Monday, December 17, 2012

What is so common about the Common Core?

I have heard the old adage, “the plural of anecdote isn’t data.” Nevertheless, on two occasions recently I had the opportunity to speak with teachers in public schools about the Common Core. If you are unaware, the Common Core is a series of standards for K-12 education. The standards were not developed nationally, but states have been highly incentivized (read coerced) to adopt them.

When I asked these two teachers about the changes in their districts (one teacher was from the Kansas City area, the other from the Saint Louis area) I was surprised by the commonality in their responses. It seems it is not just the standards that are common, but also the criticisms.

Though they have never met and work in completely different districts, both lamented about the increased testing associated with the Common Core.

Add testing to the growing list of complaints associated with these new standards, including:

*    Their overall lack of rigor.

 *   The math standards eliminate Algebra I in the eighth grade.
*  The tremendous costs associated with implementing the standards. Professional development, textbooks, and technology alone may cost Missouri more than $325 million.

The most interesting thing about the Common Core, in my opinion, is that our state adopted the standards with little public knowledge. Gov. Jay Nixon signed Missouri onto the initiative in August of 2009, before the standards were even drafted. Then in June of 2010, shortly after their public release, the Missouri State Board of Education adopted the standards. Thus, millions of dollars were committed and the future of Missouri’s education system was determined by a fiat rather than by the will of the people.

Bill Evers, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, recently spoke with the Independence Institute’s Ben Degrow about the Common Core and provides a nice overview of the issues.

SOURCE.  (See the original for links)

Chicago Teachers Union Latest Group to Stoke Class Warfare With ‘Fat Cats’ Video

On the heels of the controversial California Federation of Teachers “Tax the Rich” video, the Chicago Teachers Union has produced its own class warfare-stoking cartoon, “Stand Up to the Fat Cats.”

The CTU is again attempting to slam Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the advocates of school reform as the “fat cats” who are simply looking to get rich off the government education system.

The CTU apparently doesn’t want the billionaires and “profiteers” horning in on their very lucrative territory.

Fashioned as a children’s book – likely for an audience of students – the CTU video claims several groups from around the country converged on the city to “force the educators to work longer hours, take pay cuts and move their students into unsafe buildings. These actions hurt the educators but the fats cats promised it was best for the students.”

Read in a sinister voice, the video explains in children’s terms how unions were formed and how they fought back in 2012 “when a new evil fat cat landed in Chicago.” At that moment, a mugshot of Emanuel, portrayed as an overfed feline, appears holding a jail identification sign.

It goes even more downhill from there.

This is the latest salvo from a union that is more interested in radical social revolution than pay and benefits for its members or improved student learning. And, sadly, this sort of student-focused propaganda is unsurprising, given the CTU’s leadership.

EAGnews previously reported on CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey’s radical ties to the International Socialist Organization and his recent appearance at a Marxist convention. And let’s not forget that CTU President Karen Lewis and other leaders of the union were “front-and-center with Occupy Chicago.”

Big Labor is fixated on ginning up class-based strife. Unions like the CTU are bent on forcing higher taxes for the “rich” just to continue a government spending spree that directly benefits the unions themselves, their millionaire leaders and to some degree their members.

Like the cartoon produced by the California union, this video in all likelihood will be shown in Chicago classrooms to unsuspecting children.

Wake up, parents of Chicago, unless you really don’t care about having your children converted into Young Socialists of America. Your kids will be filled with knowledge about the evils of capitalism and unfairness of American society, but they still probably won’t be able to read or do simple math.

That’s the type of “education” the CTU is delivering.


Nearly 50,000 British children let down by failing primary schools that let bright starters 'fall back into the pack'

British schools mostly focus on getting the dummies over the line and neglect brighter kids

Almost 50,000 of the brightest children have been failed at primary school despite a rise in headline pass rates, official league tables revealed yesterday.

Four in ten who were high-fliers at the age of seven failed to reach their potential and achieved only average grades in national tests at 11.

School-by-school tables for more than 15,000 primaries show that national results in English and maths SATs tests were markedly up on last year.

In 2011, 67 per cent of pupils achieved level four – the expected standard for their age – in reading, writing and maths, but this year it was 75 per cent.

However, concerns are being raised over provision for the brightest in some primaries after it emerged that 49,678 of the 125,800 pupils who were the top performers at seven did not continue on the same trajectory over the next four years.

They failed to achieve the level five in English and maths tests at the age of 11 that had been predicted by their results at seven.

The Department for Education said it was ‘unacceptable’ that children who made bright starts to their school careers had ‘fallen back into the pack’.

The tables are based on results in national tests in English and maths taken by more than 540,000 11-year-olds in England in the spring.

They show that a quarter of youngsters left primary school without a basic mastery of reading, writing and maths – down from a third last year. This means they failed to reach the expected level four in all three subjects.

The figures also show that two-thirds of pupils who were slow starters in the three Rs failed to catch up and reach the expected standard by the end of primary school.

But there were 59 schools where every pupil in the lowest-achieving group at seven had been pulled up to expected levels at the age of 11.

The number of schools failing to meet basic targets for performance fell by more than half, from 1,310 to 521.   Of these 521, 45 have already shut down or been turned into academies under the control of outside sponsors. Many of the rest now face closure or takeover.

Faith schools were more likely to achieve good results than other primaries, it emerged.  Some 62 per cent of the 896 primaries which brought all pupils up to expected levels in English and maths were faith schools, despite them making up only a third of primaries nationally.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the results were ‘excellent news’, adding: ‘It shows the hard work that’s going on in the system and has been going on for some years.’

A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘Every child must be challenged to achieve their best. These results show that some children who were struggling at seven have made real progress by 11 and are now performing as well, or even better, than we expect.

‘However, there are still too many cases where the opposite is true. It is unacceptable that children who made such bright starts to their school career have fallen back into the pack.


No comments: