Victory! State Board of Education Preserves Strong Science Standards

Dear Friends,

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


Victory! State Board of Education Preserves Strong Science Standards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12 

Flipping the Script To combat illegibility, cursive making a comeback

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But what will it look like?

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

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



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Bills’ Aim Is Help For Dyslexia


Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

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


Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

Holland writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Entire Article Here:



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

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


Dear Friends,

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

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

“The results in Grade 8 are virtually catastrophic.”

Texas Insider

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

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

Now Texas students are paying a heavy price.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What you can do:

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


Follow Carole Haynes at    twitter



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12


No Need to Reinvent the Math Wheel Over and Over


Dear Friends,

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

No Need to Reinvent the Math Wheel Over and Over

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

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

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


Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

“Parents Against Common Core Urge Donald Trump: Return ‘Control Over Education of Children’ to Us”


Dear Friends,

A very informative article written by Dr. Susan Berry.  She is a writer and contributor to Shared by Donna Garner, ( retired teacher and an education activist.

“Parents Against Common Core Urge Donald Trump: Return ‘Control Over Education of Children’ to Us”

An organization of parent activists, retired teachers, and other professionals from around the nation has released an open letter to President-elect Donald Trump, urging him to do all within his power to return control of education to parents.

Parents Against Common Core, which consists mainly of the heads of state groups that have been fighting for repeal of the controversial standards, writes:

Though primarily parents and not policy experts ourselves, there is no escaping the fact that our individual and group research, writing and lobbying efforts have caused Common Core to be either repealed or modified via law and/or policy all across the nation. It is also an inescapable fact that the majority of our success in opposition grew spontaneously and fully from the interactions with our own children and schools and therefore hold specific and direct experience no mere “policy expert” could possess.

In the letter, which can be signed by others at its website, the parents ask Trump to consider them as the key “forgotten” group in education, and to do all within his power “to see that control over the education of our children is returned to us – PARENTS and GUARDIANS – those best suited to advocate in deference and defense of those being educated at the hands of the taxpayer.” 

With a goal of ultimately ending the U.S. Department of Education, the parents’ recommendations to Trump include:

  • Scale back and eventually cease the flow of education funding from the federal level to the states
  • Scale back and eventually cease the role of writing and dictating education policy from the federal level to the individual states in singularity or in toto
  • Scale back and eventually cease provision of grant opportunities from the federal level to the states for any reason, but specifically to cease and prevent support of any federal education policy, but especially related to invasive, ineffective social emotional learning, preschool, and home visiting programs
  • Revise and modernize the FERPA law for the specific purpose of protecting individual student privacy rights, including prevention of unauthorized and/or anonymous digital capture of granular data – specifically rescinding the changes to FERPA through the Office of the Federal Register undertaken in 2011, as well as maintaining the wise federal prohibition on a student “unit record” that would link college and workforce data for individuals.
  • Transfer funding for and oversight of The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to the states and remove the Common Core requirements for grade level instruction and testing for students receiving Special Education and related services.
  • Appointment of a Secretary of Education who is committed to reducing, if not eliminating, the federal footprint in education; who understands the Constitutional role of the federal DOE is non-existent; who will work to eliminate any incentives or requirements supporting Common Core; who understands that Title 1 portability will impose Common Core and other federal strings on private and home schools, completely undermining your key promise of local control; and who is a parents right advocate…

 The parents’ recommendations for the post of U.S. Secretary of Education include Dr. Williamson (Bill) Evers; Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College; Dr. Sandra Stotsky, standards writer and professor emerita, University of Arkansas;  Dr. Peg Luksik, Pennsylvania constitutionalist and co-founder of the Center for American Heritage; and Dr. William Jeynes, professor of education at California State University, Long Beach.

 As Breitbart News has reported – and the parents especially note – Evers was invited to be a member of Trump’s transition team. A vocal critic of Common Core, Evers is a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and served as both an advisor and assistant U.S. Secretary of Education under President George W. Bush. In addition, Evers was named by both former California governors Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger to serve on commissions that evaluated and recommended academic standards. 

In January of 2015, Evers penned an op-ed for Education Week in which he denounced the Common Core State Standards:

[I]ncreasingly, parents and taxpayers view the public schools as an unresponsive bureaucracy carrying out edicts from distant capitals. Today, we are dealing with a deteriorating situation in a declining institution, namely widespread ineffective instruction in the public schools.

The common core’s designers have taken the existing bureaucracy and increased its centralization and uniformity. By creating the common-core content standards behind closed doors, the authors increased the alienation of the public from schools as institutions worthy of loyalty. The general public had no voice in creating or adopting the common core.

The common core’s promoters are endeavoring to suppress competitive federalism. The common core’s rules and its curriculum guidance are the governing rules of a cartel. The common core’s promoters and their federal facilitators wanted a cartel that would override competitive federalism and shut down the curriculum alternatives that federalism would allow.

The new common-core-aligned tests, whose development was supported with federal funds, function to police the cartel. All long-lasting cartels must have a mechanism for policing and punishing those seen as shirkers and chiselers, or, in other words, those who want to escape the cartel’s strictures or who want increased flexibility so they can succeed.

The new leadership of the College Board by David Coleman, one of the common core’s chief architects, is being used to corral Catholic schools, other private schools, and home-schooling parents into the cartel. The proponents of the common core have now established a clearinghouse for authorized teaching materials to try to close off any remaining possible avenue of escaping the cartel.

The parents note that in August of 2014, Evers testified to the Ohio House Education Committee: “Competitive federalism encourages innovation, allows movement between jurisdictions that enhances liberty, and permits a better match between policies and voter preferences. Common Core’s national uniformity runs counter to competitive federalism.”

In June, Evers sounded the alarm about California’s radical progressive K-12 curriculum. Writing at the Orange County Register, he observed the new framework “is filled with present-minded paraphrases of the uplifting rhetoric of the Progressives of early 20th-century America.” He noted as well, however, that missing in the curriculum are other facts about the Progressive movement, such as their “devotion to eugenics and their opposition to African Americans getting an academic education.”


Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Truth in American Education


Dear Friends,

A very informative and important article on Common Core. Written by Jane Robbins, an attorney and a senior fellow with the American Principals project. Shared by Donna Garner, a retired teacher and education activist.


Truth in American Education

 [The way to cloak the damage being done intentionally by Common Core is to make sure no “measuring stick” tests — real tests — are left in place.  Jane Robbins explains in this article that without a measuring stick, parents and policymakers won’t be able to document the damage done by Common Core. – Donna Garner]

“Common Core Proponents Leave Parents, Policymakers in the Dark”

From the beginning, deception has shrouded the Common Core national standards scheme. Proponents claim the standards were developed by state governors with the input of teachers and educators across the country, but they in fact were created in secret, by unknown people pursuing unknown agendas. The standards were touted as “voluntary,” even though any state hoping to receive Race to the Top bribe money during a deep recession had to adopt them. They were marketed as a means of increasing college-readiness, even though the developers admit the “college” in mind was merely a non-selective community college, and experts pointed out that students trained with Common Core would not be prepared for authentic college coursework in any area, including STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Like any deception, this one requires elaborate schemes to keep it going. A potential Achilles heel of Common Core has always been legitimate tests – not those funded by the federal government to align with Common Core, but those that actually measure student achievement and college-readiness. The real tests, of course, would likely destroy the illusion that Common Core improves either. Richard Innes of the Bluegrass Institute reports that those “real tests” are now disappearing.

Innes writes about the situation in Kentucky, which was the first state to adopt Common Core and therefore has been implementing the standards longer than any other. In a recent post, Innes discusses the discontinuance of several tests offered by ACT, Inc. that Kentucky had used for years to measure students’ progress toward college-readiness (EXPLORE for 8th-graders, PLAN for 10th-graders, and COMPASS for older students who didn’t score well enough on the ACT college-entrance test). Over the past two years, ACT has announced discontinuance of all three tests.

Having used EXPLORE and PLAN since 2006-2007 and COMPASS since 2011-2012 (some Kentucky universities used COMPASS longer than that), Kentucky had compiled significant trend information from the scores. But those trend lines have now been cut. (Read Innes’s entire post for his dissection of ACT’s excuse for abolishing the tests.) As Innes writes, “Kentucky’s assessment trend lines have been vanishing left and right at precisely the time we badly need such trends to assess what Common Core is really accomplishing.”

“How convenient,” he notes, “for Common Core supporters who might be worried about what those discontinued tests might reveal.”

The disappearance of the ACT’s suite of tests isn’t the only testing change that masks the real situation under the national standards. Common Core architect David Coleman has revised the SAT to align with Common Core since he took over the College Board, so current scores can’t be compared meaningfully to pre-Common Core scores. And because Common Core-trained students have been scoring poorly on the “nation’s report card” – the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) – Common Core proponents have suggested changing that test as well.

Another aspect of NAEP indicates that the stops are being pulled out to hide the failures of Common Core. As Innes explains, one part of the NAEP testing program is the Long-Term Trend (LTT) assessment – “the only long-running assessment program in the US that allows us to see how educational performance has trended over an extensive period of time for a valid random sample of students.” The NAEP LTT has been given roughly every four years since the 1970s, most recently in 2012. So we’re due for another administration of the test.

Except . . . NAEP’s governing board has now decided not to give the test in 2016, or in 2020 – maybe they’ll get back to it in 2024, but maybe not. As reported by Education Week, the excuse given for the remarkable delay is lack of funding (we know how the federal government reveres budgets). NAEP managed to find funding for a new Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL) exam, but somehow it couldn’t scrape together the pennies to administer LTT.

“[LTT] could shed valuable light on how Common Core is performing,” Innes says. “Instead, yet another important trend line is cut.” Commenting for Education Week, Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institute agrees: “’During a time when we’re engaged in this project called Common Core, during which we really do need alternative data and measures of how well kids are doing in reading and math, we’ve poured resources into these other assessments [such as TEL]. . . .’ Loveless said he worried some of the so-called 21st century skills assessed on the TEL, like communication and problem-solving, are more nebulous or ‘faddish’ compared to the fairly concrete reading and math tests.”

If Common Core were what it’s cracked up to be, its proponents should welcome assessments that showcase academic improvements. But step by step, the Common Core establishment is whittling down those objective measures, leaving parents and policy-makers in the dark. It almost seems like deception.

To view article:



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

“New Report: Winners and Losers of Common Core”


Dear Friends,

A very informative and important article on Common Core. Written by Jane Robbins, an attorney and a senior fellow with the American Principals project. Shared by Donna Garner, a retired teacher and education activist.

 “New Report: Winners and Losers of Common Core”

Teresa Mull of the Heartland Institute writes about a new report analyzing the enormous funding of the Common Core national standards — where the money came from, what it was used for, and especially, who benefited from the entire endeavor. Hint: It wasn’t the students.

The report, “Smart Money? Philanthropic and Federal Funding for the Common Core,” was produced by scholars at Penn State University. Unlike many academic discussions of Common Core, it recognizes that the national standards are designed for technical, data-driven outcomes rather than genuine education. It also recognizes the dearth of evidence that the Common Core-type of “standards-based reform” actually elevates student achievement.

The report combines these insights with a wealth of information about the federal programs (such as Race to the Top) and private foundation grants (such as the millions of dollars from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others) that poured into the Common Core scheme from development to implementation. From this data the report draws conclusions about Common Core winners and losers.


  • Philanthropic foundations, which “further rooted their preferences for . . . metrics, big data, measurable growth, and competition, in the education sector. . . . Venture philanthropists’ broad and strategic funding enabled them to purchase increased influence over public policy and public institutions without incurring any accountability for the policies they advanced” — policies that have no evidentiary basis for success. And crucially, the report notes that the foundations’ expenditures “empowered them to install public policies without democratic processes.” No one has ever voted for Bill Gates, but as even Common Core proponents have admitted, his “agenda has become the country’s agenda in education.”
  • The federal government, whose showering of money on states during a deep recession enabled the U.S. Department of Education (USED) “to exercise unprecedented influence over nearly every state’s standards.”
  • For-profit grantees that provide Common Core tests, curriculum, or other resources. The report notes that vendors of educational software and digital content reported a 57 percent increase in their market between 2010-11 and 2012-13 — “even though it is not evident that such products improve teaching and learning and improve achievement gaps.”
  • Non-profits such as Achieve, Inc., and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute that received funding to promote Common Core. These organizations were able to add staff and expand their operations with help from the enormous flood they received from the Common Core spigot.


  • The integrity of certain non-profits which, in exchange for grant money, jettisoned their supposedly objective and neutral analysis of education issues to become propagandists for Common Core. Here the report specifically mentions the Aspen Institute and the National PTA (“The relationship of [PTA’s] mission to the Common Core is tenuous, since [standards-based reform] does not typically raise achievement but often distorts teaching and learning . . . .”).
  • School districts and schools, the great majority of which have received no direct funding to implement Common Core and will be expected to collectively lay out billions to implement the standards — with no assurance of positive results for students.

 We could add our own losers:

  • Students, who are being subjected to a substandard “education” designed to train them to be worker bees for politically connected corporations rather than educated human beings and citizens of our republic.
  • Parents and other citizens, who have lost control over their local schools to unaccountable Washington bureaucrats and private foundations pushing their own agendas.
  • The Constitution and our federalist system, both of which were designed to protect state and local control over issues such as education.

The Penn State report ends by analogizing the Common Core scheme to the 19th-century Gold Rush, with profiteering by the vendors of mining equipment to work a claim that turns out to be empty. At least with the Gold Rush, the losses didn’t infect our children and our entire system of governance.



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Jay Leno’s Advice for My Dyslexia Son


Dear Friends,

A very inspiring story on dyslexia written by author, Liisa Ogburn, published in the New York Times. Liisa teaches, works with the elderly and writes in her spare time. She and her son Aidan Colvin recently completed a book “Looking for Heroes: One Boy, One Year, 100 Letters”, on what Aidan learned from successful people with dyslexia. Aidan met Jay Leno before a performance this spring in Fayetteville, N.C. Shared by my daughter Cynthia.

Jay Leno’s Advice for My Dyslexia Son

“Jay Leno here, calling for Aidan.”

This was the voice I heard when I picked up our home phone one day in April.

“One second,” I said, trying to sound natural, as if people like Jay Leno called our house all the time. I banged on Aidan’s door and whisper-shouted, “It’s Jay Leno!”

The call was not entirely out of the blue. We had met Mr. Leno the previous night for 10 minutes right before his performance in Fayetteville, N.C., about an hour from where we live. Bill Kirby, a writer for The Fayetteville Observer, had sneaked in my 16-year-old son, Aidan, to meet him when he heard about Aidan’s project. Over the last year, Aidan had written letters to successful dyslexics asking if they had any advice for a dyslexic high school student like him. He had written to Jay Leno three times.

“Did I answer?” Mr. Leno had asked him.

“No, but that’s O.K.,” Aidan had said.

Dyslexia, a neurological difference that impairs the ability to read, often greatly impairs performance in school.

Aidan had started the project in a moment of despair right after getting back his spring grades in ninth grade. They were disappointing. They didn’t reflect how hard he had worked. We were standing in his room at the time. I had pointed to a poster he had tacked up over his desk of successful adults who have dyslexia. “I wonder how they made it?” I had said.

“Probably smarter,” he had answered.

“You could ask,” I had said.

And so, over the last year, he had written to 100 successful dyslexics. Ten responded. Dr. Delos Cosgrove, a surgeon and chief executive of the Cleveland Clinic, was the first. He started his letter, “Dyslexia is an advantage in the fact that it makes us think more creatively.”

The second person to write back, the economist Diane Swonk, said among other things, “Success is the process of learning from failures, and I had more learning experiences than many.”

The sculptor Thomas Sayre said, “It appears that most dyslexics are improvisers. We have to be.”

Not one letter denied the challenges that come with having a significant learning difference. Instead, each letter provided the perspective that can only be gained over time. They all said, in their own ways, “Kid, you’re going to be O.K.”

My son pinned their letters up. He looked at these letters when preparing for a test or writing a paper or recovering from a bad grade. It would be nice to say that they provided the perfect antidote. They certainly did help, as did his academic accommodations. But midway through the year, his teachers called a meeting to see if anything more could be done.

Aidan’s principal, David Schwenker, wondered aloud whether taking one less class each semester might be the answer. “It would mean graduating one year later,” he said, “but then you could stay in honors classes.” Aidan was crestfallen.

It was fortuitous that the writer John Irving’s letter arrived around then. In it, Mr. Irving wrote, “You need to give yourself more time; it takes you longer to do things than it takes your friends. So what? If you do it well?” It helped to know that Mr. Irving, himself, had taken an extra year to finish high school. He graduated in 1961, when accommodations for disabilities were far less common. Aidan decided to do the same.

We are each born with different strengths and weaknesses, and learning to live with these is part of every life. What is regrettable is that often, far too early, the path some of us choose is shaped more by what we can’t do than what we can.

But back to Jay Leno.

By phone, he told Aidan many stories, including one in which his high school guidance counselor had recommended that he consider the training program at McDonald’s. Mr. Leno paused and chuckled. He obviously hadn’t listened to the guidance counselor. In fact, he went on to say, years later, he had invited this very guidance counselor to “The Tonight Show,” where he introduced him and they both laughed about that misguided advice.

The lesson Mr. Leno was trying to impart, I think, is that at the end of the day, Aidan is the one in the driver’s seat of his life. He can choose to follow or ignore any guidance offered. Mr. Leno also shared that the path he chose was not always easy — for a period early in his career, he slept in an alley in New York City at 44th Street and Ninth Avenue — while doing standup five or six nights a week for little pay.


Over the course of this past year, through conversations like this one and the letters he received, Aidan didn’t discover the secret to success for dyslexics. If anything, he discovered that there was no secret — except persistence, humor, improvisation and grit.

Was the project a waste of time? Far from it. Had he not had dyslexia and been in distress, Aidan would never have reached out for advice. He would never have connected with Mr. Leno or others who offered valuable insights, including the poet Philip Schultz and the explorer Ann Bancroft. He would not have written a book about this experience. And that book is opening doors he could never have imagined.



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12