In a recent email exchange with a senator, I responded to a couple questions which I thought I’d post here for others to read as well. He stated he was in agreement that we need to get rid of Common Core, but asked about solutions. This was my letter to him.
I’m providing you some links which I truly hope you will read and grasp a sense of the scope of the problem we are facing. The education establishment really has their heads in the sand and refuses to make the obvious connections. They don’t mind federal control as long as they get that money. We have to get off federal money.
On your item 2, Common Core isn’t a curriculum. It’s an agenda. I don’t think many people fully grasp this. If you were going to test a theory by changing something in a system, you would, under scientific principles, change one variable and hold the rest constant so you could measure the change. That’s the intelligent thing to do. If you were to change everything in a system including the way you measure performance, it would be meaningless. Under Common Core, they changed the standards, the curriculum, and they’ve also completely changed the testing both within schools (SAGE) and for college prep, David Coleman the president of the College Board and architect of Common Core has now changed the ACT, SAT, AP, and GED tests to align with Common Core. There is no possible way to measure the positives, or the negatives of what Common Core is inflicting on our children. It’s a giant psychological experiment that was never piloted anywhere. Common Core covers standards, assessments, database tracking of children from preschool into the workforce, highly effective teacher “redistribution” to “low performing” schools, privacy loosening, teacher punishing, etc… The list goes on.
I strongly encourage you to read these articles so you understand the scope of what we’re dealing with.
https://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/just-minimum-standards-or-a-national-coffle/ (especially watch the video clip of Bill Gates, the funder of Common Core. You may not know that Microsoft signed an agreement with UNESCO in 2004 to create a global education system. 10 years later Gates has spent $300 million on Common Core and much more globally to create this system.)
You ask about curriculum… Common Core was designed and collaborated on by the big players like Pearson, McGraw-Hill, etc… Common Core was rushed to the states before curriculum could be developed by other providers and as a result, everyone had to scramble and buy what a handful of major companies were ready for. They are being enriched with billions of dollars. Total boondoggle.
You bring up the notion that our students were mediocre and this is a lie that the state office tells in order to fit their circumstances. One minute it’s “we’re the lowest funded state but look at the awesome results we get,” and the next it’s, “our standards were so bad before Common Core that we just had to do something.” The people that play this game are liars.
In 2006 I succeeded with others in getting the legislature to pressure the USOE and state sup to redo our math standards. They fought this even though our math standards were D rated. In 2007, the new standards were given an A- and implemented in 2008-09 school year. They were a huge improvement. Keep in mind the USOE fought the change and gave multiple reasons why we shouldn’t change. In 2010, just 2 years into the new standards, Common Core comes out and they jump on board before the new standards had even been released. Why? They had a chance to get some Race to the Top money. To apply, they simply had to adopt the standards before they’d been piloted anywhere. So they did…2 days after the final draft of the standards came out. Pure idiocy. The math standards only go completely through algebra 2 because the people who made the standards testified they weren’t to prepare students for selective colleges, but non-selective (ie. 2 year and lower tier 4 year colleges). Common Core standards are truly minimal standards, but now they’ve tied high stakes tests to them so teachers are scrambling to ONLY teach what’s going to be on the test. Our children will NEVER excel under Common Core. Math implementation is a disaster because they’re using constructivist approaches to math which pretty much confuses both the student and the teacher (and the parents who try to help them). Further, because Utah adopted math in the integrated fashion instead of discrete years of math, we’ve now pushed algebra 1 completion to 9th grade for most students where it was in 8th grade under our 2007 standards. How is that an improvement? Now most kids can’t get to calculus unless they entered the honors track in 7th grade. In English, they’ve reduced literature to 50% of the reading assignments and the other 50% is informational texts like EPA reports (one example they cite). I could go on and on here but let me get to the solution. Here are two posts that outline the highest quality ELA standards available, and on math, we can either return to our 2007 standards or adopt someone else’s that is clearly superior to Common Core, such as CA’s which was great, and since the state was so big, textbook publishers actually wrote curriculum specifically for the state, so we could acquire some really good textbooks written specifically for the standards.
I realize I’m giving you a good bit of homework here and I truly hope you will read it. If there’s one more thing I would like you to know about which I think would have more effect on education in Utah than many things, please watch the 6 minute video I made here: