Category Archives: Common Core Standards

Sooo… You Think I’m a Conspiracy Theorist Because I Oppose Common Core & High Stakes Testing?

I have found there is an interesting phenomena with people who do not know how to handle an individual who is putting information on the table to be considered.  The information may run counter to the main stream or contrary to popular belief.  I am learning at my older age, most people value conformity over divergence.  We are to do and believe exactly what those in charge tell us to do and believe.  Anyone who asks the hard questions, researches, and looks underneath the surface… running counter to the “group think”… are often deprecated.

Albert Einstein once said, “Question everything.”

To question is to think.

To follow blindly in order to respect “authority” will not improve the world or promote change.  When the Jews were being slaughtered by Hitler, who risked their lives and stood against him?  When the blatant discrimination swept our nation forcing human beings to sit at the back of buses, drink from different fountains, and go to separate schools, who raised their voice to stop the inequity?  When people have been enslaved, who fought to free them?

When our school system is putting practices into place harming the most innocent of all, who has the moxie… the courage… and the voice to crusade against the malpractice?

Recently, I was on a discussion thread in Washington’s Paramount Duty, a group fighting for full funding of our public schools.  An individual asked if I was worried about the cost of “microchips inserted into kids brains to measure their biometric rhythms” and followed up to reassure me this was already considered in the cost of the assessment.

Obviously, the sarcasm bled through the screen and was meant to vilify my questions and contributions to the discussion thread.

Interestingly, this individual is the Policy Director of the Washington Round Table and Partnership for Learning.  Both of these organizations are funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and promote common core and the high stakes tests.  As I looked further into his past it was found his history included working for:

  • Data Recognition Corporation
  • Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Consider his motivation, as I asked questions and presented my findings on the discussion thread, for denigrating my contributions.  He basically pulled the “Conspiracy Theorist” card and tried to paint me out as some wacko doodle.

Later, he also defamed Dr. Wayne Au, University of Washington Professor.  Dr. Au is a well renown researcher regarding standardized testing and publishes many articles and authored a book exposing the discriminatory nature of the one hundred year history of testing.

Most recently, the “Conspiracy Theorist” card has been pulled by some of my colleagues.  They’ve accused me of aligning with a crazy legislator and buying into all of his “conspiracy theories”.

Let me set the record straight.

There are nine legislators serving the Spokane Region.  Three are in the Spokane Valley, three serve the bulk of the middle section of the city, and three others the district I live.  I write to all nine legislators.  (I actually write to legislators statewide). I’ve asked to meet with all nine legislators.  I have had the opportunity of speaking personally with five of the nine.  Currently, one is being scheduled with a sixth.

I think of the song played often on Saturday mornings when I was growing up, “I’m only a bill.”  This song has been instrumental in teaching many young people the process of getting laws changed.  Thus, my motive to write my legislators and meet with them.

One of the legislators in particular, has been called a “looney” and a “wack job” by same colleagues.  I was questioned as to why I would meet with him.

Okay.

Soooo… why, by me meeting with him last summer for an hour and a half to share my concerns about common core and the high stakes tests, does this imply I’ve aligned with him and become a “Conspiracy Theorist”?  (I appreciated this legislators time. Many give only 10 minutes with their constituents or none at all).

For the record.  I’m bi-partisan and pretty disenfranchised currently with the two largest political parties.  As John Sheffield, New York teacher said, “I’m beholden to no group except to the children of (my state).”

So… since the accusation of me becoming a “Conspiracy Theorist” is now on the table, let me take some time to share all the “Conspiracy Theorists” I’ve aligned myself with:

  1. Joint Statement of Early Childhood and Health Professionals on The Common Core Standard Initiative
  2. Common Core Standards: Ten Colossal Errors, Anthony Cody, National Board Certified Teacher and author of Living in Dialogue.
  3. Save Maine Schools, Emily Talmage, 4th Grade Teacher
  4. Peg with a Pen and founder of United Opt Out,  Peggy Robertson, ELA Coach and Reading Interventionist
  5. EduResearcher, Dr. Roxana Marachi, Educator, researcher, and youth advocate with 15 years of experience connecting research findings in the fields of educational and developmental psychology, cognitive neuroscience, social development, and school safety with practical applications for improving learning, motivation, and behavior.
  6. Four Seattle Teachers Declare, “We Refuse to Give the Test”, The four teachers of conscience are Julianna Krueger Dauble, Judy Dotson, Susan DeFresne, and Becca Ritchie.
  7. More Than a Score, Jesse Hagopian, high school teacher, author, and crusader against high stakes tests.
  8. Parents and Educators Against Common Core Standards, 22,000 members strong.
  9. Over 100 Education Researchers Sign Statement Calling For Moratorium on High-Stakes Testing
  10. The Smarter Balance Common Core Mathematics Tests Are Fatally Flawed and Should Not Be Used, Steven Rasmussen, SR Education Associates
  11. Dr. James Milgram – Common Core Forum Baton Rouge, former NASA Mathematician, the ONLY mathematician to serve on the validation committee of the common core, refused to sign validation document of common core math standards. Dr. James Milgram bio.  Google his name and there are many presentations made by Dr. Milgram across the United States.
  12. Dr. Sandra Stotsky, the ONLY ELA representative on the validation committee of the common core.  She, too, refused to sign the validation document of the common core ELA standards.  Dr. Sandra Stotsky bio. Google her name and there are many presentations made by Dr. Stotsky across the United States.
  13. About This Testing, Denis Ian, veteran teacher
  14. A Chronicle of Echoes: Whose Who in the Implosion of American Public Education, Dr. Mercedes Schneider, teacher, researcher, EduBlogger, and author.
  15. Dr. Diane Ravitch, educator, author, worked for National Education Department.
  16. Dr. Gary Thompson, Early Childhood Psychologist

There are many other educators who I could place on this list.

It is a growing list.  More and more of us are coming to realize the truth behind common core and the common core tests.  Trying to discount those of us willing to speak up and out for children, by throwing out the “Conspiracy Theorist” card, exposes the person’s fears and unwillingness to do their own research and seek out the truth.

I personally will not remain a compliant conformist when witnessing children being harmed through the current education reforms.  I want to scoop them up and hide them in my “attic” so the “Testing and Accountability Regime (TAR)” can not touch them.  This Regime is definitely “TARring” many children as the blackness covers their hearts and minds.

Throwing out the “Conspiracy Theorist” card is typically an attempt to defame, slander, disparage, insult, denigrate, deprecate, vilify, and assassinate the persons character and point of view.

Those of us giving up hours of our time for children, teachers, and public schools are far from “Conspiracy Theorists” or “Helicopter Moms”.  We have growing evidence exposing the flaws in the common core standards and the invalidity of the common core tests.

So next time, before anyone pulls the “Conspiracy Theorist” card,  they may do well to offer their perspective to the conversation respectfully with peer reviewed research… rather than tossing out words vilifying others.

conspiracy-theorist

Passionately Submitted,

RAZ ON FIRE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Podcast: Protect Our Children… Opt Out and Refuse The Tests

It is well worth your time to understand why the common core standards are limiting our children’s learning to a narrow box.  The tests only measure what is inside the box.  Opting your child out of the testing is the best thing you can do to send a clear message to your local school board, state legislature, and the federal government.  The current testing is not about learning.  It is about Testing. It is about Data Tracking.  It is about Profits.

Standardized Boxes  Regular

Listening to the following Podcast will help you understand more about the ills of common core and why it is beneficial to your child to Opt Out and Refuse The Tests.

Go To: March 9, 2016 – Common Core – Part Two

LinkWatchman Wednesday Podcast

Be Divergent.

Opt Out.

Passionately Submitted,

RAZ ON FIRE

Be Divergent! Opt Your Child Out of the Common Core Tests!

Are the affects of Common Core starting to impact your child?

Are you starting to question what the Common Core Standards are and who wrote them?

It is worth every ounce of your time to find out what is happening to the schools across our nation.  It is worth every ounce of your time to dig below the surface and research for yourself.  There is a lot of rhetoric out there.  Those with a lot of money pushing for the common core and the high stakes tests have the money to produce nice sound bites and videos to paint the common core and the tests in a good light.

Recently, Ready Washington, posted a contest to high school aged children to produce a video why they “Opt In”.  If their video wins they are awarded $500.00. The background music played, the filming professional, and…

I gagged.

Seriously?  The only way to be successful in the future is to take a test?  Not one student featured in the video said one thing about how taking the test enhanced their learning.

Common Core >< High Stakes Tests

Interconnected.

I often hear educators say, “I don’t have a problem with common core, it is the testing I am against.”

The two are not separate.

As more educators and parents learn of the link between the two, the light bulb goes on and the truth shines brighter.  This is a complete overhaul of the education system and the education profession. Those who have been big players in promoting it, pushing it into the schools on to other people’s children, opt their own children out.

Does this raise a red flag?

The Kings of Common Core

Common Core Standards put learning into a Box.

The Common Core Tests only measure what fits inside that same Box.

Imagination 3For me, I desire for our children to think outside The Box.  I promote the use of imagination, innovation, creativity, and curiosity.  These four words don’t fit inside any box.  These four words can not be measured by a test.

Think about it.

Do we want a society of standardized people who all think alike and can regurgitate text and facts all at the same time?

A cookie cutter society.

Or…

Do we want a society of individuals who are able to think outside the box?

Divergent Thinkers.

If it is the latter, opt your child out of the common core tests and send a clear message you will not subject them to The Box.

In order to counter the propaganda coming from Gates funded groups like Ready Washington, there are many of us without the billion dollar backing speaking out against common core and the high stakes tests.  It’s called, “We the people…”

The Grassroots Divergent Thinkers.

Imagination

Listen in as Cindy Ann Goodbrake, Idaho parent, and myself, Spokane, Washington educator and parent, speak courageously against common core and why Opting Out is the best thing you can do for your child and our schools.

Go To: March 9, 2016 – Common Core – Part Two

Watchman Wednesday Podcast

Be Divergent.

Opt Out.

Passionately Submitted,

RAZ ON FIRE

Imagination Quote

 

 

 

 

 

EngageNY Math, now Eureka, A Common Core Dropping

There is an elephant in the room…

And this elephant is creating quite the stench.

The numerous discussions happening around the country regarding EngageNY, a “free” math program, are snow balling. More and more school districts are considering adopting this program, as others are dumping it (no pun intended).

What do you know about it? Where did it start? What’s its history? Is it “free”? How much did it cost to write? Who wrote it?

Or a bolder question: What in the H. E. double hockey sticks is this?

ComplicityI’m often tagged and asked to join discussion threads with these questions, amongst numerous others. I’ve been very vocal about my thoughts regarding this math program, and my angst regarding what harm it is causing children.  I do not fear discussing the elephant in the room…  especially an elephant causing such a stink. How could I not speak up? As a 26 year math educator, I find very little in this math program mirroring solid research about how young children learn mathematics.

The Journey I’ve Traveled

My school district approved this program at a school board meeting in December 2013. It did not go through a review process with a group of math experts in the district. In fact, the math committee reviewing math curricular materials was disbanded in the Spring of 2013. Why? The reason given was there were no “viable math curricular materials to review that align with Common Core”.

Bye Bye Math Committee.

Yet, in November 2013, a person downtown (hired for one year in a .5 position) was instructed to put together a binder of EngageNY sample materials. This binder was presented to the Spokane School Board in December 2013. Parents were in the audience with letters from New York State teachers with recommendations to avoid this math program. It still was approved.

Those of us who have had a career in math education were not in the loop.

In January of 2014, the roll out of this program began with teachers using one to two of the modules to get their feet wet. I attended a professional development session in the Spring of 2014 with a group of teachers, and those presenting and training us were teachers in their first and second year of teaching.

I was astounded as I sat quietly, (internally steaming), in the Professional Development session. Those of us who have had hundreds of hours of math education training, (I myself a 25+ year educator with a Master’s Degree in Teaching Mathematics), sat for two hours listening to two young, well intentioned teachers, trying to train us on an EngageNY Module… a program they had very little experience with themselves.

Where were the district math experts in this process?  Why didn’t the district call back the math committee to review the binder?  Why the rush?  Why no discussion?  After all, this would be placed in teacher’s hands and used with children.

C H I L D R E N.

I left the training with a pit in my stomach. I reviewed the lessons in the first grade module and knew instantly this was not how young children learn mathematics. It is riddled with worksheets, direct instruction, and a lot of sit and get. As I drove home, the nausea in my belly churned. Ultimately, as an instructional math coach, my job would be to assist teachers in implementing this program… with “fidelity” of course.

The 2014/2015 school year hit, and the majority of teachers opted to fully implement the program alongside implementing a new ELA program on top of it (Journeys). Currently, in the 2015/2016 school year it is no longer optional.  It is required.

Schew.

The comfort statement we all heard was, “This is just an “interim” math program.” Somehow, it being an “interim” program, justified its use. We can put something in front of children because it is merely an “interim” program. As a parent of a primary aged child, and as an educator of K-6 children, just how is this program an “interim” math program for them?  This program will be in front of children for four years until a permanent adoption will be made.

Four years.

How is this “interim” for a 2nd grader? A 2nd grader who will be taught from a program with NO research to back it, for 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. This is four years of a child’s foundational mathematical career.

My own 2nd grader shared his thoughts throughout his first year being exposed to the program. “Mom, I’ve been waiting for math to get more challenging.  And now it is.  But in the wrong kind of way.   They are now making the easy stuff harder.  I already know how to do what we are doing.  The easy things I already know… I now have to do in a hard way.”

And the “free” word attached… adding to the justification of its use?

The copying alone to implement this program in a school district Spokane’s size is $3,000,000 a year.  In four years time, Spokane will have spent $12,000,000 in copying alone.

The History and the Money Behind EngageNY and Eureka

 “Where did this unprecedented scripted curriculum come from?”  Carol Burris, New York State Principal of the Year, asks.

Burris continues:

“The New York State mathematics curriculum was developed by an organization located in Washington D.C. known as Common Core, Inc. According to reporter Jessica Bakeman of Capital New York, Common Core Inc. was awarded three large contracts from the New York State Education Department: $3,323,732 for K-2 curriculum, $2,715,958 for grades 3-5, and $8,108,919 for grades 6-12.

That is a total of  $14,148,609 — or more than $1 million per grade level project. Bakeman broke the story about the high costs of the New York State modules, which you can read here.  To put this expenditure in perspective, my school district, Rockville Centre, generally pays less than $1,000 for a grade level curriculum project.

According to the story, New York Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch bragged that New York State is the only state using its federal Race to the Top dollars to develop curriculum; it has spent in excess of $28 million on curriculum in English and Mathematics.”

Therefore, a company, not in New York State, called Common Core, Inc… located in Washington D.C. was contracted to write the EngageNY Curricular Materials.

How many of us were led to believe this was written in New York by a group of educators?

Demeaning

Not. The. Case.

Common Core Inc. and Gates Foundation

“Let’s go back to 2007… the year that Common Core Inc. was founded, three years before the standards were made public. In 2009, it received over a half million dollars in the form of a grant from the Gates Foundation to write curriculum for standards that had not yet been released nor adopted by state.

Last week, Catholic Education Daily reported on the connection between Common Core Inc. and the Gates Foundation in a story entitled “Common Core is Curriculum, Contrary to Advocates’ Claims.”

The story reports that despite Bill Gates’ claim that there was no need to build national Common Core curriculum, he has, through his grant program, quietly funded its development in excess of  $10 million, with Common Core Inc. The Gates Foundation appears to have a partner in New York State when it comes to curriculum development.

The New York State Regents Research fund has received millions of dollars from the Gates Foundation to further its reform agenda. But more importantly, the State Education Department has helped finance the effort to create curriculum by using more than $28 million in Race to the Top federal taxpayer dollars. And it appears that one of the recipients, Common Core Inc., intends to influence curriculum beyond New York State. A search of the Common Core Inc. site shows that the organization will sell textbook editions of the work that they did for New York, thus leveraging New York’s tax dollars to launch a textbook series.”

For Carol Burris’ full unmasking of the truth: Follow the Common Core Money: Where are Millions of Dollars Going?

Eureka Math is Born

So… just what is the “textbook” series Common Core, Inc… intended to launch? Well… The Common Core, Inc. group saw dollar signs.  After all, school districts across the United States were tapping into this “free” program. So Common Core, Inc. formed a new “math group” and named it Eureka.  Eureka then bought the rights to all of the Common Core, Inc. materials. The online version many school districts are using is the Common Core, Inc. version. It is riddled with errors… but it is “free”.

Yippee!

Eureka then cleaned up the errors. However, it is essentially the same exact program.  Use the old EngageNY version for “free”, or use Eureka’s cleaned up version for a price.

Mercedes Schneider reveals the transition from EngageNY to Eureka in her research: The (NY, DC, LA, and CA) Story of Eureka Math. There are no major changes to the EngageNY materials. This was also confirmed from a Eureka trainer who came to Spokane last year.

No. Major. Changes.

It. Is. The. Same.

Oh! But wait! It just got another new name… Eureka is now calling their incredible math program Great Minds. You can read all about it here: The Eureka Difference.

Yahoo!

Eureka proclaims, “When implemented faithfully, Eureka Math will dramatically reduce gaps in student learning, instill persistence in problem solving, and prepare students to understand advanced math.”

Yet, isn’t this the same exact curricular program developed by Common Core, Inc. at New York State’s expense?  And started with money from Gates even before the Common Core Standards were unleashed?

Shameless Shapeshifters.

Many school districts have come to learn the fallacy and are saying good-bye… even Spokane has done some back peddling and teachers are being told they can differentiate and utilize other curricular materials to enhance children’s mathematical learning. Why? Because EngageNY/Eureka does not work for a large number of children.

Local School Board in Louisiana Votes to Dump Common Core Math … If you read the article, what they are really dumping is Eureka Math.

The Concerns Run Deep

Where do I start?

Perhaps with the voice of a teacher? A teacher in New York forced to implement what she knows is not right for her students…

New York Teacher Statement

My personal list:

  1. EngageNY/Eureka is not differentiated. It assumes children come to the classroom with the same skill set.
  2. The pacing is horrendous. It goes way too fast in some modules and way too slow in others.
  3. It assumes children “get the math” in one lesson, because the homework sent home in the evening is on the new learning that occurred on that day. As educators we must continue to focus upon the purpose of homework. In title schools this widens the achievement gap… what help do the most struggling learners receive at home? Oh, that’s right… Eureka has parent videos so they can watch the lesson that happened that day in class. Hmmm… great for the parents who have internet access at home.
  4. It is plum full of worksheets.
  5. It asks children to do speed “sprints” on math they do not yet understand. Go fast! Go fast! I watch children doing these sprints and every answer is wrong. They are practicing for speed, skills and concepts they have not yet mastered. Goes against tons of research.
  6. It compartmentalizes learning. Do this for 3 minutes, then this for 18 minutes, then this for 33 minutes, then this for 6 minutes. It is all neatly packaged in a 60 minute lesson. And then on to tomorrows lesson… assuming every child got the 60 minute lesson from the day before.
  7. The DOK (Depth of Knowledge) levels of learning are low, levels 1 and 2.
  8. The rubrics written for the module assessments are tied directly to the models EngageNY/Eureka expects them to use. If a child solves a problem in another way, they cannot earn a level 4.

Side note: Even more lovely… Spokane School District has set up the Eureka Math Lessons in a Pacing Guide. After every two to three modules the students take a Math Benchmark Test through Amplify. (Spokane School District paid Amplify to write custom Math Benchmarks based on EngageNY/Eureka Modules… more $$$$ spent). The pacing guide and looming benchmark assessments assumes children master everything in 60 minutes every day, can move quickly through math skills and concepts, and complete each module as scheduled. Teachers all over the United States are finding this to be untrue.

The lessons Do. Not. Take. 60. Minutes.

Furthermore, one of my grade level teams just finished the first Math Benchmark Assessment through the Amplify computerized test. Not one child “met the standard” according to the Amplify Test on the first two Modules. The teachers teaching Eureka with “fidelity” and “faithfully” didn’t get the results.

Why?

Hug a TurdA) Crappy Teaching?

B) Crappy Program?

Or…

C) Crappy Test?

I’ll vouch for all three teachers. Awesome instruction in all three classrooms. So… the conclusion is… ? Need I answer?

Okay, I can’t resist…

I think educators are being asked to hug a turd.

Correct Answer: B and C

Two turds in a pod.

After the Amplify Test and “analyzing the data” what solution are we left with as educators? Move on to Eureka Module Three and Module Four to prepare for the next Amplify Math Benchmark Assessment.  After all, No Child Shall Be Left Behind.

EEE GADS! This is not teaching and learning.

At. All.

It’s survival.

And it stinks.

The Finale

I will end with a quote from a well-respected math educator in Spokane School District. She read the New York Teacher’s comment above and responded with:

“I could have – and should have – written the above paragraph last year when I did the first module. I can add tears to the experience. The kids’ and mine. This year isn’t any better. My kids will have no number sense. There is nothing. None. No room to show their thinking. A new book on my porch – mindful mathematics – yesterday reminds me of what is important to teach my kids: how to think, not what to think. What’s important: flexibility, accuracy and efficiency… what’s not important is being shown a strategy and being expected to perform it all in one lesson. Quite the opposite of what’s best for kids. I am not buying into this. Can’t do this to children and their parents. I respect them as learners too much.” 

turdNumerous dedicated, hard working, and talented teachers know exactly what EngageNY (aka Eureka) is:  A Common Core Dropping.

A Turd.

“I’ve been handed a turd.  You can ask me to blanket it with floral spray to mask its’ odor.  However, it is still a turd.” –Ryan Grant, 5th Grade Teacher, Medical Lake School District commenting on the EngageNY Math Program.

Passionately Submitted,

 RAZ ON FIRE

Other References:

  1.  Why Isn’t AFT and New York More Enraged About EngageNY?
  2.  Crazy Crawfish’s Blog: Louisiana’s Texbook Selection Shenanigans
  3.  Is NYSED Admitting the EngageNY Modules are Crap?
  4. Five Things EngageNY Didn’t Intend to Teach My Kid
  5. In Cumberland, New Math Lessons Replace Investigations

Another Spokane Spark Speaks Boldly… Senate Listening Tour, October 21, 2015

Senators,

I have a question no one has been able to answer for me.  I’m hoping you can.

where is all the money going 1First, I’d like to say: We are spending incredible amounts of money on the “accountability movement” and “education reforms”. Reforms like high stakes testing, data mining and teacher and principal evaluations (TPEP). To do this, there’s also hidden costs, in the infrastructure needed to sustain it… in technology and professional development, etc.

Where is all the money going?

So, I want to know, before even analyzing new bills, how much money is going to corporations?  (Corporations like Pearson, McGraw Hill, Microsoft, data mining companies, and the computer tech industry). What about the cost of all the products and curriculums being purchased to get children to pass the tests”, and “practice tests to help children pass THE test“? What about the real cost keeping teachers from being able to teach?

Up to this point, anyone I ask, including many serving in the Legislature, never seems to know.

Isn’t this weird?

Dark Secrets

It’s like a very deep dark secret, and I can tell you this… it’s too high a cost to society. How do I know? Because as a teacher on the ground, watching these policies play out, I see personally in our schools, the horrible price our children are paying, for reforms that do nothing to close the opportunity gap, but plenty to harm them.

Let’s Save Money and Put it Where it Counts

Cartoon on standardsLet’s save money (millions and billions), by doing away with these kind of laws that trickle down into factory models of learning for our children. It’s not good use of money. When implemented, it takes square pegs and tries to pound them into round holes. It weighs the cow and weighs the cow and never feeds the cow. Now you want to move levy money around. I worry this will not actually feed the cow, but weigh it some more.  Constant weighing will not make it fatter. Feeding it will.

Pig in a Poke 1Sadly, I think when tax payers get how much money is going to failed reforms, that turn children into a commodity, with dollar signs on their heads for corporations wanting to tap into $500 billion the education market is said to be worth in America alone, (according to Rupert Murdoch), the more people will understand we are getting a pig in a poke!

Teachers want to teach. Children are naturally born to be curious and learn. Close the tax loopholes for billionaires, fund education and please get back to us on just how much all these education reforms are costing all of us…???!

Thank you.

Linda Gower

Music Educator, Spokane, Washington

A Mighty Flame Follows a Tiny Spark… Senate Listening Tour, October 21, 2015

Dear Senators,

If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.

      I have lived the role of all three…  at one time a single mom, currently a mother of an 8 year old in 3rd grade, and a 26 year accomplished, award winning educator.  George Orwell said,
“The further a society drifts from the truth the more it will hate those who speak it.”
     I believe we have lost our course in education in our state, as well as nationally.  Now is the time to stand up and speak the truth, even if it is unpopular.  I’m here representing a growing group of concerned parents and educators across our state.   I also spoke on an expert panel in a Senate Hearing hosted by Senator Chase and Senator Roach in April 2015 on common core and the high stakes tests.
Thank you to those who DO Listen
     Senators, I have written to many of you.  Thank you to those who responded back and showed a willingness to listen and have courageous conversations with me about education. The title of this tour is “Senate Listening Tour”.  There are solutions which, from my humble perspective, do address the funding challenges facing our schools today.
Too Much Testing
     Our children are being over tested in the name of “accountability”.  Our children are being used as experiments through the common core standards in the name of “rigor”.  What expense has Washington State undertaken to implement the common core tests?  What validity do they have?  What inter-rater reliability do they have?  Advertisements went out to hire scorers at $11.20 an hour in local newspapers to judge whether our children are proficient at these untested standards.  Do you want your own children’s futures based upon a Craigslist Scorer?  I appreciate the time Senator Roach and Senator Chase have taken to dig into the history of common core.   I encourage each of you to do the same.  In order to accept the Federal carrot from RTTT, the expense of common core is costing more than the carrot itself.
Solution #1: 
SBA withdrawal     Withdraw from SBAC.  Please do not try to convince anyone we can’t.  The tests have been trashed like the second half of a rotten apple in various states.  PARCC used to include 26 states. It now includes seven, with three showing signs they may drop. Smarter Balanced started out with 31 states (some states joined both groups, so the total is more than 50). It now has 18, with at least three getting wobbly.  We are spending millions a year on these tests that do nothing to improve student learning.
NOTHING.
Question #1
     Are you paying attention to what this Testing Regime is doing to our children?  Are you listening to the personal stories?  Eight and nine year olds are sitting in computer labs for full days at a time.  Is this developmentally appropriate?  These young children are taking tests for longer periods of time than college age students on college exams.
Question #2
     What has it cost our state thus far?  $200 million?  $24,000,000 is spent in scoring the test each year, and add the cost of sending out bright colored fliers to every student’s family with the results. Estimates are over a billion, including all the hidden costs.  (Computers, Testing Coordinators, Test Prep Programs… more testing programs like Amplify…)
Budget Report from OSPI
SBAC
Solution # 2:
Senate Bill 6093… A Simple Solution to the School Funding Crisis
     Senate Bill 6093, sponsored by Senators Chase and McAuliffe, would repeal the 1997 huge tax exemption to the wealthy and invest $4 billion per year in public schools to restore school funding and lower class sizes. Corporations like Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, etc… would no longer receive tax loopholes.
There is money to fully fund education.
Imagine if we evaluated fireman by how they put fires out and then restricted their water supply and gave them crappy fire trucks… !?
Question # 3:  
Can you tell me how much the reforms are costing… all the standardized testing, teacher and principal evaluations (TPEP), the data mining, and the infrastructure to support it all?
Question #4
And lastly, who are all these reforms benefiting?  The children?  (Nope.)
Who. Is. Profiting?
in-a-time-1074x483
There is money, Senators.  It is time it’s used to authentically benefit children and public schools.
Passionately Submitted,
RAZ ON FIRE

Wanted… A Few More Sheepdogs

My Husband Sent this to me Recently:

I read the other day that 95% of humans are equal to sheep… they just follow the rest of the herd.  Around 1% are wolves… predators, people outside the norm of society. Then there are the other 4%, the Sheepdogs… the ones that protect the sheep from the wolves and lead them in the right direction.

Thank you for being a Sheepdog! I know how frustrated you get with the sheep, but thanks for being a loyal protector of them and herding them in the right direction…

Reflection

I never thought about myself as a Sheepdog.  I thought I was one of the sheep, looking around at all the other sheep, popping my head up once in awhile and saying, “Hey, something is not right here!”

Stand Up 2The massive, fluffy herd continued to head in the direction the Superiors told them too.

I continued my travel along with the crowd.  Something hit my gut, and I popped my head up above the rest and kept it there.  EEKS!  This time I raised my voice louder and shouted, “Hey, something definitely is not right here! Stop!”

The herd continued, slightly hindered by my heels in the ground. Some tilted their heads, and a few started popping their heads up to look and see what I was seeing.  Most continued to move forward, avoiding my fluff and my “bark”, by moving to the left and to the right of me.  Heads remained down and determined.  The course was set. The Superiors knew best.

I heard, “Baa Baa”, all around me… and an occasional “Bark Bark”.

Every time I heard the “Bark” I lifted my head up high.  Something became familiar about that sound.  It made me stop.  It made me look.  I was able to see above all the other fluffy, bleating four legged creatures.  Alas!  There were a few that looked a lot more like me…  Their “Bark” was loud and confident… giving clear warning of danger.

A Little History of the Sheepdog

From: “Are You a Sheep or A Sheepdog? Part 1“, By  Brett and Kate McKay

Sheepdogs are society’s protectors.

While both herding dogs and livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) are known as sheepdogs, their roles are quite different. The former bark at, nip, and stare down animals to keep them together and moving in a certain way. Livestock guardian dogs, on the other hand, live with their flock of animals full-time, allowing them to blend in and watch for intruders within the herd. LGDs are placed in the flock as puppies so that they “imprint” on the animals they will be tasked with caring for and protecting. Strongly bonded to them, the LGD will perceive other species as predators and protect those it knows from these potentially hostile outsiders.

If a predator is not dissuaded by the presence of a LGD, it is ready and willing to attack and fight the predator to the death. And the LGD does not simply wait for a predator to attempt to infiltrate the flock – it also actively patrols its territory. Yet despite their fierceness, LGDs make loyal, gentle companions, and are especially protective of children.” (Emphasis Mine).

The Sheep/Sheepdog Continuum

The business of being a sheep or sheepdog is not a yes-no dichotomy. Rather it’s a continuum. Some folks live at the extreme ends of the spectrum and are completely passive sheep or hardened ultimate warriors. Most people, however, fall somewhere in between.

Your “sheepness” or “sheepdogness” can change depending on context.”

Sheepdogs are Made, Not Born

Being a sheepdog isn’t a matter of birth; it’s a choice – a matter of mental and physical training.  In order to become a sheepdog, you have to consciously decide to do so and then slowly upgrade your mental, physical, and emotional hardware from Sheep 1.0 to Sheepdog 2.0.”

My Personal Transformation

Raising my head and seeing ahead of me a first step.  I was among my herd.  The herd I loved.  At first, it seemed hard to see.  As I heard the barks from the few, my mind resonated with the warnings.  Something was ahead and wrong.  Imprinted with the herd, and caring deeply about my peeps, I had to do something!  I discovered my true identity and realized I could “bark” too.

Sheep Dog 3“Bark Bark Bark!”

I joined the Watchdogs.

It is a difficult place to be to sound different and look a bit different than the group.  I’m still a fluffy being, just a different sort.

My heart and mind are very focused upon the truth.  I encourage everyone to actively dig, research, and question.  Do more than tilt your head, raise it!  Find the Sheepdog in you.  Learn who the predators are and what is driving them… Our children need you.

My Bark

Common Core was written without transparency.  Common Core is an untried and untested set of standards written by a group of non-educators. Common Core is developmentally inappropriate for many children.  There are flaws in the Common Core Standards.  The high stakes tests aligned with Common Core are invalid and unreliable, and also developmentally inappropriate.  Children are being harmed.

“Bark, Bark, BARK, BARK, BARK, BARK!

Capture 11

Passionately Submitted,

RAZ ON FIRE

Join Other Sheepdogs:

No President Left Behind (NPLB)… A Presidential-Reform Bill to Ensure Every President is “National and DC Ready”

NCLB:  No Child Left Behind… 

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, President George W. Bush’s education-reform bill, was signed into law on Jan. 8, 2002.

NPLB:  No President Left Behind…

The No President Left Behind Act of 2015, submitted as a presidential-reform bill in August of 2015.

Any Sponsors?

I think each presidential candidate should have to take a Presidential Balanced Assessment (PBA) designed by a Consortium of people who have never held a political office. I think the American people should set the Cut Scores.

Temps are hired from Craigslist and paid $11.20 an hour to “score” the test.

When they complete the 100 hour test, involving 8 sections with reliable computer adaptive capabilities, and performance tasks, each item shall become a data point. No political aid or speech writer can help them with their extended responses.  They must take the test on a computer, other than their own, in a sterile room monitored by a test proctor.  They are allotted a 30 minute lunch and may only leave the computer lab to use the bathroom.  No other breaks allowed.

President 4The presidential hopefuls can see their results 4 months after taking the Balanced Assessment.  It will help them improve upon presidential skills necessary to be “Presidential Ready”. The data points are utilized to create graphs in multiple colors and placed on a data wall. This allows for easy data tracking throughout their campaign.

Only those deemed Highly Qualified shall be able to proceed.  To maintain their Highly Qualified status, they must be observed four times throughout the preliminary race.  They will be scored in 41 Elements, within Components, within overarching Domains, to see if they indeed meet the Criterion.  Only a Score of a 4 shall keep them in the Highly Qualified Status throughout their campaign.  If at any time, they received a score of a 1,2 or 3, they shall be placed on probation and retested, utilizing the highly reliable and valid PBA (Presidential Balanced Assessment).

The majority of the candidate’s evaluation will be based on the test score.

If they can not maintain the Highly Qualified status, they are completely removed and can not run in the final election.

NPLB 5If passed, this new presidential reform bill will be the most valid and reliable way to ensure the best candidate becomes the president… The test score, (number), reveals everything essential to determine the most “National and D.C. Ready” person for President of the United States.

There’s gotta be National Common Presidential Standards written somewhere… right?

If not, no worries, those can be whipped out in a manner of months too.

There has been growing concern of the failure rate in past presidents.  This new presidential-reform bill will help ensure a 100% success rate by 2020.

Please support NPLB (No President Left Behind)… Our Nation Is At Risk.

Passionately Submitted,

RAZ ON FIRE

References:

None necessary.

Toxic Testing Loses… How We Beheaded a Bully Snake

It has only been a few days, but longer than 24 hours.

I mentioned in Story Eight, There Are Some Bully Snakes When It Comes To Toxic Testing, how my peers have imparted the wisdom of waiting for 24 hours before responding to anything when angry.

I didn’t wait…. and I wrote Story Eight instantly.  This is the follow up to the original story.

So many of the stories dealing with the high stakes test pull at the heartstrings.

After all, this IS about our children…

nia 8

Children, who are forced, at younger and younger ages, to sit in front of computer screens testing for up to six hours in a day.

Children, who sit in front of computers testing longer than college age students.

Children, with hand spans not large enough to reach all the keys on the keyboard.  Peck, Peck, Peck… for hours.

Children, as neuroscience shows, are not developmentally ready to show mastery of deep levels of reasoning.

So… it has been longer than 24 hours.  And I still feel mad and infuriated and want to get on an airplane and fly to Michigan to give this 3rd grade little girl a great big hug.  Since it’s not possible, my son and I took a different approach.

We considered what some bully snakes did to this little girl who was the only one opted out of the State Test in her grade.  We considered her tears, as she was made to sit amongst her classmates while they made ice cream sundaes and ate them in front of her.  We considered all the amazing things this little girl accomplished in her third grade year.  We asked questions like:

  1. Did she read some amazing books and increase her vocabulary this year?
  2. Did she learn how to multiply?
  3. Did she try hard to learn all the other days in the school year?
  4. What learning did she show IN her classroom?
  5. Does the teacher have any evidence of growth in this child?
  6. What gifts and talents did this child bring to her classroom?  Were they encouraged?
  7. Does the teacher have the test scores back for the other children in the class?  How well did they do on the test?   (I’m sure the test scores won’t come back until after school is out)
  8. What do we hold most dear in our children?

I’m tired of the message we are sending to the youth in our country.  I’m tired of the mandates put upon our youth’s shoulders pushing them to test constantly, in order to prove their worth.  I’m tired of a score on a test speaking louder than a creative story they put weeks into, and illustrated in artistic ways.  I’m tired of the emphasis placed on arbitrary numbers playing King, when children are capable of more than what is measurable.

Common Core Tests make no Common Sense.

Common Core Tests are limiting.

Common Core Tests do not measure curiosity, creativity, imagination, innovation, perseverance, tenacity, passion, or the love of learning.

Common Core Tests will never compete with the portfolio of evidence I’ve been given as a parent and hold in my hands… can see with my own eyes… beaming with pride of course… and the enriching conversations I have had throughout the school year with my child’s teacher.

Common Core Tests do not measure what children at young ages know and are able to do.

Common Core Tests are Snakes.

Common Core Tests turn some people into Snakes.

Bully Snakes.

Bullies.

Beheading the Bull Snake

Nia 10

It has been one of my missions as a parent to teach my own child empathy (another attribute not measurable by a test).  After writing Story Eight, about this little girl and how she was treated by some “adults” in her school, my son and I went shopping.  We decided to fill a basket full of an Ice Cream Sundae Party!

Nia 5Included are: A “Frozen Theme”, appropriate for an ice cream theme, and… invitations, the DVD of “Frozen”, syrups, sprinkles, summer towel, sun screen, and more!  My son sets aside part of his allowance to give towards others…  He placed enough cash in an envelope so she and her momma can buy a big carton of ice cream.

We hope this unique and precious child makes the hugest ice cream sundae ever, and giggles with her friends through the movie “Frozen”.  She has a lot to be proud of as she completes third grade.  We added a spiral notebook so she can start writing down all the amazing things she does and can do.  We also hope it will be a place where she will write all of her dreams.  A place where her imagination will soar.

Our letters to a True Princess:

The first two pages in the spiral notebook contain our letters:

Nia 2           Nia 1

Today we beheaded a Bull Snake with an Act of Kindness.

We countered bullying behavior with a “Frozen” ice cream sundae party to celebrate the accomplishments a little girl made in an entire school year…  Those accomplishments out weigh a Toxic State Test.

Today we send a clear message to: our legislators, congress men and women, National Department of Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, Michigan State’s Superintendent and all Michigan State Government Officials, and our own Superintendent of Washington State, Randy Dorn…

Stop Measuring Our Children With Tests.

Stop Profiting Testing Companies.

Start Focusing on How Children Learn.

Gifted ChildrenParents know their children well.  We are opting our children out of the toxic tests because we do not believe it is right for our children.  It is harmful and child abuse.

The mother of the child in this story got a call from the school principal after the school district’s phones rang off the hook, and letters were posted on the school’s Facebook page, sharing outrage of her bullying behavior from all over the nation.  She left a message with an apology, and asked how she could make this up to the child.

The mom wants to establish humane treatment for all children who are opted out of the tests.  Next steps are being considered…

One Snake Slain, and Several More To Go…

Passionately Submitted,

RAZ ON FIRE

AND

SON

Mirror Mirror on the Wall… Beware of Apples Dripping with Common Core Poison

Mirror mirror on the wall,

Who is the most deceptive of all?

Snow White

Poison Apple 9

A lovely child I see.

Rags cannot hide her innocent face.

Alas, she is more honest than thee.

Lips red full of questions filled with curiosity.

Hair speckled with creativity.

Skin colored with diversity.

The Evil Queen

Alas!  Who is this evil queen?

Who plots to feed our children apples laced with poison?

Is college and career ready truly the reason?

The Hunter

At first she summoned a kind hearted man,

Who disagreed with the queen’s devious plan.

The hunter loved Snow White, an admiring fan,

He spared her life, cut out a deer’s heart, into the forest she ran.

The Apple

One apple will no longer suffice,

it is masses the Empress must now entice.

Children see shiney and red,

innocently eating the venom they’re fed.

 

One juicy bite lulls parents and educators to sleep in their bed,

slumbering soundly convinced of standards state led,

and dreams of warm sand buries their head.

 

Still others willingly sip its arsenic cider instead,

guaranteeing the deception will certainly spread.

Motivated by greed and using their powers,

they push through the contagion from money laced towers.

The Seven ‘Giantly’ Dwarfs

Behold! The growing numbers kissed awake from the dead,

For Snow White, their life blood freely shed.

The grass roots movement shouting truth from roof tops,

Dispelling the lies with their fact saturated mops.

The Tangled Labyrinth

I consider my own journey through this labyrinth of common core. The ideology originally shared, my innocent heart passionate for kids, soaked in the information, returned to my school and began assisting others in its implementation. This being the fourth set of standards in 13 years, once again, I helped teachers transition from the last set of standards to these new common core standards. I was biting and chewing the bright red apple, attending professional development sessions, learning new curricular materials filled with silver bullets of rigor, and obeying the charge given to me, just as the hunter obeyed the queen… at first… that is…

As time passed, and I looked into the eyes of Snow White, an undercurrent of bitterness hit my tongue as I continued to chew. What? What is this vinegary taste?

I held up the apple, examining its core…

Behold! My eyes saw the rancorous folklore.

I threw the black apple with all putrid garbage, indeed!

Opened my computer and researched until my fingers did bleed.

A year and a half free from the contagion,

Exterminating the propaganda, now my one true mission.

Poison Apple 19

The Common Standards… Poisonous to the Core.

From the inception of the idea of the common core standards, to the gathering of the key writers, to the actual writing of the ELA and Math portions from 2009 – 2010, to forming a validation committee putting their stamp of approval upon them, to the implementation nationwide thereafter…

  • How would you go about pitching the ideology to the multitudes?
  • How would you saturate the states to adopt the belief these standards solve every woe education faces today?
  • How would you make the apple appear?

For Sale… Cider Pre$$ed Poison 

Poison Apple 6The key players behind common core had to concoct a plan. They knew sending the wicked witch herself wouldn’t work. “Here, my sweet, eat this delicious apple,” Cackle Cackle.

  • Who would you pay to sell the apples?
  • Who would you get to hand out the apples?
  • Who would you put out in front of the public testifying to its crisp, sweet juiciness? Someone who seemed trustworthy? Credible? Innocent?
  • How would you convince someone to take a bite?

As the money hungry players contrived their devious scheme, they discovered a problem as they plotted and planned…


Poison 17It’s not just Snow White they needed to deceive,

but an entire Kingdom who must be made to believe.

Handing out apples worked for awhile,

but too many discovered its bitterness vile.

Voices were raised, and heard through the press,

the truth surfaced, despite the attempt to depress.


“What now?” The queen declares! “One apple at a time is no longer enough. We must increase our efforts to hand the multitude some fluff.”

The fallacious key players all agreed,

a change in strategy was needed indeed.

The apples discovered, less were taking a bite,

Thence the idea of the cider press took flight.

Million$ and billion$ of apple$ were gathered, and placed in the cider machine.

Poison Apple 14No longer an apple to bite,

the juice now ready for anyone to delight.

They found a willing player and recorded his voice,

into the homes of everyone who had no choice.

A Robo-call went out costing someone a pretty penny.

Who would drink this juice? Would it be many?

“Hi- I’m Lyon Terry, the 2015 Washington State Teacher of the Year. I’d like to talk to you about the Common Core State Standards. All children deserve a high quality education to pursue whatever path they choose. That journey starts with high expectations and tools so teachers and parents know how their students are doing. As a teacher I know each student is unique but to succeed there is a basic set of skills that all students need. That’s what Common Core is all about, and Smarter Balanced tests help us measure how each student is doing on these basic skills. Learn more at ReadyWA.org.

Poison Apple 5The call was sponsored by ReadyWA.org., an organization supported by Washington Roundtable. Washington Roundtable’s motto is, “Building demand for education reform in Washington” and is linked to Partnership for Learning. Partnership for Learning is supported by contributors; Thomas Fordham Foundation, Achieve, Bill & Melinda Gates, and Center for American Progress, amongst others.

This newly announced Teacher of the Year (a member of Teachers United) may very well be an outstanding 4th grade educator worthy of this award. However, has he partaken and slurped from the Cider Press Poison?  Which is he… I wonder? The one lulled to sleep with misinformation, the hunter who obeys and hides his true heart, or a joiner of the money mob willingly sipping and spreading the deception?

Whatever the case, he let his voice be used… the words toxic vapors reaching into our homes.  The motive is known, it came from the queen, to encourage the populace to drink the spiked cider-aid.  How many more will the apple drippings affect, and who will rise up and fight this mess?

The SBAC does not measure our children’s basic skills.

The common core standards are flawed with countless ills.

Do not allow yourself to be confused,

These two things are the cause of children being abused.

In the future, if you hear more of the same,

it isn’t too hard to dig and discover who is to blame.

Poison Apple 4

There are many organizations receiving benefit$ from the apple cider pre$$. 

Be leery! Beware!

Poison 15

Other recipients of funds from the Gates Foundation:

  • www.CRPE.org  (Center on Reinvention of Public Education)   A group currently focused on Washington State, with the goal of turning school systems into “Strategic Portfolio Districts” like Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and New York.   Spokane and Seattle School Districts are both working alongside CRPE with aims towards their mission.
  • www.Edreports.org  A curricula materials research organization who interestingly found Eureka Math the “only” math program meeting all the criteria necessary to align with common core.  Even more interesting, Eureka Math, once EngageNY Math, has history of funding from the Gates Foundation.Poison 16
  • Stand For Children
  • Teachers United
  • National PTA
  • Teachers Plus
  • Business Alliance for Education
  • National Governors Association
  • American Enterprise Institute
  • American Federation of Teachers
  • Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
  • Council of Great City Schools
  • Educational Trust
  • National Congress of Parents and Teachers
  • National Education Association
  • Thomas B. Fordham Institute

The list goes on and on… weaving into the dark, dangerous woods… See References.

The Song of the ‘Giantly’ Dwarfs

Poison Apple Dwarf

 We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig in a mine the whole day through

To dig dig dig dig dig dig dig is what we like to do

 Hi ho, Hi ho

It’s off to work we go

Hi ho, Hi ho, Hi ho!

Those of us who have taken the time to dig, looking underneath the shiny, red skin, have found the illusion of an ideology masterminded by a handful of self-serving philanthropists. We are the dwarfs who adore, love, and protect Snow White.

We work all day for very little pay,

but at night, we collaborate and write,

The wings of truth take flight.

Behold! The Dwarfs, who really aren’t small.

They are the kingdom’s GIANTS standing strong… standing tall.

The true ROYALTY accepting the call,

Delivering truth’s kiss to us all.

It is diamonds and gold that emerge from the mine,

singing a genuine line…

“Don’t sip the cider, or take a bite,

the common core standards all of us fight.

Hear what we say, we are as credible as he,

teachers and parents, full of integrity.”

Royal Dwarf One

Nancie Atwell, won the inaugural Global Teacher Prize, which intends to be the ‘Nobel Prize for teachers’, and comes with a prize of one million dollars which she donated to her school. On “New Day” she was asked what she would tell kids who wanted to be teachers when they grew up. She responded:

“Um, honestly, right now I encourage them to look in the private sector, because public-school teachers are so constrained right now by the Common Core standards, and the tests that are developed to monitor what teachers are doing with them. It’s a movement that’s turned teachers into technicians, not reflective practitioners. And if you are a creative, smart young person, I don’t think this is the time to go into teaching unless an independent school would suit you.”

Royal Dwarf Two

The second teacher, Stacie Starr, winner of the National Top Teacher Award in 2014, had this to say:

“I can’t do it anymore, not in this ‘drill ‘em and kill ‘em’ atmosphere. I don’t think anyone understands that in this environment if your child cannot quickly grasp material, study like a robot and pass all of these tests, they will not survive. Each and every day, I have to look in my students’ eyes and tell them I can’t help them because the state has decided they have to prove what they know…It’s just hard because, as teachers, we are playing a game where the rules keep changing.”

Starr resigned her teaching job as a direct result of the standards.

 Royal Dwarf Three

Cynthia Jones, an inductee into the National Teachers Hall of Fame told The Federalist:

“They’re saying to teachers, ‘This is going to help you,’ no it’s not. They say it’s going to be richer than your paper-and pencil-tests because it’s going to teach higher-level thinking skills. If you’re going to teach higher-level critical thinking, you teach higher-level critical thinking. The only thing I can find in their materials is because they’re going to ask children to write, it’s teaching critical thinking skills. No, it’s not. It’s asking children to write a line or explanatory paragraph. None of their major rationales hold water on just a cursory look. It’s bogus.”

Jones quit her teaching job after the principal of her school told her to shut down the class’ garden in order to spend more time teaching to the Common Core tests.

Royal Dwarf Four

Another nationally recognized teacher, Chasidy White, wrote an op-ed on her concerns with Common Core. She writes:

“One of my favorite writings about education from Dr. King is a paper entitled ‘The Purpose of Education.’ In it, he wrote ‘To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.

When I sit in faculty meetings about Common Core, I hear ‘curriculum specialists’ tell me that Common Core is here to stay and I must ‘embrace change.’ I am forced to drink the kool-aid. These specialists don’t tell us to search for facts about Common Core on our own, they simply tell us what the people paid to promote Common Core want us to know. Didn’t Dr. King want us to separate facts from fiction? Why are we only given information from sources paid to say Common Core is a good thing? Isn’t that the exact same type of propaganda Dr. King discussed in his writings about education? Shouldn’t we discuss why thousands of Americans are calling for a repeal of the standards?”

Royal Dwarf Five

Jamie Highfill, initially supported the standards, and even served on a committee to assist in their adoption. However, Highfill is now a vocal opponent of Common Core after seeing what it would do to her classroom. Highfill’s students were already the top performing students on the tests in her entire district, but in spite of this, she was still required to make changes to her lessons. She was asked to cut six weeks of poetry and fiction in favor of nonfiction texts. As she puts it:

“I can read the word ‘Camelot’ when we’re talking about the Kennedy administration, but if I don’t understand King Arthur, how can they understand the significance of that?”

Royal Dwarfs Six – Twelve

Seven Teacher of the Year Recipients from New York wrote a joint letter to their Governor (here). They wrote:

“We have also endured a difficult rollout of the Common Core Standards. A reasonable implementation would have started the new standards in kindergarten and advanced those standards one grade at a time. Instead, the new standards were rushed into all grades at once, without any time to see if they were developmentally appropriate or useful.

Then our students were given new tests—of questionable validity—before they had a chance to develop the skills necessary to be successful. These flawed tests reinforced the false narrative that all public schools—and therefore all teachers—are in drastic need of reform. In our many years of teaching, we’ve never found that denigrating others is a useful strategy for improvement.”

Royal Dwarfs Thirteen – Twenty Two

On April 2, 2015 a panel of experts was put together to speak truth in a Senate Hearing. Part One (here), featuring all ten panelists, captured critical nuggets of gold dismantling common core and the high stakes testing. This Hearing demolished the robo-call and countered the claim of the standards being “basic”.

Put the apple aside, and don’t sip the cider…

listen to these giants who dispel the evil spider.

The speakers included:

  • Senator Chase
  • Senator Roach
  • Dr. Diane Ravitch (Previous U.S. Assistant Secretary Department of Education, Education Historian, Author)
  • Raschelle Holland (Parent, recipient of national teaching awards, Instructional Coach)
  • Karen Larrssen (Parent Extraordinaire, Co-Administrator Washington Against Common Core Standards)
  • Dr. Wayne Au (University of Washington Professor, Historical Testing Specialist)
  • James Wilson (Co-Founder Truth in American Education)
  • Sharon Hanek (Education Watchdog, Researcher, National Presenter)
  • Sue Peters (Director of Seattle School Board)
  • David Spring (Author, parent, and teacher)

There are many other Royal and ‘Giantly’ Dwarfs throughout the land.  Mercedes Schneider, Anthony Cody, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, and Dr. James Milgram, to name just a few.  There are masses arising to join in this fight.

Who, my dear reader, who might you be?

 Walk to a mirror and look within.

Ask yourself, “Who have I been?”

The queen? The giver of poison and taker of profit$?

A servant of the queen? Doing her bidding and spreading the contagion?

The Hunter? Sparing Snow White her life, yet sending her into the dangerous forest alone? Closing your door, doing the best you can? Hiding your head? You’ve been spared the wrath of the queen, but Snow White is still in the forest unprotected and unsafe.

A Royal Dwarf, giant at heart? Digging and Working to save the princess? Protector of children, the future of the Kingdom?

What of the Prince?

Who could he be?

Could it be you or could it be me?

The one that holds the ultimate key?

It’s truth’s kiss that brings Snow White from her death,

Will you help her return to life’s breath?

 Poison Apple 22

The prince is simply… the deliverer of truth.

It does not take a super sleuth.

The caress of the lips depart honesty.

With this knowledge, it is this I plea…

 

Bright, shiny apples are not always what they seem to be,

Examine them closely, avoid the toxins and be set free.

Join the ‘giantly’ dwarfs in this fight for liberty,

a warrior leaving behind all complacency. 

Become a member of the royalty…

The Dwarfs have the heart of the Prince,

it is only the truth their mouths evince.

Be a part of this child crusade,

Offer your voice so their freedoms don’t fade.

 

Mirror mirror on the wall,

Who is the most deceptive of all?

Poison Apple 2

Passionately Written,

RAZ ON FIRE


References (Click on the title(s) below if interested in digging deeper):

  1. Have you received a robo-call from Ready Washington about the Wonders of Common Core and the SBAC?
  2. Teachers of the Year or Just TOYS for Billionaires
  3. The Assessment Itself is Completely Artificial, Noam Chomsky
  4. 6.1 Billionaire Fake Grassroots (Gates Money)
  5. Where Bill Gates Money is Going in Education World This Year
  6. Bill Gates bankrolls College and Career Ready programs, aka the Common Core Standards
  7. Stunning revelation Bill Gates has spent $2.3 Billion on Common Core – #PARCC
  8. Meet 5 Award-Winning Teachers Who Reject Common Core, By Joy Pullman (Royal Dwarfs #1-5)
  9. You Have Made Us the Enemy.  This is Personal. – 7 New York Teachers of the Year Blast Cuomo
  10. Senate Hearing (Part One) April 2, 2015. Olympia, WA
  11. Raz and Son, Our Testimony at the Senate Hearing, April 2, 2015
  12. Senate Hearing (Part Two) April 2, 2015. Olympia, WA