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OP-ED | Politicians Underestimate Common Core Opposition at Their Peril

by Sarah Darer Littman | Mar 21, 2014 12:03am
(33) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Education, Opinion

Thanks to Republican legislators who used a rare parliamentary procedure to get a bill asking for a moratorium raised for public hearing, Connecticut finally got to experience a lengthy airing of views on the Common Core and its implementation thus far in our state.

Republicans had to resort to such strategies because, for reasons that can only be known to them, Democrats in the legislature tried to limit “hearings” on Common Core implementation to what amounted to a PR session with Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, which is one of the organizations that helped draft the standards. Hardly a well-rounded airing of views — but then that doesn’t appear to have been what the governor and his allies wanted.

Democrats from Arne Duncan on down are trying to frame the growing nationwide revolt by parents, K-12 educators, university professors, and child development specialists as “Tea Party extremism” or overwrought “white suburban moms.” A recent Hartford Courant piece by UConn professor Robert Thorson simplistically categorized those who question the Core as anti-Copernican opponents of science. As a devoted Neil deGrasse Tyson fangirl, I can think of no greater insult.

Such diatribes are foolish and myopic. Common Core proponents need to face a very important fact: parents are not idiots. Those of us with older children can see the qualitative difference in curriculum since the Common Core roll out began — and we are not impressed. We’re angered by the loss of instructional time to testing for a benefit that accrues to testing companies rather than our children.

Common Core proponents claim that the standards raise the bar and will make us more competitive. But is this actually true?

I encourage parents and legislators alike to read the September 2013 study: Challenging the Research Base of the Common Core State Standards: A Historical Reanalysis of Text Complexity published by AERA (American Educational Research Association). The analysis focuses on the ELA components of the standards, but what it says about the assumptions driving them and how they were constructed is important: “The blanket condemnation made by the CCSS authors that school reading texts have ‘trended downward over the last half century’ is inaccurate” — particularly so, the authors of the study found, in the K-3 grades. Why this is dangerous is that “we may be hastily attempting to solve a problem that does not exist and elevating text complexity in a way that is ultimately harmful to students.”

Just talk to any reading specialist about the ridiculous anomalies experienced when using lexiles. For example: Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid (950) has a higher text complexity than Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (890). While a computer might think the text in Wimpy Kid is more complex, any parent, teacher, or librarian with half a brain knows that the concepts in Fahrenheit 451 require far greater maturity to digest and comprehend. Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers (890) has a higher lexile than Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. (870). Now, my kids and I loved Captain Underpants, but seriously? Oh, and according to the lexile folks, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever (1060) is on practically the same level as Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (1080).

Why then, are to we believe the standards are better and more developmentally appropriate? Simply because we’re being told it is so?

When the authors of the AERA study analyzed the literature used by Common Core writers to justify the need for more complex texts, what they found was: “a tight and closed loop of researchers citing one another and leading . . . to an artificially heightened sense of scholarly agreement about a decline in textbook complexity.”

It’s hardly surprising this is the case when we look at how the world’s richest man, Bill Gates, has funded the research, development, implementation and promotion of the CCSS.

According to HonestPracticum.com, Gates has spent more than $282 million to promote on his vision of education reform.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan asserts that despite such lavish spending, Gates “doesn’t have a seat at the table” when it comes to education policymaking, but it’s hard to believe Duncan could get those words out with a straight face. Gates owns the table — and after all the money he’s spent, he seems completely baffled as to why we common folk aren’t jumping to eat what he’s put on it.

A teacher friend wrote to me in despair this evening:

Sarah, could you could ask legislators what they would do if a six or seven year old did one of the following:

—Came to school late and sat down in her seat.  Raised her hand and waited patiently to be called on and then said, “The reason I am late to school is because my mother died last night.”
—Came to school and said, “I saw a guy get shot last night. There was blood all over the place and my mother screamed at me to close the door.”
—Came to school with his kindergarten sister and leaned up against the wall of the school sobbing waiting for his teacher to arrive. Then when she saw him and asked what was wrong, he told her that the cops shot their dog this morning.
—Sent to see the nurse by the teacher because when she was eating her snack and talking to the teacher the teacher noticed that she had huge cavities in every molar. But, she was not taken to a dentist until her mother was told she could not return to school until she went to the clinic.

These are true stories and I was the teacher.

Please Sarah, ask the legislators if they believe no-excuses charter schools, CCSS, and incessant testing are more beneficial to these students then counseling and other resources for families. Please remind them that we provide extra resources and support all around the state for many horrific tragedies, but we continually neglect our most vulnerable children and families when they experience tragedy.


My friend is putting a human face on the same question the authors of the AERA report asked: “Shall we tinker with complexity levels while overlooking the egregious educational inequities and scandalous socioeconomic conditions that researchers have demonstrated are persisted causes of low academic performance? . . . Higher test complexity levels are likely to ignore this problem while further widening the achievement gap.”

These are the facts that Malloy and Pryor and other Core proponents — including Gates, the Business Roundtable, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who are funding the latest Pro-CCSS propaganda campaign — want us to ignore. They need to accept that no matter how much money they spend, parents, educators, and child development specialists will never do so.

Sarah Darer Littman is an award-winning columnist and novelist of books for teens. A former securities analyst, she’s now an adjunct in the MFA program at WCSU, and enjoys helping young people discover the power of finding their voice as an instructor at the Writopia Lab.

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(33) Comments

posted by: JamesBronsdon | March 21, 2014  2:00pm

Excellent article, Sarah. This mania for testing and measurement is truly anti-humanistic. I’m not interested in producing automotons for Bill Gates or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or the Business Roundtable. I trust my local teachers to know how to teach my kids more than I trust the business/education complex. And keep your lousy technology out of the school too.

posted by: Avg-Joe | March 21, 2014  2:22pm

I failed to grasp a point while reading this post. 
If you are saying that the standards are lowering the quality of the curriculum, then that is the fault of the teachers who wrote the curriculum.  Please do not think I am bashing public school teachers – I am a public school teacher.  I am simply saying it is the responsibility of the teachers and the administrators to make sure that quality curriculum is implemented.  From my view, the Common Core gives teachers and administrators a broad basis of skills to incorporate into their curriculum.  If they cannot create a high-quality and dynamic curriculum based on these standards, they are not doing enough creative thinking. 
If you are saying that the text complexity rating system is going to lead to our students reading more low-brow material, then again that is the fault of the teachers and administrators who selected them.  If a teacher selects a book (or an administrator commands a teacher to select a book) which is a poor fix for a lesson simply because the lexile is higher than another or because it is mentioned in the Common Core appendices, then they are at fault for that choice, not the Common Core.
You seem ultimately to be upset that the Common Core is being implemented in a top-down manner.  Please try to understand that these people at the top are worried about the competitiveness of our children against other countries with higher national standards.  Unless opponents of the Common Core have a sound alternative to offer, really all you are doing is whining about a change with good intentions at its core (no pun intended). 
I agree that students should have equity in life and education.  Why not push for the government to make sure there is equity for students who fail to meet the standards?  If you simply call the standards a bad idea and suggest that the parents and local school boards you are seldom going to see the uniform progress that the experts (from both within and without the field of education – look up the future of work on the internet) think we need.

posted by: Parent and educator | March 21, 2014  3:09pm

What a powerful piece by Sarah Darer-Littman.  It is of great concern that people who claim to be upholding educational standards have little care for poor children (or for any children, really, since the regime the reformers are promoting is mind-numbing and banal).
Robert Thorson’s intervention in the debate is nothing short of ludicrous—he is constantly advertising his own superiority as a “Scientist” and lording it over the rest of us who do something other than science or rock wall studies.  I rather doubt the status of the poll he quotes—that 1 in 4 Americans believes that the sun revolves around the earth—but hey, maybe that is an improvement.  When Thorson went to school (back when they had standards?  during Jim Crow?  when women weren’t admitted into many universities and professional schools?), perhaps it was 1 in 2 Americans who held that belief.  Back to your tough standards of literature, Prof. Thorson—Capt. Underpants and company.

posted by: Sarah Darer Littman | March 21, 2014  3:31pm

Ave Joe - I’m curious what you teach. Are you by any chance a STEM teacher?  In my “other life” as a YA author, I interact with ELA teachers all across the country - and many in other countries as well. Most of the teachers I speak with are innovative, using technology to connect to other teachers to improve their craft, to learn new ideas, talk about books that might engage a reluctant reader, create reading ladders. They also use technology to connect their students to authors. What I’ve seen with lexiles and programs like Accelerated Reader,  both in my practice writing instructor and as an auntie to younger nephews, is that it ends up discouraging and frustrating kids.  Now on the issue of our kids not being competitive - you clearly didn’t read the study. The myth that the CCSS architects have created that our textual complexity has decreased is exactly that - a myth. I’m not whining. I’m using facts and logic, and I’m talking about the kind of teaching that is actually best for children. What makes you think that the people at the “top” know what is best? Because they have the most money?

posted by: Sarah Darer Littman | March 21, 2014  3:44pm

PS - The fact that you refer to Captain Underpants and Diary of a Wimpy Kid as “low brow” material speaks VOLUMES to me about how little you understand about kids and literacy. Books like these are what I consider “gateway drugs” to literacy. Kids love them, and the most important thing is to get a kid to love and see the enjoyment in reading. THEN you can start feeding them the meat of a Fahrenheit 451 and a To Kill a Mockingbird. And then you can help them see how powerful writing can be to give them voice and agency in their own lives.

posted by: JamesBronsdon | March 21, 2014  4:21pm

Avg-Joe, regarding your comment “people at the top are worried about the competitiveness of our children against other countries with higher national standards,” are we educating human beings or units to be put to work in support of the GDP?

posted by: ABC | March 21, 2014  4:45pm

“Because they have the most money”? - Littman

Not because they have the most money but because they have been very successful in their professional endeavors, in building businesses, in generating profits, in employing millions of people, in paying taxes, in giving away billions of dollars to philanthropy and yes, in understanding that knowledge is power and economic stability.

What don’t you get about that?

If you don’t believe that education quality is directly correlated with economic potential on an individual basis or on a national basis, what do you believe?

posted by: victor3 | March 21, 2014  5:31pm

1st, some housekeeping. All of the points raised by Avg-Joe are part of the sales pitch for the CC$$ hence, he is part of the propaganda blitz to manufacture compliance for it. Teachers have not had time to write curriculum for the CC$$, that is how rushed the implementation has been. Testing companies on the other hand have had plenty of time to produce “products” to sell to schools which they are buying so as not to fall afoul of the botched implementation schedule.
I’m actually glad that the CC$$ pushers are hiding behind the myth of Tea Party extremists being the only ones who oppose the CC$$ as that is just making EVERYONE more angry as very few people fail to see through this pathetic attempt at an appeal to what is assumed to be the mainstream. When Michelle Malkin, a latecomer to understanding all this publishes an article that could have been written by any of the progressives who have been fighting the CC$$ for years now, it’s obvious that the CC$$ pushers are in DEEP TROUBLE!

posted by: victor3 | March 21, 2014  5:34pm

One correction for the article. It has been discovered that Mr. Gates has spent on the order of 2.3 BILLION DOLLARS on all aspects of the CC$$.  http://northdenvernews.com/stunning-revelation-bill-gates-has-spent-2-3-billion-on-common-core/

posted by: Sarah Darer Littman | March 21, 2014  7:49pm

ABC - If “educational quality is the basis for economic potential” then why wouldn’t Gates want all kids to have the same kind of education HE had - the same kind of education he is giving his own children at Lakeside School in Seattle? Do you see any private schools implementing the kind of testing regimen that Gates et all are trying to impose on the public schools? Are they using ridiculous lexile programs like Accelerated Reader? Are they being subjected to mind-numbing nonsensical worksheets every night? Perish the thought!  Let’s not forget, also, that Gates started on third base. He attended Lakeside and had access to computers when your average high school student didn’t - because his parents were wealthy and could give him that advantage. So don’t give me the Ayn Randian maker argument.  Yes, Gates has been successful - but does that make him an expert on education? No. Does that make him an expert on everything in life?  How are you judging “success”?  I want my kids to be well rounded, critical thinkers who have the ability to question, to appreciate art, literature and understand science and math.I want them to be good citizens, who don’t blindly accept that because someone was born wealthy and became wealthier, they are more intelligent.

posted by: Barth Keck | March 21, 2014  9:09pm

ABC: As a veteran of the public high school classroom, I am thankful that economically successful people are willing to “giv[e] away billions of dollars to philanthropy,” including education. What I resent, however, is these business leaders’ overt attempts - through such philanthropy - to fashion public education into an image that they want without substantial input from people who work in public schools every day.

If “knowledge is power,” as you say (and I don’t disagree), then why have these philanthropists not sought the first-hand knowledge of the frontline teachers who truly KNOW what happens in public schools? Could it be because their money is actually more powerful than knowledge? In other words, why bother to actually seek knowledge about public education when you can just pay to make schools into what you want them to be?

posted by: Avg-Joe | March 22, 2014  8:14am

Ms. Littman –
To answer your questions I am a secondary level history teacher at a public school (not a charter or magnet) and I didn’t read the full article because as a public school teacher I don’t have $30 to just go and drop on studies so I can comment on op-eds under a pseudonym on the internet – I need that to feed my kid (which should also clarify any misconception that I am getting money to promote this stuff from the government, Victor3).
Here is my ultimate point: While the study (from what I can gather from other websites that cited it) may have shown that elementary level texts have become more complex over the generations, so has what colleges and employers expect from their students and employees.  These “people at the top” that Common Core opponents seem to detest so much support the standards for the simple reason that they encourage students to have the ability to think and express themselves at a level demanded by those who run things.  WHY WOULD YOU NOT WANT TO SEE SCHOOLS PUSHING STUDENTS TO BE ABLE TO DO WHAT COLLEGES AND EMPLOYERS WANT THEM TO DO?
I realize (more than you will ever know) that things are tough for teachers trying to engage students and that students have all sorts of disadvantages, but I don’t think demanding a moratorium on the implementation of the Common Core is going to solve any of that.  Those of you who are protesting against these standards are swimming against the tide.  The American job market is 80% service sector jobs, and if you want your kid to get a job where they can have a comfortable existence they will need to do more than just be interested in reading.  We are moving to an age of data where your test scores and your skills will determine your economic standing, and the people inside and outside the government who are promoting the Common Core want to see people succeed in that environment.  Conspiracy theorists will tell you different, but economists won’t.

posted by: RogueReporterCT | March 22, 2014  9:14am

RogueReporterCT

Johhny One Note here: Pushback on education is an unstoppable wave, and by election time, Malloy might be in even bigger trouble over college issues. Unlike Common Core, which is being pushed by the federal government, Connecticut’s college merger was classic Malloy, and there’s no way he can pass the buck on that one. Any candidates for the General Assembly or anything else this year need to know that they’re hitching their wagon to a falling star if they stand by Malloy on this sort of thing.

posted by: Sarah Darer Littman | March 22, 2014  4:00pm

Avg Joe - That study should have been accessible for free. I wasn’t charged $30 for it. It was available as a free downloadable PDF. Perhaps that’s because I’m a subscriber to Education Week. Not sure.

Where we differ, AJ, is on the process. I don’t believe that CCSS and the testing regime that is an inextricable part of it -  will achieve the objective that you are putting in all caps “PUSHING STUDENTS TO BE ABLE TO DO WHAT COLLEGES AND EMPLOYERS WANT THEM TO DO”. I do not believe that it will give our students the creativity and flexibility - the ability to synthesize ideas from multiple disciplines - that is so critical to success in today’s global economy. Again, I ask - if this is really the key to a successful education, why aren’t the private schools where the so-called elites and business leaders are sending THEIR kids adopting such measures?

posted by: NeMoe | March 22, 2014  7:46pm

I am glad Average Joe is a High School History Teacher, he should enjoy this story.  My daughter has been” opted out” of the MANDATED TESTING for 6 years. Last week her Social Studies Teacher invited a friend, who happens to be a Holocaust Survivor to speak to students about her experiences under the Nazi regime.  When it was time for questions and comments, my daughter said, “I am so sorry for what you had to endure, can I give you a hug?”.  I don’t need, or want,  Bill Gates to tell me, or my school system what matters and how to teach it. Preoccupation with competition, a goal of international dominance, blatantly ignoring or further marginalizing students with disabilities or learning differences, insisting that EVERYONE must be the same…yeah that sounds familiar.

#localcontrolforindependentthinkers

posted by: brutus2011 | March 23, 2014  10:06am

brutus2011

I am so tired of those who defend the “top-down” folks who want to “reform” public education.

I challenge you with this:

1. As Sarah points out, why are those successful folks sending their kids to schools that do not use the testing regimen they want the rest of us to submit to?
2. Who benefits, and how, from these “top-down” reforms? (hint-follow the $)
3. How is it that real educators, and not successful magnates, are not an essential part of the formation of “reform?”
4. How is it that here in Ct. we have an lawyer and a founder of Achievement First charter schools as our Ct SDE commish? (hint-conflict of interest rather big-time)
5. Why are the charter schools only proliferating in communities of color?

Finally, those of you who comment and read this must know that student motivation is the key component to this whole complicated issue. How is it that none of you talk about that and how Common Core addresses this. And, what about student behaviors that affect learning environments?

posted by: Iuforever | March 23, 2014  10:09am

To Average Joe. Teachers didn’t write this curriculum. Bill Gates and Pearson corporation owned by Rupert Murdoch did. Pearson and corporate America are taking in millions by establishing this curriculum. I teach Middle School Science at a urban public school and I get rigor. I want to see kids challenged. But I don’t see rigor in this curriculum. Add to it there has been no research this will work. In fact you can say this its a form of education malpractice. It’s obvious that teachers did not write the common core because it’s not made in student language they can sort through. If I tried to release the CCSS in a Science journal it would never be released and in fact be ridiculed because of zero research on this! I also have financial concerns. Whose going to pay for this when funding runs out? And if education is in such disarray, why are private schools not
Implementing? I have just started to hear Gates asking teachers to come on board. That in itself is the big giveaway teachers had nothing to do with this. He has been ripping teachers and now asking for them to come on board. I’m not drinking the corporate machine kool aid on this. Not yet

posted by: Avg-Joe | March 23, 2014  1:28pm

To NeMoe –
You must be right, Bill Gates is Hitler reincarnated and his plan is too brainwash our kids and have them annex the Sudetenland of technology for his own private empire and do horrible things like fund more research for the treatments of AIDS and preventing the spread of HIV.

posted by: Avg-Joe | March 23, 2014  1:29pm

To Brutus2011 (for your questions) –
1.  I don’t know.  Why don’t you send your kids to the same schools if they’re so awesome?  I’d be willing to bet that most of those kids would do well on the SBAC test even though they did not have their schools implement the Common Core since they have every other advantage possible.  This is designed for kids that don’t have all of life’s benefits. (Before you say it, I DO think the government should do more to end childhood poverty and promote social welfare.  Unfortunately, much of the population thinks socialism is akin to Satanism and many other people don’t have the ability – for reasons both individual and systemic – to utilize the welfare to better themselves.)
2.  Follow the money from the US Dep. Of Education to the state’s due to the fact that they received a waiver from No Child Left Behind when they adopted the Common Core; whereas if they hadn’t they would have lost considerable funding.
3.  Have you ever been in a room with “real educators?” I have.  We can’t agree on anything.  Some people speak from anecdotal experience and some draw ideas from research (sometimes of dubious quality).  You would get almost nothing done.  Almost all major policy shifts have to be top-down in nature due to the simple fact that the more voices you add to a debate, the further from consensus you will be.
4.  I agree with you.  That is one of the reasons why I will not be voting for Malloy this year.
5.  Charter and magnet schools have proven successful at allowing the state to comply with the conditions outlined in the ruling of Sheff v. O’Neill case.  If people don’t like charter schools, they should realize this and start supporting a state takeover of the schools where district lines are drawn to incorporate a proportional number of students from all ethnic groups into the school districts rather than the town-based system we currently have (which is highly segregated).  This exact alternative to charters and magnets, however, was overwhelmingly rejected by suburban white constituents when it was originally suggested after the plaintiffs won their appeal.
Your final point is the million-dollar question.  Thirty years of research has not given us highly effective ways to motivate failing or disinterested students.  Again, there seems to be high correlations to the community and environment a student is brought up in and how well they do in school (with some notable exceptions).

posted by: Avg-Joe | March 23, 2014  1:29pm

To Luforever and everyone else –
What are your alternatives?  What do you want to see happen to prepare kids for a very uncertain economic future?  I’m not saying CCSS and testing is a cure-all for educational and societal ills; but those ills exist and I see the government taking some type of action to address them.  I see plenty of room for teachers and administrators to build a curriculum around the standards that can be personalized and motivating without buying a bunch of resources from Pearson or whichever evil corporation you want to name (we’ve been doing it in my school since 2012 without money to buy anything from anyone).  It’s time to put up or shut up as far as I’m concerned.  If you don’t like the standards suggest something else that will work better, put that idea on your red t-shirts, and go get the politicians to adopt that.

posted by: StanMuzyk | March 23, 2014  3:44pm

@JamesBronsdon:  Your creditabiity factor sank
with your cheap shot at the GOP. It appears that Gov. Malloy and Pres. Obama “have made you deliriously happy.”
Hold on to it as long as the
spell lasts.

posted by: Sarah Darer Littman | March 23, 2014  7:49pm

What are my alternatives? For starters, how about not getting rid of media specialists? Why do we have schools in urban districts with no functioning libraries and then wonder why kids can’t read or or do a research paper? But you know what we really need? We need to fire people like Arne Duncan and Stefan Pryor, and put someone like Diane Ravitch as Secretary of Education. Here are a few of her ideas. I just can’t understand why you and ABC are such believers in the right and might of the “lucky sperm club.” It seems to antithetical to the American spirit.

posted by: JamesBronsdon | March 23, 2014  8:33pm

Ah, Stan, that’s GDeeP - Gross Domestic Product.  No shot at the GOP.  I know, sometimes this print is hard to see.

posted by: Sarah Darer Littman | March 23, 2014  8:33pm

Stan M, my dear, I think you need new readers. (Trust me, I know the feeling, I’m at the age where I have three pairs of glasses and still have eyestrain.) He said GDP, as in “Gross Domestic Product”. Not GOP as in “Grand Old Party.”

posted by: Avg-Joe | March 24, 2014  8:13am

My question was what do you want as alternative performance benchmarks?  That is the purpose of the Common Core Standards - they serve as performance benchmarks for the students in different grades.  What would you use?  I agree with your point about media specialists; in general the Common Core calls for much more focus on skills and less on content.  However, I want to know to what standards those of you who are against Common Core would hold a student to before declaring her ready for college or work.  If you say no to standards all together, then do we get rid of SATs and entrance exams for graduate work as well?  What about tests like the Praxis and the CAT that we make teachers and school administrators take?  You say nothing of these tests.  How far do you want to take this arguement for the abolishing of standards?

posted by: brutus2011 | March 24, 2014  11:31am

brutus2011

My major objection to Common Core is that is a national standard imposed on the states via the sheer volume of federal education funds that require compliance. Thus, I believe NCLB, which is the foundation of CC, is unconstitutional.

This starting point, for me anyway, requires that local communities and their states, formulate and implement their own standards.

We live in a republican system and to remain “free” citizens have a duty to participate in the affairs that swirl around them. After all, isn’t this really the true purpose of public education? To educate our future citizenry to take their place as guardians of our republic?

I believe local control of standards is not only possible but will have a ripple effect that may translate into our society becoming more resilient in dealing with the complexity of problems we all face today and in the future.

And I am a former math and history high school and middle school teacher now a 2L in law school. And not a tea party person.

Live Free Or Die

posted by: victor3 | March 25, 2014  12:04am

As it turns out, the CC$$ do not even qualify as a proper set of standards. Over time, ANSI has developed and continuously improved a set of best practices for writing standards which applies to any effort to write standards for any purpose. The CC$$ fails to conform to just about everything ANSI has learned about getting it right. Read more

posted by: Sarah Darer Littman | March 25, 2014  8:23am

Yes, the piece Victor3 refers to is a must read. I hope all legislators read it. And the Wall St Journal reports today that Indiana is dropping the Common Core.

posted by: Avg-Joe | March 25, 2014  9:49am

Anyone want to tell me which standards I should be supporting instead of the Common Core?

posted by: StanMuzyk | March 25, 2014  3:18pm

Sarah Darer Littman: New glasses will not help my blind eye, but your caring assessment is appreciated.However I think you look good - even with my blindness—so when you have it—you can continue to flaunt it, Sarah.

posted by: JamesBronsdon | March 25, 2014  3:35pm

Standards developed with substantial, real input by parents, teachers, and subject matter experts. Carefully reviewed and ratified by appropriate Board of Education. They do not have to be national standards. They do not have to be developed on a national basis. I’m fine with what existed in my town before Common Core. Another town is welcome to adopt the standards in Common Core and if they are successful with it then it is certainly worth considering. Likewise, on a state basis. I do not buy into the argument that we must have national standards because as a nation we are falling behind other nations in economic terms. I know, and my kids’ teachers know, far better than an educrat in D.C., or even Hartford, what is appropriate and workable for my kids. General, aspirational standards may be fine.  Standards that must be implemented to obtain federal money - no.

posted by: Avg-Joe | March 25, 2014  6:36pm

I’m sorry to keep posting at this point, but I just see a lot of comments that don’t seem to be considering important factors.
James – Your town does what you describe in your comment, they just don’t call it standards – they call it curriculum.  The standards inform the curriculum; they are what teachers use to decide the educational goals of their teaching.  The curriculum is what teachers actually teach – the lessons, the resources, the assessments that count for your kid’s grades.  The curriculum is written by teachers and administrators, and approved by your locally elected board of education members.  Another point that I need to clarify is your last sentence: “Standards that must be implemented to obtain federal money - no.” I just want you to understand that the amount of federal money given to Connecticut is in the hundreds of millions of dollars (you can search “Connecticut” on the US Dep. Of Ed website to see some of the grant amounts).  We’re not talking about small grants for sports programs here – we’re talking about the difference between keeping teachers and firing them.

posted by: JamesBronsdon | March 25, 2014  7:19pm

Avg-Joe, I’m not sure what your point is re: curriculum vs. standards. I don’t know that my town can create curriculum without having standards - though those standards may or may not be articulated or reduced to writing anywhere. Whatever they’re doing is working.  To your last point re: the money, I’m with Brutus. A proper interpretation of the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution should have prevented the creation of a U.S. Department of Education, and should prevent the federal government’s interference with local education - which is not a power granted to the United States by the Constitution, hence it is reserved to the states.