Not all businesses like school standards - Coeur d'Alene Press: My Turn

Not all businesses like school standards

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Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 12:00 am

With all the rhetoric touting the imagined benefits of the looming Common Core Standards, perhaps it is time to apply a little critical thinking and examine some of the claims made about Common Core.

'Idaho Core Standards are better than Common Core Standards.' No, Idaho Core Standards are Common Core Standards with the word "Common" scratched out and "Idaho" written in its place. This makes them easier to market to Idahoans but functionally, there is no difference. In fact there is a legal requirement that the state standards cannot vary more than 15 percent from the national standards.

'Common Core Standards were developed by the state governors using a 'grass roots,' bottom-up effort.' No. Imagine Butch and Bobby, Gary and 47 other governors sitting down with their crayons and crafting the new standards. Ridiculous. Furthermore, if it was a communal effort by government employees (politicians and teachers) then the standards produced would be the property of the taxpayers who paid for the effort and the standards as written would be in the public domain. But they aren't. The copyright for the standards is owned by a private company; the company that wrote them.

'47 states have adopted the Common Core Standards.' No, 47 states agreed to accept money offered as a bribe from the Department of Education but most of the states did this before the standards were even written. Common Core Standards were a "Pig in a poke" and accepting the standards was never debated in the Idaho House or Senate. Now that they ARE available for examination it is prudent to go back and reexamine the decision to accept the federal grant money.

'Common Core Standards will improve education.' I would very much like to see ANY empirical evidence that this statement is true. Where were the new standards tested to show that they lived up to the claims? Where are the better students? Can it possibly be true that we are conducting a nationwide generational experiment on our children of an un-tested, un-proven education process? Yes, that is exactly what we are doing. "Change" is synonymous with "different" but it is not synonymous with "better."

'Data collected on our children is secure because we don't use their names.' This claim would be funny if it wasn't such a serious issue. Suppose an agency had access to the test results from your child's school. Now suppose this same agency also had detailed health records for your child. Thanks to Common Core and Obamacare, virtually every government agency AND anyone they contract services from will have access to at least these two databases. Now imagine that someone compares the days a child was absent from class with the days your child visited the doctor. When the pattern matches they can put your child's name next to your child's psychometric and scholastic test data. But you can rest easy because the government has a policy against using this information for personal or political reasons. Don't take my word for it, just ask Lois Lerner.

'Common Core will allow us to compare the performance of students from different states.' No. Common Core does not standardize testing so how students are evaluated can vary from state to state. Imagine the standard was for each student to stack some bricks into a pile 3 feet high but it was up to each state to decide the length of a 'foot'. Political pressure for students to do well would tend to skew the testing and the result may be that a 'foot' in Idaho could be 10 inches long and a 'foot' in Oregon may be only 5 inches long. Without consistent measurement, standards are meaningless.

In a recent editorial, The CdA Press joined Idaho Business for Education in calling for Idahoans to embrace Idaho (Common) Core Standards. So who is behind Idaho Business for Education? IBE has about 80 member businesses, a tiny fraction of the business community in Idaho. The Chairman of IBE is Skip Oppenheimer who also owns a food products consortium (Oppenheimer Companies, Inc.). The IBE Regional Chair for North Idaho is Judy Meyer, who is also a Trustee for North Idaho College. I have spoken to many business owners in the manufacturing and technology sectors who do not see Common Core as a solution to our education problems. They see Common Core as a distraction that threatens to stifle creativity and innovation through the enforcement of standardization.

One thing is certain about Common Core Standards; they are common, making them an attractive target for special interest groups. There have already been reports of labor unions lobbying to make the standards "union-friendly" by emphasizing the advantages and achievements of organized labor. This is only the first salvo in what will be a long battle for the hearts and minds of coming generations.

We all want better performance from our public schools. The Idaho Constitution recognizes that "The stability of a republican form of government depend(s) mainly upon the intelligence of the people." However, intelligence is not just answering a test question correctly. You can train a dog to do that. Intelligence is the ability to be creative, to build on core knowledge and extrapolate into the unknown. While proponents of Common Core Standards claim that these standards will promote intelligence, there is no proof or evidence that this is the case. It is all a theory being proposed by individuals who have an interest in advancing Common Core.

If improvement in education is what we seek, then we need to look no farther than the Coeur d'Alene Charter Academy, one of the top performing schools in the country. Why are we spending so much effort on implementing an unproven and untested set of standards when we have an example of something that works well right here? Let's figure out why CDA Charter Academy works and use that as a model for improvement.

All the arguments for Common Core Standards are based on the assumption that they will improve education. This is an assumption because there is no proof, no evidence, and no studies that show that Common Core will produce the results proponents claim.

To the contrary, over the last four decades, the ever increasing reliance on standards and testing has been accompanied by an ever decreasing level of scholastic performance. If that trend is an indicator of future performance then the adoption of ever more restrictive standards embodied in Common Core will result in a further decrease in true scholastic performance. Unfortunately, since the testing is also new, the true performance will be masked and, before we can even acknowledge it is happening, we are at risk of losing an entire generation to a failed experiment that is Common Core.

Our children deserve better than to be common.

Brent Regan is a local business owner and a former Coeur d'Alene School Board member.

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  • Victoria M Young posted at 7:32 am on Mon, Jul 21, 2014.

    Victoria M Young Posts: 1

    We did lose a significant number of the last generation - The Lost Generation - to the national experiment we called No Child Left Behind ( ). The experiment failed for children but the results showed that the Powers that be could direct the nation ( )

    Common Core is a distraction from the real problem - the long ignored No Child Left Behind. In this election year, we should be asking why this law has been ignored. It was due to be re-written in 2007.
    Here is a graphic on how Common Core doubles down on No Child Left Behind.*w2Dc6RO0COsBirs7Fan7Pp2AXay*LNRzVPsWB4mRkdJl*l-Z1C-tP8KjGt4mVgjgPNGuXoGFTICQbvSsUtg__/DoubleDownGraphicX2.pdf

  • Brent Regan posted at 12:17 pm on Sat, Jul 19, 2014.

    Brent Regan Posts: 740

    jmowreader, thank you. You have made my argument for me. You are staunchly in favor of having 70% employee overhead but are fine with eliminating educational programs. You give priority to the preservation of the bureaucracy over the education of the students. Many in education equate having more employees and a higher payroll with an improvement in the education product and customer satisfaction. Clearly the world does not work that way.

  • jmowreader posted at 1:42 pm on Thu, Jul 17, 2014.

    jmowreader Posts: 1493

    You were on the school board. Thank God that second word isn't "are." Please tell me you noticed 271 has janitors, mechanics, bus drivers, lunch ladies, school secretaries, librarians, principals, grant writers, IT staff...

    Unlike you, I'm willing to give the Common Core people a little bit of time to get it right. Nothing is ever perfect the first time it's tried. Seventy percent CCSS failure rate is bad, but let's go at it a different way: Common Core starts with a cohort of ten randomly selected students of all different educational backgrounds and levels of English proficiency, and fails seven. Charter starts with a cohort of ten self-selected very high performers in an environment tailored toward producing excellence, and fails six. Six is worse than seven when the six would be successful anywhere else.

    I am slightly in favor of 271's decision to drop the gifted program only on a fiscal basis. If there was enough money to go around, hey great: have a gifted program, lots of magnet high schools, implement something like the New York State BOCES program which is a "community college in the high school" so someone who wants to cook in a restaurant doesn't have to drop thousands of dollars on two years at NIC. When money is as tight as it is, luxuries like gifted programs necessarily have to be sidelined.

  • cdanative33 posted at 8:15 am on Thu, Jul 17, 2014.

    cdanative33 Posts: 386

    I think you are purposefully pointing out the most irrelevant concerns about common core in your rebuttal in order to disqualify his entire critique of it. There is plenty to be concerned about CCSS that has nothing to do with "big brother" or conspiracy theories.

    Look at how it's implementation has gone in NY and tell me how it will be any different here.

  • Why Not posted at 5:45 am on Thu, Jul 17, 2014.

    Why Not Posts: 5326

    The government gathering students’ personal information certainly might concern some parents, but it’s not necessarily the data. They already collect the data Brent - so it’s not the data but how that data might be used that is causing frustration. Are these sincere issues or misdirected and fear mongering about Big Brother? The government has definitely tried solve people’s fears, even allowing parents to opt out and by establishing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

    We live in a world that is rapidly changed by the use of strategic data. For instance, you design widgets and I qualify them. When you submit your widget my team assesses it for manufacturability, quality and material content. A quality product is the result of quality data. The last thing my company wants is a malfunction caused by a faulty five cent part that results in injury or a recall costing millions.

  • Brent Regan posted at 7:06 pm on Wed, Jul 16, 2014.

    Brent Regan Posts: 740

    So, a 60% washout rate is bad but an estimated 70% Common Core driven standardized testing failure rate is good. Looks like you got a head start in Common Core reasoning. Apparently you would prefer none of the students being exceptional over 40% being exceptional. did you also support 271 dropping the gifted student program?

    You appreciate numbers. 271 has about 10,000 students and about 1,000 employees (10 students per employee) but there are about 32 students per class. Use a number line a triangles to explain what the other 2/3 of the employees are doing. HINT: There is no right answer.

  • Brent Regan posted at 6:24 pm on Wed, Jul 16, 2014.

    Brent Regan Posts: 740

    Common Core is the epitome of one size fits all. Variations of more than 15% are verboten. If the data collection has student identity removed, as claimed, how can it possibly be used to individualize anything? Clearly Common Core is designed to homogenize the student to the standard.

    Reid, what I care about are the students and the quality of their futures. The school "system" is only relevant in the context of service to the education of the students. When you can look past your own prejudices, perhaps you will see the truth.

  • Why Not posted at 4:44 pm on Wed, Jul 16, 2014.

    Why Not Posts: 5326

    No matter how you slice it and dice it, one size fits all is a failure for the majority of our kids. That is what the Common Core hopefully stops. It is adaptable and by design, school is made to work for all students. The data collection that conspiracists like Reagan are concerned about is necessary to drive and individualize the metric for students. Let’s be truthful, what the Tea Party really hates is federal money and influence at the local level. I think people like Regan rather like the failing school system.

  • jmowreader posted at 2:06 pm on Wed, Jul 16, 2014.

    jmowreader Posts: 1493

    "Let's figure out why CDA Charter Academy works and use that as a model for improvement."

    We've already figured out why CDA Charter Academy "works" and we don't need to use that as a model for improvement. Apply what Charter does to the broader school population and you'd have a disaster on your hands.

    The Charter Academy has a seven-year program. Their first-day enrollment is about 700 kids across all seven years. (School District 271 enrolls about 4000 students from the same population.) They also have a waiting list with a hundred names on it - so, of all the kids that COULD go to Charter, only about 20 percent of them even want to. In 2013, they graduated 52. Dan Nicklay has stated that by the time a class starts 9th grade half of it's dropped out. He probably loses another 10 percent between First Day of 9th Grade and Last Day of 12th. Starting with 125 students to graduate 50 is not super success. It is a disgrace. Race fans call it "checkers or wreckers" - either win, or go home with your car in 500 pieces.

    Yes, I know Charter has great test scores. I also know they have an abysmal washout rate. I say we study Charter so we know what NOT to do!

  • SKGOP posted at 10:15 am on Wed, Jul 16, 2014.

    SKGOP Posts: 286

    Great LTR.....Even simple minded people can get it......IF they want to.

  • cdanative33 posted at 9:40 am on Wed, Jul 16, 2014.

    cdanative33 Posts: 386

    Somewhat unrelated but a fact that seems to be unaddressed and avoided by "policy makers":

  • civility posted at 8:49 am on Wed, Jul 16, 2014.

    civility Posts: 324

    Thanks for a well reasoned and clear rebuttal to the push for Common Core. This, along with a demand for more money, early childhood education and small class sizes without evidence of achievement is getting tiresome. We have some very good evidence of what works but are unwilling to make the hard decisions.
    There will be some, I am sure, who will post a rant about the importance of pre school education. Show me studies that prove results.

  • cdanative33 posted at 8:21 am on Wed, Jul 16, 2014.

    cdanative33 Posts: 386

    Well said. All you have to do is look at the state's where CCSC has been fully implemented to see where we're's an impending train wreck.Unfortunately it doesn't matter whether our school board agrees with CCSC or not because it's state law now. Any changes to common core and it's corresponding tests need to be addressed at the state level.

  • Stevensoned posted at 7:02 am on Wed, Jul 16, 2014.

    Stevensoned Posts: 12

    Great points Brent and you express many of the concerns I heard from many others. Where does our current CDA school board stand on this issue now? I remember most of them were all for it when they were running for office?

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