Tag Archives: Florida

FLORIDA PARENT CONCERNED ABOUT COMMON CORE

One of the purposes of our site is to give conservatives, both parents and educators, a place to speak out about education. Below is a piece from Debbie Higginbotham. Ms. Higginbotham is a Florida parent who did exactly what more parents need to do, get involved and know what is going on in our schools.  If you live in Florida, you might consider joining our discussion group for the state.

As I sit here listening to the sounds of my home and my children exploring their environment, I wonder what their world is going to be like when they have children. Will their children be enslaved to an education system that expects everyone to conform to one style of learning? Will they have the freedom to choose their educational path? We need to ask these questions now before it is too late to change the path of American education.

I started researching the Common Core State Standards about four months ago. I saw a headline on a news website that consisted of the words, “Public Education and Bill Ayers.” Chills rushed through my body, as I thought how that name could have any positive affect on my children’s education in the public sector. After reading the article and finding out what Common Core was, I was not satisfied and needed to know more. I started digging deeper and deeper and what I found truly troubled me as a mom, who only wants the best for my six children.  I learned Common Core is a national standard, which will not allow local control; at the state level or at the county level, over what gets put into our classrooms. How could people in Washington know what is best for my kids all the way here in Florida?

In my research, I found multiple resources from different viewpoints. As I gathered the information, I got in touch with local school board members and started asking questions. I was told Common Core was pretty much here to stay and there was nothing I could do about it.  Questions started popping into my head that I couldn’t get answered fast enough. I wondered why no one realized how wrong it is to have Washington control the local educational needs of our children. If, by chance, someone did think this was wrong, why they didn’t stand up and say something? Well, I am now standing up and speaking to as many people as I can to inform them of this educational travesty. Although, we have elected these board members and the superintendent to look after the educational needs of our children within the public schools; it is ultimately our responsibility, the parents, to be involved in our children’s lives.  We clothe them, feed them, and discipline them.  We need to also stand up and take responsibility for their education.  We need to put our voices behind our tax dollars and make sure our elected officials have our children’s best interest at heart.

After talking with multiple school board members, I was encouraged to speak at their next meeting and voice my discontentment with the Common Core. What frustrated me the most was the lack of research done by the teachers. They are supporting the idea of the “one size fits all” standards without understanding what it really means. School leaders do not have to conduct the research on these topics, but at least they should read it and dig below the surface to understand it. Following the era of Jeb Bush and the FCAT, teachers and parents alike have learned to greatly dislike this standardized test system. In my opinion, removing the FCAT is music to the teachers’ ears. That may have pleased them so much that they neglected to listen to what is going to replace the FCAT. Doing away with one bad system does not mean it will be replaced with a better system.

All I keep hearing is that the Common Core is going to be great for our kids.  That there will be rigorous, new teaching methods introduced to help our children rise above where they are now and be proficient in the lessons being taught. My interpretation of this rubbish is that these teachers are being sold a bill of goods and have been indoctrinated, through the CCSS workshops, to sell this to our children and their parents. They are losing the true meaning of being called to be quality teachers to our young people. Teachers may not realize that their voices are being muted, as are ours.  The parents and teachers know best and have the power to provide the best education for our kids, but only if we first stop the higher ups from silencing us. Teachers’ hands will be tied, as the Common Core offers little freedom to adjust the curriculum to the needs of the students within the classroom.

In preparation for the school board meeting I got all of my notes together and poured them all into a ten minute speech to present to the board. I presented the following facts:  how CCSS was created; who wrote the standards; how it is unconstitutional and illegal for a national curriculum and test to be created by the federal government; and how its implementation will be a huge expense for taxpayers. I feel satisfied to have voiced my concerns to the school board and am hopeful that I conveyed important information to the people who need to be aware of the Common Core and its inadequacies.  I also pray that my words were truly heard by everyone in attendance.

One of the school board members was present at yet another meeting the next day, at which the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Florida was in attendance. The school board member eagerly told the Representative about my presentation and he wanted a copy of it and my information. I thought this was a huge step in the right direction. Making appointments with my local representatives was my next goal. The following week, I was able to talk to the Chief Legislative Assistant to one of my representatives. Before I could make any impact on this guy, he shot me down saying the same words I had heard before, “Common Core is a done deal and there is nothing we can do about it.” I found it frustrating that he was unwilling or unable to listen to a parent’s point of view. The overall result of that meeting was not as productive as I had hoped. Since I was not overly pleased when I left, the Assistant to the Representative offered to set up a meeting for me to speak to the State School Board in Tallahassee. I thought of his gesture as a  way of showing me that he wasn’t blowing me off or maybe it he was testing my resolve to pursue the protection of my children’s educational freedom.

During the meeting, the Legislative Assistant asked me why I wasn’t engaged in the planning meetings to implement the Common Core Standards here in Florida? I explained to him that as a parent, I felt confident I had my children in a good school that went above and beyond my high expectations in providing a good education. If something as important as new educational standards directly affecting my children were being planned, a simple notice should have been sent out.  I would have thought parents would be given an opportunity to be informed of such a monumental thing.  But, there was no notice sent home in my children’s backpacks. There was no letter sent to my home letting me know there was a meeting. I thought I was an informed mom, but it is impossible to stay informed when so much is going on behind the backs of parents and taxpayers. The point of the comment was, “You weren’t interested when the changes were happening and now that the changes are here and you don’t like them, you want to complain about them.”  If I had been aware of the planning meetings, I certainly would have gone and done my best to be proactive. Now, I can only react.

Our government and other entities within it are eagerly taking over every aspect of our lives and even our grandchildren’s lives to shape this country into what they think it should be to compete in a global society. I am disheartened to think what this global society is going to be like in eighteen or twenty years when the true results of the federally run schools are revealed.

I encourage all parents to take the time to do some research of their own to really understand the full aspect and consequences of the Common Core State Standards. These standards are not what the United States needs for its children. This drastic overtaking of local control is another freedom being quietly pulled out from underneath us and another way to control its people so we will learn to fear our government instead of the other way around.  President Kennedy’s words are very appropriate even now. “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” We can make our country better, one child’s education at a time.

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Support Alabama in Anti-Common Core Fight. It is NOT an “island” Withdrawing from Common Core.

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

From CE White in Alabama:

As you may know, Alabama has two identical bills to repeal Common Core. House Bill 254 and Senate Bill 190. There is a public hearing on Wednesday, February 27th at 3pm at the State House. I feel we have the votes for this to pass in the Senate, but the House is dealing dirty politics. One superintendent (who is connected to Broad Foundation and has invited Pearson to his district next month) wrote an article last week in a newspaper, claiming that Alabama would be “an island” if we withdrew from Common Core. Since that article, legislators have started to question why we need to pass these bills. In fact, they are using the same terminology that we might be “an island” if we pass this bill. I will be speaking at the public hearing Wednesday. However, we really need to get the word out to our legislators that we will not be “an island.” We need them to know that we are not alone in our fight. We need them to know that other states are also fighting against Common Core. Could you please help us get the word out, by having your organization and other states contact our legislators and tell them to please pass HB 254 and SB 190, and we will not be “an island.” We need to flood them with calls and emails. They need to know they have the support of the country. Here is the link to our Alabama legislature page, with links to contact information:http://www.legislature.state.al.us/senate/senators/senateroster_alpha.html

 

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Contact Alabama legislators and let them know that Alabama is not an island, but is a state joining in reclaiming state academic freedom with these states who have various anti-Common Core State (sic) Standards pending legislation:
  • Missouri
  • Indiana
  • Oklahoma
  • Michigan
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Utah
  • Colorado
  • Kansas
  • South Dakota

These states did not adopt Common Core State (sic) Standards:

  • Nebraska
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Arkansas

This state adopted ELA standards only:

  • Minnesota

Alabama is NOT an island and legislators are being misled if they refer to the state in this manner. This is from  the article in which superintendent Casey Wardynski refers to Alabama as an island:

The proposed bill – cosponsored by Sen. Bill Holtzclaw of Madison, Sen. Paul Sanford of Huntsville and Sen. Clay Scofield of Guntersville – would repeal the state’s adoption of those standards and prevent the state school board from adopting them a second time.

“If it was to pass, immediately we would no longer be allowed to be aligned with anything that is going on in those other 47 states with regard to this common core curriculum. That would be devastating. Alabama would become an island,” Wardynski said.

Wardynski has mixed reviews as a superintendent and his association with The Broad Foundation in geekpalaver.com and Eli Broad’s Return On Investment:

So let’s recap:

  • Wardynski has recommended, and the board has approved hiring PROACT Search (with direct ties to The Broad Foundation) for $110,000 to hire approximately 10 new principals.
  • He has recommended, and the board has approved hiring SUPES Academy to provide professional development to new Principals for $300,000 for two years.
  • He has recommended, and the board will likely approve the hiring of 110 Teach for America (supported by The Broad Foundation) for $550,000 a year.

In five months, Dr. Wardynski recommended spending just shy of one million dollars on programs supported by The Broad Foundation.

That’s not bad for a five month tenure, is it? While it’s not clear how much The Broad Foundation has spent “training” Dr. Wardynski, if the “training” for Teach for America is any indication, it’s likely in the $20,000 range. In exchange for this investment, Dr. Wardynski has already returned $410,000 in five months. In all likelihood at some point in November the rubber stamp board will approve spending $550,000 for Teach for America to hire 110 teachers who haven’t been trained to teach.

If you’d like to read more about The Broad Foundation’s “commitment” to education, take a look at “How to Tell if your School District is Infected by the Broad Virus.” You might also consider following, “The Broad Report.”

$960,000 for five months work. Not bad. Not bad at all. I wish the ROI for Huntsville’s kids were as high.

The Broad Foundation is proud of Wardynski via its twitter feed:

Congrats to #broadacademy grad Dr. Casey Wardynski, named “Outstanding Superintendent of the Year” by Alabama PTA! http://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/04/alabama_pta_names_huntsville_s.html …

It’s no surprise that the Alabama PTA would name him “Outstanding Superintendent of the Year”.  The PTA has received a million dollars to support CCSS (even before they were written) via The Gates Foundation and $240,000 from the GE Foundation for CCS support.  See here.

It should matter to Alabama legislators that Wardynski is wanting to implement standards that are unproven, untested and underfunded.  It should matter to these legislators he is supporting/promoting The Broad Foundation agenda while using taxpayer money.  It should matter to Alabama legislators that the PTA has been persuaded by Bill Gates and GE to support an agenda that does not protect teachers or students or parents from a vast public/private partnership that negates any local control.

Calling Alabama an island is a technique to take legislators’ eyes off the pertinent facts of Common Core State (sic) Standards.  Once you examine who is behind them and why, there is no question they should be rescinded.  They are not for the “kids”.  They are for organizations like The Broad Foundation, Bill Gates, TFA, PTA, etc to make money.

Contact the Alabama legislators and tell them the truth and the facts about Common Core State (sic) Standards.  Tell them how private outside companies are trying to direct the educational delivery and direction for Alabama students and schools.

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Association of American Educators Release 2013 Member Survey

Cross-posted from the AAE website.

Today the 2013 annual membership survey was released by the Association of American Educators. The survey was conducted this fall, polling AAE members from all 50 states on issues relating to education and labor reform.

Survey results show progressive stances toward education and labor reform, particularly with regard to raising expectations, accountability, school choice, technology, Common Core State Standards, and school budgets and pensions. While educators have approached these new ideas with caution, overall, AAE member are growing in their support of common sense reform, flexibility and options.

As a member-driven organization, AAE brings an authentic teacher voice to the education reform dialogue, rendering valuable input into creating a world class education system from well-informed teachers nationwide. The opinions expressed in this survey are those of real teachers, not bureaucrats or union leaders with partisan political agendas.

As education leaders advocate for raising the bar for incoming educators, AAE members are also calling for a well-prepared workforce:

• 62% of survey respondents agree with the idea that, just as lawyers must pass state bar exams to practice law, teachers should pass a test that proves their ability to be effective.

Regarding class size:

• Further, 59% percent of AAE members would support a 1-2 student increase in grades 4-12 class size to make more money available for teacher pay, more technology in the classroom, and other educational programs.

While the union-backed establishment sees school choice as detrimental to the teaching profession, AAE member teachers support certain laws that advance school choice and promote options for all stakeholders:

• 69% percent of survey respondents support the Washington, D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) that awards need-based annual scholarships to eligible District children to attend a participating private/ parochial D.C. elementary, middle, or high school of their parent’s choice.

• 68% of teachers agree with an Indiana law that allows any taxpayer who has a child already enrolled in a private/ parochial school or who is home-schooled to claim up to a $1,000 tax deduction per child for approved educational expenses including school tuition, textbooks, fees, software, tutoring, and supplies.

• 74% of AAE members support Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs), which enable parents of special needs children to leave their assigned public schools, taking 90% of the state dollars with them. That money, deposited into ESAs, can then be used to access a multitude of education options that better met their children’s needs.

As new technologies make it possible for students to learn at their own pace, states across the country are implementing polices that offer and encourage online learning. While defenders of the status-quo see virtual options as a threat, AAE members embrace new technologies as a means to better prepare students for the job market of the 21st century:

• 64 % of AAE member teachers support a Florida law that guarantees access to online course work.

• 67% of survey respondents agree with a Virginia law that requires students to take at least one online course to graduate.

AAE members also recognize the need for transparency and accountability in funding:

• 95% of survey respondents believe that school budgets should be shared with the public to ensure state/federal monies are being allocated effectively.

• 87 % of teachers believe that school districts should be required to provide an annual fiscal report to the public and that district negotiations should be conducted in open public meetings

One of the most controversial topics in education is the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) initiative. Overall, while the jury is still out on the implementation process and its effect on the flexibility of curriculum, AAE members appear to be moving in the direction of support for consistent standards:

• 36% of respondents believe the CCSS will make the U.S. more competitive on a global scale. 53% of member teachers believed they would have no effect, and 11 % assert that CCSS will have an adverse effect on global competitiveness.

• However, 64 % of survey respondents believe that CCSS will provide more consistency in the quality of education between school districts and between states.

• 48% of teachers believes CCSS implementation is running smoothly, while 41 % of teachers are neutral, and 11% believe implementation in their state is going poorly.

The long term sustainability of educator pensions have been hot topics as states and local districts feel the effects of the recession on education budgets. In order to insure that educators are compensated fairly and pensions are fully funded, educators are embracing sustainable models:

• 63% of those surveyed would prefer to negotiate their own contract so that they can negotiate a salary and benefits package that best suits their lifestyle.

• 87% would support a future defined-contribution retirement plan for new newly hired teachers. This system would function like the 401k-style plans typical for the private sector.

• 89 % support an a-la-carte benefits plan where prospective hires could pick and choose salaries and benefits based personal needs.

Click here for the complete results of the survey.

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The Wrangling of Taxpayer Money by Jeb Bush and other Education Reformers

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

Education is the “Wild West”.  Scott Joftus was correct when talking about money to be made in education reform:

Scott Joftus, closely aligned with Bill Gates and his foundation since the early years of 2000, had this to say about education in an article aptly titled “Is the Stimulus Really “No Consultant Left Behind” “?:

That metaphor is an apt one for the market as well. In the fall of 2009, Mr. Joftus was contacted by a former contractor who was working for Global Partnership Schools, a new school turnaround venture funded by GEMS Education, a Dubai-based company founded by entrepreneur Sunny Varkey. The caller was hoping to obtain copies of Mr. Joftus’ contract for school improvement services in Kansas.
“You know we’re in a new era when school turnaround firms in the U.S. are being funded out of the Middle East,” Joftus said. “To me, that says there’s money to be made. I call this period the Wild West in education.”

We wrote about Joftus in May 2011.  Researchers such as Susan Ohanian and Dora Taylor have been writing about the money trail to Bill Gates and other “entrepreneurs” using taxpayer money to fund their private companies for years.   Note that Joftus’ remark was in 2009.  This has been in the planning for some time by private corporations and the Federal Government to create an enormous public/private partnership without voter/legislative approval.

Joftus is just a small part in the big picture of corporate payback in education.  The story garnering the attention of education activists this week was the information on former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his plans to gain monetarily from the reforms designed “for the kids”. Rather than serving student educational needs, various education reforms allow the framework for investors and professional ed reformers to gain access to state/federal coffers.  Frominthepublicinterest.org:

Emails between the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE), founded and chaired by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and state education officials show that the foundation is writing state education laws and regulations in ways that could benefit its corporate funders. The emails, obtained through public records requests, reveal that the organization, sometimes working through its Chiefs For Change affiliate, wrote and edited laws, regulations and executive orders, often in ways that improved profit opportunities for the organization’s financial backers.

“Testing companies and for-profit online schools see education as big business,” said In the Public Interest Chair Donald Cohen. “For-profit companies are hiding behind FEE and other business lobby organizations they fund to write laws and promote policies that enrich the companies.”

The emails conclusively reveal that FEE staff acted to promote their corporate funders’ priorities, and demonstrate the dangerous role that corporate money plays in shaping our education policy. Correspondence in Florida, New Mexico, Maine, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Louisiana paint a graphic picture of corporate money distorting democracy.

This report focuses on testing companies and for-profit online schools and doesn’t mention common core standards.  But think how easy (and necessary for increased profits) it will be for these testing companies and on-line schools to use the mandated CCSS standards, assessments and resulting curricula.  It doesn’t matter so much to these companies/investors what students are learning, it’s that they are learning the same material so the process can be streamlined for the assessment/testing companies.

Does anyone seriously believe the push for CCSS is anything more than a money making scheme and to control educational content?  Why the clamor to sign on to assessments that were never even written?  Why are the standards/assessments copyrighted by private companies?  Why won’t states/school districts be able to adapt these standards/assessments?

Read again what Scott Joftus said in 2009 and understand what education reform is really about.  It’s never been “for the kids”.  Mr. Joftus may be discovering how making money in education reform is getting in the way of real teaching for his own children in his post When Education Reform gets Personal in EducationNext.org:

Over more than 20 years in the field of education—including two with Teach For America—I have helped promote state standards, the Common Core, the hiring of teachers with strong content knowledge, longer class periods for math and reading, and extra support for struggling students, to name a few. I have recently discovered, however, that what I believe as an education policy wonk is not always what I believe as a father.

In Montgomery County, Maryland, where I live, academic expectations are extremely high. Our school district aims to teach math, for example, in a rigorous way. I appreciate this goal, but to date “increased rigor” has primarily meant that some students skip grade-level math classes and enroll in classes meant for older kids. Basic skills that are taught and reinforced in the grades being skipped are often given short shrift. In 2nd grade, my daughter brought home worksheets on probability before she had any real understanding of the concept, or even a strong foundation in simple division. Her frustration with probability, and consequently math, grew as we substituted times-table drills for play dates. Last year, to my horror, she said that she hated math. This year, which has included an increased focus on math facts and an inspiring teacher, math has become her favorite subject.

He writes how a child in the foster system disrupted the class and took the teacher’s time and away from other children:

The tension between my understanding of good education policy—driven by a deep commitment to equity and the belief that an outstanding education can transform lives, and this country—and what is right for my daughters makes me both a better policy wonk and a better father. The tension also illustrates why school reform is so difficult.

I would suggest the educational reform currently being driven by leaders like Jeb Bush, Bill Gates, Achieve, David Coleman, etc won’t alleviate the types of problems Mr. Joftus details.  Living in the “Wild West” of education leaves much to be desired, even for the education reformers profiting from the wrangling of taxpayer money.

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Allen West on Education

Conservatives love Allen West and we came across this video of him on education when he was out campaigning. We thought it worth sharing. He makes some good points on the inefficiency of the Federal Department of Education. We here at CTA believe that the Federal Department of Education should be eliminated. It does nothing to benefit teachers on the ground and is too far away from where the actual education happens.

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