Archive | March 5, 2015

A Loophole that Could Save Maryland From Common Core*

A Loophole that Could Save Maryland From Common Core*

By Kelsey Harkness

As millions of students across the nation begin taking Common Core-aligned standardized tests for the first time, Maryland finds itself in a unique position to opt-out.

A loophole discovered by a state lawmaker gives the governor the power to withdraw Maryland from tests created by Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), which are designed to assess how well students are learning under the Common Core standards.

“It’s important for Maryland because the PARCC assessments and the consortium already—in its very short life—has shown clear evidence that it was poorly developed, poorly managed, and crammed down the throats of the states,” said David Vogt III, a Republican member of the state assembly.

Vogt recently discovered a hidden clause in a memorandum — signed by former Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley in 2010 — that committed Maryland to PARCC testing.

The loophole grants the newly elected governor, Republican Larry Hogan, the authority to either recommit or remove Maryland from the PARCC exams within the first five months of holding office.

Maryland’s legislature remains Democratically controlled.

Vogt is rallying a coalition of parents, educators, and administrators to pressure Hogan to pull the state out of PARCC.

“[PARCC’s] not only unconstitutional, but it’s a hindrance to the education system of Maryland,” Vogt said.

“Education was built to be a state-managed and operated function and the governor exercising his authority here will put it back in the state of Maryland’s hands.”

The timing of the discovery is significant, because Maryland, along with a number of other states, is officially administering the new Common Core-aligned tests for the very first time, despite protests that have sparked across the nation.

In New Mexico, two hashtags, #BarkAtThePARCC and #PARCCWalkOut, went viral on Twitter, encouraging students to “walk out” on the exams.

@AP @BurqueMedia Day 2: Students from Albuquerque High walk out to protest #PARCC testing. #BarkAtTheParcc #ABQ #NM

In New Jersey, technical problems caused some schools to delay the tests, which are taken on a computer. Thousands of students simply refused to take the tests.

“It took more time to set up the test than it did to take the test,” junior Emily Green of Cresskill, N.J., told CBS New York.

As millions of students across the nation begin taking Common Core-aligned standardized tests for the first time, Maryland finds itself in a unique position to opt-out.

A loophole discovered by a state lawmaker gives the governor the power to withdraw Maryland from tests created by Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), which are designed to assess how well students are learning under the Common Core standards.

“It’s important for Maryland because the PARCC assessments and the consortium already—in its very short life—has shown clear evidence that it was poorly developed, poorly managed, and crammed down the throats of the states,” said David Vogt III, a Republican member of the state assembly.

Vogt recently discovered a hidden clause in a memorandum — signed by former Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley in 2010 — that committed Maryland to PARCC testing.

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The loophole grants the newly elected governor, Republican Larry Hogan, the authority to either recommit or remove Maryland from the PARCC exams within the first five months of holding office.

Maryland’s legislature remains Democratically controlled.

Vogt is rallying a coalition of parents, educators, and administrators to pressure Hogan to pull the state out of PARCC.

“[PARCC’s] not only unconstitutional, but it’s a hindrance to the education system of Maryland,” Vogt said. “Education was built to be a state-managed and operated function and the governor exercising his authority here will put it back in the state of Maryland’s hands.”

The timing of the discovery is significant, because Maryland, along with a number of other states, is officially administering the new Common Core-aligned tests for the very first time, despite protests that have sparked across the nation.

In New Mexico, two hashtags, #BarkAtThePARCC and #PARCCWalkOut, went viral on Twitter, encouraging students to “walk out” on the exams.

In New Jersey, technical problems caused some schools to delay the tests, which are taken on a computer. Thousands of students simply refused to take the tests.

“It took more time to set up the test than it did to take the test,” junior Emily Green of Cresskill, N.J., told CBS New York.

In Colorado, The Denver Post reported that of 100 students who tried to log on to take the computerized tests, only five were able to due to technical glitches, spurring criticism that states were inadequately prepared to test to the new standards.

William Reinhard, spokesman for the Maryland State Department of Education, told The Daily Signal that “very few” students protested the exams.

“Full testing began this week with few technical issues and no broad student or parent protests,” he said.

“More than 40,000 Maryland students are taking the assessment today.”

Still, the grassroots opt-out movement in Maryland is difficult to ignore.

Tony Piacente, the father of an 8th grader who goes to school in Mechanicsville, Md., told The Daily Signal that he’s been battling St. Mary’s County and the State Department of Education for over six weeks trying to refuse his son’s participation in PARCC.

“They are trying to bully me into submission,” he said.

“I get contradictory statements from both places and they still have yet to provide me the law or regulation that states my child must participate in the PARCC to graduate.”

Piacente said he opposes PARCC because,

“The prep time and test time takes away over 30 plus hours of quality instructional time for students, kids are tested enough in class, and it places undue stress and pressure on kids of all age groups.”

Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery yesterday spoke out in support of the PARCC assessment, calling it “a tremendous opportunity to gain more insights than ever before into how our students are progressing, and identify where we can all do better.”

But Vogt believes he can garner enough momentum through grassroots organizations to pressure the governor to pull out of the tests.

“It’s fairly uniform across the board [that] everybody’s concerned about the testing problems,” he said.

“I’ve had phone calls and letters and emails come in — from parents and teachers who are in the public school system, to members of local school boards across the state.”

Without the PARCC exams, teachers would still be required to follow the Common Core curriculum.

Common Core proponents argue that PARCC and similar assessments are the best way for the federal government to ensure that states are faithfully implementing the standards.

Maryland, along with 45 other states, adopted the Common Core standards in 2010 as a way to ensure that kids are college and career ready, and to track student success in a way that’s comparable state-by-state.

Critics say the exams are too rigorous and detract from local and state control of the classroom. They also argue that states were incentivized by the Obama administration to adopt Common Core and its affiliated exams with $4.35 billion in Race to the Top grants and waivers from the No Child Left Behind law.

Maryland received a four-year, $250 million federal grant for fully implementing the standards by the 2014-2015 academic year.

State lawmakers will formally challenge Common Core this week, when they consider a number of proposals that intend to slow down or halt the process of implementing the standards.

A spokeswoman for Hogan told The Daily Signal that the governor is still deciding what to do about the PARCC tests.

“The governor has major concerns about ‘one-size fits-all’ standards like Common Core and PARCC, and he will be exploring ways to improve or remove them during his term,” Erin Montgomery, the spokeswoman, said.

Source*

Related Topics:

Top Teachers Resigning because of Common Core*

Brick-by-brick: Missouri Judge Rules Common Core Unconstitutional*

The Essential Facts about How Common Core Became a Reality and Its Rebranding*

Why Two Canadian Schools Have Stopped Using Wi-Fi*

Why Two Canadian Schools Have Stopped Using Wi-fi*

In “The Bigger Picture,” Mary Garofalo shows the reasons why two Canadian schools have stopped using Wi-Fi.

You can’t hear it, you can’t taste it, but some are calling Wifi wireless networks a serious health threat that every parent should understand. Wireless internet is in schools around the world, but some kids are saying that wifi is making them sick. Is the convenience really worth the health risk?

Wi-Fi causes heart problems, headaches and other neurological disorders in children.

Related Topics:

WiFi — an Invisible Threat to all Life*

U.S. Farmer Harvests a Profit by not Planting the Big GMO Lie*

U.S. Farmer Harvests a Profit by not Planting the Big GMO Lie*

By Christina Sarich

We need GMOs to feed the world like a fish needs dry land. A controversial farmer in California is proving that a veritable bumper crop can be had using new farming methods that don’t require GMO pesticides, herbicides, or even weeding, and require 10 times less water than the average farm. The best part – he earned $100K per acre last season without even harvesting all of his land.

What kind of super-fertilizer allows Paul Kaiser to grow so much food on a mere 8 acres? Lots of rotten food scraps and rotten plants – otherwise known as compost. And he uses loads of it.

He uses farming practices both old, and cutting-edge-new so well that agricultural specialists from University of California at Davis who have tested his top soil can drive a four-foot steel pole all the way through his fields. This, as opposed to most parts of California, where it would hit infertile hard-pan in less than 12 inches.

Last year, Kaiser’s farm located in Sonoma Valley, CA grossed more than $100,000 an acre, too. This is ten times the average for most farmers of this area, even in lucrative wine-country.

His farm is no mega-farm, either. At just under 8 acres, he is beating even other large organic farms because the soil is still so damaged in other conventional and organic farms alike. He is certainly out-performing Big Ag methods of farming as his unique farming practices have turned the soil into a goldmine.

Kaiser follows what he calls the 3 main rules of soil health: Keep roots in the ground as much as possible, keep the soil covered as much as possible, and disturb the soil as little as possible.

Kaiser follows what he calls the 3 main rules of soil health: Keep roots in the ground as much as possible, keep the soil covered as much as possible, and disturb the soil as little as possible.

Kaiser also doesn’t plow his fields (which means a lot less work) and he uses around 10 times less water than his peers. His neighbours still run sprinklers, but he waters for about an hour a week, using almost exclusively drip irrigation. This means that while California is still recovering from a drought, most farmers are watering the air – since most of the water is lost to evaporation. Kaiser is watering – how novel an idea – just his plants.

Many California farmers recently spent millions tanking in water to try to save their crops, while Kaiser just made a healthy annual salary for even most high-paid lawyers. Water was being sold on the black market for ridiculous prices, but you can bet Kaiser wasn’t paying them.

Kaiser uses a thick, acrylic blanket to keep both soil and compost piles covered. Most farmers, if the cover soil at all, us immense plastic sheets, which end up each year in the landfill. “These blankets last me 10 years!”

Kaiser is a bit of a mad genius, and a dreamer, too. He rattles off statistics at local talks he gives about exactly how he grows so sustainably, often including surprising facts. For example, he leaves his roots in the ground after harvest to feed the worms. He sounds a bit like a Martin Luther King for growing green:

“Sustainable farming methods are just one corner,” he said. “Economic sustainability is another, and social sustainability is the third.”

During a recent Sunday farmers’ market, representatives of several different agricultural organizations approached Kaiser, each asking him for advice. Now, when billed for talks, he often packs the house.

Kaiser envisions small farms near every city around the globe, even in the most dry, arid climates, and with the proof of his own sweat, and soil, I believe his dream is possible.

Source*

Related Topics:

California an Engineered Drought Catastrophe*

Philippine Farmers Uproot Monsanto’s GM Golden Rice*

GM Crops Entrench U.S. Drought

Monsanto Reports $156 Million Loss in Q4 as Farmers Abandon GM Crops*

From Factory Farming to the Dinner Plate: Livestock Sicker than Ever Due to Antibiotics*

Monsanto Pays Up for Contaminating Farmer’s Field*

Russia’s GMO Import Ban Boosts Local Organic Farmers*

Chilean Women Farmers to Teach the Region Agro-ecology*

Occupy World: Chilean Farmer Wins Case against Monsanto*

Senegal Farmers Tell Transnational Corporations to get off their Land*

Right to Farm Denied in Michigan*

Corporate Landgrab Deprives Small Farmers Who Feed the World- with Less than a Quarter of all Farmland*

Farmers of El Salvador Block Monsanto Seeds*

Colonialism in Disguise: Farmers Sued for Reusing Monsanto Seeds*

Farmers Abandoned by EU from Russian Food Ban*

Monsanto Herbicides in 75% of Mississippi Air and Rain Samples*