Is Kentucky about to repeal Common Core?

Posted by on February 5, 2015


Recently Richard Innes, Staff Education Analyst at the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy, presented information on Common Core to a group of citizens in Boone County, Kentucky.  Mr. Innes is an engineer by trade.  He was in the Air Force where he did outcome based reviews.  He was initially excited by the prospects of the public education system creating standards that could have an outcome based measurement.  He soon realized they had no reliable tools in place to measure those outcomes.

In fact, when asking about the tools needed to measure outcomes he received the same answer over and over, “I don’t know what knowledge this test is meant to measure.”  Educators, and certainly those designing the curriculum should know the answer to this question.

He got sucked into the Common Core debate when he looked over his daughter’s science homework.  He discovered the information being taught was completely incorrect.  He tried to track down the source of the incorrect information by writing to the Department of Education. Three months later he received a response from a man who belonged to a math and science club.  The man did not work for the Department of Education, so Innes was unclear about how he ended up in possession of his letter. According to Innes, neither the man who responded nor anyone at the Department of education was able to answer his questions about the origins of this curriculum.  The following is what he discovered on a journey for answers that has turned into a mission to save the next generation.

How did we get here?

In 2009, the federal government created “Race to the Top”, which gave states educational dollars based on performance.  A certain percentage of those dollars went to charter schools. Kentucky doesn’t have any charter schools, so they had to find another way to get to the top in order to get the funding. On February 10, 2010 the Kentucky Board of Education, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, and Kentucky Educational Professional Standards Board Voted to Adopt Common Core standards before they were even written. Kentucky was the first state in the nation to adopt these standards. Click here to read the standards as they are currently written.

Where did the standards come from?

If they weren’t written when the state adopted them, then where did they come from?  That is a very good question that even the people who wrote them don’t seem to know.  If you visit their propaganda page it says, “From the very beginning, the process of developing the Common Core has been bipartisan and state led.  But in another section it reads, “The National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)….led the development of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)…”

The reality, they weren’t state led.  They were created by the NGA, CCSSO, Achieve Inc., ACT, and the College Board all with significant financial interests.

They did create workgroups that met confidentially to review the standards.  However, 5 of the 29 members refused to sign the final report.  One of those refusing to sign, Professor Jim Milgram stated, “…the ‘facilitators’ for the validation committee meeting were virtually impossible to deal with….the facilitators were emphatically trying to not let us act according to our charter, but simply sign or not sign a letter when the charter said we had final say over the quality of the final CCSS product and could revise or rewrite it if we deemed necessary.”

Common Core State Standards are copyrighted by the NGA and CCSSO, not the states and cannot be changed by the states because of the copyright despite what the public has been led to believe.  That means a private company has created a monopoly around our children’s education.

Did the new standards improve scores?

No.  In fact, the state is now under investigation as a December 2014 report from the legislature’s Office of Educational Accountability questioned Kentucky’s College and Career Readiness rates that showed an increase from 34 percent in 2009 to 62.5 percent in 2013.  However, ACT rates, which are the only stable statistics showed only an increase from 30 percent to 37 percent in meeting Benchmarks.

If you compare the CATS Scores from 2011 to the KPREP Scores of 2012 you find that 4th grade reading drops from 74 percent to 47 percent and the math grades dropped from 60 percent to 42 percent.

Unbridled Learning Reviews used by schools as self-assessment tools were already showing signs of inflating the scores.  If staff are being asked to evaluate performance internally, there is no system of checks and balance leaving the outside testing agencies as the only reliable source for measuring student achievement and school performance.

Common Core Covers English Language, Arts and Mathematics:

According to Professor Jim Miligram, “The (MATH) standards are not at the level of those of the high achieving countries or the top state mathematics standards-including California, Minnesota, Indiana, and Massachusetts. Moreover this difference in level is significant, being approximately 1-2 years at the end of the eighth grade.”

Sandra Stotsky, Former Massachusetts Associate Commissioner of Education Member who was on the CCSS Validation committee said, “In my judgment, the Common Core’s standards for grades 6-12 do not reflect the core knowledge needed for authentic college level work and do not frame the literary and cultural knowledge one would expect of graduates from an American high school.”  She also refused to sign the final report of the CCSS validation Committee.

Social Studies Standards:

According to Kentucky History Teacher of the Year for 2011, Donnie Wilkerson, the original group of teachers put together to write the standards were disbanded, because they refused to go along with a plan that he described as “devoid” of history content.

Wilkerson said the content left out:  The American Civil War,  The American Colonial Period, The American Revolution, The Bill of Rights, The Civil Rights Movement, The Declaration of Independence, The Executive Branch of the Government, The Great Depression, The Era of Industrialization, The Judicial Branch of the Government, The Kentucky Constitution, The Legislative Branch of the Government, Personal Liberty (apparently Liberty wasn’t mentioned at all), Persian Gulf War, Preamble to the Constitution, Religious Diversity, Representative Democracy, Acquiring and protection of property, life, liberty, pursuit of safety, and happiness, Religion, Vietnam, World War I, and World War II.

When questioned about these missing pieces the response was that the C3 framework was designed to teach students to think about history.  Many fear this opens the door to revisionist history.

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS):

NGSS Logo smallSeptember 2013, the NGSS went before the Kentucky Legislature’s Administrative Regulations Review Committee.  The committee voted 5 to 1 finding the NGSS deficient, but the governor immediately overrode the legislative vote putting the standards into effect in Kentucky despite the facts presented by the review committee.

One Kentucky high school dropped physics one month after the governor’s ruling.  NGSS essentially eliminates the last two years of science education needed by students who want to go on to STEM careers.

Some of the missing content included; no mention of Universal Gas Law, Ohm’s Law, or any discussion of electrical circuits beyond the fourth grade despite the world we now live in being surrounded by them.  Chemistry and Physics are both eliminated in high school.

Why should you care?

Even if you don’t have children, about 60 percent of every tax dollar you send to Frankfort is spent on some level of education in Kentucky.  The growth of spending on education in Kentucky since 1990 has risen far above the rate of inflation.  According to the Kentucky Department of Education receipts and expense reports real spending is up by 188 percent.

If you do have children, you should be concerned that they are not receiving adequate education to compete for education and jobs within the United States.  The government is creating a system where students will need additional years of college to compensate for what they are losing in public high schools.

Wealthy people can afford to send their children to private schools.  Less fortunate Americans are stuck with public education.  This furthers the race and wealth gap that already exists throughout much of Kentucky.  The rich will continue to get richer as their children compete for education and jobs out of reach for the average Kentuckian.

Standards drive curriculum, so don’t be fooled when you hear administrators talk about the freedom to develop curriculum.  When the standards are copyrighted there is not a lot of wiggle room on the curriculum, especially when the testing is being written around the standards.

There is also a lot of data collection on your children.  The companies driving Common Core are using that data to develop technologies around future consumers.  In the meantime, they are setting your children up to fail, because they are not college and career ready.

The following bill is currently in the house:  HB 33 (BR 97)

Sponsors: T. Kerr, L. Bechler, R. Bunch, K. Imes, T. Moore, S. Santoro, D. St. Onge, R. Webber

AN ACT relating to public school standards.

Create a new section to KRS Chapter 158 to prohibit the Kentucky Board of Education and the Kentucky Department of Education from implementing the English language arts and mathematics academic content standards developed by the Common Core Standards Initiative and the science academic content standards developed by the Next Generation Science Standards Initiative; require the state board to recommend new content standards to school districts and schools after consultation with the Council on Postsecondary Education; require public involvement in standards development; clarify the authority of the local board of education to adopt standards which differ from or exceed the standards approved by the state board; clarify that the school-based decision making councils shall develop policies based upon the standards adopted by the local boards of education; prohibit state officials from ceding control of education content standards and assessments; prohibit withholding of state funds from school districts for adopting different academic content standards; amend KRS 156.070 to limit disclosure of personally identifiable information; direct the Kentucky Board of Education to require that the Department of Education and all school districts adhere to transparency and privacy standards when outsourcing data and Web-based tasks to vendors; clarify vendor contract requirements; amend KRS 158.6453 to permit a local board of education to supplement the state board-approved academic content standards with higher and more rigorous standards and require school councils to use them to fulfill curriculum policy requirements; amend KRS 160.345 to clarify school council curriculum policy authority.

(Prefiled by the sponsor(s).)

Nov 12-To: Interim Joint Committee on Education

Jan 6-introduced in House; to Education (H)

If you want to weigh in:  Call 1-800-372-7181 and tell the operator you want your message to go to ALL members on the Northern KY Legislative Caucus on these bills. All they ask is your name and contact information.

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