The nightmare that Common Core has become

From Scathing Purple Musings by Bob Sykes:

The nation is constantly told by a what’s become a shrinking, but
still influential few that Common Core Standards “will prepare students
to compete in a global workforce.”
Such seedy used car sales sloganeering when coupled with the
realities of what’s going on in classrooms and homes across the nation.
In Florida, the chickens have come home to roost. Jeanelle Wellhoner, a
fifth grade teacher in Ocala pens an essay for the Ocala Star-Banner  which provides a glimpse of the nightmare.

 I taught you three different ways to divide multidigit
numbers except the one way everyone else in the world was taught. I
tried my best to teach it to you, but since I was never taught this way,
I know I confused you quite a bit. When you went home to your mom and
dad confused as to how to solve a division problem with pictures and
partial quotients, your parents — out of desperation — showed you how
they were taught. We call that the standard algorithm, which in Common
Core is a dirty word in fifth grade.

And then, I did the unthinkable. I gave you a zero
because you didn’t do it my way, the Common Core way. I told you to use
partial quotients, and you didn’t. I told you to draw a model, and you
didn’t. I didn’t care that you got them all right. You got your correct
answer the wrong way. I watched your face fall and tears well up in your
eyes. I felt terrible, but I had to do it because that’s how you’re
going to be tested on division.
And then, I expected you to turn improper fractions
into mixed numerators, but I didn’t teach you the standard algorithm for
division, which made it that much more difficult for you. How could I
have expected you to do that when I didn’t teach you how to divide
easily in the first place?
I did this to you with every single math skill I
taught. No, you can’t do it your parent’s way. You must do it my way. My
way is the right way; your way is the wrong way. I don’t care if your
answer is right. I don’t care if it doesn’t make any sense. I don’t care
if it takes you 20 minutes per problem instead of one. I watched your
self-esteem plummet.
“…will prepare students to compete in a global workforce.”
Jeb Bush could hardly be brought to utter the words,
“Common Core,” at his education summit earlier this month just less than
a  year after he put the muscle of his foundation behind a TV campaign
to educate the public on Core’s “benefits and superiority.”
And make no mistake, these are Jeb Bush’s Common Core
Standards. Education Commissioner Pam Stewarts’s tweaks was nothing
more than a name change. Jeb’s new tests will be taken by Florida
students this spring and a disaster awaits.  WFTV report

Channel 9 found out there could be some big problems with a standardized test that Florida paid Utah $5 million for.
Several Utah lawmakers are working to get rid of the test amid complaints that the questions can be confusing or misleading.
“A lot of the questions are difficult, even for an educated adult to answer,” said Utah Rep. Justin Fawson.
The Florida Standards Assessment, which is call called SAGE in Utah,
is all online and requires a lot of skills with a computer mouse to
drag, drop and click.
Florida has not paid to teach children typing skills.
In Utah, about six out of every 10 children failed it and some worry that means the test itself is flawed.
“One of the legislators in Utah, he said if we’re going down the road the wrong way, you don’t step on the gas,” said Orange County School Board member Linda Kobert.
Kobert fears that as of now, students could be held back or given
remedial work based on a test that hasn’t been tested itself yet.
“Can you imagine if more than 50 percent are deemed not to be at
grade level and they don’t change legislation to allow these children to
advance a grade, or require remediation and pull kids out of classes?”
she said.

With Jeb Bush’s top policy wonk, Patricia Levesque savaging state
school boards for wanting to pause school grades for a year for just
this reason, its clear that they ma want to use the “failing schools”
meme again. Meanwhile, the republicans and policymakers who work for
Bush and Levesque have established a private school voucher system which
doesn’t have to take the same tests.
I wonder if they’d object if public school parents put their kids in a
TV spot to explain how bad common core and those new tests are. Or
maybe if public school parents take their kids out of school one day,
put them in red scarves and parade them to Tallahassee on a school day.

Will districts soon be able to opt out of the state tests?

If Representative Debbie Mayfield has her way they soon will be.

If a school district does not wish to participate in the statewide, standardized assessment program, the district may choose to annually administer an English Language Arts national, norm-referenced assessment for students in grades 3 through 11; annually administer a mathematics national, norm-referenced assessment for students in grades 3 through 8; and administer a science national, norm-referenced assessment once for students at the elementary school level and once for students at the middle school level. If a district does not wish to administer the national, norm-referenced assessments online, the district shall administer paper-based assessments. Funds designated for the statewide, standardized assessment program shall be used to procure and administer the district-selected, national, norm-referenced assessment. The Commissioner of Education shall maintain a list of pre-2009 national, norm-referenced assessments identified pursuant to s. 1002.395. A district, including instructional personnel, shall not be negatively impacted for not participating in the statewide, standardized assessment program, including, but not limited to, negative implications regarding district and school grades and personnel evaluations.”

Two things, if it is good enough for voucher schools then it should be good enough for public schools right and second if the state really believes in parental choice and them knowing whats best for their children then how can they not pass this bill? If they don’t then all standardized testing is, is an excuse to punish teachers and schools.

This the most far reaching and best proposal yet. 

To read more, click the link:

DTU is very popular with the administration and business leaders not so much with its membership.

A couple weeks back Superintendent Vitti said we had the most accommodating union in the country, unions might be problems elsewhere but not here. Then yesterday Micheal Ward the director of CSX said the union and Vitti have embarked on an unprecedented partnership where principals can now fire teachers they don’t like at the 37 transformation schools.

So often the union gets unfairly blamed for problems maybe I should be happy that these people are embracing the union and calling them partners. The problem is the union membership I have talked to tell a different story.

They talk about a union which has lost touch with its membership and one that is to accommodating to the administration, they say, it’s hard to see where the district ends and the union begins. If the unions fighting for us, we don’t see it. Whenever I write about the union I get response after response from teacher after teacher and they paint a picture of dissatisfaction.

Morale is rock bottom, teachers are being over worked, others chased out of the profession, brow beaten and picked upon by administrations who feel they can act with impunity, the expansion of Teach for America, and we’re some of the lowest paid teachers in the lowest paying state in the country. Rather than being accommodating to the administration and business community I wish the union would tackle these issues.

Notice who isn’t shilling for Vitti to stay? Teachers and parents.

Today it was an op ed in the Times Union by the charter loving president of CSX Micheal Ward and Sunday it will be the head of the Jax chamber Danial Davis shilling for an extension of superintendent Vitti’s contract a decision the board doesn’t have to make till December. We can add the Times Union to the list because I know they have gotten at least one letter (ahem) saying how ridiculous it is to extend his contract so soon but instead went with the pro Vitti letters.

Did you notice who is not shilling for him to stay? Parents and teachers.

I am not saying the board should just jettison him but why don’t we let it play out some? Why don’t we see where we are at the end of the school year? Why the rush.

I hope Micheal ward of CSX knows trains because he doesn’t know education

First let me say after reading his opinion piece I understand
why rail is in such trouble. Second the reason he is really in love with Superintendent
Charter School Vitti is because like Vitti he loves charter schools.  Finally let me say Michael Ward really comes
off as really uniformed his opinion piece supporting Vitti.
Ward Wrote: Vitti
is a nationally recognized superintendent who has quickly brought the Duval
County graduation rate to its highest levels in history, increasing college
readiness while narrowing the achievement gap among African-American students.
Um he might not know it but all those things were
improving before Vitti got here.

Ward Wrote: He brought a strong
district vision for instructional leadership and the development of stronger
systems to hone teaching and learning strategies and align professional
development for teachers and leaders.

The reality is morale is worse than ever and his inner
circle is made up of old guard sycophants

Ward wrote: Vitti has listened to the
community. In particular, he reallocated nearly $20 million to ensure that all
elementary schools had music and art teachers, which complements one of the
district’s strategic priorities — that of ensuring development of the whole
child. Every superintendent before him cut the arts when there were funding

I might feel a little different if he hadn’t cut dozens of librarians and many
art and music classes weren’t doubled up. His idea and his results are far apart
on this one.

Ward wrote: Were it not for his
vision, leadership and determination, the $38 million philanthropic investment,
the Quality Education for All fund, would not have happened. Quality Education
for All, which has made investments in human capital, currently supports
performance incentives (largest in the country) to enlist highly effective
teachers and principals to work in the neediest schools.

Well that’s more ignorance on Ward’s part as the business community had been
talking about investing in our schools prior to Vitti’s arrival, now would it
have happened if Vitti wouldn’t have gutted democracy and given them control,
now that’s another story.

Ward wrote: Forging an unprecedented
agreement with Duval Teachers United, Vitti was the architect of a plan that
gives flexibility to principals to hire and fire teachers in the 37 schools
that compose the District Transformation Office.

I and many, many teachers and union members were very disappointed in our capitulation
and don’t see this as a good things for education or teachers.

Ward wrote: Before his arrival, most
philanthropists and businesses were unwilling to invest in the district due to
lack of trust and belief. He dramatically changed that. He is the reason that
Kim and I spent our time and resources to bring the nationally recognized
school improvement initiative City Year, which is focused on the whole child in
lower-performing, high-poverty schools, to Duval County

The problem here is most of the philanthropists and business leaders he
speaks of also have links to charter schools and want to privatize our schools.
Also did he just say, Kim and I were heartless douche bags until he got here
and now suddenly we care, because it reads like that?  

Ward Wrote:. This work brought him to
the attention of the Gates Foundation, which has used the Duval County template
in several other counties throughout the state. Gates thinks highly of Vitti,
and we feel it is a matter of time before they invest in Duval County.

Here is the thing, if Gates is involved we should want to have nothing to do
with it. He recently admitted he was experimenting on our schools saying, it
will be a decade before we know if any of these reforms work, and he is
disrespectful of teachers.

Ward wrote: Last year, the state
changed the assessment process (no more FCAT), which will result in lower
scores in every district in the state and generate a larger number of D and F
schools. Everyone associated with education reform knows that school grades are
going to be lower this year due to these significant changes.

That part is accurate but it’s also him making excuses for Vitti’s record.
You know I like Gus Bradly but if we go 6-10 or worse this year I think we should
show him the door too. Vitti is in a results orientated business and thus far
his results have been horrific. I might feel a little different if teachers got
the same chances to improve that Ward wants to give Vitti.

Finally Ward wrote: There is much
more to be done, but the bottom line is that we finally have a dynamic, reform-
minded leader. He has brought much rigor and positive change, but of course
there are, and always will be, huge challenges in a district this size. Vitti
is the right man for the job.

Some more excuse making from Ward, there will always be huge challenges and
I am not sure we can survive many more of Vitti’s reforms.

Ward should stick to trains, his education knowledge is lacking.

Rick Scott admits Florida got it wrong on testing but why stop there?

Rick Scott through executive order canceled the 11th
grade English assessment saying,
“It’s important to measure
students’ progress and achievements, but we must not lose sight of our goal to
provide every student with the very best education. As I have traveled the state, I have heard from
parents and teachers that there are too many tests, and I agree.”

I suppose I and all the other parents and teachers
that he spoke to could say, we told you so, but instead I think we should thank
the governor for acknowledging the mistake and encourage him not to stop

What about admitting Florida was wrong about charter schools where over 270 have failed in Florida over the years, leaving families in a lurch and costing untold millions of dollars? Despite their advantages they as a group don’t perform as well
as public schools and most of the ones that are doing well set up shop in affluent
neighborhoods siphoning away resources from the public schools there. Shouldn’t the
governor also say, hey guys we blew it on that one too.

Then how about with Florida’s voucher program which has practically
zero accountability and it’s just not academically. Private schools that take
less than 250 thousand dollars, or most of them, don’t have to report how the money is spent.
Shouldn’t the governor say, hey if accountability is good for public schools it’s
good enough for private schools financed by the public too.

How about admitting Florida was wrong to start a merit
pay system for its teachers. First merit pay has scant evidence that says it works and then we
are basing teacher scores on VAM scores, a complicated mathematical formula
that doesn’t take into account poverty, absenteeism or behavior. That’s a 
recipe for disaster if there ever was one and the Governor should acknowledge it and cancel it too.

Here are a few more things Florida has blown.

The A-F scoring system which only accurately shows
what schools zip codes are because the ones in the poorer zip codes
invariably do worse.

His appointments to the state board of education all
of who have less experience in education than private schools that take
vouchers have accountability.  Hey Rick how about 
appointing a true educator to the board?

Then there is how we fund schools which has had us ranking at or
near the bottom since they started rankings.

Finally what about Common Core which doesn’t address poverty our real
problem, not low standards, which completely guts a system which was working.

So thank you Governor Scott for admitting Florida was
wrong and does test too much, something parents and teachers have been telling
you for years and getting rid of one test but why stop there when there is so much more that Florida
has gotten wrong as well.

It is past time for Gary Chartrand to step down.

The Chair of the state
board of education, Gary Chartrand a grocer by trade, is arguably the most
powerful person in Florida’s education landscape besides Jeb Bush who still
casts a very long shadow. He recently said some things in the Florida Times
Union, that everyone in Florida should both be aware of and outraged by.
Chartrand said his
desire to give his children the best education possible prompted the move (of
his children from a public school to a private school) and molded his own views
on school options. “That’s exactly what I want other kids to be able to
do,”” he said. “I had a choice. I was able to afford it and so my kids
were able to go to a private school. … I think it should be available to
Chartrand however did
not send his kids to the type of private schools that take vouchers. He sent
them to the very exclusive and expensive Bolles schools. There they have a
thriving arts program, small classes and don’t have to take high stakes tests.
The type of school he
sent his children and that Jeb Bush sent his children to as well is nothing
compared to the type of schools he is helping to create for the rest of our
Chartrand also said, he spent the first six months on the job, getting his “sea
legs.” “I wouldn’t call myself really well-versed … I have a lot to learn, but
I try to apply certain business principles,” This means despite the fact he
admits he is woefully unqualified for the position he took it anyways and I
would argue he is still not well versed after four years on the board.

If Gary
Chartrand truly believes every family should have the same choice that his
family had then why isn’t he pushing for every kid to have the same kind
of education his children were fortunate enough to receive
at the Bolles School? The answer is he must believe what was good enough for
his children is too much for all of ours, then throw in a little disdain for labor and a disrespect for public schools too. Chartrand’s
term is up and we should demand Governor Scott
replace him with a real educator, one who really cares about our children and
who has the knowledge and experience to improve things.

The tone deafness of the Florida Legislature, once again thumbing their nose at the public.

Oy vey, a bill allowing guns on college campuses is fast tracked to becoming a law. This despite the colleges, the professors, the admins, the students who attend and the parents whose children go to them have overwhelmingly said no thank you. 

From the Times Union: So many people signed up to speak during public comment Monday — most of them opposed to the bill — that there was not enough time for everyone to be heard. Several students who attended the meeting complained afterward that they had been silenced.

Just as the public comment period was ending, Margie Sanfilippo broke rules of decorum and addressed Evers from her seat in the crowded room. She had taken the day off from work and drove five hours to speak, she said, and asked that he give her time at the podium.
Sanfilippo, a psychology professor at private Eckerd College, spoke about her research on gun violence and said the legislation was misguided because campus shootings are rare.
“Althought one situation is one too many, there is no evidence that allowing concealed carry on campus would prevent it,” she said. “It is mere speculation and ignorance of statistical probability to assert that armed students are the reason why shootings don’t happen on campuses.”

Sadly we kind of have ourselves to blame for this. the far right ideologues know it doesn’t take much to get elected in a non-presidential year because so many people stay home. They only have to get a few of the people who vote in those elections to support them  to win and that’s how get those policies don’t reflect the will of the people.