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Saw this report from Arne Duncun, Federal Secretary of Education, from July 15th.  In it he was warning that scores would drop precipitously, and that we should not give up on common core because of it. it is still a step in the right direction.

“Duncan says when the academic bar is set higher, what often happens is test scores go down. And achievement gaps between groups, which are already often large, often become larger.”

Whoa.

Stop right there.  You just said that like it was true.  You have nothing supporting that statement, and that statement is upon what the entire common core philosophy hinges upon.

So Arne, before we go further, let us look at that statement in more detail, shall we?

The first piece we take is this one:  “when the academic bar is set higher, what often happens is test scores go down.”  Well that would make sense right off the bat, I believe.  I mean as adults, when your boss gives you one performance appraisal rubric at the beginning of the analysis period and says this is how I’m going to evaluate you, and he uses a completely different harder rubric at evaluation time,…  every adult would fail.  That’s just how we adults are.   If we think we have something under control, we don’t put extra effort into it; we put that effort elsewhere.

But how do those adults feel?  Most say screw this job and screw you.  So why is it we think kids will be different , and say, “oh, gosh, darn, ha, ha, ha. You tricked me this time.  But don’t think you’ll trick me next time.  Nope, nope, nope.  I’m too smart for that.  I will study, and study harder, and make you proud on the next test, just you wait and see.”  If an adult would never do that, how can we assume kids will react differently?

Probably the only place one can find an adult like that, is in the employee handbook, at that paragraph where management takes a stab and  describes the “perfect employee”.  Take your bosses’ abuse and smile.  Since most of these kids have parents, it is safe to assume that when they go home devastated they did so poorly after so much work, their parents will tell them not to worry about it; it’s just a test score.

For every action there is a reaction.  And raising the bar by making school even harder, is going to turn many off of school altogether.  With common core it just takes one year.  Because everything builds on the year before.  If something is missed, it is like having a misfire on the years thereafter.

So by raising the test difficulty, and suffering lower scores we are doing what is bad for the child.  Making him hate school. Making him hate being tested.  Making him find something better to occupy his time other than school.  In fact, raising the test difficulty so more people fail, turns off people; it does not excite people to try harder to meet a higher bar. That is just silly to think anyone would act that way.   Especially children, who haven’t learned all the sophisticated dodges adults pick up in the real world.

Then Arne does something strange:  He gives the example of Tennessee: “They saw test scores in math go from about 90 percent proficient to about 30 percent proficient.”

Here is Tennessee’s scores.  They are the only state with Common Core in place to actually show increases,  across  3 consecutive years in all subjects.. (math increased by 3.5%.)

So not Tennessee… Maybe he (or the reporter) mixed it up with Kentucky?   Kentucky and Tennessee, what’s the difference. They’re all the same anyway.

So how does Duncun defend the use of more rigorous standards? “we’re telling the truth for the first time.”
“That’s the brutal truth, that’s the reality,” he says. “We have to stop lying to students and families, we have to be very, very honest and move from there.”

Wait!  What are we telling the truth of?  What were we lying about? What were we dishonest about?

The new standards are more in line with what other countries such as Finland, Hong Kong and Korea are teaching their students.  Oh we are now testing US children in Finnish, Hong Kong Dialect English, and Korean?  I’ve heard of Delaware’s Chinese immersion, but did not know  nationally that we were branching out to three more languages.

So how do those countries teach their students?

Here is Finland.   First of all, education is compulsory, and it is free, including post secondary, irrespective of  financial standing. special attention is paid to internationalization. Basic education is completely free of charge (including instruction, school materials, school meals, health care, dental care, commuting, special needs education and remedial teaching).  Oh, look here!   Teachers work independently and enjoy full autonomy in the classroom.

The student assessment and evaluation of education and learning outcomes are encouraging and supportive by nature. What! They don’t brow beat, punish, and subject their students to repetitive test taking? No, actually! “National testing, school ranking lists and inspection systems do not exist”.

Looks like they empower their teachers too. ” “Centralised steering – local implementation”. Steering is conducted through legislation and norms, core curricula, government planning and information steering. Municipalities are responsible for the provision of education and the implementation. Schools and teachers enjoy large autonomy. Furthermore Education authorities co-operate with teachers’ organizations, pedagogical subject associations and school leadership organizations. This provides strong support for the development.

So if we are trying to emulate the scores of Finland, what are we doing so many things that are directly opposite fo what they do?

So How about Hong Kong? Hong Kong uses the holistic approach: Focus on developing
students’healthy lifestyles, positive attitudes and values, life skills and refusal skills to resist temptation.
Here is what Hong Kong believes is most important: Actively participate / encourage
students to actively participate in student health services to ensure the physical and mental well-being of
students. Adopt a Whole School Approach to guidance and discipline and foster a caring, supportive school ethos… So far neither of those we are trying to reach do the same thing we are, cutthroat testing to toughen our children up.

In fact; both nations would be appalled at some of the reactions American children had under the stress imposed upon them by these tests. Instead they operate under” a well-conceived plan including the other 3 elements of HSP i.e. Fostering a Healthy School Environment, Developing Students’Healthy Life Styles and Identification of Students Who May Need Help and Putting in Place a Referral System…

Both educations systems which Arne call great, don’t force knowledge. They take care of kids. It leads one to wonder, it he low scores have nothing to do with the subject matter. Instead they are cause by students so afraid, they are not performing at their best.

In fact, the evidence Arne brings up, suggests the opposite of his policy might garner the results we need, and doing the opposite of his plan, might just get those scores up more than holding students by the hand while you whip them wildly to get their scores up.

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The educational department of the University of Delaware is ranked 31st in the nation... That is at least out of 5000 accredited teaching schools…

Not only that, they are 31st in the top ranked educational teacher training country in the entire world… Apparently there is no educational crises in America when it comes to teachers receiving top notch training.

Overall, the top 10 countries in rank order are the United States, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Australia, Singapore and the United Kingdom….

What just passed last Thursday in Delaware, now requires the University of Delaware, again now ranked 31st in the top educator nation in the world, 🙂 to be judged solely on how its teachers administer Common Core when they go out into the field…

Common Core?

Just how good is this Common Core we are talking about?

New Attack on Common Core From Pennsylvania Democrats

Common Core Standards attacked by Republicans

‘Common Core’ Standards Come Under Attack By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press

Nation at Risk Anniversary, Common Core Under Attack

Common Core Conundrum

Common Core State Standards Under Attack

The RNC’s Attack on Common Standards

The War Against the Common Core

911: Common Core Under Attack

Rotten to the Core: Conservatives spearhead drive at RNC meeting to stop Common Core

Weingarten Calls For A Moratorium on the Implementation of the Common Core: A “Save Harmless” Year for Planning That Includes Parents, Teachers and Principals.

Washington Post: Common Core is in Trouble

Common Core Standards Facing Increased Opposition

Common Core – Language

Common Core Makes Waves

Indiana Among States Acting to Oppose Common Core Standards

Lisa Nielsen: Is the Common Core an Attack on Progressive Education?

Common Core: Education Without Representation

The Common Core: The Good, the Bad, the Possible

Your Children Need a Néw Brain for Common Core

Kentuckians Against Common Core Standards

Toynbee Predicted Privatization

One would think someone in Legislative Hall would have at least looked into Common Core before mandating that the 31st best teaching institution in the best ranked nation for turning out good teachers, would have to be judged on its effectiveness by the results of a program everyone is having so much trouble with.

Progressives are against it. Tea Party Advocates are against it. Democrats are against it. Republicans are against it.. Red States are against it. Blue States are against it. How could this be? Could it be possible they all have children?

In fact, it appears there is no one who is in favor of common core, across this entire great nation we are so fortunate to live in… No one except 59 Delaware legislators, who apparently didn’t get the memo…..

First off.  Any one can say anything.  I can say we should seriously colonize a  nearby class “M” planet.   I can find 40,000 reasons why the human race should do so.  But, if you were to ask me how we would get there,  I couldn’t tell you.  But I would try.

I would blame the bad people here.  I would say we need to get good people in positions of power. People with “vision”. I would say, we aren’t and haven’t been trying hard enough to allocate resources towards that.  I would say that if we just rewarded those who worked on it, we’d get there. I’d say that if we paid some of my fellow science friends to figure what we are doing wrong, my fellow science friends with your money, would surely lead the way….

But in the end, after all your money was spent, all we’d have left to show for it…  is an idea; that idea being that you know, that we should colonize a nearby class “M” planet….

Just in case you couldn’t see through the metaphor, this is what the Rodel Foundation has done….

I could go on and on with details, but it would be just copying  this person who already has.  Instead, I promised you a hole in their reasoning , didn’t I?  Well, that’s what I promised so let me deliver.

Let us assume you recruit the best.  You go after the trophy winners where ever they may be…   you excite them with your presentation, you optimism and you give them a pen to sign the contract….

They pause, and ask.  How much will I get paid?

A quick check of sources  shows Delaware’s starting wage is $39,099.  From the top that puts Delaware as  the 10th highest starting salary.   If you think a teacher with a portfolio of student loans more than owed on one’s house is not going to go to the highest bidder, you aren’t thinking correctly. Which means Delaware is already starting out of the gate with a handicap of 10.

So isn’t it silly, you tell me, to spend all the federal RTTT  funds on recruiting the “best” teachers or professionals and then, forget to pay them because we are strapped for cash the following year?   Can you say 8% pay cuts?  Exactly how long ago was that?

What makes anyone think that a really good teacher who has an inside track in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Wyoming, California,New Jersey, Maryland, New York and Alaska is going to give it up to come to Delaware for less?

If you want talent, you have to pay for it.  The idea of waving a magic wand and good teachers will come, is not grounded in reality.   We might as well be recruiting on a class “M” planet.

Although the year is barely out, we do have our first nomination for the spot to be announced in December 2013.  With the Kinder Morgan Deal now on hold semi-permanently, even they are pointing to our hero of the year as the man most responsible for allowing the port to remain state owned….

I can say it was Julius Cephas who was behind almost every move to combat the loss of good jobs at our port.  He is being pointed out as the villain by the capitalists at Kinder Morgan.  In Delaware’s eyes, that elevates his hero’s stature even more…

In truth, he is no villain and knowing him, he will probably shun the acclimations being made by us common folk as being our hero.  In his eyes, he was just doing what needed to be done because no one else was there at that very moment to do it, and as that task swelled, it took a lot out of him….

Capitalists always need a villian.  But it was the “truth” which actually is what killed this deal.  Kinder Morgan WAS going to cut back on jobs, and their change of heart and blaming Julius instead of others, points exactly to the core of their problem with our port… …

People in Texas, do not understand unions.  They simply can’t fathom or understand how there can be an actual law that lets people strike and shut you down, whenever you try to pay them less..  In their eyes, you work for what they want to give you and if it is too little, ..humph.  go elsewhere….

The second culprit (after the “truth”),  was our office of economic development.  We gave Kinder Morgan too many “eager” signals that set us up as being seen as an easy pick.  They truly thought they could waltz in, pick up a top notch East Coast Port for a song, and we would eagerly give it up…  Again, that was because everything was done in secret.  Had a meeting been forthcoming in the very beginning,  Kinder Morgan might have moved on earlier when it became readily apparent, that southern Texas practices do not bode well in the Northeast…

Of course, being a corporation, they will blame the whistle blower.  (Ironic since the whistle blower of Enron works for them)..   Of course.  It is not like they find anything immoral in taking a state asset for a song, in firing those skilled dock workers, and replace them with some Spanish speaking Texans who never even heard of a union….

And Julius did blow that whistle. .  Like Rose on the Titanic, he took the whistle off of Jack (pun intended), and blew softly at first, then harder, and harder.   Gradually the sound registered on others ears….

Without Julius, Bob Marshall would not have pushed through Senate Bill 3.  Without Julius, most of the links showing up in everyone’s blog, would have not been found.  Without Julius, the case for protecting workers would not have even made the rounds of the Norman Oliver show….

There were many helpers. Bob Marshall, Nancy Willing, Norman Oliver, Norinda, Helene Keeley, Al Mascitti, Liz Allen, John Kowalko, and (an other blogger too shy to be mentioned here). When one looks back through all of them one sees from everywhere, there in the center of the universe,  stands a normal human being just like us, known to most … as Julius.

There will come a time when a better deal will arrive.  Could even be this year. There will come a time when a suitor who does care about Delaware, who does care about unions, about human beings, about those businesses on the outside, and who will want to upgrade the port for everyone’s interest, not just their own… And that suitor in this day and age, could even come from abroad.  Germany is very committed to union labor, to the environment, to being a good neighbor…. There are a great many possibilities out there that are immeasurable…. We definitely dodged a Texas bullet with this one….

When that suitor arrives… Julius’s stature will be set in cement….  For he did nothing really Herculean, except argue the truth…  He didn’t lie.  He didn’t connive,  He didn’t threaten….

That was done by our office of economic development.  Instead and unlike them, Julius told the truth.  He told the truth to anyone who would listen.  He told the truth enough, so many “did” listen….

And that is why, he  deserves this nomination as Delaware’s Man of the Year.  I know it is early into 2013, but great things just do not wait!!….

You will hear smears that Julius tubed the deal… I saw the letter and it is already out on WDEL and the Delawareonline’s News Journal… But as an impartial blogger, I can tell you exactly what killed this deal.

It was “the truth”.  The truth of what this deal would cost us Delawareans….. is what turned the tide and caused the outcry that rose up against it….

If Kinder Morgan really wanted this deal, they could have easily said… “we are expanding and putting 5 new berths out into the river.  We are buying the port for the bargain price of $5 billion.   We need those businesses outside the fence because the jobs we get, will soon be too big, we can’t do it ourselves.  We will keep the union just as it is;  Wilmington needs good jobs and we are going to do our part….  We are also going to contribute into an emergency fund to be used for any spill or environmental accident that takes place under our tenure….

Kinder Morgan could have done any of those things, … and didn’t…. The blame doesn’t lie with Julius after all…. Especially when you consider the following…

This Economic Council erred on Fisker Automotive.  Then it erred on Bloom Energy.  Then it tried to Kinder Morgan us out of our port…..   Someone rushed in  with a save to make sure that last one didn’t happen.

That person is now hereby nominated for Delaware’s Person of the Year…….

The President, in Wilmington, stood under a rain drenched canopy, and welcomed the crown prince and princess of Sweden….

And from them, the chief executive accepted in “profound gratitude” a monument erected by the Swedish people on the spot where their countrymen first set foot upon the new world…

Rain, falling steadily through the night and day, brought a dreary note to the historic scene, at the junction of the Delaware and Christina Rivers. Decorative flags and buntings sagged.

Although the president’s speech was addressed to “your royal highness”, he paid tribute to the Finns who were represented too, in the 1638 colonization of Delaware.

“Finland, small in size, but mighty in honor, occupies an especially warm place in the American heart.” he said to Finnish foreign minister Rudolf Holsti, without specifically referring to that country’s lone practice, of all European debtor nations, of paying it’s installments to this country, regularly and on time….

Accepting the monument, the president said, “It will typify the close association and continued good will between our two nations”..

“To this spot, came the pioneers, but in succeeding centuries, tens and thousands have come to these shores and added their strength and fine qualities of citizenship to the American nation.”

Americans remember “with grateful hearts”, the chief executive declared, that Sweden was the first neutral European nation to negotiate a “treaty of amity and grace with our young and struggling nation.”

Turning to Delaware’s governor, the President remarked that that official, holds office in offical succession of those governors from New Sweden.

Which reminds me, said the chief executive of a rhyme descriptive of the doughty first governor Johann Printz, who is said to have tipped the scales at over 300 pounds…

“No governor of Del.
Before or since,
Has weighed as much
As Johann Printz.”

Worship in the historic Old Swedes Church, and an afternoon address by the Secretary of State Cordell Hull, followed Mr. Roosevelt’s address and dedication of the monument on the day’s program.