How Federal Government Controls Alabama Education
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This week we learned of the impending danger for Alabama children if we don’t stop Common Core in THIS legislative session. Stanford Professor James Milgram is the acknowledged national expert on Math standards writing. Based on a huge set of data on the failed 1992 California standards written by the same Phil Daro who was the lead author for the Common Core standards, Dr. Milgram addressed the following question:
“ ‘ How long would it take for a student initially in the Phil Daro 1992 program before its low level and erroneous perspective on mathematics would have produced irreversible damage?’ What the data showed was that if a student had been in the program for four or more years … statistically they never recovered… So you have a situation with the Common Core mathematics standards where you have a limited window and you pretty much know what is going to happen … because the guiding ideas behind it are the exact guiding ideas behind the 1992 CA standards.”
Alabama students are being tested on their THIRD year of Common Core math. Next year – their FOURTH year – will be too late for most Alabama students. They will never recover from the irreversible damage as experienced by California students.
For the full text of Dr. Milgram’s letter, click the link below.
The Senate Education Committee will be voting on Senator Rusty Glover’s SB101, the Alabama Ahead Act, that will repeal Common Core, this Wednesday, April 15th. Please contact the committee members, thank them for hearing us at this past Wednesday’s hearing and ask that they vote FOR SB101. Brewbaker, Chairperson; Ross, Vice Chairperson; Bussman, Figures, Marsh, McClendon, Pittman, Sanders, Shelnutt.
SB101 will re-establish local and state control of education; terminate implementation of the Common Core standards; direct the State Board to replace these standards with the Math and English courses in use immediately prior to Common Core; convene Course of Study committees to update these standards and improve upon them using the pre-common core standards from states whose national scores ranked no less than the top 10%; implement these proven, improved standards and aligned assessments; prohibit imposition on Alabama of other such national standards or assessments that cede control away from Alabamians.
See the short DVD by Utah Mental Health Therapist Joan Landes that stresses the urgency of putting a stop to Common Core. She spoke with some House and Senate members at the Alabama Statehouse last year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJVswWCNk24
You may want to look up her credentials and send it to your representatives.
Under Common Core, Alabama is progressing downward to a woefully inferior academic education under this one-size-fits-all national mandate. The first assessment results show that only 62 percent are proficient in English and only a pitiful 19 percent are proficient in math — so low that it can hardly be explained away. Is it any wonder when we recognize that the whole Common Core regimen is experimental and not written by seasoned educators?
Regarding K-3, over 500 early childhood experts warned that the standards are developmentally inappropriate, and their predictions — that they would only frustrate and depress, not educate and inspire students — are coming true. The elementary math emphasis on theory for students who, at their age, think in concrete, not abstract, terms, and on methodology rather than the correct answer, has the same sad results. Stanford Professor Dr. James Milgram, the only mathematician on the Common Core Validation Committee, said that Common Core math puts students two years behind high-achieving states and nations.
Common Core English language arts standards also place college readiness at risk. It cuts in half the kind of rich classic literature that has leveled the playing field for all students by teaching them to devour increasingly complex plots with their lessons of the perennial struggle between good and evil. Students for centuries have gleaned from these stories a desire to be on the side of the good. Among Common Core substitutes are readings from insulation manuals or excerpts from contemporary works about social studies or recommendations for age inappropriate dark stories of sexual promiscuity and abuse.
Common Core does a terrible disservice to students, whose school experience should prepare them for life, not just low-level jobs. Its denial of American exceptionalism ill equips these students to preserve what is left of the country that has provided more opportunities for more people with the highest standard of living and the greatest degree of individual freedom than any other country in world history. They are not being taught that limiting government increases individual liberty and unleashes creativity and achievement. Instead, too many are taught how to fill out government forms.
Common Core assessment content is out of the hands of Alabamians. It is written under the auspices of a federal contractor, ACT Aspire. Its data collection is being handled by Pearson, the international publisher that was exposed for “spying on students.” Even the liberal National Education Association expressed concern that Pearson is “mining information posted on social media and matching it with students’ private information that Pearson collects as a test provider.” These assessments drive what teachers teach, as they will be graded on how students perform. It was President Jimmy Carter’s education secretary who said that national control of testing means “national control of ideas.”
Regarding assertions that local systems are in control, teachers know that they are closely scrutinized to make sure that they are “Teaching to the Core.” However, Alabama Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice has said publicly, “If teachers do not like the way we are headed, I will be glad to show them the exit sign.” Current legislation prevents teachers from exercising their First Amendment right to criticize Common Core even outside of school.
Alabama College and Career Ready Standards are just the tip of the iceberg. The Common Core Initiative encompasses gathering non-academic individual student data, so-called learning supports, which invade family rights and privacy; grading teachers and principals on how the students score on standardized tests; job tracking of students starting in elementary school; and analyzing, in some cases via weekly assessments, to determine what career cluster the student will be placed into by 8th grade. This can limit a student’s horizons long before they are ready to choose for themselves.
As one astute commentator said, “Common Core changes the focus of traditional education from teaching students how to be future citizen-leaders and productive citizens of a self-governing republic, to training students for a planned economy (and to meet specific needs of employers).”
Sen. Rusty Glover’s SB 101 has our support because it would put a stop to Common Core, regain local control of education and begin the process to formulate new Alabama standards built upon past academic success using the best of the best pre-Common Core standards nationwide.
Eunie Smith is president of Eagle Forum of Alabama, a conservative advocacy group.
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The End of History, Part II
The new Advanced Placement U.S. history exam focuses on oppression, group identity and Reagan the warmonger.
President Reagan speaking in West Berlin near the Brandenburg Gate, June 12, 1987. PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES
LYNNE V. CHENEY
April 1, 2015 7:07 p.m. ET
If you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
—President Ronald Reagan, speech at the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, 1987
President Reagan’s challenge to Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev remains one of the most dramatic calls for freedom in our time. Thus I was heartened to find a passage from Reagan’s speech on the sample of the new Advanced Placement U.S. history exam that students will take for the first time in May. It seemed for a moment that students would be encouraged to learn about positive aspects of our past rather than be directed to focus on the negative, as happens all too often.
But when I looked closer to see the purpose for which the quotation was used, I found that it is held up as an example of “increased assertiveness and bellicosity” on the part of the U.S. in the 1980s. That’s the answer to a multiple-choice question about what Reagan’s speech reflects.
No notice is taken of the connection the president made between freedom and human flourishing, no attention to the fact that within 2½ years of the speech, people were chipping off pieces of the Berlin Wall as souvenirs. Instead of acknowledging important ideas and historical context, test makers have reduced President Reagan’s most eloquent moment to warmongering.
The AP U.S. history exam matters. Half a million of the nation’s best and brightest high-school students will take it this year, hoping to use it to earn college credit and to polish their applications to competitive colleges. To score well on the exam, students have to learn what the College Board, a private organization that creates the exam, wants them to know.
No one worried much about the College Board having this de facto power over curriculum until that organization released a detailed framework—for courses beginning last year—on which the Advanced Placement tests on U.S. history will be based from 2015 onward. When educators, academics and other concerned citizens realized how many notable figures were missing and how negative was the view of American history presented, they spoke out forcefully. The response of the College Board was to release the sample exam that features Ronald Reagan as a warmonger.
It doesn’t stop there. On the multiple-choice part of the sample exam, there are 18 sections, and eight of them take up the oppression of women, blacks and immigrants. Knowing about the experiences of these groups is important—but truth requires that accomplishment be recognized as well as oppression, and the exam doesn’t have questions on subjects such as the transforming leadership of Martin Luther King Jr.
The framework requires that all questions take up sweeping issues, such as “group identity,” which leaves little place for transcendent individuals. Men and women who were once studied as inspirational figures have become examples of trends, and usually not uplifting ones. The immigrant story that the exam tells is of oppressed people escaping to America only to find more oppression. That many came seeking the Promised Land—and found it here—is no longer part of the narrative.
Critics have noted that Benjamin Franklin is absent from the new AP U.S. history framework, and perhaps in response, the College Board put a quotation from Franklin atop the sample exam. Yet not one of the questions that were asked about the quotation has to do with Franklin. They are about George Whitefield, an evangelist whom Franklin described in the quote. This odd deflection makes sense in the new test, considering that Franklin was a self-made man, whose rise from rags to riches would have been possible only in America—an example of the exceptionalism that doesn’t fit the worldview that pervades the AP framework and sample exam.
Evangelist Whitefield, an Englishman who preached in the colonies, was a key figure in the Great Awakening, an evangelical revival that began in the 1730s. Here, however, he is held up as an example of “trans-Atlantic exchanges,” which seems completely out of left field until one realizes that the underlying notion is that we need to stop thinking nationally and think globally. Our history is simply part of a larger story.
Aside from a section about mobilizing women to serve in the workforce, the sample exam has nothing to say about World War II, the conflict in which the U.S. liberated millions of people and ended one of the most evil regimes in the history of the world. The heroic acts of the men who landed on Omaha Beach and lifted the flag on Iwo Jima are ignored. The wartime experiences that the new framework prefers are those raising “questions about American values,” such as “the internment of Japanese Americans, challenges to civil liberties, debates over race and segregation, and the decision to drop the atomic bomb.”
Why would the College Board respond to criticism by putting out a sample exam that proves the critics’ point? Perhaps it is a case of those on the left being so confirmed in their biases that they no longer notice them. Or maybe the College Board doesn’t care what others think.
Some states are trying to get its attention. The Texas State Board of Education, noting that the AP U.S. history framework is incompatible with that state’s standards, has formally requested that the College Board do a rewrite. The Georgia Senate has passed a resolution to encourage competition for the College Board’s AP program. If anything brings a change, it is likely to be such pressure from the states, which provide the College Board with substantial revenue.
Some 20 years ago, as chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, I made a grant to a group to create voluntary standards for U.S. history. When the project was finished, I had standards on my hands that were overwhelmingly negative about the American story, so biased that I felt obliged to condemn them in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal called “The End of History.”
I learned an important lesson, one worth repeating today. The curriculum shouldn’t be farmed out, not to the federal government and not to private groups. It should stay in the hands of the people who are constitutionally responsible for it: the citizens of each state.
Mrs. Cheney, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, writes about history. Her most recent book is “James Madison: A Life Reconsidered” (Viking, 2014).
Dear Concerned Citizen:
Eagle Forum has facilitated participation in textbook review by Alabamians for decades. We are writing to you today because of your interest in education and concern for the students of our great state. The next textbook committee will be reviewing science textbooks. These textbooks will be used by our students for six years. As you know, science is a discipline that can be controversial. We cannot overstate the importance of this committee. It is critical that knowledgeable citizens with traditional values have input in this process. As an example: U.S. News and World Report noted the Obama administration wants students and teachers to “toe the line” on global warming/climate change. Instead of healthy debate with both sides of the issue on man made change; we can expect some of the textbooks to indoctrinate even though over 1,000 international scientists dispute the 2010 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (and former VP Al Gore) as a fraud.
If you have expertise in the field of science we would like to hear from you. The textbook committee is composed of 28 members and includes nine members appointed by Governor Bentley and confirmed by the senate who are “lay” members – one from each of the 7 Congressional districts and two local school board members. These appointees cannot currently be employed in the field of education. Mileage expenses and lodging (if overnight stay is required) are reimbursable. The meetings will be held at the Gordon Persons Building in Montgomery.
The deadline for resumes to be submitted is April 2. If you are interested in serving, please email (preferable) your resume to [email protected] or fax your resume to 205-871-2859 and include your congressional district on the cover page.
Thank you for considering this very important position.
We need your help! You have a great opportunity to fight Common Core and Plan 2020 in Alabama. The ALSDE has proposed a Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance Model (CCGM) which is a major part of the intrusive data collection of the Common Core Initiative.A public hearing before State Department personnel will be held this coming Monday night.
We can stop this CCGM now before it is fully implemented. CCGM is a new set of guidelines and policies for Alabama public school counselors which moves them from their traditional role of providing
constructive career and academic advising to being an all inclusive life advisor with no limits on their involvement in the life of the child and parent.Hearing: March 30, 2015 at Trenholm State Technical College,
1225 Airbase Boulevard, Building D, Montgomery, AL 36108 from 7:00 p.m. to
8:00 p.m. Please attend this event and voice your opposition to CCGM.
You will want to voice your opinion to the members of the State Board of Education who will vote on the Model in June.
In February, Eagle Forum submitted to the State Board of Education a review of an earlier version of this plan detailing its Constitutional and family rights violations. It appears to have been only slightly
Please contact Deborah Garrett at (205) 879-7096 or by cell (205) 587-6534 for any questions or more information on CCGM.