Texas Senate | Panel OKs easing test policy

 

Dear Friends,

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

Texas Senate | Panel OKs easing test policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Respectfully,

 

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com

Two Experienced SAT Tutors Criticize New Redesigned SAT

 

Dear Friends,

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

 

“Two Experienced SAT Tutors Criticize New Redesigned SAT”

by Donna Garner  3.6.15

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

BACKGROUND OF THE NEW MARCH 2016 SAT

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

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

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

 

TESTIMONY #1 FROM SALLY JANE

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

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

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

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

 I pity the poor students.

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

 There was no literature in the samples the CB provided.

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

 I weep for these students.

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

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

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

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

 Thanks so much,

  

TESTIMONY #2 FROM CEO OF SAT TUTORING COMPANY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Respectfully,

 Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

gtince@aol.com

www.tincymiller.com

Texas Math Standards

 

Dear Friends,

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nakonia (Niki) Hayes

 

Respectfully,

 

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

www.gtince.com

Oklahoma Lawmakers Voted to Ban AP U.S. History

 

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

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

by Margaret Hartmann

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

www.gtince.com

Congressman Lou Gohmert’s Resolution Denouncing Common Core

Dear Friends,

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

Denounce the Common Core State Standards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

gtince@aol.com

www.tincymiller.com

Message from Chair of SBOE

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

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

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

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

Texans Rose Up to Take a Stand

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

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

Respectfully,
Tincy Miller
SBOE District 12

Spring 2015 Testing Date Changing for STAAR Grades 5 and 8 Mathematics

Dear Friends,

Below is a new release by the TEA Spring 2015 testing date changing for STAAR grades 5 and 8 mathematics.

TEA News Releases Dec. 9, 2014
Spring 2015 testing date changing for
STAAR grades 5 and 8 mathematics

AUSTIN – Commissioner of Education Michael Williams has notified Texas school districts and charters that the spring testing date for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®) grades 5 and 8 mathematics will be shifted for the 2014–2015 school year.

The spring testing date for STAAR grades 5 and 8 mathematics will shift from March 30, 2015, to April 20, 2015.

Superintendents, math educators and members of the State Board of Education had asked the Commissioner to consider a potential shift in the testing date due to the ongoing transition to revised statewide curriculum standards in mathematics. The revised math curriculum standards were adopted by the State Board in April 2012 and are being implemented in classrooms this school year.

“Teachers across our state continue the transition to the more rigorous math standards that are now in place,” said Commissioner Williams. “After visiting with superintendents, teachers, parent representatives and district testing coordinators, it is apparent that shifting the math testing date provides a bit more time to better prepare our students in grades 5 and 8.”

Earlier this year, Commissioner Williams announced that the Student Success Initiative (SSI) requirement that students in grades 5 and 8 must pass the STAAR mathematics assessment in order to move on to the next grade level is suspended for this school year. Suspension of the 5th and 8th grade mathematics requirement applies only for the 2014–2015 school year. The STAAR mathematics assessments in grades 5 and 8 will only be administered one time this school year.

State law requiring students in grades 5 and 8 to pass the STAAR reading exam in order to proceed to the next grade level is still in effect.
Commissioner Williams had also received requests to consider shifting the test dates for STAAR grades 5 and 8 science and grade 8 social studies. These test dates will remain unchanged for the 2014–2015 school year.
However, the Texas Education Agency will post a draft testing calendar for the 2015–2016 school year that reflects a proposed change to the testing dates for STAAR grades 5 and 8 science and grade 8 social studies from late April to mid-May beginning in 2016. The draft testing calendar will be posted later in December for public comment.
To learn more about STAAR mathematics, please visit the Texas Education Agency’s STAAR Mathematics Resources webpage at:
http://tea.texas.gov/student.assessment/staar/math/.

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller
SBOE District 12

Public Testimony at SBOE Meeting: Factual Errors in Social Studies Textbooks

November 19, 2014

Dear Friends,

During the public testimony on November 18th “factual errors” in 6th grade social studies textbooks were brought to our attention by retired Lt. Colonel Roy White, Chairman of the Truth in Texas Textbooks (TTT), and the TTT Coalition volunteers.   Colonel White and these volunteers have expended thousands of hours on conference calls, reading training newsletters, going through “mock reviews” and finally conducting the actual reviews on the textbooks. The goal is to have as many social studies textbook reviews posted in one place that will give parents, teachers and Board of Education members a single source to find these reviews to insure the publishers are held accountable for producing factual and honest social studies textbooks.  This will be an ongoing process handled by volunteers.

Following their testimony I continued the dialogue with the board members and encouraged the corrections.   I am sharing with you how important the process is in reviewing our textbooks. We merely want to have the most factual and intelligently honest textbooks possible for our children.

Below is the letter written by the publisher National Geographic Learning, Cengage Learning, Marcie Goodale, regarding the “factual errors.”

Dear Chairwoman Cargill:

Thank you very much for the opportunity to address comments made during the November 18th State Board of Education meeting regarding Proclamation 2015 instructional resources, specifically regarding Cengage Learning’s World Cultures and Geography for grade 6.

Two comments were made yesterday regarding “factual errors” in Cengage Learning’s World Cultures and Geography textbook for 6th grade which we would like to address.  One had to do with the text’s description of the United States as a democracy.  The second was a suggestion that Jesus be identified as Jesus Christ in a Christian context.

In response to the first comment, on page 65 there is a sentence that reads, “The United States was the first modern country to establish a representative democracy.”  The Truth in Textbooks group said that the United States is a “constitutional republic.”   We had suggested the following edit: “The United States was the first modern country to establish a federal republic. The government is often referred to as a representative democracy.”  In response to yesterday’s comment, we will delete the second sentence and use the term “constitutional” instead of federal.

In response to the second comment, on page R52 in the World Religions Handbook, the first sentence under “Historical Origins” reads: “Christianity is based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, also called Jesus Christ by Christians.”  This is nearly verbatim to the language requested by the speaker in the meeting today.  In addition on page 60 in the text, Jesus is referred to as Jesus Christ in the description of Christianity.

A second area of concern was the question of Common Core State Standards and the role of these standards within this sixth grade social studies program.  Cengage Learning wishes to reassure the State Board of Education and the TEA that nowhere within World Cultures and Geography is instruction regarding Common Core State Standards mentioned, encouraged, or promoted.   World Cultures and Geography for Texas focuses solely on the TEKS and ELPS to which the program aligns 100%.  The program is infused with TEKS projects and TEKS assessment.

We appreciate the opportunity to address a third area of concern and that is the link to external websites from myNGconnect.com for Texas, the program’s instructional portal.  Cengage Learning commits to removing any links to external websites, such as National Geographic, no later than Thursday, November 20.   National Geographic Learning is wholly owned by Cengage Learning; while there are resources within World Cultures and Geography from National Geographic, the instruction and pedagogy has been developed independently of the National Geographic Society.  In no way does National Geographic Learning | Cengage Learning influence the content selected for the National Geographic website.  All web links to National Geographic will be permanently discontinued.

It is our sincere intent to participate in Proclamation 2015 to be part of the education of grade 6 students in Texas. We believe our curriculum conforms to the high standards of the Texas State Board of Education and the citizens of the state of Texas.

We respectfully present this information for your consideration, and appreciate the opportunity.

Marcie Goodale

Publisher, Social Studies

Hector Morales

Sales Manager – Southwest

National Geographic Learning

Cengage Learning

 

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

www.tincymiller.com

gtince@aol.com

An Interview with Jane Robbins: Common Core and the Contents are not so Common

Dear Friends,

 

A very important and informational interview with Jane Robbins by Michael F Shaughnessy, Education Views Senior Columnist.

 

                   “An Interview with Jane Robbins: Common Core and the Contents are not so Common.”

 

QUESTION:  Jane, first of all, tell us a bit about yourself, your background, experience and involvement in Common Core.

 ANSWER: I am an attorney and senior fellow with the American Principles Project, which was founded by a law-school classmate of mine (Prof. Robert George of Princeton). My bio follows:

 Jane Robbins is an attorney and a senior fellow with the American Principles Project in Washington, DC. In that position she has crafted federal and state legislation designed to restore the constitutional autonomy of states and parents in education policy, and to protect the rights of religious freedom and conscience. Her essays on these topics have been published in various print and online media. With Emmett McGroarty she co-authored the APP/Pioneer Institute report, Controlling Education From the Top: Why Common Core Is Bad for America, and with McGroarty and Joy Pullmann the Pioneer Institute report, Cogs in the Machine: Big Data, Common Core, and National Testing. She has written numerous articles about the problems with Common Core, threats to student privacy, and usurpation of state sovereignty over education and has testified about these issues before the legislatures of nine states. She is a graduate of Clemson University and the Harvard Law School.

 

 

 QUESTION: This is an old question- but your fresh perspective is welcomed. Where does it say in the Constitution that the Federal government can tell the states what curriculum to follow?

 ANSWER: It doesn’t. The Constitution gives the federal government no role at all in any aspect of education. Regarding curriculum specifically, the Common Core proponents claim that CC is “just standards, not curriculum,” but they and we know that the point of standards is to drive curriculum. The Pioneer Institute has published a report showing exactly how the federal government will, illegally, dictate curriculum through Common Core:http://pioneerinstitute.org/download/the-road-to-a-national-curriculum/. And some of the pedagogy of Common Core, particularly in math, is so prescriptive that teachers are told exactly how they must teach. Being allowed to choose one Common Core textbook over another Common Core textbook isn’t much of a choice.

 

QUESTION: What does Common Core have to do with privacy?

 ANSWER:  Common Core is part of a much larger scheme that requires states to implement CC standards and aligned curriculum, administer CC-aligned assessments, and build out their state longitudinal databases (financed substantially by the federal government through the Stimulus bill and Race to the Top). The state data systems must be built to identical specifications to facilitate sharing data across state lines. A direct connection to CC is through the CC-aligned assessments (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium), each of which has a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Education requiring the consortium to allow student-level data to be made available to the US Department “on an ongoing basis.”

 

Another, more nebulous but equally dangerous, connection: CC is essentially a recycling of the discredited Outcome-Based Education from years ago. That is, it diminishes academic knowledge in favor of instilling the “correct” mindsets, attitudes, and behaviors in children. It thus is perfect for ushering in the interactive “digital learning” platforms, which are focused on exactly the same thing. These platforms can compile essentially personal profiles on students through the “fine-grained” information the students give off as they interact with the platforms. My testimony on all this is attached to the email. Also see a thorough discussion in this report:http://pioneerinstitute.org/download/cogs-in-the-machine-big-data-common-core-and-national-testing/.

 

QUESTION: Let’s get to some common ground here. We have states as disparate as Alaska and Hawaii. Should these states have exactly the same curriculum?

 ANSWER: Only if you believe, as Bill Gates does, that every child in every school in every state should be trained (not to be confused with “educated”) in exactly the same way, because that would be much more efficient. Why not have a Common Core Operating System? Why do we have 50 states anyway? That’s so inefficient!

 

QUESTION: Has anyone in the Common Core movement thought that perhaps we need to increase the school day or school year in order to assist students with this new approach?

 ANSWER:  This issue hasn’t come up much in connection with Common Core, but the Obama administration advocates increased school time: http://www.eduinreview.com/blog/2009/03/obama-proposes-longer-school-days-extended-school-year/. Arne Duncan also wants schools to become “community centers” that will be the hub of students’ lives all the time (instead of students’ being with their families, or involved in church or other activities):

http://teach1776.ning.com/video/secretary-arne-duncan-says-schools-should-be-the-center-of-americ

      

QUESTION:  Teachers already have quite a full agenda every day. Who is providing support for this apparently massive change in curriculum?

 ANSWER:  The states will have to shoulder the responsibility of providing costly professional development, which they are doing with varying degrees of success (or failure). Of course, no amount of PD can add hours to the day. I know a Georgia teacher of gifted math students who recently retired, partly because she was overwhelmed by the new requirements – for example, having to spend 2-3 hours each night inputting student data.

 

QUESTION:  Jane, this entire issue reminds me of the fight between states regarding slavery. While some may see this as a stretch, is the issue surrounding Common Core one of “states’ rights” to provide their own perspective on education?

 ANSWER:  The Constitution certainly contemplates that each state will control its education system. By centralizing control in both the federal government and unaccountable private interests, Common Core is inconsistent with the constitutional scheme. The difference is that in the slavery situation, some states were trying to retain power to deny fundamental rights to certain human beings. With Common Core, by contrast, parents in individual states are objecting to the denial of their fundamental right to control their children’s education.

 

QUESTION:  Let’s also face some facts- taxpayers pay for books, teacher’s salaries, indirectly, the buildings. Have taxpayers been assessed as to anything about Common Core?

 ANSWER:  Taxpayers haven’t yet experienced the full weight of the costs that will be imposed by Common Core. The testing hasn’t gone into effect – testing that will require enormous expenditures for technology infrastructure. See this report for an overview: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=pioneer+institute+costs+common+core.

 

The only other thing I would add is that Common Core doubles down on all the progressive policies that have damaged public education over the last 50 years – centralization, standardization, outcome-based education, fuzzy math, diminished study of classic literature, etc. I don’t think doing more of what manifestly doesn’t work will result in success this time.

 

 http://www.educationviews.org/jane-robbins-common-core-contents-common/

 

 Respectfully,

 Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

APUSH Provides Contempt for America in Texas High Schools

Dear Friends,

 

A very informative and important article from the Texasinside.org, under ‘The Scoop’, written by Bill Ames.  Bill is an education activist and author who lives in Dallas, Texas. His book, “TEXAS TROUNCES THE LEFT’S WAR ON HISTORY” (WNAenterprises.com) tells the story of his experience in developing Texas’ U. S. history standard in 2009-2010. In 2013, he reviewed CSCOPE U. S. history lessons as part of the State Board of Education’s Ad Hoc Committee Project, and is now involved with the new College Board AP U.S. history framework.  He welcomes reader comments at billames@prodigy.net.

 

APUSH Provides Contempt for America in Texas High Schools

College Board Partners with Leftist Academia

 

AUSTIN, Texas (Texas Insider Report) — The recent implementation of a totally reworked Advanced Placement U. S. History (APUSH) framework has given rise to contentious debate. Mainstream American critics challenge APUSH as being anti-American. The private, unaccountable College Board APUSH creators retaliate by claiming that the new framework provides more flexibility to teachers, while addressing an alleged “whitewashing” of U. S. history.

The debate has raged on, and does not need to be repeated here. Suffice to say that the APUSH framework, compared with most state and local standards, is like mixing oil and water.

It is time to end this debate charade, and reveal the bottom-line truth. Time to call a spade a spade. Time to cut to the chase.

During the 1960s, liberal professors began to revise how history is taught in America’s colleges and universities. These liberal professors have demonstrated a solid track record of contempt for American values, while indoctrinating students with their warped ideology.

There has been a long-term desire on the part of these professors to extend their indoctrination to America’s public schools. One egregious example:

In the early 1990s, UCLA professor Gary Nash (right,) along with the National Council for Social Studies, released new United States history standards. These standards, like APUSH, focused on Native- and African-American history while de-emphasizing the contributions of western civilization.

The standards were rejected by none other than the United States Senate, both Democrats and Republicans, by a vote of 99 to 1.

The Senate’s condemnation concluded with the words, “Any recipient of federal funds … for standards and curriculum development … should have a decent respect for United States history’s roots in western civilization.”

 In order to promote leftist academics’ agenda, the College Board has provided its APUSH framework, to give liberal academia yet another opportunity to extend its contempt for America to public schools.

A contentious statement, you say? Let us develop the story.

In 1973, author and journalist John LeBoutillier (right,) was a sophomore at Harvard University. His instructor in History 97 class was one Barry Schmidt, an admitted radical who sported a full-length beard and a pony tail tied with a red ribbon.

LeBoutillier wrote about his introduction to the class in his best-selling book, Harvard Hates America.  Schmidt began:

“I don’t give a s— about American history. I don’t give a damn about facts or dates or any of that other traditional crap.  Hell, I don’t even know what year the Civil War began. 

“As far as I’m concerned, that type of history just plays along with the right-wing fascists who run this country…..the very people I’m dedicated to overthrowing….”

Fast forward to 2014. The college blog Campus Reform posted a video of interviews it conducted of Harvard students, just a couple of weeks ago.

The single question was straightforward: “What is the greater threat to world peace, ISIS or America?”

One student answered, “I think American imperialism and our protection of oil interests in the Middle East are destabilizing the region and allowing groups like ISIS to gain power….We are, at some level, the cause of it.”

Another student answered: “As a Western civilization, we’re to blame for a lot of the problems that we’re facing now.  I don’t think anyone would argue that we didn’t create the problem of ISIS ourselves…. (Middle Easterners) have a skewed view of us, just as a lot of Americans have a skewed view of them, of ISIS.”

A third student proclaimed: “The amount of spending that America has on causes of potential destruction in the world is really outlandish.  We’ve been learning about this recently, how much America spends on defense mechanisms alone, and it’s really quite astonishing compared to any other country in the world, really.”

All students claimed that America was the larger threat to world peace.

History 97 instructor Barry Schmidt and his successors at Harvard can be proud.

Columnist David Limbaugh, covering the interviews in his October 10, 2014 TownHall.com article “Harvard Students Parade Their Academic Poison”, wrote,

“I wouldn’t be nearly so troubled by Harvard University students identifying America as a bigger threat to world peace than the Islamic State if it weren’t representative of the thinking of so many students throughout the nation. But it is.”

David Limbaugh (at right,) is correct. One needs to look no further for the potential for student indoctrination, than the likes of two controversial university professors, 911 terrorists sympathizer Ward Churchill and unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers.  Both enjoyed enthusiastic peer acceptance in the academic cocktail party circuit during their presence at the University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of Illinois-Chicago, respectively.

There are many more examples.

Liberal professors on America’s college and university campuses make up an overwhelming majority. A 2010-2011 survey of 23,824 full-time faculty members at 417 American colleges and universities, conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, reveals that over 65% of professors in public and private universities self-identify as liberal or far left. Less than 10% identify as conservative or far right.

And those liberal professors doggedly impose their ideology on immature, impressionable students.

What do the liberal professors and their allies hold in contempt? Start with the U. S. Constitution.  Last week, fawning, gadfly movie star Gwyneth Paltrow, at yet another Hollywood Democrat fundraiser, introduced President Barack Obama with the words,  “It would be wonderful if we were able to give this man all of the power that he needs to pass the things that he needs to pass.”

Yeah Gwyneth, let’s just forget the Constitution!

Liberals also loathe the Bill of Rights: First Amendment free speech (unless one agrees with leftist dogma), the 2nd Amendment, and the pesky 9th and 10th Amendments that reserve undesignated rights to the people and the states rather than to the federal government.

Liberals hate the achievements of Western Civilization. They hate Christianity, American exceptionalism, the free enterprise system, personal responsibility, patriotism, and love of country.

Witness the academic movers and shakers who influenced the College Board APUSH framework….. APUSH critic Stanley Kurtz profiled key APUSH contributors in his National Review online article, August 25, 2014.

Thomas Bender(right, New York University) … Bender is a thoroughgoing critic of American Exceptionalism … he is the leading spokesman for the movement to internationalize U. S. history curriculum at every educational level …

Francesca Lopez Civeira (University of Havana) … American power is an object of fear … urges American students be exposed to evidence of the controversial power and presence of the United States beyond our borders…

Suzanne Sinke (Florida State University) … Downplayed the desire of immigrants to find a better life in America … referred to immigrants as migrants …

Penny Von Eschen (University of Michigan) … Relentlessly critical of America’s “cultural imperialism”, and its economic and military presence in the world …

The profiles of this group of hard-core liberal college professors, along with others involved in creating the original framework, provide ample evidence that the College Board is complicit in providing leftist academia with a platform at the high school level to extend its contempt for America.

Further, the College Board has demonstrated that it has no interest in “allowing” locally elected and state school boards to challenge its nationalized curriculum….

The conservative-majority Jefferson County, Colorado school board, concerned about the indoctrination of students taking the APUSH course, created a proposal that would:

  1. Force the College Board to include “instructional materials that present positive aspects of the nation and its heritage.”
  2. Create a committee to regularly review texts and course plans, starting with APUSH, to make sure materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights”, instead of “encouraging or condoning civil disorder, social strike or disregard of the law.”

Citizenship, patriotism, free enterprise?   The College Board indoctrination machine would have none of this. In a terse, “my-way-or-the-highway” response, the CB admonished the JeffCo board, warning that schools and districts must do as they’re told. If they dare to disagree with any “essential concepts” of an AP course (for example, if they insist on teaching America the Exceptional rather than America the Evil), the College Board will strip its “AP” designation from the course.

So much for highly-touted “local control”! Going forward, NO ONE who supports APUSH can honestly claim to be for local control of state and school district curricula.

So where does this leave us?

 The College Board can no longer pretend that it cares about mainstream America’s best interests. Rather, it has become a complicit supporter of America-hating leftist academia, bent on turning America’s public schools into indoctrination centers that major in oppression, imperialism, exploitation, victimization, and racism.

Columnist Walter Williams proposes a solution:

“Parents should become more involved with their children’s education. They should look at the textbooks used and examine their children’s homework.

“Parents should show up en mass at PTA and board of education meetings to ensure that teachers confine their lessons to reading, writing and arithmetic and leave indoctrination to parents.

“The most promising tool in the fight against teacher indoctrination and classroom misconduct is the micro-technology that enables students to secretly record and expose academic misconduct by teachers.”

And the aforementioned David Limbaugh adds:

“We are looking at the next generation, …. who will be leading this nation into the future.

“It is time that responsible parents got off their clueless, apathetic duffs and started doing a better job of educating their kids and inoculating them against the infernal indoctrination that academia and our culture are serving to them in mentally lethal doses.”

In Texas, I believe legislation is required to force school districts to certify TEKS compliance. Our public schools graduate some 300,000 kids into Texas society each year, year after year.

If the College Board and its allies in academia are allowed a platform to teach their radical contempt for America’s greatness, the CB agenda will succeed, and Texas will forever change.

 

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

gtince@aol.com

www.tincymiller.com