Governor Markell Gives $400,000 To 21 Delaware Schools On Common Core Tour

Common Core, Governor Markell

As Delaware Governor Markell went on his “common core” tour today at W. Reilly Brown Elementary School in the Caesar Rodney School District, he announced $400,000 in competitive grants going to 21 Delaware schools.  The goal of these grants are professional development for teachers to further implement Common Core to increase student outcomes.  And God wept…

Why is Jack Markell, with nine months left in his reign as Governor, doing this Common Core tour?  Which company is paying him for this?  What disgusts me is the way the Governor and the DOE lure teachers in by making it look like it is for them.  How much professional development do teachers need?  Let’s not forget the two purposes of this tour: to thank teachers for implementing Common Core and to “debunk” the myths surrounding it.  You may fool some of our teachers and administrators Jack, but this is corporate tomfoolerty at its best.  Far too many Delaware parents know better and you may have fooled us once, but not twice.  As the state looks for funding, our districts will take any money they can get regardless of the cost to students.  I will ask again Governor Markell: where are the funds for basic special education for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade?  Answer the question Jack!

This is, in my opinion, a strong push towards the blended/personalized learning the Rodel Foundation has pushed on Delaware the past couple years.  The press release doesn’t even mention this, but events from last night suggest otherwise.  Last night at the Capital Board meeting, their board unanimously voted to apply to BRINC, the blended learning consortium that already includes the Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Vo-Tech, Colonial, Red Clay, Appoquinimink and Caesar Rodney School Districts.  Despite my public comment about the very obvious data privacy loopholes in existing law.

While student identifiable information doesn’t go out, it all filters through the Delaware DOE who simply gives education “research” companies the student’s identification number.  When that information comes back, the DOE has all that data attached to a student’s identification number.  As well, Schoology uses a cloud system called IMS  that would allow any aggregate information through the Schoology application to be shared with their members.  The Capital board seemed a little too eager to get this passed.  At one point, Superintendent Dr. Dan Shelton didn’t know how much it would cost the district and it took him over fifteen minutes to find the information.  The board discussed how it would be good professional development for teachers without talking about what it means for students or their personal data.  Their CFO, Sean Sokolowski, said it would be paid for through Federal Consolidated Grants.  Are these the same grants Markell announced today or are they separate?  I would assume they are separate, but I’ve found many grants tend to have strings attached to them, just like the federal waiver scheme the US DOE abused under Race To The Top.  As we rush headfirst into this personalized learning/competency-based education/career pathway future for our students, those in the power to question things are going along to get along.  I can’t understand, for the life of me, why teachers are jumping on this bandwagon.  This will eventually cause their job functions, as instructors,  to diminish in the future.  To the point where they will become “facilitators” instead of “instructors”.  Does anyone think it is a coincidence paraprofessional salaries will eventually start at the same point as a first-year teacher in Delaware?  Don’t believe me?  Check out Governor Markell’s proposed FY2017 budget.  Go to page 202 on the pdf, section 286.  While many feel, and rightfully so, that paras in our schools are underpaid, should they be paid the same as a first-year teacher?  If they performed the same job function…

I have not been too impressed with Caesar Rodney Superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald in the past year.  He seems to have been sucked into the DOE/Markell/Rodel whirlpool of corporate education reform.  You can read more on his role in today’s announcement below.

Just today, the National Education Policy Center issued a damning report on the success of blended and personalized learning schools and pointed out they are less successful than schools who don’t use these services.  So if it is all about proficiency and increasing standardized test scores and growth, why are we pushing, as a state, a system that just isn’t working?  Could it have anything to do with the billions of dollars companies are making off this smoke and mirrors?  And how many of these companies are incorporated out of Wilmington, DE?  As per the IMS article I linked to above, they are incorporated out of Delaware.

It is my opinion the Governor’s time could have been better spent heading to Wilmington to do more than issue a statement on the tragic and pointless death of a student at Howard High School today.  His visit to W. Reilly Brown was at 11am, well after this hit the media today.  As a state tries to understand the absolute horror that went on in that school today, our Governor is off playing corporate lap-dog for his education buddies.  I will never understand that man.

Here is the DOE press release on these “grants”:

21 schools win professional learning grants

Delaware awarded 21 schools in seven school districts nearly $400,000 in competitive professional learning grants Thursday as the state moves toward professional learning tailored to individual school needs.

Governor Jack Markell announced the awards today during a visit with Secretary of Education Steve Godowsky to Caesar Rodney School District’s W. Reily Brown Elementary School in Dover. Five schools in the district won a combined $50,000.

“All educators deserve the opportunity to continuously improve their practice through their own initiative and through investments made in them by their schools, districts, and the state,” Markell said. “We must improve the quality and efficacy of professional learning for all educators in Delaware. To do this, we as a state need to support districts and schools in their promise to provide Delaware educators with ongoing, job-embedded professional learning that leads to real improvement for students.”

For the past three years, the Delaware Department of Education has provided state-led professional learning for school-based teams through the Common Ground for the Common Core program. Common Ground identified principals and teacher leaders, engaged them in deep practices around the standards and concepts and analyzed student work to determine how to target instruction in the classroom.

In year one, the focus of Common Ground was on the shifts under the then-new standards. In year two, the focus was on ensuring a balanced assessment system, and in year three, the initiative focused on targeted approaches to closing achievement gaps and deepening literacy in other content areas. Next year, the Reimagining Professional Learning grants will provide professional learning that continues to target the school level.

“A stable foundation has been built, and after three years of Common Ground, we now are incentivizing schools that are committed to continuing this important work while also strengthening the professional learning for their educators,” Godowsky said. “The grant applications of these 21 schools is a clear indication that they are ready to embrace this challenge.”

Godowsky said he is continuously impressed by the commitment of Delaware’s teachers and administrators and what they do every day and by what they plan to do with the Reimagining Professional Learning Grant: “Educators at all of these schools are looking at their data, lesson plans and structures so that they can reimagine the positive impact of  professional learning for the benefits of their students.”

Each school designed professional learning to meet its staff’s needs. For example, at Brown, the grant will allow teachers to gather each month to plan and research a lesson. They will agree which team member will teach the lesson, and the lesson study team members will observe the lesson, collect data on teacher actions and student responses. Through using lesson studies, educators will collaborate and focus on the impact of this training on teacher practice and student learning.

The funding will make a difference in other ways across the state from Bunker Hill Elementary’ s focus on inquiry learning in the Appoquinimink School District to Milford School District’s emphasis on teacher leadership through cross-district work with all elementary schools and the early childhood center. In New Castle County Vo-Tech’s St. Georges High School, there will be a school-wide focus on speaking and listening with strong professional learning communities to sustain a cycle of improvement for both teachers and students. In Colonial, school and district leaders evaluated curriculum, structures and teacher and student needs to develop a comprehensive plan with regular coaching and feedback from administrators, teachers and students.

“Educators at these schools not only looked at their data but studied their structures and developed plans to reimagine professional learning that they will tie to student outcomes,”  said Michael Watson, the department’s chief academic officer.

Kevin Fitzgerald, superintendent of the Caesar Rodney School District, said he appreciates the state’s commitment to support school-led professional learning.

“This is a perfect partnership between the state, the district and the teachers and school leaders who work closest with our children and know best how to deliver these college- and career-ready standards.”

The winners are:

·         Appoquinimink School District (Bunker Hill Elementary): $30,000

·         Capital School District (Central Middle, Henry Middle, Dover High): $90,000

·         Caesar Rodney School District (Brown Elementary, Frear Elementary, McIllvaine Early Childhood, Simpson Elementary, Stokes Elementary): $50,000

·         Colonial School District (Eisenberg Elementary, Gunning Bedford Middle, George Read Middle, McClullough Middle, William Penn High, Wilmington Manor Elementary): $90,000

·         Milford School District (Banneker Elementary, Mispillion Elementary, Morris Early Childhood, Ross Elementary): $90,000

·         New Castle County Vo-Tech School District (St. Georges High): $30,000

·         Smyrna School District (Smyrna High): $20,000

Alison May
Updated, 5:41pm: Apparently schools did apply for these grants as found on the Delaware DOE website.


Do Delaware Educators Really Embrace Common Core? Or Is This Just Another Fluff Report?

Common Core


Governor Markell and the Delaware Department of Education came out with a press release today which indicates 73% of Delaware educators fully embrace the Common Core State Standards.  The report from the Center for Education Research Policy at Harvard University used five states in their findings: Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada and New Mexico.  Each state had “ten clusters” of schools to answer surveys.  The report does not show what the ten schools in Delaware were, but I did just email Chris Ruszkowski and Alison May at the Delaware DOE to find out.  I just received a response from May including the Communications Director for CEPR at Harvard, so hopefully answers will be forthcoming.  Ruszkowski is the head of the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit at the Department.

Any report like this can be read in many different ways.  We don’t know which schools and how many teachers in each school responded to the survey.  We don’t know if this survey was given before, during, or after the first round of Smarter Balanced testing in 2015.  If anyone has any information on these surveys from last Spring or which schools had these surveys, please let me know.  As well, were ALL teachers in grades 4th-8th given these surveys or just certain ones?

Educators: Common Core going well here

A significant majority of educators are supportive of the Common Core State Standards and believe their colleagues are effectively implementing them, according to a new study of educators in Delaware and four other states by the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University.

The report – “Teaching Higher: Educators’ Perspective on Common Core Implementation” — collected perspectives from a sample of teachers and principals in Delaware and four additional states last spring, focusing on math and English language arts (ELA) teachers and principals in grades 4 through 8. All were asked to provide their views of the Common Core training and supports they received prior to the administration of their state’s assessments.

The survey found 73 percent of teachers feel their colleagues have embraced the standards. The study also spotlights how teachers are making substantial changes in their instructional practices and materials and are collaborating frequently with their peers.

The Common Core State Standards, developed by states and adopted by Delaware and most other states, set consistent learning goals for each grade across state lines. For most states, including Delaware, the standards also raised expectations for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level to have the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the 21st century.

The study found 69 percent principals believe these new standards will have a positive effect on students. Just 9 percent of principals reported resistance to the new standards from parents in their schools.

“This study gives a voice to what I hear from so many educators in schools across our state: Common Core is better preparing our students,” said Gov. Jack Markell, who co-chaired the National Governors Association’s bipartisan Common Core Standards Initiative.

“While the shift to higher standards is an undisputable requirement to best prepare our students for the new economy, we know it will only succeed with effective implementation. I’m encouraged by the feedback we have received from educators so far and by the tremendous work happening in our classrooms. Teachers have embraced professional learning opportunities to deepen their understanding of the new standards and collaborated to adjust their instruction to meet student needs. We must continue to listen to them and ensure we fully support their hard work,” he said.

The study found 76 percent of teachers said they have changed a significant portion of their instruction as a result of Common Core, and 82 percent said they had changed a significant portion of their math instructional materials; 72 percent said they had done so for ELA materials.

That work is paying off for Delaware students. Last spring, Delaware’s third graders had the second-highest mathematics and second-highest English language arts scores in the nation on the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced Assessment. Of all the students tested, third-graders had the greatest proportion of their academic careers under the Common Core.

Students who had the benefit of instruction aligned to the new standards appear to be better prepared for these more challenging expectations,” Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky said.

Alison May

While Delaware may have had these great third grade scores on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, that isn’t exactly something to write home about considering the overall proficiency rate for third graders in English/Language Arts was 54% and for Math it was 53%.  Aside from white, Asian-American, and American Indian sub-groups, every other sub-group did worse than the state average in both ELA and math.  It’s very easy to praise success without talking about the factors that surround the supposed success, something we see from the DOE and Governor Markell every single chance they get.

There are 11,000 teachers in Delaware.  The CEPR report wished to thank “hundreds of teachers” in their report.  I’ve found when reports like this come out, if it is over 500, they will say “over five hundred” or give a number like 800 to show a bigger number.  This report came from five states, so for the sake of argument, they surveyed 500 teachers.  That breaks down to 100 in each state.  Over ten schools, that is about ten teachers per school.  Can we say for certainty there was no bias in who was picked to take this survey?  I will wait to hear back from the Communications Director at CEPR to see if she is even able to say which schools had a part in this report.  There are certain schools in Delaware that are very loyal to Common Core and the DOE.  Most of us know which ones those are…

To read the full report, go here:

As The SAT Aligns With Common Core And Becomes SBAC/PARCC Lite, How Many Students Will Suffer?

Common Core, SAT

Tomorrow at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting in Dover, DE, a presentation will be given on Delaware’s 2015 SAT performance and upcoming changes to the test in 2016.  Last Spring, Chief Officer of Assessment and Accountability Penny Schwinn at the Delaware DOE advised the State Board the SAT was being aligned with Common Core.  Some states have already dumped the state standardized assessment for 11th graders because of this.

Only two high schools in Delaware had over 50% of their students reach the “college ready” benchmark on the 2015 SATs.  With alignment to the Common Core how will high school juniors perform next year?  When I see terms like “personalized learning” and “problems grounded in real world contexts”, I think Common Core and all it’s education reform friends.  Will we ever escape from the Common Core? January 2017 can’t get here fast enough and hopefully we will have a good Governor and a good President who can guide our state and country away from this insanity…

Save The Date: September 8th, Dr. Peg Luksik Teleconference To Talk About Cut Scores & Common Core

Common Core, Dr. Peg Luksik

Last winter, Dr. Peg Luksik from Founded on Truth, was part of a presentation on the Common Core standards. Many parents who participated in this even said this was what truly opened their eyes to what is happening in education in America. Many joined the opt-out movement in Delaware as a result.

On Tuesday, September 8th, Dr. Luksik will be giving a free tele-conference for folks wanting to know how “cut scores” tie in to the Common Core agenda. Cut scores are the benchmarks in the high-stakes testing that put a student on a track of “proficient” or “not proficient”. The details are here:

Join Dr. Peg Luksik for a free Teleconference call on September 8!

When: Tuesday September 8 from 8pm ET to 8:30pm ET
How: Call 641-715-3580 with code 249-850 to join!
What: A 30 minute class on When The Tests Lie (Part 2).

Learn about the fallacies behind the concept of “cut scores” and how they are used to manipulate results to achieve the political agenda of Common Core.

John Radell Tears Apart Common Core & Smarter Balanced Assessment

Common Core, House Bill 50

I thought this was one of the best parts of the Senate Education Committee meeting last Wednesday.  One of the speakers, John Radell with the Mid-Atlantic Education Alliance, effectively eviscerated the very curriculum, and yes I will call it a curriculum Governor Markell, that the Smarter Balanced Assessment is based on.  Well done John Radell!

I’m John Radell, I’m with Mid-Atlantic Education Alliance.  And what we know about Smarter Balanced.  It’s not a measure of academic achievement.  It’s a measure of how a child responds to stressful situations.  This test does not measure accountability of academic change.  Every professional in the country, and we have a DVD here we certainly invite you to watch, by Dr. Peg Luksik and Sandra Stosky, who helped design Common Core.  And Kathy Jasper who was a vice-principal at a Florida high school.  All different parties, all different persuasions, have said this is an absolute disaster.  The Smarter Balanced Assessment is designed to fortify whether they are teaching Common Core, not academic standards.  So last time I looked, our children are not lab rats or guinea pigs that we experiment on.  This is an experiment.  Bill Gates helped design the system, has now said it will take ten years to determine if it works or not.  Well guess what, our kids don’t have ten years.  What you’re telling me, is a child going into 2nd grade now that’s a failure, has wasted those whole ten years.  This test is so bad, the curriculum is so bad, that the President of Princeton University just said “Any child that goes through ten years of Common Core and Smarter Balanced will not be able to get into Princeton University.  We’re hurting our children, not helping them.  We don’t need more gimmicks.  If you want something that works, and you need standardized testing, then look at the Massachusetts Education Law of 1993.  That was designed by Sandra Stosky, the one who I said was on Common Core, who resigned from Common Core cause she called it empty skillsets.  So were testing a test based on empty skillsets.  So what we need to do is start bringing experts here to talk about what the best way is to educate our children, test it, and implement it.  We’re testing this on our children.  These kids don’t have time.  And were not going to be able to go back in five or six years and go “Oh, this didn’t work, our kids are really dumb now.  Sorry about this.”  What are you going to do with those kids?  Are you telling me your willing to sacrifice a whole generation of children to find out this thing didn’t work? It’s wrong. It’s wrong for our children, and that’s why parents deserve the right to opt out.

My Dog Turned 100 Years Old, Figured That Out Without Common Core!

Common Core


My dog Dixxie turned 100 years old today.  This is in dog years obviously.  She was born March 1st, 2001.  If “dog years” are 7 years for every 1 human year, today is the day she would turn 100 years old.  Had I tried figuring this out using some convoluted jacked up Common Core method, I probably would have missed this and I would have missed her centenarian day.  The things you think about when you are picking up groceries the night before!

So Happy Birthday Dixxie!  You have brought a lot of joy to our home and we all love you!

Watch The University of Delaware Common Core Town Hall Debate

Common Core

This video needs to be watched by every parent in Delaware.  If you think you know what is really going on with Common Core, you have no idea.  We all have busy lives, but this is well worth 2 1/2 hours out of your life.  This is the debate from January 24th that the Delaware Department of Education was supposed to be a part of but canceled at the last minute.  I can see why they wouldn’t be able to after watching this video.  They would have been slaughtered!

Will DE Senator Dave Lawson Submit Legislation Again To Ban Common Core?

Common Core

On the last day of the 147th General Assembly, Delaware Senator Dave Lawson threw out a teaser.  It was the controversial Senate Bill 269.  What made this bill controversial was that most people didn’t know it even existed.  SB 269, if passed, would have eliminated Common Core from Delaware schools and would have prevented any federal, corporate or outside interference with Delaware education.  The state would have been free to form its own standards for eduction, unencumbered by the US Department of Education breathing down its neck.  As well, this bill would have put a stop to the “longitudinal data” collection by the Delaware DOE and the US DOE.

Will Senator Lawson put this in again?  Say he did, and it passed, would Governor Markell ever sign off on it?  And what would that do to the Common Core themed Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Kudos to Senator Lawson for breathing some fresh air in the legislature.  I’m looking for a repeat, and very soon!

Take a look at the original bill:

Common Core Copying Costs Skyrocket In Delaware While Smarter Balanced Consortium Makes $65 Million

Common Core

Last night at the Capital School District board meeting, Business Manager Sean Sokolowski presented updates to the 2015 fiscal year budget and announced some astonishing adjustments.  In Capital School District alone, copying costs have soared as the district has been put in the position of increasing the number of copies from 200,000 to 1,000,000 based on the full Common Core implementation this year.  Teachers are required to print the Common Core curriculum sheets to students.  This is an 800,000 increase in the amount of paper just this district has to absorb in increased costs.

How many more teachers could be hired with that money to reduce classroom size?  As Capital struggles to avoid the dreaded referendum in coming years, one has to wonder if paper companies are also benefiting from Common Core.  As we advance to a more technological society with computers and iPads, why are we chopping down so many trees for this curriculum?  Capital could do so much more with these funds but they are tied down to this forced curriculum that NOBODY wants.

To put this in perspective, Capital holds about 4.8% of Delaware’s student population.  At 1,000,000 copies a year for paper in Capital, this would estimate the average number of copies for the entire state to be 20,500,000.  If all public schools in Delaware had the same increase rate, this means Common Core is costing taxpayers a ton of money with over 16,000,000 in extra copies.  Estimating paper costs at .02 cents a page, this costs public schools in Delaware $408,000 a year for total copies with $326,400 just for the Common Core curriculum.

Board President Kay Dietz-Sass advised the rest of the Board and the audience the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is making $500 per student in revenue.  That means they are making $66,684,500 from Delaware students in total based on last years student enrollment of 133,369.  Yes parents, Common Core is about getting kids ready for college so they don’t have to compete with kids in China (the excuse a few years ago).  It’s not about profit at all…

With the extra copying costs and the Smarter Balanced Assessment windfall, taxpayers are paying over $67 million in Delaware for a curriculum and test that NOBODY wants except the companies making mega bucks!  Adding all the extra costs from Common Core and Smarter Balanced, as well as all the other costs from Race To The Top, Teach For America, Relay Graduate School, Vision Network, Innovate Schools, Rodel and more, one has to wonder what we are paying for.  When schools talk about the problems they are having with class sizes, and how they need extra para-professionals and vital resources to educate students, keep these figures in mind DOE.  Education reform has a very steep price, both financially and mentally.  It is wasteful spending that impacts schools, teachers, students, parents, and taxpayers.

*This article was updated from an earlier version.  This blogger misunderstood Mr. Sokolowski’s announcement that copying went from 200,000 to 1,000,000.00.  He meant the number of copies, not the dollars spent.  Sorry for any confusion!

Why Delaware Parents May Be Furious and Freak Out On Schools In The Next Week @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de #netde #eduDE

Common Core

It’s the middle of the first marking period, and parents should be getting interim reports from schools. Parents open it up, and some may be hoping for the best. “Johnny has always been a good student. They open up the envelope, read the information, and find themselves wondering why Johnny is now below basic in reading and math. He never was before. Welcome to the wonderful world of common core. Students taking the SRI (Scholastic Reading Inventory) and SMI (Scholastic Math Inventory) are being scored based on the Common Core Standards now. Last year, when Johnny scored a 650 in math, and he was considered proficient, he is now below basic in certain grades.

But don’t worry. The schools will get them where they need to be. It doesn’t matter if the ratings went up 200 points from one year to the next. Scholastic, who owns the SRI and SMI testing, has company-owned guidance programs to get the students scores back up. We’ve scored your child, now were going to fix them. They will be ready for that big test they take next spring. Our company-owned programs will make sure!

It’s called fraud parents. Schools are selling this crap to you all over the country. And you are swallowing this bitter pill so our children can be college-ready. It doesn’t matter if they are in 3rd grade, they will have your child college-ready by the time they are 10! We can’t have anyone taking any remedial classes in college. So before your children have any clue about what they want to do for the rest of their life in 1st grade, they will still make sure they are on the correct path.

This message has been sponsored by education “reformers”. We are laughing all the way to the bank. We would like to thank all those in Delaware who have made this possible: Rodel, Governor Jack Markell, Vision 2012, Vision 2015, Vision 2025, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, the Delaware Board of Education, the Delaware DOE, the Delaware Legislature and all those schools who are changing schedules and splitting up classes so they can use our programs to fix your child so he doesn’t have to compete with those kids from Singapore. We know, the rigor there is so high their suicide rate for students has skyrocketed. But it’s okay, we will bounce back. That could never happen in America. We would never pressure students that much.

Guest Blog by Sue Ward, Special Education Teacher, re: Damage Done To Teachers & Students With Disabilities, Low-Income & Minorities @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @usedgov @DeStateBoardEd #netde #eduDE

Common Core

This is my (Sue Enos Ward’s) story, and the reasons I cannot sit back and watch Common Core take over.  I grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont when I was a teenager. I attended Lyndon State College in VT and obtained a BS in Education, BA in Liberal Arts and an AS in Communications. Before I graduated college I had over 1,000 hours of time in the classroom observing, assisting and actually teaching.

When I graduated I moved back to MA where I taught in a preschool, then became an assistant teacher in the classroom to work with special education students. I then became the teacher of a first-grade classroom. Looking back they are some of my favorite memories. One of the reasons those memories stand out was because I knew I was making a difference. I was doing it RIGHT! I was taught in college to avoid worksheets as much as possible, to get students involved in rich experiential learning, to get them to use critical thinking skills while incorporating things like social studies, hands-on learning and cooperative learning. As every teacher knows, every classroom has students that are at very different levels. I spent hours upon hours making sure that lessons, activities and independent activities were available to each student’s ability. It is A LOT of work, but it can be done.

When students were finished with their work and while I was working with different leveled reading groups, the students that finished their work knew where to find their challenge activity (for higher-level learners) or some of those higher-level learners knew how to be a peer-buddy and check on a student or read with a student that may need some extra help. I made sure that each and every student was taught our “system” so they knew how to be independent learners, working on lessons “at their own developmental level.” I used to take a minute sometimes and just sit back and observe the room. The buzzing sound of the students quietly knowing what to do, working together or independently, running like clock-work. They were happy. I was happy. They were learning and discovering and developing social skills, working at a pace and level that challenged them but did not frustrate them. I took pride in that creation, that rhythm we developed as a class. There was and will never be anything that gives me that same feeling. I taught passionately and found fulfillment in my craft. When I think about how amazing that system was, my eyes water.

Fast forward 10 years. I now live in FL. I have an 8-year-old son in the school system. I am still in education but in a different field. I’m still working with students but they are at the college level with learning disabilities. The feeling that I get when working with the students is similar but it’s not the same. My absolute favorite part is that I know this facility (Beacon College) is teaching these students at their individual levels and providing strategies and accommodations so that they can be effective and active learners. We are free from being mandated to teach the Common Core curriculum or any other “boxed” curriculum for that matter.

My son, his school, and most schools in 46 states are being taught through the Common Core curriculum. The curriculum’s original intent was for states to all be working on the same curriculum so that if a student were to move from one state to another, there would be no gap. I understand the intent. I would even understand the states implementing the same standards. But what I don’t understand is how their reading lessons, writing lessons and math lessons can all be written out for every single school, for each day for a year, for each grade. Not only are the younger students reading passages that are inappropriately long, they include inappropriate concepts such as the Vietnam War with lists of facts that involve a child to have abstract operational thinking. At age 8, they are still in the concrete operational developmental stage. If a true educator had written the story, he/she would have known that. What does that say about the validity of the writers of this curriculum?

It’s a one-size-fits-all curriculum that allows no extra time, it does not let the teacher provide any sort of background knowledge about what he or she is about to read. Every Friday, the students are given TWO different 2-page, “cold reads”, each with a test with 10 questions per test. Some of the questions have nothing to do with the story, but about how words and language meaning relate to other meanings in the story. Not only is this a difficult task for a child of this age, how does this help a student with ADHD? Also, as we all know our country is filled with multicultural diversity. After reading the information given on these test, it becomes obvious that the culturally diverse student (especially when it comes to language) will have no way of passing these tests. I will include that the way cultural diversity IS incorporated into this biased curriculum is in stories where the author’s name characters “Ling, Sanchez, and Soo”. Most of the students that may take longer to process information also have difficultly passing these tests.

What this means for culturally diverse students, students from low socio-economic status, special education students and students with learning disabilities is a failing grade, an F, low self-esteem and they should be in the “OTHER” category as they “don’t fit into the perfect little box” that the Common Core Curriculum has created.

There is so much more to talk about as far as the lessons, the assignments, the expectations, etc. but I would be writing for a month. As a former teacher that understands the importance of teaching to all of the different learners in the classroom to make them ALL successful, this curriculum (Federally mandated for each state in the United States) is an educational plague. It is a farce and should actually be illegal.  According to Federal law, the phrase “least restrictive environment” is defined in federal legislation. The IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) requires that children with disabilities be educated “to the maximum extent appropriate” in the “least restrictive environment.” It means that students with disabilities should be “educated with children who are non-disabled; and that special classes, separate schooling or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular education environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disabilities is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

I question how the Common Core Curriculum teaches ALL students to the “maximum extent possible” if the curriculum is not even teaching at the developmentally appropriate level. Also, where is Common Core’s “supplementary aids and services” I mean, surely if it is a Federal law to use supplementary aids and services Common Core MUST come with those since it is NOT designed for students with learning disabilities or students in special education.

I’m ready. I can’t sit back for one more minute and watch these children suffer (one being my own). I use an analogy to  people who don’t have a degree in education. I tell them, “Imagine you are a former doctor. And years ago you saw sick patients, you had the magic medicine that cured them when they were sick. When the directions were followed, the medicine was successful. Now, you’ve been away and things have changed. You peer into the medical field to find the magic medicine is NO where to be found and the doctors are using a medicine that keeps the patients sick. But YOU HAVE the medicine’s formula. You’re jumping and screaming, ‘Hey! Over here! I have the medicine that WORKS!’ But no one hears you. Not only does no one hear you, but the entire country is now using the fake stuff that doesn’t even work. THAT’S where I’m at. I’m jumping up and down here when I need to find a way to shout it from the rooftops, to yell it in the ears of the people that CAN change it. If someone can tell me who and how…I’ll even start at the bottom. But it needs to change. I will sacrifice time or whatever it takes and be the voice if others cannot. I am determined to change our children’s future.

-Susan Ward

Editor’s Note: A big thank you to Susan Ward for writing this article.  I admire and respect her for having the courage and determination to write down what so many of us are feeling already.  There are so many of us, but we don’t know how to unite into one voice.  We have to do this before everything we want our children to have with education is lost forever.  There are numerous Facebook groups involved with this endeavor, but we need to ALL join as one: Teachers, parents, students and citizens.  What do we need to do to make this happen?  For a start, I recommend every US Citizen who is opposed to Common Core and standardized tests email, call and talk to their elected officials: State Representatives and Senators, US Reps and Senators, and even President Obama himself.  If nobody speaks, nobody will listen.  Speak from the heart like Susan has, and I have.  If enough of us do it, they will have to listen.

-Kevin Ohlandt

My Special Needs Son’s First Day Of Common Core Division & This Is His Homework

Common Core

This was my son’s math homework tonight.  My son with special needs.  This was his first day of division.  Can someone, in the name of all that is holy, tell me exactly what the hell this is?  I know what it’s supposed to be.  But it is not.  It is a confusing, prime example of the agony that is Common Core.  Students should not be subjected to this.  My son is in tears right now, missing his 4th grade teacher and he hates 5th grade.  This isn’t what school should be about.  It shouldn’t be this hard.  It should be about learning at an appropriate grade level.





This isn’t even 5th grade level work with this kind of math.  This is 7th grade or 8th grade.  Really?  Delaware and any state that is using this curriculum needs to be ashamed of themselves.  And you want to test my special needs student on this material?  OVER MY DEAD BODY!!!!  I will not subject him to this hell.  Parents, we need to wake up and open our eyes to this reality.  This isn’t making our children ready for college.  It’s a curriculum that our own Secretary of Education Mark Murphy already expects 70% of our students to fail on the state test next Spring.  What will that do to students confidence?  They will be made to feel like failures.  With that comes rejection and isolation in their perceived view of the world.  This is a sin beyond proportion.

Parents, I have only one more thing to say: Opt-out of this and demand your legislators immediately ban this torture being inflicted on our children.  The ONLY reason schools aren’t against this is because they feel they have no choice.  But parents do, and it is our time to rise up and take back our children’s education.

The Whitewash of Mr. White

Common Core

Common core makes no common sense. But I have to get up in a Sean-odd number of hours. Or is that Sean-even? What does it matter in a world where there can be both odd and even numbers?


Having just returned from a Gates sponsored seminar  “ to further hardwire the Common Core curriculum ” (Gate’s words; not mine; notice he said “curriculum“) Mr. White opines us on what he learned.  He was most taken with a story from Deborah Ball, now dean of education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who was teaching her third grade students about odd and even numbers, when one student, Sean, said that he thought some numbers were both odd and even.

It is obvious this was an exercise at the conference.  For Mr. White asks us how we should respond…. We are given three options.

Teacher A responded that there are no numbers that are both odd and even and that you can always tell which are odd and which are even by which are divisible by two and which are not. Those evenly divisible by two are…

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What Will The Delaware DOE Do WHEN Common Core is Repealed? #netde #eduDE #edchat @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @BadassTeachersA

Common Core

UPDATED: Had to change the title to WHEN!

With Common Core slipping in popularity more every single day, many people have been asking what would happen if it does go away. Has the Delaware DOE prepared for such an eventuality? With the way they have been talking at DOE meetings and around the state, it doesn’t look like they are. Everything they have been doing is with Common Core as it’s, well, core. For the DOE, Common Core is the sun giving strength to the whole solar system of education in Delaware. And if Common Core goes supernova, what happens to the aligned with Common Core, the controversial Smarter Balanced Assessment?

Aside from a few politicians and the DOE, I haven’t heard anyone talking positive about it. Once again, this includes charter school teachers who know they would lose their job if they publicly spoke out about it. In fact, most teachers want it to go away. They are very afraid of their jobs being impacted when most students tank the test next Spring. The DOE announced at their board meeting that scores won’t affect teacher performance appraisals until the 2015-2016 school year, but they did not indicate when during the school year that would take place.

Special needs parents are sick of Common Core and how it impacts their children. I am hearing a rising voice speaking up where they all want to opt their children out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. This is a turning point for these children, and this school year could have a dramatic effect on their future. Parents are dreading IEP meetings this year due to standards-based IEPs as well.

The DOE needs to stop patting itself on the back and get with the program, and fast. When more areas of your state are demanding change and you are moving forward with what the citizens don’t want, you need to open your eyes and take a hard look at what you are doing. Did you hear that Governor Markell and Secretary of Education Murphy? The people don’t want what you have been selling anymore.

More On Delaware’s Lawsuit Against Common Core

Common Core

Someone make this happen!!!!


Common Core violates Federal Law. Louisiana’s governor is suing to stop Common Core on the pretense it violates the mandate setting up the Department of Education, which was expressly set in stone upon it’s inception, that the Federal Government cannot dictate or divert control of curriculum away from local school districts…

Common Core does that. At question: is whether or not the legal maneuvers taken to obfuscate this task of Common Core, are sufficient to allow it to continue to dictate curriculum by its actions, even if shadowy institutions are created to make it reflect differently.

Are the legal maneuvers valid enough to allow flaunting of law to go forward.

That is the bottom line of the debate, and why, only the court system, can rule on it’s legality…

It is as if a cow surprised you by walking through your front door. “Moo! Hi, Sweetie…” It looks like a…

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What We Need Is A Lawsuit Against Common Core Asking For An Injunction Against The Smarter Balanced Assessment

Common Core

After what happened in NY on Monday with the Feds stepping in and overturning NY law about students with serious disabilities not having to take the PARCC, this makes sense. If any attorney wants to take this on pro bono, I’m up for it!


Sometimes one goes through an “A Ha” moment. When something so obvious hits you like a ton of bricks. The catalyst this time came from Utah, home of the NSA information vault. The spark was the lawsuit in Utah’s court calling for a halt against the implementation of Common Core… Brilliant.

The Governor himself, in response to the clamor of his people, (that will never happen here) has asked the Utah Attorney General to do thorough legal review of theof the rapidly adopted, unvetted education and testing standards known as Common Core…..

His main question (as expected out of Utah) was does Common Core demonstrate Federal entanglement….

For anyone who knows Common Core, that is a no-brainer. When someone says, we will withhold your life support unless you do what we say, that is coercion. Coercion is a form of entanglement.

However… there is lawsuit filed by the Libertas Instutute

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News Journal reports on NGSS, fails to inform readers of how they were crafted and adopted: in near total darkness with almost zero Delaware parent or educator input and unread by SBE prior to approval.. #justlikeCCSS

Common Core

And here comes the science “common core” standards. This means in the next 8 years, my son will be taking English, Math and Science. For 7 hours a day. Three subjects. Say goodbye to history, music, art, health, and all the other subjects that are just as important in education. Stop the madness!

Jeb Bush’s Common Core Website Goes Silent

Common Core

Common Core has become very toxic. And now it’s becoming toxic for politicians! President Obama has nothing to lose by having his boy Duncan praising at as the best thing since sliced bread. Unless it makes such an impact by election time that the balance of power begins to rapidly shift…

Scathing Purple Musings

For two months, nothing.

No more TV spots. No more teacher Tweets. No more press releases.

What happened?

Scathing Purple Musingswrote in March about the Common Core initiative from Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s future. Learn More. Go Furtherwas designed to end all debate and educate the public on Common Core’s benefits and superiority.

So why did they pull the plug?

There are two possible reasons. Neither of them good for Bush or Common Core, the latter of which is being sounded defeated at every juncture. Bush has few political allies on Common Core left and its main private sector supporter, the Chamber of Commerce, has slowly been losing the benevolent status they once enjoyed from traditional conservative voters for its advocacy on Common Core and immigration reform.

Respected conservative columnist George Will said earlier this year on FOX News that a supporter of Common Core couldn’t win…

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Standards Are Expectations of Learning

Common Core

Even more reasons why common core (I can’t bring myself to capitalize the letters anymore, it just isn’t worth that honor) makes no common sense.



Many ed reformers who are not experienced educators don’t understand that The Common Core State Standards are cognitive goals and expectations of student learning or “growth”.

The Standards demand a fixed set of cognitive skills that must be learned and acquired by every student each school year, and these skills are not simply bestowed or imparted by teachers.

Our students are not standardized, they possess a wide range of cognitive capabilities and disabilities. These abilities and skills do not emerge and “blossom” at the same rate and in the same way.

Unfortunately, the extra academic assistance and support services that our schools and teachers provide for struggling students, may not be enough to compensate for the absence of learning after school hours.

Many students living in poverty begin their schooling lagging far behind in basic skills and vocabulary development. Many do not participate in after school enrichment activities and informal learning experiences during the summer and other breaks that help…

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The Very Idea Of “Rigor” Takes A Hit

Common Core

I have to say, I’ve heard the word “rigor” used more this summer than I have in my entire life. There’s a reason for that parents. School is about to get a lot harder for many kids, and special needs kids will bear the brunt of that. We need to speak up before it’s too late. If you don’t agree with me, talk to me in nine months.


A new study published by Stanford University’s Center for Education Policy Analysis shows that doubling up on math courses in one year, has negative impact… Rigor causes people to forget what they would have retained otherwise…

In other words when it comes to learning. Rigor actually MAKES us stupid….

The test was ingenious… Two groups of students in the same school; all with math scores within 5 points apart… Half were above the arbitrarial line of cut off; half were below… Those below were required to take a remedial class along with the next level of math. Those above, just took the one math class their grade required…

The difference between the two could be classified as rigor… Those below got a hearty dose of RIGOR… Those above didn’t, and yet except for an arbitrarily drawn line in the sand, all were of equal intelligence…


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