own-it

Congratulations. You Own It.

An Open Letter to Wisconsin State Elected Officials on the Full and Imminent Implementation of Common Core State Standards

April 23, 2014

At the beginning of April, the Wisconsin State Legislature concluded its 2014 floor sessions. Yet, Common Core State Standards (CCSS)—the single most prominent issue of the last year in Wisconsin politics—remains unaddressed. As leadership has announced that the legislature will now take a nine-month hiatus, CCSS is unlikely to see any serious opposition at the state level until at least January of 2015.

With CCSS presently retaining status as official state standards, and Smarter Balanced assessments scheduled to roll out this fall for the 2014-2015 school year, the legislature’s failure to act means that total implementation of CCSS is now imminent in Wisconsin. Smarter Balanced assessments are the enforcement mechanism that will be used to ensure compliance with CCSS and aligned curricula.

Because Smarter Balanced assessments have not been in place in Wisconsin up to now, our state has not yet experienced the full reality of CCSS. This fact has allowed several individuals in key positions on both sides of the aisle to tout the standards’ alleged benefits in a manner that few in Wisconsin currently have the experience or the courage to refute. The haze created by this well funded and heavily marketed campaign of misinformation has resulted in confusion, inaction, and even active pro-CCSS entrenchment on the part of many state legislators, district and school administrators, the business community, and even some parents and teachers. Meanwhile, the informed parents, teachers, and taxpayers who have explored CCSS beyond the superficial talking points have been championed only by a small but dedicated coterie of legislators. Those legislators who did understand and make an effort to jettison or undercut CCSS found themselves effectively sidelined by those with greater influence and higher positions of authority.

Well done, then, to Wisconsin’s state-level CCSS advocates. You’ve won this round. You successfully convinced many that rejection of CCSS was just an issue of the “fringe” Tea Party. Despite the wishes of constituents, you ensured that a true CCSS kill-bill never saw the light of day. You ensured that other legislation that might help to undermine CCSS was watered down, marginalized, or killed outright. CCSS will proceed on schedule. Kudos to you.

But be careful about celebrating this victory.

Everything is about to change.

With the deployment of the Smarter Balanced assessments, the rosy CCSS talking points upon which you have relied are about to be exposed for what they are. CCSS is going to cause pain in this state. And in the blame game that ensues, those who have facilitated CCSS either actively or by their inaction will quickly become vulnerable.

Congratulations. You own it.

What exactly do you now own?

  • You own the unhealthy and as yet unimagined degree of pressure that will shortly be placed on Wisconsin children to perform on an unending stream of standardized assessments with little validity.  http://bit.ly/tests-hurt
  • You own the fact that even students previously considered high achievers are likely to fail the Smarter Balanced assessments in droves, providing a false measure of both performance and underperformance. http://bit.ly/unending-tests
  • You own the inaccurate labeling of “underperforming schools” and the subsequent school closings that CCSS and the Smarter Balanced assessments have, in part, been engineered to ensure.  http://bit.ly/underperforming
  • You own the injudicious use of student performance on Smarter Balanced assessments to judge wrongly and misleadingly the quality of teachers.  http://bit.ly/teacher-quality
  • You own the shredding of the art of teaching—the reduction of teachers to proctors in their own classrooms—by means of extensive embedded pedagogy within CCSS that doesn’t just demand compliance from teachers concerning what to teach but also how to teach it. http://bit.ly/kills-creativity, http://bit.ly/demoralize-teachers
  • You own the convoluted and bizarre teaching methods embedded within CCSS pedagogy and the ways in which they will cripple many students’ ability to understand and learn.  http://bit.ly/cripple-students, http://bit.ly/not-teaching
  • You own the distress of parents as they realize they can no longer assist their children with homework because not even as competent adults can they understand the methods by which their children are now being taught.  http://bit.ly/parents-dont-understand
  • You own the rejection of individualism that is part and parcel of the CCSS mandate to teach the same and yield the same, regardless of the unique character, learning styles, circumstances, and aspirations of each child. http://bit.ly/different-styles
  • You own the vast frustration with learning that CCSS is guaranteed to yield as well as the utter disinterest in learning that will spring from it.  http://bit.ly/ccss-frustration, http://bit.ly/ccss-dropout
  • You own the widget-factory schools that CCSS will create.  http://bit.ly/ccss-widget
  • You own the fact that the for-profit charter schools intended to replace “failing” public schools will likewise be CCSS-based widget factories, enriching no one but the people who collect the tuition.  http://bit.ly/ccss-for-profit
  • You own the fact that, under CCSS, students who want to reach farther will only be prepared for a two-year non-selective college, not a four-year university.  http://bit.ly/non-selective
  • You own the coming anger of local taxpayers who will soon realize that you have essentially pushed them into an unfunded mandate—CCSS infrastructure and training costs that will likely exceed the expectations and budgets of most school districts.  http://bit.ly/ccss-high-cost
  • You own the additional taxpayer anger that will result when they discover that all of the spending you helped to push them into was for an initiative doomed to failure from the outset.  http://bit.ly/ccss-doomed
  • You own the invasion of student and family privacy that CCSS furthers through its data gathering, data storage, and data mining components.  http://bit.ly/ccss-privacy
  • You own this initiative’s disregard of the U.S. Constitution, which gives the federal government no authority over education, as well as the its disregard of at least three federal laws forbidding the federal government from involvement in school standards and curriculum.  http://bit.ly/ccss-unconstitutional
  • You own the undercutting of Wisconsin children’s ability to determine their own unbounded future. http://bit.ly/biz-demands
  • And much, much more…

And the saddest part about this long and troubling list of items you’ve just owned?

It was all avoidable.

Apparently, it is not enough for Wisconsin to learn from the experiences of others. Instead, we must have the full experience—sacrificing the education and mental wellbeing of children, breaking the trust of parents, demoralizing teachers, and picking the pockets of taxpayers.

Even a modicum of honest research should have revealed to you precisely what we and many others have found—that despite the billions spent on marketing spin, CCSS is nothing new. It’s merely a doubling-down on every failed education reform of the past thirty years; truly the lipstick-clad pig.

Just a glance to the east would have revealed that full implementation of CCSS has already been a complete train wreck in states like New York and Kentucky, causing massive public outcry from parents, teachers, and taxpayers alike. Conservatives and progressives are fighting CCSS hand-in-hand in those states and elsewhere, as they increasingly will be here. Are you aware that they’re taking names and working to remove people from office in New York and elsewhere over this “education” fiasco?  Do you think that same thing won’t happen in Wisconsin?  Do you think it hasn’t already begun?

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Common Core State Standards are all yours now.

Sincerely,

Eric Shimpach
Wisconsin State Coordinator
Young Americans for Liberty
Morgan Gianola
Young Americans for Liberty – Carthage College
Kenosha, WI
Dustin Hwang
Young Americans for Liberty – Marquette University
Milwaukee, WI
Madelyn Winter
Young Americans for Liberty – UW Green Bay
Green Bay, WI
Savannah Bartel
Young Americans for Liberty – University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI
Charles Hunt
Young Americans for Liberty – UW Oshkosh
Oshkosh, WI
Matt Haase
Young Americans for Liberty – UW Stout
Menomonie, WI
John Linné
Young Americans for Liberty – UW Superior
Superior, WI
Michael Cummins
Dane County Campaign for Liberty
Madison, WI
Alan Scholl
Executive Director
FreedomProject Education
Appleton, WI
Duke Pesta
Academic Director
FreedomProject Education
Appleton, WI
Mary Black
Student Development Director
FreedomProject Education
Appleton, WI
Tina Hollenbeck
The Educational Freedom Coalition
Green Bay, WI
Kristi Lacroix
Parent
Kenosha, WI
Tracie Happel
Teacher & Parent
Onalaska, WI
Dan Curran
Eagle Forum of Wisconsin
Dodgeville, WI
Sandi Ruggles
Eagle Forum of Southeast Wisconsin
Menomonee Falls, WI
Jane Carpenter
Suburban Republican Women’s Club
Milwaukee, WI
Charles Brey
United in Freedom
Beaver Dam, WI
Joana Briggs
Greendale Tea Party
Greendale, WI
Kip Ertel
We The People
Sheboygan, WI
Michael Hintze
Tea Party Patriots
Wisconsin
Earl Hoffman
Clark County Tea Party
Greenwood, WI
Jackie Johnson
Concerned Citizens of Dane County
Madison, WI
Sidney Johnson
Central Wisconsin Tea Party
Marshfield, WI
James Leist
Manitowoc County TEA Movement
Manitowoc, WI
Andrea Lombard
Sauk County Tea Party
Baraboo, WI
Darin Danelski
Lake Country Area Defenders of Liberty
Oconomowoc, WI
Karl Koenigs
Wisconsin TEA Party Committee on State Sovereignty
Peshtigo, WI
Steve Welcenbach
Separately for each: Conservative Insurgency & Menomonee Falls Taxpayer Association
Menomonee Falls, WI
Ed Willing
FoundersIntent.Org
Caledonia, WI
Jennifer London
SpotOfTea.Org
Pete Platt
Columbia County Freedom Coalition
Portage, WI
Ronald Zahn
Northeast Wisconsin Patriots
DePere, WI
Richard Parins
Member of The Brown County Taxpayers Association
Green Bay, WI
James Murphy
Green Bay TEA Party
Green Bay, WI
Greg Luce
The La Crosse Tea Party
La Crosse, WI
Georgia Janisch
Rock County Voter Education Forum
Janesville, WI
David Stertz
Fox Valley Conservative Forum
Appleton, WI
Kim Simac
Northwoods Patriots
Eagle River, WI
Joanne Terry
Ozaukee Patriots
Mequon, WI
Marv Munyon
Rock River Patriots
Fort Atkinson, WI
Kirsten Lombard
The Wisconsin 9/12 Project
Madison, WI
Edward Perkins
Fox Valley Initiative
Appleton, WI
Jeffrey Horn
Prairie Patriots
Sun Prairie, WI

 

 

 

We Continue to Build the Machine

We were all deeply disturbed when we learned last week that JFC voted 8-7 to fund the Statewide Student Information System (SSIS).  At the very same time that the legislature is considering data privacy measures, it is essentially funding the construction of the machine that will make data mining possible.  Though painted as an information resource for parents and teachers, the SSIS has ties into Department of Workforce Development, the University of Wisconsin System, the Technical College System, Department of Health, and many other systems throughout the state.  DPI will warehouse personally identifiable information for all the students in the state and link it to various other state agencies.

While it’s true that many people with access to this system will not be able to personally identify students using the system and will only view statistical information, nonetheless, full, personally identifiable information is retained centrally by the SSIS at DPI.  This is the machine by which data mining can occur.  It would only take a small change the the law, or the interpretation of the law, and data could flow to third parties and the federal government.

Some of those legislators have said not to worry, that bills are being introduced in the assembly will protect our children, ensuring that their data remains private.  Indeed Assembly Bill 618 prohibits contractors, consultants and volunteers from viewing personally identifiable information.  That is important, because recently the United States Department of Education has reinterpreted the FERPA laws to allow such people and even corporations to access personally identifiable information.  AB618 also prohibits sharing data with the Federal Government.  However, AB 618 also supports setting up the linkages between state agencies, DPI, the University and Technical College system, and local school districts to build the SSIS.  So, the we’re essentially building the machine to hold massive amounts of student information centrally.  Any agency which the state sees fit to deem in need of such information, will ultimately be linked into the SSIS or Longitudinal Data system.

Limiting who can see student information and prohibiting sharing of such information with the Federal government is great.  However, building a centralized system to hold all the information and encouraging sharing of such information among many state agencies at the same time is counterproductive.  We should be looking to defund the SSIS and prohibit the sharing of personally identifiable information from school districts with any state agency, including DPI, without explicit parental consent.  There is absolutely no need for the State to get between parents, students and their teachers and any bill that purports to support data privacy should not countenance the building of a system that enables the exploitation of personal data.

Local Control: Districts Have the Right But Not the Ability

standardized-mind After many, many hours of expert and public testimony about Common Core, it now seems that most of our legislators have totally missed the point of those raising concerns about this homogenization of students and almost abusive increases in standardized testing.  There are a few exceptions, Senators Leah Vukmir and Paul Farrow seem to understand that creating standardized minds enforced by ever increasing testing will serve neither Wisconsin, nor our nation well.  However, the bills we have seen put forward after the hearings have not dealt with any of these issues.  None of them deal with the adoption of standards, the onerous testing being inflicted on students, or the de facto loss of local control that Common Core standardization brings.

The bills we have seen offered to date deal with the collection of biometric data on students and the privacy of personally identifiable data collected on students in Wisconsin.  To be sure, there are serious concerns about these issues.  It’s easy to see how parents and students would not want their personally identifiable information shared in a global or national database.  These bills are necessary to protect our privacy from government and corporate exploitation, but they are nowhere near sufficient for stemming the federal and corporate control of the curricula in our local schools.

We have even seen one bill, offered by Rep. Knudson, that would leave the existing Common Core standards and associated Smarter Balanced assessments in place for several years and starting in 2016 would allow a committee appointed by DPI to determine which standards and assessments need to be in place.  This bill allows the legislature to totally ignore by having an unelected committee, hand picked by DPI determine what is best for our children.  Talk about the fox guarding the hen house!  The legislature, our elected representatives, must be the ones that take an active role in setting and vetting any standards used in Wisconsin and they must do it immediately, not several years from now!

I’ve heard many experts, school officials, and legislators claim that Wisconsin is a “local control state.”  Under local control of schools, the Department of Public Instruction has the responsibility to develop baseline standards that each school may enrich.  It is interesting that in choosing Common Core standards to serve as these baseline standards, DPI already falls short of its responsibility.  You see, Common Core Standards are copyrighted by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The copyright itself says that they may only be augmented by fifteen percent and nothing may be deleted from the standards.  As such, Common Core standards are a very poor base for local districts to enrich.  There is already copyright control that handcuffs local districts, limiting what they are able to do.

From the point of view of the Common Core standards authors this is an entirely reasonable thing to put in the copyright.  The whole point of Common Core Standards is to have a standard that is held in COMMON nationwide.  If local school districts are allowed to deviate too much from the standard, they would no longer be common and that would defeat the whole point of having common standards.  By adopting Common Core standards for Wisconsin, DPI is already asserting a value judgement that districts should hold to common standards and deviate as little as possible.  DPI Superintendent Tony Evers adopted these standards immediately after they were first released on June 2, 2010.  There was no leglislative input.  These was little input sought from parents or school districts about their suitability for Wisconsin’s children.  Wisconsin has the dubious distinction of being the very first state in the nation to adopt Common Core!  We have an imperial DPI superintendent and a lack of legislative oversight to thank for that.

But local school districts have the right to use alternative standards, correct?  Well, like so many things, local school districts have the right but not the ability! Tony Evers has said in his testimony on Common Core that it would not be advisable for districts to choose alternative standards or to augment the Common Core standards significantly because that may cause them to do poorly on Common Core aligned Smarter Balanced Assessments.  If they teach too much outside of the standards, they won’t have sufficient time to cover everything in the standards.  That would have dire consequences for school districts and could result in school closings, loss of charters for charter schools, or inability to accept vouchers for voucher schools.

Teachers need to teach to the standards as they are or suffer consequences that could include loss of raises, no promotions or even dismissal.  Teachers are ranked on value added measures that are heavily weighted to reflect their students’ performance on Common Core aligned Smarter Balanced assessments.  Enriching our students beyond the standards is in nobody’s interest… not the teachers’ personal interests, not in the local district’s interest, and not the state’s interest. 

Who have they left out of the equation?  You’ve got it… the student.  The mandated testing enforces the Common Core standards and enriches everyone EXCEPT OUR CHILDREN We have created a ceiling on what our children are expected to learn and it is nobody’s interest to see our students rise above that ceiling.  If a school districts could muster the votes to choose another set of standards, it would be to their and their teachers’ detriment.  Of course it is in our children’s and parents’ interest to see our children rise above any artificial ceiling and fly as high as their imagination, creativity, and hard work will take them.  But those in control of education don’t want that.  The system is rigged to enforce conformity. 

Most school boards in Wisconsin suffer from unanimity disorder.  There are exceptions, but to a large extent school boards in Wisconsin have been rubber stamping initiatives put forward by school district superintendents and administrations with alarming regularity.  They take the input of educational experts on district staff and accept it as gospel.  It is rare to see votes on local school boards that are not unanimous.  District staff is largely beholden to DPI, CESA’s, and the federal Department of Education in determining what is best for students.  Parental, student, and teacher input is given little weight by most school board members when considering policies.  Many school boards openly admit how proud they are about how much they agree with the district superintendent.  Experts rule the day.  The fault for this may lie in the voters themselves for not paying enough attention to who they are electing and for not speaking up with enough regularity so that rubber stamp behavior has been allowed to flourish.  So even though local school boards may have the right to stand up against Common Core standards, they do not truly possess the ability.  Decades of atrophy have set in so that school boards are now unlikely to stand up against district superintendents much less the state DPI superintendent.

This is why we need to legislature to take a stand.  They have funded DPI’s adoption of Common Core standards and the associated Smarter Balanced testing.  The legislature must defund Common Core and all associated testing.  They must demand adoption of standards that school districts actually can build upon.  It will take years to turn over individual school boards so they have people willing to actually be more than rubber stamps for district and state superintendents.  By then, Common Core will be firmly entrenched in our state and our state will already be producing standardized minds.

The legislature must take a stand to roll back Common Core. While it’s necessary that the legislature stand up for privacy on personally identifiable and biometric information for our students, it is far from sufficient.

Don’t be fooled by the legislature taking some action.  If the legislature does not repeal Common Core and pull out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium your children and our state are at risk. We will need to learn to be comfortable in our mediocrity.  We can lay the blame for that at the feet of an imperial DPI superintendent, a fence-sitting governor, and a cowardly legislature, and our own non-involvement over the years.

Wake up and take action today.  Encourage Senators Vukmir and Farrow to draft full repeal legislation.

  • Do not accept anything less than a full repeal.
  • Do not allow the legislature to compound past failures in oversight by continuing with standards that are not suitable for local control and in fact cede control to the federal government and corporations.
  • Do not be placated by token legislation.
  • Do not be fooled by legislation that pushes decisions about what your children will and will not learn years out into the future.

 

absolute-conformity

Urgent Request for Action on Common Core – December 18th and 19th

URGENT REQUEST FOR ACTION


I write you today because your help is needed at this moment to rid Wisconsin of Common Core.  In any issue there are pivotal moments that make all the difference and this is one of them. YOUR HELP WILL MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE!

On Thursday, December 19th the Senate Republican Caucus will meet to set priorities for the new year.  We need to make sure that ridding Wisconsin of Common Core is FIRST on that list!

I thank you for your help over the past few months.  Your help making calls to date has done miracles for Wisconsin’s children.  I’m going to ask you to dig deep, say a prayer for strength and then dedicate an hour of your time on Wednesday to call each Republican Senator asking them to stand up for the children of Wisconsin and rid Wisconsin of Common Core.

I’ve attached to the bottom of this letter a list of Senators to call, along with their phone numbers and emails.

  • Please call as many of them as you can on Wednesday December 18th.
  • Continue calling during the morning of Thursday, December 19th, especially prior 10 am when the senators are likely to caucus.
  • Start with your senator if they’re on the list and make sure to mention you’re in their district.
  • Next, proceed down the list from top to bottom.
  • Be kind and courteous as you ask each senator’s office to take a firm and immediate stand against Common Core.

Your message might go something like this:

“I know that you will be meeting this week to set legislative priorities for the coming year.  The recent hearings on Common Core showed that we must repeal Common Core, withdraw from Smarter Balanced Assessments, and protect our children’s privacy without delay.  Please, in caucusing with your colleagues, take a stand for our children and against Common Core by speaking up about this deeply important issue as you set priorities. This issue is a priority for me and will affect how I vote, as well as my willingness to volunteer and make campaign contributions.  Please speak up boldly and make sure ridding Wisconsin of Common Core is a top priority for Senate Republicans in 2014.”

Please also forward this message to your email lists and share on social media so that more people can help in this effort!

Together we will rid Wisconsin of Common Core!

List of Senators to call (please call them in the order listed):

Frank Lasee
Caucus Chairperson
Phone: 608-266-3512
Email: Sen.Lasee@legis.wisconsin.gov

Michael Ellis
President of the Senate
Phone: 608-266-0718
Email: Sen.Ellis@legis.wisconsin.gov

Scott Fitzgerald
Leader
Phone: 608-266-5660
Email: Sen.Fitzgerald@legis.wisconsin.gov

Joseph Leibham
President Pro Tempore
Phone: 608-266-2056
Email: Sen.Leibham@legis.wisconsin.gov

Glenn Grothman
Assistant Leader
Phone: 608-266-7513
Email: Sen.Grothman@legis.wisconsin.gov

Sheila Harsdorf
Caucus Vice Chairperson
Phone: 608-266-7745
Email: Sen.Harsdorf@legis.wisconsin.gov

Robert Cowles
Phone: 608-266-0484
Email: Sen.Cowles@legis.wisconsin.gov

Alberta Darling
Phone: 608-266-5830
Email: Sen.Darling@legis.wisconsin.gov

Paul Farrow
Co-Chair, Committee on Common Core
Phone: 608-266-9174
Email: Sen.Farrow@legis.wisconsin.gov

Richard Gudex
Phone: 608-266-5300
Email: Sen.Gudex@legis.wisconsin.gov

Neal Kedzie
Phone: 608-266-2635
Email: Sen.Kedzie@legis.wisconsin.gov

Mary Lazich
Phone: 608-266-5400
Email: Sen.Lazich@legis.wisconsin.gov

Terry Moulton
Phone: 608-266-7511
Email: Sen.Moulton@legis.wisconsin.gov

Luther Olsen
Phone: 608-266-0751
Email: Sen.Olsen@legis.wisconsin.gov

Jerry Petrowski
Phone: 608-266-2502
Email: Sen.Petrowski@legis.wisconsin.gov

Dale Shultz
Phone: 608-266-0703
Email: Sen.Schultz@legis.wisconsin.gov

Thomas Tiffany
Phone: 608-266-2509
Email: Sen.Tiffany@legis.wisconsin.gov

Leah Vukmir
Phone: 608-266-2512
Email: Sen.Vukmir@legis.wisconsin.gov

Tony Evers – I Am Above The Law

when-I-adopt-standards

When the legislature passed the 2013-2015 biennial budget, they included language that required Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction to hold three hearings on Common Core Standards by September 30, 2013 and required the Legislature to hold three hearings on Common Core Standards by November 30, 2013.

That did not sit well with Superintendent Tony Evers!  He sent off a letter to Governor Walker, asking that he line item veto this provision.  Evers states: “the budget bill language requires the State Superintendent to adopt new standards and mandates the process for doing so.  This is a challenge to the State Superintendent’s constitutional authority to adopt standards under the general power to supervise public instruction provided in Section 1, Article X, of the Wisconsin Constitution.”  To his credit, Governor Walker clearly preferred that the people’s voice be heard on this matter.  The requirement for hearings remained in Act 20, the 2013-2015 biennial budget that Governor Walker signed into law.

Unable to convince the Governor to stop the hearings, Tony Evers proceeded to simply ignore the directive from the Legislature and the Governor.  September 30th came and went without any mention of hearings by DPI.  With their head buried in the sand, DPI continued to plan for the implementation of Common Core in Wisconsin without hearing from or answering to the people of Wisconsin.

Rep. Robin Vos and Sen. Scott Fitzgerald took the initiative to form a Select Committee on Common Core Standards to fulfill the legislature’s requirement for hearings in Act 20.  Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt and Sen. Paul Farrow were named chairs of the committee and planned four hearings to be held throughout the state in Madison, Fond du Lac, Wausau, and Eau Claire.  They took special care to make sure that hearings ran from 1pm to 8pm in these cities so that working parents and teachers could attend to give testimony.  They gave plenty of notice as to where and when the hearings would be held and made every possible accommodation to hear from all interested parties.

During the first hearing, in Madison, Tony Evers reiterated that he alone had constitutional authority to adopt Common Core Standards for Wisconsin.  Both legislative counsel and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) have weighed in to clearly state that it is the legislature, rather than the Superintendent, that has sole power to set standards for our children.  WILL states in an October 16, 2013 press release: “his [Tony Evers'] claim is baseless and without legal merit.  The Superintendent is incorrect about his authority and incorrect about the power of the Wisconsin legislature.  In Wisconsin, it is the elected policymakers in the legislature that have the ability to determine what standards should be set for our children.”  Nonetheless, Superintendent Evers continued to make veiled threats to sue the legislature should they get in the way of Implementing Common Core.

During the course of four legislative hearings on Common Core, it is fair to say that all sides were allowed to present their case for or against Common Core.  A parade of district superintendents made their case that the standards were higher and deeper, much better than Wisconsin’s 1998 standards, and were helping teachers to be more effective.  National experts like Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Dr. James Milgram, and Ze’ev Wurman talked about how Common Core standards were developmentally inappropriate in early grades and did not adequately prepare students for college and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) careers.  Dr. Gary Thompson pointed out that the Smarter Balanced Assessments, tied to Common Core, were actually a form of psychological abuse for our children.  The point is that all sides were heard.  Much of the hyperbole and rhetoric both for and against common core was tested and our representatives were able to get to the truth at the heart of Common Core.  What is more, the legislature did a fantastic job of ensuring that all sides were heard on the issue.

On December 12 the Assembly Committee on Common Core released its recommendations, and though not calling for a complete repeal of Common Core and associated testing, they clearly found that the people’s concern over this issue was well founded.  Shortly thereafter, stronger questions about Common Core started emerging from the state senate.  Senator Paul Farrow called for Smarter Balanced Assessments to be put on hold in Wisconsin for several years to evaluate their efficacy in other states.  Senator Vukmir called for an outright repeal of Common Core and the aligned Smarter Balanced Assessments.

Representative Knudson, the co-chair of the assembly committee, penned an article calling into serious question DPI’s assertion that it gave adequate opportunity for feedback prior to Tony Evers’ adoption of the standards on June 2, 2010.  By the way, Wisconsin was the very first state in the nation to adopt the standards, within hours of the standards being released.  This was done unilaterally by Tony Evers without any consultation with the legislature.

All of a sudden things weren’t going to well for Tony Evers and his plan to make Wisconsin Common Core compliant.  Though DPI clearly thinks they know better than you about what is good for your children and their future, they seem altogether unwilling to listen to you or your representatives about what you want for your children.  They feel that if we can just get contracts for Common Core supplies, textbooks, training materials, and technology signed then the legislature won’t be able to reverse course.  By the way, the cost of those supplies, textbooks, training materials, and technology is estimated to cost school districts in Wisconsin over $150 million That will show up in your property tax bill, as the state isn’t picking up the tab.  Many of those purchasing decisions need to be made by January 1, 2014.  If it wasn’t for that pesky requirement that DPI hold three hearings before the “pause” on Common Core implementation in Act 20 could be lifted, DPI and Evers would be home free in ramming Common Core through on its own inertia.

What’s an ambitious, imperial Superintendent of Public Instruction to do?  Hold some hearings, that’s what.  On the afternoon of Friday, December 13th, DPI announced that they would be holding three simultaneous hearings across Wisconsin.  Each would only run 3 hours, from 3pm-6pm and would be held on Thursday, December 19th.  Unlike the legislature, these hearings would be held DURING peak work hours, preventing working parents and teachers from attending and giving testimony.  Unlike the legislature, these hearings were given only six days advance notice and holding them simultaneously prevented any single person from attending all the hearings.  What is more, the hearings were scheduled only six days from the Christmas holiday and right smack dab in the middle of holiday shopping season.  It seems that Tony Evers scheduled his hearings perfectly to make sure that input from parents, teachers, and experts were kept to a minimum.  This is a vain attempt to comply with the letter of the law in Act 20 while completely disregarding the spirit of that law… that the people should be heard.

To anyone following Superintendent Evers closely, this should come as no surprise.  He clearly feels that he and his experts know better than you what is best for your children and their education.  He doesn’t want to listen to your complaints about Common Core or how your children are being tested too much.  He doesn’t want to hear how students passion for learning is being diminished as we emphasize subjects that can be assessed with standardized tests and de-emphasize subjects like art, music, shop, and creative writing.

I-dont-want-your-input

No, Tony Evers knows best.  He’s ticked off that he has to do these hearings at all.  He doesn’t think he needs to listen to the legislature, the governor, or you.  I suggest you let him know that he damn well better listen and that he is your servant and not your emperor.

Call Tony Evers at 608-266-1771 and tell him that it’s important to listen to Wisconsin on issues that affect our children.  Tell him parents and teachers should be allowed to weigh in on Common Core and that he should hold hearings on three separate days AFTER the Christmas and New Years holidays.  Tell him that those hearings should cover some after work hours so working parents can attend.

Introducing David Coleman, Lead Architect of CCSS

David Coleman, is the “lead architect” of Common Core State Standards.  Coleman also founded the non-profit Student Achievement Partners and developed the site AchieveTheCore to “guide” publishers in ways to shift their materials to meet the new standards. Coleman also took on the position as the head of the College Board, which runs the SAT college entrance tests. So we have the same person spearheading up standards, curriculum, and test. With an $18 Million grant from GE Foundation, Coleman is well-funded and ready to transform our educational system to create workers for a global economy.

Learn who David Coleman is and you’ll understand a lot about the Common Core.

Coleman said in 2011, “[A]s you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think.

Pardon the language. These words guide the Common Core which places a greater emphasis on “informational texts” for utilitarian purposes rather than fiction or writing personal narratives for that matter.

In his words, “It is rare in a working environment that someone says, “Johnson, I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.

The Atlantic profiled Coleman in 2012,

“ David Coleman’s ideas are not just another wonkish trend. They have been adopted by almost every state, and over the next few years, they will substantively change what goes on in many American classrooms. Soon, as Coleman steps into his new position as the head of the College Board, they may also affect who applies to college and how applicants are evaluated. David Coleman’s ideas, for better or worse, are transforming American education as we know it.

With little debate, the “Gates-led”  Common Core Standards have been adopted by over 45 states. Coleman was right there writing those standards.  (Did you know the standards are copyrighted by a private group, the National Governors Association and the Chief Council of of State School Officers)

New assessments (See Smarter Balanced and PARCC) are currently being written to the standards and scheduled to be implemented in 2014/15 school year.  Coleman is right there making sure the tests match the standard.  He said,

“If you put something on an assessment in my view you are ethically obligated to take responsibility that kids will practice it 100 times.”

Next up, is the national Curriculum written to the standards so that children can “practice it 100 times” before they take the test.  (Look to Pearson for that.)

What is tested is what is taught.  What is taught, is what is thought.  Why parents and publishers are blindly giving up so much to one man’s philosophy of education is mind boggling. Just mind boggling.

Education policy expert, Diana Ravitch has spoken against the Common Core and asks the question that should be on the mind of every parent in America, “Is there not something unseemly about placing the fate and the future of American education in the hands of one man?”

What Do Common Core State Standards Mean for Students?

Here are some of the dire implications of Common Core State Standards for students:

  • More time spent taking standardized tests
  • „More time preparing for standardized tests
  • Less inspiration from teachers, because they’re restricted in lesson plans and delivery of material
  • „Less time spent in creative endeavors like Music,  Art, Creative Writing, etc.
  • „Less one-on-one time with teachers
  • More time on collective projects with other students
  • „Students and Teachers are seen more as peers
  • „Constructivism and Deconstructionism
  • „Students will not start with Algebra until 9th grade and it will be nearly impossible to do Calculus before graduating high school.
  • „Students will be exposed to fewer great works of literature and more emphasis will be placed on factual material
  • „CCSS admits it prepares students for technical school, NOT college

What Do Common Core State Standards Mean for Tax Payers, School Districts and States?

Here are some of the dire implications of Common Core State Standards for Tax Payers, School Districts and the States:

  • „Current state adopted textbooks will not align with CCSS approved textbooks – $$$ School Districts and Tax Payers pick up the tab!
  • „CCSS will require extensive professional development of school administrators and teaching staff – $$$ School Districts and Tax Payers pick up the tab!
  • „CCSS will require longitudinal databases to be purchased and operated by states – $$$ States and Tax Payers pick up the tab!
  • „CCSS will require large investments in technology for doing standardized testing at the local level – $$$ School Districts and Tax Payers pick up the tab!

Note that for almost all ongoing costs to implement Common Core State Standards, local school districts will be responsible for the bulk of the cost and states will pick up the rest.  Ultimately the tax payer pays for it all!

What Do Common Core State Standards Mean for Teachers?

Here are just a few of the dire implications of Common Core State Standards for teachers:

  • „CCSS has embedded pedagogy or “how to teach” information that mandates exactly what and how teachers should teach
  • „Assessments will ensure that teachers follow the embedded pedagogy to the letter or they will suffer consequences
  • „Performance of students on CCSS standardized tests will impact merit pay and promotions for teachers
  • „Teachers will not be able to individualize curriculum to students
  • „Teachers will not be able to be creative in how they deliver lessons
  • „Teachers and Students seen as peers
  • Education now more about filling a bucket than lighting a fire

Who Wins With Common Core State Standards?

„Just who wins if Common Core State Standards are adopted?

Those developing material and technology for use with CCSS

  • „Longitudinal Database Systems
  • „Touchpad Test Taking Devices
  • „Textbook Publishers
  • „Professional Development Training for Administrators and Teachers
  • „Testing Companies

„Big Business

  • „The players behind Common Core are large corporations aiming to massively grow profits by getting all students on the exact same new learning schedule. You could rename this Corporate Core.

„Big Government

  • „Cradle to Grave Tracking of Students
  • „End of Federalism and Local Control
  • Rise of Regionalization/Nationalization