Monday, May 27, 2013

Michigan Battle is Intensifying

I ran into Michigan State Senator Colbeck this morning at a Memorial Day Parade.   I asked him about Common Core and how solidly he was against it.  The vote is coming up to de-fund it and he said the pressure is intense.  Governor Snyder is bringing in dignitaries to try and strong arm lawmakers.  Colbeck added, "But you don't have to worry about me."   I hope not but I am not taking any chances.     

Here's an email being sent out by the Michigan Association of School Boards get those in favor of Common Core to rally their troops. 
Support Common Core - contact your legislator
This week, the House and Senate will be voting on a Michigan Department of Education budget bill that will effectively prohibit Michigan from participating in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative.  This language was inserted into the budget without ANY testimony or public input, or any consideration of the cost of students and schools.  There is a proposed compromise which would allow participation to continue while the Legislature commences a study of the Common Core.

Tell your Legislator that in order for students to compete in a knowledge-based, global economy, Michigan needs consistent standards that will provide appropriate benchmarks for all students.  Our schools are now four years and millions of dollars down the road toward adopting the CCSS.  Changing course now will put our students and schools at a severe disadvantage that could last for years.
What's almost laughable about this is that in 2010 Common Core was pushed through with NO debate and no cost analysis and now they are crying foul about it in a budget bill? 

Common Core advocates say it’s too late to de-fund the standards.
 ”This train has already left the station,” said Michael Yocum, executive director of learning services for Oakland Schools, the county’s intermediate school district. “We are so far down the road now.” Yocum is overseeing the implementation of the standards throughout the county’s school districts.  (Source: Detroit Free Press)
But when a train is headed in the wrong direction, it’s never too late.  It’s time for Michigan lawmakers to get off the Common Core train.   Our children’s futures are riding on their decision this Tuesday.

We can win it.  We must win it.     

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Huckabee Supports Common Core

To the shock of many in the homeschool movement, Mike Huckabee has voiced his support for Common Core.  
“Parents and people involved in their local schools should let it be known that core standards are valuable, and they’re not something to be afraid of—they are something to embrace.”
I"m not shocked at all.   I wrote a whole series of posts about Huckabee back in 2007 demonstrating why he was NOT a good choice for homeschoolers despite the endorsement of HSLDA-PAC
"It was a priority for me to develop more accessible and effective preschool programs and to make dramatic changes in both access and affordability in higher education. We developed a seamless curriculum from pre-K through college so that there was coordination and continuity throughout the educational process." (From Hope to Higher Ground, by Mike Huckabee, p. 43-45)
Education has been a signature issue for Mike Huckabee. While his resume is impressive, it signals that he has accepted many of the liberal reforms of those seeking to remove local control in education in favor of national curriculum and standards. The primer on P-16 was written in 2001 by the Education Commission of the States (ECS). Mike Huckabee was chairman of the (ECS) from 2004 to 2006. During his tenure, he did not challenge or attempt to undo any of these reforms, preferring to concentrate on music and art in education. In 2004, he participated in the task force for "Redesigning the American High School" chaired by Democrat Governor Mark Warner of Virginia. This task force was funded in large part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which seeks to align education standards both nationally and internationally.
These reforms which he was so much a part of creating, what are now known as Common Core.  I hope homeschoolers finally see him for who he really is, the Huckster out for what is best for Huckabee NOT homeschoolers.   

Hucakbee issued a "clarification" that is not any better.  
My statement on the Common Core has been misconstrued. While I believe such standards make sense for public schools in math and English, I support parents' freedom of choice to educate their children however they want, including homeschooling, regardless of the standards that are applied in a public school setting."
He either is lying or he does not understand the reforms he pushed through and they will impact every child in the US no matter where they are educated.   Either way his clarification does him no help at at all. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Common Core fight goes to Congress

Rep. Martha Roby, R-Alabama, introduced the The Defending State Authority Over Education Act, which would "prohibit the federal government from offering grants or policy waivers contingent on a state's use of certain curricula or assessment policies." 
"The executive branch has exceeded its appropriate reach where state education policy is concerned, and it's time to rein it in," Roby said in a press release.
The Defending State Authority Over Education Act, Roby said, will "prevent undue influence by the federal government."
"Local and state leaders -- those who have direct interaction with parents and teachers in their communities -- are best positioned to determine policies that affect Alabama's students," she said. "Washington bureaucrats are not."
This is something everyone, Republican and Democrat, who believe in local/parental control should get behind.  Call your Representative and ask him/her to support The Defending State Authority Over Education Act.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

Four Components of a National Education System

As I've been speaking about the common core it has become clear that people know a little bit about some of it but few understand how all the pieces fit together.    This post is by no mean comprehensive but it puts all four of the key components of education reform together and will hopefully help parents understand why this not just the Common Core but the entire reform is a problem.

There are four components to the "defacto" national education that together comprise the P-20 centralized system.   Common Core and the push for national standards is as much an economic reform as it is an education reform.  Anyone educated outside the P-20 system is at a disadvantage in college and career advancement. 

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said in 2011, " It is time that we view our educational system which runs from pre-natal to lifelong learning. It’s time to start talking about P-20 instead of just K-12. We need to establish a system that focuses on real achievement for all of our children."

1. Standards: These are the Common Core (math and ELA) along with Next Generation
Science and C3 Social studies. Common Core has already been adopted by 45 states and the other two standards are being considered in many states right now.

2. Assessments: These are the tests to go with the new standards. What is tested is what is taught. What is taught is what is thought. Currently there are two assessments being implemented in 44 states. Smarter Balanced and PARCC. Combined these will eventually become a national test to be given to all students. SBA tests are computer adaptive. Which means that questions become easier for those that miss a question and harder for those that get it right. So that begins the tracking and filtering of kids toward a certain career based on testing.

3. Curricula: What is tested must be practiced 100 times. That's a paraphrase of David Coleman's statement. Coleman was chief architect of the Common Core and now is head of the College Board which runs the AP and the SAT test. Curricula is being developed to go along with the tests. And the AP and SAT along with ACT are all being aligned to the tests. curricula will follow. Pearson who wrote the science standards and the assessments is already developing much of it.

4. Data Tracking: This is the place where the teacher and student data is stored. Yes, data mining is a concern. But not the only one. Those outside the database will be at a disadvantage in college admission and employment. There curriculum will be challenged as not as rigorous to the high national standards and the curricula developed to those standards. Teachers will be "graded" and tracked on well they teach the new standards, insuring that they don't deviate too greatly from the script. Students will be graded and tracked on well they learn the new standards. All leading toward a centralized data system that crosses state lines and leads to a portable credential accepted by employers and colleges. Already many colleges are using a "Common Application" that is ONE application for over 400 colleges. A "valid" e-transcript is the ticket to travel to the next destination after high school. The only way to get a ticket to ride the P-20 system is to participate in their system. The data tracking includes over 400 unique identifiers that are not just academic. Any guesses where a Christian homeschooler might be placed on such a measure?
Common standards + Common tests + Common curricula + Common data tracking = P - 20 seamless educational system.

These four components outline a European-style national education system here in the US. 
This is where homeschooled and private schooled  who do not complete coursework not aligned with Common Core and are not "tracked" could potentially encounter problems.

Six students in a private Christian school were denied admission into college because some of their coursework (A Beka and Bob Jones) was not acceptable by the University of California system.  They lost their court battle.

But even those with children in the public school will be penalized if they hold certain beliefs. 

Consider the response to the just released Next Generation Science Standards by Richard Hull, executive director of the Text and Academic Authors Association,

"Students who are educated in accordance with them will have a better chance for success in college courses and in competition on the employment market than those steeped in creationism design, new earth theory, and other alternative accounts."
How much more clear can it be that this is about conformity of thought and not high academic standards?

For a more detailed analysis of Common Core and these various components, you can go to Common Core and click on the various posts I have written on the subject

Friday, May 03, 2013

MI Homeschoolers and Common Core

Common Core and related standards and assessments are a defacto national standard and are part of the process to create a P-20 seamless pathway from school to the work force.  Make no mistake about it, the standards and related assessments will affect homeschoolers.    Homeschoolers know this and are making our opposition known to lawmakers.

We must be making an impact because the Michigan Department of Education issued a special "fact sheet" about Common Core and homeschoolers (PDF).  to be distributed to state lawmakers who are apparently fielding a lot of calls about Common Core.
Are home school parents and students required to adopt the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and develop a curriculum to align with the CCSS?  
No. Home school parents /guardians and students are not required to adopt, develop a curriculum, or follow the Common Core State Standards.
The fact that we are not REQUIRED to adopt or follow the CCSS does not mean that we are immune to the consequences of a defacto national educational system.  All students, regardless of where they attend school must be included in the P-20 seamless pathway.  Much to the frustration of the Michigan Department of Education,  homeschoolers are outside the pathway.

Homeschool students do not have to register with the state of Michigan unless they require special services.   MI Representative Stanley introduced a bill earlier this year to get homeschool students to report attendance but it hasn't gone anywhere. There is another avenue: assessments.

The Michigan Department of Education fact sheet curiously addresses the privacy concerns in the Smarter Balanced Assessments even though homeschool students are NOT required to take any assessment.
Student Data Collection
Will answers to Smarter Balanced Assessments be stored individually for each student?
Yes.  Answers to Smarter Balanced test items will be collected and securely stor for individual students.  This is necessary to compile and provide accurate achievement
reports for students, educators and parents.  
This "fact sheet" distributed to Michigan lawmakers is NOT factual at all.  Currently, Michigan requires the MEAP for grades 3-9 and MME for all high school students.  In a rhetorical slight of hand, the Michigan Department of Education transitions away from MEAP/MME to Smarter Balanced Assessment without any explanation.

Michigan homeschool students are exempt from state-mandated tests and that would include the SBA if it were to be adopted.  Replacing the MME with the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) would require an act of the legislature, so why include it in a fact sheet when it currently does not apply to homeschooolers and SBA has not been adopted?

The SBA is one of two consortia developing a test to align with the Common Core.  There are 22 states in each consoritum the other is known as PARCC.  If  the Michigan legislature and the other states adopt a common test this creates a defacto national test.   It also easily ushers in a national, portable, credentialed "valid" diploma recognized by colleges and employers around the country.  They only way a homeschool student can earn that credentialed diploma is take the high-stakes state SBA offered solely by the state of Michigan.  A student who does not take the test could be perceived to be less qualified simply because they didn't take the SBA. So while homeschoolers won't be FORCED to align or test using the SBA, the consequences of NOT taking it are potentially significant.

Remember, education reform is also an economic reform.  Michigan  Governor Snyder views education as a mechanism to link children to their future careers.   Work force development depends on accurate testing and tracking data, P-20. All students must be in the system and that includes Michigan homeschoolers. 

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Stop Common Core in Michigan (and every where else)

Citizens for Traditional Values has put together a great one page resource that is your one stop link to everything you need to know to get up on Common Core quickly.   Some of the information is specific to Michigan but it the general info is pertinent to every state.   Great to pass along in an email or on Facebook.

There is a Stop Common Core in Michigan Facebook page too. 

I'll be speaking on Common Core in Lansing, next week at the INCH Convention.   If you are a homeschooler,  Common Core and related standards and assessments will affect you too.

And if you're not from Michigan but want to find out where to get connected in your state visit Truth in American Education

Get informed and get active.  We're making a difference. 

The President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, called for a moratorium on Common Core tests.   She's a proponent of the standards but this may help slow the process down and allow for more examination of the standards.   A good sign.