Common Core Educational Standards: a Dissection

Common Core - Coring Out Your Child's Brain
Common Core – Coring Out Your Child’s Brain (Photo credit: rich_french77Amber)

I was recently asked my opinion about Common Core whereupon I realized that most of my knowledge was anecdotal. This Saturday I met a teacher from Louisiana who was recently retired — motivated by disgust from dealing with Common Core’s inaccuracies. This graphic sums up the usual discussion I hear on the street. I resolved to research it. Continue reading “Common Core Educational Standards: a Dissection”

What Makes a Great Teacher? – Magazine – The Atlantic

Parents have always worried about where to send their children to school; but the school, statistically speaking, does not matter as much as which adult stands in front of their children. Teacher quality tends to vary more within schools—even supposedly good schools—than among schools.

But we have never identified excellent teachers in any reliable, objective way. Instead, we tend to ascribe their gifts to some mystical quality that we can recognize and revere—but not replicate. The great teacher serves as a hero but never, ironically, as a lesson.

At last, though, the research about teachers’ impact has become too overwhelming to ignore.

via What Makes a Great Teacher? – Magazine – The Atlantic.

Worrying about our education system in this country is one of the few things that truly nags my mind.  I think I could become obsessed about the problem if I had more time to contemplate the problem.

What is the problem? I see the symptoms in my “day job” manifested in high school “graduates” who can barely fill out applications for court-appointed legal representation and one, if you can believe it, spelled his name differently in two places on the application. I hear of failures of education when colleges have to provide remedial courses for students who took dual-credit courses (whom you might have assumed were high-achieving students).

For all of those reasons I was intrigued by this article describing an objective approach to identifying truly effective teachers and learning what makes them different — different in that they are bringing their students along much faster than their peers.  Bill Bennett talks of studies demonstrating that getting rid of the lowest-performing 5% of teachers can have dramatic effect on the overall educational results in America.

Let’s figure out what makes great teachers great and try to replicate the distinguishing features. America cannot survive and retain its place in the world if we don’t.

William Bennett Creates Innovative History Series for Grades 8-12

This is big. The history of America (as opposed to simply “American history”) is a fabulous story in spite of the many bumps encountered along the way. It is a history of which to be proud to have inherited, to be a part of preserving, and to be a part of creating for future generations. Yet, sadly, as Secretary Bennett states below, it is not only our school children’s worst subject but it is being steadily illegitimized.

(Update: Links to purchase the books. Amazon.com & Barnes and Noble.  No pecuniary interest in this — just an advocate for a better education in history.  And go to the sample site for the online component of the history series as it would be used.)

Secretary Bennett stated: “History is our nation’s school children’s worst subject. And yet, the history of America is the greatest story of the modern era. It should not be boring, it should not be dumbed-down, and it should not be politicized. It is the story of a great experiment—what Abraham Lincoln called a ‘proposition.’ It is the story of many noble efforts to live up to that proposition, sometimes failing, more often, succeeding. This great adventure is told the best way I know how, chronologically, excitingly, honestly. ‘Once Upon A Time’ can still be an invitation to our youth and there is no greater ‘Once Upon A Time’ than ours. It is the dream of a lifetime for me to have a textbook in our nation’s schools explaining all of this—and with a most exciting curriculum to accompany it. And to do so with the leader in excellence in education publishing, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is a special privilege.”

via Former Secretary of Education William Bennett Creates Innovative History Series for Grades 8-12 | Business Wire.

The Texas Board of Education — even at this time — is in the process of approving new history books (see
State Board of Education — Revisionist History in Progress) but there may yet be an opportunity to influence them toward a good history:  which this is. I have Parts I & II and find them to be a wonderful read and am convinced that they represent an authoritative work of history.  If I had the money, I would gladly donate the entire curriculum to our local school district.

And I think our local schools should be encouraged to adopt this series even if not approved by the SBOE.  I am increasingly convinced that at the feet of poor education in general and of history in particular can be laid the lacks of ambition, patriotism and sense of public service among an all too large portion of our population both young and old.  I would never stoop to condemning entire generations, but from my life and professional perspective I have to say that all too large a segment of our populace fails in those areas of ambition, patriotism and sense of public service.

Where do YOU stand? Will you call your school board members today? Is knowledge of the history of this great nation important in your mind? If it is, then you’ll do something about it.

Solve all the pathology in America today

There’s a really smart guy talking on the radio … and it’s not me.  No, really.  It’s Bill Bennett, and those who know me very well at all know that I think he really is … a really smart guy. And he talks on the radio on the Bill Bennett’s Morning in America radio show.  I get it on Sirius and subscribe so that I can download the podcasts since I can’t be available for the whole show.

Bennett was Secretary of Education under President Reagan and later “Drug Czar” as it was called.  He is a tremendous historian (love “America: the Last Best Hope” — the best American history you will ever read), and a keen observer of American life today.  He said something on Feb 4 that while obvious to most, still bears repeating.  He was talking to a teacher from Montgomery, Texas who was bemoaning the 10 below-70 grades he had recently issued … and having had NO parent call.  The discussion turned to what’s wrong and Bill said “… give me better families, better schools, and more teaching in the churches and I’ll give you back 90% of the pathology in American life.”

I thought it was so good that I’ve excerpted the discussion. Hear it here:

State Board of Education — Revisionist History in Progress

An interesting piece from Liberty Counsel. (Note 1)  I saw a portion of the Mike Huckabee show last night and a LC spokesman was talking about this problem.  Pay attention:  The SBOE — which approves standard curriculum textbooks — is in the process of making changes that you should know about.  America has a rich past, indeed its beginning, founded on Judeo-Christian values and the continued assault from many sources to obliterate this history is both disturbing and fraudulent. That our own State Board of Education might be participating is a horrifying indictment of the “government school system.”  Awaken, silent majority, awaken to this threat and do something about it.

Some of the suggestions that have come forward at various times include:

* Removing references to Daniel Boone, General George Patton, Nathan Hale, Columbus Day, and Christmas.

* Including the cultural impact of hip hop music, ACLU lawyer Clarence Darrow, and the Hindu holiday of Diwali.

* Replacing the term “American” with “Global Citizen”– stating that students need to be shaped “for responsible citizenship in a global society” without any mention of citizenship in American society.

* Replacing expansionism and free enterprise with imperialism and capitalism.

The Board’s next meeting is in March and the final reading and adoption of the social studies guidelines will be in May.

Make your voice heard now, before the next meeting. Please call the board members at 512-463-9734 and encourage them to promote traditional, pro-American language in their guidelines, or you may email them at sboeteks@tea.state.tx.us.

via Liberty Counsel. (http://lc.org/index.cfm?PID=14102&AlertID=1094 accessed on 2/8/2010)

The ability of the Texas SBOE to, essentially, set the social studies/history textbooks for the nation is a huge issue this year.  As was pointed out on the Liberty Counsel site,

As Texas is a leader in textbooks, most other states purchase the same educational materials. The textbook controversy in Texas affects every American because, to have a bright future, we must know our past. America has a rich past founded on Judeo-Christian values and to forget them, or worse, to distort them, will doom our future. Those who want to reshape America begin by rewriting our past. We repeat the mistakes of the past when we are ignorant of them.

You can see the members of the SBOE on their site.

I am looking for the resources to see the actual process and the specific current proposals … if anyone has links, let me know.

Notes:

(1) Liberty Counsel’s “About” page states

Liberty Counsel is a nonprofit litigation, education and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the family. Established in 1989, Liberty Counsel is a nationwide organization with offices in Florida, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., and hundreds of affiliate attorneys across the Nation.

Are our schools failing or succeeding?

But in our high schools, the National Assessment of Educational Progress data tell a troubling story, especially in light of our need to compete in a global knowledge economy.

via Margaret Spellings – Rising Scores Show Why We Can’t Retreat From ‘No Child Left Behind’ – washingtonpost.com.

There is a lot to debate about ‘No Child Left Behind’ and the uniform testing requirements it and Ross Perot brought us. But really, do you think our schools are succeeding? How do you really measure that? I see scores of functional illiterates — including recent high school graduates — every day. Everywhere. Of course, maybe in my business I should just expect that.

What about the dropout rate? We see stats reporting 3% dropout rates and others that say closer to 50%, especially in some ethnic groups. Depends on how you measure it, right? Can there be success declared with dropout rates like that? Of course not.

Ever watch Jay Leno’s “man on the street” segment? Nuff sed.

What to do?