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1417FW: Common Core .. Not the answer.

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  • Lois Kaneshiki
    Oct 8, 2013

      This was forwarded from my friend in Clearfield County -- Lois


      -----Original Message-----
      From: jfballiet@... [mailto:jfballiet@...] On Behalf Of John Balliet
      Tuesday, October 08, 2013 1:43 PM

      Dear Sponsors and friends,


      For those of you who were unable to attend our recent forum on Common Core Curriculum standards, attached please find an excellent article on the forum published in our local Sunday paper.


      Thank you for your continued support!


      In Liberty,


      John Balliet

      Executive Director



      TURN is an educational non-profit organization based in DuBois, PA.  

      Your tax deductible donations may be sent to:



      PO Box 139 

      Du Bois, PA 15801







      page A9Answer 

      given to the U.S. Department of Education to be divided among the states which made a commitment to educational reforms to benefit students from early learning through post-secondary. The remaining $5 billion was to be awarded competitively under the “Race to the Top” and “Investing In What Works and Innovation.” Pennsylvania’s total State Fiscal Stabilization Fund allocation was $1,905,620,952, with $1,558,797,939 of that total allocated to the Education Stabilization Fund and $346,823,013 to the Government Services Fund.

      “Freedom from Excellence”

      In their commitment, the states had to say they are: • Making progress toward rigorous college- and careerready standards and high-quality assessments that are valid and reliable for all students, including English language learners and students with disabilities.

      • Establishing pre-K-to-college and career data systems that track progress and foster continuous improvements.

      Luksik said when the proponents of the standards mention them, they always begin with the word, “rigorous.” “It’s a marketing technique. They never use a synonym,” Luksik said. Who could ever be opposed to rigorous standards that would make America’s children college and career-ready? she asked.

      Then the definition of “rigorous” began to emerge, Luksik said. To quote the training materials being used with teachers across Pennsylvania, rigor does not mean “difficult, as AP calculus is difficult.” “To meet these ‘rigorous’ new standards and be able to graduate from high school, America’s students will have to pass algebra I,” Luksik said. “The only math class that our students have to demonstrate they have passed in order to get a diploma is algebra 1.” In testimony before the PA Senate Education Committee earlier this year, a proponent of these standards was asked about this situation. He responded that a graduate only needed algebra I to be “career-ready” – which he clarified by specifying that he was referring to working a service or manufacturing job or joining the military, Luksik said.

      “I took algebra II in eighth grade,” Luksik said.

      In pre-Common Core high schools, students took algebra II in either 10th or 11th grade so they can take calculus before graduation. Algebra II is not considered college-level math – students who need to take it in college do so in a remedial setting, Luksik said. The advanced placement level math is calculus. But in a recent interview, the vice president of the College Board stated that calculus is not part of the Common Core sequence. He said that in Common Core, educators are asked to slow the math progression down.

      Well, if schools slow the math progression down, then algebra II would, in fact, move to the AP level, Luksik said. The schools didn’t move student achievement up, they moved the level for success down, she said.

      Luksik asked if anyone believes that students in Singapore or Germany or Japan are having the math progression in their schools slowed down.

      Previously, schools were supposed to open doors so children from any background would have the chance to achieve their dreams, she said. Educational programs were not aimed at what a child “only needed” – they were aimed at giving each child as many options as possible. They aimed a child at the ceiling instead of the floor.

      Who decides which students will be allowed to continue learning and which will be stopped at “the skills they need to do their jobs?” Luksik said.

      Luksik said there is also a fundamental contradiction in the marketing message.

      The proponents of Common Core sell the program by saying it’s about the children of our military who often must transfer from one school to another. These children, we are told, need every school to be the same so they won’t ever move to a new school that is behind their old one, Luksik said.

      At the same time, the proponents say that no school is limited to the standards as they are written, and they fully expect that some schools will go beyond the mandated performance levels, Luksik said.

      “If some schools go beyond, then they aren’t all going to be the same, are they?” Luksik said.

      It’s a great marketing ploy, as long as no one notices that the claim is that Common Core will result in schools that are simultaneously the same and different from each other, she said.

      “Freedom from Privacy”

      The Pennsylvania information Management System is the federally-mandated longitudinal database that is used for Common Core.

      In the database, every child is assigned a unique identification number which enables that child to be tracked from pre-school through college and into the workforce. Data includes academic, financial and health information on each student and family.

      There is no parental consent before student information is collected or shared, she said.

      “The problem with this data system is that it is controlled by the government,” Luksik said. “You probably didn’t know that your children were in it. You have no control over where it goes, who has access and how long it follows your students. And you can’t opt out.” Student data includes race, ethnicity, economic status and questions like is the student in the school lunch program. Parents are now asked to give their IRS tax return to be verified for the school lunch program, she said. Other questions include if a student has been involved in bullying, special education programs, ever needed counseling and what special activities they do.

      Changes in federal language now allow any entity with a “legitimate educational interest” to access the data. That list includes researchers and vendors, she said.

      “Freedom from Accountability”

      In the Common Core structure, the state sets the standards, creates the curriculum, delivers the curriculum, defines successful performance, develops the assessment tests, administers the tests, scores the tests and reports on the results.

      The IRS would not accept financial records like these, Luksik said. The SEC would reject corporate records structured this way, she said, and the FDA would not approve a medicine based on this kind of evidence. They require external, independent audits of costs and effectiveness, she said.

      Yet this closed “internal audit” is the only evaluation method made available to parents, teachers and taxpayers, Luksik said.

      She asked why the education bureaucracy gets to hide the actual costs and results of Common Core. She also asked why Common Core is exempt from real accountability.

      The Common Core program will also include computer adaptive testing in which they can make the test match the child’s level of knowledge, Luksik said.

      “They are telling you that this is a valid and reliable test,” Luksik said. “A valid and reliable test is the same test under same conditions so you actually know what you are measuring.” But during the Keystone tests, students can be given additional time to complete the test, she said. Instead of measuring the child against the test, the new standards measure the test against the child.

      “So the state can set proficient wherever it wants,” Luksik said. “And all the parents know is that little Johnny knows he got proficient. And you can’t compare these results because every year the state changes what it means to be proficient. You don’t know that. All you know is that you got told that your child was proficient. These scores, in fact, are meaningless. They are not valid and they are not reliable.” “Freedom from Local Control”

      Under Common Core, the state administers mandatory assessments based on the standards. The results are used for student promotion or graduation, teacher evaluation and school district reward or punishment.

      The PA Department of Education has a “voluntary” curriculum online, called the Standards Aligned System Portal, aligned with Common Core.

      PDE representatives stated in March 2010, “the SAS portal is available to school districts, but everybody has got to teach to our standards. And everybody has got to implement our high school end-of-course exams. So in order for them to successfully get to their high school exams, they are going to need to access all that stuff…,” Luksik said.

      If every district must teach the one curriculum that is aligned to the one assessment that measures the one standard or face negative consequences for students, teachers and schools, Luksik asked what happened to local control.

      “The last time I looked, mandatory and voluntary were not synonyms,” Luksik said.

      Defending Common Core

      In August, Luksik said state Department of Education appeared in front of the House Education Committee to defend Common Core.

      “In their defense, they said we have to do Common Core because if you go to a McDonalds in Erie and buy a hamburger and then you go to the McDonalds in Philadelphia and buy a hamburger, they are the same hamburger. The product is the same,” Luksik said. She said it was stated that they want “the product of our education system, no matter where you are in the state, to be the same. And they named the product of the education system. They called them widgets.” The definition of a widget is “a little device or mechanism, especially one whose name is unknown or forgotten,” Luksik said.

      Luksik said when she looks at her granddaughter, she doesn’t see a widget. “It’s very disturbing to me that the Department of Education does,” she said. “It is very disturbing to me that the Department of Education is calling our children the product of the education system and comparing them to hamburgers at McDonalds. Does anybody really think that what they do to ground meat to make it hamburger is a benefit to the ground meat?

      “When did our children become a product of the education system?” Luksik said. “And if they’re the product, who’s the client? See you don’t do things for the benefit of the product. You do something to the product for the client. And so what Common Core is doing is changing the client of the education system and making the child the product.

      “Well when I look at her, I don’t see a product and I will use every ounce of strength that I have to make sure that nobody else sees her that way, either. I beg you to think of that face in your life,” Luksik said.

      After her presentation, Luksik answered questions and comments from several members of the audience of about 50 people.

      One was from DuBois Area School District Director Roland Bechtel who said, as a board member, he had no say on this issue.

      “It went on pretty much without the knowledge of anyone and it is in existence,” Bechtel said. “There is a lot of cost in this at the local level. What do we do about it now?” “Local school boards are beginning to adopt resolutions saying they are against it,” Luksik said. “Why isn’t there a cost analysis? All of the documents are online.” She urged everyone to contact their local state representatives and ask them what they are doing to stop Common Core.

      “Elected officials can undo anything that a bureaucracy does. Legislators had no idea this was happening. More and more parents are screaming their heads off at the nonsense that is happening in the math and English classes across the state,” Luksik said.

      “It’s never too late unless one side gives up,” Luksik said. “We have to be (as) persistent as our opponents. How do you defend lowering the standards?”