J. Pepper Bryars, who grew up in Mobile and lives in Huntsville, is a conservative columnist for AL.com. Contact him at [email protected].
Alabama’s conservative State Legislature should have severed our connection to Common Core years ago, but thanks to a rather muddled opposition effort and lack of responsiveness from our lawmakers, the disastrous scheme not only survived initial repeal efforts but it’s now on the verge of becoming a settled issue.
Just ask Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh about any further attempts to replace the standards.
“I don’t think this body really wants to deal with it, yet it keeps coming up and taking up time,” Marsh said earlier this year after a vote to repeal Common Core was postponed. “Hopefully, we addressed it for the last time today, but if it keeps coming up I will vote against it.”
With a bit of luck, the recent appointment of Michael Sentance as our state’s superintendent of public schools will cause lawmakers like Marsh to take another look at the growing body of evidence against the scheme.
Sentance has been an opponent of Common Core in the past and recently worked to have it thrown out in Massachusetts, where he once served as the state’s secretary of education.
While it remains unclear what Sentance will say about Common Core once he’s in Montgomery, he obviously hasn’t been fooled by the cleverly marketed yet woefully inadequate, completely unproven, and thoroughly domineering national system of standards. He saw first hand how Massachusetts was forced to lower its otherwise high standards to meet the scheme’s goal of redefining “success” as whatever the lowest common denominator was nationwide.
That’s what the “common” in Common Core is really all about: leveling the outcome so that all students end up with the same amount of education, and that’s achieved not by lifting the stragglers up, but by pulling the achievers down.
Sound familiar? It should, because that’s the basis of every other centrally planned scheme that we’ve suffered through.
To be fair to Marsh and others who support the standards, Common Core may have sounded like a good idea five years ago, perhaps even two years ago, but the actual results are now coming in and they’re all indicating the same thing: we’ve been fooled.
They sold the untested plan as a set of rigorous standards that would prepare our children for competitive colleges and challenging careers. But they’re not. They’re weaker, far weaker in fact, than other proven standards that we could have adopted.
Take mathematics, for instance. Jason Zimba, one of the primary authors of the math standards, admitted during a meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in 2010 that Common Core wasn’t actually designed to prepare students for selective universities or careers in the science, technology, engineering, or mathematics fields (STEM). It’s meant to be average, or “common,” and not rigorous at all.
If your child wants to be an engineer or enter another STEM-related field, shouldn’t you be concerned that our state has imposed a substandard standard upon his school? Or maybe you agree with Marsh and wish people would just quit bothering you about this “settled” issue.
We all want the best education for our children, but conservatives should have known better.
Anything planned in secret by a small group of unelected and unaccountable liberals, that wasn’t tried and tested in any sizable district or for any serious length of time, and was imposed without thoughtful debate was sure to be chock full of unintended consequences … and even a few intended ones that wouldn’t have passed if widely known.
Now we’re nearly stuck with it, and that’s also by design.
Before, local communities could change their district’s education policies – standards, texts, tests, etc. — because we vote on a school board who controls those things.
Now, if you have a concern with these new national standards, your local school board will simply pass the buck to the state school board, who’ll then pass the buck to the U.S. Department of Education … where it’ll become forever lost in an ocean of unaccountable and unresponsive bureaucracy. Your congressman might write them a strongly worded letter, but that’s about it.
Hopefully, the buck will now stop with Sentance, and he’ll help put an end to Common Core in Alabama.
Here are six testimonies in support of SB60.
The fourth video of this Project Veritas series on Common Core shows a former executive for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the country’s second leading textbook publishing company, alleging that the textbook industry is more about politics and money than education. Again, Project Veritas undercover journalists used hidden video cameras to capture what text book executives would never say in public. See entire video here.
The third video of this Project Veritas series on Common Core shows a former executive for Pearson, the country’s leading textbook publishing company, admitting that elements of Common Core intentionally push elitist indoctrination upon students.
In James O’Keefe’s latest video, Kimberly Koerber, a former executive for Pearson who now works for National Geographic, was caught on camera justifying the Common Core curriculum on the grounds of anti-American and unconstitutional values. See video here.
This second video of this series shows an account executive at Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt, the country’s second leading textbook publishing company and profiteer of Common Core, admitting that Common Core is never about the kids.
“It’s never about the kids,” is how Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt Strategic Account Manager Amelia Petties reveals how the textbook industry prioritizes profits over students, echoing the comments of her colleague Dianne Barrow who was featured in the first Project Veritas Common Core video of this series. Barrow’s employment with Houghton-Mifflin was terminated at the time of the release of that video. See entire video here.
Open Letter to ALABAMA LEGISLATORS
From: Eunie Smith, President
Leslie Whitcomb, Education Chairman
Sadly, the latest NAEP results place Alabama dead last on Math and English, a significant decline from where we were before Common Core when Alabama had been trending upward. The 2011 Alabama State Department of Education document here touted:
“In 2011 Alabama moved from near last to 25th in the nation in overall grades and scores [Education Week assessment] … 12th in the nation for standards, assessments and accountability… data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed a historic gain of eight points in fourth grade Reading for Alabama public school students – the … highest gain ever in NAEP recorded history. Since then, Alabama has maintained its progress in NAEP assessments.” But that was before common core implementation in 2012 in Math and 2013 in English. See graphs and charts below.
According to PARCA,
“The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) is a battery of tests given every two years
to a representative sample of students in all 50 states. The test is designed to serve as a national scorecard, allowing comparison of educational performance across the states.
The 2015 results are out. They’re disappointing for the nation at large, and for Alabama, in particular.
In 2015, Alabama’s average math score, in both 4th and 8th grade, was the lowest of any state.Between 2013 and 2015, Alabama’s average score declined in both grades.
Among U.S. states, Alabama had the lowest percentage of students scoring proficient in 4th
and 8th grade. Only 26 percent of 4th graders and 17 percent of 8th graders scored high enough on the NAEP to be considered grade-level proficient in math.
While Alabama’s higher poverty rate puts it at something of a competitive disadvantage in national comparisons, a deeper look shows it’s not Alabama’s demographics skewing the results. Name the group – black, white, Hispanic, poverty and non-poverty – all perform worse than their peers in all other states.” (The PARCA Perspective, October 2015) http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs111/1106394189560/archive/1122648222121.html
According to nationally recognized standards expert Sandra Stotsky,
“NAEP scores nationally did not go down because (1) Common Core standards are more demanding and (2) teachers need more professional development. They went down because Common Core is dumbed down math, and NAEP still includes test items based on what we expected kids to be taught by/in grade 4 only 10 years ago. Today, our kids can’t get these tests right because their classroom curriculum (based on CC math standards) has been dumbed down, [confuses, and neglects the basics]. Nor can our upper elementary grades do well on NAEP test items in reading when their language arts curriculum has eliminated the great children’s literature that got them to read – especially boys.”
Dr. Stotsky, in a 2011 press conference in Montgomery, advised Alabama to continue with its standards upon which success was building instead of adopting the unproven and flawed common core regimen. State Board members Betty Peters and Stephanie Bell listened and voted against common core.
Again, more than half of Common Core states showed historic declines on 2015 NAEP – declines that have not been seen since the early 90s when the NAEP began, but Non-Common Core States showed NO decline on NAEP!!!!
It’s not just NAEP scores that confirm the inferiority of Common Core. ACT scores of Alabama students as shown in The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2015 Alabama report shows that only 16% of Alabama students meet the benchmark in all four subjects. Further, the percentage is down five percentage points from 2014. See report here.
For Alabama students, clearly Common Core is a Failure with a capital F!
Who will rescue students from further failure now? According to Math Standards expert Dr. James Milgram’s research, 4 years of common core type math in California beginning in 1992 resulted in irreparable damage. California then ditched those standards and returned to what works. Alabama is in its 4th year, as we have pointed out to you before. When will you ditch the flawed regimen that is common core?
But what would you use? Just like Alabama has done for years, a committee of professionals and parents could convene. They could use as a template for Math the pre-common core standards that put California first in the nation; and for English, the acknowledged best were pre-common core Massachusetts. There are other proven sound standard sets upon which to build.
There is no limit to what our teachers could do for their students if they were no longer constrained by common core and were equipped with the basics that have worked for generations.
You will surely agree with us that it is unfair to our students not to address this ASAP and reverse course before it gets any worse.
All NAEP Scores for Alabama eighth grade students fell since the implementation of Common Core with the exception of eighth grade ELA. In this instance, the white and black student scores were basically flat with Hispanic scores up 6 points, which raised the overall score by 2 points.
Impact of Common Core on Alabama education
Alabama Accomplishments 2011 prior to impact of Common Core
Average Mathematics grade 4 public schools all students: By jurisdiction
Average Reading grade 4 public schools all students: By jurisdiction
Average Mathematics grade 8 public schools all students: By jurisdiction
Average Reading grade 8 public schools all students: By jurisdiction
FOR REAL ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT, PLEASE VOTE FOR SB60 TO REPLACE COMMON CORE (ALABAMA COLLEGE AND CAREER READY STANDARDS) WITH THE PROVEN BEST OF THE BEST IN THE NATION.
James O’Keefe, president and founder of Project Veritas, has put together a series of videos on the greed and corruption associated with Common Core. Project Veritas journalists sat down with America’s top textbook publishing companies, the moneymakers of Common Core, in an effort to expose how crony capitalism is taking over America’s educational system. Shockingly, their journalists in the first video caught a publishing executive mocking her own immoral behavior, laughing about it on hidden camera and then admitting that Common Core is all about the money..
O’Keefe has released the first two videos just this week with more to follow.
Anti-Common Core activists tried for months to warn Congress that the new federal education bill (the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA) was a disaster that would cement, not overturn, the odious progressive-education philosophies of the Obama Administration. Except for 64 House members (click here to see how your member voted) and 12 senators (click here to see how your senators voted) who were brave enough to buck Republican leadership, their warnings were dismissed. Now comes confirmation that the activists were dead on…..Read more here.