When you have no case, abuse the plaintiff. Marcus Tullius Cicero
The well-attended town hall meeting reported in ‘Common Core Unexamined’ took place last night in the GV Elks Lodge featuring speakers Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D., Brad Dacus, and Lydia Gutierrez, M.Ed. Dr Stotsky served as one of two credentialed education experts on the CC Validation Committee, Mr Dacus is an attorney and president of the Pacific Justice Institute, and Ms Gutierrez is a 20+ year teacher and is also a Master Teacher for the UCLA Mathematics Project. Their presentations ended with an extended Q&A with the audience.
Here are the major points that I took away from the evening –
1. The CC standards initiative is a brainchild of and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, currently to the tune of $250M. The standards concern themselves mainly with literacy and STEM education.
2. CC purports to be the nation’s first “college readiness standards”, prescribing the specifications for curricula that will prepare our kids for a college education which will serve them in tomorrow’s technology driven workforce.
3. CC is not a coherent state led initiative, but it is actually promoted and ‘supported’ by the federal government through a program of grants to qualifying states.
4. CC was put together within a short (six month?) time window by a committee of 17? – almost entirely from the ‘testing industry’ - under the aegis of the Gates Foundation without debate and/or consultation with parents, teachers, educators, school boards, industry, … . Since the GF is private, there is no requirement for it to report on the deliberations that led to the issued standards.
5. CC was ‘validated’ in an equally short time frame that omitted the usual multi-year period of testing and evaluation that previously adopted educational standards have enjoyed.
6. The two accredited experts on the CC Validation Committee – Drs Stotsky (lexicographic literacy) and Stanford’s James Milgram (math) – refused to validate the standards and resigned from the 29-member committee. They wrote about their concerns in ‘Lowering the Bar: How Common Core Math Fails to Prepare High School Students for STEM’.
7. Opposition to CC is now non-partisan and growing, even among the 45 states that initially adopted it.
8. There exist no coherent CC testing procedures or test standards for CC curricula. The recommended testing approaches are designed for computer delivery and grading. The tests will be ‘dynamic’ in that successive questions will be delivered on the basis of the student’s answer on the current and previous questions. This makes rating, ranking, and other forms of comparing students’ accomplishments difficult to impossible. However, it does support achieving higher aggregate test scores.
9. Fed funding will initially come through the residual No Child Left Behind appropriation which only requires high test scores in the states’ adopted testing programs (here, of course, CC).
10. Parents have the right to opt their kids out of having to take CC assessment tests, although they must still participate in the CC curricula offered by the various school districts that are teaching to the standards.