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    Common Core Tag

    Newsela is a relatively recently-established educational resource that purportedly specializes in non-fiction content for the nation's K-12 schools, teachers, and students.  It sprung up as a private partner of Common Core, and the service reaches at least 75% of America's K-12 classrooms. Newsela recently came under fire for its 9/11 instructional material. Newsela's 9/11 "Fact Sheet" included reference to Israel's "long and shady history" and to Israel as belonging, originally, to Muslims. A historical impossibility. Nonetheless, this drivel was published far and wide, and America's 5th and 6th grade students across the nation were spoon-fed it. Newsela has, under pressure from parents and alarmed educators, retracted and corrected the materials, but not before the damage was done.

    Common Core education standards, which use the "Race to the Top" grant program to enjoin states to adopt national education standards, is the mechanism through which the federal government is taking control over K-12 curriculum. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) recently referred to it as the "Obamacare of education." From Cato's Neal McCluskey:
    ...While Washington did not outright order states to adopt the Core, it did require that they promise to adopt standards common to a majority of states — a description fit only by the Core — to get maximum points in the $4 billion Race to the Top competition, held at the nadir of the Great Recession. After the vast majority of states had made that promise — but many had not won money — the Obama administration declared that, to get waivers from the hated No Child Left Behind Act, they would have to either adopt the Core most had already promised to use, or standards certified “college- and career-ready” by a public university system. Washington also selected and paid for Core-aligned tests — including the Smarter Balanced assessment used by California — that would be plugged into NCLB’s testing requirements.

    Chris Christie is the first of the potential GOP presidential candidates who first embraced Common Core to distance himself from it.  According to New Jersey.com:
    Navigating New Jersey interests and a likely presidential campaign, Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday proposed dropping national Common Core education standards he once supported but have since become a lightening rod issue for Republican voters. The governor, speaking at Burlington County College in Pemberton, declared Common Core is "simply not working." Christie wants to assemble a team to develop a state-based group to develop "new standards right here in New Jersey, not 200 miles away on the banks of the Potomac River."
    That Common Core doesn't work—can't work—is no surprise to those of us who oppose it, but it is interesting to see that Christie has changed his tune as he struggles to rebuild his reputation with conservatives.   When he was pushing Common Core in New Jersey, Christie lashed out at its opponents:
    “We are doing Common Core in New Jersey and we’re going to continue,” Christie said in 2013. “And this is one of those areas where I have agreed more with the president than not. I think part of the Republican opposition you see in some corners in Congress is a reaction, that knee-jerk reaction that is happening in Washington right now, that if the president likes something the Republicans in Congress don’t. If the Republicans in Congress like something, the president doesn’t.”
    While he wasn't as insulting as Jeb Bush has been about Common Core's opponents, he was dismissive and unwilling to hear the case against Common Core.  Examples such as children failing Common Core math problems because their numbers weren't "friendly" enough, the arguments against Common Core's "dumbing down of standards," and theoretical arguments concerning problems with Common Core's "compartmental learning" fell on deaf ears.

    Common Core is generating a lot of concerns around the country, and teacher input without fear of retaliation is essential. The reality is, however, that teachers critical of Common Core may be intimidated by school district and state officials into silence. That is what a teacher is alleging in a lawsuit (full Complaint here) filed in Maricopa County Superior Court against the Arizona Superintendent of Education, as described by The Goldwater Institute press release:
    Today the Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit on behalf of Tucson, Ariz. teacher Brad McQueen, who was retaliated against by employees of the Arizona Department of Education for speaking out against the Common Core State Standards. For years, Mr. McQueen was paid to serve on several committees of teachers who advised the state department of education on issues related to standardized testing. When he spoke out against the Common Core and its accompanying standardized test earlier this year in a newspaper article, he was removed from the committees (even those that had nothing to do with the Common Core), notes were made in his file at the department that could impact future employment opportunities, and he was disparaged in official department emails. “The First Amendment guarantees that all Americans have the right to speak out on important issues of the day without fear of being persecuted,” said Kurt Altman, a senior attorney at the Goldwater Institute. “When you exercise your rights and find your livelihood and reputation are threatened, especially by the government, that sends a message to everyone around you to keep their mouths shut.”

    Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) has asked the Wisconsin Legislature to pass a bill next year to repeal the controversial Common Core educational standards. Walker issued a one-line statement late Thursday that also said the Common Core curriculum should be replaced by standards “set by people in Wisconsin.”
    Walker’s one-sentence statement was issued late Thursday, hours after Sens. Leah Vukmir, R- Wauwatosa, and Paul Farrow, R-Pewaukee, issued a joint statement calling for a delay in using new standardized tests aligned to ​Common Core. Later Thursday, Walker spokesman Jocelyn Webster elaborated on the governor’s comments: “Following the vote by the Cedarburg School Board yesterday and given the ongoing issues local school districts face with Common Core, Gov. Walker felt it was important to make his position clear. Gov. Walker will work with the Legislature to repeal Common Core and replace it with strong Wisconsin-specific standards developed by Wisconsin teachers, administrators, and parents.” The standards have become increasingly controversial in Wisconsin, with conservatives repeatedly calling for their repeal. In Cedarburg, the school board voted Wednesday to ask lawmakers to delay testing linked to the standards.
    Common Core was a prominent punching bag during last week's Republican Governors Association meeting. In fact, Walker hinted at his intentions during the meeting.

    Last night, comedian Louis C.K. was apparently very frustrated with the Common Core inspired homework his children were charged with doing. To vent his frustration, he took to Twitter to give the world a glimpse of what he and his children were dealing with.

    Compensation means how much you get paid, right? Or payment for a loss? Or any of the other common usages, right? Reader Bronwyn was not happy when she learned that in Common Core mathematics, compensation means encouraging students to guess the wrong but easier answer, then teaching them how to compensate for the wrong answer to get to the right result:
    My 4th grade daughter attends a Christian school here in Orange Co., Ca. I do not like their choice in a common core math book at all, but I have been particularly amused by the use of the term "compensation." The teachers actually had to send home an email because none of the parents had any idea what the term meant. I attached a copy of the definition in the book because it just seems so fitting during this Obama Administration. "compensation: you choose numbers close to the numbers in the problem to make the computation easier and then adjust the answer for the numbers chosen." All this under the lesson- Using mental math to multiply. This must be Obama's math! Here we parents thought it was how we got paid?
    Here's the question posed to the students to which the featured image was the answer:

    The Ithaca Journal has an investigative article on the rollout of Common Core in the upstate Southern Tier region of New York State, Common Core fix for schools has broken parts. The article is in depth and frank in the assessments from school administrators and teachers. Here's the summary at the beginning,
    The newest fix to public education known as Common Core is arriving with incomplete plans in schools and at a rapid pace that leaves some students behind. While the controversial educational standards have been blessed by hundreds of educators and adopted by 45 states, including New York, cracks are opening in the Common Core foundation that are raising concerns for teachers, parents and school administrators. “The reality is implementation at the state level is just a disaster,” said Tom Phillips, of Hector, and Watkins Glen school district superintendent. While Phillips said he agrees public education needs reform, his major beef with Common Core is the complex program is being rolled out too quickly.
    The problems ranged from the one-size fits all curriculum, to chasing the funding money. In a situation eerily similar to subsidies for state health care exchanges that may dry up, there are concerns about Common Core funding drying up:

    Navigate to the Hoboken, NJ, public schools website --a town just across the Hudson from New York City -- and you'll find a front-page announcement that since 2008, Hoboken has based its pre-school and kindergarten curriculum on "Tools of the Mind," also known as "Cultural-Historical Theory." Based on the work of Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, the Tools of the Mind website proclaims that it is "rooted in cutting edge neuropsychological research on the development of self-regulation/execution functions in children." Dig a little deeper on your site, and they describe how regulation of the child is accomplished:
    • Children practice delayed gratification.
    • Children learn to suppress their impulsive behavior because to stay in the play, they have to abide by the rules.
    • Children practice regulating each other’s behavior.
    The site describes the role of parents in encouraging their children to be regulated with tips like playing "stop and go" and "freeze" games:
    Parents can encourage children to practice self-regulation at home by establishing routines. For example, they can help their child to set an alarm clock that will ring when it is time to go to bed, so the child can “regulate” his or her own bedtime. Now it’s the child, not the parent, saying, “It’s time.”

    Common Core has recently been referred to by a friend of mine who is deeply in-the-know as "the most successful astroturf campaign in the history of this country." This friend is not prone to exaggeration. The left has had a history of tip-toeing into, and taking over, those institutions most vital to defending freedom -- from our schools to our religious institutions, nothing is off-limits. Count the Illinois Catholic Church as having been bamboozled by Common Core. After reading the laudatory press release the superintendents of the Catholic Dioceses in Illinois released August 19, it is right to conclude they've been compromised, as well. They write:
    It is within the environment of the Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative that we maintain the integrity of our mission and to the expectations of those whom we serve.  In themselves, Common Core State Standards are not a curriculum.  They do not dictate our curriculum, instructional methodologies, sequence of topics or materials used.  What the Common Core does establish are clear, measurable goals and outcomes for what our students should know, understand, or be able to do at the end of a grade or course of study.
    Witness in this statement the dissolution of any perception that Catholic schools are protected from the educational war in which our children are the prize. Their statement is part of a larger movement of local dioceses signing onto a national "Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative," which you can read more about here. If you're like me -- or like I used to be -- your eyes are glossing over at the term, "Common Core." Snap out of it.
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