Common Core Arne and Second Graders

Arne Duncan common coreIf Common Core weren’t so serious, I would find Arne Duncan quite humorous.

Let  me ask you this…how many of you knew what career path you wanted to follow before graduating from high school?  How many of you entered college unsure of what you wanted to study? I certainly fall into this category. I changed majors three times before settling on Communications and Political Science. How many of you even knew if you wanted to attend, or could attend, college when you were 7 years old? When I was 7, I was going to be a ballerina, a teacher, a nurse, and a pilot…all at once.

Apparently, Arne Duncan had it all figured out, for he is a rather unique creature, and he expects every other 7 year-old to have it all figured out as well. I ran across an article from the New York Times from February of 2009 in which he actually stated that during a visit to a Brooklyn charter school. “We should be able to look every second grader in the eye and say, ‘You’re on track, your going to be able to go to a good college, or you’re not.”

Really? Have you ever been around second-graders, Arne, or even seen one?

Second-graders are highly interested in perfecting the arm-pit fart, Minecraft, rubber band jewelry, and groundies (a type of tag). Sure, they may have some ideas about what they want to be when they grow up, and for 90 percent of them, that will change at least as many times that I change majors.

As it should. The beauty of childhood is being able to explore interests, discover talents, build skills and figure out what they want to and are most suited to do.  Sorry, Arne, it’s just not about you.

My concern is that he’s actually serious and is going to try to force that scenario down the throats of every second grader and their parents across this country.

The following video is a touchy-feely ad from Pearson about increasing technology in schools, and, towards the end, you’ll notice the smiling mom gets an electronic update telling her that her son is on track for certain careers.  Now, I don’t know about you, but that’s just not the way it’s supposed to happen.  Arne and corporate goons are not supposed to tell me what my child will be doing…we’ll let them know…maybe.

I wonder what the outcome would have been if someone had told George Washington Carver or Albert Einstein at the second grade level whether or not they were on track for higher education, and what “career track” they were on?  How does that work with someone like Bill Gates who dropped out of school?

NBC News published an article in 2005 about the fallacy of forcing high school students choosing schools and degree programs when they, in all likelihood, have no idea what they want to do.

“Eighty percent of college-bound students have yet to choose a major, according to Dr. Fritz Grupe, founder of MyMajors.com. But they are still expected to pick schools, apply to and start degree programs without knowing where they want to end up. It is little wonder 50 percent of those who do declare a major, change majors — with many doing so two and three times during their college years, according to Grupe.”

I am editing a book written by an incredible man who struggled to settle on a career path until his sophomore year of college.  Ironically, he was told as senior in high school that he should not pursue a degree in engineering because he showed no mechanical aptitude.  He changed majors several times before entering a program at Cal Poly in Pamona, California and ultimately earn his …yep, you know where I’m going with this…electronic engineering degree.  He went on to design the flight computer for the Navy’s F-14 and the SYM-1, used in the Navy’s robotics Robart series. What if he had believed them when they said he couldn’t?

So, we are to now ignore human development, growth, exploration and creativity…not to mention common sense…by telling second graders whether or not they are on track for college? That’s like trying to tell tornadoes they can no longer go through the state of Kansas.

Impossible and senseless, not to mention heartless. If Arne has his way, he will be setting many second-graders up for failure by self-fulfilling prophecy. What a horrible thing to set a young child up for!

Let me know how well that works out for you, Arne.

Time to Turn the Tables

Time To Turn the TablesI have been thinking quite a bit the past several days about the shenanigans of our illustrious government, specifically, regarding the influx of immigrants. I hope you are aware by now that they were enticed, and that they didn’t just all decide to come to America on their own.

“The National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers issued, in part, this statement: ‘This is not a humanitarian crisis. It is a predictable, orchestrated and contrived assault on the compassionate side of Americans by her political leaders that knowingly puts minor Illegal Alien children at risk for purely political purposes.’ “

Obviously, the feds are using vulnerable people.  Yes, some are the scourge that nobody wants to deal with; however, some are families and women, many are children, all hoping for something better.  They come from such destitution that anything would be better.  They have dreams, hopes, needs…just like us.  I feel compassion and understanding for them, my heart aches, for if we were in their shoes, we would do the same thing for a chance, any chance, at something better. I would–I  know I would.

Regardless of how we feel about the topic, I can’t imagine anyone finding justification for their being used by the government. I have images of our past history of slavery running through my mind. Being part of the system, used by a government that has grown way to big for its britches, is not a dream come true, yet that is exactly what they are being offered–welfare for control.

They are here, whether we like it or not; therefore, I would like to issue a challenge to my fellow patriots: let’s welcome them, wrapping our arms around them, and teach them to live, to understand what is happening, and how to NOT be a part of the scheme. Let’s teach them to stand on their own, whether it’s learning the skills to create something and sell it, to build, to clean houses, to work on computers,  to raise their own food (that is a dream of mine), to learn English (imagine not being able to read and understand the garbage that we are bombarded with daily), and to sustain themselves.  Knowledge is power, and ignorance hurts us all.

I know, I know…foreigners taking American jobs.  The system has taught us that we must work for and answer to someone else in order to survive, stifling independence and entrepreneurship, encouraging dependence. I believe more of us could be running our own small businesses on a more local level and surviving–not getting rich– but surviving, and not dependent on the government or big business.  Don’t compete with immigrants, partner with them.  Work side-by-side.

Foster or adopt the children and teach them the truth, raising them to be discerning, self-sufficient, and wide awake adults who know and pursue the truth. It will probably take homeschooling–Common Core will do them in for sure.  It’s difficult to manipulate and control an informed person.  Teach them what America was, about those trying to ruin it, and what it can be again.  I believe it can, but it is going to take a completely different mindset than what is all to prevalent today.

I’m looking for an opportunity to do just that–won’t you join me?

Immigrant child

Time to turn the tables.

Further Reading:

Hitting Immigrant Kids Where It Hurts

 

Common Core: Follow-up to Is It Indoctrination?

I had a good conversation with a friend of mine this morning about transformational learning and about the fact that many of us become involved in this process at one time or another as a part of life. 

We each had been through similar crises in our lives, and we talked about how that one event changed–or transformed–us in many profound ways.  Remember Jack Mezirow’s three dimensions and various phases of meaning? His work certainly has merit in a certain context, and we had experienced them, naturally. 

We have all heard of and read the stories from people like Bethany Hamilton and Roman Polansky, who suffered significant traumatic experiences and were forever changed as a result. These people have long since inspired us, perhaps prompting us to examine ourselves and our lives differently. 

So, how do we translate this into education reform? How does this become a positive building block to improving schools and education for our children?  The very thought alarms me. 

What crisis does Common Core propose to introduce to facilitate transformational learning?

Or is Common Core the crisis?  

 

 

ADHD is Overdiagnosed: Can We Thank Common Core for That?

I ran across this infographic last night, and I found the story that it tells quite interesting.  

Notice the states where diagnosis are highest, which correlates with the number of children being medicated as well as stringency of standardized testing.  Some states now provide that the test scores of a student who has a diagnosis of ADHD do not even count.  Hmmmmm…

One of the most disturbing points is the kindergarteners who are diagnosed with ADHD and medicated.  60% of the youngest kindergarteners are prescribed medications! Research has confirmed that ADHD medications can be dangerous because they inhibit growth and harm the liver. A child as young as that is particularly vulnerable. 

Take a moment to digest the chart’s story.  What is going on in your state, and how is it affecting your children?

 

Misdiagnosis of ADHD in ChildrenInfographic by 12 Keys Rehab

Common Core: Is it Indoctrination?

305indoctrination-710320I find it increasingly distressing that those who see beyond the words on the paper (or computer screen) and understand the deep-seated agenda of not only Common Core, and who talk about it or write about it, are seen a loony, conspiracy theorists, and overly-dramatic.

It occurred to me several years ago that Common Core and education reform has a unique language in many respects, encompassing terms and philosophies that many are not familiar with and that often hover under the radar. Is this accidental?  No. Is this the first time such tactics have been used?  No.  Hence, the value of studying history.  

The many, many inherent problems with Common Core are increasingly becoming clear; however, the creators already anticipated many of the objections, and carefully selected the wording of many documents, including the standards themselves, to be ambiguous.

Why, you ask?

Well, for three primary reasons:

1. Ambiguous language camoflauges hidden agendas.

2. Ambiguous language sells better.

3. Ambiguous language creates a distraction where people will debate the meaning of the small issues and lose focus of the overall big picture.  Pretty handy when someone is trying to pull the wool over everyone else’s eyes.

Indoctrination needs ambiguous language. If it were clearly stated, the uproar would be much greater and any chance of success would be lost. The creators rely on most people making a literal translation. To do otherwise requires digging much deeper, and many people cannot or simply don’t want to, and those that do are labelled as nut-jobs.

Transformational education uses indoctrination. As a matter of fact, it’s the main goal. The Common Core creators do not use this term explicitly; however, you will see reference to “transforming” consistently indoctrinationused throughout Common Core-related material. Our current president loves this word. So did Hitler. Is this a coincidence? NOT! If you understand what transformational education is, you will see it deeply ingrained in our current education “reform.” Glenn Beck pointed it out about a year ago, urging listeners to investigate for themselves what he was referring to, and for good reason.

Dictionary.com provides the following definition of transform:

trans·form

 [v. trans-fawrmn. trans-fawrm]  Show IPA

verb (used with object)

1. to change in form, appearance, or structure; metamorphose.

2. to change in condition, natureor character; convert.

3. to change into another substance; transmute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We seem to dislike the word “brainwashing,” but just for kicks, take a look at its definition:

 


brain·wash·ing

 [breyn-wosh-ing, -waw-shing]  Show IPA

noun
1. a method for systematically changing attitudes or 
altering beliefs, originated in totalitarian countries,
especially through the use of torture, drugs, or 
psychological-stress techniques.
2. any method of controlled systematic indoctrination, 
especially one based on repetition or 
confusion:brainwashing by TV commercials.
3. an instance of subjecting or being subjected to such
 techniques: efforts to halt the brainwashing of captive audiences.


PARCC created a workbook called Implementing Common Core Standards and Assessments  , and in it they boast “After 30 years of fits and starts, true transformational reform in education is not only possible but also entirely within our grasp.” On October 30, 2008, Barack Obama proclaimed  “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”  And on February 16, 2008, he declared, “Don’t tell me that words don’t matter.”  I am so glad he pointed that out. Point well taken, because we are learning just how much words do matter.

Just a few more examples: CCSO claims on their website “State by state, we have made progress in these areas over the past decade-but we need to continue to support and effect the transformative change that will…” and “In 2011, member states of the Innovation Lab Network (ILN or Network), facilitated by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), agreed to work together under the shared belief that their states face a great opportunity to transform their education systems to new designs that prepare all students for postsecondary learning, work, and citizenship” in their “Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions” publication. “It is imperative that we transform the national education agenda so that each and every child may succeed. CCSSO, has worked in collaboration with members, partners and thought leaders to identify four areas of focus that will lead the systems change necessary for a true transformation of teaching and learning” they proudly proclaim in their publication “Delivering on Our Promise to Every Child.”  Teach for America boasts bringing transformational change to the education arena, as well, “…in ways that are life-changing for children and transforming for our country.” It’s not a lie, it’s just general enough to avoid having to tell us what that really means. And, as Glenn Beck and many other solid resources point out, Common Core supporters rely heavily on this promise of “transforming education for every child” quite regularly. 

Transformation in education has a nice ring to it, for our system has never been perfect, and since NCLB was enacted, the education system is gaining speed on the highway to disaster.  Who wouldn’t want that to transform?

Unfortunately, transforming has a different shade of gray when it comes from our country’s leadership and the big corporations in whose hands lies much decision-making power. Go back to the definition of “transform” for a minute.  Transform does not mean mere tweaks or moderate change; rather, transformation entails a complete makeover, or, as the definition states, a metamorphosis.

Transformational education is perspective transformation. What is perspective transformation, you ask? Perspective transformation is changing a particular set of attitudes and beliefs, or the way one regards something (any red flags waving yet?). There are three dimensions in transformational education:

1. psychological–change in understanding who you are

2. Convictional-revision of your beliefs

3. Behavioral–change how you act, interact and live your life

rules-politics-1368970012Do you see the overlapping principles between transform, brainwashing, and transformational education? Please tell me you are now alarmed. No? Alright then, let me continue.

Perspective Transformation: Effects of a Service-Learning Tutoring Experience on Prospective Teachers, written by David Malone, Brett D. Jones, & D. T. Stallings, informs us that “…education can be a transformative experience. The goal of learning is not simply the acquisition of knowledge, but the transformation of students’ perspectives of themselves and the world in which they live. Identifying ways to foster this kind of personal growth and perspective transformation should be particularly important to teacher educators since their primary goal is to prepare novice teachers to lead others through this transformative process.”  Chapter 4 of Evidence of the Transformational Dimensions of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Faculty Development Through the Eyes of SoTL Scholars, by Connie M. Schroeder of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, further explains transformational education as “a change process that transforms frames of reference. His (Mezirow’s) theory defines frames of reference as ‘the structures of assumptions through which we understand our experiences. They selectively shape and delimit expectations, perceptions, cognition, and feelings.’  According to this view, actions and behaviors will be changed based on the changed perspective.”

You may have a completely different view of education; however, my intentions of sending my daughter to public school, up to this point, have been primarily for “the acquisition of knowledge.” I certainly expect an element of personal growth, including the continued development of social skills, understanding the viewpoints of others, and the maturity to work and play well with others; however, I do not expect public education to revise my daughter’s beliefs and the way in which she lives her life, nor will I tolerate reshaping her frames of reference for understanding her world. Our primary frame of reference is the bible, and I find it disturbing that public education has been given the task of “reshaping” any of it.  Such revision would mean undermining the values and beliefs that it is my job to instill in her, not the education system’s.

Jack Mezirow’s, the father of transformational education, identified various phases of meaning becoming clarified during transformation:  

  • A disorienting dilemma
  • Self-examination with feelings of fear, anger, guilt, or shame
  • A critical assessment of assumptions
  • Recognition that one’s discontent and process of transformation are shared
  • Exploration of options for new roles, relationships, and actions
  • Planning a course of action
  • Acquiring knowledge and skills for implementing one’s plans
  • Provisional trying on of new roles
  • Building competence and self-confidence in new roles and relationships
  • A reintegration into one’s life on the basis of conditions dictated by one’s new perspective

When did education become focused on creating a “disorienting dilemma” and using “fear, anger, guilt and shame” to foster self-examination, with the end goal to change attitudes and beliefs? Indoctrination, anyone?

Mezirow further explains transformational education “Jürgen Habermas (1981) has helped us to understand that problem solving and learning may be instrumental—learning to manipulate or control the environment or other people to enhance efficacy in improving performance; impressionistic—learning to enhance one’s impression on others, to present oneself; normative—learning oriented to common values and a normative sense of entitlement (members of the group are entitled to expect certain behavior); or communicative—learning to understand the meaning of what is being communicated.”  I don’t know about you, but I am not comfortable with any of that either.        

Joseph Leon, Professor Logic at Logic&CriticalThinking.com,  defines indoctrination as “…a form of teaching but it differs from regular teaching because the material is often unproven and fallacious. Indoctrination demands no questions or critical thinking about the subject. It can be found in many places but the largest indoctrination occurs between adult authority figures and children. However, it can be present in many other scenarios as well. It should be noted that usually indoctrination occurs in power structures where the one indoctrinating feels power and privilege over the indoctrinated…This behavior goes farther than merely following directions, it is duplicating behavior regardless of personal thought. We are genetically, as a species, susceptible to indoctrination. Although, some of us can and do break free.”

Many do not realize the subtle and slick nature of indoctrination, and the fact that it skulks in the shadows, a creature that has always been there, slowly growing into the intrusive monster it is today. Only when it becomes a monster, as with Common Core, do we start paying attention.

Remember, words are important.

20130508-195438

 

 

Needed a New Year-at-a-Glance Calendar

I don’t know about you guys, but my year-at-a-glance calendars have a tendency to look rather worn by this time of the year.  I didn’t have time to look for one I liked, so I created  my own and thought I would share.

Help yourself…it’s free!

 

2014 Year-at-a-Glance Calendar

 

 

Elephant year at a glance 2014

Common Core: Standardized Testing Ate My Daughter’s Education

aa more tests not improve educationIt’s Mother’s Day, and I am sitting here on my couch pondering a number of issues about Common Core…just what I want to be doing on Mother’s Day, but it’s snowing and yucky outside, and Common Core never really leaves our minds anymore, does it?

One theme that has been playing over and over in my mind is the difference in my daughter’s fourth-grade class pre- and post-standardized tests. 

Colorado’s testing season started in March and ended in April.  School started in mid-August. From August until the beginning of testing, schoolwork was all designed to prepare students for standardized testing. Practice tests began upon their return from the holiday break.   

Let me stop here, and say that I refused all standardized testing for my daughter.  In addition, I worked with her teacher and principal to avoid having her struggle with common core mathCommon Core math. To be fair, I had her math workbook from day one, and I worked through it–all of it.  Common Core does not provide for math instruction in a way that most people even think about numbers, especially at that age. I could do it, after researching for some better resources, but found it cumbersome, tedious, and distracting. As a result, while my daughter was present during math instruction and was free to attempt what she chose, I taught her fourth grade math–multiplication, division, fractions, geometry, word problems, and so forth–using traditional methods.  Her math skills, done “the old fashioned way,” are very strong.  Her report card reflected that she needed to improve in math…I say that chuckling because I have never put much stock grades. 

Back to the tests. 

Woven into the pre-testing days were keyboarding classes. Daily keyboarding classes, an hour long each.  I see the value of a moderate level of proficiency on a keyboard, 134905_600for we do live in the age of technology, and the computer certainly is a useful tool to aid instruction.  I also see the value of children being familiar and comfortable with computers.  I do not see the value, however, in spending an hour a day of fourth-grade instruction time pushing students to keyboard using a specific technique (remember high school typing class?) and with a certain speed.  My daughter was the fastest keyboarder in her class; however, the keyboarding instructor, who, incidentally, was also the librarian, repeatedly reset her program, forcing her to start over because my daughter only uses three fingers on each hand to type the letters.  Seriously? That was a priority of instructional time? She wasn’t evening going to take the tests.

Once testing actually started, all instruction stopped.  I am not kidding.  The students had several weeks of two-hour blocks of testing in March and April. There was no math instruction the month of March, and there is sporadic reviewing of multiplication and division since then. 

There was no spelling, grammar, or science either.  In March, instructional time had one theme: Colorado History.  They produced a scrapbook with some interesting facts and artwork, and my daughter did a great job.  I am glad they learned some things about Colorado history.  But doing that exclusively for a month? 

They have had several field trips, field day, and have spent plenty of time outside of music class practicing a song about global love and acceptance that I can’t for the life of me remember the name of. The focus for April was the spring concert. 

May brought the return of spelling, they still turn in reading logs, and they spend rather large blocks of time learning how to research on the internet. That’s right…I learned that the students have Google accounts and look things up on the internet.  I am not happy that my daughter now has a presence on the internet, but that’s another story.

Last Thursday’s assignment was learning about maps.  e934192c665df3c1bf0dec3932a3795d

Here is the conversation we had about it:

Me: So, peanut, were you guys just learning about Google Maps?

Her: No, we were supposed to be learning about making maps, but we all just drew maps and put imaginary stuff where we wanted.

Me: Did you guys learn about common symbols used on maps?

Her: No. We made up whatever symbols we wanted. 

Me: How did Google Maps help? What did you learn from that?

Her: I don’t know. We were just looking up cool stuff on it.  I looked up our old house on Blue Sky and there were five cars parked around it!

Me: What new information did you learn about maps?

Her: Nothing. You already taught me about maps. 

Yes, yes I did.  Thank goodness. 

She has complained a couple of times because they have written one story in the past month.  Writing is her absolute favorite, and when she doesn’t get to do it, I will hear about it. 

I value field trips, projects, music, concerts, and Field Day. What I don’t value is the fact that clearly the standardized tests were the focus and education went right out the window. I have never seen it that blatantly before.  The kids are bored, my daughter probably being the most vocal about it, and I am…well…let’s just say I am frustrated, as are the parents of the students I talk with regularly. We are all shaking our heads. 

When I inquired about what actual instruction was taking place, I was told that because the students worked so hard the first half of the year and then they had so much testing, they wanted to give them a break, and besides, the tests are over.  

I guess school is too.

At least they admitted there was “so much testing.”

 

Suggested Reading: 

Common Core and the Truth: A Parent’s Journey into the Heart of the Core

Don’t Teach to the Test

Think Common Core class material is bad? Check out these unbelievable AWFUL standardized tests

Why Standardized Testing is Ruining Our Schools, Hurting Our Kids