Monday, January 27, 2014

BOOK REVIEW:  The Story-Killers: A Common-Sense Case Against the Common Core

by Terrence O. Moore (Author)



"a stopcommoncore must-read." Michelle Malkin

". . . I could hardly put this book down until I finished reading it. . . . [T]his is not a dry read. It is a shocking read." Joy Pullmann, Heartland Institute

"It wasn't until I started reading Dr. Moore's writings that I fully comprehended the significance of just what America was about to lose." Heather Crossin, Hoosiers Against Common Core

What is the Common Core? How will the Common Core English Standards affect the teaching of great stories in our schools? Will there be any great stories left in the minds of our children when the Common Core has controlled the curriculum and testing of both public and private schools for a few years? What are the real purposes behind the educational coup that has taken place with very little public debate and even less understanding?

In this book, school reformer and professor Dr. Terrence Moore carefully examines both the claims made by the architects of the Common Core and the hidden agenda behind the so-called reforms that have been adopted by over forty states in the nation, with very few people understanding what is really going on. Moore not only challenges the illiberal aims of this educational regime, but actually analyzes lessons recommended in the Common Core English Standards and in the new textbooks bearing the Common Core logo. Such a thorough review exposes the absurdity, superficiality, and political bias that can only serve to dumb down the nation's schools. Worse, the means that the Common Core uses is a deliberate undermining of the great stories of our tradition, the stories that in former times trained the minds and ennobled the souls of young people. Those stories are now under attack, and the minds and souls of the nation's children are in peril.


The bright British 11-year-olds failing to get good GCSEs: Half of high-flying primary pupils do not achieve grade C at English and maths

Nearly half of high-flying 11-year-olds fail to go on to get five good GCSEs in core subjects, secondary school league tables show.

Of the 160,000 pupils who gained good SATs results when they left primary school,  84,000 failed to achieve a C-grade or higher in the ‘English Baccalaureate’ subjects of English, maths, science, history or geography and a language.

The figures will reignite the debate about mixed-ability classes which Labour and the Conservatives have both pledged to crack down on since 1997. Critics say the lack of sets and streams in schools holds back the most able students.

Some 420 schools or sixth form  colleges were also unable to produce a single student who gained three  A-levels with grades of AAB or above in subjects preferred by leading universities.

The worrying trends emerged in official figures which showed the number of under-performing schools has been slashed since the Coalition took power.

Of the 3,200 state schools in  England, 154 fell short of a government target for at least 40 per cent of pupils to get five good passes in GCSEs including English and maths – leaving them at risk of being closed or converted into academies.

But the figure was 61 fewer than the previous year, despite the benchmark being raised from 35 per cent of pupils. The improvement means 50,000 fewer children are trapped in sub-standard secondaries compared to last year, or 244,000 since 2010.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said the results were a ‘credit to the professionalism and hard work of teachers’. Tony Blair effectively admitted mixed-ability teaching was a failure when he dropped the  party’s historic support for the  practice in 1997.

Education ministers backed the line, saying separating pupils according to ability would ‘raise standards’. David Cameron also called for changes while in opposition, saying every comprehensive should have a ‘grammar stream’.

But inspectors at the schools watchdog have found just 46 per cent of state school classes are divided into sets or streams – only a one percentage point improvement in 17 years.

Tory MP Graham Brady, who  supports selective education, said: ‘All of the evidence indicates that teaching by ability works best. That’s true whether it’s within a school through sets or streaming or between schools as a selective system.’

The league tables are based on data provided by the Department for Education and show how more than 4,000 schools and colleges in England performed at GCSEs, A-levels and other academic qualifications.

The top-performing school for GCSEs was co-educational Colyton Grammar School in Devon, which had the best results for the second year in a row.

The analysis also showed that 202,000 pupils were entered for the EBacc compared to 130,000 in 2012, showing schools are heeding government calls to ditch soft subjects such as drama and sociology for those better suited to higher education and the jobs markets.

Teachers’ unions dislike league tables because they claim they do not accurately show how a school is performing and encourage staff to ‘teach to the test’.

But Simon Burgess, professor of economics at the University of  Bristol, said: ‘League tables play an important role in school standards. Removing league tables reduces average school performance and raises inequality in attainment.’


Firms slam illiterate school leavers who are putting Britain's economic recovery at risk

Britain’s economic recovery is being put at risk because too many school leavers cannot write properly, add up or even wear appropriate clothes for work, a leading business group has claimed.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which represents nearly 200,000 companies, said a chronic shortage of the most basic skills by school leavers means companies are losing out to foreign competition.

FSB’s Mike Cherry said: ‘We have been trailing behind in business globally for far too long because of the skills shortage.

'It is probably the most serious issue facing firms. The low standard of numeracy and literacy skills is a huge problem, as is employability. Many are not prepared for the workplace in their attitude or dress.’

The FSB is not alone in bemoaning a lack of skills.

Last year the British Chambers of Commerce said many employers had been left ‘disheartened and frustrated’ by poor levels of literacy, numeracy, communication and time-keeping among school leavers and graduates.

It warned an over-emphasis by schools on sitting exams and hitting targets meant children had not developed social skills needed at work.


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