Thursday, July 09, 2015

Ohio Cuts Funding For Common Core Testing

According to the state of Ohio's two-year budget plan approved by Gov. John Kasich, there will be no more state spending on tests developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a program which has drawn the ire of parents and educators around the country. According to a recent Washington Post article:

The PARCC test was created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, one of two federally funded multistate consortia tasked with creating new Common Core tests with some $360 million in federal funds. (The other is the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.) In 2010, PARCC had 26 member states, but it has suffered major defections since then, with fewer than a dozen states now committed to using the PARCC exam this year.

Governors turning their back on Common Core has been fueled by numerous complaints from parents and educators alike. In the month of June, a New Jersey third grader was banned from extracurricular activities with other students because her mother opted her out of PARCC testing; and in Texas, where Pearson opened up their first test grading center, where people with no education experience are getting paid to grade student's PARCC exams instead of teachers. This backlash from communities has caused state governments to reconsider how they plan on implementing Common Core in the future, especially as election season comes around.

This growing trend of states leaving Common Core associated exams is beginning to spread; Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson recently announced that Arkansas public schools will be terminating its ties to PARCC. According to the Arkansas Education Association president Brenda Robinson:

"Time to teach students is very important and the amount of testing done in the classroom has seen significant impact on instructional time..."

Louisiana Governor and 2016 presidential candidate, Gov. Bobby Jindal joined the pack by issuing an executive order allowing parents to decide whether they want their children to opt out of PARCC testing. In an interview with the press after the order was given, Jindal stated:

"We want out of Common Core...We won't let the federal government take over Louisiana's education standards. We're very alarmed about choice and local control of curriculum being taken away from our parents and educators."

While Jindal and Hutchinson have joined the coalition to rid their states of Common Core standards entirely, Kasich is still reluctant to order schools to leave the program, as seen in a January interview with Fox News when word of a potential 2016 run for Kasich was rumored:

"The Common Core was written by state education superintendents and local principals, in my state of Ohio, we want higher standards for our children, and those standards are set and the curriculum is set by local school boards. Barack Obama doesn't set it, the state of Ohio doesn't set it. It is local school boards driving better education, higher standards, created by local school boards.”


So Much for the Free-Speech Left

To look at virtually anything produced by Hollywood is to register confirmation that the libertine left cherishes clogging our popular culture with vulgarities. The messaging in movies, television and particularly music is punctuated deliberately and unnecessarily with all manner of language designed to offend.

But when it comes to perfectly decent speech — spoken innocently with no bad intention — those same liberals need smelling salts. Welcome to the wacky world of "micro-aggressions," where conversation becomes a minefield of political correctness.

It's all the rage on campuses. Both the University of California and the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point have circulated lists of "microaggressions" to faculty for allegedly instructional purposes. The list of unacceptable words and phrases just gets longer and longer. And funnier.

To be sure, there are a couple of phrases we can agree are unacceptable. "I jewed him down" is one. "You are a credit to your race" is another. As to the rest, you decide.

In California, it included statements like "America is the land of opportunity" and "everyone in this society can succeed, if they work hard enough." We bet you didn't know these are statements of aggression. But what if we flipped that phrase? What if we were to state that "America is the land of oppression for the working man?" That wouldn't be aggression, that would be something these professors teach.

In Wisconsin, there are similar warning phrases — "I believe the most qualified person should get the job" and "everyone can succeed in this society if they work hard enough" — but there's so much more.

Do you believe that "America is a melting pot"? Do you subscribe to the beliefs that "When I look at you, I don't see race," and "there is only one race, the human race"?

If so, how very rude of you. Apparently, these statements are not acknowledging a common humanity. You are denying a "person of color's racial/ethnic experiences." If you believe "there is only one race, the human race," you are "denying the individual as a racial, cultural being." If you are a "store owner following a customer of color around a store," presumably because you believe he might be shoplifting, you believe he is "going to steal," and he is "dangerous." And that is wrong.

Now what if the suspicious person you're following is white? That's OK.

There's more. If you've ever asked a Black person — "Black" and "White" are capitalized by these racially sensitive folks who don't see the irony — "Why do you have to be so loud?" or an Asian or Latino person, "Why are you so quiet?" you are really demanding they assimilate to the dominant culture.

"Where are you from?" or "Where were you born?" signifies you believe that person to be a foreigner and that's insensitive.

Asking an Asian person to help with a math or science problem means you believe Asians to be intelligent and good in math and science, and that's wrong, too.

If we were to say to Justice Clarence Thomas, "You are so articulate" we would be signaling that we believe "people of color are generally not as intelligent as Whites," not that Justice Clarence Thomas is so articulate.

There are also "environmental macroaggressions" on the Wisconsin list, such as too many white characters on TV shows, or a "college or university with buildings that are all named after White heterosexual upper-class males."

The other crazy phrase of the campus censors is "trigger warnings," meaning you have to warn these college-age marshmallows before reading fusty old classic by the likes of Shakespeare or Plato. Those troublesome authors might provoke memories of past trauma on subjects like rape or death. But then one feminist from the collective insisted the phrase "trigger warning" is inappropriate since it could evoke "violent weaponry imagery." So there you have it: They're now warning about warnings.

This whole regime of speech-policing is a transparent attempt to keep white racial guilt churning at warp speed. This is indoctrination, not education.

Why, oh, why do parents send their children to these colleges taught by these nutty professors?


A Big Week in Education: Congress Considers No Child Left Behind Rewrites

Eight years after the program technically expired, Congress is finally debating an update of the contentious No Child Left Behind Act, which poured an avalanche of federal programs and testing standards on public schools across the U.S.

The House’s update of No Child Left Behind, called the Student Success Act, will be the topic of a hearing by the Rules Committee on Tuesday, allowing lawmakers to determine which amendments will make the cut for debate later this week.

The No Child Left Behind rewrite was pulled from the House floor in February after conservatives argued it did not go far enough in removing the federal government from education policy.

Rep. Mark Walker, R-NC, and Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., hope to soothe these concerns through their A-PLUS Act.

This amendment would allow states to opt out of the nearly 80 federal programs under No Child Left Behind, giving them the option to direct federal education funding toward state-established programs instead.

“The federal government should not be imposing mandates on states and local communities regarding K-12 education,” DeSantis said in a statement. “The amendment that we are offering liberates states from burdensome and ineffective regulations, providing local communities with the flexibility to use federal education funding for programs that they believe will best increase the success of students in the classroom.”

Conservatives also argued the House’s rendition of No Child Left Behind, introduced and sponsored by Minnesota Republican John Kline, chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, did not do enough to scale back spending.

The House proposal costs $23.2 billion, nearly matching NCLB’s $24 billion, according to The Heritage Foundation.

In February, the White House threatened to veto the rewrite, the Student Success Act, because it includes a measure allowing states to link federal dollars to individual students in low-income areas as opposed to the school district itself.

Supporters of what’s known as “portability” say it allows children in low-income areas to move to better schools since the funding is attached to the individual student rather than the school district.

Opponents, namely Democrats, argue that portability makes failing schools worse off by taking funds out of low-income districts and giving it to wealthier schools.

The Senate’s version of the Student Success Act, called the Every Child Achieves Act, stripped out the portability measure to garner enough support from Democrats.

The Senate will likely begin floor debate on its bill Tuesday, which passed the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee unanimously in April with bipartisan support.

The bill ends some of No Child Left Behind’s harsh federal accountability mandates, allowing states to establish their own systems using test scores, graduation rates and state-selected criteria to measure a school’s performance.

Though the Senate proposal increases states’ flexibility in assessing performance, the bill would maintain the rigid testing standards under No Child Left Behind.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., introduced an amendment that reduces the testing from occurring annually in grades 3-8 to happening once each in elementary, middle and high school.

This week is only the beginning of the overdue education debate.

Even if the Senate is able to maintain most of its original bill and the House passes the Student Success Act, Congress will still have to wade through difficult negotiations in conference to bridge differences between the two proposals.


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