Every American Worker Needs a Better 4th Grade Education

It’s hard to impress my 12 year old granddaughter, Alyssa.

We were Easter basket shopping and while we were standing in the checkout line, I was pulling out the cash to pay for our purchase – down to penny.

“Wow, how did you do that?” Alyssa asked, surprised that I could do the math in my head.

I explained I had added the price of the two items she and her sister had picked out and then multiplied the total by 9.25 percent (our sales tax rate) and rounded to the next highest penny.

“In your head?”

“There were no hand held calculators when I went to school.” I replied. “You couldn’t pass 4th grade if you didn’t know your times tables – backwards and forwards”.

It’s Not 1970!

In 1970 a high school diploma implied that the graduate had mastered basic arithmetic, could read and write a coherent paragraph demonstrating comprehension of what they’d read and possessed some knowledge of basic science.

Maybe not enough to be admitted to Harvard or UC Berkeley but certainly enough to begin to build a middle class life – an auto mechanic, building trades apprentice, chef, miner, farmer, police officer, fireman, US military member or factory worker.

Fast forward to 2016 and you’ll find fewer manufacturing jobs available to new high school graduates, but there are still hundreds of careers that can be built on a 1970s high school education including new careers like network administrator or computer programmer — jobs that pay +/- $70K or more a year – after only about a year of technical training.

The problem is that a high school diploma in 2016 does not require the same mastery of basic math, English, science and civics as it did in 1970.

Over the past half century a high school diploma has morphed from a measure of accomplishment to an entitlement earned by not disrupting the classroom.

The ACT College Testing Service statistics on college readiness are staggering. Just 25% of entering freshmen are ready to do college level mathematics and 50 percent are ready to do college level English.

When I was a freshman at UC Berkeley, the very few freshmen who failed their English, math or foreign language placement exams snuck out of the dorms at 7:30 AM to take their “walk of shame” to 8 AM remedial classes! Today there’s no sneaking around – it’s half the entering class!

Internationally American 15 year olds ranked 27th in math and 20th in science in 2012 — 50 points less than their peers in Hong Kong in both these vital areas.

The Best Education is Cumulative

A child who enters kindergarten not speaking English is immediately at risk of not succeeding in school, not graduating from high school and never achieving a middle class standard of living.

In California, for example, 42 percent kindergartners come from homes were no English is spoken.  Governor Brown estimates 38 percent of Californians work at low or minimum wage jobs. There’s a relationship!

Raising the minimum wage is not the solution.

We’ve got to fix our K to 12 education system.

True the percentage of high school graduates going directly to college has increased from 50 percent in 1970 to 69 percent in 2014.

But that statistical improvement results from a growing number of students – more boys than girls — dropping out of high school before graduation. Their teachers have taught since kindergarten that high school graduation is nothing more than a ticket to college. Once a student concludes college is out of reach – it is easy to decide to drop out and get a (minimum wage) job now.

A College Degree Isn’t Everything

The education establishment — and the politicians they support with their union dues — must abandon the subtle bigotry that assumes people who don’t have a college degree are “uneducated”.

If these people are “uneducated” – the education establishment should ask themselves — whose fault is it?

In the 21st century, technology will shrink the number of lawyers, for example, the economy needs far more drastically than it will shrink the demand for plumbers and mechanics.

A plumber still needs a good apprenticeship not a college degree.

During the next half century, technology will create tens of thousands of jobs we haven’t thought of yet.

The challenge for educators from the kindergarten classroom to Washington is to graduate every single high school student with a “1970s high school diploma”.

Basic math, English, science and civics skills are analogous to the foundation of a house. Just as different house styles can be built (and later remodeled) on a strong foundation the 21st century worker can train and retrain for several careers over their work life based on a solid high school academic foundation.

Technology can enhance these basic skills but can’t replace learning how to “do the work” to get the answer.

Teachers, themselves, need to embrace the 21st century reality – learning and adapting are the life blood of an economy of opportunity.

Learning needs to last a lifetime but K to 12 is still the indispensible foundation.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


There’s No Such Thing as a Free College Education

While I was serving as the Strategic Staffing Manager at Intel Corporation, I had a mentor who was the Human Resource Manager for another large company.

Every time I stepped into his office I was confronted by a cardboard cutout of a kitten.

The kitten was crouched over a bowl of milk. The caption read “there is no such thing as a free lunch”.

When any Presidential candidate promises you something “free” in exchange for your vote, you need to ask yourself: “how much am I willing to pay for it in perpetuity – both in taxes and in diminished opportunity?”

Free Tuition Just Shifts the Burden

“A free college education for every student at every public college or university in America” is as likely as being swept up in a tornado, landing on your head still holding your dog, and living to tell about it – i.e. assuming the Wizard of OZ is a true story!

It is campaign fairy dust. Even Hillary Clinton agreed during the Wisconsin Democratic Debate Hillary Clinton.

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education recently published an e-book, American Higher Education: Journalistic and Policy, that documents how our states are already struggling to maintain their quality higher education programs.

Our top ranked universities are already under continuing stress: Universities of California, Oregon, Washington, Pennsylvania, and New York train a significant number of our doctors, lawyers, scientists and entrepreneurs.

What happens to these economically essential programs when funds are diverted to an open-ended commitment to undergraduate tuition?

State budgets are funded by taxes – principally income taxes, small business taxes, and real estate taxes.

As state tax revenues tumbled following the 2008 recession and states scrambled to balance their budgets, their public college budgets contracted proportionately.

The recovery, beginning in 2010, has not produced enough revenue to restore most of the drastic cuts.

The University of California, as an example, gets about 40% of its funding from state general tax revenues – the rest from federal government and private research grants, endowments, and student tuition and fees.

Undergraduate, in-state tuition has risen from around $7500 in 2005 to more than $12,000 for the current academic year.

Increased tuition has resulted in an explosion of student loan debt – easy to incur and very hard to repay.

The promise of “free tuition” has obvious appeal for both students and their parents, but is it sound policy?

“Free Tuition” Puts the Tax Burden on College Graduates

Bernie Sander’s free tuition plan is estimated to Sanders Plan cost $100 Billion in the first year of full implementation.

The plan would be funded by a $75 Billion a year tax on Wall Street. To pay the tax, Wall Street would increase fees on the investment tools used by large and small investors alike.

Taxing investment instruments reduces the amount of investment capital available for business formation and expansion around the country. The result would be a contraction of the economy and the creation of fewer new jobs.

Most small investors are parents or grandparents of college kids – or someday will be. The new fees will be added to the income and capital gains taxes these investors already pay. That will reduce the after tax income of retirees, for example.

Mr. Sanders would fund the balance of his plan through increased state taxes – raising taxes on small investors still further.

Students will begin to “pay forward” their “free tuition” in the form of higher taxes from their very first pay check until they die.

Public Colleges Need Incentives to Modernize

The objective of “free tuition” is laudable. A more realistic approach is to make college more affordable by driving down costs and embracing innovation.

Colleges and universities need to join the new America. They’ve got to learn to do more with less!

What if public colleges switched from negotiating reductions in faculty compensation and retirement benefits, and put more emphasis on faculty teaching hours.

If each professor taught 10 hours a week rather than 6 – a third more students could be accommodated at nearly the same cost.

Some studies estimate that as many as 70 percent of entering freshmen are not “college ready”.

What if colleges required freshmen to take and pass remedial courses over the Internet before arriving on campus?

Students – on average – would save a year of tuition and campus living expenses. Colleges would save staff and classroom space.

Millions upon millions of dollars are spent on college athletics.

What if the professional sports leagues that depend on college athletic departments as their “farm team” – paid for the management and maintenance of these athletic programs?

Student athletes would still get funding they need to underwrite their education.

Students and alumni would still participate in the rituals of college athletics.

They’d cheer proceeds from ticket sales, gear, and television rights going to reduce the cost of every student’s education.

And isn’t that the objective after all?

The tuition burden on students will start to decrease as soon as colleges and universities step up to the plate and focus on reducing their internal operating costs.

PHOTO CREDIT: Berkeley Lab

Prop 30

After Prop 30 – The Joke Is On California Parents & Students

I am, as a rule, loath to vote for any new tax. So, it surprised even me when I voted for California Proposition 30 in 2012. I was persuaded that if voters did not approve Proposition 30 – which raises sales taxes and high end income tax for 7 years – that the State Legislature would make good on their threats to punish California school children with an even shorter school year and shorter school days.

Proposition 30 passed because California parents want better schools. California children deserve better schools. California parents were told that there wasn’t enough money in the state budget to adequately fund K to 12 education – even including about a 5% “kicker” from the federal No Child Left Behind legislation without higher taxes.

Now we find that the joke is on parents and children. The State Legislature and the Governor have banded together to do a favor for the California Teachers Association (CTA). The Governor is expected to sign legislation that would end student performance testing – no academic achievement testing (API) and no school performance evaluations. It’s the beginning of the reversal of all the gains that parents have made to hold educators accountable since Governor Gray Davis put higher academic standards and teacher accountability in place in the late 1990s.

Enter the lone advocate for parents and students, United States Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. In a letter sent to the Governor, the Secretary wrote “If California moves forward with a plan that fails to assess all its students, as required by federal law, the department will be forced to take action, which could include withholding funds from the state.” California usually gets about $5 billion in federal assistance – almost the same amount as the additional education tax receipts from Proposition 30 – coincidence – I think not!

The legislation suspends academic performance (API) testing until the shift to a new computer-based test to support the new Common Core Curriculum is ready – but there is no date certain offered. I agree with noted Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters who suggested that the real objective of the legislation is to end all academic performance testing.

The legislation argues that testing suspension is needed to complete the development and pilot test of an online testing tool called MAPPs to replace API/STAR Testing. This is an outright lie! Continuing current standardized testing (STAR) is entirely separate from planned piloting of the new MAPPs system. Besides, it is laughable to think that the MAPP test results in, for example, 2016 would be believed by parents without any tie back to testing in the prior academic year.

The objections of California Teachers Association (CTA) and the California Federation of Teachers leadership to the use of student standardized test scores – as a measure of teacher performance – are well documented. The use of Academic Performance Index (API) scores to evaluate school performance is equally noxious to these powerful teachers’ unions.

A bill that suspends student performance testing effectively eliminates performance measures in teacher evaluation and strips school principals and school boards of the only tool they have to remove underperforming teachers – the union’s ultimate goal! The result of this legislation is, also, to neuter parent school take-over laws by, similarly, eliminating the use of API scores to determine if a specific school is succeeding or failing to improve the academic performance of its total student body—year over year.

Under existing California law, the parents of students at schools that continue to under-perform – based on API scores – have the right to petition for the removal and replacement of the principal and some teaching staff at the failing school. Without the API scores, the parents will have no mechanism to exercise this right.

The conflicting interests of parents and teachers unions could not be clearer.

Recent public policy polls by University of Southern California found that 80% of parents support annual academic standardized testing. Parents want to know how their children are doing individually and in comparison to their local, national and global peers. Parents, also, support including test results in individual teacher evaluations.

The only logically conclusion one can reach is that the legislation is political pay back – plain and simple. Jerry Brown never made any secret of the fact that he relied entirely on the CTA and other state employee unions to fund his 2010 gubernatorial campaign – a cool $24 million. The same is true for majority of Democrats in the Legislature.

Parents, grandparents and tax payers – time to call the Governor. He must be convinced signing this legislation establishes him firmly as pro-teacher and anti-student – making his re-election, perhaps, NOT so “inevitable”, after all!

Take a moment to thank US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and urge him to keep the pressure on Governor Brown.

There can be no “recess” on teacher accountability!

Photo Credit: Bay Area News Group/Shutterstock

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Quality Education

Quality Education Declines In California Each Successive Generation

My granddaughter goes to 4th grade next week. She attends one of the best schools in the respected Moreland School District. That should give us hope that she is getting the quality education she needs to be ready to join the 21st century work force.

But rather than hope, I have angst. She’s the sixth generation Cordi to be educated in California’s public education system.

But she is not getting the quality education her dad received and he did not get the high quality education I did.

Take for example the length of the school day. When I went to public school the normal school day was 8 am to 3:30 pm. I have the clearest memories of Mrs. Swanson walking from desk to desk making sure we “got it”.

By the time my son attended school, the day had shrunk to 8 am to 2:30 pm. Often his comprehension was first tested in the homework, which made no sense to me. Learning needs to happen in the classroom to be sure the kids are “getting it”! Now, for my granddaughter, the school day has shrunk to 8 AM to 2:25 pm, except on Wednesday, when it is 8 am to 12:25 pm, including lunch! All of her comprehension is tested in the homework.

She is one of the lucky ones. Her parents and grandma make sure that the homework is all done and done correctly.

I have angst rather than hope when the parents have to give the teacher permission to “challenge” the child to do more work than is required to matriculate. I have angst rather than hope when the parents struggle to explain to the child why he or she needs to try harder when they’re getting all “exceeds”!

I may have angst about the outcome but I am certain of the reason. At its core, the problem is that education in America has become big business. K through 12 education spending is equal to about 7% of United States Gross Domestic Product (GDP)! Add in college and university spending and education totals about 10% of the total economy – plenty big enough to attract the attention of the AFL/CIO – especially at a time when organized labor’s influence in manufacturing and transportation have declined.

Beginning with the establishment of the United States Department of Education, under President Carter, 6 successive Presidents have promised to “fix public education”.

The call for higher standards, more focus on measured student achievement and more accountability for teachers – all fueled by federal spending – created a catalyst for union organization.

Unions are organized when two factors coalesce – money and anxiety about performance based job security. Congressional appropriations were intended to be used to reduce class sizes so that each student would receive the individual attention needed for educational success. But negotiators for the newly organized teachers traded higher salaries and sweetened retirement benefits for continued larger class sizes.

More importantly, the unions promised to protect teachers’ jobs. The union used teacher strikes to negotiate “work rules” that prevented schools from evaluating the individual classroom performance of teachers based on the results of federally mandated standardized student test scores.

Over the last 40 years instead of nurturing our students, we’ve been nurturing our teachers unions. Albert Shanker, American Federated Teachers (AFT) President 1974-1998, is reputed to have declared “when schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children”. Teachers’ union dues became a guarantee of job security regardless of performance.

The AFT pays current President Randi Weingarten more than $1 million a year to protect the jobs of her 1.5 million member teachers. Despite speeches about reform, Ms. Weingarten’s job is to keep student achievement outside of teacher contract negotiations. Ms. Weingarten has been a consistent and vocal opponent of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) for one simple reason – it required teacher evaluations that would include student performance on standardized testing.

The AFT played a leading role in the adoption of Common Core Standards to replace NCLB just in time to avoid the required evaluations (2014). Now that Common Core is here – you guessed it – she is calling for a multi-year moratorium on evaluating teachers based on student test results!

How many more years of delayed accountability will be “fair” to parents and students?

I submit that no delay is defensible in the face of reality. In a 2011 study published by The Atlantic Magazine, New York teachers were the best paid in the country ($72,708 average) but their students ranked 31st in both reading and math proficiency. California teachers ranked 3rd highest paid in the nation ($69,434 average) but their students rank 46th in math achievement and 49th in reading achievement.

If I got those results, I’d fire myself.

Photo Credit: Kelly Stone/Morris Avenue School

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CA Education Testing

California Education Testing Does Not Lead To Reform, Why Test???

The rational me looks at the crisis in public education in the United States, typified by the situation in California, and thinks we can’t declare recess until all the analysis and improvements are complete.

But that was before I read this morning’s newspaper. The Academic Performance Index (API) test scores for California students from grades 2 through 10 were published yesterday. For the first time since 2003, California student achievement actually declined last year. The California Department of Education expects next year’s results to be even worse. Now they’re designing new computer based tests that will be “more rigorous”.

There is absolutely NO reason to keep testing the proficiency of our students year after year if the results do not lead to reform.

Computerizing the testing process will not change the results – just deliver the bad news faster.

In business we use numbers to make judgments. We identify what we call the key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success and failure. The new STAR proficiency numbers are another proof point – public education is failing in California!

Education leaders must stop simply measuring what is and start asking why is it so? Don’t tell me, again, what I already know. Tell me what I don’t know and how this will help to solve the problem. That’s what we business people do with KPIs!

And these numbers are not hard to interpret.

First there is a direct link with the length of the school year and student achievement. California reduced the 2012/13 school year to 185 days and we saw an immediate 1% drop in English proficiency.

Second “English-as-a-second-language” (ESL) continues to be a barrier to achievement for immigrant children. The problem is particularly acute for Latino children.

Third the narrowing of the achievement gap for black and Latino children since 2003 indicates that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) had some positive impact even if the performance incentives were perceived by some as punitive. Focus matters!

We know the what – the burning question is so what? Are there any “quick hit” fixes that California schools could develop and implement during this 2013/14 school year that could make a measurable difference while real reform takes longer (and is a subject for another day)?

I would suggest that there are two “quick hits” that would make a difference this school year.

First, approximately 50% of new kindergarteners this year will be Latino.

Schools should provide daily bi-lingual homework assignments in the primary grades. This step would encourage the involvement of Spanish speaking parents in their children’s education instead of leaving them on the sidelines.

ESL impacted schools will receive additional funding beginning this school year. That money could be used immediately to open and staff more homework centers at all impacted (55% ESL) school campuses – to insure that all children get the help they need to do the required work. This does not require the hiring of more teachers but could be staffed by qualified teachers’ assistants – for example bi-lingual college students.

Second, principals could look at the API achievement of individual teachers to learn which teacher’s students consistently over perform – at grade level, at school level, etc.

In business we would call these results “situational best practice”.

The best practice teachers could serve as mentors to help their colleagues improve their materials and methods.

This would be particularly useful as California schools begin the transition from No Child Left Behind to Common Core standards. Higher performing teachers could help the transition by setting correct expectations for their peers – sharing lesson plans, classroom management strategies and help with engaging parents in their children’s education.

Both of these suggestions could be implemented quickly because they happen at the local school level. That is, if the educational establishment is willing to step out of its comfort zone. Educational establishment has shown no eagerness to engage in reform of any sort until there is strong parental outcry – and sometimes not even then. So, I am not optimistic.

And it is because the education establishment has wrung optimism out of me, that the irrational me wonders what if we shouldn’t take the quickest hit of all – declaring a one year moratorium on public education in California?

Teachers would then have to go and find jobs in the private sector. They would find out just how often a McDonald’s clerk can make the wrong change before that clerk is fired!

That might be the fastest way to kick-start the educational reform our children deserve!

Photo Credit: CA Dept of Education

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Teacher Training

Shocking – California Teacher Training Flunks National Reviews

Yesterday morning I had to read the lead sentence of the San Jose Mercury News editorial out loud, just to be sure that I had not misread it. “Most California teacher training programs flunked” the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) Teacher Prep Review. Out of 4 possible stars no California elementary teacher training program received any – not one – zero!

My reaction, in a word, was shock!

More surprising still, the editors dismissed the review’s conclusions. They quoted a number of “experts” who explained how well their programs prepared teachers. The justification the “experts” offer is that the “experts” weren’t “expert” enough to recognize “expertise” when they saw it!

No parents or children or school board members were interviewed for the editorial. That is hardly surprising. Parents might well have pointed to California students’ test scores to support NCTQ findings. California 8th graders rank 44th out of 51 states and the District of Columbia and 4th graders ranked 40th in math and English proficiency according to the American Legislative Education Council’s (ALEC) 2013 report. ALEC gave California a D in teacher preparation!

As a business person, my mind naturally triangulated the two independent nationally respected evaluations of California teacher training methods with the actual student results. There is only one possible conclusion. Something is very wrong with teaching in California.

In the meantime, the legislature and the governor agreed to a budget of $66 billion for k to 12th education during fiscal 2013-14. That’s a lot of money to spend on a program that is not delivering a satisfactory return on investment.

Improving teaching in California cannot happen overnight. We can’t declare recess until all the analysis and improvements are complete. But we can focus our energies and our resources urgently on identifying and implementing the necessary changes.

The change we need can only begin with the Governor, himself. He’s got a fundamental choice to make. Will he challenge the “education establishment” to “step up” and work to prepare our kids to lead the high technology work force of the mid-21st century? Or will he continue to support the “experts” – his powerful political ally, the California Teachers Association – allowing our children to remain ranked 44th of 50?

Hypothetically, I’m going to bet on the Governor to do the right thing.

Here are 4 suggested actions the Governor can take starting now that will improve teaching in California in 2014-15 and every year after that.

Number 1. The Governor should postpone the introduction of the Common Core Standards curriculum to 2014-15. The introduction of Common Core without answering the question what’s wrong with teaching in California will further cloud the real issues of training and preparation.

Number 2. The Governor can’t fire the elected State Superintendent of Education. But he can hire an expert to advise him directly.

An “expert” is not someone who knows all the answers but someone who knows what questions to ask to get the right answers. That “expert” might be a recently retired State Schools Chief from a high performing state – for example Florida, Maryland, or Massachusetts.

Number 3. The Governor should recruit a task force of teachers, principals, school board members, business leaders and parents to work with the “expert”. Their first task would be to compare the nation’s best (evaluated) teacher training programs to California’s and prepare a gap analysis.

Next, they should answer the question does California need a School or Department of Education at every State University campus and at every University of California campus? Would consolidation improve the quality of the programs’ graduates?

The Task Force report and recommendations would be presented to the Governor prior to the May 2014 Budget revision deadline.

Number 4. It’s not enough to just improve the training for future teachers. The vast majority of teachers in the state’s classrooms, today, were trained in the same California teacher training programs that failed the national teacher training quality review. It is urgent that the State Department of Education develop in-service programs to improve the skills of current classroom teachers.

I challenge any classroom teacher to explain how any of these recommendations would not make a positive difference for your students and for you!

If you agree forward this blog with your own comments to Governor Brown 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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Common Core

Common Core Standards — Amazing! Unbelievable! Scary!

Last weekend I was at annual barbecue for civic activists. The hostess is an elected member of the Campbell school board. She mentioned that the district will begin to adopt the so-called Common Core Standards curriculum – this fall. California and public schools in 44 other states have committed to migrate to Common Core Standards by the fall of 2014-15.

However, she continued, she couldn’t “tell” me “what Common Core is” except to say it had something to do with more oral communication, more oral reports delivered by the kids in front of their classmates.

Amazing! Unbelievable! Scary!

School board members are elected to be a Board of Directors overseeing the professional team responsible for educating our children. It is not the board’s job to develop the line item spending plan for the school district. Nor is it their job to develop detailed lesson plans. It is their job to insure the quality of the education all students in the district receive.

If the school board doesn’t understand the new curriculum and curricular objectives how can they measure student and teacher outcomes? More importantly, how will they explain those results to district parents and to taxpayers?

It is amazing that at the first mention of the POSSIBLE migration to Common Core Standards, the school board members did not instruct the superintendent to provide them an in-depth briefing on Common Core. It is equally amazing that the superintendent did not offer such a briefing.

It is unbelievable that state after state and school board after school board across the country has agreed to adopt Common Core Standards without a detailed tabular analysis of the differences between No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Common Core. In business, migration would be preceded by a rigorous defense made to the Board of Directors complete with a detailed rollout plan, including go/no milestones, and clear measures of success.

It is scary that this school board member isn’t more curious about on what Common Core Standards mean for the education of her own five (5) children. It’s not that she does not care. Rather, it is intimidation by the unelected, unaccountable “experts” that makes most parents avoid asking questions. The education industry, like the technology industry, enhances its value through the artful use of language to obfuscate and intimidate.

I too am “expert” – an “expert” at identifying gobbledy goop!

Take for example, Common Core math standards for kindergarten.

  • Counting and cardinality
  • Operations and algebraic thinking
  • Numbers and operations in base 10
  • Measurement and data
  • Geometry.

Parents of America don’t panic. That means teachers are going to focus on teaching kindergarteners to count to 100, figure out simple word problems, and to distinguish between the characteristics of circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles.

It’s no accident that these standards are designed to emphasize the complexity of education. Simplicity is the best way to INCLUDE parents in the education process!

Scariest of all  – Common Core Standards were developed under the leadership of the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) – the two most militant teachers’ unions in the world! If you are unfamiliar with these unions, or their laser-like focus on the interest of teachers rather than students, I suggest that you go to Netflix© and order the 2010 film “Waiting for Superman”.

My research turned up some things to like about Common Core objectives. It increases the emphasis on comprehension. Students will be required stand in front of the class more often and talk about what has been learned and to put it in a broader context – what my friend described as “communication”. Students will be taught fewer new concepts per subject each year but each “unit of learning” will be taught with more depth and more integration to other subjects (for example linking reading to science and/or history). These signal a shift from “teaching to the test” to retained learning.

But I remain skeptical that Common Core Standards are just another “quick fix” smoke screen that will only postpone the inevitable day-of-reckoning for a public education system that is hopelessly broken.  There are no published measures of success. How will governors, school boards, and parents know if Common Core is working? We can’t wait another 10 years to answer that question!

If you are concerned about your children’s education, forward this blog to the principal at your school and demand a SERIES OF DETAILED Common Core Standards Implementation briefings for parents – this year and through 2014-15. “Back to School Night” is not enough!

Photo Credit: NGA Center/CCSSO

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