Dear Friends,

A very informative article on Charter Schools written by Richard Whitmire. Whitmire is a veteran newspaper reporter, author and former editorial writer at USA Today. His first book after leaving USA Today was Why Boys Fail: Saving Our Sons from an Education System that’s Leaving Them Behind. He spent a year as a fellow with the Emerson Collective, allowing him to visit many of the top charter schools in the country, resulting in his latest book, The Founders, in which he shared untold anecdotes about the leaders, advocates, philanthropists and partners who helped spark an education revolution across the country.  His focus is on the potential of Charter Schools and how they collaborate with traditional districts and what their next-generation school models tell about where all schools are headed. Whitmire is a member of the Journalism Advisory Board of The 74. The 74 is a non-profit, non-partisan news site covering education in America. Our public education system is in crisis. In the United States, less than half of our students can read or do math at grade-level, yet the education debate is dominated by misinformation and political spin. The 74 interviews the top thinkers, policymakers and leaders in American education.


The NAACP on Wednesday reported findings from its nationwide “listening tour” on charter schools, and there were no surprises: Charters must be stopped. The National Education Association, even less surprisingly, said the same thing earlier this month in Boston.

The nation’s oldest civil-rights organization and the largest teachers union worry about charters for similar reasons. Independently run charters generally don’t employ unionized teachers, and they pull students from traditional district schools to which the NAACP is deeply committed. In short, charters disrupt the status quo—for adults.

The timing of the intertwined anticharter campaigns, however, may prove awkward because of new data just released by The 74. The data comes from the first cohort of charter students, who are beginning to graduate from college. Here’s what we know now that the NEA and NAACP didn’t know when they adopted their anticharter positions: Graduates from the top charter networks—those with enough high school alumni to measure college success accurately—earn four-year degrees at rates that range up to five times as high as their counterparts in traditional public schools. These are low-income, minority students from cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago and Newark, N.J. Their college success is going to make bashing charter schools far more challenging for the NEA and the NAACP.

Before this revelation, charter-school gains were largely measured by upticks in student test scores. Critics often wrote them off as meaningless, suggesting that charters abandoned educating kids in favor of “teaching to the test.” But now we see that charter school gains in the K-12 years have real-world consequences. Higher test scores, along with a swarm of strategies charter networks employ to make their students more successful after they graduate, lead to actual four-year college degrees.

Roughly half the graduates of Uncommon, YES Prep and the KIPP New York schools—among the biggest and best known charter networks in the country—earn bachelor’s degrees within six years. About a quarter of the graduates of the lower-performing charter networks earn degrees within six years. That may not strike wealthy parents as something to brag about. Eighty percent of children from America’s wealthiest families earn four-year degrees within six years. But charters primarily serve low-income families, where only 9% of students earn such degrees. Charters make a difference for poor families.

Charter networks are doing something traditional school districts have never considered: taking responsibility, at least in part, for the success of their students after they receive their diplomas. Low-income and traditionally low-opportunity students, nearly all of whom are the first in their families to attend college, need special help: Which courses to sign up for? How many credits to juggle in a semester? How to be the only minority in an all-white class?

There are ways to address all those issues, as charter networks such as KIPP and Uncommon are discovering. And they are more than willing-even eager-to share what they have learned with traditional district schools. That, sharing needs to starts soon, but the aggressive anti-charter stances taken by both the NAACP and the NEA will only make that process harder.

It’s difficult to identify and anti-poverty program that has been as successful as charter schools, but don’t expect the NAACP or the NEA to acknowledge that. The teachers unions especially are more concerned with the needs of adults employed by school districts than the welfare of the students passing through them. But the charter movement’s success will make defending that position more difficult, especially for governors, legislatures and urban school officials under pressure from parents to open more of these high-performing schools.



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12



Dear Friends,


A very informative article in the Dallas Morning News on Monday June 26, 2017.  Written by Cathy O’Neil, a mathematician who has worked as a professor, hedge-fund analyst and data scientist.  She is the author of “Weapons of Math Destruction.” She wrote this column for Bloomberg.


School Tech

Many schools have partnerships with big tech firms that provide free tablets to students and in some cases access to student information to the companies.


Silicon Valley tech moguls are conducting an enormous experiment on the nation’s children. We should not be so trusting that they’ll get it right. Google has taken a big role in public education, offering low-cost laptops and free apps. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is investing heavily in educational technology, largely though the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Netflix head Reed Hastings has been tinkering with expensive and algorithmic ed-tech tools.

Encouraging as all this may be, the technologists might be getting ahead of themselves, both politically and ethically. Also, there’s not a lot of evidence that what they’re doing works.

Like it or not, education is political. People on opposite sides of the spectrum read very different science books, and can’t seem to agree on fundamental principles. It stands to reason that what we choose to teach our children will vary, depending on our beliefs. That’s to acknowledge, not defend, antiscientific curricula.

Zuckerberg and Bill Gates learned this the hard way last year when the Ugandan government ordered the closure of 60 schools — part of a network providing highly scripted, lowcost education in Africa — amid allegations that they had been “teaching pornography” and “conveying the gospel of homosexuality” in sex-ed classes. Let’s face it, something similar could easily happen here if tech initiatives expand beyond the apolitical math subjects on which they have so far focused.

Beyond that, there are legitimate reasons to be worried about letting tech companies wield so much influence in the classroom. They tend to offer “free services” in return for access to data, a deal that raises some serious privacy concerns — particularly if you consider that it can involve tracking kids’ every click, keystroke and backspace from kindergarten on.

My oldest son is doing extremely well as a junior in school right now, but he was a late bloomer who didn’t learn to read until third grade. Should that be a part of his permanent record, data that future algorithms could potentially use to assess his suitability for credit or a job? Or what about a kid whose “persistence score” on dynamic, standardized tests waned in 10th grade? Should colleges have access to that information in making their admissions decisions?

These are not far-fetched scenarios. Consider the fate of nonprofit education venture InBloom, which sought to collect and integrate student records in a way that would allow lessons to be customized. The venture shut down a few years ago amid concerns about how sensitive information — including tags identifying students as “tardy” or “autistic” — would be protected from theft and shared with outside vendors.

Google and others are collecting similar data and using it internally to improve their software. Only after some prompting did Google agree to comply with the privacy law known as FERPA, which had been weakened for the purpose of third-party sharing. It’s not clear how the data will ultimately be used, how long the current crop of students will be tracked, or to what extent their futures will depend on their current performance.

Nobody really knows to what educational benefit we are bearing such uncertainties. What kinds of kids will the technological solutions reward? Will they be aimed toward producing future Facebook engineers? How will they serve children in poverty, with disabilities or with different learning styles? As far as I know, there’s no standard audit that would allow us to answer such questions. We do know, though, that the companies and foundations working on educational technology have a lot of control over the definition of success. That’s already too much power.

Blindly trusting the tech guys is no way to improve our educational system. Although they undoubtedly mean well, we should demand more accountability.





Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Resurrecting Handwriting


Dear Friends,

A very informative article on Handwriting and Common Core from the Education Reporter, The Newspaper of Education Rights, March 2017 issue.

Resurrecting Handwriting

New York state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis attending a voter registration event where she encountered an 18-year-old student. She asked him to please sign his name instead of using block letters he’d put on the signature line of his form. But the young man replied, “That is my signature. I never learned script.”

Emily Ma is among the 2.7% of students accepted by New York City’s Stuyvesant High School, out of roughly 30,000 who take an annual exam they hope leads to admission. Emily, who is now a senior, believes handwriting is important but had to teach it to herself because it was never taught to her before she started high school.

Thanks to Common Core English standards, many students are no longer taught handwriting. They can only print or type.

The people who wrote the Common Core standards did not include handwriting because they believed that “keyboarding” alone is the way to prepare students for “college and career.”

Student Achievement Partners, consisting of David Coleman, Susan Pimentel, and Jason Zimba, were lead writers of the Common Core standards. Core, Coleman, admitted that his group was unqualified.

Coleman said about the group in 2011:

[W]e’re composed of that collection of unqualified people who were involved in developing the [Common Core] standards.  And our only qualification was our attention to and command of the evidence behind them.

Although he told the truth about being unqualified, Coleman still prevaricated because Common Core is in no way evidenced-based. One result of that is the failure to teach students handwriting.

Trying to defend handwriting’s exclusion from the standards, Susan Pimentel said, “One of the things we heard from teachers around the country – in some cases, obviously not all – was that sometimes cursive writing takes an enormous amount of instructional time.” It also takes an enormous amount of time to teach students to read; luckily Pimentel et al. didn’t drop that from Common Core.

Many parents and watchdog groups saw immediately the gaps in the federally promoted set of standards. But many school bureaucracies are still slow to understand the great disservice they have done students.

About 16 states have chosen to add handwriting back into their curriculum. New York City is adding handwriting thanks to efforts of Bronx Assemblywomen Malliotakis.

Brain research shows that many people retain more information or learn better when they write on paper, as opposed to when they type. Individuals who can’t read handwriting are unable to decipher documents like the original Constitution or do “research with literary papers and archival collections.” Letter from their grandparents will remain mysterious and they’ll be unable to sign contracts or voter registration forms.



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12 

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Implies Common Core Are “High Standards”


Dear Friends,

A very informative article written by Dr. Susan Berry. Dr. Berry is a conservative writer and contributor to, she has a doctorate in psychology. She writes about cultural, educational, and healthcare policy issues. Shared by Donna Garner, a retired teacher and education activist (

“Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Implies Common Core Are ‘High Standards’”1 

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says even though Common Core no longer exists – a controversial statement in itself – she hopes states will still “shoot high” when choosing their standards.

In an interview this week in her home state of Michigan, DeVos was asked by a CBS affiliate WWMT reporter whether she plans to repeal Common Core. The secretary responded, “Well, with the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, in essence, Common Core is not a national program or mandate anymore.”

DeVos continued:

Power has been returned to state and local entities to be able to decide what standards and what expectations they are going to have of their students. Now I’m very hopeful that every state will set their expectations high. We want them to shoot high on behalf of their students, but the reality is there is no more federal Common Core and it’s not mandated from the federal level.

The secretary implies that the Common Core math and English Language Arts standards are “high” standards and that even though, according to her, states can create their own standards, she is hoping they will still “shoot high,” even if they choose not to use Common Core.

DeVos’s statement follows another recent interview in which she said, “There really isn’t any Common Core anymore” in the nation’s schools, even though, according to Education Week, “at least 37 states” were still using the Common Core standards as of the end of last year.


Those who have been studying the disastrous effects of Common Core for years now challenge the secretary’s comments implying the standards are “high.” 

“It is irresponsible for someone in a position of authority to imply that Common Core is of high quality,” Emmett McGroarty, senior fellow at American Principles Project, tells Breitbart News. “There is no way to sugar-coat it.”

He explains:

Common Core locks children into an inferior education. With respect to English Language Arts, as renowned experts such as Dr. Sandra Stotsky have demonstrated, it dictates a severe reduction in the amount of classic, narrative literature that children are taught. With respect to the math standards, it requires the use of fuzzy math strategies. This slows down students’ academic progression and puts them one to two years behind their peers in high-performing countries by eighth grade. It deprives them of practice time using the standard algorithms, and it perhaps also explains why Common Core omits certain important content.


Some of the nation’s most esteemed experts in academic standards have voiced grave concerns about the quality of the Common Core standards.

In a 2014 op-ed at the Wall Street Journal, Marina Ratner, renowned professor emerita of mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley, explained why the Common Core standards will make math education even worse in the United States and move the nation “even closer to the bottom in international ranking.”

Ratner said she began to study Common Core more closely as a result of observing the math schoolwork her grandson, who was then in the sixth grade, was doing.

“They were vastly inferior to the old California standards in rigor, depth and the scope of topics,” she observed about Common Core.

“Many topics – for instance, calculus and pre-calculus, about half of algebra II and parts of geometry – were taken out and many were moved to higher grades,” she wrote. “It became clear that the new standards represent lower expectations and that students taught in the way that these standards require would have little chance of being admitted to even an average college and would certainly struggle if they did get in.”

One of the lead writers of the Common Core math standards themselves, in fact, said as much to Dr. Sandra Stotsky during a meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Jason Zimba responded to Stotsky’s question about the Common Core math standards that they would not prepare students for STEM or selective four-year colleges:

[Please view the video within this article at: ]

Zimba said the criticism of the definition of “college readiness” as put forward by the creators of Common Core is “a fair critique.”

“It’s not only not for STEM; it’s also not for selective colleges,” Zimba agreed with Stotsky regarding the Core.

Similarly, Dr. James Milgram, a former professor of mathematics at Stanford University, told grassroots parent groups that were protesting therebrandingof Common Core by then-Gov. Mike Pence in Indiana at the time, that Common Core would prevent their children from moving into STEM careers.

“If you don’t have a strong background in mathematics then your most likely career path is into places like McDonald’s,”he said, reported Breitbart News at the time. “In today’s world … the most critical component of opening doors for students is without any question some expertise in mathematics.”

Milgram – who, like Stotsky, was invited to be a member of the Common Core Validation Committee but refused to sign off on the final product – explained that in the high-achieving countries, where about a third of the population of the world outside the United States is located, about 90 percent of citizens have a high school degree for which the requirements include at least one course in calculus.

“That’s what they know,” he said. “If we’re lucky, we know Algebra II. With Algebra II as background, only one in 50 people will ever get a college degree in STEM.”

 Milgram warned that with the Common Core standards, unless U.S. students are able to afford exclusive private high school educations that are more challenging, they will be disadvantaged.

“This shows that, from my perspective, Common Core does not come close to the rhetoric that surrounds it,” he continued. “It doesn’t even begin to approach the issues that it was supposedly designed to attack. The things it does are completely distinct from what needs to be done.”

In a guest column at Breitbart News in 2015, former senior policy adviser under President George W. Bush’s education department, Ze’ev Wurman, refuted the claims that the Common Core standards are “internationally benchmarked” and “rigorous.”

“Common Core standards were never validated before being published, and every serious piece of research that has analyzed them since found them lacking,” Wurman asserted, explaining further:

Common Core firmly placed the first Algebra course in the high school. It also doesn’t take an expert to observe that Common Core’s “college preparation” in mathematics amounts to a poor-man’s Algebra 2 and Geometry courses. The U.S. Department of Education’s own data shows that with only Algebra 2 preparation – even the full course – the chances of a student to end up with a Bachelor’s degree – any Bachelor’s degree – is less than 40% (table 5 here). According to the National Center for Education Statistics data, a student attempting a STEM degree with such preparation has only an alarming 1 in 50 chance of success (Table 7 here). In fact, one of the key authors of the standards, Dr. Jason Zimba, clearly acknowledged that Common Core is “for the colleges most kids go to but not that most parents probably aspire … it’s not only not for STEM, it’s also not for selective colleges.” Yet Common Core promoters still swear that they are “Career- and College-Ready.” 

“Parents are justified in their complaints about the strange and meaningless homework their children are bringing home, and they should distrust educators who uncritically praise them,” Wurman concluded. “More likely than not, those educators themselves have little experience and have been sold a bill of goods by Common Core’s Washington, D.C. promoters.”

Jane Robbins, a senior fellow at American Principles Project, who has also refuted the claims of the Common Core promoters for years, tells Breitbart News, “I hope Secretary DeVos is aware of the voluminous research establishing that the Common Core standards aren’t ‘high quality’ at all.”

“Instead, they dumb down both English and math to the level of utilitarian workforce training,” she adds. “The continual repetition of the ‘higher standards’ mantra is getting tiresome.”

To view the article online:



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Victory! State Board of Education Preserves Strong Science Standards

Dear Friends,

A very important and informative press release on April 21, 2017 written by Andy Hogue with Texas Values. Texas Values is a nonprofit organization dedicated to standing for faith, family, and freedom in Texas. More information is available at


Victory! State Board of Education Preserves Strong Science Standards

Students, Teachers May Continue Critical Discussion and Open Debate on Evolution

AUSTIN – Today, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) adopted streamlined science TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, the basic curriculum used by public schools) that ensures students and teachers may continue to have critical discussion and open debate on concepts regarding evolution, the origin of life, the fossil record, and cell complexity.

The board rejected a final attempt to have students and teachers merely “identify” scientific theories on the origins of life and instead approved the stronger language of “compare and contrast” and “examine.”

Texas Values testified at every meeting to ensure the streamlining changes honors the TEKS approved on a bipartisan basis in 2009 that protected critical discussion and open debate in the classroom for all scientific subjects and theories, including evolution.

Throughout the months-long streamlining process, liberal advocacy groups unsuccessfully attempted to weaken the biology standards to remove the ability of teachers and students to study and question all sides of the theory of evolution.

Said David Walls, Director of Operations for Texas Values who testified at the meeting:

“Today’s vote was another strong confirmation that Texas teachers and students retain the ability to have critical discussion and open debate on the theory of evolution and the origin of life. The streamlined biology TEKS protect and promote academic freedom and critical thinking for our students. We are thankful that the board once again rejected attempts to push a one-sided, dogmatic view and instead listened to teachers, parents, and students who favored preserving the ability to critically analyze scientific evidence regarding Darwinian evolution.”



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12 

Flipping the Script To combat illegibility, cursive making a comeback

Dear Friends,

A very informative and excellent article in the Dallas Morning News on (Wednesday April 5, 2017).  “Flipping the Script To combat illegibility, cursive making a comeback”

Dear teacher, thank you for teaching me how to write in cursive.

Yes, you read that correctly: One of the oldest human technologies — handwriting — is mounting a comeback.

Once a fixture in American classrooms, the ancient art of looping letters together began falling out of favor decades ago. It was nearly wiped out by the advent of modern technology, which made penmanship a decreasing classroom priority.

Cursive writing took another blow when most states adopted Common Core curriculum standards, which no longer required teaching it in public schools. Why? Because it takes precious time away from other subjects deemed more crucial in a world ruled by computers, laptops and smartphones.

Slowly but surely, however, penmanship is returning. Two states, Alabama and Louisiana, passed laws last year mandating that cursive writing be taught in public schools. That brings the total to at least 14 states, including Texas, that require proficiency in cursive writing.

Last fall, the nation’s largest public school system, up in New York City, rekindled the teaching of cursive writing. How the Big Apple got back on the bandwagon is intriguing, a lesson in both history and perseverance.

A New York state lawmaker, Nicole Malliotakis, was dumbfounded at a teenager’s inability to sign his name at a voter registration event. Instead, the 18-year-old printed his John Hancock in block letters. “That is my signature,” he said. “I never learned script.”

The Staten Island Republican took her concerns to education officials, who, wisely, charted a new course.

New York Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina dished out a handbook on teaching cursive and urged principals to use it. The manuals cite research “suggesting that fluent cursive helps students master writing tasks such as spelling and sentence construction because they don’t have to think as much about forming letters.”

Other research suggests learning to read and write in cursive can boost performance in other areas, too.

Yet, while researchers continue to debate cognitive and spill-over benefits from learning cursive, we were struck by a powerful, if plaintive, observation from Malliotakis: Students who aren’t trained in cursive won’t be able to readily digest many original historical documents.

“If an American student cannot read the Declaration of Independence, that is sad,” Malliotakis said.

We agree, although we also acknowledge that the hand-wringing over handwriting is overwrought in one respect: Few experts doubt that cursive writing will ever vanish; it’s simply too ingrained in our culture.

But what will it look like?

“When we don’t teach penmanship, the result is an ugly, unaesthetic and illegible script,” Steven Roger Fischer, a script expert and author of A History of Writing, once wrote in an article for Slate. “Ugliness is unimportant. Aesthetics are unimportant to many people. But illegibility defeats the purpose of writing. There must be a standard.”

So let it be written. And let it be done, please … in the classroom.



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Bills’ Aim Is Help For Dyslexia


Dear Friends,

Dyslexia is “near and dear” to my heart. My oldest son fell through the cracks with unidentified dyslexia. In 1984 I helped facilitate the passage of the first dyslexia law in Texas and the United States. This is a very informative article on dyslexia. Written by Julie Fancher, SMU graduate, reporter and staff writer for the Dallas Morning News.

Three dyslexia-related bills are pending in the Texas House, including one aimed at securing long sought-after funding for a decades-old law that requires public school districts and charter schools to identify and remediate students who have the common learning disability.

Rep. Rick Miller, R-Fort Bend, sponsored the bills, which address the licensing of dyslexia therapists, dyslexia testing for students and training for teachers, as well as the one dealing with funding.

This is Miller’s second attempt at trying to secure financing for a 1985 law — the first of its kind in the nation — that requires public school districts and charter schools to identify and provide remediation for students with dyslexia. A bill Miller filed last year that would have done that died in committee.

The current bill would allow districts to be entitled to “an annual allotment equal to the district’s adjusted basic allotment,” the bill said.

“We told the schools they need to do something to help these children who have dyslexia to identify them and work with them,” Miller said. “About 1 in 5 people are affected [with dyslexia], so we are trying to match up a requirement to help these children.”

But Miller cautioned that the Legislature’s tight budget might pose some problems.

“What we are looking at from a budget perspective is not healthy or robust like two years ago,” he said. “This might be more difficult this time around, but we will see if we can get support because it’s there. It exists, and these children have this issue, so we should be dealing with it in an effective way.”

Funding has long been sought to boost the mandated dyslexia programs in public and charter schools. But the way that dyslexia services are provided in schools complicates the funding process.

In Texas, dyslexia services are offered through general education, and accommodations are delivered through Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In many other states, dyslexia services are offered through special education, since dyslexia is identified as a specific learning disability in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA).

However, dyslexia experts said that because federal guidelines to qualify for special education are so strict, many students with mild to moderate dyslexia were not being served.

“At that time, special education utilized a discrepancy model for the identification of children with learning disabilities,” said Gladys Kolenovsky, the administrative director of the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities at Scottish Rite Hospital, who helped write the state’s dyslexia law back in 1985. “What it meant was that particularly bright children, children whose parents worked with them every night, or children who had tutoring support did not fall far enough behind to be identified for special education — and federal dollars — until the third or fourth grade.

So in 1985, the Texas Legislature passed the nation’s first dyslexia law offering services through general education, which allowed more students to be served, Kolenovsky said.

But because Texas schools offer dyslexia services through general education programs, they do not have access to federal dollars. Instead, to fund those mandated services, districts and charter schools must pull from their limited general education funds. One exception is those students who qualify for special education and can receive federal funds.

District officials say the lack of funds is making it difficult to implement the best programs and hire trained teachers. Numbers analyzed by The Dallas Morning News last year showed local districts were falling behind in identifying and providing help for students.

Roxanne Burchfiel, Plano ISD’s coordinator of reading and dyslexia services, praised Miller’s funding bill, calling it “desperately needed.”

“As of now, districts do not have any extra funding and all dyslexia services are funded through district resources,” Burchfiel said by email. “This bill is desperately needed, especially since Texas has such a strong dyslexia law with mandates and requirements, but the state doesn’t provide any funding support for personnel, training, testing, or materials.”

The bill related to funding, House Bill 868, has been referred to the public education committee. The licensing bill, House Bill 1331, has been forwarded to the public health committee. No hearing has been held yet on either bil.

The third bill, House Bill 1886, was filed Feb. 23 and has not been taken up in committee yet.

Some parents said they were concerned that the licensing bills could be too costly and too difficult and could end up lowering the number of dyslexia therapists.

Burchfiel said she thought requiring a dyslexia therapist license would be “difficult to attain for all public school districts.”

Burchfiel noted that that license would require a master’s degree and at least 700 hours of supervised experience. It currently takes two years, 200 hours and 10 demonstration lessons to become a specialist.

“Realistically, many of our trained and competent specialists can never acquire 700 hours of instructional practice and may not be able to complete a master’s program for a myriad of reasons,” she said. “A more manageable requirement would be the dyslexia practitioner license, which would only require a bachelor’s degree and 60 hours of supervised experience.”

Miller acknowledged that it’s still early in the process, but he remains resolute.

“The issue has not changed, and it’s still important,” he said.



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Education Expert: Betsy DeVos Should Address Local Control Before School Choice


Dear Friends,

A very informative article written by Dr. Susan Berry, Dr. Berry is a conservative writer and contributor to, she has a doctorate in psychology. She writes about cultural, educational, and healthcare policy issues. Shared by Donna Garner, a retired teacher and education activist (

“Education Expert: Betsy DeVos Should Address Local Control Before School Choice”

The Heartland Institute’s senior fellow for education policy explains why newly confirmed U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would do well to “improve her standing with grassroots groups” by first addressing local control of education before she moves ahead on school choice.

In a column at The Hill, Robert Holland explains that while the teachers’ unions and “grandstanding Senate Democrats” received much of the attention in the controversy over DeVos, the “magnitude of the opposition” facing the new secretary from the grassroots base of her own party is not a factor to be ignored. In fact, Holland says DeVos could dispel a significant portion of the controversy surrounding her confirmation by letting these grassroots parent groups know she intends to use her new authority to free state and local governments from the oppression of federal control.

Holland writes:

As incongruous as it may seem, given DeVos’ championing of a parent’s right to select the best possible school for a child, parents organized in grassroots groups in all 50 states were among the most adamant critics of President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead federal education policy.

On social media, these groups have names such as Stop Common Core in Florida (or New Jersey, or Oregon, or Michigan, or insert your own state). Their reach is enormous. The concern for many of these activists boils down to this: While choice may be desirable, it is not feasible when big government imposes uniform requirements on all schools for such central policies as curricula, testing, and teacher evaluation.

Where is the choice, Holland asserts, when a child moves from a school in one zip code to another, but the standards, curriculum, and testing remain the same due to federal mandates?

Calling attention as well to reports of Common Core supporters on her staff, Holland observes that grassroots parent activists “see DeVos’ longstanding support of powerful organizations that pushed Common Core standards on schools nationwide as rendering null and void any ‘choice’ that might emanate from Washington, DC under her leadership.”

He urges the new secretary to invite onto her staff as well “education scholars who understand the federal government has no constitutional authority to dictate education policy,” and that the U.S. education department should be “phased out of existence.”

Holland also confirms what the parent groups have been saying all along, despite touting to the contrary by Republican leadership: the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – which replaced No Child Left Behind – places final control over state standards and tests with the federal education department.

Observing these factors, Holland urges DeVos to make local control of education – and not school choice – her first order of business.

“A push for federal school vouchers in the current regulatory climate could backfire big-time either by flopping in Congress or, if enacted, drawing more private and religiously affiliated schools into the freedom-killing Common Core web,” he warns. “Having a dedicated school choice activist as U.S. education secretary does not alter the reality choices are properly made in communities and homes, not in Washington, DC.”

Entire Article Here:



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Common Core Math in Texas: Texas Math Scores Drop Worst in U.S.


Dear Friends,

A very informative article written by Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. columnist  Shared by Donna Garner, a retired teacher and education activist (

Common Core Math in Texas: Texas Math Scores Drop Worst in U.S., says Expert

“The results in Grade 8 are virtually catastrophic.”

Texas Insider

During the 2012 Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) math curriculum standards review, Dr. James Milgram, a member of Common Core’s Validation Committee and the only content expert in mathematics for the standards, reviewed both the first and second Texas drafts.  He publicly declared that the second draft showed every indication of being among the best, if not the best, state math standards in the country.

However, the final draft was dramatically altered in the final version that Milgram received from the TEA. A Common Core format had been added and pure math content reduced.

Now Texas students are paying a heavy price.

The TEA boasted that fourth and eighth grade students taking the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) — the “Nation’s Report Card” — in mathematics scored higher than the national average.  Technically yes, but…

For the first time since the NAEP was administered in the early 1990s, national math scores of fourth and eighth graders have dropped. The scores of the high-school seniors show a “statistically significant” decline in math performance as well. This is especially significant because most of the students administered the biennial assessments live in states that have implemented the Common Core math.

In Texas fourth grade math scores rose from 27th in 2013 to 11th in 2015 nationally.  That was achieved because the national score fell, thereby increasing the spread. Texas eighth graders also scored above the national average yet Texas scores have declined sharply from 2011 to 2015.

In an email interview Dr. Milgram explained, “What you need to note is the STEEPNESS of the slope as we get from 2011 to 2015.  This gives a pretty accurate picture of how fast the state’s students are falling apart.  And, in fact, this is one of the steepest of all slopes for all the states in eighth grade math. In fourth grade the results are essentially flat, but the results in grade 8 in mathematics are virtually catastrophic.”

In reviewing the NAEP line graph, we see the fourth grade score continuing to rise while the national score is falling.  Milgram noted that, “In particular, in grade 4 there was virtually nothing happening, but in that grade the NAEP is not at all challenging, since it is not at all unusual for states to do very little in K-4, but the material in the higher grades often becomes more challenging.”

Milgram’s concern about the poor quality of Texas math standards is evidenced by the eighth grade line graph. “Overall, in fact, this TX graph shows a much faster collapse than is the case with the ordinary Common Core states in eighth grade.  So the conclusion is that the lousy TX standards are even worse than the Common Core standards by eighth grade.”

Milgram added that once the “process words” are stripped from these standards there is virually nothing left, and the “process words have virtually no effect on the NAEP type math problems, which actually require knowledge and some experience to resolve.”

During the November 16, 2016 SBOE testimony, Dr. MilgramNiki Hayes, and Randy Houchins all provided extensive examples showing how the problem can be addressed temporarily until the next Math TEKS review in 2020.  The Common Core Process Standards can be stripped out, leaving the pure math content which, according to Milgram, will still need to be strengthened.

Milgram offered his services as well as those of other experts to strengthen the content once the processes are removed.  Hayes said that “teachers will rise to the challenge of adding solid material that is needed if it is not covered in the stripped-down TEKS content standards.”

The SBOE has fiddled for months, in spite of an uproar from the public.  Students are losing and Texas is losing.

The SBOE meets again in January, 2017.  It’s time for Chairwoman Donna Bahorich to take a leadership role to allow Milgram, Hayes, and Houchins to prepare a draft that strips out the illegal process standards with that document being presented in the April meeting for a final vote to move forward.

With a voice vote in January, we will see who really cares about Texas students.  To repeat my last post on this issue, let’s see who just wants to protect self-egos and pander to special interest groups (including elementary teacher associations, teacher training programs with vested interests in promoting reform methods, and textbook publishers with bloated and costly materials that focus on activities/methods).

By state law, the SBOE and TEA have the responsibility to provide strong academic standards for Texas schools.  So far, they have given us a highly inferior product — an embarrassing sham for math. As our elected representatives and state employees who have failed to do their job, perhaps some need to be replaced.

What you can do:

  • Call or write your Texas State Legislators: Tell them to hold the TEA and its employees accountable for their actions in adding Common Core to our standards. Texas House Texas Senate


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Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12


No Need to Reinvent the Math Wheel Over and Over


Dear Friends,

An informative article written by C. C. Wetzel, M.D. from Salem, Oregon.

No Need to Reinvent the Math Wheel Over and Over

I wonder why, as a nation, we continue to insist on reinventing the wheel when it comes to math, when there are examples of successful programs around the world.

Regarding Wendy Kopp’s “Copying Singapore’s Math Homework” (op-ed, Dec. 8): When my children were in elementary school, a “connected math” curriculum was introduced. This warm and fuzzy program was so obtuse and nonlinear in its methods, that I was faced with my otherwise bright children feeling inferior in math. So, 13 years ago, I researched math programs, purchased a set of Singapore Math Workbooks, and ultimately retired from my career so that I could home-school them in math. The workbooks were so logical and lucid that my two children quickly achieved a proficiency in math two years ahead of their peers. I had meetings at the highest levels I could access in our school district to recommend dropping “connected math” but was told that because millions were spent the curriculum would have to run the usual seven-year course.

Incidentally, both my children took calculus as high-school juniors and are currently attending one of the best liberal arts colleges in the country. I wonder why, as a nation, we continue to insist on reinventing the wheel when it comes to math, when there are examples of successful programs around the world. All I can gather is that publishing companies’ profits supersede what is best for our children.


Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12