I was able to attend only half of this meeting, which I live tweeted and then chronicled those tweets in a Storify article: NC Common Core Commission Meeting – 09/21/15
Kim Fink from Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association took minutes again and has graciously provided them to me. The meeting materials are located at the bottom of this article, along with other useful links.
Highlights and Commentary
During the opening business, there was discussion about the math sequencing and questions about the developmental appropriateness and multiple ‘strategies’ being required for the math in elementary grades. Dr. Curtis of the NC Department of Public Instruction came to the podium to address these.
Dr. Curtis said that “research” showed multiple strategies being taught was advantageous. Dr. Curtis did not cite what “research” said that, nor did she address why kids in North Carolina are being assessed on how well they do these multiple strategies being given to them in elementary school.
This discussion on strategies and their assessment highlighted that Common Core is dictating pedagogy.
Beyond the usual meeting procedures, there were two presenters listed on the agenda. These announced presenters were two principals, Carrie Tulbert and Dale Cole.
With all due respect, it was rather insulting to sit through the first 10 minutes of their presentation and listen to a string of pro-core buzzwords and empty talking points.
Cole said repeatedly that ‘We need the same standards in every state in case kids move’. Later, Cole would contradict this and say what we need is flexible standards. According to Tulbert and Cole:
The Common Core standards are ‘rigorous’ and ‘logical‘; the idea is that conceptual thinking is appropriate for K-5. Yet, Tulbert contradicted herself, later saying that, “Elementary kids not all ready for conceptual thinking.”
The standards will prepare our kids to be “globally competitive“.
Pushed for more technology like smart phone instruction, because “the Chamber of Commerce is saying it”.
“..the standards are not the devil, it is the implementation”
Tulbert and Cole also went back and forth with the Commission about accountability measures and said there was ‘too much testing’. Tulbert also said the roll out of Common Core came ‘too fast’ and resources were uneven.
Co-Chair Covil, on the push back to accountability measures by the duo, noted that, ‘NC adopted this program, they are looking for results, but keeps hearing CC is great, but can’t quantify improvement’. The excuse was “it takes time”. Neither Tulbert or Cole could say how much time.
The Principals also acknowledged that ‘accountability measures’ were keeping kids from being able to advance as ‘fast as they can or want to’. In my opinion, that’s half the story. Common Core itself dictates what has to be learned and at what grade. Even if a kid did want to get ahead, the standards won’t let them.
Tulbert was also clear when asked about the standards being a barrier for parents trying to help their kids. Tulbert said, “parents are not teachers”.
Co-Chair Covil intervened in this line of questioning saying, “[The] biggest indicator of child success, is an involved parent, so why the standards shouldn’t be written in a way that the parents can follow along?”
Apparently, after I left three teachers from the Central Region were given time to talk as well. Those teachers given time to talk were:
- LuAnn Malik – Carborro HS math coordinator
- Allison Bowers – Person High School, Math 1 teacher
- Lynsey Hubbard – Stories Creek Elem. in Person County
- Trey Ferguson – Leesville Road High School
Upon reviewing their testimony, I have to say I found it was likely coordinated and as a parent, I found their remarks disturbing.
LuAnn Malik presented that scores showed a dip at implementation time, with minorities fairing the worst. She presented a graph. The achievement gap for minorities is clear and is widening.
When asked about this widening gap, Malik echoed Tulbert and Cole’s testimony and said that, “[It] Takes time for the results to show up.“.
The biggest revelation that came out of Malik’s testimony was in relation to the testing, which was summed up by Commission Member Oxendine, “So, they design their tests before they design their curricula? The test drives the curriculum.”
Allison Bowers was up next and she opened by saying she had taught for 29 years and that if they got rid of Common Core she’d quit. I hate to be snarky, but if she’s taught for that long and can’t recognize Common Core has the messy fad that it is, perhaps she should quit.
Bowers also complained about the implementation problems and the lack of resources, she “goes to Pinterest for ideas and projects on functions.“.
Bowers also said she’d like to see more clarity in the standards. This is interesting since the big selling point from supporters is that Common Core is “clearer” and “deeper”.
The rest of her testimony was a series of contradictions between praising the Common Core and saying it needed changing. Bowers included a line that bashed parents who didn’t like the standards because they can’t understand them. Wow.
Ms. Bowers left out her level of involvement with Common Core in her district.
Lynsey Hubbard’s opening testimony made it clear she loves Common Core and how it offers so many different methods. She fails to mention those methods or ‘strategies’ are compulsory.
Hubbard made this statement:
“Traditional algorithms are not wrong, but education is not one size fits all, everyone has the same endpoint, and how the particular kid may get the answer in a different way. “
All due respect, Ms. Hubbard, but Common Core IS one size fits all.
She also said we shouldn’t start over because that will ‘take time and money’. Gee, hate to inconvenience her, it’s only the educational future of our children, after all.
A side note: Ms. Hubbard presented at the ‘2015 Collaborative Conference for Student Achievement’ put on by the Dept. of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education. Hubbard’s presentation was titled, Instructional Strategies for the Highly Effective Classroom.
Trey Ferguson was last to speak. I’m frankly stunned he was part of this, given his affiliation with the Bill Gates backed Hope Street Group — which is little more than another platform for promoting Common Core.
Ferguson repeated the ‘it’s not the standards, it’s the implementation and lack of resources’ line. Ferguson then talked about the ‘unpacking documents’, which contradicts his resources statement.
Ferguson pushed his desire to keep the integrated math, which has been deemed a disaster by more groups than just the ASRC. Both Co-Chair Peek and Commission Member Scheik rebutted Ferguson on this front.
Ferguson made a curious statement, “Keep these standards, clarify them, they are improving scores“.
The reality is that the test scores (even after the scoring system was changed and the tests were aligned) are not showing improvement.
The EOG, SAT, ACT? They’re all flat and/or declining, especially in the case of minority students.
The September Meeting Materials:
- Updated ASRC Timeline and Actions (pdf)
- Meeting Agenda (pdf)
- Principal Ms. Tulbert Bio (pdf)
- Principal Mr. Cole Bio (pdf)
- Teacher Focus Groups Schedule (pdf)
- Guide Questions to Teacher Focus Groups (pdf)
- Examples of NC and MN standards (pdf)
- Common Core Standards Presentation (pdf)
- Matrix for Reviewing State Standards (pdf)