The Common Core Report Card: Jeb Bush Gets an F

In our Common Core report card, we graded Jeb Bush and all of the GOP candidates based on the three following criteria: fighting the Common Core, protecting state and local decision-making on education, and defending child and family privacy. Then we averaged the three grades together for one final grade.

What does each grade mean?

A … Champions the issue, e.g., offers legislation, makes it a centerpiece issue. … Professes support, but has not provided leadership or otherwise championed it. C … Has neither helped nor hurt the cause. D … Has an overall negative record on the issue. F … Robustly and consistently works against the issue.

So how did Jeb Bush do?

Ending the Common Core System: F Protecting State and Local Decision Making: F Protecting Child and Family Privacy: D

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Overall Grade: F

Gov. Bush is perhaps the most outspoken supporter of the Common Core Standards in the 2016 field. He has publicly praised David Coleman, one of the two chief architects of the Common Core (who is now chairman of the College Board). He has propagated the false narrative that the Common Core standards are merely learning goals and are of high quality. He has turned a blind eye to the reasons underlying opposition to Common Core and instead used straw-man arguments to dismiss opponents as relying on “Alice-in- Wonderland logic.”

Bush uses the phrase “high standards” to paint a false picture of the Common Core Standards, and he has stated that he thinks the Standards should be the “new minimum in classrooms.” He has denigrated opponents as being motivated by politics.

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Every Child Achieves Act Is Bad News for Students, Teachers

From The Daily Caller:

Sen. Lamar Alexander’s Every Child Achieves Act, which recently passed the Senate, is brimming with troubling provisions. One that has received little attention is the grant program called “Innovative Technology Expands Children’s Horizons,” or I-TECH. States that apply for I-TECH grants (and most states are all too eager for “free” federal money) will be hastening the day when teachers are replaced by technology, and children’s minds are mapped in the name of “personalized learning.”

The purpose of the I-TECH program is to ensure that “all students have access to personalized, rigorous learning experiences that are supported through technology” and that teachers and administrators are trained to integrate this technology-based training. Sec. 5701(2)-(4). Access for all students will require funding for “technological capacity, infrastructure, and technical support,” especially for rural schools that otherwise might resort to relying on teachers and books.

The term “personalized learning” is superficially appealing. But parents who think that means the teacher will spend more time helping their child should think again. Personalized learning in the ECAA sense operates with interactive digital platforms of the type that give the student a prompt, record and analyze his response, use it to generate another prompt, and so forth. Think Pavlov. The extraordinarily sophisticated software used in these platforms analyzes not what the student knows in terms of academic content, but rather how his mind works. This is “personalization.”

Read the full article here. Continue Reading

GOP Senate Fails to Protect Schoolkids from Big Brother

Photo via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0 BR)

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are considering legislation to reauthorize No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the major federal K-12 education law.  The House and Senate leadership are intent on ramming through a reauthorization of NCLB.  They want to claim that they fixed the problems with the original bill.  However, these bills are horrible.  Here are just a few of the problems:

  • They continue the federal testing mandates telling the states in what grades and in what subjects children must be subjected to standardized tests (assessments). Such mandates create the teaching-to-the test pressure on teachers.  Furthermore, they do not have instructional value, deprive students of enormous instructional time, and cost the states a huge amount of money.
  • They dictate particular types of testing that are extraordinarily expensive, have a history of failure, and are designed to inject more intrusive psychological data-collection and psychological profiling/manipulation into the standardized tests.
  • They maintain NCLB’s requirement that the state assessments produce not just test scores, but “individual student interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports.” Moreover, unlike NCLB, the bills require assessment on behavioral/skills-based standards rather than truly academic standards. The data produced under this language could resemble a psychological profile of the student.
  • They remove protection against socio-emotional profiling in the statewide assessments (eliminating NCLB’s prohibition against including assessment items that “evaluate or assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes”) and fail to protect against other psychological data-gathering in other federal education programs.

The House and Senate leadership assure their members and the American people that the bill has language prohibiting federal intrusion into state and local decision-making.  Continue Reading

Will Republicans Carry Obama’s Water on Common Core?

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) (photo credit: AMSF2011 via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

The most far-reaching federal education law—No Child Left Behind (NCLB)—has been up for reauthorization for eight years.  Now, with the Obama Administration waning, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is in a rush to get the President a bill that he will sign.

Earlier this year, when the first version of his bill did not garner the necessary support, Sen. Alexander went back to the drawing board.  And he reached across the aisle to Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to help re-draft the bill.

There’s a lot wrong with his bill.

Overall, the bill retains the master-servant relationship by which the federal government lords over the states, local communities, and parents.  It requires states to submit education plans to the Feds and gives the Feds enormous authority to approve them. It retains federal testing mandates that tell the states when, and in what subjects, children must take standardized tests.  It does so even though those tests exist primarily for bureaucratic reporting, are extremely expensive, have virtually no instructional value, and deprive children of enormous learning time.  And, to slap down the rising tidal wave of parents withdrawing their children from such testing, the bill requires states to demonstrate how they will ensure that 95 percent of children actually take the test.

The bill maintains NCLB’s requirement that the state standardized tests produce not just test scores but “individual student interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports.” Unlike NCLB, Sen. Alexander’s bill requires assessment on behavioral/skills-based standards rather than truly academic standards. Continue Reading

NCLB Rewrite Fails Again

Photo credit: Alberto G. via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

An op-ed from APIA Senior Fellow Jane Robbins and Ohio mom activist Heidi Huber in Townhall.com:

Parents across the nation are in open revolt against the testing mania that has seized public schools under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the Common Core national standards. In some states, thousands of students — 200,000 in New York alone — are refusing the “mandatory” assessments. One would think the Washington politicos who are writing the NCLB reauthorization bill would take note of this widespread rebellion and would ease — or better still, eliminate — the federal testing requirements. But unlike the repentant thief who returns the loot, the federal government never willingly relinquishes power it has stolen from the states.

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) are collaborating on an NCLB rewrite dubbed the “Every Child Achieves Act” (ECAA). This bill maintains NCLB’s requirement of administering annual assessments in English and math in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. But ECAA doesn’t ignore the “opt out” movement – in fact, it adds language that effectively encourages the states to lower the boom on noncompliant students and parents.

[…]

During recent debate on ECAA, an amendment was added that nominally protects the right to opt out of assessments: “Nothing in this part shall be construed as preempting a State or local law regarding the decision of a parent or guardian to not have the parent or guardian’s child participate” in the federally mandated assessments.

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Liberal Comedian Mocks Standardized Testing, Common Core

Slowly, but ever so surely, those in the media are realizing that criticism of No Child Left Behind and the national Common Core system is not limited to the far right and the far left. It is a mainstream movement driven by parents, teachers, and other concerned citizens.

Last weekend, on his HBO show Last Week Tonight, John Oliver spent eighteen minutes taking on standardized testing.  You can view the full video below (warning: NSFW language):

Oliver pointed out President Obama’s contradictions on standardized testing.  When he had his eye on the Democratic nomination, then Senator Obama was quick on the draw to criticize standardized testing:

Don’t tell us that the only way to teach a child is to spend too much of a year preparing him to fill out a few bubbles on a standardized test. We know that’s not true!

Sen. Barack Obama, 2007 in a speech to the National Education Association.

Yet, as Oliver noted, upon becoming President, Obama “didn’t get rid of tests. Instead, he added his own education initiatives like Race to the Top, which encouraged states to adopt the Common Core.”

Oliver tackled how Common Core and standardized testing are unfair to teachers and bad for students, and how American children have actually lost ground on international education metrics since the enactment of No Child Left Behind.  And he noted that waves of children are boycotting the tests.

He could have delved a bit more into the “why.”

Professor of Education Christopher Tienken makes the case here Continue Reading