Tag Archives: Common Core

Del. Gov. Markell Vetoes Common Core Testing Opt-Out Bill, Veto Override Possible

Delaware Governor Jack Markell vetoed HB 50 last week, a bill that would allow parents to opt their children out of Common Core’s Smarter Balanced Assessment tests.

The News Journal’s Matthew Allbright wrote, “Lawmakers and parent groups who supported the bill are furious and demanding the General Assembly override the action when it returns in January, which would require a three-fifths majority in both chambers.

HB 50 previously passed the state’s House by a vote of 31-5 and the Senate by a vote of 15-6, meaning that, if every legislator who voted for the bill were to also support a veto override attempt, it would succeed.

[HB 50] has the potential to marginalize our highest need students, threaten tens of millions of dollars of federal funding, and undermine our state’s economic competitiveness – all without adequately addressing the issues that motivated many to support the legislation,” said Governor Markell in a letter announcing his veto.

The Tenth Amendment Center notes that a provision in the 2002 No Child Left Behind law signed at the federal level by former President George W. Bush requires states to conduct the tests on 95% of students or risk losing federal funds.

A letter supportive of Markell’s veto from members of Delaware’s Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable read, “Should HB 50 become law and parents simply decide to opt their child out of the assessment, teachers and administrators will be unable to collect and use the data to address necessary improvements to the curriculum, as well as identify specific areas where students are struggling and where they are excelling. This is especially important information for our most vulnerable populations who may need additional support and assistance. Furthermore, we will be at risk of not complying with federal requirements with regard to test administration and school accountability, potentially jeopardizing millions in federal Title I funding, which directly impacts those children and schools that need support the most.”

HB 50’s sponsor, Representative John Kowalko (D-Newark), told The News Journal that Markell “is just flying in the face of what parents want in the state of Delaware and what they deserve and what they should get.” He added that he and other legislators would “certainly challenge this [veto] when we get back.

Delaware Parent-Teacher Association president Terri Hodges called the veto a “slap in the face to Delaware parents.

Yvonne Johnson, Delaware PTA’s vice president of advocacy, said, “We need the General Assembly to stand by the parents, their constituents and do the right thing and override what the governor did.

The Delaware General Assembly has not yet attempted to override any of Markell’s votes as governor. Representative Kowalko told The News Journal, “I hope we have the votes [to override the veto]. I think those people who voted for the bill were very sincere. They supported this because parental rights were being demanded and should be given to them.”

Walker or Bush: What difference does it make?

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker innocuously popped up and was thrust upon the 2016 Republican Primary stage seemingly out of no where. He hasn’t even announced, and he tops multiple polls across the country.

His greatest asset is also his greatest weakness. Most people have no idea who he is with regards to policy. In virtually every poll that is conducted, the majority of voters say they do not know enough about him. So, he tops the polls, but people don’t know enough about him? Says a lot about American voters. While this gives his campaign advisers the opportunity to mold Walker however they like, come debate time, he will face quite a challenge trying to hide behind his newly crafted image.

Most of Walker’s support seems to come from conservatives. Not Republicans, but conservatives. The same conservatives that disdain Bush seem to like Walker, which is quite odd, given that they have virtually identical policies. Unless, of course, Walker pulled a Romney and flip flopped.

The Supreme Court could soon be dealing a critical blow to Obamacare. Conservative candidates like Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz want a total repeal. Meanwhile, Walker says that Congress should fix Obamacare if the Court dismantles the law, which puts him in line with Washington’s establishment Republicans. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that Walker went against the wishes of conservative legislators in Wisconsin and implemented Obamacare. Conservative Wisconsin State Sen. Lasee once noted that Walker was not serious about fighting Obamacare, protecting state sovereignty and healthcare freedom. This alone proves that Walker simply doesn’t understand the constitutional and economic impact of Obamacare. But wait… there’s more.

On immigration, Walker and Bush both support amnesty. In 2002, Walker signed a resolution urging Congress to support amnesty legislation. Of course, as of late, he has had a change of heart.

President Bush brought us the Patriot Act and NSA. President Obama put it on steroids. While conservative candidates like Paul maintain that we can fight terrorists without allowing President Obama’s NSA to shred the Constitution by spying on every single American citizen, Walker and Bush (Jeb) have pushed hard for full re-authorization of the Patriot Act and NSA spying.

War in Iraq? Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham are hungry for more war. Unsurprisingly, Walker is supportive of another “full blown invasion of Iraq”.

Jeb Bush makes no apologies for his love of Common Core. He is one of its biggest proponents. Scott Walker is also a huge supporter of Common Core. He now says he is against it, but a simple look at Wisconsin education laws prove he has purposefully done nothing to get rid of Common Core. After all, he is the one who brought it in. He now maintains that the state allows local school districts to “opt-out”, but cash hungry locals never opt out of federal money. Anyone inside the beltway of state or federal politics knows that Walker’s latest flop against Common Core is nothing more than theater to pander to conservatives.

So, there you have it. Common Core, Obamcare, NSA spying, foreign policy and immigration are five of the biggest issues on GOP voters’ minds. Where exactly are Scott Walker and Jeb Bush different on any of these issues?

Not to worry. Walker took it upon himself to redefine what it means to “flip flop” on an issue so that the term no longer applies to him. Lucky dog.

So, Walker or Bush?

In the words of Hillary Clinton, “What difference does it make?”

Exclusive Interview with Pacific Justice Institute on “Opt-Out Movement” and parental rights

https://soundcloud.com/truth-in-media/pacific-justice-institute-brad-dacus-interview

What should you do if your child is bullied or punished for opting out of a standardized test?

As reported previously, South Carolina students were removed from their classrooms and asked by the principal to agree to take the test despite initial refusal. When the children again refused, they were sent to the school’s office and received a discipline referral marked “refusal to obey,” according to The Greenville News.

Brad Dacus, President of Pacific Justice Institute, told TruthInMedia.com’s Joshua Cook that his organization helps families by educating them on their parental rights and offering free legal advice.

Dacus told Cook that Pacific Justice Institute will help parents for free if their child is being picked on, demeaned, or denies privileges for opting out of standardized tests.

Listen to the full interview above.

As Standardized Testing Opt Out Movement Grows in SC, Students Disciplined For Refusing Test

A school district in South Carolina disciplined at least 12 students who, at the request of their parents, refused to take new standardized ACT tests.

According to local news, some students reportedly felt bullied by the school administration to take the test, which was given last week across the entire state.

The students were removed from their classrooms and asked by the principal to agree to take the test despite initial refusal. When the children again refused, they were sent to the school’s office and received a discipline referral marked “refusal to obey,” according to The Greenville News.

This refusal is part of a national backlash towards standardized tests, as many parents don’t believe the assessments actually help their children learn.

In many states, parents can “opt-out” of the tests, but not in South Carolina. According to the South Carolina Department of Education, districts were told that state law doesn’t have an opt-out provision, and that schools must give tests to everyone.

Instead of “opting out,” concerned parents are “refusing” to allow their children to be tested.

But that didn’t sit well with administration. Read more here.

BREAKING: Tennessee Legislature Repeals Common Core

NASHVILLE, April 21, 2015– Yesterday, in a bipartisan vote, the Tennessee House of Representatives voted unanimously (97:0) to repeal Common Core. Today, the Tennessee State Senate followed with a (27:1) vote in favor of repeal.

“This legislation is a template for all states to begin a much needed journey of separation from federally generated standards and an invitation to embrace each states’ own constitutionally delegated authority to serve its citizens at its own will,” said HB1035 chief sponsor Rep. Billy Spivey (R-Lewisburg). “As our founders and God surely intended.”

HB1035 reads, in part, “WHEREAS, these new Tennessee academic standards shall be adopted and fully implemented in Tennessee public schools in the 2017–2018 school year, at which time the previously adopted set of standards shall be rescinded.”

“I set out on a mission to do everything in my power to repeal Common Core in State of Tennessee this year,” said HB1035 chief co-sponsor Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden). “In addition to repealing Common Core, this bill puts even more control back in the hands of families, local schools and the State of Tennessee, which is exactly where it belongs.”

HB1035 also increases accountability by mandating that all standards committee appointees be confirmed by the House of Representatives and Senate.

“Both Democrats and Republicans in my district are strongly against Common Core,” said co-sponsor Rep. Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro).” I am proud to have had the opportunity to amend this legislation in order to ensure that the intent was indeed to completely rescind Common Core from the State of Tennessee. Tennessee families, teachers and legislators will now be able to create their own standards, and for that I am thankful.”

The bill now awaits Republican governor Bill Haslam’s signature.

Should Children Be Compliant Drones or Free Thinkers? Why ADHD Diagnoses Are on the Rise in U.S. Schools

Opinion by Joshua Cook | Jan. 25, 2015

 

“Medicate your son, or find another school.”

I was shocked and confused when I heard those words from the Christian school my son attends, a place where he is thriving academically.

I felt angry that they were giving up on him so quickly, and then a bit disappointed in my 5-year-old for misbehaving in the classroom.

As someone who has been diagnosed with ADHD, I know what it’s like to be constantly bored in the traditional classroom.  And I also know first hand of the horrible side effects of ADHD medication.  I know that’s he’s no angel, but I also know what he’s going through. Like me, he is a free thinker who wants to share his imaginative ideas and gets frustrated with rules and the structure of traditional education. Traditional education that manufactures compliant drones instead of free thinkers like him.

In American schools, “those divergent,” those who don’t fit into the U.S. system, are often medicated into submission.

So is the problem with American children or the American educational system? Apparently children in France don’t have ADHD problems like we do in the U.S.

According to Psychology Today, Marilyn Wedge, Ph.D., wrote that at least 9 percent of school-age American children are diagnosed and medicated for ADHD. In France, that number is less than .5 percent. What makes France different from the United States in regards to the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD?

The main difference is how each country treats ADHD. In America, psychologists consider it to be a biological disorder with biological causes. Because of this, the preferred treatment is biological, in the form of medications like Concerta, Ritalin and Adderall.

That point of view is not shared by French child psychologists, who treat ADHD behavior “as a medical condition that has psycho-social and situational causes.”

According to Wedge, that means that children in France aren’t medicated. “French doctors prefer to look for the underlying issue that is causing the child distress—not in the child’s brain but in the child’s social context. They then choose to treat the underlying social context problem with psychotherapy or family counseling,” she wrote.

“This is a very different way of seeing things from the American tendency to attribute all symptoms to a biological dysfunction such as a chemical imbalance in the child’s brain,” she added.

How did we get to the place in our culture where we look to Big Pharma to solve life’s worst problems? But for the French, these problems are not universal problems. They are merely American problems…

So I’m not moving to France to solve this problem. There is a free market and I can find other options to help my son.

I believe Ron Paul has created a great case why parents should consider home schooling as a viable option to educate their children. It’s an option that’s becoming more and more attractive to me.

What’s your thoughts? Please comment below.

New legislation could erase Common Core standards

As more and more states begin to reject and propose bills against Common Core standards, new legislation has been released which could cause an end to the controversial education system.

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is the new chairman of the Senate’s education committee, and he has released two options to replace the education system. One replacement plan would have standardized requirements for math and reading between grades 3-8, while the other option offers states the choice to test annually or every three years to see how they are performing.

The second option, according to the Times-Picayune, would allow each state to choose which standardized test to administer to their students. Whether or not the state chooses to move forward with the Common Core standards would therefore be left up to the state.

Alexander also took time on Tuesday, while speaking on the House floor, to say he believes President Obama’s Education Department has overstepped its authority. He said he thinks the Education Department should not hold each state to a specific set of standards, but should allow each state to set their own standards. “The department has become, in effect, a national school board,” said Alexander.

While many believe a new proposed education bill is likely to succeed now that Republicans have control of Congress, not everyone is totally convinced it is the right choice.

Andrew Rotherham, one of the founders of the education consultancy Bellwether Education Partners, has said, according to the Washington Post, the point of Common Core was to make sure all children across state-lines were getting an equal opportunity to learn and achieve.

“This is basically a way,” says Rotherham on the legislation, “to make sure we don’t have a common definition. Some kids are going to get a really challenging and ambitious set of standards, and other kids are going to fall through the cracks.”

Tom Loveless, a scholar with the Brookings Institution, found students in states which have a more rigorous academic curriculum do not necessarily perform any better on standardize tests than their peers. Loveless argues the changes should not be made at the state level, rather individual school systems within the state need to be changed.

A study published by the Brookings Institution found, “students from wealthier families score significantly higher on [standardized tests] than students from poorer families,” within the same state.

Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a member of the Senate Education Committee, agrees with Alexander in saying changes are needed in the education system, but says annual testing is needed to make sure schools are meeting some sort of standard.

“We know if we don’t have ways to measure students’ progress, and if we don’t hold our states accountable, the victims will invariably be the kids from poor neighborhoods, children of color and students with disabilities,” said Murray. “These are the students who too often fall through the cracks, and that is not fair…This is a civil rights issue, plain and simple.”

Common Core: Tenn. introduces legislation prompting State to dismantle program

NASHVILLE, November 19, 2014– On Wednesday, according to a press release, Tennessee State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) introduced a resolution in the Tennessee House of Representatives that seeks to clarify Tennessee’s position on Common Core and dismantle the de facto federal education program.

“A few weeks back, I asked my constituents what issues were most pressing to them. A full repeal of Common Core landed inside the top five. This resolution is a direct response to those calls for action,” says Holt. “Our parents and local school boards know what is best for our children, not federal bureaucrats that have never stepped foot in Tennessee’s 76th House District.”

The resolution commends activists and parents in Indiana, Missouri, South Carolina, Oklahoma and North Carolina for successfully fighting off Common Core’s implementation, and parents in other states like Tennessee that are entangled in a battle paralleling that of “David and Goliath”.

“I want to ensure parents and activists in Tennessee know that I hear them loud and clear, and I want them to know how appreciated they are. This is for each and every one of them,” says Holt.

The resolution cites the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) move to repudiate Common Core.

“Even the RNC is coming out strongly against Common Core by encouraging legislators to immediately dismantle the program,” cites Holt.

The resolution (full text below) reads, in part:

“The Tennessee General Assembly, in conjunction with the governor and the department of education, should be the next such state to remove the Common Core standards from implementation.”

Holt is running a petition in order to engage residents inside of his District. 

“So far, in the last three weeks alone, more than 500 people have signed the petition to help us stop Common Core. This is a crucial step in ensuring that Tennessee has official direction with regard to where we stand on Common Core, and I’m going to ensure their voices are a part of this resolution.”

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Rep. Andy Holt: Tennessee Resolution To Dismantle Common Core by BFCLLC

LOTFI: Education commissioner resigns amid Common Core investigation

NASHVILLE, November 17, 2014- Last week, Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman resigned his post. Because of Huffman’s ties to the Obama Administration, many Tennesseans were unhappy with his appointment from the start.

“I wish Commissioner Huffman well in his next endeavor, but I am undoubtedly pleased to see him moving on from the Tennessee Department of Education. I think I’ve made it abundantly clear in previous statements, but Commissioner Huffman’s absence does not immediately resolve other issues that have been and are still currently restricting teachers from teaching and our students are suffering the consequences,” says State Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden). 

Last Summer, 16 Republican legislators called for Huffman’s resignation after performing what many considered to be illegal maneuvers to cover-up Tennessee’s poor Common Core results.

“In the past three years we have required compliance, transparency and excellence from our teachers and school systems. We expect our government officials to set the example and be held to the same level of accountability. We are Tennessee, not Washington DC. Commissioner Huffman has lost the integrity to be able to lead education efforts in our state,” said State Rep. Sheila Butt (R- Columbia) last Summer.

Local media has covered the resignation extensively. However, not a single media source felt it was necessary to report one critical detail. The fact that State Rep. Billy Spivey (R-Lewisburg) and State Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) launched a legal formal investigation into Huffman’s maneuvers has been omitted from every report.

The status of that investigation is unknown.

Follow Michael Lotfi on Facebook & Twitter.

Bobby Jindal Files Federal Suit Challenging Common Core

Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging that the Obama administration used federal grants and regulations to coerce states to adopt and implement Common Core standards. Jindal claimed that the federal government violated federal law and the 10th Amendment of the Constitution when taking those actions.

The lawsuit, which names the US Department of Education and US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as defendants, charges that “through regulatory and rule making authority, Defendants have constructed a scheme that effectively forces States down a path toward a national curriculum.” 

“The good intentions of Common Core and the “voluntariness” of PARCC [Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers] participation have proven to be illusory. In fact, Louisiana now finds itself trapped in a federal scheme to nationalize curriculum. What started as good State intentions has materialized into the federalization of education policy through federal economic incentives and duress,” read the suit.

The suit cited the Department of Education Organization Act of 1979 (DEOA) to demonstrate the federal government’s alleged overreach:

“The establishment of the Department of Education shall not increase the authority of the Federal Government over education or diminish the responsibility for education which is reserved to the States and the local school systems and other instrumentalities of the States.”

The lawsuit also cited the Constitution and its 10th Amendment, stating “The Constitution makes no provision for federal power in setting education policy. Thus, as acknowledged by the Department, ‘the federal role in education is limited. Because of the Tenth Amendment, most education policy is decided at the state and local levels.’”

Louisiana adopted Common Core standards in 2010, and had planned a full transition to the standards between 2014 and 2015. Jindal was a supporter of Common Core at the time and had said it would “raise expectations for every child” in 2012. However, Jindal has changed his tune over the last year. Duncan dismissed Jindal’s reversal of support as politically motivated, saying his new position on Common Core was “about politics, it’s not about education.”

The suit seeks to have a judge declare the DOE’s actions unconstitutional and to not allow states that do not use Common Core standards or testing to be disqualified from receiving federal funding.

 

Teacher’s Union President Threatened To Punch Common Core Opponents In The Face

United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Michael Mulgrew, who was defending Common Core standards while speaking during a debate at July’s American Federation of Teachers convention in Los Angeles, displayed increasing irritation toward opponents of the standards as his speech went on.

The debate was centered around a resolution for the American Federation of Teachers that would continue supporting and implementing Common Core standards. The video of Mulgrew’s argument was released last Thursday by the education blog Ed Notes Online.

Mulgrew declared that “standards are our tools. They are the tools of the teachers.” He went on to criticize the implementation of Common Core in New York, saying “As a local who had one of the worst implementations in the entire country of Common Core, I understand my brothers’ and sisters’ frustration and anger about the Common Core.”

“And I have heard the stories about how Eli Broad, Bill Gates, Joel Klein and a flying saucer full of Martians designed these things to brainwash us all,” said Mulgrew, referring to critics of the standards.

“What bothers me more than anything is the idea is that the American Federation of Teachers would back down from a fight. The standards are ours. Tests are ours. We are fighting now because they took tests away from them to bring them back to us. You don’t back down from a fight. They took our standards away from us, we’re going to take them back from them because that is our tool. We are the teachers. They are not the teachers. It is our profession,” said Mulgrew.

“So I stand here in support of this for one simple reason: if someone takes something from me, I’m gonna rip it right back out of their cold, twisted, sick hands and say it is mine. You do not take what is mine. And I’m gonna punch you in the face and push you in the dirt because this is the teachers, these are our tools and you sick people need to deal with us and the children that we teach. Thank you very much,” Mulgrew concluded.

UFT assistant secretary Leroy Barr followed Mulgrew’s speech and echoed the same support for the standards. “There is no question in my mind that we cannot allow to have different standards in different states. We have to have standards, we have to have standards that are common, we have to do everything that we can to take back what belongs to us,” said Barr.

The debate continued with Timothy Meegan of the Chicago Teacher’s Union, who supports education standards but not Common Core standards because “education is not business“.

“Privatizers estimate the education market to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Their plan is to deliver pre-loaded content on tablet computers. This isn’t personalized instruction. It de-professionalizes teachers and alienates students from each other and their teachers,” said Meegan.

Exclusive: Inside Tennessee’s Common Core cover-up costing taxpayers thousands

NASHVILLE, July 28, 2014– In the Volunteer State, a cover-up is beginning to reveal itself. For the most part, state and local media have been ignoring the low-hanging fruit that is Common Core’s rot. That being said, it’s all starting to fall apart.

“For some, this may be about a hot button issue like Common Core, but for me it is about the much larger picture, which includes a complete breakdown of leadership inside the Tennessee Department of Education,” says Rep. Tilman Goins (R-Morristown).

LEADERSHIP

To many, it may have seemed innocuous enough– In 2011, Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam appointed Kevin Huffman to head the Tennessee Department of Education. However, as Common Core began to reveal itself, many conservative state legislators dug into Huffman’s past and were not satisfied to learn that he had been heavily involved in campaigning for Common Core and was an avid supporter of President Obama’s.

Fast forward to March of this year when Republican presidential hopeful, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) met with Haslam and Tennessee’s U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R) at an ‘invited media only’ (closed to the public) Common Core round table. Those invited media were all education reporters from around the country. The round table’s mission for invited media was simple– Use Republican leaders from around the country to prove that Common Core is a stunning success– Even in Republican states like Tennessee.

Conservative lawmakers were less than impressed with the closed-door meeting. In fact, many protested.

“The tide is beginning to turn against Common Core in Tennessee and it was my hope that Senator Alexander would join conservatives and help us work to defeat it. Instead, it appears Senator Alexander is once again joining with the political establishment, this time fighting to save Common Core,” said Tea Party endorsed Rep. Joe Carr (R-Lascassas), Alexander’s August Republican primary opponent.

The press did the job they were told to do, and reported how Alexander, Bush and Haslam were urging state lawmakers to give up the fight against Common Core. After all, it was such a successful program…

UNTIL IT WASN’T

That was all in March. Only a few weeks later, Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) scores became due. These scores reflect a standardized assessment (now Common Core aligned) required of all 3rd-8th grade Tennessee students.

As it turns out, Common Core has been causing Tennessee students to flunk their assessments.

OUTSIDE MONEY

For context, let’s flash back to this 2013 article on Republican politicians being paid off to support Common Core, “So, who exactly is pushing Common Core in the state of Tennessee? Perhaps one of the largest groups lobbying for Common Core in the state is the Ayers Foundation. Jim and Janet Ayers, founders of the organization, are extremely active in Tennessee politics. The Ayers Foundation is in many ways a political think tank. In 2012 the foundation was given a $1.2 million grant to push Common Core standards into the state of Tennessee. If Common Core is successfully implemented in Tennessee, the Ayers foundation is sure to prosper even more.

You will notice in the addressee list state senator Jim Tracy (R). Tracy is running for US Congress in Tennessee’s 4th congressional district where he lives. This is the same district that is home to the above referenced city of Murfreesboro, TN, which just spent $5.2 million of money that they did not have to push common core standards.

Emails were recently discovered that show Janet Ayers lobbying the Tennessee state legislature to accept and institute Common Core in the state of Tennessee

As it turns out, Jim and Janet Ayers are some of senator Tracy’s largest donors. They both donated the maximum legal amount to Tracy’s campaign just 2 months before this email went out.”

Senator Tracy’s FEC Filings Showing Donations From Ayers Family

THE COVER-UP

As the 2014 school year came to a close, thousands of report cards never showed up. Parents were left scratching their heads. Where are the missing report cards? Well, they couldn’t be assigned without the TCAP scores, and the TCAP scores were being purposefully withheld by Huffman himself.

Instead of having student assessment scores reported, Huffman simply decided to assign thousands of students a waiver this year. However, by withholding the TCAP scores, Huffman knowingly violated Senate Bill 3427 (SB3427), a state law that requires a student’s final grades be composed in a manner that includes 15-25% of their TCAP scores.

Huffman and the Haslam administration now point to a separate new bill (SB2392), which was introduced in January and became law just as students sat for the TCAPs, as warrant for Huffman throwing out the scores. According to the Haslam administration, Huffman had the power to waive the scores. However, the law explicitly prohibits the commissioner from waiving all state and federal assessments.

SB2392 reads in part:

“However, the commissioner may not waive regulatory or statutory requirements related to: –Federal and state student assessment and accountability.”

State law (SB3427) requires a student’s final grades be composed in a manner, which includes 15-25% of their assessment scores, and Huffman has no legal jurisdiction to issue waivers by citing SB2392 because it explicitly prohibits the waiver of Federal and state assessments. Therefore, by not including assessment scores in final grades and issuing waivers to do so, Huffman technically broke both state laws.

Goins has charged that Huffman lacks the respect to lead, and the TCAP debacle is proof of this ineptitude.

State Senator Mae Beavers (R- Mt. Juliet) requested the state attorney general provide an opinion on the matter. “The attorney general simply replied, ‘Huffman said he can do it, so he can.’,” said Beavers. However, the attorney general’s job is not to ask the administration what they are and are not allowed to do. The AG’s job is to read the law as it is written and deliver the assessment. Simply asking the administration whether or not they could withhold the scores has many state legislators upset.

According to a former 17-year Davidson County Metropolitan teacher with close ties to those still inside, many of the scores have now been released, but they are attached with a large grading curve in order to bump the scores up. Still, other scores have seemingly vanished all together. State insiders have accused Haslam of embargoing the scores.

Leadership has now been accused by more than a dozen state legislators of purposefully withholding the Common Core aligned TCAP scores in order to save face. After all, Alexander, Bush and Haslam just told a room full of national education reporters that Tennessee was the gold standard for Common Core.

The scandal has prompted sixteen state legislators to formally demand Huffman’s resignation. In the letter below, these legislators order Huffman to resign. Beavers is composing her own separate letter to request Huffman’s resignation.

“In the past three years we have required compliance, transparency and excellence from our teachers and school systems. We expect our government officials to set the example and be held to the same level of accountability. We are Tennessee, not Washington DC. Commissioner Huffman has lost the integrity to be able to lead education efforts in our state,” says Representative Sheila Butt (R- Columbia).

Haslam is publicly dismissing the calls for Huffman’s resignation by calling them a “political stunt”.

“To say that this is a ‘political stunt’ is a perfect example of the dismissive response that many legislators have experienced when expressing the concerns of our constituents,” says Butt. “Four years ago the General Assembly tied an educator’s tenure to performance. The same should hold true for the Commissioner of Education. Tennesseans can implement higher standards and work toward excellence together. We have too many ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ people in Washington and this Commissioner is currently setting a similar precedent in Tennessee. This behavior is not at all representative of our Tennessee values.”

TAXPAYERS EATING THE BILL

In Knox County alone, the cover-up has cost local schools more than $25k. Where does that money come from? Taxpayers.

“The issue for my constituents who serve in the education field is the complete failure to communicate motives combined with a complete lack of respect and decorum,” said Rep. Goins.

Knox County schools demand answers from Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Huffman and request to be paid for more than $25k in
Knox County schools demand answers from Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Huffman and request to be paid for more than $25k costs associated with the Common Core TCAP cover-up. The letter mentions that the waiver provided by Huffman kept schools from violating state law. However, by providing such waivers, Huffman himself violated state law.

 

LOTFI: Sen. Lamar Alexander must apologize for lying about opposing federal education

NASHVILLE, July 23, 2014– U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R) is facing a tough primary challenge from State Rep. Joe Carr (R). Carr’s momentum has built over the months and Lamar is sweating bullets underneath his red flannel shirt. More than 20 state legislators have endorsed Carr over Alexander.  They join more than 60 conservative Tennessee organizations, vice presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin, the National Association for Gun Rights and more. In natural form, Alexander is placing his bets on misleading the Volunteer state on just where his record stands on the issues. Most insulting of all is Alexander’s attempt to prey upon low information voters when it comes to federal education and Common Core.

Alexander’s campaign has been blasting out ads that declare he is against a “national school board”. Lucky for Alexander, no such de jure national school board technically exists. It’s easy to say you’re against something that doesn’t exist in law. Unlucky for Alexander, a de facto national school board does exist. Not only does a de facto national school board exist, but it also has a curriculum. Oh, Alexander has been the superintendent for decades.

What is this de facto national school board? It’s called the U.S. Department of Education and the Senate Education Committee. Its current curriculum? Common Core.

Today, Alexander’s ads insinuate he opposes federal education. This is a blatant lie. No campaign ad will scrub the internet of Alexander’s past. Alexander was the head of the United States Department of Education from 1991-1993. In addition, Alexander leads the Senate’s National Education Committee with Senator Tom Harkin (D- Iowa). Furthermore, Alexander is a staunch proponent of Common Core. While the most conservative members of Tennessee’s legislature have been trying to block Common Core’s national curriculum from within the state, Alexander has been heavily lobbying them to accept it and give up the fight.

Ronald Reagan famously tried to abolish the U.S. Department of Education due to it being blatantly unconstitutional. Alexander’s ad states he worked with Reagan to end the Department of Education. How so? Years after Reagan left office, Alexander was more than happy to take a post leading this unconstitutional creature of the federal government that stripped parents and local governments from the right to educate their children. Now, he works hand-in-hand with Washington elites to force parents and local school districts to surrender their last ounce of control over their children to the federal government.

The Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center has fought against the U.S. Department of Education, the Senate Education Committee and Common Core with multiple state legislators in an attempt to restore parental and local government control when it comes to the education of Tennessee’s youth. Alexander has blocked these efforts every step of the way, and he owes the Volunteer state an apology for purposefully misleading them.

South Carolina Drops Common Core

 

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill that will require the state to end the controversial Common Core standards initiative and require new educational standards be adopted. South Carolina is the second state to drop the Common Core standards behind Indiana.

“Governor Haley and the legislature have taken the first step toward pushing back against the federal government and special interests and putting South Carolinian citizens back in charge of their children’s education,” said Emmett McGroarty, Director of Education at the American Principles Project. “This is a great day for America’s constitutional heritage.”

The Common Core is a federally-mandated curriculum, which was developed by privately funded institutions. Education experts consider the standards age-inappropriate and inadequate and have growing concerns with many other aspects of the curriculum. Most significantly, the Common Core removes educational jurisdiction from parents and teachers and places it in the hands of the federal government.

Actual replacement of Common Core with “new” standards won’t take place until the 2015-16 year. The common core will remain in place in South Carolina for the 2014-15 school year.

Data Collection in Education Concerns Parents

 

It looks like the National Security Agency isn’t the only one infringing on citizens’ privacy by collecting mass amounts of data. As reported previously by Benswann.com. Common Core is a spying program on American students.

According to Politico, student data mining is all the rage in education. And one company, Knewton, a data analytics firm, has  collected data from more than 4 million American students.

“By monitoring every mouse click, every keystroke, every split-second hesitation as children work through digital textbooks, Knewton is able to find out not just what individual kids know, but how they think. It can tell who has trouble focusing on science before lunch — and who will struggle with fractions next Thursday,” wrote Stephanie Simon for Politico.

At a time where the NSA is being scrutinized for its’ data collection, companies like Knewton and the data mining practice has been lauded by both democrats and republicans. The Obama administration actually even relaxed federal privacy law to allow school districts to share student data more widely.

The data is collected is being sold as a “beneficial purpose” — to help track a student’s progress and find areas where a student needs help. But private firms are using this data for their money-making enterprise.

Politico examined privacy policies, terms of service and district contracts and found gaping holes in the protection of children’s privacy.

It also found a tremendous amount of data being collected. Educational start-ups and small business have the opportunity to collect more data on its users than even companies like Netflix, Facebook or even Google.

“Students are tracked as they play online games, watch videos, read books, take quizzes and run laps in physical education. The monitoring continues as they work on assignments from home, with companies logging children’s locations, homework schedules, Web browsing habits and, of course, their academic progress,” wrote Simon.

Parents are growing concerned, because these companies aren’t clear with how they’re using this data. Even school districts aren’t exactly kept in the loop as to how this data is used or sold.

Knewton CEO Jose Ferreira finds such concerns overblown. When parents protest that they don’t want their children data-mined, Ferreira wishes he could ask them why: Is it simply that they don’t want a for-profit company to map their kids’ minds? If not, why not? “They’d rather the NSA have it?” he asked. “What, you trust the government?”

The  Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act passed in 1974, gives school districts the right to share students’ personal information with private companies to further educational goals.

Though they legally have the right to do it, school districts are potentially opening a can of worms by engaging in data collection, which has gotten parents rightfully worried.

“Knowing so much personal data is in a private company’s hands worries some parents, especially in the wake of the cyber attack that stole credit card numbers from tens of millions of Target customers last winter.”

As technology advances and how our children learn and are taught evolves, so do things like privacy concerns.

Parents are leaving government schools in droves due to privacy concerns and the lack of quality in education. Homeschooling is rising and activists are advocating for school choice programs.

In South Carolina, Ray Moore, candidate for Lt. Governor told told an Evangelical tea party crowd that government schools should not reformed, they should be abandoned completely.

“It (government schools) cannot be fixed, the socialistic model, and we need to abandon that. As conservatives and Christians, if you think you’re going to win this war you’re in, and leave your children in those schools, it will not happen.”

Colorado Springs Teacher Denounces Common Core In Resignation Letter

Colorado Springs, CO- Colorado Springs English teacher Pauline Hawkins is resigning from teaching at Liberty High School, and she posted her resignation letter publicly on her blog. Hawkins blasted Common Core standards as the main motivator for leaving her position.

In her letter, posted at paulinehawkins.com, she wrote about why she will no longer be teaching. Hawkins did not mince words in pointing out the effects that Common Core is having on teachers.

“I can no longer be a part of a system that continues to do the exact opposite of what I am supposed to do as a teacher–I am supposed to help them think for themselves, help them find solutions to problems, help them become productive members of society.”

Hawkins has been a teacher for 11 years. She began her career as No Child Left Behind was in full swing. Since then, she wrote that her students have become “hesitant to think for themselves because they have been programmed to believe that there is one right answer.”

In a poll of 1,500 Colorado Education Association teachers, it was found that they spend over 30% of their instruction time testing students and preparing them for assessments.

Hawkins did not express frustration with the school where she had been teaching. “The problem in education today is a government problem,” she said in an interview. “It is way overstepping boundaries.” In her letter, Hawkins encouraged school administrators to think critically about whether or not Common Core standards are in the best interest of students.

Hawkins is moving to New Hampshire with her 9-year-old son, and hopes to find a job tutoring.

 

 

 

 

 

Exclusive Interview with Sheri Few: Anti-Common Core activist to run for Superintendent of Education

Joshua Cook interviews Sheri Few.

 

In many ways, it’s at the primary level that elections are won and lost.  In competitive races, primaries give constituents the chance to choose the candidate who is most likely to win the race, to vet and test both their principles and ability to persuade people from the other side of the aisle.  In races where a particular party holds a strong advantage, the primary is where either the moderate or the principled candidate wins.  One of South Carolina’s strongest conservative education activists is running in the June 10, 2014 Republican Primary to be Superintendent of Education.

Sheri Few first saw the problems with America’s school system when her own children were going through public school.  She saw education take a back seat to liberal bias, which was pushed in nearly every class and discipline.  This prompted her to form South Carolina Parents Involved in Education, a non-profit dedicated to opposing bias in schools.  Few and the organization have both turned much of their attention to Common Core.

Five months ago, Few told Benswann.com’s Joshua Cook, “Common Core is a federal takeover of education!” That statement went viral and even got conservative blogger Michelle Malkin to react.

 

In an interview with Cook, Few discussed her reasons for running, and liberal bias in public education.  She said that in her time traveling the state educating people on Common Core’s problems, she listened to concerned parents and teachers who were afraid to speak up, as well as legislators whose apathy on the issue concerned her.  “Common Core has caused parents to really wake up,” she said “And to look deeply at the curriculum, and what their children are being taught.  And they’re beginning to realize that for decades their children have been steeped in liberal bias in the content of the curriculum, so I’m going to put forth policies and work on looking at liberal content.”

Her goals in running are to eliminate Common Core in South Carolina – either with the State Legislature or simply using the Superintendent’s resources – and to get rid of bias in public education.  In the interview Few discussed Haley’s intention to sign any anti-Common Core bill passed by the state legislature.  With her behind the bill, all that’s required to eliminate it is its passing the State Legislature.

Her stance on Common Core will appeal to many, as will her history of strongly opposing the federal program in South Carolina.

(VIDEO) Educator Admits “Common Core DOES NOT Address Special Needs Students”

On Nov. 4, 2013, at the Carroll County Maryland Commissioner’s forum on Common Core, Jill Stine of the Center for College and Career Readiness confirmed what special education parents have long believed: Common Core does not help students with special needs.

After the comments by parent Bambi Hill, whose fifth-grade student went from being an A/B student to failing under Common Core, Stine said, “I can empathize. Common Core is not addressing the needs of special education students at this time. … Teachers are addressing the needs of special education students as best as they can.”

Here are some of Hill’s comments about the state of special education under Common Core and her son:

“Once the common core standards are fully implemented, her son won’t pass sixth grade,” she said, stating that she learned about this from her son’s principal.

“What do you do as a parent, when you’re told by the school board that your child won’t pass because of the core curriculum? Your special education is meant to meet the old standards and not the core curriculum,” she added.

She said her son was deaf at birth and didn’t develop language skills until he was about 4-years-old. In school, he requires extra time and that his tests are read to him.

“Under the core curriculum, they’re going to be on a computer. What’s going to happen then to him?” she questioned. Also, she said he doesn’t have any workbooks to do homework either.

The guidelines under Common Core for special education have not been defined, she said.

“Nobody has the answers, and nobody has the solution. And my son is going downhill,” she concluded.

(VIDEO) 1st Amendment Free Zones: Cops threaten anti-common core group for walking in Christmas parade

 

“Apparently there are 1st Amendment free zones in America,” says Johnnelle Raines who is an anti-Common Core activist. She was shocked when she was told by the event planner that her group could not be in the Easley Christmas parade in South Carolina. The event planner abruptly told her, “we do not allow political messages in our parade, whatsoever. I will get the police chief over.”

Raines told Benswann.com’s Joshua Cook that she already paid to be in the parade and the application was approved (see document here). There is no mention of any group restrictions in the application. Raines told Cook, “I feel discriminated against and my 1st Amendment rights have been violated.” Raines believed that she was singled out because of her opposition to Common Core.

Raines refused to leave. She was threatened by city police who told her to remove the signs they were holding. Raines asked the officer, “What is political about this sign? Can you tell me what’s political about that?” “I cannot, but I’m not the one who is making that decision” the officer said.

Raines asked, “Can you cite the law that keeps us from bringing a sign in the parade? Is there a law?”

The officer said, “It’s a city event. We can dictate and put in restrictions of what we allow in the parade.”

Activist Jim Hargett told Cook, “I was prepared to be arrested and thought I was for a moment, but then the officer walked away.” Because the children in our group were so upset we decided to go ahead and walk in the parade without signs. Hargett said that his 1st Amendment rights have been violated before.  “One of the assistant principals of a Greenville county school called the cops because I was passing out anti-common core literature on a sidewalk in front of a school.”

Cook called the City of Easley police department but no one was available for comment.

“This experience has taught the children here today a valuable lesson of how important free speech really is,” Raines said.

LOTFI: Many conservatives wrong on Common Core

NASHVILLE, November 25, 2014–I’ve seen the conservative outrage against Common Core. These arguments are always the same. Conservatives rail against Common Core because it is “anti-Israel, anti-gun, anti-capitalism, anti-blah blah blah…”

Last Monday, as the Tennessee Associate Director of the Tenth Amendment Center, I was invited to speak at the Nashville rally against Common Core on the national protest day. As expected, I was the odd man out. What I told that audience is worth repeating. Common Core is not wrong simply because of what it teaches.

Suppose for a moment that Ted Cruz had been POTUS for the last five years. Now, suppose President Cruz wants to push Common Core. However, instead of pushing Common Core with liberal values, President Cruz pushes Common Core with the following paradigms.

  • Every child in each state must be trained on how to use a rifle by the age of 10
  • Every child in each state must study only Austrian economics
  • Every child in each state must take mandatory bible study
  • Every child in each state must perform 100 hours of community service before graduating high school

I provided my audience this same hypothetical situation at the rally. I then asked them, “Now then– Instead of being at this rally opposing Common Core, would you all be here supporting Common Core, as the liberals would be on the opposite side of the picket line, or would you be just as furious?”

Very few actually understood the illustration. A local journalist from NBC (who told me she opposed Common Core) was confused. She asked me, “Wait… Do you support Common Core, or are you against it?”

Another woman would approach me after the rally who worked with another conservative, freedom aligned national think tank. She told me that she’d be interested in working with me on some issues. I laughingly asked, “Only some?” She replied, “Yes, the ones that our values align with.” After providing a strong speech against values and in favor of principles it was clear that my words had fallen on deaf ears.

The confusion stems from America’s modern lack of understanding with regards to the difference between values and principles. Truth be told, if the above were paradigms of Common Core the vast majority of conservatives, libertarians and even moderates would rally in support of the reform. Why? Because those values align with our own. However, because the current values being pushed through Common Core do not align, we rally against it.

You see, Common Core isn’t wrong because of the values it teaches. Common Core is wrong because it is an unconstitutional, federal usurpation of power. In fact, it’s not even directly from the federal government, but a private initiative from the Gates Foundation used by the federal government to coerce states.

It is the very same “gun to the head” of the states that Chief Justice Roberts referred to in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (Obamacare) with regard to the medicaid expansion coercion.

Regardless, conservatives, libertarians, and moderates are all too in favor of such usurpation when it aligns with our values. This is not only wrong, it is extremely dangerous.

Many libertarians champion the federal government banning GMOs. Conservatives favor the federal government banning gay marriage. Liberals favor the federal government banning everything– well except marijuana and abortions. This is all wrong. Where does the Constitution delegate these powers to the federal government? It doesn’t. Rallying for the feds to intervene here allows them to intervene anywhere. Why? Because you’ve abandoned the principle, which constrains them from doing so.

In Champion v. Ames a conservative Court ruled that the selling of lottery tickets was “pollution” and therefore the federal government should have power to intervene. Since that ruling in 1903, the federal government has been able to take policing powers from the states because of a case, which was based on personal values, and not the principles of the Constitution. Liberals favored this because they knew it would allow the expansion of big government, and conservatives favored the ruling because it aligned with their values.

Justice Peckham in dissent:

“The power of the State to impose restraints and burdens on the persons and property in conservation and promotion of the public health, good order and prosperity is a power originally, and always belonging to the States, not surrendered by them to the General Government nor directly restrained by the Constitution of the United States, and essentially exclusive, and the suppression of lotteries as a harmful business falls within this power, commonly called of police.” 

As Justice Peckham’s Champion v. Ames dissent illustrates, the principles of the Constitution tell us the Tenth Amendment exists for the powers not delegated to the federal government. These are what we refer to as “policing powers”. Education, healthcare, welfare, pollution, intrastate commerce, criminal laws, etc. are all powers belonging to the states. However, ruling on values destroyed the principles, which constrained the federal government, and today we have the result of such misguided actions.

The same is applicable to those on the right who oppose Common Core. We cannot oppose Common Core because it does not align with our values. We must oppose it because it violates this country’s principles.

The pundits, journalists, etc. who report and commentate on Common Core only serve to further the disease. The commentary should end at Common Core being unconstitutional because it is not an explicit power delegated to Congress and therefore the Tenth Amendment is being violated.

Say Common Core was struck down because of the values it teaches, but was kept in place with neutral, or conservative values. Again, many would applaud this as victory. However, you’ve only picked off the flower of the weed, which has roots growing ever deeper through the soil. This is no victory. For it is only a matter of time until someone strikes at the values again and replaces them with their own, thus growing the flower back.

Liberals need see the red flags in Common Core themselves. Today, the odds are in your favor. Tomorrow, they will not be. Yet, the mechanism is in place and conservatives will wield it so. I myself would struggle to not give in to such temptation of the “Ted Cruz Paradigm”. However, if  we give in, we need only do so knowing that we will never be able to call foul when we ourselves have given up on the principle, which keeps such foul play at bay to push our values where they do not belong.

Our motto to one another should not be, “May the odds be ever in your favor.” The only result with such logic is one will consistently lose. The odds will always be in everyone’s favor when we rule by our principles within the Constitution and not our ever changing values.

(OPINION) Follow Michael Lotfi On Facebook And Twitter: @MichaelLotfi