Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Way I See HB3399 And The Common Core Fight In Oklahoma



That's it.  Right there in that box.  That's how I see HB3399 and the Common Core fight in Oklahoma.

I see nothing but red.  

When I started trying to fight Common Core years ago, I remember being gullible enough to believe that because Common Core wasn't right, it was stoppable.  I remember being looked over, ignored and shut out by parents, legislators, the State Department of Education (SDE) and taxpayers, but I remember believing the truth would somehow win out.  

I don't believe that anymore.

I do believe Josh Brecheen and Jason Nelson have worked longer and harder on HB3399 this session than any of their other bills - and that both men genuinely want to stop Common Core and give Oklahoma excellent standards of our own without federal control.  I have no doubt about that anymore.  I also DON'T DOUBT the following facts:

Brad Henry took State Fiscal Stabilization Funds (SFSF) from the Obama administration and when he did, he began the process of handing over Oklahoma's public education to the federal government.  He didn't stop there, though, he continued the process by applying for a Race to the Top (RTT) grant.  For every education 'reform' Oklahoma put into LAW, Oklahoma got more 'points' on their RTT grant. Consequently: 
  • the Common Core State Standards were instituted into law before they were ever even available to read in final form, 
  • the underpinnings of the P20/W Council (Prek-20 years and Workforce) were cemented in place to collect massive amounts of data on public school children without consent of their parents thanks to the changes in FERPA laws under Arne Duncan and the Obama administration
  • A-F grading system and teacher 'accountability' systems were begun
Once Governor Mary Fallin and Superintendent Barresi took office, it only got worse.  As I have said numerous times, these women have spoken out of both sides of their mouths with forked tongues for as long as they have been in office: 

Superintendent Barresi has - on innumerable occasions - spoken with great forcefulness against the intrusion of the federal government into education all the while applying for a FEDERAL Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant, a No Child Left Behind Waiver and a State Longitudinal Database grant enmeshing Oklahoma in a veritable web of FEDERAL CONTROL all while ceding control of the Department of Education to employees from Achieve (John Kramen - Executive Director of Student Information - or as I call him - Executive Director of Stealing Student Privacy) by way of the American Diploma Project and former employees of the Jeb Bush Excellence in Education/Chiefs for Change circle.
  • Then there's the Common Core testing.  Barresi got out of PARCC the organization granted millions of federal funds (from stimulus money) to create the tests associated with the Common Core.  She moved, however, to a contract with Measured Progress whose website says, "We assist both the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership to Assess Resdiness for College and Career - the multi-state consortia formed through the Race to the Top initiatve and charged with developing Common Core assessments."  So how'd we get out of PARCC again?  How'd we think that the Federal Government was just going to throw away all those hard earned ARRA funds (stimulus) they'd plunked down to PARCC and Smarter Balance for creating the tests (the word "assessment" is not 'test' - please look it up).  Did we REALLY think our big government superintendent would do that?
  • We've all been told by Dr. Baressi and others that the Common Core State Standards are not a vehicle for collecting data.  WRONG!  Here's a sentence found on the Common Core State Standards website (the website has been newly-redesigned but the information here has stayed the same as the screenshots I took last year for my presentation to the CC Interim Study in October) "The project offers a more fine-grained digital mapping that is needed to fulfill the goals and objectives of the multi-state assessment consortia as well as for other purposes including the digital alignment of instructional materials and professional development resources." I just asked my data-base developer husband who told me that this project will create a map that will allow the CCSS to be reduced to data points that can be linked together in a database.  This may not mean much, but when you add the fact that the website goes on to say, "The corestandards.org XML file follows the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) schema, also used by Schools Interoperatbility Framework Association (SIF)", you're in trouble.  The CEDS is the creation that names every conceivable piece of data that can be collected on children in public education so all schools/districts/state/feds can collect individual pieces of data using the same terminology, allowing all schools to "seamlessly" share and understand the same data points.  When you add in the fact that these data points are moving along something called the SIF (created by Microsoft) and this SIF is the common track that connects all schools to the OSDE and the OSDE to the Federal Government, you've just discovered that yes, the Common Core State Standards are not only data points on which to create Common Core tests, but also a mechanism for collecting data via the hundreds of programs being developed for use in classrooms today such as that created by eScholar which tracks kids from the moment they enter the school room until...well, we're not sure when the tracking stops!
Governor Fallin has gone so far as to create an Executive Order decrying federal involvement in public education all the while SIGNING OFF on every single federal grant generated at the State Department of Education including the NCLB waiver which she says, "Oklahoma passed several landmark education reforms last year, and we expect those improvements to our educational system to continue to improve the quality of our schools raise performance levels among students and ultimately lead to a better educated and more highly skilled workforce."
  • Then there is her America Works initiative for the NGA where she reinforces the need for Common Core (nationalized) standards in order to prepare students for jobs - not life, but JOBS by saying, "As demand for skilled workers continues to rise, governors are playing an increasingly pivotal role in aligning state's education and training resources with the needs of their growing economies."  Yes, Governor Fallin believes in the Communist notion of Human Capital (Governor Mary Fallin Oklahoma schools such as Oklahoma City University are providing the energy industry with the human capital needed to support rapid industry growth ‪#‎GEC2013‬). 
Does any of this sound like these two women want to REPEAL anything they've either continued from Brad Henry's administration or developed themselves in conjunction with the federal government?  IT DOESN'T TO ME, so let's just follow this to its logical conclusion:

After reading this, does anyone believe a bill will be passed that actually stops Common Core this session/year?  Yes, it might repeal it from law, but our Governor and Superintendent will find a way to continue the process, I feel sure.  They HAVE to!  Think of all the tentacles these women have let into the state through their federal grant/waiver grabbing!
  1. If Oklahoma goes back to PASS, the state will lose their waiver because PASS is not "college and career ready" (according to what we've been told).  Of course there is absolutely no precedent for losing the waiver - and, since the waiver was based on 'assurances' in the first place, they could be traded out with another set of standards so long as we were being shown to be working on them - but neither Fallin nor Baressi have the gumption to challenge this on the grounds that protecting Oklahoma's children from the feds is best.  I don't believe they don't believe that - they may say one thing but they do another.
  2. Oklahoma already has a 34.45 MILLION dollar contract with NON-PROFIT Measured Progress to test Common Core State Standards set for school year 2014-15.  If the tests don't align with the standards, we lose the waiver.  Plus, no one seems to know if the testing contract can even be broken.  Just out of curiosity how can MP be a not for profit and make that much off one testing contract?  
  3. If the tests aren't ready to go, they can't be used for the school's A-F grade, which is part of the 'accountability' measures in the waiver, so again, you bust the waiver.
  4. Eventually, the tests are to be used with the teacher accountability system - also a part of the waiver conditions - so again, we'd bust the waiver.
  5. We have to set up a State Longitudinal Database System, if we stop that, we lose the waiver, but also may have to send money back to the feds because this was also part of the SFSF grant for which Henry applied.
It appears to me that no matter what, Janet Baressi and Mary Fallin have entangled Oklahoma in such a web of federal intrusion (all the while saying they hate federal intrusion) that it's going to be difficult to stop ANYTHING at this point if we don't get rid of these women come election time.  We can sign all the bills and write all the bills we want, but if those in power aren't interested in solving the actual problems created by all the federal government red tape they've created, I don't see anything changing - NOTHING.

As for HB3399, I completely agree with Linda Murphy who listed among her desires:
  • keeping PASS in the interim
  • stretching out the interim from 1 year to 2 (it was originally 2, I actually missed the change apparently)
  • establish a task force or committee of some kind BEFORE the standards are devised in in order to make the process more transparent (however, if we leave this up to the candidates to tell us what they would do, it could certainly become a campaign issue!)
  • stop the contract with Measured Progress and go back to the tests given under the CTB/McGraw/Hill contract
(Unfortunately, her two other desires - removing the American Diploma Project (ADP) and ACT testing are not found in HB3399, but existing school law included in the bill due to the presence of PASS references which were removed - and as such would require a separate bill altogether.  Also, until colleges and universities do away with ACT testing, I don't see that as viable, sadly, and Janet Baressi employed John Kraman who is from both ADP and Achieve, so again, I think you have to remove our current Superintendent and replace her with someone who is interested in removing Oklahoma from these associations for that to happen.)

Also sadly, I don't see keeping PASS as an option - again because of what we have heard about the process.  I think the interim can be stretched and possibly the task force and I would LOVE to see us dump Measured Progress and stop testing over Common Core but I have no idea how likely that actually is - we'll just have to keep pushing the issue.

Fortunately, there are some really good things in HB3399 that never get talked about for some reason.  You can find them in my earlier blog with my talking points, but none the least of these are that it prevents the State School Board (SSB) from 'ceding' authority of state standards to any outside entity - meaning we can't use Common Core (or OAS) in the future because they have a national origin and were created outside our state.  In addition TESTS must be designed, owned and controlled by the SSB.

Again, until we decide we want to have political leaders with the political will to extricate Oklahoma from the federal government - not by word but by DEED - we will continue to get the same thing over and over and over.  We MUST think on these issues as we go to the ballot box in June and November and we MUST show up there with a well-educated decision or just get used to same ol' same ol' all over again.

Bottom line:  If we will be forced to use OAS (Common Core) tests and standards for two years while we create new standards, I won't be able to support the 'repeal' portion of the bill (I like several of the other issues addressed by/in the bill and would hope we could keep the bill alive and move forward with those).  There will be little reason to have a "Common Core repeal" bill because the standards will have been so ingrained and imbedded with all the stuff I've already mentioned in two years, if it isn't too late now, it will be by then.  At that point, we'll simply have to leave the consequences in the laps of our Governor and State Superintendent a election time. 

ADENDUM:  After I wrote my blog this morning low and behold Lynn found an (addendum) to our FIRST No Child Left Behind Waiver. 
"The Oklahoma State Department of Education is in the process of amending Oklahoma’s ESEA flexibility waiver. The documents listed here highlight the contents of this amendment. Some of the major changes include the definition of Full Academic Year (FAY) status and the new Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO) calculations. This replaces the NCLB Accountability Workbook that was in place before Oklahoma’s request for ESEA Flexibility."
This was up for public comment before March 25. I guess you just have to check the OSDE website each and every day to see what exactly is up for public comment. Here is the information.  It looks as though there are a number of calculations the OSDE is asking to change. Gosh, I wonder how much more money could go into the classroom if we weren't spending all the money to make sure we're appropriately kowtowing to the feds?  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Does Common Core Repeal Stop Students From Participating in FFA and Prevent ACT/SAT/AP Testing?



I am not  an HB3399 apologist - the bill needs some changes and additions to be a workable solution for teachers (at least) from my perspective - but I also know Governor Fallin is Chairman of the NGA (one of the organizations that owns the copyright for the standards) and an obvious true believer in the Common Core and nationalized education.  I don't see her throwing herself and her NGA agenda under the bus, so I don't know where that leaves those of us that disagree with the Common Core and the hydra it's become within state law, school code and testing contracts.

Still and all, I am sick to death of the hysteria (LOVE that picture of the FFA kids, that look so sad as if their state government is set to rip away their beautiful blue jackets) the Daily Oklahoman continues to pump out about a Common Core repeal (Common Core Bills Impact Many Other Programs).  The FFA thing is simply nonsense.  The FFA is a chartered entity - not a federal entity.  I see no way HB3399 would harm the FFA.  Here is the public law on FFA, please read it yourself.  

All officers are members of a CORPORATION, not federal employees.  From the law:  (2) The board consists of the Secretary of Education, four staff members in the Department of education and, four State supervisors of agriculture education.  The Secretary is chairman of the board.  As said in the article, "Significant standards, assessments, and in some cases curriculum are dictated from the National FFA Organization".  So?  These are not state 'subject matter standards', they are standards specific to the program of FFA and as such would fall outside of the state 'subject matter standards' purview.  There is nothing in HB3399 that prevents any school or district from making ADDITIONS to the state standards.

Quite apparently, the editorial staff has simply overlooked the wonderful research engine that is the World Wide Web.  If you (Daily Oklahoman) believe this analysis to be incorrect, please feel free to educate us with FACTS, not mere speculation (likely, may, ).

I also read nothing in the bill that should lead anyone to the conclusion that ACT or SAT or AP testing will be prohibited.  Please, read the bill - you can find it here.

Page 19 line 1 begins, 
"The State Board of Education shall not enter into any agreement, memorandum of understanding or contract with any federal agency or private entity which in any way cedes or limits state discretion or control over the process of development, adoption or revision of subject matter standards and corresponding student assessments in the public school system, including, but not limited to, agreements, memoranda of understanding and contracts in exchange for funding for public schools and programs."  
Do the SAT, ACT or AP tests 'cede or limit state discretion or control' over 'subject matter standards'?  They have nothing to do with 'subject matter standards' (ie; any standards used for k-12 education).  Are SAT, ACT or AP tests related directly to the current "subject matter standards"?  No. They are independent general knowledge tests - becoming aligned to the Common Core, that's true - but they are not tests that correspond directly to the state standards.  Please, Daily Oklahoman, point to the place in this bill that identifies the evil plot to make Oklahoma's students stop taking nationally/internationally benchmarked tests?

I feel the need to point out here that Robert Sommers isn't from Oklahoma, he's from Ohio where he was an education policy adviser to Governor Kasich that helped institutionalize all the education 'reforms' we're institutionalizing here in Oklahoma.  He also worked  for a Charter School (Carpe Diem) that has ties to Jeb Bush and the Foundation for Excellence in Education - an organization that has spawned Chiefs For Change.  Janet Barresi is a Chief For Change.  

In fact, more and more of the upper management positions in the OSDE are becoming simply arms of the Common Core machine - John Kraman, the Student Information Officer (chief data gatherer on students) comes from Achieve, the newest Superintendent over TESTING comes from PEARSON.  Oklahoma has no people skilled enough for these jobs - people that might desire to keep the best interests of Oklahomans in mind?

It seems to me that this entire Education 'Reform' pile of nonsense, is exactly that.  It's not about what's best for students or parents or teachers, it's about what's best for the careers of those involved in the never-ending, revolving door, money-making scheme, Bill Gates grant-receiving, echo chamber that is COMMON CORE.  It has to be, or the Chamber of Commerce would not misrepresent data to push the Common Core and Stand For Children wouldn't present a petition of 7000 names claiming to be FOR the Common Core to the State legislature that appears to be fraudulent. Why does the Pro-Common Core side need to misrepresent itself to press their side of the issue?  It's an important question to ask.

NOTE:  When you read an editorial in the Daily Oklahoman about Common Core, please remember that one of their editorial writers is Ray Carter, husband of Jennifer Carter, former Chief of Staff to the State Superintendent Janet Barresi (http://www.koco.com/Barresi-s-Chief-Of-Staff-Issues-Statement-Regarding-Tweet/10738470). I believe this to be a conflict of interest. Certainly, as the DO mentioned in another Common Core repeal hit piece recently, Stand For Children has met with their editorial board. Restore Oklahoma Public Education has NEVER been asked to meet with their editorial board. I think that says quite a bit as well. (Ray Carter Editorial Writer rcarter@opubco.com ) http://newsok.com/home/nic

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Should We Hate HB3399 - the Repeal of Common Core State Standards in Oklahoma?

Thanks Joy Molina Collins of Bartians For Academic Freedom!

Here is my Sunday editorial.  I would like to say a few things about some discussions I have read on Facebook regarding HB3399.  

I realize people are skeptical of their government today.  I absolutely believe we should be!  Many of us abdicated an active role in our government over the years, because we thought those for whom we voted would maintain our best interest.  I was in this mode until 2008.  Unfortunately, without an ACTIVE citizen voice in government, two things have happened:

1.   Those with an active voice in government – i.e. lobbyists, such as those with The Chamber of Commerce - have had the ear of those in power.  Generally, paid lobbyists are not paid to represent the good of the individual citizen, but the interests of individual businesses or corporations.  
2.   Without an active voice in government, many of our representatives have become statists - people who believe government can solve all issues.  Without individuals actively asserting their civic duties and proclaiming their individual rights within the organization of government, it has become easy for those who represent us to come to the conclusion citizens should be told what to do – or at least managed.  

In the case of HB3399, it appears we have a paradox:  If the governor has acknowledged the bill in a press release, and the senate will hear it, the bill is somehow bad.  However, if the bill is perfect, the senate won't hear it and the governor would veto it if it was heard, so what would be the point of having a bill?  What is the goal here?  What is the perfect bill?  What does that look like?  Whose definition of 'perfect' are we using?

We had SEVEN Common Core bills when we began the legislative session this year.  We have ONE bill now – past the midpoint of the session.  There is no way now to introduce a new bill.  A committee amendment can be made during the Senate Education Committee hearing and a floor amendment can be made from the floor of the senate, but we can’t create a new bill.  Do we want PERFECTION or do we want something that will stop Common Core from becoming fully implemented next year?  I hate to say it, but if you want perfection, I’m in complete disagreement.  

Last year, ROPE helped write HB1989 - the data privacy bill that made national headlines.  The bill was NOT what we wanted when it was signed – and we weren’t happy about it – but it was a starting point – guidelines upon which we are continuing to build.  If you believe you can tear down a wall it took four years to build (Common Core, etc) in ONE bill in ONE session you’re expecting the Easter Bunny next month.  Why not be happy there is a process?  Why not celebrate at least some small victory in the process?  I do not understand this mindset.

The group that has worked tirelessly on this bill has done just that...I mean this entire group - including the lawmakers - have spent HOURS on the phone trying every possible scenario in which to make something work.  Why in the world would we do this?  None of us in the grassroots are making any money off this bill.  We have all lost time with our families and our homes and schedules are in disarray.  What exactly do we gain from trying to “make a deal with the devil” as is being intimated?  Are we really that stupid?

I’m not a professional lobbyist, legislator or attorney; neither are Lynn Habluetzel, Ronda Vuillemont-Smith (Tulsa 912 Project President) or Carolyn McClarty (National Republican Committee Woman) – yet we are doing what we can in the hope of BENEFITTING children and parents in this state.  We’re not being ‘used’; we didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday; we all have some knowledge of the process.  We have worked TOGETHER with others, not believing that one person has all the answers.

We sincerely believe this bill is doable this session (even while our Governor is the head of the NGA) and that it will PREVENT IMPLEMENTATION OF COMMON CORE next year, or all those involved wouldn’t have spent so much time on the effort on the task.

As I said in my email – this is NOT a perfect bill.  None of us like the idea of the State School Board developing the standards, but the process cannot happen behind closed doors and there is no way to get PASS as named while Governor Fallin is NGA Chair.  Politics has become a dirty word, but politics is really the ability to work with a wide coalition of people to come to a consensus.  This isn't an easy process.

HB3399 is the FIRST STEP in a long process.  We will need to be wise in casting a vote for State Superintendent and Governor, for example.  We will also have to stay engaged to keep our state school board moving AWAY from Common Core, but in this case, necessary law is in place to prevent that from happening if we stay involved.

Again, I could go on and on, but I’m going to stop here.  If you REALLY can’t stomach this bill, that is certainly your prerogative, however, please make sure that everyone with whom you share your thoughts also understands that, this session, it’s HB3399 or NOTHING.


HB3399 Summary:
  • This bill DOES REPEAL COMMON CORE FROM STATE LAW.  It also repeals PASS and leaves in language the term, "subject matter standards".  This is a good thing.  We do not want ANY specific set of standards in state law - this is best addressed via school code.
  • It allows the new standards to be reviewed and acted upon by the State Legislature after creation by the State School Board (SSB). This brings representative government back into the process.
  • The new standards will be college and career ready as designated by the No Child Left Behind waiver.  For those that don't know, the waiver allowed for two options - one = Common Core, the other = standards created by the state in conjunction with career tech and higher education.  We will do the latter.
  • Prevents the SSB from 'ceding' the authority of the state for standards to any outside entity - meaning we can't use Common Core (or OAS) in the future because they have a national origin and were created outside our state.  In addition, our TESTS must be designed, owned and controlled by the SSB, though schools will have the opportunity to take the ACT and other 'extra' tests.
  • Forces the SSB to remove itself from any current situations in which Oklahoma is not in control of its standards and/or testing.
  • Reinforces that schools can use any curricula, books or instructional materials, etc., they decide.
  • Provides for parents to be able to look at all their public school child's instructional materials.
  • The new assessments can't contain 'emotive' questions.
  • The new standards must be reviewed (among other things) for developmental appropriateness and the final draft must be compared to the old standards (OAS for math and English/LA)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Stand For Children's 7000 Signature Petition - Is It Above Board?


UPDATE: 3/27/2014 (see bottom of post)

We have told you several times about those behind Stand For Children and "ExpectMore.org". As you may know, a week or so ago, Stand For Children presented a petition signed by 7000 Oklahomans who supported Common Core.

Of course, we were skeptical - especially since we found this not long after that petition presentation:
Sonja Semion, who heads Stand for Children Colorado, brought along a unique visual aid to show that group’s support for the standards – a printout containing more than 7,000 signatures from citizens who signed a Stand online petition supporting the standards.
Apparently, we weren't the ONLY skeptical group in the state.  Just today, Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education (OPEPE) published a YouTube video including a very short audio clip in which Amber England, Government Affairs Director for Stand For Children Oklahoma, admits the signers did not specifically sign a petition against Common Core.  Here is the transcribed audio:
England:  (unintelligible/audio cut in) …you know fighting to keep Common Core
OPEPE:  Well you did take 7000 names up to the Capitol for it
England:  Absolutely…We did
OPEPE:  And there were people who received an email saying thank you for signing our petition who didn’t sign your petition… they simply signed an email sign up to get more information about Common Core so we have concerns about whether those 7000 people were actually even people who wanted to support common core…they were just asking questions about it – that’s unfortunate – I mean, that’s really unfortunate
England:  Well…
OPEPE:  That’s a huge - that’s a huge problem…
England:  I’m going to tell you how, how, the petition, it, it, you literally had to say I support higher standards
OPEPE:  But that’s not Common Core(unintelligible/several voices speaking at once)
OPEPE:  We all support higher standards
OPEPE:  I support higher standards
OPEPE:  That’s not Common Core – Common Core’s not higher standards – where’s the proof
England:  And not only that, after they signed that email, then we put them through a series of emails to make sure and we educated them…so it wasn’t….
OPEPE:  Educated them on what?  Facts?  I mean, did you give them any facts?
England:  Absolutely
OPEPE:  Or was it; these are higher standards?
England:  Yes we gave them facts…and so
OPEPE:  I would love to see that
England:  So I wanna, I came here today to talk about…(end of recording)


Could this be the portal through which these '7000' signatures were collected?  The "Dear Lawmakers" 'action item' says this
Join us in expecting more and supporting higher learning standards that will prepare our students to be ready for college and beyond.
There is NO petition on their site nor a link to a petition I could find - there isn't even a press release about their 7000 signature petition.

One of the women at the meeting with England called the situation "unfortunate".  Unfortunately, I would identify this as more akin to fraud.  How do you justify calling 7000 names - some that are clearly in and of themselves fraudulent - 



- a 'petition' with stature enough to be presented to a lawmaking body in order to influence policy?

We have no problem with people who have delved into all the facts behind the implementation of the standards and the standards themselves and still want them.  We find it odd - but if you've done your research and you still feel them appropriate, what else can we say? 

It is worse than troubling, however, to realize the amount of misinformation being perpetrated on Oklahomans - and Americans across the country - by Stand For Children and the Chamber of Horrors (sorry...Chamber of Commerce) - who have a much larger megaphone with their donated millions from Bill Gates and others.  Why use fraud too?  

UPDATE:  Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education had their story covered by News9 in Oklahoma City where the fraudulent signatures were brought to light.  The story can be found here:  http://www.news9.com/story/25071850/fake-signatures-found-on-okla-common-core-petition

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Current Status: Common Core in Oklahoma (3/13/2014)


March 12, 2014 was a BUSY day in the Oklahoma Capitol.

HB3399 - a bill to repeal Common Core standards by Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman PASSED OUT OF THE HOUSE last night; 78 AYE to 12 NAY.  This bill repeals Common Core from law and allows 2 years in which to develop standards and tests.  It does not specify standards or testing for the interim.

This is now the only vehicle in the Oklahoma legislature with the possibility to stop Common Core State Standards and associated testing.  

Late Monday evening (2/10), an amendment to SB1764, was filed by two brave Oklahoma Senators, Josh Brecheen and Anthony Sykes via gutting a bill that had already passed out of the Senate Education Committee and inserting new language to stop Common Core.  Before the bill could be heard on the Senate floor, however, another amendment was added late on the evening of the 11th.  This amendment -  eerily similar to that of Indiana - effectively neutered the intent and purpose of that filed on 3/10 by providing 6 months for the State Department of Education to create new college and career ready standards - a veritable impossibility.  

As Chamber of Commerce and Stand For Children (ExpectMore.org) lobbyists moved into overdrive Wednesday, a representative of the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce sent an email from Secretary of Education and the Workforce, Bob Sommers (an Ohio transplant from Kasich's administration) indicating the amendment would, "...eliminate our ability to engage with national youth organizations such as the FFA", among other consequences.  

ROPE was able to obtain consultation with Emmett McGroarty, an attorney with American Principles Project who has worked with a large number of states in helping to draft Common Core legislation, and determined this - and several other assertions from the email - to be false.

This would prove not enough in the end, however, as Governor Mary Fallin herself was seen on the fourth floor of the Senate, pulling members off the floor into private meetings one by one.  By the end of the day Wednesday, Senators had been silenced and a press release formulated indicating the body wanted to 
"...ensure no rash decisions are made and policy changes are carefully considered and vetted (by the committee process) by all interested parties as to avoid unintended consequences." 
Senator Brecheen noted, 
"We have the assurance of the Senate Education Chairman that a bill that addresses Common Core and passes the House floor will receive a hearing in his committee.  We also have the commitment from Senate Leadership that there will also be a floor vote allowed on that bill if it moves forward."
ROPE's response to the press release follows:
The decision by Senate leadership today to kill SB1764 under the guise the bill could present unintended consequences is laughable at best. Where were the concerns about unintended consequences when the common core were placed into state law in 2010 before they were even available to read in final form? The notion the bill couldn't be heard because it hadn't been properly vetted through committee is the most dishonest, disingenuous comment conceivable. Of course it hadn't. Senators Brecheen and Sykes had to circumvent regular procedure due to the insistence of Senate Education Committee Chair John Ford to hear no bill regarding Common Core in his committee! How was the voice of the people to be heard? How were these brave senators to represent their constituency in the face of a governor who wants nothing more than to protect her chairmanship at the National Governor's Association. Infuriated might possibly sum up my thoughts, but DISGUSTED is probably more accurate.
Though it's anyone's guess as to when HB3399 will be heard in the Senate Education Committee, it will more than likely occur following Oklahoma's candidate filing period April 9-11.  After all, if the two Senate Education Committee members up for re-election draw a primary opponent, the Governor's arm twisting will become all that harder.

The battle lines are clearly drawn - parents, taxpayers and teachers against special interests, Senate leadership and the chairmanship of the NGA.

We expect our Grassroots Day of Activism, Monday, March 17 (St. Patrick's Day), will show our Senate leadership and Governor that our votes count and if they want to get them, they'll STOP COMMON CORE!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

SB1764 and HB3399 To STOP Common Core in Oklahoma



Restore Oklahoma Public Education applauds Senators Sykes and Brecheen and Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman for their heartfelt desire to listen to Oklahoma parents and do what is best for Oklahoma children.  

An amendment filed to SB1764 late yesterday by Senators Sykes and Brecheen, will stop Common Core state standards in Oklahoma and return Oklahoma education to the control of those best in charge of their children's education - parents.

In the Oklahoma House, Speaker Jeff Hickman yesterday filed similar language in an amendment to HB3399 providing the same assurances.

Over the years, Oklahomans have made clear their overwhelming support for local control of education. As Common Core has been implemented to greater degree in Oklahoma public schools this year, we have seen teachers, parents and school board members alike decry the removal of local control these standards present.

Oklahoma has had standards for decades. In fact, these standards – PASS – were declared by the Fordham Institute (Common Core Supporters) to be BETTER in many ways than Common Core. In addition, PASS were NOT placed in state law, but in school code. This allowed independent school districts to make choices about how best to apply those standards to their individual district for the betterment of their students through the interventions of school boards and parents.
It is clear that, despite the push of special interest groups such as the State Chamber of Commerce and Stand For Children through expensive glossy mailers and state-blanketing robo calls, the voices of individual, unfunded parents are being heard!
None of the rapidly rising concern regarding Common Core is surprising, however. Just as The Affordable Health Care Act was passed before it was read, Common Core was passed before it was written. We’ve all watched, with great frustration the botched roll-out of the AHCA. How could Common Core be any different? Once the ‘state’ removes such personal issues as health care and education from control of the individual, chaos naturally ensues.

BREAKING! Labor Commissioner Mark Costello "Condemns Nationalized Common Core Takeover of Education"!



The following is the information delivered to me via email from Josh Harlow in Commissioner Costello's office:

Commissioner Mark Costello Condemns Nationalized 
Common Core Takeover of Education

Carl Albert, Oklahoma’s Little Giant, credits much of his success to a schoolteacher from Bugtussle, Oklahoma. Albert was a National debate champion, Rhodes Scholar and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. His uncommon success is hard to imagine coming from today’s latest educational fad, Common Core. Excellence may be achieved from the factory floor; however, classrooms are not factories and children are not economic units.

Common Core is to education what Obamacare is to health, a centralized government process that strips local control away from parents, teachers, and school boards. Why the push by large non-profits to establish national education standards? Some have asserted the concept of “mass production” will lower per unit costs. In other words, the God given individual qualities and talents of each child will be restructured by a nationalized production process guided from a top down political structure.

George Will writes, the
“timeline for adoption and implementation has been driven by the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program and its approach to No Child Left Behind waivers.”
Common Core is an assault on local control of education. In any of the fifty states and 19,429 local communities I would rather defer to a parent, who loves their child, to protect the interests of their child than to an elitist bureaucrat.

The large non-profit organizations pushing Common Core are reminiscent of the manufacture of the first mass produced automobile. Henry Ford said, “You can have any color of car that you want as long as it’s black.” Parental choice is eliminated as schools are pushed to have the same curriculum and textbooks.

Some have argued Common Core resembles the failed “No Child Left Behind” initiative that incentivizes teachers to teach to the test. In other words, students are taught to memorize rather than learn and develop critical thinking skills. As a founder of Oklahoma companies, I was most interested in those prospective employees who displayed critical thinking skills, not necessarily the ability to pass a test.

In Common Core the progress of the classroom teacher is measured by student performance on national standardized tests. Worst yet, Sandra Stotsky, a professor at the University of Arkansas, who served on the committee to validate Common Core standards said, “The standards dumb American education down by about two grades worth.”

William F. Buckley, Jr. once stated that he would rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than the faculty of Harvard University. I have full trust and confidence in the parents of Oklahoman that they will exercise better judgment than the large non-profits and the elites of Washington.

Oklahoma’s elected officials have no greater duty than protect the next generation of Oklahomans from this sweeping top-down federally centered power grab over local control of education. Eliminate Common Core lock, stock, and barrel. Eliminate Common Core under any name. Eliminate Common Core now.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Who/What is Behind Stand For Children and Expect More?


We told you recently about Stand For Children.  We explained the money and power brokers behind this organization and explained in closing:
SFC is a shill for organizations, such as Bill and Melinda Gates, who believe that parents are too stupid to know what's best for their children, and as such, desire private organizations and the state to do the job for them. 
We also reported how the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce released an email asking chamber members and legislators NOT to delay the Common Core State Standards and called parents (those seeking to STOP the Common Core) liars and fear mongers. 

Today we debunked the new video put together by a group called Expect More.

After seeing the video, I knew it wasn't cheap to prepare, so I did some checking up o the group called "Expect More".

According to their website, ExpectMore.org, there are no donors, no board structure, no president, no nothing, but a picture at the top of the "About" page including the logos above.  We are to believe this is a 'coalition' of these particular groups which include
No, this is ALL about BIG BUSINESS.  This is all about how parents are going to produce children to go to schools utilizing national standards to create workers for BIG BUSINESS.  

Supporters say this continuously, but we either overlook because we can't believe they're saying it, or we feel it isn't important.  Does no one remember the implied THREAT that Exxon/Mobile would pull out of Pennsylvania if the governor didn't support Common Core. 

Coincidentally, there are two more "Expect More" groups in the US - one in Arizona and one in Tennessee.  Coincidentally, both Arizona and Tennessee have Stand For Children offices.  Here in Oklahoma, ExpectMore.org is affiliated with Stand for Children.  We know, because it's logo is on the Stand for Children website under the "Action" tab.

Much of this, to be sure, is coming from Common Core 'pusher' Achieve.  Achieve was the PRIVATE, NO-PROFIT organization put together by the NGA and businesses like IBM, to create national standards as a way to produce better, more prepared workers.

Achieve's website has a page called, "Achieving the Core" which among many other things, provides a way to "message" out Common Core to an unwilling populace.  One of the tabs here is "Business Resources for a College-and-Career Ready America".  Here it states:
To inform and rally more advocates within the business community, Achieve and the GE Foundation have developed Business Resources for a College- and Career-Ready America for business leaders interested in supporting college- and career-ready education reform.  The first set of resources are modular cards and PPT slides that can be used by business leaders internally and externally with their networks. 
From "Business Resources" you can click on a link that tells you how to become active in ENGAGING A BUSINESS ASSOCIATION OR COALITION.  Oh, you mean like ExpectMore.org?

Achieve also has a Business Center for a College and Career Ready America where you'll find such quotes as
"Rigorous standards in the classroom are key to making sure we have a skilled workforce." Mark Grier, Vice Chairman of Prudential Financial
You will also find a link to Oklahoma specifically, where you can download ready-made Power Point presentations with unproven, out-of-context data that will help drive business leaders to pushing Common Core.  You will also find that our Oklahoma coalitions pushing the Common Core are the
What is Common Core about if one judges its supporters?  Is Common Core about creating happy, well-educated kids ready for any path in life in coalition with PARENTS - or is it the state using taxpayers to fund job training for big business in coalition with big business?  Isn't that exactly what Mark Grier said?  

Sunday, March 9, 2014

New Pro-Common Core Video Out from Expect More/Stand for Children

http://vimeo.com/88372212

Recently, a Stand for Children-affiliated organization, "Expect More Ok" has put together a rather expensive-looking PRO-COMMON CORE video called, "Teach Me".

I thought it interesting enough to post a 'rebuttle' if you will.

Look at the blackboard.  This child is doing math problems using TRADITIONAL math - NOT the PROGRESSIVE form of math prescribed by the Common Core State Standards where, 
"HOW the mathematics content is approached to engage students in doing mathematics, as articulated in the mathematical practices is as important - if not more important - the WHAT is taught".
From the book, Common Core Mathematics in a PLC at Work

The voice over says that Common Core is "common sense standards for math and English language arts - but other pictures are of a child practicing chemistry.  So now Expect More/Stand For Children are admitting Oklahoma has national (Common Core-like) science standards - which we will if they are approved.  I don't understand what this video is trying to say.

This video seems to indicate a happy classroom where teachers are teaching Traditional math.  The Kids seem to have the answers.  

That's not what's currently happening in classrooms - especially in the younger grades. An excellent example of this phenomenon is seen in this Common Core third grade reading exam where four out of seven questions have NO RIGHT ANSWER.

Many childhood educators (including those in Oklahomahave told anyone who will listen that Common Core are NOT developmentally appropriate for kids K-5th grade.

Here are a couple of claims made in the video that are easily refuted.

Claim: Voiceover says "Common Core...raises expectations for our kids today."

FACT: The Thomas B. Fordham Institute - an Ohio think-tank that supports the Common Core State Standards, rated Oklahoma's previous standards for ELA as 
"Better organized and more clearly presented than Common Core." 
For Math, Fordham found,
"Standards are briefly stated and frequently include examples, making them easier to read and follow than Common Core." 
Additionally, Fordham found that Oklahoma's previous English/LA standards Math and Common Core's standards were rated  'too close to call' to say if Common Core was any better. 

What was wrong with the standards we had?  Our ELA and Math NAEP scores were not as horrible as Common Core proponents want us to believe.  Was it a problem with the standards or the way the state tests were graded under previous State Superintendent Sandy Garrett, who lowered the cut scores on PASS tests to try and meet NCLB's regulations?  In fact, Common Core Math standards won't even prepare kids for a STEM career.

Claim: Voiceover says, "But right now, self-serving partisan mindsets are tying our teacher's hands from preparing our kids from thinking creatively, to problem solve, to be competitive in a global economy."

FACTS: Common Core was passed into law in 2010 as one paragraph in a 34 page bill under a working title describing teacher incentive pay. The Common Core State Standards weren't even finalized for English/LA until June of that year - after session was over. 

How is there any creativity or problem solving in a classroom there there is no more than 15% of any information allowed over and above what is in the actual standards themselves?  

Teacher's hands are being tied by the implementation of Common Core.  How do we know?  We have information from over 60 Oklahoma teachers in a survey done last year who say exactly that.  Here is a video from a teacher who is quitting teaching because she isn't able to teach anymore the way she would like - and this is only one of MANY we've encountered that say the exact same thing.  Gosh, I wonder why there is a teacher shortage?

Who exactly are the PARTISANS protesting here?  Parents?  Teachers?  Kids for Pete sake?  I guess we should be glad Stand/Expect used this term and not the emotion-evoking words of the Oklahoma Chamber who called dissenters fear mongers and liars.

No wonder kids in the commercial are begging their teacher's to "Teach Me" - that can only be done when teacher's hands are UNTIED by UNRAVELING Common Core.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Current Status Of Common Core Legislation (3/7/2014)



We started the legislative session in Oklahoma with 7 bills relating to Common Core.  I documented all the bills and gave a brief synopsis prior to the legislative session, however, now here we are - not even half way through the legislative session and we're already down to ONLY three survivors:
  1. HB3399 by Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman (formerly Jason Nelson)
  2. HB3167 by Gus Blackwell and
  3. SB1310 by Eddie Fields
  • SB1310 was the only bill by Fields to pass out of the Senate Education Committee (he had two - SB1146 was a repeal bill - SB1310 is a Task Force Bill).  Unfortunately - as I told Senator Ford - we have studied Common Core in some capacity for two separate years (2011, 2013), there is absolutely no reason to 'study' it further.  This bill is alive and scheduled for a vote in the full Senate.
  • HB3167 is a full repeal bill that provides six years in which districts may try any form of standards and curricula they desire.  A Fiscal Analysis has been attached to the bill that states a repeal could result in a significant loss of federal funds.
  • HB3399 as currently written does a number of things:
  • It prevents the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) or any state entity or agency from ceding control over standards, curricula, tests or data to an outside entity, ie; the federal government or private entity.
  • It forces the state agencies and individuals that are party to federal grants, agreements or contracts having to do with public education to amend the agreements to get out of them.
  • It STOPS Common Core AND Common Core testing implementation for two years.
There has been much confusion regarding these bills.  This morning I was talking to the creator of Bartians for Academic Freedom, Joy Collins.  Below, I am pasting a section from her Facebook page today because she has so aptly described the situation there is no need for me to reinvent the wheel:
HB 3167 - Removes the state mandate and leaves a choice for the schools to keep the standards in place (personally I don't see my school district removing them, how about yours? And does this end the nightmare of the ACT and the SAT?) I acknowledge it is a start, but it is not an complete answer to our prayers. There will be a lot work left to do.
My cousin, who teaches in Texas, has been dealing with C-Scope (the evil step sister of Common Core) in her classroom, and she can attest that just because the state removes the mandate, doesn't mean the standards go anywhere. Her school district holds the opinion that they have spent too much money and aren't getting rid of C-Scope in the schools.
HB 3399 - Freezes the mandate for implementation for two years, removes the Common Core testing mandate, and puts the PASS assessments back in place until 2016-2017, and prevents federal intervention in state education. If PASS is the test, then PASS will more than likely the be curriculum. It gives us the opportunity to see the lame ducks go, vote for people who reflect our ideals into office, and get rid of this horse manure once and for all. 
Some say, Governor Fallin wants to sign HB 3399 to be a hero in her campaign for reelection. I say…praise God! With more time we will continue to educate and get better legislation in place. Whoever thought this would this would be short journey clearly didn't pack enough clothes. In the meantime, as we continue to educate and demonstrate. We must also quit assuming we know what is going on with politicians behind closed doors. A little less he said/she said would go a long way. Who knows, maybe with a little authoritative prayer, Governor Mary Fallin might just come through for us. I am only a political novice who is learning by the day, but slandering any politician without clear evidence weakens our movement and cheapens our integrity.
We agree!  Is the issue STOPPING Common Core or backing a bill number?  ROPE has been lobbying, studying, writing, and speaking all over the state to anyone who would listen in order to STOP Common Core, since 2011.  We will back ANY legislation that STOPS Common Core BEFORE it is fully implemented in Oklahoma by law next year.

Unfortunately, Common Core is like a hydra. There are way too many heads to cut off by a simple repeal.  In addition, Governor Mary Fallin, is the head of the National Governor's Association.  She has touted these standards as an accountability measure since she came into office.  According to a conversation Joy had with the Governor last night - where a group staged a protest outside her new campaign office in Tulsa - our Governor believes her Executive Order on Common Core STOPS Common Core.  Of course it does nothing of the kind, however, we have also been told she will VETO any Common Core repeal bill - especially if there is a negative fiscal impact.

We understand from numerous sources who have been to the capitol, that Katie Altshuler (the Governor's Policy Director over education) has been speaking directly to legislators - lobbying against efforts to STOP COMMON CORE.

ROPE has ALWAYS determined to assist parents in their efforts to protect their children and retain their parental rights by STOPPING Common Core, whatever that looks like, whatever the bill number is, whomever is the author. If a bill can be cobbled together that will not only pass the Senate from the House but be SIGNED by the Governor - we're IN - but it will take a UNIFIED voice to get there.  

If you want to STOP Common Core, continue to help us with emails to Katie Altshuler's office, YOUR PERSONAL Senator and Representative and the Governor.  Sign up for our emails. We will give you ideas as to how to take action.  Thank you for ANY assistance in our battle to STOP Common Core in Oklahoma!