WILL NEBRASKA ADOPT OBAMACORE?
by Henry W. Burke –
Officially, Nebraska has not adopted the Common Core Standards (CCS). The five enlightened states that have avoided signing on to the Common Core Standards are Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia.
[I guess no-one has told the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) that Nebraska is a non-CCS state since NDE has just paid a pro-CCS organization $47,000 to compare the Nebraska Standards with the Common Core Standards.]
Under President Barack Obama and U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the federal takeover of our schools is rapidly spreading across our nation. We are starting to see how Obamacare is impacting our healthcare system and economic picture. In a similar way, “ObamaCORE” is dramatically destroying our nation’s schools and affecting our precious children!
McREL Alignment Study
The Nebraska Department of Education issued a $47,000 contract to McREL (Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning) to conduct an Alignment Study between the Common Core Standards and the Nebraska Standards. Why would the NDE spend $47,000 to see how the Nebraska Standards compared with the Common Core Standards if it had no interest in CCS? It appears that Nebraska is moving in the direction of the Common Core.
McREL strongly supports and endorses the Common Core Standards. Check their website:
For many years, McREL has been on the wrong side of education reform. They helped to spread Outcomes Based Education, School-to Work, and other education disasters. To have McREL evaluate the Nebraska Standards is truly despicable!
Additionally, it was a huge waste of money to spend $47,000 on a McREL review. Other notable education authorities could have performed the task for under $3,000. (For example, Dr. Stotsky charges $1,000 to compare English standards.)
Additionally, Dr. Sandra Stotsky offered a FREE procedure to compare English standards: “9 Signs of Academic Rigor in English Standards.”
McREL recently released two reports for Nebraska — one for English Language Arts (ELA) and one for Mathematics. The Executive Summary for the English Language Arts study stated:
The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts (CCSS-ELA) are strongly aligned to the Nebraska English Language Arts Standards (NELAS) in the general concepts and content necessary for students to be college and career ready by the end of their K-12 schooling experience.
The McREL study found that the Common Core Mathematics Standards are more rigorous than the Nebraska Standards. The Executive Summary for the Mathematics study indicated:
The Nebraska Standards and the Common Core standards are organized differently resulting in a high number of partial matches (i.e., it may take three Common Core Standards to exemplify what is listed in one Nebraska standard or vice versa.)
To compare Nebraska’s Standards with the Common Core Standards is like comparing two cars on Consumer Reports’ Worst Cars List. One is better than the other, but both are poor choices and will give the future owner a lot of trouble!
Nebraska does need to write and adopt new standards, but it is the people of Nebraska — not the federal government — who should write Nebraska standards for Nebraskans. [That process is underway.]
The Common Core Standards in English Language Arts cover more than just ELA (English Language Arts). The full name is: The K–12 Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects. Clearly, the Common Core ELA Standards extend into other subject areas. The Achieve website includes this subsection and description:
Literacy Standards in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects
Starting in grade 6, the reading and writing standards are divided into two sections, one focusing on ELA, and the other focusing on history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. http://www.achieve.org/files/AchievingCCSS-ELAFINAL.pdf
Brief History of Common Core and Achieve
Progressives have been pushing for national standards for a long time. Under Obama, their dreams are becoming reality; ObamaCORE is here!
Mary Grabar succinctly captured a brief history of the Common Core in her 9.21.12 article “Terrorist Professor Bill Ayers and Obama’s Federal School Curriculum.” Grabar stated:
The history goes back decades, but in the most recent phase, the vision for Common Core was set in 2007, by the Washington-based contractor, Achieve, Inc., in a document entitled “Benchmarking for Success.” http://www.aim.org/special-report/terrorist-professor-bill-ayers-and-obamas-federal-school-curriculum/
In October 2009, the Renaissance Group sponsored a three-day conference in Washington, D.C. Keynote speakers were Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter, and unrepentant-terrorist Bill Ayers (Weather Underground founder).
At this conference, Nevin Brown of Achieve, Inc., made a presentation on the “Common Core State Standards” Initiative. Clearly, Achieve was a key player in developing the new national standards. Because Bill Ayers was a major speaker at the conference, he likewise played an important role in the national curriculum. Achieve has never disavowed William Ayers or his teaching methods.
From the very beginning, Achieve, Inc. has played a pivotal role in the Common Core Standards. This Washington, D.C. organization is the primary author of the Common Core Standards. The Achieve website carries this statement in a footer:
Achieve has partnered with NGA and CCSSO on the Common Core State Standards Initiative and a number of its staff and consultants served on writing and review teams. http://www.achieve.org/files/AchievingCCSS-ELAFINAL.pdf
A close associate of Bill Ayers is Linda Darling-Hammond. The school created by Darling-Hammond (Stanford New School) had the distinction of making California’s list of the lowest-achieving five percent! This unremarkable academician served as education director on Obama’s transition team (late 2008). In a 1.02.09 Huffington Post column, Bill Ayers argued for her nomination as Education Secretary. (Obama chose Arne Duncan instead.)
Can you guess where Linda Darling-Hammond landed? Darling-Hammond is in charge of content specifications at the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). (The other Common Core assessment consortium is Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.)
Darling-Hammond also sits on the Governing Board of Alliance for Excellent Education, Inc., a Common Core advocacy organization. Additionally, she actively promotes the secretive CSCOPE curriculum used in Texas.
National assessments are extremely important! Under Obama and Duncan, the federal government will pressure teachers to teach whatever is on the national assessments each and every day. Teachers will be forced to “teach to the test.”
I could argue that Linda Darling-Hammond will have as much influence on children’s minds in her Assessment / Achieve role as she would have had as Education Secretary! Clearly, her radical progressive views will be thoroughly embedded in the Common Core Assessments.
Achieve, Inc. — Nebraska Connection
On 9.06.13, Shane Vander Hart wrote a revealing article “Nebraska Under Pressure to Adopt Common Core” for Truth in American Education.
In this piece, Shane revealed that Governor Dave Heineman sits on the Board of Directors of Achieve, Inc. http://www.achieve.org/our-board-directors
To see where Gov. Heineman stands on the Common Core, click this link:http://vimeo.com/41030624
Based on what we know about Achieve, Inc., I am wondering why a Conservative Republican Governor would endorse Achieve and Common Core. [Please ask Governor Heineman.]
Quality of the Common Core Standards
The Common Core proponents talk about how great the Common Core Standards are and how they will make students “college-ready.” Are the Common Core Standards really high quality standards?
A strong Common Core proponent is the NCEE (National Center on Education and the Economy). A 2013 document by the NCEE erroneously indicates that it is not important to have high education standards in high school under Common Core. The document states:
Mastery of Algebra II is widely thought to be a prerequisite for success in college and careers. Our research shows that that is not so…Based on our data, one cannot make the case that high school graduates must be proficient in Algebra II to be ready for college and careers. http://www.ncee.org/college-and-work-ready/
NCEE is not joking; they actually believe this nonsense! Maybe the Common Core should quit using the word “rigorous.”
[As a Civil Engineer with a B.S.C.E and M.S.C.E., I can say emphatically that higher level math skills are absolutely essential in this high-tech world!]
The Common Core favors cutting out basic math skills, such as being able to convert fractions to decimals. Proponents call this learning “fewer but deeper” concepts. I call it foolishness! Common Core also delays the age at which students should be able to work with certain algorithms; this puts students several years behind our mathematical competitors in Asia.
Again, the NCEE report is erroneous when it states that traditional high school English classes (with their emphasis on classic literature and personal, narrative writing) are useless. The report basically says that Common Core will save students from the worthless classics by emphasizing informational texts in technical subjects and social studies. The report explains:
The Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts (CCSSE) address reading in history/social studies as well as science and technical subjects, and in so doing may increase the relevance of high school instruction. http://www.ncee.org/college-and-work-ready/
In a 9.08.13 article by Christel Swasey entitled “Top Ten Professors Calling Out Common Core’s So-called College Readiness,” she points out that leading professors stand in direct opposition to NCEE and question the quality of the Common Core Standards. http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/top-ten-professors-calling-out-common-cores-so-called-college-readiness/
Ten brilliant American professors have spoken out eloquently to say that the Common Core is far from its claim of representing academic excellence. Here are a few quotations from the top ten professors:
1. Dr. James Milgram (Stanford University —
We hear no proponents or endorsers of Common Core’s standards warning this country about the effects of the college-readiness level in Common Core’s mathematics standards on postsecondary and post-baccalaureate academic and professional programs. http://www.uaedreform.org/wp content/uploads/2000/01/ZimbaMilgramStotskyFinal.pdf
2. Dr. Sandra Stotsky (University of Arkansas) —
At this time we can only conclude that a gigantic fraud has been perpetrated on this country, in particular on parents in this country, by those developing, promoting, or endorsing Common Core’s standards.
We have no illusion that the college-readiness level in ELA will be any more demanding than Common Core’s college-readiness level in mathematics. http://www.uaedreform.org/wp content/uploads/2000/01/ZimbaMilgramStotskyFinal.pdf
3. Dr. Alan Manning (Brigham Young University) —
The Core standards just set in concrete approaches to reading/writing that we already know don’t work very well. Actual learning outcomes will stagnate at best. http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/byu-professor-alan-manning-expresses-concerns-about-common-core-slashing-story-writing-and-classic-story-reading/
4. Dr. Christopher Tienken (Seton Hall University) —
Education reform in the United States is being driven largely by ideology, rhetoric, and dogma instead of evidence…. Where is the evidence of the efficacy of the standards? http://christienken.com/2013/04/08/translating-the-common-core/
Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who was on Common Core’s Validation Committee, made these comments about the ELA standards:
Common Core’s 50/50 mandate makes it impossible for English teachers to construct a coherent literature curriculum [50 percent literature and 50 percent informational texts].
I can only surmise that we received no reply because Common Core’s standards are not internationally benchmarked and there is no research to support the 50/50 mandate.
Reading researchers have since acknowledged there is no research to support Common Core’s claim that an increase in instruction in informational reading in English or other classes will make students college-ready. http://www.uaedreform.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Invited-Indiana-Testimony-SB-193.pdf
By reducing literary study, Common Core’s 50/50 mandate decreases students’ opportunities to develop the analytical thinking skills once fostered in classic literary texts.
Common Core Curriculum
The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) and the Common Core proponents have a number of standard “talking points.” One of those points is that the Common Core Standards are “standards” not “curriculum” and that it is up to the school districts to choose curriculum.
The test writers are driving the curriculum which will be based on the Common Core Standards. Because the Common Core Standards tie teachers’ evaluations to the scores their students make on the Common Core assessments, teachers are pressured to “teach to the test.” Teachers will lose their jobs if the students do poorly on the Common Core tests.
As the Common Core curriculum enters the schools, we are starting to see just how bad it is. An example was recently exposed at Buena Vista High School in Sierra Vista, Arizona. A highly pornographic book was recommended in: Common Core Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects — Common Core Text Exemplars and Sample Performance Tasks (Appendix B). This is the link to the article and book: http://eagnews.org/10th-grade-class-reads-erotic-novel-recommended-by-common-core-proponents/
[The book was on the 11th grade list, but the teacher was teaching it to even younger students in the 10th grade.]
Because the Common Core Standards are copyrighted, the documents cannot be altered. States cannot change one word, even if their teachers find the standards to be wrong, poorly written, or confusing.
Common Core recommends that teachers teach many multicultural, politically correct books and gives teachers and students web links to authors’ sites, thus influencing students to purchase more books by these same authors. Common Core espouses social justice, redistribution of wealth, environmental extremism, socialism, and other ideas; these are advocated at the expense of basic fundamental skills.
Former Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott recently completed a Pioneer Institute report: A Republic of Republics — How Common Core Undermines State and Local Autonomy over K-12 Education, A Pioneer Institute White Paper, by Robert Scott, Sep. 2013. http://pioneerinstitute.org/featured/new-research-on-common-core-damaging-statelocal-school-autonomy/
Commissioner Scott explains a pedagogical method called “cold reading” that is encouraged by the Common Core. With this technique, the teachers have the students read a text cold without any background or context for what they are about to read.
For example, Common Core writer David Coleman instructs the teachers to have the students read the Gettysburg Address — without giving any background context. This leaves students without the ability to understand Abraham Lincoln’s address in the context of the historical moment in time. http://pioneerinstitute.org/featured/new-research-on-common-core-damaging-statelocal-school-autonomy/
Teachers detest this loss of autonomy in the classroom and find that the pedagogical methods recommended by the CCS dumb down their classrooms.
In effect, the manner in which CSSI suggests the standards should be delivered lowers the overall quality, richness, and rigor of the educational experience.
[Pioneer report — page 13]
A very troubling event occurred last year. David Coleman, one of the architects of the Common Core, became the President of The College Board. As the producer of SAT and Advanced Placement (AP) tests, The College Board wields great power over American education. Obviously, Coleman will foster a cozy relationship between ObamaCORE and SAT / AP. This maneuver furthers the Obama takeover of the schools in our country.
David Coleman — (1) who was the main writer of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects, (2) who has never taught a day in K-12, and (3) who is now the head of The College Board and plans to align the SAT with the Common Core Standards — started a company called Student Achievement Partners.
The only thing that Student Achievement Partners does is Common Core Standards. The company played a leading role in development of the Common Core Standards and today the organization supports implementation of CCS.
If the Common Core Standards for English/Language Arts are implemented in our nation’s schools, they will destroy the teaching of the great, time-honored classics of Western civilization and neutralize the belief in our school children that America is an exceptional nation.
Money and the Common Core Standards
The promise of federal money drove most of the states to adopt the Common Core Standards even before they were written. Under the guise of a federal competition, President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan convinced the states to drop their own state standards and embrace the unknown Common Core Standards.
The states signed on to the Common Core Standards without knowing the cost to implement the new standards. For many people, the high implementation cost of CCS is the easiest argument to understand. As taxpayers, we are vitally concerned about the burgeoning cost of government at the federal, state and local levels. The Common Core Standards represent another huge government program, and taxpayers will be forced to pick up the tab. ObamaCORE is horribly expensive!
If Nebraska jumps on the Common Core bandwagon, it will cost the state about $115 million to implement the Common Core Standards. The State would need to spend $8 million on Testing, $42 million on Professional Development, $17 million on Textbooks, and $48 million on Technology. Where will Nebraska taxpayers find $115 million to pay for a mediocre set of education standards? http://educationviews.org/state-specific-common-core-implementation-costs/
Nebraska has some important decisions to make. The State needs to dramatically improve its education standards during the present standards revision process. As I have suggested in other published articles, Nebraska has two very low cost alternatives to writing its own standards. Nebraska could easily utilize Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s English Language Arts Standards; they are excellent and absolutely FREE!
This is the link for the Omaha World-Herald article:
This is the link for Dr. Stotsky’s ELA standards:
Alternatively, Nebraska could adopt the outstanding Texas Standards, deemed by education experts as the best in the country! The Texas Standards (for English, Math, Science, and Social Studies) could easily be modified at very little cost. More importantly, the standards would advance the educational level of Nebraska’s students.
These are the links for the Texas Standards:
English Language Arts and Reading (ELAR) — http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/rules/tac/chapter110/index.html
Social Studies — http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/rules/tac/chapter113/index.html
Without question, Nebraska should not adopt the mediocre Common Core Standards. The Common Core Standards are of poor quality and will foster a “dumbing down” of Nebraska’s students. Instead of focusing on the basics, the Common Core (ObamaCORE) Standards promote the ideology of the writers. To make matters worse, ObamaCORE would cost the State of Nebraska $115 million to implement. Nebraskans can do much better!
Henry W. Burke