Digital Reading Poses Learning Challenges for Students

Dear Friends,

 

The following is a most timely and informative publication from Education Week.

 

Digital Reading Poses Learning

Challenges for Students

By Benjamin Herold

Comprehension may suffer when students read on the digital devices now flooding into classrooms, an emerging body of research suggests.

In response, some academics, educators, and technology vendors are pushing to minimize the distracting bells and whistles that abound in high-tech instructional materials. They’re also trying to figure out how best to help students transfer tried-and-true print reading strategies into new digital learning environments.

“We have to move into the 21st century, but we should do so with great care to build a ‘bi-literate’ brain that has the circuitry for ‘deep reading’ skills, and at the same time is adept with technology,” said Maryanne Wolf, the director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University in Medford, Mass.

Schools have experienced a huge influx of digital learning tools in recent years, with nearly 1 in 3 public and private school students in the United States now using a school-issued mobile computing device, such as a laptop or digital tablet, according to a recent survey from Project Tomorrow, an Irvine, Calif.-based nonprofit group.

Over the same time period, all but a handful of states have adopted common academic standards that call upon students to master increasingly complex texts.

The convergence of those trends has helped spark renewed interest in decades of study of the merits of reading on a screen versus in print.

Researchers now say that while many digital texts do a good job of motivating and engaging young people, such texts also pose a number of problems.

When reading on screens, for example, people seem to reflexively skim the surface of texts in search of specific information, rather than dive in deeply in order to draw inferences, construct complex arguments, or make connections to their own experiences. Research has also found that students, when reading digitally, tend to discard familiar print-based strategies for boosting comprehension.

And many of the multimedia elements, animations, and interactive features found in e-books appear to function primarily as amusing distractions.

Rather than resist the new technologies, though, some educators are trying to make sure students get the best of both worlds. And they’re beginning to get help from ed-tech products such as Actively Learn, Curriculet, and Subtext.

“We are very intentional about how [our] user interface operates,” said Jason Singer, the CEO of Curriculet, an 18-month-old San Francisco-based startup that has already signed up more than 100,000 students and teachers for its free digital reading platform. “Our approach helps struggling or reluctant readers revisit or reread the text, or note that important moment to stop, take a breath, and read more deeply.”

Digital Reading Tension

Christopher Hitt, 14, is the picture of a “reluctant reader.”

“I never read. Only when I have to. I think it’s really boring,” said Mr. Hitt, a 9th grader in the 3,000-student Southern Regional school system in Manahawkin, N.J.

When given an assignment, he said, he prefers reading on a digital device to reading a print book.

But Mr. Hitt is also quick to acknowledge a big problem: “I understand better when [text] is on paper, because it’s all right there, and it’s not skipping ahead and back all the time.”

That tension—between digital reading’s tendency to foster increased engagement, but discourage deeper comprehension—is presenting a massive new challenge for schools, said Andrew Dillon, the dean of the school of information at the University of Texas at Austin.

“There’s been this huge push from tech companies to get their stuff into classrooms, but that’s purely a commercial venture,” Mr. Dillon said. “There are real consequences for the types of serious reading people can do in those [digital] environments.”

Researchers have documented students’ struggles with comprehension when reading Internet-based texts on computers, although the literature on how reading e-books on computers is inconclusive.

And while similar research on mobile devices is just emerging, there are worrisome signs: A study last year by Heather R. and Jordan T. Schugar, a wife-and-husband research team at Westchester University of Pennsylvania, found that a small sample of students comprehended traditional books at “a much higher level” than they comprehended the same material when read on an iPad.

A 2012 study by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, a New York City-based research organization for children’s digital media, found that 3- to 6-year-old children who “co-read” high-tech e-books with their parents “recalled significantly fewer narrative details than children who read the print version of the same story.”

As a result, some observers fear that mobile devices, especially digital tablets as they are now being used in the classroom, are not supporting the kinds of extended, rich interactions with text called for in the Common Core State Standards.

“People think of technology as the solution, but it’s often the cause of the problem,” Mr. Dillon said. “It’s not the end of reading, but it is the diminution or simplification of reading.”

For Katherine A. Baker, who’s been teaching freshman English at Southern Regional High School in New Jersey for 15 years, the question is not whether print or digital media better support students’ comprehension, but the best ways to help students like Mr. Hitt learn to read deeply in both environments.

“We live in two worlds now,” she said. “We have to adapt.”

“Some of our best thought will go into how the [digital] medium can address its own weaknesses,” said Ms. Wolf, from Tufts University.

But for now, she said, “good common sense tells us that we want to preserve the best of what we know from print as we acquire these new skills.”

Article from Education Week Published in Print May 7, 2014

“Screen Reading Poses Learning Challenges”      Vol. 33, Issue 30, Pages 1, 24-25

Coverage of entrepreneurship and innovation in education and school design is supported in part by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.

 

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE District 12

WHY WE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM AND LIBERTY

Dear Friends,

The following is an inspiring speech given in 2012 by Munir Captain, former interpreter for the U.S. Military, Operations Iraqi Freedom (2004-2009).  With Memorial Day coming up, this is a most timely and informative message.  His letter defines and defends why we fight for freedom and liberty and why former President George Bush sent our troops into Iraq.   

God Bless America!  (although the letter is long, it is well worth the read…)

 

Respectfully,

 

Tincy Miller

SBOE, Dist. 12

 

 

Munir Captain Remarks October 27, 2012 in Dallas, Texas

Thank you for giving me this incredible opportunity to share my experience with you. I’m honored to be here. My name is Munir Captain, and I am a former interpreter with the United States military and commander of the U.S. constituted Iraqi Special Forces.  I have been asked to speak to you about what life was like in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, how I joined the U.S. Military to fight for and build the new Iraq, and why we in America should support and commend our military’s efforts in the global war on terrorism.

 

I was born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq, when Dictator Saddam Hussein was in power. We were struggling in all aspects of life.  Our economy was in shambles, and so was our security and freedom. Under his regime, our lives had no value and people were getting killed for the most trivial reasons.  I watched as men and women were led to prisons, usually never to return. My neighbors were executed when the Ba’athists discovered a computer printer in their home. Saddam Hussein targeted my family because my grandfather was a successful businessman, outspoken against the regime.  He was captured and tortured by Saddam’s brother, and his business confiscated.  I come from a family of six: father, mother and four brothers, and we all lived in an apartment that was smaller than the studio I have here now.  My mom was paid only a dollar and a half each month at her job at a bank as punishment for not being part of the regime, but our rent ranged anywhere between $30 and $60 a month.  My parents had to work three jobs, and my brothers and I started working when we were in the 1st and 2nd grade.  All this work did not earn us a decent living, but enabled us to survive.  Most days we ate one meal; a day of two meals was a rare celebration.  The six of us would share 2 eggs, 1 potato and 2 pieces of bread, and that’s all we had for the entire day.  But we never felt sorry for ourselves, because our neighbors couldn’t even afford eggs; so instead, they would dig into our trash and eat our eggshells for their breakfast.  I remember my younger brother needing blood one time; he was sick and near death.  But the hospital’s doctors only had pens and papers.  They did not even have one syringe to pull blood samples from donors, or even electricity.

 

Fortunately, my brothers and I did attend school, where we learned English.  My school days were full of beatings, because I dared to question the teachers.  When I turned 12, I was forced to go to Saddam’s so-called military training camps, or forego further education because my family was not part of the regime.  Saddam’s men would wake us up at 4:30 in the morning, take us on a long march through the desert, with a quick tour through the camp’s sewage canals, then feed us bread hard enough to crack walls and safes open.  We would dip the hard bread in a canteen of milk and tea with no sugar, wait for 30 minutes to get it soft enough to be eaten, before heading out to the desert to train for 9 hours in 140 degrees Fahrenheit, with no water, wearing our black boots and black uniforms.  I saw over thirty percent of our unit die of dehydration, malnutrition and heat stroke.  These were young boys, dying like flies; Saddam’s guards showed no compassion, they just laughed at our suffering.

 

While the people of Iraq were suffering, Saddam and his boys were ordering French whiskey, Cuban cigars and prostitutes from all over the world, to celebrate the “victory” of the bloody wars our country had to fight for no logical reasons.  Iraq has been the playground of long, bloody wars.  In eight years of war with Iran, Iraq lost 1 million men, 500,000 thousand disabled and another 500,000 missing in action.  Then when Saddam thought that was not enough, he invaded Kuwait and led the country into a war with the world’s most powerful militaries.  When that one-way war was over and he lost epically, he raised another war against his own people.  Innocent people were being shelled by tanks and artillery every day.  Innocent women were being raped by his Republican Guards.  Babies were being mutilated and thrown into the rivers. When people went to mosques to peacefully pray and protest the oppression, he’d order his men to drive their tanks over those protestors.  Under Saddam’s regime before the U.S. invasion we lived in constant terror, with no hope of change.

 

When we saw the first American tank rolling into Baghdad, we thought it was a dream, because we couldn’t believe that Saddam would ever go away.  We were so oppressed that we couldn’t fathom a better life.  We watched as your troops handed out candy to kids, speaking without being afraid of being killed or thrown in jail, and those moments meant the world to us.  Had your troops not invaded Iraq and destroyed Saddam’s regime, we would never have been able to respect life, understand freedom, eat a decent meal or even own a cell phone or computer printer.  It was not until your troops invaded that I wore cotton socks for the first time.  When an Army sergeant handed me those socks, I couldn’t help but weep.  When I went through those so-called military camps as a boy, I had to wear my thick, hard, black boots with no socks.  My feet would blister and we had to march, train, jump out of helicopters and run with blisters.  I couldn’t believe how comfortable those socks were, and I will always associate that simple comfort with the American troops’ image.

 

Your troops treated everyone as human beings. We were treated with dignity and respect.  We started to earn decent wages; my family could finally afford to eat 3 meals a day, buy a car and a cell phone and go to a dentist.  I lost my teeth as a child because we couldn’t afford toothpaste.  It was your sons and daughters that taught us to speak freely without fear, pursue a better live and enjoy freedom.  What we saw inspired many of us to follow suit.  Iraqis started to open businesses and form political parties, people started to vote for the person they thought represented their interests best, and most importantly, we started to understand the value of life.

 

Your troops also taught us that freedom is not free, and that we had to fight hard for it.  So joining the American military was a quick and simple decision for me.  I was only fifteen years old when I joined and went to live on base, and I often say I was raised by the U.S. military.  The enemies of freedom hated what they saw happening in Iraq, so they started attacking what we were building.  Your men and women bravely fought those evil people, and were manning the front lines even when Iraqis wanted to give up.  IT TOOK YOUR SONS AND DAUGHTERS WHO INSPIRED US AND LEAD US BY EXAMPLEI saw Marines handing out candy and medical supplies to children’s hospitals; Navy medics treating wounded women; Army engineers building new schools and Air Force pilots delivering food and water to people in disaster.  What I admired about your troops is that they came from different walks of life; had different colors, races and religions; had their own political and personal beliefs and associations – yet they all fought for one cause.  They all believed in the same mission, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and they were willing to sacrifice their own lives to accomplish it.  You should all be thankful that you have men and women fighting on your behalf, so you can happily and safely enjoy your freedom your Constitution granted you.  Iraqis will forever thank your troops for making it possible for them to write their own constitution that freed them from compulsory military service, swearing allegiance to one political party and man, and having to give away their freedom of speech.  When you see a man or woman in uniform, you should go shake their hands, thank them for fighting on your behalf so you can be here and tell them how much their service means to you. I can attest on behalf of those heroes that it is not money, rank or position they were after.  Many of the warriors I served with came from families that had money, but those warriors had a cause that is a lot greater than money or themselves; it was selfless service to their country, people and the freedom of people wherever they exist in the world.

 

But as you all know, the war on terror is not over, not in the world and certainly not in Iraq. While I was working with the U.S. military, I was ambushed by al Qaeda, and chose to go with them as a prisoner in exchange for the safety of my father and brother.  I survived eleven days of torture as a POW, before I freed myself and another prisoner.  We returned and I am glad to say, neutralized the enemy.  I became a permanent resident of the United States in 2009, because after surviving thirty-three assassination attempts on my life, my military commanders recommended me for a special immigrant visa.  I am now studying toward my bachelor’s degree in international business and human rights, and I will become a U.S. citizen next year.    But I carefully monitor events in Iraq, and I can tell you this enemy will not let up, and they are still targeting anyone who wants a free and peaceful Iraq.  Last summer, my younger brother and cousin were captured by al Qaeda, tortured and killed, and their bodies dumped in the river.  They were not military – they were both artists and college students, not even nineteen years old.  And this summer, my uncle and his family of seven were gunned down in their homes because he and his eldest son were lawyers responsible for bringing terrorists to justice.  The fight for freedom still goes on in Iraq, and I believe ultimately, those who love freedom will prevail.

 

 

So I want to thank all of you who served in Iraq.  Thanks to your military, Iraqis don’t have to worry about their own president attacking them with chemical weapons, eradicating entire villages and wiping them from the face of the Earth.  Thanks to your troops, Iraqi children don’t have to serve in the military and die out of dehydration just to get an education.  Thanks to your military, people do not have to eat eggshells to survive anymore.  Iraqis are forever indebted for the sacrifices your American sons and daughters made, so that Iraqis can live another day with dignity and respect.  You left this heaven of America, descended into what was the hell in Iraq, and gave nearly thirty-three million human beings a chance for life, freedom and democracy.  Thank you for your service, your sacrifice, and leading by example, teaching service above self, and that freedom is not free.

 

 

Information about the author, Munir Captain:

Interpreter for the U.S. military, Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2004-2009

Commander, U.S. Constituted Iraqi Special Forces

Munir Captain served as an interpreter for high profile conferences between senior Marine Officers, U.S. Generals, and Iraqi Ministry of Defense dignitaries. He led a team of Special Forces commandos in Operation Phantom Fury, considered the most valuable Iraqi unit supporting the Marine Corps. After thirty-three assassinations attempts on his life, his commanding officers recommended him for a Special Immigrant Visa, granting permanent residency and a path to American citizenship.

Texas’ high school graduation rates shine in national comparison

Dear Friends,

 

The following is a most timely and informative News Release published by the Texas Education Agency on April 29, 2014.

 Texas’ high school graduation rates shine in national comparison

 

AUSTIN – In a study released this week by the U.S. Department of Education, only Iowa posted a higher graduation rate than Texas for the Class of 2012. Texas, with a graduation rate of 88 percent, tied for second place with Nebraska, Vermont and Wisconsin.

 

In addition, the Texas Class of 2012 had the highest graduation rate in the country among African-American students and tied for the highest graduation rates for white and economically disadvantaged students.

 

According to the First Look report from the National Center for Education Statistics, the national high school graduation rate hit 79 percent for the class of 2011 and 80 percent for the class of 2012. Commissioner of Education Michael Williams noted that Texas’ overall graduation rate for both classes easily exceeded the national averages.

 

“Texas educators continue to be among the leaders in assuring students reach the finish line and are prepared for life after high school,” said Commissioner Williams. “While these numbers reflect the hard work accomplished on campuses all across our state, I have no doubt teachers and counselors would agree there is more we can do to help every student earn their high school diploma.”

 

For the class of 2012, Texas posted a graduation rate of 88 percent, well above the national average (80 percent) and tied with three other states for second highest. Iowa posted a graduation rate of 89 percent.

 

For the class of 2012, Texas’ graduation rates in almost every key demographic ranked either first, second, or third compared to other states.

 

Class of 2012

TEXAS

RANK

UNITED STATES

All Students

88%

2nd (tie)

80%

White

93%

1st (tie)

86%

Hispanic

84%

2nd

73%

African-American

84%

1st

69%

Economically Disadvantaged

85%

1st (tie)

72%

Students with Disabilities

77%

3rd (tie)

61%

 

 

For the class of 2011, Texas posted a graduation rate of 86 percent, well above the national average (79 percent) and tied with five other states for third highest. Vermont and Wisconsin posted a graduation rate of 87 percent, and Iowa posted a graduation rate of 88 percent.

 

For the class of 2011, Texas’ graduation rates in almost every key demographic ranked first, second, or third compared to other states.

 

 

Class of 2011

TEXAS

RANK

UNITED STATES

All Students

86%

3rd (tie)

79%

White

92%

1st

84%

Hispanic

82%

3rd

71%

African-American

81%

2nd (tie)

67%

Economically Disadvantaged

84%

1st

70%

Students with Disabilities

77%

1st

59%

 

The public high school event dropout rate for the United States remained constant at 3.3 percent for both the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years. Conversely, Texas’ high school event dropout rate was 2.4 percent in 2010-2011 and 2.5 percent in 2011-2012.

 

The National Center for Education Statistics is the primary federal entity for collecting, analyzing and reporting data related to education in the United States and other nations.  To review the complete First Look report, visit http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014391.pdf.

 

 

Respectfully,

 

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Why Mom’s are Protesting Common Core

Monday | March 10, 2014

Dear Friends,

A timely and informative article written by Phyllis Schlafly, Founder and President, Eagle Forum.

WHY MOMS ARE PROTESTING COMMON CORE

One of the major reasons why Moms are vigorously opposing schools adopting the much ballyhooed Common Core standards is that they are tied to the gathering and storing of in-depth personal data about every child. The files are called longitudinal, which means they include information from birth and track the kids all through school and college.

This longitudinal system reminds us of the ominous practice of the Chinese Communists who, in pre-internet days, stored every child’s personal information (academic, medical, behavioral, and home situation) in a manila folder that was ultimately turned over to his employer when he finished school.
The New York Times published a famous picture of a Chinese warehouse filled with a dangan (archival record) for millions of Chinese individuals. The collection and retention of voluminous personal information (academic from pre-K through university, behavioral, political, and appraisals by others) is the way a totalitarian state keeps control of its people.

Federal law is supposed to prevent collection of this sort of personal information and the building of a national database on students, but the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act regulations have been amended to weaken privacy restrictions. Databases on students can be collected by states and then exchanged with other agencies and states, which effectively achieves a national student database.

Only the English and Math Common Core standards have so far been released. The Math standards are based on an unproven theory called constructivism, which means the kids are not drilled in basic arithmetic (addition, subtraction, and multiplication) but instead are taught to “construct” their own way of figuring out the answers.

English literature selections are not read for the joy of reading and learning, but so they can be analyzed and critiqued by students using leftwing norms. That’s called New Criticism Literary Analysis, another unproved theory of education.

A bill just introduced in the Florida State Senate (SB 1316) shows more reasons why parents are upset about Common Core. The bill would require that, before adopting Common Core, at least one hearing to receive public testimony must be held in each congressional district, attended by at least one state school board member.

The Florida bill requires a fiscal report on the projected cost of implementation of Common Core standards before they are adopted.

The bill would also prohibit the State Board of Education from entering into any agreement that cedes to an outside entity control over curricular standards or assessments.

Common Core replaces traditional local control of education with a privately copyrighted document that must be used as written and not altered in any way. Schools and teachers are complaining about the high cost of teacher training plus buying all new materials, books, workbooks, iPads and computers for every student.

Common Core has created a tremendous money-making opportunity for private companies that advertise their products as “aligned” with Common Core, and “aligned” has become the magic word to promote sales. California has allocated $1.25 billion in the current school year for adopting Common Core.

For example, now available for purchase is a set of nearly 500-page books called “SpringBoard, Consumable Student Edition” which is advertised on the cover to be “The College Board’s official Pre-AP program.” There is a book for each middle-school and high-school level that includes large spaces where students can write their answers or comments.

The selected readings in one of these middle school books are a curious lot. Two of the longest readings are the complete United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child and the complete United Nations Millennium Declaration.

Global diversity appears to be the rationale for article selections, which include articles about head scarves on Muslims in France, the punishment of an American teenager in Singapore, an arranged marriage in India, learning the Japanese language, an African novel, and three articles promoting belief in global warming.

The very few pages devoted to American culture include the problem of a kid trying to avoid parental punishment for arriving home after his curfew deadline, Halloween, and a controversy over sea lions in Oregon.

The advertising for these books specifies that “The SpringBoard program is well aligned with the Common Core standards,” and “The strength of the SpringBoard program continues to be the development of critical thinking and close reading skills through scaffolded instruction.”

If you are mystified, so am I, and so are the teachers. But be assured: David Coleman, the person credited with developing the Common Core standards, is the new head of the College Board and says he is now rewriting the SAT tests. The tests are the mechanism of national control over curriculum.
Respectfully,

Tincy Miller
SBOE, Member Dist. 12
Gtince@aol.com

Permanent School Fund Hits Record High Value

Dear Friends,

Great news about the Kid’s Textbook Fund.
PERMANENT SCHOOL FUND HITS RECORD HIGH VALUE

AUSTIN – The Permanent School Fund, the second largest educational endowment in the country, reached a record high value in 2013 and posted the highest return of any major state of Texas investment fund for the fiscal year.

Created by the state in 1854 with a $2 million investment, the endowment topped $29 billion in market value by the end of December.

In fiscal year 2013, which ended Aug. 31, the fund earned a return of 10.16 percent. That was the highest return earned by any major state of Texas investment fund. As a result of recent strong returns, the Permanent School Fund was also the best performing major state fund over a three-year period ending on Aug. 31, 2013, with a return of 11.07 percent.

“Last year was a golden year for the Permanent School Fund,” said Pat Hardy, chair of the State Board of Education’s Committee on School Finance/Permanent School Fund. “The board’s careful and prudent investment of the fund’s increasingly diverse portfolio resulted in top-of-the-line returns and that’s great news for our public schools,” she said.

The fund helps Texas schools and the state’s citizens in two ways. A distribution from the fund is made every year to help pay a portion of education costs in each school district. During the 2012-2013 biennium, the fund distributed more than $2 billion to the schools. Since 1960, it has distributed more than $23 billion to the schools.

The fund also provides a guarantee for bonds issued by local school districts and this important support will soon be extended to charter schools. As a result of the fund maintaining the AAA bond rating through the global financial crisis, qualified districts are able to pay lower interest rates when issuing bonds.

At the end of 2013, the fund’s assets guaranteed $55.2 billion in school district bonds, providing a cost savings to 810 public school districts.

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller
SBOE District 12

WE NEED VOLUNTEERS TO REVIEW HISTORY, MATH, AND FINE ARTS TEXTBOOKS!

Dear Friends,

I need your help.

WE NEED VOLUNTEERS TO REVIEW HISTORY, MATH, AND FINE ARTS TEXTBOOKS!

Now is the time for you to make a difference in how history is recorded in the textbooks used in Texas classrooms! Please contact me if you are interested in being part of a textbook review;
board members can nominate people to serve on a panel and they are given priority consideration.

We especially need help reviewing the history textbooks. Please spread the work; we need our grassroots citizens to read the content in our children’s textbooks!

Please contact me at gtince@aol.com

Here is the information about the nomination form:

The Texas Education Agency is now accepting nominations to the state review panels that will evaluate instructional materials for:

Social Studies, grades K-12 and social studies (Spanish), grades K-5
Mathematics, grades 9-12
Fine Arts, grades K-12

1. To nominate yourself or someone else to serve on a state review panel, please complete the form posted at
http://www.tea.state.tx.us/WorkArea/linkit.aspx?LinkIdentifier=id&ItemID=25769808256&libID=25769808258 and submit it to the TEA on or before Friday, January 24, 2014

 

A few details are listed here; there are more when you open the link:

State review panels are scheduled to convene in Austin for one week during the summer of 2014 to review instructional materials. The TEA will reserve hotel lodging and reimburse panel members for all travel expenses, as allowable by law.

Panel members will be asked to complete an initial review of instructional materials prior to the in-person review. This will be done online

Because many of the samples will be delivered electronically, panel members should be comfortable reviewing materials on-screen rather than in print. Nominations are due on or before Friday, January 24, 2014

If you have any questions, please contact review.adoption@tea.state.tx.us
Respectfully,

Tincy Miller
SBOE, District 12

Common Core Doesn’t Add Up to STEM Success

Friday | January 3, 2014
Dear Friends,

A most timely and informative article written by well known respected educator Sandra Stotsky.

Friday January 3, 2014 Wall Street Journal

As a former member of the Common Core Validation Committee and the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, I am one of the few mothers to have heard the full sales pitch for this latest educational reform, which has been adopted by 45 states.

I know the Common Core buzz words, from “deeper learning” and “critical thinking” to “fewer, clearer, and higher standards.” It all sounds impressive, but I’m worried that the students who study under these standards won’t receive anywhere near the quality of education that children in the U.S. did even a few years ago.

President Obama correctly noted in September 2012 that “leadership tomorrow depends on how we educate our students today—especially in science, technology, engineering and math.” He has placed a priority on increasing the number of students and teachers who are proficient in these vital STEM fields. And the president’s National Math and Science Initiative is strongly supported by people like Suzanne McCarron, president of the Exxon Mobil Foundation, who has said she wants to “inspire our nation’s youth to pursue STEM careers by capturing their interest at an early age.”

Yet the basic mission of Common Core, as Jason Zimba, its leading mathematics standards writer, explained at a videotaped board meeting in March 2010, is to provide students with enough mathematics to make them ready for a nonselective college—”not for STEM,” as he put it. During that meeting, he didn’t tell us why Common Core aimed so low in mathematics. But in a September 2013 article published in the Hechinger Report, an education news website affiliated with Columbia University’s Teachers College, Mr. Zimba admitted: “If you want to take calculus your freshman year in college, you will need to take more mathematics than is in the Common Core.”

The high-school math standards are too weak
to give us more engineers or scientists.

As Stanford mathematics professor James Milgram noted in “Lowering the Bar,” a report the two of us co-wrote for the Pioneer Institute in September, the Common Core deliberately leaves out “major topics in trigonometry and precalculus.” Contrast that with the status quo before the Common Core, when states like Massachusetts and California provided precalculus standards for high-school students. The implications of this are dramatic. “It is extremely rare for students who begin their undergraduate years with coursework in precalculus or an even lower level of mathematical knowledge to achieve a bachelor’s degree in a STEM area,” Mr. Milgram added.

Common Core’s deficiencies also plague its English standards, though its proponents have been selling the opposite line. Under the Common Core, complex literary study—literature close to or at a college reading level—is reduced to about 50% of reading instructional time in high school English class. The rest of the time is to be spent on “informational” texts, and more writing than reading is required at all grade levels.

Excerpts will have to do when reading “The Great Gatsby” so students can spend more time on the Teapot Dome Scandal. Yes, that’s a real suggestion for informational reading from the National Council of Teachers of English, the professional organization of English teachers that aims to support teachers under the Common Core.

In its November 2013 Council Chronicle, a teacher argued that learning about this 1920s government oil scandal is the proper way to “contextualize” Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age characters. But reducing the time students spend studying complex literature means fewer opportunities to learn how to read between the lines—the fundamental way teenagers learn how to analyze a text.

Still, no major English or humanities organizations have endorsed the Common Core state standards for English language arts. Not so in mathematics.

Despite the dramatic mismatch of the Common Core math standards with the White House goal of preparing more students for a STEM career, all the heads of major professional mathematics associations expressed “strong support for the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics” in a July 2013 letter solicited and posted by William McCallum, professor of mathematics at the University of Arizona and a Common Core math standards writer. Other signers include the presidents of the American Mathematical Society, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the Association for Women in Mathematics, the Benjamin Banneker Association, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics and TODOS: Mathematics for ALL.

Why leaders of these organizations would endorse standards that will not prepare students for college majors in mathematics, science, engineering and mathematics-dependent fields is a puzzle. But no educational reform that leads to fewer engineers, scientists and doctors is worthy of the name.
Ms. Stotsky was a member of Common Core’s Validation Committee from 2009-10. She is professor emerita at the University of Arkansas.

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller
SBOE, District 12

CSCOPE IS NOT IN COMPLIANCE WITH SBOE ADOPTED STANDARDS

Thursday | December 12, 2013

Dear Friends,
A most timely and informative report on CSCOPE, written by a highly respected member of the Ad Hoc Review Committee, Bill Ames.Published December 3, 2013
CSCOPE IS NOT IN COMPLIANCE WITH
SBOE ADOPTED STANDARDS

CSCOPE critics have done admirable work in exposing lesson plans that reveal CSCOPE as anti-American, anti-Christian, and a rogue implementation of the legislatively-banned common core philosophy in Texas.But CSCOPE proponents publicly claim that its lesson plans are aligned with the SBOE-adopted TEKS.The pro-CSCOPE folks are wrong.

Yes, the CSCOPE lesson plans that categorized Boston Tea Party patriots as terrorists, and Islamic 911 terrorists as freedom fighters, have been quietly removed from the CSCOPE arsenal.

But those lessons have been replaced by more subtle and clever ways to indoctrinate Texas’ students.

As a CSCOPE volunteer lesson plan reviewer, I recently reviewed eleven CSCOPE U. S. history lessons.  My past experience gives me a wealth of knowledge regarding TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) content and curriculum evaluations.

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller
SBOE, Member Dist. 12
Gtince@aol.com

Great Hearts Charter Academy Article by DMN

Tuesday | December 3, 2013

Dear Friends,

The following is an editorial from The Dallas Morning News published November 27, 2013 about Great Hearts Charter Academy. I support this Charter because it emphasizes a classical liberal arts curriculum, focusing on the Great Books and the Socratic teaching method.

Limiting School Options
North Texans lose out on choice of charters

Call us confused.
One year ago, the State Board of Education approved an application for Great Hearts Academies of Arizona to open a charter school in San Antonio. But last week that same panel denied the same charter organization the right to open campuses in North Texas.

What was that flip-flop about? And did the nine dissenting board members consider that their flip-flop might give pause to other out-of-state charter operators who might have something to offer Texas?

On Friday, the elected education panel denied Great Hearts an opportunity to open four North Texas schools. The organization’s liberal arts curriculum emphasizes the classics, character education and the arts.

Great Hearts also has a proven academic record in Arizona, its home state. The network of public but autonomous schools wanted to bring its rigorous model to Irving, Oak Cliff/West Dallas and Old East Dallas.

Irving’s mayor even invited Great Hearts to locate in her city. Two hundred people turned up for an informational meeting. And some Irving supporters went to Austin to tell board members of their interest. (Similarly, San Antonio leaders and families asked Great Hearts to open a campus last year.)

Irving supports has reason to hope for victory. Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams already had approved Great Hearts’ expansion into North Texas. Plus, a State Board of Education committee last week approved Great Hearts’ North Texas application.

The groundwork was laid, or so it seemed. Great Hearts than lost 6-9 at the full board level.

Opponents cited the organization’s predominance of white students in Arizona as a concern. Great Hearts has 33 percent minority student population across its network.

That may not seem representative of the Dallas situation, but it shouldn’t be a deal breaker. Great Hearts’ minority population has increased as the network has grown.

For example, 75 percent of the students at Maryvale Prep in west Phoenix are either African-American or Latino. Sixty-seven percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunches. Yet, their academic performance has been superb. The school earned an A- grade from the state, plus some of the highest standardized test scores within the network of schools.

Great Hearts was planning to open its first North Texas charters in diverse neighborhoods in Irving and Oak Cliff. Those moves would have followed the San Antonio model, where Great Hearts is opening its first Texas campus. Keep in mind that the operator would have to abide by state rules and have an open admission policy. A lottery would have determined admission.

Some families may not prefer a liberal arts curriculum. But clearly the state will benefit from a broad range of proven charter school operators. That way, parents and students will have a menu from which to select.

Unfortunately, the State Board of Education just took a potentially attractive set of schools off the North Texas menu.

Review the numbers
What is the Great Hearts Academies?
The charter school network was founded in Arizona, where it manages a dozen schools with more than 5,000 students in grades K-12.
The schools emphasize liberal arts curriculum, focusing on the Great Books and the Socratic teaching method.
What results have the academies produced?
Great Hearts’ schools rank in the top 1 percent of all Arizona public schools.
Students in the network’s six high schools outpaced Arizona peers on the state’s 10th grade reading, writing, math and science tests by as much as 13 percent to 37 percent.
95 percent of graduates attend a four-year college
SOURCE: greatheartsaz.org

 

Votes as recorded at Texas Education Agency

Votes as recorded at Texas Education Agency
Veto vote (9)                                       Yes votes (6)
Lawrence Allen (D)                                Tincy Miller(R)
Ruben Cortez (D)                                  Barbara Cargill(R)
Martha Dominguez (D)                          Donna Bahorich(R)
Pat Hardy (R)                                         Marty Rowley (R)
Mavis Knight (D)                                    Ken Mercer (R)
Tom Maynard (R)                                   David Bradley(R)
Sue Melton (R)
Thomas Ratliff (R)
Marisa Perez (D)

 

Respectfully,
Tincy Miller
SBOE, Member Dist. 12
Gtince@aol.com

House Bill 462/Common Core

Tuesday | November 19, 2013

Dear Friends,
A timely and informative letter from the Commissioner Michael Williams to each school district in Texas in regard to House Bill 462/Common Core.

As you consider funding opportunities, especially those offered by the United States Department of Education, I want to remind you of the provisions in a new law prohibiting the adoption or use of the Common Core State Standards.

The 83rd Texas Legislature passed House Bill 462 (HB 462)/Common Core, which contains several important prohibitions relating to curriculum standards. The bill:
prohibits the State Board of Education (SBOE) from adopting Common Core State Standards
prohibits school districts from using Common Core State Standards to meet the requirements to provide instruction in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TELS);
prohibits a school district or open enrollment charter school from being required to offer the Common Core; and
prohibits the Texas Education Agency from adopting or developing assessments based on Common Core State Standards
You may read the full text of HB 462 by clicking here

Chapter 28 of the Texas Education Code requires the SBOE to develop the essential knowledge and skills that Texas schools are required to teach. Additionally, the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) are based entirely on those TEKS developed and adopted by the SBOE.

To the extent that you pursue funding that requires your district to use college and career readiness standards, please remember that the Texas Legislature required the adoption of college and career readiness standards in 2006, making Texas the first state to mandate the development and use of college readiness standards. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board adopted the Texas College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) in 2008, and the SBOE has since embedded the CCRS within the TEKS.

You may review the CCRS by clicking here

# # #

Respectfully,
Tincy Miller
SBOE, Member Dist. 12
Gtince@aol.com