WYBI: The Elephant in the CCSS Room

Every noticed a subject so important yet so not discussed properly?
Every noticed a subject so important yet so not discussed properly?

You know me, if there’s a Common Core related topic not being exposed, I’m your gal. So, imagine my surprise at some of the rhetoric shared during the last NC Academic Standards Review Committee meeting. I truly hope the Committee can access the documented truth behind it before it’s too late.

The Announcement That Got Me So Excited:

A few weeks ago, a press release stating that Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram, along with WestEd’s Dr. Perks would be presenting information to the NC ASRC (Academic Standards Review Committee)was released. This is the group charged with seeing if CCSS is right for NC or not. If not, what course of action is needed? If CCSS IS right, I hope there’s a mass exodus out of the state. In case you didn’t see the announcement, here it is:
http://stopcommoncorenc.org/nc-asrc-press-release-for-march-16th-meeting-stotsky-milgram-to-attend/

The Previous Testimonies I’d Heard:

Like most other anti CCSS warriors, I’ve seen several of the YouTube video recordings of the, as I call them, Dynamic Duo taking on what’s wrong with CCSS. I’ve also read several of their published criticisms that have been shared among those against CCSS. Somewhere in my mind I envisioned a packed meeting room, a bank of reporters lining the walls, and succinct, compelling testimony from them. On the other hand, having researched WestEd so well and knowing how sold out to the CCSS the non-profit is, I knew the expectation bar would be set for extremely low come time for that presentation.

The Meeting:

So, imagine my surprise on meeting day when I make the trip to Raleigh, get up to the top floor of the State Board of Education building, and find that maybe 20 people are there! What?? Where are the angry parents? Who forgot to tell the TV Stations? How come more people from all sides of the education spectrum aren’t here? Now, true, my guest and I were about 20 minutes early, but THIS meeting was to be HISTORIC!

When, just one year ago (March 20, 2014), the public was invited, encouraged, and sought after to make an appearance to speak either for or against CCSS. Folks lined up (number was capped at 60). However, those speaking arrived earlier. They were waiting on the doors to be unlocked. THAT was historic!!

So, knowing so many across the state of NC have been fighting against CC for so long, I assumed the Milgram/Stotsky/Perks presentations would be even more attendance worthy. Yes, the ARSC does use 1 pm to 5 pm as their meeting time. Yet, there were those of us who did take the time to attend. I can tell you that by 2 pm, there were about 30 folks..so we did see a gain in attendance. As far as the bank of reporters? There were a few. I think I counted 2 video cameras. One was in the possession of a true American patriot who fights CCSS. The other one?? No clue.

Oh, one fun fact before I get into the elephant in the room, one of the members of the validation committee for CCSS (yes, THAT committee) was seated directly to my left. While she did approve the CCSS as worthy (meaning her name is there with the others who signed off), she was not asked to speak (at least yet) to the ASRC. I’m glad no one could hear her comments during the meeting..they weren’t very pleasant. I can happily tell you that every time she looked my way, my big anti CCSS lapel button was the first thing she spied. I’m also happy to report, no bloodshed was seen during the entire meeting.

The button that can stop a supporter dead in their tracks.
The button that can stop a supporter dead in their tracks.

The Presentations:

By and large, the Dr. Stotsky and Dr. Milgram presentations were full of very good information. Even Dr. Perks’ presentation was full of information. The difference was 2 were open about their feelings for Common Core, while one appeared content riding a fence. (Gee, I sure hope they have splinter removal kits at WestEd.)

Several of the comments spoken by the “Dynamic Duo” received rounds of applause. My patriot friend, Major Dave took the time to video their entire talks. I’ll include the links so you can hear all of them for yourselves.

Dr. Stotsky’s:

Dr. Milgram’s:

Dr. Perks’:

Those Damned Elephants of CCSS:

While what I’m about to share could be taken as I’m being critical of the meeting, that is NOT my purpose. My only purpose in sharing the following is to help shed light on how deceptive the education reform (largely in part due to CCSS) can be. It’s the biggest elephant in our students’ lives! If we don’t start talking about it, we’ll not have any room when the elephant sits on us and crushes us!

Elephant #1:
Beefing up professional development for teachers. (Dr. Stotsky)

Alone, that statement is accurate. However, knowing how many dollars, for profit, not-for-profit, and non-profit groups dedicated to this is staggering, especially when you consider that almost every single one of them has been or is being funded by pro CCSS supporters. (I just published an article about Duncan-led teacher alignment) We MUST be careful who’s in charge!!

Elephant #2:
Doing away with traditional high schools and their diplomas. (Dr. Stotsky)

The good doctor gave some examples of how successful these are from the New England states. However, again..CCSS research is showing that this type of education reform is not only embedded, it has been tied to Workforce, or Career Tech Education..ALL of which are CCSS aligned!!

Elephant #3:
NC currently isn’t using mathematical researchers to build standards. (Dr. Milgram)

Alone, this statement is not only honest, it’s crucial. However, If the researchers include anyone tied to CCSS (past, present, or future) in any way, shape, form, or fashion, we’ll be no better off than we are right now.

Elephant #4:
Research mathematicians are out there, just not in the USA. (Dr. Milgram)

Comparisons to several countries were made during the meeting by several people, not just Dr. Milgram. However, isn’t international benchmarking and the global competition crap helping feed the CCSS Machine??!! We cannot be a strong America if we don’t think American. We are losing so many bright students due to crappy education because we are trying to be un-American in how/what we teach. Remember, at one time in our nation’s history, our students (and other citizens) were at an almost 100% proficiency rate for important school subjects. We were great at one time in education. We can be great again. I think constantly looking overseas will not only strain our necks, it will cause us to lose focus on our nation. I don’t want my students to be like every other global student. I want my students to be the best students they can be!

Elephant #5:
The Standards Contiuum (Dr. Perks)

This visual (which wasn’t to plain to see from several feet away from the screen or the bad lighting in the room) was a real eye opener. My interpretation of the visual is below:

Dr. Perks also shared standards should be vertical.  A continuum is horizontal.
Dr. Perks also shared standards should be vertical. A continuum is horizontal.

Elephant #6:
Dr. Perks addressed Mr. Peek (ASRC co-chair) formally throughout the presentation, except once when he was sharing how to understand standards (CCSS or any other). He was stating that  you needed to look at the nouns used. Dr. Stotsky countered with verbs were worth considering as well. In fact if a standard is written correctly, no unpacking it is needed. It’s clear, concise, and easy to begin!

Now, this is an elephant (switch from formal to casual) only if you wonder (as I do) are these two really that familiar with each other? I certainly saw plenty of questioning faces when this slip happened. Have IBM and WestED conferred on CCSS’s behalf?? Who knows..it was awkward, however.

Several other elephants in the room by Dr. Perks were given. You can see them for yourselves in his clip above. However, be sure to count the educratic buzzwords throughout all the presentations. I was really surprised.  Be sure you listen for who among the doctors is for ‘radical education reform’.

What Was Downright Dangerous:

During the ASRC’s question/answer time for each of the experts presenting, one was asked by Katie Lemon (an NC Teacher of the Year) about ‘rigor’ in the classroom. Quite a spirited banter ensued. While the long/short of it is that you need to define what ‘rigor’ means and how much of it you want, it was the resources suggested that had me sit up in my seat and think (almost out loud), “NO!!”.

Dr. Perks was steering the ASRC to Dr. Marzano and the Fordham Institute for resources to help define rigor. Where’s the danger? Dr. Marzano is known for a socialist, emotional learning vent in education. Fordham flat out lies about education. Dr. Perks also stopped short of advertising for his company, but you certainly could tell he was heavily suggesting the need for more professional development and collaboration among teachers.

The Biggest Elephant of All:

The ASRC is being held up on funding yet again. It was shared in the meeting that the funds are somehow tied to the NC Coal Ash bill, Senate Bill 14 (see: http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2015/Bills/Senate/PDF/S14v3.pdf)

So knowing that the bill which created the NC ASRC included funding was to be used to get speakers like the 3 from the meeting AND knowing the funding is still tied up..how did NC pay for the guests? Why were they all rushed away before the public could speak directly to them after the meeting?

Final note: If you’d like to access any of the articles I’ve written about Dr. Marzano or his research institute, Fordham, WestEd, etc. Be sure to use the search bar on the blog.

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