Archive | March 19, 2015

Top Teacher Explains Why She Resigned from Common Core*

Top Teacher Explains Why She Resigned from Common Core*

helen keller and who really governsBy  Alex Newman

In a scathing resignation letter about the issue, Oklahoma City math teacher Juli Sylvan blasted the controversial Common Core standards and exposed numerous serious problems with the Obama-backed scheme — including the fact that it is being quietly implemented in apparent defiance of state law. Among the most troubling elements, according to Sylvan — a veteran teacher with more than two decades in the classroom — is the data-mining of children, which she said she is not willing to facilitate. However, the problems with the administration-promoted national school standards are much more wide ranging. From

  • Using ineffective teaching methods
  • Imposing a one-size-fits-all education model
  • Doing away with individualism and confusing students
  • The Common Core disaster is growing even in Oklahoma.

Unable to protect her students from the scheme any longer, Sylvan said her only remaining option was to resign from the profession she loves. Lawmakers are aware of the resignation and looking into the matter.

Sylvan’s resignation letter, sent to school-board members and other education officials, represents a damning indictment of the standards and the forces behind them.

“Common Core is not simply a new method of teaching,” she explained in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The New American.

“It is a complete takeover of WHAT is taught in the public school system. It takes away the individual’s freedom and joy of learning because of the one size fits all approach. All students don’t learn or express themselves in the same way. Common Core tends to do away with individualism — which is one of the attributes that makes America great. Diversity is one of our greatest resources, but Common Core erodes this great strength by taking parents, teachers, and elected officials out of the decision making process.” Similar warnings have been issued by experts and educators nationwide.

In fact, the outrage and disgust surrounding the standards — often ridiculed as “ObamaCore” by critics — was so intense in Oklahoma that lawmakers and the governor passed a law ending Common Core in the state.

“We cannot ignore the widespread concern of citizens, parents, educators and legislators who have expressed fear that adopting Common Core gives up local control of Oklahoma’s public schools,” Governor Mary Fallin said in signing the anti-Common Core law, which passed overwhelmingly in both houses of the legislature.

“The words ‘Common Core’ in Oklahoma are now so divisive that they have become a distraction that interferes with our mission of providing the best education possible for our children…. We are capable of developing our own Oklahoma academic standards that will be better than Common Core.”

Nevertheless, quietly and under the radar, education officials have been proceeding with the implementation of the standards in seeming violation of state law, Sylvan and others say.

The implications are massive — especially for Oklahoma teachers, parents, students, taxpayers, and elected officials who sought to protect the state from Common Core by banning it last year. Despite her best efforts to resist, Sylvan said the system has essentially been rigged to force resistant teachers to implement the national standards or face serious consequences, up to and including dismissal. The popular teacher also noted that she and many others have been in meetings where it was openly stated that Common Core would be implemented, even if by “simply changing the name.”

Among the key enforcement tools, she explained, citing official documents, is the “Teacher Leadership Effectiveness” (TLE) scheme to coerce teachers into Common Core submission. It goes beyond the TLE, though.

“I was constantly being harassed and threatened with termination for not implementing Common Core components,” Sylvan told The New American, citing data collection, testing, teaching strategies aligned to Common Core, and more.

“As a teacher in the classroom in that environment with constantly being harassed, my ability to protect my students from the Common Core was being rapidly diminished.”

However, she could not in good conscience “promote or contribute to the implementation of Common Core,” she added.

Bill Gates spent more than $200 million to promote Common Core

In her letter explaining the decision, Sylvan even cited Lily Williams, a former law professor who escaped from Communist China. Williams has lambasted Common Core and the associated data-gathering for exhibiting many of the same qualities and attributes of the Beijing regime’s indoctrination system masquerading as “education.” From centralizing control over education to creating invasive files on every student that will follow them for life, Williams said the parallels are deeply troubling to her as a victim of communist tyranny who fled to the United States in pursuit of freedom. Sylvan, too, has grown beyond alarmed at what is happening to education under the Obama-backed Common Core regime. And it is only getting worse. 

That is why, out of options, Sylvan felt forced to submit her resignation letter, teaching her final classes on March 6. In a phone interview with The New American the next day, Sylvan said she distributed her resignation letter among students, many of whom are also deeply concerned about Common Core and the data mining. She said that students in some of her classes applauded her decision to stand up against the scheme and thanked her for trying so hard to protect them. Multiple sources at the Oklahoma legislature also confirmed that lawmakers are aware of Sylvan’s resignation and her sharp criticism of what is going on in the schools regarding Common Core implementation. What actions may be taken, if any, remains unclear, though legislators are investigating.

In her many teacher evaluations over the years, Sylvan has always been given the highest assessments, so education officials know that she is an effective instructor — that is not the problem.

“But now, I am being singled out for refusing to do what Oklahoma Law prohibits,” she wrote in the letter, referring to the implementation of Common Core.

“I believe the problems we have in education stem from the takeover of education by the federal government. We in Oklahoma do not need to be told how to educate our children. We are capable of determining that for ourselves. I cannot promote a system that violates the law and the rights of students and their parents. Children’s and parents’ personal information is being mined through testing and surveys preparing them as human capital for the 21st century workforce for stockholders and ‘stakeholders.’” And that is not acceptable, she said.

“Although the system of Common Core is many things, the most commonly discussed are the standards which are incomplete and vague at best,” Sylvan told The New American.

“An example is it teaches mathematical steps out of order and leaves out steps. Math is not taught at developmentally appropriate ages and it’s disguised as rigor and readiness. The results are students become confused and discouraged as well as receive an incomplete education.” Indeed, Sylvan is hardly alone in her criticism of the math standards. Professor James Milgram of Stanford, the only math subject-matter expert selected to sit on the Common Core Validation Committee, refused to sign off on the standards, citing, among other concerns, incorrect math.  

Beyond the poor standards and methods, Sylvan also zeroed in her criticism on the Orwellian data-mining component of the so-called “education reform” agenda pushed from Washington.

“The Common Core standards are also used as a distraction to deceptively justify or defend the collection of student data,” she said.

Much of the data collection occurs through the (unconstitutional) testing regime, she continued, echoing the concerns of numerous experts and analysts.

“Unfortunately, testing is now being used to gather personal data about the student and/or the student’s family,” Sylvan wrote in the letter.

“Tests are collecting information far more extensive and invasive than merely tracking academic performance.”

Among the personal data being vacuumed up on students is information on the beliefs of children and parents, mental problems, attitudes, behaviour, religion, and more, she said, citing government documents. Sylvan also noted that the so-called “stimulus” program, which provided much of the bribe money used to impose Common Core on states, demands that the data-gathering systems have the capability to track everything from pre-school to the workforce and beyond.

“This data is being used to track and put students on a path that may be detrimental to what they and their parents desire,” Sylvan added in the letter. The Obama administration cryptically refers to it as the “cradle-to-career” agenda.

After 22 years of teaching, Sylvan told the school board and education officials that she was very sad to see what was being allowed to happen to schools and to the nation more broadly.

“I pray that we will end this nonsense and return to the principle that made American great,” she said.

“Because of this I feel I must resign from a job that I have passionately pursued and must leave students that have been my life’s work.”

Of course, Sylvan is hardly the first educator to resign over Common Core. What makes her story especially noteworthy, though, is that it happened in one of the states that supposedly repealed Common Core.

In an e-mail to The New American, Jenni White of Restore Oklahoma Public Education (ROPE), which played a key role in getting the legislature to repeal Common Core, said she was well aware of the ongoing problems with the standards being implemented in Oklahoma.

“It’s true that passing a single law against a national initiative will not remove it from any state,” she explained, citing a recent blog post she wrote underscoring how Common Core was alive and well in the state despite the law supposedly undoing it.

“But then, this is the reason why sovereign states should not cede their control to the federal government for money or programming or anything else. Common Core is such a far-reaching initiative that it’s almost impossible now for states who try to escape its clutches not to have it brought back into the state in one form or another from textbooks to testing.”

Still, while the task of uprooting the scheme may be enormous, critics of Common Core say stopping the scheme must be done. The future of America and liberty might literally hang in the balance.


Related Topics:

Top Teachers Resigning because of Common Core*

Teacher Disciplined Because Her Students’ Scores are too High*

1984: Just When You Think U.S. Education Couldn’t Get Any Worse*

Parent Forced to Call 911 When School Refuses to Release Child over Common Core Testing*

One Mother Shows How 2012 Top Maths Students Fail in Common Core Maths*

Homeschoolers Outnumber Private Schoolers in North Carolina*

7 Children Kidnapped by the State from Homeschooling Family to Remain in Custody*

Religious Schools Face Closure if they don’t Promote Homosexuality*

Parents Attacked for Protesting against the Sexualization of their Children*

Common Core Curriculum: Satanism in our Schools*

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

Americans Scored near the Bottom of 24 Nations in Skills Assessment*

Why the West Destroys and Humiliate Peoples

Americans Scored near the Bottom of 24 Nations in Skills Assessment*

Americans Scored near the Bottom of 24 Nations in Skills Assessment*

By  Warren Mass

A recently released report from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) indicated that American “millennials” (those born after 1980 who were 16 to 34 years of age at the time of the study) scored near the bottom of the pack among 23 countries evaluated for various skills.

Researchers at Princeton-based ETS tested those born in the last two decades of the last century in skills including literacy, technology problem solving, and numeracy (mathematical skills).

The ETS report was the first to use data from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), a study that was developed under the auspices of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The Preface to the report made a statement that many found surprising:

Despite having the highest levels of educational attainment of any previous American generation, these young adults on average demonstrate relatively weak skills in literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments compared to their international peers.

In comparing the performance of U.S. participants with those from other countries, the report noted these rankings:

  • Literacy: U.S. millennials place 17th out of 23 participating countries. Only millennials in Spain and Italy had lower scores.
  • Numeracy: U.S. millennials ranked 21st and tied for last place with Italy and Spain.
  • PS-TRE (Problem Solving, Technology-Rich Environments): U.S. millennials ranked 18th and tied for last place, along with the Slovak Republic, Ireland, and Poland.

Japan ranked first and Finland ranked second in all categories. American millennials with four-year college degrees received test scores comparable with those having only high school diplomas in Finland, Japan, and the Netherlands.

Casting a somewhat pessimistic outlook, the report’s authors noted several factors that reflect poorly on the products of the American education system. They noted that by targeting those in the millennial generation, their study included “the most recent products of our educational systems.” Furthermore, recent reports suggested that this group of Americans had “attained the most years of schooling of any cohort in American history.” Finally, the performance of this age group is important because “millennials will shape the economic and social landscape of our country for many years to come.”

The report also refutes the common assumption that merely completing a number of years of higher education automatically confers a high level of proficiency. Its findings, note the authors:

Offer a clear caution to anyone who believes that our policies around education should focus primarily on years of schooling or trusts that the conferring of credentials and certificates alone is enough. While it is true that, on average, the more years of schooling one completes, the more skills one acquires, this report suggests that far too many are graduating high school and completing postsecondary educational programs without receiving adequate skills.

The report noted that since 2003, the percentages of U.S. millennials scoring below level 3 in numeracy (the minimum standard) increased at all levels of educational attainment.

The significance of this report is underscored by statistical studies conducted by Pew Research indicating that sometime during this year, the number of millennials in our population will exceed the number of Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964). (The former is increasing due to immigration and the latter decreasing because of deaths.)

Those at ETS who conducted the study were surprised not only at how poorly U.S. millennials did in comparison with those in other countries, but also compared with Americans in preceding generations.

“We really thought [U.S.] Millennials would do better than the general adult population, either compared to older co-workers in the U.S. or to the same age group in other countries,” Madeline Goodman, an ETS researcher who worked on the study, was quoted by Fortune.

“But they didn’t. In fact, their scores were abysmal.”

While U.S. millennials with college degrees managed to score higher on the survey than Americans with only a high school diploma, Goodman concluded that “a degree may not be enough” to prove that an individual is proficient in basic English, can perform skills employing “workaday math,” or is able to use technology in a job.

While Goodman and others may have been surprised by the findings of ETS’s research, they probably shouldn’t have been, since U.S. educational standards have been in decline for decades. When Rudolf Flesch published his ground-breaking work Why Johnny Can’t Read — And What You Can Do About It in 1955, he started a national debate. His book was critical of the practice of teaching reading by sight (the “look-say” method) and advocated a revival of the phonics method of teaching students to sound out words.

The critique of American education was continued by a long-time contributor to The New American, Samuel L. Blumenfeld, who has spent much of his career researching and writing about the decline in American literacy, and has authored 10 books on education, including N.E.A.: Trojan Horse in American Education, Alpha-Phonics: A Primer For Beginning Readers, and Is Public Education Necessary?

Blumenthal explored the reasons why Americans schoolchildren fared poorly in comparison with their international counterparts in a four-part series of articles for The New American last December through January, “Who Are the World’s Smartest Kids? Not Americans.” In his final article Blumenfeld noted that in 2013, he wrote a letter to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush advising him that the simplest and most direct way to improve American education would be to get rid of the prevalent sight method of teaching reading. Blumenfeld maintains:

“If every child in America were taught to read with intensive, systematic phonics, this would create literate students who could read anything and would thereby demand substance to their education.”

Of course, as the ETS study reveals, Americans have problems even beyond reading skills, and did poorly in math and technical skills, as well. In Part 3 of his series, Blumenfeld addressed our failures in math and science. He related the story of a student from Pennsylvania named Tom who went to a school in Poland and was overwhelmed by the tough math curriculum in that country. Blumenfeld wrote:

As the days passed, Tom noticed the difference between how math was being taught in Pennsylvania and in Poland. In the United States, Tom and his fellow students all used calculators. But in his Polish class, calculators were not permitted. Polish kids were doing a lot of math in their heads. Apparently, Polish educators understood that arithmetic is a system that requires memorization for its efficient use. But in the United States, progressive educators had banned rote memorization, considering it to be a form of child abuse.

Much has been written about the factors contributing to the deficiencies in the American educational system responsible for the poor results reflected in the recent ETS study. The conclusion reached by Blumenfeld and other advocates of a disciplined, traditional education program is that we are suffering from more than a century of the system of “progressive” education advocated by John Dewey and his colleagues. This change in our educational methods did not come about overnight. Dewey outlined a plan to implement his progressive agenda in an essay written in 1898, “The Primary-Education Fetish.”

Since Japanese millennials came out on top in all three categories surveyed by ETS, a good place to begin improving our educational system might be to take a look at Japanese educational methods and determine what they are doing right that we are doing wrong.


Related Topics:

Common Core Free 10-year-old Math Genius is in College*

Arizona State Nullifies Common Core, 34-23*

And One Ring to Bind Them All*

Parent Forced to Call 911 When School Refuses to Release Child over Common Core Testing*

One Mother Shows How 2012 Top Maths Students Fail in Common Core Maths*

A Loophole that Could Save Maryland From Common Core*

Occupy World: Top School District Opts Out Of Common Core Standard*

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

1984: Just When You Think U.S. Education Couldn’t Get Any Worse*