Last week, I put 3 state superintendents through the “Fib-o-Meter” to see where they landed with Common Core Standards. I had at least 4 requests for other state supers to be ‘put to the test’. So, here they are in alphabetical order per state: CA, NV, NJ, and NM.
California’s State Superintendent, Tom Torlakson:
Mr. Torlakson didn’t have many written statements that I could find, BUT, he does like the video channel YouTube. Here’s a meeting he was featured in, from 07/14, “Reports from the Field”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQFsWiCxs1w Mr. Torlakson even acknowledges a member of the audience in helping champion this message.
“Bottom-up, not top-down” Well, let’s see how bottom up translates on the “FoM”. ‘Neutral leaning toward Total Fallacy’ for this statement, why?! The RttT California application clearly lays out the state level commitment and support BUT it is conditional! See this excerpt from the Pioneer Institute which looked at CA’s application, “The study(Accountability Works) uses California, whose current (at that time, 2012)academic standards are among the nation’s best but has adopted Common Core, as an example. AccountabilityWorks estimates the Golden State will incur additional costs of over $1 billion for technology and support, $606 million for professional development and $374 million for textbooks and materials over seven years. The additional costs would exacerbate California’s recent budget woes, which have been even worse than what most other states have endured. (source: http://pioneerinstitute.org/education/study-estimates-cost-of-transition-to-national-education-standards-at-16-billion/, dated 02/12) Here’s what the CA RttT application stated: “California will strengthen its already high standards by adopting a set of common core standards and by working with one or more consortium of states to develop aligned assessments in mathematics and reading/language arts. This work will result in better data on annual student growth, including subgroup student achievement data, which will allow national comparisons, and will facilitate the identification and sharing of successful practices across the nation. The State has a well-established system for the development of curriculum frameworks and the adoption of aligned instructional materials, and will support the transition to new standards by accelerating the refinement of those frameworks and instructional material. The State will also invest in aligned interim assessments as a part of its instructional materials adoption process, to develop an item bank for formative assessments upon which LEAs can draw, and to support related professional development to help build the capacity to use data at the classroom and school levels. ” Further on, there’s this: “To date 804 LEAs representing 56 percent of the State’s schools and 3.6 million students (61 percent of whom are living in poverty) have signed MOUs committing to action in all parts of each of the reform areas …. and performance measures should we succeed in receiving a RTTT grant.” Link to the CA Race/Top Application: ( http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/phase1-applications/california.pdf) Before we move on, STEM is another kingpin to adhering to CCSS & California committed to that back in 2008 via CA’s STEM Collaborative Action Plan. Don’t get how STEM and CCSS are connected? Read my post “PCAST, STEM and Common Core”. This also will make the ‘bottom-up, not top-down’, ‘Total Fallacy’.
Another comment Mr. Torlakson made, “We have marketing to do.” Yes, as far as promoting the Common Core, I say he’s truthful on that one. (‘Total Truth’ is answer) HOWEVER, that, again is where the truth ends. Between his remarks and a ‘nifty’ video produced by pro CC supporters in CA, here some of the fallacies passed off as ‘truth’.
“Computers are what will improve education.” (Mr. Torlakson)
‘No child left offline’. (Mr. Torlakson)
“We don’t know what the future holds, but we’ll be ready.” (Pro groups)
‘Critical thinkers solve problems on their own, they can work in teams.’ (Pro groups)
“Life is not a multiple choice test.” (Mr. Torlakson)
‘Common Core is a practical, step by step timely process.’ (Mr. Torlakson)
Nevada’s Dale A. R. Erquiaga:
This top officer was appointed back in 2013 after a legal provision was made to allow the Governor to appoint someone (2011). Mr. Erquiaga’s background is quite varied in education. His involvement with the “Get Consensus”educational consulting firm is what got my interest the most. However, since his appointment came AFTER the fact that NV ‘adopted’ the CCSS, let’s see the others involved in saddling NV with Common Core, back in October of 2010. (Standards became known as “Nevada Academic Content Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics”) Keith Rheault 2004-12, then there was James Guthrie from 2012 to 2013, followed by Rorie Fitzpatrick. Mrs. Fitzpatrick was only in office from March to August. (interestingly enough she now heads a CCSS policy research group). From a newspaper article about Mr. Rheault stated ‘he got the state as far as the door, then left.’ ( http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/education/retiring-leader-state-schools-hopeful-about-future) I did find this interesting article about Nevada & the Common Core where is seems someone did tell some tall tales! (seehttp://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/common-core-state-standards-not-nevadas-creation/)
Getting back to Mr. Erquiaga, I found some things to lead me to believe his support for CCSS is big. Digital Learning Now!(which according to their 2013 report card, all content is Common Core aligned)He really is big on data. He helps promote the Nevada Ready! (see: http://coretaskproject.com/category/nevada-ready/) Then, fro the radio interview: http://www.knpr.org/son/archive/detail2.cfm?SegmentID=11106), here are his ‘Total Fallacies”
“This is a proxy (political) fight.”
“Assessments are the only way we’ll know CCSS is successful.”
The obligatory, ‘more rigorous, much deeper’, comments we know.
Next up, New Jersey!
Oddly enough, this was the only Northeastern state I was asked to look into. Well, being a diligent researcher, here’s what I found. Mr. David C. Hespe is the Acting Commissioner of Education for NJ. He was appointed earlier this year, but it is his 4th time as the head of public education in the state. He returned to the office to help students and to oversee the REST of CCSS. Now, what makes NJ a bit different in this is the words used to describe their Standards. Huh?! Back in 1996, the State Board of Education adopted “Core Curriculum Content Standards”. Not to be confused with Common Core State Standards. However, it can indeed get a bit confusing, especially considering some states are using CCSS, but also using different names to identify it. Now, all this is to say, that in August of 2014, the NJ BofE began a 5 year review of the Tech Life/21st Century Career Curriculum Standards. (more confusion, if you aren’t careful). From the website:
(http://www.state.nj.us/education/modelcurriculum/) Model Common Core Curriculum is for every 5 weeks of lessons, you get 2 weeks assessment/enrichment. UGH! Since Mr. Hespe was so up front about his support of the Standards, I thought you’d have ‘fun’ putting parents, teachers and others through the ‘Fib-o-Meter’ when you watch this video (frankly, there are so many ‘Total Fallacies’ it might break the FoM if it were a real scale) Link: http://www.state.nj.us/education/sca/video/ So many fallacies, I actually gave up trying to count them! (listen out for the comment that one mom makes about CC being so good she may not have to pay for college remediation classes)
Lastly, New Mexico’s Hanna Skandera:
In office since 2011, Ms. Skandera is the most controversial of the Superintendents featured today. Why? She’s been serving NM since 2011, but has yet to be 100% confirmed by the state level legislative body. The Governor of NM did appoint this position, but the Senate of NM must confirm the appointment. To date, that has yet to happen from what I could find. (see this You Tube clip where she’ll tell you she ‘committed’ 7 seven times in under 3 minutes:
Heartland Institute has a great article about Common Core, PARCC(NV was featured in the article:(http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2014/01/27/feds-spend-millions-promote-common-core)
One of the statements Ms. Skandera made in an interview featured here: (http://watchdog.org/21316/nm-core-beliefs-nm-education-chief-defends-common-core/) said, ““We’re not delivering on the promise of, ‘are you ready?’ We know half of our kids are not on grade level. So (Common Core) is an important step to say, let’s make sure we have high standards.” On the “Fib-o-Meter”, this comment, while some bit of truth is present, would be “Total Fallacy” because if you already know your state is not making it, why not use the money for shaping up what you’ve got instead of ‘buying’ new?!
In this August 2011 TV interview, Ms. Skandera rates “Total Fallacy” on several statements. Before I get to those, however, notice when she is speaking, how many times she repeats key points, and the body language she displays. Link to TV interview: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYaOJiqFL4g)
“Standards established by NM for NM, we own them.”
“Tests developed by NM then go elsewhere.”
“Money attracts teachers, we can use to even attract those who aren’t teachers.”
“Actually, teaching is the only profession where effectiveness is not acknowledged.”
Now, I really have to admit that in the state of NM, Ms. Skandera is not alone in her devotion to the CC. The City of Albuquerque has received Gates Foundation money in relation to Common Core State Standards (see: http://honestpracticum.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/How-Bill-Gates-Bought-the-Common-Core-image1.jpg). If you look hard enough, you can find out how Albuquerque has been used as a model for the ACT WorkKeys Assessment(but that’s another post for another time) Lastly, Ms. Skandera was the keynote speaker at the following meeting where undying support for CCSS was freely shared: http://lulac.org/news/pr/lulac-and-new-mexico-governor-susana-martinez-work-together-to-promote-common-core-state-standards/
So, if YOU have a state superintendent you’d like to see how their statements, activities fare on the “Fib-o-Meter”, be sure to leave me a comment. If you have any links, articles, etc. that would help in my research, I’d love that! Thanks!