“ Why Rolling Back Graduation Standards Is A Bad Idea”

 

Dear Friends,

A very informative article written by William McKenzie, an editorial director for the George W. Bush Institute, former Dallas Morning News editorial columnist now working on school reform issues.

‘Why Rolling Back Graduation Standards Is A Bad Idea’

Here they go again.

As they did in 2013, Texas legislators are working to reduce the requirements for a high school diploma. Senators already have voted to let students graduate even if they haven’t demonstrated the skills for college or the workplace.

Students who’ve failed up to two of Texas’ five high school exit exams — in courses like English and math — still could graduate if a committee agrees. The panel would consist of the principal, relevant teacher, school counselor and/or parent, parent-designee or student.

Committees now determine whether students who fail state tests in fifth or eighth grade can move to the next level. The vast majority of those students go ahead, so struggling high school students are likely to get a diploma, too.

This is a bad idea.

Here’s why:

Students stand to lose the most.

Look at our world. Professional, managerial and technical jobs that require critical thinking have increased over the last three decades. Jobs that require routine manual or cognitive skills — clerical, repair and sales work, e.g — have declined. The only other jobs to increase noticeably are low-skills jobs like food service and personal care that come with less pay and less economic mobility.

How is it fair to kids if we hand them a diploma without any objective assessment of their readiness for jobs that will lead to more mobility, many of which require some college?

It’s wrong to think we should just give a diploma to students failing state exams because they’ll drop out and struggle to get work.

Instead of talking about making graduation easier, why not provide students intensive interventions so they can master English, math or other subjects?

Perhaps nothing can help the 28,000 students who could qualify this year for an altered path to a diploma. But long-term, Austin should be investing in interventions, especially for students struggling with English. Schools know which students are at risk. Focus on intervening with them instead of lowering their expectations. And start long before high school.

Colleges and employers need an objective way of knowing whether high schoolers are ready for the next level.

Arbitrary graduation standards make that hard. As SMU political science professor Matthew Wilson puts it: “A diploma is supposed to be a signal to universities and employers alike, but it is meaningless if we keep providing path after path to circumvent mastering a subject.”

It’s wrong to devalue diplomas just because we already have a remediation problem.

It’s true that colleges and employers already must play catch-up with too many high school graduates. But why lower graduation standards? If a student can’t pass a state exam, there is always the GED route. GEDs limit what you can do, but we would limit high school students by giving them a diploma without the skills.

The content matters.

People may question standardized tests, but Texas’ final English exam assesses whether students can read, write and communicate clearly. The State Board of Education, teachers, colleges and employers deem these skills important. Read the test questions yourself at http://bit.ly/1ywkLSM.

Don’t concepts matter, such as how to use a comma or figure the sales tax while shopping?

Finally, this path to a diploma is unfair to the 90 percent of seniors who have passed all their exit exams.

They’ve fulfilled their responsibility, even if passing some exams requires answering only about half the questions correctly.

Sure, students with special needs might need more time to take tests. Others might require substantial resources to help with challenges such as dyslexia. And those with the most serious cognitive disabilities rightly don’t have to pass the state tests.

But how is it fair to students to give them a diploma when they can’t show the ability to think critically, write effectively and solve problems? The real world will demand those abilities, and there might not be an escape hatch once they enter it.

A high school diploma is a ticket to the next stage of life. It won’t help them if that ticket lacks meaning.

 

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com

“To Texas Lege: Do No Harm”

 

Dear Friends,

A very informative article written by Donna Garner a retired teacher and an education activist.

“To Texas Lege: Do No Harm”

http://www.educationviews.org/texas-lege-harm/ 

Almost any bills that Texas Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) offers have a questionable agenda behind them.  Even the left-leaning Dallas Morning News editorial board today is criticizing Seliger’s bill that weakens the power of regents of Texas universities to “vigorously question administrations and to gather the records required to do so.”  Seliger and other Texas Legislators are on a tirade because Wallace Hall, U. T. Regent, managed to uncover the fact that special admission favors were dished out to Texas legislators’ children and friends who applied to the U. T. Law School.    

Seliger is deeply tied to the wrong people. He is trying to get Gov. Abbott to appoint Marty Rowley (R – Amarillo) as the new chair of the SBOE.  [*Posted toward the bottom of this article, I have given my recommendation for the best person to be the SBOE chair.]  Rowley recently voted for Thomas Ratliff to become the vice-chair of the three-member SBOE executive committee that decides on the direction of the Board.  Thomas Ratliff is a long-time lobbyist for Microsoft; Ratliff managed to get himself placed on the SBOE Committee on the Permanent School Fund.  This committee makes decisions involving the PSF and millions of dollars’ worth of business with Microsoft. Bill Gates/Microsoft are behind the Common Core.  Ratliff is serving illegally on the SBOE because of his conflict of interest.  If Marty Rowley were to be appointed the chair of the SBOE, then Seliger and Ratliff would have an even bigger “seat at the education table.”

Seliger also works closely with TASA, TASB, TAMSA, Raise Your Hand Texas, and Teacher Parent PAC .  All of these organizations have common interests because they want to destroy the present Type #1 curriculum standards (TEKS) adopted by the SBOE from 2008 -2012 for each grade level and for each course.

 By destroying the Type #1 STAAR/End-of-Course tests (the “measuring stick”) that by law are aligned with the TEKS, then schools would be free to teach Type #2 undeterred by the Type #1 requirements.  Without a measuring stick based upon the measurable/objective data of the STAAR/EOC’s, schools would be rated on the soft data produced by subjective measurements and easily manipulated criteria.  

Yes, if these legislative bills to destroy the STAAR/EOC’s were to get passed, there would be massive celebrations all across Texas; however, the next day after the celebrations and the reality hits parents, they would be furious.  How would any parent (or taxpayer) know whether or not his local school district is doing a good job of educating students? How would a parent know whether his child is ready for the rigors of the next grade level?  How would parents know whether to get extra tutoring for their children or intensive remediation?  If a parent suspects that his child has been in a classroom where the teacher has inflated students’ grades, how would a parent know this without the “measuring stick” of the STAAR/EOC’s? Unless the STAAR/EOC’s are given at each grade level/course, who would both parents and administrators hold accountable for the gaps in learning?  

How would businessmen in the community know whether their future employees are prepared with basic skills?  It would be a delicate situation to fire employees once hired who do not have the basic skills to be good, well-prepared employees?

[Type #1 vs. Type #2 Chart — http://www.educationviews.org/comparison-types-education-type-1-traditional-vs-type-2-cscope-common-core/

SEN. SELIGER’S BAD BILLS

SB 149(http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=84R&Bill=SB149) offers an escape mechanism for students not to learn and teachers not to teach the Type #1 curriculum standards (TEKS) adopted by the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education after numerous public hearings and thousands of grassroots citizens’ input.

SB 149allows students to graduate without passing the five STAAR/End-of-Course tests (English I, English II, Biology, U.S. History, and Algebra I) even though students have years to do so with released test questions, intensive remediation, and many different administrations of the test.  

 SB 313(http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=84R&Bill=SB313) requires the SBOE to review and modify all of the TEKS for every subject and every grade level by Sept. 2018.  Of course, this is an impossible task for the SBOE to do it thoroughly and well in that short length of timealong with the myriads of other responsibilities that the SBOE has.  The SBOE members are unpaid volunteers who receive no remuneration for staffers nor offices.

Sen. Seliger’s SB 313would disrupt the well-organized plan already put in motion by the Texas Education Agency and the SBOE to review/modify the TEKS in a systematic order (http://tea.texas.gov/index2.aspx?id=25769817636).  As indicatedon the TEA website, currently the TEKS for English / Language Arts / Reading (ELAR) are up for consideration with writing teams being selected to review and modify them if necessary.   Seliger’s SB 313 is not needed and would be duplicative and confusing.  

SB 451authored by Sen. Seliger (http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=84R&Bill=SB451) and its House companion piece HB 774(Mary Gonzalez– D — http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Companions.aspx?LegSess=84R&Bill=SB451) would not require students to be STAAR tested on writing, spelling, and grammarin Grades 4 and 7.  SB 451also would not require students to take the STAAR Social Studies test in Grade 8.  “What gets tested gets taught.”  It is the STAAR/EOC’s that hold teachers and their students accountable for having taught/learned the Type #1 TEKS.   

For years, Texas students have done worse on the writing portion of the STAAR/EOC’s (and the TAKS tests) than on any other section.  On the SAT in 2014, Texas students scored the lowest writing scores for the third consecutive year since the writing section was added to the SAT in 2006.  

As Education Commissioner Michael Williams has stated, “We must work together to assure our students are in a position to express themselves beyond 140 characters after they leave high school.” 

 It is hard for any thinking Texan to figure out why Sen. Seliger and Rep. Gonzalez would possibly want to pass legislation that would weaken our Texas students’ skills in writing/spelling/grammar.

 

 HB 742by Rep. Dan Huberty  (R — http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=84R&Bill=HB742) is similar to SB 451/HB 774but even goes a step further by removing U. S. History from the STAAR/End-of-Course list. 

 It is also hard for any thinking Texan to figure out why Sen. Seliger, Rep. Gonzalez, and Rep. Huberty would want to de-emphasize the STAAR Social Studies test in Grade 8 and the U. S. History STAAR/EOC in high school.  Texas’ Social Studies TEKS are the most fact-based, Type #1, patriotic curriculum standards in the entire United States.  “What gets tested gets taught.”  Why would Sen. Seliger/Gonzalez/Huberty possibly want to hurt our Texas students’ chances to become patriotic American citizens?    

 *My recommendation to Gov. Abbott is to appoint Donna Bahorich as the new chair of the SBOE.  Donna is known by those who have worked with her closely as someone who has strong conservative principles, good verbal and writing skills, solid political experience, much common sense, a stable family situation, a background as a homeschool and private school mother, and work experience as a skilled negotiator.  

OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS ON TEXAS LEGISLATIVE BILLS

3.13.15 — UPDATED ON 3.13.15 – “Good News: HB 3571 and SB 1711 To Get Rid of CSCOPE and Common Core” — by Donna Garner — http://www.educationviews.org/good-news-hb-3571-rid-cscope-common-core/

3.18.15 — “No Need for Another Appointed Commission – Tex. SB 1200” — by Donna Garner — http://www.educationviews.org/appointed-commission-tex-sb-1200/

2.19.15 — “Texas Schools and the Slippery Slope of Sen. Seliger’s SB 149” — by Donna Garner —

http://www.educationviews.org/texas-schools-slippery-slope-sen-seligers-sb-149/ 

2.14.15 – “Tex. Education Bills – Some Good, Some Bad” — by Donna Garner — http://www.educationviews.org/tex-education-bills-good-bad/ 

Good bill – Sen. Bob Hall SB 447  – http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=84R&Bill=SB447

to make English the official language of Texas.  With our state becoming more diversified as time goes on, the number of languages that proliferate Texas is increasing exponentially.  To make sure that everyone in our state can communicate well with one another, we must make English the official language of Texas in government as well as in our public schools.  Being able to communicate in the same language is an important unifying principle of a strong society.

 

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com

Bill Ames HB 3403 by Leach serves notice to ISD’s on Curriculum

 

Dear Friends,

A very informative article written by Bill Ames.  Bill is an education activist who lives in Dallas.  His book, “Texas Trounces The Left’s War On History” (WNAenterprises.com)  tells the story of his experience in developing Texas’ U.S. history standard in 2009-2010. Ames reviewed CSCOPE lessons as part of the State Board of Education’s AdHoc Committee Project.  His work in his local school district resulted in Board reviews of both its social studies curriculum and project based learning implementation, as well as securing a superintendent commitment to modify the AP history course to be Texas standards (TEKS) compliant.  He welcomes reader comments at billames@prodigy.net

Education UPDATE: Texas ISD’s Should Comply with Texas Social Studies Standards

HB 3403 by Leach serves notice to ISD’s on Curriculum

By Bill Ames

 

Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas – In 2010, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) adopted Social Studies Standards (TEKS) that provided balance to the leftist-ideological standardsthat had been in effect for ten years. These, and other positive historical facts, brought howls of indignation, as well as bizarre insults, from leftist educators, politicians, and the media.

The new standards include study of key pro-American ideals:

o    The concept of American Exceptionalism;

o    the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the Founding Fathers; and

o    the study and meaning of “E Pluribus Unim” and “In God We Trust”.

 

Further, the new standards require the teaching of important historical facts summarily dismissed by the liberal education establishment:

o    The major military events of WWII

o    A significant number of communist spies worked in FDR and Truman administrations

o    The 1960’s civil rights legislation was generally supported by Republicans, opposed by Democrats

o    The free enterprise system, not government, is responsible for America’s success and technological superiority

 

These, and other positive historical facts, brought howls of indignation, as well as bizarre insults, from leftist educators, politicians, and the media.

For example, an especially egregious editorial in the January 27, 2010 Denton (TX) Record-Chronicle, typified the vitriolic attacks, condemning the SBOE’s “malignant stupidity”.

 

“A large and disruptive segment of the Texas State Board of Education is not only ignorant …..It is proudly and aggressively ignorant, which goes beyond simple ignorance and ventures into

the territory of malignant stupidity.

 

“The boobs on the State Board of Education aren’t historians, either. They aren’t even educators. For the most part, they are bottom-feeding politicians who have adopted the popular demagoguery of the day and have ridden it to membership on a little-known but very important state board.”

So much for rational debate.

In spite of the opposition, the new standards were adopted.

On May 27, 2010, current Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s TexasInsider.org article “SBOE, Thanks for Social Studies Curriculum Update” included the following quotes:

 

“The attacks on the State Board of Education ignored the transparent approach that the Board took toward developing curriculum standards for Texas school children, misstated many of the changes that the Board proposed, and sought to undermine the Board’s diligent work to execute its constitutional and statutory obligations.

 

“The Board (members) should be applauded for their conscientious efforts. Texas school children will be the long-term beneficiaries.”

Good so far.  But unfortunately, there was and is no oversight as Texas 1200+ school districts across the state develop or purchase their own social studies curriculum, supposedly based upon the new standards.

In my district, American Exceptionalism was initially ignored.  Locally prepared lesson plans hint that the United States embargo of Japan justified the attack on Pearl Harbor, significant post-WWI reparations justified WWII Nazi aggression, and Japanese internment resulted from American racism.

Some 900 small school districts purchased the controversial CSCOPE curriculum, complete with its lessons that the Boston Tea Party patriots were terrorists, and the 911 jihadists were freedom fighters.

The College Board’s controversial, revised Advanced Placement U. S. history course (APUSH) includes clearly anti-American bias.  When a patriotic school board in Colorado banned APUSH, the local teachers union recruited gullible students to take to the streets in protest.  When interviewed, student protesters were not even aware of APUSH course content.

A high school in New Mexico has recently designated “communism” as its theme for senior prom.

Last year the blog Campus Reform asked Harvard students if the United States or ISIS is the greater threat to world peace.  The students’ answer?  The United States.

And don’t forget that college professors across the country have signed a petition to ban the American flag on college campuses, in support of misguided students at the University of California, Irvine.

Bottom line, there is a nationwide, ongoing agenda to erase all that is good about America from our schools.

Contrary to all this anti-American negativity, the will of mainstream Texans and the legislature is well documented in Texas Education code.

 

“…..A primary purpose of the public school curriculum is to prepare thoughtful, active citizens who understand the importance of patriotism and can function productively in a free enterprise  society with appreciation for the basic democratic values of our state and national heritage.”

Not exactly what many school districts are teaching.

The legislature needs to send a clear message to Texas’ public school districts……teach to the state standards.

 

There are six elements in HB 3403 introduced by Texas State Representative Jeff Leach (right):

 

  1. The public school curriculum reflects the  importance of patriotism, United States citizenship, and promotes an appreciation for our free enterprise system and basic democratic values;
  2. Each historical event addressed in the public school curriculum meets a reasonable test of historical significance, considering the limited amount of time available for instruction;
  3. Each controversial issue addressed in the public school curriculum is presented in a balanced manner that reflects
    multiple viewpoints regarding the issue;
  4. The public school curriculum reflects an overall tone that portrays the United States as a country that has overcome its mistakes and has emerged as the freest, most democratic nation in the history of the world;
  5. The public school curriculum shall include the concept of American Exceptionalism and the Celebrate Freedom Week program;
  6. School district generated and purchased curriculum, including Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate social studies, must be in compliance with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.

 

Each year, Texas public schools graduate some 300,000 students into Texas society.  If we allow students to be indoctrinated to embrace the left’s social justice agenda, rather than teaching our kids to be proud Americans, the face of Texas will forever change.

It is absurd that an overwhelmingly conservative state allows its tax dollars to support the liberal education establishment’s indoctrination of our future citizens.

Ask your legislator to support Representative Jeff Leach’s HB 3403.

 

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com

An Unplanned Gift for Texas Public School Parents from Bill Gates

 

Dear Friends,

A very informative article written by Donna Garner a retired teacher and an education activist.

 [All states need to take notice of this article so that they, too, can turn the tables on Bill Gates and his other profit-making cronies.]

 “An Unplanned Gift for Texas Public School Parentsfrom Bill Gates”

 http://www.educationviews.org/unplanned-gift-texas-public-school-parents-bill-gates/

 Texas parents, here is an unplanned “gift” from EdReports.org, and Bill Gates helped pay for it!  Gates manipulated and “drove” the Common Core Standards into our nation’s schools to benefit him and his many vested interests.  Now he is trying to replace all instructional materials (IM’s) in America with Common Core curriculum.  Think of the billions of dollars this will put in Gates’ pockets and in the pockets of other education vendors and lobbyists.

 Without meaning to do so, however, Bill Gates has produced a “gift” which will help Texas public school parents to identify the IM’s which are ILLEGAL FOR USE IN TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL.  Over 5 million public school students in Texas are NOT to use the IM’s rated highly by EdReports.org because they are Common Core-aligned!

 After the passage of HB 462 during the Texas 83rd Legislative Session, then-Senate Education Committee Chair Dan Patrick asked the Texas Attorney General for a ruling to make it crystal clear whether Common Core Standards curriculum materials are to be utilized in Texas public schools. 

 On 6.17.14, the Texas Attorney General ruled, “Texas school districts are required to provide instruction in the essential knowledge and skills at appropriate grade levels, and pursuant to subsection 28.002(b-3) of the Education Code, they may NOT use the Common Core State Standards Initiative to comply with this requirement.”

https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/opinions/opinions/50abbott/op/2014/pdf/ga1067.pdf

The TAG ruling makes it very clear that IM’s in Texas public schools must follow the grade-level-specific/course-specific curriculum standards (TEKS) adopted by the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education.  Since Common Core-aligned curriculum materials follow the Common Core Standards and not the TEKS, the following math IM’s are ILLEGAL IN TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOLS:

 Eureka Math(Grades K through 8 – Great Minds)

My Math(Grades 4 and 5 – McGraw-Hill)

Go Math(Grades 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8 – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Expressions(Grades K, 1, 2 – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Digits(Grades 6 and 8 — Pearson)

Math in Focus(Grade 8 – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

If the Texas public schools in your district are using these Common Core-aligned IM’s, then you, as a taxpayer whose dollars are helping to purchase these IM’s,  have the right and the responsibility to file a complaint locally and with the TAG’s office.  Ironically, you can take the ratings documented for free by EdReports.org to support your complaint.  

EdReports.org next plans to review high school math and K-12 English Language Arts materials.

========

3.4.15 – Washington Post

 http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/new-consumer-reports-for-common-core-finds-learning-materials-lacking/2015/03/04/3153d264-c1f6-11e4-9ec2-b418f57a4a99_story.html

“New ‘Consumer Reports’ for Common Core finds learning materials lacking”

By Lyndsey Layton

Excerpts from this article:

A new organization calling itself the “Consumer Reports” of K-12 textbooks has issued its first analysis of classroom materials in the age of the Common Core State Standards, and it found most of the materials lacking.

… “We created EdReports.org to provide educators a trusted resource for rigorous, independent and public reviews of the alignment and usability of classroom curricula, a sort of ‘Consumer Reports’ for school materials,” said Eric Hirsch, EdReports.org’s executive director.

… The free, online reviews are available at www.EdReports.org.

EdReports.org, a non-profit organization, looked at 20 sets of K-8 math materials in widespread use around the country and found just one series — Eureka Math for grades K-8 — met its criteria for being properly aligned with the Common Core for all grade levels. The organization first released its findings Wednesday morning.

…Funding for EdReports.org comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which played a major role in the development and promotion of the Common Core, as well as several other philanthropic organizations, including the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

 

Respectfully,

 Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com

Texas Senate | Panel OKs easing test policy

 

Dear Friends,

A very informative article written by Terrence Stutz, Deputy Bureau Chief of Austin Bureau/Dallas Morning News

Texas Senate | Panel OKs easing test policy

Those who don’t pass all 5 exams could still graduate under plan

AUSTIN – Senate Education Committee members Wednesday unanimously approved legislation that would allow thousands of high school seniors to get a diploma without passing state graduation exams – a requirement that has been in place for 28 years.

The measure by Sen. Kel Seliger would allow high school seniors who cannot pass all five Texas end-of-course exams to bypass the graduation test requirement if they qualify for a new exemption created by the bill. The proposal now goes to the full Senate.

Since 1987, high school seniors in Texas have had to pass a graduation test – or series of tests – to get a diploma. The requirement dates back to the landmark school reform law passed in 1984 that also included class size limits and the no-pass, no-play rule.

Seliger said his legislation was prompted by the estimated 28,000 seniors from the Class of 2015 who are in danger of not receiving their diplomas because they have not passed all five end-of-course tests required for graduation. Those exams measure knowledge and skills in Algebra I, biology, English I, English II and U.S. history.

“Without a high school diploma, these students cannot attend college, join the military or qualify for many jobs,” Seliger said, adding that many of the students will simply drop out if they repeatedly fail the EOC exams, part of the STAAR testing program. “We want to make sure there aren’t any artificial impediments to these students graduating,” he explained.

His bill would create an “individual graduation committee” for each student who has failed EOC exams on multiple tries. The committee – made up of the principal, teacher, counselor and parent – could exempt the student from the test requirement with a unanimous vote. The panel would first consider other factors such as course grades and attendance.

Senate Education Committee Chairman Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, said parents and local school officials have complained of a “big disconnect” between test results and how students perform in class. “We have some real questions about the test. It is keeping some students from graduating who have done all their coursework and passed all their courses but just can’t get past this test,” he said.

Some senators, however, worried that many students would see the new exemption policy as a loophole in the law that would allow them to easily circumvent the graduation test requirement. And some critics of the idea predicted that most of the students who can’t pass the exams will now be allowed to skirt the requirement under the legislation.

Students who fail three or more of the five EOC exams would not be eligible for the exemption. This year, more than 90 percent of all seniors have already passed all five end-of-course tests. The other 28,000 students have one more chance to pass in the spring.

 

“It appears to politically appease anti-test parents and educators by extending social promotion to include the awarding of diplomas”.

Respectfully,

 

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com

Two Experienced SAT Tutors Criticize New Redesigned SAT

 

Dear Friends,

A very informative article written by Donna Garner a retired teacher and an education activist.

 

“Two Experienced SAT Tutors Criticize New Redesigned SAT”

by Donna Garner  3.6.15

 

http://www.educationviews.org/experienced-sat-tutors-criticize-redesigned-sat/

 

ACTION STEP:  What the public needs to remember is that the way to “defang” the SAT is to drive the College Board that produces the SAT, the Pre-SAT, and all Advanced Placement tests out of business.  Some call this “starving the beast.”  Other tests and avenues through which to get admitted to colleges/universities do exist; and who knows, some entrepreneur company watching the outrage that the public is voicing about all Common Core products may decide to capitalize on this outrage by producing alternative products. 

 The new redesigned SAT is to be administered for the first time in March 2016.

 Below, I have posted two views of the new SAT by long-time SAT tutors. The first was sent to me by a successful, long-time SAT tutor.  I will call her “Sally Jane.” 

 The second is an article written by Lynn O’Shaughnessy; she is a nationally recognized college expert.  Jed Applerouth, PhD, founder of Applerouth Tutoring Services went through the SAT practice set of questions released by the College Board in December 2014.  Jed gave Lynn  permission to share his views of the new SAT.  I have posted some of my comments about the “present” SAT before giving the link to Lynn’s article.

 

BACKGROUND OF THE NEW MARCH 2016 SAT

 David Coleman is called “the architect of the Common Core.” When he finished his damaging work there, he went over to become the president of The College Board (CB). He has stated publicly numerous times that all College Board products will be aligned to the Common Core.  He is busily carrying out his pledge.  CB products include the SAT, Pre-SAT, and all Advanced Placement (AP) tests. 

 Starting in the fall of 2014, the AP U. S. History (APUSH) was completely redesigned to indoctrinate America’s finest and best 500,000 students to hate America. Other redesigned AP tests are in the pipeline.  

 Now we see what Common Core alignment means in the new SAT as these two long-time SAT tutors describe it. – Donna Garner]  

 

TESTIMONY #1 FROM SALLY JANE

 I just looked over the College Board’s new SAT practice material posted on the College Board website, and I’m reeling from the experience.

 Several sample texts were about such things as: how bad cars are, how people should live in “megaregions,” or how the biggest growth sector between 2010 and 2020 will be in urban planning — all Agenda 21 indoctrination.

 Interestingly, students will no longer be penalized for guessing as CB will no longer subtract ¼ point for a wrong answer. And there will be only 4 choices per question instead of 5 — a bonus for the guessers.

 I found the so-called reading section questions very difficult and not really about reading comprehension per se. In one example, they asked an odd interpretive question which, if you missed that question, you would also get the next question wrong since it was directly based on your previous answer.

 I pity the poor students.

 The truncated “verbal” section now is also studded with math/science questions asking the students to read graphs and answer word problems, somewhat like the ACT science section. I dislike having that portion in the English section. It doesn’t test verbal skills.

 There was no literature in the samples the CB provided.

 And, sadly, the essay has been downgraded into an AP English-type exercise: Students are strictly forbidden from expressing an opinion about the passage they must read. What kind of a message does that give our young people? They must merely cite what rhetorical devices, etc., the author uses to build his argument.  In other words, students have to “parrot” back what the author has stated – a prime way to indoctrinate students.

 I weep for these students.

 As for myself, my main source of income for many years now has been tutoring high school students, primarily working with them on SAT preparation — essay writing, grammar, vocabulary — not to mention often mentoring them, inspiring them to read literature, to learn to love language, and to take pride in their writing, and, when possible, teaching them what it means to be an American.

 I teach only the English portion of the exam, but that has worked well for me since the test was two-thirds English. That won’t be so in 2016.

 But even if the demand for SAT tutoring were to continue, I’m not sure I’d have the stomach to guide the students down the labyrinth of totalitarian indoctrination embedded in the forthcoming reading passages.

 And do please let me know if a patriot comes up with an alternative exam. I’d love to use it!

 Thanks so much,

  

TESTIMONY #2 FROM CEO OF SAT TUTORING COMPANY

 [2.29.15 — Comments from Donna Garner – The following article is written by Lynn O’Shaughnessywho is restating the comments made to her by Jed Applerough, PhD, the founder of Applerough Tutoring Services. Applerough encourages this year’s sophomores to avoid taking the new SAT but instead to take the present SAT (implemented in 2005) or else to take the ACT. 

 What I am anxious to find out is whether the redesigned 2016 SAT Writing section will retain the similar sub-sections and sub-scores of the present SAT (i.e., SAT Reasoning Test) which has three parts – Math, Critical Reading, and Writing. 

 The Writing section presently has two sub-scores – essay and grammar/usage (multiple-choice questions).  The grammar/usage section is weighted heavily — 70% of the Writing score — and is made up of 49 multiple-choice grammar/usage questions. The essay only counts 30%.

 The College Board added the grammar/usage to the 2005 SAT because of the downward spiraling of students’ English proficiency skills, and the 70% sub-score was meant to entice K-12 teachers across the country to emphasize correct grammar/usage in their classrooms.

 Because of the advent of technology devices and the social media, however, students’ grammar/usage skills have grown increasingly worse in the last few years.  Will the new redesigned SAT continue to emphasize correct grammar/usage by weighting that section heavily (70%)? 

 If I were to offer a guess, I would say the new redesigned and Common Core-aligned SAT will de-emphasize English proficiency; and if there is any grammar/usage on the test at all, it will be given minimal scoring weight.  This de-emphasis on grammar/usage will lead to the further erosion of the English language. – Donna Garner]  

  1.29.15 – “Why You Should Worry About the New SAT Test” – by Lynn O’Shaughnessy – The College Solutionhttp://www.thecollegesolution.com/why-you-should-worry-about-the-new-sat-test/

 Respectfully,

 Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

gtince@aol.com

www.tincymiller.com

Texas Math Standards

 

Dear Friends,

A most timely and informative article on “Texas Math Standards”, written February 22, 2015 by Nakonia Hayes a member of Math TEKS Writing Committee.

 

 www.educationviews.org/nakonia-hayes-texas-math-standards

 

I have searched my memory bank trying to remember how the “Introduction” with its focus on “process” was developed for the 2012 Math TEKS. I do remember that a subcommittee was formed to write it in the waning hours of our last meeting days. I can remember thinking it used popular verbiage of the feel-good crowd, but my focus was on arguing for inclusion of non-use of calculators in the “Introduction.” And, there actually was no time to fight over its other substance because we had literally run out of time.

The truth is, I thought the subsequent energy of teachers and parents would be spent on the specific standards and not on the “Introduction.” It never dawned on me that proponents of Common Core would use that “Introduction” to sneak Common Core standards and activities into Texas schools since that would violate state law.

 So rather than allow them to drive us to maddening distractions, let’s remember some vital points, some of which include legalities: 

 (1) Texas HB 462 makes it illegal to use “any aspect of a common core state standards curriculum. (See the bottom of my message for the law’s wording.) Common Core  supporters insist that “curriculum” is much more than “standards” as they try to downplay the impact of the standards on the actual teaching program. “Curriculum,” they say, means all the resources and activities that go into teaching a discipline–standards, materials, activities, teacher training, assessments, etc. All of these factors, then, are considered “any aspect” of a common core standards curriculum.”

 As I keep saying, that means schools and others using “Common Core-anything” are breaking the law. The response is not to argue with them. It is to repeat over and over, “You are breaking the law.” If the state is not going to step in and rectify this violation, then perhaps parents need to seek legal counsel in a class action suit against school districts. (I know. It is said such suits are likely to lose. Maybe. Maybe not.)

 (2)  If teachers white-out Common Core information and copy the papers for distribution, they are violating copyright laws (and Common Core is copyrighted). This violation should be reported to the district’s school board and then to the Texas Education Agency.

 (3)  If teachers are hiding Common Core’s authorship and using materials without attribution, they are also plagiarizing material. That is unethical. It should be reported to the school board and the TEA.

 (4)  Letters, phone calls, and visits to legislators are needed. Tell them the violations of the law(s) and the confusion that is running rampant among parents, educators, and children. This is creating a hostile learning environment for children. That is child abuse and professional negligence. Does Texas want that image?

 (5) Children who are confused and scared about not understanding the lessons should be told (repeatedly) there is nothing wrong with them as students with regards to those programs. Help them learn that sometimes programs are wrong, but do not bad-mouth the teachers. That puts the children between the parents and the teachers. That’s a no-win situation for the kids. Some of the teachers are trying to keep their jobs. Others are too tired to fight. Others are brainwashed.

 Parents can determine whether or not to have their children work the lessons. They may have to teach the children basic foundational knowledge while all of this is going on. God help any school that fails a child in this situation. (Keep documentation of conversations, e-mails, meetings, etc.)

 (6)  Let the children see that adults are willing to band together and NOT ARGUE with those in charge when all that has to be said is, “You are breaking the law.” That’s the clarity of the issue. The mere words “Common Core” have no place being spoken when any educator discusses standards, lessons, or assessments in Texas public or charter schools. When they are, stop the conversation and say, “Common Core is a violation of state law.”

 (7)  Even if districts can choose 50% of their material, it cannot be connected to Common Core. There are other materials to use that can meet the 2012 TEKS.

 (8)  If educators say the SAT and ACT are aligned with Common Core standards, so what? If students are taught basic, strong, foundational knowledge and skills, they can pass those tests. Ability to read, discern, analyze, compute, remember, synthesize, and evaluate are major learning and performance abilities. Tests that play mind games with well-prepared learners are easily spotted by capable students. They will win those games, I promise.

As a principal, I told my staff I didn’t care if they stood on their heads or danced a jig on their desks as long as the students showed mastery on the ITBS [Iowa Test of Basic Skills]. It, at that time, was excellent as a norm-referenced test. Our Washington state test was a God-awful fuzzy example of progressive thinking. Even so, the students at my school were in the top five percent of the state with it because of their solid competencies in reading, writing, and computing.

 If Texas students have a solid foundation in knowledge and skills, it will show on the STAAR/End-of-Course tests, which are designed to give objective, not subjective, measurement.

 From Texas HB 462 at http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/texas-bans-common-core/:

 (b-3) A school district may not use common core state standards to comply with the requirement to provide instruction in the essential knowledge and skills at appropriate grade levels under Subsection (c).

(b-4) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, a school district or open-enrollment charter school may not be required to offer any aspect of a common core state standards curriculum.

Nakonia (Niki) Hayes

 

Respectfully,

 

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

www.gtince.com

Oklahoma Lawmakers Voted to Ban AP U.S. History

 

Dear Friends, A most timely and informative article written by Margaret Hartmann and published in New York Magazine on February 18, 2015.  

“Why Oklahoma Lawmakers Voted To Ban AP U. S. History”

by Margaret Hartmann

  This week in things we wish were just a Colbert Report sketch, an Oklahoma legislative committee overwhelmingly approved a bill that would cut funding for the teaching of Advanced Placement U.S. History.

The 11 Republicans who approved the measure over the objections of four Democrats weren’t trying to win over Oklahoma’s lazy high-school juniors. Tulsa World reports that Representative Dan Fisher, who introduced the bill, lamented during Monday’s hearing that the new AP U.S. History framework emphasizes “what is bad about America” and doesn’t teach “American exceptionalism.” It’s a complaint that’s been spreading among mostly conservative state legislatures in recent months and has some calling for a ban on all AP courses.

Earlier this month, the Georgia state Senate introduced a resolution that rejects a new version of the AP U.S. History course for presenting a “radically revisionist view of American history” and minimizing “discussion of America’s Founding Fathers, the principles of the Declaration of Independence, [and] the religious influences on our nation’s history.” It says that if the College Board does not revise the test, Georgia will cut funding for the course.

The exam has also sparked controversy in TexasNorth CarolinaSouth Carolina, and Colorado, where students in Jefferson County protested last fall when a school-board member said the course should be modified to promote “patriotism” and discourage “civil disorder, social strife, or disregard of the law.”

The conservative lawmakers’ issues with the course, which was taken by 344,938 students in 2013, can be traced back to retired high-school history teacher Larry S. Krieger. Two years ago, the College Board released arevised framework for the exam, which took effect this fall. Krieger was incensed by the changes. “As I read through the document, I saw a consistently negative view of American history that highlights oppressors and exploiters,” he said during a conference call in August, according toNewsweek. Krieger complained that the framework portrays the Founding Fathers as “bigots” and suggests that Manifest Destiny was “built on a belief in white racial superiority and a sense of American cultural superiority,” rather than “the belief that America had a mission to spread democracy and new technology across the continent,” as he put it. And instead of discussing the “the valor or heroism of American soldiers” during World War II, the course outline mentions U.S. internment camps and moral questions raised by the dropping of the atomic bomb. It’s emphasized throughout the 142-page document that the framework is “not a curriculum.” It presents broad “key concepts” and “does not attempt to provide a list of groups, individuals, dates, or historical details, because it is each teacher’s responsibility to select relevant historical evidence of his or her own choosing to explore the key concepts of each period in depth.” It also claims, “these thematic learning objectives are written in a way that does not promote any particular political position or interpretation of history.” Nevertheless, when Krieger began working with Jane Robbins, an opponent of Common Core, and promoting the issue via op-eds and an open letter to the College Board, conservative groups found plenty of historical interpretations they didn’t like. These included everything from more focus on minorities to a reference to President Reagan’s “bellicose rhetoric.” Their effort got a huge boost when the Republican National Committee adopted a resolution last August that said the framework “reflects a radically revisionist view of American history.” The RNC called on Congress to withhold funding from the College Board until it presented a revised version of the exam that “accurately reflects U.S. history without a political bias” and respects the standards of individual states.

Some conservatives were also suspicious of the College Board because its president, David Coleman, helped develop Common Core standards. In response to the RNC resolution, the College Board released a sample test, and Coleman noted in a letter that the new framework was developed before he joined the organization.

Moin Nadeem, an Oklahoma junior currently taking five AP courses, pushed back on Tuesday, creating a Change.org petition that he hopes will convince state lawmakers to change their position, according to Oklahoma Watch. It already has nearly 5,000 signatures. “My heart sank,” Nadeem said of the vote. “It’s our right to learn. The state can’t say what we can and what we can’t learn.”

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

www.gtince.com

Congressman Lou Gohmert’s Resolution Denouncing Common Core

Dear Friends,

A timely and informative Resolution Against Common Core Co-Sponsored by Congressman Lou Gohmert (R)

Denounce the Common Core State Standards.

Congressional summary:: Strongly denouncing the President’s coercion of States into adopting the Common Core State Standards by conferring preferences in Federal grants:

  • Whereas the development of the Common Core State Standards has transformed into an incentives-based mandate from the Federal Government;
  • Whereas the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 prohibits the establishment of a national curriculum by the Department of Education;
  • Whereas President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced competitive grants through the Race to the Top program to adopt ‘internationally benchmarked standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and the workplace’;

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that–

  1. States and local educational agencies should maintain the right and responsibility of determining educational curricula;
  2. the Federal Government should not incentivize the adoption of common education standards; and
  3. no application process for any Federal grant funds should provide any preference for the adoption of the Common Core State Standards.

Opponent’s argument against (CoreStandards.org): The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. 45 states have adopted the Common Core State Standards [not adopted in TX, NE, AK, MN, and VA]. The nation’s governors and education commissioners, through their representative organizations the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) led the development of the Common Core State Standards and continue to lead the initiative. Teachers, parents, school administrators and experts from across the country together with state leaders provided input into the development of the standards.

Source: HRes.476 & SRes.345 14-HR0476 on Feb 11, 2014

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

gtince@aol.com

www.tincymiller.com

Message from Chair of SBOE

Dear Friends,
Sharing a most timely and informative message from our SBOE Chairman.
THE CARGILL CONNECTION, December 2014
UPDATE ON THE VOTE FOR K-12 HISTORY TEXTBOOKS
The State Board of Education voted on the final approval of K-12 history textbooks on Friday, November 21. The approved list of textbooks has been posted on the Texas Education Agency website at http://tea.texas.gov/Curriculum_and_Instructional_Programs/Instructional_Materials/ When you open the link, click on SBOE-Adopted Proclamation 2015 Materials (PDF) under Latest News. I extend heartfelt thanks to those of you who testified in Austin or e-mailed, called, or wrote board members, encouraging them to support textbooks that reflect the values and ideals that we hold dear.
I am pleased with the results of the State Board of Education’s (SBOE) vote. Many of us on the board stood strong against liberal groups who wanted accurate content about our country’s rich religious heritage not only revised but eliminated. As your board member, I fought to ensure that the textbooks are factually correct about our country’s rich religious heritage, patriotism, the military, the Founding Fathers and documents, American exceptionalism, and the benefits of the free enterprise system.
Media Hoopla
Our students must be taught true, factual history, not revisionist history. The textbooks do a fair, balanced job of covering our religious heritage and its influence on our nation’s Founders. You may have heard a lot of negative media hoopla about the textbook coverage of Moses and the Ten Commandments. Read the following TEKS as well as sample textbook content and decide for yourself.
Required TEKS for U.S. Government course:
1. History. The student understands how constitutional government, as developed in America and expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the U.S. Constitution, has been influenced by ideas, people, and historical documents.
The student is expected to: 1 (C) identify the individuals whose principles of laws and government institutions informed the American founding documents, including those of Moses, William Blackstone, John Locke, and Charles de Montesquieu.
Required TEKS for World History course:
(20) Government. The student understands how contemporary political systems have developed from earlier systems of government. The student is expected to: (B) identify the impact of political and legal ideas contained in the following documents: Hammurabi’s Code, the Jewish Ten Commandments, Justinian’s Code of Laws, Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen;
Sample content from two U.S. Government textbooks:
One textbook accurately claims, “[The] biblical idea of a covenant, an ancient Jewish term meaning a special kind of agreement between the people and God, influenced the formation of colonial governments and contributed to our constitutional structure.”
Another textbook states, “Moses was a lawgiver and a great leader. Like the founders of the United States, he helped establish a legal system to govern his people. The Ten Commandments have been a guide and basis for many legal and moral systems throughout the world.” The annotation to the biography states: “Moses helped establish a legal system, including the Ten Commandments, to govern his people. Similarly, the founders of the United States wrote the Constitution and established a system of laws to govern Americans. They were also part of a tradition that was familiar with the Ten Commandments as a guide for moral behavior.”

I decided to do some more research and learned that this information is historically accurate and is supported on the Library of Congress website under “Religion and the Founding of the American Republic.” It is important to note that Moses, a revered figure in Christianity, Judaism and Islam, is openly honored as a lawgiver in many of our nation’s most public governmental buildings, including inside the U. S. Supreme Court, the Ronald Reagan Transportation Building, the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and the U. S. Capitol, among others. In fact, over the gallery doors of the U. S. House Chamber there are twenty-three marble relief portraits of the world’s greatest lawgivers, including Lycurgus, Solon, Maimonides, Hammurabi, Gregory IX, Justinian I, Papinian, Gaius, Innocent III, Tribonian, Suleiman, Alfonso X, Hugo Grotius, Edward I, Simon de Montfort, Sir William Blackstone, Robert Joseph Pothier, Jean Baptiste Colbert, Saint Louis, Napoleon I, George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, and Moses.
In the eastern half of the chamber, eleven profiles face left and the eleven in the western half face right. This was so that all of them look towards the full-face relief of Moses in the center of the north wall. The Architect of the Capitol website states, “The subjects of the reliefs were chosen by scholars from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia Historical Society of Washington, D.C., in consultation with authoritative staff members of the Library of Congress. The selection was approved by a special committee of five Members of the House of Representatives and the Architect of the Capitol.”
Obviously Moses is given great credit as a lawmaker who influenced the authors of many American founding documents.
Pressure from the Other Side
Here are a couple of examples to show you what we were up against. On November 19, board members received a letter signed by 52 professors (from colleges such as SMU, UT, The University of Mary Washington) that said:

“These and similar passages mislead students about the nature of the religious influence on our founding and directly contradict scholarly consensus in our fields. They distort the legacy of our Founders and major Biblical figures by misrepresenting their ideas and actions. The opportunity to educate our nation’s students comes with a responsibility to treat students and our nation’s past with respect. We take this responsibility seriously. By eliminating the exaggerations and inventions in your textbooks about the influence of religion on our founding, you can demonstrate that you take this responsibility seriously as well. We ask that you revise your proposed materials to make them historically accurate and faithful to mainstream scholarship in our fields.”

At the board’s September public hearing, a disgruntled testifier from a Texas university said that information in some of the textbooks made Moses sound like he was a “Founding Father.” That phrase was picked up in the press and before you know it, the SBOE was being accused of requiring that Moses be taught as a Founding Father. Falsehoods like that are very frustrating but it is up to me, as your elected official, to stay focused on the real issues at hand. While gossip and rumors swirled, I continued to review comments from dedicated volunteers who were diligently reviewing the books and had been doing so for months. These volunteers found hundreds of errors. Amazingly, publishers corrected many of them although there were others that the publishers did not agree were errors.

Texans Rose Up to Take a Stand

Knowing that the board was being pressured by liberal groups and by mostly inaccurate media coverage, citizens across Texas rose up to take a stand to help us! After receiving thousands of e-mails and calls from moms, dads, grandparents, teachers, and other citizens, it was obvious how they wanted accurate history in our children’s textbooks. As one parent put it, “History and our religious heritage should not be deleted. Important lessons are learned from these core values that our country was founded on and will help to teach our children about moral excellence which our society greatly needs. History is history!”

Allow me a moment to comment. We must continue to fight for our students to learn the truth about our country’s founding as a constitutional republic. They must learn about its victories and struggles to achieve and maintain freedom. Has it always been pretty? Of course not, and our students must learn about those parts of our history as well. Hopefully we can all learn from past mistakes. With that said, the students in classrooms today are our future citizens and leaders. If we don’t stand up against those in academia who promote anti-American sentiments, how will our students be equipped to lead our country in the future? Will they be willing to courageously unite together in times of trouble? Will they love their country enough to fight for its ideals and for the common good? Will they remember the heroic sacrifices made by their forefathers for the freedoms they enjoy? These are thought provoking questions but we must face them head-on and be ever watchful about what is taught in our nation’s classrooms, including college classrooms.
Thank You!
Thank you for your interest and passion for the education of our children. By working together, we have brought about positive change in the approved history textbooks that will be purchased in the great state of Texas! (*Note, I must remind you that in 2011 the legislature passed SB 6 which lifted the requirement that all publishers submit their textbooks to the state review process in order to be purchased with state funds. The SBOE approved over 80 history textbooks but many others bypassed the review process. Those publishers are selling their unvetted textbooks directly to school districts. With your help, we may be able to address some of that in the upcoming legislative session.)
For those of you who either prayed for me or testified or sent a message to the board, your help was needed and appreciated! I cannot do this alone. It is a privilege to work with you in the fight to ensure that accurate accounts of our country’s history are preserved and passed down to future generations.
Have a joyous Christmas and a Happy New Year!
For our children,
Barbara Cargill
Chair, State Board of Education
sboecargill@sbcglobal.net
Please forward this e-mail to parents, teachers, administrators, and others who have an interest in education.

Respectfully,
Tincy Miller
SBOE District 12