I have more installments of my Rotten to the Core series on the federalized national curriculum “standards” coming next week. (See parts one and two here and here.) In the meantime, I’m sharing several of the e-mails pouring in from teachers, parents, and activists across the country who are fighting this juggernaut across the country.
From a history teacher:
I am anxiously awaiting the next installment in your Rotten to the Core series. As a history teacher, the Common Core Standards don’t have much of an impact on my teaching (yet – and to my understanding). The whole of this program seems to be shrouded in edu-speak and double talk (which are mostly the same).
In addition to the Common Core, we were given an intro to another change coming to my district… and from what I’ve seen, it is spreading to districts across the country. The new model for teaching is Strategic Planning Strategies (based on Cambridge Strategies), which include Applied Learning (seems similar to problem based learning – students focus on and develop a solution to a problem facing their community). We were shown a video, which listed beliefs held by my district. There were immediately a some statements that stood out, including a belief that “cultural proficiency leads to equity and removes barriers to opportunity” – especially troubling was when a teacher asked for clarification on what was meant by “cultural proficiency”, we were told by our administrator that she didn’t know.
Another statement that stood out, was that we were going to educate students “from cradle to career”. I’ve looked up the keywords of this program and found this website (http://www.suny.edu/educationpipeline/cradletocareer.cfm) that seeks to use this model to form a “framework for civic infrastructure” that is based on this program…
… I see this as another path of indoctrination “from cradle to career”.
From an English teacher:
Dear Ms. Malkin,
I just wanted to email my appreciation of your scathing attack on the new Common Core standards. As a high school teacher myself, I feel inclined to share with you that I am neither a democrat, nor a republican, and I’m personally not for the whole vilification of one administration over another. The thesis of your article, however, is in the right place. I’d like to bypass the back-and-forth rhetoric of your comment thread and let you know that we teachers feel the same way you do, and we are powerless to make a change in what they will allow us to teach. (It is at this point that I must disagree with Mr. Wurman’s assessment, “Moreover, there are organizations that have reasons to work for lower and less-demanding standards, specifically teachers unions’ and professional teacher organizations. While they may not admit it, they have a vested interest in lowering the accountability bar for their members. . . .” We have no interest in lowering the accountability bar. We did not take up teaching for the sake of having an “easy gig”.)
In fact, we were just in a department meeting for English teachers last week, and I had spoken up, asking why we can’t diagram sentences. You probably would’ve been pleased by the number of teachers who applauded the idea before we were shot down by our department head.
It needs to be stated that there are a great many teachers who DO NOT support Common Core, yet can do nothing about it, as we are being told what to teach and how to teach it, despite our instincts otherwise. In truth, nothing is going to improve with Federal involvement in education, because any politician who would try to take down Common Core or NCLB would be committing “political suicide”. Perhaps that is a point you can make in future articles?
All the best,
From a school board member:
I just read the Rotten to the Core articles. I am disgusted to say the least, and worse yet, I am a school board member who did not do my homework. I was a “low information voter.” We adopted the Common Core Standards by applying for Race to The Top. I had a gut feeling that if it was money from the government it couldn’t be good. Unfortunately I didn’t go with my gut feeling this time. I am at a loss as where to go from here. I have mentioned our English curriculum to the administrator, and he said we are going to start implementing a new curriculum.
I feel I am a minority on our board and need to start speaking up, where does one go from here? I am at a loss.
From education reform activist Dawn Llewellyn:
A new “fuzzy” math program (College Preparatory Mathematics – CPM) is being piloted in our district and likely to be voted and purchased in April. CPM teaches more social skills than mathematics. Fairfield Curriculum Leaders stress the impetus for change to this math program is the Common Core Standards…
We would love for you to cover this story… please consider it!
Just to fill you in–I am part of the parent advocacy group that is fighting the imminent adoption of CPM in our middle and high schools in Fairfield, CT. The district secretly implemented it without BOE approval and we’re trying to challenge them on the technicality of state statutes that require BOE to approve texts. In the meantime, we’re educating parents on the failure of reform math, in particularly CPM.
Unfortunately, we are up against a BOE that thinks the curriculum leaders are “experts.” The curriculum leaders are justifying this transition to a new math program with Common Core and the Mathematical Practices’ call for justifying one’s work and critiquing others,’ etc.
At all five math nights in our district, our administrators have misrepresented the practices by saying “conceptual understanding must come before skill.”
Our district was recently cited in the The Atlantic. Barry Garelick states that “schools are adopting an inquiry method of learning, in which children are supposed to discover knowledge for themselves” but he states that districts are misinterpreting the verbiage of the common core.”
Mr. Garelick also wrote to me and directed me to a comment in the blog of this article from one of the main authors of the common core standards. McCallum states that the standards do not say that conceptual understanding must come first and explicitly on page 5 of the standards it says: “these standards do not dictate curriculum or teaching methods.” Our curriculum leaders continue to present misinformation to parents, either because they are do not understand the common core math practices or they are intentionally misleading our community to push an alternative agenda.
CPM is a prescriptive form of teaching mathematics with social engineering as the guiding principle: social responsibility, equity, multidimensional classrooms, group think vs teacher instruction, etc. “Complex Instruction” is the guiding principles behind CPM instructional method.(see article about “complex instruction”). If this program is adopted by our district, there has and will continue to be a push to sell this program (CPM) to our surrounding districts who are also looking for ways to get students “ready for the 21st century”. This program is dumbing down Mathematics!
Our group noticed that NBC recently covered a story on “Is Algebra Necessary?” with a tie in to Jo Boaler…Jo Boaler is a proponent of CPM. She and Megan Staples did a research study called Railside ( an urban school in CA – San Lorenzo) with CPM. Her research is being seriously challenged by math professors (Bishop, Wayne, and Clopton) who are questioning the validity of this study. Megan Staples is a UConn Professor who has been observing Algebra I classes in our district this year (without parents’ knowledge) and she is on the Fairfield Curriculum Review Committee (which is only looking at this program and nothing else). http://video.msnbc.msn.com/nightly-news/50264372#50264372
(See studies attached to review her study and the controversy)
Our group has spoken to numerous professors and advocacy groups on the west coast about this program, as well as advocacy groups and professors on the east coast (penfield, ny/ brandford, ct/ Yale Univeristy/ Brown University) about other reform math programs (IMP) and CPM. These programs have unproven track records, yet are still around. I urge you to look at our website www.fairfieldmathadvocates.com
From Dean Kalahar, a Florida teacher of nearly 30 years:
Michelle, (Miss Malkin), your common core work is significant.
You may use any of my research and articles to add weight and facts. I have been fighting a revisionist battle for some time. If you read the facts provided, you will be shocked. By the way, I’m a 28 year veteran teacher.
From parent activist Beth Schultz in Maine:
Thanks so much for exposing the Common Core State Standards. Alarms when off in my head when my three children were in kindergarten, second & third grades. These were exposed to Everyday Math. I followed the money in our state (Maine) and found out how this curriculum was forced onto our public schools (via the Maine Math and Science Alliance). There was no hope of educating my School Board on my concerns with Everyday Math.
Then, I read about the Common Core State Standards. It didn’t take me long to put two and two together to figure out the “big picture” concerns with the CCSS. I took a day off of work and testified AGAINST the CCSS (with 2 other parents) to the Maine Education Committee ( http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/jt_com/edu.htm ). My comments are on public record. I presented to the Committee the concerns of Dr. Stotsky and Dr. Milgr[a]m. Even the Republicans on the Ed Committee didn’t “get it.”
They all voted in favor of Maine’s adoption of the CCSS (I also met with Gov. LePage twice to warn him). I tell parents, if they want to figure out what is going on their children’s education, they need to attend the state Ed Committee meetings, not their local Board Meeting. After the CCSS are implemented, there will no longer be any reason to attend local Board meeting, because parents will have NO influence in curricula or standards.
From parent activist Sue Peterson in Minnesota:
Thank you so much for calling attention to the Common Core Standards and Race to the Top!!!
I became an activist on 1998 when NCLB was law and the standards movement started to expand nationwide.
In MN a grassroots movement that involved Michele Bachmann, helped get her elected, first as a state senator & now congresswoman.
It doesn’t matter which party is the majority in D.C., the unconstitutional invasion of the education cartel nation-wide seems unstoppable.
We have at least one generation who does not know our nations founding primary documents, and I believe this is by design.
Locally we are now battling the re-writing of state social studies standards that teach America is evil. The cartel I’m sure has their hand in this.
Please! Please! Please!
Do not let this issue go away!! For the sake of our nation!
Most people aren’t even aware of CCS or RTTT and the background.
You have the exposure we don’t have.