Event Video Now Available
About 300 People showed up and 70 lined up to ask questions at one time, before realizing that an hour wasn't nearly enough time to accommodate them all. Crowd sentiment was overwhelmingly anti-Common Core. Every single questioner appeared to be anti.
(Our video man was prevented by school personnel from recording the event. We only found out afterward. This certainly does not make for "transparency," does it?)
We obtained the official video:
Photos start HERE.
6-10-13. Updated last 6-11 at 11:00 AM
To CVUSD: are your teachers ready to teach Common Core?- Dr. Bill Evers
A Conejo Unified School District School Board meeting discussion about hiring a $200,000 yearly Common Core Coordinator (for new, nationally-mandated school curriculum, arguably unconstitutional) was held. In only a few weeks, it morphed into a full blown forum on the merits-and demerits- of the new national school curriculum implementation in Thousand Oaks and some other adjacent areas which comprise the district.
Local businessman and sometime civic activist Tony Dolz co-organized the forum, in cooperation with Dr. Jeff Baarstad, School Superintendent. Baarstad's working hypothesis was following the state decision to go with Common Core (and all the strings attached). Dolz is an announced candidate for the school board. Common Core and budgets seem to be his signature issues. His apparently many supporters (disclosure statement: the author is one of them) took the position that they wanted no part at all of a federally mandated curriculum, with Orwellian student information tracking, including biometrics/retinal scans and highly personal information. It would follow 5 year olds and above wherever they go and be accessible to far too many people and organizations. Also involved are a relative "dumbing down" of the curriculum, unvalidated, untested content and methodology, not to mention federal control of a curriculum copyrighted by two foundations.
CC proponents tell a very different, often directly contradictory, story: Better qualitative learning, content, methodology, technology, deliriously happy students and faculty, kumbaya.
Each side brought some heavy hitters to the party ....
Panel (L-R): Mike Soules, President, Corwin Publishing (Common Core books)
Dr. Sandra Stotzky, Prof. Emerta, U Arkansas, author, expert witness on Common Core to U.S. Congress
Dr. Jon Sand, Director, Curriculum and Assessment, CVUSD
Dr. Bill Evers, Former US Dept Education Official and Fellow of Hoover Institute at Stanford
Tony Dolz, President, Concerned parents of Conejo Valley, School Board Candidate, former State Assy Candidate
Dr. Jeff Baarstad, Superintendent, CVUSD
Peggy Walker, Teacher, Newbury Park HS and 2011 CVUSD and VC Teacher of the Year (below)
"Teacher of the Year" Peggy Walker is probably far better in a class full of children than speaking at such a forum
Evers and Stotsky led off with a blistering indictment of Common Core- its underlying concepts, validity, methodology even author motivations (testing companies, book publishers, left-wing ideologue educators), lack of involvement of the right types, evils of centralized govt. control. They assert that CC was never officially announced to parents, which was confirmed by many in the audience.
Evers claimed that Australia and Canada had approaches similar to that of the USA- decentralized. While they were about on a par with us in the 1970's they are now significantly ahead. Decentralization is closer to voter preference. He further claims that CC uses experimental, untested teaching methods and cited a couple of math examples, which I couldn't jot down fast enough- congruent triangles, or something like that.
Dr. Stotsky: "15 states are now "in the process of extricating themselves from Common Core." CC is copyrighted by two private groups. Cannot be changed without their permission. CC standard is not competitive with the better foreign competitors. Not benchmarked. Not "rigorous" in spite of claims. It ends in 10th grade level- NOT college-ready. It results in a reduction of literature studies. Standards were written by test industry people. Their technology is driving the curriculum. Claims developers of Math and English matls didn't know what college-ready means.
Miker Soules said 16,600 districts make their own decisions. He didn't describe their constraints or how those might change under Common Core.m He said federal funding of education has risen from a historical level of 6% to about 10%. "Universal Access" is the goal, along with equity (sounding like "Social Justice'). Cited No Child Left Behind. The "Diploma" project with National Gov Assoc. moved it along. In 2010, 45 states accepted Common Core (sight unseen). Different states will implement the Common Core Curriculum differently.
Jon Sand: Curriculum is "rich and engaging," with "the 4 C's: Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Communication." He read his presentation by rote. It sounded like it was extracted from a sales pitch in a manual. Claims it has "higher rigor" than the CA 1997 Standards. Offers "tech-enhanced lessons and assessments." Integrated standards across multiple subjects. Claims achievement is higher with Common Core- did not cite how he knew that. Student expands thinking, writes from "source." Presentation was a bit jargon-laden. Math: probability moved from grade 3 (don't remember doing that there) to 7. Establish foundation knowledge, concepts. Enhance speed and and accuracy. Leap tall buildings with a single bound?
Peggy Walker: On text selection and curriculum committee since 1990. Make sure texts aligned to stds. Worked on history/social studies content std. Focus on context, not process. Be able to work collaboratively and independently. Her mission here was to tell us how it would be under Common Core, but she wasn't giving us a clear idea.
It occurred to me when reading my own writings that speakers on both sides made some assertions without providing substantiation. The format and short time available might have contributed to that.
Thousand Oaks Acorn Newspaper Editor Kyle Jorrey did a good job moderating, but allowed audience questioners to pontificate excessively.
Kurt Adams, who has 3 children in district schools, asks panel why over a $billion (very conservatively) will be spent statewide to implement CC, which is all wasted since it's not even as good as what it replaced.
After Adams spoke, Dr. Stotsky retorted that it would be better spent on education schools for teachers. There was also talk of "unfunded mandates" (passing laws without funding, requiring others to pay for it).
Kathy Carlson opines
Kathy Carlson (above) is very concerned about the copyright on CC. She has taught overseas in Finland, Asia and notes student success there is a result of HARD WORK. She noted, amid audience laughter, that there weren't many Chinese parents here, "probably because they're home working with their kids."
Above: Gino Spineli of Thousand Oaks, an engineer & educator for 52 years, felt that if CVUSD is "at 97%," maybe it shouldn't be making big changes. He also opined that "Einstein and Steinmetz would have flunked Common Core, "because they don't follow the rules."
Organizer Tony Dolz of Concerned Parents of Conejo Valley. Ran for School Board in 2012. Looks like the 2014 campaign is well underway now.
Baarstad made a very bad move in his closing statement, lecturing/chastising the crowd for being rowdy. He should have allowed for their frustration and rage in being hustled and lied to about Common Core. In contrast to what was claimed, there WERE no public meetings, at least not announced in the clear, there was no debate, no legislative buy-in, no proper financial appropriations, bureaucrat approval in relative secrecy, approval of curriculum before it was even written or submitted.
After hearing how wonderful and different Common Core was, for nearly two hours, he closed by saying it was 86% the same as the existing curriculum. We learned that the state had dropped its incremental changes to the curriculum because it would require separate materials, tests and assessment (cost prohibitive).
He did express concern about the data collection and biometrics and possible dumbing down of curriculum (he pledged not to permit it).
Dolz closed with saying that the parents must now decide what to do, that they can opt out (he passed out hundreds of forms), that his attorney, United States Justice Foundation, would defend in court anyone needing it who was using this opt out form, which can be used to block: data collection, study of the curriculum and/or testing. He pointed out that what is planned is a trade of a proven, successful curriculum and methods for national standards which are untested, along with biometric and personal identifying info tracking.
At that point, Baarstad was probably thinking about the cost and complexity of maintaining a two-track curriculum. I've got an idea for him- skip CC. Dolz said that the nation's founders advocated putting boundaries on officials. He called for another forum in October, to assess results with Common Core. The "opt-out" strategy would put boundaries on Common Core."
While I was walking Dr. Stotsky out to the car afterward, she asserted that this was the best such session that she had ever participated in and that the organizers and parents were more knowledgeable than she had seen before. Guess what- we had lots of help from reading and watching stuff created by her and other activists!
Commentary by Tony Dolz ....
When the students return to class in Fall, they will be returning to the familiar schools, but those schools will be far from familiar in how and what they teach.
We are talking about an experimental set of educational standards that will start in Fall, standards that are not even finished standards. The standards are called Common Core.
Before we get into the details of what the speakers said in favor and against, one theme that held throughout the event was the view that Conejo Valley had among the best performing schools in the state and the nation, so why are we talking about changing these superb outcome standards for controversial untested standards? We can say that was the starting point.
The school district establishment set out to convince the audience that the new untested standards were superior, but the two nationally recognized speakers invited by the Concerned Parents of Conejo Valley presented volumes of evidence to the contrary.
The methods required by Common Core to teach are so radically different from the existing ones that the teachers need re-validation, in order to teach them. The school district establishment insisted throughout the night that they were ready. Bill Evers, speaking for the the Concerned Parents, repeatedly challenged the district to be specific. Evers asked the school district speakers if the teachers were prepared to teach geometry with some unproven, unvalidated methods Two hours later and after asking the same question several times, there was no answer from superintendent Baarstad or the other speakers on his side of the panel.
June 11, 2013
At a prior luncheon for panelists and media (VC Star declined to participate), multiple interesting points were made by Drs. Stotsky and Evers.
They questioned whether CVUSD teachers were ready to teach Common Core and wondered what the plan is to get them there.
The district can refute Common Core, but there would be a loss of some funding, as the statists have the reward/punishment system to achieve their agenda down pat. 15 states are now "in the process of extricating themselves from Common Core." Common Core was never really announced or explained to parents. It will impact even private schoolers and homeschoolers, which many are unaware of. Catholic hierarchy actually chose Common Core, but then again, (most Catholic voters voted for Obama).
The curriculum is actually owned/copyrighted by two federally funded test writing groups. The CA state board adopted it without even seeing it. We guess we'll have to read it (much) later to find out what's in it. This national curriculum was long time coming, with attempts during administrations of both major parties, over decades. Each attempt was foiled by Congress. In 1998, it voted against national testing.
This time, they bypassed Congress and gave states the bum's rush. Our understanding is that it was midwifed by state education bureaucrats, in return for waivers on the absurd "No Child Left Behind" and "Race to the Top" programs, along with some choice funding siphoned out of stimulus money. Democrats have no monopoly on statist, unconstitutional (exceeding federal enumerated powers) programs. We're sure they'll tell you it's covered by the general welfare clause, like most overreaching of the last century. Claims that Reagan wanted national testing were refuted at this session by Dr, Evers. It seems to us that it's more of a centralization vs decentralization issue than a Republican vs Democrat one. There's also the matter of unproven, experimental stuff going cold turkey on the third largest nation in the world.
A school district, to implement Common core, would have to buy tests, buy admin. and possibly buy texts. There would also be teacher training entailed. In a state of nearly 40 million people, the billion dollar implementation estimate may be low-balled.
Obama's Education Takeover book and Joy Pullman's articles were cited as good sources.
Search our site for more on Common Core
Explore our regional anti-Common Core Web Forum
Read original event announcement.
VC Star article now up.
Interesting flyer from Thousand Oaks Tea Party, has good summary of CC pitfalls
Here's just the Tony Dolz Forum Speech
Biography for Dr. Sandra Stotsky: June 2013
Sandra retired from the University of Arkansas this past December, where she held the 21st century chair in teacher quality. She is now professor emerita of education reform.
She served as Senior Associate Commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Education from 1999-2003, where she was in charge of developing or revising all the state’s K-12 standards, teacher licensure tests, and all licensure regulations.
She served on the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education from 2006-2010. She has published extensively in professional journals and written several books.
She served on the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, from 2006-2008. Most recently she served on the Common Core Validation Committee, from 2009-2010.
She did undergraduate work at the University of Michigan and completed a doctorate in reading research at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
She was an active citizen in Brookline for over 40 years, serving as a board member and then president of its League of Women Voters in the 1970s.
She was an elected Town Meeting Member for 10 years and an elected library trustee for 14 years. She also served on many school-search and selectmen-appointed committees.
Dr. Stotsky has provided expert testimony before the U.S. Congress and multiple state legislatures.
Williamson M. Evers
member of the k–12 education task force
Expertise: Education policy, especially as it pertains to curriculum, teaching, testing, and accountability from kindergarten through high school; Iraq reconstruction
Williamson Evers, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and a member of the Institution’s Koret Task Force on K–12 Education, specializes in research on education policy especially as it pertains to curriculum, teaching, testing, accountability, and school finance from kindergarten through high school. Evers was the US assistant secretary of education for policy from 2007 to 2009. He was a senior adviser to US secretary of education Margaret Spellings during 2007. From July to December 2003, Evers served in Iraq as a senior adviser for education to Administrator L. Paul Bremer of the Coalition Provisional Authority.
Former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Evers to the California State Academic Content Standards Commission in 2010. In 1996 Governor Pete Wilson appointed Evers to the earlier California State Commission for the Establishment of Academic Content and Performance Standards. He is the only individual to have served on both standards commissions, both of which proposed the subject matter that students should learn in each grade.
Evers was elected in November 2004 to the Santa Clara County Board of Education, on which he served until February 2007. He is the immediate past president of the board of directors of the East Palo Alto Charter School on which he served from 1997 until 2004.
Among his recent publications are:
--Chapter on high-spending, low-performing school districts in Courting Failure (2006)
--Mathematics chapters in Reforming Education in Florida (2006) and in Reforming Education in Arkansas (2005)
--Chapter on fixing failing schools in Within Our Reach: How America Can Educate Every Child (2005)
--Testing Student Learning, Evaluating Teaching Effectiveness (coeditor, 2004)
--Chapter on curriculum in Our Schools and Our Future (2003)
He has written opinion columns that have appeared in Education Week, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and Christian Science Monitor. He is a member of the editorial board of Education Next (formerlyEducation Matters).
Evers received his BA (1972), MA (1978), and PhD (1987) degrees in political science from Stanford University.