Truth in American Education Common Core, The Great “Leveler”

Dear Friends,

 Article 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. Shared by Donna Garner a retired teacher and education activist.


Truth in American Education

Common Core, The Great “Leveler”


This is getting tiresome. Every new round of test scores, whether from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) or some other vehicle, shows either stagnation or decline in reading and math performance of American students. Every time this happens, we write about the now undeniable connection to the Common Core national standards, which began to be implemented in most states in 2010. The recently released and utterly predictable scores from ACT require yet another commentary on the decline of academic performance and college-readiness under Common Core. 

How many times must this cycle repeat before someone in power is shamed into doing something about it?

Let’s look first at ACT’s college-readiness. According to Education Week, ACT correlates scores with students’ likelihood of earning Bs or Cs in credit-bearing college coursework. This year, only 40 percent of test-takers met the benchmark in math – the lowest level since 2004, and down from 46 percent in 2012. Significantly, unlike today’s students, the higher-scoring 2012 students had had little if any exposure to the glorious reforms of Common Core. As for reading, only 60 percent of test-takers met the college-readiness benchmark – the lowest level ever in the 16-year history of the benchmark. 

As for the straight scores, Education Week breaks the news: “The average math score for the graduating class of 2018 was 20.5, marking a steady decline from 20.9 five years ago, and virtually no progress since 1998, when it was 20.6.” And reading? “[T]he scores in English didn’t offer much cause for celebration, either. The average score for the class of 2018 was 20.2, the same as five years ago, and down half a point from the English-score high in 2007.”

But the hits just keep on comin’. Average composite scores fell in all racial and ethnic groups except Asian-Americans. So Common Core has been a great leveler – just not in the way it was promised. 

ACT’s chief executive officer was in a gloomy mood. “We’re at a very dangerous point. And if we do nothing, it will keep on declining,” he predicted.

So what should we do? Anyone with no Gates funding and two brain cells to rub together would conclude that a good start would be ditching Common Core lock, stock, and barrel – every “informational text,” every “close reading,” every “deeper conceptual understanding,” every “Lexile” measure, every “alternative algorithm,” every “real-world problem-solving,” every “rigorous” standard, every delay in standard algorithms, every delay in algebra, every “collaboration,” every “consensus,” all of it. Surely this will happen now.

Or maybe not. The progressive-education reformers have a lot invested in this experiment, and they’re guarding their interests. The immediate past-president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, an organization that bears much blame for pushing the kind of ridiculous math enshrined in Common Core, isn’t giving up the national standards without a fight. As reported in Education Week, this educrat “said that states have made solid progress adopting the good math standards, but the ACT results suggest that schools need to focus on improving curriculum and instructional practice to bring those expectations fully to life.”

Ah yes, that’s the ticket – the standards are great, so if we only improve “curriculum and instructional practice,” our kids may once again learn to read and work math problems.  This is certainly Bill Gates’s position, and after all he’s very rich and so knows of what he speaks. And this is basically the position of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which recently released a report singing the praises of Common Core. Rarely does such a report get disproven in only a few months. Unfortunate timing for Fordham.

For those keeping score at home, here’s the evidence of the raging success of Common Core:

  • From the 2015 NAEP scores: for the first time in over 20 years, declines in math performance across the board, stagnation or declines in reading performance, and decline in college-readiness benchmarks in both areas.
  • From the 2017 NAEP scores: no improvement from the dismal 2015 scores.
  • From the 2017 NAEP scores: increased “achievement gap” between white/Asian students and other minority groups.
  • From the 2017 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) test: U.S. students tumblefrom 5th in the world to 13th.

The protective edifice that has been erected around Common Core – by the federal government, state education establishments, private foundations, corporations, education consultants, and individual megalomaniacs – has got to go. If these defenders refuse to acknowledge the truth staring them in the face, they are elevating their own interests over those of American children.


Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12 

Pam Little, Great Candidate!

Dear Friends,

After serving 32 years on the State Board of Education, it is extremely important to me who my replacement is.  That is why I am happy to endorse Republican Pam Little. She is conservative and is committed to protecting The Permanent School Fund, the children’s text book fund, for its constitutional purpose, wants to continue our strong programs for children with dyslexia, and supports our scientific-research-based reading curriculum. She is also strongly opposed to The Common Core education system. I have enclosed her biography below.


What Pam Little Supports:

  • All children learning to ready by 3rd grade
  • Phonics is the way to teach children how to read
  • Continue strong programs for children with dyslexia, helping them to succeed
  • Educating our children to be responsible, patriotic, and productive citizens
  • Preparing our students to be successful with jobs of the future
  • Protecting the Permanent School Fund
  • Local Tax Dollars mean Local Control
  • Teaching Children to learn and think – not to test

Pam grew up in Bryan-College Station, attended Texas A&M, received a degree from the University of Houston in social studies with a minor in business education.

She was a former College Instructor and taught business courses at North Harris County Community College. A Retired Educational Publishing Executive. Pam held various positions in sales and marketing, retired in 2008 as a regional vice president with management and budget responsibilities. During this time she observed the SBOE with regard to creating materials to match the state curriculum and understand their responsibilities. Pam Little started Ace Fence Company with her husband 41 years ago in Houston. Today the business is one of the largest fence companies in the metroplex. She handles the executive financial responsibilities.

Current Community Service

Serves On:

  • Samaritan Inn Board – a homeless facility and program to help willing people regain their dignity through support with career training and financial management classes. It is located in McKinney.
  • Republican Women of Greater North Texas Board as it’s treasurer and have held this position for several years

Member of:

  • Plano Rotary
  • First United Methodist Church

Community Supporter of:

  • Veterans of North Texas
  • Collin County Boys and Girls Club
  • Fairview Youth Theater
  • SPCA
  • Texas A&M University
  • Vickery Meadows Summer Reading Academy

Previous Community Service

Served as:

  • President of Samaritan Inn Board
  • Scholarship Chair of the Texas Federation of Republican Women Board
  • Fairview Town Council Member
  • Member of Allen-Fairview Chamber Board
  • Member of Junior League Advisory Council
  • Member of Finance Committee of First United Methodist in McKinney
  • Treasurer of the Plano Rotary
  • Coordinator of after school garden club program at Caldwell Elementary, a Title One school in McKinney
  • Member of the Economic Development Corporation of Fairview

Notable Achievements

  • Graduate of Allen-Fairview Leadership class 24
  • Received the Spirit of Fairview Award 2016
  • Outstanding Republican Woman 2014
  • Republican Women of Greater North Texas President’s award 2014

Pam and her husband Larry have been married for over 40 years. They have 2 children who were educated in public schools of Plano and McKinney, both have received upper level degrees, associates of arts degree from Le Cordon Bleu and Special Education degree from Texas A&M. Pam and Larry have 3 grandsons and all live in the McKinney area. She and her family have lived in Collin County for over 30 years.



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

DeVos Signs onto Globalist U.N. Education Agenda, Grassroots Parents Call for Her Dismissal

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

“DeVos Signs onto Globalist U.N. Education Agenda,
Grassroots Parents Call for Her Dismissal”

U.S. Parents Involved in Education (USPIE) – an organization of parents,
taxpayers, and educators who are committed to ending the U.S. Department of
Education, has called for the dismissal of DeVos [Betsy DeVos is the U. S. Sect.
of Education.]

On Tuesday, USPIE sent a letter to President Donald Trump in which the group
called for the elimination of the U.S. Department of Education, per the
Constitution, and the end to federal education programs.

In its letter, USPIE reminded Trump of his campaign promises to eliminate
Common Core and begin dismantling of the federal education department.

“Since her appointment, Secretary DeVos has used the hammer of the Federal
government to broaden its authority and disregard the rights of states and
parents,” USPIE wrote, adding:

Three actions in particular demonstrate this disregard:

  • threatening states abiding by state parental rights laws through the
    ESSA plan approval process,
  • recommending the merger of the Departments of Education and
    Labor fundamentally shifting the purpose of education to “workforce
  • and now, endorsing the G20’s Declaration enshrining the UN’s
    education agenda, which undermines not only parents and states, but
    the fundamental sovereignty of the United States.

“We do not believe these actions are consistent with your ‘America First’ philosophy nor your campaign promises that generated so much enthusiasm,” the grassroots education group told Trump. “Given these concerns, we call for the immediate dismissal of Secretary DeVos and for the appointment of an American education leader who will prioritize the fulfillment of your campaign promises.”


U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has signed onto adeclaration by education ministers of the G-20 countries that calls for putting education “at the center of the global agenda,” an action that has led a national grassroots organization of parents to call for her dismissal.

Twitter Ads info and The declaration, which was produced at this first gathering of the “Education Working Group” of the G-20 governments and dictatorships, was titled “Building Consensus for Fair and Sustainable Development,” and calls for globalization of education, inclusiveness, social and emotional learning, and increasing data collection on students throughout their educations and well into their careers.

In her prepared remarks to the G-20 education ministers in Argentina, DeVos brought forward her goal for workforce development, or government management of the workforce, which the Trump administration has recently stressed in its proposal to merge the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor.

“Indeed, education and the economy are indivisible, especially given the interconnectedness of the world today,” DeVos said, emphasizing that while each child is “an individual,” governments should approach education by acknowledging “the realities of today’s economy, with an eye toward tomorrow’s opportunities.”

“So, students must be prepared to anticipate and adapt,” she said. “They need to acquire and master broadly transferrable and versatile educational competencies like critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity and cultural intelligence.”  The secretary also stressed her signature issues of school choice and vocational apprenticeships in her remarks.

The declaration specifically states the G-20 education ministers are “in line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda,” and continues:

It is important that education keeps pace with societal and technological innovations such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Internet of Things. We recognise that changes in the economy and labour markets have profound implications for education and training systems even though many of them remain unpredictable. Acknowledging the autonomy and diversity of national, regional and local governments and contexts, emerging knowledge and 21st century skills should be considered in curriculum development and pedagogical approaches at all levels of education. The curricula should be highly responsive to evidence-based practices, future employment trends, and design in collaboration with key stakeholders.

The education ministers note that while “increased investments in education above certain thresholds do not necessarily entail better outcomes,” the way to achieve their goals is through “strengthening governance, management, monitoring and accountability,” methods that involve greater government control of education.

The G-20 education ministers continue:

We commit to facilitating the internationalisation of education, including the cross-border recognition of qualifications and skills, and the mobility of students, teachers, academic and non-academic staff, trainers and researchers, with a view to improving quality education and research, and in accordance with the respective national laws, rules and policies. We support the promotion of exchange and scholarships programmes among G20 members and other countries, in particular with developing countries around the globe.

“Understanding and appreciating other parts of the world, different religions, cultures, languages and points of view are essential elements of global and cultural competence,” the education leaders say.

In addition to urging “digital literacy,” the education ministers say they will “foster the inclusion of non-cognitive skills such as socio-emotional skills across the curriculum [ SEL].”

Following the summit, DeVos told reporters the declaration is “very consistent with all of the themes that we’ve been talking about,” reported Education Week.

“Ultimately, the meeting resulted in a declaration that calls for putting education ‘at the center of the global agenda,’” the report added. “It says the G-20 nations will work to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.’”

DeVos said the United States can learn from other G-20 countries, who are making more progress in the area of developing the 21st Century skills.

“There are too many other countries that are further down the path of adopting some of these themes and embracing some of these opportunities,” she said.

Respectfully, Tincy Miller
SBOE, District 12

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 (


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 …

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. …

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 …

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:


Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

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 (

“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)





Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

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 (


“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.


Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

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.


Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

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:

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.” 


Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

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 (


“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.


Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

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 (

“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.


Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12