Jun 1, 2010
ELW

Opposition to Federal Curriculum Helps Put Brakes on Race to the Top

As of May 19th, the state of Minnesota has finally and thankfully given up on its second round application for Race to the Top (RTTT). The Pawlenty administration and many Republicans are blaming Democrats and the statewide teachers’ union for opposing reforms in teacher accountability such as alternative licensure, increased evaluations, performance pay, and tenure reform for the inability to proceed with the application.  Less discussed or admitted, but far more important for liberty, sovereignty, and academic excellence was the strong and concerted opposition from the grassroots and freedom-minded legislators to centralization of control and the adoption of national standards, otherwise known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI).

The CCSSI, though described as a voluntary, state-led initiative, comprises a federal curriculum, because it is required for participation in RTTT and because it appears that it will be required to receive the bulk of federal Title I money in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Continue reading »

Apr 30, 2010
ELW

House Committee Rejects Common Core and Race to the Top

As the House education bill was being crafted and debated, EdWatch is extremely glad to announce that both major Republican gubernatorial candidates (Rep. Tom Emmer and Rep. Marty Seifert) understand the freedom priorities of sovereignty, local control, and academic excellence. Both have signed on to the bill authored by Rep. Gene Pelowski and Senator David Hann – HF 3677/SF 3181– to prohibit Minnesota’s involvement in Race to the Top.

In an ironic, complicated and mostly party line vote, a package of reforms from Governor Pawlenty that included adoption of the Common Core Standards without public comment that we warned about in our last alert and that was proposed to help strengthen Minnesota’s second round application for Race to the Top grants was rejected on April 28th by the House K-12 Finance Committee.  This vote occurred as the committee put together their final omnibus education finance and policy bill. Continue reading »

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 »