Update: Welcome Carolina Plott Hound Readers!
Uh oh, someone is bearing false witness again.
In response to a blog post I did over at StopCommonCoreNC.org about CCSSO President elect/NC State Superintendent Dr. Atkinson’s out of touch reply to a Tweet of mine, a parent copied and pasted a reply they received from Atkinson.
To sum it up, here’s the formula being used:
- Tell the person everything they think is false, i.e., you’re a liar.
- Use the debunked Common Core talking points to prove those claims are false.
- Offer no proof you are right and they are wrong, just ask questions back that are false comparisons and red herrings.
- Confuse people by pointing them to a website that has a such a non-specific search engine that it will keep them busy looking for what they asked for in their letter for the better part of a year. This will hopefully make them lose interest.
- Declare victory.
This is Common Core Public Relations 101.
Here is the comment (below). After it, I have a few things to say.
See email from Dr. Atkinson in response to an article I wrote and sent to her upon her request entitled “Concerns And Objections To Common Core In North Carolina”. The article addressed concerns in the following areas:
• The centralization of education
• The adoption of CCSS was not a state-led effort
• Loss of state control over standards
• One size fits all approach
• The poor quality and implementation of the CCSS
• The alienation of parental control and involvement
• Data mining of student information and violation of student and family privacy
Dr. Atkinson’s reply was. . .
Dear Ms. Castillo, thank you for sending me a copy of your objections to the Common Core standards. Unfortunately, the statements you make about the centralization of education, loss of state control over standards, “one size fits all,” alienation of parents, and data mining are false.
Adopted in 2010, the standards identify what students should know and be able to do. NC’s practice has been to review standards every five years to determine what changes are needed. As in the past, we make changes in standards based on feedback from teachers, administrators, parents, etc. The standard do not force all children to learn at the same pace and level. That would be in contrast to what we constantly say to teachers about differentiating learning for every child. Teachers are responsible for choosing materials and curriculum to use with each child. The standards identify what typical students should know and be able to do. Some can move faster and others may need extra help.
If the federal government or any other entity required states to adopt the standards, then why would Texas not be required to use them? If adoption of the Common Core standards results in testing, then why has NC administered end-of-grade and end-of-course tests since the mid 1990s? If parents were not included in the process, then why did the North Carolina parent teacher association help us get input from parents? Since textbook companies have been selling books for decades as a part of the free enterprise system, then why would it be different now with a new set of standards? National standards exist now for social studies, science, and healthful living, but NC has chosen to develop its own standards in those areas. What is your source that NC will adopt those standards? In any event, the statement about NC adopting those standards is “around the bend” is incorrect.
If the Common Core standards de-emphasize classical literature, then why on pages 6,7, 8, 9, 10, of the standards are there references to classics such as Shakespeare, Ovid, or the Bible? How can a standard such as “a student will learn how to multiply two digit numbers alienate parents?” How could NC add cursive writing to the standards, if your statements that states were required to adopt CCSS word for word? How could NC add 4th year high school math courses if we would not add to the standards? You are correct about not having a defined system of governance of CCSS—they belong to states who adopt them; therefore, a governance system is not needed or wanted.
Your points are very similar to those made by a national organization that states on its website that its goal is to create chaos and attribute every issue in public education to the Common Core so that people will lose faith in public schools. I regret that the national conversation is not what is good for children and their future. Standards, by themselves, cannot address parental involvement, differentiated instruction necessary for every child, or statutory testing requirements. Technology requirements cannot be “piled on” the standards. If we used our old standards or standards from another state, the questions about technology and testing would still exist.
The NC University System, the NC Community College System, and the NC Chamber of Commerce support the standards. Why? They believe that the standards will prepare students to do college work, as well as prepare students for careers.
Will you please go to our website http://www.ncpublicschools.org and review pages. 4-11 about 3rd grade reading standards. The General Assembly’s Read to Achieve requires testing of third graders. While I agree that we have too much testing in many cases, the Common Core standards do not require testing. The General Assembly and U.S. Congress do.
State and federal law require the protection of student data, and I agree that student data should be protected.
While I believe the evidence shows that the assumptions in your response are not correct, I appreciate the time you have taken to share your concerns. I have worked my entire career to help prepare our students for the future they will face and so that they can have high student achievement. I believe that the standards, while they cannot solve every issue in public education, will help our students grow academically and will lead to their being more successful than in the past.
Best wishes to you.
Well, that sure told that parent, taxpayer and voter what’s what!
A few things to point out…
” Unfortunately, the statements you make about the centralization of education, loss of state control over standards, “one size fits all,” alienation of parents, and data mining are false.”
Unfortunately, those statements are all true. The data collection piece of Common Core databases with their collection requirements of data turned over to the Dept. of Education along with the partnerships with testing consortiums is centralization of education. The CCSSO and the NGA hold the copyright to the standards, that is centralization. The point and heck, the NAME of the standards — COMMON CORE — is centralization. By definition, having centralization of education does mean a loss of local control.
It IS one size fits all, it does alienate parents and the Core depends on data mining. Without it, the rest of the machine breaks down. If you really want to know the depths of it, one should read up on what Jane Robbins asserts about it. Please take the time to watch this video where Robbins lays it all out from Pre-K to Workforce.
One of the legs of the data mining stool just went bye-bye too – inBloom is shutting down.
Social studies aligned to the Common Core isn’t around the bend eh? Building “rigor”!
The whole point of ELA and math being rolled out first is so they could be templates to use for all the other subjects.
Dr. Atkinson knows this and while NC is moving forward creating its own Social Studies materials, I would bet there is some modeling going on here.
A blunt question to ask would be if North Carolina is allied or affiliated with the National Council on the Social Studies. If the answer is yes, we’re in trouble.
Of note, Pearson was an exhibitor at the most recent NC Council on Social Studies conference. I also noted their unfortunate typo on the exhibitor list: “NC Council on the Holocaust”. Read more about Social Studies and the Common Core here:
- C-3 Framework For Social Studies Released
- C-3 Social Studies “Framework” Update
- Common Core And National Council On The Social Studies
Also — that bit about Texas and being required to adopt them? Texas didn’t want the Race To The Top money which they knew would make them beholden to adopting the Common Core. Governor Perry and Texas did not apply.
Common Core depends on the testing. Dr. Atkinson makes reference to the EOC’s, or End of Course exams. Most states have those type of exams.
What comes with Common Core is testing through two main testing consortiums — the PARCC and the SBAC. They stand to make untold millions from testing related to the Common Core. Both have come under serious fire and states are pulling out of them right and left.
NC is a test pilot state for the SBAC and those pilot tests are indeed happening. Check here to see if your school is one of them. If yes, were you told?
Two MUST reads on the SBAC are North Carolina Must Withdraw from SBAC Part 1 and North Carolina Must Withdraw from SBAC Part 2.
The question Atkinson poses here bets on the reader not knowing the myriad of businesses who stand to make a buck off of Common Core’s data mining and subsequent sharing and selling of said data: “Since textbook companies have been selling books for decades as a part of the free enterprise system, then why would it be different now with a new set of standards?”
Smoke and Mirrors section – where disingenuous questions serve as answers:
If the Common Core standards de-emphasize classical literature, then why on pages 6,7, 8, 9, 10, of the standards are there references to classics such as Shakespeare, Ovid, or the Bible? How can a standard such as “a student will learn how to multiply two digit numbers alienate parents?” How could NC add cursive writing to the standards, if your statements that states were required to adopt CCSS word for word? How could NC add 4th year high school math courses if we would not add to the standards?
Yes, Common Core does de-emphasize literature in a progressive manner as students move along through the upper grades in favor of using informational texts. That’s a fact. Does it remove all literature? No. This is what Atkinson hangs her argument on.
The standard quoted of multiplying doesn’t alienate parents, however, the way it is being TAUGHT does. It’s making math overly convoluted and confusing instead of teaching the basics. It’s a re-visitation of the old “new math”, which stunk then and stinks now.
How could NC add cursive and multiplication or other math courses? Well, Dr. Atkinson is hoping parents don’t know that the standards are copyrighted by one of the entities she is president-elect of for starters.
That copyright states that Common Core must be adhered to 100%, but allows for 15% of new material to be added.
Here’s the catch: that 15% is not tested on. As Dr. Atkinson well knows, it was the NC General Assembly who forced multiplication tables to be added back in as basic education in HB 146. The NC General Assembly also put cursive writing back in with that same bill.
Sold Like Snake Oil
One final comment and that is about the NC Chamber of Commerce. The chamber was recruited to use their money and influence be cheerleaders for Common Core. The chamber was sold a bill of goods regarding Common Core as a magic bullet for raising standards in education that has been proven to be false. It was sold like snake oil.
In North Carolina, the Chamber of Commerce has initiated a project called “Hire Standards“. Partners of that program include the CCSSO, of which Dr. Atkinson is President-elect.
Meanwhile, Atkinson has claimed there is no conflict of interest because ‘no money was given’ to her and CCSSO is voluntary. She’s right, in terms of state law, conflict of interest means money changing hands or some financial gain. Yet, the conflict of interest being pointed out here is not about money, it’s about serving the citizens of North Carolina above that of the CCSSO and Common Core.
Let’s put it another way. Would you buy a car from the person whose job it is to find the best car for you they yet also is also the party selling said car? No. That’s a conflict of interest.
I invite everyone to watch Building the Machine:
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Thanks for sharing my tweet today. I was doing some “informational reading” this afternoon and came across your blog post. You could not have said it better. I responded today to Dr. Atkinson and below is a copy for your readers. The exchange between Dr. Atkinson and I began when I signed up for the form letter at http://www.stopcommoncorenc.org that was sent out to various representatives in our state. I received an email response from her in regards to that form letter that read . . .
“I welcome your feedback about the standards in math and English/language arts/reading that you recommend should be changed, deleted, or added. Adopted in 2010 and now being used for at least two years in our schools, the standards may be found on our website at http://www.ncpublicschools.org . I look forward to receiving your feedback. ”
In response to the above request, I simply attached the article about my concerns and objections to the Common Core State Standards. The article is not written to a specific person or group, but rather a statement about what I have seen, observed, and learned this past year. I had written this article for the purpose of submitting it to the North Carolina General Assembly Study Committee on Common Core so that it could be entered into public record.
Dr. Atkinson’s response to this article is what you have captured so beautifully in your blog post. I will have to say . . . I was a bit stunned that she dismissed EVERYTHING I had written and basically called me a liar. Your post today was so affirming, so THANK YOU. Initially, I was not going to response to Dr. Atkinson because I did not want to subject myself to more of the same. I was saddened by how dismissive she was of a constituent, a parent, and a tax payer in the state she serves. However, I felt like a reasonable response was necessary on behalf of all those who do not speak. You will see below that I made sincere effort to take the high road, raise the standards of conversation, and not return to her what was given to me. Please let me know if you would like a copy of the original article I sent to Dr. Atkinson. I am happy to share it.
Dear Dr. Atkinson,
Thank you for your time and attention in regards to my concerns about Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The response you have submitted to my concerns appears dismissive. Yet, I am hopeful this exchange serves as an opportunity for accountability and acknowledgement of a perspective that does not align with your own. I am honored that you reached out to me to engage in a discussion about CCSS.
Since I must prioritize my time and energy on this matter, I have addressed what I believe to be the most pressing and relevant points of discussion from your email response below. For several months, I have collated information from sources, both for and against CCSS. I have reviewed almost every standard in grades K-5 and some of grades 7 & 8. I have participated in open discussions and forums about CCSS. I have viewed hours upon hours of General Assembly meetings from various states as participants discuss the implications of CCSS. To put it in the language of Common Core, I have put on my critical thinking hat, applied close reading skills, and studied an abundance of informational text in an effort to provide supporting statements of my point of view. I did not simply pull information from one source as you have suggested.
My concerns and objections to CCSS did not happen overnight. I have invested many hours in classrooms over the last several years, and have become aware of the challenges in public education through my own personal experience. We have been blessed with exceptional educators and administrators who have taken great measures to perform their jobs with excellence. I am not naive to the challenges in education that preceded the implementation of CCSS in North Carolina. However, my awareness and understanding of CCSS increased this past year as I noticed a steep decline in the overall quality of education my children were receiving. I wanted to find the primary cause of this fundamental shift and have concluded that the implementation of CCSS has been poorly executed, has compounded existing problems and challenges with education, and has created some new ones.
I have grown weary with the argument that standards do not drive curriculum and with the attitude towards the opposition that their concerns are unfounded. This attitude by proponents erodes any legitimate value the CCSS may have in the eyes of those who are opposed. I disagree with your statement, “The standards do not force all children to learn at the same pace and level.” This is not what I am witnessing in my children’s educational journey. This is not the testimony given by many parents, teachers, and administrators that I have spoken with. I have seen students struggle to achieve a basic understanding of some CC standards because of developmental inappropriateness and the growing deficiency in foundational knowledge. Teachers are admittedly “teaching to the test” and are under relentless pressure to get students up to speed before they can introduce certain CCSS standards. Assessments are consuming teaching time and my own children, who have surpassed the standards in their grade level, have become subject to unnecessary assessment testing for standards their teachers intuitively know they have mastered.
My concerns and objections to the CCSS in North Carolina do not suggest that testing is not needed. Testing is necessary in public education. It serves as one method to insure students are achieving and that teachers and administrators are held accountable. Proponents argue that the CCSS are not accompanied by additional testing. However, the standards are the conduit through which Race To The Top (RttT) mandates for testing are achieved. Parents, teachers, and administrators have communicated that a huge increase in assessment testing has occurred since the implementation of CCSS. CCSS and RttT grants are clearly married to one another. To address CCSS as a separate issue from the mandates imposed by RttT is to perpetuate a semantic argument. The persistent assessing of standards is unique to CCSS and RttT mandates. Traditional standardized testing such as those required by Read to Achieve is another discussion altogether. The following link outlines state’s requirements for assessments mandated by RttT:
Standards and Assessments (70 total points)
Developing and adopting common standards (40 points)
Supporting the transition to enhanced standards and high-quality assessments (20 points)
Developing and implementing common, high-quality assessments (10 points)
“Although many states have competed to win the grants, Race to the Top has also been criticized by politicians, policy analysts, thought leaders and educators. Teachers’ unions and educators have complained that the tests are an inaccurate way to measure teachers, and haven’t worked in the past. Conservatives have complained that it imposes federal control on state schools. Critics say that high-stakes testing is unreliable, that charter schools weaken public education, or that the federal government should not influence local schools.”
(<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_to_the_Top#cite_note-16 > )
Assessments naturally lead to a discussion about data collecting. You stated, “Technology requirements cannot be “piled on” the standards. If we used our old standards or standards from another state, the questions about technology and testing would still exist.” There has been an undeniable escalation in the use of data associated with the CCSS and RttT mandates. Technology can be a blessing, but technology without accountability to local government and state control is not good for NC. It is well known that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FIRPA) has been diluted by the Department of Education (DOE) which allows greater access to students’ private information. The insatiable hunger to collect information (no matter the costs to tax payers) and feed it into a state longitudinal data system, is growing and Secretary Of Education, Arne Duncan recently said . . .
“Hopefully, some day, we can track children from preschool to high school and from high school to college and college to career . . . . We want to see more states build comprehensive systems that track students from pre-K through college and then link school data to workforce data. We want to know whether Johnny participated in an early learning program and then completed college on time and whether those things have any bearing on his earnings as an adult.” (http://www2.ed.gov/news/speeches/2009/06/06082009.html )
“Usually, firewalls are set up for our protection. They prevent hackers from getting into our computers and they block our children from visiting inappropriate Web sites. But these state firewalls don’t help us. They hurt all of us. They impede our ability to serve students and better understand how we can improve American education.” (http://www2.ed.gov/news/speeches/2009/06/06082009.html )
There is a purposeful agenda to broaden states’ longitudinal data systems, enabling enormous amount of data mining of student information. The below links are representative of the RttT mandates and the discussion surrounding the appropriateness of data collection of students.
Data Systems to Support Instruction (47 total points)
Fully implementing a statewide longitudinal data system (24 points)
Using data to improve instruction (18 points)
Accessing and using State data (5 points)
“School officials have become so uneasy about state plans for collecting student data — and what they call potential “student profiling” — that several districts are dropping out of the Race to the Top initiative to try to avoid its requirements.” (http://archive.lohud.com/article/20131027/NEWS/310270027/Several-area-districts-forfeit-funding-over-state-plans-student-data-collection )
Diane Ravitch, a well known historian of education, an educational policy analyst, and a research professor at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and has a lifetime of experience and expertise in education that would extend beyond many in her field. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diane_Ravitch ) She recently posted on her blog:
“The new regulations ‘removed limitations prohibiting educational institutions and agencies from disclosing student personally identifiable information, without first obtaining student or parental consent. For example, the proposed FERPA regulations reinterpreted FERPA statutory terms ‘authorized representative’ ‘education program,’ and ‘directory information.’ This reinterpretation gives non-governmental actors increased access to student personal data.” ( http://dianeravitch.net/2013/04/08/why-is-the-us-department-of-education-weakening-ferpa/ )
You asked, “If the federal government or any other entity required states to adopt the standards, then why would Texas not be required to use them? “ Texas’ primary reason for not adopting CCSS is due to the fact that implementation would cost Texans up to $3 billion more than they would have received from the RttT grant. There were also concerns that the CCSS were below their current state standards. But that is Texas, and what we are really talking about is federal intrusion through RttT mandates here is North Carolina. The connection between CCSS and RttT federal grants and mandates, muddy the water with a centralized, national education agenda. The CCSS are copyrighted by the NGA which forces states who have adopted the standards to strictly adhere to the standards, by law, with a small opportunity to add up to 15% to the existing standards. The CCSS website says . . .
“The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers will continue to serve as the two leading organizations with ownership of the Common Core and will make decisions about the timing and substance of future revisions to the standards in consultation with the states.” (http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/frequently-asked-questions/)
The are many reliable sources and documentation that verify that the control of the CCSS lie with the NGA. Furthermore, cash poor states were incentivized to adopt the standards through the desire to acquire RttT grant money. The opposition’s position on the centralization of education is not centered around whether or not the Federal government “directly” mandated the adoption of CCSS. Proponents of CCSS know this but continue to spin the opposition’s perspective. Many see the process and methods used in the adoption of CCSS by states as a coercion effort or overreach of Federal government. Attaching millions of RttT grant money to the adoption of CCSS positioned states between a rock and a hard place. The “powers that be” in education and government, seized an opportunity to push through an agenda at the most opportune time. Proponents of CCSS desire to focus the debate around what is allowable, and that the Federal government is within it rights to exercise a strong measure of control over our country’s education. However, many opponents to CCSS desire to elevate the discussion to focus on what is “RIGHT” – which is to maintain full control of our state standards and education. I would agree that many of the CCSS have raised the expectations for students in the North Carolina and that high standards should be achievable. However, concerns about our state’s ability to fully control it’s own standards exceed whether or not the standards are high, rigorous, or achievable.
In your response below, you summarize by saying “. . . the statements you make about the centralization of education, loss of state control over standards, “one size fits all,” alienation of parents, and data mining are false.” I would argue that I am not alone and one does not need to look very far to find affirmation of that. To align my concerns and objections to CCSS to those of one national website whose “goal is to create chaos and attribute every issue in public education to the Common Core so that people will lose faith in public schools.” is to be misinformed. There are numerous organizations, parents, teachers, administrators, and elected government officials who share my perspective and have clearly voiced opposition to CCSS and Race To The Top mandates based on the same arguments.
I am hopeful, that North Carolina will move forward on the right track, and those we have trusted to lead us will allow their constituent’s voices to be heard and respected. I know that you have served North Carolina for many years and bring an abundance of knowledge and experience to your role as our state superintendent. Your passion for education is clear and I am thankful for your commitment to face the challenges ahead.