Common Core Problems

NTF Issue Paper: commoncore1.doc. 6-14.



BACKGROUND. Conservatives legitimately are alarmed about the Obama Administration’s Common Core curriculum pressed onto our public schools. The regime heavily pushes this curricula through its $4.35 billion 2009 Race to the Top education grant competition bribery. Many states have embraced Common Core to grab these massive grants. States that accepted its precepts received bonus points in their applications. This plan awards points to states that adopt this common set of K-12 standards that are mostly identical all over America. Obama’s Education Dept. has awarded over $360 million to 2 liberal groups to create student assessments in Common Core. Obama herded states into adopting these standards without time to deliberate on their adequacy, requiring adoption approved by state education dept. officials if states want to obtain federal waivers from the 2002 No Child Left Behind law. If Obama succeeds, states like NE will lose federal funds by adhering to their own standards, denied access to Race to the Top federal dollars for refusing Common Core.

VALID CRITICISM. Common Core eradicates local school board control over the K-12 math and English curricula, substituting a lone, federally-imposed curricula that applies to public, private, parochial, and home schools. Saxon Math and Math U See both declared that they will align their curriculum, popular among home schools, with Common Core. Proponents advise that national standards will improve academic performance; however, these new standards evidence no proof that they are better than current NE standards. No district has tested these standards, which use unproved instructional methods. These standards base on unproved ideas and questionable assumptions. The job of teaching our kids is too important to depend on untested, common methods pushed by companies that have financial interests in selling textbooks, technology, and academic assessment but are not accountable to parents or taxpayers. Several private corporations will make huge profits, less money reaching classrooms. Our children will become guinea pigs. In Massachusetts, adopting Common Core meant dumping academic standards regarded as the best in the nation. In many states, Common Core standards are inferior to state standards. There exists no evidence that a federal curriculum brings high academic achievement. France and Denmark boast national curricula that do not reflect high achievement on international testing. Contrarily, both Canada and Australia use many regional curricula and show better results. A Brookings Institution study found that common state standards do little to equalize academic achievement among states.

Instruction is confusing. Common Core requires pupils to explain a math problem before doing the calculation, complicating the teaching of basic math. Teachers become confused with the unfamiliarity of teaching this product. Students do not learn traditional math, like multiplication, until a grade or two later. In Common Core math, kids abandon concrete skills for abstract, confusing methodology. Elementary kids who earned “A” grades struggle to explain how they find answers after using mental math in Common Core and get lower grades. These math standards delay development of key concepts and skills, instructions written at a level confusing to teachers, students, parents, and administrators. Math standards are not well-organized at the high school level, several important topics insufficiently covered, and standards not divided into defined courses. To deflect attention, proponents have focused only on math and English, aiming to eventually extend Common Core to all subjects. Math standards are inferior. A math professor, the only mathematician on the validation committee, refused to endorse the math standards, declaring that they would drop many pupils 2 yrs. behind those in many other nations. Teachers and parents have raised concerns that echo those in other states that adopted Common Core math: that it makes math more complicated than it needs to be and that it introduces challenging concepts when kids are too young to comprehend them. As a result, critics say, struggling students, and those in special education, may find math tedious and frustrating and become discouraged. One most tragic change for English classes is the requirement that 50% or more of readings in Grades 6-12 come from informational instead of cultural texts. This means that curricula will not include many classic works in American and other literature. Popular treatises like Common Sense, the Gettysburg Address, and To Kill A Mockingbird are not present, only on a list of reading suggestions. No research proves that college readiness comes from reading informational items in high school classes. Conservatives around the country are angry about the secretive process by which Common Core standards became adopted, allowing for few or no public hearings, blocked from the legislative process. The conservative Cato Institute noted that state lawmakers are surprised when academic curricula become snatched from their prerogatives. Common Core defines contents for all U.S. K-12 math and English texts and defines what our kids will learn and not learn. No empirical validation of standards or metric to monitor intended or unintended consequences exists. No early childhood teachers or child development experts were included in the K-3 standards formulation process because Common Core shocked these professionals. Standards writers had no background in child development or early childhood education. The Joint Statement of Early Childhood Health & Education Professionals statement criticizing Common Core garnered signatures from over 500 prominent early childhood professionals, like educators, pediatricians, developmental psychologists, and researchers. The statement read that Common Core conflicts with new research in cognitive science, neuroscience, child development, and early childhood education about how young kids learn, what content they should learn, and the best methods to teach them in kindergarten and early grades.

Common Core pilots are disappointing. One principal told of his school piloting the assessment, whereby the failure rate rose dramatically, particularly among slow learners. Children cannot learn the same material in exactly in the same way and in the same time.

COMMON CORE TESTING. After adoption of Common Core curricula, its standardized testing will follow quickly. No national standardized test effectively can measure what teachers teach in each public school system. Common Core demands a great increase in testing, much more than the already excessive amount required by No Child Left Behind. NYC will spend over a half billion on technology, so that its students can take federal tests electronically. Research proves that increasing testing does not increase achievement. NE school districts suffer funding squeezes, but Common Core costs billions for new textbooks, infrastructure like high speed networks, new software for additional computers, training, consultants, and tests. States implementing Common Core must utilize computer testing approved by liberals and participate in data systems that store testing data with student private information shared with other states and the federal government, without parental permission. Testing information includes SSN, school disciplinary information, health data, school attendance and homework records, religious affiliation, and psychological data.

LEFTIST CURRICULA. One lesson features a video titled China Rises, that praises the virtues of Chinese communism over capitalism. The leftist New York Times co-produced this propaganda piece. Another lesson regrets children’s inability to vote, as they supposedly understand global warming and war better than adults who make world problems worse. Common Core uses UN programs to institute international curricula. Materials promote “alternative lifestyles,” criticize capitalism, praise labor unions, redistribution of wealth, radical environmentalism, and social justice, and debase Judeo-Christianity. The liberal progressive school-to-work plan will allow the Obama Regime to put everything in place to plan for future labor markets. Common Core promotes a model of a command economy and unlimited federal governance. Proponents want to control our schools, our children conditioned to accept that the federal government has the right to order them to serve its economic commands. Government will be the master, not our servant. Core standards connect with curriculum, tying students to a government curriculum. Management of school curriculum permanently will disappear from parents and school boards and fall under control of the Dept. of Education and federal bureaucrats.

COST TO TAXPAYERS. Implementing this curriculum will cost both the state and local school districts much money for alterations in curricula involved and transition to a new educational system. States adopting Common Core jump into an assessment quagmire without estimates on costs. Common Core assessment tests, according to the NE Dept. of Education, would cost about $20 per student, whereas home-grown tests cost about $11 per pupil. Local school administrators complain that Obama grants do not cover the requirements, costing much more to implement all the mandates. The education establishment likewise complained for years about the unexpected costs of No Child Left Behind. Common Core will repeat this expensive lesson in forcing another underfunded mandate on states. NE probably would not qualify for federal funding now, leaving NE taxpayers to pay the entire bill.

CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUE. As awareness of this federal education power grab increases, opposition mounts. States now realize that accepting Common Core means transferring control of school curricula to the Obama Regime. Only Texas, Alaska, Nebraska, and a few other states are steadfastly resisting, but others have withdrawn participation or are considering such. Common Core violates the U.S. Constitution and several federal statutes that prohibit federal direction, control, or supervision of curricula, instruction, and materials in K-12 schools. This plan is a serious assault on state sovereignty, a power grab by which the Obama Regime will directly target school districts. This federal intervention will cripple state, local, and parental authority over curricula.

ITS SUPPORTERS. Common Core has received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other leftwing sources. The leftwing American Federation of Teachers (AFT) endorses Common Core. Several creators of Common Core standards have accepted employment with testing companies that will accrue millions of dollars developing tests based on the standards created. The Omaha Public Schools and Lexington Public Schools already have implemented several Common Core elements, believing that future federal funding, of which they benefit greatly, will depend on such implementation. The Scottsbluff school curriculum director favored adopting Common Core, excusing that the federal government eventually would force public schools to follow a national education standard in order to receive federal aid. The state association for curriculum development sponsored a workshop in Jan. 2013, anticipating that the state board of education soon would adopt Common Core.

INVASIVENESS. Conservative parents object to violation of student privacy by data mining through assessment means. Assessments include parent religious and political beliefs, diets, and sexual attitudes. Common Core creates a student database including test scores, hobbies, family income, voting status, and health records, a violation of individual rights and limited government. Data mining includes using cameras to evaluate kid facial expressions, electronic seat that judges postures, a pressure-sensitive computer mouse, and a biometric wrap on wrists.

STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION. The state education dept. granted a $47,000 contract to a company, which strongly supports and endorses Common Core, to conduct an alignment study between Common Core and NE standards, definitely moving towards Common Core adoption. Board members voted 7-1 (John Sieler voted with taxpayers) to pay for this contract. State ed. officials offer excuses that many schools offer the same or similar materials as Common Core already, despite the state ed. math director stating that there is no proof that Common Core is the best means to teach math. There also is no provision for adopting Common Core standards in future for other subjects and teaching methods. The state board of education would have to spend money later to alter teaching materials and testing procedures. The board must give final approval to state curriculum standards and assessments. School districts should not use Common Core yet, as the state board has not adopted it. We urge taxpayers to contact their state board of education member to pass the following resolution:

Notwithstanding any other statute, the state board of education shall not adopt, and the NE Dept. of Education shall not implement, Common Core standards developed by the Common Core Standards Initiative. Actions pursued to adopt or implement the Common Core State Standards are void. Common Core State Standards shall not be adopted or implemented without the approval of the NE Legislature.

LEGISLATURE. We must lobby our state senators to co-sponsor and support legislation to ban NE from adopting and spending money on all activities relating to Common Core, like training teachers or buying materials. Also, press them to pass a bill to forbid sharing of private student information without parental consent.

SEEPING IN. More than 28,000 OPS students in K-6 are subject to Common Core Go Math!, and more schools in the Omaha metro area are considering Common Core-aligned products as outdated math books approach review. OPS offers Common Core instruction to its librarians. This plunge into Common Core is costing OPS $3 million. Elkhorn piloted the Common Core edition of Go Math! and will implement a like K-12 math curriculum. Ralston uses Math Expressions in elementary grades and Holt Math for 6-12 grades, both of which mimic Common Core. ESU 3 offered a Common Core workshop in Nov. 2013.

TAKE ACTION NOW. We still can stop this dangerous scheme to nationalize education and indoctrinate our children. Do not permit nameless, faceless, unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats to seize control of NE public education. Contact your state board of education member and state senator today to stop the progress of Common Core in Nebraska. Email for their contact information. Also, lobby your local school board members to oppose Common Core.

For more information watch these videos.

Research, analysis, and documentation for this issue paper done by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, with prior permission granted for its use by other groups in the NE Conservative Coalition Network. 6-14. C

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