Parent Led Reform holds Common Core Forum in Centennial Colorado

Parent Led Reform Forum, Centennial, Colorado 8/12/13On Monday, August 12, 2013 Parent Led Reform held a Forum on Common Core at the Koelbel Library in Centennial Colorado.

Four experts on Common Core and related issues (high-stakes testing and data collection) answered questions.

The event was hosted by John Ransom (host of Ransom Notes Radio Show and editor of TownhallFinance.com). The panelists were:
Joy Pullman a research fellow of The Heartland institute (Heartland.org)
Jamie Gass, Director of the Center for School Reform at Pioneer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts (pioneerinstitute.org)
Shane Vander Hart, founder and editor-in-chief of Caffeinated Thoughts . (caffeinatedthoughts.com)
Treon Goossen, co-author of the current homeschool statute in Colorado.  She serves as the State Coordinator for ParentalRights.org

SUMMARY:   We are asked to take a One-Size-Fits-All,  top-down Progressive Curriculum, funded by Special Interests, endorsed by Governors and State Boards who will receive Federal dollars, toward educating all our children with an untested, mediocre, vastly expensive, World-Citizenshp-view, devoid of any reference to America’s Constitution or exceptionalism, with results measured by massive testing and information data mining  K-12, with no alternate choice or input from parents, no recourse if local problems arise, where State’s can only interject 15% but change nothing in the basic Nationalized curriculum, while teaching to a “Workforce or College” job array unknown today.   What could possibly go wrong?

Here are some of the questions posed by John or members of the audience and a summary of the answers:

Is Common Core a State-led initiative?
No, Common Core (Common Core State Standards Initiative – CCSS)  is a “special interest” led effort to enforce nation-wide standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics.   The nation’s governors and education commissioners, through their representative organizations the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) led the development of the Common Core State Standards and continue to lead the initiative. Other significant players in this initiative are Achieve, Inc and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  The National Governors Association receives 80% of their funding from the Federal Government.

What is the Role of Unions?
I think there was some comments re “workforce development” as a major objective… my notes are not very good.
Appears unions more interested in money and power than educating our children to be American workers with individual right or self-governing citizens.

What flexibility will states have that use Common Core?
States can add 15% additional content.  They cannot change the standards and the 15% will not be included in the associated tests (tests will only include the standards). Joy commented that the people in control of this initiative are not subject to guidelines in the Freedom of Information Act, .. she has found it difficult to get answers to her questions.

How does this initiative affect the Role of the Parent?
It removes control from parents and local authorities.  It is designed to establish a top-down approach.

The objective of the program is to have students ready for  “workforce or college”. It de-emphasizes the importance of being a citizen.  For example: the suggested reading does include the Bill of Rights but not the Constitution. The consensus of the panel was that “central planning” was a bad idea.

Jamie, referred to the 1983 Nation at Risk report. For the last 20 years the people that are now pushing CCSS have been  promoting “preparation for workforce” vs academics.  Massachusetts, on the other hand, developed new standards in the early 90’s and have had excellent results, with better student performance. There was some discussion about when to teach Algebra I.  One major defect in CCSS is that American students will not get to Algebra I in eighth grade, which is critical if our students are to be college-ready in mathematics.

Comments about One-Size-Fits-All
There is only one standard and the same test for all students.  Time spent “teaching to the test” is a concern.

Discussion about Remediation?
We hear that many students today need remediation when they enter college.  Will CCSS help? The consensus of the panel is that CCSS will not improve this situation.  The standards emphasize “progressive” ideas to promote “skills” at the expense of academics.  These methods where implemented have not proved to be effective.

What about Data Collection?
An associated project, called InBloom, is proposed to create a national data base of information about every student. Big privacy of information issues here.

Discussion about action to take?

There was some discussion by the audience about “opt out” or refuse to take the test.  Citizen input to the Colorado Board of Education is needed.

Marcia Neal’s name was mentioned several times.  Marcia  (represents the 3rd Contessional District – Grand Junction on the Colorado Board of Education) supports action to remove Colorado from the Common Core State Standards.  It was recommended we let her know we support this action. When the Colorado Board of Education apporved the Common Core Standards in 2010, Marcia voted against. The Colorado Board of Education approved the Common Core Standards, August 2010, on a vote 4-3.

The Colorado Legislature voted to be part of the testing consortium (PARCC) in May 2012 – SB12-1762.  Legislative action would be needed to reverse this decision.

People attending the meeting were urged to sign a petition addressed to the Adams 12 School Board of Education (Broomfield, CO) regarding concerns over books that are developmentally inappropriate and graphic content (example: incest, rape, and pedophilia) used for classroom instruction.  For more info, click here.

Reference:
The following articles were available as handouts at the meeting

Stop Common Core Rally – information about plans for activists to attend the Colorado Board of Education Meeting on August 14th in Denver.  People were urged attend and to speak out in opposition to Common Core during the Open Forum.

Article posted at Wall Street Journal on May 27, 2013 – “Common Core Education is Uncommonly Inadequate” by Jamie Gass and Charles Chieppo

Posted at Pioneer Institute – “The Road to a National Curriculum: The legal Aspects of the Common Core Standards, Race to the Top, and Conditional Waivers”

Article posted at Washington Post on March 9, 2012 by George Will – “Those pesky things called laws”

Links for Parent Led Reform
Facebook Page:   https://www.facebook.com/parentledreform  (so far 1094 likes)
Web Site: http://www.parentledreform.org/

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