Apr 22, 2010
ELW

Horrific Common Core Standards Move Forward

The Common Core Standards have finished the public comment phase and are now undergoing final revisions.  There has been much criticism of them from individuals and groups, both parents and experts, across the country.

The following testimony was prepared for the Minnesota House Education Policy Committee informational meeting on the Common Core Standards Initiative that was held April 7th.  Due to time constraints, not all of Dr. Effrem’s testimony was given.  The audio is available here (Follow link for April 7, 2010 hearing starting at 1:29:45).

Much alarm was raised by all of the testifiers that included two outside experts  intimately involved in the development of Minnesota’s nation leading math standards, Dr. Larry Gray of the University of Minnesota and Ellen Delaney, a veteran math teacher, about the math standards.  Minnesota Department of Education staff raised some concerns about the English standards, but not enough in our view, especially when compared to the written comments of national experts.  No teachers or others involved with the development of the English standards post Minnesota’s disastrous Profile of Learning testified at the hearing. Continue reading »

Apr 7, 2010
ELW

Testimony Regarding the Common Core Standards Initiative

 April 22, 2010

The Common Core Standards have finished the public comment phase and are now undergoing final revisions.  There has been much criticism of them from individuals and groups, both parents and experts, across the country.

The following testimony was prepared for the Minnesota House Education Policy Committee informational meeting on the Common Core Standards Initiative that was held April 7th.  Due to time constraints, not all of Dr. Effrem’s testimony was given.  The audio is available here(Follow link for April 7, 2010 hearing starting at 1:29:45). Much alarm was raised by all of the testifiers that included two outside experts  intimately involved in the development of Minnesota’s nation leading math standards, Dr. Larry Gray of the University of Minnesota and Ellen Delaney, a veteran math teacher, about the math standards.  Minnesota Department of Education staff raised some concerns about the English standards, but not enough in our view, especially when compared to the written comments of national experts.  No teachers or others involved with the development of the English standards post Minnesota’s disastrous Profile of Learning testified at the hearing.

The Common Core Standards are an absolute requirement for the Race to the Top (RTTT) federal grant program.  Failure to adopt them by August 2, 2010 will lose partial points and failure to show evidence of adoption by December 31, 2010 will result in loss of 20 points in the RTTT application.  Failure of evidence of implementation of them and the aligned national assessments will result in loss of another 10 points, according to the scoring rubric.  The standards must be adopted verbatim and there is no alternative to them, such as certification by a higher education institution.

This hearing comes at a time when many states are both deciding on adoption of the Common Core Standards and whether t o apply for the second round of RTTT funds.  The second round applications are due June 1st.  Sadly, despite both the grave implications of nationalizing curriculum and assessments even more than under No Child Left Behind and the very poor quality of these standards, states are seriously considering adopting them.  For instance, despite comments to the contrary, putative conservative presidential candidate Governor Tim Pawlenty introduced a legislative proposal on April 20th to have legislative leaders provisionally adopt these standards.  The state department of education would then adopt them by expedited rulemaking authority without any public input whatsoever.

This appalling nationalization of education needs to be discussed in legislatures across the country, as well as with state legislative and gubernatorial candidates and those running for Congress. Continue reading »

Mar 19, 2010
ELW

Minnesota Legislators Resist Race to the Top

As the Common Core Standards have finally become available for public comment, resistance from all points on the political and philosophical spectrum to both Race to the Top and the imposition of national standards has increased.

Using Minnesota as an example, while the teachers’ union has consistently opposed legislation that will call for alternative teacher licensure, another of RTTT’s many components, legislators of both parties are increasingly alarmed at the unconstitutional nature of the mandates, the loss of state sovereignty, the absolute requirement of national standards, and the costs of implementation.  Led by Representative Gene Pelowski (D-Winona), a strong and consistent opponent of the No Child Left Behind law, he has been joined by Republican co-authors Mark Buesgens, Kurt Zellers, Dean Urdahl, and Dan Severson in introducing HF 3677. It is important to note the Rep. Zellers is the House minority leader who had originally signed a letter of support for the grant application in an effort to try to redeem some of the heavy tax burden sent to Washington on behalf of Minnesota’s schools and their many innovative programs. Now, however, he has become concerned with the loss of control, the mandates, and the implementation costs. Eden Prairie Republican Senator David Hann, also a long-time fierce and principled foe of unconstitutional federal interference into education, introduced the Senate bill, SF 3181. Continue reading »

Mar 19, 2010
ELW

Legislative Wrap-Up: Overall, Liberty Stands

The 2010 Minnesota legislative session will be known for what children, parents, and taxpayers were spared.  Thanks to you making your voices heard and the work of freedom-minded legislators, along with a big deficit and complex politics, Minnesota has been spared Race to the Top involvement, adoption of a dumbed down indoctrinating federal curriculum, mental health education, loss of the right to vote on levy extensions, and expansion of nanny state programs for our youngest children.  Here are some details:

Race to the Top and Common Core Standards

As described in our last alert, the Minnesota House explicitly rejected the Common Core Standards.  While only 25 House members were willing to go on record to expressly reject the entire Race to the Top program, most likely due to desire for federal funds or the mistaken idea that teacher reforms would somehow be worth the federal control, the ultimate result was that the Minnesota House rejected Race to the Top. Continue reading »