The Common Core journalism blackout


Dear Friends,

An informative article written by Sandra Stotsky, former Senior Associate Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Education, is Professor of Education emerita at the University of Arkansas. Shared by Donna Garner, a retired teacher and education activist (

“The Common Core journalism blackout”

Earlier this month, a deliberately anonymous teacher set forth some of the problems she saw in the Common Core-based test she had to give her students.

This teacher argued — and provided anecdotal evidence to show — that the Common Core-based test: (1) is developmentally inappropriate; and (2) does not actually assess what it claims to assess.

 Both excellent points. But it seems unlikely that reporters for any “mainstream” — or even non-mainstream — media outlets will investigate either of her assertions.

Criticism of Common Core, it is regularly implied by the mainstream, comes only from wing-nuts concerned about “federal overreach,” not from teachers or parents or experts on standards and testing.

But as Mark McQuillan (former commissioner of education in Connecticut), Richard Phelps (testing expert), and I wrote in our analysis of Common Core-based sample tests, PARCC (one of the major Common Core-aligned tests) has at least four major problems. 

1. Most PARCC writing prompts do not elicit the kind of writing done in college or the real world of work. One-third alone is devoted to narratives, mostly imaginative writing. 

2. PARCC uses a format for assessing word knowledge (“use context to determine the word’s meaning”) that is almost completely unsupported by research. This pedagogical format seriously misleads teachers and cripples readers who need to develop fluency in continuous prose reading.

3. PARCC uses “innovative” item-types for which no evidence exists to support claims that they tap deeper thinking and reasoning as part of understanding a text.

4. PARCC tests require many instructional hours to administer and prepare for, but they do not give teachers or parents the kind of information that would justify the extra hours and costs.

These are major flaws that are not likely to be resolved by MCAS 2.0 (the test that will replace PARCC in the Bay State starting next year) because many of the test items that will be in MCAS 2.0 will come from PARCC. (The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted in November 2015 to continue the Bay State’s membership in the PARCC testing consortium). Without vetting by the state’s own teachers across the state, how can Massachusetts administrators and teachers be confident that MCAS 2.0 won’t simply be another vehicle for PARCC’s flawed test items? 

Unfortunately, not one of these issues has been thoroughly reported by the mainstream media. How can one account for such journalism “gaps”? One reason may be the reward system used by the Education Writers Association (EWA), which met in May in Boston for its annual conference (May 1-3). As blogger Anthony Cody commented, in a response to a Pioneer Institute paper on the EWA conference:

“In 2014, my blog posts highly critical of the Common Core actually won first prize in the EWA’s annual contest. The next year they changed their rules so only reporters employed in mainstream publications are eligible. Some of the best investigative work is being done these days by independent, unpaid bloggers. But at EWA, bloggers need not apply. Since most mainstream publications tend to support the Common Core, this effectively eliminates critics of the national standards (and other corporate reform projects).” 

In effect, EWA has found a subtle way to blacklist writers who might write critically about Common Core’s standards and tests. 

As part of the journalism “gap,” reporters have not yet noted the lack of research supporting Common Core “architect” David Coleman’s notion that substituting informational texts for literature will improve students’ college readiness. Not only is Coleman’s assertion not supported by research, available data indicate that exactly the opposite is more likely to happen. For example, we know that reading scores went down in the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results for grade 8.


Reporters have also failed to inform their readers about what is missing from Common Core standards,including: a list of recommended authors, standards on British literature apart from Shakespeare, and study of the history of the English language. Is it not newsworthy to note that, while high-achieving students in academically-oriented private and suburban schools will likely get the rich literary-historical content that provides the basis for critical and analytical thinking, under the Common Core regime, urban students will get little more than reading comprehension exercises? 

Why does the media “establishment” believe policy makers and education researchers who themselves seem to believe without evidence that standards mostly in the form of empty skills could develop “critical thinking” or “deeper learning”? It is strange to see them promote as “rigorous” math standards whose quality they should instead suspect because the only mathematicians praising Common Core’s math standards (Jason Zimba and William McCallum) wrote them.

What happened to skepticism or investigative journalism? Could it be that most reporters can’t read and understand high school mathematics or science standards?

To view article online:




Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Time to Admit the Obvious: Common Core Has Failed Spectacularly


Dear Friends,

An excellent article written by Jane Robbins, an attorney and senior fellow with the American Principles Projec. Shared by Donna Garner, ( a retired teacher and an education activist.

Time to Admit the Obvious: Common Core Has Failed Spectacularly


 On the same day former Bush Administration official Douglas Holtz-Eakin warned that discarding the Common Core national standards would diminish students’ college-readiness and harm the economy, the news came out that Common Core-trained students are less competent than their predecessors in math and generally less prepared for college.

Obviously Mr. Holtz-Eakin didn’t see that coming. But objective observers of Common Core have been predicting this result for years.

Now heading a group called American Action Forum, Mr. Holtz-Eakin makes a number of claims that have been debunked (it’s almost as though he wrote this piece a couple of years ago and hasn’t read the relevant literature since).

To begin with, he embraces the revisionist account of the origins of Common Core: “A state-led effort, the Common Core standards were drafted by experts and teachers from across the country.” It is now beyond serious dispute that Common Core was in fact a private-foundation- and federal-government-led effort, and that the standards were written essentially by a few drafters selected by unknown people for undisclosed reasons. So Mr. Holtz-Eakin establishes off the bat that he doesn’t understand Common Core.

He then repeats the talking point that the Common Core standards “have been shown to be more rigorous and effective.” Shown by whom? He cites to a Fordham Institute report that was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the chief financier of Common Core. But even though Fordham was essentially being paid to make Common Core look “rigorous” in comparison to the standards of other states, even Fordham was forced to admit that many states (such as Massachusetts and California) had clearly superior standards.

Scholars not paid by Gates have been warning for years that Common Core would have dire consequences for students’ college-readiness. English Language Arts expert Dr. Sandra Stotsky, a member of the Common Core Validation Committee, refused to sign off on the standards because she recognized that they “would not prepare students for authentic college-level coursework.” Another Validation Committee dissident, world-renowned mathematician Dr. James Milgram, professor emeritus at Stanford University, has been withering in his criticism of the dumbed-down math standards, which he warned could not prepare students for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) studies in college. (Although they’ve tried to backtrack, the math-standards drafters have conceded the point.)  And Dr. Marina Ratner, another world-renowned mathematician, stated in a Wall Street Journal piece that the Common Core “represent lower expectations [than the previous California standards], and that students taught in the way that these standards require would have little chance of being admitted to even an average college and would certainly struggle if they did get in.”

And what about Mr. Holtz-Eakin’s claim that Common Core was shown to be “effective”? The Fordham report showed no such thing, because it was issued before Common Core was implemented. So we must look elsewhere for evidence of effectiveness.

Which brings us to the news released by the National Association of Educational Progress (the NAEP, or the “nation’s report card”) on the same day as Mr. Holtz-Eakin’s fantastical essay. The2015 NAEP scores of the nation’s high-school seniors show a decline in math performance, stagnation in reading performance, and decline in college preparation in both areas.

The average math score for seniors dropped from 153 in 2013 to 152 in 2015, according to NAEP a “statistically significant” decline. The reading scores stagnated, and came in significantly below reading scores from 1992 (down from 292 to 287).

As for college-readiness, Mr. Holtz-Eakin must be especially perturbed by that NAEP indicator. In 2013, 39 percent of students were estimated to be college-ready in math, and 38 percent ready in reading. After two more years of Common Core training, the readiness scores were down to 37 percent in each subject.

These results are especially significant because, unlike students who took the NAEP tests two years earlier, the 2015 test-takers had the benefit of full Common Core implementation. Or maybe “benefit” is the wrong word.

As quoted in The New York Times, NAEP governing board chairman Terry Mazany described all these results as “worrisome.” The Los Angeles Times quotes the “bottom line” offered by a former NAEP official: “We’re stalled. We’re not making any progress.” Indeed.

Coming on the heels of similar dismal NAEP scores for younger students in October, these results confirm that our schools are headed in precisely the wrong direction.

Meanwhile, Michigan is the latest state to explore replacing Common Core with standards that aren’t, well, garbage. This week the Senate Education Committee passed a bill that would substitute the pre-Common Core Massachusetts standards for the substandard Common Core. Given that even Gates-funded Fordham agrees the Massachusetts standards are better, will we see Mr. Holtz-Eakin and his ideological compatriots cheering Michigan on?

If anyone in the pro-Common Core camp criticizes Michigan’s action, that will prove these forces have agendas other than the authentic education of children. In the meantime, other state legislatures should jump off the Common Core train before it goes over the cliff. How much more evidence do they need?



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

America’s high school seniors’ reading and math scores have hit a wall


Dear Friends,

A very informative article written by Joy Resmovits, an editor and reporter who covers education for the Los Angeles Times. Shared by Donna Garner, a retired teacher and education activist (

“America’s high school seniors’ reading and math scores have hit a wall”

Excerpts from this article:

America’s high school seniors’ reading and math test scores are barely holding steady or slumping, according to national standardized test results released late Tuesday.

Between 2013 and 2015, on average, students dropped slightly in math and held steady in reading.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as NAEP, is a test administered by the federal government. It is considered the gold standard in measuring what students really know, because the results don’t have consequences that could encourage teachers or test takers to game the process.

In math, the average score dropped from 153 to 152, out of 300 points.

On the 500-point reading test, scores dropped one point to 287–a decease officials called statistically insignificant.

The results for seniors weren’t available on a state-by-state basis…

“We’re stalled. That’s the bottom line,”said Mark Schneider, a vice president at the American Institutes for Research who used to run the government agency that administers NAEP.

“We’re not making any progress.” The scores come as the country continues to teach and test the Common Core State Standards, a set of learning benchmarks intended to make school more demanding and lessons more consistent among states.

…Officials are confident that the National Assessment accurately captured what students across the country are learning. They said they know that in part because the declines on math were consistent across the areas tested, including geometry, data analysis and algebra.

In 2015, NAEP tested almost 19,000 students in reading and 13,000 in math. In both of those subjects, 37% of students were deemed to be ready for college.

Scores on the lowest end of the reading and math tests were worse than they had been in 2013.

The gap between students who tested well and those who tested poorly concerns Peggy Carr, acting commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, the government arm that administers the exam. “We need to look at what it means,” she said.

There was one bright spot: In math, the test scores of English language learners…increased by six points since 2013.

But students with disabilities remained stagnant, and students who reported that their parents didn’t finish high school dropped by four points. And since 1992, black students dropped by eight points in reading… 

View the entire article:




Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Get Ready to Ditch the SAT and ACT


Dear Friends,

A very informative article written by Robert Holland, a senior fellow for education policy with The Heartland Institute.Shared by Donna Garner, a retired teacher and education activist (

 “Get Ready To Ditch the SAT and ACT”

Decades from now, education historians may observe Common Core (CC) provoked a wave of activism that resulted in decentralizing U.S. education.

That was not what the power elites intended when they concocted standards and assessments intended to apply to all students, teachers, and schools. Their objective was centralization. But their arrogance has activated a hornets’ nest of angry parents intent on reclaiming control over their children’s schooling.

The revolt is going beyond the widespread opt-outs from federally mandated Common Core-linked testing.  Behind the scenes, hard work is proceeding on long-dreamed-of alternatives to the College Board’s century-old dominance of college-entrance testing. Impetus for that came when a key member of the Common Core cabal, testing consultant David Coleman, went straightway from writing the CC English standards to heading up the College Board on an explicit vow to align its SAT with Common Core.

Testing a New Test

Now, with the start of 2016 SAT testing, that has happened. However, the Vector Assessment of Readiness for College (ARC)—a budding SAT alternative—is happening, too. For four years, remarked company spokesman Julie West, “We spent a great deal of time researching entrance exams dating back generations, speaking with professors, retired educators, and professionals. Questions were developed, submitted, and reviewed. Sample questions were also sent to outside evaluators.”

‘Our assessment evaluates math skills through calculus, contains science through chemistry and physics, and contains questions regarding grammar and classic literature.’

ARC beta testing is underway, most recently at the Great Homeschooling Convention in Cincinnati during the first weekend of April. Homeschool families are a natural constituency because linking the SAT and other standardized tests to a de facto national curriculum places homeschoolers’ hard-won freedom from statist overreach and offensive standards in grave peril, but the ARC alternative also may prove to be useful for private and parochial schools, as well as public schools in states not plugged in to Common Core.

“Because the homeschool community is the only sector that has not experienced dramatic shifts in standards or curriculum over the past several years, we have focused on them during beta,” said West. “However, any student with an SAT/ACT or PSAT score may participate in beta testing.

“Because our assessment evaluates math skills through calculus, contains science through chemistry and physics, and contains questions regarding grammar and classic literature, we believe high-achieving students from private and public schools will also benefit from ARC,” said West. “Because we will not permit super scoring, much of the socioeconomic bias has been addressed. Finally, because we are not a timed test, those with special-needs students have been excited to learn about ARC.”

A Drive to Feed Students Substance

Super scoring is a dubious practice whereby students can take their highest scores from multiple SAT tests and piece them into one inflated outcome. Eliminating that kind of gaming would be a solid initial accomplishment for Vector ARC.

Alternatives to the powerhouse College Board, founded in 1900, have been a long time coming.

The Vector team states its assessment will “assess both proficiency of subject matter as well as overall cognitive abilities,” thus maximizing students’ opportunities “to present their strengths.”

At least one other alternative to the entrance-exam monolith is already available, offered through the Annapolis-based Classic Learning Initiatives, which started in 2015. Administered online at testing centers, the two-hour Classic Learning Test (CLT) draws on the works of some of the greatest minds in Western tradition, thinkers of the caliber of C.S. Lewis, Flannery O’Connor, G.K. Chesterton, Martin Luther King Jr., Plato, and Socrates. Several renowned liberal arts colleges, including St. John’s and Thomas Aquinas, accept CLT scores as an alternative to the SAT or ACT.

Alternatives to the powerhouse College Board, founded in 1900, have been a long time coming. The ACT became one such alternative in November 1959, and in 2011, it actually edged out the SAT in total test-takers. Richard Innes, an education analyst at the Bluegrass Institute, says some officials at ACT still believe its “traditional mission is to provide a quality college readiness test that is useful to college admissions offices.” However, Innes also said ACT’s recent joint venture with Pearson Publishing to create a Common Core-type test called Aspire appears to have introduced “mission confusion” at the company.

Then there is the freshly revised federal education law that lets school boards use the SAT and ACT as their federally mandated annual tests, even for students who don’t plan to go to college, saving money for local school districts and ensuring these education-testing giants have continuous access to a $700-million-per-year market. With big education and big testing continuing to feed off each other, the yearning for individualized alternatives is likely to grow.




Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Concerned Parent on Math TEKS


Dear Friends,

This is timely and informative letter from a concerned parent from Katy, Texas in regard to the new Math TEKS

Hello Texas SBOE,

I am writing to thank you for taking the time to listen, discuss, and seriously consider the concerns of parents and a student at the meeting Friday.  I know you have a long schedule at each session.  It is very appreciated that you take the time to have a two way conversation with the constituents that come to the SBOE with concerns.  You have created a great environment for people coming before the board.

I also am grateful that you plan to take future time to discuss what to do with the math TEKS.  I don’t think the SBOE or the authors of the TEKS knew how literally the schools and publishers would follow these TEKS.  The schools are teaching the TEKS and only the TEKS.  The breadth of the TEKs is so overwhelming there is not extra time available.  We cannot assume any more is being done than the literal wording of the TEKS.

For reference I have attached the K-8 TEKS with the word FRACTION capitalized and highlighted in yellow as an example.  If the TEKS say to represent adding and subtracting fractions “using objects and pictorial models that build to the number line and properties of operations” that is all that is taught.  Objects and pictures are great examples to use to teach fractions, but the goal should be to add or subtract any two fractions, without drawing pictures.  I am not sure the definition of “build to the number line and property of operations” but that does note seem to be interpreted by the text book providers or the teachers as actually doing math with fractions to find an answer.

Please note that conversion between improper and mixed fractions is never mentioned in the TEKS.  Mastery of fractions, in my opinion, is critical for later STEM classes.  Without this mastery, unit conversions and so much of math and science are much more difficult.  I fear children will be turned off from the sciences because of a poor math foundation.  I bring up fractions as only one easily identified example.

Please keep in mind I am not a lobbyist, and I have nothing to gain from this effort to improve the math TEKS.  I see what is being done in my daughter’s math class, and I am compelled to try and make it better for her and the other children.  Our ISD is attempting to strictly follow the law and the TEKS, so I understand the remedy is with the SBOE.  Again, thank you for listening and acting on our concerns.

Best regards,

John Pendergraff

Katy, Texas

Below is a link to view the provisions.



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

When Will We Ever Learn: Dissecting The Common Core State Standards


Dear Friends,

Informative question and answer segment on Common Core.   Shared by Donna Garner a retired teacher and an education activist.  Dr. Mark Bertin is a board certified development behavioral pediatrician.


[Please read and notice what Dr. Louis Moats said over two years ago. She was already beginning to see the damaging impact of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). She was already sorry that she and Marilyn Adams had taken part as contributing writers of the CCSS because their work was not incorporated into the final standards To Put it nicely, Dr. Moats, Marilyn Adams (and probably other noteworthy researchers) were “used” by David Coleman to make the CCSS look more official and researched-based; but in reality, the CCSS were written by those chosen by Coleman who did not have the deep content knowledge that Dr. Moats and Marilyn Adams had. – Donna Garner]


When Will We Ever Learn:

Dissecting The Common Core State Standards with Dr. Louisa Moats

By Mark Bertin, M. D


Dr. Louisa Moats, the nationally-renowned teacher, psychologist, researcher and author, was one of the contributing writers of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The CCSS initiative is an attempt to deal with inconsistent academic expectations from state-to-state and an increasing number of inadequately prepared high school graduates by setting high, consistent standards for grades K-12 in English language arts and math. To date, forty-five states have adopted the standards. I recently had the opportunity to discuss the implementation of the CCSS with Dr. Moats.

Dr. Bertin:   What was your involvement in the development of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)?

Dr. Moats:   Marilyn Adams and I were the team of writers, recruited in 2009 by David Coleman and Sue Pimentel, who drafted the Foundational Reading Skills section of the CCSS and closely reviewed the whole ELA (English Language Arts) section for K-5. We drafted sections on Language and Writing Foundations that were not incorporated into the document as originally drafted. I am the author of the Reading Foundational Skills section of Appendix A.

Dr. Bertin:   What did you see as potential benefits of establishing the CCSS when you first became involved?

Dr. Moats:  I saw the confusing inconsistencies among states’ standards, the lowering of standards overall, and the poor results for our high school kids in international comparisons. I also believed that the solid consensus in reading intervention research could be reflected in standards and that we could use the CCSS to promote better instruction for kids at risk.

Dr. Bertin:  What has actually happened in its implementation?

Dr. Moats:  I never imagined when we were drafting standards in 2010 that major financial support would be funneled immediately into the development of standards-related tests. How naïve I was. The CCSS represent lofty aspirational goals for students aiming for four year, highly selective colleges. Realistically, at least half, if not the majority, of students are not going to meet those standards as written, although the students deserve to be well prepared for career and work through meaningful and rigorous education.

Our lofty standards are appropriate for the most academically able, but what are we going to do for the huge numbers of kids that are going to “fail” the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) test?  We need to create a wide range of educational choices and pathways to high school graduation, employment, and citizenship. The Europeans got this right a long time ago.

If I could take all the money going to the testing companies and reinvest it, I’d focus on the teaching profession – recruitment, pay, work conditions, rigorous and on-going training. Many of our teachers are not qualified or prepared to teach the standards we have written. It doesn’t make sense to ask kids to achieve standards that their teachers have not achieved!

Dr. Bertin:   What differences might there be for younger students versus older students encountering it for the first time?

Dr. Moats:   What is good for older students (e.g., the emphasis on text complexity, comprehension of difficult text, written composition, use of internet resources) is not necessarily good for younger students who need to acquire the basic skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Novice readers (typically through grade 3) need a stronger emphasis on the foundational skills of reading, language, and writing than on the “higher level” academic activities that depend on those foundations, until they are fluent readers.

Our CCSS guidelines, conferences, publishers’ materials, and books have turned away from critical, research-based methodologies on how to develop the basic underlying skills of literacy. Systematic, cumulative skill development and code-emphasis instruction is getting short shrift all around, even though we have consensus reports from the 1920’s onward that show it is more effective than comprehension-focused instruction.

I’m listening, but I don’t hear the words “research based” as often as I did a decade ago – and when CCSS proponents use the words, they’re usually referring to the research showing that high school kids who can’t read complex text don’t do as well in college. Basic findings of reading and literacy research, information about individual differences in reading and language ability, and explicit teaching procedures are really being lost in this shuffle.

Dr. Bertin:  What benefits have you seen or heard about so far as the CCSS has been put in place, and what difficulties?

Dr. Moats:   The standards may drive the adoption or use of more challenging and complex texts for kids to read and a wider sampling of genres. If handled right, there could be a resurgence of meaty curriculum of the “core knowledge” variety. There may be more emphasis on purposeful, teacher-directed writing. But we were making great inroads into beginning reading assessment and instruction practices between 2000-2008 that now are being cast aside in favor of “reading aloud from complex text” – which is not the same as teaching kids how to read on their own, accurately and fluently.


Dr.  Bertin:  What has the impact been on classroom teachers?

Dr. Moats:  Classroom teachers are confused, lacking in training and skills to implement the standards, overstressed, and the victims of misinformed directives from administrators who are not well grounded in reading research.  I’m beginning to get messages from very frustrated educators who threw out what was working in favor of a new “CCSS aligned” program, and now find that they don’t have the tools to teach kids how to read and write. Teachers are told to use “grade level” texts, for example; if half the kids are below grade level by definition, what does the teacher do? She has to decide whether to teach “the standard” or teach the kids.

Dr. Bertin:  You’ve raised concerns elsewhere that CCSS represents a compromise that does not emphasize educational research.  How do the CCSS reflect, or fail to reflect, research in reading instruction?

Dr.  Moats:   The standards obscure the critical causal relationships among components, chiefly the foundational skills and the higher level skills of comprehension that depend on fluent, accurate reading.  Foundations should be first!  The categories of the standards obscure the interdependence of decoding, spelling, and knowledge of language. The standards contain no explicit information about foundational writing skills, which are hidden in sections other than “writing”, but which are critical for competence in composition.

The standards treat the foundational language, reading, and writing skills as if they should take minimal time to teach and as if they are relatively easy to teach and to learn. They are not. The standards call for raising the difficulty of text, but many students cannot read at or above grade level, and therefore may not receive enough practice at levels that will build their fluency gradually over time.

Dr. Bertin:  How about recommendations for writing?

Dr. Moats:   We need a foundational writing skills section in the CCSS, with a much more detailed progression. We should not be requiring 3rd graders to compose on the computer. Writing in response to reading is a valuable activity, but teachers need a lot of assistance knowing what to assign, how to support writing, and how to give corrective feedback that is constructive.  Very few know how to teach kids to write a sentence, for example.

Dr. Bertin:   In an article for the International Dyslexia Association, you wrote “raising standards and expectations, without sufficient attention to known cause and remedies for reading and academic failure, and without a substantial influx of new resources to educate and support teachers, is not likely to benefit students with mild, moderate, or severe learning difficulties.”   You also mention that 34% of the population as a whole is behind academically in fourth grade, and in high poverty areas 70-80% of students are at risk for reading failure.

How does the CCSS impact children who turn out to need additional academic supports for learning disabilities, ADHD or other educational concerns?

Dr. Moats:   I have not yet seen a well-informed policy directive that addresses the needs of these populations. There are absurd directives about “universal design for learning” and endless accommodations, like reading a test aloud, to kids with learning disabilities. Why would we want to do that? The test itself is inappropriate for many kids.

Dr. Bertin:   How does it relate to concerns you have about teacher training in general? 

Dr. Moats:   What little time there is for professional development is being taken up by poorly designed workshops on teaching comprehension of difficult text or getting kids to compose arguments and essays. This will not be good for the kids who need a systematic, explicit form of instruction to reach basic levels of academic competence.

I’ve been around a long time, and this feels like 1987 all over again, with different words attached to the same problems. When will we ever learn?



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Comparison – Two Types of Education

Dear Friends,


A comparison chart on two types of education, shared by Donna Garner ( a retired teacher and an education activist.   Original chart produced by Education Consultant Carole H. Haynes, Ph.D.


                                  Type #1 (Traditional) vs. Type #2 (CSCOPE & Common Core)



Type#1 Traditional

Classical Learning



Type #2 CSCOPE/CommonCore

Standard Progressive, 

Radical Social Justice Agenda

Instruction Direct instruction by teacher Self-directed learning, group-thinkEmphasis on:Subjectivity, feelings, emotions, beliefs, multiculturalism, political correctness, social engineering, globalism, evolution, sexual freedom, contraceptives, environmental extremism, global warming and climate change, victimization, diversity, acceptance of homosexuality as normal, redistribution of wealthDe-emphasis on:Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, Constitution, national sovereignty, Founding Fathers, American exceptionalism
Curriculum Academic, fact-based, skills, research Social concerns, project-based, constructivism, subjective, uses unproven fads and theories
Teacher’s Role Authority figure; sets the plan for the class; academic instruction Facilitator
Student’s Role Learn from teacher; focus on factual learning, develop foundation skills for logical and analytical reasoning, independent thinking Students teach each other; focus on feelings, emotions, opinions; group-think
English, Language Arts, Reading (ELAR) Phonics; classical literature; cursive handwriting; grammar; usage; correct spelling; expository, persuasive, research writing Whole language, balanced literacy,Guided Reading; no cursive writing instruction so cannot read primary documents of Founding Fathers
Mathematics “Drill and Skill,” four math functions learned to automaticity Fuzzy math, rejects drill and memorization of math facts, dependent on calculators
Social Studies Focus on American heritage and exceptionalism, national sovereignty, Founding documents Diversity, multiculturalism, globalization, revisionist history, political correctness
Character Development Pro-faith, self-control, personal responsibility, self-discipline, solid work ethic Secular, moral relativism, anti-faith, victimization
Equality Equal opportunities Equal outcomes
Assessment Students evaluated by earned grades, objective tests Inflated grades, subjective assessments evaluated based upon value system of grader, group grades
Outcomes Objective tests (right-or-wrong answers), emphasis on academic skills and knowledge Subjective assessments; emphasis on holistic, “feel good” scoring




Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Open Letter from Kim Belcher to the State Board of Education

Dear Friends,

A very informative article written by Kim Belcher, a Katy Texas ISD parent.  Shared by Donna Garner, ( a retired teacher and an education activist.

Open Letter from Kim Belcher

To The Texas State Board of Education and Texas Legislature

 It is with remorse, frustration and somewhat without knowing what is next that I write to you, following the viewing of the hearing by the Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability that was held in Austin yesterday.

I am appalled by Governor Greg Abbott’s choice of appointment of Texas Education Commissioner, Mike Morath.  While we witnessed a despicable display of arrogance by the Commissioner, I was grateful to finally hear him take ownership of the Common Core and national alignment in our state standards.  Not only did he grace us with his humor and his wit as it pertains to being dismissive of our State laws, but he took a gleeful sort of pride in his ownership of this behemoth.

We learned from the Governor’s Commissioner and some of his supporters that our children are a profit and loss tick for the end game of Education Reform. We learned that he fully intends to comply with Federal mandates and “what the Federal government expects.” We now understand that he fully intends to monitor our children from cradle to grave for the purposes of “workforce development.”  These measures are not just of academic performance, but actual physical responses to circumstances in the classroom.  I was taken aback by the number of times “real time” was referred to and the number of metrics that will be supplied by this real time data initiative.

This Commission and any of our elected bodies that do not stand against are working toward pitting the people of this State against the government.

This is a pivotal point for education in our State because the powers that be are no longer hiding their intentions.  Monitoring of our children at a Federal level, while denigrating the quality of their education is reminiscent of Communist models that the world has experienced in the past.

Social engineering, diminishing reading, writing and arithmetic in exchange for teaching values, attitudes and beliefs, tracking the moment by moment performance and emotion of school children, dictating the outcomes of their adult lives through the use of data, nanny state government in education… these things are the antithesis of Liberty.  Remember Liberty?  Remember the Republic?  Remember individual sovereignty?  Remember the enumerated powers?

This is a historical movement that will have your names on it.  Which side of the equation will you be on?  We know what to expect of the Beltran’s in this shift, but several of you identify yourselves to your constituents as Conservatives.  Conservatives are liberty minded and understand the rights of the individual. Are you going to sign off on this knowing that it violates every premise that this country was founded upon?  Will you let that rest on your shoulders?  Will you be able to sleep at night knowing that you didn’t at least attempt to stand up for our kids, our state and our nation?

We will soon see because the time to stop it is now, before it fully makes its way into the classroom.  You are either with the children or you are not. Make your position known today.




Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Comments on the Teaching of Common Core Mathematics in the Lower Grades


Dear Friends,

An excellent article written on Common Core Math, by Dr. James Milgram, Professor of Mathematics at Stanford University, shared by Donna Garner, ( a retired teacher and an education activist.

 “Some Comments on the Teaching of Common Core Mathematics in the Lower Grades”

I don’t often get furious about the idiocies that daily emerge from the Common Core universe, but a recent statement by a lead writer of the Common Core math standards, Jason Zimba, got me there.

As I’ve noted before with Dr. Sandra Stotsky (a fellow member of the Common Core Validation Committee), the developers and promoters of Common Core have perpetrated a gigantic fraud on this country. Now Zimba wants parents to sit back and stop trying to minimize the damage.

In an article published in The Hechinger Report, Zimba addressed nationwide parental frustration at nonsensical math assignments by warning parents to do what he does with his children — basically shut up and let the teacher follow the standards. “The math instruction on the part of parents should be low,” Zimba said. “The teacher is there to explain the curriculum.” To encourage such submission, Zimba suggested, schools should consider more parental re-education about the standards.

So when a child sits for hours at the kitchen table struggling over math strategies that are counter-intuitive, inefficient, and blindingly stupid, his parents should not ease his pain and improve his education by showing him the simple and efficient way to work the problem. Rather, they should remind him that the teacher is the “expert” and then let him flounder through the rest of his K-12 career without ever learning how to actually do math.

I ran into this sort of thing when my eldest child was about the age of Zimba’s daughter (and when California was first imposing the failed math pedagogies that are now resurrected in Common Core). As a professor of mathematics at Stanford University, I happened to know something about the subject. Once I understood the idiotic and inappropriate things my son was being asked to do, I told him to do what his teachers wanted, to the best of his ability, but as soon as possible to come to me and I would explain what was really going on.

My son finished his education with a Ph.D in molecular biology and worked for years on projects such as the human genome. If I had acted as Zimba advises, my son almost certainly would have had trouble even getting to the level of doing real college work.

History repeats itself in my own family. Just a few weeks ago, my son had been working with a child for whom he’s the guardian, a fourth-grader, to make sure she understood some basic math concepts about place value and how they work in the standard algorithm for long (stairstep) multiplication.

Her fourth-grade teacher would not let her use it.

Instead, she was required to draw pictures of lines, points, and squares, and then laboriously count them up to achieve the product of two whole numbers, each less than 100. She complained to my son, understandably, that she was totally confused and didn’t understand why she wasn’t allowed to use the standard method that she both understood and realized was tremendously more efficient.

I gave her the same advice I had given my son years ago: Do what’s expected at school, but then come home to learn the math that really matters.

Zimba disapproves of this advice, perhaps because it suggests the Common Core standards he crafted are in some way deficient, which is glaringly obvious to any parent, much less any mathematician. But parents must deal with reality: especially in math, where everything builds on the material learned before. It’s critical that children understand what actually matters and what is supposed to be happening. If they waste a year ensnared in mathematical idiocy, they won’t be able to pick up what they need when they need it later. So asking parents to sit back and watch the sabotaging of their children’s mathematical future rather than intervene to straighten it out is asking them to abdicate their responsibilities as parents.

Perhaps Zimba decries effective parental assistance because it gives the fortunate children, whose parents know what’s going on and what should be going on, a huge advantage later in their schooling (as was almost certainly the case with my son). In modern education, where “equity” trumps all, I realize that this is considered unacceptable. But parents aren’t here to sacrifice their children to some cosmic and badly flawed principle of equity – their job is to make sure their children get the education they need. And they manifestly won’t get that from Common Core math.

Zimba can do what he wants with his own kids. But he needs to understand that it is almost criminal to try to prevent other parents from doing what they think necessary with theirs.–in-the-lower-grades-n2107316/page/full




Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Ted Cruz’s Plan to Dump the Common Core and the U.S. Dept. of Education


Dear Friends,

A very informative article written by Ted Cruz regarding his policy on Common Core and U.S. Department of Education shared by Donna Garner, ( a retired teacher and an education activist.

Ted Cruz’s Plan To Dump the Common Core

and the U. S. Dept. of Education



Educational opportunity thrives on choice, ingenuity, and diversity; the Department of Education squelches all three. Largely created as an outgrowth of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society, the Department of Education has existed in its current form since 1980. Despite its stated aim to bring equal access to all, it has failed to close the gap between low-income communities and other communities, and instead has led to one-size-fits-all solutions imposed on millions of students with differing educational needs.

Eliminating the Department of Education not only restores the states’ constitutional power and saves taxpayers billions of dollars, it returns decision-making to parents and local communities, and liberates students and teachers from a failed top-down approach. The growing federal role in education spurred by the Education Department has led to perverse mandates such as Common Core and counterproductive laws such as No Child Left Behind.

We should repeal every word of Common Core. And, as President, I will direct the Secretary of Education to immediately end the federal government’s mandates that seek to force states to adopt this failed attempt at a universal curriculum.

Even more broadly, we need to get the federal government out of education altogether. The Department of Education has the third largest discretionary budget in the federal government, and it provides 10 percent of funding for K-12 education.

Yet, with that 10 percent share, it imposes significant requirements on states and schools, forcing them to submit to federal bureaucrats. Education has traditionally been a state matter; the people closest to students know them best – parents and teachers know far more than Washington bureaucrats – and we are already witnessing remarkable reforms by state and local governments to increase school choice and resist Common Core standards. We need to restore parent and student choice and remove federal barriers to children’s success.

A Cruz Administration will eliminate the programs in the Department of Education that are wasteful, ineffective, and fail to achieve better student outcomes. We will perform a careful review of remaining programs to assess how best to return those responsibilities to state and local communities.

The lion’s share of K-12 funding will be block granted to the states, including Title I funding and the Individuals with Disabilities Education program, while the Indian Education program and Federal Impact Aid will be transferred to existing departments. Pell Grants will also remain intact and can be transferred to the Treasury Department. This will result in higher quality education, more tailored to local needs, at a lower cost.

The D.C. Public School Funding and the Opportunity Scholarship Program will persist because Washington D.C. is under the federal purview of Congress and it is constitutionally appropriate for those programs to continue to be overseen at a federal level. But those programs can be run by another department, and the Education Department can be shut down.

Ineffective Spending:

  • Since the Department’s inception in 1980, the federal government has spent nearly $1.5 trillion on education.
  • It cost the U.S. $151,000 per student to put the graduating class of 2009 through public school; adjusted for inflation, that is nearly three times the amount we spent on the graduating class of 1970.
  • Despite this outrageous spending, education outcomes have either stagnated or declined. The nation’s report card, first administered in 1992, shows that the disparity between white and black 12th grade reading scores has increased – showing African American students half a grade further behind their peers, and totaling a nearly three grade-level difference.



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12