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Putting PARCC in reverse, NJ lawmakers look to block graduation requirement

Graduation 13

By Michael Symons February 14, 2017 3:45 AM

New Jersey lawmakers took a first step toward blocking the state Department of Education from requiring high-school students to pass the PARCC test in order to earn a diploma.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers is currently among an array of graduation requirements, but qualifying scores on alternative exams such as the SAT or ACT are being phased out. Starting with the Class of 2021 — currently in the eighth grade — students will have to pass the PARCC’s Algebra 1 and 10th-grade English tests.

Only about half of students are doing that so far in the PARCC’s first two years of use.

“I do not believe it was ever the intent of this Legislature to make PARCC a graduation requirement,” said Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, D-Essex.

“Most states have stopped using it altogether. The decision of state Board of Ed to make PARCC a graduation requirement was, in my view, designed to thwart the opt-out movement,” Jasey said.

Read More: Putting PARCC in reverse, NJ lawmakers look to block graduation requirement |

Read More: Putting PARCC in reverse, NJ lawmakers look to block graduation requirement |

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America’s kids got more stupid in reading, math and science while Team Obama was in charge


By Todd Starnes

Published February 09, 2017

American school kids became more stupid under the Obama administration, according to rankings released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

They recently released the results of a worldwide exam administered every three years to 15-year-olds in 72 countries. The exam monitors reading, math and science knowledge.

Based on their findings, the United States saw an 11-point drop in math scores and nearly flat levels for reading and science.

The Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, fell below the OECD average – and failed to crack the top ten in all three categories.

In other words, thanks to the Obama administration’s education policies, kids in the Slovac Republic are more proficient in multiplication.

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Poor Children Deserve an Education too

Betsy DeVos as Secretary of the Department of Education


January 17,2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, so who’s Afraid of Betsy DeVos? “Mrs. Devos’s Most Important Qualification is that She Has the Courage of Her Convictions”, in an editorial the Wall Street Journal attempts to answer the critics and make the case to provide poor children with better educational opportunities. We know the unions don’t like it and neither do Democrat, lawmakers looking to stifle their constituents keeping them fat, dumb and happy.
Who’s Afraid of Betsy DeVos?
The Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal Opinion
January 14th, 2017
Click Here to Read

Democrats are searching for a cabinet nominee to defeat, and it’s telling that progressive enemy number one is Betsy DeVos. Donald Trump’s choice to run the Education Department has committed the unpardonable sin of devoting much of her fortune to helping poor kids escape failing public schools.

Mrs. DeVos’s most important qualification is that she has the courage of her convictions.

The DeVoses have donated tens of millions of dollars to charity including a children’s hospital in Michigan and an international art competition in Grand Rapids. They’ve also given to Christian organizations, which the left cites as evidence of concealed bigotry. Yet education has been their main philanthropic cause.

During the 1990s, they patronized a private-school scholarship fund for low-income families and championed Michigan’s first charter school law. In 2000 they helped bankroll a voucher initiative, which was defeated by a union blitz. The DeVoses then turned to expanding charters, which have become Exhibit A in the progressive campaign against her.

Two studies from Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (2013, 2015) found that students attending Michigan charters gained on average an additional two months of learning every year over their traditional school counterparts. Charter school students in Detroit gained three months.

The real reason unions fear Mrs. DeVos is that she’s a rare reformer who has defeated them politically. Prior to being tapped by Mr. Trump, she chaired the American Federation for Children (AFC), which has helped elect hundreds of legislators across the country who support private school choice.

AFC has built a broad coalition that includes black and Latino Democrats, undercutting the union conceit that vouchers are a GOP plot to destroy public schools. In 2000 four states had private-school choice programs with 29,000 kids. Today, 25 states have vouchers, tax-credit scholarships or education-savings accounts benefitting more than 400,000 students.

You know progressives have lost their moral bearings when they save their most ferocious assault for a woman who wants to provide poor children with the education they need to succeed in America.

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Meet Joe Rullo he want to drain the Swamp in Trenton


January 13,2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, like many of you we have been concerned over the State of New Jersey’s sustainability . The tax base in New Jersey has been under precipitous decline since Jon Corzine. Soon there will be no one here left to pay all the taxes .

In 2017, New Jersey voters will elect a new governor to succeed Chris Christie. So far many of the potentials are same old same old from ,Murphy (Corzine2.0) to our Lt .Gov.

One of the people vying for the Republican Joe Rullo you can find him on Facebook ; Rullo for Governor 2017. He is running a very Trump inspired unorthodox campaign relying heavily on social media .

Basically we went to his website and let him speak for himself ; “As Governor I will reduce property taxes, repeal the $.23 gas tax, dissolve the transportation SLUSH fund, Veto all tax increases, cut billions in political earmarked jobs and contracts, eliminate state income taxes on pensions for retirees and add 1 billion in new revenue sources to further lower taxes. I Will dissolve the Transportation Trust Fund and consolidate all highway authorities eliminating redundant high level management positions, eliminate high cost earmark & specialty contracts tied to contributors.. It will produce millions in savings with shared services and purchases.

I will eliminate tolls and repeal the gas tax with the savings from the new efficient transparent highway entity. I will also eliminate 1.3 billion in pension fees to NYC politically connected brokerage houses and replace with licensed brokers in the state investors division to pay towards pension payment.

Superintendents and business administrators need to be reduced drastically. Instead of having one superintendent and business administrator per school district, we need to cut the number to one per county. By consolidating superintendents & business administrators, we can save $50 million per year by eliminating superintendents alone. And will work to also eliminate municipal tax assessors to one per county. I will fire hundreds of high-salary patronage jobs like indicted Port Authority’s David Wildstein, as an example, saving hundreds of millions of dollars to cut taxes.

Second Amendment Stance

First – I will appoint 2A justices. Governor Christie just appointed a liberal Democrat. Silence from everyone?

Second. I will elect Republicans to control both houses instead of running for President.

Third. I will appoint Pro 2A/ Carry Conceal NJ AG for the obvious reasons.

Fourth. I will exhaust executive process and test courts. And like I have more than proven will work with expert 2A resources to reach the goal of Carry Conceal without justifiable need in NJ. Most importantly, I will present the argument of the change in times with domestic terrorist, shooters, and gangs all carrying illegally regardless of the law – leaving the law abiding sitting ducks.


I want to make NJ the capital of where veterans can count on love, respect, and the care a hero deserves. I want NJ to be the model of how veterans should be treated.

As Governor I pledge:

To fight to eliminate state income taxes on all veterans pension regardless of age.
Transition NJ hospitals to accept VA health benefits.
Hire unemployed veterans to protect NJ against terrorist & domestic shooters.
Create a cabinet position, “No Veteran Left Behind”.
Our US Senator Booker visits prisons to advocate for cheaper phone calls for prisoners, but has not visited a NJ VA hospital. I will fight for the heroes who gave us our happiness and freedom.


Since the start of No Child Left Behind and continued under Race to the Top, NJ parents and students have been saddled with the Common Core Standards. Parents feel like they can’t help their children with their homework because it is something they have never learned before and the children are left floundering in schools with too many children and not enough teachers to explain things to them. The State then decided to force the PARCC (Partnership for Readiness for College and Careers) test on our children. This has resulted in schools and teachers focusing their teaching efforts, not on learning, but on test results. This is wrong and only hurts our children who deserve a comprehensive learning program not a regimen of tests.

As Governor I will end PARCC testing completely and direct the Department of Education to draw up new, independent education standards that will return NJ to the top of the best educated Students in the Country.

Students come out of High School and don’t know how to balance a checkbook, write a resume or know anything about personal credit. Common Core needs to become Common Sense. Teachers need to be allowed to teach and not recite facts mandated from Washington, or some Corporation making money from our tax dollars. We need to provide better opportunities for students who decide to enter the workforce directly from high school with expanded vocational schools. The future of New Jersey depends on it!

Illegal immigration

Illegal immigration destroyed the Landscaping industry for legal businesses following the laws, and is just as devastating to NJ jobs. It’s difficult to compete with a business not paying payroll taxes, employee comp, and not following the same rules. All the jobs lost are directly proportional to NJ unemployment. Just ask business owners following the rules. Ask the employees unemployed or underemployed. Imagine the losses to employee comp insurance revenue and state income taxes. The impact on rates for businesses following the law!

Many illegal immigrants are now running businesses themselves with illegal employees charging less than half of what a job is worth. This summer I couldn’t do a job for cost what an illegal competitor was charging. One of these illegal business owners drives around with a fraudulent license from Mexico with a New Jersey address. He built his business stealing accounts from his former employer for 10 plus years who also used illegal immigrants. The company was fined 13k for failing to have a home improvement license last year. The courts are buried in old warrants from illegal immigrants who never show up to court. They don’t exist.

Our police are overburdened with hands virtually tied because NJ is a sanctuary state. Out of state license plates and DMV fraud are the law of the land. As Governor I will implement E- Verify for all employees working in New Jersey and work with President Donald Trump to eliminate sanctuary cities across NJ. Everyone must follow the same rules in business and follow the law. Our veterans will of NJ will be first priority in NJ hospitals not illegal immigrants.

Heroin Epidemic

There are numerous examples of heroin dealers getting probation for first time offenses in NJ. All it takes is one time to kill someone with this poison they call heroin. Tell the families who have lost loved ones to this poison that first time dealers should get a break. No heroin dealer should get off with probation fo non violent first offense. I will do everything in my power as Governor to make it a living hell for heroin dealers in NJ. With that being said they should be charged for attempt of murder for distribution and automatic manslaughter if someone dies from their distribution. Backed up court systems enabling these criminals to poison our society for court dates as long as one year or more will be another main focus.

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The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland


Reader ...”I worked part time and my kids got picked up at their elementary school and transported to enrichment 2-3x/week. My greatest joy was picking them up from kindergarten, watching them play with friend in the playground and then going out for lunch or.making.lunch together. As a parent, I would not want ffull day K…they grow up too quickly not to treasure those early years together.”

Forget the Common Core, Finland’s youngsters are in charge of determining what happens in the classroom.

“The changes to kindergarten make me sick,” a veteran teacher in Arkansas recently admitted to me. “Think about what you did in first grade—that’s what my 5-year-old babies are expected to do.”

The difference between first grade and kindergarten may not seem like much, but what I remember about my first-grade experience in the mid-90s doesn’t match the kindergarten she described in her email: three and a half hours of daily literacy instruction, an hour and a half of daily math instruction, 20 minutes of daily “physical activity time” (officially banned from being called “recess”) and two 56-question standardized tests in literacy and math—on the fourth week of school.

That American friend—who teaches 20 students without an aide—has fought to integrate 30 minutes of “station time” into the literacy block, which includes  “blocks, science, magnetic letters, play dough with letter stamps to practice words, books, and storytelling.” But the most controversial area of her classroom isn’t the blocks nor the stamps: Rather, it’s the “house station with dolls and toy food”—items her district tried to remove last year. The implication was clear: There’s no time for play in kindergarten anymore.

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Common Core: The End of Education


The End of Education

Joseph Pearce | February 19, 2014

“The one thing that is never taught by any chance in the atmosphere of public schools,” wrote G. K. Chesterton, “is…that there is a whole truth of things, and that in knowing it and speaking it we are happy.”[1] Such words would be greeted with calculated coldness by the architects of the common core curriculum, who would no doubt respond with chilling indifference that there is no whole truth of things and therefore no meaningful happiness to be derived from it. Modernity never gets beyond Pontius Pilate’s famous question, quid est veritas, which is asked not in the spirit of philosophy as a question to be answered, but in the ennui of intellectual philandery as merely a rhetorical question that is intrinsically unanswerable. This intellectual philandery spawns numerous illegitimate children, each of which has its day as the dominant fad of educationists, at least until a new intellectual fad replaces it. It is in the nature of fads to fade but in the brief period in which they find themselves in the fashionable limelight they can cause a great deal of damage, a fact that Chesterton addressed with customary adroitness in 1910, over a century ago:

The trouble in too many of our modern schools is that the State, being controlled so specially by the few, allows cranks[2] and experiments to go straight to the schoolroom when they have never passed through the Parliament, the public house, the private house, the church, or the marketplace.

Obviously it ought to be the oldest things that are taught to the youngest people; the assured and experienced truths that are put first to the baby. But in a school today the baby has to submit to a system that is younger than himself. The flopping infant of four actually has more experience and has weathered the world longer than the dogma to which he is made to submit.

Many a school boasts of having the latest ideas in education, when it has not even the first idea; for the first idea is that even innocence, divine as it is, may learn something from experience.[3]

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A Failing Grade for Common Core



According to Professor Kenneth Calvert, Common Core, well-intentioned from the beginning, will utterly fail its students. Rather than raising the educational standard in the United States, it codifies and federally enforces mediocrity. Worse yet, in regulating education the federal government has overstepped its constitutional boundaries, by attempting to control teaching methods, preventing teachers from exercising their craft effectively.

The following video is a clip from Q&A 5 of Hillsdale’s Online Course: “A Proper Understanding of K-12 Education: Theory and Practice,” featuring Kenneth Calvert, Associate Professor of History and Headmaster of Hillsdale Academy, and John J. Miller, Director of the Dow Journalism Program.


John J. Miller:

What do you think of Common Core?

Kenneth Calvert:

Common Core is one of these well-intentioned pieces of legislation in which the federal government is trying to do something for children. They’ve perceived that children are behind the rest of the world and so let’s create a national legislation that’s not going to be forced on states, but we’ll give them money, and the states will take it. It’s just wrong-headed in so many ways. Number one, it’s unconstitutional. From the get-go there is nothing constitutional about the federal government getting its hand into education. Number two, it doesn’t do what they want it to do.

[The Federal Government] wanted to raise standards in their minds commensurate with, equal with, world standards. Neither the literature nor the science or the math standards come anywhere near that. What Common Core has ended up doing is creating, basically, what they considered to be, the lowest common denominator, the average point which students can be expected to reach. In our school and from the Hillsdale perspective it’s our belief that if you hold the bar high, very few kids are going to get there, but most of these kids are going to get beyond anywhere they ever thought they would get, that they would actually achieve higher goals than they thought they could.

By keeping the bar low, by keeping it at this kind of average, you have doomed [students] to a low level of education. They never know how far they can go. We think that it lowers the bar. It lowers the expectations.

It also does not allow teachers to be teachers. Teachers in the Common Core are teaching to tests. Much of the curriculum more and more is becoming scripted so that can’t have a Socratic dialogue, a give and take where most of the real education actually takes place.

Teachers are being robbed of their calling, of their discipline. What you begin to create here in a number of these efforts of the Federal Government to create new educational legislation, what you’ve done is begin to create bureaucrats in the classroom rather than real teachers. I’ve met teachers in public and private and charter schools who are looking at what’s coming down the pike, and they are not happy. More and more, especially some of the older teachers, they will tell me that what they used to be able to do twenty years ago, which was exciting, enlivening, and drawing out a love of the life of the mind in their students—all of that is beginning to disappear.

It’s well-intentioned legislation, right? We know what good intentions lead to. It is not to the right place. We need to give our teachers, our schools–public, private, charter–greater freedom to be what they need to be. This also demands that our teachers be highly educated, learned, true experts in their areas. They need to be the ones in the classrooms really bringing out this love of learning and love of the life of the mind in these young ones. Honestly, we’re not doing a lot of that right now either.

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Common Core Does Not Prepare Students for College, New Report Finds


Mary Clare Reim / @Mary_Clare21 / June 14, 2016

A recently released report confirms what Common Core critics have suspected all along: Common Core State Standards do not adequately prepare students for college-level work.

The ACT report finds many concerning shortcomings in the Common Core State Standards, which have been adopted by most states. Notably, the report reveals:

“While secondary teachers may be focusing on source-based writing [essays written about source-based documents], as emphasized in the Common Core, college instructors appear to value the ability to generate sound ideas more than some key features of source-based writing.
“Some early elementary teachers are still teaching certain math topics omitted from the Common Core standards, perhaps based on the needs—real or perceived—of students entering their classrooms.
“In addition, many mathematics teachers in grades 4–7 report including certain topics relevant in STEM coursework in their curricula at grades earlier than they appear in the Common Core.”

Teachers who must adjust their curriculum to fit Common Core aligned state tests now find themselves in a bind. As the report finds, the Common Core math standards do not adequately provide a child with the skills needed to succeed in the classroom, forcing teachers to add on extra material to their limited instruction time.

Additionally, high school English teachers must now emphasize material that leaves students lacking in original thought and analytical skills, according to many college professors. For example, only 18 percent of college professors surveyed rated their students as prepared to distinguish between opinion, fact, and reasoned judgement—a skill determined to be important for college-level work.

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The “one-size-fits-all” national standards are underserving American children. It is nearly impossible, and does a great disservice to future generations, to demand uniformity and place restrictions on the classroom that assumes one “best practice.”

Each child’s unique abilities require variation in teaching styles and curriculums. Common Core limits a parent’s say in their child’s curriculum, making the possibility of an education suited to his needs a near impossibility. Unfortunately, this report indicates that in an attempt to create uniform standards for achievement, Common Core fails to create the building blocks necessary to prepare aspiring students for college-level work.

The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke and Jennifer Marshall predicted the unintended consequences of Common Core in 2010:

It is unclear that national standards would establish a target of excellence rather than standardization, a uniform tendency toward mediocrity and information that is more useful to bureaucrats who distribute funding than it is to parents who are seeking to direct their children’s education.

Education isn’t mentioned in the U.S. Constitution; it is quintessentially a state and local issue. Common Core forces uniformity on America’s ingenious system of federalism—which decentralizes power and allows different, but finely attuned policies to serve communities.

Yet initiatives like Common Core—and other efforts before it to establish national standards and tests—reinforce a misalignment of power and incentives, forcing states to respond to the demands of bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., instead of being responsive to the needs of families.

Correcting that misalignment will come by infusing education choice throughout K-12 education, by ensuring every child can access options like vouchers, tuition tax credit scholarships, and education savings accounts in order to be able to finance education options that fit their unique learning needs.

Instead of more centralization, which further removes parents from the decision-making process, states should fully exit Common Core and work to create choices for every family. Restoring parental control of education is essential to establishing truly high standards.

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Common Core and the Centralization of American Education


By Lindsey Burke, Neal McCluskey, Theodor Rebarber, Stanley Kurtz, William A. Estradaand Williamson M. Evers

Stop a federal bureaucrat, a schoolteacher, and a parent on the street and you will likely hear three different observations about what education can, and should, do. Considering these differing perspectives provides insight into why opposition to Common Core has been strongest among parents. National standards may provide useful information to state and federal policymakers, but have driven curriculum and pedagogy in a way that dissatisfies parents. Each of the essays contained in this short compendium delivers a different perspective on the shortcomings of the push for Common Core national standards, but each concludes that American education will not flourish under a system that is increasingly centralized.


Lindsey BurkeWill Skillman Fellow in Education
Domestic Policy Studies

Neal McCluskey

Theodor Rebarber

Stanley Kurtz

William A. Estrada

Williamson M. Evers


What should education accomplish? The question has a narrow answer when the respondent is a federal bureaucrat, charged with counting academic outcomes in the aggregate to assess student performance relative to some national metric. But as the respondent gets closer to the student—or is himself the student—the answer is far more refined and paints a more nuanced picture of what individuals hope to achieve through education.

Stop a federal bureaucrat, a school teacher, and a parent on the street and you will likely hear three different observations about what education can, and should, do. The federal bureaucrat may respond in terms of what education should accomplish for the nation; the teacher might filter her response through the lens of her classroom; and the parent, naturally, will think in aspirational terms of what she hopes education can do for her child.

Considering these differing perspectives on the purpose of education provides insight into why opposition to Common Core has been strongest among parents and why national organizations and governors—responding to federal incentives to stick with the national standards and tests—have been slower to reverse course or even reconsider. National standards may provide useful information to state and federal policymakers, but they have driven curriculum and pedagogy in a direction that dissatisfies parents.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative was created by Achieve, Inc., and driven primarily by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association. The effort began moving forward in earnest in 2009, with the financial support of the Obama Administration. Following the introduction of Common Core, the Administration offered $4.35 billion in federal Race to the Top grant money, along with waivers from the onerous provisions of the widely derided No Child Left Behind Act.

Forty-six states signed on to Common Core, either enticed by the waiver/grant package dangled before them by Washington, or out of a belief in the project itself. Whatever the motivation, the Common Core standards, along with federally funded common assessments aligned to the standards, put American education on the path toward a national curriculum.

Some policymakers and many parents voiced concerns about what would surely lead to significant growth in federal intervention in education as a result of the federally funded Common Core push. As columnist George Will put it, Common Core is “the thin end of a potentially enormous federal wedge.”[1] As Will concludes:

It is not about the content of the standards, which would be objectionable even if written by Aristotle and refined by Shakespeare. Rather, the point is that, unless stopped now, the federal government will not stop short of finding in Common Core a pretext for becoming a national school board.

To improve education, choice is the only “common standard” that is needed. Parents should have choice among schools, teaching methods, and, critically, curricula.

The essays contained in this short compendium each deliver a different perspective on the shortcomings of the push for Common Core national standards, but each concludes that American education will not flourish under a system that is increasingly centralized. They are each adapted from talks delivered at The Heritage Foundation on November 19, 2014.

—Lindsey M. Burke

The March Toward Centralized Education

A historical review of federal education policy makes one fact clear: the trajectory of Common Core is a direct path to a federal curriculum.

During the colonial period and into the 1830s, education was something that was expected to occur in the home, in voluntary communities, in religious communities—the government, especially the national government, did not have a large role. Indeed, until about 1830 and the beginning of the Common School movement, education was something that was based in civil society. In the 1830s, Horace Mann became the “Father of the Common Schools,” and he and others pointed to Prussia, France, and the Netherlands to make their case for nationalized education. This is not to argue that Mann desired federal control, but in the common school model the germs of federal involvement in education are visible.

In 1867, the first iteration of the U.S. Department of Education was introduced. But within two years it was downgraded to just a bureau of education, the function of which was to collect statistics, not in any way control education. The next federal foray into K–12 education—though the law was more about higher education—would not come until almost a century later, with the 1958 National Defense Education Act (NDEA).

At this juncture, the federal government was still trying to find constitutional justification for its involvement in education by arguing its actions were, for instance, connected to defense, something over which the Constitution gives the federal government authority. In any event, the NDEA was the first time the federal government became significantly involved in trying to control education. This federal involvement was not limited to higher learning; it also encompassed K–12 education, driven by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) issues, the justification being that the United States needed more scientists, more engineers, and better mathematicians.

By 1965, the federal government, through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), expanded its involvement beyond areas with explicit defense connections. Importantly, the government did not mention increased federal control over education; rather, funding was the primary justification for this expansion

In 1979, the Department of Education was created, largely at the behest at the National Education Association (NEA). The NEA was, at this point, a new teacher’s union (albeit a very large teacher’s union). When Jimmy Carter was elected President, power over education became further concentrated in Washington.

In 1983, with the publication of “A Nation at Risk,” further centralization of education in Washington became a moral imperative. People began to look to the federal government to fix the nation’s crippled education system. Shortly thereafter, the ESEA reauthorization required, for the first time, that states define achievement levels for federally supported students and identify schools in which students were not making acceptable progress.

In 1994, GOALS 2000 was proffered, which contained a small financial incentive for states to adopt standards and assessments. At the same time, the ESEA was reauthorized as the Improving America’s Schools Act, with an eye toward linking adoption of standards and tests to a state’s ability to acquire Title I funds. Meanwhile, the federal government funded the development of national standards in several subjects, but the history standards were pretty much reviled by the entire country, and Congress halted, at least for the moment, the overt move toward national standards.

In 2001, the debate over the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act began, and by January 2002 the legislation had been signed into law. The passage of the NCLB is a landmark moment for federal control in education, as, for the first time, Washington was to dictate state standards, while mandating state testing and yearly progress goals—even the breaking down of scores by sub-groups of students. The NCLB did not, however, prescribe what would be taught.

In July 2009, the Department of Education announced Race to the Top, which called for states to be evaluated on a number of criteria proposed by the Obama Administration. For example, states would now have to adopt common standards that were common to a majority of states. There was only one standard that met that requirement, so it was not stated specifically in the regulations; its identity, however, was obvious: Common Core. Race to the Top was followed by waivers from the NCLB, again attached, in part, to the adoption of common standards by states.

Why is Common Core problematic? As evidence from both inside and outside the United States makes clear, centralization and control do not work; rather, freedom is the force that sparks educational improvement. Freedom unleashes competition, which, in turn, drives innovation and leads to specialization. The idea that there should be one monolithic set of standards and that everybody should move at the same rate makes no sense, as anyone who has met more than one child can readily attest.

Moreover, real accountability, immediate accountability, comes from freedom, choice, the ability to leave a provider that is not giving you what you want and take your business elsewhere. That is why there are a lot of recommendations for what to do when states get rid of Common Core.

Ultimately, the solution to America’s education problems is not more centralization. Instead, the answer is to create school choice for everyone. Furthermore, America’s teachers need to be free to try different approaches, so they can focus on the needs of unique subsets of students. Funding should also be attached to students, so that parents can seek out those providers that are best for the unique needs of their child. Ultimately, this nation has moved in exactly the wrong direction. Americans do not need centralization at the national level; rather, we need to move to complete decentralization so we can treat children as what they are: unique individuals.

—Neal McCluskey

Instead of Nationalization, States Need to Provide Local Flexibility on Standards and Assessments

At the dawn of the educational standards and testing reform movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s, two very different arguments were advanced on behalf of state academic standards and tests as a replacement for what had been a local decision. These two arguments were based on different models for how reform based on standards and tests would impact schools and students.

The first of these models was advanced by Chester “Checker” Finn Jr., a former Assistant Secretary of Education in the Reagan Administration. Finn maintained that a shift to school choice—which he supported—required that parents be informed choosers; that as in any market, consumers must be able to make an informed choice in order for the market to be effective in promoting quality products and services. Within the education context, Finn argued, parental consumers would need to be informed by standards-based tests developed by the states in order to ensure their rigor and reliability. In this model, the standards-based assessments serve as an end-of-year quality check that parents can use to inform a decision to choose a different school for their child or to keep him or her in the same school. Because this model relies on market-based language, many conservatives, and even some libertarians, were persuaded to support the state standards and testing movement.

The second intellectual model for state standards and testing, referred to as “systemic reform,” was advanced by Marshall “Mike” Smith, who later became Undersecretary of Education in the Clinton Administration. In Smith’s model, as it was refined over time, curriculum standards serve as the fulcrum for educational reform implemented based on state decisions; state policy elites aim to create excellence in the classroom using an array of policy levers and knobs—all aligned back to the standards—including testing, textbook adoption, teacher preparation, teacher certification and evaluation, teacher training, goals and timetables for school test score improvement, and state accountability based on those goals and timetables.

As it turned out, it is the second model that now predominates and drives instruction in most public schools and districts. Rather than a state-validated metric used to inform parental choice at the end of the school year, state academic standards became a blueprint according to which schools and classrooms operate throughout the year as well as a tool used by policymakers to oversee them from above. The disappointing track record of this approach in achieving its ambitious goals resulted, in 2009, in its adherents proposing national—rather than state—academic standards and testing: Common Core.

As the full effects of standards-based “systemic reform” were felt in state after state since the implementation of the federal NCLB, opposition—including from parents—has grown. Parents support testing when they can use it as one piece of information among others to evaluate whether the needs of their children are being met. Such usage has been the historical role of testing in private schools, where it does not drive the curriculum or school operations. If the results are not what parents expect, they are free to discuss the matter with the school’s educators and, if not satisfied, transfer their child to a different private school. Parents continue to support this use of testing; however, support for standards-based tests as a major, even dominant, focus of instruction and academic operations is now declining. Standards are, after all, not well-designed as a roadmap for instruction. Indeed, from the standpoint of many parents, having your child reduced to a decimal point in a state accountability formula used by bureaucrats to judge your school is problematic. Parents do not support such testing because it does not necessarily meet the needs of their child; in fact, such rigid formulas are often not very useful in evaluating overall school quality either.

Common Core defines and constrains the content and sequencing of the curriculum—and, in many cases, even the instructional methods—to such an extent that the distinction is disingenuous.

The Singapore math standards, for example, require mastery of the standard algorithm for addition and subtraction at early elementary grades. (On this point, they are generally consistent with the standards of other high-achieving Asian countries.) In first grade, Singapore starts with applying the standard algorithm to addition of 2-digit numbers. The expectation is increased to 3-digit numbers by second grade, followed by 4-digit numbers in third grade. Singapore increases expectations gradually, teaching conceptual understanding as well as computational fluency.

Common Core has a dramatically different approach, even though it claims to be internationally benchmarked. It delays mastery of the standard algorithm for addition and subtraction until fourth grade. Why? At earlier grades, Common Core has students practicing until fluent various “non-standard” approaches, typically based on place value, with the goal of teaching conceptual knowledge. After spending their early elementary years on these alternative approaches, in fourth grade, students are suddenly expected to demonstrate mastery of the standard algorithm with large numbers. Such questionable, unproven approaches should not be mandated nationwide.

Apart from particular topics, Common Core encourages the teaching of all mathematics through an approach that is at odds with what is used in high-achieving nations. Andrew Porter, a scholar who largely subscribes to Common Core’s instructional philosophy—the modern version of instructional progressivism—performed a systematic comparison of all of the Common Core math standards with those of top-achieving nations. He found striking differences in emphasis across grade levels. At the eighth grade, for example, 75 percent of the curriculum standards in high-achieving countries address the “doing” of math—such things as solving word problems or equations. At the same grade level, only 38 percent of the Common Core standards addressed “doing” math; instead, Common Core placed much greater emphasis on such things as talking about math. Common Core is not consistent with international standards.

The bottom line is that these critical curricular differences are at the core of what schools do: both what is taught and how. Schools must be able to differentiate in these crucial areas, offer parents a meaningful choice, and compete to see which best serves the needs of each student.

Instead of states mandating a single curricular approach within their geographic boundaries—much less a single national approach such as Common Core—states should empower local school systems and other educational providers to select quality standards and aligned tests that fit their instructional philosophy, while also empowering parents to choose from among different schools the one which best meets the needs of their children.

—Theodor Rebarber

Curriculum Constriction: Common Core and the Advanced Placement Program

Americans today are divided about the meaning of our history. This division appears to be growing, and represents a significant challenge for our society. Yet, the genius of the Founders was to devise a system that grants citizens at the levels of the state, the school district, and the classroom the freedom to teach not only history, but also every other subject as they see fit. So America’s constitutional system is adept at accommodating our divisions over the meaning of our history, but only for as long as we cherish and protect the principles of federalism, local control, and freedom they embody.

Sadly, these great principles now face a challenge. Until recently, debate over the creeping nationalization of the school curriculum has focused on Common Core. In the fall of 2014, however, the College Board, the nonprofit entity that creates and administers the SAT and Advanced Placement (AP) tests, released a detailed, controversial, and highly directive “framework” for the teaching of AP U.S. History. Prior to this, AP U.S. history teachers were able to follow a brief topical outline that allowed our national story to be taught from a wide range of perspectives.

The release of the new AP U.S. History framework stirred up a national debate. Traditionalists and conservatives criticized the framework for giving short shrift to both the Founding and our fundamental constitutional principles, for highlighting America’s foibles and failings at the expense of our strengths, and for downplaying America’s distinctive characteristics.

Let us first consider the question of which subjects fall under the purview of Common Core. While Common Core is meant to have implications for the teaching of reading and writing in the sciences, in social studies, and in technical classes, for the most part, Common Core is about English and math.

Common Core’s architect, David Coleman, has become president of the College Board. Under Coleman’s leadership, the College Board has begun to radically redesign all of its Advanced Placement exams, not just AP U.S. History. Ultimately, this transformation will also include subjects such as Physics, World History, European History, U.S. Government and Politics, and Art History. So in effect, Common Core covers English and math, while the College Board’s AP subjects cover the rest of the curriculum.

It is important that we do not lose sight of what is happening here in a haze of semantics. No doubt we will be told that AP U.S. History is not formally part of Common Core. That is merely an evasion, like all the other evasions Common Core advocates have thrown up to obscure the federal power grab that has been driving Common Core.

We need to bring the College Board and the AP redesign process into the center of the debate over Common Core. The distinction between Common Core and the AP redesign effort is artificial and only serves to insulate the College Board from public accountability.

We also need to take steps on both the state and federal levels to break the College Board’s monopoly on Advanced Placement testing. After all, even Common Core, which is far too nationalized as it is, has two testing consortia. Yet the College Board is the only company to offer AP testing. And as of now, state and federal governments channel tens of millions of dollars to the College Board, making it in effect a government-supported monopoly.

Congress needs to see to it that its AP testing subsidies are distributed in a way that encourages competition rather than preventing it. Furthermore, states need to consider authorizing the development of alternative AP tests that can compete with those developed by the College Board.

It is time to wake up and realize that Common Core has radically expanded its reach, capturing the entire spectrum of the curriculum, not in name, but in fact. If we are ever to restore local control and public accountability to America’s education system, the College Board’s recent power grab must be a central component of the debate over Common Core.

—Stanley Kurtz

Common Core Even Impacts Those Who Have Chosen Something Different Than Government Schooling

Common Core is good for homeschooling.

In 1999, the National Center for Education Statistics found that there were 850,000 homeschooled students in the United States. Thirteen years later in 2012, the National Center for Education Statistics (an arm of the Department of Education) found that there were 1.8 million homeschool students in the United States.[2] Now homeschooling is growing, and, as those of us who have been fighting Common Core know, 2012 is about the time when Common Core began to be implemented. All of a sudden, Common Core was being foisted upon kids and families in the public schools of states that had adopted the standards.

Homeschooling is skyrocketing. In Alabama, for example, it was reported that growing numbers of families are choosing to homeschool their children in part because of concerns about Common Core in their states.[3] Genevieve Wood reported at The Daily Signal that in North Carolina, where numbers are starting to come out for the 2013–2014 school year, they have seen a massive increase in the number of students who are being homeschooled over the previous year. There were 60,950 homeschoolers in North Carolina in the 2013–2014 school year, a 14.3 percent increase from the prior year. There are now almost 100,000 homeschooled students in North Carolina.[4]

In a recent article in Politico about moms winning the battle of Common Core, there appeared the following great first sentence: “The millions have proven no match for the moms.”[5] Moms and dads—whether in public schools, in private schools, or in homeschools—are frustrated. Parents are losing local control over the education of their children. They are losing the ability to do something as simple as homework with their kids. And now, they are voting with their feet.

The playful opening sentence of this article—that Common Core is great for homeschooling—is true on one level: Yes, homeschool numbers are increasing. But Common Core also threatens the foundation of homeschooling.[6]

Specifically, there is language in federal law—the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—that says that nothing in the act will apply to homeschoolers and private schools that do not receive federal funds.[7] The current Common Core effort has applied solely to the public schools thus far, but if proponents are successful at establishing a nationalized one-size-fits-all approach to education, policymakers will likely inquire as to why homeschoolers and private-schoolers are not taking the same tests. How do we know, the argument will go, that these children are receiving a good education?

Some of the other concerns that we are seeing are tests (SAT, ACT, PSAT) being re-aligned to Common Core.[8] Will homeschoolers be disadvantaged even though they have received an excellent education?

Then there is the concern from school districts misinterpreting these policies. Westfield, New Jersey, for example, tried to force homeschoolers (who are independent of the public school system) to follow Common Core. The Home School Legal Defense Association intervened, and Westfield backed off its outrageous demand. This incident, however, is but a preview of what homeschoolers will face in a truly nationalized education system.[9] Finally, there is also the issue of student databases.[10] Many of the same people who were concerned about Common Core are also concerned about this parallel rise of the loss of control over students’ private information.

In an actual slide presented at a conference in Orlando, Florida, in 2011, the Counsel of Chief State School Officers, which was heavily involved, along with the National Governors Association and Achieve Inc., in pushing Common Core, discussed their recommendations for how to improve their statewide databases with the goal of having national databases. The slide read: “Include student groups not now included, e.g. homeschooled, in the data system.”[11] There is a push, when it comes to centralized education, to include all students (homeschool, public school, and private school) in these databases.

In an effort to be free from Common Core and its onerous mandates, more and more parents are removing their children from America’s public schools. But this battle against Common Core does not just concern homeschoolers—all families, no matter whether their children attend a public school, a private school, or a home school, must work together in this struggle against the standardization of education. As the Supreme Court held in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children is a fundamental right. If we lose control over what our children are being taught, then we have lost that fundamental right.

—William A. Estrada

Common Core: Blocking “Exit” and Stifling “Voice”

One of the most influential and most cited books in social science in the past 50 years is economist Albert Hirschman’s Exit, Voice, and Loyalty.[12]

Hirschman’s book discusses how individuals respond to a situation in which the services on which they rely are deteriorating. The book provides valuable conceptual tools for analyzing the design of the Common Core national curriculum-content standards.

Hirschman points out that the two basic responses to deteriorating services are “exit” and “voice,” where exit means turning to a different provider or leaving the territory, while voice means political participation.[13]

Exit usually has lower costs than voice for the individual. But here we should add the limiting case: Exit can have high costs when individuals are loyal to institutions—thus the third component in Hirschman’s trio of “exit,” “voice,” and “loyalty.”[14]

With exit, you can simply turn to a different provider or move to a different place (sometimes quite nearby, sometimes afar). Such a move is sometimes called “voting with your feet.”

Loyalty can be strong in politics, but it can also be lost.[15] Think of the American Revolution and the breaking away of the United States from the British Empire.

In the 1830s, when Alexis de Tocqueville visited America from France, he found Americans intensely loyal to, and participating in, their public schools. These Americans saw the public schools as extensions of their families and neighborhoods. They viewed public schools—even though public schools in those days usually charged a fee—as akin to voluntarily supported charities and as part of what Tocqueville then, and social scientists today, call “civil society.”[16]The public in those days saw public schools as something quite separate from distant political elites in faraway state and federal capitals.

Tocqueville feared that if ever Americans neglected their participation in associations or local government entities like school committees, the tendency would be toward a loss of liberty and a surrender to what Tocqueville called a “mild despotism.”[17]

Today, many years after Tocqueville, public sentiment about the public schools still retains much of the feeling of “loyalty” that people had in Tocqueville’s day, a feeling that fuels the current passion for local control. Yet—not surprisingly, given the public school monopoly—parents and taxpayers view the public schools as an unresponsive, declining bureaucracy carrying out edicts from distant capitals.[18]

This monopoly problem in public school education was precisely why economist Milton Friedman called for opportunity scholarships (also known as vouchers) to create a powerful exit option.[19]But even in the absence of opportunity scholarships and charter schools, competitive federalism has, in the past, created exit options.[20]

Common Core undermines the exit option and undermines competitive federalism. Indeed, in part, it was designed to do so. It likewise evaded and negated the voice option during the adherence process—and continues to do so. The designers of Common Core wanted nationwide uniformity. States have to adhere to the Common Core in toto because of boilerplate memorandums of understanding. A few topics can be added, but none can be subtracted or moved to a different grade.

There is no feedback loop and no process to consider and implement proposed changes.[21] Any proposed nationwide fixes would have to be negotiated between the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers jointly, as well as each of the adhering states. Such a process is prohibitively difficult to put into practice. Therefore, frustrated constituents who have complaints about the merits of Common Core have no place to exercise their voice in a way that would lead to repair or what Hirschman would call “recuperation.” Instead, critics are driven to oppose the curriculum content of Common Core as a whole.

But as Lenore T. Ealy writes, “regardless of the merit” of the Common Core national standards, “it still matters…whether there are rights of exit.”[22] The policymakers of this malign utopia forgot a few things. They forgot that the desire for voice—the desire for political action—can become particularly intense when people are faced with the prospect of “nowhere to exit to.”[23] They forgot that hemming in parents and teachers would create a demand for political change, alternatives, and escape routes.[24]

Alternatives to the national tests have arisen. Organized parents are pressing for repeal of Common Core and the dropping of the national tests that support it. Some states are already rejecting the national tests.[25] States are also struggling to escape the Common Core cartel itself.[26] Parents are opting out of the Common Core tests.[27] Indeed, what Hirschman calls an “intimate fusion of exit and voice is already underway.”[28]

Ultimately, public response to the imposition of Common Core may bring about what Hirschman calls “a joint grave-digging act.” As of this writing, exit and voice are working hand in glove against Common Core. Perhaps, to use another of Hirschman’s metaphors, “exit” and “voice” will “explode jointly” and “bring down the whole edifice.”[29]

—Williamson M. Evers

About the Authors

Lindsey M. Burke is the Will Skillman Fellow for Education in Domestic Policy Studies, of the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity, at The Heritage Foundation. Neal McCluskey is director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute. Theodor Rebarber is CEO and founder of AccountabilityWorks.Stanley Kurtz is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a contributing editor to National Review Online. William A. Estrada is director of federal relations at the Home School Legal Defense Association. Williamson M. Evers is a Research Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. This essay contains considerable material from longer research projects on the history of efforts to establish a national curriculum in America (sponsored by the Pioneer Institute) and on the history of conservatives and the public schools in America (sponsored by the Hoover Institution). A condensed version of this essay appeared in Education Week, January 14, 2015.

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Common Core education standards are ‘all about the money’


Textbook sales leader says national Common Core education standards are ‘all about the money’ as teacher insists bureaucrats created a ‘new f**king system that f**king sucks to sell more books’

Conservative muckraker group Project Veritas caught a textbook sales executive and a New York teacher talking about Common Core standards
‘I hate kids,’ confessed the textbook sales leader. ‘I’m in it to sell books. Don’t even kid yourself for a heartbeat’
Hidden camera video shows teacher hammering the program as a ‘bulls**t’ system designed ‘to sell more books’
‘Oh my god, it’s all a money game. It’s all a money game,’ she said
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt fired the sales executive Tuesday morning after told the company about the video

The guerrilla video crew that exposed Obamaphone cheaters and shut down the left-wing advocacy group ACORN is at it again, this time hammering the ‘Common Core’ education standards as a scheme for publishers to sell more textbooks.

The West Coast sales manager from one of the nation’s biggest school book sellers, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, told an undercover muckraker with Project Veritas that ‘I hate kids.’

‘I’m in it to sell books,’ Dianne Barrow said of her advocacy for Common Core. ‘Don’t even kid yourself for a heartbeat.’

She added that ‘it’s all about the money. What are you, crazy? It’s all about the money.’

‘You don’t think that the educational publishing companies are in it for education, do you? No, they’re in it for the money.’

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