychologicallyhealthier for your child not to take the test…

There is considerable pressure from the DOE bearing down on these school board members… The only way they cannot bend is for you to apply the counter pressure yourselves….

The two districts are Red Clay and Christina. Each have 3 schools in jeopardy..

Red Clay:

Kenneth Rivera, President Email: Kenneth.Rivera2@redclay.k12.de.us
Michael Piccio, Vice President Email: Mike.Piccio@redclay.k12.de.us

Mervin Daugherty, BOE Executive Secretary & Superintendent
302.552.3702
superintendent@redclay.k12.de.us

Adriana Bohm Email: Adriana.Bohm@redclay.k12.de.us
Faith Newton, Email: Faith.Newton@redclay.k12.de.us
Catherine Thompson Email: Cathy.Thompson@redclay.k12.de.us
Martin Wilson. Email: Martin.Wilson@redclay.k12.de.us
Kenneth Woods. Email: Kenneth.Woods@redclay.k12.de.us

Christina:

  • Dr. Freeman Williams, Superintendent
    PHONE:  302-552-2630

========

In every American city that has allowed charter schools into their city districts, educational quality has gone down. To name some: Washington DC, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cleveland, Chicago, Atlanta, St. Louis, Boston, New York…

There is zero record of ANY DISTRICT ever doing better because of charter schools being added to the mix… Zero record.  Even a stopped clock is right two times a day. Adding Charter Schools in these six locations is like shooting a patient with a headache, six times so he forgets he had a headache…

Fixing these schools requires money… Demand that there shall be no accountability until the money is pro-offered first… At minimum there should be an additional $6 million per year per school or $36 million per year… Then, we can talk about accountability….

Here is why teachers are not speaking out…..

Today I was reading through the evaluation and of the 12 standards, 3 require you to show that you are supportive of and actively teaching the “Common Core.”  This is why teachers are afraid to speak out. I really am fearful for my job. There have been times when I have wanted to speak up, like recently when attending a district meeting and Common Core came up. The comment was made by a district official that those who were against Common Core were “kooks.”  This is the environment teachers have to work in.  If you disagree, you have no place to turn; you are hounded out.  I am ready to find another career and get out.”

“Imagine you are a former doctor. And years ago you saw sick patients, you had the magic medicine that cured them when they were sick. When the directions were followed, the medicine was successful. Now, you’ve been away and things have changed. You peer into the medical field to find the magic medicine is NO where to be found and the doctors are using a medicine that keeps the patients sick. But YOU HAVE the medicine’s formula. You’re jumping and screaming, ‘Hey! Over here! I have the medicine that WORKS!’ But no one hears you. Not only does no one hear you, but the entire country is now using the fake stuff that doesn’t even work. THAT’S where I’m at. I’m jumping up and down here when I need to find a way to shout it from the rooftops, to yell it in the ears of the people that CAN change it. If someone can tell me who and how…I’ll even start at the bottom. But it needs to change. I will sacrifice time or whatever it takes and be the voice if others cannot. I am determined to change our children’s future.

Courtesy of Susan Ward and Kevin Ohlandt

(It is time for the corporate reformers to stop pretending they are doing this to save children… It’s a waste of time, and they are fooling no one.  The disguise is torn and we now all know what is driving the reform inside the charade.)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 130 other followers