A publication of Southern Tier TEA Party Patriots
January 2014, No. 26
Part IV: Regarding: Assembly bill 7994
NY Assembly Education Committee and
Senator Flanagan’s Committee:
Common Core MUST Be Repealed
“Frankly, I don’t think there is an alternative to the Common Core.
Those who argue for lower standards and that we should expect less
from students, I frankly think that they are wrong and that their view risks
undermining the long-term prosperity of our state and our country. We need to
ensure that our students graduate ready to work at the next level, whether that
be college or career, and the Common Core is the path to get there.”
John King, Jr., Commissioner of Education,
Common Core Forum, Jamestown High School, Jamestown, NY, December 4, 2013
Undermining the prosperity of our state and country?! The commissioner is parroting words right out
of Common Core. Unbelievably, Commissioner King feels there is no alternative to Common Core.
His own words reveal a man lacking knowledge and out of touch with the public: Lower standards?!
Expect less from students?! The Common Core is the path to get there?! Hogwash!!! Bunk!!! New
York citizens are arguing for higher standards, but ones that truly educate their children, not the
Common Core standards pushing political bias. Does King really believe there is no other path to
educating New York’s children and higher achievement? Or, is Commissioner King merely following
the “company line” of his bosses, the Board of Regents and the executive branch of our government?
Here’s a suggestion for the Commissioner: model New York standards on 1996 rigorous Massachusetts
standards. Children truly were educated under the 1996 standards, and Massachusetts ranked number
one in the country. Its NAEP scores also were laudable. But the commissioner already knows this!
King is on record when he informed the WNED forum audience (12-4-13) that he was an educator in
Massachusetts during that time, and that he had first-hand knowledge of improved achievement by
Massachusetts children. So, in spite of his comments during the Jamestown forum, he does know a
better alternative to Common Core! New York no longer has the reputation of being top state in the
nation, or even near the top. We starting losing that accolade 50 years ago when progressive educrats
began their assault upon our schools—all to the detriment of high achievement by New York children.
Moreover, we ask the commissioner to drop the trite phrase, “career and college ready.” Common Core
authors lack any understanding of what makes students college ready. Their interest is in developing
future workers for the “21st-century global economy,” another empty phrase. Have they forgotten that
America became part of the global economy in 1492? This isn’t new stuff to us. The phrase says
nothing about the future of our country, but it certainly demonstrates our ignorance of the past.
During the Jamestown visit by Commissioner King and Regent Emeritus Bennett (The Post-Journal,
Dec. 10, 2013), they observed classes at three schools, one being a grade 8 class at Persell Middle
School. Here the gentlemen saw students writing their own lesson plans. We are not informed of the
subject matter for the class. Mr. Bennett praised this classroom experience during an interview that
was aired on TV. Ostensibly, the teacher followed Common Core curriculum.
One is puzzled as to why a teacher would turn over such an important and critical function to students?
Would students have the background and knowledge necessary to write critical components for a lesson
plan? Are students even aware of what they need to learn? Isn’t developing lessons plans the key and
critical function for the teacher? The research-based components for writing lesson plans are:
• Anticipatory Set: recall previously learned material;
• Objective and Purpose: answers the question, “Why do we have to learn this stuff?”;
• Input: the essential information, designed activities, and instructional strategies (e.g.,
cooperative learning, lecture, experiment);
• Modeling Correct Performances: demonstrating how to do the task correctly;
• Checking for Understanding: provides the “monitor and adjust” function to ensure that
students are practicing exercises correctly;
• Guided Practice: providing feedback to prevent bad habits from forming, and increase
appropriate behavior; only when students perform the behavior appropriately is independent
• Providing for Independent Practice: homework (Gentile, 1990, p. 437).
Each component requires a person knowledgeable in content and delivery. Writing lessons plans is not
the job of students! That makes this exercise unethical, as well as inefficient, and a tremendous waste
of time. Mr. Bennett’s praise is inappropriate and falls flat!
More praise from Mr. Bennett at the WNED forum, this time for a Lafayette High School class
consisting of two teachers and 12 students: “The time given to each student differed. They get
scaffolding.” “Scaffolding” is the current buzzword for “help.” Individual time and scaffolding hardly
are earthshaking concepts with a 1:6 ratio! He added, “Readiness is better for careers than for college.
Students can go on so that they can get a job.” Let’s be real here: most teachers do not have small
classes of 12 students. A teacher with a class of 25-30 students does not have the luxury of
differentiated teaching; s/he must teach to the entire class. Again, Mr. Bennett’s praise falls flat.
The Current Situation
Reading: Our nation faced a reading problem before Common Core was implemented. On the 2013
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), regarded as the nation’s report card, 30 percent
of grade 4 students in New York placed in Below Basic for reading, while 33 percent placed at Basic.
In other words, more than half (63%) of New York grade 4 students read poorly. Only 9 percent placed
at the Advanced level. Tragically for these high-performing children, under Common Core they will be
placed in their grade-level curriculum, whereas they should be accelerated to meet their needs. There
was a 26 point gap between those eligible for free/reduced lunch and those who are ineligible.
Grade 8 fared no better: scores flat-lined over the years NAEP was given to NY students. Twenty-six
percent placed Below Basic, with 41 percent placing at Basic. As with grade 4, more than half (65%)
of grade 8 students read inadequately. Five percent placed at the Advanced level. The gap between
those eligible for free/reduced lunch and those ineligible was 24 points.
Math: Similar to reading results, more than half (61%) of New York’s grade 4 children exhibit math
deficits. Eighteen percent of grade 4 children placed in Below Basic, while 43 percent placed at Basic.
Only one-third of New York’ grade 4 children are at the Proficient level. A mere eight percent placed at
Advanced. As with reading, children in Advanced category should be accelerated.
Grade 8 results found even fewer students (25%) placing at Proficient level. Sixty-six percent are in
Below Basic and Basic categories. Similar to grade 4, eight percent placed in Advanced.
An examination of the weak EngageNY Mathematics program provides strong indication that future
NAEP results will not improve. We were informed by Dr. R. James Milgram that students in this
program would be two years behind other developed countries by grade 5, and falling further through
the grades. Lead author Dr. Jason Zimba has degrees in astrophysics, physics, mathematics, and a
Ph.D. in physics, but no training in teaching young children. This is a very weak math program!
Tragically, the long-term future for supplying professionals in STEM (Science, Technology,
Engineering, Mathematics) careers is in jeopardy. Zimba stated that his math program does not prepare
students to enter these careers as they will not have opportunity to study pre-calculus and calculus in
high school. He also stated that EngageNY Mathematics does not meet requirements for admission to
selective colleges in the United States. Out goes Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Carnegie Mellon, College of
William and Mary, and many others. What a travesty!!! Zimba said that his math is geared only to
admission to community college. Additionally, EngageNY Mathematics is not research-validated, and
field-testing never occurred. Repeal this weak, restricted, untested math program! It’s a disaster!!!
New York citizens are not content with the above testing results. The public wants higher standards for
its children. Contrary to Mr. Bennett’s pronouncements that most people are onboard with Common
Core—in spite of the backlash he has seen—there is real consensus by parents, teachers, and the
general public that Common Core does not provide higher standards, and achievement levels will not
increase. In fact, the more the public learns about Common Core, the less they like it. This was very
evident at King’s December 4, 2013 forum in Jamestown. Although the commissioner heard the
anguish and passion in remarks from the public, he exhibited not a shred of sympathy, nor did he utter a
kind word of understanding to any. The audience and media were disconsolate by the public comments
of a 10-year-old boy who told of the stress he is under with excessive testing. No comment from King.
The December 12 forum at WNED studios in Buffalo was disgraceful. It’s purpose was not to obtain
honest feedback and opinions from those attending, but to control the flow of information and to stay
on-script. King never heard directly from the audience, only through emotionless, pre-submitted
questions. Obviously, questions could be screened to eliminate those not to his liking. The only
emotion inside was when an activist managed to enter the auditorium. Emotion, however, was seen in
abundance outside the studio where many people, bundled against the lake-effect snow and wind, held
signs up against Common Core.
What the audience and TV viewers saw was the King/Bennett dog-and-pony show, a constant replaying
of the same old tapes to convince New York residents that Common Core is The answer to New York’s
education problems. Obviously, many in the public are not buying this King/Bennett pig-in-a-poke
venture. Remember: Common Core has no research validation, and it never was field-tested prior to
publication! Our children are being experimented upon!
We did our homework. We know these things about Common Core:
• it is a political operation disguised as educational reform [The progressive Left is using the
public schools for its own political agenda. It is John Dewey’s wish-come-true: “I believe that
education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform.” And, “You can’t make
socialists out of individualists. Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the
harmony of the collective society, which is coming where everyone is interdependent.”]
• public education is controlled by a group of bureaucrats and unknown, unaccountable activists
[The progressive agenda will have a stranglehold on our children and all our schools. Arne
Duncan: “Our goal will be to work closely with global partners including UNESCO to
promote qualitative improvements and system-strengthening.”]
• “Common Core is a lesson plan for raising up compliant, non-thinking citizens.” [Words by
John W. Whitehead, Constitutional Attorney, The Rutherford Institute.]
• the commissioner, Board of Regents, and governor undermined and violated our laws [Isn’t
this grounds for prosecution?]
• the former commissioner engaged in unethical actions [Did he quit? Resign under protest?
Fired? The appropriate action was the latter.]
• the Federal government, by law, has no right to interfere with the right of states to educate their
children [Surely there were other options than for the Board of Regents to capitulate for 30
pieces of silver!]
• the concept of Federalism is violated [Shame on those who let this happen on their watch!]
• parents and teachers, those closest to children, are distanced from decision-making when
education is centralized [We hear weeping, do you?]
• “college and career ready” [Dumbed down K-12 schools inevitably lead to dumbed down
college programs and requirements, making a college degree meaningless. Are the Regents on
a deliberate course to destroy our schools and economy? Certainly looks that way!!!]
• political bias is present in curriculum materials [Is it ever!!! Common Core English Standards
are an attempt to impose a particular world view on students.]
• stacking the deck with radical multiculturalism [Students lacking knowledge are being
programmed with multiculturalism. Our nation was founded on universal principles: right and
wrong, liberty and happiness. Common Core’s emphasis on promoting radical multiculturalism
is antithetical to the concepts upon which America was founded, and sets out to undo our
cultural and moral heritage.]
• “critical thinking” is touted but in short supply [Read the Teacher’s Editions of Common Core
texts to find what a mockery is made of questions posed to students. See the grade 12 example
below, and weep.]
• Common Core standards are an example of bait-and-switch [Over and over again we were
told that the Standards are rigorous. This was to keep us in the dark so the Truth would not see
the light of day. Examination of the Standards reveals just how weak they are.]
• misplaced focus on 21st-century global economy jobs [Think Kodak when you hear these
words: “We will need a certain type of employee in the future.” Think John D. Rockefeller: “I
don’t want a nation of thinkers. I want a nation of workers.”]
• the curriculum is weak in spite of protestations from the commissioner, Regent Bennett, and the
other Regents [Have the Regents actually examined, closely, lessons in Common Core texts?
Hard to believe they have based on their comments.]
• top-down programs are antithetical to Americans; they remove control from We the People and
local school boards [Have we come to the point where we must say goodbye to the NY State
Constitution, Article XI, Section 1, and NY Education Law, Article 35 § 1709, Sections 3 and 5?
What a tragedy unless Common Core is repealed!]
• Race To The Top was about money, not about truly educating our children [Those 30 pieces of
• federal programs have horrible track records of waste [think Medicare and Medicaid],
mismanagement [think Medicare and ObamaCare], and higher taxes [the very thing we are
experiencing with ObamaCare].
Education in New York State Has Been High-Jacked!
If we want a true and realistic analysis of the tragedy of Common Core, then The Story-Killers: A
Common-Sense Case Against the Common Core, the newly-released book by Dr. Terrence O. Moore,
serves well as our guide. Moore, a professor of history at Hillsdale College, was founding principal of
Ridgeview Classical Charter Schools. He also helped establish a number of other charter schools
through Hillsdale’s Barney Charter School Initiative. What follows is Moore’s scathing denunciation
showing how the Common Core authors are in bed with the publishing companies:
It is to the textbooks—and particularly to the Teachers’ Editions—we must go to understand what is now
taking place in the nation’s schools and how the Common Core will be “implemented.” [W]ithout the
unquestioned, absolute, and unnecessary dominance of the publishing industry over the nation’s public
schools, the Common Core could hardly be imposed on those schools. By sending out clear signals to
textbook publishers, the authors of the Common Core can determine what gets read in class and how the
things that are read get taught. That nine-tenths of the nation’s teachers are wholly dependent on
textbooks for their interpretation of literature, various assignments, and decision of what gets read or
omitted in the first place, makes the whole enterprise of high-jacking the nation’s schools that much
easier. Thus has a real tyranny gained control of the nation’s schools. The links of the chain are easy to
follow. The authors of the Common Core, through the dictat handed down in the Common Core
documents and through mandatory testing, tell the publishers what to put in the textbooks. The
textbooks in turn tell the teachers what to teach and how to teach. The teachers tell the students what to
think—and not just about literature. If the Common Core is a lamentable and hostile coup d’école,
it should be in the literature textbooks that we find how the superficiality and bias and plain bad reading
manifested in the Standards themselves makes it way into the classrooms (pp. 184-185).
We can add to the above: what gets tested is what gets taught. Because the stakes are very high for
teachers—their jobs are on the line—NY teachers “teach to the test” using Common Core materials.
Teachers are aware that students are being poorly educated, but they fear retribution if they speak
openly. Moreover, under Common Core, English teachers are required to teach at least 50% fiction,
50% informational texts, even up to 70% informational texts by grade 12, leaving only 30% teaching
time for literature. What a barren landscape for NY students! As Moore says, “The question is simply
whether we want our students to spend their time in school reading a history of the grocery bag [or
worse, an EPA regulation] while they could be reading Homer or Shakespeare or Dickens.”
Adding to the problem for English teachers, Common Core literature texts contain history material,
which more correctly belongs in a history class. Will English teachers have the historical knowledge to
put complex historical issues into perspective for students? Hardly, especially since teachers are using
a scripted teacher’s edition. Here’s an example: Before reading anything of the Founding Fathers’
writings, students read comments by a modern author (Professor William L. Andrews) on a topic
intended to color their views. Students then are presented with this statement: “Patrick Henry
proclaimed, ‘Give me liberty or give me death!’ while owning slaves.” What follows is taken from the
teacher’s edition [Remember, students have not read and actual writings yet!]:
1. Begin the class discussion by having students name ideals that America was founded upon, based on
their background knowledge and Andrew’s essay. Have a volunteer write all the responses on the
board. Possible responses: Ideals include religious tolerance, individual liberty, and political equality.
2. Using this list, ask students to offer specific examples of how Jefferson and his contemporaries
embodied these ideals. Then, ask for examples of behaviors of early American leaders that did not
support these ideals. Possible responses: Students may point to the risks undertaken by leaders of the
Revolution such as Patrick Henry as proof of their intense commitment to their ideals. They may point
to these leaders’ slave-holding as inconsistent with their ideals of liberty and equality.
3. Have students offer ideas of judgments about the main question: Has the United States become
the country early citizens imagined? Encourage them to cite specific examples from their own
knowledge to support their opinions. Possible responses: Answers will vary, but students should
support their responses with specific examples and reasoned arguments.
4. To help conduct the discussion, use the Discussion Guide in the Professional Development Guidebook,
page 65 (Moore, p. 195).
Judgments? If students have not read sources from the period under review, how will they be able to
provide informed opinions? Background knowledge? Let’s get real here, students at this age have little
to none. The Common Core literature text completely misses the boat: a systematic, chronological, and
complete presentation of our nation’s history, documents, and literature is absent. Instead, hodgepodge,
bias, and tearing down America are the order of the day. Moore sadly writes: “The Common Core
authors seek to undo our moral and cultural heritage found in the great books, and to do so without
letting anyone know what they intend.”
The commissioner informed the public that he sees no alternative to Common Core, so no need to
change the current plan. Hard to believe, especially after reading Moore’s excellent analysis of the
English Language Arts component. If you still have doubts, consider this “teaching” lesson for grade
12: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, found in The British Tradition, a Common Core textbook published
by Pearson/Prentice Hall. The following is what students encounter for this unit in the textbook: Note:
Keep in mind that students never read the actual book!:
• Elizabeth McCracken, modern author, describes her childhood nightmares and movies she
watched [So what? It’s hard to see where McCracken adds anything to students’ knowledge
• Literary terms are introduced: “Gothic,” “Romantic” [Pretty weak stuff for grade 12]
• A reading strategy is introduced: making predictions [Wouldn’t it be difficult to make
predictions if one has not read the entire book?]
• By the sixth page of the unit, students read—not the book—Shelley’s introduction about
writing Frankenstein [Rigorous? Not by any stretch of the imagination!].
Advanced students receive the following invitation [Note: Again, students are not instructed to read
the entire book!]:
Enrichment for Advanced Readers: Have interested students read a segment of Mary Shelley’s
Frankenstein. Then, ask them to prepare book reviews comparing the Frankenstein monster to
Shelley’s description in her introduction to the work. Ask them to discuss how the book compares
with similar novels they have read.
Instead of requiring students to read Mary Shelley’s classic work, Frankenstein, the editors encourage
teachers to have students talk about monsters, draw pictures of monsters [remember, this is grade
12!!!], write an autobiography of a monster, dress up as monsters, talk about Saturday Night Live,
share their favorite skits from the program, and act out a Saturday Night Live script [see below].
Common Core labels these activities as “critical thinking.” Does this strike any thinking person as
critical thinking or educating youth? Again, informed opinions sorely will be lacking!
Here’s the skit from the Teacher’s Edition of The British Tradition, published by Pearson/Prentice Hall:
Villager #1: [to Head Villager] Well, maybe you’re the monster!
Head Villager: [shakes his head] I’m not the monster! [points to Frankenstein’s monster]
Look at ‘im! He’s got a square head and green skin!
Frankenstein’s Monster: Oh, great—now it’s a racial thing! You know what? You guys are a
bunch of fascists! [villager with a lit torch again steps too close] Seriously, du-ude! Get that
fire away from me!…
[Instructions in the margin of the Teacher’s Edition]
Point out the use of the term fascist. Explain its traditional political meaning and how it has been
extended to refer to any right-wing extremist group.
Would you call the language development and reading level of the above material “college and career
ready”? It’s all pretty low-level, don’t you think? See any evidence of “critical thinking”? Not there!
Moore calls it “Romper-Room progressivism.” We also can add: waste of time, waste of energy, and
more dumbing down of education in our state and nation.
Claptrap! That’s the appropriate word for this grade 12 silliness. This example (and Moore presents us
with many others) is evidence of why so many are so concerned over Common Core! Commissioner
King and his Regent bosses can tell us—ad nauseam—about the wonders of Common Core, but it will
not change the minds of those who have done their homework. The public is not stupid; they know
when they are hearing false words.
Cries erupted from the audience December 4 in Jamestown regarding the investigation into Pearson,
the world’s largest education firm. Pearson, they said, was awarded a huge contract with New York
state after Dr. David Steiner, former NY Commissioner of Education, was provided expensive foreign
trips. Subsequent to Dr. Steiner’s trips, Pearson Education was awarded a five-year, $32 million
contract to administer New York state tests. There was no response from King or Bennett.
During the WNED forum, an activist gained entry and loudly raised the same concerns while quickly
moving through the auditorium. Interestingly, an article appeared in Financial Times, a publication
owned by Pearson, the next day (12/13/13): “The Pearson Foundation will pay $7.7m to settle
allegations by the New York attorney-general that it misused charitable assets, including via the
funding of school officials’ trips to educational summits, for the benefit of Pearson, its for-profit
backer.” Does anyone wonder why there is huge distrust of state education department officials and the
Board of Regents? Unethical behavior, corruption, and dog-and-pony shows do not go over well with
the informed public.
David Steiner dishonored his position and diminished his credibility by taking unethical “gifts” from
Pearson. Did the Board of Regents know about Steiner’s trips? How could they not know? Was there
complacency by the Board of Regents toward Steiner’s unethical actions? The key question is: Why
wasn’t the Pearson contract revoked when wrong doing was found? Pearson and Common Core are
synonymous. This is yet another reason why Common Core should be repealed in New York state and
the Board of Regents and commissioner replaced for violating our laws. The Board of Regents and the
commissioner have lost all trust.
During the Buffalo Senate Standing Committee on Education, Senator John J. Flanagan, Chairman
(Oct. 16, 2013), Mr. Bennett informed the senators that the University of the State of New York was not
happy with entering high school graduates. Companies such as IBM complained that students were not
ready to start meaningful employment. As a result, new Common Core learning standards were written
because of business complaints and interests. Mr. Bennett praised the New York Standards several
times during the forums, saying that more will be expected from students. We now know that’s a lie!
The Introduction to New York State P-12 Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts
& Literacy states:
As specified by CCSSO [Council of Chief State School Officers] and NGA [National Governors
Association], the Standards are (1) research and evidence based, (2) aligned with college and work
expectations, (3) rigorous, and (4) internationally benchmarked. A particular standard was included in
the document only when the best available evidence indicated that its mastery was essential for college
and career readiness in a twenty-first-century, globally competitive society. The Standards are intended
to be a living work as new and better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised accordingly.
Every one of the above enumerated points has been refuted. In other words, they are lies. Here are
statements written by Mark Bauerlein, professor of English at Emory University and Sandra Stotsky,
author of Massachusetts rigorous 1996 K-12 standards, in How Common Core’s ELA Standards Place
College Readiness at Risk, a Pioneer Institute White Paper (September 2012):
• Research and evidence based: “Common Core itself provides no evidence to support its
promise that more literary nonfiction or informational reading in the English class will make all
students ready for college-level coursework” (p. 3).
• Aligned with college and work expectations: “The history of college readiness in the 20th
century suggests that problems in college readiness stem from an incoherent, less-challenging
literature curriculum from the 1960s onward. Until that time, a literature-heavy English
curriculum was understood as precisely the kind of pre-college training students needed” (p. 1).
[see further explanation below] “[We] begin by explaining why college readiness will likely
decrease when the secondary English curriculum prioritizes literary nonfiction or informational
reading and reduces the study of complex literary texts and literary traditions” (p. 3).
• Rigorous: “Common Core has never claimed to strengthen either the high school English
curriculum or requirements for a high school diploma; it simply claims to make all students
‘college-ready.’ As our paper argues, it fails to ensure that goal…” (p. 3).
• Internationally benchmarked: This statement has been refuted. For the standards to be
benchmarked internationally, there would need to be “extensive research and direct
comparative analysis on the academic expectations of other leading countries,” said Jim
Stergios, executive director of Pioneer Institute. The Common Core website states: “The
standards are informed [emphasis mine] by the highest, most effective models from states
across the country and countries around the world, and provide teachers and parents with a
common understanding of what students are expected to learn. Consistent standards will
provide appropriate benchmarks for all students, regardless of where they live.”
“Benchmarked” has an entirely different meaning from “informed.” Moreover, Dr. Sandra
Stotsky wrote: “Despite making regular requests since September 2009 for evidence of
international benchmarking, I received no material on the academic expectations of other
leading nations in mathematics or language and literature.” For the New York State Standards
to state they are benchmarked is misleading. Actually, it’s untruthful!
Here are the real effects and aims of Common Core that will be imposed on schools, some of which
will be demonstrated in brief form below:
• insufficient, utopian, and radical aims of education;
• a set of substandard academic standards;
• a pseudo-science of textual “complexity” disguising the real intent of requiring students to read
things that would not be found in a traditional literature class;
• superficiality and bias in the choosing of those “texts for reading, to the disadvantage of the true
• simplistic and mind-numbing ways of reading any good literature that remains in the
• the continuing dumbed down of English classes;
• and a tyranny of textbooks that ensure teachers will force on student the absurdities and bias
that is the strange brew of the Common Core (Moore, p. 14).
Bauerlein and Stotsky wrote that it was literary study of uniform requirements for college entrance,
plus study of composition and rhetoric which played a central role in high school English curriculum in
1900. They stated, “At no time was the focus on literary study in the English classroom considered an
impediment to admission to a college; to the contrary, it was seen as an academic necessity [emphasis
in the original].” Since 1965, however, the high school English curriculum has weakened greatly,
resulting in high numbers receiving post-secondary remedial coursework. Add to this semester courses
and a plethora of electives replacing year-long English classes, along with a decrease in the level of
reading texts. The result was predictable: dumbed down middle school and high school reading led to
huge increases in remediation of basic skills in college, especially at the community college level
where more than 50 percent of students required remediation.
Since the four underlying premises listed above are proven false, will the NY P-12 Standards really
bring about increased achievement? See what you think. Here are three NY standards:
Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
• Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding.
• Read grade-level prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on
• Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, rereading as
necessary (p. 24).
This standard is written identically for grades 3, 4, and 5. Wouldn’t that be called a cut-and-paste
boilerplate standard? The standard is written so vaguely that it’s meaningless. What constitutes
“sufficient accuracy and fluency”? We have no clue.
Here is more cut-and-paste boilerplate standard—the same standard for grades 6, 7, and 8:
Recognize, interpret, and make connections to narratives, poetry, and drama, ethically and artistically to
other texts, ideas, cultural perspectives, eras, personal events, and situations.
• Self-select text based on personal preferences.
• Use established criteria to classify, select, and evaluate texts to make informed judgments about
the quality of the pieces (p. 47).
We have a good idea where “self-select text based on personal preferences” will lead—not to any
classic literary work, we wager.
Cut-and-paste boilerplate for grades 9, 10, 11, and 12:
By the end of grade [insert grade level], read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas,
poems, in the grades [9-10; 11-CCR] text complexity band [see below for an explanation]
proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range. By the end of grade [10; 12],
read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of grades [9-10
text; grade 11-CCR text] complexity band independently and proficiently (p. 48).
Scaffolding. There comes that buzzword again. We know nothing of the period in history to which this
standard refers. The state education department missed an opportunity to provide real significance and
historical sequence to student learning.
Bauerlein and Stotsky comment: The Common Core standards “are devoid of literary and cultural
content. They are generic reading skills, not academic standards [emphasis mine]. They can be
applied to The Three Little Pigs as well as to Moby-Dick, or to The Hunger Games as well as to
Federalist 10” (p. 27). We see that NY Learning Standards are empty standards; they do not lead to
rigorousness; they are not free of political bias; and they are boilerplate generality. This is what Moore
writes about the standards:
The standards game is a ruse. Standards are not the same thing as a curriculum. A curriculum, at
least one that is worth its salt, tells teachers what to teach. Specificity is the hallmark of a genuine
curriculum. The so-called standards that states adopt, however, consist in a vague set of “learning
objectives” that are either general skills or amorphous concepts surrounding an academic subject. For
the purposes of knowing what to teach and knowing how great literature ought to be taught, the socalled
standards adopted by most states are almost entirely worthless (p. 65). [See Appendix A for
Moore’s validated and effective classical curriculum]
Here are examples of well-written standards, the first by Bauerlein and Stotsky, the rest from Dr.
Stotsky’s “An English Language Arts Curriculum Framework for American Public Schools: A Model”
[see Recommendations below for further explanation of her model]:
RL.11-12.9. Demonstrate knowledge of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century
foundational works of American literature, including how two or more texts from the same period
treat similar themes of topics.
10.OP.1. Analyze the rhetorical features of well-known speeches from the “Golden Age” of American
oratory (e.g., by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass).
11.N.1. Analyze foundational documents written in the 18th or 19th century that have historical and
literary significance in American culture (e.g., George Washington’s Farewell Address, The Federalist
Papers, or the Declaration of Independence) with respect to their purpose, setting central argument,
supporting details, and the logic of their conclusion.
12.F.3. Relate a novel by a British author to the seminal ideas of its time (e.g., Dickens’ Great
Expectations or Bleak House).
New York’s standards are empty, devoid of meaning, and lacking explicit and pertinent content in
comparison to these four examples. That makes NY Standards worthless! Taken from the revision of
the 2001 Massachusetts English Language Arts Curriculum Framework, these standards require much
more demanding reading and literary study in the high school grades.
Kelly Gallagher, author of Readicide, reminds us that “classics found in the canon are there for a
reason; there is a wisdom, a universality of truth found in them that helps the modern reader to garner a
deeper comprehension of today’s world.” We might add, “and helps the student learn about her/himself
as well as serves as a guiding beacon for upright living.” Contrast Gallagher’s thought-provoking
words with these (found in Imprimis, Dec. 2013) by a professor of English, Agnes Scott College,
Georgia. Writing in the Teacher’s Guide for Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition,
he said: “Contemporary educators no doubt hope students will shape values and ethical systems as
they engage in these interactions, acquiring principles that will help them live in a mad, mad world”
[emphasis in the original]. Hope is in short supply when one views low-level, biased Common Core
Gallagher makes a strong case for providing students with individual paperback copies of the various
books, not huge textbooks that are weighty to carry around and which deter reading. Individual copies
permit students to engage in “close reading,” a focused rereading which hones analytical skills. To
accomplish this, however, students must be able to (1) read with a pencil in hand, and annotate the text;
(2) look for patterns in the things they notice about the text: repetitions, contradictions, similarities; and
(3) ask questions about patterns noticed: especially “how” and “why” (p. 101). Did we see any
universal truths in our grade 12 lesson example above? Nothing there!
Nancy Atwell, author of The Reading Zone (2007), provides us with an admonition: “Do not risk
ruining the reading of stories by teaching children to focus on how they’re processing them.” But this
is exactly what occurs in Common Core texts. Introductory stories are bland as pabulum for young
children (See Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa in the NY Standards Appendix as an example). For middle and
high school students, teacher questions are formulaic: focus is on analyzing, evaluating text, comparing
and contrasting—regarded as the Überstandard—boilerplate questions, and mechanical skills. The end
result is a bastardizing of great works of literature. Lost is human pleasure in reading a compelling
story and gaining insight about our fellow human beings. Lost is getting to know books in the same
way we get to know people and how much they teach about the world. This is why Moore calls
Common Core “the story-killers.”
Text complexity band: “Measures of text complexity must be aligned with college and career readiness
expectations for all students” (Appendix A, p. 8). How will this be accomplished? Quantitative
algorithms are better at determining text complexity, the standards inform us, because “quantitative
tools” will do a better job than human readers. Sounds pretty highfalutin! But is it true? Shouldn’t the
books students read be chosen by quality rather than “text complexity band”?
We’ve seen a half century of poor reading instruction, low-level reading skills, and dumbed down
reading material. Will this problem now magically be “fixed” by using Lexile Frameworks,
quantitative algorithms, and techy-sounding terms such as “text complexity band”? Hardly! No
amount of dog-and-pony shows touting the standards by the commissioner and his Regent bosses will
convince us that Common Core will upgrade education for New York students. Moore addresses the
Is the lack of complexity of texts in the schools the fundamental problem with students’ reading?
Wouldn’t it be simpler to say that the schools fail to use the proper methods of teaching reading (i.e.,
explicit phonics [emphasis mine]) in the early grades, that the stories students read during and beyond
the primary years are insipid, and that when the high schools finally begin to assign the classics the
teachers make mush out of them? (p. 94).
The last word on standards is Moore’s:
This is the standards game: big promises, no delivery. We are told in obscure language that students
will be reading complex books. When we look at the books, we find that they are not that complex.
The teaching of the books is also far form rigorous and often downright silly. Few ever bother to think
about what the students in public schools could be doing of real value since too few people still know
and not many are listening to those who do, certainly no one in state education bureaucracies” (p. 72).
“Which Way Is Forth?” Don’t Look to Common Core For the Answer
It’s clear that the Standards are not a curriculum. In reality, NY State Standards provide no clear
guidance to teachers, as noted above. Reminding us that the word “education” means “to lead forth,”
Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, wrote in Imprimis (Dec. 2013) that the word “forth” is a
“value-laden” term. A true core curriculum is necessary in order to help students address the question,
“Which way is forth?” Isn’t it the responsibility of education via educators and a truly rigorous
curriculum to lay the groundwork that will help students answer that question? Without a true core,
however, there is only hodgepodge—the current New York State Standards, for example—and no
“leading forth.” Arnn further stated:
A true core has a unifying principle, such as the idea that there is a right way to live that one can come to
know. Compare that to the use of the same word in describing the latest bright idea of the education
establishment—the so-called Common Core—which is an attempt by bureaucrats and politicians to
impose national standards on American schools. When one looks into Common Core, it becomes clear
that it has no unifying principle. And it has destructive effects. [I]ts only stated object is career
Obviously, parents want their children to achieve productive and meaningful careers, but isn’t their first
concern that their children become upstanding, moral citizens?
Common Core’s dubious and heavy focus on “college and career readiness” sells out New York
students. Rigor? Not in evidence. Demanding content? Not there. Legislators, heed the words of Dr,
The decision that state legislators have to make on whether to repeal the Core or not is really not very
complex. Do we want our children spending precious time on just any random ‘complex’ text that the
Common Core authors decide to slip into a standardized exam, or that the textbook publishing giants dig
out of their bottomless bins of mediocre writings? Do we want young minds to be programmed with
highly suspect political and cultural propaganda? Do we want our children to be lured into the reading
of modern authors whose works revel in a jaded, anti-heroic, and often morally debased view of human
life? Or do we want students reading the classics? Which will they get more out of, which will better
prepare them for the world, which will they most enjoy, and which will more likely contribute to their
own virtue and happiness? (Moore, pp. 113-114).
The ball is in your court, LEGISLATORS. You, more than others, have the legal responsibility,
obligation, and task to ensure that Rule of Law is observed. Rule of Law was originated to serve as a
check against the abuse of power. As you are well aware, it means that every citizen is subject to the
law, with no one above the law, and that includes the commissioner and the Board of Regents.
As Aristotle said, “Law should govern.” Under our New York State Constitution, it is the Legislature
that has legal oversight of the Board of Regents. Free people live under Rule of Law. Common Core
violates the concept of Rule of Law, thereby destroying our liberty and freedom.
Abuse of power is what we see with Common Core in New York state and nationwide from the illegal
actions of President Obama, Secretary Arne Duncan, Commissioner King, and the Board of Regents.
It is intolerable that such a complete consolidation and nationalization of public education has
occurred. Outrage is appropriate!
A huge public outcry went forth from King’s forums held across the state. Those who stepped forward
and passionately spoke did so for the many who were fearful, or unable to speak in public, or who
lacked knowledge about, but would be affected by, the destructive effects of Common Core.
It is commendable that the Legislature sees the danger for children if inBloom data collecting is
allowed to continue. What a travesty this would be to children and parents if it is not repealed.
New York citizens are very concerned. We have long recognized that achievement levels for New York
students need to be raised. Just to be clear: Common Core isn’t the answer!!! In STTPP Beacon’s
September 2013 issue (No. 23), we made a recommendation: Strengthen professional preparation of K-
12 teachers (p. 9). This call also comes from Dr. Sandra Stotsky (“Why We Must Raise the Bar for
Admission to an Education School,” January 15, 2013), author of the 1996 rigorous Massachusetts
standards. We won’t see achievement levels rise without accompanying reform in teacher education
admission and programs.
“Mediocre” is the word describing New York education. A major source of mediocrity in the public
school system, says Stotsky:
is academically under-qualified teachers, administrators, and education researchers, as well as illinformed
if not willfully ignorant policy makers who bring limited understanding of the evidence from
high quality education research as well as little if any successful experience to the task of strengthening
the school curriculum and increasing all students’ academic performance (p. 1).
Two deficiencies need addressing: (1) low-to-non-existent requirements for admission to education
schools and (2) under-qualified teachers and administrators—graduates of education schools—shaping
K-12 curriculum with the assistance of education faculty, not the necessary academic experts.
Stotsy states this regarding her role in writing the 1996 Massachusetts Standards: “The clear, contentrich
and pedagogically sound standards we developed in the English language arts, science,
mathematics, history, geography, economics, and civics would have amounted to little more than black
and white noise without an academically stronger corps of teachers to teach to them (and administrators
to ensure they were being taught to) (p. 3).
Relationship between student achievement and components of teacher education: More demanding
admission requirements to education school programs should be the first focus of reform. Students
who have academically competent teachers learn more. Research studies found that there is no
relationship between student achievement and master’s degree programs in education.
I. “Why We Must Raise the Bar for Admission to an Education School” by Dr. Sandra Stotsky
1. The state can raise the bar for admission into a teacher preparation program.
• Admission to an undergraduate program: Restrict admission to a teacher preparation
program to the top 10-15 percent of the cohort graduating from a regular high school.
• Admission to a post-baccalaureate program: Restrict admission to the top 10-15
percent of those graduating from college.
• Undergraduate eduction courses: These should not count toward an undergraduate or
graduate degree for anyone, including prospective teachers.
• Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A,T.): Abandon current master’s degree programs.
Leave in place M.A.T. teacher preparation programs where half of the graduate
coursework is in the discipline the aspiring teacher intends to teach.
2. The state can require a Master of Arts or Science degree in a subject taught in K-12
before admission to any program for school administrators.
• Few teachers earn a MA or MS degree in their subject area which demands subjectspecific
• K-12 curriculum directors and associate superintendents in charge of curriculum:
Generally, these people have no more than a major in the discipline they supervise.
Expert advice on secondary textbooks, course sequences, and course content in the
subject(s) supervised is needed by teachers, however, thus the need for MA or MS in a
3. The state can require a Master of Arts or Science degree in a subject taught in K-12
before admission to a doctoral program in curriculum and instruction.
• This requirement would upgrade the caliber of doctoral students.
4. The state can require applicants to doctoral programs in educational leadership or public
policy to demonstrate their ability to locate and analyze a body of research evidence
supporting a current major policy.
• Students must be able to distinguish between well-designed studies that permit
generalization and poorly-designed research or anecdotes.
5. The state can train prospective secondary teachers under the aegis of the academic
discipline they major in with pedagogical faculty attached to the discipline, not an
• This is a common European model.
• K-12 curriculum subjects need to be designed by discipline-based experts, not graduates
of education school programs.
6. The state can train prospective pre-school, kindergarten, and primary grade teachers in
two- or three-year pedagogical institutes, as do many European countries.
• A liberal arts major from a 4-year college would not be required.
• Finnish model:
◦ All prospective teachers in Finland are trained at only eight universities in the
◦ Students must graduate from an academic high school.
◦ Elementary teachers: Five-year program in Educational Science: BA degree
program (3 years) + master’s program in education (2 years).
◦ Subject teachers: BA degree (3 years) + master’s degree program in their subject
in the arts and sciences (2 years) + master’s program in education (2 years).
7. The state can require discipline-based faculty as well as pedagogical faculty to supervise
• Stotsky feels that this is the most important area to address.
Two additional Stotsky recommendations follow:
1. Adopt the Massachusetts licensure tests for prospective elementary teachers in both reading
fundamentals and in mathematics knowledge;
2. Abandon all PRAXIS tests and adopt all of the other licensure tests Massachusetts created or
revised. Align these with new New York State standards.
II. An English Language Arts Curriculum Framework for American Public Schools: A Model
Chief author: Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas, February 2013.
“For use by any state or school district without charge”
Retrieved at: 2013_ELA_Curriculum_Framework.pdf
These are the standards that made Massachusetts number one in the nation. There are 10 Guiding
Principles that guide the construction and evaluation of English language arts curricula. An effective
English language arts curriculum…:
1. develops thinking and language together through interactive learning.
2. develops students’ oral language and lilteracy through appropriately challenging learning.
3. draws on literature from many genres, time periods, and cultures, featuring works that reflect
our common literary heritage.
4. emphasizes writing as an essential way to develop, clarify, and communicate ideas in expository
persuasive, narrative, and expressive discourse.
5. provides for the study of all forms of media.
6. provides explicit skill instruction in reading and writing
7. teaches the strategies necessary for acquiring academic knowledge, achieving common
academic standards, and attaining independence in learning.
8. builds on the language, experiences, and interests that students bring to school.
9. develops each student’s distinctive writing or speaking voice. A Student’s writing and speaking
voice is an expression of self.
10. While encouraging respect for differences in home backgrounds, an effective English language
arts curriculum nurtures students’ sense of their common ground as present or future American
citizens in order to prepare them for responsible participation in our schools and in civic life
III. A New New York State Standards and Curriculum
Align Dr. Sandra Stotsy’s “An English Language Arts Curriculum Framework for American Public
Schools: A Model” with Dr. Terrence Moore’s “A True Core Curriculum” (see Appendix A below).
Students would receive the kind of liberal education that is designed to teach them how to be free. It
also will teach students how to be human and how to interact with other humans and institutions.
“College and career readiness” is misplaced focus. It is the human mind that creates jobs, not the other
I believe that both Dr. Moore and Dr. Stotsky would provide their services to New York legislators if
they were approached. Both Stotsky and Moore feel—as does the writer of this Beacon issue—a sense
of urgency: education must be upgraded, and Common Core must be repealed. Thomas Jefferson gets
the last word: “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”
Researched and written by Deann Nelson, Ed.D. for Southern Tier TEA Party Patriots
A True Common Core: Grades 9-12
by Dr. Terrence O. Moore,
Professor of History, Hillsdale College
Unlike the superficial “The Common Core,” with its list of random books and obscure articles, Moore’s
“A True Common Core” truly can claim the word “rigorous,” but certainly achievable. Students truly
will be educated and “college and career ready,” a phrase that is trite in “The Common Core” document
because of lack of evidence to support the concept.
Literature is arranged by time period, mostly in correspondence to historical texts (ancient, British,
American, modern). Readings work together, delivering a comprehensive story of human beings in
their attempt to achieve liberty and happiness through civilization. The curriculum consists of the best
that has been thought, said, done, and discovered. It is governed by logic and principle, with a clear
beginning point and a clear ending point. Teaching is done by means of Socratic discussion.
“A True Common Core” is preceded by a rigorous K-8 education, including mastery of basic skills,
beginning with explicit phonics for reading instruction in kindergarten. Students would have read the
following (and more) in Middle School: The Tempest, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, A Christmas Carol, To
Kill a Mockingbird, Fahrenheit 451, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, and Oliver Twist or Great
Homer, The Iliad (the entire work)
A couple of Greek plays, e.g., Oedipus Res, Antigone
Selections from Plato’s Republic (on the poets, Allegory of the Cave)
Plato, The Apology (or read in history)
Virgil, The Aeneid (the entire work)
Roman poetry (students would also be in third-year Latin by grade 9 and reading some poetry)
Shakespeare, Julius Caesar (read in English class but taught when Roman Civil War studied in history)
Addison’s Cato (if time)
The class focuses on grammar and composition and also entails the study of classic essays by Bacon,
Addison, Swift, Johnson, Orwell, et alia
Western Civilization I (Ancient History):
Herodotus, The Histories, on the Persian Wars, especially on the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae
Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, (selections, especially Pericles, “Funeral Oration,” “plague
Speech”; The Melian Dialogue; debate on Sicilian expedition)
Plutarch, Lives of Lycurgus, Solon, Pericles, Alcibiades
Plato, The Republic, Book VIII on the regimes (monarchy, aristocracy, democracy)
Plato, The Apology (may be read here if literature pressed for time), also The Crito may be read, time
Aristotle, The Politics, Book I
Livy, selections on early Rome
Polybius, The Histories, Book VI
Plutarch, Lives of Cato the Elder, Julius Caesar, Cicero
Cicero, Catiline Oration (1st); select letters to Atticus and Quintus; De Officilis (selections)
Caesar, The Commentaries (selections)
Augustus, Res Gestae Divi Augusti
Tacitus and Suctonius on the Roman emperors
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Documents from the Judeo-Christian Tradition: Ten Commandments, life of David, Sermon on the
Le Morte D’Arthur (selection) of Beowulf
Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales (three or four tales)
Shakespeare, Hamlet and Macbeth, sonnets
Sir Francis Bacon, selected essays, including “Of Studies”
Milton, Paradise Lost (books IX and X at least)
Joseph Addison, select papers from The Spectator
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (or Persuasion)
Charles Dickens, Hard Times (or A Tale of Two Cities)
British Romantic poetry
Western Civilization II (Medieval, Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment):
Acts of the Apostles (selections)
Augustine, Confessions (Books I, II, VIII), City of God (short selection)
Gregory I, Account of Benedict’s Life
Rule of Saint Benedict
Einhard, The Life of Charlemagne (selections)
Walter Scott, “Chivalry”
Documents on the Investiture Conflict
Thomas of Celano, Life of Saint Francis
Thomas Aquinas, selection from The Summa
Petrarch’s Letters (to Homer, Cicero, et al.)
Petrarch, “The Ascent of Mount Ventoux”
Vergerius, “On Liberal Learning”
Leon Battistta Alberti, On the Family (selections)
Casstiglione, The Courtier (selections)
Vasari, Lives of the Artists, especially Michelangelo, Leonardo
Art of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, et alia
Machiavelli, The Prince (selections)
Luther, select documents including 95 Theses
Luther and Erasmus on the will
Council of Trent
The Thirty-Nine Articles (Anglican Church)
James I, The Trew Law of Free Monarchies
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, on the state of nature
Isaac Newton, Principia Mathematics (selections)
John Locke, The Second Treatise of Government (especially Books II-V, IX)
Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, “of the Division of Labor,” (chapters I and II of Book I); “Of the
Expences of the Sovereign or Commonwealth,” (chapter I of Book V)
Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality (if not enough time in sophomore year, to be read to beginning of
senior year as prelude to French Revolution)
Poetry of Anne Bradstreet
Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography (or in history)
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
Herman Melville, Moby Dick (the entire work)
Ralph Waldo Emerson, essays, especially “Self-Reliance”
Henry David Thoreau, selections from Walden
Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn
Poetry of Whitman, Poe, Longfellow, Dickinson, Hughes, Cullen, Frost, et alia
If time, a novel of Fitzgerald or Hemingway
Poetry of T. S. Eliot
Two or three short stories of Flannery O’Connor
American History to 1900 (two semesters):
The Mayflower Compact
John Winthrop, “A modell of Christian Charity”
Other colonial documents
Documents on the Great Awakening, including “Sinners”
Benjamin Franklin, documents on the Junto (discussion society), fires, education in Philadelphia, the
increase of mankind, “The Way to Wealth,” kite experiment
The Stamp Act documents
Benjamin Franklin, “Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One,” “An Edict by
the King of Prussia”
Debate over Independence
Tom Paine, Common Sense (selections)
Virginia Declaration of Rights
The Declaration of Independence
George Washington, select letters, Circular to the States
The Northwest Ordinance
The Constitution of the United States and The Bill of Rights
Debates on the Constitution, including Anti-Federalists
The Federalist, nos. 1, 10, 39, 51 (overlap with Government)
Thomas Jefferson, on education and agriculture
Alexander Hamilton, Report on Public Credit and Report on Manufactures (selections)
George Washington, Farewell Address, Last Will
Other documents from early national period including Alien and Sedition Acts, VA/KY Resolutions and
Massachusetts Counter-Resolution (also in Government class)
Documents from Jacksonian period
Ante-Bellum documents, including Calhoun on nullification and Dred Scott v. Sanford
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (selections)
George Fitzhugh, The Sociology of the South (selections)
Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life…(or read in English)
Abraham Lincoln, “A Fragment on Slavery,” Speech on Dred Scott, “A House Divided,” The Lincoln-
Douglas Debates (selections), First Inaugural, Emancipation Proclamation, Gettysburg Address,
Frederick Douglass, “Self-Made Men”
Post-Civil War documents on Reconstruction, rise of wealth, Andrew Carnegie on wealth
Documents on populism, including Bryan’s “Cross of Gold”
Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery & The Story of My Life and Work (selections)
Government (one semester):
Man as a “political animal,” Aristotle, The Politics, Book I
Natural rights studied through John Locke, Virginia Declaration of Rights, The Declaration of
Selections from debates at the Constitutional Convention
The Constitution of the United States
More intensive look at The Federalist, nos. 10, 39, 51, 70-74 (selections), 78
The Bill of Rights
Hamilton, Jefferson on the Constitutionality of the Bank
The Marshall Court, select cases, especially Marbury v. Madison, McCulloch v. Maryland, Gibbons v Ogden
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, selections on the energy of democracy, associations, and
tyranny of the majority
The Taney Court, especially Dred Scott v. Sanford
Lincoln on Dred Scott
Abraham Lincoln, War Message delivered on Fourth of July, 1861 (argument vs. secession)
Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments
Plessy v. Ferguson (and, later, Brown v. Board of Topeka)
W. Wilson, “What Is Progress?” “The New Freedom”
Franklin Roosevelt, “The Commonwealth Club Address”
The New Deal Court, e.g., Schechter Poultry v. U.S.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, “A New Bill of Rights,” S/U 1944
Ronald Reagan, “Encroaching Control,” March 1961
Lyndon Baines Johnson, “The Great Society”
Moral Philosophy (one semester):
Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, chapter 1
Allan Bloom, “Our Virtue” and “Self-Centeredness” from The Closing of the American Mind
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
Francis Hutcheson, James Q Wilson on the moral sense
Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (selections)
Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics, on the definition of virtue
Aristotle and Pieper on the four cardinal virtues
Cicero, De Officiis (On Duties), selections
George Washington and William Manchester on civility
Cicero and C. S. Lewis on friendship
Benjamin Franklin, et alia on work and entrepreneurship
Genesis 3-4 on man and woman
Traditional and Contemporary Marriage Vows
Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth visits Pemberley
David Fordyce, Elements of Moral Philosophy, marriage and parental duties
Richard Brookhiser, on Washington’s “fatherhood”
George Washington as Cincinnatus, his sense of duty
John Adams / Thomas Jefferson correspondence (selections)
Shakespeare, Henry V (read previously as summer reading)
Douglass Adair, “Fame and the Founding Fathers”
Herbert Butterfield, “The Role of the Individual in History”
Brief recap / discussion of literature from previous grades
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis
George Orwell, 1984
One or two other short works of modern literature depending on time left in the semester
All students write 20-page senior thesis, anchored in two or more great books (or readings), one must
be from grades 9-11, on a topic meant to explain some aspect of human nature/society (e.g.,
heroism, faith, love, justice, etc.)
American History Since 1900 (1 s t semester of senior year):
Frederick Jackson Turner, “The Significance of the Frontier in Amrican History”
W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk (selections)
Plunkitt of Tammany Hall, “Honest Graft”
Theodore Roosevelt, Autobiography (selections), “The New Nationalism”
Woodrow Wilson, “The New Freedom”
Calvin Coolidge, speeches on the Boy Scouts, world peace, the press, the rule of law, and the
Declaration of Independence
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Commonwealth club Address; First Inaugural; State of the Union Address,
Walter Lippmann, “The Dominant Dogma of the Age”
Harry S. Truman, “The Fair Deal”
Congressional Rejection of the Fair Deal
Lyndon Baines Johnson, “The Great Society”
Ronald Reagan, “A Time for Choosing”
Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail, “I Have a Dream”
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “The Negro Family”
The Sharon Statement
The Port Huron Statement
Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural, Remarks on Tax Reform Act, Farewell Address
Foreign Policy (in American History class, mostly in senior year:
George Washington, Farewell Address
W.G. Sumner, “The Fallacy of Territorial Extension”
Albert Beveridge, “The March of the Flag”
Woodrow Wilson, War Message and Fourteen Points
Charles Lindbergh,”America First”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, War Message, December 1941
The Atlantic Charter
Winston Churchill, Address to Congress; “Iron Curtain” Speech, Fulton, MO
Harry S. Truman, “The Truman Doctrine”
George F. Kennan, “The Sources of Soviet Conduct”
NSC-68, U.S. Objectives and Programs for National Security
Ronald Reagan, Address to the British Parliament; Christmas Day Radio Address, 1982; Remarks to t
he National Association of Evangelicals, 1983 (“Evil Empire”); Remarks at the Brandenburg
Modern European History (two semesters):
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality
Abbé Sieyès, “What Is the Third Estate?”
Edmund Burke and Tom Paine on the French Revolution
Maximilien Robespierre, “Principles of Political Morality”
Benjamin Constant, “Ancient and Modern Liberty Compared”
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (selections)
British Parliament, Debate on the Ten Hours Bill
Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto
Charles Darwin, On the Origin of the Species (selections)
Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality (selections)
Otto von Bismarck, on German Unification
Max Weber, “On Bureaucracy”
V. I. Lenin, on Marxism, “What Is to Be Done?”
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, selections
Winston Churchill, selected speeches including “Bolshevist Atrocities,” “Lenin,” “the Follies of
Socialism,” “Wars Come Very Suddenly,” “Germany Is Arming” (1934), “A Total and
Unmitigated Defeat,” “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat,” “Arm Yourselves and Be Ye Men of
Valour,” “This Was Their Finest Hour,” “Give Us the Tools,” “Never Give In” (at Harrow),
“This Is Your Victory”
Economics (one semester): (an economics textbook also is used)
Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations (selections)
F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, chapters II, III, VI
Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, chapters 1-III
John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory…selections
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson
George Gilder, Wealth and Poverty, chapters III-VI
A publication of Southern Tier TEA Party Patriots
November 2013, No. 25
Attack on Individuality, Abstract Reasoning, and Mathematics
by Deann Nelson
(Opinion article submitted to The Post-Journal and Dunkirk Observer.
Copies also sent to Assemblymen Goodell and Graf and Senators Young and Flanagan)
Have you heard school administrators say something similar to the following: “Parents must
understand that Common Core is new and requires different teaching methods”? Hokum! The only
thing new is its name. Have the words “rigor” and “college and career ready” also been thrown your
way? These terms, too, are hogwash. There is nothing rigorous about Common Core, and it surely
does not prepare students for college.
Either administrators have forgotten—or they never knew—that the theories behind Common Core
have been around for more than 100 years. Policies and practices aimed at redesigning our economy,
reshaping us as human beings, and changing our society and what it values, have a long history of
terrible results: from John Dewey, using Karl Marx’s education theory, to Constructivism, New “Fuzzy”
Math, Whole Language Reading, Outcomes Based Education, Goals 2000 School to Work, and now,
Common Core, which also has a tie-in to Marxism. This information is not found in publications
pushed by the NY state education department, but it is accessible from multiple supporting documents.
A newly-published key resource is found on amazon.com by Robin S. Eubanks, an attorney with a very
analytical mind: Credentialed To Destroy: How and Why Education Became a Weapon. She also has a
Common Core is Radical Education Reform, part of a global strategy to control economic resources
and us citizens as well. This federal takeover of education is part of a movement to shift our country
toward a state managed society and economy. It targets student emotions in order to change their
values and behavior. This is to be accomplished, not through increased content knowledge, but through
21st-century education competencies: Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and
Creativity. Hardly the stuff of rigor.
Common Core is a rejection of fact-based instruction, the engine necessary for developing
individualism and logical, abstract reasoning. It shifts measurement of knowledge, so necessary to
creativity and inventiveness—think light bulb, automobile, computer, any invention—to measurement
of “outcomes” or “competencies.” It is loss of cultural knowledge about what made America and
Western Civilization unique.
Perhaps your child or grandchild expresses an interest in a STEM career: Science, Technology,
Engineering, Mathematics. Even Dr. Jason Zimba, author of Common Core EngageNY Mathematics,
states that it will not prepare students to enter STEM programs in college. Further, Zimba admits that
Common Core mathematics does not prepare students with the needed pre-calculus and calculus
courses required to enter selective colleges such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Hamilton, SUNY
Albany, Colgate, Stanford, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and many others. It is geared to community college
level only—Zimba’s words. Asian students beat the pants off American students in mathematics. By
the end of grade 7, our students already will be two years behind those in other countries, and falling
Dr. Zimba has degrees in astrophysics, physics, mathematics, and a Ph.D. in physics, but no training in
teaching young children. None! Astoundingly, there are no research studies validating EngageNY
Mathematics. The program never was field-tested on children in a few schools before it was published.
No one knows if it works! Our children are serving as guinea pigs for both the mathematics and ELA
programs. This is unethical! It also is a violation of our laws!
If you had a serious illness, would you go to a physician who said, “There is powerful research
validating a cure for your condition. I don’t use it, but my therapy might make you feel a little better
even if it doesn’t cure you”? You would cry, “Fraud!” “Scoundrel!” “Criminal!” EngageNY
Mathematics is analogous to the medical example: “Yes, we know other countries are far advanced in
mathematics. Yes, we know the powerful mathematics programs they use. But community college is
good enough for New York and USA students.”
Why is Commissioner King pushing curricula that are weak and lack any research validation?
Unfortunately, most administrators lack the necessary research background that would give them the
ammunition to stand up and say NO to such blatant abuse of our children. Consequently, We the
People have had to take on the task of standing up to the scoundrels usurping our education system.
Board of Education members are elected to represent the people in the district they serve. They, and
the superintendent hired, are not free to hijack our children’s education. Neither is Commissioner King
nor the Board of Regents free to engage in unlawful and nefarious activity .
Individual ability to reason abstractly at high levels is under organized attack. Those of us who express
concern about Common Core are greeted with cries by some that we are espousing “conspiracy
theories.” This is silly, of course. Proven facts and documented statements describe the coordinated
A publication of Southern Tier TEA Party Patriots
October 2013, No. 24
Part III: Letter of Concern: Assembly bill 7994
NY Assembly Education Committee and
Senator Flanagan’s Committee:
Common Core MUST Be Repealed
Large numbers of citizens in nearly every state that adopted Common Core are active in trying to overturn what they consider to be a travesty in educating children. Not only was implementation of Common Core an unconstitutional federal takeover of state responsibility for education, but the Board of Regents and Commissioner of Education violated New York state’s Constitution and education laws. Southern Tier TEA Party Patriots presented information in its publication, STTPP Beacon, parts I and II, regarding our concerns about Common Core in our state.
Part III is directed at concerns about EngageNY Mathematics. Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. R. James Milgram have been active in putting out information (see STTPP Beacon, part II) about the very real weaknesses of Common Core: “college readiness” is a myth, and the mathematics standards lag substantially compared to other developed countries, as well as being insufficient in covering critical content. Moreover, the strategy used to teach children facts and operations is inefficient and questionable.
Parents are waking up to the real weakness of the mathematics standards as well as other serious concerns about this entire takeover. Scrolling through nearly every page of the mathematics curriculum for kindergarten, grades 1-3, and most of grade 4, puts fear into this examiner—especially when comparing the Common Core EngageNY mathematics curriculum with Direct Instruction’s math curriculum. Direct Instruction’s math programs have proven themselves over nearly 45 years of research validation, and they produce a huge effect size based on statistical meta-analysis. Statewide our children will be deficient in math knowledge because every district is affected. There will be no schools or districts using research-validated math curricula that have proven effectiveness. Legislators, that’s chilling!
As individuals, we seek medical treatment that is based on extensive research and experience. Shouldn’t the same standards apply to educating our children?
Common Core State Standards for Mathematics: Standards for Mathematical Practices
Legislator, think of yourself as a kindergarten (even grade 1) child to whom these “standards” apply, and see how silly they are [bracketed comments are mine]:
1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. [“Persevere?” That makes learning sound difficult. Shouldn’t we be making math easy, step-by-incremental step, so that you as a 5-year-old are successful and want to learn?]
2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively. [Aren’t those just fancy words for learning math?]
3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. [Hard to believe that you as a kindergartner can do this when you lack the required vocabulary and concept development. Do you think the authors understood the meaning of “viable”?]
4. Model with mathematics. [What does this mean? The standard is not clear even to an adult, and you are a child.]
5. Use appropriate tools strategically. [What tools? Pencil? Crayon? Scissors? Remember, you are in kindergarten!]
6. Attend to precision. [Do you think the authors meant “accuracy”? That would make more sense, don’t you think?!]
7. Look for and make use of structure. [Structure in what? Numerical relationships? Number operations?]
8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning. [Does this mean regularity with the irregular screwy configurations starting in lesson 24 that’s leading you, a 5-year-old child, down the road to being math handicapped? It’s hard to “express regularity” when you don’t have adding numbers under your command, and they throw in the concept of “minus” so early in the game at lesson 35.]
Important question: Was Engage NY Mathematics field-tested on real children in real classrooms before it was implemented statewide? Field-tested means that teachers used the draft program in their classrooms; gave feedback to the authors about glitches; which the authors fixed; and gave back to the teachers to try again on the children. The process is repeated until there are no glitches and children demonstrate mastery of the content. Sometimes it requires abandoning a program and starting over. Furthermore, did these Ph.D. authors have actual experience in teaching math to young, beginning learners? Hard to believe they did based on the standards they wrote and modules they created.
Daro, McCallum, and Zimba (Feb. 16, 2012), authors of the standards and Common Core Mathematics, wrote the following in “The Structure is the Standards,” a 2-page document given to participants in professional development training, using power point “Tools for the Common Core Standards”:
Fragmenting the Standards into individual standards, or individual bits of standards, erases all these relationships and produces a sum of parts that is decidedly less than the whole….The standards are meant to be a blueprint for math instruction that is more focussed and coherent. The focus and coherence in this blueprint is largely in the way the standards progress from each other, coordinate with each other and most importantly cluster together into coherent bodies of knowledge.
This is not new, folks. Siegfried Engelmann did exactly this nearly 45 years ago when he authored Direct Instruction mathematics curriculum Distar Arithmetic I and II (K-3), followed by Connecting Math Concepts (grades K-8), and Essentials for Algebra. He also authored curricula in: reading, spelling, writing, correctives programs, and a host of others. His programs have extensive research validation; they work because they were field-tested before publication. In other words, teachers know they work!
The Importance of Research Validation
In his ground-breaking work, Visible Learning, Dr. John Hattie synthesized more than 800 meta-analyses based on more than 52,000 studies and millions of students. Hattie raises two questions: What data support teacher enhancement of teaching and learning? What is it that we wish to enhance? Educators need a barometer of what works best, a guideline as to what is excellent. Effect Size answers both questions.
An effect size tells about the effect—the power—of a particular experimental approach or intervention to increase achievement. Hattie found that a mean effect size—0.40—is the benchmark figure which provides the standard from which to judge typical and real-world effects. At 0.40 and above, all children learn; below 0.40, only some children learn. To put that effect size into perspective, an effect size of d = 1.0, indicates an increase of one standard deviation; it is associated with advancing children’s achievement by two to three years.
Direct Instruction (DI) curricula have an overall effect size of 0.59, well above the mean effect size of 0.40. The effect size for DI math programs, however, is a huge 1.11, a result of its focus upon strategy-based methods, guided practice, teacher modeling, using specific forms of feedback, using mastery criteria, and sequencing examples. DI does not use manipulatives. According to Hattie, least effective is the strategy of working within a peer group (effect size, 0.15), a strategy used in nearly every lesson in Common Core EngageNY Mathematics. Every effect size under the category “Teacher as Activator” (see below) is an integral part of Direct Instruction curricula. But note, also, the low effect size of gaming (ES = 0.32) in the opposite column: computer gaming is regarded as “learning” under Common Core [see Beacon 23]. How successful do you think that will be? Note also whole language reading, commonly used in schools, with an abysmal 0.06! Think of all the children exposed to this weak reading program.
Teacher as Activator Effect Size Teacher as Facilitator Effect Size
Feedback:Student to teacher is the most powerful feedback: what they know; what they understand; where they make errors; misconceptions; when not
engaged (no social and behavioral feedback) 0.73 Simulations and Gaming 0.32
Teaching Students Self-Verbalization 0.67 Inquiry-Based Teaching 0.31
Direct Instruction 0.59 Smaller Class Sizes 0.21
Mastery Learning 0.57 Individualized Instruction 0.2
Goals – Challenging 0.56 Problem-Based Learning 0.15
Behavioral Organizers 0.41 Whole Language – Reading 0.06
Source: Hattie, John, Visible Learning, 2009.
Question: Where is the list of studies validating Engage NY Common Core Mathematics? What is the effect size of this program that was implemented statewide? Surely, such information should be readily available to legislators and taxpayers, especially when implementation is forced upon districts all across the state. Wouldn’t you agree?
Schools are required to schedule lots and lots of tests. In fact, teachers complain that far too much time is spent on test preparation rather than on actual learning. Hattie reminds us:
We seem to have no barometers of success or failure to show what works and what does not work in education. Yes, we do have tests, lots of them, which we use to evaluate whether students have gained sufficiently. But this is not enough. An influence may “work,” but by how much, and how differently from other influences?…We should be asking, “What works best?”
Does EngageNY Common Core Mathematics Work “Best”?
We don’t even know if it works at all! The above critique of standards raises concerns, as does apparent lack of validating research. Just think of the tragedy if this program is a boondoggle! With every district using the same math program it seems a recipe for disaster. Remember the written critical response (“Closing the Door on Education Innovation: Why One National Curriculum Is Bad for America,” 2011) by many concerned citizens and educators to the Shanker Institute Manifesto and the U.S. Department of Education’s Initiative? Their concerns were these:
1. There is no constitutional or statutory basis for national standards, national assessments, or national curricula.
2. There is no consistent evidence that a national curriculum leads to high academic achievement.
3. The national standards on which the administration is planning to base a national curriculum are inadequate.
4. There is no body of evidence for a “best” design for curriculum sequences in any subject.
5. There is no evidence to justify a single high school curriculum for all students.
What follows are concerns regarding EngageNY Common Core Mathematics. Illustrations from the curriculum are supplied. Additionally, examples from Direct Instruction, a math curriculum with a huge effect size are provided from Distar Arithmetic I (kindergarten) and II (grade 1).
Concerns regarding Engage NY Common Core Mathematics
1. The program is unwieldy and cumbersome. Children are so inundated with drawing diagrams, circling groups of 5 and 10 dots, blocks, and various figures, that facileness with math facts and operations is lost. It does not appear that mastery of skills will be gained. There is not a lot of practice.
2. The use of number “bonds” is handicapping to children, especially when it comes to performing operations in addition and subtraction, even in multiplication and division. People simply do not think nor perform mathematical operations in this manner. Do you think that students in Singapore, Japan, Korea, or Finland would reach their high math performance levels if they were in programs like EngageNY? Hardly!
3. By grade 4, EngageNY Math is 2 years behind Direct Instruction programs in teaching concepts (no particular order):
• It wasn’t until grade 4 that an algorithm for borrowing in subtraction appeared.
• Place-value teaching seemed over the top and repetitive, and not really useful in its presentation.
• Nearly all facts presented were in horizontal format, but vertical is the format most commonly used, especially when adding several numbers.
• Column addition is quite delayed.
• Division also is delayed.
1. It is expensive. Each lesson requires 7-9 photocopied pages per student. For a class of 18 children, this means (using 7 as the average) approximately 126 sheets of paper per day just for math, plus the cost of colored ink, as many of the sheets have colored figures.
2. The program is inefficient. Many worksheets have few problems on them, adding to overall cost for a district, and providing limited practice.
3. One does not see the important cognitive concept of distributed learning occur where several different concepts are practiced daily. Distributed learning is crucial for reinforcing and maintaining learned material. It is an integral part all DI programs.
4. In spite of concerns of the authors about fragmentation, each kindergarten module deals with an entirely different concept. Additionally, in grades 1-4, many lessons are devoted to a single concept, meaning that previous learning is not being reinforced.
5. The language of math—that is, the learning and use of abstract symbols—is delayed substantially. Learning to use symbols is what makes math efficient and accurate. Frankly, it’s easy to get lost in all the dots and circling of X number of dots. Sample worksheets reminded one of excessive stimulation from hyped TV commercials or flashing advertisements on one’s computer screen.
6. There is too much talking by children to other children, called “student debriefs.” This becomes a waste of time. Explicit teaching by a knowledgeable teacher adds to children’s learning, and where the teacher evaluates learning by student responses and written work.
7. “Manipulatives do little to support the learning of mathematics,” wrote Dr. John Hattie. Children constantly were told to use concrete manipulatives, or their fingers and hands. Manipulatives such as cubes, beans, marbles, Rekenrek, or any other are unnecessary. They take up too much time, what is learned from them is trivial, and they interfere with learning the real language of math.
8. The strategies of carrying in addition and borrowing in subtraction are very delayed
9. Teaching numbers 10 – 19 is difficult because the names for these numbers are irregular, but this didn’t stop the authors. Place-value is taught by using a “hide the zero card.” Does this really teach the concept?
Samples from Common Core EngageNY: A-E (grades K-4)
It is difficult to see how this program will enhance mathematical knowledge of elementary school children. The program seems bogged down in myriad details to the point of ad nauseam. As noted previously, the use of number bonds is awkward, inefficient, slow, and seems contrary to how math is taught in high-performing countries. I would think that this program is very boring for students.
Numbers are broken down into component parts. It is these parts that are used in operations. Wouldn’t it be easier for students to work with the actual numbers? By the end of grade 4, students only are multiplying and dividing by one digit.
Samples from Direct Instruction’s Distar I (K-level. F-K) and II (grade 1, L-Q) + R/S (place-value)
There are three workbooks for each Distar level. Each lesson has two sides containing teacher guided work, plus independent work. The last lesson from each workbook is included. Pages are arranged for maximum efficiency. Distributed learning is very apparent. Children move step-by-incremental step through the 160 lessons, ensuring success.
Appendix H: Addition: 4 + 2 = □ “Circle the side you start counting on. Draw vertical lines under the 2. Touch number 4 with your pencil. Get it going with 4 and count each line. Write your answer in the box.”
• Already children are memorizing +1 facts because they have learned a rule: “When you plus 1, you say the next number.” Learning of rules is an important part of Direct Instruction. Saying rules appeared to be lacking in Common Core mathematics.
• The concept of place value is introduced with the small circle added to the digit in a ten’s number. The circle drops out in the middle of Distar II when children are very proficient in tens numbers. It does not take a host of dot arrays or dots in boxes to understand the concept of place value.
• Subtraction has been introduced.
• Children are given much practice in working addition and subtraction problems. In addition to choral repeating of facts with the teacher, children work with a partner in using flash cards for facts.
• Word problems: children get much practice. There is no point in making problems difficult while they’re learning basic skills. Complex word problems is not indicative of a better math program. Children need to be facile in using numbers before dealing with complex word problems.
• More/Less concept has been introduced.
• Multiplication has been introduced. 2 X 4 = □ “Count by 2 four times.”
• Vertical addition.
Appendix N, O
• Subtracting double-digit numbers
• Addition with carrying.
Appendix P, Q
• Word problems with multiplication.
• The “thinking girl” has memorized these facts.
Appendix R, S: (K-level)
• Place-value: each bundle represents 10.
• Vertical addition and subtraction.
A personal note: Last year I homeschooled my granddaughter for kindergarten using Direct Instruction Distar I and moving into Distar II for mathematics. She entered grade 1 this school year. The method of teaching Common Core EngageNY Mathematics is such a disaster, however, that we cannot allow her to remain in the class for math instruction. She will be confused and lose her current skills, which would be a travesty. She is far beyond her grade 1 peers in math knowledge because the DI program advances children. She has memorized all addition facts and many subtraction facts. She can add a column of figures and perform algebra addition. She is ready to start multiplication. I find it sad that so many children will be delayed, even handicapped, in their math knowledge acquisition with the Common Core math program.
I also used nearly every level of Direct Instruction math programs for tutoring children who were failing in our local schools. Most came for reading and math, but some needed spelling and writing in addition. I used Direct Instruction programs in all these subjects. Children ranging from age 5 to 15 came to me, usually three times per week. I provided these lessons free of charge. Most had been poorly taught. The schools wanted to place them in special education, but the parents refused. Several already were classified, however. Once these children recognized that they were able to learn, a new world opened for them.
Deann Nelson, Ed.D. prepared parts I, II, and III for STTPP Beacon.
A publication of Southern Tier TEA Party Patriots
September 2013, No. 23
Part II: Letter of Concern to NY Assembly Education Committee
Re: Assembly bill 7994: Common Core MUST Be Repealed
There are cases which cannot be overdone by language, and this is one. There are
persons, too, who see not the full extent of the evil which threatens them; they solace
themselves with hopes that the enemy, if he succeed, will be merciful….By perseverance
and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission,
the sad choice of a variety of evils. Excerpt from “The Crisis,” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776
What is presented here also “cannot be overdone by language.” Our “enemy” is subtle and hidden, making the battle that much more difficult. Couched in rhetoric that we understand with a particular meaning, our “enemy” uses the same words, but gives them “his” own meaning. We must be vigilant, decipher the underlying meaning of “his” words—and fight back—or we will be defeated.
Read the chilling words of Bayard Rustin, aide to Martin Luther King, Jr. and planner of the 1963 March on Washington: “It is institutions—social, political, and economic institutions—which are the ultimate molders of collective sentiments. Let these institutions be reconstructed today, and let the ineluctable gradualism of history govern the formation of a new psychology” [emphases added].
Rustin (1965) argued in “From Protest to Politics” that the Civil Rights struggle remains as long as capitalism is in place. His goal was to put power into his vision: moving the world as it is to a world he thought it should be. “The civil rights movement,” Rustin said, “must evolve from a protest movement into a full-fledged social movement—an evolution calling its very name into question. It is now concerned not merely with removing the barriers to full opportunity but with achieving the fact of equality” [italics added]. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination and granted equality of rights, no matter the individual’s color, sex, religion, or age; it did not grant equality of outcomes.
While citizens in many states ponder—and work to thwart—federal overreach into states’ autonomous rights in education, President Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Harry Boyte, National Coordinator of American Commonwealth Partnership (ACP) and Director of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg College, are putting into motion Rustin’s “new psychology” via eponyms, Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI), K-12, and A Crucible Moment: College Learning & Democracy’s Future, touted as A National Call to Action. A Crucible Moment, was announced at the White House January 10, 2012; it was federally funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
Boyte, known through his writings and community work as a proponent of “repackaged” teachings of radical Saul Alinsky, wrote: “Rustin argued that the movement for equality requires institutional transformation, not simply moral exhortation. I see the civic transformations of colleges and universities, promoted by the American Commonwealth Partnership in partnership with the White House and the Department of Education as examples.” Secretary Duncan, speaking at the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr. March on Washington, extended the meaning behind Rustin’s and Boyte’s words: “Integration alone doesn’t guarantee a world-class education. Civil rights means having the same opportunities—and not just equal rights” [emphases added].
HISTORY 101 & THE U.S. CONSTITUTION: Forgotten by the President and Sec of Education?
Confusion reigns by many regarding our system of government. The words are: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic….” There it is—Republic. We are not a democracy form of government where majority rules, although the word “democracy” is used very liberally. We are a Republic, which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the people, administered by their representatives. That appears to be forgotten—and outright rejected—when one reads the documents pushing this transformation in U.S. education.
“Civil rights” means equality of RIGHTS, granted through several amendments to the U.S. Constitution: 13th, provide universal freedom; 14th, provide universal rights of citizenship; and 15th and 19th, provide universal voting rights regardless of race, color, or sex. Civil rights does not mean all having the same opportunities, as Secretary Duncan stated. No, it means: treated as equals in the protection of rights; equality before the law; equal roles as human beings. This philosophy is the foundation of our Western civilization: Each individual is entitled to a life whereby the individual creates opportunities for her-/himself through education, hard work, creativity, personal values, drive, ambition—not through governmental decree, manipulation, implementing unproven and unpiloted theories, and overthrow of what has been established via our laws. Friedrich Hayek, Nobel Prize-winning economist, philosopher, and prophet, wrote in The Road to Serfdom: “I am certain that nothing has done so much to destroy the juridical safeguards of individual freedom as the striving after this mirage of social justice” [emphasis added].
Alarmingly, what the Secretary proposes is what Germany perfected even before the Nazis came to power: “democratic socialism,” called “organization” or “planning,” and aimed at directing and altering the thinking of children. It is planning on a grand scale. This type of thinking also permeated Soviet socio-cultural psychological research. It is not a large step to see that this is where Common Core State Standards Initiative and A Crucible Moment are heading.
Those pushing CCSSI and Crucible see human personality in the classroom as malleable, therefore changeable. They are manipulative, and they make the assumption that they have the right and duty to alter the minds of citizens in our nation—especially those of children—even without parental consent. They are arrogant in saying they have the intelligence and capability to change children into the type of citizens they deem as desirable. They are destructive by their rejection of our Constitution, our laws, our heritage, and our traditional form of education—which has served us well for more than 200 years!
Ironically, the Secretary complains that Americans are lacking in historical and civic knowledge, yet it appears that it is he who skipped Civics 101 and The Constitution. With Secretary Duncan’s federal push into K-12 schools and state colleges and universities in nearly every state, including our own—contrary to NY state and federal laws (see STTPP Beacon, No. 22 for a list)—the established system of Federalism is made a mockery.
Liberty, the earned right for each of us to create our own opportunities, was won for us under incredible hardships and obstacles. It is up to the New York State Legislature not to let it become meaningless by embarking on the slippery slope of Common Core and A Crucible Moment. We must remember! Read the words of David McCullough (2005) from his book, 1776:
The [American Revolution for Independence] was a longer, far more arduous, and more painful
struggle than later generations would understand or sufficiently appreciate. By the time it ended, it
had taken the lives of an estimated 25,000 Americans, or roughly 1 percent of the population. In percentage of lives lost, it was the most costly war in American history, except for the Civil War.
BAIT-and-SWITCH TACTICS: Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) and A Crucible Moment (CM): College Learning and Democracy’s Future
Notice the bolded words in the following epigraph to A Crucible Moment’s introduction:
A socially cohesive and economically vibrant US democracy…require[s] informed, engaged, open- minded, and socially responsible people committed to the common good and practiced in ‘doing’ democracy…. Civic learning needs to be an integral component of every level of education, from grade school through graduate school, across all fields of study [emphases added].
Common Core State Standards Initiative and A Crucible Moment should raise red flags for everyone. These documents spell Danger! They violate our laws! The definition of words is changed leaving an unsuspecting public unaware that danger has entered their public schools and colleges. Hayek reminds us: “Nothing distinguishes more clearly a free country from a country under arbitrary government than the observance in the former of the great principles known as the Rule of Law….It is the legal embodiment of freedom.” Through the confluence of individuals, ideology, and opportunity, however, we are witnessing a takeover of New York State’s autonomous rights in education—a violation of law:
1. Individuals: A president with neo-socialistic leanings, whose major work experience was that of a community organizer, and whose vision of an expanded role for government includes: “social justice,” “fairness,” “equality,” “spread the wealth around,” “everyone must pay their [sic] fair share,” “global justice.” Didn’t the President take an oath to the primacy of the U.S. Constitution?
2. Ideology: Organizations and groups whose mission is that of American and global social justice, including the U.S. Department of Education: “To fulfill America’s promise in our global society, our education system at all levels, from early learning through higher education, must serve our nation both as its economic engine and its wellspring for democracy,” wrote Martha Kanter, Under Secretary, and Eduardo Ochoa, Assistant Secretary, in the document’s Introduction. They further stated: “The completion of postsecondary education and the acquisition of twenty-first-century critical thinking skills [see below] in the liberal arts and sciences are an economic necessity as well as a social imperative.” What promise? Don’t nations have the sovereign right to determine their own form of government? Didn’t we learn that lesson from the Arab Spring uprising?
3. Opportunity: Our state wanted money. Race To The Top represented an opportunity for the Federal government to “never let a good crisis go to waste.” Remember those words? Without any public hearings, the Board of Regents and Commissioner of Education bypassed the legislature, violated U.S. and New York state laws, and neglected to obtain consent from THE PEOPLE. A sellout for 30 pieces of silver? THE PEOPLE protest! THE PEOPLE oppose!
CCSSI is the K-12 vehicle used to prepare students to receive A Crucible Moment contents in college. We have seen teaching materials. Lessons are permeated with race, class, and oppression. Teaching facts is bypassed for heightening student emotions—not logic—which form the substance of classroom discussions. Programs such as The 10Cs: A Model of Diversity Awareness and Social Change [see below] are used to indoctrinate young minds. CCSSI is not a product for “This is the Knowledge NY Students Will Learn,” but a process of learning in “culturally relevant contexts.” Talk about scary!!!
“College and career ready” for all students is a stated goal. The new college graduate, now considered an educated person, will have these enumerated skills (in pithy form), thanks to William Cronon (1998), found on Partnership for 21st Century Skills website. The “educated” person will be able to:
1. Listen and hear.
2. Read and understand.
3. Talk with anyone.
4. Write clearly, persuasively, movingly.
5. Solve puzzles and problems.
6. Respect rigor as a way of seeking truth.
7. Practice humility, tolerance, self-criticism.
8. Understand how to get things done in world.
9. Nurture, empower people around them.
10. Follow E. M. Forster’s injunction: “Only connect . . .”
What is missing from Cronon’s list? Oh, yes, knowledge, content, analytical thinking, Truths—absolute essentials to be regarded as educated—along with well-developed skills for particular vocations. Here is the new definition for being an educated person from Partnership for 21st Century Skills, but common to many other organizations also getting a “piece of the pie” and “their hands into the“pot”: “Critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and global connections are…critical skills or attributes required to be successful in the 21st century economy.” Grade school to university, Cronon insists, our educational system will be regarded as successful “by how well we succeed in training children and young adults to aspire to these ten qualities” [emphasis added]. The “new learning” is about shaping children’s minds. How chilling is that ?!!!
Roger Shank, psychologist, computer scientist, and author of Teaching Minds: How Cognitive Science Can Save Our Schools, rejects literature, poetry, languages, economics, history, and principles of science as “they are not germane to this century.” “Not Germane” subjects are replaced with telecommunications, HTML, human issues such as communication, basic psychology, and “child raising.” “We need to rethink what it means to be educated and begin to focus on a new conception of the very idea of education,” writes Shank. Computers will take over Books. Online computer gaming is classified as “learning.” How’s that for creating mindless drones? Concerned parents? Out of luck!
What happened to nationalism? The word “global” is a key part of the new paradigm being promoted by multiple organizations and Secretary Duncan. His words are right out of UNESCO’s Millennium Development Goals: Ensuring environmental sustainability; Developing a global partnership for development; Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; Achieving universal primary education, to name but a few. He said:
The United States can no longer meet global challenges like developing sustainable sources of energy, reducing poverty and disease, or curbing air pollution and global warming [italics added], without collaborating with other countries. And the U.S. cannot meet those global challenges, both here in our local communities or abroad, without dramatically improving the quality and breadth of civic learning and democratic engagement.
These new global and communal challenges will require U.S. students to develop better critical thinking skills and cross-cultural understanding. Fortunately, high-quality civic learning equips students with the very skills they need to succeed in the 21st century—the ability to communicate effectively, to work collectively, to ask critical questions, and to thrive in diverse workplaces.” (Jan. 10, 2012)
Global warming?! This issue has been refuted with scientific evidence by many reputable scientists. That doesn’t prevent the Secretary from hyping it for his purposes, though. Are we as a country in danger of losing our sovereignty? Are the writers of these documents, and the organizations supporting this progressive transformational paradigm shift in education—including the U.S. President and Secretary of Education—leading us by bait-and-switch tactics to Agenda 21? Here is a prime example of how bait-and-switch is used: J. Gary Lawrence, adviser to President Clinton’s Council on Sustainable Development for Agenda 21, said: “[W]e call our process something else, such as comprehensive planning, growth management or smart growth.” Lawrence admits to the President that he is fearful a freedom-loving public will be alerted and worried if he uses the correct name.
In addition to “equality,” a host of new-old words are connected to CCSSI and Crucible: “soft skills,” “relevant,” “real world,” “projects,” “tasks,” “authentic problem solving,” “higher order thinking,” “outcomes/objectives/standards/skills/competencies,” “whole being,” “feelings,” “values,” “transformative,” “global interdependence,” “consensus,” “critical thinking skills,” “relationships,” “social citizenship,” “group work,” “local, national, global generative civic partnerships,” “new paradigms.”
Words such as “learning,” “economically vibrant,” “rigorous” are used, but, as we have come to learn, their meanings have changed. What Hayek has to say on this has great significance for us:
The most effective way of making people accept the validity of the values they are to serve is to persuade them that they are really the same as those they have always held, but which were not
properly understood or recognized before. And the most efficient technique to this end is to use
the old words but change their meaning [emphasis added].
“Growth” is one of the outcomes for CCSSI, but not academic growth as one would expect, but growth in positive attitudes, group cohesiveness, and working together. See how meanings change? Crucible says that colleges and universities must provide “far more enabling” environments so students can use “their wisdom and passion to seek justice with keener insight into how to determine what is just, for whom, and under what circumstances.” How will this be realized? Each college must have a Civic Investment Plan with explicit learning outcomes. To “ensure institutional commitment,” accreditation and funding will be tied to “measurable outcomes” by students. Where is academic freedom in all this?
In an epigraph to Crucible’s section III, Ira Harkavy, University of Oslo, wrote: “If human beings hope to maintain and develop a particular type of society, they must develop and maintain the particular type of education system conducive to it.” Harkavy lives and works in a Scandinavian country with cradle-to-grave welfare security. It’s pretty clear what “particular type of society” he envisions for us: a complete dismantling of society as established under our U.S. Constitution. This he will do through a complete dismantling of our education system.
So—bait-and-switch is the ploy being used on unsuspecting Americans. Definitions of words banging our consciousness do not have the meaning we think. This is what is being foisted upon Americans in New York, and in most other states: Wholesale re-imagining of our K-12 schools and our state colleges and universities at our expense—but NOT by our agreement.
THE HIDDEN AGENDA
The theory behind CCSSI is not new; it has been around since the late 19th century, just under different names. It is social engineering. Altering basic human behavior. Economic catastrophe. Utopian:
• John Dewey’s progressive education: experiential learning and continuity, taught by teachers serving as “guides,” and with the school used as a social institution for social reform;
• Ralph Tyler’s Eight Year Study (1930s): organized learning experiences through action of the student, not the teacher, to meet certain objectives;
• Bronfenbrenner Ecological Systems Theory (1979): emphasizes environmental factors as playing the major role to development; influenced by Lev Vygotsky, Soviet developmental psychologist and Kurt Lewin, German-born psychologist;
• Transformational Outcome-Based Education (1980s-90s): student-centered learning by constructivist methods (e.g, project-based learning, whole language reading, block scheduling) versus traditional direct instruction;
• Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL): “social and emotional learning is a process for helping children…develop the fundamental skills for life effectiveness”; life-long learners who are self-aware, caring and connected to others, and responsible in their decision-making”; designed to physically alter the biological structure of the brain;
• ASCD (educators’ organization) Whole Child Common Core Initiative: Uses The 10Cs: A Model of Diversity Awareness and Social Change: 5 Cs of Awareness: Color, Culture, Class, Character, Context; 5Cs of Change: Confidence, Courage, Commitment, Conflict, Community. “Community” means “working collectively and collaboratively with others toward a shared vision.”
Learning—alarming, to us and many, many others in our state and across the country—has a new focus: changing beliefs, feelings, values, and behaviors. Reject the past. Create new values, patterns, attitudes, and beliefs. Reconstruct the student’s habits. Students are to be governed by their habits, not by their intelligence. This transformation is what is HIDING invisibly in our schools. CCSSI’s definition is a clone of this one from Tyler’s Eight Year Study:
The newer concept of learning holds that a human being develops through doing those things which have meaning to him; that the doing involves the whole person in all aspects of his being; and that growth takes place as each experience leads to greater understanding and more intelligent reaction to new situations.
According to Duncan and Company, all this pie-in-the-sky transformation will produce a “vibrant economy.” Bait-and-Switch! Bait-and-Switch! In reality, we will see a fast train to economic catastrophe. Deep knowledge is required to drive dynamic job growth and genuine innovation. With history as our guide, we see that CCSSI and A Crucible Moment are incredibly weak, ineffective, unproven, and destructive to education, destructive to our country, and destructive to our future economy in New York State. This is grand scale experimentation on a national level, with our children serving as guinea pigs.
Equality for All—enforced by governmental coercion—is where all of this appears to be heading. Our thanks to attorney Robin Eubanks for her incredible work in bringing these connections to light on her blog http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com. She laments:
Everything that has been a barrier in the past to the Overbearing State is being dismantled [and],
at the exact same time, the countries which have social democracy/welfare states for all, have found
it to be unsustainable. All those realities are being ignored, though, by politicians and Connected Businesses, wanting to preserve power, and economically unsophisticated voters and students
wanting free stuff at someone else’s expense.
Pioneer Institute published a White Paper September 2013 entitled, “A Republic of Republics: How Common Core Undermines State and Local Autonomy over K-12 Education,” by the Honorable Robert Scott, former Texas Commissioner of Education. Scott quotes researchers and scholars Sandra Stotsky and R. James Milgram, members of the committee who refused to sign off on the English Language Arts and Mathematics standards. Stotsky said the following to the Indiana legislature:
Common Core’s “college readiness” standards for English language arts and reading do not aim
for a level of achievement that signifies authentic college-level work. They point to no more than readiness for a high school diploma (and possibly not even that, depending on where the cut score
is set). Despite claims to the contrary, they are not internationally benchmarked. States adopting Common Core’s standards will damage the academic integrity of both their post-secondary institutions and their high schools precisely because Common Core’s standards do not strengthen the high
school curriculum and cannot reduce the current amount of post-secondary remedial coursework in a
legitimate way [italics added].
Milgram, a mathematician, echoed Stotsky regarding mathematics standards:
…there are a number of extremely serious failings in [Common] Core Standards that make it
premature for any state with serious hopes for improving the quality of the mathematical education
of their children to adapt them. This remains true in spite of the fact that more than 40 states have already adopted them…For example, by the end of fifth grade the material being covered in arithmetic and algebra in Core Standards is more than a year behind the early grade expectations in most high achieving countries. By the end of seventh grade, Core Standards are roughly two years behind…When we compare the expectations in Core Standards with international expectations at the high school level we find, besides the slow pacing, that Core Standards only cover Algebra I, much but not all of the expected content of Geometry, and about half of the expectations of Algebra II. Also, there is no discussion at all of topics more advanced than these [italics added].
A CALL FOR ACTION BY THE NEW YORK STATE LEGISLATURE
What a Faustian bargain the Board of Regents and the Commissioner of Education made with the federal government: Give us money and we’ll give you our children! Gone was federalism in New York education. Gone was ethical action. One swift edict and Rule of Law was undone. In was Tyranny. Local control, established through our state constitution and education laws, was replaced by national standards that—by design and intent—will transform education for all children in our state and in the those other states that signed on to the standards.
Education for New York students has been usurped, weakened, and altered in ways that are unacceptable to THE PEOPLE. Legislators, take back New York education. Undo the damage inflicted upon our state. We suggest that you start here:
1. Repeal Race To The Top and Common Core State Standards Initiative;
2. Replace the current Board of Regents;
3. Replace the current Commissioner of Education;
4. Free our state colleges and universities from the edicts of A Crucible Moment.
Yes, our students need more study of history, as education historian Diane Ravitch and many others advocate, including Southern Tier TEA Party Patriots. An enlightened electorate is necessary for a democracy. New York doesn’t need a federal takeover of our state’s education in order to implement such changes. With greater learning and knowledge, some students may even become more civic-minded and involved as adults, but that would be an individual decision, not something foisted upon people through edict and manipulation by Secretary Duncan and the federal government.
Our Founding Fathers serve as examples of the power of education, self-taught in many cases. They possessed broad knowledge from reading books: classical studies, religious, political, historical, economic, philosophical studies; Greek, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, European, and English history. Our U.S. Constitution and form of government are the brilliant outcomes of their studies. If the legislature needs a modern-day model for history and civic study in our state colleges, there is none better than the curriculum at Hillsdale College (referred to as The Constitution College), and taught by knowledgeable, passionate teachers. Moreover, Hillsdale College has broadened its teaching to include on-line courses for any interested person. New York needs strong, sound education for our children. Please consider our input in the next section.
WE KNOW WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE
The words of Ron Edmonds, deceased black educator of the 1970s, still ring true today:
How many effective schools would you have to see to be persuaded of the educability of poor children? If your answer is more than one, then I submit that you have reasons of your own for preferring to believe that pupil performance derives from family background instead of school response to family background. Whether or not we will ever effectively teach the children of the
poor is probably far more a matter of politics than of social science and this is as it should be.
We can, whenever and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us. We already know more than we need to do that. Whether or not we do it
must finally depend on how we feel about the fact that we haven’t so far. [emphasis added].
Edmonds wrote about teaching academics. Academic, cognitive learning served our country well for most of our history. It was weakened by the progressive movement which introduced whole language, whole math, developmentally-appropriate education, and which led to a dumbing down of the curriculum. It will be dumbed down much further with CCSSI and A Crucible Moment.
“No Excuses” Schools: reject the ideology of victimhood and demonstrate high achievement.
They fulfill Edmonds’s admonition about school response to family background. They make children competent academically. They create a culture of achievement. There is a coherent focus on instruction in academic skills. Teachers use instructional methods and materials carefully designed in field testing; teachers know they work! Memorization, assessment, and directed instruction all are used because they work in getting children to achieve academically. Parents want their children to attend “No Excuses” schools. Here’s why:
1. freedom: high-performing principals are freed from micromanagement; students flourish
2. small: school size
3. measurable goals: hard and fast rules are set for the entire school to attain
4. teachers: master teachers hired: intelligent, capable, and embrace the school’s mission
5. teacher training: these schools train teachers on site; current certification is not related to quality teaching
6. programs: rigorous, and tightly aligned with state (not CCSSI) standards
7. explicit teaching: concepts are taught to mastery levels
8. knowledge: focus on its acquisition
9. diagnostic testing: used for diagnosis of learning, and for adjustment of instruction
10. technology: used sparingly, generally for assessment and school management
11. environment: highly disciplined
12. accountability: teachers are held accountable for student learning
13. teacher assessment: frequent by the principal
14. effort: explicit focus on effort by student, not talent, as the determinant of success
15. behavior: focus on catching children being good rather than punishment.
Other recommendations needed:
1. Core Knowledge: We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Core Knowledge provides sequence and structure for content in American history, world history, civics, and geography, K- grade 6. Thinking skills only develop in children when content knowledge is present. Core Knowledge addresses Secretary Duncan’s stated “concerns” regarding U.S. civic deficits.
2. Strengthen professional preparation of K-12 teachers: Require a degree in a discipline, not in Education (too weak). This will improve K-8 level teachers. Students with the lowest SAT scores enter elementary education. Our best teachers are needed here, as they do in Finland.
3. No APPR, No Bonuses: Teacher evaluations based on student test scores is poor policy. Teachers cannot overcome student deficits from earlier grades. They wrongly are penalized with low performance grades, leading to demoralized teachers. Bonuses don’t work. APPR and bonuses weaken schools. Use #13 above.
4. Support / Strengthen: Teachers need support.
5. “The money follows the child”: Consider implementing this policy. It gives parents real choice, and puts pressure on schools for high performance.
“A society that puts equality ahead of freedom
will end up with neither equality nor freedom.”
A publication of Southern Tier TEA Party Patriots
August 2013, No. 22
Letter of Concern to NY Assembly Education Committee
Re: Assembly bill 7994: Common Core MUST Be Repealed
Southern Tier TEA Party Patriots urges the Education Committee to consider the information presented here, and recommend to the Legislature that Race To The Top and Common Core State Standards (CCSS), with its many tentacles, be repealed.
Race To The Top and Common Core Violate United States Law and NY State Law:
The Board of Regents and Commissioner of Education violated New York State law by willfully, knowingly, and intentionally signing on to a federal takeover of New York State education:
1. U.S. Constitution, 10th Amendment: “…any powers not specifically delegated to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved for the states and the people respectively.”
2. 20 USC 1232 – Sec. 1232a. Prohibition against Federal control of education: “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system, or to require the assignment or transportation of students or teachers in order to overcome racial imbalance.”
3. NY State Constitution, Article XI, Section 1: “The legislature shall provide for the maintenance and support of a system of free common schools, wherein all the children of this state may be educated.” Section 2: “It [Board of Regents] shall be governed and its corporate powers, which may be increased, modified or diminished by the legislature….”
4. New York Consolidated Laws, Education, Article 35 § 1709, Section 3: the board of education has power and duty “to prescribe the course of study by which the pupils of the schools shall be graded and classified”; Section 5: “to make provision for the instruction of pupils in all subjects in which such instruction is required to be given….”
5. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, 20 U.S.C. 1232g): Protects the confidentiality of families. The Obama administration unilaterally made changes to FERPA definitions, thus removing confidentiality protection. Congress was circumvented.
Why Common Core Is a Disaster for New York State Education and Students:
1. Mandated cradle through workforce federal education program—without consent and knowledge of The People: all subjects, all grades, all schools, daycares, preschools, K-12, college.
2. Private organizations spearheaded Common Core: National Governor’s Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Third parties with ideological agendas funded the venture. Some individuals benefited financially from their involvement.
3. Developing process suspicious: Not subject to freedom of information acts or sunshine laws.
4. Circumvention: Obama administration and Secretary of Education Duncan made unilateral decisions affecting every state, thereby circumventing the checks and balances of Congress. They also changed FERPA definitions.
5. One-size-fits-all model: An impossible model. NY state is very diverse: rural counties to huge metropolitan areas. Diversity is part of every school: disabled, English as a Second Language, low-performers, high-performers, minorities.
6. Local control bypassed: The authority of boards of education addressing local needs has been diminished greatly.
7. State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS): Multiple collection of massive personally identifiable information on students. The rights of parents regarding privacy and confidentiality for their child clearly are bypassed.
8. Educational choice and competition: Broad choice denied for parents. Competition removed for schools to improve.
9. Closes educational innovation: See “Closing the Door on Innovation,” (May 9, 2011) with 118 signatories. Found at: http://www.edweek.org/media/closingthedoor-blog.pdf
10. Nationally-based standardized testing: NY standardized testing is replaced, resulting in increased costs to NY taxpayers.
11. New assessment = New teaching materials: These must be purchased by local districts, increasing the cost to taxpayers. Educational materials are slanted toward a progressive ideology promoting one-world order and emphasis on the United Nations.
12. ELA and Math standards never piloted: Common Core State Standards remain untested. Our children are serving as guinea pigs. Do the standards work? No one knows! Yet, rah-rah remarks by Jamestown’s superintendent to the public no doubt are typical: “We want people to understand that this tells us where we are in our trek up the mountain to conquer the Common Core…[T]he mountain is pretty large and pretty high. It will take more than a single year to really incorporate our change in instruction, and to help kids be able to perform at the levels that are expected of the Common Core learning standards.” How many times have we heard these same words in the past as one fad after another was experimented on our children?!!!
13. NOT internationally benchmarked: Originally, it was declared to be internationally benchmarked. The writers were forced to remove this label.
14. Standards are NOT rigorous: We are FAR behind Finland and other developed nations. CCSS will not close the gap, only distance us further.
15. College-readiness and grade-level standards: Most are empty skills. A fund of content knowledge is lacking.
16. Middle school writing standards: Developmentally inappropriate for average middle school students.
17. Teaching and use of standard algorithms in arithmetic: This is not completed until grades 5-6. Other developed nations are far ahead in regard to math teaching and learning.
18. Algebra I: Lower expectations. Teaching deferred until grade 9. Students will be more than 2 years behind international expectations by grade 7. Many students from other developed nations complete calculus before graduating from high school.
19. Informational reading in English + Approach to Geometry teaching: No research supports Common Core in these areas.
20. Interstate mobility rate: Estimated at less than 2 percent of K-12 school population. Mobility generally occurs within a school district, not between states.
A publication of Southern Tier TEA Party Patriots
November 2013, No. 25
Attack on Individuality, Abstract Reasoning, and Mathematics
by Deann Nelson
(Opinion article submitted to The Post-Journal and Dunkirk Observer.
Copies also sent to Assemblymen Goodell and Graf and Senators Young and Flanagan)
Have you heard school administrators say something similar to the following: “Parents must understand that Common Core is new and requires different teaching methods”? Hokum! The only thing new is its name. Have the words “rigor” and “college and career ready” also been thrown your way? These terms, too, are hogwash. There is nothing rigorous about Common Core, and it surely does not prepare students for college.
Either administrators have forgotten—or they never knew—that the theories behind Common Core have been around for more than 100 years. Policies and practices aimed at redesigning our economy, reshaping us as human beings, and changing our society and what it values, have a long history of terrible results: from John Dewey, using Karl Marx’s education theory, to Constructivism, New “Fuzzy” Math, Whole Language Reading, Outcomes Based Education, Goals 2000 School to Work, and now, Common Core, which also has a tie-in to Marxism. This information is not found in publications pushed by the NY state education department, but it is accessible from multiple supporting documents. A newly-published key resource is found on amazon.com by Robin S. Eubanks, an attorney with a very
analytical mind: Credentialed To Destroy: How and Why Education Became a Weapon. She also has a blog: www.invisibleserfscollar.com.
Common Core is Radical Education Reform, part of a global strategy to control economic resources and us citizens as well. This federal takeover of education is part of a movement to shift our country toward a state managed society and economy. It targets student emotions in order to change their values and behavior. This is to be accomplished, not through increased content knowledge, but through 21st-century education competencies: Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and
Creativity. Hardly the stuff of rigor.
Common Core is a rejection of fact-based instruction, the engine necessary for developing individualism and logical, abstract reasoning. It shifts measurement of knowledge, so necessary to creativity and inventiveness—think light bulb, automobile, computer, any invention—to measurement of “outcomes” or “competencies.” It is loss of cultural knowledge about what made America and Western Civilization unique.
Perhaps your child or grandchild expresses an interest in a STEM career: Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. Even Dr. Jason Zimba, author of Common Core EngageNY Mathematics, States that it will not prepare students to enter STEM programs in college. Further, Zimba admits that Common Core mathematics does not prepare students with the needed pre-calculus and calculus courses required to enter selective colleges such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Hamilton, SUNY Albany, Colgate, Stanford, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and many others. It is geared to community college level only—Zimba’s words. Asian students beat the pants off American students in mathematics. By the end of grade 7, our students already will be two years behind those in other countries, and falling further.
Dr. Zimba has degrees in astrophysics, physics, mathematics, and a Ph.D. in physics, but no training in teaching young children. None! Astoundingly, there are no research studies validating EngageNY Mathematics. The program never was field-tested on children in a few schools before it was published. No one knows if it works! Our children are serving as guinea pigs for both the mathematics and ELA programs. This is unethical! It also is a violation of our laws!
If you had a serious illness, would you go to a physician who said, “There is powerful research validating a cure for your condition. I don’t use it, but my therapy might make you feel a little better even if it doesn’t cure you”? You would cry, “Fraud!” “Scoundrel!” “Criminal!” EngageNY Mathematics is analogous to the medical example: “Yes, we know other countries are far advanced in mathematics. Yes, we know the powerful mathematics programs they use. But community college is good enough for New York and USA students.”
Why is Commissioner King pushing curricula that are weak and lack any research validation?
Unfortunately, most administrators lack the necessary research background that would give them the ammunition to stand up and say NO to such blatant abuse of our children. Consequently, We the People have had to take on the task of standing up to the scoundrels usurping our education system. Board of Education members are elected to represent the people in the district they serve. They, and the superintendent hired, are not free to hijack our children’s education. Neither is Commissioner King nor the Board of Regents free to engage in unlawful and nefarious activity .
Individual ability to reason abstractly at high levels is under organized attack. Those of us who express concern about Common Core are greeted with cries by some that we are espousing “conspiracy theories.” This is silly, of course. Proven facts and documented statements describe the coordinated activities surrounding Common Core. This is not conspiracy, but current reality. Common Core is harmful to our children, to our economy, and to our cultural values. It must be repealed.
“If we continue to be a happy people, that happiness must be assured by the enacting and executing of reasonable and wise laws, expressed in the plainest language, and by establishing such modes of education as tend to inculcate in the minds of youth, the feelings and habits of ‘piety, religion and morality,’ and to lead them to the knowledge and love of those truly Republican principles upon which our civil institutions are founded.” –Samuel Adams, Address to the Legislature of Massachusetts, 1795