Don’t call the Alamo’s defenders ‘heroic,’ Texas school curriculum panel urges

Dear Friends,

This article needs our immediate attention!  Written by Rebekah Allen, Allen is a new Texas state government reporter based in Austin and working for The Dallas Morning News. Shared by Donna Garner, a retired teacher and education activist (Wgarner1@hot.rr.com)

 

Don’t call the Alamo’s defenders ‘heroic,’  Texas school curriculum panel urges

 

 AUSTIN — A panel advising the State Board of Education on what seventh-graders should learn in their social studies courses has urged deleting the label “heroic” from a curriculum standard about the Alamo’s defenders.

The proposed tweak to a directive about what teachers should teach about Texas history and the state’s most iconic battle infuriated several state politicians, including Gov. Greg Abbott, who characterized the nonbinding advice as political correctness run amok.

“Stop political correctness in our schools,” Abbott, a Republican, tweeted Thursday in response to the story, first reported by Texas Monthly. “Of course Texas schoolchildren should be taught that Alamo defenders were ‘Heroic’! I fully expect the State Board of Education to agree. Contact your SBOE Member to complain.”

Stop political correctness in our schools. Of course Texas schoolchildren should be taught that Alamo defenders were ‘Heroic’! I fully expect the State Board of Education to agree. Contact your SBOE Member to complain. ⁦@TXSBOE#txlege #tcot https://www.texasmonthly.com/news/texas-schoolchildren-taught-alamo-defenders-heroic/ …

The recommendation, made in a report issued last month, was one of several hundred tweaks, additions and deletions offered up by the advisory group reviewing state curriculum standards for social studies. The panel said “heroic” was a “value-charged word.”

But Barbara Stevens, president general of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, said the word is critical to giving Texas history its proper context.

“Words like ‘heroic’ to describe such men are indeed ‘value charged,’ and it is because anything less would be a disservice to their memories,” Stevens said. “To minimize the study of the Republic of Texas is to fail to teach a pivotal portion of the state’s history.”

Current seventh-grade social studies curriculum standards include the “siege of the Alamo and all of the heroic defenders who gave their lives there.” The advisory committee recommended cutting the phrase “and all of the heroic defenders who gave their lives there.”

 Travis’ letter

The advisory committee, made up of educators and historians, also suggested removing the requirement that students explain “the Travis Letter,” sometimes referred to as the “Victory or Death” letter. It was written by Lt. Col. William Barrett Travis during the Alamo battle. In it, he declared, “I shall never surrender or retreat” from the thousand or more Mexican soldiers besieging the Alamo.

“I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor and that of his country — victory or death,” Travis wrote in 1836.

Last month, Work Group E, a group of educators and historians that is one of the advisory panels helping the State Board of Education update and tighten curriculum standards, urged that the label “heroic” be struck from a reference to the Alamo’s defenders in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.

The recommendations say the letter can be explained by teachers within the context of the battle rather than requiring a separate discussion.

Land Commissioner George P. Bush, whose office oversees the Alamo historical site, said the proposed changes were a nonstarter for him.

“This politically correct nonsense is why I’ll always fight to honor the Alamo defenders’ sacrifice. His letter & the defenders’ actions must remain at the very core of TX history teaching,” Bush tweeted Thursday, referring to the Travis letter. “This is not debatable to me.”

This politically correct nonsense is why I’ll always fight to honor the Alamo defenders’ sacrifice. His letter & the defenders’ actions must remain at the very core of TX history teaching. This is not debatable to me. https://www.texasmonthly.com/news/texas-schoolchildren-taught-alamo-defenders-heroic/ …

Responding to the outcry, State Board of Education Chairwoman Donna Bahorich tweeted Friday that she didn’t support the removal of the letter. Hers is one of 15 votes on the board.

“Our @TXSBOE work committees have done an excellent job of streamlining TX social studies standards, however, I do not support deleting one of the most iconic letters in US History for 7th grade. #HeroesAll #txed,” Bahorich wrote. She did not return a phone call Friday.

Our @TXSBOE work committees have done an EXCELLENT job of streamlining TX social studies standards, however, I do not support deleting one of the most iconic letters in US History for 7th grade. #HeroesAll #txed #RememberTheAlamo https://www.texasmonthly.com/news/texas-schoolchildren-taught-alamo-defenders-heroic/ …

SBOE rationale

Debbie Ratcliffe, spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency, said the recommendation was made in response to complaints that curriculum standards are too long. The advisory group has been reviewing curriculum requirements subject by subject to streamline instruction. This will be the first time social studies standards have been updated since 2010.

“Could this be reduced by either deleting information, combining standards or clarifying? That was the goal,” Ratcliffe said. “They suggested deleting the Travis letter because they think when teachers talk about the Alamo they will absolutely mention it, but not having it outlined specifically just meant teachers would spend less time on it.”

The State Board of Education will meet next week to discuss the matter. A public hearing on all of the curriculum changes will be held Tuesday, and the board could take a tentative vote on Friday. A final vote won’t be taken until the board’s November meeting.

Walter Buenger, a historian who specializes in Texas history at the University of Texas at Austin, said he could understand why there may be a desire to remove as subjective a descriptor as “heroic” from discussions of those involved in the battle.

“Many times the Alamo gets boiled down, as it often does in movies, to the Mexicans are the bad guys and the good guys are good Anglos in coonskin caps,” Buenger said. He noted that many Mexicans fought alongside Texans in the siege.

“Part of the problem with the word heroic may be that it’s too simplistic,” he said.

But Thomas Lindsay, director of the Center for Innovation in Education for the free-market-oriented Texas Public Policy Foundation, said it’s appropriate and necessary for educators to teach students who the good guys and bad guys are in history books.

Lindsay, a longtime college educator, said he has often referred to Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr. as “heroic” in his history lessons.

“To intentionally deprive our students of such powerful lessons about human dignity and principled courage is the moral equivalent of child psychological abuse,” Lindsay said. “This twisting of history deprives our students of the truth. If courage in the defense of liberty and equality is not heroic, what, precisely, is?”

To view original article: https://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2018/09/07/dont-call-alamos-defenders-heroic-texas-school-curriculum-panel-urges

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com

Death of a Nation

Dear Friends,

 A very important article about the movie ‘Death of a Nation’ reviewed by Henry W. Burke, an Education Views Contributor.  Burke is a Civil Engineer with a B.S.C.E. and M.S.C.E. He has written numerous articles on education, engineering, construction, politics, taxes, and the economy. Shared by Donna Garner a retired teacher and education activist (Wgarner1@hot.rr.com)

“Death of a Nation” the movie

Dinesh D’Souza’s “Death of a Nation” movie is now playing in theaters across the U.S.  If you truly care about our country and its future, you must see this movie!

Inspired by the turbulent events of post-2016 presidential election America, Dinesh D’Souza’s “Death of a Nation” reveals an eerie similarity between the situations faced by President Trump now and the situations faced by President Lincoln in 1860.  The film demonstrates how Trump can use the example of Lincoln to shut down the Democratic plantation once and for all.   (From movie website)

With the Democrat Party moving decidedly to the Progressive Left, D’Souza’s cinematic expose comes at a perfect time.  Does the Progressive Left share the ideologies of the Italian Fascists and the German Nazis?  Do the leftist Democrats embrace socialism?  “Death of a Nation” exposes the inconvenient truth that the Democrat Party is the real party of fascism and socialism.  Isn’t it ironic that the anti-Trump forces label people who support President Trump as fascists and Nazis?

As the movie demonstrates, President Franklin D. Roosevelt admired Mussolini and implemented the fascist National Recovery Act and other New Deal programs.  The Democrat-supported Obamacare and “Medicaid for All” programs are modern versions of these socialist ideas.

Some people have asked, “Where were the Christians when Adolph Hitler was gobbling up European countries and killing thousands of Jews?”  This is a good question.  The movie mentions that many Christian church leaders were bribed into submission by Hitler’s minions.  On the other hand, D’Souza’s movie also recounts the inspiring story of Sophie School, a young German Christian who was executed for exposing the truth about the Nazis.  Her courage should inspire Americans today to push back against the Progressive Left Democrat Party.

In America, who deserves the racist label – Democrats or In America, who Republicans?  President Abraham Lincoln (a Republican) united his party and led the nation to fight against slavery in the Civil War.  D’Souza dispels the myth that all the segregationists became Republicans.  Only two of the segregationists in Congress switched to Republican.

Which party supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act?  If you guessed Democrat, you would be wrong.  A larger percentage of Republicans than Democrats voted for the law.  As documented in the movie, Bill and Hillary Clinton actually praised the segregationist Ku Klux Klan recruiter Robert C. Byrd upon his death.

Through personal incentive-killing welfare programs, the Left has maliciously relegated blacks to the “modern plantation.”  In spite of gargantuan amounts of federal spending, the poverty rate has remained essentially unchanged for the last 60 years.  Unquestionably, the decline of marriage (fostered by welfare programs) is the predominant cause of poverty in the U.S.  When the War on Poverty began in the 1960’s, the out-of-wedlock birthrate for African-Americans was 7 %; it is 74 % today!

Not since 1860 have the Democrats so fanatically refused to accept the result of a free election.  That year, their target was Lincoln.  They smeared him.  They went to war to defeat him.  In the end, they assassinated him.

Now the target of the Democrats is President Trump and his supporters.  The Left calls them racists, white supremacists and fascists.  These charges are used to justify driving Trump from office and discrediting the right “by any means necessary.”

But which is the party of the slave plantation?  Which is the party that invented white supremacy?  Which is the party that praised fascist dictators and shaped their genocidal policies and was in turn praised by them?

Moreover, which is the party of racism today?  Is fascism now institutionally embodied on the right or on the left?

Through stunning historical recreations and a searching examination of fascism and white supremacy, “Death of a Nation” cuts through progressive big lies to expose hidden history and explosive truths.

Lincoln united his party and saved America from the Democrats for the first time.  Can Trump – and we — come together and save America for the second time?

Overview (from movie website)

https://www.deathofanationmovie.com/

 

LINK TO “DEATH OF A NATION” WEBSITE

http://www.educationviews.org/death-of-a-nation-the-movie/

 

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com

Texas’ New School Accountability System Could Reverse Falling Student Achievement

Dear Friends,

A very informative article written by the Dallas Morning News Editorial Board, shared by Donna Garner a retired teacher and education activist (Wgarner1@hot.rr.com)

 

“Texas’ New School Accountability System Could Reverse Falling Student Achievement”

 No one likes to be held accountable for achievement, especially when the goal is extremely hard to attain. But raising the performance of our public schools so that every child has a legitimate shot at a decent education is both a moral imperative and an economic necessity in our increasingly competitive world.

For those reasons, we are encouraged by recent changes to the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness or STAAR standards. Our sense is that STAAR is taking three broad steps forward.

First, STAAR is a standardized testing program and therefore comes with all of the normally attendant drawbacks to such exams. But testing is a necessity for anyone interested in improvement. And in this case, we like that STAAR exams have been made vastly more accessible to parents.

Simply put, parents will be able to log-on through a Texas Education Administration web site to see how their child performed and even the test questions they faced. Parents can also see how their child’s district, as well as school, performed. And rather than using confusing labels, scores for districts and schools will be assigned a letter grade from A through F.

If that seems less than revolutionary, consider this fact: There may be no better source to press a local school to improve than local parents. By arming parents with real information about their kids and their schools, Texas has just created a mechanism for continuous improvement (assuming that officials don’t water down the tests to rob the entire process of its meaning).

The second reason STAAR took a step forward this year is this: The system is now designed to encourage improvement regardless of how a student scores. So even if a student turns in a B performance, the system now has built-in mechanisms to encourage schools to help that student master the subject. That new pressure will likely improve overall performance.

And finally, the third reason we are encouraged by the work being done through STAAR is that there has been some care taken to win buy-in throughout the system. The exam questions are being developed by teachers, and the teachers will also have access to key pieces of data. These facets of the system will help create quality exams and enable teachers to identify how best to help students raise their performance. This level of inclusion gives the system a better chance at success.

The first round of A through F district scores are due to be released on Aug. 15. Over time, each campus will get a letter grade, too. Our hope is that STAAR now enables parents and school officials to be better equipped as they make tough decisions.

Raising educational achievement isn’t easy. But then the teachers we know show up every day because they are dedicated to one of the hardest challenges facing us today.  

https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/2018/07/30/texas-new-school-accountability-system-could-reverse-falling-student-achievement

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com

Save the SAT Writing Test

Dear Friends,

An informative article in the Wall Street Journal written by Naomi Schaefer Riley. Ms. Riley is a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.

Save the SAT Writing Test

 Princeton and Stanford last week became the latest schools to drop the SAT essay requirement. The College Board made the section optional in 2016. Skeptics will applaud this essay’s demise as a return to a test that measures real aptitude. But the essay, introduced in 2005, turned out to be useful. Ditching it is another plan by colleges to make all standards of admissions subjective and easily rigged.

The writing test began in 2005 in order “to improve the validity of the test for predicting college success,” according to the College Board. A pilot program found that “scores on the new SAT writing section were slightly better than high school grades in predicting first-year college grades.”

There were problems with the exam. One MIT professor found students were rewarded for sheer length. Another criticism was that it wasn’t graded on accuracy. Students could make factual errors, or make things up.

In 2014 the College Board revised the essay test, asking students to read a passage and then answer a question with a persuasive argument using evidence from the text. Test-takers, their parents and guidance counselors criticized this new approach as well. There was too little time. It stressed students out. It raised the cost of preparation and of the test itself.

Princeton cited cost as its reason for eliminating the exam. But taking the essay part of the test adds only $14 to the registration fee, and poor kids can get waivers.

It is true that 25 minutes is not much time to write an essay, but one can discern a few things about a student’s command of grammar, vocabulary and logic from three paragraphs. True, grading a writing test is more subjective than scoring a multiple-choice test. But writing is a real skill, and colleges should measure it.

How will schools discern a student’s writing ability now? Primarily through application essays or papers graded by high school teachers. In other words, the applicants who get help from adults at home and at school will have the advantage. Parents, teachers or counselors can suggest themes that will appeal to admissions officers (hardship, discrimination, fighting for social justice), advise on writing structure and vocabulary, and proofread final submissions.

This kind of coddling continues in college, where students are encouraged to make use of campus writing tutors and then expect professors to let them submit multiple drafts and get feedback before incurring a real grade. Result: According to a 2016 survey released by PayScale, 44% of managers think “writing proficiency is the hard skill lacking the most among recent college graduates.”

If colleges really wanted to reduce applicants’ stress and stop wasting time and money, they might ask students to submit the SAT writing section instead of an application essay. Forget about the College Board; send the essay to the school’s freshman composition teachers for grading. That would put everyone on more equal footing and tell colleges something useful about their applicants.

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com

What’s Wrong With Common Core Math?

Dear Friends,

Donna Garner a retired teacher and education activist, has shared this article.

This is one of the best articles yet because it clearly explains what is badly wrong with Common Core Math. Written by Jane Robbins, an attorney and a senior fellow with the American Principals project. Robbins takes most of her comments from Barry Garelick’s book. Garelick is an experienced middle-school math teacher from California.  If anyone knows about what it is like to be “in the trenches” watching students struggle with the ridiculous Common Core Math approach, Garelick knows.

 “What’s Wrong With Common Core Math?”

To read the complete article, please go to:  https://townhall.com/columnists/janerobbins/2018/06/05/whats-wrong-with-common-core-math-n2487580

Excerpts from this article:

“A royal mess.” This is how California middle-school math teacher Barry Garelick describes math education today, especially under the Common Core national standards. In his bookMath Education in the U.S.: Still Crazy After All These Years, and his presentations, Garelick punctures the progressivist/reform math balloon that has long loomed over American schools like the Hindenburg.

When studying for a teacher’s certificate after retiring from his first career, Garelick found that education schools teach a progressivist “groupthink” about math. “Discovery learning” works best, he was taught, as students work collaboratively to puzzle out problems while teachers “facilitate” rather than teach. And as he learned later, Common Core reinforces this philosophy.

Garelick explains the difference between traditional and progressivist approaches to math instruction. With traditional math, the teacher uses direct instruction to present a logical sequence to the entire class, demonstrating the computations and then having the students practice them. Students memorize key facts and standard algorithms, thus freeing up working memory to tackle more advanced concepts, and master each step before proceeding.

Though the traditional approach is demonstrably successful, progressivist reformers have labored for decades to discredit it. As Garelick relates, they claim it produces “rote memorization” with no real understanding, doesn’t teach “critical thinking,” and is inadequate for 21st-century needs (reformers never explain why necessary math skills change from one century to the next). 

Garelick argues that the trash-talking is simply slander. Traditional textbooks from the 1950s and 1960s didn’t rely on “rote memorization” and did contain clear explanations of concepts before proceeding. 

But the post-Sputnik panic saw the denigration of traditional math in favor of “a whole new way to teach math” – discovery learning, “conceptual understanding” rather than facts, etc. When this new way flopped, the pendulum swung again in the 1970s, back to the traditional approach.

Then came the alarmist 1983 A Nation at Riskreport. In response, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) (a reformist outfit founded in 1920) produced new standards that were advertised as – guess what? – “a whole new way to teach math.”

But of course, as Garelick explains, the new way looked a lot like the previous new ways that failed. NCTM urged use of calculators in all grades and downplayed complex pen/paper calculations, long division, and memorization of standard algorithms. Direct instruction was disdained in favor of teacher-as-facilitator. This set of standards became the model for many states and for practically all schools of education.

As this philosophy took hold in many parts of the country, hapless children had to practice time-consuming, inefficient alternative strategies for solving problems rather than master the algorithms first to free up working memory for experimentation later.

As Garelick puts it, “It’s the arithmetic equivalent of forcing a reader to keep his finger on the page, sounding out every word with no progression of reading skill.” And they had to explain their work in narrative paragraphs.

Garelick also addresses the progressivists’ requiring children to solve problems of a type they’ve never seen before, theoretically as a means of showing insight and understanding. Students struggle to figure this out (“productive struggle,”as touted by progressivists), much as a non-swimmer struggles to reach the side of the pool without drowning. Even if he survives, he likely still doesn’t know how to swim.

…For example, the emphasis on problem-solving and perseverance signals the swimming-pool approach, and the requirement to construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others signals both group work and written explanations of computations. 

Even worse, Garelick says, is Common Core’s delay in teaching the standard algorithms until long after students are thoroughly confused by alternative approaches. And although the standards’ authors have publicly claimed that the algorithms may be taught earlier, most teachers will follow the dictates of the standards, especially when the all-important tests will assume that progression.

…And to the objections of the education establishment he simply responds: “Mistakes should not be clung to just because of the time spent making them.” 

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com

Proficiency Based Learning is a Cruel Experiment That Has Failed

Dear Friends

An informative article on proficiency-based learning. Written by Mike Bernier, a public school teacher, published in the Sun Journal. Shared by Donna Garner a retired teacher and education activist (Wgarner1@hot.rr.com)

 

“Proficiency-based learning is a cruel experiment that has failed”

Never, in my 30 years of high school teaching, have I seen an initiative do so much damage to student learning and motivation as I have with Maine’s Proficiency-Based Learning Diploma. It is a piece of feel-good legislation that was poorly conceived and enacted.

Fortunately, the Legislature is now considering repealing PBL. I hope others will join me in respectfully encouraging legislators to do so.

PBL is short-changing students in preparing them for the real world, contrary to what supporters claims. Why? In my district (which is not in the same town where I live), under PBL, there are no homework deadlines and exams can be retaken, sometimes over and over again. In addition, school attendance doesn’t count toward grades or graduation.

This is what I have observed in my classes since PBL’s implementation:

Before PBL, approximately 9 percent of my students didn’t complete homework; today the average is about 33 percent. (Recently, 41 percent of my students failed to complete a 20-minute vocabulary assignment.) Yet, I am still required to accept late work within a 10-day window.

Because of that, cheating and plagiarism are on the rise. Before PBL, approximately 8 percent of my students missed class on any given day; today the average is about 18 percent.

Last year’s graduating class had approximately 291 graduates, up from 230 the previous year — a 26 percent gain. Why such an increase in one year?  And why did some graduates miss more than 25 days of school and still graduate?

I understand that schools are under pressure to improve the graduation rate, but it is disingenuous to say that PBL is improving student learning. Next, if students fail standards during regular classes, our district offers seven credit recovery programs, including summer school in which to recover lost standards. With so many opportunities to retake standards, some students no longer take classes seriously. Their reasoning is simple. “Why put all the effort in class when it takes so much less effort to earn standards in credit recovery?”

Far too many students are learning to “game the system” so they can graduate with as little effort as possible. That diminishes the value of a high school diploma and is unfair to those students who really do work hard, attend school and make every effort to succeed.

How does this prepare students for the real world? In the real world, effort, attendance and personal responsibility count. If I fail to show up to work, carry out my responsibilities, or meet my deadlines, I will be fired — and rightfully so. In effect, PBL is taking away the students’ responsibility for learning. Imagine how this will impact the labor force.

With PBL, we are treating high school students as if they are in elementary school. In essence, we are preparing them to fail.

Looking at the Sun Journal’s three-part series on PBL (April 15-17), it is interesting to note that many who support it are policy makers and administrators. I fail to see much support from parents, students or teachers. I suspect that it is because the view from the boardroom is sometimes different from the view from the classroom. Working at the grassroots level, teachers, parents and students understand the failings of PBL.

Using our children in this state-wide experiment is unethical, especially since there is no independent, long-term research or evidence to prove that PBL improves student learning. It is just not there. If we continue with PBL, we are putting an entire generation of Maine’s young people at risk.

 There are reasons why high-performing high schools are trying to retain the traditional grading system. It works. The Legislature needs to understand that our children’s futures depend on it.

http://www.sunjournal.com/proficiency-based-learning-is-a-cruel-experiment-that-has-failed/

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com

Bias Embedded In The Classroom

Dear Friends,

An informative article regarding biased teachings in our schools, written by Lance Izumi. Izumi is Koret senior fellow in education studies and senior director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute.  He is the author of the 2017 PRI book “The Corrupt Classroom.” Shared by Donna Garner a retired teacher and education activist (Wgarner1@hot.rr.com)

“Bias Embedded In The Classroom”

While the antics of anti-Trump teachers, such as the recent viral video of a Southern California teacher beating a President Trump piñata, make headlines, classroom bias is much more deeply embedded, especially in the Common Core curriculum.

When the Obama administration pushed states to adopt the Common Core national education standards, states then adopted curricula aligned to those standards. Bias in Common Core-aligned curricula has become a critical problem.

Take, for example, the Common Core English standards.

Common Core mandated a 50/50 division between literary texts and so-called “informational” texts at every grade level.

The use of these “informational” texts has opened a huge avenue for states, school districts, and teachers to push ideological agendas under the guise of English and reading comprehension.

A substitute teacher in California recently showed me a fifth-grade lesson for the reading-comprehension component of her class that was based on an “informational” text that was clearly biased and one-sided.

The lesson focused on global warming, its effects, and who’s to blame.

According to the lesson, the Arctic is warming, and “scientists blame global warming for the Arctic thaw” and “predict that half the summer sea ice in the Arctic will melt by the end of this century.”  Seals, polar bears and native Inuit people will be the first victims.

Who is to blame for global warming? The lesson says: “Scientists say human activity is to blame for global warming.” Burning fossil fuels, “gives off gases that trap heat from the sun and add to the overheating of the Earth.” According to the lesson, “scientists say people need to limit their use of fossil fuels.”

Among the questions students are asked to answer after reading this “informational” text: “How could your life change if global warming continues as scientists think it will.”

Yet, despite the certainty of the lesson’s scientific declarations, the empirical evidence is much less clear.

It so happens that a federal court case is currently underway where oil companies are being sued over issues involving emissions regulations. In an interesting development, Judge William Alsup asked for tutorials on climate change to be submitted for his edification.

Last month, Princeton physics professor William Happer, a former director of energy research at the U.S. Department of Energy under President George H.W. Bush, NYU scientist Steven Koonin, a former undersecretary for science at the U.S. Department of Energy under President Obama, and MIT professor of meteorology Richard Lindzen submitted a comprehensive data-based tutorial for the judge.

According to these three eminent scientists, “The climate is always changing; changes like those of the past half-century are common in the geologic record, driven by powerful natural phenomena.” Indeed, they point out, “much of the alarming rise [in temperature] in the last few years is due to an El Niño condition.”

Further, say the scientists, human influences on the climate are a small 1 percent factor in the changes to the energy flows of Earth’s climate system. And, they note, “It is not possible to tell how much of the recent warming can be ascribed to human influences.”

Finally, the scientists conclude, “Contrary to the impression from media reporting and political discussions, the historical data . . . do not convey any sense that weather extremes are becoming more common globally.” Therefore, “today’s projections of future changes are highly uncertain.”

Although the fifth-grade lesson claims that humans and their use of fossil fuels cause global warming, these top scientists show that the evidence undercuts these claims.

The bottom line for parents and their children is that under Common Core, so-called “informational” texts are being used in English and reading lessons to push particular ideological points of view, without any concern for fairness and balance.

After reviewing the fifth-grade lesson on global warming, a California legislative staffer with extensive education policy experience termed the lesson “indoctrination” meant to “frighten children and turn them into committed leftwing activists.”  Such indoctrination demonstrates why parents should have school-choice tools that allow them to avoid public-school indoctrination and choose private schools that better meet the needs of their children.

http://dailycaller.com/2018/04/19/bias-embedded-in-the-classroom/

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com

National Academic Standards Have Produced a Lot of Nothing

Dear Friends,

 An informative article on standardized reading and math tests and Common Core. Written by Jonathan Butcher, Butcher is a senior policy analyst in the Center for Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation. Shared by Donna Garner a retired teacher and education activist (Wgarner1@hot.rr.com)

“National Academic Standards Have Produced a Lot of Nothing” 

…Last week, the U.S. Department of Education released the latest Nation’s Report Card, documenting results from the standardized reading and math tests taken every two years by 4th and 8th grade students. In both subjects, the national average scores remain essentially unchanged from 2015 for both grades (with the exception of a 2-point improvement in 8th grade reading). National average scores have now remained steady for more than a decade.   

Lawmakers who pour billions of taxpayer dollars into district schools every year should pause to consider the implications. 

First, supporters of the Common Core national academic standards have some explaining to do. As early as 2012, some said national standards could “potentially improve the performance of U.S. students” in math. Others said the standards would “help narrow the achievement gaps.” 

Neither has happened. Indeed, the latest results show a widening achievement gap. Students at the top end of the scale are scoring higher and those at the bottom are scoring lower than when the Common Core standards were first adopted.  

A more rigorous evaluation is needed to say the Common Core is the reason for the disappointing results. But the lofty claims about national standards have not been realized.

Notably, between 2003 to 2011, almost every state showed improvement in math scores on the Nation’s Report Card. Some states even recorded double-digit gains. Reading test results evidenced similar gains, although not quite as pronounced.

Scores stalled and then took a turn after that. Between 2013 and 2017, only five jurisdictions logged improvements in 4th grade math, and just three in 8th grade math. 

Writing for Education Next, Senior Editor Paul Peterson notes a similar phenomenon when test results are broken out according to racial subgroups. Test score gains were substantially larger between 2000 and 2009 than from 2009 to 2017. 

Trying to explain these disappointing results, some have pointed to economic trends, blaming the 2013–2015 score drop on the 2007 recession and subsequent sluggish recovery. This explanation is problematic because math scores went up sharply between 2000 and 2003, despite the 2001 recession (4thgrade readingscores also improved, though not quite as much). Scores also trended up after the recession in the early 1990s.

Inadequate funding is also likely not the culprit. Per student spending nationwide has increased since 2000.

One final caveat about these scores: Long-term trends are more important than the results from any one test. And whatever variations we see in 4th and 8th grade results disappear by 12th grade. In fact, 12th grade scores in math and reading have not changed since 1971. After decades of trying, Washington’s carousel of reform ideas and regular federal and state funding increases have not wrought any lasting improvement to the national average for students finishing high school…

https://tinyurl.com/y9kf7vf2

 

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com

Common Core Is Very Much Alive

Dear Friends,

An informative article written on Common Core by Nicholas Tampio, Mr. Tampio is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University.  He researches the history of political thought, contemporary political theory, and education policy. He is the author of Common Core: National Education Standards and the Threat to Democracy (Johns Hopkins University Press 2018). Shared by Donna Garner a retired teacher and education activist (Wgarner1@hot.rr.com)

Truth in American Education

“Common Core Is Very Much Alive”

This article was originally published at The Conversation and was republished here with their permission. DeVos said Common Core was ‘dead’ – it’s not

In a speech in Washington earlier this year, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos called the education standards known as the Common Core a “disaster” and proclaimed: “At the U.S. Department of Education, Common Core is dead.”

The reality, however, is that the Common Core is still very much alive. As indicated in a recent report from Achieve, 24 states have “reviewed and revised” their English and math standards under the Common Core. In some instances, such as in New York, the revised standards are known by a different name.

This is worth pointing out because, as a political scientist and as I argue in my new book, the Common Core has soured many people on public education and civic life in general. When one group of people decides the national education standards, other people feel alienated from the schools and the democratic process.

Criticism and praise

Many families oppose the Common Core and have refused to allow their children to take the associated end-of-year tests such as the PARCC, SBAC, ACT Aspire, or New York State Common Core 3-8 English Language Arts and Mathematics Tests. Critics argue that Common Core math expects students to justify their answers in ways that are “unnecessary and tedious.” Others note that the standards will not prepare many students to major in a STEM discipline in college. And for some scholars and parents, the “close textual reading” under Common Core makes learning a chore rather than a pleasure.

In 2013, then-Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the Common Core may “prove to be the single greatest thing to happen to public education in America since Brown versus Board of Education.” For Duncan and others, the Common Core promised to prepare all students to succeed in college, career and life.

Waning support

But that view did not align with popular support for the Common Core, which dropped from 83 percent to 50 percent between 2013 and 2016. For many parents and educators, the Common Core has made public education worse.

For critics such as author and former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, the Common Core is “fundamentally flawed” because of the way that the standards were developed. Common Core work group members included more people from the testing industry than experienced teachers, subject-matter experts or early childhood educators. According to some early childhood health and education professionals, the standards conflict with research about how children learn and how best to teach them.

What political opponents said

When President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., stated that the Republican congressional majority had “kept its promise to repeal the federal Common Core mandate.”

As a candidate for president, Donald J. Trump tweeted how he had been consistent in his opposition to the Common Core and argued that the federal government should “Get rid of Common Core — keep education local!”

It seemed only a matter of time before many states moved away from the Common Core.

As of 2018, however, nearly every state that adopted the Common Core during the Obama administration has kept the most important features. Across the country, students will take end-of-year tests that align with the Common Core.

Why the standards are still here

Alexander’s claim that Congress has repealed the Common Core mandate is misleading. The federal government has made it an expensive gamble for states to adopt education standards that differ from the Common Core.

According to the Every Student Succeeds Act, states that wish to adopt an alternative to the Common Core must now prove to the secretary of education that the standards are “challenging.”

According to the law, “each state shall demonstrate that the challenging state academic standards are aligned with entrance requirements for credit-bearing coursework in the system of public higher education in the State.” Most states adopted the Common Core as part of their “Race to the Top” applications during the Obama administration. Race to the Top gave an incentive to states to align high school graduation requirements and college entrance requirements with the new standards. States that keep the Common Core do not have to change anything to satisfy this provision. States that adopt new standards must prove to the secretary that high school graduates will be able to take credit-bearing courses as soon as they enter a public college or university.

In addition, the law requires states to adopt standards that align with “relevant State career and technical education standards.” The main Common Core reading standards are called the “college and career readiness anchor standards.” For states that want to meet this criterion of the law, the safest bet is to keep the Common Core.

States have a strong financial incentive to meet these criteria. The Every Student Succeeds Act directs approximately US$22 billion a year to states around the country, including over $700 million to Ohio, $1.6 billion to New York, $2 billion to Texas, and $2.6 billion to California. If a state fails to meet any of of the requirements of the law, “the Secretary may withhold funds for State administration under this part until the Secretary determines that the State has fulfilled those requirements.”

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has approved virtually all plans that include the Common Core or a slightly modified version. According to Education Week, even when states have revised the standards, “the core of the Common Core remains.”

https://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/common-core-is-very-much-alive/

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com

Will Fitzhugh: Common Core Close Reading and the Death of History in the Schools

 

Dear Friends,

An informative article on Common Core written by Will Fitzhugh, blogged by Diane Ravitch a historian of education and Research Professor of Education at New York University, Ph.D. in the history of American education in 1975. Shared by Donna Garner a retired teacher and education activist (Wgarner1@hot.rr.com)

“Will Fitzhugh:  Common Core Close Reading and the Death of History in the Schools”

[FROM DIANE RAVITCH:]  Will Fitzhugh is founder and editor of The Concord Review, which publishes outstanding historical essays by high school students. I have long been an admirer of the publication and of Will for sustaining it without support from any major foundation, which are too engaged in reinventing the schools rather than supporting the work of excellent history students and teachers. You can subscribe by contacting him at fitzhugh@tcr.org.

He [Will Fitzhugh] writes:

A few years ago, at a conference in Boston, David Steiner, then Commissioner of Education for New York State, said, about History: “It is so politically toxic that no one wants to touch it.”

 Since then, David Coleman, of the Common Core and the College Board, have decided that any historical topic, for instance the Gettysburg Address, should be taught in the absence of any historical context—about the Civil War, President Lincoln, the Battle of Gettysburg—or anything else. This fits well with the “Close Reading” teachings of the “New Criticism” approach to literature in which Coleman received his academic training. This doctrine insists that any knowledge about the author or the historical context should be avoided in the analytic study of “texts.”

 The Common Core, thanks to Coleman, has promoted the message that History, too, is nothing but a collection of “texts,” and it all should be studied as just language, not as knowledge dependent on the context in which it is embedded.

 Not only does this promote ignorance, it also encourages schools to form Humanities Departments, in which English teachers, who may or may not know any History, are assigned to teach History as “text.”  This is already happening in a few Massachusetts high schools, and may be found elsewhere in the country. 

 The dominance of English teachers over reading and writing in our schools has long meant that the great majority of our high school graduates have never been asked to read one complete History book in their academic careers.

 Good English teachers do a fine job of teaching novels and personal and creative writing, but it is a Common Core mistake to expect them to teach the History in which they have little or no academic background. Treating History as contextless “text” is not a solution to this problem.

 The ignorance of History among our high school graduates is a standing joke to those who think it is funny, and NAEP has found that only about 18% know enough to pass the U.S. citizenship exam.

 In The Knowledge Deficit, E.D. Hirsch writes that: “In a 1785 letter to his nephew, Peter Carr, aged fifteen, Jefferson recommended that he read books (in the original languages and in this order) by the following authors in History: Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon [Anabasis], Arian, Quintus Curtius, Diodorus Siculus, and Justin.”

 We may no longer imagine that many of our high school students will read their History in Latin, but we should expect that somehow they may be liberated from the deeply irresponsible Common Core curriculum that, in restricting the study of the past to the literary analysis of “texts,” essentially removes as much actual History from our schools as it possibly can.

https://dianeravitch.net/2018/03/16/will-fitzhugh-common-core-close-reading-and-the-death-of-history-in-the-schools/

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com