George Rebane*RR*, in its long suffering and dedicated effort to continue the posting of announcements of public import, your attention is invited to the following two.**Con-Con or the Constitutional Convention** as called for in Article 5 has become an item of some urgency for factions widely separated in their ideology and their view of our country’s future. On the one hand we have national conservative leaders like Mark Meckler – President of Citizens for Self Governance – promoting the assembling of a constitutional convention of the states. And on the other extreme there is George Soros, joined by hundreds of leftwing organizations and institutions, who are promoting the very same thing. Both sides have widely differing agendas for what they think they will be able to accomplish during such a convention. A main focus for both sides is the Second Amendment, approached for diametrically different ends. The conservatives also want to revamp the Constitution to clearly “limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government”, in short, a return to the kind of federalism envisioned by the Founders and much discussed in these pages. (more here, here, and here)

It appears that 34 states, the required two-thirds, have already passed resolutions and given other formal nods to holding a con-con. However, not everyone is happy with the possible outcomes from such an undertaking. Both sides feel that they can control and limit the convention to favorably address just the concerns on their agenda. The requirements for any significant change – from amendment to rewrite – are strict and require a level of co-operation and consensus among the states that today is not visible. So one can reasonably argue that the most probable outcome of a con-con is a shouting match resulting in no agreement on anything. However, there is a chance that one side or the other may actually prevail, and that’s the scary part.**Common Core.** Switching gears to the plague now afflicting the nation’s K-12 curriculum, there will be a town hall meeting on the subject here in Grass Valley on 29 April 2014 at the GV Elks Lodge. Jan Collins (530-802-0865) is chairing the event and states that “there is growing grassroots opposition nationwide to the new one-size fits all curriculum, and its accompanying testing and collection of invasive personal data about our children and their families. Home schools, private, and charter schools may find they are affected as well.” Anyway, mark your calendars and come hear the speakers, and get the latest info on what all the fuss is about; it’s important. More about Common Core here and here.

The book " Conform " comes out in three weeks. It tells of Common Core.

Posted by: Walt | 07 April 2014 at 05:59 PM

Critics of Common Core have developed a series of flash-points that have ignited opposition.

Mr. Loveless at the Hoover Institute shows what he says are flash-points of disagreement on curricula proposed by Common Core proponents and opposed by many other groups.

http://www.hoover.org/publications/defining-ideas/article/171441

The Flashpoints, according to Mr. Loveless:

1. Process over product. The Common Core can be used to justify many things, including questionable approaches to learning. When a particular activity comes under fire, local educators seek political cover by claiming that district or state policies (or the Common Core) made them do it. Recently, the Common Core project released “Standards for Mathematical Practice,” guidelines related to practice, not content. Giving process equal status with content drew the ire of traditionalists in the 1990s math wars.

Consider the following anecdote. James V. Shuls, a blogger on education topics, pulled his son, a first grader, out of the local public school because of its interpretation of practice commensurate with the Common Core.[i] The school used a constructivist math program, Cognitively Guided Instruction, that was written during the heyday of the 1989 NCTM Standards. The approach is now making a comeback as “aligned with the Common Core.”

Students in the class were forbidden to add numbers in a column. Instead, they were forced to decompose the numbers and show them graphically (draw them), as called for in the Common Core. The parents met with the teacher and principal. The teacher claimed this laborious approach (based on math theories from the Freudenthal Institute, also the founders of the PISA test) revealed students’ conceptual understanding of addition, an example of the “deeper learning” called for in the Common Core. The school’s principal also defended the approach for reflecting the objectives of the Common Core.

2. Non-fiction texts. English language arts teacher are up in arms over the Common Core’s suggestion that teachers should try to balance the assignment of non-fiction and fiction readings. This criticism is mostly inside baseball, limited to ELA teachers. Common Core leaves the selection of texts to local educators. The real battles will come when stories surface of teachers assigning controversial texts as required readings. Controversial texts are assigned currently, of course. But in the future, the Common Core will be cited as justification (again, providing political cover).

3. Integrated math courses. Math reformers have long dreamed of eliminating year-long high school math courses taught by topic (algebra, geometry, calculus) in favor of integrated math courses that weave major topics together in composite courses called math I, math II, math III (equivalent to freshman math, sophomore math, junior math, etc.). Most of the world’s countries currently organize math curriculum in the integrated way; the United States is an outlier in not doing so. But this reform has been tried repeatedly (most recently in the state of Georgia) and it has repeatedly failed after stern public opposition. Many teachers are not comfortable teaching an integrated math course, and parents fear taking such a course will jeopardize their children’s preparation for college. Currently only 3-4 percent of US high school students in any particular grade (and less than 10 percent of all graduates) take an integrated math course. And yet, the Common Core accords integrated math and topic-oriented math courses equal standing, with standards and assessments written for both. This is understood to be a way of encouraging the use of integrated math courses. Seattle schools have already announced their intention to switch to integrated courses. Watch for a firestorm of opposition in many communities.

4. Tracking. William Schmidt of Michigan State has declared that the Common Core means an end to tracking in math through eighth grade. Tracking typically starts in seventh or eighth grade, placing kids in courses that match the hierarchy of the math curriculum. Nationally, about 6 percent of seventh graders take algebra I. Students who take and pass algebra I typically then take geometry or algebra II in eighth grade because, presumably, they are prepared for it. That would end. De-tracking created political turmoil in many communities in the 1990s. Look for controversy to return if the Common Core is interpreted as meaning all students will take the exact same courses.

What are your flash points?

Posted by: Russ Steele | 08 April 2014 at 03:35 PM

Students in the class were forbidden to add numbers in a column. Instead, they were forced to decompose the numbers and show them graphically (draw them), as called for in the Common Core.What the hell does this even mean?

Posted by: fish | 08 April 2014 at 03:52 PM

Fish@03:52

Here are some examples; See item #2. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/373840/ten-dumbest-common-core-problems-alec-torres

Posted by: Russ Steele | 08 April 2014 at 07:25 PM

"What the hell does this even mean?"

In short, the Common Core math standard authors, including the core who were 'run out of Dodge' after the debacle nationwide of the "whole" or "fuzzy" math standards of the '90's, believe the only path towards true understanding is for students to be able to do any problem in multiple ways, including very inefficient methods. While this is not necessarily bad as side work, it tends to lead to boring make work as the kids who get it are just spinning their wheels.

Which is better: students learning clean and efficient methods of arithmetic calculations and coming to appreciate their beauty, or spending lots of time learning to do the same calculations in very inefficient ways? The "standard algorithms" for things like adding columns of numbers or for long division are "standard" for very good reasons.

Posted by: Gregory | 18 April 2014 at 12:24 PM

Over at the FUEhrer's sandbox this morning, Greg Zaller deposited this error-ridden gem:

"I have carefully researched what Common Core is and what it will bring to education on a national scale, and this will be the essential skills that have been sorely missing in the old and obsolete content standards. Instead of requiring memorized responses the new standards require careful critical and collaborative thinking, essential skills to succeed in the modern world. The criticisms against the Common Core should have been directed at the old standards.During this transition it will be easy for ignorant remarks to get traction. Beware of criticisms against the Common Core Standards and do your own research.I applied to be on a citizens implementation committee with the California Department of Education for the coming Next Generation Science Standards. They will be difficult for teachers to at first understand and implement properly because of their past obsolete education under the old standards."This is the same rhetoric used by the authors of the Common Core before they retreated from the whole (or fuzzy, or new-new) math debacle of the '90's to labor at Achieve, Inc to refine the approach. While some states had poor standards, the content standards in place in California were both more rigorous and had a mechanism in place to ensure textbooks sold in the state actually met the standards. It was the latter which helped tone down the worst of the whole math and language approaches.

California, like all the other states, was cajoled into adopting the so called "Common Core State Standards" with the promise of a better chance for federal grants which, in the case of California, didn't get granted. There weren't even CCSS to look at yet, they weren't finished when the vote to abandon what we had was made. Now they're claiming superiority before there's any actual record of achievement.

There's nothing "rote" in the abandoned old standards, and nothing that is superior conceptually in the CCSS. In addition, all solid collegiate "STEM" programs (math, physics, chemistry, engineering) are aligned with AP Calculus... but the CCSS isn't aligned with AP Calculus. You're out of STEM luck if your school district takes the CCSS to heart as good enough for all.

Posted by: Gregory | 18 April 2014 at 02:10 PM

Now Ca. is running ads to sell this Albatross of curriculum?

Only LIBS can "one up" themselves in the stupidity dept.

From "close is good enough" ( outcome based education) ,, to " What?? What the Hell is that supposed to mean? ( no way to even FIND the outcome.)

Other states have sh*! canned "rotton to the" Core.

Posted by: Walt | 18 April 2014 at 02:28 PM