My Letter To The NC Common Core Commission

At the beginning of December, I wrote to the Common Core Academic Standards Review Commission. I wrote a separate note asking about their funding being granted, which is included in the response I received and of which I have published below my original letter.

I would encourage other parents to reach out to this commission as I did.
Contact information:



Dear Ms. Metcalf and Mr. Peek,

Please share this email with the entire commission.

My name is Andrea Dillon.
I am a mom of a student in Wake County.
I hold a degree in Psychology from Syracuse University with a concentration in early childhood and early adolescent psychology.

Full disclosure:
I am and have been opposed to Common Core for a long time.
I am also a blogger in North Carolina and the founder of
I also have written at
I testified before the NC General Assembly when they held open comment. You can watch my testimony here. I have attached my comments made at that hearing for your review.

I have noted that the December agenda for the Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC) seems to include an evaluation of the presentations made by DPI on the two Common Core subjects of Math and ELA.

I am sure that probably the lack of funding is what is limiting the scope of evaluation thus far, as no experts like Former Common Core Validation committee members like Dr. Sandra Stotsky or Dr. James Milgram have been brought in or scheduled to appear yet.  Once funding is enacted, it is imperative these two individuals be brought in.

I also noted the section called “Parent Impact”. Since no parents have yet been called to testify before the ASRC yet, perhaps I can offer some “parent impact” for your template.

I will speak from the experience of having a son in second grade in Wake County schools. I have witnessed Common Core for two and half school years to date.

Luckily for my son, I am pretty much homeschooling him everyday when he gets home. Actually, it is more like deprogramming. Parents who have to work and can’t be as engaged — I feel for them and their kids.


The Math, to be blunt, is overly convoluted and ridiculous.

My main issues:

1. The pushing of algebraic functions and themes into k-3 is age and developmentally inappropriate.

2. The forced usage of ‘multiple’ strategies is confusing, frustrating and unfair to the kids.

3. “Explain your thinking”This year in second grade, as an example of both above issues, I’ve watched my son grapple with three part word problems. These problems were complicated and many involved both addition and subtraction in a single problem. Adding to the stress, a good number of the questions used vocabulary words above his grade level. Some may say this is an ‘implementation’ problem, but I would point out these materials were developed by Wake County Schools.  It’s not the materials, it’s the age and developmentally inappropriate tasks being asked of these kids.

The forced written explanations (“Explain your thinking”) of mathematical concepts at these ages levels is not only confusing and frustrating to the kids. All of this blending of writing into the math is a waste of time that could be spent mastering foundational math skills, which is something that is NOT happening with a lot of these kids.  The kids are indeed forced to learn multiple strategies on which a score is given to them on how well they do them. It doesn’t matter if that strategy works for the child or not, they have to do it or they are marked off.

I cannot tell you how many times my son has melted down at our kitchen table because he cannot do it the way that makes sense to him by just writing the algorithm but instead, he has to do it a certain other way — the Common Core way. The words, ‘I am not allowed to do it that way‘ are uttered weekly in some fashion.

His teacher has told me that his is assessed weekly on these strategies and given a score.  That score is then put into Pearson’s Powerschool. The score is put together with multiple others for the term and his final score is produced.

Dr. Atkinson has insisted there are no tests with Common Core. I think she’s misleading on that.
These weekly assessments are tests and they are making up my kid’s grade.

I have evidence of these assessments as well as examples of the “Blackline Master Common Core” documents my son brings home daily. These materials are all stamped with “Wake County Schools”.  I would be happy to share this documentation with the commission.

I urge the commission to allow parents to bring materials to one of the meetings and to let parents comment.  To date, parents have been shut out of discussion, in many cases have been demonized for speaking out where we are able to and we’re very frustrated.

Here is a link to the Math “homework helper” sheets they started giving out to parents. This is second grade math and they have to give parents resources to help?? Please, common sense should tell you something is wrong here. Dr. Scheik’s comments about the average person being able to navigate these standards are spot on. They are like a labyrinth.


In Kindergarten, my son was bringing home writing assignment such as writing personal opinion pieces in the first two quarters of school. No, I am not kidding. These are kids who are the average age of five. Many of them are still learning the alphabet and how to read very basic, one sentence per page texts.

I had to teach my child how to write on lined paper myself, including capitalization and letter structures. Yet, he was expected to write full sentences on his own with little prompting and support in class. He struggled and so did his classmates as I saw first-hand when I volunteered in his room.

As he shifted into first grade, opinion pieces were exchanged for ‘persuasive writing’. In first grade, he was asked to read a book, then on his own, write an opening statement, three supporting statements and a closing statement based on that text.  Again, he struggled even with prompting. Most of his class did as well. I watched them learn how to pattern these writing pieces after a template. Kids are very good at mimicking things and this is what they ended up doing. It wasn’t learning to write, it was learning to fill in a template they memorized.

These kind of writing tasks in Kindergarten and first grade were meant for a child older than him. One who has a strong abstract thought formation developing. Also worth noting – Thelexile score of the directions for many of these assignment (including math) were that of 5th grade and higher.

My biggest concern with the ELA, beyond what I have already stated is the lack of mastery of reading and word recognition being done in Kindergarten and First grade is going to impact kids for the rest of their careers. Luckily, my son was a strong reader to start with. Many kids are not.  I watched kids last year, in First grade, struggle with extremely basic reading material. They then had to turn around and write about what they struggled to read. There is a serious problem here. Common Core’s emphasis on writing over reading in these foundational learning years is fundamentally flawed.

I hope the commission will consider allowing parents to come speak to them; to tell you and show you what we are seeing.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Andrea Dillon

A.P. Dillon
One of Da Tech Guy’s Magnificent 7 Writers
Panel Member – Glenn Beck’s We Will Not Conform

Dear Ms. Dillon,
Thank you for taking the time to provide us with your thoughtful input. Parent voices are crucial to the commission’s work and outcomes.  I will share your input with the commission. We’ve begun to receive parent input and we will be directly soliciting more parent engagement as we proceed with the work.
I appreciate that you’ve read through our preliminary materials for the December meeting. We are still in the process of finalizing the agenda so some agenda items and times are subject to modification.
You questioned the evaluation template and its intended use. The evaluation template is intended to be a living document to be used to help us to collect and keep our thoughts organized. So this first pass will help the commission organize and communicate our thoughts on what we’ve heard so far. As we proceed we fully intend to engage our parents and other stakeholders. We will continue to be completely transparent and inclusive in our process and thinking as we continue to progress the work.
Regarding the budget, we’ve met with the leadership now have the General Assembly’s commitment to fully fund the work. Procedurally, this will require a formal vote which will occur as soon as the legislature is back in session.
Thank you for lending your voice to this important work.
Best Regards,
Andre Peek
Co-Chair, Academic Standards Review Commission
State of North Carolina


*This post was updated to address formatting conflicts
Posted in Academic Standards Review Commission, Common Core, LadyLiberty1885, Random Musings | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Orange County Schools Gives Burns $300k Contract

Just wow. This guy is now the top paid educrat in the state. Meanwhile, the NCAE is engaged in choreographing theatrics at school board meetings. Theatrics that are only missing a violinist in the background and a crying child carrying an empty bowl asking, ‘please sir, may I have some more’.  Small wonder their membership is dropping.

From the Chapel Hill News article:

— Interim Superintendent Del Burns has signed a contract, worth a little less than an annual rate of $300,000, to stay with Orange County Schools for five more months.

The contract, dated Dec. 9, gives Burns a base rate of $20,160 per month, plus a $250 monthly car allowance and $50 cell phone allowance. Add to that $4,161 each month to close the gap between Burns’ Bronze healthcare plan and the higher valued state employees plan and the monthly rate to employ Burns is $24,621.

That puts Burns at an annual rate of $295,452. His contract also allows him five paid leave days every month, with unused days paid out at the end of his contract. His contract exceeds all others listed in North Carolina according to a salary study completed last year by WRAL.

Further down:

But Mike Allison, a retired Orange High School guidance counselor. said the contract is likely discouraging for the district’s teachers.

“It’s a shame things have gotten so out of hand in the upper administration levels,” Allison said. “Teachers must really feel totally unimportant now.”

Burns’ compensation is higher than other superintendents’ – permanent or interim – in North Carolina. Last month Chapel Hill-Carrboro Superintendent Tom Forcella received a raise and contract extension bringing his salary to $216,640. Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools has about 12,000 students. Orange County Schools has about 7,400.

Durham Public Schools recently hired Dr. Bert L’Homme to lead their 33,000 student district for $225,000. Wake County Schools, once led by Burns, pays superintendent Dr. Jim Merrill $275,000 to run the largest district in the state with more than 150,000 students.

Although short-term contracts for interim leaders are expected to be at a higher rate, Burns’ contract is a standout among interim superintendents.

Posted in Education, LadyLiberty1885, NCAE, Random Musings | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Wake Board of Ed Public Comments Choreographed by Wake NCAE

Following up from yesterday’s article where we found out Keith Sutton thinks he’s the same as Eric Garner somehow, it was pointed out to me that the public comments section was choreographed by the Wake NCAE.

From the Wake NCAE website:

    • Join us for our “We HEART the WCPSS Board of Education” Campaign! On Tuesday, December 2, the Wake County Board of Education unanimously approved a one-time bonus in the amount of $1,250 for non-certified employees. These employees, including teacher assistants, bus drivers, clerical staff, and custodians among others were singled out by the NC General Assembly and had received only $500 pay bump. It is important that local elected officials, like the members of the WCPSS BOE, are willing to step in. And it’s important for public school workers to let our elected officials know that we’re grateful for their efforts.Here are the three things we are doing to show our appreciation:
      1) Take pictures of your coworkers holding our “We HEART the WCPSS Board of Education” signs, thanking the School Board for their actions on behalf of non-certified staff. You can find the signs here
      2) Post those images to social media. Be sure to tag WCPSS and use the hashtag:#WeHeartWCPSSBOE
      3) Join us on Tuesday, December 16 at the WCPSS Board meeting. The meeting begins at 5:30, so please try to arrive between 5:00 and 5:15 to make sure that you have a seat.
      Spread the word about our campaign with this poster.


Narrative keanuAt least they are consistent… MOAR MONEY!!! Because… DUES!!!

Wake County has one of the highest supplemental pay rates for teacher in the state, by the way folks.  Hit Daily Haymaker for a real eye-opener on education spending and the return of the BlueprintNC attacks.


Posted in Education, LadyLiberty1885, NCAE, The Articles, Wake County School Board | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Durham Police Action Report: Protesters Assaulted Police, Tried to Set Fire

Those protests in Durham on December 5th and into the morning of the 6th we not ‘mostly peaceful’ according to the action report released by Durham police.

WNCN has a partial accounting of the report which includes protesters trying to flip a squad car, hitting officers with sticks, throwing rocks at officers, trying to set a fire in a dumpster, shooting off fireworks at officers and one report of a protester attempting to grab an officer’s gun.

The report includes an image of the molotov cocktail found the next morning in the area of the arrests. It also includes social media postings by an anarchist group and one still photo of a YouTube video showing two black youths pointing guns at a police officer’s head.

By the end of the report, the event is not called a demonstration or protest, but instead it was called a riot.

I’ve excerpted some of the report below. Note, some of these people brought CHILDREN with them.

A crowd started to gather around 7 p.m. at the CCB Plaza in downtown Durham. Some people were wearing masks, bandanas, dark clothing and backpacks. They had banners and some had drums. Officers recognized several participants from previous protests at this event. There were several people in the crowd who had gas masks and bags marked with Red Cross symbols and the word “medic” on it. These were not Durham County EMS medics.
The crowd at the bull grew to approximately 250-300 people and there were several children in the crowd. Several people spoke to the crowd and many chanted anti-police rhetoric including “F*** the police.” One speaker told the crowd “We are at war with the police.” The only visible officers at that location were the bicycle officers. (P.4)


An officer, in obvious distress, screamed for additional officers to help out after the officer was assaulted and knocked to the ground. At this point, officers responded from all over the city to assist. Protesters started throwing debris, including sticks and
rocks, at officers and one officer was hit in the head with a stick. (P.5-6)


Many protesters surrounded an unoccupied white unmarked police cruiser with blue lights flashing in the middle of Mangum Street near the Durham County Jail and DPAC.  Protesters placed several traffic cones and other debris under the police car while chanting, “Flip it. Flip it. Flip it.” Officers were able to disperse the crowd from around the cruiser. (P.7 )


The crowd then started moving toward downtown and the protesters started to throw debris in the street. Some protesters were loading bookbags with rocks from railroad tracks. Officers without helmets were told to leave the area at this time for their own protection. (P.8-9)

In a related WNCN article, police note that Anarchists and Occupiers are driving these protests. We see a familiar name in this article below; emphasis added is mine.

“This even was being promoted by many, including a Carrboro and Chapel Hill group known as the Prison Books Collective,” the report said. “This group seems to have a close association with other groups from Chapel Hill: the UNControllables and Occupy Chapel Hill/Carrboro. These groups tout themselves as anarchists and openly express anti-police agendas.”

Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said he has “no doubt” that anarchist groups are behind some of the recent protests.

“Everything that I’ve gotten through intelligence and social media and information from other people points to that,” Lopez said. “I think it’s also reflected in some of the people that we’ve arrested who have been involved in a lot of anarchist-type situations before. And if you look at their social spots, you’ll see that what they’re talking about is anarchist movements.”

During the Dec. 5 demonstrations, police said several officers were assaulted, including one who was assaulted and knocked to the ground.

Some of those protesters, however, contend that it was the police officers who were combative, complaining about the force Durham police officers used during the demonstrations. One protester, 21-year-old Adrienne Harreveld, described the officers’ actions as “excessive.”

“One women started walking toward an officer and she was pulled down to the ground, and other officers gathered towards here to arrest her,” Adrienne Harreveld recalled.

“I went up to the officer and said, ‘Excuse me sir, can I please see your badge number.’ He looked me up and down for a second, and then grabbed me and threw me to the concrete. … I felt people grabbing me from behind and a knee in my stomach.”

The report released Tuesday said anarchists are known to “downplay their acts and demonize police action” following their demonstrations.

Downplaying the taunting of police is exactly what they do. Anyone who paid attention to Occupy knows this.
On a related note, Moral Monday has now co-opted these protests.

Related Reads:

Posted in Err What?, LadyLiberty1885, Occupy, Protests, Racism, The Articles | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

At Wake School Board Meeting, Sutton Compares Himself To Eric Garner (Video)

Never a shortage of drama with the Wake County School Board.

At the most recent meeting, board member Keith Sutton wore a t-shirt that said “#BlackLivesMatter” on it and launched into a long speech about how he was almost detained once at a past school board meeting so he knows what people like Eric Garner have gone through or something. No, not kidding.

The demonstrations and rallies Sutton speaks of were over ending of busing for ‘socioeconomic diversity‘ and were led by the Barber the Buffet Slayer.

Then Sutton goes on to link protests against the police to school achievement gaps and how more has to be done to help “black males and black females and brown males and brown females”.

He sort of closed his remarks by saying “young lives matter”. The message Sutton appears to be trying to give is that minority achievement or lack thereof in school is like having an encounter with police like Eric Garner.  Maybe a separate set of standards should be applied so everything is ‘equitable’?

Sutton’s contrived speech begins at the 19:10 minute mark and lasts about 5 minutes.

Update: I see the News and Observer has spotted Sutton’s comments and this blog post.

*This post has been updated
Posted in Err What?, LadyLiberty1885, Law Enforcement, Random Musings, Video, Wake County School Board | Tagged , | 1 Comment