Student speaks up against Common Core]]>
Huckabee steps back from Common Core
It’s not surprising to see that former supporters of Common Core are now running from the controversial standards the same way democrats are bailing from Obamacare. After all, the way both of these programs were brought into being was through slight of hand, back door deals, and half truths if not outright lies. Special interests were key in springing these programs on the public and the propaganda machine behind them would make the Russian state media proud. Fortunately, the light of day has began to fall on these programs and people are finding out they were sold a bill of goods that they don’t want.
“If you want your school system you can keep it”
The fear that Common Core might limit local control was dismissed by supporters but that is exactly what national standards do. Local districts and even states have no meaningful say about what is in the standards and many parents are finding that they aren’t happy with the changes that are being made. Many states jumped on the Common Core band wagon before the standards were even written. Now, like Obamacare, they are finding that you had to adopt the standards in order to know what was in them. The public is also just learning that, like Obamacare, the Common Core standards require the collection of a massive amount of private information which is alarming to many. Controversy is breaking out all over and many former supporters are now running for the hills.
Common Core Unhealthy?
Common Core Roots?
South Carolina is voting on a bill to end Obamacare in the state. State legislators have already passed H3101 in the house and have sent it on to the senate where they expect quick approval. Republican governor Nikki Haley has led resistance to Obamacare in the state and is expected to sign it into law immediately. Some claim this could be a national model for other states who object to the federal government’s intrusion into health care.
See the details here.
Mount Vernon Assembly
On Saturday, December 7th , legislators from 32 states met at George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon, Virginia, to begin discussions on the ground rules for invoking Article V of the federal constitution. Article V essentially allows for a state led convention to make amendments to the US constitution. This amendment process has never been used before but it is considered to be the avenue by which states can control an out of control federal government.
State Legislators discuss constitutional convention
Mt. Vernon Assembly Plans Second Meetup Next Year]]>
It is true that the government shutdown didn’t start with concern about raising the debt ceiling but in the end the winners were Obama and the democrats and the losers were the American people. It is obvious that Obama has no intention of doing anything about our debt problem despite the message that comes out of his mouth. When you consider the things that Obama said about George Bush when he wanted to raise the debt limit you can only come to the conclusion that what the President says has little to do with what he believes and has nothing to do with what he will do. I can’t remember any politician that has made more statements that he later contradicted with seemingly no need for reconciliation. In hind sight, Joe Wilson looks like a prophet when he blurted out at Obama “You lie!” during a 9/9/09 speech; Obama said Obamacare would not apply to illegals.
Obama certainly takes the lion’s share of the blame for over spending during the last 5 years, but the democratic congress also shares a lot of the blame. When they controlled both houses they did nothing to slow spending. Of course, the republicans only got religion about spending since Obama was elected. The George “W” years grew the government and spending far beyond any previous administration so the republicans proved that you can’t believe them either despite their constant whining about spending now.
DC can’t change itself
Despite what most DC politicians say, they can’t and won’t do what is necessary to put our financial house in order. We see the dire warnings coming from every direction but all we get in response is lip service. DC Politicians are not willing to make the hard choices that need to be made to stave off our coming financial implosion and many believe it is only a matter of time until we see a total financial collapse. Unfortunately, the deniers continue to push us towards the edge and DC politicians just keep saying we are going to deal with it in the near future. Of course, that near future always disappears when it becomes the present. Expecting DC to reform their out of control spending without some kind of outside intervention makes about as much sense as expecting a heroin addict to stop cold turkey without anyone forcing them to do so.
The establishment politicians work for Wall Street not the people
The recent shutdown ended not because the republicans gave in to Obama or the democrats; it ended because big business told the republicans that this thing needed to end. Big business is pro immigration, because they want cheap labor, and they are against the tea party because they know the tea party represents the grass roots that oppose crony capitalism and the continuation of the status quo spending. The tea party continues to upset the apple cart because they demand that their representatives heed the will of their constituents instead of bowing to the big money of lobbyists and corporations. Ted Cruz is hated by the establishment politicians because he has the audacity to represent his constituents and go directly to the people instead of bowing to the “say one thing and do another” politicians that describes so many in congress and especially the leadership of both parties.
Obama is willing to punish innocent Americans
Probably one of the most tragic outcomes of the recent shut down was Obama’s use of the federal park rangers and DC police officers to unnecessarily punish innocent citizens, veterans, and even foreign visitors by erecting “barrycades” in front of our open air memorials and federal parks. Unfortunately, the officers showed that they were willing to take action against any American who dared to defy this presidential order while at the same time allowing and even assisting immigration protesters to set up in the same areas they “barrycaded”. This was a sickening sight that should be an eye opener to every American.
The force of government can and will be used against the people
If you think that the federal government won’t take action against protesting Americans with our military and homeland security forces you better think again. If park rangers are willing to arm themselves to keep citizens out of an open park, how much more willing will armed soldiers and marines be willing to follow the orders of their superiors? We already had some “whacko” congresswoman calling for martial law as a response to a partial and temporary shutdown. It’s hard to imagine what might happen when we have a real crisis which is only a matter of time given our current path.
The press will be complicit in any oppression of the people
It’s amazing to me that the press showed so little outrage at the oppression they just saw exercised against innocent Americans. It’s also unbelievable that the press has totally ignored the huge amount of hurt Obamacare is causing to millions of Americans. It seems obvious that the mainstream press is willing to be used as another arm of an oppressive government whereas at one time they were seen as the watch dog against government oppression. This is a sad day for American journalism and is proof that media can’t be counted on to protect Americans from an unscrupulous government.
There is way too much power in Washington DC
One thing is for sure; the power of the federal government has grown far beyond anything the founders intended or could have imagined. The only way to reverse this is for the states to take control and invoke article V of the constitution. The state legislatures need to take matters into their own hands because DC politicians will never support efforts to limit their power or spending. Too many people are being enriched by the present system.
Our nation is suffering and is on a perilous path. DC can’t heal itself; it’s up to ordinary Americans to make it happen. Where do you stand?]]>
Mark Levin’s new book ,The Liberty Amendments” lays out a strategy to restore the balance of power that was originally intended by the framers of our constitution. Levin, points out the abuses of power by presidents, congress and the supreme court that have led to the loss of freedom, out of control federal spending, and very strange interpretations of the constitution by the supreme court. A court, by the way, that doesn’t have legitimate power from the constitution but gained power by their own interpretations which stand at odds with the the role envisioned for them by the framers.
Levin lays out his case in chapter one of the book which is available for free on-line. In the subsequent chapters he suggests a variety of amendments that include, term limits, repeal of the 17th amendment, new rules for the supreme court which allow their decisions to be overruled by 3/5 votes of congress or the states plus 12 year term limits for justices. He also suggests amendments that would reign in federal spending and force congress to come up with a budget each year or face 5% cuts across the board. He resolves the problem of the ever growing federal government by requiring that all agencies be renewed every three years or else face automatic disseverment.
Of course, all of these amendments would require a constitutional convention which Levin explains can be controlled by the state legislatures as spelled out in the never used Article 5 of the constitution. Congress, the President, and even governors would be bypassed in this process because it states that the convention can be called by approval of 2/3 of the state legislatures. Levin contends that it would be necessary to bypass the federal government because those in power will never give it up willingly. Article 5 says:
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall
deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two
thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing
Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents
and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratiﬁed by the
Legislatures of three fourths of the several States or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of
Ratiﬁcation may be proposed by the Congress . . .
Many have fears about what could happen in a constitutional convention because they believe that one side or the other could totally rewrite our founding guidelines. Levin explains that 1) our constitution has already been rewritten by the supreme court to the point it wouldn’t be recognized by the framers and 2) No amendment could be enacted without being approved by 3/4 of the states. Levin says the following about the process:
I was originally skeptical of amending the Constitution by
the state convention process. I fretted it could turn into a runaway caucus. As an ardent defender of the Constitution who
reveres the brilliance of the Framers, I assumed this would play
disastrously into the hands of the Statists. However, today I am
a conﬁdent and enthusiastic advocate for the process. The text
of Article V makes clear that there is a serious check in place.
Whether the product of Congress or a convention, a proposed
amendment has no effect at all unless “ratiﬁed by the Legislatures
of three fourths of the several States or by Conventions in three
fourths thereof. . . .” This should extinguish anxiety that the state
convention process could hijack the Constitution.
Every poll that has been taken in the last several years shows that Americans disagree with the direction the country has been going. Although President Obama has put constitutional abuse on steroids, the problems didn’t start with him. Many are beginning to feel hopeless and see no way to stop our country from its headlong plunge towards oblivion. The Liberty Amendments don’t suggest changing the constitution, they suggest returning our country to the constitution as it was originally intended; limited government, freedom, and self determination with the least amount of government interference. These are the traits that made America the envy of the world. It’s ironic that those who fought for freedom in 1776 were called radicals and those who fight for freedom today are still called radicals.
I am one who has been downhearted about the polarization and disintegration of this once great country. In my entire life I have never envisioned the possibility that the United States could come apart but I can envision that possibility today. Why should people in states who pay their bills and have to balance their budgets become lifelong slaves to debt created by Washington DC politicians who give financial favors to maintain their power? The politicians have proven they won’t stop spending and abusing the trust that they have been given. It seems to me that the only hope is if ordinary Americans Rise Up and take the country back.
As a singer/songwriter I often express my feelings through songs that I write. A while back I wrote a song that expresses where we came from and what we need to do now. The name of that song is “Rise Up America.” I see a glimmer of hope in the ideas Levin expresses in The Liberty Amendments. When his book came out two weeks ago I put together a video with my song as the background music. If you are so moved you can see and hear it by clicking on the link below.
Rise Up America
The belief that high stakes testing will bring any improvement to our public schools is built on an ounce of wishful thinking, a pound of good intentions, and a ton of ignorance.
Consider the recent history of high stakes testing in the state of Washington. We spent more than a decade and a billion dollars on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) only to find that the test was deeply flawed. The WASL didn’t align with college or career readiness, and basically tried to measure student achievement of standards that were so poorly written they were impossible to measure by any kind of assessment.
Despite these major flaws, legislators, the public, business leaders, and most of the media ignorantly assumed that something meaningful was happening by requiring students to pass this bogus exam. Unfortunately, the only meaningful thing that was happening was teachers throughout our state were forced to try and teach to this test despite the fact that it didn’t align to anything that was important for students to know. The WASL was a test built around standards that de-emphasized student content knowledge and supposedly would teach students to think deeper and become expert problem solvers. In the end, the main problem that many students have to solve is how to go through life being mathematically illiterate.
Teachers were forced to follow this WASL nonsense even though it was against their better judgment. Even worse, despite the misgivings and resistance by many, it is the teachers who were left holding the bag when students didn’t perform well on the WASL exam. Despite the hundreds of millions spent by the state on this test, no more than 50% of the students ever passed the math portion and the scores went down each year during the last few years the exam was given.
What unmasked the deep flaws of the WASL? The first year that the new End of Course (EOC) assessment was given the state saw a 50% jump in the student scores across the state. This jump couldn’t be attributed to any improvement in what was happening in classrooms, it simply came because the EOC exams aligned more closely to what was actually being taught and the test was based on new standards which were clearer and far better defined than the old WASL standards.
So again, the legislature, the public, business leaders and most of the media hailed the passing of the EOC’s as a standard that would drive improvement in our schools and would finally hold teachers accountable to do a job they surely were not doing. Can we consider that passing the math EOC insures that students are learning something meaningful and will be prepared to enter college or the work world? Only if you are ignorant of what is on the exams. Unfortunately that would describe the legislature, most of the public and those in the business world and media who by “blind faith” continue to exalt these exams as the “savior” of our educational system.
The facts are that the EOC 1 doesn’t align to college readiness and contains numerous irrelevant topics like “box and whisker plots” and “recursive arithmetic sequences” which have no place in Algebra 1 while leaving out numerous traditional topics like “simple rational expressions” and “quadratic equations” which are necessary topics to move on in Algebra. The EOC 2 is even worse because the nonsensical narrow standards it measures are a portion of Geometry that were created by unintended legislative consequences not by any thoughtful analysis of what students should know after two years of mathematics. Despite these flaws, the passing of these exams is being used as the measure of a quality education system…….Not!
But no worries, government has come to the rescue again. The governor and the legislature decided without one shred of empirical evidence that we should discard our newly written state math standards (rated as some of the best in the nation and which cost $100 million to develop and implement) and adopt the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) along with the much hailed national assessments that would follow. Again, they made this decision based on “blind faith” because neither the standards nor the assessments were even written when this decision was made. But don’t worry; the new assessments that Washington students will take starting next year are being created under the direction of some of the same important people who gave us the WASL.
It is ironic that all of these exams are purported to increase the depth of student thinking and problem solving even while they have been implemented, designed and sold to the public with some of the shallowest logic that is possible to imagine. It is this same shallow logic that believes that holding teachers accountable based on the student scores of these flawed examinations will have any positive impact on student learning.
It’s not that I am against accountability or having to meet a standard, it’s just that thus far I have not seen any evidence that we are capable of designing an assessment system that will bring any improvement to our schools. Instead of sound education principles, these tests are being used to push agendas from both the left and the right. The truth is that as long as we try to force every kid through a one size fits all system we will never see improvement. No other country in the world is running an education system on the pretense that all students are the same and as long as we pursue that folly we will continue to waste precious resources and fall further behind our competitors.
I read the newspaper almost every day. Would that make me an expert in running a newspaper? Some people regularly fly in airplanes. Would that make them an expert in running an airline? Most people would say that those assumptions are ridiculous but when it comes to education many people believe they know how to solve the problems because, after all, they were once a student. The truth is that assumption is just as ridiculous as the first two examples. Unfortunately, that fact is lost on most people, the media, and especially at the state legislature.
The latest folly centers around the legislature attempting to tell local schools how to evaluate their teachers. Amazing, the legislature in their ignorance and arrogance now believe that they know how to evaluate teachers better than the people who supervise these teachers and watch them in action in their classrooms. And make no mistake about it the decision making by legislators is driven by both ignorance and arrogance. “We know better” is their mantra despite their flood of unintended consequences that result in three steps backward for every step forward.
One of the center pieces of this new evaluation system is student growth data: Translation—student test scores. This might sound okay to the unknowing but what about the validity of these tests? For more than a decade schools were evaluated based on WASL results. Schools were remade, principals lost their jobs, and teachers were transferred all based on WASL results. Despite the legislature authorizing more than a billion dollars towards over a decade for improving the scores on the WASL, we never saw anything but mediocre results. Those who really knew what was on the WASL knew that the test did not measure anything meaningful and did not align to the kind of knowledge kids needed to be prepared for college, the workforce, or anything else. Still, the media, the legislature and OSPI continued to judge schools and teachers based on this bogus test. Even though many people still don’t understand what really happened, the new End of Course (EOC) exams that were given for the first time last spring unmasked the invalidity of the WASL. The EOC’s are more difficult than the WASL yet the state average score jumped more than 20 points, a 50% increase, in one year. This increase was not caused by improved teaching, standards, or curriculum. It was caused by giving an exam that more closely aligned to what students were being taught in high school Algebra. Even so, the EOC exams are deeply flawed and will not lead to improved learning results for all students but those who are outsiders, such as the legislature, have no clue why.
What is one of the unintended results of using testing to evaluate teachers? It is common knowledge that test results can be linked to demographics. Bellevue students outperform inner city Seattle kids by a mile. If a teacher’s career is going to be linked to test results then the only teachers who are going to be willing to teach in the inner cities or any low demographic area are those who have been there too long to start over, the young and naïve, or those who are desperate to find a job. Good luck on seeing any improvement no matter how much money is thrown at the problem.
Everyone of the education bills that I have seen from the legislature this year have unintended consequences that will keep our system going backwards. These bills may sound good to the uninformed but essentially they are a waste of money and will have no positive impact on our school system. That is what happens when decisions are made by the uninformed based on politics instead of sound educational practices. That is also what happens when education decisions are made far from the teachers who look kids in the face every day. Outsiders don’t understand that teachers have been almost entirely removed from the education decision process. Blaming those teachers for the unintended consequences of these decisions might be very convenient but it won’t lead to improving our system. Instead, it will lead to its continuing demise.]]>
It is unbelievable that at the same time the state is going to make major cuts in education expenditures, they are putting a $300 million dollar unfunded mandate on school districts around the state. You can thank Gov Gregoire, Superintendent Randy Dorn, and the democratically controlled Washington legislature for this insanity. There is not one shred of evidence that adopting the Common Core Standards will make any improvement in our school system.
Cost of Common Core Standards will be $800 million in California, $300 million in Washington state
By lfinne (Washington Policy Center)
Created November 2011
The cost to California for implementing the new Common Core Standards will be close to $800 million reports Tom Choreau, Cabinet Report .
Here in Washington state, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction reported  in January 2011 that the cost of informing teachers, principals and districts about the Common Core Standards will be $182.6 million, $165.5 million which local school districts will have to pay. This report reveals that buying new textbooks for Washington’s students will cost an additional $122 million. These costs do not include the cost of updating the state’s testing system, so the total cost to implement the Common Core in Washington will exceed the sum of $300 million.
OSPI is currently rolling out public forums for teachers and administrators  to “develop awareness of what the standards are and how they differ from existing standards.”
Washington state budget writers are looking for savings in education spending, in order to bring spending desires in line with available revenue. Abandoning implementation of the Common Core Standards would free up resources for other pressing education needs.
But just as importantly, it would allow Washington state to retain control over its schools so it can instead implement reforms that have been shown to work. Abandoning the Common Core Standards would allow Washington to avoid the standardization and mediocrity which will certainly result if the federal government imposes a standard curriculum and test on Washington’s schools.
Many prominent education policymakers, including former governors, state and federal leading education policymakers, professors, researchers, and teachers have signed this online statement: Closing the Door on Innovation.  This statement warns that the Common Core Standards is part of a federal government effort to create a federal test and a federal curriculum that will be imposed on states. Here are this statement’s five main points:
First, there is no constitutional or statutory basis for national standards, national assessments, or national curricula.
Second, there is no consistent evidence that a national curriculum leads to high academic achievement.
Third, the national standards on which the administration is planning to base a national curriculum are inadequate.
Fourth, there is no body of evidence for a “best” design for curriculum sequences in any subject.
Fifth, there is no evidence to justify a single high school curriculum for all students.
Washington’s budget writers have a chance to defund the standardization and mediocrity the Common Core Standards will certainly deliver, and to instead demand excellence and achievement, which come from putting principals and teachers (not distant officials) in charge of what happens in the classroom, and then holding them accountable for results.]]>
Consumer Education 101: What do you say to a salesman who tells you that he will give you double the quantity of your purchase but you must buy right now? Answer: You don’t say anything…. You run like Hell!
The Washington state legislature has made a lot of bad educational decisions but the one they are about to make tops the all time list. The legislature is about to allow a small group of unelected people in Washington DC to take over control of our state math and language education. This group is also working on adding national control of science and social studies education.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) is supposedly a group formed by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to write and control national math and language standards. However, the Genesis of this group was not from the NGA and CCSSO, it was the brainchild of a small group of educational reformers financed by Bill Gates. Gates, who made his wealth by using monopolistic business practices in the computer industry, is now trying to put his image on our education system by using his immense wealth to outflank the public and those who understand that our diverse national education system has been the strength of this nation not a weakness.
The state legislature passed HB6696 during the 2010 session which contained a provision allowing State Superintendent Randy Dorn to drop our new nationally ranked math standards and provisionally adopt the Common Core math and language standards written by the CCSSI. No matter that this decision was made by the legislature before these standards were even written. No matter that we are abandoning the hundred million dollars that we just invested into writing and implementing our new standards. When Gates and money are on one side and logic is on the other, common sense doesn’t stand a chance. He already proved that fact with his disastrous small school initiative.
The adoption of the Common Core Standards by individual states is voluntary as long as you understand that by not adopting them the Obama administration won’t seriously consider giving cash strapped states any of the Race to the Top funds (RttT). States also will be left out of any participation in the development of the national assessments being created by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) if they don’t adopt the Common Core Standards by December of this year. You would think that if these standards were justified on merit and their adoption was really beneficial to this nation, the NGA, CCSSO, CCSSI and the Obama administration wouldn’t be resorting to high pressure sales tactics in order to sell national standards to an unsuspecting public.
Unfortunately, our democratically controlled legislature has so far taken the bait. In fact, they are hooked so bad that they won’t even allow a vote on whether or not to adopt the CCSS in the legislature this year. Instead, they are willing to allow last year’s vote on HB6696, given before the CCSS were even written, to be the only vote. This means that the legislature is giving away their legislative authority over assessments and standards plus removing the ability of citizens to impact what is taught in the schools they pay for, without even having a public debate on the biggest change ever to be made to public education in this state. Shame on them!
On the bright side, at least they are providing government and civic educators all over the state a searing lesson on what poor government looks like and giving them a definitive example of exactly what government should not do.]]>
It’s ironic that while we are watching Egyptians half way around the globe fight for democracy, we are being denied democracy right here in the state of Washington. Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos of the 37th district, chairman of the house education committee, is refusing to have a hearing on HB1891, a bill to delay the adoption of the Common Core State Standards on math and English. This is a monumental decision by our state and it deserves to have an up or down vote from the legislature.
The legislature is playing a sly game, because they have never voted on the Common Core. Instead they voted to give our State Superintendent Randy Dorn the power to provisionally adopt the Common Core last August so we could look better on our application for the Race to the Top funds. Unfortunately, we never got a dime of RttT money.
Even so, Dorn was given the right to make the decision on Common Core. The legislature added a clause in the legislation, SB6696, that stated the adoption could be made permanent by Dorn after the 2011 session if there were no objections by the education committees. Thus, the Common Core State Standards can be adopted without ever being voted on by the legislature. If this move turns out to be a big mistake they can blame it all on Randy Dorn for making this historic change in our state education system.
I have given long technical arguments about why the Common Core standards would be bad for our state in earlier blogs, but the bottom line is just this: The people for the CCSS want to nationalize our education system. They want to give away the rights of the citizens of Washington to affect the education of our children and give it to a very small group of unelected people in Washington DC. This small group of people (CCSSI) was formed and financed by Bill Gates and then put under the auspices of the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Counsel of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The governors and the state superintendents really have very little input to this group. Any state only has one vote to make any changes or to resist what they are doing. While a state could back out of the association, once we start down the CCSS road it would cost hundreds of millions to reverse course. This is even worse than federal control because these people are insulated from any public vote.
Washington State had the worst math standards in the nation for more than a decade. It was the citizens of Washington who finally forced OSPI and the legislature to dump our old standards and begin the process of rewriting our standards. Washington now has some of the best math standards in the nation. There is absolutely no justification to make this change based on the merit of the CCSS and there is no reason to take away the rights of Washingtonians. This is about nationalizing our education system pure and simple.
A decision of this magnitude begs for a vote from the full legislature. Win or lose we do not want the legislature to be able to slip the CCSS through under the radar. Many who voted for SB6696 did so for other reasons. They were unaware of what the CCSS were all about. We want an up or down vote on the CCSS. Washington citizens deserve to know who it is that is giving away their rights. That is what HB1891 is all about.
Please call the legislative hotline at 1.800.562.6000 and tell your legislators that HB1891 deserves a hearing. Even better, email Representative Santos right now at, email@example.com and tell her that Washingtonians don’t want democracy to be denied and she has no right to keep HB1891 from being heard. After you email her, call her legislative number at 1.360.786.7944 (Olympia) and give her the same message, but be prepared for a grumpy voice at the other end of the line (not hers) because she is getting hundreds of calls from all over the state.]]>